Announcing Our 2016 TWHC Teachers & Classes:
Paul Bergner • Guido Masé • Kiva Rose • Jim McDonald • Sean Donahue • Thomas Easley • Phyllis Hogan • 7Song • Dare Saville • Larken Bunce • Shana Lipner Grover • Julie James • Asia Suler • Julie Caldwell • Rebecca Altman • Jen Stovall • Janet Kent • Cathy Skipper • Ramona Rubin • Alanna Whitney • Dave Meesters • Kate Clearlight • Betsy Costilo • Kirsten Hale • Maria Noel Groves • Stephany Hoffelt • Jesse Wolf Hardin ...and more
Plant Identification 3 hrs.
The ability to identify plants is central to all wildcrafting herbalists. In this class we will look at the plants growing around the lodge and cover the basics of plant identification. These include: understanding the importance and differences in plant families, learning the basic parts of plants (leaves, flowers, stems, etc), and the fundamentals of using a plant key. If you have a 10x magnifying lens (loupe) please bring it. A few will be provided for the class. This class is geared for beginning and early intermediate plant identifiers.
Wildcrafting: Skills & Tales From The Field 1.5 hrs
Wildcrafting is the skill of gathering one's own plants for medicine, food and other uses. This class will discuss a range of topics centered around wildcrafting including; sustainable harvesting, helpful tools, specific plants and places, and practical suggestions for getting out there and gathering your own medicines. I will also be sharing numerous tales from 30 years of gathering plants around the US.
Herbal First Aid: Setting Up & Working in an Outdoor First Aid Station 1.5 hrs
This class will delve into the many considerations in setting up a first aid station including: scouting and setting up in a good location, supplies and tools, considering the situations you may encounter, and of course, which herbal medicines and preparations to have on hand. This class is for all levels of herbalists looking to set up and people a first aid station.
Potions: A Plant Combination Workshop 3 hrs
In the world of formulation, there are different approaches. Some people take a ‘shotgun formula’ approach, including every herb under the umbrella of a single category. Some people make formulas with 10, 20, or even 30 herbs, whereas others stick to simples and two, three or four-herb formulas. There are as many ways to formulate as there are recipes for chicken broth which is to say that the possibilities are limitless. The formulas that I like the best, that I find the most inspiring, are those that seem to speak of the person who created them. Some people create formulas that are trippy. Not trippy in that they make you trip, but trippy in that the combinations seem to come from left-field and expand your perceptions of what a formula can be. Some peoples formulas are inherently nurturing, some inherently moving. Some people make formulas that are unbelievably efficient, whereas others make formulas that are soft and gentle and persuasive. There are as many ways to formulate as there are people who do it, and in this class, we’re going to experiment with finding our “own” formulation style.
Participants will learn about approaches to formulation from China, India, Arabic medicine and the Eclectics, and what differentiates these formulation styles. Then you will learn about ways to make formulations that come from who they are as people. Examples will be passed around of formulations from different Western herbalists who have distinct styles, with a focus on their own bioregions.
The second half of the class will involve formulating for yourselves. Time will be spent tasting and sitting with a handful of the 30 or so tinctures available to work with, and writing down physical impressions, then learning how to combine tinctures to make an effective, elegant and beautiful formula that reflects their relationship with the plants used.
(With Kate Clearlight) All Up In Your Business: Starting & Maintaining a Defining Herbal Products Venture 1.5 hrs
In the world of ‘things to do to make a living as a herbalist’ the most common answer people have is to start a product business. The majority of people make up some products and put them in an online store or on Etsy, and then wait for the business to roll in. This is not usually the best way to go about it.
Both Kate Clearlight and Rebecca Altman have been running herbal product businesses since 2010 (2011?), and both have a similar approach to both product-making and branding: make it come from the heart and the business will follow. In this class, we will discuss the different aspects to starting, maintaining, and making a product business financially viable:
Why start a business in the first place?
How to start a business.
Finding the heart of your business.
Making products that are uniquely your own.
Finding a niche.
Self-worth and the ability to make a living.
Honoring the self and staying true to the heart of your business.
How to be inspired by others and still make an idea your own.
The Mosaic of Evidence: Herban Legends & Critical Thinking in Medical Herbalism 3 hrs
How do we know what we think we know about what herbs do? Are our beliefs based on old books? On our favorite teachers? Our colleagues? On our own tasting and personal experience? On community experiencing in our schools? That of our patients? The latest news from the herb industry? The latest scientific trial? Our own intuition and instinct? Each of these kinds of information may be useful, but is also subject to error. A critical skill set for the modern herbalist is how to discern practical information from error or propaganda in the information we receive, whatever the source. Failure of such discernment can lead to an Herban Legend, something about an herb which is not true, yet is passed on from teacher to student, from one textbook to the next, and accepted on authority without discernment, testing, or correction. In this workshop, we will describe sources of error and questions for critical thinking in each of the areas above. We will then explore the roots of a dozen Herban Legends, including some about Echinacea, Goldenseal, Wild Yam, Juniper, Lobelia, Ginkgo, Saw Palmetto, Feverfew, Cilantro, Devil's Club, Cilantro, and examples from the categories of anti-viral and adaptogenic herbs. In each case we will discuss what is not true about the legend, and also the right-use of each of these powerful healing agents.
Getting The Story Right: Interview Skills For Intakes & Follow-Ups 1.5 hrs
We may become experts at herbal materia medica, and masters of therapeutic technique and formulation, but if we don't get the story right, on both intake and follow-up, all that previous learning is wasted. If we get the wrong story, our case analysis is wrong, we treat according to the wrong story. The therapeutics will not work, or may even cause discomfort or harm. In this workshop we will learn and practice some of the core specialized interview skills which can elicit accurate information from family, friends, or patients when treating them with herbs. We will also give a comprehensive picture of the template of information that is necessary to get the whole story.
The Art of The Follow Up: How to Learn From The Experience of Your Patients, Students, Family, & Friends 1.5hrs
All real learning begins with the first follow-up, whether that follow-up is from ourselves, family and friends, or patients. Before that, everything is theoretical. Even if something has worked for someone in the past, accurate and grounded practical information from this individual will confirm or contradict our theories, and add to or modifies the totality of our experience. Certain critical interview skills, often contradicting what we would expect from “common sense,” are essential for a successful follow-up, and can allow our practical herbal knowledge to evolve, modify, and expand. In this workshop, we will learn and practice these skills.
The Restoration of Truth and Beauty: Stress, Trauma and Building Resilience 3 hrs
We all know adaptogens are important allies in balancing endocrine function and improving our resistance to life’s many stressors. We also might already understand that stress plays a role in most, if not all, chronic disease, meaning that tools to prevent and recover from detrimental stress are essential in the clinic and self-care. Join me to deepen your understanding of the pathophysiology of stress and trauma and the effects these have on our various body systems, perceptions, behaviors, even genetic expression. We’ll explore the body as the sensorial story-keeper of the psyche, and how they together mediate survival and resilience. While stress and trauma often lead us to mistrust or abandon our bodies out of fear, using herbs and sensing practices can bring us back to feeling at home and safe in our skin. We’ll explore how and why herbs might accomplish this work, differentiating via energetics and pharmacology along the way. We’ll also discuss the practical and philosophical contributions herbalists can make to dialogues about stress and trauma and the positioning of herbal medicine at the nexus of psychoneuroendocrinology and mindbody medicine.
Ride the Wind and Play With Fire: Deepening Relationship With Lavender & Rose 1.5 hrs
Lavender and rose are rapidly coming into their own in the modern apothecary. Together these two plants are relaxing, stimulating, cooling, warming, soothing, exciting, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy, covering a wide range of activities and a complex energetic palette. Perfectly suited to these challenging times, they allow us to move through stress and tension and gracefully ride the winds of change, while keeping our anger cool and our hearts open. Come learn how to prepare and formulate with lavender and rose, when to use them as a powerful combination and when they stand alone, along with their specific indications in skin, digestive and, especially, emotional health.
Angelica: Communion Between Earth & Sky 1.5 hrs
Angelica reminds us to open all of our channels to receive and release, to inspire and excrete, and to relax into the cycles of change. This in-depth materia medica class will focus on the actions, energetics, chemistry, preparations, clinical uses and spirit teachings of Angelica archangelica and differentiate it a bit from its cousins. As a quintessential Metal plant, angelica speaks to our sense of justice and beauty, our connection to what is sacred. Angelica calls us to embrace our inner Alchemist, our role as transmuters of spirit into substance and back again. Join me in answering that call, as we explore practices inspired by this powerful ally.
Grazing, Grounding & Plant Communication 1.5
Wild animals walk through their environments nipping tiny little bites from the tips of this plant, and then that one - bits much too small to provide any real nourishment - so what are they doing? Why does standing barefoot on the earth feel so good to our bodies and souls? Turns out that when animals graze, these tiny bites of plants contain vast information that helps the animals (and us!) prepare ourselves physiologically for coming events - much like a daily forecast. Recent research into grounding, or "earthing" as it's sometimes called - direct physical contact with our planet and its subtle but powerful bioelectrical field - indicates that regular direct contact can help harmonize your basic biological rhythms and boost self-healing mechanisms. Come enjoy this experiential class where we'll engage our wild animal self in grazing, standing barefoot on the earth, and exploring how both of these simple activities help inform the human reception of plant communication.
(With Rebecca Altman) All Up In Your Business: Starting & Maintaining a Defining Herbal Products Venture 1.5 hrs
In the world of ‘things to do to make a living as a herbalist’ the most common answer people have is to start a product business. The majority of people make up some products and put them in an online store or on Etsy, and then wait for the business to roll in. This is not usually the best way to go about it.
Both Kate Clearlight and Rebecca Altman run herbal product businesses and have a similar approach to both product-making and branding: make it come from the heart and the business will follow. In this class, we will discuss the different aspects to starting, maintaining, and making a product business financially viable:
•Why start a business in the first place?
•How to start a business
•Finding the heart of your business.
•Making products that are uniquely your own
•Finding a niche
•Self-worth and the ability to make a living.
•Honoring the self and staying true to the heart of your business.
•How to be inspired by others and still make an idea your own
Beloved Burdock 1.5 hrs
This class is dedicated to the magical being that is Burdock- it is an exploration of the many ways in which this incredible plant can be called on for healing. As herbalist Matthew Wood so beautifully wrote, "Burdock helps the body remember what it was like to be healthy..." Come learn about how we use every part of this plant- root, leaf & seed- to assist the body in finding that innate strength, desire and capacity for wellness. Each of us has everything we need to be whole and well within us at this moment, and burdock is one of those plants that ignites and feeds our cellular memory and draws out that strength from deep inside. We will discuss specific indications for the use of burdock, and learn how she restores metabolic balance and to various organ systems in the body. Beyond the physical body, we will explore how burdock can show up as a powerful ally during times of transition and change, as a plant that helps ground us in our journey towards who we came here to be. One of the primary aspects of the body that burdock touches is the lymphatic system, which is related to the element of Water; by nourishing and tonifying our Water element, burdock can also help us learn what it is we truly need, and how we live and function in relationship within the larger ecosystem that surrounds us. This will also be an interactive class of tasting, touching and experiencing burdock in as many ways as possible, from food to ritual, tea to meditation. Burdock is a reliable, magical ally who truly embodies the concept that gentle medicine does not mean lack of power!
(With Kirsten Hale) Herbs & Ancestors 3 hrs
In a rootless culture, so many hunger for a connection with their ancestors. In this workshop, two herbalists from different bioregions (the desert of Southern California and the coastal rainforest of British Columbia) who both work in the places where medicine and magic to explore how our relationships with our ancestors play out in our lives and how plants can be allies in ancestor work. We will explore ancestral trauma, the causes and consequences of disconnection with ancestors,Â the presence of both perpetrators and targets of violence and oppression in our lineages, ancestral relationship with plants, and our personal materiae medicae for ancestor work.
That’s Not a Nervine, Is It? 1.5 hrs
Many herbalists tend to rely on the same tried and true herbs for anxiety and herbs for depression. Valerian. Skullcap. St. John’s Wort. My practice is focused largely on the ways in which our mental, emotional, and spiritual health impact our physical health. But many of the herbs I rely on most aren’t the first ones people think of when they think of nervines: Wild Cherry. Calamus. Black Cohosh. Blue Cohosh. Elecampane. We will explore the ways in which these plants and others can shift people’s mental and emotional states.
Chthonic Herbs: Medicinal Plants From the Underworld 1.5 hrs
What medicine lies beneath the waters?
In this workshop we will explore three plants that reach their roots deep into the mud, bringing forth powerful medicine. Yellow Pond Lily -- which helps to soothe and release trapped fire so we can connect with and true desire. Skunk Cabbage -- which helps us clear deep, watery grief to connect with the heart. And Calamus – which helps us to clear what stands in the way of speaking our truths.
Functional Blood Work Interpretation 3 hrs
Understanding blood work can be a complex task if you use the allopathic model where you have to memorize separate functions and ranged. This holistic model of cbc and blood chemistry interpretation is based around identifying four basic patterns of dysfunction and uses the simple analogy of an engine to help you learn.
Here are the four parts of the body’s metabolic engine we will cover:
Glucose: Blood sugar or glucose is the fuel for the metabolic engine. He’ll discuss markers for insulin resistance, also known as metabolic syndrome, an underlying cause of numerous health problems including diabetes, heart disease and excess weight. He’ll also provide basic strategies for regulating glucose.
Oxygen: In a gasoline engine the carburetor mixes fuel with oxygen so it can burn. If the body’s fuel can’t be combined with oxygen it won’t produce energy. So, Thomas will also explain various types of anemia (lack of oxygenation of the blood) and strategies for each.
Metabolism: In an engine, like a car, spark plugs ignite the fuel and oxygen mixture, burning it to produce the energy that runs the engine. This process is called combustion. Combustion in the body is called metabolism and the endocrine system, especially the thyroid, provides the spark that regulates metabolism. In fact, the thyroid can be compared to the gas pedal in a car. It determines how fast or slow the metabolic engine will run. So, Thomas will also give an overview of how to see what’s happening with the body’s combustion system and how to regulate it.
Filters: Engines require filters to keep the air and fuel clean so the engine doesn’t get gummed up with debris. The kidneys and liver are the primary filters for the body’s engine. So, the last thing Thomas will cover in this class is how to assess how well the filters are functioning and strategies to get them working properly.
The Gut: Why You Should Know as Much About it as Humanly Possible 1.5 hrs
Our gut houses 100 trillion cells that are not us. In fact there is more in us and on us, that’s not us, than us. We have more non-us DNA than us DNA. Some researchers have even gone as far to say that we aren’t human, but part of a larger super organism. The gut is not only home to this other symbiotic organism we call the microbiotia, the gut is where we take in the outside world, and make it part of us. Many people tend to not be very selective about what parts of the outside world they take in, which can and does result in an exceptionally high degree of GI disorders, many with systemic ramifications. I’d even go so far to say that with the exception of random infections, all chronic disease starts with the gut.
Basic Inflammation Protocol 1.5 hrs
Inflammation has been called the cause of chronic disease, but in reality it’s a mechanism of chronic disease, probably the primary mechanism. All chronic inflammation has its beginning in modifiable lifestyle and dietary factors. In this class we will explore the primary mechanisms of inflammation; gut dysbiosis, EFA imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, and stress.
Charles “Doc” Garcia with Lori Pino:
Confessions of a Reluctant Curandero (1.5 hrs)
An intimate lecture and discussion concerning the training, initiation, and choices posed to the last fully trained California Hispanic Curandero. Charles “Doc” Garcia was picked from the age of four to continue the legacy of his grandfather Desidro Navarro and mother Martha Navarro Garcia on the path of curanderismo. He learned immediately the healing plants and weeds: yarrow, dandelion, plantain, Passion Flower, rosemary, stinging nettle, feverfew, marigold, mint, orange blossom, walnut husks, roses, and others growing in his backyard. Walking along the banks of his beloved Stanislaus River he gathered the poisonous Jimson Weed, Foxglove, and the hallucinogenic seeds of the Wild Cucumber (Marah) plant.
Under the tutoring of his mother Charles became a trained herbalist by age fifteen but due to his heritage found acceptance within the white and Mexican Hispanic community difficult. In short he turned his back from his training in an attempt to find a niche in the Anglo world. In this he failed. If you believe in a divine hand (and Charles is not particular sure about that) the sick and needy found him during his forty years run from the inevitable. After a crippling stroke twenty years ago which ended his teaching career Charles was guided back into the world of herbs and healing. He opened his home as a school. The streets of his city became his clinic. The forgotten streams, pathways, and overgrown blocks became his pharmacy.
Recently after a long and dangerous illness he was healed and has a new grasp on life. Because of this he is offering this lecture ONLY to the TWHC. No other conference will ever have this opportunity. So come hear stories of plants and hallucinogenic initiations in the high Sierra, healing teas and soups from loving abuelitas, shape-shifters and vampires, amazing healings through the power of hands. Nothing is off topic. For the first time, all questions will be answered.
First Plants, First Training: Yarrow, Feverfew, Rose buds, Mint(s), Orange blossoms, Cinnamon, Cayenne, Rosemary, Thyme
Plants for The Initiation Process: Datura Seeds, Morning Glory Seeds, Wild Cucumber Seeds, so-called Cachana, Wild Onion, Sierra Blue Iris
Plants For Serious Illnesses – Cancer/Diabetes: Comfrey, Red Clover, Blackberry Bush and Fruit, Black Walnut Husks, Chaparral, Mistletoe, Milk Thistle, Rue
Plants for Diabetes Type II Specific: White Clover, Aloe Vera, Cucumber, Feverfew, Dandelion Leaf, Chaparral, Rose buds, Cinnamon, Fenugreek
Shana Lipner Grover:
The Botany of Culinary Herbs: From Kitchen to Clinic
Kitchen herbalism is one of our oldest forms of herbal medicine, dating back through oral traditions. As with many aspects of life, the exotic herbs are often more desired while those found in every kitchen are forgotten about. Empowering your clients to be personally responsible for themselves is the best medicine available and it is our responsibility as herbalists to help our clients find ways to be consistent with their herbal/lifestyle protocols. There are many ways to use commonly found herbs and it is the easiest way to incorporate herbal medicine into life. We will talk about specific herbs, recipes beyond teas and tinctures to make food be thy medicine. Common herbs found in today’s American spice cabinets can be easily broken down into plant families and function. From the aromatic leaves and flowers of the Lamiaceae to the pungent seeds of the Apiaceae and the fiberous roots of the Zingiberaceae. We can use them similarly in food flavoring, but each has specifics to be brought to the clinical table.
Liver Excess & Deficiency: Symptoms, Constitutions, & Herbs
This concept is inspired by Michael Moore’s constitutional physiology. Our livers play a huge role in our state of health and are under constant stress to maintain homeostasis. This class is an understanding of liver physiology and function and herbs that affect it. By strengthening a deficient system we can pull vital energy from a system working excessively (imagine the central nervous system of an adrenaline junkie) and help the body find balance on its own. Every liver herb is not going to be beneficial to every liver. This is a very different concept from the popular marketed liver cleanses that put every liver herb together and often cause more symptoms and turn people away from herbal medicine. What's a symptom pattern for an overworked liver struggling to keep up with the daily grind in comparison to a deficient liver that doesn't have enough energy to do it's basic jobs. What liver herbs are nourishing function while others are stimulating and when to use them? Understanding the finer details of herbal actions is the difference between selling products and developing relationships with plant medicine.
Maria Noël Groves:
Done In a Day: Advanced Medicine Making for the Time-Crunched Herbalist 3hrs
Sometimes you need a new batch of medicine in a jiffy, and even if you don’t, you’ll love these unique remedy-making techniques that borrow from Michael Moore and old herbal pharmacy. Maria will demonstrate and provide detailed directions for percolation tincture, alcohol-intermediary oil, and cooked herbal honey. Not only are these remedies ready for use within 24 hours, but they also offer extraction advantages over traditional techniques. Whether you’re looking to adopt a new style of medicine making or simply want a new technique in your toolkit, you’ll be amazed how quickly and easily you can make potent medicine using affordable, easily available equipment.
(With Sean Donahue) Herbs & Ancestors 3 hrs
In a rootless culture, so many hunger for a connection with their ancestors. In this workshop, two herbalists from different bioregions (the desert of Southern California and the coastal rainforest of British Columbia) who both work in the places where medicine and magic to explore how our relationships with our ancestors play out in our lives and how plants can be allies in ancestor work. We will explore ancestral trauma, the causes and consequences of disconnection with ancestors, the presence of both perpetrators and targets of violence and oppression in our lineages, ancestral relationship with plants, and our personal materiae medicae for ancestor work.
Neurotransmitters: Mediators of the Mind Body Connection 3 hrs
Traditional healing systems have honored the inherent importance of the mind-body connection. Ancient healers recognized that many organ systems in the body participated in this connection. Reductionist scientific research attempted to mechanize this connection and explain it through a simplified model in which the brain directed all body processes. Modern holistic healers have turned away from this idea and now even modern science is beginning to let go of the idea of brain as the “command center.” Our concept of the “mind” is slowly returning to the traditional idea that various centers throughout the body, interpret incoming information and relay that information to the rest of the body, effecting physical changes.
Research shows that we have many centers, or brains, which direct this activity. We now know that bacteria in the gut contribute to mood. We also know that the heart is capable of perceiving information and communicating to the brain via various biochemical messengers. Neurotransmitters and other biochemical messengers can be understood as the mediators of this connection in that they affect physical change in the body by delivering the mind’s message to body systems. It is in this way that the mind is capable of manifesting itself physically and herbs can enhance or impede that process. Practitioners need to be cautious in our manipulation of these mediators given that some long-held beliefs about their actions in the body are now being questioned. For example, there is a good deal of research that calls into question the low-serotonin etiology of depression given the research on the guts influence on mood. This class will explore new information as to how these mediators affect change in the body and different herbal protocols that have been shown to support healthy connections.
Herbal Care for Post-Abortion & Post-Miscarriage Support 1.5 hrs
This is an area that is not discussed as much as it ought—shame surrounds the subject of abortion, and so women who go through it emerge without a clear idea of how to heal themselves and move forward. In this class we will look at abortion and miscarriage compassionately and without judgment, and discuss the creation of protocols to support healing, both physically and emotionally, in a woman who has undergone this journey. I have not taught this class before, but have lived on all sides: as a woman who has experienced abortion, miscarriage, poor counseling and judgment, and as a sexuality education facilitator and herbalist working with youth and adults preparing for and recovering from abortion and miscarriage. I want to see a class that speaks to this openly and honestly and directly. It’s an exciting prospect for many healers, to provide this service to those who need it.
Herbalism in an Age of Mass Extinction 1.5 hrs
We live in a time of ecological catastrophe with the terrible knowledge that our species (or more specifically, the dominant socio-economic system we live under), will leave a mark on the geologic record of our abuse of this planet. Warming temperatures, acidification of the ocean, extreme weather events and resource depletion will, in the coming decades, have a destabilizing effect on both the ecosystems of Earth and human society. How do we, as herbalists of conscience, navigate this terrain? In this class, we will discuss strategies for herbalists in this difficult epoch. We will discuss key concepts of conservation biology and how they can inform our practice, from conservation-minded wildcrafting techniques to choosing our Materia Medica. We will also cover cultivation practices for growing herbs in a time of increasingly erratic weather patterns and changing seasonal norms. As the distribution of wild plant populations change, we must adapt our harvesting practices and rely more heavily on weedy plants that will thrive in a changing climate. Likewise, we would do well to learn the medicine that invasive plants have to offer, as they are hardy and abundant.
Lastly, we will discuss the impact of this era on individual and community health. In addition to the increase in disasters, the unrest that arises from resource scarcity, and the increase in environmental toxins, we also suffer the impact of chronic grief in the face of unfathomable loss. Herbalists are specially situated to both address the stress of this era on individuals and to work to heal the societal pathologies that have created these conditions. We, who use the healing power of Nature to heal our communities, must look unflinchingly at the crisis at hand, see that our health depends on that of our world and work to heal the whole.
Trouble in Mind: Tools for Differential Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety (1.5 hrs)
Anxiety, a state of intense apprehension, worry or dread, is a condition most of us will experience at some point in our lives. For many, this is a regular occurrence. Some spend much of their time in this state. In our culture, this condition is no longer exceptional; it has become commonplace. Symptom can range from a general uneasiness to periodic debilitating attacks to a state of paralysis. Practitioners working within conventional medicine treat anxiety with the usual one-size-fits-all pharmaceutical response when, in fact, anxiety differs from person to person in cause and manifestation. Each of us presents a unique history, context and symptom picture. Fortunately, we as herbalists are not confined by the same pressures as our bio-medical peers. By asking the right questions and listening, we can form a nuanced portrait of individual anxiety to better suit our protocols to our clients. In this class, we will discuss types of anxiety, ways anxiety and depression overlap, and consider the many ways that anxiety manifests in the body. The materia medica of herbs that effectively ease anxious conditions is vast. Which herbs ground without sedating? Which give a person distance without dissociation? Which herbs should we reach for to feel immediate and powerful relief? When might relaxation feel unsafe and cause anxiety? Learn diagnostic tools and specific indications of our herbal allies to facilitate custom formulation for individuals with mild to severe anxiety.
Solanaceae: The Forgotten Medicines of Europe
Rediscover the nearly forgotten family of Solanaceae plants used by ancient Europeans as powerful medicines and potent ritual entheogens. Belladonna, Datura, Henbane, and Mandrake; unknown to some and feared by others, these plants conjure images of poisoning, death, flying ointments, witches' sabbaths, and the dark spells of ancient sorceresses like Circe and Medea. In this workshop we will dispel the myths and negative propaganda surrounding these plants so we, as herbalists, can move past the fear and into working with these beneficial allies. The alkaloids found in this family of plants are some of the most important constituents in modern medicine and yet these plants are not in common use within herbalism. Aside from fear, the main reason for this is a lack of knowledge. Many do not know how to safely work with these poisonous plants as little research has been done on their use in herbal medicine and their interactions with other drugs. It is my goal to remedy this by sharing the years of research and experience I have accumulated in working with these plants; growing them, harvesting them, preparing them, and using those herbal preparations for medicine, trance work, and ritual. The more people who grow and work with the Solanaceae, the more we all gain knowledge and benefits from them. Imagine as a clinical herbalist having easy access to potent anaesthetics, analgesics, and antispasmodics which also have the mind altering effects of aphrodisiacs, euphorics, and sedatives. Through the course of this workshop we will cover the history and folklore surrounding these plants in magic and ritual as well as their uses in ancient and modern medicine, balancing the practical with the spiritual. Maybe I will convince you to grow them in your garden or add them to your herbal practice. Together we can recreate a living tradition of sacred herbalism around their use so the millennias of ancestral wisdom surrounding these plants is not lost to time.
Katherine “Kat” Mackinnon:
The Art of the Plant Walk: Tips and Techniques for Sharing Herbal Knowledge (2 hrs)
Whether you are a practicing clinical herbalist, a kitchen witch, or a run of the mill botany geek with an interest in herbs, plant walks are a great way to share your passion, and educate your community. Plant walks, when done well, are easily accessible, require minimal resources, and provide a level of intimacy with plant knowledge that is difficult to come by for most folks. As herbalists and healers, one of our most potent tools is as educators. There are of course as many ways to give a plant walk as there are herbalists. This class is not so much about any one method, but rather cultivating the tools to best communicate your passion, while instilling a loving relationship to the landscape. In this class we break down a skill usually learned by trial and error into a more thoughtful process. Learn considerations for safety, group dynamics, choosing a location, discussing lineage, gratitude, and the power of owning both your strengths and limitations. We’ll practice methods of moving gently over the landscape with groups of all sizes, tools to integrate all levels of learning, age groups, and cultures, as well as discuss group dynamics and ways to empower your students long after the walk. This class is for all levels of herbalists looking to expand their skills as community educators.
Learn Your Herbs From the Inside Out: The Art of Herbal Provings (1.5 hrs)
Learning herbal actions and energetics from experienced teachers and high-quality books is an important step in the education of an herbalist, but there's nothing quite like the deep understanding that we gain from direct personal and group experience with herbs and extracts. What information can we deduce from a deeply-inhaled aroma, from the subtleties of taste and feel? Learn how to match language to direct experience and judge stimulant vs. relaxant qualities; tonic/astringent vs. demulcent traits; where an herb falls on the cold-hot and moist-dry spectra; how to sense Vital stimulation; how to feel the tendency of an herb to focus on different body systems, etc. Using specific exercises of organoleptic and observational sensory experience, we'll practice a time-tested set of tools for understanding our herbs and recognizing their effects on a profound and practical level.
Bark: Medicinal Explorations Along the Cambium Layer (1.5 hrs)
We tend to look to the buds and flowers of the trees for dynamism. But underneath the surface, a world of constant ebb and flow exists. Within the world of trees, bark is the underlying expression of pure potential and divine nourishing energy. It is where a vast amount of Vital Force, of concentrated energy, is stored. This class goes beyond the definition of this subtle plant part as a mere protective layer. We’ll be delving into the sheer magical nature of its growth, sustainable harvest methods, ecology, as well as a few herban legends around medicinal barks found in commerce. Learn the science/plant physiology behind how bark functions as a major organ in persistent plant species, what leads to medicine being stored there, and how to best translate energy that into herbal remedies. We’ll also be tasting and testing the medicinal properties of some of the more uncommonly used, though commonly occurring bark medicines of the Southwest, such as pine, fir, spruce, aspen, alder, oak, linden, and cottonwood.
The Alkaloids: History, Lore, Chemistry, & Applications 3 hrs
Since morphine was isolated in 1803, medicine has pursued the alkaloids with relentless passion: not only are they relatively easy to find and refine, they are also among the most powerful of phytochemicals. In this wide-ranging class we will follow the threads of the most important class of alkaloids, identifying the sacred plants that harbor them, exploring their chemical structures and how they work in the body, and discussing extraction and clinical applications. How does caffeine interact with our circadian rhythm? What was the Soma of the Rig Veda? What spirits are conjured by flying ointments? Why is iboga such a powerful initiation plant? We will cover all these questions and more.
Herbal Medicine as a System:
Shifting Away From Using Herbs as Drug Replacements to Embracing The Principles That Underlie Our Art 1.5hrs
While herbs have risen in popularity over the last twenty years, it is still difficult to explain the importance of traditional herbal principles such as tonification, energetic balance, or individualized formulation to mainstream clients and healthcare providers. We will review some of the interesting research describing systems-based models of medicine and applicability of herbal energetics, have a conversation about our collective experiences interacting with providers of modern technological medicine, and conclude with strategies and techniques for connecting clients with the true, deep, and personal life-changing power of plant medicine as a unique way of healing.
Protecting The Traditional Herbalist:
Context, Challenges, & Solutions for Community Herbalism& Medicine Making in the U.S. 1.5hrs
There are numerous parallels between the beginning of the 20th century and where we are now at the beginning of the 21st: a thriving and diverse healthcare environment where patients can access a variety of choices is being questioned by legal action, and traditional herbal medicine making is facing challenges ranging from trademark acquisition to the consolidation of production. Will patients have access to freedom of choice in healthcare? Will herbalists be able to continue small-scale production for their local community? American herbalism is a unique beast when compared to the rest of the world, where regulation of practice and production have radically changed the old traditions. Review the current state of affairs, bring your stories, and explore a range of possible solutions and action steps.
Adaptogens: Herbs For Climbing The Endless Cord 3 hrs
There no way around it: adaptogens are pretty freakin' cool. I mean, you've read about some of them... don't you get to the end of a write up and think, "wow... I should get me some of that"? But, haven't you also noticed that those same entries rarely say when they shouldn't be used, or who shouldn't use which one? Let's talk about that. Let's consider contraindications and energetics and how you might choose which adaptogen is best for you, or whether using herbs to tolerate what's going on around you is really the best course of action at all.
Infused in Feeling: The Phlegmatic Temperament 1.5 hrs
It may be that the most elusive temperament for understanding to grasp is that of the phlegmatic. Like the element of water it correlates with, it takes on many forms, from still to turbulent to... just how deep does that go? Phlegmatics navigate the world through feeling, through emotion, through intuition and empathic sensation. Like water, they soak in much of what surrounds them to process and understand. In a world of sensory overload with increasingly less personal communication and interaction, phlegmatics may struggle with an excess of superficial stimulation, which can flood their senses and throw them off balance. We'll look at the strengths and sensitivities of the phlegmatic temperament, considering the behaviors and herbs to help them (and us) harness the power of the element of water.
Aromatic Allies (with Kiva Rose) 1.5hrs
Aromatic plants, those possessed of volatile oils, are among the most well known and revered of herbs. Lavender, sage, basil, thyme, and more overtly medicinal plants such as goldenrod, hyssop and yarrow aren't just useful herbs that happen to smell nice: their aromatic oils, to a large degree, define their usage. Join herbalist Jim McDonald in a scentillating exploration the impact of aroma on digestion, respiratory, and emotional wellness.
Weed Walk 2 hrs
Jim McDonald is one of the best informed and most entertaining of Plant Healer teachers, his humor and warmth only equaled by his impressive grasp of herbs and their actions. Jim would love to have your company on this wandering look at the wild and weedy herbs of New Mexico’s high-elevation sky-island.
Sun Medicine, Moon Medicine 1.5 hrs
By day, the Sun shines, illuminating all, lending clarity – we move directly toward our goals. By night, the moon presides over a land of shadow and mystery, where we walk a crooked path. Extrapolating poetically and alchemically, the Sun, then, stands for what is clear, rational, productive, safe, transparent, and intentional, while the Moon aligns with ambiguity, intuition, sensuality, non-rationality, unpredictability, and dissolution. Day and night take turns as time moves, but in the everyday fullness of our lives, solar and lunar influences alchemically combine and transmute. Both are ever-present. For many, Sun medicine is practically the definition of health, and solar intention, routine, and accountability are what we have in mind, and what herbalists generally ask of our clients, when we think about attending to one’s health. But just as day must eventually yield to night, Moon medicine is Sun medicine’s necessary counterpart, and can be cultivated as well in order to find a deeper balance, and deeper health, in life.
What can this balance look like, and how do we cultivate it? What are the implications of an understanding of Sun/Moon balance to the practice of herbalism and holistic health? In this class, we’ll discuss: How solar and lunar influence appear in life, in culture, and in an individual. How to tell if you are constitutionally solar or lunar. Risks associated with imbalance: Solar burnout; Lunar melancholy, incoherence, sloth. Practices to cultivate solar and lunar medicine, and herbs and herbal actions to support Sun/Moon balance, including special tonic herbs with strong solar or lunar energetics. We want your input, too: How do you navigate the alchemy of Sun and Moon, and what plants feel especially solar or lunar to you? This class offers a rare perspective on health that you’ve probably never considered before, and that just might clarify aspects of your life that you previously had no framework to interpret.
Topics in Cannabis & Neuropsychology 1.5hrs
This class will discuss selected topics of the psyche, which may include such ideas as memory and forgetting, the healing of PTSD, sexuality, or authentic motivation in the context of the endocannabinoid system and cannabis use. Our goal is to develop a working understanding of the endocannabinoid system and its role regulating the appetites, neural development and homeostatic regulation. Some of the material will draw on traditional uses of cannabis in precolonial cultures, and we will discuss the early psychological research published in the 1970’s on through some more contemporary findings, as well as the emerging movement of combining cannabis with yoga and mindfulness for healing benefit. There is an emerging interest in cannabis for addressing women’s sexuality and we will discuss some ways to maximize these benefits with supporting herbs and formulas.
Exploring the Water Garden: Aquatic & Riparian Plants 1.5hrs
According to many creation narratives, including that of science, our planet earth was once a watery soup. Plants evolved to colonize the emerging habitat of dry land. In the garden mythologies of the planet, water is a key element, and a necessary ingredient in life. This class will take a metaphorical walk through the water garden, encountering some key allies adapted to an aqueous or riparian habitat. Central to our exploration, the sacred lotus, will be encountered from global religious and spiritual traditions, as well as the wonders of modern chemistry. Other plants we may encounter along the way include cattails, clubmosses, horsetail, yerba mansa, water lily, water mint, calamus, and watercress.
Herbal Activism: Conservation & Restoration 3 hrs
There seems to be an endless list of worthy causes that are calling us into action these days. As herbalists, however, many of us are naturally drawn to make a stand for plants. Robust native plant communities are the major contributors to healthy habitats everywhere and, as such, they are critical for wildlife, the earth, and all of us. During the last 150 years we have seen many environmental changes slowly unfold, altering the balance of ecosystems and effecting native plants around the world. This typically results in an increase of non-native plants, a reduction in keystone plant species, and an increase in natural disasters such as floods or wildfires.
I have noticed these effects in my closest wilderness areas and it inspired me to take action on behalf of the native plants where I live. This action took many forms including teaching about ecological awareness, planting more natives in my garden, and also organizing and implementing The Yerba Mansa Project. The Yerba Mansa Project is an all-volunteer community force committed to riparian habitat restoration through restoring native plant communities and providing educational outreach. In its first year, the program collected GPS data for over 1,000 individual invasive Ravenna Grass plants, removed two thirds of them, prevented many hundreds more from reseeding, and also reintroduced Yerba Mansa by replanting two new colonies. Additionally the project provided many hours of free and low cost educational programs for kids and adults on the ecological importance of native plant habitats in our area. This class will give you tools to sow the seeds of herbal activism in your own community. We will discus how to recognize restoration needs and identify feasible goals. We will also look at ways to organize a local volunteer force, get approval from and work with government agencies, and undertake a successful restoration project on public lands.
Ecological Herbalism 1.5 hrs
Recent times have brought us a plethora of media stories, political speeches, and scientific research heralding a new era of environmental changes that are unfolding both globally and locally. These changes, in tandem with the pressures of human population growth, often equate habitat loss and ecosystem degradation for native plants. In many areas of the world people are witnessing shifts in the geographical range of plant communities or seeing non-native invasive species becoming dominant in local environments. In other places more sensitive members of the plant communities are in decline or disappearing. As herbalists we have an imperative to understand what is unfolding in the landscapes around us.
Awareness of landscape dynamics not only helps us to become more deeply connected to our local wilds but we also gain new insights about the way plants work as medicines. When we are able to see what is taking place within plants’ habitats we put together the pieces of their past and we can begin to imagine their future. Observing the reciprocal interactions between native plants and their environments illuminates both the changing ecological conditions in our local area and also the wisdom of the plants. In this class we will explore the examples of Cottonwood (Populus deltoides wislizenii), Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa menthifolia), and Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) and see what stories these plants have to tell us about changing ecology and shifting plant populations as well as their workings as herbal medicines.
Aromatics & Medicine of the Soul: The Wounded Healer, The Alchemical Journey, & The Sacred Union (3 hrs)
Aromatic herbs and their extracts can be allies in deep personal transformation by reawakening the senses and reconnecting humans to the consciousness of the ecosystem they are merely a part of. If we allow ourselves to see our entire ecosystem as one system in which all the different participants, i.e. plants, animals and humans are in constant, mostly unconscious communication, volatile aromatic molecules can be viewed analogous to neurotransmitters or neurohormones in this network that is larger than any individual or species.
In this class, I will look at the role of aromatic herbs in the following themes;
‘The wounded healer’
The collective unconscious of man and plants
How plants can help us in the journey of individuation – building relationship with plants
An overview of the alchemical stages and how aromatic plants can help us work through these incredible forces from the psyche.
Aromatic Medicine: Distilling the Essence (1.5 hrs)
Aromatic medicine has a rich history that parallels herbal medicine, albeit in different forms over the years. During this class we will explore the historical and modern connection between herbal and aromatic medicine through the direct experience of distillation with a native species of the southwest, evoking olfactory 'sensus' (perception and interior senses) while cultivating an awakening of the true meaning of scent, from the Latin 'sentire', meaning to feel, perceive or discover instinctively. While attending to the distillation process, a variety of essential oils and hydrosols native to the southwest will be shared and their therapeutic properties and potential applications in traditional herbal medicine will be covered.
Transcending the Song of the Siren: Tools For Working With Addiction 1.5 hrs
Drugs can resemble the song of the siren by seducing us, calling us to change our direction, and in the worst case, luring us to our deaths. Lamentably, this song, for some, is impossible to resist and unyielding to treatment. Due to the pervasiveness of substance use in our culture, every herbalist is certain to encounter clients dealing with the obstacle of addiction at some point in their practice. Some herbalist’s narrow concept of health does not allow for tolerance of, much less identification with, this experience. Others, who seek to help those at all stages of substance use, may struggle with the lack of valuable information and tools to work with this challenging process. In order to broaden our scope of practice and care for as many different types of people as possible, it becomes necessary to examine conventional concepts of addiction from all angles so that we can discover new ways to best support folks who are being called by the alluring yet perilous song of the siren.
In this class, we will discuss which body systems are most affected by specific drugs, what patterns those effects commonly follow, and how herbs can mitigate these patterns of imbalance. We will also explore how herbs can support folks who want to quit as well as those who choose to keep using. When supporting users and those in recovery, it can seem as if we cannot give enough. Hence, we will also cover ways to maintain healthy boundaries when doing this type of work. We will introduce the basic concepts of harm reduction and consider how this model can inform our treatment. Participants will learn the benefits of NADA ear acupuncture as an adjunct therapy including how to apply ear beads to one of the five NADA ear points. We will focus on the effects and treatment of stimulant, opiate, alcohol, pharmaceutical sedative and pain reliever abuse.
A Gathering of Sky Islands 2 hrs
Arriving to any conference or large gathering can feel a bit overwhelming. As plant lovers, so many of us also identity as intuitives, introverts, sensitives and empaths. This class is for those among us who would be enriched by a moment of meditative stillness at the beginning of this weekend of learning and community. In this experience, you’ll be guided to ground into your bodies and minds, to find nurturing soil for yourself to flourish over these next few days. We will bring ourselves into alignment with the particular ecology and personality of this place. Living from, and acknowledging, your own unique ecological self is vital to the lifeblood of this herbal movement as a whole. Come begin your TWHC experience with rich, empowering moments of grounding. Root in yourself, on this land, and within the deeply special niche that is your unique place within this wild community.
Chronic Illness as Teacher 1.5 hrs
We all have teachers. Mentors who come into our lives to help us to grow, become the people we were meant to be. Guides you help us to open up to the truth of who we are and why we are here. Your teacher might be a guru, a pastor, a professor, an animal companion, a plant, a canyon. In fact, we have many teachers over the course of our life. But for me, and for many of my clients, the most potent, powerful and undeniable teachers have been chronic illness.
In this class we will explore the concept of illness and disease as teacher. Grounded in my own personal experience with Lyme disease, as well as stories from my personal practice, this class will open up a discussion of why we get sick, and how true healing is deeply multidimensional. Drawing on concepts of shamanism, this class is designed to help us begin to think about chronic illness in a new light. With guiding tools and techniques for practitioners, as well as for those who are seeking a deeper understanding of what their own personal healing can look like, this class encourages us to consider disease as a potent avenue of healing. In this class I offer insights gleamed from a decade of dealing with chronic health conditions. Uplifting, encouraging and expansive, this class was created to inspire a tectonic shift in our relationship to chronic conditions. From a mindset of constriction, combattance and fear to a spirit-filled state of life giving hope, expansion and empowerment. Healing is possible. We must only be willing to open our hearts and listen.
Creating Safer Spaces: Transgender Community Competnecy for Herbalists 1.5 hrs
Herbalists have the opportunity to play a unique and totally vital role in life.supporting and community.sustaining efforts within LGBT community by nurturing empowerment, connection, and compassion. Among LGBT people, trans-gender people face the most widespread inequality and obstacles to access of quality medical care for a variety of socioeconomic, health and legal reasons. This leaves herbalists in an amazing position to fill some of the gaps left by the rest of the medical world. Herbs and nutrition can provide valuable support, but many of us don’t know where to start. This class will provide an overview of the language and concepts of transgender communities, the use and effects of hormones, as well as the low.down on surgeries. You will leave with valuable clinical resources for working with trans clients, regarding both sensitivity and treatment. And since this is an herb conference, we’ll talk herbal therapeutics that focus on optimizing hormonal pathways and supporting the liver and nervous system. Not least, we will touch upon our magical remedies to support the spiritual heart.
The Wounded Healer: Wound as Healing Gift - Chiron & Intersections of Truama 1.5 hrs
This class will honor the resilience of survivors and their re.emergence and transformation (as a phoenix through flames) through, with, and by trauma. We will practice gathering and synthesizing of information from all of the ways of wisdom: the way of story and folk tradition, the way of personal and collective experience, the way of science (and in this case neurobiology), and the way of instinct and intuition.
We will wend our way through the story of Chiron, the wounded healer, the famous satyr of Greek mythology who was not able to cure himself despite being the wisest and most experienced of healers. The archetype of the wounded healer isn’t unique to Greek mythology, however. In most healing traditions and stories, the greatest healer bears a wound they are unable to heal themselves. What is at stake in our inability to heal these wounds ourselves? What are the implications for us as healers.to.others? If we cannot heal them, how then can we incorporate our wounds into our work? How may we serve as light-bringers and witnesses to those clients and colleagues with their own wounds? Throughout the journey of the wounded healer, we turn to our wild green world for safety and protection. We will talk about how plants serve as allies by mediating the re.integration of body, spirit, self, community, and relationship, especially and most poignantly when the human world feels unsafe.