Category Archives: TWHC

Medicine of the People: An Herbal Resurgence

Last year I came home from the TWHC conference and belted  out a blog post without much thought.  It was instinctive and heartfelt and I meant every word of it.  That conference did change my life for the better.     Now a year later I am home again after spending days in a beautiful and remote location with most of my favorite people in the world.   It was everything that last year had been, and more.  The bonus this year is that my family was able to experience the conference as well.   It meant a lot for me, for them to be there.   Herbalism, as opposed to some other professions,  is a way of life.   My colleagues are dear to me and it only seems right and good that my family should spend time with them and experience their wonderfulness first-hand.    There was plenty to keep my boys busy while I was taking classes during the day.  The children in attendance seemed to morph into one cohesive unit.  They attended classes together,  played on the playground near the petting zoo and played chess in the Saloon.  Occasionally parents pulled their brood away for some alone time; hiking or riding horses.

The presenters were eloquent, witty and informative, as per usual.  My only wish is that I could have cloned myself, so I could take more of the classes.     While last year,  I focused on a lot of workshops on energetics, this year seemed to be the year of working with clients.  Tania Neubauer’s presentation of case studies from her the clinic in Nicaragua, made me want to do the three week field trip to the clinic more than I already did.  Paul Bergner’s class on “How to Sit with a Patient” was beautiful and moving.   The amazing teaching duo of  Jim McDonald and Kiva  Rose  and their tips for “Creating a Personal and Dynamic Practice” were awesome.

The best surprise was definitely Larken Bunce.   I expected a very thorough and expert scientific lecture from her Herb/Drug Interaction class and indeed I got it.  It was the outbreath that wowed me.  Her words about the interaction between plants and people,  still bring tears to my eyes every time I think them.   I was glamored by a Scottish faerie   who can whip up some amazing balms and elixirs.   Speaking of concoctions, the lovely Darcey Blue was peddling her Southwestern goodness and I brought home some desert love from her, as well.  I heard her treewalk was amazing.  Another highlight for me was that I finally got to go on a real life –not on DVD or mp3– herb walk with Jim McDonald.

The most amazing conversations were often  held outside the classes during meals or hanging out in the vendors’ hall.   Lauren and Rebecca, our talk about embracing where we are, meant so much to me.  I had breakfast with Cascade Anderson Gellar.   I am still kind of awestruck by that, but she started talking  to me about my hometown and how she had taught an herb class at our local coop.  Pretty soon, it was like I was talking with a fellow herbalist and not a legend. I will never again do an herb walk at Rochester Cemetery without remembering that she was there first.

I met more of the wonderful people that make up our herbalism community and got to reconnect with old friends.   I  camped with Jamie Jackson and we danced and  had the most lovely campfire chat.   Holly and I had a lovely hike out into the green to check out the native plants, but more importantly she survived talking with the boys. Have to give both she and Jamie props for that.  Ceinan you were every bit the amazing whirlwind,  I expected,   Thanks for going to the saloon with me, Barbara.  Bet your friends back East will get a kick out of that story.

Finally I want to say something to Kiva,  Jesse and Resolute.   You all work so hard to pull this all together;  to give us all this support and encouragement to go home and create an herbal resurgence in our own communities and in our own lives, to allow those of us who spend so much time giving of our energies,  a chance to recharge.    There are no words for the gratitude I have to you for nurturing our  tribe and creating this place for us to come home to.  I love you all and I will see you next year.


Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference

Over the weekend,  my life changed for the better.   Thanks to an invitation from my dear friend Kristine at Herbal Roots Zine,    I spent five amazing  days at Ghost Ranch attending the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference organized by Kiva Rose and  Jesse Wolf  Hardin.    I shall do it an extraordinary injustice by trying to describe it with mere words, but  I feel the need to try.   Hopefully my words will inspire fellow herbalists and plant people to take the plunge and join our community.

This was a hard leap for me.    For the most part on my daily life path,  I am fairly solitary.   I never quite learned to shut myself off from sensory input, especially the energy  other people put out there.  A friend once aptly  compared me to the psycho-reactive slime in Ghostbusters.   So when I get overwhelmed the first thing I lose is my ability to speak coherently.    I swing a little bit out-of-balance and  I tend to talk more than I normally would.   Kind of like that dog that howls to drown out the siren.    I’ve found over the years that when  I hang out with the plants, they  don’t seem to mind as much.

I  know I am not the only herb person who feels more at ease in the woods or a garden, than around people, so I left for the conference wondering how a weekend conference works when it is full of introverts?

Honestly,  nothing could have prepared me for this experience.  I was  blown away by the kindness I experienced.   I basked in the presence of so many  friends, both old and new.     I learned so much.  There was always brilliant discussion to be found not only in the classrooms,  but at the lunch tables and in the vendor hall.  The wisdom of the presenters filled the place and that was no small task given the vastness of the location.  The most profound part of the experience, for me,  was the sense of  belonging that I felt.   I have never felt so at home as I did at that remote desert retreat.   I have never felt so surrounded by understanding and friendship.     In the evenings,  there was wonderful music that stirred the soul and raised the consciousness.    The whole thing was amazing.  I absorbed that energy and it revitalized me.

I constructed a little shrine to the conference in the corner of my desk have designed a little ritual for when I need to connect to that energy, but I am still missing everyone.  I am grateful that we can stay connected through the technological web we have woven as a community, but  in the interim I am going to miss hugs, more than just a little.