Feb 182018
 

Announcing a free gift for the greater Plant Healer tribe – a 73 pages-long supplement:

The Plant Healer Guide to Herbs & Herbal Medicine Suppliers

Explore with us the various kinds of sources for medicinal plants, and read articles describing the most important criteria for choosing an herb shop, grower, or online seller.  You will find within examples of admirable apothecaries, herb farms, and online providers, with business descriptions, contact info, some inspiring tales and tips from caring proprietors, and additional Plant Healer articles about medicine making, herb drug interactions, and herbal actions, by Plant Healer Magazine writers Kiva and Wolf Hardin, Phyllis D. Light, Jim McDonald, and Maria Noel Groves.

Click to Download – Print, Post, & Share Freely

Click to Download – Print, Post, & Share Freely

Feb 132018
 

I first started writing about what I call weedwifery back in 2008, and the term seems to have spread throughout the herbal and folk art communities in a manner appropriate to the subject. Not too long ago I decided to update my original article on the subject for Plant Healer Magazine, and so I’ve decided to updated it here as well. It will remain as a tabbed page here on the blog for ease of access, but I’m also making it a regular post for those who might not have seen it previously. -Kiva

Weedwifery

Of Vulgar Plants, Feral Hearts, & Rogue Healers

by Kiva Rose

Anyone who meets me quickly becomes familiar with my penchant for all things weedy and wild. Garden flowers can be pretty, but I prefer the bad attitude of rebellious weeds and fierce insistence of wild plants growing out of sharp-edged rock crevices and boggy swamp bottoms. Rare, esteemed herbs from the other side of the globe can be useful enough medicines, but my heart (and the heart of my practice as an herbalist) definitely lies with the common, abundant plants that grow just outside my cabin door and down by the river.

Even in my small, feral garden otherwise known as The Weed Patch, I don’t baby anyone. If they can’t hold their own with the Lamb’s Quarters and Wild Mustard, that’s just tough. I’m a great fan of such qualities of tenacity, fierceness and badassness… and even a bit of outright mule-headedness can serve very well. And really, this is where my roots grow deepest – among strong, willful plants, land, culture, and people. Yep, I like weedy and wild people too. Stubborn, skeptical, and child-like in the way that rural and earthy (even while still urban) folks can be. Whether in Appalachia or the Mountain Southwest, I am inevitably drawn to those who not only survive adversity, but thrive despite the difficulties.

Unruly and feral, weeds annoy us with their promiscuous strut and blatant disregard for convention and known boundaries. Many of them are immigrants and nomads, with a reputation for sneaking into happy domestic scenes with troubling ease and for taking over the garden party with a sensual but insistent tangle of tendrils and roots. Some, like Sacred Datura, Stinging Nettles, or Poison Ivy, burn or hurt the human hand who attempts to pull or hack them from their desired home. Others, such as the Siberian Elm so common to the Southwest, suck much needed groundwater into themselves and away from the parched surroundings or, like Salt Cedar, create an environment inhospitable to all other plant. Then there’s Horehound, creating a veritable monocultures as it rapidly overcomes the native ecology. And a few, like Dandelion, seem almost benevolent with their cheery smiles and myriad medicinal uses.

Most all of them have little use for human coddling or outside permission for their movement and growth. They will cheerfully crowd out delicate garden specimens, spreading out their roots and settling in comfortably between the petunias and tea roses and sometimes strangling the life right out of weaker, less well adapted (to a particular environs) plants. What they all have in common, is attitude.

Spanish Needles (Bidens pilosa)Weeds serve as an icon to outcasts and misfits, representing the outlaw nature of all things strong, wild and hellbent on not only surviving, but proliferating. If we cannot find it in our hearts to love them we can at least step back and respect their tenacity and intelligence as inspiration in our own species’ quest to adapt and thrive. Many of our most common weeds seem to love the company of humans and follow us wherever we go, serving as food, medicine, plague, decoration, pest and sometimes all of the above.

I have long considered myself a weedwife, meaning woman of the weeds, although I don’t much mind the common connotation of being in a committed relationship with my beloved green rebels either. Whatever the term used, this is the path of the rogue healer.

Medicine of the People

One of the primary indications that a plant will be called a weed is that it is common and thus giving the implication of being vulgar. And in fact, the word vulgar has its roots in the Latin vulgus, which appropriately enough means “folk” or “common people” but has the common definition of something (or someone) that is unrefined, ordinary, coarse… and even indecorous (lord protect us from indecorous plants) to the point of being obnoxious. Low class in other words, usually relegated to that status primarily by their commonness, their ability to thrive. This is not a matter of competition between plants within a particular habitat but rather a troubling projection of human origin. Wherever we are, modern humans have a tendency to most highly value what is hard to come by, that which is rare, exotic and comes at a great price.

It seems to me that if we’re going to place value judgments on plants as medicine and food, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to greatly value (getting past ingrained ideas about economics) what we have access to, what is sustainable and what we are able to cultivate intimacy with. The herbal community often excels at this, and I am eternally heartened by the excitement that a patch of Chickweed or stand of Wild Roses can evoke in any number of plant people. The exuberant pointing, shrieking and jumping up and down of otherwise dignified adults at the sight of Stinging Nettles on a riverbank is certainly one of the reasons I adore what I do.

What we call weeds tend to grow in disturbed ground where human impact is obvious, whether in vacant lots, tilled farmland or roadsides. These plants are looking a new frontier to colonize, but they’re also often active healers of hurt land. Many weeds restore much needed nutrients to ground often stripped of its topsoil or severely burned. It’s also important to remember that “invasive aliens” act not from a place of malicious intent (a trait primarily limited to humans, I’m afraid), but are more reacting to their relatively sudden loss of context and ecology they have evolved to. In many cases of invasive species taking over, there is some initial degradation to the original environment that allows for new and different plants to move in and become dominant species. So sorry, folks, that patch of dirt you dug up and call a garden? That’s the disturbed ground that a weed calls “easy pickins.’”

It would be foolhardy to attempt to place a value judgment upon these wild creatures, especially the categorical labels of the typical human who sees whatever benefits us as good and whatever hurts or detracts from our goals as bad. In the end, weeds, like everything (and everyone) else, want to live. It’s that simple. They, like us, are designed and adapted to survive, thrive and spread. Whether we or they are beneficial to the larger picture, is a whole different matter.

Truth is, all plants have been around far longer than we, and even the most maddening Bindweed or voracious Japanese Honeysuckle tribes are our elders and teachers. This doesn’t mean that it’s not sometimes appropriate to relocate or pull a plant, but it’s a fine balance between the human arrogance that allows us to believe we are and should be in control and the reality that we are only one tiny piece of the living being we call planet Earth.

The Why of Weeds: Outlaw Medicines

Personally, as much as I love and work to preserve rare or endangered plants, it is the common weeds that I am most likely to get excited about as an herbalist. Why? Because there’s plenty of them and lots of potential for working with them and helping people without endangering the species. Think about it, a tiny stand of delicate and slow growing plants may have good medicine but the capacity for real life use is small. On the other hand, a yard full of Dandelions, Chickweed,  and Mallow that just seems to multiply like rodents in Spring no matter how much you pick, pull, chop, and run over them has huge capacity for treating and feeding people in a way that doesn’t harm the plant community. This seems especially important if we recognize that plants have intrinsic value in and of themselves outside of human use and deserve to thrive and live their own lives regardless of their value to us.

I also appreciate the feral nature of plants that survive where and when they can, digging in with roots and tendrils and running wild across the face of buildings, fences, lawns and whatever else will sit still long enough for them grow in, over or through. For me, the plants serve as role models and teachers, friends and confidantes. I’ve always found this especially true of unruly wildflowers and rebellious weeds that give the finger to herbicides and lawn regulations, busily growing and blooming from every crevice and empty patch of dirt.

Especially during dry times like these, I’m incredibly grateful for the soothing mucilage of Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila) and Mallow (Malva spp.) that somehow still manage to leaf out and spread along sidewalks and doorsteps. Last week, I was struck by the sight of a young Elm tree sawed down about four feet from the ground and all its branches stripped off with its remaining trunk a strange black color. It was positioned in the middle of a gravel pile at the center of the village in a place where everything near it was dead from lack of water and soil. And yet, the Elm tree had dozens new leaves emerging from its ragged stump. Not just growing back from the roots, but shooting out from where it was broken. I keep its image in my mind as an emblem of hope right now as the leaves on the Oaks hang shriveled and black and the absence of the Canyon Wrens’ song renders the mesa scarily silent.

Life is insistent, it will find a way.

Tending The Feral Gardens

What qualifies as weeds surely differs from place to place. Herbs like Plantain often known as weeds in moister climes are actually fairly difficult to track down here in southwestern New Mexico. And this year, with scarcity and fragility of many otherwise moderately common plants has me carefully considering what’s really ethical and sustainable to harvest and use as medicine. My goal is to adapt my current practice to what the land can easily bear and what the people need. I aim to be flexible enough to provide effective treatment while not presenting a burden to already stressed land. Some elements in this approach include:

Only harvesting from plants and plant communities that appear to be healthy and able to reproduce. This means staying away from plants that have only partially leafed out, are dropping leaves, have brown or black leaves or are unable to flower. Another reason for this, besides consideration for the plant, is that stressed plants can have somewhat different balances constituents than what we’re accustomed to and the medicine may not behave as we expected.

Going out of my way even more than normal to help plants reproduce by dividing roots and replanting rather than taking the whole root system when harvesting, waiting until a plant is in seed before harvesting roots and being sure to spread the seeds, making cuttings of plants easily spread that way as with Salix species and even being extra careful where I walk on wild land. This may seem somewhat ridiculous in lush habitats, but here in the dry SW, compressing the soil and squashing barely surviving plants can have a notably detrimental effect.

Sorting through my existing stock of herbal preparations and preserved foraged foods and being sure to carefully note what I have and what I really need more of. Then making a point of using what I have abundant stores of rather than impulsively going after whatever new creature catches my fancy. It’s likely that even the weeds are under stress this season and I prefer not to add to that if possible. I’ll also go out of my way not to recommend larger doses than necessary and more likely to admonish people not to lose, ruin (kindly don’t leave your tincture bottles and tea mixes on the dash of your sealed car in an Albuquerque parking lot, people), or otherwise waste existing medicines.

And for my own sake, I’ll spend a great deal of time with both the thriving and hurting plants, noticing how they respond to the current conditions and appreciating even the ones I know are dying, thanking them for their beauty even as they lose their life to this painfully dry season.

Resilient Roots

I love and identify with the common and vulgar, the feral and fierce. I’m as likely to call myself a weedwife and plant lover as clinical herbalist, although I would consider all of these terms to be true to my work. I value the common, the ordinary even, for its vitality and profusion. For its resilience and flexibility in the face of droughts and floods, habitat change and ever shifting interactions with the humans they share land with.

This applies to herbalists as well. There’s no shortage of us at the level of herbwife, kitchen herbalist, practitioner, and village herbalist. There are no rock star requirements for what we do and in fact, such a status can keep us from being maximally approachable and accessible to others. There’s an ancient lineage for our work, for mothers and wildcrafters and weedwives, of the common people working together with common plants to bring a bit more healing and beauty  to the world with our work. Our resilience and adaptability is part of why we survive and revive time after time, despite periodic suppression and stifling regulation.

Governments can pass laws, traditions may wane, and elitist pharmaceutical companies will likely continue to monopolize mainstream medicine… but as for the weedwives and their weeds, we’ll keep cracking concrete and spreading across disturbed land.

We’ll be taking back the medicine of the people.

 

Feb 052018
 

   HEALING WITH NATURE:

ECOPSYCHOLOGY, CONSERVATION, WILDCRAFTING, & SENSE OF PLACE

Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence 

The term “Natural Healing” describes not only a process and means, but also the source of both our knowledge and wisdom: nature itself. A reason why medicinal herbs often work better than isolates and pharmaceuticals, with fewer undesirable effects, is that we largely use them as they come from nature, making tinctures, decoctions, salves and so forth from whole plants, either wild harvested or naturally grown. 

For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism.  Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life.  In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm, and the healing that only come from awareness of and interaction with the natural world itself.

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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Below are the full descriptions of related classes by the dynamic Plant Healer Magazine columnist, New Mexico herbalist and conservationist Dara Saville; fellow PHM columnist and Animist herbalist Sean Donahue; nature awareness teacher, forest ecologist and tracker Meghan Walla-Murphy; ecopsychologists Jolie Elan and Emily Swanson, radical ecocentric therapist Angie True; and visionary ethical wildcrafter Sean Croke:

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Sense of Place For Plant Healers

with Dara Saville & Jesse Wolf Hardin (1.5 hrs)

How can one develop or deepen their sense of place and why does it matter?  As herbalists we can do this in a variety of ways.  Some of us might start by engaging our minds as we learn as much as possible about the land and its relationship to the people through plants.  By reading books, taking classes, and making our own observations, we can get to know the many layers of place.  Others will naturally be drawn into intimate connection with place by way of the emotional heart. Becoming awestruck by the beauty it offers, we can transcend ourselves, reconnect with the network of life, and realize our interbeing with all aspects of the living world around us.  Both avenues are equally as important to explore and when united, they form the foundation for developing an unbreakable bond with the land while serving as a powerful catalyst for action on behalf of place.  When we understand a place with our minds and our hearts have fallen in love with its vital beauty, we will be moved to make ourselves part of that place by playing an actively beneficial role in its biological ecosystem and cultural community.  This is how we become the place we most love.

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Becoming Wild – An Ethnobotanist’s Adventure With The Mighty Oak

with Jolie Elan (1.5 hrs)

Many Indigenous people say that plants reveal their medicine via dreams and visions. What if these types of relationships are within our reach?  How do we go about building mutually beneficial relationships? On a decade long adventure to eat acorn food, ethnobotanist Jolie Elan became so intertwined within the oak web of life that the oaks began to reveal myths and medicines in some unexpected ways.  Join Ethnobotanist and oak lover Jolie Elan as she tells her ethnobotanical love story that discusses the ecology, botany, medicine, myth, spirit and food of the mighty oak.

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Signature Species of the Southwest

with Dara Saville (2 hrs)

Join me for an exploration of healing plants of the Southwest and the medicinal plant landscapes that they help to create. Herbal medicine comes from the collective interactions of plants, the land, and ourselves and by connecting with this system of living vitality we can facilitate the deepest restoration, growth, and happiness within others and ourselves. Through this class we will discover the medicine of humility and empowerment of the desert mesa by way of Sand Sage, Snakeweed, Juniper, and Datura. Pinon and Ponderosa pines will illuminate the cooperative healing power of the coniferous mountain plant communities. Riparian plants including the matriarchal Cottonwoods and legendary Yerba Mansa show us the way of the river and the importance of free-flowing revitalizing energy. Chaparral and Globemallow of the desert grassland demonstrate their respective powers to remake the terrain within ourselves and how to nourish vital life processes. Through this class we will delve into the medicine of these plants and places for a better understanding of how to facilitate health and wellbeing within ourselves and in the world around us.

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Aspen Groves Of Colorado:

An Example of Advancing Diversity Through Disturbance

with Meghan Walla-Murphy (2 hrs)

When we look across the breadth of our lives, we see that often the most fertile and rich times occur when our daily routine is disrupted. Perhaps something like a birth, death, new job, or relocation disturbed our norm and caused us to stretch in ways we never thought possible. Often, these uncomfortable experiences add an unexpected richness and build new skill sets that may not have happened otherwise. Perhaps not so surprisingly, this kind of disturbance is equally important to the plants, animals, and habitats we share this earth with.

In this class, we will explore indigenous practices from around the world and how people “Tended the Wild.” We will see how these practices are not only important, but necessary for creating and maintaining biodiversity and cultural diversity by key processes such as grazing, fire, forest thinning, seed dispersal, and harvesting. To celebrate Colorado, we will take an in depth look how a lack of disturbance is endangering aspen groves. Class will end with a focused look at our individual disturbances and how we can make our actions as regenerative and fertile as possible for all our relations.

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Nature as Guide: The Plant Healer’s Role in Personal & Cultural Transformation

with Emily Swanson (1.5 hrs)


We must transform or die. It is evident everywhere you look. We face an unprecedented need for a radically new approach to being human on this earth. This is true on the personal as well as the collective levels. What do you do when the old ways are crumbling (violently) around you and there is no clear path forward? You get quiet and you listen. We are woven into a vast web of life that has been evolving itself over eons. Nature holds a map for transformation that is repeated in infinite variety across this vast universe. We can tap that wisdom as it exists in our cells and use it to help guide us as we seek to transform from one level of our human existence to the next.

In this exciting and experiential talk, psychotherapist and ecotherapist Emily Swanson will explore the patterns of transformation consistent throughout Nature. and show how they can support our transformation – on personal, cultural and global levels.

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Botanicals & Other Strategies For Stability During Radioactive Times

with Angie True (1.5 hrs)

Feeling traumatized and/or numb by trying to normalize this age of constant threat and stress?

We have always lived on top of a literal nuclear reactor. A core of elemental instability powers both planet and – metaphorically – the inner core of the self. Chaos, disruption and decay drive every facet of our lives, yet we experience our time on the earth’s surface as somewhat stable. Is there anything in this contradiction that holds medicine for times of increased intensity?  Might there also be ways to subtly shape the enormous energy being released during this radioactive epoch?  Join us for an ecopsychological depth tour to sharpen and expand upon soul-level stability-creation skills, including meaningful self-care techniques, suggestions for perspective-shifting, emergency psychic strategies, using specific, lesser-known plants and direct action that can increase a sense of empowerment and even joy. We will engage in a warrior divination ritual and leave with samples of powerful wildcrafted elixirs formulated especially for overwhelming cultural fluctuations.

After all, these are the moments we have been training for all our lives.

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Invasive Plants Medicine & Ecology

with Dara Saville (2 hrs)

Invasive plants are both mysterious and controversial.  As such, they elicit intrigue and conflict wherever they come up from modern herbal literature to land management in a changing world.  These plants represent paradox as both passengers and drivers of change. They also invite us to explore our own feelings about a range of issues coming to the forefront in these times including climate change, immigration/migration, restoration of relict habitats, and how we can adapt to the changes unfolding around us while still advocating for what matters.  Many of us may struggle with our feelings about these plants and we may harbor widely differing views about them.  Some have portrayed invasive plants as the destroyer of ecosystems while others see them as saviors of the land in an increasingly disturbed world. Regardless of how we feel about them, they are here to stay and we can begin to create relationships with these plants and explore medicinal applications for these abundant beings. In order to do this, we must work through any emotional barriers we might have with these plants and begin to understand their ecological roles in new environments.  In this class we will discuss the ecological functions and medicinal possibilities of invasive species including Salt Cedar, Russian Olive, Siberian Elm, Tree of Heaven, and others.

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Nature as Therapist: Theory & Practice of Ecopsychology For Herbalists

with Emily Swanson (1.5 hrs)


Ecopsychology views the human psyche, spirit, and body as inseparable from and interconnected with the vast web of life. It offers a philosophical ground for deeper understanding of human problems, and practical approaches for healing and transformation. In nature, we find metaphors and direct experiences that can restore well being. Reconnecting with outer nature connects us to inner wholeness. It weaves us back into an ancient and powerful relationship: supporting and being supported by the intelligence of life. This relationship has the potential to heal and transform, bringing us into balance inside ourselves and with the world in which we live.

This engaging and experiential talk will explore ecopsychology in depth, and offer specific, practical and easy-to-implement tools that herbalists and healers of all kinds can use to facilitate deeper healing for themselves, others, and the world. 

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Inciting Change: Conservation Projects on Public Lands

with Dara Saville (2 hrs)

Get ready to be inspired and empowered. This is a class for anyone feeling discouraged by the present state of the environment and ongoing threats to our public lands. We do not have to accept things as they are; we can advocate for change and make it happen by mobilizing our communities. As individuals connected to the spirit of the land we can take our cues from the trees, rivers, canyons, mountains, and meadows and bring others into meaningful action for the benefit of the places we love. This class will discuss ways to design and implement community-driven native plant restoration and other environmental projects on public lands. Discussions will include evaluating locations, identifying workable problems, engaging with land management agencies, collecting data, forming a plan, organizing volunteers, forming fruitful partnerships, enacting plans, and evaluating your work. Organizing and coordinating community-driven projects on public lands is one of the best ways we can give back to the plants and places we love.  This work not only brings the community together for a common cause, but it nurtures the land and we restore ourselves in the process.

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Animist Herbalism

with Sean Donahue (1.5 hrs)

We have witnessed a beautiful resurgence of vitalism – the understanding that our bodies are not machines, but living systems with their own animating intelligence. But vitalism can still treat humans as separate from the rest of the living world.  What does herbalism look like when we don’t treat humans as separate from the rest of the living world and that viewed the health of our internal ecosystems as inseparable from the health of the communities, human and wild, in which we participate?  We will explore how those of us who did not grow up in animist cultures can develop an animist herbalism by weaving together our own embodied experience and our own ancestral traditions without appropriating the cosmologies and practices of others.

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Moving Towards Mutually Beneficial Wildcrafting

with Sean Croke (2 hrs)

Learning from the wild plants is a beautiful activity for the human animal to undertake, it helps to male us wiser and moves us forward in our healing path. A simple way that is easily accessible to people who wish to do that is to learn the art of wildcrafting medicinal plants that live within their bioregion. While this is a wonderful skill for people to learn, we are unfortunately living in a time of great environmental devastation in which the wild places are knowing great pressures by the human inhabitants of this planet to extract materials from them as resources. It is rightfully concerning to many elder and young herbalists that the wild plants may follow in this trend and be eaten up by the gaping maw of global capitalism, perhaps by the very humans who love them so much, the herbalists.

Let’s face it, plants are the elders of humans and they probably created us for their own reasons. Humans are nice because we have movable bodies, legs and thumbs, so we can be very helpful to our plants elders (or we can be really harmful but let’s shoot for the former). How can we learn to tend the wild plants? It is well known that a vast system of plant tending has been and continues to be underway by the indigenous peoples of this continent for as far back as there are records. Simple techniques of propagation such as root division, air layering, the taking of cuttings, transplanting and seed collecting are easy for the average human to learn and to put to use in helping the wild plant to be taken care of.

Can we help the plants to move to new places before global warming changes their native homes to the point that they can no longer live there? Let us hope so. It is my goal that rather than seeing hundreds of pictures on social media of budding herbalists digging up roots to make a tincture which will sit on their shelf for years we will start to see pictures of budding herbalists taking cuttings from plant stands that do not hurt the existing stand and using that material to create a new and viable stand somewhere else, perhaps without ever harvesting the medicine or at least doing these things in conjunction.

This class will cover some philosophy and history around tending the wild gardens, as well as a goodly amount of practical demonstration of propagation techniques. There will be some walking around outside so please do be prepared for that.

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Biota Tracking & Pattern Literacy:

Helping Us Make Resilient Choices For Our Communities

with Meghan Walla-Murphy (1.5 hrs)

As a wildlife tracker, ecologist, and educator of both young and adult people, I am often asked what is the most important way to “show up” during this interesting and inspiring politically wrought time? I too ask myself this question. And the action I keep returning too is this: We must learn to know one bit of land deeply and intimately over a long period of time. We must establish a sense of place where we call home. Imagine what it would it be like if our Congress and our politicians, no matter what their beliefs, knew a tree well, or had compassion for a lizard? For when we create empathy and love for something Other- such as a Lizard, a Muslim, or a Politician- Other becomes far less scary and much more approachable. And with that empathy, xenophobia fades away. Our work right now is to create relationships, to embrace the Other, and bridge the differences.

When we slow down and learn to track the stories written on the land, by plants, water, animals, and humans, we are able to make better choices that are timely, effective and pertinent to what is happening right now. In this class, we will walk around the Ft Lewis campus and discover the basics of tracking and pattern literacy, exploring both macroscopic and microscopic relationships that appear both environmentally and socially. These skills of reading the landscape, which informs our lives every moment, will help us to make the best choices for ourselves, families, and communities.

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For More Information about this event and its teachers, or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets, click on:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Jan 292018
 

CHILDREN’S HEALTH & HERBS

Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence 

For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism.  Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life.

In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, entheogens, the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm… and the tending and healing of our families and children!

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Children are some of the most vulnerable as well as beloved people that we may be called on to help heal, whether our own kids or those of our clients and friends. What follows, are full descriptions of Confluence classes related to kids’ health by the awesome Dr. Kenneth Proefrock, Angie True, and Briana Wiles, as well as of Missy Rohs’ class on employing games when teaching herbalism to people of all ages.

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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–––––Classes With Kid-Related Topics – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence:–––

Botanical Considerations For Children

With Asthma, Eczema & Other Allergically Mediated Conditions

Kenneth Proefrock (1.5 hrs)

Here we focus primarily on those conditions associated with a derangement of immune function that allows the allergic response to dominate over other, potentially less inflammatory, immune mechanisms. We discuss ways to reduce reactivity to environmental stimuli, retrain fundamental barrier-type defense mechanisms, and work toward long-term resolution of the hyper-reactive state. I will include numerous case studies from over 20 years of clinical practice of pediatric cases that have now entered adulthood that have either resolved or controlled their hyperactive immune responses. We will cover, in detail, mast cell and histamine biology, IgE/IgA activity, Th-1/Th-2 rationales, mucus membrane health and mood disorders that are consequential and causative to allergic immune responses.

Assessing & Treating The Young: Using Herbs & Other Natural Healing Modalities

Brianna Wiles (1.5 hrs)

In this class we will explore the issues kids have most common from infant hood to early teen years. When is it appropriate to avoid going to the doctors office, and what conductive reasoning we can bring to the table to help our kiddos out from the comfort of their home.  A lot of times a visit to the doctor can be the best thing for your child, however, there are many minor illnesses where a trip is never needed. We will talk about administering doses to children, and ways of encouraging compliancy. There are many topical uses of herbs that can make children feel much more comfortable while recovering or in the thralls of sickness. In this class we will explore the use of many applications and ways of making herbal medicine, including: oils, tinctures, honeys, glycerin’s, essential oils, soaks, poultices. We will talk about other ways of alternative health that can bring vitality to your child’s wellbeing with assistance from practitioners of bodywork, chiropractics, osteopathy, energetics and freedom of play in nature. 

Alternatives to ADHD Drugs: Just Say No!

Angie True (1.5 hrs)

Pretty much everybody knows how ADHD diagnoses have skyrocketed in the past decades. What’s not so well known is how about 2 million of the more than 6 million children with ADHD were diagnosed at ages two to five.

So how are these children being treated? They’re given drugs that are literally forms of methamphetamine. Side effects can be numerous, including poor appetite, sleeplessness, mania, irritability and slowed growth. Long term studies have shown those given stimulant medications in childhood go on to have much higher rates of early death, atrophy of the brain, suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, incarceration and drug addiction.  Some of these negative impact studies have begun to trickle out into the mainstream and more parents have expressed their concerns. As a result, now other drugs are being prescribed for children diagnosed with ADHD, including nearly 20,000 prescriptions for antipsychotics for children ages two and younger written in 2014 alone, a fifty percent increase from the previous year.

Could there, perchance, be other ways to nurture our children with attention-related issues?

Yes! In this class we will:

• Examine common mistakes made in diagnosing ADHD

• Discuss food, nutrient and herbal medicines for ADHD symptoms

• Remove common toxins from home or school that may exacerbate or cause ADHD symptoms

• Teach children how to manage stress and increase focus

• Understand and meet children’s unmet emotional needs that may be leading to misbehavior

• Understand and work with children’s values to ensure optimal concentration

Herbal Games as Teaching Tools – For Teaching Both Adults & Kids

Missy Rohs (1.5 hrs)

Herb school doesn’t have to replicate conventional school.  In fact, it can be a place where we embrace divergence and the unique learning styles of individuals.  One of the most fun and engaging ways to do this is by incorporating games into the classroom setting.  In this class, Missy will share a variety of different games that she uses at the Arctos School and when guest teaching elsewhere.  We’ll talk about what function these games serve in different settings and different stages in the learning process, how to set them up, and what they can tell you about your students.  We’ll also put these templates into practice and try out a few games ourselves!  Herb school instructors, people who work with kids, folks who teach anything, and anyone who likes to have fun are welcome.

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For More Information about this event and its teachers, or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets, click on:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Jan 222018
 

EMBRACING THE BEAUTY OF HERBALISM:

FROM HERBAL FACE MASKS & HERBARIUMS, TO PLANT DYES,  & BOTANICAL ADORNMENT

A Short Essay on Beauty & Healing – & Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism. Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life. In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm!

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One of the themes we bring to this unique event, is that of healing as artform, and learning arts and crafts that communicate who we are and the work of healing and wholeness that we are given to.

To this end, fun unconventional plant healer Marija Helt will be teaching in May about the women of historic botanical illustration, and the ways in which this challenged the patriarchal artistic and medical establishments. Radical herbalist Rachel Berndt will offer a class that redefines beauty and promotes self acceptance, with an honoring of herbal preparations that encourage self care over self obliteration. The sensualist and epicurean Lisa Valantine furthers this notion with her class on do it yourself face serums and masks, as does the skilled and caring Angela Willard when she teaches us how to use seaweed to help bring ritual and bliss into the healing practice. Nontypical jeweler and crafstwoman Sheri Hupfer instructs us in botanical jewelry and the ritual of adornment. And if you are coming, you will get to participate yourself in hands-on workshops such as Kat MacKinnons art lab on how to make beautiful as well as instructive pressed-plants herbariums, and you will have a chance to use botanical dyes on cloth thanks to plant artist and devoted homesteader Kristen Davenport.

We present below, for the first time, complete descriptions of each of these art-hearted classes… preceded by a short introductory piece by myself, excerpted from Kiva’s and my book The Enchanted Healer:

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Beauty & The Healing Arts

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

In the present dominant paradigm, craft is often thought of as something one purchases or is an audience to, instead of inhabits and embodies. And for progressives, adornment is sometimes considered superfluous or pretentious. But it was not always so. Not so for the pale villagers of ancient Europe who left us the sculpted body of the archetypal Earth Mother, the bearer of all of life. And not for the first hominid inhabitants of this state called New Mexico either. The ancient pueblo people left behind shards of painted pottery that continue to evoke the Great Mystery, fired clay fragments of a life of honoring, picture-puzzle pieces still vibrating with the energy of years of reverent touch. They spoke their fealty for the land in rock art carved out of their collective and individual souls, lightning bolts and the seed-carrier Kokopelli painted on the sides of caves. Here too are the forms of the crafters’ fingers and palms, their signatures, the marks of their self-aware beings, in painted hands reaching out to descendants and heirs alike across the chasm of time. They gifted enduring images of their priorities and loves, deities and dreams. They left behind for others their holiest expressions of wonder and communion, the evidence of a marriage with place and spirit consecrated through timeless craft.

It is no less true in the case of contemporary arts and crafts, in the painting the fantasies and mythologies that enliven, share and extend our beliefs. In the making of jewelry that are talismans meant to empower or mend, the fashioning of clothing that not only covers and decorates but reveals something about us and celebrates what we love. Whenever we artfully work, employing symbols and energies, inspiration and intuition, there is an energetic threading between us and those who participate in the experience, between the viewer and the viewed, and the viewer and the Artist, between the Healer and the client or society or place. Through the art we make and experience, we’re each transformed into an agent and component of creation, our sense of mission fueled, our senses and dreams heightened, our emotions stirred, pierced by an overwhelming sense of the inseparable unity of all things and the timeliness and importance of our healing, helping, beautifying efforts.

The paintbrush for the evocation of our’s and world’s story – for the creation of our art – is in part in our hands, ready for us to make the changes that are needed. We have an entire chest of colors to choose from, with the now and future our unlimited canvas. We have the pharmacopea botanica for most of our bodily healing needs. All the necessary materials, it seems, are at hand for whatever project we might launch, awaiting only the actual sweep of the painter’s brush, the slice of the sculptor’s knife, the swirl of the kitchen ladle, the gathering and processing of the herbs, the pouring of the salve of tincture, the purposeful and ceaseless reaching out to help.

The result of such graceful deliberateness – I repeat – is our connection… including connecting with the proactive practice and craft now weaving us back into both the literal and magical material of our experience and existence. Together we co-create the living fabric of our reality as well as of our culture, assuming some response-ability for how it turns out… jointly painting on that billowing fabric the story of our missions, our struggles, our miracles, and our beautiful, beautiful hope.

You are at once a Healer and a person still actively engaged in your own healing. You are the subject and creator, witness and participant, viewer and doer. As such, this kinetic relational process that we call “art” involves – even requires – not just the illustrator’s pen or paint, writer’s keyboard or gardener and conservationist’s shovel and seed, not just the activist’s manifesto or massage therapist’s table, cotton bandages or healthful herbs… it needs you.

Come see what you can do!

 

––––––––ARTFUL 2018 CONFLUENCE CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:––––––––––

Natural Beauty: A Paradigm Shift
Rachel Berndt (1 hr)

Beauty lies within all of us, it is innate. Every baby is beautiful! We live, however, in a culture that promotes false beauty and promotes the notion that we must change what we look like in order to be beautiful, especially through unnatural methods. We don’t need to change how we physically look to become beautiful – we can radiate our own natural and unique beauty through being conscious, kind, loving, and confident, and we can foster these qualities through the support of our herbal allies! During this class we will expand our cultural idea of what beauty is. We will discover how closely linked our mental and physical states are, and will explore the ways in which we can use natural methods to create real beauty. When one feels confident in themselves and loves themselves, they want to take care of their body too, and so we will also be discussing several herbs that can easily be incorporated into daily life to support general wellness. Beauty, health, and confidence are very closely connected and this class will address how to cultivate these qualities in great amounts from the inside out! This workshop is for everyone.

Upstream Against The Flow – Unconventional Women, Science & Botanical Art
Marija Helt (1.5 hrs)

Botanical illustration and painting were key components in the burgeoning science of botany in the 17th and 18th centuries, a time when science was strictly a “male” endeavor. Women were barred from the various science organizations and societies and to pursue a scientific endeavor meant swimming against a strong stream. As a scientist, I can say that since then things have improved but are still unsatisfactory, with serious discrepancies in salaries and “power positions” between women and men in science. Given that photography didn’t emerge until the 19th century, drawings and paintings were the way to carefully (and beautifully!) document plant species. A number of these artists were women. While these women mostly came from privileged backgrounds, allowing them to do what they did, some were pretty unconventional for their time…eschewing marriage and children to pursue their work. I’ll talk about a handful of these women and show some of their beautiful works, with a focus on medicinal herbs and mushrooms

Feed Your Face: Making DIY Serums & Sheet Masks
Lisa Valantine (1.5 hrs)

For many years the recommended skincare routine was a gentle cleanser, alcohol-free toner, and moisturizer.  For those who wanted to boost results, an exfoliating facial scrub and/or mask could be added to their weekly regime.  Nowadays, the world of skin care has seen some amazing advances, and there are more and more product categories that target specific skin-care concerns such as clearing and preventing blemishes, hydrating, calming redness, exfoliating, firming, fading brown spots, repairing sun damage or smoothing wrinkles.  Having been what I would call skin-care resistant – and especially resistant to trying out new products with lots of unpronounceable ingredients – imagine my surprise when my daughter, who has gorgeous skin btw, told me that she uses sheets masks daily in order to combat the effects of the dry climate she lives in, and puts serums and essences to good use too.  I obviously had a lot to learn – and you are not alone if you have no earthly idea what a serum or sheet mask is!   I decided to give a few organic sheet masks a try and to invest in a few natural serums.  I was shocked about how quickly sheet masks and serums changed the appearance of my skin.  I even began getting compliments on my new glow.

In this fun and informative class, we will not only delve into the significant connection between nutrition, the microbiome, and glowing skin – but you will learn to make facial serums, created with your individual skin care needs in mind, and you will learn to make sheet masks that deliver potent nutrients to the skin.   The trendy serums and sheet masks that are commercially available are often laden with chemicals, but in this class, you will learn how to feed your face and nix the chemicals.

Thalassotherapy: Therapeutic Topical Application of Seaweed –
Bringing Bliss & Ritual Into Medicine
Angela Willard (1.5 hrs)

Thalassotherapy is an old world practice of using components from the sea in a spa ritual setting to calm the mind, soothe the soul, and nourish the body~ literally from the outside-in. Hot seaweed baths, out in the wild elements of nature, were a major component of this practice. In this class we will focus our time on learning about the history and traditional use of topical seaweed bath and body care potions for use during cleansing routines, and create some simple and effective recipes. In addition, we’ll explore some more innovative ways in which seaweeds can be added to other herbal topical care products, to enhance their beneficial properties, add texture, and even help in their preservation. There will be some fun hands on work we will get to do in this class, which will give you a “feel” for the ways in which seaweeds resonate in harmony with other ingredients- a distinctive quality that has seaweed showing up in all kinds of products, far beyond body care. You may be surprised to discover just how many times seaweed has already accessed your world! Enter this realm of ocean wise gentle practice, weaving in another layer in the basket of self care to be used on self, and shared with your community.

The Herbarium: Art, History, & How-To
Kat MacKinnon (1.5 hrs)

In the past century, industrialized schooling has effectively smote many of our basic creative and innovative tendencies. Many folks no longer rely on their own explorations, but on those of others to satisfy their questions about the world. Information is cheap and passive, and you get what you pay for. This can still hold true even in more alternative parts of society, including herbalism.

Well, screw that! Amongst the many ways to buck this system, is cultivating autodidacticism, or ‘self-teaching’. As botanists and herbalist, we can begin to do this by creating our own expressions and impressions of our local herbal landscapes.

Put simply, an herbarium is a collection of preserved plants. Creating one is a useful craft not only for furthering your own knowledge about plants, but for sharing it with others in a way that empowers individual understanding. In this workshop, we’ll be going into the history, artistry, and botany of plant collections, with half the class devoted to the collecting, pressing, and preservation techniques necessary to create your own herbarium. Part of this class will be held outside, so please come prepared!

Plants Speaking in Colors – Artistic Dying Using Plants & Mushrooms
Kristen Davenport (2 hrs)

The wild plants around us gave our ancestors everything they needed – food, medicine, tools – and a sometimes forgotten but critical element: art. We will delve into the ways plants and mushrooms have been used as dyes throughout history, and discuss some of North America’s major dye plants and mushrooms. We also will practice botanical dying, with discussion and hands-on trials of using leaves to make botanical prints on fabric or paper, using the natural dye in the leaf itself. If you want to make something you can take home, please bring some nice art paper such as watercolor paper, or else a piece of natural white fabric such as either silk or fine wool ideally, or else cotton or linen if not.

Medicine Adornment: Wearable Ritual
Sheri Hupfer (1.5 hrs)

The art of adornment is a creative playground for expressing ourselves. With the debris of trees & industry, roots, bones & leaves we can gather the pieces of medicine small yet potent to dawn ourselves with, rather than sipping teas, tinctures & elixirs.Through intentionally draping our vessels with particular artifacts we have the opportunity to express our inner emotional terrain as well as to sooth, calm, excite & address where we may need support & encouragement on any given day. In this class we will speak to stone, metal & plant spirits and their ruling stars and ways in which something as seemingly mundane as dressing oneself can become an alchemical experience.

For More Information about this event and its teachers, or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets, click on:
Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Jan 172018
 

GENERATIVE/REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH & HERBS

Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence 

For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism.  Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life.

In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm! 

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Many of you reading this post will know that we experienced a successful home birth, here in one of the most remote mountain regions of the entire country.  In spite of the amount of energy that we have given to the pregnancy and now to our precocious little wildling, we assure you we did not do anything to seek out or schedule women’s health and pregnancy related class topics!  We swear! And yet somehow Kiva still attracted many dozens of such proposals for the coming 2018 event, including from teachers who had no idea about our baby making adventure.  We scheduled a bunch of great sounding ones, but then still had turn a bunch of others down in oder to make sure we don’t start looking like a gender exclusive event instead of the wildly diverse mixed-gender gathering that it is!  We nonetheless ended up with an unprecedented….

13 compelling classes from reproductive rights, to breast health, herbs in pregnancy Cannabis and breastfeeding, pregnancy prevention, PMS, and post-partum healing, taught by 9 midwives and herbalists:

Juanita Nelson, Phyllis Light, Ash Sierra, Emily Stock, Tiffany Freeman, Leslie Lekos, Astrid Grove, Adrie Rose, and Anja Robinson.  The combined 40 hours of instruction should do much to advance generative/reproductive wellness, for (to paraphrase teacher Astrid) “when women are healthy, all thrive best.”

For More Information or Advance Discount Tickets:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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Beyond Red Raspberry: Herbs in Pregnancy& Birth

Juanita Nelson (1.5 hrs)

Pregnancy and birth represent a unique time in a woman’s life.  We’ve all heard that statement and yet using herbs during this time for many is terrifying and taboo.   Many simply exclude her from accessing the allies of the plant kingdom for fear of damaging the unborn baby or stimulating miscarriage. The minute someone sees “contra-indicated in pregnancy” they assume that an herb is never used or dangerous.  Just like the modern birth culture is fear-based and medicalized, using herbs in pregnancy and birth is feared and restricted. This class is designed to take the practitioner from fear to empowerment.  My goal is to help folks support women in treating common and not-so-common ailments, imbalances, or complaints.  The unique physiology of pregnancy and birth is a perfect time to embrace our herbal allies-that physiology can enhance the action of herbs potentially making the woman much more responsive to the results. We used to think that the placenta acted as a barrier to most substances but we have learned that the symbiotic relationship between mom and baby via the placenta is much more complicated-and interesting!

We will discuss the physiological changes that happen in pregnancy and how they affect dosage and delivery.   What I hope people will take away from this class is the ability to understand the potential impact of herbs and how you can adjust accordingly. 

Herbs For Women’s Health

Phyllis Light (2 hrs)

Puberty, Fertility, Pregnancy, Menopause….How can you best support your body through the stages of life? Phyllis D. Light will share her passion in empowering women to learn about their bodies and cycles, and in teaching about the powerful herbs that can help alleviate the most common women’s health conditions. In this class, you will learn about the common health issues which affect women throughout their lifespan. What’s the best approach for recurring urinary tract infections? Is there help for ovarian cysts or fibroids? Hot flashes? Endometriosis? Recurring yeast infections? Bacterial vaginosis? Vaginal dryness? Uterine or bladder prolapse? How can fertility be improved? How to have a healthy pregnancy? 

Phyllis will discuss all these topics and more. We’ll dance, we’ll sing, and we’ll learn how to help heal the body. Join us for a fun and informative workshop learning about women’s health and herbal medicine from this renowned teacher, author, and herbalist. Hopefully, you will come away from the workshop feeling more self-empowered in supporting your own health needs.

Women’s Health in Apocalyptic Times

Astrid Grove (2 hrs)

Many fear the end of the world as we know it. I know as a community we have been gathering the skills to support the masses for the better part of our lives… right?!  When thinking about the possibility of a time when we don’t have access to modern medicine like we do now, I see the value in having more knowledge on how to keep women healthy.  It is my understanding that if women are healthy, then all beings will thrive.  This class is grounded in this understanding and will cover self care practices stemming from traditions all over the world.  When self care is present, there is less illness.  We will also review some common illnesses specific to women and remedies we can use.  The focus will be herbal medicine, with some hands on healing practices as well.

PMS as Gift: Listening, Supporting, & Herbal Allies

Adrie Rose (1.5 hrs)

Pre-menstrual sensitivity, vulnerability, and openness can manifest as a wide variety of symptoms that can be painful, confusing, frustrating, and frightening.  We will discuss the different ways PMS can manifest in the three constitutions (Vata/Pitta/Kapha), and the importance of understanding these energetics before diving in to treating symptoms.  We will discuss herbal, lifestyle, and yoga supports for common PMS imbalances. Above all, we will explore the ways that PMS is not a curse or aberration to banish as fast as possible, but a gift that offers us rich, meaningful information.  PMS shows us what we are not dealing with in our lives, where our boundaries are broken, what callings we are ignoring, and more – it is like a mini monthly visit from the Crone, a preview of the wisdom of menopause.  We will share ways to honor this time, and listen to what our bodies are telling us.  We will include working with flower essences as part of our toolkit, and discuss herbal allies including rose, skullcap, licorice, St Joan’s wort, blue vervain, violet, burdock, dandelion, yellow dock, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, nettles, and milky oats/oatstraw.

Rivers of Life: A Deep Dive Into Ayurvedic Breast Health
Anja Robinson (1.5 hrs)

In this class, we will explore Lymphatic Breast Health though the lens of Ayurvedic self-care & massage. We will dive into our inner landscape and begin to understand the importance the lymphatic system plays in self-care and immunity as well as learn some tools to help support lymph flow & blood circulation. We will discuss anatomy and physiology, common health concerns for women as well as life style factors that contribute to our breast health. We will discover how to map the terrain of our breast tissue and the lymphatic system so we can decipher what is “normal” and walk away with the knowledge of how to massage, check and care for our own breasts for health and vitality. We will explore the interconnectedness of mind & body to deeply understand how we hold our emotions in our tissues and how to support ourselves in releasing grief, trauma and processing our emotions through this work. Together we will come up with creative solutions to our blockages around self- care as well as mind-body medicine techniques to infuse into our daily practice so that we may receive deep nourishment and support our healthy flow. This will be an exciting and inspiring journey into Ayurvedic self-care and Women’s Health!

Women & The Affinity For Plants During Pregnancy & Birth

Juanita Nelson (2 hrs)

Women have been using plants to heal and support during pregnancy and birth forever. There is a unique and specific affinity for plants that happens for women during this time that is directly connected to the co-evolution of plants, mammals, and humans.

Geographically, women used the plants that were local to her specific location. She relied on the traditional women of her culture to educate her or relied on her innate genetic memory to guide her to the specific plants she needed. Re-establishing this direct connection to the plant world during this time is both natural and essential.

When we disconnect women from the innate strength and knowledge of their bodies to grow, nurture, and give birth to our babies we teach them to fear.  We teach them fear of their abilities, fear of the possible outcome, fear of themselves. We teach them dependency on a culture that is rooted in disease and imbalance and that seeks to control the process of birth.  When we empower women to have faith in the process of growing a baby and birthing that baby naturally and easily we teach them to trust. They learn to trust themselves and their ability to connect with the natural world.

The world we live in today is focused on the microcosm of scientific understanding. This has opened up new knowledge and insights into how things work and we are learning so much.  However, what we’re forgetting is the empirical knowledge of the natural world that was learned and passed on through millennia of observation and experimentation.

The simple ceremony of making a cup of tea during pregnancy can connect women to their deep connection to the rhythm of the natural world. Wise women traditions have been present in every culture in the world and are the direct link to using plants during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. We can empower women by sharing our knowledge with them and encouraging them to listen to their own deep plant intuition.

Mothering The Mother – Labor & Birth Support

Emily Stock (1.5 hrs)

This is a crash-course for herbalists on being a doula. As herbalists, we are often poised to provide a safe place for our community members to inquire about natural and supportive ways of caring for ourselves. Having a doula, even in a typical medical setting, can provide the physical and emotional support needed when a family is growing. As a transitional point in life, positive birthing experiences have the radical possibility to change the foundations of our culture for every mother and child entering the world.

We will address the history of birth and how the patriarchy has taken hold of it, the scope of the doula, and the necessity of caring labor support and advocacy. We will discuss simple and safe herbal support throughout pregnancy and post-partum, and postural yoga to support pregnancy. We will learn the practicalities of how to guide a family through the trials of labor, including comfort measures, techniques and positions for various stages in labor, along with ways to get the labor process going naturally. Often the efficacy of the doula can depend on their relationship with the primary care providers and their assistants. We will address ways to work with other birthing professionals while maintaining advocacy for the client.

The process of birth is a winding road. Even for a person desiring an intervention-free process, there are many decisions about prenatal care, tests, and interventions during labor that are unique to each individual. We will address some of these interventions and provide information and resources that can help to guide your clients, friends and family through these decisions. You will leave this class prepared to begin your journey into providing labor and birth support.

Discussion: Ending Pregnancy at Home

Astrid Grove (1.5 hrs)

The information I will share in this class stems from close to 20 years of experience supporting people who have arrived at a clear “no” when realizing they are pregnant.  We will discuss the fertility cycle and when it is best to end a pregnancy at home.  We will learn effective ways to prevent a pregnancy with herbs, and less successful ways that one should avoid!  I will delve into several herbal abortifacients that I have used successfully at home and herbs to support before, during and after an herbal home release.  I will also provide information on ways some women use to end a pregnancy manually at home.  I understand this class is controversial in general and especially in the herbal community.  Please join me if you are ready to receive the wisdom I share.

Empowered Reproductive Rights & Fertility Awareness

Ash Sierra (1.5 hrs)

With today’s growing threat to reproductive rights, one of the most vital options we can take is becoming informed and empowered with our own cycles of fertility and options that are readily available. This class will focus on fertility in the uterus-bearing body; how it works and ways to track key days to help one conceive or not conceive. Methods for charting and a variety of physical and emotional patterns to look for will be discussed which can help reveal insights into wellness and establish personal awareness patterns. We’ll also touch on a few herbs for health, healing and balance as well as self-care tips. This class is open to all genders!

Breastfeeding, Herbs, & Cannabis Use in Pregnancy

Juanita Nelson (1.5 hrs)

There are specific considerations that can affect plant use in breastfeed moms and their babies.  Because of the unique ability of the breasts to transfer any substance through the milk it is a great opportunity to treat both mom and baby. In many ways it is opposite from what happens in pregnancy and what works in one does not necessarily work in the breastfeeding period.

We are learning amazing facts everyday about breast milk and it’s unique ability to adapt to the needs of each individual baby.  It can change immediately from one chemical composition to another in direct response to babies’ needs.  Herbs can enhance or interfere with that process and create a direct tool for facility or disruption.  As a delivery system is it unique.  We will explore the unique circumstances of treatment during breastfeeding.  Breast infections and the treatment of them will also be discussed.

Women have used cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding for a variety of reasons ranging from easing the nausea of early pregnancy to encouraging milk letdown. How and why this can affect both Mom and baby will be discussed. Colorado deems it legal to use cannabis for recreational use but it’s use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is controversial and can lead to the involvement of social services and legal action again.

Herbs For Women’s Health

Phyllis Light (2 hrs)

Puberty, Fertility, Pregnancy, Menopause….How can you best support your body through the stages of life? Phyllis D. Light will share her passion in empowering women to learn about their bodies and cycles, and in teaching about the powerful herbs that can help alleviate the most common women’s health conditions. In this class, you will learn about the common health issues which affect women throughout their lifespan. What’s the best approach for recurring urinary tract infections? Is there help for ovarian cysts or fibroids? Hot flashes? Endometriosis? Recurring yeast infections? Bacterial vaginosis? Vaginal dryness? Uterine or bladder prolapse? How can fertility be improved? How to have a healthy pregnancy? 

Phyllis will discuss all these topics and more. We’ll dance, we’ll sing, and we’ll learn how to help heal the body. Join us for a fun and informative workshop learning about women’s health and herbal medicine from this renowned teacher, author, and herbalist. Hopefully, you will come away from the workshop feeling more self-empowered in supporting your own health needs.

Nourishing The Blood: An Herbal Approach to Post Partum & Post C-Section Healing 

Tiffany Freeman (1.5 hrs)

With the C-section rates in the USA and Canada being in the top 10 highest out of all the countries in the world, with rates of 30-40% of all births delivered by Cesarean, womyn are not often being treated for the tremendous amount of blood loss that occurs by this means of childbirth.  Blood loss and its serious effects upon a womyn’s health are often overlooked, mis or undiagnosed and in most cases due to lack of postpartum health care. Blood deficiency has been linked to areas such as post-partum depression, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, breast feeding difficulties, fatigue and exhaustion, blood pressure issues and so many more health conditions according to traditional medicine. The stigma of birth by caesarean also enhances the stress on the blood and conditions of blood deficiency. For many womyn, birth by this mean is a necessary procedure to save the life of their child, for many it is a road that a pregnant mother gets on without even knowing what is at the end of it, regardless of why, the major loss of blood still goes untreated. Many modern day techniques, tests and interventions set the stage for an increase in induction rates and therefore an increase in the rates of birth by c-section. In this discussion we will look at the interventions that may set you on the road for c-section and increased blood loss, we will discuss traditional techniques that are used to move babies that are breach, we will discuss the effects of stressors and dis-ease on pregnancy, the role of blood in breast milk production, and herbal, nutritive and traditional hands on healing work to aid in nourishing the blood after loss. Working to treat the blood after childbirth no matter which way a chid is brought into this world is an important area to address and an area where we can help support mothers through the amazing journey of parenthood.

The 4th Trimester: Herbs for Post-Partum Wellbeing

Leslie Lekos (1.5 hrs)

It goes without saying, that the time of post-partum, after the birth of a baby, is a time of great transition in a woman’s life.  It can be a time of great joy and also a time of high demands and stress.  For many it can be a vulnerable time, without adequate care systems, leaving women underserved and feeling unsupported. Our conventional care systems do not provide adequate support for many families after the birth of their babies.  The official post-partum time period in the United States medical model is 6 weeks. At this time, and prior to it, many women are going back to work.  Most women are still physically healing from their deliveries and all families with newborns are not sleeping enough. It is not uncommon for mental health issues to arise from these unrealistic cultural expectations imposed upon us. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control that 1 in 9 American mothers experience post-partum depression.  Symptoms can range considerably from what is termed as “baby blues” to feelings of suicide.

In helping post-partum women it can be vital to help women connect to resources in their areas. Herbs can also be of support to women during this time.  We, as herbalists, can support women through education about nutrition, offer ideas about herbs to aid in the physical healing after birth and pain management the days and weeks after delivery.  There are a wide array of galatagogue herbs that stimulate the production of milk with specific indicators differentiating their uses.  Conversely, there are herbs that stop the flow of milk for women choosing not to breast-feed.  In this class, we will also discuss a wide array of nervines, anxiolytics and herbs to aid in sleep that are deemed safe for women that are breast-feeding.  We will also discuss categories of herbs to avoid while breast-feeding.

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For More Information or Advance Discount Tickets:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Jan 122018
 

TREATING TRAUMA, ANXIETY, & BROKEN HEARTS

Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence

For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism. Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life.

In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm!

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HERBS FOR MENTAL & EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

There is no credible way to completely separate mental wellbeing from physical health, and carefully selected herbs are often one of the most helpful and least harmful means of addressing both.  There have always been traumatic experiences in everyday life, but never has there been such “radioactive times” (as teacher Angie True describes them), a deadly cartoonish epoch of science denial, marginalization, increasing classism, systems of oppression, and yes – downright depressing polarization and violence – like never before.

Herbalists and other natural, self empowered herbalists have a role to play in helping individuals and the community at large manage the effects of the ever more intense and daunting trauma, chronic pain, and depression intruding on our lives and distracting us from the good work. To help inform and equip you, we are pleased to present in May, 2018:

A minimum of 9 purposed classes on these subjects, 18 hours of presentations, taught by 8 or more deep feeling herbalists ceremonialists, and therapists including:
Alanna Whitney, CoreyPine Shane, Rae Swersey, Angie True, Jenny Mansell, Sheri Hupfer, Sarah Baldwin, and Anja Robinson.

For More Information about this event and its teachers, or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets, click on:
Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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Goldenrod & Gloom: A Personal Journey With Depression
Jenny Mansell (1.5 hrs)

The inspiration for this class began with a dream, a dream of glowing plant material in a jar with golden light radiating from it which would ultimately pierce the gloom of my depression in everyday life. I have walked with depression and anxiety since I was 11 years old. Over the years I’ve tried many herbs and practices to help me find peace, joy, and functionality. Some experiments have failed dismally and others have filled me with awe and gratitude for their healing. At this point in my life I manage depression and anxiety with herbs, diet, and practices such as meditation and nature connection. I have come to appreciate the teaching which depression has brought to my life, harsh instructor though it is at times. In this class I strip down to the raw essence of my deepest struggles and share both my vulnerability and triumph. I offer to you what has worked for me and what hasn’t, in the hope you will take something away which may help you in your own struggles or to assist your loved ones or clients. After I share my story, I will offer tips on preparation and dosage for specific herbs. We will try several preparations from flower essences to elixirs. The class will close with a group meditation. To quote my mentor, Jackie Dill, “A gift isn’t a gift unless it’s shared.” The plants and the good earth have given me so much and I offer it to you from an open heart.

Trauma Awareness For The Herbal Clinician
CoreyPine Shane (1.5 hrs)

As a culture, we are only just realizing the extent of unresolved trauma. These experiences are far more common than is usually acknowledged, and are minimized by society and often even by the one who has experienced it. It is vital to our clients’ health and well-being for us to be able to recognize, understand, and respond to the effects of trauma. This understanding can also help us see how emotional, mental, and physical trauma can get stored in our body and cause physical problems.

Hungry With Leaf Scars:
A Radical Community Herbalist’s Approach to Chronic Pain
Rae Swersey (1.5 hrs)

People who live with pain are hungry. We are searching. We are invisible survivors. We are starkly seen. We are resilient. We are ghosts of our former selves. Our hearts ache to know relief. We are owl screeches at midnight. The plants in your garden know. They bend towards our bedroom windows. It is our job as herbalists to direct the call.

In this class we will use a disability justice framework when working with chronic pain. We will address this from a radical clinical community herbalist perspective. As a facilitator, I am both a practitioner and a person living with chronic pain. I come to you from a merged perspective. We will cover a radical clinical community herbalist perspective on chronic pain. We will go over a multi-faceted approach and disability justice framework including topical, internal, nutritional, and supplemental changes. We will go over how using plant medicine is essential in the dismantling of larger systems of oppression and their hold on our mind/body/souls. By looking at how the herbal medicine community has internalized ideas of what “healthy bodies” are from mainstream culture, we can begin to unravel the threads that keep ourselves and our clients from sustaining pain relief.

There will be a strong focus on what I have learned in my personal practice and from getting to know the plants. I am not including the multitude of fabulous information already out there, but rather tips that have informed my practice that are less talked about in books and schooling. Included in this thorough talk, will be herb differentiation, flower essence formulation, anecdotal experience from clinical practice, common obstacles, and specific plants as allies in the fight for our lives.

Botanicals & Other Strategies For Stability During Radioactive Times
Angie True (1.5 hrs)

Feeling traumatized and/or numb by trying to normalize this age of constant threat and stress?

We have always lived on top of a literal nuclear reactor. A core of elemental instability powers both planet and – metaphorically – the inner core of the self. Chaos, disruption and decay drive every facet of our lives, yet we experience our time on the earth’s surface as somewhat stable. Is there anything in this contradiction that holds medicine for times of increased intensity? Might there also be ways to subtly shape the enormous energy being released during this radioactive epoch? Join us for an ecopsychological depth tour to sharpen and expand upon soul-level stability-creation skills, including meaningful self-care techniques, suggestions for perspective-shifting, emergency psychic strategies, using specific, lesser-known plants and direct action that can increase a sense of empowerment and even joy. We will engage in a warrior divination ritual and leave with samples of powerful wildcrafted elixirs formulated especially for overwhelming cultural fluctuations.After all, these are the moments we have been training for all our lives.

On Survival & Showing Up: Vulnerability, Empathy, & Trauma in Clinical Work
Alanna Whitney (1.5 hrs)

The world we occupy as herbalists – whether clinicians or folk herbalists – is an in-between space. As clinicians, we are confidantes, investigators, guides, cheerleaders, and teachers. While we undergo training in pathophysiology, anatomy, herbal actions, extraction methods, medicine making and plant constituents, not many of us have training in how to show up and be present with those among us who have survived trauma. As herbalists, we practice as ungoverned ministers naturae (that is, ministers to the vital force), occupying a liminal space somewhere between the licensed and regulated fields of medicine and psychotherapy.

As more and more research shows the interconnectedness of our heart wounds, our spiritual wellness, and the relative resilience and strength of our bodies (facts long obvious to we herbalists), we have an unprecedented opportunity to support the wellness journeys of survivors. Some of the most powerful healing for survivors comes simply from being able to attune to other people in a safe, contained, and connected way, so even just the process of intake & bearing witness to someone’s story can be a powerful step in their healing journey We can support our clients and communities not only through herbal medicine, which is of course a powerful tool in working with many aspects of trauma. We also have this incredible opportunity to practice connection – to show up with empathy and authenticity by cultivating our own vulnerability. How we sit with clients, what language we use, and how we attune to them can either encourage safety or perpetuate feelings of disempowerment. But how do we show up for survivors? How do we be vulnerable and professional? What if big feelings come up in a session? How do we manage our own feelings and trauma histories while holding space for others? How do we prioritize our treatment and protocols? What can herbs really do? How do we define our role as guides through the in-between places?

We will talk about the neurology of trauma, which is crucial for understanding and unpacking the lived experience of trauma, as well as working with any of our own judgment that may arise. This class will delve into some herbal & nutritional therapeutics for survivors and acute traumatic recall, with a special eye to accessibility and resources for those folks without many financial resources. We will also talk about the special magic of herbal medicine that makes it so well suited to supporting the hearts and bodies of survivors – the way that simple aromatics can support nervous system function and increase HRV, the way that herbs can be used to support vagal tone, and the role of relaxants and adaptogens.

What The Hell is The HPA Axis?: Holistically Managing Stress in These Crazy Times
Anja Robinson (1.5 hrs)

In this class we will take a deep dive into the mechanisms of the stress response system and the mismatch occurring in our modern environment. We will break down the components of the nervous system that make up our stress response such as the adrenals, neurotransmitters, hormones as well as something known as the HPA Axis. We will explore healthy cortisol rhythms and how our modern world is playing a role in disrupting our bodies natural flow. We will discuss signs and symptoms of adrenal dysregulation as well as many common health concerns we are seeing in our current culture as a result. As a class we will explore creative solutions for dietary, herbal, lifestyle shifts as well as body/mind techniques to help us come back into balance, support our nervous systems and holistically manage our stress in our modern world.

Surviving A World That Doesn’t Want You:
A Radical Community Herbalist’s Approach to Suicide & Suicidal Ideation
Rae Swersey (1.5 hrs)

If we are to be community healers, we will see life and death in our practices. We will also see people with suicidal ideation and those effected by losing someone to suicide. There is a deep silence around working with this struggle. It is crucial that we do, and as herbalists we have the tools. Plant medicine has so much to offer mental health relief. In this class, we are going to begin to dismantle shame, silence, systemic oppression, and grief. We will talk about using herbal medicine in our path of resilience and the fight for our lives. This workshop will contain useful skills and tools, with the goal to empower participants to use this knowledge in a practical way. There will be a focus on respect and cultural competency when approaching friends, loved ones, communities and clients. We will touch what is underneath trauma and oppression to the core of who we are and what our mind/body/soul is fighting for. We will talk about how I approach my formulas in my personal practice and take an in depth at social justice herbalism frameworks. You can expect case studies, clinical skills including intakes and safe suicide assessment tools, a handful of herbs-mainly going into their mental health uses and differentiation, and how to address accessibility and practicality. There will be a strong clinical practice focus. It is imperative, during this time, we build up our resources and armory against hopelessness and tyranny. Through exploring resilience and where it lives in the body we can address mental health and it’s stigmas from a deep perspective. In deep gratitude for the plants and humble respect for those who survive daily. Let’s talk about plant medicine and what it means to be alive.

Herbs For Heartache & Breakups
Sarah Baldwin (1.5 hrs)

Throughout the ages, romantic love has been a bearer of both soaring joy and bottomless sorrow, exquisite pleasure and unbearable pain. When the sweetness of love turns sour or is cut short, we often experience heartache, heartbreak, grief, sadness, anger, and perhaps even a dark night of the soul. This class will focus on herbal allies that can help us navigate the complicated web of breakups, separations, and troubling relationship scenarios. Of course, there is no cure for a broken heart, but there are plants that can help us get through the experience with greater ease. We’ll explore plant allies that can help ease the acute grief we feel in the emotional and physical heart, as well as plants that assist in releasing chronic or stagnant grief in the lungs. We will also look at plants that can help us attain the strength to cut energetic cords, reclaim our own identity, and gain emotional distance from relationships that are toxic, unhealthy, or simply no longer serve our highest good. We’ll also explore plants that support conflict resolution and ease emotional turmoil for times when we have to deal with external things like dividing possessions and changing our place of residence. We will also spend some time covering deep issues that relationships stir up within us, like guilt, resentment, and crisis of identity. Above all, this class will honor and celebrate the strength and tenacity of the human spirit when going through experiences that cut us to the core and challenge us deeply.

The Underworld Above: Black Cohosh, Ocotillo, & Sacred Datura
Sheri Hupfer (1.5 hrs)

In this class, we will explore the unraveling of all that we have been carrying in the precious place of the pelvic trap door so that we may begin to re-write old stories, remove stagnancy, and surrender to the healing potential of allowing life to flow through areas that have been blocked, guarded, or wounded, with the support of three very powerful plant allies.

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For More Information about this event and its teachers, or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets, click on:
Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Jan 082018
 

STARTING & RUNNING AN HERBAL PRACTICE, CLINIC, OR BUSINESS

More Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence 

For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism.  Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life.

In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm!

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Crucial to the work of healing, of any kind, is the learning of skills, materia, and the developing of experience.  This experience comes not from study itself, but from actual practice. And as our experience and abilities increase, many will want to find a place, a role, a way in which to serve the public, and/or earn an income from this important work.  This is true, whether we are talking about starting a practice in a new place, as Heather Irvine talks about in her class, figuring out what it takes to launch a profitable herbal nursery as Jade Mace teaches about, or co-creating a not-for-profit community health resource such as the herbal collectives Dave Meesters so eloquently will describe.  Enjoy these and more, at the next Good Medicine Confluence, May 16th through 20th. 

For More Information or Advance Discount Tickets:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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Starting Over: Launching a Successful Herbal Practice in a New & Unfamiliar Place

Heather Irvine (1.5 hrs)

You moved to a new town or you decided you don’t want to be an X,Y, Z, you want to be a W.  Gaining traction again can be hard. In my past 365 I took a leap of faith and moved from a bucolic herb farm on a clay road and somewhat romanticized life, where I could grow and gather anything I wanted, made my own living comfortably and had many community members who had befriended me just on the basis of me being an herbalist, to a new city, in a medical mecca where just describing what I do felt demoralizing at times.  I have been lucky in that in this year I was able to dedicate a lot of time to learning what works and what doesn’t, trying many things, identifying people who could and wanted to help me and influence others, trying again.  As any entrepreneur knows it can be hard to know if you’re falling for flying sometimes, and how and whether to keep the faith when you feel like a wayward pioneer.

In the past year, I initiated all the practices that I said I would, though it was not always how or I thought I would. In this session I will share; resources I have learned about, for; tailoring one’s herbalist offerings, approaches to reaching a new community, systems that build confidence in clients, adjusting one’s own expectations and practices that helped a lone-wolf herbalist find her pack.

Radical Herbal Health Collectives: You Don’t Need to Work Alone

Dave Meesters (2 hrs)

The solitary eccentric inhabiting the fringes of society is a popular romantic image of the herbalist, but we also find power when we work together. One such empowering and collaborative way for herbalists of any skill level to practice their art, and serve their community at the same time, is within a radical health collective. A health collective is simply a group of peers who work together to further their craft with the needs of the community in mind. Projects for a health collective can include: building a collective apothecary to distribute to those in need, to share with local community groups, to supply medics, or to send to clinics in disaster areas or protest sites; offering classes or workshops in herbalism, holistic health, home medicine making, etc.; directly providing care through a clinic or on the street; providing trainings to practitioners of different modalities; writing and distributing informational zines & pamphlets; educating each other within the collective to build skills and capacity; and more! A health collective is an especially good place for the beginning herbalist who is looking for more experience, wants to learn and practice alongside others, and wants to do some good at the same time.

Drawing from my personal experience in three different health collectives, we’ll talk about how to form a health collective in your area, as well as organizational structures for inclusion, efficiency, and harmony. I’ll present in detail various ideas for projects a collective could undertake, and pass along many valuable lessons learned.

Spreading the Medicine: Running Your Own Medicinal Plant Nursery

Jade Alicandro Mace (1.5 hrs)

Growing your own medicine is a natural trajectory as an herbalist, and also as any individual with an interest in natural health and practices that are regenerative to the Earth rather than depleting.   However many folks don’t grow as many medicinals as they’d like to for various reasons- lack of access to land being a big reason of course.  But many folks who do have land don’t always have access to medicinal plants to grow, or are not confident in seed-starting or have the time/space/expertise to do so.  Enter the medicinal plant nursery.  If you live in an area with lots of herbalists/permaculturists/homesteaders/health conscious folks, then there is a market for a medicinal plant nursery. In this class Jade will detail her experience running and developing a successful, home-based, medicinal plant nursery- the trials, tribulations and successes.  This is not a class on growing medicinals, but rather a primer on how to start and operate your own business selling live medicinal plants.  Some topics we’ll discuss include- taking orders, creating systems, deciding what to grow, employees vs interns, pricing, shipping plants, business planning, business models, infrastructure and amount of land needed (it’s less than you think!), and much more.  If you love to farm and want to diversify, then this class is for you! If you are an herbalist who loves to garden and are looking to expand your business, then this class is for you!  If you’re an herbalist with a flair for growing and wants to fill a unique niche, then this class is for you! Come with your questions and leave inspired!

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For More Information or Advance Discount Tickets:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Jan 012018
 

DIAGNOSTICS, ENERGETICS, & PATTERN RECOGNITION

Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

For the first many years of Plant Healer’s annual international gatherings, our characteristically beautiful rural event sites had too few buildings of us to expand the number of classes to accommodate topics beyond essential foundational folk herbalism.  Fortunately, since moving our Good Medicine Confluence to its new mountain-top site in Durango, Colorado, we have been able to procure sufficient spaces to expand our topics to include additional modalities, and means for a wildly healthy and deeply meaningful life.

In May, 2018, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of classes and entertainment for the same prices as most conferences charge for only 3: over 70 inspiring teachers presenting over 140 unique classes that have never been taught anywhere before, exploring the depths and frontiers of empowered healing in all its many forms from botanical medicine to healthy foods, nature therapy, cannabis and entheogens, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm! 

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Before an herbalist or other healer can treat a condition, it must first be assessed, and the energetics of candidate herbs considered. One of the most effective skills for this purpose is pattern recognition, a learned ability to notice how factors and elements co-relate, indicate, interact, and affect.  The following dozen classes are but some of the Good Medicine Confluence offerings that address this important means to our shared aim of healing, balance, and wholeness:

Evidence Based Herbal Medicine: New Block on The Kids

Jonathan Treasure (1.5 hrs)

When so-called Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) is applied to herbal medicine (EBHM) the predictable conclusion is that “Herbs Don’t Work”. Herbalists’ responses range from denial (“we don’t need no stinking studies”) through nit-picking , (study used wrong dose, wrong species, wrong plant part, yadayadayada) to the Stockholm Syndrome (conversion to mainstream acceptability by citing innumerable references ).

All this begs a bunch of questions: how do herbs work? How do herbs cause effects? What is a cause and what is an effect anyway? Can they be measured? Does it matter? Answering these questions requires a herb walk in the philosophical garden and digging down into the metaphysical dirt, admittedly unfamiliar turf for many herbalists. But as with all secret gardens, enlightenment and even enchantment await. Health Warning: this talk may affect parts of the brain that normal classes do not reach.

Patterns of Discontent: Recognizing Stagnation & Supporting Action

Kristin Henningsen (1.5 hrs)

The reality of our world today lends itself to a whole host of imbalances, many being deeply rooted in stagnation.  Anger, fear, hopelessness, and apathy are just a few emotions that inhibit our ability to create effective change in our world and ourselves.  More and more people are experiencing and answering a call to action, but struggling to free themselves from the physical and emotional stagnation they have been held in so long.

This class will explore common patterns of stagnation and strategies to help those who feel this call to action, but need a spark.  We will explore herbs, diet, and lifestyle strategies to catalyze change and help reawaken society.

Pattern Identification as Diagnosis in Western Herbalism

CoreyPine Shane (1.5 hrs)

How do we go beyond just treating symptoms and find the root cause of disease? One approach can be seen in Chinese Medicine. It bases diagnosis on underlying patterns that links diverse symptoms of imbalance throughout the body instead of seeking to find isolated micro-organisms or physiological pathways. This class will explore a way of “pattern identification” using western physiology.

Trauma Awareness For The Herbal Clinician

CoreyPine Shane (1.5 hrs)

As a culture, we are only just realizing the extent of unresolved trauma. These experiences are far more common than is usually acknowledged, and are minimized by society and often even by the one who has experienced it. It is vital to our clients’ health and well-being for us to be able to recognize, understand, and respond to the effects of trauma. This understanding can also help us see how emotional, mental, and physical trauma can get stored in our body and cause physical problems.

Shifting Focus: Constitutional Assessment Through a Global Lens

Kristin Henningsen (1.5 hrs)

Not all folks fit into a tidy box.  While constitutional assessments can be valuable in recognizing deeper imbalances, they can also be limiting in our approach.  Being able to flip between the different lenses of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Western energetics can provide a more nuanced approach, and valuable insight into what our clients need.  Recognizing that our approach must shift with each season and stage of life allows us to be more effective in practice.

This class will look at the basic concepts of TCM, Ayurveda, and Western energetics to help us fine tune our constitutional assessment, recognize imbalances, and meet our clients exactly where they are. Class will include self-assessment, partner work, as well as case studies to apply these concepts to real situations

A Sensory Exploration Into Herbal Actions, Energetics, & Tastes

Rachel Berndt (1.5 hrs)

Immerse your senses into the art of herbalism! During this hands-on workshop we will explore the concepts of herbal actions, energetics, and tastes through utilizing our sensory perceptions. We will compare a handful of different herbs and will experience them through tasting, touching, smelling, and visual observation. After our sensory exploration we will discuss what our findings indicate. The concepts of actions, energetics, and tastes are some of the most important concepts to understand when practicing herbalism. Without a deep understanding of them, herbalism can feel like a complicated mystery and a guessing game. Through sensory exploration one can more efficiently and accurately learn about these concepts. It is endlessly fun and immensely empowering to be able to learn so much about a plant simply by using our senses. There is a part of this way of thinking that is different from “normal” thinking, or the type of thinking we are used to. The goal of this workshop is to get participants thinking about herbalism from a sensory perspective, to teach them how they can learn from the plants through their senses, and to introduce them to the important concepts of actions, energetics, and tastes. If you have ever wanted to know how to learn from the plants themselves, this is the workshop for you!

Earth, My Body: Somatic Practices For Herbalists

Larken Bunce (2 hrs)

We are the Earth and the Earth is us. We are our bodies and our bodies are us. Yet, many of us experience a sense of separation, a severing even, in our relationships with the living Earth body and with our own physical selves. Some of us, on the other hand, find ourselves acutely sensitive to the slightest sensation, and to every threat, painfully aware of the ongoing wounds to our own bodies and to the larger ecological body of which we are all a part. Some of us straddle these experiences, overwhelmed by the shifting and unpredictable nature of our experiences. Drawing tools from the fields of somatic psychology and trauma studies, this will be an experiential class intended to share a variety of practices for helping us relate to our bodies in new and hopefully, healing ways. Time will be dedicated to practices that ground and focus attention on the body, as well as those that allow for less attention to bodily sensation, acknowledging that support looks different for everyone. We’ll explore practices that are easy to apply within a consultation or to teach folks to use on their own. Of course, plants are supreme mediators of our embodied experiences and so we’ll also consider a handful of herbs to support each practice through direct and subtle actions on our bodies and hearts.

Demystifying The Pulse: Traditional Assessment For Western Herbalists

Larken Bunce (2 hrs)

Traditional assessment methods, such as reading the tongue, face or pulse, are invaluable doorways to the inner terrain, giving us clues about qualities such as moisture and heat, as well as a sense of tension and overall vitality. We can also gain entry into the psychoemotional world of the client, allowing insight into a person’s world view and perceptions, as held in and expressed through the body. Assessing the pulse is especially useful for understanding the state of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, but also serves as a microcosmic mirror of all of the organs, as well as a person’s integrated function. Perhaps most profound is the opportunity to listen in to the Heart-stories carried in the Blood, our ancestral inheritance, our earliest experiences, our current fears and dreams which all course through us, shaping the behavior of every cell and directing our patterns of perception and response. We’ll learn some theory and then spend time practicing together, including selecting herbs based on what we feel. We’ll address the potential for accessing information through entering another’s heart-field and the therapeutic value of intentional touch and presence which can be a fortunate “side effect” of pulse assessment. This class is meant to demystify pulse for beginners and to deepen understanding for folks with some knowledge. Come, bear witness, and share the story of your Health.

Home Herbalism I: Weaving Together The Patterns of Herbs

Juliet Abigail Carr (1.5 hrs)

How do we pick the right herb for the moment we’re living in, given the limitations of the home apothecary?  Climbing out of the trap of “this herb for headaches, that one for cough” allows the Home Herbalist to reach the next level of understanding that can be seen from the corner of your mind’s eye, but is still outside your grasp.  Critical thinking allows us to move fluidly within an organizational framework to understand top-down pattern recognition, using Herbal Actions, Specific Indications, & Energetics to choose the most appropriate herb, along with the ability to flex and substitute herbs on hand.  Discussion & hands-on practice help us synthesize our pattern recognition skills.  We will take this home-focused exploration of patterning even further in Part 2: “Patterns of Problems: Contraindications & Drug Interactions.”

Home Herbalism II: Patterns of Problems: Contraindications & Drug Interactions

Juliet Abigail Carr (1.5 hrs)

Join us to create a map to navigate the labyrinth of herbal contraindications and drug interactions.  We will use pattern recognition and critical thinking skills to explore this complex topic, an intimidating frontier for many home herbalists and folk herbalists.  Discover which groups of herbs may be problematic when used in certain physical conditions or combined with specific classes of medications.  We will also discuss the strength of the evidence and how to look deeper to make appropriately judicious choices; for example, there is an enormous difference between Cotton Root and chamomile in pregnancy, and yet both are contraindicated.  How do you know which rules to bend, and which to honor?  This class can certainly be taken alone, thuogh its concepts are introduced in detail previously in “Weaving Together the Patterns of Herbs.”

Southern Appalachian Folk Medicine: An Elemental Approach

Phyllis Light (1.5 hrs)

Fire, Water, Air and Earth…..These elements come together in a magical dance of genetics and environment to help create each of our unique and individual traits. What are your elemental influences and what exactly does that mean anyway? Understanding your elemental makeup is useful for a variety of reasons. Knowing your elements can help guide your healthcare choices and be used to improve your health. Knowing your elements can bring awareness of potential relationship issues or which elements or combination of elements might be more compatible with you. Knowing your elements can help bring awareness of why you make the decisions that you make. The wonderful Phyllis Light will lead us on a journey to discover our elemental makeups and how we can use this in our lives. And who knows – we might just take a few minutes to dance the elements!

Heaven & Earth: Astrological Influences in Medicine Making

Phyllis Light (1.5 hrs)

Astrology is an ancient study found throughout most of what we know of human history, and has only recently been suppressed. This is not unlike many of our collective passions as herbalists. In the early days of astronomy, the energetics of planetary influences were perceived at the same time the physical masses in the sky were identified. The practices of astrology and medicine have often gone hand in hand as useful tools that can be used together to make sense of our world and also to find balance within it.

Aside from modern horoscopic divinations, astrology has historically been used as a system of energetics, making it accessible and translatable to the herbalist. In this class we will begin with an overview of Western Astrology as an energetic framework and place the zodiac within their planetary rulers and get a sense of how they might impact our lives and medicines. We will spend time discussing the lunar, solar, planetary, and zodiacal energetics and explore ways to incorporate them into medicine making, including theories of specific plants and their astrological affiliation. We will also explore times and ways of incorporating the desired energetic into your preparations.

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For More Information or Advance Discount Tickets:

Good Medicine Confluence Website: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html

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Dec 162017
 

Celebrating The Arrival of Kiva & Wolf’s Beloved Wildling – Ælfyn 

An incredibly happy mama and papa giddily announce the birth of Aelfyn Wolfson Thorn Hardin… looking a mite like his papa when Wolf was little.

A Diary of Thoughts & Feelings by Jesse Wolf Hardin

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It is with overflowing hearts that we present to the world our new baby Ælfyn Wolfson Thorn Hardin, born just over 24 hours prior to this posting.  This family of oddkins are generally more comfortable secreted away, exploring magic and intimacies in the chiaroscuro shadows at the far edge of the forest… but over the course of a decade we have been increasingly blessed with a caring tribe of fellow misfit allies, health bringers, and culture shifters. Neither our social discomforts. nor the remoteness of our wilderness home, block sight of how many of you are now a part of our lives, integral to the mission of having a radically helpful effect of the world. We have come to know you in your specialness, and you have come to know us better than even some of our blood relatives. Exhaustion and seclusion might have meant postponing the news, if not for the fact that hundreds of you have been writing and messaging to ask about Kiva and the wee wilder.

One thing that stands out for me, is how hard it is to write anything, or even to think clearly, while crying… and tears have been noticeably forthcoming since the onset of labor and still today.  This can scientifically be explained by the levels of oxytocin at this special time, in not only a mother’s bloodstream but also that of family members close enough to be susceptible.  Just as hormonal releases play a part in falling in love, in the release of milk, and the softening of connective tissues that make birth possible and survivable, so too does oxytocin affect feelings, bodily functions, and behavior.  It can result in a lessening of perceived pain, help a mother forget and thus get over the trauma of a painful delivery.  And perhaps  most importantly, it tends to greatly boost feelings of love, happiness, and contentment, making normal daily work tasks difficult to fulfill at the usual pace, but helping to increase parent/child bonding.  If you think about the natural world, it only makes sense that creatures be motivated to protect their young at their most vulnerable stage.  Instead of possibly rejecting our loud, messy, and needy offspring, we are so high on our bodies’ purposed chemicals that we may find their every noise endearing, and their every need a great honor to fulfill.

Describing this process as a chemical one, however, in some ways robs it of its miraculousness and glamour, evolution replayed in the tiny fetus’ transformation from a fish-like shape into a creature with legs and tail, and then on to the features we know of as distinctly human.  Enchantment, destiny, and choice.  The excitement that comes with a planned or at least well received conception.  The long months of waiting, at the Gaian altar of a fruitfully swelling belly.  The seeming impossibility of a seven pound or more critter exiting through a the limited opening of its sacred cave home.  The glistening, blood flecked beauty that is a critter freshly exited. And the unstoppable gushing of affection for our children, the relentless and not always timely tears we spill. like water sprinkled ceremoniously on our babies‘ heads.  Excuse me for any failures to communicate well, as I forgive myself for putting the wrong birth date on our boy’s announcement poster twice before finally getting it right.  Born January the fifteenth (pauses for tears), of the both amazing and ignominious year of 2018 (sniff, deep breath, nose wipe…).

The awesome mother Kiva Rose, immediately after her hard but brave and successful delivering of son Aelfyn.

A woman certainly need not need to bear children to be beautiful powerful beings, any more than to have a purpose or reason to exist. And it is understandable that not everyone is of the nature or in a situation that has them feeling warm and fuzzy over paeans to motherhood or endless posted baby pics. And there is a traumatized or prudish segment of greater society that finds things like the pregnant body or the nursing mama an obscene intrustion. But how crazy that seems, not to at least find something aesthetically sublime about the interflowing forms of bear with cub, elk and fawn, the embracing mother and child,  un madre y hijo. 

Our journey into labor and on to the delivery of this child, is actually a long one. In one sense, it arose to prominence only this morning at 1 A.M., with the switch from early mild contractions to the more severe form that marks the first active stage. In another sense, it started when we consciously and deliberately made the exciting if not entirely reasonable decision to conceive, almost exactly a year before this dramatic moment when a unique wildling child of us misfit otherkins makes his way into the light.  And in the broader sense, ours is but an ancient and endless coming into being, one segment of a long chain of conceptions and becomings, from the first splitting of cells and the proliferating of microorganisms, the first live births by our tiny, fur-coated ancestors, and then our hominid predecessors delivering their emergent offspring onto leafen beds before quickly resuming the gathering of foods and other daily survival tasks.

Dec 10, 2016, 11 P.M.: Against all practical reason and common sense, my wife and partner Kiva and I accepted the fact that we were feeling strongly and mutually drawn to creating a child together, and that this was the moment to go for it. It had been seventeen years since she had birthed our dear daughter Inga (formerly known as Rhiannon), and thirty-seven years of age felt like as late a point in life that Kiva would want to go for health and other reasons. We picked the best possible due dates, at the end of Autumn after we have confirmed and scheduled teachers for our annual Good Medicine Confluence gathering, but before the massive amount of event and publishing tasks that demand our time from January through October. In early December, we reasoned, we would only have an issue of Plant Healer Magazine, two issues of the free Herbaria Monthly ezine, a Guide to Herb Suppliers, blog posts, the creation of teacher and class descriptions for the website, and our own hoped-to-find-time-for creative writing projects to keep up with… unlike a truly busy time of the year.  We are so set on the kid idea, that we commit to building a baby nursery and bedroom to to our primitive one room cabin, scraping up the money for materials as we are able, and furnishing it with antique dressers and four poster bed that I trade my own treasured collection of valuables for.

Mar 21, 2017, 12 P.M.: Amazed that Kiva was still not pregnant after so many nights without protection, we switch to non-chemical, ph neutral lubricant.  Conception is apparently immediate, though we would remain less than a hundred percent certain for several weeks more.  We decide on a home birth, due to Kiva’s Asperger sensitivity, the security and ambiance of our special home on the river, and our concern over hospitals which we discovered result in a higher rate of distress and death than even unassisted births. We had balance the fact that we would be seven river crossings and a hundred twisty road miles from the nearest E.R., if a rare but dangerous problem were to manifest during the last stages of labor, with the knowledge that women have been mostly successful delivering without modern M.D. involvement since our kind first climbed down from the trees of Africa… and the instinct and apparent sense, though not certain, that we will have made the best choice.

April, 2017: Kiva begins feeling the effects of the pregnancy on her body, the most problematic being exhaustion and brain fog. It will be long after the size of her belly begins to advertise her pregnancy, that we determine she was getting anemic, quickly and very successfully treated with a bioavailable iron supplement.

June, 2017: We get firm confirmation that we will have a resident midwife here to monitor and help with the delivery if anything were to go awry, it seemed like such a long shot so we are greatly relieved.  We nonetheless make a special trip to a city to download home birth and midwife instruction videos, and order online the diapers, pads, heart rate meter, and myriad other supplies we imagine needed, just in case.  Our previously horrendous experiences with “modern medicine” has us ordering excellent pregnancy herbs from our Confluence teacher Ginger Webb at Texas Medicinals, and the sonogram we get at the rural Mormon anti-abortion clinic this month will prove to be the only prenatal care we avail ourselves of throughout the entire pregnancy. The screen shows us a tiny unfettered mammal, a “wee beastie”… except, as the sono tech said with mouth agape, they are not supposed to be already doing rapid frontal kicks at only age ten weeks!

November, 2017: It sinks in to our midwife just how difficult it could be staying in a wilderness cabin here, with a new child of her own that she says did not anticipate would require so much of her time.  She cancels, and we begin frantically looking for a replacement.  With such an active child inside her, Kiva wants to prepared for a possible early arrival by the end of November.  With so little advance notice, no other midwife we contact has a free enough schedule to assist us, and our commitment to a natural home birth feels just that much more serious and potentially consequential. We have to weigh in the worries of all the people who care about us and are sensibly concerned about us doing this alone so far from civilization. Even more so, the warnings of midwives we contacted who stressed how chancy a home birth is without a professional midwife there to oversee, or the one who pointed out we would “hate ourselves forever” if something bad happened to Kiva or the baby.  Kiva blew me away with how she dealt with it all, including the scary stories and pictures in the many midwife and emergency birth reference books we read for hours every day now, and most concerning of all, the sobering tale of another friend who had planned on a home birth but then had to rush to a hospital when there were dangerous complications.  Kiva has had a lifetime of over focusing on possible negative outcomes, often being influenced or ruled by her fears… and measured against this, her informed determination and demonstrated courage was nothing less than phenomenal. She did what can be so hard for most of us to do: heeding her own personal needs regarding this baby and the circumstances of his birth, identifying and listening to her feelings to the degree she is able – making a decision that was not fearless, but all the braver in the face of what were this time some very well founded fears.

Dec. 14, 2017, 12:30 A.M.: We are one day past the so-called due-date, an educated guess based on the time of conception as determined by sonogram measurements, and the most recent predictions of his birth date on social media are for an arrival now, on the occasion of St. Lucia’s Day. Kiva has indeed had minor, fairly regular uterine pain since the night before, more regular than what are often called Braxton-Hicks contractions,  but no with the force and length attributed to full labor. I say bizarre things, such as saying you might need a salted caramel chocolate truffle to instigate full on labor.

While amazingly cheerful through all the months and discomforts of carrying, she is ready to set him loose now and look for the first time in his face. Everything we know says we should not be in a rush for his appearance, and case research shows that much damage is done in hospitals through anxious c-sections, forcing things with shots of Pitocin to induce labor, and stripping membranes to break the water when it is not yet and may not at any point be necessary.  But patience, to the degree we ever really had any, is getting even scarcer. I call his name several times a day, in a low register I hope really carry through the womb to his awakening ears. Come to Papa.  We love you, come, come…

Dec. 15, 2017, 1:00 P.M.: Kiva enters what is the hard active phase of labor, as her pain increases to another, expected level, each contraction more extreme than the last.  I wake up just often enough to keep the woodstove stoked with rounds.  As strange and nontypical as the parents are, this pregnancy has been bizarrely textbook, every step of the way, including sequence and timing, all being hopeful and reassuring signs. She will keep hurting progressively worse for the next sixteen hours, though we could not have predicted that yet.  And least expected, was the amount of sharp pain in the small of her back, in spite of Aelfyn positioned in the ideal way.

Dec. 15, 2017, 7:00 A.M.: I wake up to Kiva on her knees on the floor, a cloth spread beneath her, trying to not interrupt my sleep.  In the early morning light before the sun rays penetrate our river canyon, Kiva seems to be the light that slowly fills the room.  Between the worsening contractions, she is relatively painless, entertainingly lucid and funny, and she insists on still making breakfast for us.  Daughter Inga awakens, and joins me in putting an end to such talk, immediately launching into a long hard day of tending us parents while we tended the unfolding birthing.  I build the fire up hotter than usual, spread a plastic sheet, and then try to make a few notes on our solar powered iMac for this accounting I knew I would write.

We have two friends and fellow Confluence teachers ready to message or chat for advice or other help as needed, the incredible plant healer N.D. Kenneth Proefrock, and the grounded, inspiring, and reassuring Four-Corners midwife Juanita Nelson.

Dec. 15, 2017, 12:00 P.M.: I cease reading about how to loosen the cord in case one is wrapped around the baby’s neck, and begin the many hours process of pushing my thumbs as hard as possible into pressure points in Kiva’s lower back to fend off some the awful pain showing up there. She alternates between bending over the bed on her knees, and laying across a large inflatable “medicine ball,” our kitten Frigga sitting as close as she can to Kiva like a midwife in her own right.  It is no longer possible for Kiva to restrain from making noise at this point, that’s for sure.  Nor should she, as each primal roar helps cause her body to tighten and thus provide the loving force to propel the passage of our child.

While we can admire the strength and resilience of the mothers of other species, it seems that the hollering and moaning of women in labor are not due to weakness or fragility, but rather, are in part evidence of a more challenging level of physical pain.  This acute pain in the lower pelvis in particular, is believed to be caused by the larger heads, packed with the larger brains that make the defining characteristics of humankind such as greater self awareness, increased capacity for language, and some ability to anticipate and plan for the future. It is also likely why human babies are born when still too undeveloped to stand, run, and thus escape predators and other dangers. To be born as developed as most other mammals, a hominid baby would have to be carried in the womb for at least twenty months, and when born would have a head the size of a toddler’s. To the degree that we are any smarter or better equipped than our fellow lifeforms, it is at the cost of having infants needing constant protection and care for the first many months of their lives… and purchased by the volunteered sufferings of the human mother. As screwed up as it is to guilt trip our children about our sacrifices for them, and our need for them to be grateful, here is something for which we each might truly come around on our own to giving the most profound thanks for.  The mothers of dishonest bankers as well as the mothers of society changers and caring healers, all gave hugely, that giving was many times difficult or painful throughout the years of raising their kids, and seldom is that pain any greater than what they go through to affect the continuation of life.

Dec. 15, 2017, 2:00 P.M.: Should we have gone to the hospital after all, is there something going on besides the primal stabbing that females have endured forever?  I am getting no intuitive hits as to a problem, but I find Kiva’s increasing pain nearly unendurable.  The way Ulysses strapped himself to a mast to withstand the siren calls within a great ocean storm, I bind myself to Kiva by pressing ever harder the spots on either side of her spine and just above her pelvis, harder and harder as her stormy wailing shakes the walls of our just completed nursery. Inga wipes me down with a cooling wet cloth, as I keep up the sacral pressure for one hour, then two hours, and then four.

I am so proud of this woman I know of as my “Wifeling,” cracking jokes about my thumbs providing a “digital epidural” between screaming “I can’t take it anymore!  I can’t do it!” as she pushes down with all her might.  “Yes you can!,” Inga would tell her, as wisely as any grandmotherly birth worker, as lovingly forceful as the situation required.  Of course she can do it.  She has to, and that boy is not going to just stay in there.  We made a decision that was in every way a commitment from which there was no going back.  The baby must come, naturally, now, because there is no longer any other option but to go forward, to make this work, to fulfill this birth. More screams, a plea to the fates, and then…

Dec. 15, 2017, 4:30 P.M.: It is at the height of one seemingly unbearable contraction that her excruciating pushing pays off, propelling Aelfyn out in a rush. He even looks like an elf!  He is blue, but curls up like a muscular fist, yells a single time, and than quiets and coos almost immediately when I take him up into my arms and await the placenta that can’t remain. A warm hand on his head and back, and we can see his skin transition to a warm healthy tan-pink starting at the head and quickly extending the color all the way down to his feet. The placenta exits in less than fifteen minutes, with a final push, is checked for wholeness.  Once the umbilical cord has drained all its blood into our wildling with the wriggling fingers, I tie a alcohol dipped piece of yarn about two and half inches from his belly button and then make the untethering cut. He is fine, we can tell ourselves with confidence now.  The gifts you all picked out from Kiva’s Baby Registry get immediate use, from antique cradle to the baby slings and buntings, and faerytale quilt.

Rather than having to worry about supporting his head, his neck muscles are strong enough at birth to hold his head upright by himself, and his entire being seems filled with both strength and will.

Aelfyn Wofson Hardin, one day old.

His is the vital force. And hopefully, a healing force, that can and will be a defender and proponent of diversity, of spectrums of all kinds, of healing and health, satisfaction and savoring, liberty and justice.  A nontypical celebrant of spirited existence. A keep and realizer of visions. A lover and tender of the earth in all its natural forms, in the face of all the seeks to abuse or destroy it. A lover of ideas, shapes, possibilities. A lover of loving people and what will be the friends and maybe the offspring that he impacts and inspires. And at the root, a product of his parents love for all these things, and for him.  Aelfyn Wolfson Thorn.  Protector of the elves, as his first name means in its Norse and Anglo-Saxon versions.

Son minn, as our nature worshipping Nordic ancestors might say. Our hopefully reality bending son. Clearly the ruddy haired child of his faðir, child of his móðir., set to fashion for himself the story that will mark who he is and fill his coming life.

Giving kisses, Giving thanks… to Aelfyn, and to all our friends.

 

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Nov 262017
 

STRETCHING, BIRTHING, CRADLING:

The Power, Concerns, Joys, & Gifts of an Indie Home Birth

by Jesse Wolf Hardin – www.PlantHealer.org

The humble Plant Healer cabin, showing a new bedroom and baby nursery added to this end

As I write this, dear Kiva is entering her 38th week of pregnancy.  In the last few week, our boy Ælfyn has “dropped” head first into the pelvis in preparation for his entrance into the world.  He remains wildly active, alternately tickling Kiva’s ribs with his toes and painfully pushing downwards for his morning exercise.  Whereas a week ago he seemed to be doing complete somersaults on a regular basis, now it feels like he swings his lower body back and forth while keeping his head pointed in the direction of beckoning air and light, an impish norms-busting Viking break-dancer it seems!

Kiva in the Plant Healer office cabin, 38 weeks and counting!

Over the course of the last month, we have scraped together the money for a number of needed baby items from diapers to toys, and most importantly, ordered a cheap doppler to monitor little Ælfyn’s heart rate during the latter portion of the labor, plastic sheets, and everything else we figure we might want for the birth.  Ginger Webb from Texas Medicinals rushed us some of her powerful herbal preparations including for the treatment of rare but dangerous postpartum hemorrhaging.  The support and love we have gotten from the Plant Healer tribe is heart warming and a delight, especially important in our situation and at this time.

Paying for a midwife clearly did not work out well, with one woman who promised to attend ending up getting cold feet and changing her mind after the reality of her own life and the remoteness of our home sunk in.  Others we contacted were either unable to get away, intimidated by our primitive accommodations, or already booked up with births as was our very caring Good Medicine Confluence teacher Juanita Nelson.  Juanita’s practical advice and encouragement were reassuring, after getting many letters of concern and reading the scary parts of the many midwifing and birthing books that we purchased and read.  We are committed to a home delivery, and what will almost certainly be an “unassisted” or “Indie” birth, after concluding there are no “red flag” signs or medical history that would indicate possible problems, studying research around the effects of stress on a woman’s labor, taking into account Kiva’s Asperger hyper-sensitivity and anxiousness around strangers, and having learned that there is a statistically greater chance of serious trouble having one’s baby in a hospital instead of at home or in a supportive alternative birthing center.

As informed and prepared as we are, and as strong as my personal intuition can sometimes be, we fully realize that there there is no guarantee of a healthy birth any more than we can ever be completely secure in the real world at any point in our lives.  We are, however, doing what we think will provide the best desired outcome, and in this case, the most natural thing.  Women have been bearing children, often alone and without support, for the millions of years that our species has been in the making, with the vast majority of these events being successful regardless of sometimes difficult conditions.  Herbalists make use of medicinal plants to assist or boost the body’s natural healing response, in preference over pharmaceutical intervention and suppression.  We generally do not got to an MD or hospital except in acute situations or to test and treat the most dire chronic illnesses.  It makes sense that take the same approach to what is one of the most basic and natural of human activities, the miraculous creation of and propelling of new beings from our own sentient, mortal bodies.  Birth intervention can be a lifesaver in rare cases, but most often it is doing damage to mother and child to chemically trigger labor before the baby is ready, remove a baby through cesarian surgery out of impatience or excessive caution instead of absolute need, to pull on the umbilical cord to hurry delivery or to remove the placenta after.  If there is an unexpected medical emergency, we will climb into our river-crossing Jeep and proceed to an emergency room two hours away, in hopes of remedy.  But otherwise, baby Ælfyn will make his debut in this hand wrought cabin where we feel most secure and most at home, two miles from pavement, one hundred miles from the benefits and drawbacks of a city… because, as our friend, naturopathic doctor and Confluence teacher Kenneth Proefrock puts it, “The act of giving birth is not itself a medical procedure.”

Kenneth and family surprised us by driving seven hours to visit us, bringing with them a huge padded box that his wife Darla called our “birthday present” – a gift making Ælfyn’s upcoming day of birth.  They arrived in the nearby village at 2am, caught few zs, and then risked their 4×4 truck to motor the rest of the way to this New Mexico botanical sanctuary.  Out leapt a passel of adolescent boys that Kenneth called their “hooligans,” but who were some of the sweetest, curious and respectful young fellows we have ever hosted here.  They ran around exploring the river and mountains with our seventeen year old Inga (formerly known as Rhiannon), while we got to know the complex and thoughtful Darla.

Kenneth & Darla Proefrock at Anima Sanctuary, with the antique cradle they brought for Aelfyn.

The maple rocking cradle they brought us was amazingly made in a small shop in West Virginia in the 1800s, just prior to the American Civil War.  It features turned spindles and carved finials that remarkably match the set of antique bedroom furniture that I traded for as wedding presents for Kiva, and it looked so good in the flickering light of the woodstove that we were kept up imagining our willful wildling nested in it on the Sheepskin we were given by Holly, making soft breathing sounds as we gently rock it with a bared toe.  As with everything that you folks have picked out and purchased off the baby registry or discovered yourselves, we will long be telling Ælfyn where his precious things came from, the stories of the people who have shown so much love.

Thanksgiving marks a regretful acceleration of the colonization of North America, the subjugation of  its indigenous peoples and destruction of its soils, forests and waters.  But is also serves as reminder of all the blessings and advantages we have as diverse peoples of this place, the importance of savoring our meaningful lives and learning and caring, the preciousness of healthful families and friendships, and the value of our healing work… aware human existence punctuated by struggle and loss, sustained by tireless hope, rewarded with purpose and opportunities for bliss.

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For more about the pregnancy and registry, and an article on Plant Healer’s Anima Sanctuary, click here to download the free November issue of Herbaria Monthly.

 http://www.mediafire.com/file/fade3wqk4jaw6mk/Herbaria_Vol8%234.pdf

For advance discount tickets to Kenneth Proefrock’s amazing classes, and the other 133 intensives and workshops, click on the:

Good Medicine Confluence Website