Dec 172013
 

2014 HERBFOLK TICKETS – HERBFOLK PDF – & FREE HERBAL NEWSLETTER

TICKETS NOW OPEN FOR

The 2014 HerbFolk Gathering (Sept 18-21, Mormon Lake AZ)

Steep Advance Discount – December 13th–31st Only – See Full Details At Bottom

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SUBSCRIBE NOW TO THE FREE PLANT HEALER NEWSLETTER

I had lots of trouble with the sign-up boxes on the website, but they’re finally really fixed.  You can now go to any page on the Plant Healer site, click on where it says subscribe on the left side, fill in your name and email address and you will be good to go!

You’ll receive from 8 to 12 issues per year, 10 to 30 pages in length, filled with inspiration and information for herbalists.  Included will be advance excerpts from upcoming Plant Healer Magazine issues, abridged articles gleaned from past issues of the magazine, interviews with herbalists, wildcrafting tips and recipes, and original articles by ourselves and contributing writers.  If you would like more exposure for your work you can submit pieces for consideration in the newsletter, and possibly reach our thousands of dedicated herbalist and wildcrafter readers.

  Plant Healer Newsletter by Jesse Wolf Hardin

There is no cost for the newsletter, so please recommend it to any folks who might otherwise not be able to afford herbal info and publications. The next full length newsletter issue will be available for download the second week of January, and may include articles by Jeremy Ross, Sam Coffman and myself (Kiva Rose), along with beautiful art and HerbFolk updates. Subscribe free at:

www.PlantHealer.org

Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous Site

HerbFolk Gathering & Celebration Site, Mormon Lake Arizona

…and for a limited time, big savings on registration for the upcoming:

The 2014 HerbFolk Gathering (Sept 18-21, Mormon Lake AZ)

Steep Advance Discount – December 13th–31st Only

Ticket sales for next year’s Plant Healer event are now open, with the best prices of the year for a limited time.  As a special thank you to our most devoted attendees,

we offer a $70 Early-Sprout discount…

…for a limited time:

Regular $325 adult tickets are

Just $255

Dec. 13th–31st Only

You must register BEFORE January 1st to get your discount.  Go to the Registration Page now at:

www.PlantHealer.org/HerbFolk

7 song leading a plant walk at Plant Healer Magazine's HerbalResurgence 2013

Our friend 7 song leading a plant walk at Plant Healer Magazine’s 2013 event

“What an exciting conference! Plant Healer events are the new wave of herbalism…”   -Paul Bergner

For full details and loads of pics, click here and download the special 30 pages long:

2014 HerbFolk Information PDF

(Thank you for RePosting and Sharing)

Plant Healer Bookstore www.PlantHealer.org

 

Dec 092013
 

Interview with Plant Healer CoCreator

JESSE WOLF HARDIN

by Melanie Pulla

My dear life and work partner Wolf Hardin has interviewed over 30 different herbalists and wildcrafters for Plant Healer Magazine (www.PlantHealerMagazine.com) and books over the past 5 years, sharing the in-depth stories of the best known herbalists but also up and coming new voices of the community and craft.  A few months ago one of our gifted writers, Melanie Pulla, asked to interview him for her excellent HerbGeek blog.  We’ve decided to welcome questions for this longtime teacher-healer-activist-artist from others including Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light and Chuck Garcia, and to combine them for the next volume in the 21st Century Herbalists books series (available from the Bookstore & Gallery page at www.PlantHealer.org) book series.  But for now, we’ve decided to share with you here the complete transcription of his conversation with Melanie.  I hope you will write to tell us your thoughts.  –Kiva Rose

          Jesse Wolf Hardin 2012 www.PlantHealer.org

Melanie: You have a unique perspective on herbalism and plant medicine. Can you share a bit about your background and how it has shaped your approach to healing with medicinal plants?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: We all come to this work – to the plants – on our own path, a personal and highly individualized winding from discovery to actualization.  Some first become familiar with medicinal plants as they explore ways of treating their own limiting conditions, which evolves into using herbs to help others.  Others grow up with an urge to serve, help and heal, beginning with an herbal study and practice but then expanding to include the necessary healing of families, neighborhoods and ecosystems.  Deeper intimacy with plants may lead to deeper intimacy with nature in general, and to a reawakened sense of the enlivenedness, connectedness and sacredness of all things.  Feeling empowered to take responsibility for the health of ourselves and those we care about can result in feeling empowered to speak our truths, grow some of our own food, stand up to injustice, and live our dreams in the face of all obstacles.

Wolf Hardin with Pa www.PlantHealer.org

I came to this shared place and work from a different angle.  I felt drawn to a calling or mission from the time I was a very young child.  I was observant of contradictions and injustices, attracted to truth and beauty, given to questioning the assumptions of so called “authorities,” and developed insights into the workings of both nature and society.  Even though I spent much of my childhood in the suburbs, I played hooky with fence lizards, kept counsel with vacant-lot weeds, and studies people from the anonymity of curbside treetops.  As a young teen I put my body on the line at protests against the Vietnam War, volunteered to help the native elders of Big Mountain and the activists of Yellow Thunder Camp, used my odd and wild artwork to raise awareness of nature and spirit, and began to publish writings about the sensibilities, values and issues that I care about.  In my 20s, my outlaw art gallery in Taos, New Mexico was pledged to infiltrate, affect and remedy the prevailing white-bread culture.  Then I sold everything I owned including the engine out of our school bus home for the down payment on a river canyon sanctuary, awesomely inspirited but beleaguered land that needed my protection and nourishment as much as I needed its inspiration and refuge. I started learning about the animals and plants that should be here, becoming familiar with my first medicinal herbs thanks to a manual written by the inimitable Michael Moore, and initiating a process of riparian and botanical species restoration.
For over a dozen years I was a core organizer for the radical wilderness activist group Earth First!, melding music and entertainment with civil disobedience and media campaigns.  In the 1980s I gave hundreds of public speeches and musical performances at rallies we called “The Deep Ecology Medicine Shows” and I worked to bring together conservationists and herbalists including by bringing Michael Moore to an Earth First! Rendezvous in the Southwest.  I launched workshops and courses on spiritual ecology, that addressed the healing of our psyches along with the wounded natural world.  I began to suffer symptoms from Hepatitis C in the 90s, nearly destroying my body with interferon before restoring much of my health with herbs.  It had by then become clear that everything I have ever done has been in one way or another been in the name of healing: addressing the wounds of unnecessary wars and the injustices to indigenous peoples; the dissolution of natural ecocentric cultures and destruction of the Redwood and Fir forests; the extirpation of New Mexico Wolves and California White Sage; the unwholeness and stress of good people unsure of their rights, worth and abilities.

Partnering with Kiva Rose, her passion for herbs and herbalism resulted in our infusing ourselves deeper into this community, and our helping to inspire in this field some deep ecological sensibilities, a sense of vitality and purpose meant to sustain folk medicine through the many challenges ahead.  We have dedicated ourselves to championing an herbalism that is accessible and empowering, individualized and personalized, diverse and wondrous… to plant, feed and water the seeds of a folk herbal resurgence, to encourage the organic growth of its aesthetic culture and earthen healing values.  I brought to Plant Healer Magazine and HerbFolk gatherings my perspective as a child of nature, runaway street kid, community volunteer, wilderness dweller and ecological activist.  In turn, herbalism has given me another important means for my healing… and a language and tools for me to help heal the bodies, psyches, communities and bioregions in need.

Whatever else I feel, I am dedicated and determined, grateful and appreciated… and fully excited about the possibilities of each purposeful healing day.

 

Wolf Drum-72dpi

Melanie: In your book The Herbalists Path, you describe herbalists as being “marginalized by their interests and practices” and “a minority among all the health approaches and professions.” This comes across as an astute but surprising observation since plant medicine is an important and valued component of countless cultural traditions. Can you elaborate on why this is the case?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Regional systems of plant medicine were not only traditional but essential for most if not all human soc

ieties from the very beginning.  Our furry primate ancestors already self medicated, selecting and eating plants that they’d discovered helped to remedy their indigestion, infection, infestations, and other dangerous or uncomfortable conditions.  When our kind migrated from the jungles of Africa into those iconic caves of Eurasia, they most certainly made it a mission to distinguish medicinal herbs from among the thousands of species they encountered, spreading them to dry just as folk herbalists might do today.  Autopsies of some bodies found in ancient burial grounds revealed the presence of plant matter in their bellies, noses, and/or spread upon their chest… plant matter that when analyzed turned out to be from species with proven medicinal application.  Over the course of thousands of years, human fashions and customs changed relentlessly.  People migrated from their old haunts, built cities where there were forests and farms, and exchanged their bows and arrows for firearms, and yet throughout it all plant remedies remained the most common and often the only viable treatments for what ails.  The women of every household took responsibility for the basic health care needs of their families.  The most adept women and men were sought out by others in need, becoming the de facto if usually unofficial community health care provider, assuming the mantle of healer by any name – Herbera, Medicine Man or Woman, Herbwyfe, Hedgewitch, Curandero, Wortcunner, Root Doctor.  Professional doctors were rightly feared and distrusted, thanks to dangerous practices like bleeding the patient, and their early toxic pharmaceuticals containing Mercury and other poisons, making even the least effective folk herbalists seem like a better proposition in comparison.  Herbalism until this point could truly be considered “mainstream.”

By the 18th and 19th centuries, however, all this had begun to change.  Doctors began organizing first as a profession, and then collectively as professional organizations that sought to not only qualify practitioners but ensure a monopoly for their vetted members.  At the same time, big drug manufacturing companies were planning to run the competition – the small “mom and pop” m

akers of herbal remedies – out of business.  The doctor and pharmaceutical organizations openly funded public relations campaigns against what they called “patent medicines,” and lobbied for prohibitive legislation under the guise of guarding “public safety.” The worst of the many popular plant-based decoctions were far less dangerous than the plethora of “modern” drugs that followed, of course, and yet by the early 20th century they were able to push through the legislation they desired, and in less than fifty years convinced the majority of the American public that community practitioners could no longer be trusted with their basic health care needs, that drugs are the best and only reasonable treatment for many problems while plants are either inconsequential or harmful.

Nicholas Culpeper www.PlantHealer.org

Throughout, herbalism has continued to be developed and furthered, first by the likes of King, Beach, Culbreth, Scudder and Thomson, and again starting in the 1960s with folks like Jethro Kloos, John Christopher, David Hoffman, Michael Tierra, Rosemary Gladstar and Susun Weed revitalizing interest in plant medicine for the masses.  Interest in herbal “supplements” has continued to increase in the last fifty years, and yet the vast majority of the population continue to associate the use of herbs with either ignorant country hicks or what they consider “New Age nonsense.”  There is a subset of licensed nurses struggling to recommend herbal alternatives without violating their professional codes and corporate regulations, but there are only a relative very few nurses and doctors who give herbal therapy a thought.  This is the reality today, and we face further estrangement, regulation and possibly even official prohibition in the future.

This should tell us two things at least.  First, that we need to consider the degree to which we hope to market to or influence the values of the dominant culture, and take into consideration how our attitude, image, language, education, level of competency, accreditation or non-professionalized folk approach effect our goals.  Secondly, it should tell us that no amount of accreditation or professionalization will earn herbalism the support of the corporatized, pharmaceutical-centric  medical system, that we need not feel inadequate or freakish for practicing “archaic” plant medicine.  There is no work more important than the healing of bodies, psyches, spirits, and the land… and no greater role we could play today than embodying a holistic alternative to the separative mainstream paradigm of distraction and destruction, corporate greed and drug dependency.

Herbalism does not need mainstream acceptance to be valid or viable.  As we discuss in the book The Plant Healer’s Path, herbalism is an alternative stream, divergent, un-dammed, serpentine, free flowing continuous throughout the times of acceptance or nonacceptance, popularity or obscurity.  It is incredibly empowering to look to one’s own intuition, studies, research, and especially personal experience and results… for reassurance of the value of healing plants and the importance of this work.  When we understand and accept the relative rarity and alternative nature of herbalism, we come to see how embodying the role of herbalist today is an act of liberation from a system and its lies, and recognize the natural world as place of reconnection as we take on the responsibility for our own health and the health of the people and even ecosystems around us.

Trends and even cultures will come and go, but there will always be a need for self care, community health care, and plant medicines… and at least an impassioned and dedicated minority giving their lifetimes to the day to day furtherance of herbalism.  I’m excited that this living thread – this story – is ours to live and tell.

Jim McDonald, Paul Bergner, Jesse Wolf Hardin

Jim McDonald, Paul Bergner, Jesse Wolf Hardin

Melanie: I really appreciated your interview with Paul Bergner in your book 21st Century Herbalists: Root Doctors, Radicals, and Rock Stars, where he describes the term herbalist as being somewhat contrived in the sense that there is no historical reference to an actual herbalist, whereas titles such as healers, midwives, and shamans, are more historically relevant. Paul Bergner describes herbalism as being a community rather than a profession, and in The Plant Healer’s Path, you describe an herbalist as a role that one chooses or feels called towards. It seems that herbalism is the nexus point where plant healers of all backgrounds intersect, regardless of their career trajectory, profession, or level of interest. Would it be fair, then, to say that the term herbalist is more aptly an adjective than a noun?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Yes, the plants are a point of intersection, and so too is the overwhelming intention to contribute to the needed healing.  Beyond this common ground are myriad individual expressions, methods and means, providing the specialization and diversification that helps make the field and community balanced and healthy.  One can be an herbalist clinician, herbalist teacher, herbalist cultivator, herbalist shaman, herbalist activist, an herbalist parent or herbalist artist to name a but a few, and in this sense “herbalist” functions as an adjective, an adjunct skill and view that bolsters and deepens all other activities from mothering to restoring watersheds, from remaking our society to growing and exploring spiritually.

You could just as easily say that the word “herbalist” is a verb, however, since it only describes what we are if it is what we do.  A practicing herbalist needs to know many things in order to be effective, but knowing about herbs doesn’t make one an herbalist.  Grateful clients seldom say about an herbalist that “she knows so much,” but rather, that “she really knows what she is doing.”

“Herbalist” nonetheless serves us well as a noun when worn as a job description, a title emblematic of one’s acceptance, ownership, embodiment and fulfillment of a recognizable purpose, mission and role.         Once a person gets past their self doubt and self consciousness and says out loud for the first time “I am an herbalist,” they and openly committing to doing their best to help meet a need that the population has for readily available, accessible, affordable holistic treatment and natural plant medicines.

Melanie: I love your vision of future medicine people proudly and boldly claiming their title, and integrating themselves in all aspects of community and place. I also appreciate that medicine is so often equated with an ingestible substance as opposed to a broader scope of practice that includes story, counsel, empathy, and healing touch.  As Asclepias of Thessaly wrote, “first the word, then the herb, then the knife.” Since you are so apt with semantics and etymology, would you mind sharing the way you personally define medicine?

Jesse Wolf Hardin by Marloe

Jesse Wolf Hardin by Marloe

Jesse Wolf Hardin:  I would agree with Asclepias if by “first the word” he meant we first address the condition with inquiry and intake, verbal comforting or re-envisioning, discussion, counsel and advice.  The addition of medicinal plants and foods, massage, realignments, acupuncture, massage and other noninvasive treatments can follow as appropriate, supporting the changes in attitude, perspective, diet and lifestyle that words explored and inspired.

The English word “medicine” derives originally from the Latin “medicus”, “the physician,” and commonly refers to ingested or injected agents of healing.  We also hear, of course, that “laughter is the best medicine,” that time is medicine for the grieving heart, and that love is medicine for the spirit or soul.  In historic cultural terms, the word for “medicine” was usually synonymous with “power” – not as in power over somebody or something, but as in the power to act and affect.  Ancient “hunting medicine” usually involved rituals of supplication and intent, but their purpose was to awaken the power to find and collect animals to eat.  The medicine of the Seer was the power to see into the truth of things, to see the patterns in the movement of energies and progression of events.  “Wolf medicine” might be the powers of discernment and courageous action.

To my reckoning, “medicine” is power, but more specifically the power to heal.  This is certainly about more than the healing of illness and wounds, but also emotional, spiritual, social, cultural, and ecological healing, utilizing whatever medicine that each of us is born with, learns or develops, in order to contribute to health and wholeness.  The word “heal” originally meant to “restore to soundness,” and I would say medicine is anything that contributes to the regaining of soundness, wholeness, and animate vitality.

Medicine is more than tinctures and teas, it includes such things as empathy and concern, tending and touch, ritual or prayer, visualization and positive attitude.  There is the medicine of nature and place, which my upcoming book The Healing Terrain will explore.  There can be medicine in art and music, medicine in beauty.  In reconciliation or resolution.  In giving, and receiving.  Medicine in love, medicine in a hug.  There is even medicine in disruption, whenever habit and structure have proven unhealthy.  It is for us to find our personal medicine: our individual mix of born gifts, special abilities and learned skills, our original innate power to affect other people and the world in meaningful, helpful and healthful ways.  And then to identify, mobilize and utilize the many medicines around us and available to us  – including but not limited to medicinal herbs – for the essential purpose of healing.

 

A young Jesse Wolf Hardin drawn by his friend Oberon Zell Ravenheart

A young Jesse Wolf Hardin drawn by his friend Oberon Zell Ravenheart

Melanie: I’ve often found that there’s a sense of elitism within herbal circles in regards to whether an herbalist has an active clinical practice or not, with the prevailing notion that being a clinician not only makes you more credible, but also more respectable and worthy of the title “herbalist”. Certainly clinical work is one way of generating and growing your knowledge, however it seems no less worthy for an herbalist to be in their apothecary or kitchen spending hours perfecting an herbal recipe – or in the field for days keying out plants and learning their growing patterns. I love how in The Plant Healer’s Path you emphasize the validity of “clinical” work that occurs outside a formal clinical setting. Can you elaborate on why this kind of work is not only valuable, but also important?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: First of all, no one can tell you if you are worthy of being called an herbalist, not  a professional organization, or a federal agency, or even our peers with more experience than us.  We are made worthy simply by the strength of our intent and focus, and the degree of our efforts.  Levels of competency are another issue, but are only proven by our results and effects over time.   We alone can make the determination whether our knowledge, commitment and daily practice makes us an herbalist or not.  And whether others call us an herbalist or not, will hinge on the good we do in working with plants.

I have three things to say in regard to “clinical.”  First, there are many different forms of – and means and venues for – clinical work.  Second, not all important work with plant medicines is clinical.  And third, even entirely non-clinical work with plants greatly benefits by a clinical-level commitment to increasing knowledge, maintaining accuracy, increasing efficacy, and adhering to ethical codes.

For our purposes here, “clinical” means directly working with people, personal interaction with the intent of helping them regain their health.  This can certainly happen outside of a clinical setting, such as in client’s homes, or even on the sidewalk with “street herbalists” like Chuck Garcia handing out shotgun remedies to the homeless, and herbal medics volunteering at the sites of natural and human-made disasters.  Making herbal tinctures in one’s kitchen can be done strictly by following a recipe, but the best formulas are created in response to observations and experiences, whether our own responses to herbs or the responses of the people we are trying to help.  My partner plant-hearted Kiva Rose is primarily a creatrix, culture shifter, teacher and writer, with no time to take on new clients… but the power or “medicine” of her work comes in part from her solid up-to-date knowledge, and her clinical observations of and personal experiences helping people.

Melanie: Michael Moore has famously said that “a good herbalist is a generalist, and I train generalists.” While I appreciate and respect this sentiment, I’m also very motivated by the idea of herbalists following what inspires them, and creating a niche for themselves doing what they absolutely love to do. There’s certainly a reasonable amount of general knowledge that is required in order to understand herbal vernacular and communicate effectively with plants, people, and herbalists. However, I love the idea of “purpose-based herbalism” where people pursue an herbal vocation that responds to their innate strengths and life’s purpose. This feels so much more fulfilling than trying to conform to the common rhetoric of what an herbalist should be. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

 

Michael Moore, Herbalist -  by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Michael Moore, Herbalist – by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Michael was right in that a broadly effective community herbalist needs to be versed in treating all the bodily systems from compromised organs to damaged psyches, with experience in adapting protocols to each of the constitutional types, age groups and so on.  And there is probably the widest spread need for generalist community herbalists supporting the people of every neighborhood including the most remote, impoverished or developed.  That said, it is just as important that there be plant healers called to studying and recounting the history, storytellers passing on the folklore of plants and healing, plant artists describing and creatively evoking the shape and spirit of medicinal herbs, medicine makers focused on bitters or skin care or treatment of certain diseases.  And not even the most deliberate generalist needs to follow a template for how to be or do.  There are no two herbalists alike, anymore than there are two snowflakes or fingerprints the same, and we are most effective as well as most fulfilled when we maximize our personal interests and delve deep into the specifics of what we are most passionate about.  This is the way of to excel, in this matter of healing where excellence truly matters.  And it is the way to fulfillment, in an age and society where few ever know what it’s like to feel fulfilled.

Melanie: Rather than prioritizing the implementation of regulations and standards, as some within the field are doing, you emphasize the importance of sharing our own story – of collectively writing our own narrative. This portion of your book is a definite “call for action” where you present a very compelling case for why this is important, followed by clear guidelines for how we can each begin to effectively share our own story. In your opinion, what would be the ideal outcome from herbalists stepping forward and claiming their voice through story?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: All of life is a story, either composed by our selves as we create, form and direct our own lives, or largely written and directed by others – by controlling parents, critical teachers and peers, corporate driven media and advertising, fashion fascists, dogmatic religious leaders, political leaders and elected officials regulating every aspect of our existence.  Our personal story, and our collective story as a community of healers, will only avoid being shaped by others if we take responsibility for shaping it ourselves.  This is true in a very practical, not just metaphoric way.  Herbalists, like any conscious group of well meaning people,  can easily be misrepresented if we show ourselves, if we don’t tell them and demonstrate to them who we are and what we are about.  We can be controlled and even crushed if do not assert ourselves and make sure the story turn out different.  We can fall into traps of uninteresting conformity and unquestioning obedience into the system’s ready made script for us, with a prearranged progression, a shortage of dramatic depth, and a meaningless end.

Our personal fates, the fates of human kind and other life forms, all depend the reclamation of meaningful purpose, on a radical rewriting of our stories so real and empowering that fiction pales… the remaking and healing and manifesting of our lives, and the glad telling of our tales.

Jesse Wolf Hardin with Daughter Rhiannon

Jesse Wolf Hardin with Daughter Rhiannon

Melanie: I see herb schools teaching students as being analogous to fertile plants producing lots of seeds. However, if these seeds aren’t properly watered and nurtured, then they will never be capable of sprouting and maturing themselves. One of the reasons I love your book is that it provides nourishment to those parched seeds. Do you think herb schools have an ethical responsibility to teach this kind of information in order to ensure that their students are properly equipped for the current climate towards herbalism and challenges they’ll face along their paths?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Teachers have a responsibility to equip students in as many crucial ways as possible, and an honest description of the field and clear delineation of choices would be a necessary part of that.

I feel strongly that every student of plant medicine or healing should be aware of the educational and role options, as well as of the nuanced variables and useful criteria for each person to make their own best choices.  This hasn’t been widely presented in a cohesive way, and that is the reason I gave so much time to the creation of The Plant Healer’s Path.

Melanie: Do you feel like there’s a conflict of interest for herb schools to teach the information that you present in your book? Most herb students have paid quite a bit of amount money to attend herb school, yet teaching this kind of information essentially exposes the numerous pitfalls, challenges, and conundrums facing herbalists. Do you think there is pressure for herb schools to withhold this information and maintain the illusion that being an herbalist is an easy career choice with a clear revenue stream?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: I imagine a few highly commercialized herbal schools get more students when their advertising implies graduates can expect to fill paid positions.  The schools I most respect, however, know they are appealing to men and women determined to further their understanding of plant medicine even with parents sometimes being unsupportive, even though neither job nor income are ensured.  They are feeding people’s passions and sense of purpose as well as equipping them with usable information that can inform their self-care and family-care, connect to the natural world and connect them nature, strengthen their confidence and belief in themselves, trigger what you could call a spiritual awakening or connection, and spur them to go for their goal and live and enjoy their life’s dreams.

I can only hope that schools will make use of The Plant Healer’s Path to help inspire and bolster their students on what is truly an uncertain but wondrous path of learning, being and doing… the very definition, by the way, of an adventure.

 

Plant Healer's Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Melanie: Simon Sinek wrote a great book where he makes a very compelling case that any business, vocation, or movement is only as powerful and successful as its ability to understand and communicate the “why” in what they’re doing. I really appreciate The Plant Healer’s Path for precisely this reason – it calls the reader to explore and evaluate the deeper reasons of why they are using medicinal herbs, and to formulate their own answers to the numerous non-tangible “why” questions in the field of plant medicine.  How important is it for herbalists to address these difficult and nuanced questions?

Jesse Wolf Hardin: I’ve worked hard to develop not just books but our Plant Healer Magazine and the annual  HerbFolk gatherings, to serve those who question and seek, to inspire critical thinking, self belief and fervent action… knowing how essential it is that we all explore and address the many questions of our field and our time, and that we then act on our discoveries, conclusions and choices.

There are so many people, groups and agencies trying to tell us what to do, that the most urgent questions for us become “if?” and “why?”  It is these questions that help us select and recognize and cleave to our genuine personal path of being and healing.  Once moving purposefully on our path, we can daily make decisions as to the “when” and the “how.”

And when it comes to important questions for you empowered plant healers on your own paths – listening with your hearts, listening to the land, resisting the naysayers, and daring to heed the call to meaning and mission – we must also loudly ask: “Why the hell not?”

—————————————

Jesse Wolf Hardin is the author of 11 books and over 700 published articles, living on a botanical and wildlife sanctuary seven river crossings from the nearest pavement.  You can read more by and about Hardin by subscribing to the Anima Blog (www.AnimaCenter.org/blog), purchase and read many of his books about nature, healing, earthen spirit and sense of place on the Bookstore & Gallery page of the Plant Healer website (www.PlantHealer.org), and learn more about the sanctuary and Anima teachings at the Anima Site (www.AnimaCenter.org).  Also subscribe for free to the Plant Healer Newsletter at the top of the Plant Healer intro page (www.AnimaCenter.org).  You can read Melanie Pulla’s other posts on her excellent HerbGeek blog (www.HerbGeek.com).  To comment on this interview, post your remarks below, and/or write us at: PlantHealer (at) PlantHealer.org..

(Please take the time to RePost and Share this interview…. thank you!)

Kiva Rose with Jesse Wolf Hardin

Kiva Rose with Jesse Wolf Hardin by dear Juliet Blankespoor

Dec 052013
 

 

2013 Plant Healer Annual www.PlantHealer.org

Announcing The
2013 Plant Healer Annual – Vol. #3

The 3rd edition of the Plant Healer Annual is now available to ship – two 8×11” perfect-bound b&w books totaling 1,035 pages, filled with nearly every article from the 2012/2013 issues of the “Magazine Different.” Thousands of photographs and full-page fine art illustrate pieces by leading edge herbalist teachers and authors, each contributing their most in-depth, personal and inspiring work on absolutely every aspect of herbal practice, wildcrafting and plant culture… for herbal practitioners and students of every level.  Departments include plant profiles, field botany, tools and tips of the trade, energetics, therapeutics, cultivation, healthy food and delicious recipes, interviews with herbalists, humorous posters, plant artists, plant gathering and wildcrafting, herbal traditions and medicine in the Old West, herbalist fashion, articles for and by kids, and fiction for herbalists.

If you are already a Plant Healer Magazine subscriber-member, log in to your personal member page now to order.  Others of you can purchase a subscription and all 3 books as part of a discounted package, by going to the magazine website:
www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

“Plant Healer is the first publication I’ve seen in my 38-year career that captures the wild diversity of herbalism in North America while still reflecting excellence and high-level practice… points of view from many regions, traditions, and schools of North American thought… for the practicing herbalist from entry level to advanced, inclusively.”    -Paul Bergner

Volume III Includes Writings by:

David Hoffman • Paul Bergner • Phyllis Light • Matthew Wood • Susun Weed • Robin Rose Bennett • Christa Sinadinos • 7Song •  Jim McDonald • Aviva Romm • Juliet Blankespoor • Kiva Rose Hardin • Sam Thayer • Renee Davis • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Roger Wicke • Kristine Brown • Katja Swift • Loba • Sean Donahue • Rebecca Altman • Virginia Adi • Wendy Petty • Melanie Pulla • Traci Picard • Christian Bernard • Guido Masé • Sabrina Lutes • Sophia Rose • Corinne Boyer • Sam Coffman • Jesse Wolf Hardin …and many, many more!

Plus:

Art of Plant Healer Book with Every Set of Annuals

Every set of black and white Plant Healer Annual books also comes with a full color companion book The Art of Plant Healer, 60 pages of the most striking illustrations to appear in the magazine’s last 4 issues.  Printing is high quality, and pages can be carefully removed for framing and hanging.  Copies of the Art of Plant Healer can also be purchased separately even by non-subscribers, by going the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:

  www.PlantHealer.org

Art of Plant Healer www.PlantHealer.org

For Plant Healer Subscribers Only

The Plant Healer Annual books are available for sale only to subscribers, to reward those who support the digital Plant Healer quarterly to also own a physical, hard-copy version.  As a subscriber, you can either order your Annuals now by logging in to your personal Plant Healer Member Page, or wait until the next time you renew your subscription and get the combined year’s subscription, Annual and Art of Plant Healer at the discounted “Plant Enthusiast” rate.

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Kiva Rose Hardin www.PlantHealer.org
Purchase a New Subscription & Annual Combination

Those of you signing up for Plant Healer Magazine for the first time, can save money by purchasing the latest Plant Healer Annual and Art of Plant Healer books along with your new subscription:
the “Plant Enthusiast” package.
www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

(Thank you for sharing and re-posting this announcement)

Peasant girl Flowers-www.PlantHealer.org

Dec 022013
 

www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

Plant Healer Winter Issue Releases Today
Dec. 2nd

The Winter issue of Plant Healer Magazine is now available in multiple file sizes for you to download, or you can view it in its entirety online.  If you are a Member already, sign in to your personal Member Page now.  If not, you can subscribe now to receive yours, by going to the Magazine page:

www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

As always, we welcome your submissions of articles, art, photos and advertising for consideration, with the next deadline being Jan. 1st.  Email us for Submission Guidelines or Advertising Info:  PlantHealer (at) PlantHealer.org

Our Winter Issue Content

This 270 pages-long Winter issue features another awesome collection of articles by both some of the best known, and newest voices, in the herbal community today.

Paul Bergner thankfully brings us another very potent and personal piece on his medicine wheel of understanding, so important to an effective healing practice.  We’re blessed to run another exclusive excerpt from Matthew Wood’s much anticipated new book in progress, and Susun Weed writes about the world of beans in her own inimitable way.  We decided to run a classic piece by the Wiccan eco-activist Starhawk redefining what “direct action” and “the work” can mean.  Phyllis Light, Jim McDonald and 7Song continue to be some of our’s and this magazine’s most insightful and dependable writer allies, with our buddy 7Song showcasing some of the plants of our Mormon lake conference site, Jim penning one of if not the finest articles on bitters ever written.  Likewise, Katja Swift has written for us the best piece we’ve seen about the autistic spectrum and ADD.  Phyllis Light once again used the unfolding story of her life to inspire us in the fullest, most balanced living of our own.

Juliet Blankespoor continues her lovely column with a helpful framework and tips for teaching about herbs, Erin Piorier covers Wild Cherry for us, and the knowledge-filled Sam Coffman contributes both a plant monograph and a piece on herbs and snakebites.  For this quarter’s interview, we chose the conversation I had with Wildman Brill for the 21st Century Herbalists book, a man famous for being arrested for teaching wildcrafting in N.Y.‘s Central Park!  Catherine Skipper gives us another great installment on feeding the soils we grow with.  A thank you goes out to the creative Corinne Boyer for covering not only extracting herbs in animal fats but also the mythic lore of the Apple tree, and to Chuck “Doc” Garcia for his powerful streetwise tale of yarrow, service and sorrow.  Amy Jean Smith-Alvey blessed us with a well written piece for our kid’s department, wherein her 2.5 year old son, Noah, excitedly demonstrates the processing of Calendula… already he’s an inspiration!  We offer a full spread of artwork by our fae friend Katlyn Breene, who also contributes this issue’s beautiful cover art.

Sean Donahue is back which many will be glad of, providing an excellent and very personal article on Devil’s Club.  The Root Woman Brie Saussy, columnist Sabrina Lutes, Wendy “Butter” Petty, Rebecca Altman, Merihelen Nuñez and Aleah Sato each in their own ways address the issue of personal identities, roles, and relationships, coming to terms with their voice and place in herbalism as well as one’s essential inhabitation of place, home, land and purpose.
If these don’t make you think, put a tear in your eye, and joy and hope in your hearts…
we don’t know what will!

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The Plant Healer Annual Books are Ready to Order

The Plant Healer Annual books are also available beginning today, over 1,000 b&w perfect-bound pages plus their companion Art of Plant Healer book.  Though available to Member Subscribers only,  you can purchase these books along with your subscription at a considerable discount.

Sold to non-subscribers as well as members is the new 2013 Herbal Resurgence Class Notes & Essays Ebook, 250 pages of detailed herbal information and inspiration.

Note that Wolf or I will sign copies of our Plant Healer’s Path book and 21st Century Herbalists book of interviews to anyone you’d like to give a copy to, just include a note when you order so we know who they should be signed to.

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The Free Plant Healer Newsletters – Signup Glitch Fixed

Some of you had trouble signing up for the free Plant Healer Newsletters, but the glitch has been fixed everywhere that the signup box exists, including the front page of the www.PlantHealer.org website.  If you’d like to receive over 20 pages of articles and info for herbalists, up to 10 times per year, just fill in your name and email address.

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www.PlantHealer.org

We wish you a Holiday Season of deep healing, deep meaning and joy.

–Wolf & Kiva

Nov 182013
 

Plant Healer Books for Herbalists www.PlantHealer.org

Giving Plant Healer Books For Herbalists

This Holiday Season

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Choose from a dozen different books, specially written for herbalists, natural healers, plant ad nature lovers of all kinds and ages.  From an empowering kid’s book to herbal how-to and a historic novel, we hope you will find something meaningful to give to your friends and family.

Have Your Gift Books Signed

The authors will happily sign any gift books for you.  Just be sure to include a note with your payment telling us the name of the person to sign it to.

Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

A few of our more recent titles follow:

Plant Healer's Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin

The Plant Healer’s Path:
A Grassroots Guide For The HerbFolk Tribe

by Jesse Wolf Hardin
with Kiva Rose
plus David Hoffman, Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light, Rebecca Altman & Roger Wicke

 Featuring topics vital to an effective, empowered herbal practice, including many never addressed before, with suggestions for taking control of and enjoying our lives, and tips that can benefit herbalists and non-herbalists alike.  You’ll open the book up to an overview of herbalism’s history and celebration of its lineage and tribe, with your last look as you close the cover being an unflinching vision of the near and distant future of this vital field.  It is a past that we can learn from and feel rooted in… and a future we are each called to help make.

“That which was suppressed is back. The wise women and crazy men, in all their multicultural diversity, are finding their voices. Even if the monolith of the dominant culture is ignorant of this, finally we are listening to each other.  The Herbalist’s Path is the clearest description yet of this truly grassroots manifestation of herbalism – of humanity’s re-connection with healing nature and the wild.”
–David Hoffman (Author of Medical Herbalism)

“To be an herbalist is a lot more than just knowing some herbs and what they are ‘good for.’ It is a path of passion, enchantment and commitment and sometimes disillusionment. Whether just beginning or already walking the path, this book provides a panoramic road map of the terrain – both internal and external – for any person called to healing with plants… with thought-provoking essays on the issues most important to our work.”
–Paul Bergner (Herbalist & Teacher)

The Plant Healer’s Path is a veritable cultivator’s guide for growing our practice and our community, our awareness and purpose, satisfaction and bliss.
304 pages, 8.5×11” B&W, with over 100 photos & art illustrations
–Limited Edition Cloth Covered Hardback: $39–  Ebook: $25–

Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

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21st Century Herbalists book - order from: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

21st CENTURY HERBALISTS:
Rock Stars, Radicals and Root Doctors

A book of Interviews by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Intimate conversation with 21 of the most intriguing herbalists and foragers of our times:

Rosemary Gladstar • David Hoffman • Susun Weed • Matthew Wood • Phyllis Light
Juliet Blankespoor • Todd Caldecott • Kiva Rose Hardin • Jim McDonald • Bevin Clare
Margi Flint • Ben Zappin • Phyllis Hogan • 7Song • Doug Elliott • Kevin Spelman
Sam Coffman • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Ryan Drum • Kristine Brown • Wildman Steve Brill

Read the stories of famed “rock star” herbalists, radical outliers, and regionally known or up-and-coming herbal teachers, grannywives and root doctors… and be inspired on your own personal path of healing and practice. Even you have been a clinician for decades,
but you can draw from these pages new insights, ideas and information that may benefit your work.  Found Therein Are:

•Herbalist’s lives & livelihoods, secrets, tools & tips
•Previously unshared stories about these herbalists’ childhoods, education, experiences, perspectives, loves, peeves, and hopes… candid, vulnerable & unscripted!
•Underutilized herbs, and little known uses for commonly known plants
•Constitutional models, energetics, diagnostic methods, case study examples, treatment protocols
•Herbal healing traditions, Making a living at herbalism, Tips on how to effectively teach
•Talking with plants, shamanic plants, & the wounded healer
•The cultivation of herbs, foraging & wildcrafting, plant conservation, invasives, & sense of place
•Approaches to registration, certification, regulation and licensing… plus herbal activism
•Diverse visions of the future of herbalism, and how to best get there
•Inspiring and encouraging personal advice to herbalists and others.

Limited Edition Hardback, 376 pages, 500 b&w photos & illustrations – $39

Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

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Medicine Bear by Jesse Wolf Hardin - www.MedicineBear.com

Medicine Bear by Jesse Wolf Hardin – www.MedicineBear.com

 

The Medicine Bear

An Historical Novel of Healing, Adventure & Love in the Enchanted Southwest

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Follow the wild-woman herbalist and Omen, the impassioned writer and adventurer Eland and archetypal Medicine Bear through a time of great cultural as well as personal transition, down plant-filled paths of discovery and healing and to the juncture of our own return to wholeness and health, rooted home and true love, meaningful mission and – ultimately – satisfaction and contentment.

“The Medicine Bear is an unabashedly magical, sensual, and yes, romantic tale of love and loss, of longing and renewal. It is a paean to wildness within and the southwestern wilderness that Eland and Omen are married to, along with each other, and whose exquisite beauty we are drawn into through the soulful eyes and language of Eland. The plants, the mountains, and the medicine bear sing to us, calling us each to full aliveness. While the old west is fading and the grizzlies are dying, love inspires, even beyond death itself.  Plants and trees are intertwined with the lives of the main characters in the Medicine Bear. Actually, they are main characters. Green healers such as Moonwort, sage, rose, evening primrose, and the alder tree are lushly brought to life by the animated vision and words of Eland, and by his loving observations of Omen, the herbalist healer at her work. They and the plants are free creatures, expressing themselves, and interconnecting as an integral part of the landscape in which they live and thrive (and in the humans’ case, learning to express their new found sense of wholeness). There is so much plant lore and wisdom shared in the book, along with hints at how to gather and work with herbs, that the Medicine Bear is a pleasure for herbalists to read, and offers an inspiring education for those who long to become more intimate with healing plants.”
–Robin Rose Bennett 

“Jesse Wolf has a depth and breadth of insight, and a true writer’s touch for bringing it to life. I hope other people will read this novel and understand the world that he sustains… and hears, in the Medicine Bear’s rumble.  A book of herbal teaching, healing, loss, love, and love of the land… a remarkable treasure of words… a jewel of a story!”
–Virginia Adi (Herbalist, RN, SingerSongwriter)

“If you have ever loved, healed or been healed, bemoaned a changing society, and felt the animal spirit within you, this tale is for you.”
                               –Charles Garcia (Curandero)

Softbound, 365 pages – $18

Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

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I'm A Medicine Woman Too! www.PlantHealer.org

I’m a Medicine Woman, Too!
A full color book for budding young healers and daydream believers – Ages 5 to Infinity

Text & Art by
Jesse Wolf Hardin

    I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! is full of wisdom, beauty and encouragement not only for the young, but for all ages. The author’s exquisite illustrations quickly draw the reader in and cleverly teach about healing plants. A high recommend for empowering all medicine women!”
 -Lesley Tierra, L. Ac., author Healing with the Herbs of Life & A Kid’s Herb Book

I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! is a wonderful book to connect children with herbal traditions.  The story role-models an ethic of healing and caring for other people and honoring our elders.  The delightful illustrations touch the reader at an emotional level, compelling us to become healers too.”
 -Thomas J. Elpel, author of Botany in a Day and Shanleya’s Quest

“I felt the voice of the Earth Mother herself speak from the pages of I’’m A Medicine Woman, Too! The sense of presence and higher awareness will benefit younger and those with accumulated years as well.”
-Margi Flint, AHG HM, author of The Practicing Herbalist

Includes the “Name The Herb Game” medicinal plant identification game.

40 pages, 35 Full Color Illustrations – $15

Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

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2013 Plant Healer Annual Book www.PlantHealer.org

The 2013 Plant Healer Annual

The 3rd edition of the Plant Healer Annual is now available, two 8×11” perfect-bound volumes totaling 1,000 pages, filled with nearly every article from the 2013 issues of the “Magazine Different.” Hundreds of photographs and full-page fine art illustrate pieces by leading edge herbalist teachers and authors, each contributing their most in-depth, personal and inspiring work on absolutely every aspect of herbal practice, wildcrafting and plant culture… for herbal practitioners and students of every level.  Departments include plant profiles, field botany, tools and tips of the trade, energetics, therapeutics, cultivation, healthy food and delicious recipes, interviews with herbalists, humorous posters, plant artists, plant gathering and wildcrafting, herbal traditions and medicine in the Old West, herbalist fashion, articles for and by kids, and fiction.

“Plant Healer is the first publication I’ve seen in my 38-year career that captures the wild diversity of herbalism in North America while still reflecting excellence and high-level practice… points of view from many regions, traditions, and schools of North American thought… for the practicing herbalist from entry level to advanced, inclusively.”   -Paul Bergner

Volume III Includes Writings by:

David Hoffman • Paul Bergner • Phyllis Light • Matthew Wood • Susun Weed • Robin Rose Bennett  Christa Sinadinos • 7Song •  Jim McDonald • Aviva Romm • Juliet Blankespoor • Kiva Rose Hardin
Sam Thayer • Renee Davis • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Roger Wicke • Kristine Brown • Katja Swift • Loba  Sean Donahue • Virginia Adi • Wendy “Butter” Petty • Melanie Pulla • Traci Picard • Christian Bernard
Guido Masé • Sabrina Lutes • Sam Coffman • Jesse Wolf Hardinand many, many more!

Every set of black and white Plant Healer Annual books come with a full color companion book The Art of Plant Healer, containing over 50 of the most striking illustrations to appear in the last 4 issues.  Printing is high quality, and pages can be carefully removed for framing and hanging.  Copies of the Art of Plant Healer Volumes I and II can also be purchased separately by non-subscribers as well on the Plant Healer website.

New Plant Healer Subscription and Annual Combination

The Plant Healer Annuals are available for sale only to subscribers, to allow those who are enjoying the digital Plant Healer quarterly to also own a physical, hard-copy version.  As a subscriber, you can either order your Annuals now by logging in to your personal Plant Healer Member Page, or wait until the next time you renew your subscription and get the combined year’s subscription, Annual and Art of Plant Healer at the discounted “Plant Enthusiast” rate.

If you are new to Plant Healer Magazine, note that after Dec. 1st you can purchase the discounted “Plant Enthusiast” package with a set of Plant Healer Annuals (the 2012 Annuals prior to Dec. 1st, or the 2013 Annuals beginning Dec. 1st), as well as a full color Art of Plant Healer book along with your new membership subscription.  Only $99 for all, with over $200 worth of free bonus downloads.  Go to the Magazine page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

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(Thank you for RePosting & Sharing!)

Nov 112013
 

 Watkin's Remedies Wagon 72dpi

THE TRAVELING MEDICINE SHOW
Herbs, Empowerment & Entertainment for The Common Folk

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

An Advance Excerpt From The Upcoming Winter Issue of Plant Healer Magazine
To read the entire 5,000 word article, subscribe at: www.PlantHealer.org

“I was born in the wagon of a travelin’ show, mother used to dance for the money they’d throw.  Father would do whatever he could, preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Goode’s.”  
–Cher (Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves)

Imagine if you will, an incidence of herbal edification and hungered-for entertainment that would repeat itself again and again all across rural America.  The site might be a town square, a popular dusty crossroads, the speaker’s platform at a “newfangled” air show park or simply a local farmer’s unplowed field.  Except for any differences in vegetation and topography, it could just as well be located anywhere from northern Georgia to western Pennsylvania, the gold fields of California or the farmlands of the Great Plains, always far from the big cities and in places where people lived close to the land.  Corn shuckers and melon growers, home-canners and cowboys.  It has a timeless feel, and could be anytime from the end of the Civil War until the 1930s.  While cities swelled and were electrified, popular fashions evolved and government centralized, the site we picture will have changed relatively little in 50 years, with seed company advertisements fading from the sides of barns, barefoot boys chewing on long grass stems while kicking cans down the railroad tracks stretching beyond our sight.  Livestock mill about close by, as stacks of hay summon generations of young lovers to spoon and play.  The people you see are a hardy breed quick to speak up about the importance of self reliance and self sufficiency, whether they speak with mountainous Colorado inflections or a feet-on-the-table Alabama drawl.  Most of them repair their own clothes until they’ll no longer hold together, and their labors often produce enough food for their entire families to eat.  Many of them know about the medicinal plants that grow wildly in the area, and all tend to see self-healthcare as not just a necessity but as an individual responsibility and a natural-given right.

Medicine Wagon model 72dpi

While posters, handbills and word-of-mouth announcements would sometimes precede a traveling show, it was not always so.  Many times there would be no indication of anything out of the ordinary until the clop-clop-clopping of horses pulling an unfamiliar wagon, rolling leisurely in their direction with a growing cloud of skipping children and curious adults billowing behind.  Whether because of the lettering on its sides, its brightly painted colors or the colorful characters having ahold of the reins, it would be clear to all that there was something unusual about the wagon and something special about to transpire.  All things strange promise wonder and surprise to their beholders, but depending on its size and compliment this oddity on wheels promised more: Live music, for anxious ears!  Live Indians fresh off their trail of tears!  A magic show, perhaps, or gypsy-dressed tarot reader set to reveal which crops will fail and which romances last.  Even a long winded preacher of hell and damnation inside along with displays of medical charts if there be room, a revealing skeleton for anatomical instruction, and racks of full bottles to be shown to them soon.

Medicine Show cast 72dpi

The horses are pulled to a stop at a prearranged spot or anywhere that looks likely to get a good draw, released from their harnesses and tied by ropes and halters to a nearby tree.  Stepping smartly down from the driver’s seat – or rising with a flourish from within the oakwood coach –will be a man dressed at least a tad more flamboyantly than the overalls-clad fellows lined up to meet him with their mouths open and their hands in their pants.  Doffing a snappy Stetson or silken top hat, he clears the road grunge from his throat, then loudly introduces himself and his mission to what quickly grows to be a small throng.

Baker's Medicine Wagon 72dpi

“Well,” he might begin, “a fine afternoon to all you gentleman of good will and ladies of fine tastes!  It is I, the man known as the people’s physician, maestro of popular music and entertainment, your alchemist of well being and conveyor of necessary remedies for a well balanced and fruitful life… asking you each but a single question:  What, dear friends, is the price of health?  For a mere fifty pennies gathering dust in your bureau drawer, two measly quarters or five thin dimes, you too can avail yourselves of nature’s own medicines, for what overpriced doctor could ever know more or do more for us than Mother Nature herself?  As God has given to us all manner of plants to feed our bellies and heal our wounds and infirmities, I have been given the secrets of their use by his agents living closest to his creation.  But wait!  I am not here simply to treat your maladies but to ease your burdens and help raise your spirits.  Before I have dispensed a single bottle of my herbal preparations, I shall have first dispensed a humble display of well practiced magic and the pleasures of song.”

Travelling Medicine Show #3 poster 72dpi

If he has assistants or performers to help, they will have soon set up the visual attractions – from anatomy charts and pressed plants to human skulls and exotic butterfly collections, shrunken heads purportedly from New Guinea and even floral mosaics made up of the teeth extracted from a succession of willing audiences.  Sometimes called “the museum,” these exhibitions did indeed constitute traveling museums for the rural working class and the poor in an age when visitors to most urban collections were largely limited to the rich and privileged.  Such displays were sources of education and delight, as much as magnets attracting people to the products and shows.

“You,” says the Medicine Man, “can purchase a bottle for what ails ya later, I really hope you can see… but the pleasures of the night, my friends, are free!”

Medicine Show sellers 5 poster 72dpi

The success of the Medicine Show “pitchman” hinged in part on the quality of his spiel, known as “the pitch” or “the give.”  As the “grinder” Fred “Doc” Bloodgood put it, “I have always made it my practice never to use one word where four will do.”  Then again, not all were said to have a way with words.  Some were “boozer” doctors who muddled their sentences whenever “in the cups,” a few like Indian John muttered rapid biblical verse scarcely intelligible yet somehow sufficiently impressive, while others chose to let their medicines or their banjos do the talking.  The message in every case was a very Jacksonian one: doctors could barely be afforded and seldom trusted; the most natural medicines are the best; the means to ease suffering and illness should be equally available to all; and we need to empower ourselves to make our own medical choices, to take responsibility for ours and our family’s health needs, and to resist the dictates of both big business and big government.  No wonder they were so publicly vilified in magazines and newspapers, and the powers-that-be launched such a forceful and lengthy campaign to destroy them.

Medicine Wagon 2 -72dpi

There have been many books published over the years purporting to tell the story of early folk medicine and the traveling Medicine Shows, but with very few exceptions their approach is to either demonize them as dangerous money-grubbing scams, or to make fun of them as quaint elements of historic Americana.  In the former case, there are those who consider all folk medicine not only inferior but treacherous, sounding as if anyone would have to be crazy to consider self medicating with plants, and as if licensed doctors and official experts were the infallible arbiters of what’s good for us.  In the latter, snide commentators herald the sensible benefits of modern medicine while showcasing herbalists and other natural healers as curious throwbacks, foolish children, superstitious primitives, naive practitioners of thankfully extincted healing arts.

Attacks on quackery were also attacks on herbalism, funded by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

Attacks on quackery were also attacks on herbalism, funded by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

Even many otherwise savvy herbalists today fall into the trap of accepting the propaganda that our government was interested only in the health and protection of the paying public when they went after the Medicine Men, when in reality it marked only the first of a long succession of legislative attacks against home remedies of all kinds and herbalism in particular.  These attacks were generated as a result of an organized campaign by the fast growing pharmaceutical industry and medical licensing agencies to ensure their monopolies on medicines and services, and thereby their ever more enormous profit margins.  It was they who purchased the many thousands of dollars worth of ads branding all herbal concoctions as fraudulent and harmful “patent medicines,” painting small manufacturers as the “grim reaper” in posters meant to scare housewives away from their neighborhood apothecaries, familiar poultices and teas and into pharmacies where they can purchase supposedly safe and miraculous drugs.

The propaganda campaign against "patent medicines" was focused on all makers of herbal preparations, not just "snake oil" scam artists.

The propaganda campaign against “patent medicines” was focused on all makers of herbal preparations, not just “snake oil” scam artists.

Let us look for moment at the reality and substance of their claims.  It was and still is said that the main ingredient of herbal and vegetable nostrums was alcohol, and that their popularity depended on the drunken effects and the quantity of sales to drinkers in legally “dry” counties of the United States.  In truth, these nostrums averaged only from 5 to 15 percent alcohol, only in a few cases more than was needed to extract and preserve a medicinal tincture.  Someone would have to be very thirsty for a buzz to drink the up to 10 bottles that would be required to experience a high, and the cost would be considerably more than simply buying a flask of bootlegged moonshine.  Both opium and cocaine could be found in potions meant for pain, or scarily in recipes sold to “quiet the crying of babies, make them immune to the symptoms of colic, and guarantee a full nights sleep,” but heroin was also the primary active agent in the original Bayer pain pills and cocaine the source of the “added energy” promised in Coca-Cola soda drink ads from the time of its inception.

Stanley's liniment contained zero snakes, but it did have helpful camphor and cayenne.

Stanley’s liniment contained zero snakes, but it did have helpful camphor and cayenne.

So-called “authorities” pointed out that some nostrums contained “mostly water, with few identifiable ingredients of any known medical value,” while others insisted these botanical “receipts” contained chemicals injurious to health or a threat to life.  This would indeed have been true in some percentage of bottled nostrums, but none were more useless or dangerous than some of the modern drugs now being forced down the throats of the average patient.  Few natural plant materials, in any quantity, have the reputation for causing death of debility to the degree that a vast number of modern drugs now do, and yet the average citizen continues to slander both Medicine Shows and herbalism in all its forms, at the same time as holding up institutional doctoring as the only reasonable model for health care.  There is good reason for criticisms of the exaggerated or baseless claims of many homemade preparations, most notably when it’s advertised that a single concoction could cure everything from hot flashes to impotency and “curvature of the spine”… but is this any more misleading than a modern drug company promising a chemical that can (and I quote) “rid you of unsightly pimples, putting an end to the shame and isolation, improving the chances of success in love and employment.”

Remedies & Extracts wagon 72dpi

Some pitchmen sold watered down products, used “shills” in the audience to give false testimonials and encourage sales, or even ducked out of the area in the middle of the night in order to avoid complaints, refunds, or the strong arm of local law enforcement that could follow an exposition.  Their aim may have sometimes been no more than the income – the “velvet” that the shows produced – but far more often the mission and goals of the traveling medicine man was as much to make people feel better as it was to make money.  Sellers often manufactured their own medicines, using folk recipes they researched on their own, or recipes commonly found in the popular manuals of their time such as 1882’s The Complete Herbalist, and the King’s American Dispensatory published in 1898.  The traveling show was often the only medical education or assistance that a community’s residents ever received, and mobile doctors and “circuit dentists” could not only a source of relief but a veritable lifesaver.

Medicine Wagon drawing 72dpi

The English settlers brought to the world a long and respected tradition of medical herbalism, as well as bringing with them seeds for growing many of their favorite plant species from the “old world” to the new.  That tradition was bolstered and amended by an infusion of herbal wisdom by the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with “Indian potions” proving far more helpful and far less destructive than the more “civilized” medical practices of the 18th Century.  Those colonists who were financially well off could (unfortunately, as it were) afford the most “scientific” of treatments such as purging and blistering, first U.S. President George Washington might have survived to old age if not killed by the professional doctors who insisted on treating his condition by bleeding him, and the must esteemed modernist Dr. Benjamin Rush promoted dreadful doses of poisonous Calomel in most all of the “improved” medicinal preparations well-to-do folks paid so much silver for.  Fortunately for the “common man” – the average working couple – they were mostly impoverished enough to still look to the fields, mountains and gardens for botanical relief for what ails them, and otherwise to barter for the help of local herb-wise midwives.  Out in “the country,” when on occasions a local sheriff arrested the members of a traveling Medicine Show or forced them to move on, it seldom had anything to do with the quality or contents of the medicine being sold, but far more often was a response to what they considered to be the “lewd and immoral” nature of the show’s dance routines!

Mark's Celebrated Medicines wagon 3" 72dpi

Homemade herbal preparations sometimes became known as “recipes” or “receipts” to those who used them, but were lambasted as “patent medicines” by the professionals and competing manufacturers who sought their restriction.  In actuality, there were no patent medicines in the new country.  Patent medicines were the patented and licensed products of Great Britain, resented by Americans for their high cost and debatable qualities, but what would become a campaign against herbalism would be characterized as a defense of the people against “the patent medicine threat.”

Medicine Show sellers 4 -72dpi

By the time of the first World War, all but a few of the traveling Medicine Shows had ceased traveling the circuits.  A few continued for another decade, substituting automobiles and trailers for the iconic horses and medicine wagons.  Their end came not through legislation and abolition so much as from being co-opted, subsumed and replaced by other mediums for sales and entertainment.  The sales component was undermined not just by a shift in the public’s opinion of “primitive herbs” versus “modern cures,” but also by the rise of giant corporate producers and an increase in the prevalence of mail-order businesses.  The very valuable role that Medicine Shows played in bringing entertainment, education and culture to the people of rural American was assumed first by the new medium of radio being fast adopted even in the most out of the way settlements, and then in the late 1940s by the introduction of television.  One no longer had to walk any further than into their own living rooms to hear and eventually see musicians playing their favorite songs, Native Americans dressed up in tribal costume, lectures of interest, comedians and magicians peddling their jokes and tricks.

Medicine Shows continued into the automobile age, until they were killed off by the drug companies, the A.M.A., and the popularity of TV.

Medicine Shows continued into the automobile age, until they were killed off by the drug companies, the A.M.A., and the popularity of TV.

There are a huge amount of websites, journals and other publications by catty licensed physicians still dedicated to “exposing quacks.”  Under their definitions of quackery, we find a list of “errant and misleading” practices that includes not just remarkable treatments like ionic cleansing, colloidal silver and glucosomine supplements – but also such tried and respected fields as herbalism, acupuncture, aromatherapy,  holistic dentistry, osteopathy, chiropractic and complimentary medicine.

Dr. Krohn Medicine Wagon 72dpi

“Why use chemical drugs when nature in her wisdom and beneficence has provided in her great vegetable laboratories, relief for most of the more common and simple ills of mankind?”
–Joseph Meyer (1930s)

In most cases Medicine Men were working to earn a living, yet their primary wish and purpose was to contribute to the quality of people’s lives, ease the burdens of their ills and restore them to function and fitness.  Few traveling marketers can be dismissed as profiteers, and many were first and foremost devoted to their role as genuine and caring healers.

Throughout its century of optimal prominence, the traveling Medicine Show was the number one threat to the monopoly of licensed health care and pharmaceutical drugs, with the Medicine Man the main counterirritant to the institutionalized prestige and superior status and position of the medical doctor.  In the same way, herbs and herbalism today comprise an essential counterbalance to the corporate whitewashing of their often dangerous products, and are attacked precisely because of the challenge them might post to drug sales and profits.  The corporate strategy at the time of this writing is to defame or belittle the efficacy of whole plant medicines while marketing products made from isolated or synthesized chemicals and chemical recombinations employing herbal and nature-associated marketing language.  Recent legislation such as the GMP (the Orwellian coined “Good Manufacturing Practices”) continues the attack on herbal preparations made by the owners of small herbal businesses while favoring national and multinational corporate interests.

The traveling Medicine Show, like the practice of herbalism itself and other forms of natural healing, have served as positive and creative forms of resistance against a life-crushing, de-naturing paradigm.  They are, by any definition, truly “alternative.”  The struggles to keep Medicine Shows and herbalism itself alive have fundamentally been contests over control of our own existence and health, impacting the most intimate relationship of all: that crucial relationship between ourselves and our bodies.

These days, if we do a search for contemporary “Medicine Shows” on the internet we will turn up several pitchmen marketing historic Medicine Show acts as entertainment for conferences, festivals and schools.  In most cases these showmen’s approach is to reinforce the unfortunate and inaccurate stereotype of the medicine seller as a charming but dishonest bunko artist, fleecing audiences of country rubes with his clever tricks and lies.  More accurately, it is the corporations and their dutiful elected officials who are doing the worst fleecing of the public, while the icon of the Medicine Show represents democratic resistance to dominant cultural dictates, to deleterious synthetic drugs and an institutionalized health care system.  It stands in truth as a herald of options and call to choice.

The worst of the Medicine Show products were generally less dangerous than the well accepted drugs being massively prescribed to people in these times.  These events for the common folk empowered them to take control of their own health and well being, the opposite of what current advertising seeks to do.  We were told by the Medicine Show pitchmen that we had a choice as to how we live our lives, and that we could have an effect on how long and well we survive.

“No man lives forever,” the Medicine Man might say, “and in due time age shall have its mortal say.  But until that moment it is up to us to make the choices that can extend our stay on this bountiful earth and increase our healthy enjoyment of it.”  We may or or may not purchase the proffered bottles of “Dr. Goode’s,” but we take home a feeling of individual empowerment, a bit of curious information and heart-lightening song – a tonic for the spirit that sinks in deep, and lasts long.

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The above article is excerpted from a much longer article appearing in Plant Healer Magazine, Winter 2013… and in 2015 it will serve as the first chapter in Hardin’s book “The Traveling Medicine Show”.  For updates and more articles by Wolf and Kiva, subscribe to the free Plant Healer Newsletter at: www.PlantHealer.org

To subscribe to Plant Healer Magazine, go to www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

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A modern medicine wagon, displaying its maker's humor.

A modern medicine wagon, displaying its maker’s humor.

Nov 042013
 

THE PLANT HEALER’S PATH

A New Book by Jesse Wolf Hardin with Kiva Rose, David Hoffman, Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light & More

300 Pages, Hardbound Limited Edition $39 – Order your personal copy from the Bookstore & Gallery page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

Do you have a store or catalog?  Please consider ordering 10 or more softcover books at a 40% wholesale discount – only $17.40 each.  For full details, download this pdf:

Plant Healer’s Path Wholesale Info

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Plant Healer's Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin

BOOK REVIEW by Melanie Pulla (HerbGeek.com):

If you have been searching for the pulse of American herbal medicine, then you will absolutely find it in Jesse Hardin’s The Plant Healer’s Path.  A great amount of herbal learning currently focuses on the how, what, and when of plant medicine: how to apply herbs to benefit health; what plants should be used for which condition; and when medicinal plants are best employed. This approach to learning continues to be embraced for good reason; it takes years upon years of absorbing and applying herbal knowledge before one can indeed begin to understand the nuances of plant medicine. There is, however, a whole other stream of herbal learning that is equally as important as this conventional approach, but which remains largely neglected by most educators, practitioners, and students. This new stream of learning focuses on understanding the “why” of plant medicine, and Jesse Hardin’s The Plant Healer’s Path offers compelling reasons why we should all be paying more attention to these questions.

Seeking answers to “why questions” is never easy, especially when we’re addressing the weightier issues of our craft. For example, consider some of these very important questions: Why might it be difficult to forge your own path as an herbalist? Why can the herbal path feel daunting, confusing, and even downright lonely? Why do many herbalists practice in ways that are so different from one another? Why can it be challenging to know which area of herbalism you are best suited for? Why is the term “herbalist” often ambiguous and misunderstood? And why is critical thinking the key that will make or break the success of an herbalist? Hardin offers the reader thoughtful, accessible, and down-to-earth answers to many of these crucial questions, presenting insights that are gleaned from years upon years of experience and deep reflection.

I like to think of this book as an herbalist’s manifesto. While the questions raised in this book are both weighty and nuanced, Jesse successfully equips the reader with the tools, strategies, and mind frames necessary to craft individualized answers and conclusions. As well as addressing many of the difficult “why” questions of herbalism, The Plant Healer’s Path also serves as a how-to manual for finding and sharing your own unique voice as an herbalist. This is a book that most definitely deserves to be carefully read from cover-to-cover – many times over. I read it twice in five days!

Along with Hardin’s compelling intellectual prose, The Plant Healer’s Path also offers exciting and thoughtful insights from seasoned and up-and-coming herbalists alike. Kiva Rose contributes an enchanting series of herbal lore as well as astute perceptions gained from years of practice and personal hard-learned lessons. And the political commentaries, stimulating discourse, intriguing sentiments, and heartfelt reflections shared by prominent herbalists such as David Hoffmann, Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light, Sam Coffman, Rebecca Altman, and Roger Wicke are also especially enjoyable, and succeed at keeping the reader actively engaged. These contributions bring a depth of information that I feel readers will immediately relate to; I know I did.

Plant Healer's Path poster 1-72dpi

Now that this new stream of herbal learning has been raised, evaluated, and shared, I believe it has the capacity to deeply empower herbal students and practitioners alike. I envision that books such as The Plant Healer’s Path will soon be included as mandatory reading for current herb school curriculums. Graduating students, along with anyone interested in pursuing herbalism as a vocation, will be profoundly aided by understanding precious non-tangibles, such as the possible roles of the herbalist in society, the current climate within and without the herbal community, the benefits of building relationships with other herbalists, the multiple ways to co-create the culture of folk herbalism, and how to effectively evaluate your successes and learn from your failures as an herbalist. Furthermore, Jesse dutifully explores and evaluates questions surrounding ethics, regulation, professionalism, and health paradigms.

The most valuable aspect of this book, however, is the way in which Jesse Hardin initiates this important conversation, and then encourages readers to reflect on and contribute to the discussion. The Plant Healer’s Path is not a manual to take verbatim; you won’t agree with everything represented in this book, nor should you! Rather, consider it a strategic tool that will empower you to seek your own answers, uncover your own voice, and add your own unique insights to the conversation. Ultimately, this book is a provocative invitation for you to help co-create a newly emerging herbal renaissance. I highly recommend you order your limited edition hardcover copy today, because this book is already a classic.

Plant Healer's Path www.PlantHealer.org––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Order your limited edition hardbound copy from the Bookstore Page at:

www.PlantHealer.org

Wholesale orders get a 40% wholesale discount, if interested download this pdf:

Plant Healer’s Path Wholesale Info

Melanie Pulla is one of the more gifted young voices in the herbal community, and a regular contributor to Plant Healer Magazine.  Check out her blog of insightful articles and more: HerbGeek.com

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Oct 282013
 
www.HerbFolk.org

www.HerbFolk.org

2014 HerbFolk Gathering Teachers Confirmed!

Plant Healer’s 2014 event for herbalists will be again held at gorgeous Mormon Lake, in the forests south of Flagstaff and the incomparable Grand Canyon – Sept 18th-21st

LONGER CLASSES: You asked for longer, more in-depth classes, and we’ve done as asked: no classes will be shorter than 2 full hours, with many 3 hrs. and 5 hrs. long.

In keeping with our Enchanted Forest theme, our awesome teachers will be be presenting classes with a folkloric/mythic component as well as clinical and hands-on audience participation.  Make plans now to attend next Sept. 18-21st.  Keep abreast of the latest updates as well as read a trove of articles and interviews for herbalists by subscribing to the FREE Plant Healer Newsletter.  Subscribe by filling in your name and email in the box at:  www.PlantHealer.org

It was painful selecting proposals from the many intriguing applications we received this year, but we made our final choices based on how closely the classes fit the theme and what balance of topics were needed. Many who didn’t get a slot for ’14, will be hosted in ’15 and beyond as we continually evolve new themes.

Our 2014 HerbFolk presenters are not only esteemed herbal elders but also the important up-and-coming voices of our times – including a curandero, a novelist & storyteller, a perfumer, an ethnobotanist, an herbal beer maker, an intuitive in traditional Chinese Medicine!

We are happy to announce our 2014 Teachers:

David Hoffman Matthew Wood  • Guido Masé • Sean DonahueChuck Garcia Phyllis Hogan • Kiva Rose Jim McDonald Kiki Geary Merihelen Nuñez Ben Zappin • Kristi Shapla  Asia Suler • Irina Adam • Rebecca Altman Shana Lipner Grover Elaine Shiff Stephany Hoffelt Denise Tracy Cowan Jesse Wolf Hardin and more to follow

“What an exciting conference! Plant Healer events are the new wave of herbalism, featuring speakers and a community rich with a combination of long hands-on experience and fresh creativity.”
-Paul Bergner

”This is a must not-miss event for those who love herbs, great herb teachers, great music (Wow!), cutting edge presentations, herbal friends and fun; in a beautiful setting.”  –Matthew Wood
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               Grand Finale 2013 Resurgence banner-72dpi

Reviews & Pics From the 2013 Herbal Resurgence Finale

The concluding Herbal Resurgence was nothing short of incredible.  Kiva and I were deeply touched by the incredible sweetness of everyone who came, a particularly wonderful gathering of this most unusual, sensitive, caring, loving, creative and motivated tribe.  Things went amazingly smooth, the weather was perfect, and the memories we’ve gathered are a bouquet we can expect to last a lifetime.  Next year’s HerbFolk Gathering is going to be like nothing before… but first we join you in commemorating this year’s
Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous…. fostering the birth of new conferences across the country,
fueling a movement.

Phyllis Hogan calling directions at Herbal Resurgence - photo by Adrienne Ellis

Phyllis Hogan calling directions at Herbal Resurgence – photo by Adrienne Ellis

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Lena Carol was the first herbalist attendee to write us this year:

“I’m still on the road back home, but truly feel like it is home I am leaving behind.  I have been to all kinds of events from regional ones to women’s conferences and I have truly never felt so welcomed, so empowered, and so wild as I do at Plant Healer gatherings.  I would like to attend lots of different conferences every year if I was able, but if I could only go to one it would have to be the Resurgence, Medicine of The People, Herbfolk or whatever else you ever decide to call it.  There is nothing like it for sure!  It feels like my tribe, and in so many ways it has give me back my life!  Thank, you, thank you!”

Some Herbal Resurgence Teachers 2013 – Left to right, Front Row: Ryn Madura, Stephany Hoffelt, Larken Bunce, Ingrid Bauer, Ben Zappin, Tracy Picard, Carolyn Gagnon, Julie Caldwell, Juliet Blankespoor, Jessica Baker, Kiva Rose; Back row: Katja Swift, Feather Jones, Phyllis Light, Jim McDonald, Howie Brounstein, James Swan, Sean Donahue, Sam Coffman; In far back: Jesse Wolf Hardin

Some Herbal Resurgence Teachers 2013 – Left to right, Front Row: Ryn Madura, Stephany Hoffelt, Larken Bunce, Ingrid Bauer, Ben Zappin.  Middle Row: Tracy Picard, Carolyn Gagnon, Julie Caldwell, Juliet Blankespoor, Jessica Baker, Kiva Rose; Back row: Katja Swift, Feather Jones, Phyllis Light, Jim McDonald, Howie Brounstein, James Swan, Sean Donahue, Sam Coffman; In far back: Jesse Wolf Hardin

Kiva Rose with Irene Wolansky of Mountain Rose, our most supportive sponsors.

Kiva Rose with Irene Wolansky of Mountain Rose, our most supportive sponsors.

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Asia Suler – an inspired young herbalist and upcoming 2014 teacher – wrote the following lovely review:

The Herbal Resurgence: Finding “Self, Earth, Plant and Purpose”

”By mid-morning on Thursday the healers market was filled with conference attendees. Children and elders with long hair, donning talismans and roots, sneakers, shawls, baseball caps and button downs. On one table slow burned moxa, on another, delicate rolls of herbal manna wafting the faint scent of cinnamon and maca.  From the beginning, I had heard wonderful and diverse things about the Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous. It was a gathering of disparate teachers and skills, an invocation of ancient and resurfacing traditions— a wild, wide and expansive invitation to re-imagine the worlds in which we all live. In short, it was a celebration. Not only of the groundwork, the bedrock, the wellspring of herbal and earth-based wisdom— but the sheer diversity and individual nature of its resurgence.

”Over the course of the next several days, time seemed to stretch, grow simultaneously tumultuous and still. In between the life-expanding classes, the sheer depth of knowledge presented and shared, there were moments of profound self-sanctity— arrival. Underneath, and around, and within the heart of this gathering was a call— not only to come to know the green beings of this world, and the ways in which they create space, but to find your own place within the nature of existence. Instinctively, each plant can feel and find its own distinct niche to prosper and grow. While tall mullein thrives alongside the sun-baked highway, creeping chickweed is at its most succulent in the cooling shade of giant ponderosa pines. People, healers, herbalists, teachers are no different. Each one of us has a sacred place in which we alone have the ability to root, receive, flower forth and grow. In their cornerstone class: “Our Medicine, Our Path: Recognizing Our Unique Gifts, Carving Out a Niche” Kiva and Jesse delivered an eloquent and inspiring summation of the true blessing of this conference. The divine encouragement of this gathering is not simply to explore the charted terrain of the communally given, the known, but, as Jesse so eloquently summarized, to develop a “personalized relationship with self, earth, plant and purpose.”

”Just as people change, transform and grow into new and more authentic incarnations of themselves— so does this beloved gathering. Ever true to themselves and the always-evolving nature of living and learning, Kiva and Jesse have invited this gathering to heed the call of its own metamorphosis. Next year’s envisioned HerbFolk gathering promises to be equally illuminatory and incandescent.  In fact, it has already become the embodiment of this gatherings most sacred teaching: change, find oneself, honor the diverse and healing being that you are, and seek out the transformation you alone can carry into this waiting world.

Asia Suler & Juliet Blankespoor, Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous

Asia Suler & Juliet Blankespoor, Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous

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Stephany Hoffelt, insightful herbal teacher and student of the plant kingdom, posted this review on her Naturally Simple Living Blog:

It’s been a while now since I’ve been away from my friends and I am sitting here missing them like mad tonight.   The Herbal Resurgence Gathering has come and gone, for 2013.  The attendees  are all home to our various communities feeling recharged and inspired.  As always, there was something about the feeling of camaraderie  that occurs at this conference that makes you wish you could bottle it and just take little sips all year long.
Also appealing is the fact that Mormon Lake is a beautiful place. That  first night wandering around on the mountaintop campsite, illuminated by the light of the full moon, reminded me that this gathering was a timeless event. Since the very earliest days, people have been drawn to converge on places like this. Snuggling in my sleeping bag; listening to the elk bugle lulled me to sleep faster than any lullaby.

I have to admit, I am prone to choosing to attend the classes held outdoors. Learning underneath the towering pines is infinitely preferable to being stuck in a hotel conference room.   The trees hold us in their healing energy and open our heart and our minds to the messages we are hearing.  No class made that more clear than the class Julie Caldwell taught on Sentience of Place. I also think that I think teaching in that environment brings out the best presentations, as well.

Resurgence teacher and Plant Healer Magazine writer Sean Donahue.

Resurgence teacher and Plant Healer Magazine writer Sean Donahue.

There were so many amazing offerings this year, it was hard to choose between them all.  Teaching myself this year,  made that even more challenging.  I missed some classes I really wanted to attend, especially Sean and Jim’s class which I heard was amazing.  Still, I managed to get my fill of herbal wisdom.  I finally  got to take a couple of classes  from Matt Wood on Tongue and Pulse diagnosis.  Larken Bunce’s presentation on her work with free clinics was inspiring and Sam Coffman’s class on GMP’s was almost enough to make me relax about that issue,  just  a little.    I was especially happy to watch  my friend Traci’s class on holistic body image because she brought up a lot of topics that need to be discussed and addressed about we as providers approach the idea of encouraging a positive self-image in our clients.

Even the vending hall is just fun.  Instead of a place where people are trying to sell you stuff, it takes on the its own unique character as a social  gathering place and a venue for learning.    The medicine makers who come to this conference freely share their wisdom and ideas.  Rebecca Altman outdid herself this year with inspiring new products and familiar favorites.

I am always amazed by the fact that year after year Kiva and Wolf manage to send participants home fired and ready to take herbalism back to the people in their communities.   The people who come to this conference aren’t just business people or  there to network.  They are people who share a calling- each one of them is lured by the plants to spread a message of empowerment and independence.  And the plants connect us all in away that the term colleague doesn’t quite cover.
It is an honor, and a blessing, to be a part of that community.

Herbal Resurgence Teachers Stephany Hoffelt & Traci Picard.

Herbal Resurgence Teachers Stephany Hoffelt & Traci Picard.

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Irina Adam, Romanian born herbalist, sensualist perfumer (see her Etsy Shop) and 2014 HerbFolk presenter writes:

”Among the land brand new to me, surprising new plants, tastes and smells, beautiful new friends…

”The healing power of story stood out for me as a theme in this conference. What’s more magical than a good story, told mindfully, and listened to all ears, that comes at the perfect moment with just the right message, and opened up space.

”Some of my favorite story medicine was in the ‘Hawthorn’ class, with Sean Donahue and Jim McDonald, and Kiva and Wolf’s ‘Our Medicine, Our Path’.

Jesse Wolf & herbalist Howie Brounstein, Sept. 2013

Jesse Wolf & herbalist Howie Brounstein, Sept. 2013

‘… And see ye not that bonnie road
That winds abut the fernie brae?’

”There was a palpable calmness, inclusiveness and friendly vibe at the event. Kiva & Wolf were present, welcoming and delightful. It didn’t feel rushed like other conferences can be, tho it went by so quickly!

”This was my first journey to the Southwest. The site is gorgeous, with Ponderosa pines and wildflowers blooming all over. On my way home I begged my friend Irene to drive thru Sedona, and thus got to be for the first time ever in a canyon in the high desert! The rock walls, and the variety of plant life took my breath away. Now i can imagine the canyon at the Anima Center.

”A very personal experience was that i got to go at the last minute, as if on the tiny wing of a faerie. It went by so lovely and quickly that while i was there part of me wasn’t sure where i was.. I realized this especially when i woke up from a nap in the flowers wondering where am i, for a little longer than usual. Right where i should be… And when i returned part of me was definitely in the Ponderosas for the next several days. Still wandering in the yellow flowers, still listening to the stories, allowing them to change my being.”

Irina Adam with Kiva Rose, Resurgence Finale.

Irina Adam with Kiva Rose, Resurgence Finale.

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Phyllis Hogan, our dear herbalist friend (Winter Sun Trading Co.) writes:

“The Herbal Resurgence movement is fueled by the boundless energy and committed drive of some of the most creative and cutting-edge herbalists out there today.  The topics presented, the products and formulas at the Healers Market, and the infusion of social consciousness into this latest Plant Healer event was innovation at it’s finest.  And at the foundation of it all is a deep  respect for the plants on all levels.  If you want to know where modern herbalism is headed, getting involved with this forward-thinking scene is a must.”

The pine forests of Mormon Lake.

The pine forests of Mormon Lake.

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Maleza Furiosa touched us by writing:

“Back from the 2013 Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous. What an event this year… never in my life have I had my identity, my experiences, and my damn stubborn sureness of the necessity of this meandering branched path mirrored back at me from so many directions. My deepest gratitude to Kiva Ringtail Rose for her honesty, tenacity, and trailblazing.”

7 song leading a plant walk at Plant Healer Magazine's HerbalResurgence 2013

7 song leading a plant walk at Plant Healer Magazine’s HerbalResurgence 2013

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Cynthia Margarita kindly said:

“This was such an incredible event, my favorite this year!  The magic of the Coconino forest was an amazing background for all the learning and inspiration we got from the amazing classes.”

Sam Coffman, 7Song & James Snow at Herbal Resurgence 2013.

Sam Coffman, 7Song & James Snow at Herbal Resurgence 2013.

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Nancy Green was energized, which makes all worthwhile:

“Once again, you should be pleased that all your hard work managed to produce a wonderful gathering.  There were so many wonderful presenters and topics, it was really tough to choose, I was inspired and energized!  The site is perfect; the fellow travelers, delightful; the classes, valuable and diverse.  (The shopping’s pretty great, too).  I found Julie Caldwell’s “Sentience of Place” a particularly moving and profound experience.  Wow!  I definitely left in an altered state!”

Sweet Resurgence teacher Julie Caldwell with Jesse Wolf Hardin, 2013.

Sweet Resurgence teacher Julie Caldwell with Jesse Wolf Hardin, 2013.

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Lovely Kristen’s thank you made our day:

“I want to thank you and Kiva again for putting on such an amazing gathering. The variety of voices makes us stronger. I felt an upsurge of energy and passion…”

Kiva's class at Herbal Resurgence

Kiva’s class at Herbal Resurgence

 

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Dear Laurel Beck reminds us of why we do this work::

“The workshop topics were inspired.  We were offered a balance of practical issues and equally essential forays into the heart and spirit.  Wolf and Kiva managed to be in 50 places at once, taking care of details and people nonstop.  They kept their arms around us the whole time. No small trick with over 300 people to look after.  How did they do that?!!!

”Integrity shone through the whole event, from the organizers to the teachers, to the people I sat next to during the classes.  And the forest, of course…  After several days of being in such beauty with people who understand what life really is, what’s important – who we are and how we fit into the larger fabric of life on this beautiful planet – it’s been difficult to reenter the not-so-real world of my everyday life.  But I have come back changed, and full of gratitude for this experience!  So many blessings and a thousand thanks.”

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Kiva and Wolf’s gratitude goes out to all the wonderful attendees, sponsors, teachers and volunteers, for Trail Boss Don and all his help, and for the additional photos contributed for this blog by Adrienne Ellis and Irina Adam.

www.PlantHealer.org

To see many more photos of this event, click here to download the latest issue of:

The Plant Healer Newsletter

Rocking to the band Las Cafeteras at Herbal Resurgence Finale.

Rocking to the band Las Cafeteras at Herbal Resurgence Finale.

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Oct 172013
 

P1050127

My Desert Honey Cake is based on the traditional Scottish Whisky Cake, but with the addition/substitution of readily available bioregional ingredients such as mesquite flour and pine nuts. I feel that the earthy, malted flavor of mesquite flour blends beautifully with the peaty, slightly smokey flavor of good  scotch whisky to make a rich, complex, and wild treat perfect for Autumn and Winter. My apologies for not having a specific picture of the cake, but my family loved it so much, it got eaten up before the camera could make it to the scene!

I’ve also made an elixir of pine needles, whisky, and honey  to use in the place of the straight whisky, but you can do it either way, just remember to taste the batter and adjust to taste.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 C flour
  • 1/2 C mesquite flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 C pine elixir made with whisky or whisky
  • 1/4 C butter roasted pine nuts

 

Directions:

  1. Melt butter over low heat
  2. Stir in honey
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in egg
  4. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients
  5. Fold dry ingredients into wet
  6. Batter should be liquid but thick, if it’s doughy you need more liquid (you can add more whisky or water as you prefer), if it’s watery, then add more mesquite flour.
  7. Oil/butter small cake pan
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for appr. 30-40 minutes or until firm and not sticky in the middle.

I iced my Desert Honey Cake with a Mesquite Whisky Butter Icing, but a plain Vanilla icing would also work very well.

Note: all measurements are approximate, feel free to adapt to your preferences.

 

 

Oct 142013
 

PlantHealer.org Class Notes Book

Now Available To All:
The 2013 Herbal Resurgence Class Notes & Essays Book

250 Page Ebook full of Herbal Information & Inspiration

Featuring: Mathew Wood, James Snow, Kiva Rose, Phyllis Hogan, Denise Tracy Cowan, Julie Caldwell, Caroline Gagnon, Ben Zapping, Ingrid Bauer, 7Song, Jim McDonald, Mike Masek, Sam Coffman, Jessica Baker, Traci Picard, Katja Swift, Juliet Blankespoor, Kiki Geary, Sean Donahue and Feather Jones.

2013 marked the 4th year of Plant Healer events, from the original Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference through this last of the Herbal Resurgence conferences. If you were unable to attend for some reason, you can now get a taste of the spirit and content of the 2013 coming together of the wilder tribe, and benefit from the immense amount of information and inspiration found therein.

250 page Ebook PDF Download only $21
from the Plant Healer Bookstore & Gallery 

Mathew Wood, Plant Healer Teacher

Mathew Wood, Plant Healer Teacher

CONTENTS:
Jesse Wolf & Kiva Hardin: Our Medicine, Our Path: Finding Our Way, Carving Out a Niche
Julie Caldwell: Sentience of Place
Caroline Gagnon: You as The Central Piece of Your Medicine Kit
Caroline Gagnon: The Basics of Energetics: Resolving Deficiency & Stagnation
Kiva Rose: In The Pines: Enchantment, Pleasure & Healing From an Ancient Tree Ally
Mike Masek: Modern Day Foraging From a Hunter-Gatherer Perspective
Matthew Wood: Pulse Evaluation
Matthew Wood: Tongue Evaluation
Sam Coffman: Herbal Medicine in Remote, Post-Disaster & UnderServed Environments
Sam Coffman: Herbalism & “Good Manufacturing Practices” Regulations
7Song: Clinical Approaches to Digestive Disorders
Jessica Baker: Foundations of Chinese Medicine
Jessica Baker: Herbs Used in Both Chinese &Western Herbalism
Jessica Baker: Herbal Food Recipes
Phyllis Hogan: The Plants of Mormon Lake, Arizona
Denise Tracy Cowan & Phyllis Hogan: Beauty is Not Skin Deep: Making Herbal SkinCare Products
Ben Zappin: Cinnamon Twig & Bupleurum Formulas for Western Herbalists
Ben Zappin: When An Environment Gives You an Herb, Use It!
Feather Jones: High Desert Plants: Jewels of The Southwest
James Snow: Illness vs. Disease: Experience, Behavior & Narrative in Healing
James Snow: Towards an Approach to Physiology That’s Relevant to Herbal Medicine
Sean Donahue: Heart Medicine For Changelings

Jim McDonald, Plant Healer Teacher

Jim McDonald, Plant Healer Teacher

Jim McDonald & Sean Donahue: Hawthorn
Jim McDonald: Good Humour: Nervines for The Four Temperaments
Jim McDonald: Surviving Sinusitis (& Other Catarrhal Catastrophes)
Tracy Picard: Body Image & The Herbalist
Katja Swift: Girl’s Club: Changelings
Katja Swift & Ryn Midura: Detox: Herbalism’s 4 (well, five) Letter Word
Ingrid Bauer: Red Flags For Herbalists
Ingrid Bauer: Bitters & Carminatives: What Are They Really Doing?
Kiki Geary: Artemisia: She Wants You Intact
Juliet Blankespoor: Embodying The Rainbow: Flavanoids, The Medicine of Colorful Food

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Spanish Needles-72dpi

Oct 102013
 
Plant Healer 2013 Annual www.PlantHealer.org

Plant Healer 2013 Annual www.PlantHealer.org

New Plant Healer Annual Coming Soon – Deadline For Ads

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The 2013 Plant Healer Annual

Most of you know that we publish Plant Healer Annual books each year, annual collections of all the Plant Healer Magazine articles, photos and art, available only to member subscribers of the digital journal.  We just finished compiling the 2014 edition, 1,030 8.5×11” pages chock full of information and inspiration for herbalists, wildcrafters and plant lovers of all kinds.  Authors include Paul Bergner, Susun Weed, Matt Wood and dozens more insightful practitioners.  Once again the Annual is too large for a single book and will have to be printed and sold in 2 thick volumes!

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For Sale December 1st

This year’s collections will be released for sale on the 1st of December.  Those of you who are members can order yours anytime after that.  Non-members can order the Plant Healer Enthusiast discount package and receive the 2013 Annual and Art of Plant Healer books along with a one-year subscription to the digital publication and over $200 worth of bonus downloads.

To order, members need only login to your Member Page. 

To become a subscribing member click on the Magazine page at: www.PlantHealer.org

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Ad Deadline for the 2013 Plant Healer Annual Books

You can promote your herbal business, school or arts through a 1/4, 1/2 or full page display ad in the Plant Healer Annual.  The Annual is purchased by thousands of herbal aficionados, and being a set of books, it ensures your message will be seen by new readers for years to come.  Rates are kept very low to make this opportunity affordable for all.

If interested in advertising in either Plant Healer Magazine, Plant Healer Newsletter or the Plant Healer Annual books, download and return this form:

Plant Healer Advertising Rates & Specs

Oct 092013
 

Folks who have been reading this blog for any length of time at all are probably very familiar with my emphasis on herbal energetics, and how important I feel they are to learn to avoid the frustration of hit and miss treatment. Essentially, energetics provide a look at the essential tendencies of both plants and people, so that we can match them together most effectively. You can read more about my approach to energetics right here. 

A few years ago, I did a multimedia course that covered the big picture of energetics, from sensory awareness to taste and impression to actions to constitutions. A number of folks were so excited by the process, that they wanted even more in depth training, especially when it came to the nitty gritty application. One of the quickest and most effective ways to dive into energetics is by learning about the tastes of herbs and what they mean, giving you incredibly important cues about how and when to apply that herb. My student and Washington clinical herbalist, Rosalee de la Foret, has been doing detailed and powerful work around just this aspect of herbal energetics.

She and Learningherbs.com have teamed up to create some easy to use and very concise tools that can greatly enhance your understanding of energetics and the way you actually work with herbs! She’s currently offering a great Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel (based on wine tasting charts), and will be releasing even more great content in the next week or so. To get involved and get your copy, head over to The Taste of Herbs!

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Oct 072013
 

HerbFolk Gathering PlantHealer.org

Last Call For Teacher Proposals, New Theme: 2014 HerbFolk Gathering

PlantHealer.org

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Final Call For 2014 Teacher Proposals

The next Plant Healer event – the Herbfolk Gathering, Sept 18-21 – is going to have some truly awesome teachers creating a new format like no other… and we have just a very few class slots left for anyone wanting to submit a proposal. You don’t have to be a big name in herbalism to be considered, you just have to have a personal contribution to make that fits our special theme and approach.

All classes will ideally include:
1. A folkloric, historic, mythic or storytelling component or thread;
2. A practical component such as clinical, research, usage and materia medica; and
3. A hands-on component, be it an exercise, laboratory, walk, or other means for audience participation and experience.

Send us your most creative and original topics, getting us your applications no later than Nov. 1st to have the best chance of filling the final openings in the schedule.
Please request a Teacher Application from: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org

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2014 HerbFolk Theme

Traditions In Western Herbalism, Medicine Of The People, the Herbal Resurgence – we can’t quit changing, experimenting and adapting, no way! But rather than changing our event time with every transition, we expect to stick with “HerbFolk Gathering” for future Plant Healer conferences and celebrations… and to include a changing subtitle that reflects these events’ continuing evolution.

“The Enchanted Forest” is the theme for ’14, a folkloric gathering expected to be utterly magical – not in the Disney or New Age sense, but in the sense of a magical as well as purposeful natural world that informs and inspires us as well as helps to heal our wounds. Some of the most important ways that it is communicated are through awakened physical senses, through its mythic dimensions and its well told stories.

This sense of human/plant interrelationship, as well as the very skills of an effective herbal practice, need to be experienced and not just pondered or studied. For this reason, most of the 2014 HerbFolk classes will include audience involvement, such as role playing, hands-on exercises, or other experiential opportunities and interaction.

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Longer Classes

We’ve heard again and again from event attendees how much they wish their favorite classes could have been longer, presenting even more information, going deeper into the topics that they are most interested in. Some events are designed without a single class over 1.5 hours in length, and as one woman recently wrote us, “It’s exciting when different herbal conferences have a ton of classes to choose from, but it becomes hard for me to remember what I’ve learned when we go through them so fast, one after the other.”

For this reason, we’ve decided that we’re going to give those of you who have been wanting longer classes with greater depth exactly what you’ve been asking for. At HerbFolk 2014 there will be no classes under 2 hours, and the majority will be intensives lasting from 3 hours to 5 hours in length!

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Location

Every year we look far and wide for potential event sites. Because of the size and feel of our conferences and the kinds of folks in our community, we have specific needs that are not easily met. It can’t be a normal conference center with a yuppie business vibe and certainly can’t be in a city. It has to be within an hour or two drive from an airport, while being in a wild natural place with nature trails close by. There have to be a sufficient number of buildings or shelters for classes, as well as places outdoors where we are welcome to teach. Cabins are important for those needing them, and so is free camping on national forest land for folks who prefer it or lack the money to pay for lodging. The facilities need to be comfortable yet rustic and earthy, and should have a distinctly western look. They have to serve affordable food that meets our folks’ trained tastes and high standards. And the site managers need to be genuinely happy to be hosting our diverse community of herbalists, plant lovers, wildcrafters and natural healers.

For these reasons and more, we are almost certain remain at beautiful Mormon Lake Resort, with its log cabins nested in a Ponderosa Pine forest, so close to the Grand Canyon and the San Francisco peaks long held sacred.

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Teacher & Classes Announcement, Ticket Sales

We will probably announce our teacher lineup and class titles in November. As always there will be a special sale of deeply discounted tickets for limited time only, most likely in December or January.

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Stay Informed Through the Free Plant Healer Newsletter

The free Newsletter will continue to feature the latest news and announcements regarding the upcoming HerbFolk Gathering, along with expanded content that includes herbalist interview excerpts, and articles by contributing authors from Phyllis Light to Sam Coffman and Kiva Rose. To subscribe, fill in your name and email address at the top of the new Plant Healer splash page:
PlantHealer.org

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Oct 032013
 
by Jilian Tamaki

by Jilian Tamaki

By Kiva Rose
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“I do not want to be human. I want to be myself. They think I’m a lion, that I will chase them. I will not deny that I have lions in me. I am the monster in the wood. I have wonders in my house of sugar. I have parts of myself I do not yet understand.” - Cat Valente, Silently and Very Fast
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Lost in the forest, you happen upon a small woman gathering meaty brown mushrooms from a decaying tree stump. At first, you feel relieved to find another human after hours of wandering desperately in search of civilization. You suppose she might be a traveler like yourself, forced to subsist on woodland fare while waiting for help to arrive. That is, until you notice the knife in her belt with its bone handle, until you see the calloused soles of her bare feet as she reaches up for a swath of lichen hanging from a high tree branch, until you hear her speak soft, rhythmic words to tiny chattering mammal perched on her shoulder. If she is lost here, it has been many long years since she first walked off the known trail from the nearest village. This gives you pause as you wonder what you have stumbled into, and puzzle over what kind of creature might choose to live so far from the general population, and prefer the company of wild animals and weeds to those of her own kind.

In fairy tales and folklore, very often the protagonist is notably social and is part of a specific fellowship, community, or group. On the other hand, the antagonists are often solitary and live away from others, most frequently deep in the wilderness or a vast wasteland. If you meet a woman living alone in the forest, you could not be blamed for assuming she’s a hermit, a monster, hag, a witch of unknown intentions – no matter how attractive, kind, or wise she might appear. In modern Disney-type interpretations of the bad guys, it is even sometimes said that they are evil because they’re lonely, and that if only they could be a part of the larger community they too would blossom into benevolent and beautiful creatures who hold hands and burst into symphonic, village-wide song. In all cases, otherness and potential maliciousness is frequently implied by a character being solitary. There are exceptions to this, with a number of helpful fae or fairly benign monsters also living alone, but they are rarely found at the center of the story, and tend to still be viewed with some trepidation and wariness. After all, what good person would actively choose to be alone?

It’s common for folks to say they need solitary time, but most people who say they want solitude seem to mean only for a few hours at a time before they once again seek human company. Hosting retreat guests here in this New Mexico wilderness, I see how even those expressing a desire to spend time alone really have a hard time being by themselves in the woods. I admit that I find this both fascinating and foreign, as I’ve voluntarily spent long periods of time without human contact since I was in my early teens. I don’t see that solitude is better that more social tendencies, as both are needed and natural. I do, however, notice that there tends to be a great deal of pressure placed on the less social to behave in an essentially extroverted way. Society at large, from psychiatrists to the media to the average mother seem notably concerned when someone chooses a more solitary existence, and these people are often viewed with suspicion simply if they don’t make obligatory appearances at community events or engage in chit chat while standing in line at the bank. To keep to one’s self is very often to invite labels such as eccentric at best, and sociopath at worst.

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

In my years of teaching, I have noticed that there is a significant percentage of herbalists who feel much more at home with plants than people. Some of them work in the capacity of a clinician simply because it feels like the reasonable extension of their obsession with plants, and a way of utilizing their growing knowledge while developing new skills. Most often these herbalists do care a great deal about the well being of others, but find frequent social interaction to be draining of difficult. I hear the guilt in their voices and the fragility in the tone of their emails. They think they are bad to not crave the company of others, they believe they must need a special flower essence because they don’t relate to humans as a whole. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. There is nothing wrong with not fitting in. You are not required to spend all your time shoulder to shoulder with other humans in order to be an effective herbalist. It only becomes a problem when we struggle to accept our own otherness and introversion, and are thus unable to form our practice and our lives in a way that nurtures us and allows us to be ourselves.

The term community herbalist brings to mind, quite reasonably, a healer working within a community, serving and at home within a group of other human beings. And yet, historically, herbalists have often been marginalized. They have frequently walked the borderlands of village and the wildwood, traveling between the civilized and the wild as emissaries of the forest, bringing healing to the townsfolk. We can say it was because they had no choice, that they were driven from their communities by religious zealots or opportunistic politics, and certainly that would be true… but only in part.

The larger truth, is that many of us who have a gift for working with the plants also have great difficulty belonging among other humans. We may care a great deal about our community, but need the nourishment of solitude in order to do our work. Working with other people in a healing context can be difficult and exhausting at the best of times, and while many people feel recharged by spending time with family or community, the introvert needs to pull back and inwards in order to not be drained by their work. This can be difficult for clients, family, and friends to understand, since off duty time is usually considered to be time spent with others having fun. For myself, I most often need my time off to be by myself with the plants in order for it to be truly replenishing. I struggle with this at times, and have tried to find my nourishment in the company of others, but always I find myself straying back to the forest and desert for connection and communion.

Herbalists from any number of traditions can be found debating the details of the current most popular constitutional theory, so you’d think we’d be experts at understanding the differences between us. And yet, many herbalists still seem to feel inadequate for their very natures. Part of the issue lies in the expectation that a healer be a kind, welcoming person anxious to help and serve everyone around them while also serving as a social hub for those in need. There are certainly many wonderful herbalists who do so admirably, and thrive within the embrace of close knit community. Still others avoid large groups but feel comfortable in smaller groups or one on one. These people can often find a way of customizing their practice so that they meet their own needs for time alone while still having an active place in the larger community.

Others of us remain in the dark forest, often preferring the company of ravens and nightshade to that of our fellow furless humans.

In The Dark Forest: The Witch as Herbalist Archetype

“The witch raised up the maiden’s face and smoothed her tears away as though she was erasing a canvas. She smiled at the helpless girl, her face lighting like a midsummer fire…’Never put your faith in a Prince. When you require a miracle, trust in a witch.”  - Cat Valente, In The Night Garden

“The Dark Forest is not the merry greenwood of Robin Hood legends, or a Disney glade where dwarves whistle as they work, or a National Park with walkways and signposts and designated camping sites; it’s the forest primeval, true wilderness, symbolic of the deep, dark levels of the psyche; it’s the woods where giants will eat you and pick your bones clean, where muttering trees offer no safe shelter, where the faeries and troll folk are not benign. It’s the woods you may never come back from.” -Terri Windling, from “Into the Woods Part 6: The Dark Forest”

by Ivan Bilibin

by Ivan Bilibin

My obsession with plants dates back to early childhood, although I was admittedly at least as interested in poisoning people as in healing them at that point. For me, the fascination lay in the power of the plants and how their magic manifested in the human body. I doubt I was born with a higher than average level of compassion, but I did come into this world with my heart and spirit bound irrevocably to the green world. Even as an adolescent I realized I valued the life of a tree as much as the life of a human being, and couldn’t understand why those around me found this to be strange or why it earned me stern reproach from church leaders. I certainly heard and understood from those around me that only humans had souls, and thus only they truly  mattered. I just thought they were deaf or deluded, or hadn’t yet learned to hear the world beneath their feet that was singing so loudly the ground sometimes shakes with it.

My desire to be an herbalist bloomed from the oldest of stories, hose where a witch lives at the edge of a deep, dark wood. She may be beautiful or she may be ugly, she may speak with a siren’s voice or cackle deep in her wrinkled throat. It doesn’t matter, it only matters that the forest holds her to itself like a beloved child and that she speaks the names of the plants and animals as if they were her confidantes and lovers, sisters and elders.

The people from the village fear her. The townsfolk cross themselves when she walks past them on her to way to treat an ailing grandmother. They question her humanity and her religion, but still they creep to her door deep in the night to ask for a cure for their baby’s croup or a wound that won’t heal. She may serve the community, but no one would mistake her as one of them. This healer archetype speaks of otherness in a primal, and sometimes frightening way. We see pieces of it in the story of almost every witch to appear in European and North American fairy tales, from the hag-like visage of Baba Yaga to the beguiling beauty of the queen in Snow White. So often the antagonists of our moral tales, these powerful women refuse to fit into society’s molds of what is good, safe, and proper. They stand, frequently alone, at the periphery of community and consciousness. Wrapped in a shadowy cloak, they embody the fierceness, hungers, and otherness that incites both interest and fear. It is the habit of human social groups to demonize what is outside of them, and thus it is of great importance for there to be interface between what is inside, familiar, and comfortable with that which is outside, unfamiliar, and potentially frightening. We need the witch in the forest for her healing is raw and close to the source of the First Forest, the archetypal darkness from which humanity was birthed.

There is still a place in the story for the other, for the witch and the wildwood. Without these elements the story of healing in our cultures would lose both power and depth. We need those who live within the communities and heal through familiarity and kindness, and we need those who keep to themselves and bring something less known to the table. Above all, the earth needs diversity, and we all have a role to play as the story of life unfolds along the brambly, winding path.

Wandering the Wood: The Solitary Herbalist

“And if they thought her aimless, if they thought her a bit mad, let them. It meant they left her alone. Marya was not aimless, anyway. She was thinking.” - Cat Valente, Deathless

Baba Yaga Gathering Mushrooms by Kiva Rose

Baba Yaga Gathering Mushrooms by Kiva Rose

It’s taken long years for me to accept that I’m both a sensitive, empathetic person and a very introverted one. I do have some performer type tendencies, and when I have social time, it’s often in a big way. Living in the wilderness all year, and then seeing my friends at our annual Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous works great for me this way. I get to see everyone all at once and enjoy the full on festival experience… and then I can return to my tiny cabin in the mountains to recuperate and plan for the next time!

I have often felt that I should be more social, and am capable of acting that way for periods of time before I realize that I’m spiraling into burnout, anxiety, and the sense of being completely overwhelmed by others. I’ve spent much of the last six months trying to understand why I fight my own nature and force myself to be more social than I really am, and then rebound so badly that I can hardly bring myself to speak to anyone at all for a week.

I’ve grown to understand that, for the average person, saying hello and engaging in small talk with other people in the grocery store line, at a cafe, or over the back yard fence is both enjoyable and relatively effortless. For me, interacting with other people, even the nicest of people, requires significant energy and work. I find that the better I know myself, the more I only want to spend time with others in an intentional and focused way whenever possible, even if it means that other folks might think I’m unsociable or strange.

Those more social than we may understandably have a difficult time understanding our retiring habits, but there are certainly some ways in which we can create boundaries for ourselves while helping those around us have a deeper understanding of who we are and how we prefer to interact with the world. Below you will find a list of some of the tips that help me remember how to stay grounded in myself, and assist me in staying true to my own needs and nature.

A Few Tips For Thriving As An Introverted Herbalist:

•It’s sometimes very helpful to start off by defining what it means to be an herbalist for yourself, and whether this requires working with other people.

•If you work with plants on a regular basis, even if only for yourself and/or your family, then you are still an herbalist. You don’t need to do or be anything else for anyone else.

•If you have a deep desire to be a clinician but find that working with strangers on a daily basis is overwhelming, consider a very small scale practice working with a very restricted clientele.

•It is completely possible to work with one’s community to varying degrees without being at the center of it.

•Remember that you, as the practitioner, can choose who you do, or do not, work with. You are not obligated to treat the general public or people who upset you. It sounds obvious, but sometimes we all need to hear that we have choices and the ability to control who we interact with on a deep level.

•If you do choose to work with others be sure to set up solitary self-care rituals for yourself so that you can replenish yourself. This is important for every practitioner, but doubly so for introverts who tend to be exceptionally drained by human interaction.

•Be honest about your social needs with other people, as they will often otherwise simply assume you don’t like them or feel otherwise rejected. Humans tend to be social by default and it often requires a shift in perspective for them to realize that some people need more time alone.

•Don’t feel selfish or guilty for enjoying the plants for themselves and for yourself. To interact and appreciate with the green world can be enough all on its own.

Somewhere, deep in the woods near dusk, a small woman is smiling to herself as she gathers sweet roots and rich mushrooms for that night’s dinner. She hears the quiet patter of paws nearby and holds out a morsel of fruit for her furred friend. Her basket it full of the bark, leaves, and berries needed to treat the cough of an ailing child. The mother will visit the woman’s small cottage at the edge of the forest the next morning to retrieve the medicines before hurrying back to the noisy, bustling hearth of her own home at the center of the village.

All around are the muted sounds of birds settling into their roosts and the ripple of running water nearby. As she rises from the damp ground, she thanks the land for its richness, and strides on sure feet in the near dark back to the blessed peace of her tiny house. The trees lean in toward her as she passes by, straining to hear her quiet song, and holding her to this forest as its own. 

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Sep 272013
 

Post-Conference News & Updates

We’re back home again at the Anima wilderness sanctuary, after a week away from home and family.  With the likely ending of the rains, our river has dropped back down to thigh or crotch depth, after growing to nearly fill the canyon on the day before we left.  All the water-gap fences meant to protect the greenery from free ranging cattle have been washed away or buried, and the river crossings on our primitive jeep trail will likely remain impossible to drive across for some time to come.  Loba awaits delivery and installation of an electric water pump and solar power for the kitchen, but alas nothing will be brought in except on our backs this season.  It is lovely, though, to walk among the wind tossed cottonwoods as the sway and clap, watching the elk bugle in their annual obsession with the joys of attempting procreation… knowing that nobody will pass this primeval moat encircling and protecting us.  The walk down the mountain was exhilarating, our excitement increasing with every step until once at the river’s edge we felt giddy to be where we feel most at home, most ourselves.

We appreciate all the good wishes from people hoping we can now kick back and rest, but it is already time to work on the Winter issue of Plant Healer Magazine, to begin preparing the next Plant Healer Newsletter with reviews of this year’s event, and to choose class proposals to fill the final 2014 HerbFolk teaching slots.  But before anything else, we feel a strong need to send out thank yous to attendees, teachers and sponsors, and to do our best to answer the hundreds of post-conference emails.

The 2013 Resurgence Finale

Our fourth annual conference and celebration was indeed a wondrous success!  We had to rearrange the class schedule and add new topics due to injuries suffered by our dear Resurgence teacher Phyllis Light, Paul Bergner coming down with the flu, and the awesome Sarah Lawless being stopped at the Canadian border.  The much respected Matt Wood filled in with a well loved class on shamanism for the herbalist, and other changes resulted in a smooth event that seemed to be loved by all 300 folks attending.  This year’s registrants hailed from as far away as Mexico, Australia and the Czech Republic.  Our Mexican traditional band, Las Cafeteras rocked folks’ socks off, and managed to sell every CD they had with them.  For a complete recounting and to see pictures of the Resurgence Finale, subscribe to the FREE Plant Healer Newsletter.

Subscribe & Submit to the Expanded Plant Healer Newsletter

The Plant Healer Newsletter is a FREE, 30 to 100 page long PDF digital download published sporadically 10 to 12 times per year.  It has recently been expanded to include articles, essays, opinion and materia medica by herbalists and wildcrafters in the community, excerpts of Plant Healer Magazine interviews, and also continuing news about future Plant Healer events.  Upcoming issues of the Newsletter will feature stories and pics of the Rendezvous contributed by you who attended, excerpts from Plant Healer Magazine interviews with herbalists including Howie Brounstein and Robin Rose Bennett, and essays and articles on all things herbal by not only ourselves but many of you.  If you’d like to submit an article to the Newsletter, click on the link below and download the details:
Newsletter Submission Guidelines

You can subscribe for free by simply filling in your name and email addy at the top of our website splash-page:
www.PlantHealer.org

Herbal Resurgence Reviews Sought

The next Plant Healer Newsletter will feature the story of the 2013 Resurgence Rendezvous, as seen through the eyes of those of you who attended.  If you were there, please do us the favor of sending in a description of your experience of the event.  Send your words to us by Oct 7th if possible (or else later, if not) at our new main email address: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org

Please send us your Photos from the event as well, for possible inclusion.  JPG or TIFF, 8” wide and 300dpi if possible.  You can send any amount of pics on a DVD or CD mailed soon to:  Plant Healer Events, PO Box 688, Reserve, NM 87830.  Or you can email them as attachments, not to our home email address but ONLY to our special “town” addy:  RingtailRose@Gmail.com.  Thank you for taking the time!

Plant Healer Magazine Deadline for Winter Submissions

If you’re hoping to submit an original article for the Winter issue of Plant Healer Magazine, the deadline is Oct. 1st.  Write us if you need extra time.  And remember that you don’t have to be a professional writer to have valuable information and experiences to share.  You can download all the necessary info by clicking here:
  Plant Healer- Submission Guidelines

The 2014 Herbfolk Gathering

Our theme for ’14 is “The Enchanted Forest,” and will feature a folkloric vibe as well as lengthy in-depth class intensives, hands-on exercises, storytelling and music.  We may have not only exciting herbalist teachers but possibly a botanical perfumer, a teacher on the subject of entheogens, and a well known fantasy novelist focused on plant lore!

Conference-goers often express a desire to go into more depth into their class topics, and complain about how there are some conferences where all the classes are kept to a short 1.5 hours long.  In contrast, most HerbFolk classes will be 3 to 5 hours long.  They’ll include a folkloric/mythic/historical intro or thread, along with solid practical information and materia medica, and hands-on exercises/labs or walks.

There will be a special sale again of deep discount tickets for a limited time, most likely in December, so watch the Plant Healer Newsletter and this blog for details.

Our New Website
With Portals to all Plant Healer Events, Magazine & Resources

Given that the names of our Plant Healer events are sure to change, we’ve launched a new website that will have links to the magazine, free resources, and our upcoming conferences and celebrations.  We’re working on the site right now, and the Events link on its splash page will within a few weeks take you to the HerbFolk Gathering pages:  www.PlantHealer.org

New Book The Plant Healer’s Path Now Shipping

Our new hardback book The Plant Healer’s Path has arrived and is shipping now via USPS Priority… written by Jesse Wolf with Kiva Rose, Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light and more.

“The Plant Healer’s Path does more than provide a working model of herbal practice, it also addresses our hopes, our fears and concerns as herbalists, acknowledging the differences, the uniqueness that each brings to their art, craft and science.”   –Phyllis D. Light (Appalachian Folk Herbalist)

The books arrived after our river went up and are stored in town, so we only have to hike the boxes and labels out over the mountain in order to start shipping the many preorders now.  You can order yours at: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

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