|From the http://www.traditionsinwesternherbalism.org/ site|
I'm back from my intense experience at the Medicine of the People conference (formerly the Traditions in Western Herbalism). It will probably take me weeks, if not months, to go through all the notes and process them. The amount of information available at this conference is staggering. Thankfully the class notes are available for download for a while and I don't have to rely on my chicken scratch!
|Some of the buildings at the lodge|
The classes weren't just about using herbs or plants. They were about life. Classes as diverse as "Coping with death and caring for a dying loved one", "How to sit with a patient", "Making a financial living as an herbalist", "Ecology and activism in women's health", "Creating a dynamic practice", "Starting a community supported herbal clinic", "Clinical skills", "Endocrine systems", "Teaching the teacher", "Disaster preparedness", "Chronic pain" and "Creating social and political change for herbalists".
The information the presenters shared was sometimes so personal and came from such a deep place, that their words had to wait in the throat behind the lump that only comes when sharing the deepest, most personal experience of pain. But most of the time was filled with laughter and smiles shared between friends and strangers who all shared the common love of nature and the health of her residents.
Of course an herbal conference wouldn't be complete without intensive and introductory classes on herbs, plants and healing. The children enjoyed their plant walks and classes and were walking around with their first aid kits they created just waiting for a chance to use them.
I particularly enjoyed Sean Donahue's class on "Entheogens and Trauma", Kathleen Maier's class on "The heart as an organ of perception", Lisa Ganora's class on "Wolf Chemistry: How to smell and taste herbal constituents"; and Charles Garcia's class on "Coping with death and dying" where I found if difficult to keep my eyes dry. There were up to 5 classes to choose from per time slot and there were many other interesting sounding ones I wasn't able to attend.
For many this was a family affair. I saw a man running with a child on his shoulders shouting "Zombies!!!!!!". Not far behind a giggling hoard of zombies that looked an awful lot like flush cheeked little children with arms outstretched came chasing after. I camped with Stephany Hoffelt's family and her boys were so smart and funny. Kristine and Greg Brown's children are always a joy to be around too. Little Pippi was a fairy delight and hung out with Resolute and me a few times.
|Resolute and Pippi|
There was such a variety of clothes and so much creative expression on the body. The elders and teachers were also milling about on breaks with this very colorful group and it made for a perfect balance of a tribe with an open mind and heart.
Some of the campers at the Mormon Lake Lodge who knew nothing about the conference decided to buy a day pass and join in on the fun. Then a couple of members of a Motorcycle group on a poker run that came roaring in joined us in the Herbal market and added even more color and spice to our already spicy group.
My whole adult life in the corporate world was filled with boring and worthless conferences with useless information. They were more of an excuse to get out of town. That's why I don't like to call this a conference. For me the word conference evokes memories of long gray tables, tall gray walls and rows of gray people. This is much more than a conference, this is an immersion of knowledge, this is a movement - and it's certainly not gray. I like what Paul Bergner said best, that this is "the nexus of the new folk herbalism resurgence".
Sometimes you can sit in the presence of a person for just a few moments which feeds your soul and their mind feeds your heart through their words. This conference is 3 full days of being around people that fill you up till you are verily drunk in the heart. Sometimes I had to steal out alone for a minute and be still and quiet in the Coconio forest and fields of yellow flowers to digest it all.
I was able to get a deeper understanding and personal clarity in areas I need to focus my time and energy on. Prior to the conference I struggled with feeling my energy so dispersed, trying to learn about and work on too many things. I feel like my vision and focus is clearer now as I'll start focusing on fewer things, but with greater energy. That alone was worth the trip, but not even remotely all I gained.
Special thanks to Kiva, Wolf and Resolute for bringing this wonderful group together and for all I learned.