Oct 162014
 

EBOLA
Truth & Claims

————by Jesse Wolf Hardin———

Plant Healer Magazine – www.PlantHealer.org

 

The intense level of misinformation, paranoia and fear mongering in the news and social media leads me to want to rake away at least some of the B.S. that’s fast piling up in the stall.  As usual, it’s not “all good,” as that modern saying goes, and there are definitely things to be concerned about if not prepared for.  This Ebola outbreak is going to be yet another extremely tragic event, but it is not going to be the defining tragedy of our time.  And tragic is the tendency to tell ourselves and others comforting lies, and our sometimes sad ability to believe them.

One group of people wants us to be believe everything will be alright, if we trust in government and the drug companies...

One group of people wants us to be believe everything will be alright, if we trust in government and the drug companies…

The Claim: I hear people saying Ebola isn’t going to be an issue in America because of our amazing health care system, and excellent personal hygiene… what’s the truth?

The Truth:  That claim is nonsense for a number of reasons.  Of course Ebola will become an increasing problem here as it will elsewhere in the world, and there could end up being cases in the hundreds or even thousands in this country before things stabilize.

Note that the United States health system is far less just, accessible, and effective than that of many countries around the world, including the impoverished and demonized nation of Cuba.  The U.S. model has made possible a monopolistic pharmaceutical paradigm where drug reactions and physician error are the leading cause of deaths.  And before we think of Americans as superior for being “cleaner” than the primitive Africans in the affected countries, we should note that it is partly the use of antimicrobial soaps, body products and bathroom cleaners in the homes and hospitals of “developed” countries that has brought about the many evolving new strains of antibiotic and chemical resistant pathogens.

Ebola is dangerous, and we can never be 100% safe from it.  But then, so it is with the cars that nearly everyone here owns and uses.  We are never secure from these multi-ton speeding vestibules or the sometimes entirely oblivious people who pilot them, and yet we regularly drive amongst them at high speeds.  Ideally, we make sure that we’re actively aware and paying as much attention as we are capable of, wear a seat belt (if we can stand the constraint), and make certain that our brakes are in good working order, taking reasonable and prudent steps to improve our odds of avoiding a wreck… but without the reported rates of deadly car accidents and their technicolor horrors making us too obsessed and too afraid to get behind the wheel when needed.

Other people are living in fear of it and what it could mean...

…while some people are living in fear of it and what it could mean.

The Claim: On the other hand, some say that this could be the outbreak that threatens the future survival all of humanity.

The Truth:  Pathogenic microorganisms are indeed the greatest future threat to human civilization, and possibly to the survival of our species as well.  Our exploitation and destruction of the natural environment affects our health and could eventually spell our extinction, but not for a very long time – and not before we have laid waste to the Earth’s ecosystems and killed off most of its complex life forms. Deadly confrontation – including between Moslem and non-Moslem populations – will continue to help define the human experience for so long as we walk this planet, and yet, even the bloodiest wars tend to reduce dangerously high world populations by only a relatively small amount, while being almost always followed by a huge spike in births.

That said, it is unlikely to be untreatable Ebola that impacts the average American’s family and lives, let along that brings down the human colossus.

Microorganisms are indeed a far more likely threat to one of two kinds:
1. Antibiotic resistant “super-bugs” resulting from contemporary dirtless, antiseptic lifestyles; the excessive prescribing of antibiotics for nearly every imaginable symptom; and the standard preventive (not curative) dosing of the farm animals most of us eat.  If Ebola proves untreatable, at least this deadly disease was probably not a direct product of our negligence, stupidity and greed as in the case of the every more dangerous “super bugs” we as a society beget.
(or)
2. Genetically engineered microbes, engineered in labs either to deliberately create weaponized bacteria and viruses for military purposes, or else to study and perhaps predict their behavior, virulence, and possible adaptations.  In either case, there is nothing science fiction about the scenario of a protocol not being followed, leading to a pathogens escape.  Or of someone unleashing it either accidentally or deliberately, in the commission of a criminally or politically motivated act.

At this point, the odds are far more likely that you will die from one of the thousands of other known deadly diseases and conditions found in the doctors’ books, with cigarette and diet related diseases topping the list… not to mention workplace accidents and getting electrocuted in the tub.

The Claim: So if it’s not likely to be a huge threat to most Americans, there is nothing to fear.

The Truth: We don’t need to act out of fear in this life, but the truth is that there is always much to realistically be afraid of!  We often use God, the promises of technology, the distraction of the superficial, or whistling in the dark, to reassure us or take our minds off of that which threatens us.  Rather than walk around in constant (and consequently unhealthy) state of fear, creatures in the real, natural world, exist in a state of awareness, in a condition of constant assessment.  Unlike us humans, they save their flight response for when trouble is nigh.  They appear to have no time to give to distant or extrapolated dangers.

The Claim: But as some critics of modern civilization have said, this outbreak could expand to the point that it brings about the collapse of the established system.

The Truth: Outbreaks initially strengthen the system, as the population seeks to be made safe and secure.

The Claim: What if I say it’s all a hoax, perpetrated by the government?

The Truth: The real hoax is the entrenched idea that our government has our best interest in mind.  As for Ebola, if you don’t believe that the problem is real, you could try volunteering at a rural African field hospital without a protective suit.

The Claim:  Some say Ebola was actually released or spread by some government agency, in order to create conditions that would justify the declaration of martial law.

The Truth:  The reality is that even the most oppressive or nefarious governments are still composed of human beings, who have will likely always prove to be far less effective at ebola cnn 72dpiprovoking and orchestrating events than they are at preparing to exploit events when they happen.  The proponents of increased government supervision and control of the populous did not have to arrange for Al Qaida to bring down the Twin Towers in order to have the pretext they needed to gut the Bill of Rights, they only needed to seize the opportunity when events made Americans most insecure and anxious for security and protection.

Likewise, there is almost no chance that ours or any other government intentionally introduced this disease… but various governments including our own will most certainly take advantage of this situation and our fearful condition to sink its claws further into us.  Quarantines, whether of individuals or an entire infected city, are the ultimate abridgment of civil rights and personal liberties, confinement enforced by either the police or the federal army.  The scariest things about Ebola or any other disastrous epidemic, may be the increased control and oppression that such a situation makes possible and even acceptable.

The Claim:  Then before we’re controlled, we just need to get the disease under control.

The Truth:  In the truest sense, we don’t ever control disease.  At best we avoid it, contain it, manage it, or contend with it and learn from it.

The Claim: I read on a Natural Health site that you won’t catch it, if you regularly eat your fruits and vegetables.

The Truth: Good nutrition is very important to a strong immune system and the overall ability to repel or heal from infections.  Depending on our food to save us from all infections is foolhardy to say the least.

The Claim: There must be herbs that can arrest the progress of Ebola.

The Truth: At this point there is no known plant that can cure or halt Ebola.  And the anxiousness to believe in undemonstrated cures is in itself unhealthy, diverting us from any realistic measures that we might be able to take to lessen the chances of contracting it, and distracting us from both our important tasks/roles and the enjoyment of each lived moment.

It’s also unreasonable to expect plants to literally “cure” of “fix” what’s wrong with us.  The way herbs work is by aiding the bodies own attempts at self regulation and balance, through stimulation, relaxation, modulation, etc.  Even when herbs are able to work visible wonders, they do so by initiating adjustments of our various bodily and healing processes, not by “battling” disease.  The responsibility for our health should be borne on our own shoulders, and not be laid upon the slender shoulders of the plants.  Herbs are allies that we can wisely involve in the work of helping our bodies to heal themselves, just one of many ways that we can tend ourselves as we assume/resume responsibility and make make the necessary efforts to take care of ourselves.

The Claim: What about the common assertion that no good can come from an outbreak like this, no matter what its cause?

The Truth: No disease, challenge or travail is without potential benefits.  Whether or not we learn to treat or contain Ebola, it could be instrumental in eebola virusxposing the lies of officials, exposing the lie that technology and science have the quick fix for all that ails us and our society.  We can damn sure learn from it to reconsider the often harmful modern medical system, to question authority, be vigilant against this or any other outbreak being used to justify policies and laws that decrease our liberties and foster greater government monitoring and control of its citizens.  We can – by understanding there are things outside of our control – reclaim some of the humility that enabled our ancient ancestors to function in this world without doing quite so much damage to it.  Thanks to the issues the emergence of Ebola has raised, we have an opportunity to take further responsibility for our own health and well being, change how we look at the world and how we behave, alter our lifestyles and habits to better serve our fullest and wholest living.

And yes, Ebola – like any mortal threat – can be a valuable reminder of the finite nature of existence, or the preciousness of every second, and the value of our using those vital seconds to good things, beautiful things, loving things.

 

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Oct 132014
 
Mojepe & Margaret at Plant Healer's Plants & Faeries Ball

Mojepe & Margaret at Plant Healer’s Plants & Faeries Ball

Download The October Herbaria Newsletter

Special Issue – Over 80 Pages Long!

The latest issue of Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter is a rather crazy 82 pages long, almost triple the size of most monthly issues.  Part of the reason for that is the bonus section featuring attendees’ stories of their experience at this year’s HerbFolk Gathering, a ton of colorful photos and tales to bring back memories for you who attended, and to share the good feelings with any readers who were unable to make it.   The classes were life changing, we are told, and the Masquerade Ball enchanting, see for yourself….

The other reason for this issue’s unusual length, is that we promised to publish Rosemary Gladstar’s detailed updates on the fire cider issue, in support of the movement to protect our folk traditions and terms from being appropriated and monopolized by ambitious, self-serving companies.  And the fact that we couldn’t stop from adding Juliet’s enticing article about making her special kind of fire cider, and then Melanie Pulla’s piece on The Enchantment blew us away and had to be included, then it seemed important to run Sam’s piece for intermediate students of herbalism on some of the more plentiful herbs of this continent, and then we couldn’t leave out bioregional herbalist Dara’s article and pics.  Not to mention all the art and photos!  Sheesh…  So here is the October table of contents:

Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Healer’s Love
Dara Saville: Alum Root & S.W. Herbal Allies
Melanie Pulla: The Enchantment
Sam Coffman: Some Common Herbs of The U.S.
Rosemary Gladstar: Tradition Not Trademark – An Important Fire Cider Issue Update
Personal Stories of The 2014 HerbFolk Gathering & The Bigger Folk Herbal Mission
Juliet Blankespoor: Hibiscus Pomegranate Cheater Fire Cider Recipes

To subscribe to the complimentary monthly Herbaria Newsletter, simply go to the Plant Healer Website, then enter your name and email in the space for that at the far left of the screen.

Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter is created to provide totally free content to the folk herbal tribe, many of whom cannot afford a subscription to Plant Healer Magazine or the other educational materials they need.  It is also meant to be spread beyond the known herbal community, to folks just starting to get interested in plant medicine, to the doubters and detractors as well as the curious and hopeful.  You can help with that mission, by submitting articles about what you know best to: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org… and by liberally spreading this download link on your blogs, Facebook, and more:

October Herbaria Download

(Thank You Much  for Reposting & Sharing)

Teaching in the pines at Plant Healer's HerbFolk Gathering

Teaching in the pines at Plant Healer’s HerbFolk Gathering

Jesse Wolf Hardin & Guido Masé

Jesse Wolf Hardin & Guido Masé

Happy smiles at HerbFolk 2014

Happy smiles at HerbFolk 2014

HerbFolk's Rebecca Altman

HerbFolk’s Rebecca Altman

The Mountain Rose Herbs table, one of 35 in the Healer's Market

The Mountain Rose Herbs table, one of 35 in the Healer’s Market

Herbalist David Hoffmann with his ally Jesse Wolf Hardin

Herbalist David Hoffmann with his ally Jesse Wolf Hardin

Herbalist Matthew Wood teaching at Plant Healer's conference

Herbalist Matthew Wood teaching at Plant Healer’s conference

Stephany Hoffelt leads the deliriously happily bungling Renaissance dancers at Plant Healer's Masquerade Ball

Stephany Hoffelt leads the deliriously happily folk dancers at Plant Healer’s Plants & Faeries Masquerade Ball

Time for goodbyes: HerFolk helper Jenny Rizzo, Wolf Hardin, Rebecca Altman, Kiva Rose Hardin, and the inimitable Trail Boss.

Time for goodbyes: HerbFolk helper Jenny Rizzo, Wolf Hardin, Rebecca Altman, Kiva Rose Hardin, and the inimitable Trail Boss.

 

Sep 282014
 

2014 Essays & Class Notes poster-72dpi
If you were unable to attend Plant Healer’s 2014 event for any reason, you can still get a taste
of its spirit and themes, while benefitting from the immense amount of information and inspiration found herein.

Conventional Class Notes books consist mainly of basic outlines, whereas our event ebooks contain in-depth, full length essays on the various class topics.  Soon to be available will be a large softbound book of essays and class notes drawn from the entire first 5 years of Plant Healer events, “Traditions in Western Herbalism” … but this 2014 Ebook will remain the only way of studying all 22 of 2014’s class essays.

170 pages, full color Ebook PDF Download only $21 to all
from the Bookstore & Gallery page at:
www.PlantHealer.org

2014 Essays & Class Notes Book Contents:

Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Enchantments of Herbalism
Guido Masé: Hawthorn: Lady of The May
Kiki Geary: The 5 Elements in Herbalism
Charles “Doc” Garcia & Lori Pino: Hispanic Healing Ritual
Merihelen Nuñez: A Modern Curandera
Sean Donahue: Herbalists’ Wheel of The Year
Shana Lipner Grover: The Multicultural Uses of Salvia
Asia Suler: The Woodland Within
Stephany Hoffelt: Traditional Healing in a Modern Context
Jim McDonald: Sweet Flag & Bitterroot
Kristi Shapla: Fermented Flora
Irina Adam: Botanical Perfume
Sean Donahue: The Fisher King & The King of Hearts
Rebecca Altman: Explorations Into The Waters of The Body
Phyllis Hogan: Southwestern Medicinal Plants
Kristi Shapla: Herbal Beers
Matthew Wood: 21 Animal Constitutions
Elaine Sheff: Natural Remedies for Children With Special Needs
Jim McDonald: The Medicine of Melancholy
David Hoffmann: Selection Criteria
Guido Masé: Selva Oscura: In The Dark Forest of The Mind
Jesse Wolf Hardin: HerbStory: The History & Future of Plant Medicine

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Sep 232014
 

DSCF6112DSCF6231

An Amazing 2014 HerbFolk Gathering!

DSCF6204Kiva and I are still reeling from the ecstatic power of this year’s Plant Healer event, the HerbFolk Gathering.  It was without a doubt the most magical, loving, and empowering of our many conferences.  The teachers were amazing, and their classes like none others, welcomed by a community of folk herbalists with a passion for plant medicine and world change, and no one acting better than anyone else.  Rain storms parted for each class period, allowing for many to be held out in the pines with a mountain sun beaming through the forest’s canopy.  The Masquerade Ball and the Tesoro dance concert were nothing less than wonderful, with event manager Stephany leading an uproarious dance and Kiva provoking wild displays from us all!  To read all about it, be sure you are subscribed to Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter before the October issue release: www.PlantHealer.org

If you’re an attendee, we are still welcoming your comments and experiences for the special newsletter edition, sent to us at: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org

DSCF6202A Welcome To The New Generation of Herbalists

The stereotype of the middle-aged herbalist was overturned this year at HerbFolk, with over half of the attendees being in their 20s and 30s, meeting our goal of providing a wild and spirited home for the next generations of herbalists and culture changers.  “It’s the revolution again,” David Hoffmann said to us, in reaction to the radical vision and high energy of the young folks who had come.

Class Essays & Notes

We will be making the over 200 pages long 2014 Class Essays & Notes Ebook available for purchase by the general public in mid October…. along with a softcover book “Traditions in Western Herbalism” that will feature a selection of essays and notes from the first 5 years of Plant Healer herbal conferences.  Watch here and the newsletter for announcements.

Plant Healer’s 2015 Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference

Make plans now to attend another Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference, with the themes of “Real-World Wisdom & Practical Skills: Sept. 17-20, 2015, at Arizona’s beautiful Mormon Lake.  In keeping with the format of our very first event for herbalists, we will be featuring 50 classes with over 30 teachers including new as well as long respected voices.  Planned so far are:

David Winston • David Hoffmann • Phyllis Light • Guido Masé • Phyllis Hogan • 7Song • Lisa Ganora • Jim McDonald • Juliet Blankespoor •  Sean Donahue • Kiki Geary • Laura Ash • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Lisa Ganora • Rebecca Altman • Asia Suler • Dara Saville • Katja Swift • and Stephany Hoffelt 

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Call For 2015 Teacher Proposals

There are still some undecided class slots at next September’s Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference.  If you have information, insights and experiences that can benefit other practitioners, take confidence in your gifts and submit a proposal to teach a class about what you feel most able and passionate about.  Slots go fast with so many applying, so apply soon for the best chances.  To download the latest application, click on:

The 2015 Teacher Application

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Aug 252014
 

Now Available, Plant Healer’s Newest Book:

THE HEALING TERRAIN
Coming Home to Nature’s Medicine

by Jesse Wolf Hardin
with Kiva Rose, David Hoffman, Phyllis Light, Robin Rose Bennett, Juliet Blankespoor, & Dara Saville
Foreword by Judy Goldhaft (Planet Drum Foundation)

309 pages, 8.5×11” B&W Softcover – $29 – Order Through the Link On the Bookstore Page at: http://PlantHealerBookstore.com

The Healing Terrain front cover 72dpi

“Rightfully at the core of all Natural Healing is nature, from the herbs it provides to the positive healthful examples it offers.  By deepening our conscious relationship with the land, we create the opportunities and conditions for increased sensual engagement and creature awareness, empowerment and self-authority, uninhibited pleasures and fun, and greater effectiveness at nearly everything we might try to do in life.”    –Jesse Wolf Hardin

I’m excited to announce the release of the third book in our healing trilogy, “The Healing Terrain,” written with my partner Jesse Wolf and our Plant Healer allies Phyllis Light, David Hoffman, Juliet Blankespoor, Robin Rose Bennett and Dara Saville.  I’ve watched for the past year as Wolf searched out the most amazing photographs and art, and placed them in the most visually pleasing ways, illustrating inspiring content about the art of wildcrafting and growing herbs, biorgional herbalism, plant natives and “invasives,” the healing powers of nature, becoming more native, rewilded and empowered as healers, and connecting with place.  Those of you who know my personal story, know how crucial my canyon home and its native medicinal plants have been to the healing of my body, mind and spirit.  Along with the other two titles in this trilogy (“The Plant Healer’s Path” and “The Enchanted Healer”), “The Healing Terrain” strives to provide insights and tools for your own deepening connection with the source of all medicine and healing: this living earth.

Judy Goldhaft and Peter Berg, directors of Planet Drum. ©2009 IWe’ve been blessed to have Forewords to our other books written by herbalists like Matthew Wood and Phyllis Light, but this time we reached out a little further, and are thankful to have one penned by Judy Goldhaft.  Judy and her life partner Peter Berg have been two of the greatest influences on what we have come to know as “bioregionalism”: the practice and art of living sustainably in place.  Back around the time the pioneering “Whole Earth Catalog” was featuring the first photo of our planet taken from outer space, San Francisco was coming alive with social and eco activism, and Judy was busy using dance and theater to raise consciousness and inspire change.  From her work with the Diggers to directing the wonderful Planet Drum Foundation, she has lived a life and done the work that makes her the perfect person to introduce our book.  Her complete Foreword follows, along with the table of contents.

Thank you.   –Kiva Rose

Ainu Snyder quote poster

Foreword to The Healing Terrain

by Judy Goldhaft

It’s always amazing to pick up a book and discover it is not the book you expected.  Jesse Wolf Hardin said he had put together a book about using plants in healing and healing the places plants live.  Sounded simple, interesting and very bioregional.  But the book is a deeper more inclusive investigation than Jesse’s brief description. The book is a journey for those who have forgotten how important place is, and a handbook for developing an awareness to relate to a place while becoming a more balanced and whole person.

girl and deer 72dpi

The Healing Terrain recognizes the importance of a life-place (bioregion) to our beings and our health. The book begins with a deep exhortation to the reader to discover his or her own place as the first step in healing oneself, becoming a healer or becoming a complete person. It challenges the reader to recognize their personal place and to refocus for a more meaningful life, and then provides the tools to do this.  There are lists throughout the book to help actualize practical manifestations of the abstract ideas, helping the reader travel beyond the philosophical discussions of place and rootedness to actually experiencing and delighting in their bioregion.

amazing-garden-flowers 72dpiThe word bioregion represents a deceptively simple idea. The concept realigns priorities so humans are contained within the place (bioregion) — not governing or exploiting it. This simple notion opens up the possibility that the whole interdependent ecosystem could become the basis for a society’s decisions. This deeper understanding of a bioregional outlook is reflected in the importance that “Rights of Nature” are being given in South America.  New social mores are emerging which are entwined with the natural world.

Living with the planet requires diversity, adaptability, creativity, and self-regulation. Within this book difficult questions are dissected, examined, and considered from a multitude of perspectives. There are bold in-depth discussions of the tangled questions about living with other species and the authors are fearless in considering all topics — including wildness, bodily functions and sex. The tone of the conversations is always balanced and inviting, never preachy or judgmental.

Man hugging Basil 72dpiThe voices in this book come from people who have been putting bioregional sensibilities in the center of their lives for years. The community presents a series of personal approaches to universal ideas. They are deeply rooted where they live and encourage you also to become aware of your bioregion, in a very deeply understanding way.  They provide guidelines to reconnecting to the earth and personal heightened awareness while welcoming diversity and recognizing how difficult it is to do this.  The two main voices balance and fulfill each other. Jesse Wolf speaks poetically yet in-depth about historic, social, scientific and political considerations and analysis; Kiva Rose weaves a fabric of personal experiences and direct observations that she shares openly with ingenuousness and heartfelt warmth. They provide different paths and explanations to access the information and heart of this work.  From the section “The Healing Roots of Home”:

“On a practical level, to live bioregionally is to acknowledge and participate in the ecosystem we are a part of, rooted – in a very literal sense – in the land that we live on. What this means will vary according to the needs of the land in a particular area, whether it is establishing trees or restoring the soil… or simply helping maintain the diversity that already exists with careful harvesting practices and a prayerful attitude towards the spirit of the land.”

House with Roots 72dpi

The book itself has been thoughtfully put together, its format a manifestation of the ideas being expressed. The pictures and quotations are intrinsic aspects of the book. Each reiterates the ideas and could be the subject for meditation or rumination. This collection of philosophizing, musings, experiences, graphics, epigrams, and quotations reinforce each other and produce a balanced whole. It doesn’t just encourage “a vital return to balance,” the book itself is a balance—of head and heart, scientific and experience, words and graphics — a truly accessible set of information on many levels.

The Healing Terrain is like a long love poem to a bioregion — water is treated as a lover, there is a love affair with the geology, plants are longtime companions, etc. Be prepared to fall in love.

www.PlantHealer.org

Elka gathering wild herbs and food in a misty S.W. forest.

Elka gathering wild herbs and food in a misty S.W. forest.

The Healing Terrain Contents

I.    Nexus: Grounds For Healing
Jesse Wolf: The Journey Home: The Call to Stay & The Call to Roam
II.    Rooting – Where We Are, & Where We Most Belong
Jesse Wolf: Tips For Cultivating Sense of Place
III.    Grounding – A Geology of Place
Kiva Rose: The Weedwife – Coming Home, Weedy Ways
IV.    Healing Waters – Sweet Medicine, Hydrotherapy & River Tales
Jesse Wolf: Creating an Organic Calendar
Kiva Rose: The Ripening Fruit – Living With The Seasons
V.    Bioregions – Defining, Being Defined By & Drawing FromStellaria 72dpi
Dara Saville: Place-Based Herbalism – Practicing at The Crossroads of The Southwest
Kiva Rose: The Healing Roots of Home – My Journey Into Bioregional Herbalism
VI.    The Landed Healer – Finding, Purchasing & Restoring Land
Jesse Wolf: 15 Tips For Wildlands Restoration
Jesse Wolf: Strategies For Land Protection
Kiva Rose: Reading The Leaves – Learning The Names & Ways of  Plants
VII.    Building a Relationship With a Plant
Juliet Blankespoor: Planning Your Healing Garden
Dara Saville: Gardening Natives –  Reflecting the Wildlands in Your Medicine Garden
Kiva Rose: Deep As Root & Song – Wildcrafting
VIII.    Plant Adventuring
Jesse Wolf: Herbaria: The Importance & Joy of Plant Collections
Kiva Rose: In The Pines – Pleasure & Healing From an Ancient Tree Ally
IX.    In Balance – Invasive Species, Natives, Healing & Wholeness
Jesse Wolf: Guidelines & Reminders
Robin Rose Bennett: The Terrain of Home – The Healing Land, Commitments of Love
Kiva Rose: Sustainable Wildcrafting & Foraging – Tending The Wildest Garden
X.    ReIndigination – The Necessity of Learning to Become Native Again
Phyllis Light: The Geography of Healing
XI.    An Ecology of Healing – Treating The Body As An Ecosystem, & The Ecosystem As A Body
David Hoffman: Deep Ecology, Deep Healing – Herbalism’s Place In The Living Whole
Kiva Rose: The Cartography of The Heart – Finding The Road Home
XII.    ReWilding – Unleashing The Wild Empowered Healer
Kiva Rose: Spiraling Deeper
XIII.    The Blooming – Growing, Thriving, Spreading Our Seeds

 

Shrooms & Ferns poster

www.PlantHealer.org

(Thank you for reposting and linking to this announcement!)

Aug 122014
 

The following excellent article by Sean Donahue is a drawn from the latest (August) issue of the free Herbaria Newsletter.  If you haven’t subscribed, you can still download a copy of this 60 pages long edition here:

Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter PDF

This piece is an advance excerpt from the upcoming Fall issue of Plant Healer Magazine, a call for a greatly nuanced, entirely integrative, deeply personalized approach to “healing.”  You can hear Sean speak about these topics in his class at the HerbFolk Gathering in September (register on the conference page at www.PlantHealer.org), and you can read the entire longer article when The Fall issue of Plant Healer releases on September 1st, by being or becoming a Plant Healer Magazine subscriber (www.PlantHealerMagazine.com).   –Wolf

Gaia & Geronimo-sm

AN HERBAL COSMOLOGY

by Sean Donahue

The stories we tell ourselves and each other about the world and peoples’ places in it shape the ways we practice medicine. When we work with them consciously and intentionally, those stories can be an integral part of the healing process – shifts in the ways people understand themselves can bring profound shifts in their way of being in the world which in turn can bring profound shifts in their health. But if we do not examine the patterns of belief that underlie and guide our practice, we can end up unconsciously acting on the stories and assumptions of the culture that surrounds us – the very logic that got us into the kind of mess we are trying to get out of. One of the strongest critiques many herbalists have of mainstream biomedicine is the way it treats people like a conglomeration of symptoms and values on lab tests and treats everyone who displays similar symptoms and similar lab values pretty much identically, no matter who they are or what gave rise to the conditions they are experiencing.     But it occurred to me last semester while teaching my “Energetics of Western Herbalism” course that if we aren’t careful we often end up just replacing one set of diagnostic categories for another, one set of rote guidance for another. For example, five elements or three doshas can become just another set of diagnostic criteria guiding the application of increasingly rigid protocols.

To be sure, such an approach can guide us to giving medicine that will help people feel better.  But most of us came to herbalism because we were frustrated or alienated by mainstream medicine’s approach of treating symptoms and syndromes and diseases instead of people.   And if we want to avoid replicating the problems of the dominant medical system (albeit in a greener and more humane way, at least at first)  then we need to ask ourselves:  if our goal as practitioners isn’t just to treat disease, what is it? Acupuncturist Lonny Jarrett offers one possibility, rooted in his own fusion of Taoism and Ken Wilbur’s “integral philosophy.”  He sees the practitioner’s role as “nourishing destiny” – helping people move along the path of embodying the potential they bring into the world.   From his perspective, the degree to which a person is living according to their true nature can be discerned by the relative integration of the many parts and aspects of themselves.

People come to us in relative states of dis-integration, and we can tell we are helping them if they become increasingly integrated as we work with them. So what is the goal of medicine? My usual cop-out answer is that I want to help people experience themselves and the world as fully as possible by shifting whatever gets in the way of their participation in that ecstasy.  I say that’s a cop-out answer because it sounds nice, and gives lots of weight to liberal notions of choice and autonomy, but it ignores and disguises the fact that I really do have an agenda. Fundamentally, my desire is to bring people into relationships with plants in ways that will introduce them to the possibility of more fluid relationships with themselves and with the world. Disease can be seen as the repetition of a pattern of response or reaction to a stimulus that continues to the point where it begins damaging tissues and disrupting allostasis – the ability of an organism to respond to a changing environment in changing ways.   In a sense it can be seen in terms of a rigidity of response – a characteristic the diseases most people I see have in common with the organizing logic of the dominant culture.

Our ancestors evolved in a context where they were constantly taking in a varied abundance of medicines through breathing in the chemicals plants were releasing into the air, absorbing chemicals from plants as they brushed against them with their skin, drinking in the chemicals that filtered from their root systems into the water – and that is not even taking into account the plants they ingested.   This wove them integrally into the ecosystems they inhabited, and the fluidity of those ecosystems and the ever changing nature of the chemical inputs into their bodies created a fluidity in their experience.   Water soluble compounds from plants interacted with their endocrine systems and oil soluble compounds from plants altered their brain chemistries, shifting their perceptions. While I don’t see it as possible to replicate or reconstruct that kind of experience for most people today, I see my role as an herbalist as being an intelligent vector for the reintroduction of the creative chaos of the mind of the living world into people’s lives through introducing plants into their bodies to change them from the inside.   To be sure these changes serve to change patterns of disease on an individual basis, but my interest extends to the ways they can shift patterns on the level of communities, cultures, and ecosystems.

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Jul 232014
 
www.HerbFolk.org

www.HerbFolk.org

Class Schedule
for Plant Healer’s
2014 HERBFOLK GATHERING

Sept 16th-21st – Mormon Lake, Arizona
www.PlantHealer.org/HerbFolk.html

The Information You Need, The Enchantments You Desire

We’ll be coming up soon to our 5th Annual Plant Healer event – five years of education and celebration from Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference to Herbal Resurgence, Medicine of The People, and now the HerbFolk Gatherings. Located in the lush high elevation pine forests south of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, featuring folkloric and hands-on elements as well as clinical, these are truly events like no others! Classes this year are being taught by a collection of impassioned teachers, for students and practitioners of every level from beginner to accomplished. For more information including detailed class descriptions, download the free July issue of Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter: https://madmimi.com/s/633115

2014 Class Schedule

While the class descriptions have been posted on the website for a long time now, we always wait until near August to post the actual schedule and times. It seems there are often some last minute changes, so we don’t want to release it too early. On the other hand, those of you who are coming like to know which classes are up against each other in the same time slots, in order to pick ahead of time which ones you are most excited to attend. We therefore present to you now the schedule for this year’s program, complete except for the names of the kid’s classes. Click on the following link to download your advance copy:
HerbFolk Class Schedule PDF

Thank you for re-posting or otherwise sharing this... and we will hope to see many of you in Arizona’s verdant forests in a little under 2 months time!

Kiva class 72dpi Sheri Hupfer 72dpi mormon flowers

Jul 092014
 

Plant Healer Newsletter Uncle Sam 72dpi

40 Pages-Long  July Newsletter for Folks Interested in Herbs

The July issue of the Plant Healer E-Newsletter will be mailed out on Monday the 14th.  The download link won’t be posted on this blog, so please make sure you are subscribed if you’d like to receive a copy.  Subscribe by going to our website and clicking on the “Subscribe” button on the far left side of the page:
www.PlantHealer.org

This month’s issue is an overgrown 40 color pages in length, and includes:

Herbal Books Stairway – The Amazing Art of a Cyprus Apothecary
Sean Donahue Review
Jesse Wolf Hardin: Sacred Indulgence – Body Care
Robin Rose Bennett: Exclusive Excerpt from Her New Book
Irina Adam: The Magic of Botanical Scents
Asia Suler
Sylvia Linsteadt: Wild Talewort
Elka’s Healthful Recipes: Stuffed Grape Leaves & Watermelon Rind Pickles
HerbFolk Teacher Bios
Plant Healer Event Reviews
Herbalist Interview: Guido Masé

Spreading Like Weeds

We’re now reaching over 11,000 readers with absolutely free content.  Unlike with Plant Healer Magazine, which goes out primarily to committed herbal students and practicing herbalists, subscribers to the newsletter and blog include crossover folks just getting into herbalism, or with natural healing as a side interest.  It feels like one way to spread and grow this this mission of healing and love – this weedy revolution!

Advertise Inexpensively

Display ads in the Plant Healer Newsletter are priced low enough to be affordable to folks launching new herbal related projects.  Space in our pages is intended for the common folk, small operations and family businesses… large corporations would need to explain why they deserve to be an exception. :) You can download the combined magazine and newsletter advertising pdf here:
Plant Healer Advertising Rates & Specs 2014:15

Share Your Knowledge, Submit Your Stories

You don’t have to be a professional writer in order to have something worthwhile to share with others.  And unlike with PH Magazine, it’s ok f your writings have been printed or posted before, so long as they haven’t been too widely distributed before.  Therapeutics, herb profiles, medicine making recipes, tips for practicing, clinical skills, conservation and gardening.   If you’d be interested, send an email with your ideas along with a request for the Guidelines… to:
PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org

Subscribe at: www.PlantHealer.org

Wild green blessings, from
Kiva & Wolf

Jul 072014
 

Tell your most financially challenged friends:

HerbFolk Gathering Scholarships!

Plant Healer events draw a unique community of herbalists, not only professionals but everyday people, the common folk: part-time practitioners, backwoods mothers, volunteers at nonprofits, and kitchen-sink medicine makers. Few attendees of our past Traditions in Western Herbalism, Herbal Resurgence and HerbFolk Gatherings have been able to easily afford the trip to beautiful Mormon Lake, let alone the price of the ticket. It is partly for you folks that we picked a site that has free camping in the adjacent national forest, in an earthy resort where we can prepare our own food and avoid the cost of meals in their eatery… and it is for you that every year we make available a limited number of scholarships to attend these educational events and healing celebrations. It’s absolutely crucial that our community purchase enough tickets to cover the high costs of putting on the conference, but it is also important that those who have absolutely no way of covering the cost of a ticket can have a chance to come, learn, and enjoy:
Plant Healer’s 2014 HerbFolk Gathering – Sept. 18-21, 2014 – Mormon Lake, Arizona

HerbFolk half page Ad color 72dpi

We welcome scholarship applications from anyone, and the tickets will be given to those with the strongest enthusiasm for herbal work, as well as the greatest financial need. Applicants who don’t receive a scholarship will still be offered a deferred payment plan, barter possibilities or a work exchange, in order to try and make it possible! We may be full for on-site volunteers, but always need focused assistance with online and phone outreach.

Julie Caldwell of Humboldt Herbs, beloved teacher at HerbFolk 2013

Julie Caldwell of Humboldt Herbs, beloved teacher at HerbFolk 2013

Anyone can be helpful by 1. Contributing funds to help scholarships for others, 2. Donating your purchased ticket if you find you are unable to attend yourself; and 3. Spread this post and announcement around so that the all have the opportunity to fill out and then return to us the following simple form:

2014 Scholarships Application

Name:
Email:
Website, Blog, Facebook etc:
What draws you to Plant Healer’s HerbFolk Gathering in particular:
What you hope to do with what you learn:
Your need, & reason, for requesting a scholarship:

Write “Scholarship” in the subject line, and email your responses to: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org

We look forward to seeing many of you there soon!

mormon flowers

Jul 032014
 

St. John’s Wort has long been one of those herbs that I have great respect for and love as medicine, but have used it minimally simply because it’s not plentiful in my bioregion. Native species of Hypericum don’t always seem to contain much in the way of the red purple juice that herbalists so value, and just as importantly, they tend to be too sparse to ethically gather. So instead, I usually buy or trade for a small amount of the tincture and infused oil each year from friends for personal use and otherwise do without. Until now…

Hypericum scouleri

Hypericum scouleri

I was recently on a hike high in the White Mountains of Arizona on the Little Colorado River in a sheltered subalpine canyon where the plants are lush and green, even this time of year when most things are dormant or dying back while waiting for our summer rains. There were so many gorgeous herbs in flower it was actually difficult to focus, I just kept turning in circles to gaze at the Elderflowers and Wild Roses and Aconite and Violets and Horsetail and Owl’s Claws (Hymenoxys hoopesii) and Checker Mallow (Sidalcea neomexicana) and False Solomon’s Seal and Fernleaf Betony (Pedicularis procera) until I was downright dizzy! But then, under a clump of Red Osier Dogwood, there was a huge patch of one of our native medicinal Saint John Worts, Hypericum scouleri, in wild golden bloom spreading back through the woods to the river.

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Like the completely plant obsessed madwoman that I am, I nearly hyperventilated from joy over the unexpected gift of just seeing so much of this somewhat rare herb. Not only that, I could see from the size of the patch and the patches beyond that there was clearly enough to harvest a small amount for medicine. Elka and I immediately knelt down and began carefully picking the flowering tops, accompanied by quite a lot of excited chatter from me. But seriously, people, look at this plant! Is it possible to not be incredibly happy in its presence?

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St John’s Wort is one of those exceedingly well known plants that is so popular that it becomes difficult to describe its properties without being redundant. It’s probably most famous for its use in treating mild to moderate “depression” and for its sometimes problematic interactions with pharmaceuticals because of its effect on liver metabolism. I personally find a depression a problematic terms that tends to be a catchall for anyone who is not currently happy and may or may not also be manic. In other words, another generic psych term that can result from a plethora of roots and requires some critical thinking to best understand what may help and by what mechanism. Anything the normal processes of grief to side effects of hormonal birth control to chronic pain to symptoms of a food intolerance can be diagnosed as depression, and yet, they all need to be addressed differently… so let’s just forget that whole “St John’s Wort is for depression” thing for a minute.

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Hypericum scouleri elixir

 

P1030732St John’s Wort is a fantastic relaxant nervine, and I think it best enhance mood when there’s a component of tension and/or anxiety. Henriette Kress says in her book, Practical Herbs, that it’s most indicated for depression stemming from frustration, and I find that to be very true. This is basically the only kind of depression I’m personally susceptible thus far in my life, so beyond treating clients, I have some experience of my own with St. John’s Wort. I find that the herb taken internally in such a situation is very helpful at not only getting a sense of humor about the situation, but also in helping to find the proper perspective for sorting out whatever is causing the frustration and changing it.

As is common with herbs that are relaxant nervines, Hypericum is also helpful in cases of insomnia, especially if anxiety, gloomy thoughts, or a busy head is preventing sleep in the first place. I also find it useful in preventing and treating night terrors and nightmares, especially in children. Once again, elements of anxiety and tension are the key here.

Externally, SJW liniment can be a lifesaver for crunched back muscles resulting in sciatica, especially when combine with Cottonwood (resinous Populus spp.) buds and Alder (Alnus spp.) bark or leaf. The oil, salve, poultice, or compress is wonderful for healing almost any skin inflammation, and for reducing the swelling, pain, and overall inflammation of many injuries, including pulled muscles, sprained ankles, and can be useful post ACL surgery when combined with Comfrey, Solomon’s Seal, and Mullein.

P1030730Hypericum is also very helpful in all sorts of back pain characterized by a burning pain, including nerve pain, especially pain that is worse with pressure. It is commonly present in a great many general wound salves, pain liniments, and oils for sore muscles. It can be helpful in all of these situations, being rather multipurpose when it comes to hot, burning inflammation. This also applies to topical use in the treatment of herpetic lesions and shingles, especially if used as a preventative (concurrent with internal use) at the first sign of an occurrence, but most effective in this situation if combined with other helpful antivirals and supportive herbs.

When St. John’s Wort is truly indicated, it tends to work notably in a rapid manner, whether internally or externally. It’s not one of those herbs you have to wait to six weeks to see results from. If it doesn’t show any results from the first few times of taking it, try something else.

Preparations:

I prefer infused oil made with the fresh flowers, and tincture or elixir from the fresh or freshly dried flowering tops. Tisanes and infusions can be made with the dried plant. It is sometimes said that the dried plant is ineffective but I have not found this to be the case as long as I am using high quality, recently dried herb.

Formulae:

Internal: Endless combinations come to mind, but for alleviating anxiety, tension, and general gloominess, particularly if accompanied by exhaustion, weakness, and gut inflammation, I’m especially fond of a formula made up of 5 parts Hypericum, 3 parts Evening Primrose (Oenothera spp.) flowering tops, 2 parts Monkeyflower (Mimulus spp.) flowering tops, and 1 part Rose (especially Wild Roses, but any aromatic species will do) in honey and alcohol to make an elixir. Take as needed, .5 ml 3x/day.

For general sadness and apathy, it combines well with a more moving herb, such as Lavender or Tulsi to lift the spirits and help clear stuck depression or grief. I especially like a formula of 3 parts Albizzia flower or bark, 2 parts Hypericum, and 1 part Tulsi as a tincture or elixir, .5 ml up to 3x/day or smaller doses as needed.

It also makes a wonderful infusion, in equal parts with the flowering tops of Evening Primrose, for chronic coughs, especially that lingering cough after a long struggle with bronchitis in those who are already worn down by the virus and then the secondary infection and having difficulty recovering on the respiratory front.

External: For healing damaged ligaments I like an oil or liniment of 4 parts Solomon’s Seal root, 3 parts Saint John’s Wort, 2 parts Comfrey leaf/root, 2 parts Cottonwood bud, and 1 part Mullein leaf and root. This can also work well for almost any damaged joint that is suffering slow healing, aching pain, and inflammation.

Considerations:

Please note that this article speaks only to preparations made from the whole plant, NOT hypericin or any other isolated component.

Hypericum effects liver metabolism and caution should be utilized when using large amounts of St. John’s Wort concurrently with other medications, including birth control pills, and especially anti-depressants and blood thinners. High doses of Hypericum can also cause photosensitivity in some sensitive individuals.

Also, some people seem to feel absolutely nothing from St. John’s Wort, and some people are practically knocked out by it, so proceed slowly when dosing. I once saw a very perky young woman take a couple dropperfuls of the tincture at the HerbFolk Gathering, and ten minutes later proceed to stagger out of the Healer’s Market to take an impromptu nap on the nearest patch of shady grass. Such a strong reaction seems uncommon, but seems more likely to happen to vata types, especially if they’re anxious or wound up.

Ethical Concerns:

While H. perforatum is an invasive weed in parts of the United States, here in NM and AZ our native species such as H. scouleri are far from weedy and tend to prefer relatively untouched forests high in the mountains, almost always by a water source. They are not necessarily abundant or flourishing, given the habitat degradation, drought, and severe fires of late. If you harvest here, PLEASE (as in do so or I will hunt you down and personally harm you) do so with due consideration for the plant and a great deal of common sense.

Commercial Sources:

Dried Hypericum perforatum can be purchased from most herb suppliers, including Mountain Rose Herbs, fresh flowers can be purchased from select suppliers, including Pacific Botanicals and Zack Woods Herb Farm. Many suppliers also carry the infused oil or tincture, including Fawn Lily Botanicals.

Resources & References:

Practical Herbs by Henriette Kress
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore
Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine: A Clinical Materia Medica, 120 Herbs in Western Use by Jeremy Ross
Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal
The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennett
Herbal Therapy & Supplements: A Scientific & Traditional Approach by Merrily A. Kuhn and David Winston
Warding Off Evil in the 21st Century: St John’s Wort As Xenosensory Activator? by Jonathan Treasure
Herbal Pharmacokinetics: A Pratitioner’s Update With Reference to St John’s Wort Herb Drug Interactions by Jonathan Treasure

All images ©2014 Kiva Rose

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Jul 012014
 
P1030676

Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia

 

This time of year in southern New Mexico is dry and every breeze feels as if it’s been released through  the open door of a furnace. The grass dries to a golden brown and the river slows to a trickle. Even here in the mountains the heat can make it hard to move, and it’s tempting to just lay in the river’s remaining current in the cool shade of the Alders. The monsoons will hopefully bring us abundant rains in only a few weeks, but in the meantime flowers are blooming in the cool crevices of the arroyos and shaded mountainsides. So just the other morning Rhiannon and I decided to hike up the big wash next to the mesa we live on here in the canyon. The wash is sheltered, and within it grows many plants usually only found at higher elevations.

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Monarda fisulosa var. menthifolia

Each year this wash is where we harvest our favorite (for medicinal purposes) species of Beebalm, Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia. This particular species is especially spicy and buttery (as compared to the half a dozen other species growing in the Gila at least), leaving a numbing oil on the tongue when ingested. Locals call it Oregano de la Sierra in reference to its habit of growing only in the mountains and less in the lower elevations of the Southwest. As the name also suggests, this Monarda has distinctly Oregano like flavor and also has similar medicinal and culinary uses. I’ve written extensively about Beebalm already, but I can’t emphasize what an important and powerful plant this is!

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Monarda fisulosa var. menthifolia

Beebalm’s fiery diffusiveness is the perfect match to Alder’s sweet riparian coolness in an anti-infective formula where I frequently use 1 part Beebalm to 4 parts of Alder for internal use in even acute infections. The two together (alongside other situationally appropriate herbs) can frequently heal even the worst infections when dosed properly, from raging cellulitis to persistent systematic MRSA to painful UTIs. The plant has numerous other applications as well, but it’s power in regards to microbial infections is certainly worth noting.

Rhiannon gathering Beebalm

Rhiannon gathering Beebalm

While the wash was violently flooded during last Summer’s monsoons, and much of the plants has been buried under boulders, there was still a decent amount of Beebalm growing from the banks and walls of the wash, allowing Rhiannon and I to gather a basket full to process for food and medicine. Being such an annual event, I also have pictures from years past and had to stop to reminisce over how much Rhiannon has grown since we first began harvesting this aromatic plant each June… she’s gone from a tiny imp to a bewitching young woman who, I might add, still has plenty of imp even as a nearly grown girl.

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Rhiannon stole the camera for a moment to take a picture of me.

We gathered until the sun was high and it was time to flee back down the wash to the waiting river. In the shade of a fallen Alder tree, we floated on the surface of the waning water, staring up at the lapis blue sky and listening to the breeze blow through the clattering leaves of the surrounding Cottonwoods. Wild Grapes (Vitis arizonica) dangled from the branches, tempting us with its still green fruit, while the scent of Datura wilting in the heat created a hypnotic counterpoint to the scent of wild mountain water flowing around us.

Wild Grape, Vitis arizonica

Wild Grape, Vitis arizonica

We took our basket of Beebalm home to separate leaves from flowers, creating honey elixir and tincture with the flowers while the leaves will be ground into pesto and dried to be used as a spice all year long. While we await the monsoons, we’ll savor the buttery heat of the Oregano de la Sierra, the taste of the land itself in Summer.

 

Jun 262014
 

Free Newsletter For Herbalists Now Available

The June 2014 Issue of Plant Healer Newsletter

  plant healer The June issue of the free Plant Healer Newsletter was emailed to newsletter subscribers a few days ago.  In case you missed it, we’re going to include a link to it at the bottom of this post for you to download.  We won’t be repeating this each time, however, so be aware that in the future you will need to be already be subscribed in order to receive yours. The Plant Healer Newsletter is sent out around the second or third week of every month except September, 11 issues per year, each one providing an average 30 full color pages of herbal information, plant profiles, diagnostics, natural and wild foods recipes, excerpts from past and upcoming Plant Healer quarterly magazines, and interview excerpts with both the elders and the new voices of herbalism today.  It could be said that we didn’t need the extra work of producing a newsletter on top of a magazine, books and events, but we strongly felt that we needed a venue to provide some absolutely free content as well… especially for those of you who can’t afford the kinds of materials you need for your study and practice.  Kiva and I can’t do this work of championing the folk herbal resurgence without the income from paid magazine subscriptions, but neither can we stop giving gifts that help make herbal insights and wisdom available to everyone.

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June Newsletter Contents:

Matthew Wood: Inspiring excerpts from Plant Healer interview with this well know herbal elder • Deborah Wallin: Traditional Tongva Herbalist Toypurina • Michael Tierra: Bermuda Grass profile • Kiva Rose: The Enchantments of Medicine Making • Elka: Watercress & Beet salad recipe • Introducing Tesoro! – the rockin’ flamenco of our HerbFolk 2014 band • The Healing Terrain – creating a book about nature’s healing powers

Your are welcome and even encouraged to repost this blog, or give the link for the June issue to your students and all your friends, or include it as a giveaway now or in future mailings you do.

Click on the following download link: June Issue of Plant Healer Newsletter

Jun 082014
 

Intro: The following is a chapter from our newest book The Enchanted Healer, by my partner Jesse Wolf Hardin.  The Enchanted Healer is our only full-length book with all full-color pages, covering the topics like herbalism and shamanism, medicines of the enchanted forest, body/mind balance, the heightening of awareness and the senses, plant spirit and intelligence, vision quests, places of power, cabinets of wonder, and much more…. from a decidedly NON-NewAge, healer’s perspective and experience.  “The Healing Arts” makes the case that what we do as herbalists and other kinds of healers is beautiful – and that beauty matters!  If you already read parts of this piece in Plant Healer Magazine, I hope you will still take the time to re-post and share it.   To order your own copy of The Enchanted Healer, please go to the Bookstore Page at: www.PlantHealer.org

The Healing Arts & The Art Of Healing

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

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The Living, Healing Arts

art  |ärt|noun:
1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works appreciated for their high level of quality, particularly their beauty and emotional power
2. works produced by such skill and imagination
3. (the arts) the various branches of creative activity
4. a skill at doing a specific thing, improved through practice

Healing Arts woman with pestle 72dpi

The term “healing arts” can be used to refer to a collection of holistic, noninvasive fields, traditions and techniques, generally expected to include such things as herbalism, acupuncture, chiropractic, counseling, and massage therapy.  These practices and any other forms of healing people and planet are “crafts” – carefully learned, practiced and applied – that then become “art” at the point where we:
1. We make our work a creative process and apply our own imaginations.
2. Strive to maximize our skills, and do the highest possible quality of work.
3. Seek to touch/affect people at the deepest emotional and spiritual as well as physical levels.
4. And try, as a matter of both course and principle, to do that work as beautifully as we possibly can.

These days a stark line is often drawn between conventional medical care and alternative or holistic therapies, between phytotherapy and folk herbalism, between hard science and folklore, between the necessary growing of food crops and the nonessential raising of ornamentals, as well as between the supposed florid Artist’s life and the sober existence and sensible priorities of the “normal” woman or man.  Not so in many ancient and tribal societies, nor in the attractive land-informed cultures that we are together working to create.  For them and us – from nourishment to remedy, from planting to harvest, birth to death – is an opportunity to meld ritual and necessity, substance and gesture, artfulness and practicality, working to make every act and result not only productive but evermore meaningful, beauteous and satisfying!

There is little doubt that a healthy psyche is an integral component in the healing of the body, and that any healing of the collective/cultural psyche is essential to any last remedy of the current ecological and psychological imbalances.  As the pioneering psychotherapist Carl Jung wrote, “An Artist is a vehicle and moulder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind.”  And I am not talking about the Artist as a rarified elite.  My sense is that the Anima, the vital life force of this living planet seems calls upon us each to serve others, the planet and ourselves by consciously participating in the ours and human kind’s evolution, as the crafters of our society and artisans of our lives.  It is what the sacred indivisible whole/holon wants and needs to seed, and what I in my own personal role am devoted to grow.

What we hope to sow and water in this modern un-landed culture is not only more artistic and meaningful form in our day to day existence, but also the sprouting art of life: the art of conscious, responsive, celebratory relationship and mission.  Mine and my partner’s intent with Plant Healer Magazine and books not only to help preserve and nurture branches of the endangered traditional healing arts, but to reclaim and showcase the many graphic styles, potent symbols and aesthetics… not only to help inform and inspire effective Healers but also to encourage – with all our deeds and hearts – ever more artistic manifestations of the active art of healing.

Living Arts: Art that lives; and the act of making an art of our every act and moment.

Healing Arts: Art that heals; and making an art of our every healing act.

Healing Arts mortar and pestle-72dpi

Examples of Artfulness

Just as there are different styles of art, there are different styles of teaching, of restoring the land,  of practicing herbalism or the healthful laying-on of hands.  It is the herbalist community that I have been most closely associating with over the past decade, however, and it is my fellow lovers of plants and their medicines that I can quickest site as examples of what I’m talking about. While no two herbalists are alike – exhibiting a very wide range of tastes in clothing and lifestyles – the vast majority I’ve known all demonstrate a very personal, individualized art of living and healing.

Notice how folk herbalists of any culture find hidden patches of desired wild plants largely by their form and color, as in tune with the patterns and hues composing the land as is a painter with her visions of forms and palette of endless chromatic possibilities. We can see surely the art in their purposeful ascertaining of patterns and composing of response, in their deeply partnered dance of natural healing and allied plants… and in what they collect on their shelves, hang on the wall and wear on their bodies.  Each of these herbalist’s clothes express their particular persona, the decorating of home and clinic to reflect their particular values and beliefs, preferences and desires, hungers and callings.

On their desk may be a collage of the tools of inquiry, alongside the frivolity of plant deco.  We may note the curving lines and brass sheen of a vintage druggist’s scale, a hand-me-down magnifying glass, a surreal earth goddess or primitive carved crucifix, the predictable vase or Mason jar with flowers long ago having died and dried into twisted shapes too amazing to throw outside.  On the window sill, colored glass of some sort that’s sure to refract into the room its enchanting morning lights, Arkansas crystals and sun hungry potted sage.  And on their persons, dress and accoutrements that communicate something about the kind of people and practitioners that they are, their character and interests evident in a display of threads…  whether modest but attractive skirts singing out their roots in the rural South, or loose fitting clothes from Thai pants and Guatemalan wapil blouses suggesting globally acquired wisdom and a relaxed demeanor, or sculpted shirts and ties that function as statements of health care professionalism.

Framed and hung are photos of not just kids or grandkids or aged sepia portraits of unsmiling great-grandparents, but images of treasured places as well, from topographic maps marked with one’s favorite spots for gathering wild herbs, to snapshots of significant spots on an oft visited wilderness trail.  Paintings of flowers, or goddesses, or faeries, or vine covered cottages that invite us to world of veritable magic.  Historic drawings of Yerba Mansa or flowering Mullein, or voluptuous Victorian era mushroom porn.  The deep greens of Mormon Lake’s forests may draw the eye to the words centered on an HerbFolk Gathering flyer, wreathed in images of medicinal plants and some of the teachers that champion them.  Competing with glowing gallon containers of precious tinctures, are likely books chosen for not only the valuable information they contain, but for their illustrations as well.

Art can be seen not only in the objects they surround themselves with, but also in their gestures, acts and tasks.  Just watch how they customarily acknowledge, empathize with, speak to, ask for the collusion of, and somehow express their profound gratitude to those medicinal plants that they kneel before in acts of humble connection or unplanned ceremony.  See, also, the deft movements of hands and blades as leaves are separated from flowers and roots, not unlike the sculptor removing elements of stone or wood to reveal a focused and refined purpose within.  Their creation of formulas can be in some ways like the art of cooking, with brilliance, intuition and adaptation augmenting tradition, evaluations made with alert taste buds and noses that know.  The rhythms of their interchanges with clients and patients can be like practiced choreographies with room left for on-the-spot improvisation – in what I think of as the herbalist’s song and dance.  Inspired and fueled by not only necessity and compassion but impassioned aesthetics and taste, theirs is a practical trade made into something complexly personal, focused on a vision and purpose, intent on increased excellence and effectiveness – a point of service and connection that is art at its most relevant.  Important.  Magical.  Sacred, even.

Healing Arts herbal woman element-72dpi

The Artist-Healer

The work of the Artist-Healer could well be considered sacred work, in that style and symbol can not only decorate and communicate but also educate and consecrate, helping us to perceive the connections between all forms living and non, the relations between all elements and beings, and the inner heart, soul, spirit of each and every thing.  And as with any sacred endeavor, their work is most numinous and powerful when the Artists are themselves transformed in the process of its inception and creation.  This ceaseless falling apart and being remade is characteristic of the Artist as it is of the Seeker, the Shaman, the spiritual Adept.

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.

Creatively giving shape and form to the underlying energies which animate our species in a “container” that can hold the experience allows for a shamanic, holy, and whole-making ritual to be made real in time. The act of participating in the creation of art is a magical, ceremonial rite, a sacred liturgy, a higher-dimensional form of communion, a kind of “performance art,” which simultaneously transfigures the unconscious energies in both the Artist and the surrounding field. The act of art-making partakes of the nature of the divine, in that the entire universe, which is itself a living work of continually-unfolding art, becomes infused with endless-inspiration as we consciously realize our relationship with our ever-evolving and never-expiring, creative spirit.

There can be no doubt that modern industrialized medicine can help mend serious wounds and successfully treat some conditions.  It is generally not, however, a craft since it there is little hand work and most diagnosis is based on a computer generated template/model of symptoms and prescriptions.  It is hardly ever an art, since it is a relatively rare M.D. these days who has gone beyond the trade’s impersonal practices to a place of passionate dedication, or who sees and treats a whole person rather than symptoms and organs.  They avoid getting to really know their patients, avoiding getting too close, eschewing “messy” emotions.  Their offices and hospitals are institutional and uninspired, usually only slightly less ugly and conformist than a prison.  While sometimes proficient within a limited model, they are often lacking in the earmark of artisanship: creativity!  To the contrary, alternative Healers of all kinds tend to be more creative and adaptive, looking beyond the assumptions and conventions, acting out of a passionate sense of mission, and doing their work in a deeply personal, empathic and artist way.  With personal aesthetics.  Honed sensitivity.  Engaged emotions.  The involvement of their spirits as well as minds.  Intentional style.  A strong sense of calling.  And practiced flair.

Healers outside of institutions and norms tend to be mistrusted, undervalued, discounted, even legally harassed precisely because of their Artist’s ways, because they serve a calling and fulfill it authentically and stylistically, daring to bypass conventional dead ends, and to be creative in the ways that they instigate and support healing.  We unconventional artisans are denied official accreditation, and when we do seek professional status it comes only from groups themselves outside the “credible” norm.  The Artist-Healer, however, will not be satisfied walking the beaten path, needing to follow the inner creative urge instead, being self-empowered to make choices and make turns based on insights and experience.  And they work not only to heal a person or community, but to be a container and conduit for the expression of the creative thrust, intent and direction of the Anima, of the life force, the dynamic natural whole.

Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Pagan, Pantheist, Agnostic or whatever… the work of the Artist-Healer is to serve something larger than themselves or a client.  It is to serve a larger purpose and aim, to serve something akin to “spirit” no matter what we choose to call it.  And to do it in the most loving and lovely ways.

Healing Arts crafts-72dpi

Conscious Crafting

craft |kraft|
noun:
1. an activity involving skill in making things, usually by hand
2. demonstrating a high level of skill in carrying out one’s work

We’re each connected to one another, to self and home through blood and bone, magic, history, need, service, touch, caring and love — manifest through the moving force of our crafts.  Craft is one way in which we express our inner spirits, serve our planet and our purpose, and make both real and physical our seemingly magical co-creation of our world.  Craft is our deliberate and potentially artistic manifestation and effect, as opposed to that which we unconsciously cause or create.  At one level it is our practices, our applied skills, our trade.  At a deeper level it is every conscious way that we make our visions visible, respond to the needs of the people, culture and land around us, and otherwise share our dear gifts.

All things, all beings are at once both creator and the created, the influenced and the influence, the actor and acted upon.  It is the option of the Healer – and the Seeker, the Activist, Teacher, Shaman, or Shifter –  to be fully, vividly aware of the effects we have on the world… to make every act as intentional, and as beautiful, as we’re able.

In the present dominant paradigm, craft is often thought of as something one purchases or is an audience to, instead of inhabits and embodies.  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.  Drumming that’s ever improved, enlisted to communicate with primal visionary self and the “Great Spirit” that informs us.  Massage, that not just relaxes but helps to heal.  Words, too, are craft when formed with care, delivered with rhythm and design, woven into ceremony, employed to inspire courage or heal a broken heart.  Poetry that stops thought and inspires a more intense living of life.  A novel that moves the reader to tears, to change, to action.  Correspondence and diary entries, as honestly and lyrically and one can make them.  Words that can evoke the smell of rain on the fur of a wild creature , the taste of lightning, the warmth of man or woman’s flesh and the feel of the ground where they lay in lust.  Careful conversation with friends, with words invested with meaning and mission.  Words not blurted out or spilled from lips, but formed like a stone canyon elegantly carved by a flowing river.  A child reminded of her intrinsic worth.  The ill consoled, informed and encouraged.  An endearment whispered in a willing ear.  Even our most mundane daily labors rise to the level of craft, art, even ritual, when done consciously with all our heart, awareness and skill, for more reasons than the simple making of an income.  And even the most repetitive chores, whenever they’re executed with both intention and panache.

We are all potential crafters, of course, in that we are born with a chance to craft every aspect of our lives.  Craft is by it’s very nature proactive.  We craft medicines, craft a practice, craft a strategy for how we want to influence our world.  We craft a home out of a mere house, craft family and community, craft our futures to the extent we can.  The word “craft” is first and foremost a verb of great power, denoting direction, activity, process, effort and purpose.  It is only secondarily a noun, referring to an association of activated individuals, or the creations, effects and outcomes of the active Healer.

Part of our purpose as sentient beings on/in this planet, is to make an articulate contribution to conscious, responsive, celebratory relationship, to true encompassing health which is wholeness.  In our ecstatic revealing, bridging and healing, we have the opportunity for a further dissolving of any boundaries between us, the living land, the Anima, or spirit.  Between the creator and the created.  The Healer and the healed.  The crafter and the craft.

Healing Arts still lifes-72dpi

The Artist-Healer’s Responsibility

Being responsible for the form and effects of our actions can be daunting, and staying on the sidelines, avoiding being a force, trying to remain unseen and out of the loop might be tempting… but it is simply not possible.  Even if we were to try to avoid responding, initiating, confronting, creating, or in other ways taking any responsibility, we would still leave some imprint on the world.  We therefore may as well make it a true reflection of our authentic selves, serving our caring purpose.  At best, we can make that imprint evocative, inspiring, instigative, aesthetic, excellent and exciting.  Every awake act, every motion or gesture of our hands can be the craft and art that communicates who we are, who we strive to be, and what we hope to give and achieve.

The pencil for the writing 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 gardner 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.

See what you can do.

________

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May 202014
 

Note: If you are not already a subscriber to the Plant Healer Newsletter, you can download the Free 35 pages long May Issue now.  Click here:

Plant Healer May Issue Download

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Sneak Peek:

HERBALIST CONTRIBUTORS

To The Plant Healer Magazine Summer Issue

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

The 280 pages-long Summer Issue Releases June 2nd

To subscribe, go to Plant Healer Magazine page at www.PlantHealer.org

Plant Healer Magazine for Herbalists www.PlantHealer.org

Plant Healer Magazine for Herbalists www.PlantHealer.org

Summer is always the start of an exciting conference season, as well as a time of growth for us and our herbal crops.  In the upcoming Summer issue of Plant Healer Magazine you’ll find Julliet Blankespoor’s latest in-depth piece on growing our dream herbal gardens, followed by bioregional herbalist Dara Saville’s piece on native-hearted urban medicine gardens that reflect the beauty and power of a region’s wild ecosystems.  And Susun Weed evokes Summer’s bounty with her piece on the “Peas Mother.”

Paul Bergner, too, continues talking about growth in his latest Herbal Rebel column, though in this case it means the deliberate growing of our thinking skills.  We can’t emphasize enough the importance of an intelligent and balanced approach to herbalism, as ably mapped on Pablo’s medicine wheel of healer literacy and competency.  Many folks are excitedly looking forward to the release of his new online courses, hopefully in 2015.

Speaking of new releases, sweet Robin Rose Bennett’s new book is finally available, and is considered to be her best by far: The Gift of Healing Herbs: Plant Medicines & Home Remedies for a Vibrantly Healthy Life (see her announcement in the Resources section).  We’ve happily featured several excerpts in past issues of this magazine.  And now with its release, Robin returns to writing other original works for you, beginning with this quarter’s excellent piece by her on Yarrow, Honey, & Topical Herbal Medicine.

We’re honored to continue showcasing Matthew Wood’s growing body of work, including another segment on liver health and herbs for the liver.  All his Plant Healer pieces will one day be compiled into another landmark volume for this field and community.  But coming up first, will be a publication about pulse diagnosis by himself, Phyllis Light and Francis Bonaldo, and we’re pleased to be announcing it in advance here.  You may find that you recognize the style of its cover art, created by myself for this valuable book.

Our friend 7Song’s botanical and herbal expertise just keeps growing, and so do the length of the awesome columns he writes for Plant Healer… leading us to split up his newest article on the incredible Cactus family for this and the upcoming Fall issue.  We’re mighty grateful to have his devoted involvement and support, and very happy to be able to showcase his knowledge for all of you to learn from and make use of.  Those of you who have or plan to study with him are fortunate indeed.  The same can be said of the work of amigo Jim McDonald, this time bringing to you a crucial discussion of alteratives and so-called “tonics.”  Michigan-based Jim is considered by Kiva to be unsurpassed in his ability to synthesize and practically/informally express his understandings of herbal actions.  Jim and 7Song’s continually growing wisdom and experience benefit us all, and consequently every person that we ourselves ever seek to help.

Katja Swift continues growing her knowledge, experience and abilities while she and her partner Ryn Midura grow their Massachusetts school for herbalists… and this issue she provides us with a very detailed and very important article on herbal support for kids going through puberty.  Sabrina Lutes manages to write regularly for us while taking care of a growing family, and her piece about moms taking time to recuperate could explain how she is able to pull it off.

Plant lore and history can greatly deepen our understanding of not only plant medicines but the  human/plant connection and social context in which healing takes place.  Gracing our Plant Lore department once again is the very inspiring Corinne Boyer, telling the wondrous tale of the Willow throughout time.  And beloved Virginia Adi, who so kindly shares with us her fascinating history of Gentian.

Familiarity with the plants we use is crucial to our effectiveness as herbalists, hence the value we place on well written plant profiles.  Ocotillo is an incredible plant of the desert Southwest that dear Rebecca Altman covers for us here, exposing not only the secrets of this healing species but also her own undeniable secret draw to the wilder Southwestern lands beyond her L.A. enclave.

We would be amiss, of course, to ever talk about the use of wild medicinal plants without a reminder of the absolutely necessity of conscious, aware, caring, ethical foraging practices.  In Kiva’s concluding column, she discusses Sustainable Wildcrafting.  She makes the crucial point that plants do not exist only to serve us… and that we must protect those increasingly scarce herbs that give so much to our health and well being.

Our partner and provider of nourishment celebrates Summer tomatoes this issue, with her own special sauces and salsas.  After writing food and self-care articles as “Loba” for over 20 years in publications including SageWoman and Plant Healer, she has decided to own her true nature – her characteristic elkness, if you will – by bravely changing her name to Elka.  I’d say that qualifies as some serious personal growth!

For contributor Wendy “Butter” Petty, what grows wild is best.  We’re thankful to run her celebration of wild onions, informing us, and infecting us with her unbridled love for these nutritional veggies.

Sam Coffman continues to produce some our most practical, information-filled articles, this time two contributions to the Seeing People (clinical skills) department: one on Mucosal Immunity, and the other about streetwise, remote and post-disaster herbalism.

We can cite our readers’ growing curiosity about ancient healing traditions as one reason for our happiness with Stephany Hoffelt’s article on the community healers of historic Ireland…. another would be mine and Kiva’s own abiding interest in the subject.

Asia Suler speaks about the ways in which plants affect us beyond their known clinical actions, inspiring connectedness, enrapturing us with their slowly revealed mysteries, mirroring something in ourselves, and sometimes showing us the way…

For an insightful perspective on the growing field of herbalism, there is no one better to turn to than David Hoffman.  David was there with Rosemary and others at the rebirth of this movement over 3 decades ago, helping to inspire a new direction.  And while most famous for his scientific and clinical understandings, he remains today one of the brilliant subversives whose radical, ecocentric vision of an empowered herbalism could lead us to a future of ever more powerful healing and cultural alternatives.  Those of you who may not have read our lengthy discussion in our book 21st Century Herbalists should be happy to find the abridged interview in Summer’s Plant Healer.  His emphasis on the spirit of healing and the importance of enchantment make him a perfect presenter at this September’s HerbFolk Gathering: The Enchanted Forest.

Together, our Plant Healer writers have again created a most amazing magazine issue, providing you with the inspiration and information needed in our work to heal ourselves, our clients, and our world.  A huge thank you to all.

 

Sneak Peek Summer 2014 -72dpi

Summer Issue Releases June 2nd

To subscribe, go to the Magazine page at www.PlantHealer.org

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