Jan 222018



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

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

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!


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

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

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


Beauty & The Healing Arts

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

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

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

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

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

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

Come see what you can do!



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medicine Adornment: Wearable Ritual
Sheri Hupfer (1.5 hrs)

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

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


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