Aug 242018

Viola nephrophylla (Northern Bog Violet)

Three Faces Under A Hood:

The Many Aspects of Violet

Photos & Text by Kiva Rose Hardin

Originally published in Plant Healer’s Herbaria.

Botanical Names: Viola odorata, Viola tricolor, Viola canadensis, Viola yedoensis, and allied species. Properties will vary in intensity based on aromatics, mucilage content, and other constituents.

Common Names: Violet, Pansy, Heartsease (this name is also applied to Prunella vulgaris at time though, so take care when using common names), Three Faces Under a Hood, Sálchuach, Fail Cuach, Love In Idleness, Brog na Cuthaig, Styvmorsviol, Duftveilchen, zi hua di ding

Energetics: Cool, moist

Taste: Sweet, sour, aromatic, slightly bitter

Primary Actions: Demulcent, Lymphatic, Alterative/Clears Heat & Toxins, Diuretic,

Part Used: Flowering aerial parts, for the most part.


To Ease The Heart, To Charm With Beauty, To Warn of Death

Death is woven in with the violets,” said Louis. “Death and again death.”
Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
-William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Heart’s Ease is one of the first names that comes to many people’s minds when Violet is mentioned, along with its association with calming heartache, evoking love, and bringing joy. The more literary minded may also remember Oberon pours a potion of Love-In-Idleness into Titania’s eyes to cause her to fall in love with the ass-headed Bottom. While modern herbalists, and Americans in general, seem likely to think of Violets as a cheery sign of the arrival of Spring or a symbol of shyness or love, the older history of the plant certainly belies that simple loveliness.

In contrast to modern perspectives, the folklore of the British Isles tells how the dark purple of Violet flowers has long been associated with sadness, death, ill luck, and Violets flowering on one’s land in Autumn was an omen of death. Poetry, paintings, and stories represent Violets in many contradictory manner, but very often there is an air of wistfulness about their description, and a thread of longing woven through the lore. Their delicate blossoms may have been strewed across Gaulish wedding beds, but Violet flowers often cast a shadow across the tender touch of love in traditional ways of seeing. As such, Violets have long been viewed with both anticipation and a sense of foreboding. Despite being a common plant, its appearance can portend a great many things, depending on the weather, the place, the color of the flower, and the time of year.

The Irish name of Three-Faces-Under-A-Hood reflects both the appearance of the flower, and the nature of the plants in folklore, medicine, and magic. The triple aspect of the Violet in love, death, and beauty are threads that appear and reappear throughout stories and European (as well as European-American) ethnobotany. The use of Violets infused in fresh milk and applied to the skin to keep one young and lovely only adds to the bittersweet beauty of this enigmatic wildflower.

Viola nephrophylla (Northern Bog Violet)

A Feral Flower: Violets in the Woods, Garden, & Apothecary

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”
Tennessee Williams, Camino Real

Despite being labeled with such attributes as shy and shrinking, Violets are often railed about by gardeners as being invasive, pushy, and even a “plant bully.” This seems like something of a demonization of both the native and non-native species of Viola in the US. They are indeed prolific, often spreading by both seed and rhizome, but I would hardly call them bullies based on their hearty nature. Humans sometimes deem them sneaky, because when their more obvious showy flowers aren’t pollinated, they will produce small green flowers that result in pods full of seeds that can be flung from the plant to ensure the continuation of the species. Some people term the Violet’s early Spring showy flowers fake flowers or pseudo-flowers, but this is incorrect. More accurately, some violets, such as V. odorata, bloom so early in the season that there are no pollinators around to pollinate them, and thus the plant has developed a backup plan in the form of secondary green flowers that occur later in the year that self pollinate, and then distribute seeds as a mean of reproduction.

The most well known Violet is the Sweet Violet, Viola odorata, famous for its incredible scent and extensive use in perfumery and cosmetics. However, all Viola species, whether aromatic or not, have healing properties that are well worth exploring. Violets are practically ubiquitous in the temperate world, growing everywhere from the woodlands of Great Britain to weedy lawns in the Northeast United States to the cool upper elevation mixed conifer forests of the American Southwest. Easily recognized and safe enough to eat as a food, it’s often one of the first plants I like to teach folks about when introducing them to herbs.

Strangely enough, while most herbalists will wax poetic about the attributes of other mild, nourishing green herbs such as Chickweed or Dandelion, it can be difficult to find someone who considers themselves an advanced practitioner who takes Violet seriously as a medicine. There are a number of exceptions of course, especially among the more weed oriented clinicians, but I certainly think that this abundant little plant deserves more respect as a medicine and food than it’s generally granted in North American herbalism. I’m inclined to agree with the words of Loyd and Felter:

Probably all the species possess analogous properties; they are undoubtedly more active agents than are generally supposed and deserve further investigation.King’s American Dispensatory

Viola nephrophylla (Northern Bog Violet)

Leafen Aromatics

And shade the violets,
That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.
– John Keats

The scent we most often association with Violet is from the flowers, specifically from the ionones of aromatic species. However, the leaves of many species are also aromatic and widely utilized in perfumery. Viola canadensis, although its flowers are usually only mildly scented at most, can have strongly aromatic leaves. I’ve often found myself sniffing the air when harvesting this species for medicine, absently wondering what that alluring and delicate, yet peppery smell in the air was only to realize it was emanating from the very plant I was harvesting. Intensely green in nature, Violet leaf can be addictive to those with an affinity for it, and I would happily sleep on a mattress stuffed with that particular heart shaped wild river scent. As it is, I’m as likely to create or wear a botanical perfume built around the leaf absolute as I am the flower.

Note that the leafen aromatics can vary widely, from that green, peppery scent to a strong wintergreen odor, all depending on the species and growing environment.

Viola nephrophylla (Northern Bog Violet)

Medicinal Effects & Applications

Initiating Flow: Lymphatic & Heat Moving Properties

Violet works both internally and externally to stimulate sluggish or stuck lymph. Unlike some stronger lymphatics, I’ve never seen Violet cause headaches, hypochondrial pain, or a general feeling of malaise. Instead, it works gently to get things moving while reducing inflammation in the process. It’s a wonderful addition to a formula, or even as a simple, in the treatment of sore, swollen lymph glands during an acute viral infection such as the flu. Its demulcent action combined with the lymphatic stimulation also make it perfect to pair up with the astringent and also anti-inflammatory Rose flower and/or leaf for sore, swollen throats at the onset of cold or flu.

Eczema, boils, acne, and other irritated and inflamed skin conditions, especially when accompanied by signs of constitutional or local dryness, can be a sign of stuck lymph and hot tissues. All respond well to Violet both internally and externally.

The lymphatic moving action of Violet is probably where the plant’s reputation as an anti-cancer agent stems from, and is often paired with Pokeroot (Phytolacca spp.) as an adjunct to mainstream cancer treatments, a formula I have seen help reduce the insidious and unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.

Tincture, infusion, syrup, elixir etc can all be used for internal lymphatic treatment, and an infused oil is wonderful as a massage oil to gently move sore or sluggish lymph from the outside. It’s common to see Violet infused oil sold as a breast massage oil, but it will work equally well on other stuck and inflamed lymph tissue! I especially love Violet infused oil as a massage oil for wee ones experiencing lymphatic congestion due to its gentle, soothing nature, but it will work well for those of all ages.

Slippery Sweetness: A Soothing Demulcent

The slimy, mucilaginous character of Violet leaves gives it a great many of its healing actions, including the ability reduce the sensations of burning in cystitis and urinary tract infections, and externally lessen the inflammation of eczema and wounds while also assisting in the healing of irritated tissues. Violet’s ability to moisten the mucosa is systemic, and is also very useful in treating a dry, hacking cough where expectoration is scant or difficult.

If desiring these demulcent effects, it’s best to extract the plant in water rather than alcohol, and a tea or infusion made from fresh or dried Violet leaves. This is because the mucilage responsible for the demulcent action is a carbohydrate more efficiently extracted by water than alcohol. Eating Violets as food will work equally well, and most folks will find Violets to be bland, sweet, and very palatable in salads or cooked with other greens.

I’ve noticed that some commercially obtained Violet leaves have less of this property, so be on the lookout for that if you don’t gather your own medicine or need to supplement with another source. It’s easy to check by adding a bit of water to leaf crushed and seeing if it feels slimy between your fingers and stretches into thin strands of mucilage when you pull your fingers back apart. Additionally, some species of Viola, whether cultivated or wild/feral, may contain less mucilage and possibly some less desirable constituents, what you’re looking for a sweet, moist mouthfeel without a prickly sensation in your throat. The slimier the better. Violet has many properties not dependent on its moistening effects, but most of them work better when combined with abundant mucilage.

Violet leaves can also be infused into oil to make a salve or you can even just smush up the fresh leaf to apply directly to the affected area as a poultice. Given the high water content of most Viola species, it usually works best to wilt the leaves first, and then warm infuse them into the chosen fat. A cold infusion of freshly picked leaves is likely to go off in a relatively brief amount of time, similar to Plantain or Comfrey.

The Cooling Stream: Addressing Damp Heat & Infections

Violet excels at clearing damp heat and toxins/infections from the urinary tract and other mucosal tissues. It is one of my most often called about allies for interstitial cystitis where there are heat signs present. It is equally useful in hot, acute cystitis, and even in cases of mild to moderate kidney infections when used alongside other therapies. For simple cystitis, it pairs very well with Cornsilk (Zea mays) for soothing, healing, and relaxing the urinary tract.

These same properties also apply to gut, respiratory, and other mucosa. As mentioned above, Violet syrup or other preparations can be helpful when treating dry, hacking coughs, whether from constitutional/environmental issues, or from a cold or bronchial infection. Pairing it with an efficient anti-spasmodic such as Cherry (Prunus serotina and allied species) can helpful in more spasmodic coughs, and Cherry can also be of help when combined with Violet for gut inflammation related to anxiety/stress and/or food intolerances. Violet, Cherry, and Evening Primrose (Oenothera spp.)  is an elegant formula to soothe spasms, irritation, and tension in both the gut and the respiratory tissues.

Likewise, mucilaginous Violet species have a place in treating gut ulcers and even ulcerative colitis, along with IBS, and other chronic digestive inflammations. Formulate with astringent and more anti-infective herbs according the person’s constitution and energetics of presenting symptoms for best results.

Unclenching the Fist: Hepatic Relaxant

Violet also has a relaxing, opening effect on the liver. It’s lovely combined with Lavender and Rose for a backed up, overheated liver with associated symptoms of sharp hepatic pain, general irritability and an unusually bad temper. It helps to get things flowing and smooth again. This is very important for an organ that has a tendency to get cramped up, tense, and blocked when not happy.

Sudden outbursts of unreasonable anger combined red, inflamed eczema, and ongoing headaches is another common liver pattern that calls for Violet. If the pattern seems stuck, and refuses to move with appropriate treatment, consider adding an aromatic bitter such as a mild Artemisia spp. (A. vulgaris or A. ludoviciana would be good choices) to further lessen inflammation and tension, while promoting energetic movement along with bile flow. If a tense, overheated liver is also inflaming the tendons and triggering issues with eye weakness, try formulating Violet with Heal-All (Prunella vulgaris), and Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.) in a tincture or infusion.

The River’s Mouth: An Opening Nervine

Violet excels at clearing blockages, whether lymphatic, hepatic, or emotional. It’s a gentle relaxant nervine that allows us sort our way through frustration, anger, and irritability to the wound that lies beneath. In a practical sense, this means that Violet is an excellent nervine to take when grief caused tension or irritability is clouding our perception and thus impeding our ability to heal from the grief. More generally, it’s also a wonderful when combined with Rose or other relaxant nervines for a general calming effect.

Viola spp. have long been used to treat all sorts of headaches, especially those due to tension, sadness, constitutional dryness, or lack of sleep. I find cold infusion or an aromatic flower syrup especially helpful for many headaches. Because of its moistening and overall decongesting actions, it can also prove useful in sinus headaches.

Some folks will say that Violet isn’t a proper nervine, or isn’t strong enough to exert a relaxant effect on the nervous system. I consider that to be too blanket of a statement, and that as with many nervines, much depends on the constitution and overall sensitivity of the individual’s nervous system. Michigan herbalist, Jim McDonald, says:

Violet is also good for people who react to stress (or perhaps life in general) with rigidity. Violet softens. It inspires flexibility.  Some give.”

I find this to be very true, perhaps especially for those who are innately flexible, but where life, trauma, and circumstance have caused a rigid shell to be created around a soft and sensitive heart. I’ve also seen Violet prove useful for autistic folks who find themselves frustrated with mental or emotional rigidity in themselves. In both cases, I prefer aromatic species in the form of a tincture, elixir, honey, or syrup, but find that even the less scented Violets to be useful. Combining with Linden, Rose, or another aromatic relaxant can be beneficial.

Where there’s irritability, muscle tension, and an inability to relax due to tension felt in the gut and head, consider pairing with Vervain (Verbena and Glandularia spp.), Wood Betony (Stachys betonica), and Agrimony (Agrimonia spp.). Another place to consider Violet in children or adults who have difficulty focusing and instead chatter, fidget, cause trouble, or potentially throw fits or start fights. In such a case, consider pairing with Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) or Firethorn (Pyracantha spp.), and possibly with Skullcap (Scutellaria spp.) and/or Milky Oats (Avena spp.) if there’s an underlying nervous exhaustion. Note that this sort of exhaustion is possible, even in children, and is especially likely if there’s been any kind of trauma. This includes the stress of the behavioral modification often applied to the neurodivergent, including those diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and similar neurological differences.

Perhaps think of Viola spp. as able to open up the river’s mouth, undamming a needed opening to allow the full capacity for flow and adaptability. Combine with Monkeyflower (Mimulus spp.) when the capacity for play or frivolity has been lost due to stress, trauma, pain, or self-doubt.

I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful Violet is in formulation, being very amenable to interweaving and complimenting the effects of many other medicines. I would be rather lost without it in my clinical practice for just that reason.

Sweet Greens & Perfumed Tea: Edible Applications

Violet leaf, especially the small, new leaves are delicious in salads, soup, and wherever else you like a sweet, green accent to your meals. The blossoms are likewise mild and pleasant, and make a beautiful addition to many foods, both savory and sweet. Not only do they add nourishment, the leaves can also act a thickener in soups and sauces, and are well worth exploring in all manner of preparations. I like to combine Violet leaves with Sassafras leaves, dried and powdered, in my filé powder for my homemade gumbos.

Aromatic Violet flowers, whether on their own or concentrated into a syrup, liqueur, jelly, or similar. Not everyone is as fanatically fond of the flavor as I am, but I’ll happily admit to being something of a Violet addict. Even if the plant had no medicinal attributes, I would still regularly indulge in Violet perfumed tea, Violet blossom ice cream, Violet cocktails, and even smokey Violet finishing salts! I love to combine Violets with Evergreens in many teas and desserts, and find that Violet, Rose, and Orange Blossom combine exceptionally well in almost any creamy sweet dish, such as a custard, rice pudding, or ice cream.

Cautions & Contra-indications

Almost none for flower/leaf, safe for infants, the elderly, and anyone in delicate health. Clinically, I’m comfortable working with the whole plant (as opposed to isolated constituents) during pregnancy and breastfeeding, even if there are no studies to validate that.

This is a food type herb, the only two concerns I would have are for those who have a very cold, wet constitution already (in which case you can still formulate it with warming or drying herbs to help balance it out) and the variable amount of salicylates, which some folks are sensitive to and avoid.

Similar to what I have already stated, I would consider Violets inappropriate (but not necessarily harmful) in the treatment of chronic, oozing sores or similar external issues that present as cold and wet.


An Exception: The roots and seeds are something of a different medicine, and can be dangerous in large doses. Only work with the seeds and rhizomes/roots if you have proper guidance, training, and/or understanding of how the medicine works and when it would be appropriate.

Viola nephrophylla (Northern Bog Violet)

Further Reading:

The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennett by Jim McDonald

Combining Western Herbs & Chinese Medicine: A Clinical Materia Medica by Jeremy Ross

The Scots Herbal: The Plant Lore of Scotland by Tess Darwin

Irish Wild Plants: Myths, Legends, & Folklore by Niall MacCoitir

Juliet Blankespoor:

Juliet Blankespoor:

Aug 032018


To Receive You FREE Copy of The August Issue of Herbaria Monthly

Releasing on Aug. 8th – Subscribe Before Then or Miss The Issue

The August issue contains 44 full color pages of inspiration and information, starting with the second installment of an excellent piece on Locavore Medicine by upcoming 2019 Good Medicine Confluence teacher Jade Alicandro Mace, focused this time on Herbal Honeys.  You might especially enjoy Jenny Mansell’s contribution on Herbal Treats For The Hot Days of Summer.  Also included is a no-holds-barred piece by my longtime friend Susun Weed, empowering us all to follow our callings as healers of every kind – without the need for degrees, registration in an approving organization, or a license from anyone.  It is truly a celebration of the power of healing plants, and our historic claim to practice what what we learn without permission or approval, and without feeling either inadequate or unworthy. And finally, an excerpt from a piece by myself, drawn from the book Plant Healer’s Path (available through the Plant Healer Bookstore, click through from, a piece expressing how and why we care so much about y’all!

We depend on paid subscriptions to the quarterly Plant Healer Quarterly magazine in order to produce Herbaria, our events, and all we do to spread and support the folk herbal community… but these monthly Herbaria supplements are our gift – Medicine for the people! No matter what how low your income, you can subscribe and receive some of the info you need to be a practicing Plant Healer!


by filling in your name and email addy on the far left of the Plant Healer splash page:

Jul 222018


We are now focusing on getting just the right blend of topics from new voices in the community, and from those of you who have never taught at the Confluence before… now that have confirmed the last of our returning teachers.

Kindly share the following announcement image in order to give as many folks a chance to be heard as possible… and fill out an application soon if you are personally interested:

Good Medicine Confluence Teacher Application

Good Medicine Confluence Teacher Application

(Please RePost and Share on Facebook)

Jul 102018

“Glad to be a Plant Healer & Culture-Shifter”


Wolf really loves drawing new images for Plant Healer book covers, Good Medicine Confluence posters, and silk screened shirts. And many of us love his latest image of a multi ethnic healer with her medicine staff, full of herself in the best of ways! We have turned his drawing into both B&W and full color versions for use in “stained glass” window clings, tee shirts and hoodies.

Order yours by clicking through to the Shirts & Gifts page from:

Jun 302018



We are just starting to catch up with projects a bit, after hosting last months 9th annual Good Medicine Confluence, 470 of the deepest feeling healers and culture shifters imaginable!

The next Plant Healer Quarterly releases the first Monday of July, our Summer issue with over 265 color digital pages of herbal info and inspiration.

As we often do, we present below a Sneak Peek of the contents, including a new column by our new friend Jereme Zimmerman on fermenting beverages and foods, an impressive article on the medicinal, cultural, ecological, and spiritual story of Peyote and San Pedro cacti, along with all our incredible quarterly columnists, and a half dozen in-depth pieces written by Good Medicine Confluence teachers on the topics of some their classes.

Importantly, you now have the option of subscribing at discounted full year (4 issues) rate of $69, or else go for a single issue/quarterly rollover option:


Single Issue Subscriptions

Subscribe Until You Cancel

$19 per Quarter

Our new quarterly option for those who cannot afford a full year at a time. With this option, you will be billed only $19 every 3 months, and can cancel at any point even if you only want one issue.

Go to:


Plant Healer for Mobile Devices

iOS & Android

After many requests for an app version for pads and smart phones, Kiva has now make Plant Healer Quarterly available direct from your online Apple Store and GooglePlay Store.


Check Out The Articles in the Upcoming Summer Issue:



New Plant Healer Column

Fermentation, Fun, & Folklore

Our latest column comes courtesy of Jereme Zimmerman, author of Making Mead Like a Viking, and one of the most welcomed of our new Good Medicine Confluence instructors.

This quarterly column will cover everything from Mead making and Botanical Beer brewing,

to making Kraut and other fermented foods and beverages. So fill your plate, and tip your mug… Skal!


 Subscribe at:


Jun 252018


We had a great time hosting the Good Medicine Confluence last month, over 470 heartful healers and culture shifters living and working at the far and fascinating edges of the herbal paradigm. Here are some of the folks attending:

There is no rest for the wicked, however! And one of the first of many tasks upon returning, was completely remaking the event website, to reflect the focus and feel of the next, 10th Anniversary (WTF!) gathering:


Check Out The All New Website For The

10th Anniversary 2019

Good Medicine Confluence – May 15th-19th in Durango

This year’s gathering will again feature nearly 150 classes, hands on labs, and intensives in total, with 10 or more per time slots!

To check out the new look and flavor of the Confluence website, click on:


Full $100 Discount

On Advance Tickets to The 10th Anniversary

2019 Good Medicine Confluence

Get the deepest discount of the year, by purchasing an “Enthusiast Special” ticket to the Confluence between June 15th and Sept. 30th.

Gp the Registration page from:


Teaching Proposals Now Being Accepted

for the 2019 Confluence

We are now welcoming class proposals for next year’s big event, not just from well known herbalists, but from any of you who have a passion for sharing your healing experience and love for the plants.  Slots will mostly fill up by September, so the sooner you apply the better.

Good Medicine Confluence Teacher Application


(Please RePost & Facebook This, Thank You!)

May 082018



Spring Tales & Wishes to You – from Wolf

Spring comes early in the wild Gila bioregion of New Mexico, in part due to our location as the furthest southern high-mountain range, and partly as result of global warming. The cottonwoods have long been filled out in their green finery, the riverside willows doing their endearing leaf-dance in the strong canyon winds, even as April saw the first of the season’s wildfires in nearby Arizona and S.E. Colorado. Kiva has been thrilled with the first lilac blossoms we have ever had, and the rich smells of the burgeoning wild grape vines dangling their arms from the branches of host Junipers. Spring here is announced in a flourish of early flowering mustard and returning Phoebes, the Wild Turkey chicks racing to keep up with their foraging flock and the nesting calls of the resident black hawks.  As little time as we have had to stop and enjoy it, it has nonetheless shone like rays of sun through the river-facing windows of our tiny cabin office, and it sings to us like a beckoning bard just outside our doors. Just as I once snuck out of old fashioned screenless school windows to play hookey in the company of suburban dandelions and excited feral dogs, I can feel the urge to bolt. But even stronger, is an obsession with what feels like a rather ancient dream, a vision of meaning and purpose whereby I am fulfilled through a minor but significant bettering of the world, a freeing, aid to a crucial rebecoming, an assist to the ushering in of a healthier paradigm — manifest at this moment in a Confluence of caring hearts and creative oddkins coming together in Durango, in the Animas river valley.

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

It is perhaps the unresolvable tension between the need to be nourished by frivolous joyful explorations and the drive to help others and the planet, that imparts the intensity of every lived moment dedicated to either the relaxing or acting, learning or teaching, purpose or play. I sense each day as a propellant to which I try to lend direction, a springboard from which I leap airborne first in the direction of self pleasing and self care, then towards an impassioned mission and its many prioritized tasks, and then a somersault back to fun and meanders with no obvious practicality, in something I can only hope approaches a balance.

Things speed up exponentially right before each year’s Good Medicine Confluence, and do not begin to slow down until a full month after. While it requires a portion of every day for an entire year, it is now when a zillion details have to be set in order, schedules altered as teachers and attendees report needs and changes. Scholarships have gone out to the most impoverished and enthused, barter and time payments worked out for those requesting help attending, name tags to prepare, and arrangements to be made, the 2018 event book with schedule is at the printers, Amanda Furbee is organizing the work trade helpers, and final letters filled with details have gone out to all the ticket holders, andthe 2019 Confluence website is completely remade and ready to launch in early June!  There are still signs to be printed, and quickly we must pack not only our clothes and baby gear, as well as Plant Healer books layered for protection between Plant Healer shirts for sale, and somehow we must squish it all into the Jeep. In a very few days we will need to transfer it all to a rented van, a reasonable strategy after our Range Rover blew its engine driving to the gathering last time. Our excitement builds, and we see on social media that it is the same for the over 400 others who are also preparing to drive, fly, bus, train, or rideshare in old vehicles, to get to the event where they feel most empowered, accepted, and wildly encouraged… to heal more than just human bodies. Hearts. Spirits. Communities. The natural world that is our medicine and our hope.

As usual, folks are coming from all over, with as many from overseas as from our home state. No matter where we embark from, it is a big and sometimes challenging adventure getting to Colorado, and the route passes over or through some of the most diverse and enchanting landscapes imaginable, from the high deserts and native hogans to the rise and life of the snowcapped Rockies. The culminating view is of the Animas River winding out of the high mountains into the forested valley, a relatively small town dedicated to visiting outdoor enthusiasts and bohemian artists, shouldering meadows of brilliant wildflowers and grazing deer.

Magnificent light before sunset over Gothic.

We will be mostly out of email contact for a couple of weeks, between the event, the post event tasks, and getting some rest. We always counsel the importance of taking care of oneself, and the role that rest plays in cognition and repair… but so hard to follow our own advice. After all, there are 2019 teacher proposals to decide on.  We have to put together a June issue of Herbaria Monthly with herbal articles as well as pictures from the Confluence.  Another Plant Healer Magazine needs lots of attention before its July release. I have to somehow take care of important homestead chores, as we have not yet found candidates for a longterm caretakership position here. We are compiling another Plant Healer book, and Kiva and I are both desirous of time to write more.  And we want to figure out someone to housesit, so that we can take our baby Aelfyn to see and experience new things!

To you all, we wish you more rest than we have gotten, all the excitement and satisfaction we have had, and the friggin’ springboard days that can help launch you towards your purpose and pleasures, possibilities and dreams!

Thank you for feeling so close.

Happy, happy Spring!

May 012018

Preparing & Preserving Healthy & Delicious Foods

At the upcoming 2018 Good Medicine Confluence 

Good Medicine Confluence Website:

In only two weeks time now, we will be presenting 5 days and nights of fun and education, with over 140 unique classes. 


6 of these classes will be focused on the considered, ethical gathering and use of wild plant medicines and foods: Wise, informed use of plant medicines is one of the most effective ways to treat illness and contribute to overall  health. It is a mistake, however, to turn to them only  in acute situations, expecting them to bail us out of problems  brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle such as chronic stress, a lack of exercise, or an unhealthy diet.  Herbs work best in synergy with beneficial physical activity and good food. If that food in not only healthful and nutritional, but also delightful, delicious, and satisfying, it additionally contributes to a mental state conducive to healing and overall well-being.  Truly healthy food know longer be looked at as poor tasting, or as a privilege of the elite.  Good home-gardened or purchased ingredients were once the staple of the common people, and along with healing herbs, it is the people’s medicine.

You will be able to participate in the hands-on making of wonderful entrees, and taste your results!


A big thank you to our teachers Jereme Zimmerman, Erika Larsen, Ginger Webb, Penney Garrett, Susan Evans, and Briana Wiles:


Food Fermentation: It’s Not What Can I Ferment, It’s What Can’t I Ferment!

with Jereme Zimmerman (1.5 hrs)

Fermenting vegetables through lacto-fermentation (the use of wild yeast and lactic-acid bacteria for preservation and nutritional enhancement) is a healthy, enlivening practice that will help restore the balance of beneficial microbes in your gut and introduce you to a world of new flavors. Fermentation has been the way to preserve food since the Stone Age and has experienced a comeback in the twenty-first century as more and more people become sick (literally and figuratively) of the mass-produced, nutrient-devoid non-foods that pass for sustenance in much of the modern world. Every culture from every corner of the world has its share of fermented-food traditions, as mankind discovered early on that the foods available to them could be both preserved and enhanced with just a little harnessing of nature and its gifts.

In this class you will learn how to ferment myriad garden-grown and wild-foraged vegetables, herbs and other botanicals as a method for preserving the harvest without the use of any modern conveniences. If you’ve got jars, crocks, salt, water and a knife you’re ready to ferment! Zimmerman will initiate the class with his method for making basic sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles, and will then use this blueprint to delve into the vast opportunities in experimentation available to the modern fermenter. If it’s edible, you can likely ferment it. We will discuss the various (non-meat) ingredients possible to ferment in a brine, including peppers, onions and garlic (for fermented hot sauce), mushrooms, corn, and various herbs and wild-foraged plants for enhancing your ferments. Be prepared for a Q&A on what you’d like to ferment, and feel free to bring along something of your own to throw in some brine for a group ferment!


The Herbal Pantry: Preserving, Enhancing, & Storing

with Susan Evans (2 hrs)

Discover how to preserve the fresh and healthy herbs of summer with elegant blended vinegars, herb butters and spice blends, marinated cheeses, robust herb pestos and spicy salsas. Learn how to harvest and store your herbal bounty for the best flavor. We’ll cover the top seven culinary herbs including basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley and chives that can be used in a multitude of applications, from culinary to medicinal. Fill up that fridge, freezer and pantry with delicious condiments and seasoning blends to add nutrition and pizazz to any meal.


Eat Your Herbs: Creative Cooking With Medicinal Plants

with Penney Garrett & Erika Larsen (1.5 hrs)

In this cooking class we will be sharing some building blocks and resources so that you can take your healthy kitchen magic to a whole new level. We’ll go over some foundation techniques for cooking and preserving medicinal herbs such as salts and spice blends, sauerkrauts and pickles, mead, oxymel, vinegar and kombucha, soups and stocks, crackers and energy bars.  We’ll talk about formulating a meal like you do a tincture.  And about ways that cooking can be an important medium for working with herbs in community: for yourself, your family, your friends, people that you’re around and cooking for on a regular basis.  Then we’ll all do some cooking!  And eating!  We’ll bring some samples of foods that take longer to make, and as a class make a meal to share.  We’ll also share some of our favorite resources: the books we double check for ratios, the web sites we check for inspiration. Please bring your questions, and come ready to play and eat.

For both of us the line between food and medicine is blurry.  Many tonic herbs are foods.  Many spices are medicine.  And foods are medicines too: for protection, for improved immune function, for re-building broken down muscles, tendons.  Food is medicine.  Medicines can be food.  Maybe we don’t need to be so stringent in our categorization.  The kitchen is a place to experiment, to use what you have on hand, to create, share, love and heal.  Which is what we’d love to do with this class.  Let’s talk, cook, and eat together.



Wild Foods & Medicine of The Mountains – Culinary & Healing Delights

with Briana Wiles (1.5 hrs)

In this hands on lab we will take the aromatics from nature and turn them into delicious concoctions for medicine making or cooking. Learn ways to prepare alcohols, honeys, vinegars, oils, and more with wild plants from the Rocky Mountains. You may think its always medicine making we herbalists are after when going out for plants, but a large majority of us have started to incorporate wild foods and herbs into our diets. Not only do we have cupboard–or room– apothecaries anymore, now we’ve moved onto chest freezers and pantries. This exploratory class will have fresh plants to chop up, tasty samples, and maybe a jar of something you made in class. Learn to blend the flavors of the wild into an array of things from cocktails, salad dressings, spice blends, tea blends, rubs, marinades, tinctures, oxymels and so much more, the mind could be as creative as ever. We will talk about fresh plants, dried plants, seeds, roots, flowers, and fruits to infuse, garnish and create a vibrantly wild culinary or medicinal delight.


Hands-On Lab: Supermarket Botany Bingo

with Ginger Webb (1.5 hrs)

Botanical plant families can be incredibly useful to herbalists and herbal students as a starting point to learning about plants.  I love using the plants available in the produce aisle, bulk department, and spice aisle of the grocery store or supermarket to begin this conversation about plant families with my students.

In this fun class, you will get a chance to play (and perhaps win!) Supermarket Botany Bingo. Come learn or get a refresher course in the plant families found in our daily lives. As we play, I will share with you how I use the framework of the plant families, whether I am an in the apothecary or in the field, to think about and deepen my understanding of plant medicines.



Sunday Hands-On Workshop Intensive:

Home Fermentation: Sauerkraut & Beyond

with Penney Garrett (2.5 hrs)

Are you tired of paying $9 for a small jar of fancy kimchi at the store, but simply can’t live without it? Have you wanted to make sauerkraut or pickles but feel like it’s a daunting task? Come to this class to learn how surprisingly simple making these things for yourself can be. We will talk about how amazing our bacterial partners are, and taste some fun flavor combinations that go way beyond the typical. Much of this can seem scary and intimidating from the outside, but every documented culture has recorded methods of fermentation – implemented long before fancy kitchen gadgets and scary safety warnings. From a way to preserve the bounty of the year, to bringing a bit of intoxication and magic to ceremonies, ritual, and celebration, fermentation can be a truly magical addition to any meal or event.


For all 140 class descriptions and 70 teacher bios – or to purchase Online Discount Tickets – click on:

Good Medicine Confluence Website:


(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Apr 242018



Classes for Herbalists, Healers, & Culture Shifters – at the 2018 Good Medicine Confluence – May 16-20

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! 

Good Medicine Confluence Website:


The edge is where things including natural healing are redefined or refined, branch out, adapt, and transform.  It is where assumptions are questioned, norms challenged, dogma ditched, and ethics and justice addressed.  It is for this reason that Radical Herbalism is one of the essential ingredients in the making of a dynamic Good Medicine Confluence experience!  And this year we have more rad classes than ever before, including presentations by impassioned rule breakers Alanna Whitney, Rae Swersey, Dave Meesters, Vicky Salcido-Cobbe, and Rachel Berndt. Descriptions follow:


Towards an Autonomous, Insurgent, Unsupervised Grassroots Herbalism

with Dave Meesters (2 hrs)


In the United States, western herbal medicine is not included among the officially recognized modes of health care. Herbalists are black sheep, excluded from the system. In addition, the federal GMPs impose an onerous burden on herbalists seeking to support themselves by selling herbal products. But maybe, to quote a permaculture proverb, “the problem is the solution.”  The lack of official licensure and recognition for herbalists also means that no one is telling us how we must practice. Also, herbal training can usually be acquired without entering the debt traps that force other health care providers to take jobs that don’t align with their values. Our outsider status might make us poor, but it also makes us free, and creates the conditions for the overwhelming flowering of creativity and innovation that characterizes the current herbal resurgence, a phenomenon that you don’t see in licensed holistic modalities like TCM.

I propose that, instead of clamoring for the approval of a medical system that is based on flawed principles, fueled by capitalist greed, and enabled by destructive technologies, herbalists should go with the flow, embrace being on the wrong side of capitalism and the law, and put our energies towards establishing decentralized, autonomous, grassroots health networks that empower community self-reliance, provide care to those most in need, and reduce the need  for people to access conventional medicine. In fact I would argue that this is what western herbalism already does best, and it is in this context that we are truly in our power. This class will clarify the position of the herbalist in our society, and explore all the ways that herbalists work to make the above possibility a reality, and the ways that we can do it better, without illusions and with full intention.


QueerHeart: Queer 101 and The Myriad Ways in Which Queerness Can Inform & Better Herbalism

with Alanna Whitney (1.5 hrs)

This class will be equal parts competence and 101 (how to do intake forms, pronouns, how to talk about sex & babies & anatomy and all the rest) and a discussion of the ways in which queerness can provide a valuable framework through which to examine the way we relate to herbalism, healing, and community. Examining herbalism and our relationship to plant medicine through a queer lens means unraveling the ways in which binary gender is bound up our understanding of plants (and how they work on human creatures), the ways that gender roles influence our clinical work, the knee jerk assumptions we make about sex and intimacy and relationship, and more. Examining queerness within herbalism gives us an ever greater opportunity to push back against so many false binaries, and empowers us to appreciate the spaces in between – the liminality – of plant life, human life, and healing, in new and powerful ways.


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

with 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.


Working With Our Privilege: Addressing Access in Herbalism

with Rae Swersey & Alanna Whitney (1.5 hrs)

Herbalism’s resurgence in North America has brought the people’s medicine to so many people whose birthright connection to medicine & healing had been lost. The work of herbalism is radical and revolutionary, and in keeping with that tradition, we want to offer folks (clinical practitioners & folk herbalists alike) an opportunity to delve a little deeper into why and how we can work to make herbalism more accessible to people from different backgrounds and lived experience. In this workshop, we will facilitate a conversation about the insidious ways in which systems of oppression and the work of the oppressor can creep into our psyches & hearts. We will talk about ableism, racism, settler colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, sizism, heterosexism, classism, and cissexism in herbalism and what we can do to shift our own internalized bias.

We will touch on the history of the disability rights movement, using that as a guide for how we can transform the way we relate to clinical and community offerings. Issues of access and oppression, ability and disability, size, whiteness, and patriarchy have historically been poorly addressed (or fully ignored) in many herbal communities and schools. This workshop offers an introductory framework for making our work safer & more welcoming to people who have been historically marginalized. We will be talking about practical and clinical concerns, from issues like how to compose intake forms, how to think about access considerations for our physical clinical spaces, and customizing inclusive protocols and also some of the more nuanced ways that we can begin to unravel and address our own internalized bias.


Bioregional Herbalism as Radical Resistance:

Creating Solutions Inspired by Our Local Biospheres

with Vicky Salcido-Cobbe (1.5 hrs)

The unique diversity inherent within each Ecosystem is a grand teacher, a gift, and a key to the door of perspective-shifting breakthroughs. Localizing the mind can bring a renewed sense of belonging and hope. Through this lens, Plant Folx are able to create solutions for needs within their own bio-region: Unique, Informed, and Empowered.

We will begin by discussing how localized, community-based herbalism can act as a vehicle for social, economic, environmental, and personal shift and revolution. This localized approach can empower Herbalists to help limit or greatly reduce their community’s participation in fossil fuel destruction, slave labor, and dependency on big pharma, while providing opportunities for often marginalized communities and relieving local dis-ease. We will then break into groups by our personal home ecosystem (cities included!), imbibe essences created with plants of these ecosystems, and embody the brilliance of our local Flora and Fauna while workshopping creative solutions for our community’s needs. There will be a set of questions/inquires to ponder within the group, and opportunities to unpack a specific question you are holding in your heart.

The overall intention of this class is to provide skills to create a biome-framed connection, which allows folx to think like the Flora and Fauna in their bio-region. The invitations is to connect deeply with your home biosphere, embodying the non-human community to inspire creative solutions to personal, social, and environmental challenges. Folklore and examples of resilient Bioregional Herbalism provided. You are encouraged to bring your stories of this theme to share.


Zero Waste Herbalism

Rachel Berndt (1.5 hrs)

Practicing herbalism can be wasteful, but it doesn’t have to be! This class will consist of discussion and exploration into practicing herbalism with more intention, practicing with consciousness of the waste that can be involved both physically and mentally. During this class we will discover how to utilize the abundance that your own bio-region naturally provides you, those herbs that grow wild or that are easily cultivated in your region. We will discuss combining these herbs with other local ingredients (honey, brandy, vodka, etc.) to create effective herbal remedies that are low cost (or free!) We will also discuss herbs that are easy to find or grow throughout most of America that are useful in place of exotic herbs. Shifting your practice to focus on the use of the herbs that are free in your yard or in the woodlands down the street not only creates less physical waste (no packaging, no plastic, no shipping) but it also creates more profound learning experiences and more potent remedies, allowing you to waste less in a much deeper sense. The goal of this workshop is that each participant leaves feeling empowered and excited to connect with the plants in their own bioregion, that they feel how approachable the art of herbalism really is, and that they begin to be more conscious of the ways in which they can create less waste mentally, energetically, and physically, while practicing herbalism.


For all 140 class descriptions and 70 teacher bios – or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets – click on:

Good Medicine Confluence Website:


(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Apr 192018



Giving Voice to Herbalism

Through 30 In-Depth Interviews

by Kiva Rose

I took the opportunity to reread all the amazing conversations in our new book, “Herbalist Visions & Visionaries,” and it makes me feel stronger than ever about what these practitioners’ teaching, lives and stories offer to us all.

Luminarias are paper lanterns common to my beloved Southwest, a simple candle set in sand inside a brown paper bag, usually set in rows on the rooftops or lining a road or walkway.  It’s been a huge gift to my partner Wolf and I, to be able to shine a light on the many pathways of herbalism… and on many of the diverse talents in this field, people who have given so much to the world through their healing, wildcrafting and teaching. 

We seek to help give voice to a sampling of those amazing folks who are either younger or under-recognized… as well those wizened elders and what we laughingly call the “rock stars,” drawing knowledge and personal stories out of them that may have never before been shared. We’ve done this by featuring them in Plant Healer Magazine, by hosting them to teach at Good Medicine Confluence, and most recently through the first in what will be a series of books containing extensive, personal, and uncommonly revealing interviews: “Herbalist Visions & Visionaries.” This and future volumes will feature fascinating conversations between Wolf and some of the most compelling practitioners of our times.  For herbalists like David Hoffman, it‘s been a chance to “stir the pot.” For some including Matt Wood, it’s the opportunity to address and define his legacy for the first time. For the reader, it’s a chance to share in their trusting intimacies, herbal tales and tips alongside the inspiring example of their lives.

Not only can these herbalists pass on knowledge to us, but they also serve as valuable role models in a time and culture that can be difficult indeed as we continuously find and define our own herbal path. As Wolf aptly points out in the introduction to Herbalist Visions & Visionaries:

“Make no mistake. A role model isn’t somebody that we’re expected to imitate. It is, rather, a person whose role – their assignment, purpose, mission and means – inspires us to seek our own unique role and service in our lives… and our optimum personal place in the diverse and evolving field of plant medicine.”

I see the herbalists that I’ve learned from and look up to as luminaries themselves, as numinous lights that can point the way through an impasse, a challenge, or questions I can’t yet answer. Sometimes we all have to find our way through the dark on our own, but in times as dark as ours can be, we need the light of each others’ help and inspiration. The plants themselves – as well as the earth as a whole – can provide enormous amounts of guidance, but nothing replaces the human touch, hand to hand, as we learn the healing arts. This doesn’t have to come in the form of formal schooling or a specific mentor, it can just as easily be the herbal cooperative we work with, a local study group, or the nearest gardening-obsessed neighbor.

Reading through the finished book again, I’m fascinated to see how many similar messages and ideas came through from these geographically disparate herbalists, some of whom have never met any of the others. It’s heartening to observe how much we agree with each other on the fundamentals of healing and working with plants, despite many differences on the surface. One of the primary messages that seems to come through time and time again from these experienced herbalists is how vital it is for each of us to engage our work and passion fully and personally. As Rosemary Gladstar so eloquently put it:

While I think it’s great that there are schools, curriculums, teachers and apprentice programs, online courses, and every other type of educational opportunity one could wish for, herbalism really is a ‘self-study’. It’s really about people engaging and interacting with the plants themselves. The best teacher is one, in my mind, who can help open the key to one’s own well of knowledge, stimulate interest, and then says, “here, go drink, inhale it in!”

Some of the best herbalists I know of are ‘self-trained’. Look at most of these brilliant young herbalists out there in the world today. They are wildcrafters in the true sense; wild spirited, collecting seeds from here and there, gathering this and that, and weaving it together into a delicious colorful fabric of their own making, their own distilled green wisdom gathered from the four corners. It’s eclectic and free spirited, edgy like these times…

Another sentiment oft repeated by the folks interviewed – regardless of their background in science, traditional herbalism, or both – is the strong belief that herbalism, science, and conventional healthcare can work together in a productive manner that allows for more healing than any one of these elements can in isolation. There are few better qualified to speak on this subject than traditional Appalachian herbalist, Phyllis Light, who has also worked in conventional healthcare, and has served a wide range of clients since her late teens:

I love folk medicine and I love science and don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. A good folk herbalist is a keen scientist using observational skills to gather information about an hypothesis and using reasoning skills to work through the hypothesis. If you are an herbalist in practice, you probably do this quite often whether you realize it or not.
– Phyllis Light

A question that was asked over and over again of the interviewees was about their own definition of healing, and why they do what they do, as Wolf looked to dig deeper into the heart of this work we all love so much. Some people were able to reply without hesitation, while others had to think long and hard before responding. Personally, I find myself constantly amending my answers in my own head, as my ongoing experiences shift and alter the exact way in which I define my work and how I do it. What doesn’t change is the underlying motivation for why I do this, why I continue to write and teach and treat with the assistance of the plants and the land I live with.

One of the replies I found especially interesting on the role of healers in our culture came from renowned herbalist, David Hoffman:

I see the role of healers (in the broadest sense) as mitigating the suffering that is inherent in the changes our world is traversing and the culture’s response. The system cannot (or will not) be meaningfully changed. The need is to create viable alternatives to the brutalism of the fascist form of capitalism that is stomping its jackboots on all of life. I have no idea what comes after “the storm”, but we herbalists have much to contribute in the minimizing of the trauma of the transition we are in.
– David Hoffman

At times, the sheer volume of devastation, pain, sadness, and despair we healers face on a daily basis can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis. And yet, the very plants we work with can prove to be an incredible source of strength and inspiration. I’ve long looked to pavement cracking Dandelions as role models for revolution and to the persistent clinging of Ivy as a reminder of just how far tenacity can take us. Another source of joy, motivation, and even comfort comes from the very work we do, and the role we play in our communities, families and even our own health. Ours is the work of not only giving ease to the hardships and ills of daily life but also of gifting each other with an essential reconnection between ourselves and our body, human and human, human and plants, human and planet.

We are both the medicine makers and the medicine, and we have so much to offer each other and our communities. I hope that we’re able to slow down and deeper listen to each other, to take in the important stories, the inspiring struggles, the great joys, and the growing wisdom passed down from one generation to the next. The common message of the “21st Century Herbalists” book, I’ve come to realize, is that it’s time for us to each in our own ways help guide herbalism through the encroaching dark, bringing healing to a hurting world with the power and grace of the giving land itself, walking forward as lights.


Order your copy at: 

Thank you so much for your support and involvement in the good work.

Apr 152018


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, and the radical remaking of the current cultural paradigm! 

Good Medicine Confluence Website:


There is more and more evidence every year, regarding the medical benefits of Cannabis and CBD, made all the more relevant and urgent by the current pharmaceutical opioids epidemic. Sadly, this is in the face of a frightened and often puritanical reaction on the part of the status quo. Herbalist gatherings can be afraid to explore the topic, and the Good Medicine Confluence recently lost the sponsorship of an online herbal “mentoring” business because of our including classes about the science and uses of this botanical species. We understand the skittishness, but remain disturbed about the degree to which the garnering of mainstream acceptance can ever be more important than advancing a diverse materia medica which includes all efficacious plants – including beneficial Cannabis. It is not our cause or mission, it is just another of countless amazing plants…. but it is a plant that can improve the health and healing of many. The following handful of 2018 Confluence classes by Ericka Zamora-Wiggins, Sean Croke, Juanita Nelson, Rachel Rose Hessheimer, and Sean Donahue, contribute much to its study and understanding.


Honoring the Spirit of Cannabis & All Plant Nations Through Right Relationship

with Ericka Zamora-Wiggins (1.5 hrs)

A Medicine of the People, Cannabis is making a resurgence as a helper and healer for humanity and the planet. We are learning more everyday about the many uses and benefits of this important medicine as it seeks to help humanity heal the body, mind, heart and spirit in these important times on Earth. We are witnessing a renaissance as many flock to the medicine for personal healing resulting in a “green rush” in the industry.

In the recent past, we have seen how the medicine was criminalized and used against the people, resulting in the incarceration of millions of people of color. We continue to the see the effects of the demonization of Cannabis, impacting how people, including healers relate to the medicine. We are currently witness to the effects greed and ignorance and the resulting careless and often violent handling of our precious plant relative.

We will look to our Indigenous relatives to understand how traditional beliefs about health and healing revolve around the understanding of living in harmony with all of Nature. We will talk about how to relate to Cannabis and all plant relatives when utilizing them to support life and heal ourselves. Our Indigenous elders teach us that natural law calls for balance and harmony to be achieved in some form, especially as we relate to the plants that heal us. Natural law is the keeper of all healing traditions, and striving for right relationship with our medicine is critical in honoring ourselves and the precepts of respect, relationship, and reciprocity. We will experience developing our own relationship through practice. We will take time to connect through a special plant meditation enhanced and supported by Cannabis flower essences.


Blending Cannabis With Other Healthful Herbs

with Sean Donahue (1.5 hrs)

Whether as an aid to neuropsychoimmunological regulation. or as a plant bringing the medicine of pleasure to our bodies (essentially doing the same thing), Cannabis is a plant that can bring beautiful healing to many people.  For beings like us whose nervous and endocrine systems evolved in a world rich with plant diversity, Cannabis, like all our other beloved herbs, can often bring ever greater benefit when it is combined with other herbs.  We will discuss how Cannabis can be combined in smoke blends with other herbs to shift the somatic experience the medicine brings.


Solventless Cannabis Extractions:

The History and Methodologies of Processing This Healing Plant

with Rachel Rose Hessheimer (1.5 hrs)

Hashish is the oleoresin product of an extraction process commonly applied to Cannabis known as Hashing.  Hashing is generally defined as a physical separation process where a larger structure is mechanically broken down into smaller, more concise, parts.  Hashing is directly translated into the practice of processing Cannabis into solventless concentrated extracts, which can be enjoyed or administered in a variety of ways.  The practice originally comes from the Himalayan Region of Kashmir, which also includes Eastern Pakistan, Northern India, and Western China, and later became prominent and quite famously produced in Northern Africa as well. Hashish has been made and used for thousands of years, and has an incredibly rich and fascinating history in many cultures across the globe. 

Today, sparked by a collective crisis in human and environmental health, social ideologies and political systems are changing their perspectives regarding Cannabis on a mass scale.  Cannabis is reemerging into various public spheres, due to its adaptogenic and homeostatic potentials, and therefore Hashish is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as well. The craft of extracting the aromatic oleoresins of Cannabis is an artform as ancient as the beginnings of human civilization itself.  The practices of processing Hashish without solvents, which are just as applicable today, yield the most flavorful, highly prized, and superior quality products on the market, which not only appease the most discriminating of connoisseurs, but hold even more potential in our ability to treat a multitude of medical and psychological health conditions.  Solventless Cannabis extracts possess the ability to express natural, nuanced, and highly complex flavor and aroma combinations, which are uniquely available in as vast a variety of extracts as are present in the number of species cultivars.

In this class, we will specifically be exploring the history of Hashish, Cannabis Botany and Materia Medica, the different methods of solventless extraction, equipment and technique, sustainable processing practices, the art of curing, and clinical applications.


The Alchemy of Cannabis:

Biochemical Pathways, Magical History, Alchemical Preparation, & Extraction Methods
with Sean Croke (1.5 hrs)

This class will cover cannabis in terms of history, modern research and traditional uses along with understanding how various products are made today. We can compare the effects of known chemical interactions in the body to our own personal experiences. We will thoroughly cover the difference in products based on extraction techniques. This is important in regards to understanding what we are buying/creating and what we are therefore supporting. This class is meant to bring a more traditional, herbalistic approach to cannabis fused with modern day research supporting the use of more traditional methods versus newer, pharmaceutical methods of isolating compounds.


Breastfeeding, Herbs, & Cannabis Use in Pregnancy

with 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.


Hands-On Demonstration Lab:

Soxhlet Extraction of Cannabis: A Demonstration Using Legal Turmeric
with Sean Croke (2 hrs)

This Lab demonstration class will exhibit the setup and extraction of herbs using a Soxhlet Extractor. We will extract turmeric showing the differences between a common month long maceration vs a soxhlet extraction. We will go over the necessary chemical equations to properly understand boiling point, vacuum pressure, temperature, evaporation and condensation. This class is meant to arm the attendee with knowledge to fully encompass vacuum distillations and extractions. This is especially important when extracting herbs that are heat sensitive. This is also good for extraction and recrystallization of more insoluble chemicals that may not come out in a typical maceration.


For all 140 class descriptions and 70 teacher bios – or to purchase Advance Discount Tickets – click on:

Good Medicine Confluence Website:

(Please Share & Repost, Thank You!)

Apr 132018

Lakebottom Luminescence:

Of Pond Lilies, Patterns, & The Divergent Mind

by Kiva Rose Hardin

A farmer wants his son to be afraid of beautiful women, so that he will not leave home too soon, so he tells a story about how one drowned his brother’s cousin’s friend in a lake, not because he was a pig who deserved to be drowned, but because beautiful women are bad, and also witches. And it doesn’t matter that she didn’t ask to be beautiful, or to be born in a lake, or to live forever, or to not know how men breathe until they stop doing it.”  -Catherynne Valente

Fixated by moving water as a small child, I would watch the waves of the Atlantic beat against the sun bleached wood of my grandparent’s boat dock as a storm rolled in. Shredded remnants of plant life would roll in the foam – braids of fraying seaweed, glossy black seedpods, tangles of Mangrove roots – all emerging only to be submerged into frothy darkness yet again. More than once, I wrapped my short legs around a post to lower myself face and fingers first into the darkness, reaching into the sea to grasp some barely visible flower bobbing on the surface. Clutching it just in time before it disappeared once more.

So many years later, I still find myself fording flooded rivers just to reach some coveted vine creeping up a cliff-face or diving into mountain lakes to bring back a handful of Pond Lily rhizomes still fragrant from dark, sweet mud. In my life, it seems that I have always been reaching into dark water, grasping for those disappearing petals being pulled under even as I touch them. My own mind is not so dissimilar, where everything is fragments of information and images and feelings spinning and submerging and reemerging until the pieces fit together in the shape of whatever they mean to be.

Being autistic and a pattern-based thinker, I don’t conceive my thoughts in words or even complete pictures. Instead, I am forever searching for the invisible and visible currents, reaching out to nudge a sensation or memory into place until I see where they are leading me, what they might tell me about the person I am speaking to or the shape of the flower in my hands.

While I can easily fail to recognize an acquaintance by their face or not understand a simple graph due to my lack of visual thinking, it’s a fairly simple matter for me to find the flaw in a complicated line of code, key out an unfamiliar plants species from a field guide without illustrations, or even perceive what herb is doing what in the human body given the chance to experience it personally and observe its effects on others. I often wish that humans came with dichotomous keys to show me their defining characteristics and patterns so that I’d be more able to understand their habits, recognize their faces, and read expressions. Perhaps because of this difficulty with visual and verbal thought, words sometimes have a more profound effect on me than on those more comfortable with them. Pushing past my lips and into the open air, ordinary sentences can sound like a spell I never meant to cast or a secret I should have kept. I’m surprised by their abruptness when they spill out of me, and I have to peer at the listener’s face to see if I’ve said something out of place or possibly offensive without meaning to.

I also have a disturbing tendency to unconsciously repeat my own or other people’s phrases, something termed echolalia in developing children or those with neurological differences and/or disabilities.  Often defined as meaningless repetition, echolalia can be comforting to the speaker but can also give the autistic brain way of pushing words and thoughts back into a discernible patterns, allowing us to navigate otherwise puzzling emotions and concepts into something that can be verbally expressed.

Struggling as I do with speech and auditory based communication, I have learned more and more to be silent when treating people, especially during assessment. Brief questions and intense listening with note taking allows me utilize my specialized brain to the best of its abilities. Without the distraction of chatter or casual conversation, I’m more likely to be able to find the patterns of dis-ease in my clients, and also able to have clarity as to what herbs are best suited to their constitution, situation, and context. While this is not exactly the clinical model I originally thought I should follow as a healer, I see that herbalism holds the capacity for a great deal of diversity in how we each practice and teach. 

What I bring to the table as an herbalist is not simply my experience and skill, but my affinity for the other, for the less heard and rarely seen. I am fluent in the silent language of submerged Pond Lily roots and windblown Puffball spores even while I struggle with conventional social graces among my own species. In the past, I spent a great deal of time frustrated and attempting to fight through my awkwardness, always thinking if I tried hard enough I could force myself into a dynamic where I could at least pretend to be normal. Inevitably though, I’d find myself going nonverbal in the midst of a conversation from too much stress, or having an emotional meltdown under the pressure of trying to wear a mask of normality.

I’ve learned the hard way that while I’m technically capable of working as an office based clinician, everything in me rebels at the idea of regular hours, being trapped in a small room, and being expected to interact in a cookie cutter medical mold. I’m grateful for the many transformations my practice has taken over the last eleven years, but I’m just as grateful for having finally learned what I am and what I’m not.

From Dark Water: Speaking With The Other Than Human World

“As dreams are the healing songs from the wilderness of our unconscious – So wild animals, wild plants, wild landscapes are the healing dreams from the deep singing mind of the earth.”  Dale Pendell

In fairy tales, runaway girls and lost boys wander the wide world to speak with selkies and tree people, are sheltered by blue skinned hags and goat men, are told secrets that save their lives by glowing flowers and poisonous toadstools. In the stories of the not so distant past, we were not so separate from the natural world, and the pressures of trauma and danger drove us more quickly to that liminal place where our language and theirs overlaps and merges into something ancient, necessary, and still wild.

In the beginning, I simply wanted to be an herbalist…. even though I didn’t yet understand what that meant in modern day America, or even to me personally. What I did know was that in my imaginings, it was already implied that a healer who works with the green world, who acts as a bridge between one species and the next, would not necessarily be a “normal” person. My understanding of the healers of many cultures was that sometimes what is commonly termed mental illness, whether inborn or trauma induced, could actually be of benefit when mending the wounds of others. My dreams were populated with the ominous yet wise visage of Russia’s fierce hag, Baba Yaga, as much as the graceful silhouette of Ireland’s healing goddess, Brighid. I was looking for what I saw as a lost archetype, of fierceness and otherness wrapped up in a deep, experiential relationship with place and other than human species. For a way of contributing to the health of humans while staying rooted in the wildness of the land and plants.

There have been few things in my life I have fallen into, head first, with little regard for consequence or effect. Being of a wary and vigilant nature, I tend to watch situations and people from the outside for a good long while before investing myself to any degree. And even then, I rarely commit myself to a cause or purpose for any length of time. My curiosity calls me in to explore an idea or experience before I retreat back to the edge of the woods to watch from a distance yet again.

Plants were always different, it was easy for me to fall in love with their delicately veined leaves and twining roots, to give myself up to the sweet scent of Russian Sage on a warm summer wind or to the touch of a gold flecked Cottonwood leaf tumbling from the sky as it fell into the river. After more than a decade of practice, the plants are so tangled up in my physiology and psychology that not a day goes by that I don’t have at least one tincture bottle or twist of root in my belt pouch. I can’t walk or drive anywhere without looking for familiar or new friends springing from dirt or concrete. My orientation in the world is based in where root meets earth and where blossoms meets sky so that the mycorrhizae has become my map into the waking world of humans from the depths of my very other mind. Medicinal plants and fungi give me much needed portal through which to communicate with other people in a way that matters and connects us past what stilted speech could ever accomplish.

Plants have the ability to change the way we perceive the world, the way we experience life through our senses, and even how we think and interact. Not just the overtly mind altering plants that humans tend to get so fixated on… but all of them. Even the gentlest herbs, a sip of Lady’s Mantle tea or a few drops of Rabbit Tobacco tincture, have the ability to tug at the corners of reality and reshape how we see and feel. To me, this is magic, but it is also the everyday practice of the herbalist and a skill to cultivate in even the newest herbal enthusiast.

Perception is not separate from our bodies, our neurology is our physiology. Our consciousness lives in the permeable membrane of our mucosa, in the intricate wiring of our nervous system, in the sensitive map of our fascia.  Which means that our everyday interaction with the herbs can seep into our dreams, change the way we speak, heal longstanding illnesses as well as new wounds, and forever alter how we interact with the natural world and those of our own species.

Fairyfire & The Nymphaea: Baneberry + Pond Lily In The Waking World

“Is my voodoo working?
Hear my dreaming,
You’ll be drowning.”
-PJ Harvey, Long Snake Moan

As herbalists, we are not utilizing inanimate objects, but rather communicating with lifeforms far older than we. We are not simply pulling free pharmaceuticals from the landscape, we are interacting with those other than human creatures that we are bound to in every way. From the very air we breathe to the food we eat to the way we consciously or unconsciously alter our bodies and minds, plants underpin every aspect of our life as humans on earth.

The first time I tasted a drop of Baneberry root, Actaea rubra – a local mountain plant that is closely related to the much better known Black Cohosh, Actaea racemosa – I felt my heart speed up, my face flush, and my breath catch in my throat. There was that brief instant where all the colors in my vision shifted spectrum and everything with lit up like a swamp candle, like the otherworldly lights that flit across still water just past dusk.

Just past that ripple in my psyche was the acrid burn that I felt begin in my gut and creep outward as if waking up some sleeping piece of myself, and allowing for movement in a paralyzed part of my body. This brief yet vital experience was the beginning of being able to heal a chronic duodenal ulcer I’d been previously unable to address with more conventional herbal or pharmaceutical means.

And then there was the moment I chewed a fragile, transparent slice of Yellow Pond Lily rhizome, Nuphar (formerly Nymphaea) polysepala, still wet from the still, frigid waters of the mountain water I’d taken it from. The sensation of the insistent searing heat in my body so suddenly seeping away like footprints being stolen by the tide. It happened so quickly I wondered if I’d only imagined the pain.

The sudden absence of intense and ongoing pain is a mind altering experience in and of itself of course, but this plant offers more than moist, cooling relief from internal flames, it also draws energy and consciousness back down deep. Where your fire has lit up your head and your heart to the point where even the ashes incinerate into insomnia, racing heart, hearing voices, and  Pond Lily can cool the fire, but also bring the energy of the body back down to its core, drawing it back to the womb, kidneys and general pelvic area to allow the reunion of the elements we are made up of.

To speak of the plant’s actions in a more straightforward way is to be reminded that Nuphar excels at restoring fertility where excess heat and fluid deficiency are an issue. The Nymphaea can also correct excess heat in the blood, especially where anxiety, overthinking, and hyperfocusing have caused fiery irritation in the gut (especially the small intestine), bladder, nervous system/heart, and lungs.

Lessons like these have taught me to never underestimate the profound power of working with plants not just as powerful phytochemicals, but as allies in a process beyond my own understanding, infinitely mysterious but somehow still accessible through the perceptual processes of our sensate bodies .

Reaching into the dark seas of my own mind, I am reminded of the flowers I sought so obsessively as a child, even now I am still seeking out the peculiar patterns of light and sensation that show me where I am rooted to person and plant as an herbalist. That illuminate deep water with sepal and seedpod, giving me a map back to the waking world from my divergent dreams so that I can bridge the here and there with the healing of the herbs.

Apr 092018


For The 2018 Good Medicine Confluence – Plus RideShare Forum Open, & Event Details


Gigantic Class Schedule to Check Out

While we determine class topics early, we wait to post the exact schedule until the month before the Confluence, because of the inevitable last minute adjustments.  Teacher cancellations are the biggest issue, usually unexpected or worsening health situations.  By this point, we can be confident that most of the current schedule will remain unchanged at event time, and so we have uploaded it now for you all to see.  You will, of course, want to select which class you most want to attend in each of the many class slots.

Download the PDF:

Class Schedule: 2018 Good Medicine Confluence

If you haven’t already, you can read full descrips of the 2018 Classes – a broader, more diverse mix of topics and focus that has ever been seen before, and ever more true to our mission of celebrating plants and purpose, rocking the paradigm and empowering the people

Click to download the:

Class Descriptions: 2018 Good Medicine Confluence

And for the full Confluence details, see:

Good Medicine Confluence Website


An Event For All Kinds

The Confluence has evolved into a vessel and conveyance for every imaginable kind of person and practitioner, from kids to elders, all perspectives and shades of skin, all genders and beyond gender, mothers seeking herbs for treating their families and neighborhoods, activists and free clinic organizers, gardeners and home growers, culture shifters and stretchers, traditionalists and innovators, and people who – even when working with mainstream – prove to be visionaries beyond the norm. 


Give Yourself A New Bag of Tools… & an Alternate Reality

for 5 Days Next Month

Everybody who attends has an adventure getting there, from figuring out how to take time off from work or other obligations, to pulling together funds, and figuring out how to get from wherever to the forests and mesas around Durango.  Some of you sell medicines you make to pay your way, or even do fund raisers.  Some of you fly, others drive, or do ride-share, or take a train, or hitchhike.  The trip proves to be, again and again, not just a change in ecosystems or scenery, or a transition from city to rural vastness, but a transition into an alternate universe of mythic proportions, into exciting ways of seeing, perceiving, and feeling.  It isn’t easy to make it happen, but time at the Confluence is all the more powerful because of the degree of self care and determined intention it entails.  If it matters enough, let’s find a way to get you there!


Day Passes Now Available

Those of you unable to attend the entire 5 days, can opt to purchase Day passes for those days that you can be there.  Day Passes are now up for sale, by going to the Registration Page from the:

Good Medicine Confluence Website


Assistance With Attending

We have already awarded more than the planned number of free scholarships this year, to those most challenged or disadvantaged.  But don’t let that stop you if you need help and really, really badly want to come!  Help with outreach, offer barter, or promise to make payments.

Plant Healer Event Assistance Application:


RideShare & RoomShare Forum Open For The

Good Medicine Confluence

The event Forum is now open and ready to post on, if you need a ride to this annual event from anywhere in the country, if you have space in your vehicle to offer a ride, or if you want to hook up with someone to share one of the two-bed rooms.

Click “Forum” in the drop down menu on the:

Good Medicine Confluence Website


Evening Classes, Sunday Bonus Classes, & Free Intensives

Unlike you might expect, we include for the first time Wed. and Thurs. evening classes, Sunday bonus classes, and extra long Intensives, in the one low registration price.


Super Cheap Lodging & Awesome Buffet

It’s kinda crazy that you can be in what is essentially a beautiful Colorado mountain resort town, and have the option of $21 a night lodging.  If you are interested, be sure to RESERVE your room SOON before they sell out.

The price for a 5-day gourmand buffet is impossible to beat as well, and they’d like you to reserve you meals plan this month if possible so they can plan how many supplies to stock.  Here is a link to download the special 5 day menu, in case you want to check it out:

2018 Good Medicine Confluence Menu

To purchase a discounted meals plan from the school, call the ever helpful Greg Weiss at:



Masquerade Ball & 2 Nights of Dancing & Revelry

Friday night will be our annual Plants & Faeries Ball (come dressed as you really are!), on the roof under the stars, with tribal bass dance tunes by Durango’s beloved DJ Codestar.  Saturday night begins with group photos and another full night of dancing and celebration… with a full bar both times.


We Hope to See You There!

Kiva and I are always deeply touched to see your face and feel your presence, as together we make an experience that can last us all throughout the long months of busyness and sometimes isolation that fall between each annual rendezvous.  We really hope you can do what it take to make it there.  And if not, we’ll commiserate afterwards, beginning with some pictures of this year’s Confluence in the June issue of Herbaria Monthly.

Wishing everyone all the best

(Please share and repost, thank you)

Apr 072018


Introducing the Latest Plant Healer Book:


New Conversations With Inspiring Plant Healers of The 21st Century

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Over 500 Pages – Softbound B&W: $39  – Color Ebook: $29

Order From the Bookstore Page, Click Through From:


Featuring 30 intimate, in-depth conversations – with 20 exciting new voices at the leading edge of herbalism, plus an additional 10 extended, often updated interviews with the most influential of herbal elders and icons:

Kenneth Proefrock • Dara Saville • Guido Masé • Larken Bunce • Sean Donahue • Marija Helt • Jesse Wolf Hardin • Kiva Rose Hardin • Shawn Donnille • Kat MacKinnon • Amber Magnolia Hill • Melanie Pulla • Rae Swersey • Janet Ken • Jen Stovall • Juanita Nelson • Tiffany Freeman • Missy Rohs • Phyllis Hogan • Angie True • Ginger Webb • Laura Ash • Rosemary Gladstar • David Hoffman • Susun Weed • Matthew Wood • Phyllis Light • Phyllis Hogan • Paul Bergner • Juliet Blankespoor • Jim McDonald • Julie Caldwell

Read the stories of plant healers, herbal clinicians, plant geeks, boundary shifting activists, gardeners, botanists, medicine makers, folklorists, mystics, kitchen witches, and activists… and be inspired on your own personal path of healing and practice.

Even if you have been a clinician for decades, you can draw from these pages new insights, ideas and information that may benefit your work.  And even if you have limited herbal experience – or have no interest in growing, gathering, studying or administering medicinal plants yourself – you may still find that this book helps to awaken, deepen or propel your own personal life’s purpose.


“What a gift not only to me but the world.  Really, Jesse Wolf, you’ve done it once again ~ created something so masterful and powerful for the rest of us to savor and enjoy and treasure.  This book is a true jewel to be treasured for, who knows, perhaps generations?  Though I have read many interviews with various people over time, these were so thoughtfully and thoroughly done. I was amazed at the questions you posed to each of us, allowing us to ramble, but not ramble too much, inviting us to self reflect and to dig deep.  I also appreciate the eclectic nature of the interviews, reading those of old favorites and also being introduced to people I don’t know.  I am absolutely impressed by each person’s depth of insight, connection to the plants, and their deep commitment to being of service not only to the green nations but to humanity.  It is just awesome, inspiring, and uplifting!”   –Rosemary Gladstar 


Some of the topics discussed herein:

      •Herbalist’s personal lives & livelihoods, secrets, tools & tips

      •Previously unshared stories about these herbalists’ childhoods, education, experiences, perspectives, loves, peeves, and hopes… candid, vulnerable & unscripted!

      •Underutilized herbs, and little known uses for commonly known plants

      •Constitutional models, energetics, diagnostic methods, case study examples, treatment protocols

      •Herbal healing traditions

      •What herbal students need to know, and how to effectively teach

      •Talking with plants, shamanic herbs, entheogens, & the wounded healer

      •How to start and run a successful herbal business or practice

      •Critical thinking, assessments, and clinician/client skills

      •The cultivation of herbs, foraging & wildcrafting, plant conservation, invasives, & sense of place

      •Approaches to registration, certification, regulation and licensing

      •Herbal justice and activism, neurodiversity and transgender herbalism

      •Inspiring and encouraging personal advice to herbalists and others      

      •Diverse visions of herbalism and its future, and how to best get there


Order From the Bookstore Page, Click Through From:


(Please share this release on Social Media – we do appreciate it!)

Apr 052018


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

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 just 4 weeks time, we will be presenting 5 days and nights with 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! 

Good Medicine Confluence Website:


Once we have learned assessment skills and developed an understanding of materia medica, we need to concern ourselves with basic human physiology, clinical skills such as therapeutics, and quality care. To this end, we have booked more practicable instruction than ever seen before, including the following described classes by the likes of Kenneth Proefrock, Phyllis Light, Vicky Salcido-Cobbe, Tiffany Freeman, Missy Rohs, CoreyPine Shane, Anja Robinson, Julie James, Marija Helt, Dave Meesters, Betsy Costilo Miller, and Penney Garrett.


Fascia & Physical Reality: Sensory Integration, Pleasure, Pain & Psychology

with Kenneth Proefrock (1.5 hrs)

Here we take our lead from Ida Rolf and discuss the far reaching ways that fascial tension and rupture can impact the architecture of the rest of the body. We discuss the ways in which botanical medicine, nutrition, and specific movement can impact the fascial system in pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, CRPS and arthritis. Specifically, we talk about the botanicals Polygonatum (Solomon’s seal), Urtica (Nettles), Asparagus (Satavari), Cissus quadrangularis, Piscidia, Albizia, Equisetum, Hemidesmus, Zanthoxylum,Phytolacca and Ashwagandha as well as oleoresinous plants like Curcuma, Zingiber, Alpinia, Larrea, and Boswellia. We will also address Nutritional and Physical exercise options for patients with chronic pain syndromes within a backdrop of the myriad ways that our everyday experience of life leads to our everyday sense of purpose, meaning and contextualization of life’s events.


Abuelita Herbalism: The Sacred in the Simple

with Vicky Salcido-Cobbe (1.5 hrs)

The foot soaks, the onion poultice, the oregano-heavy soup. In these complex times, simple and powerful traditional remedies like these have their place in our Herbal Practices now more than ever. As access to basic healthcare becomes endangered in many communities, the ease-full, approachable, and low-cost remedies of old have the potential to enliven folx of all walks of life. Join in a celebration of the Abeulos and Abuelas (Grandfathers and Grandmothers) who walked before us. We will embody the Grandmother Oaks of old: full of wisdom, strong, loving, and a bit stern when needed. In celebration of sacred simplicity, we will create and/or experience easy, accessible, and affordable remedies for general well-being. Learn ways to incorporate herbs into your meals and other everyday rituals such as bathing, moisturizing, and sleeping. We will discuss the value in embracing “Multi-Tasking Herbs,” herbs that play many roles and are easy to grow in most climates. We will challenge ourselves to ask the question, “what would I do if this were 300 years ago?”

This class is intended to be an encouraging, practical look at bringing herbalism into the lives of many. You’ll find no exact ratios here, but a rekindling of the wisdom held within the many Medicine Carriers of your bloodline. You are encouraged to bring stories of the teachings of your elders. Join us as we demystify herbalism as the people’s medicine, a lovely medicine indeed.


Medicines of Our Ancestors: Smoke, Cupping, & Blood-Letting

with Tiffany Freeman (1.5 hrs)

The use of Smoke, Cupping & Blood letting as therapeutic techniques have been used across the globe by many of our ancestors for time immemorial. Blood letting and cupping often conjure up images of the dramatic techniques that took place during the dark ages, or the backs of famous folks in Hollywood that looked like they’ve been attacked by an octopus, and for a lot of us it just makes us feel uneasy & queasy to think of bleeding or the sucking up of skin. In this talk we will discuss how many cultures across the globe had systems of medicine, that predate blood letting in Europe or Hollywood fads, that have several hundred years of practice, tradition & literature on these techniques. We will be looking at the history, past & present, and the importance of the therapeutic benefits of using cupping & blood letting as well as smoke for tools for health. Alongside we will  also explore the cultural and spiritual significance of these globally shared techniques.  


Topical Applications of Botanical Medicines for Pain:

Revisiting The Use of Liniments, Lotions, Salves, Creams & Gels

with Kenneth Proefrock (2 hrs)

Revisiting the historical origins of topical pain relief while reconciling those original understandings with modern clinical practice. We will discuss strategies for making topical agents for botanical interventions, what seems to work for certain clinical presentations, as well as methods that allow for the best extraction and utilization of particular plant constituents. Ideally, we will demonstrate how to make particular topical preparations, including Aloe based lotions, salves into creams and several gel forming bases, what to consider in your interventional strategy and how to apply it. We will spend some time discussing the topical use of Tropane alkaloid containing plants like Atropa, Datura, Hyoscyamine, Lobelia as well as neurologically active agents like Veratrum, Aconite and Sassafras as well as relatively rarely spoken about agents like Amanita, Celastrus, Zanthoxylum and Rhus spp. We will address the treatment of painful conditions that are neurological, fascial, muscular and articular in origin.


First Aid For The Herbal Healer: Handling Emergencies Well

with Missy Rohs (2 hrs)

Perhaps you know which herbs to use for wounds and broken bones, but do you know how to handle an emergent situation?  Keeping a level head and being thorough when crisis strikes can make an enormous difference in outcome.  As community health resources, herbalists often find themselves in a special position to utilize these skills.

In this class, Missy will draw on her personal experiences, her wilderness first aid training, and her years of teaching street medic skills with the Black Cross Health Collective.  Together, we’ll cover the most important parts of being the first responder to an emergency, from scene assessment to patient evaluation.  We’ll talk about identifying your resources, working together with bystanders, and overcoming common hurdles to competent treatment.  Most importantly, we’ll practice the skills in realistic scenarios, learning by doing.  Please come dressed to spend time outside, and bring along whatever accoutrements you typically carry in your bag when you plan to spend the day outdoors.


Let’s Get It On: Herbs to Enhance Sexual & Sensual Experience

with Missy Rohs (2 hrs)

How can we use herbs and ritual to support sexuality and sensuality in our lives?  Missy will discuss the fundamentals of herbal support for a pleasant engagement with ourselves and others as sexual beings, incorporating simple ritual into setting intentions for this work.  After covering the basics of bolstering sexual health with herbs, we’ll dip our toes into the delightful pool of aphrodisiac herbs, plants to spice up and enhance our sensual experiences.  You’ll leave with plenty of ideas to create a juicy, indulgent date with desire.


Neurotrophorestoratives: Support For Nervous Exhaustion

with CoreyPine Shane (1.5 hrs)

It’s a mouthful, but this word was coined by 19th century American herbalists to describe herbs that were nourishing instead of sedating to the nervous system. We’ll talk about how to recognize excess functioning of the nervous system and deficient functioning of exhaustion and depletion, and which herbs to use when. This important diagnostic difference can help us treat diverse conditions like anxiety, depression, and insomnia.


Herbal Choices For The Three Stages of Respiratory Illness

with CoreyPine Shane (1.5 hrs)

There is a large materia medica of herbs that work on upper respiratory infections, probably because they are so common. But different herbs work better for different stages of infection, and this understanding is very helpful in choosing the right herb. We will talk about the 3 stages of 1) Initial infection; 2) Deepening infection; and 3) Resolution and Recovery – a time when remedies are often tossed aside but actually need to be continued.


British nurse Florence

Herbs for Pain: Breaking Addiction

with Phyllis Light (1.5 hrs)

We’ve all had aches and pains at some time or the other such as those resulting from overwork or the flu. For most of us, these aches and pains tend to go away after a few days even without application of a remedy. However, for many folks, the pain is unrelenting or unmanageable leading to taking prescription drugs for relief. Home remedies, including herbs and natural care approaches, can speed the process of healing and provide pain relief and an end to discomfort within a very short time. Join Phyllis as she discusses natural approaches to breaking the pain cycle which include herbs that can help reduce pain and inflammation such as cayenne, turmeric, ginger, devils, claw and many others. She’ll also discuss a variety of natural health modalities and their role in helping manage pain, both acute and chronic.


Autoimmune Disorders: A Holistic Approach

with Phyllis Light (1.5 hrs)

Autoimmune diseases affect millions of Americans especially women. While the specific causes of autoimmune disease are not known, there are some commonalities to be found among many autoimmune diseases.  Phyllis Light, renowned teacher, author, and herbalist, in an inspiring discussion of autoimmune disorders and natural approaches to their management. She will discuss theories of the cause of autoimmune disorders, common signs and symptoms or patterns of dysfunction, different types of autoimmune disorders, lifestyle approaches for management, nutritional support, and herbs that help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.


What The Hell is The HPA Axis?: Holistically Managing Stress in These Crazy Times

with 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.


Rivers of Life: A Deep Dive Into Ayurvedic Breast Health
with 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!


Tissue Tonics: A Completely Made-Up, But Very Handy, Class of Herbs

with Julie James (1.5 hrs)

In my practice, and in my teaching, the very best use of herbs is as nourishing, strengthening agents that build and balance systems and organs and tissues, resulting in an environment conducive to healing. No matter the condition, no matter the complexity of the problem at hand, this class of herbs, Tissue Tonics, can always, always provide considerable assistance and improve healing capacity.

The term Tissue Tonics, as previously noted, isn’t an official action yo’ll see in book.  In fact, I have never seen it (the closest I see is the homeopathic tissue salts, a completely different, but sort of similar, concept). And yet, I constantly refer to them, and I, my students, and my clients, find them to be easily understood, exceptionally practical, and very handy. Tissue Tonics are those herbs that improve the health of various tissues: cells, membranes, skin, hair, tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones – all of them have complex chemistry that is significantly supported by many different herbs: astringents, nutritives, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, tonics – we have numerous names for them, but when we collect them all under this heading, we can change the way we approach healing: by setting a goal of nourishing both the specific tissues in questions, and all of the tissues in general, we change the measure of success, we change the meaning of how we heal. And it’s a profound change. In this class we will reframe how we approach certain well-known and well-loved plants, and how they provide healing to ourselves and our clients. We will taste them, explore how and when to use them, and how to expand this concept into our foods and our environment.


The Vagus Nerve & Brain-Gut Communication

with Betsy Costilo-Miller (1.5 hrs)

Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in the vagus nerve doesn’t stay in the vagus nerve.  The impact of this parasympathetic innervator extends throughout our entire physiology, exerting particular influence over lung, heart and gut function.  This class will look at the anatomy & physiology of the vagus nerve, and how its tone (or lack thereof) impacts a range of processes, from how we respond to stressors to the formation of memories.  In particular, we look at the intricate communication network between our brain and gut, facilitated by the vagus nerve (like a super awesome tin can phone), and the marvel that is the enteric nervous system.


Healthy Sleep: Herbal & Holistic Approaches

with Dave Meesters (1.5 hrs)

Getting plenty of restful sleep is one of the pillars of health & vitality. Yet it’s easy to overlook the importance of sleep, and to allow the concerns of waking life to erode our daily dreamtime and bodily restoration. Furthermore, many of us have trouble sleeping well, and don’t achieve the quantity and quality of sleep that we desire and so badly need. Sleep troubles come in many forms, they can arise from different causes, and are often symptoms of deeper conditions and energetic imbalances, which lack of sleep can easily exacerbate. For these reasons, herbal treatment of insomnia can be tricky, and the herbalist typically needs an array of remedies and approaches, as well as skills for discerning between them. Passionflower alone doesn’t always cut it!

This class distills my experience and research into establishing and supporting lasting healthy sleep. We’ll talk a little about the physiology of sleep, about what keeps us from sleeping well, and about general practices to support good sleep. Then, we’ll spend most of the class differentiating between different kinds of insomnia, and presenting a wide variety of remedies for sleep troubles, including when and how to use them.


Botanical Support For Athletes

with Marija Helt (1.5 hrs)

Actually, this class is not relevant to just athletes. It’s applicable to anyone who moves, whether for a physically demanding job, as an avid gardener or in preparation for clearing all the crap out of the garage.  I’m simply basing it on experiments with what helps as a 40-something year old martial artist and cyclist and with what helps my training partners and clients.  One habit that has been helpful is using a muscle warmup liniment before training and a muscle and joint antiinflammatory oil afterwards. When I get lazy and stop doing this, I’m more prone to injuries. We’ll make both in this class and I’ll share my favorite plants and essential oils for muscle, connective tissue and bone support in preventing and dealing with injuries. These include Pedicularis, Nettles, Goldenrod, Horsetail, Ashwagandha, St. John’s Wort, Mullein Root along with essential oils of Ginger, Black Pepper, Rosemary, Marjoram, Frankincense and Helichrysum.  It doesn’t take much effort to use botanicals to keep yourself moving, and it can make a big difference for those of us no longer in our 20’s (or 30’s, for that matter).


Food Elimination Diets: How To Make ‘Em Not Suck

with Penney Garrett (1.5 hrs)

Do you know someone who stopped eating gluten and no longer gets joint pain or acne? Have you thought about ditching dairy to see if you lose weight or stop getting stomach aches? Have you tried to guide your clients through dietary changes but find they always seem to fall off the wagon?

Elimination diets are quite the fad these days, but actually implementing one into your life can be difficult beyond belief. Not only do you have to change all your shopping and cooking habits, but the emotional component of breaking up with your favorite foods can be fraught with deep sadness and unsuspecting triggers. If you’ve wanted to shake up your diet – or help someone else do so – but aren’t really sure how, come to this class to learn tips, tricks, and recipes that can make the difference between success and failure. Learn ways to help stay satisfied even without your favorite snacks, tips to make cooking more efficient and cost effective, and what herbal allies you can use to help along the way. This is a great class for those that want to experiment with their own diet for personal change, as well as superb information for practitioners that would like more tools to help guide their clients.

Penney is a certified nutritionist, clinical herbalist, home fermenter and brewer, educator, and personal chef. One of her deepest loves is inspiring people to learn about food and gain the skills for deep and satisfying nourishment. Snacks and treats will be provided in this class to help illustrate the diversity of flavors you can achieve, even on a highly restricted diet. A small donation is requested to help offset the price of food, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.


The Table Turns: Caring for Our Elders

with Julie James (2 hrs.)

It is inevitable, in the best of circumstances, that each of us, as we age, becomes the caregivers to those revered elders who once cared for us. The wheel turns, and we move into this role often with considerable, and understandable, fear and uncertainty: What can I offer my parents to help them heal, when they are already taking handfuls of medications, when they have multiple health challenges, when their system, their metabolism, their inner fire is not what it once was. We are taught to avoid herbs, that they can be deadly when combined with the medications, that the only certainty comes from the medical protocol given by the doctor. This is patently untrue, in so many respects. The materia medica of healing plants at our disposal for elder care is considerable, safe, and can ease much of the discomfort of aging, and often, of the effects, side effects and interactions of those handfuls of medications. We can still nourish and strengthen them, we can learn to appreciate and work with the changes in their bodies and create herbal protocols that are easy for them to understand and use, and that their doctors may even support and learn from.

We will discuss:

•Common concerns in elder health, and protocols for dealing with those issues.

•The most common herb-drug-nutrient interactions, and how to safely navigate through them.

•Compliance and dosing strategies.

•Caregiver care and appropriate boundaries for our own safety and sanity.

In these times, with fractured families and broken health care systems and uncertain futures, This is an area we all need to be more mindful of. My hope is that you leave this class with more compassion and confidence in your own abilities and in the safety and efficacy of herbal medicines, and feeling empowered to work as an advocate and caregiver for your beloved elders.


Accepting Death: Stepping Over the Final Threshold

with Julie James (1.5 hrs.)

“A culture that does not know how to die, will live in fear of the unknown.”

The dominant culture in America has become wholly and unhealthily removed from the process of death and dying. We tend to see any open discussion of death as ghoulish, we deny death and at the same time have a bizarre obsession with images of violent death, horror, and ideas of what comes afterward. We have come to this state in a relatively short period of time– as recently as our grandparents’ time, families still honored their beloved dead at home, tended lovingly and mindfully for their bodies, and during the process of dying, stayed with their loved ones, caring for them and surrounding them with community, family, and children. Now, too often the process of dying is relegated to sterile hospitals, with the dying isolated from their community, accompanied often by only their doctors and nurses. And when the body finally dies, it is whisked off to a mortuary, unseen and untouched and unloved until it is finally presented in a sterile, artificially preserved and painted manner. Families who seek to care for their dying at home are seen as oddities, and if they then choose to care for the body of their beloved dead themselves, atrocities.  And yet the right to care for our dying and our dead is so very human, and is a deeply healing way to come to terms with death. We are able to more closely work through our grief and loss when we are not disenfranchised from it, when we can openly and publicly mourn, when we can properly honor the relationship that we had and the transition of that relationship. And with that more profound understanding of the process of death and dying, we receive the unmatched gift of emotional and psychological acceptance and closure that can support us in the process of grieving.

In this class, we will look at historical death traditions in American culture and how and why that changed so much, as well as the many cultures that still honor the process of death. We will discuss how herbal allies can help us to be present and supported in the process of dying, how we can ease the passing over that threshold by our beloved, and how we can work through the grief and loss after death.  We will examine how to be with death in a more personal, direct manner, and examine how herbalists can work in and with hospice, death doula, and home funeral organizations, how we can offer pre-death care to the dying and to the community, and how we can help clients regain their incontrovertible right to home death, and become, if they choose, an active participant in the transition as well as the honoring of the body after death. We will look at the physical process following death, how to care for the body, and the legal issues surrounding this process. Regulations are already in place that protect our right to home funerals, and disposition of the body, including alternatives to embalming. By speaking clearly and plainly about death, we hope to start a larger discussion that will continue in our communities and beyond. It is long past time that we take back this extraordinary final journey, making it our own and embracing a deeper understanding and acceptance of our own death in the process.


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