My canyon home in the Gila bioregion of southwest New Mexico ©2012 Kiva Rose Hardin
“Folk herbalism is the people’s medicine, tried and true, shaped by the land, driven by the healthcare needs of its inhabitants, and handed down through the generations by mouth and pen. Its vocabulary is that of geography, the plants, the elements, the earth and the sky. At its most glorious, folk herbalism heals the people and the land in one motion, because we really can’t separate the two. What happens to the land is reflected in health of our bodies, minds and spirits and folk herbalism acknowledges this interdependence. Without folk herbalism, we would be lost in a vast sea of corporate, pharmaceutical care. Lost without the herbal traditions that bring balance to this one-sided form of medicine, and lost without the understanding of the inter-connectiveness of the human body.
Folk herbalism is the yin to conventional medicine yang. It’s roots are deep, feminine and, and intuitive. And though it’s form may change over time and within cultures, its roots stay strong, viable and hardy. It will never die.” –Phyllis Light
Folk herbalist, storyteller, root woman, obsessive forager, feral creature.. and yeah, maybe just a little bit hillbilly 😉
Folklore and folk traditions have been insistent inspirations and influences since I was a child and can be credited in part with my initial interest in herbal medicine. First and foremost has been my life-long fascination with the herbs themselves, especially weeds and wild plants. These elements along with a deep desire to facilitate healing, empowerment and education have woven together in such a way that has made my path and vocation clear to me since my early twenties.
My mama and her people taught me early on about foraging wild foods and my family always had a garden, from potted tomatoes on the fire escape of an apartment complex in the inner city to large plots overrun with okra, peppers, onions, herbs and favorite flowers when we lived in falling apart farmhouses. Ranging from very rural to incredibly urban, my childhood and youth were spent by turn with farmers and migrant laborers, homesteaders and factory workers, folk musicians and theologians. The resulting exposure to such a diverse variety of lifeways, cultures, languages and stories has given me a great appreciation for the traditions and perspective of many peoples.
I am a traditional herbalist. By traditional, I mean that I work with methods and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Yes, my work is informed by scientific research and recent medical findings but the core at the center of my practice is not only old, but ancient. For as long as humans have walked forest and desert, jungle and tundra, prairie and plain, we have learned from the plants and worked with them for food and medicine. While those of us with a mongrel European American heritage may not have a single, solid tradition to call our own, our perspective is nonetheless rooted in the places we live with and peoples that have come before us. My knowledge is rooted in my adopted home here in the American Southwest as well as my family’s homelands in the highlands of southern Appalachia, and long before that, of Scotland, Finland, Poland, the Ukraine, Norway, and Sweden. I have learned from people who call themselves Abuelas and those who call themselves Phytotherapists. The input of each and every one has offered me unique and irreplaceable knowledge.
The odd mix of dispossessed and impoverished peoples that form my family history have given me a unique view of healthcare, herbalism, food, human rights and home. As a result, my focus is on accessible, sustainable medicine that can be learned and passed on throughout a community. This often takes the form of food as medicine, cheap, common, and easily harvested plants as well as teaching in easily understood language that’s very much based in common sense.
My family has been based in southern Appalachia for many generations, as well as in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The land, herbal traditions, and plants rooted of the Northern peoples are particularly special to me even though my home is now here in the mountain wilderness of southwest New Mexico. The land where I live is one of the most biodiverse and wild areas in all of North America. The plants here range from desert succulents to monsoon dependent ephemerals to high elevation coniferous forest wildflowers.
With a overriding passion for the preservation and restoration of wild land, native plants and biodiversity, I am actively involved in the healing and growth of our 80 acre botanical sanctuary and wildlife refuge. Through my work in the reintroduction of indigenous plant species, propagation of existing species, and an ongoing biological survey of the land, I continue to fall ever deeper in love with the unique beauty of the Gila bioregion of New Mexico. The riparian canyon I live and work in is surrounded on all sides by the Gila National Forest and is seven river crossings from the nearest road. Our rustic homestead is built beside thousand year old Mogollon ruins, and the ancient song of this special place is clear to all who listen.
In addition to my teaching work and clinical practice, I co-organize/direct the Traditions in the Western Herbalism Conference, an international event held each September in the mountain Southwest. The HerbFolk Gathering is focused on providing a celebratory venue for bringing together the many and varied herbal traditions of the world while providing experience-based knowledge to students and practitioners. I also co-edit/publish Plant Healer: A Journal of Traditional Herbalism, an online quarterly magazine that includes columns, articles and artwork by some of the English-speaking world’s most compelling and knowledgeable practitioners and artists.
Wild mountain Morels harvested from near my home.
Posted by Kiva Rose at 5:38 pm
40 Responses to “Kiva Rose”
RAUL FELICIANO says:
September 26, 2007 at 3:28 pm
Somewhat frustrated, with a hundred or so species of plants, bushes, trees, ground covers, herbs, native plants that very few know, utilize in their gardens; I have found your site, read your words and some energy/hope has flown within.
The frustration is consequence of the destruction, lack of care or interest in the maintenance of green areas according to laws of nature, needs of the environment.
Thanks for your words. Congratulations on your site/work.
I studied at the New York Botanical, with a certificate in Commercial Horticulture Landscape Management.
January 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm
Kiva, you are truly an inspiration to me..an aspiring wise woman! I love your blog and your spirit! I have been studying herbs for about 15 years now, well actually delving, but now want to deepen my study. My soul won’t allow me to do anything else, but what I’m meant to do…..I’m following my heart and am deepening my relationship to those wonderful plant spirits. Thank you!
rowan mconegal says:
October 9, 2007 at 6:05 am
I strongly identify with your words! I live in Herefordshire in UK, and try to do similar stuff, I too prefer the empowerment of intentional preparation that you talk about. After years of practical teaching and working as a herbalist I am at present feeling tired and somewhat discouraged in the midst of a culture that seems so materialistic. So it is good to know there are others out there who share a similar philosophy! Thankyou.
I trained as a herbalist here in the UK and was a member of NIMH for 16 years, but no longer ‘practice’ professionally. I am making a new garden after building a sustainable house with my family. Time to refocus! Sending you my best wishes for your work….
February 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm
What a delightful, rambling monologue! I just adore the way you write- as if you were sitting across the table from me drinking tea on a sunny summer day. I am a wannabe medicine woman/herbalist/healer. But, I am at the very start of this exploration, though I recently realized that my chosen lifepaths have lead to this all my life. I have read several books, but have had no opportunity to talk with others who have more knowledge in these areas than my meager compilation.
Like a sponge, I will eagerly read all of your posts, gleaning as much knowledge as I can. Thank you for your bright, beautiful webpage and know that it is very much appreciated by this woman. May the Gods bless you!
Jean Cruz says:
May 18, 2008 at 6:36 am
Our SOUPoftheDAY business made us realized that the business led our family to appreciate the power of herbs. We uses herbs in our soup, bread and other products and we wanted to share our learnings to those who need to know.
I am so happy I have found your site and see the road where i am going.
I am a wanna be herbalist and dedicated to learn. We have a small herbal garden in our yard.
I am entangled with the way you communicate your passion, i am contaminated at once.
May you continue to shine to bring more people in this awakening!
Loki Stormslove says:
June 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm
I enjoyed the visit to your site and found it informative.
It’s nice to know there great folks out here on the net willing to help others learn.
Have a nice day 🙂
June 17, 2008 at 11:08 am
Love all your articles! I am in Southern Ontario so not many actually apply but those that do are very helpful.
June 22, 2008 at 8:40 pm
I was pleasantly surprised to find your site while looking for nettle seed. I became a level one herbalist in 2000 and have been helping to treat my sister.
Bless you and thank you for sharing.
The plants are calling us all back. . .
Mountain Girl says:
July 6, 2008 at 10:15 am
Hello beautiful sister. i love you site, and your monolouge, there is the light of a healer raditating from your words. i am too a medicine woman, or girl more like as i am still young, but i resonated with your story. i live right above you in colorado, but i miss new mexico so much, the barren strength of the plants there is amazing. i went on here trying to remember how much water comfrey needed. do you have a grandmother that is passing this tradition on through you? i wish i did, so many seem to be so hungry for this natural path but so few live up to it. keep on being beautiful! peace and love and beautiful naure vibes my friend! may your life be filled with barefoot forest hikes and beautiful plant songs
July 10, 2008 at 2:59 pm
Love your website and writings. The pictures of the plants are fabulous. What kind of camera do you use, lens, pixels, etc? Your approach to herbalism is very refreshing. All book learning can get stale. I will look forward to getting your book that is mentioned at HerbMentor.com. Thats how I heard about your site. All the best.
Kiva Rose says:
July 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm
Thank you all for your beautiful and heartening comments!
Dodie, I’m glad you like the pictures, most of the older ones were taken by my partner Jesse Wolf Hardin on a Fuji Finepix 6900z and many of the newer ones are by me (you can tell in the newer ones by the copyright credits given at the bottom of the post) using a Fuji Finepix S9000. No special lens or anything, though if we’re using AF, then we often use the macro setting. Can’t remember the megapixels at the moment, it’s nothing really spectacular, just good middle of the road digital cameras. All in all, photography is way more about being able to see than what camera you’re using.
Yes indeed, healing is an experiential art and can’t truly be learned from book (although they’re helpful and inspirational in other ways).
Thank you all for reading!
October 4, 2008 at 5:47 am
Great website, you are so brave to live like this. I’m far too attached to modern day convieniances (traps 🙂 !
Katie Miles says:
December 12, 2008 at 4:59 pm
I’m a big fan of your site and visit often. I find the posts full of valuable information, the pictures beautiful and the language enchanting.
While in Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border I read some Navajo literature on the plant called, “Mormon Tea”. Among other things, it was used for urinary tract/bladder/kidney infections. At that time I’d been experimenting with various herbal remedies from the store for a painful and persistent UTI with no success. I thought about the article you wrote about how herbs can lose their effectiveness when gotten at the store and that it’s best to get them wild. When I later came across Mormon Tea in New Mexico I picked some and took it home to Seattle and used it. It is the only thing that has worked. Thanks for the inspiration!
I came across an article in the New York Times about your neck of the woods – the Gila Wilderness. Here’s the link:
January 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm
Can anyone tell me how to find out about kivas correspondence courses? i cant find it on the site.
Kiva Rose says:
January 1, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Hi Claire, it’s under studentships on the Anima site but there will be new descriptions of the herbal course up with the new websites in the next week. Let me know which course you’re most interested in (Medicine Woman Core, Medicine Woman Herbal, Shaman, Path of Heart or ReWilding) and I can send you the most up to date info on it (or them, if you’re interested in more than one).
February 16, 2009 at 9:39 am
So very glad to have been turned on to your site!
Anita Fiouris says:
February 22, 2009 at 10:34 am
I am so grateful to have found your site! It is as refreshing as a walk in nature after a cool rain when the sun is shining brightly and the air still smells fresh! Thank you so much for providing this to all who search. I look forward to receiving it on a regular basis with your newletter!
May 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm
This is stuff I definitely need to sit down and learn. It’s been difficult over the years separating the wheat from the chaff in the world of natural medicine, but there is SO MUCH good there! Sometimes I wish I’d taken the path of the doctor rather than the engineer, but I always adore learning new things, and one can never know enough about healing, or about nature.
Oh, and for the record, you’re beautiful. 🙂
May 5, 2009 at 6:41 am
Greetings from sunny South Africa! I am so enjoying reading all your blogs and learning so much as I go along. I have a rather large garden which is partly semi-wild and gradually I am adding as many herbal plants and medicinals as I can, but it is time consuming and takes plenty of money as well. For this reason I am turning to seed-buying instead of plant buying and have got some wonderful seeds via internet – that being how I found you.
One day I would love to do the herbal self-study course, but at present, with the exchange rate it is just too much so in time – I believe it will happen one day and meanwhile I can enjoy reading here.
May 7, 2009 at 2:09 am
I have been trying to find a place to buy estafiate, and though you have many many articles on it you never say where you can buy a plant, seeds, or dried herb. Do you know and can you please tell me.
Kiva Rose says:
May 7, 2009 at 8:30 am
Jennifer. I don’t say because it’s an extremely common wild plant throughout the Western US, so there’s little need to buy it. If you want to find seeds or life plants you might try Horizon Herbs, they probably have it. The dried plant, I dunno. You could use A. vulgaris instead, almost any herb store will carry that and although it’s not nearly as strong it’s still useful.
June 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm
Kiva ~ do you sell any of your preparations for those of us who can’t forage or get the correct herbs in our location? I’d love to hear your opinion on using tea tree oil instead of triple antiobiotic cream ~ I had several surface moles removed that the antiobiotic cream and latex-free bandaid adhesives are causing a terrible rash around the wound! surely there must be others who cannot tolerate those creams and bandages, but how to avoid infection? Is using pure straight tea tree oil a better substitute? Any suggestions are so welcome, I hate to cause myself more problems with the angry rashes.
You are truly a blessing in our lives, you cannot even imagine the scope of help you are giving!
June 25, 2009 at 7:34 am
Your site is beautiful and truly touches my heart.
I am trying to locate a gallon or more of cottonwood oil. My spirit sisters and I are gathering in July to prepare a healing green salve in the Lakota way, with the help of 2 Elders. Cottonwood oil is very difficult to locate here – Ohio. Do you have any suggestions about where we might purchase some? I’ve searched the internet and have had no luck.
I am hoping to prepare it myself for the next season.
Thank you so much….you’ve really given me inspiration!
Rob Conner says:
November 28, 2009 at 11:56 am
I really like your site. I have relatives and history on the Gila northwest of Lordsburg, NM. I tracked my Third Greatgrandfather from Fayetteville, AR to Knight’s Peak, wjere he was killed by Apaches in 1878. Beautiful country.
Nice to meet you
November 30, 2009 at 10:03 pm
What a treasure you are! Your site is a priceless gem! I too am a lover of New Mexico though I live in the NorthEastern region. My husband and I recently moved to Raton from MN. We came here for one reason only and that was simply the call of New Mexico. So very nice to meet you here and I hope you can visit my blog sometime.
My Best, Kristy
December 1, 2009 at 12:15 am
so thankful i found this site, a gift.
i know that inside me has all the information, my love of the plants, it’s all there, but it certainly is nice to find a human guide online when i have a little question, wondering or need inspiration.
you are beauty!
la Zia Artemisia says:
February 2, 2010 at 9:06 am
Dont’ know how i arrived here from Italy.. but thankyou for your work and your SOUL.
la Zia Artemisia
Leslie Bruner says:
July 13, 2010 at 8:48 am
I would love to come to your conference. I, too, have Appalachian roots. The farm I love to roam is surrounded by beautiful Jessamine Creek, and you can feel the Great Spirit there. I leave it wild, and people ask me “What are you going to do with your farm?” First, it is God’s farm, second, it is doing what it wants to do–be wild. You would be a good daughter to have. So daughter, thank you for your poetry and ZING-UNDERSTANDING.
Sarah Washington says:
October 4, 2010 at 8:34 am
Kiva, I love the way you write, I feel as if I am there with you. I feel all those things you feel too, although my backyard is not as wild and pure as yours, I still get immense pleasure from going out and discovering all the plants and wild weeds in the yard. I feel like I’m always walking around looking at the ground and grasses and wondering “and who are you??” LOL
I grew up out west on 135 acres out in the middle of nowhere and I think that wildness and gift of being able to play outside all day surrounded by mountains and wild grasses and coyotes, hawks, snakes, scorpions and taruntulas, helped shape who I am today. I’m just starting my journey as an herbalist, but truly I have felt this calling, this connection with the land and the plants my whole life.
Thank you for sharing your blog and your knowledge with us all. 🙂
October 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm
“…I’m as tangled and wild as the roses.”
I love that statement! How often do we berate ourselves for being chaotic & unorganized? What a beautiful affirmation of appreciation for the void from whence all things come 🙂
Jo Ann Fidler says:
October 30, 2010 at 11:43 pm
I found your site through HerbMentor and have watched many of your videos there. I have great respect for the knowledge you have about herbalism. I would have loved to have learned herbalism from my Mother or Grandmother…….Thank you for being you and sharing your
heart and your soul with your teaching. I grew up in Southeastern Arizona (75 miles from Silver City, NM) within a mile of the Gila River. I wish I had known then that there is such an abundance of learning to be found there about herbs.
You are truly a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and love of the wilderness, herbs and edible plants with us.
Robert E says:
August 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm
I to am a member of HerbMentor which I found your site which I love very much.
I also enjoyed the webinar that John put together awhile back on just some of your knowledge of herbalism.
I grow organic veggies and herbs in my small backyard here in Texas, but after being on your site, I am going to be planting more herbs than I have been in the past years for better health.
Thanks again for your kind words of wisdom and your studies of herbalism.
Good luck on your up coming conference
Please keep up the good work
Ellen (Gluten Free Diva) says:
September 5, 2011 at 8:16 am
I couldn’t get to my kitchen fast enough to make this. It came out great! So few ingredients, so easy. I’ll be blogging about this quite soon and linking back to you. Thank you for such a great recipe!!! I was especially delighted to be able to eat it within minutes of taking it out of the oven. Usually with GF breads, you have to wait at least an hour or the bread is gummy. This was perfect and fluffy within minutes. I used two eggs, olive oil, baked in a glass pie dish lined on the bottom with parchment paper, baked 375 degrees for 25 min.
Resilience & The Rise of Community Leadership says:
December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm
[…] the health of their place. Rosalee de la Foret has just launched her clinic in the Methow Valley. Kiva Rose practices in her village in Reserve, NM. Charles ‘Doc’ Garcia practices street herbalism in […]
April 14, 2012 at 11:08 am
hey kiva – i heard about you from some lovely us herbalists – just found you on facebook and then saw you had a webby – i was just scrolling down this page and lorien, my 2 year old boy said what’s her name? i said kiva, he said, ‘no she’s a troll’ i loved this! he only knows trolls as wild creatures who can perform magic…. very perceptive i’m sure xx
Michelle Matthews says:
June 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm
Dear kiva, I have been a registered nurse for 25 yrs and have always considered myself a medicine woman combing the little natural medicine knowledge I have with my formal education. I am really going to focus now on learning everything I can about herbs roots weeds plants…..everything. Can you give me an idea of where I need to start…or do I just dive in? Love this site.
Kiva Rose says:
June 9, 2012 at 9:34 am
Hi Michelle, are you looking to have a clinical practice that includes herbalism? And are you wanting to attend an herbal school, or a distance course, or something else?
Pamela Melcher says:
June 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm
I quote you – “My focus is on accessible, sustainable medicine that can be learned and passed on throughout a community. This often takes the form of food as medicine, cheap, common, and easily harvested plants as well as teaching in easily understood language that’s very much based in common sense.”
Tears as I read this. Yes, that makes sense. That is what Mother Earth and her children need right now, and maybe/probably always. I look forward to learning more from you.
Happiness, Health, Peace and Abundance for All!
Many Thanks and Many Blessings,
Vera Dudmanová says:
September 12, 2012 at 2:30 am
I first heard about you listening to the interview with you at Wise Woman Radio (Susun Weed), so I came here and read more and more. I am only a herbalist beginner trying to study both from books and hands-on by growing my own herbs and finding herbs in nature around our homestead and close by forest, we live in a small village here in Eastern Bohemia (Czech republic). I share with you passion for Russia, reading Russian Falk fairy-tales to my two children, I also speak a bit Russian and once even dated with a Russian guy which brought me once to Western Siberia just for a short visit of Novosibirsk City. I was wondering if you have read the books by Vladimir Megre: Ringing Cedars of Russia? I just love them, they have been published already in many languages. I think you might find them inspiring.
I wish you all the best at you “place of love” you are creating.
Kind Regards, Vera
October 27, 2012 at 12:32 am
Like many others here I also share many of your same passions, and heritage, that is how we ended up here. Southeast New Mexico is my birth home but Austin Texas is my “Center Of the Universe”. Am currently doing an herbal internship on an herb farm here where I make the salves, teas, tinctures as well as help with the gardens. Some of my recent study has lead me to many of the herbs used for teas in Russia, very fascinating information. The Chaga mushroom they prize so highly is truly wonderful to use as a tea of elixir. Your site makes me long to come home and open up my own herb farm and place of healing If you are ever in Austin please stop by gardensoftheancients.com and I will be glad to take you on a tour.