Giving Plant Healer Books This Holiday Season
Choose from a dozen different books, specially written for natural healers, herbalists, plant ad nature lovers of all kinds and ages. From an empowering kid’s book to herbal how-to and a historic novel, we hope you will find something meaningful to give to your friends and family.
Have Your Gift Books Signed
The authors will happily sign any gift books for you. Just be sure to include a note with your payment telling us the name of the person to sign it to.
Priority shipping takes 3 to 6 days to arrive.
Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:
A few of our more recent titles follow:
The Plant Healer’s Path:
A Grassroots Guide For The HerbFolk Tribe
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
with Kiva Rose
plus David Hoffman, Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light, Rebecca Altman & Roger Wicke
Featuring topics vital to an effective, empowered herbal practice, including many never addressed before, with suggestions for taking control of and enjoying our lives, and tips that can benefit herbalists and non-herbalists alike. You’ll open the book up to an overview of herbalism’s history and celebration of its lineage and tribe, with your last look as you close the cover being an unflinching vision of the near and distant future of this vital field. It is a past that we can learn from and feel rooted in… and a future we are each called to help make.
“That which was suppressed is back. The wise women and crazy men, in all their multicultural diversity, are finding their voices. Even if the monolith of the dominant culture is ignorant of this, finally we are listening to each other. The Herbalist’s Path is the clearest description yet of this truly grassroots manifestation of herbalism – of humanity’s re-connection with healing nature and the wild.”
–David Hoffman (Author of Medical Herbalism)
“To be an herbalist is a lot more than just knowing some herbs and what they are ‘good for.’ It is a path of passion, enchantment and commitment and sometimes disillusionment. Whether just beginning or already walking the path, this book provides a panoramic road map of the terrain – both internal and external – for any person called to healing with plants… with thought-provoking essays on the issues most important to our work.”
–Paul Bergner (Herbalist & Teacher)
The Plant Healer’s Path is a veritable cultivator’s guide for growing our practice and our community, our awareness and purpose, satisfaction and bliss.
304 pages, 8.5×11” B&W, with over 100 photos & art illustrations
–Limited Edition Cloth Covered Hardback: $39– Ebook: $25–
Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:
21st CENTURY HERBALISTS:
Rock Stars, Radicals and Root Doctors
A book of Interviews by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Intimate conversation with 21 of the most intriguing herbalists and foragers of our times:
Rosemary Gladstar • David Hoffman • Susun Weed • Matthew Wood • Phyllis Light
Juliet Blankespoor • Todd Caldecott • Kiva Rose Hardin • Jim McDonald • Bevin Clare
Margi Flint • Ben Zappin • Phyllis Hogan • 7Song • Doug Elliott • Kevin Spelman
Sam Coffman • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Ryan Drum • Kristine Brown • Wildman Steve Brill
Read the stories of famed “rock star” herbalists, radical outliers, and regionally known or up-and-coming herbal teachers, grannywives and root doctors… and be inspired on your own personal path of healing and practice. Even you have been a clinician for decades,
but you can draw from these pages new insights, ideas and information that may benefit your work. Found Therein Are:
•Herbalist’s lives & livelihoods, secrets, tools & tips
•Previously unshared stories about these herbalists’ childhoods, education, experiences, perspectives, loves, peeves, and hopes… candid, vulnerable & unscripted!
•Underutilized herbs, and little known uses for commonly known plants
•Constitutional models, energetics, diagnostic methods, case study examples, treatment protocols
•Herbal healing traditions, Making a living at herbalism, Tips on how to effectively teach
•Talking with plants, shamanic plants, & the wounded healer
•The cultivation of herbs, foraging & wildcrafting, plant conservation, invasives, & sense of place
•Approaches to registration, certification, regulation and licensing… plus herbal activism
•Diverse visions of the future of herbalism, and how to best get there
•Inspiring and encouraging personal advice to herbalists and others.
Limited Edition Hardback, 376 pages, 500 b&w photos & illustrations – $39
Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:
The Medicine Bear
An Historical Novel of Healing, Adventure & Love in the Enchanted Southwest
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Follow the wild-woman herbalist and Omen, the impassioned writer and adventurer Eland and archetypal Medicine Bear through a time of great cultural as well as personal transition, down plant-filled paths of discovery and healing and to the juncture of our own return to wholeness and health, rooted home and true love, meaningful mission and – ultimately – satisfaction and contentment.
“The Medicine Bear is an unabashedly magical, sensual, and yes, romantic tale of love and loss, of longing and renewal. It is a paean to wildness within and the southwestern wilderness that Eland and Omen are married to, along with each other, and whose exquisite beauty we are drawn into through the soulful eyes and language of Eland. The plants, the mountains, and the medicine bear sing to us, calling us each to full aliveness. While the old west is fading and the grizzlies are dying, love inspires, even beyond death itself. Plants and trees are intertwined with the lives of the main characters in the Medicine Bear. Actually, they are main characters. Green healers such as Moonwort, sage, rose, evening primrose, and the alder tree are lushly brought to life by the animated vision and words of Eland, and by his loving observations of Omen, the herbalist healer at her work. They and the plants are free creatures, expressing themselves, and interconnecting as an integral part of the landscape in which they live and thrive (and in the humans’ case, learning to express their new found sense of wholeness). There is so much plant lore and wisdom shared in the book, along with hints at how to gather and work with herbs, that the Medicine Bear is a pleasure for herbalists to read, and offers an inspiring education for those who long to become more intimate with healing plants.”
–Robin Rose Bennett
“Jesse Wolf has a depth and breadth of insight, and a true writer’s touch for bringing it to life. I hope other people will read this novel and understand the world that he sustains… and hears, in the Medicine Bear’s rumble. A book of herbal teaching, healing, loss, love, and love of the land… a remarkable treasure of words… a jewel of a story!”
–Virginia Adi (Herbalist, RN, SingerSongwriter)
“If you have ever loved, healed or been healed, bemoaned a changing society, and felt the animal spirit within you, this tale is for you.”
–Charles Garcia (Curandero)
Softbound, 365 pages – $18
Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:
I’m a Medicine Woman, Too!
A full color book for budding young healers and daydream believers – Ages 5 to Infinity
Text & Art by
Jesse Wolf Hardin
“I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! is full of wisdom, beauty and encouragement not only for the young, but for all ages. The author’s exquisite illustrations quickly draw the reader in and cleverly teach about healing plants. A high recommend for empowering all medicine women!”
-Lesley Tierra, L. Ac., author Healing with the Herbs of Life & A Kid’s Herb Book
“I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! is a wonderful book to connect children with herbal traditions. The story role-models an ethic of healing and caring for other people and honoring our elders. The delightful illustrations touch the reader at an emotional level, compelling us to become healers too.”
-Thomas J. Elpel, author of Botany in a Day and Shanleya’s Quest
“I felt the voice of the Earth Mother herself speak from the pages of I’’m A Medicine Woman, Too! The sense of presence and higher awareness will benefit younger and those with accumulated years as well.”
-Margi Flint, AHG HM, author of The Practicing Herbalist
Includes the “Name The Herb Game” medicinal plant identification game.
40 pages, 35 Full Color Illustrations – $15
Order From the Bookstore & Gallery Page at:
The 2013 Plant Healer Annual
The 3rd edition of the Plant Healer Annual is now available, two 8×11” perfect-bound volumes totaling 1,000 pages, filled with nearly every article from the 2013 issues of the “Magazine Different.” Hundreds of photographs and full-page fine art illustrate pieces by leading edge herbalist teachers and authors, each contributing their most in-depth, personal and inspiring work on absolutely every aspect of herbal practice, wildcrafting and plant culture… for herbal practitioners and students of every level. Departments include plant profiles, field botany, tools and tips of the trade, energetics, therapeutics, cultivation, healthy food and delicious recipes, interviews with herbalists, humorous posters, plant artists, plant gathering and wildcrafting, herbal traditions and medicine in the Old West, herbalist fashion, articles for and by kids, and fiction.
“Plant Healer is the first publication I’ve seen in my 38-year career that captures the wild diversity of herbalism in North America while still reflecting excellence and high-level practice… points of view from many regions, traditions, and schools of North American thought… for the practicing herbalist from entry level to advanced, inclusively.” -Paul Bergner
Volume III Includes Writings by:
David Hoffman • Paul Bergner • Phyllis Light • Matthew Wood • Susun Weed • Robin Rose Bennett • Christa Sinadinos • 7Song • Jim McDonald • Aviva Romm • Juliet Blankespoor • Kiva Rose Hardin
Sam Thayer • Renee Davis • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Roger Wicke • Kristine Brown • Katja Swift • Loba • Sean Donahue • Virginia Adi • Wendy “Butter” Petty • Melanie Pulla • Traci Picard • Christian Bernard
Guido Masé • Sabrina Lutes • Sam Coffman • Jesse Wolf Hardin …and many, many more!
Every set of black and white Plant Healer Annual books come with a full color companion book The Art of Plant Healer, containing over 50 of the most striking illustrations to appear in the last 4 issues. Printing is high quality, and pages can be carefully removed for framing and hanging. Copies of the Art of Plant Healer Volumes I and II can also be purchased separately by non-subscribers as well on the Plant Healer website.
New Plant Healer Subscription and Annual Combination
The Plant Healer Annuals are available for sale only to subscribers, to allow those who are enjoying the digital Plant Healer quarterly to also own a physical, hard-copy version. As a subscriber, you can either order your Annuals now by logging in to your personal Plant Healer Member Page, or wait until the next time you renew your subscription and get the combined year’s subscription, Annual and Art of Plant Healer at the discounted “Plant Enthusiast” rate.
If you are new to Plant Healer Magazine, note that after Dec. 1st you can purchase the discounted “Plant Enthusiast” package with a set of Plant Healer Annuals (the 2012 Annuals prior to Dec. 1st, or the 2013 Annuals beginning Dec. 1st), as well as a full color Art of Plant Healer book along with your new membership subscription. Only $99 for all, with over $200 worth of free bonus downloads. Go to the Magazine page at:
(Thank you for RePosting & Sharing!)
THE TRAVELING MEDICINE SHOW
Herbs, Empowerment & Entertainment for The Common Folk
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
An Advance Excerpt From The Upcoming Winter Issue of Plant Healer Magazine
To read the entire 5,000 word article, subscribe at: www.PlantHealer.org
“I was born in the wagon of a travelin’ show, mother used to dance for the money they’d throw. Father would do whatever he could, preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Goode’s.”
–Cher (Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves)
Imagine if you will, an incidence of herbal edification and hungered-for entertainment that would repeat itself again and again all across rural America. The site might be a town square, a popular dusty crossroads, the speaker’s platform at a “newfangled” air show park or simply a local farmer’s unplowed field. Except for any differences in vegetation and topography, it could just as well be located anywhere from northern Georgia to western Pennsylvania, the gold fields of California or the farmlands of the Great Plains, always far from the big cities and in places where people lived close to the land. Corn shuckers and melon growers, home-canners and cowboys. It has a timeless feel, and could be anytime from the end of the Civil War until the 1930s. While cities swelled and were electrified, popular fashions evolved and government centralized, the site we picture will have changed relatively little in 50 years, with seed company advertisements fading from the sides of barns, barefoot boys chewing on long grass stems while kicking cans down the railroad tracks stretching beyond our sight. Livestock mill about close by, as stacks of hay summon generations of young lovers to spoon and play. The people you see are a hardy breed quick to speak up about the importance of self reliance and self sufficiency, whether they speak with mountainous Colorado inflections or a feet-on-the-table Alabama drawl. Most of them repair their own clothes until they’ll no longer hold together, and their labors often produce enough food for their entire families to eat. Many of them know about the medicinal plants that grow wildly in the area, and all tend to see self-healthcare as not just a necessity but as an individual responsibility and a natural-given right.
While posters, handbills and word-of-mouth announcements would sometimes precede a traveling show, it was not always so. Many times there would be no indication of anything out of the ordinary until the clop-clop-clopping of horses pulling an unfamiliar wagon, rolling leisurely in their direction with a growing cloud of skipping children and curious adults billowing behind. Whether because of the lettering on its sides, its brightly painted colors or the colorful characters having ahold of the reins, it would be clear to all that there was something unusual about the wagon and something special about to transpire. All things strange promise wonder and surprise to their beholders, but depending on its size and compliment this oddity on wheels promised more: Live music, for anxious ears! Live Indians fresh off their trail of tears! A magic show, perhaps, or gypsy-dressed tarot reader set to reveal which crops will fail and which romances last. Even a long winded preacher of hell and damnation inside along with displays of medical charts if there be room, a revealing skeleton for anatomical instruction, and racks of full bottles to be shown to them soon.
The horses are pulled to a stop at a prearranged spot or anywhere that looks likely to get a good draw, released from their harnesses and tied by ropes and halters to a nearby tree. Stepping smartly down from the driver’s seat – or rising with a flourish from within the oakwood coach –will be a man dressed at least a tad more flamboyantly than the overalls-clad fellows lined up to meet him with their mouths open and their hands in their pants. Doffing a snappy Stetson or silken top hat, he clears the road grunge from his throat, then loudly introduces himself and his mission to what quickly grows to be a small throng.
“Well,” he might begin, “a fine afternoon to all you gentleman of good will and ladies of fine tastes! It is I, the man known as the people’s physician, maestro of popular music and entertainment, your alchemist of well being and conveyor of necessary remedies for a well balanced and fruitful life… asking you each but a single question: What, dear friends, is the price of health? For a mere fifty pennies gathering dust in your bureau drawer, two measly quarters or five thin dimes, you too can avail yourselves of nature’s own medicines, for what overpriced doctor could ever know more or do more for us than Mother Nature herself? As God has given to us all manner of plants to feed our bellies and heal our wounds and infirmities, I have been given the secrets of their use by his agents living closest to his creation. But wait! I am not here simply to treat your maladies but to ease your burdens and help raise your spirits. Before I have dispensed a single bottle of my herbal preparations, I shall have first dispensed a humble display of well practiced magic and the pleasures of song.”
If he has assistants or performers to help, they will have soon set up the visual attractions – from anatomy charts and pressed plants to human skulls and exotic butterfly collections, shrunken heads purportedly from New Guinea and even floral mosaics made up of the teeth extracted from a succession of willing audiences. Sometimes called “the museum,” these exhibitions did indeed constitute traveling museums for the rural working class and the poor in an age when visitors to most urban collections were largely limited to the rich and privileged. Such displays were sources of education and delight, as much as magnets attracting people to the products and shows.
“You,” says the Medicine Man, “can purchase a bottle for what ails ya later, I really hope you can see… but the pleasures of the night, my friends, are free!”
The success of the Medicine Show “pitchman” hinged in part on the quality of his spiel, known as “the pitch” or “the give.” As the “grinder” Fred “Doc” Bloodgood put it, “I have always made it my practice never to use one word where four will do.” Then again, not all were said to have a way with words. Some were “boozer” doctors who muddled their sentences whenever “in the cups,” a few like Indian John muttered rapid biblical verse scarcely intelligible yet somehow sufficiently impressive, while others chose to let their medicines or their banjos do the talking. The message in every case was a very Jacksonian one: doctors could barely be afforded and seldom trusted; the most natural medicines are the best; the means to ease suffering and illness should be equally available to all; and we need to empower ourselves to make our own medical choices, to take responsibility for ours and our family’s health needs, and to resist the dictates of both big business and big government. No wonder they were so publicly vilified in magazines and newspapers, and the powers-that-be launched such a forceful and lengthy campaign to destroy them.
There have been many books published over the years purporting to tell the story of early folk medicine and the traveling Medicine Shows, but with very few exceptions their approach is to either demonize them as dangerous money-grubbing scams, or to make fun of them as quaint elements of historic Americana. In the former case, there are those who consider all folk medicine not only inferior but treacherous, sounding as if anyone would have to be crazy to consider self medicating with plants, and as if licensed doctors and official experts were the infallible arbiters of what’s good for us. In the latter, snide commentators herald the sensible benefits of modern medicine while showcasing herbalists and other natural healers as curious throwbacks, foolish children, superstitious primitives, naive practitioners of thankfully extincted healing arts.
Even many otherwise savvy herbalists today fall into the trap of accepting the propaganda that our government was interested only in the health and protection of the paying public when they went after the Medicine Men, when in reality it marked only the first of a long succession of legislative attacks against home remedies of all kinds and herbalism in particular. These attacks were generated as a result of an organized campaign by the fast growing pharmaceutical industry and medical licensing agencies to ensure their monopolies on medicines and services, and thereby their ever more enormous profit margins. It was they who purchased the many thousands of dollars worth of ads branding all herbal concoctions as fraudulent and harmful “patent medicines,” painting small manufacturers as the “grim reaper” in posters meant to scare housewives away from their neighborhood apothecaries, familiar poultices and teas and into pharmacies where they can purchase supposedly safe and miraculous drugs.
Let us look for moment at the reality and substance of their claims. It was and still is said that the main ingredient of herbal and vegetable nostrums was alcohol, and that their popularity depended on the drunken effects and the quantity of sales to drinkers in legally “dry” counties of the United States. In truth, these nostrums averaged only from 5 to 15 percent alcohol, only in a few cases more than was needed to extract and preserve a medicinal tincture. Someone would have to be very thirsty for a buzz to drink the up to 10 bottles that would be required to experience a high, and the cost would be considerably more than simply buying a flask of bootlegged moonshine. Both opium and cocaine could be found in potions meant for pain, or scarily in recipes sold to “quiet the crying of babies, make them immune to the symptoms of colic, and guarantee a full nights sleep,” but heroin was also the primary active agent in the original Bayer pain pills and cocaine the source of the “added energy” promised in Coca-Cola soda drink ads from the time of its inception.
So-called “authorities” pointed out that some nostrums contained “mostly water, with few identifiable ingredients of any known medical value,” while others insisted these botanical “receipts” contained chemicals injurious to health or a threat to life. This would indeed have been true in some percentage of bottled nostrums, but none were more useless or dangerous than some of the modern drugs now being forced down the throats of the average patient. Few natural plant materials, in any quantity, have the reputation for causing death of debility to the degree that a vast number of modern drugs now do, and yet the average citizen continues to slander both Medicine Shows and herbalism in all its forms, at the same time as holding up institutional doctoring as the only reasonable model for health care. There is good reason for criticisms of the exaggerated or baseless claims of many homemade preparations, most notably when it’s advertised that a single concoction could cure everything from hot flashes to impotency and “curvature of the spine”… but is this any more misleading than a modern drug company promising a chemical that can (and I quote) “rid you of unsightly pimples, putting an end to the shame and isolation, improving the chances of success in love and employment.”
Some pitchmen sold watered down products, used “shills” in the audience to give false testimonials and encourage sales, or even ducked out of the area in the middle of the night in order to avoid complaints, refunds, or the strong arm of local law enforcement that could follow an exposition. Their aim may have sometimes been no more than the income – the “velvet” that the shows produced – but far more often the mission and goals of the traveling medicine man was as much to make people feel better as it was to make money. Sellers often manufactured their own medicines, using folk recipes they researched on their own, or recipes commonly found in the popular manuals of their time such as 1882’s The Complete Herbalist, and the King’s American Dispensatory published in 1898. The traveling show was often the only medical education or assistance that a community’s residents ever received, and mobile doctors and “circuit dentists” could not only a source of relief but a veritable lifesaver.
The English settlers brought to the world a long and respected tradition of medical herbalism, as well as bringing with them seeds for growing many of their favorite plant species from the “old world” to the new. That tradition was bolstered and amended by an infusion of herbal wisdom by the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with “Indian potions” proving far more helpful and far less destructive than the more “civilized” medical practices of the 18th Century. Those colonists who were financially well off could (unfortunately, as it were) afford the most “scientific” of treatments such as purging and blistering, first U.S. President George Washington might have survived to old age if not killed by the professional doctors who insisted on treating his condition by bleeding him, and the must esteemed modernist Dr. Benjamin Rush promoted dreadful doses of poisonous Calomel in most all of the “improved” medicinal preparations well-to-do folks paid so much silver for. Fortunately for the “common man” – the average working couple – they were mostly impoverished enough to still look to the fields, mountains and gardens for botanical relief for what ails them, and otherwise to barter for the help of local herb-wise midwives. Out in “the country,” when on occasions a local sheriff arrested the members of a traveling Medicine Show or forced them to move on, it seldom had anything to do with the quality or contents of the medicine being sold, but far more often was a response to what they considered to be the “lewd and immoral” nature of the show’s dance routines!
Homemade herbal preparations sometimes became known as “recipes” or “receipts” to those who used them, but were lambasted as “patent medicines” by the professionals and competing manufacturers who sought their restriction. In actuality, there were no patent medicines in the new country. Patent medicines were the patented and licensed products of Great Britain, resented by Americans for their high cost and debatable qualities, but what would become a campaign against herbalism would be characterized as a defense of the people against “the patent medicine threat.”
By the time of the first World War, all but a few of the traveling Medicine Shows had ceased traveling the circuits. A few continued for another decade, substituting automobiles and trailers for the iconic horses and medicine wagons. Their end came not through legislation and abolition so much as from being co-opted, subsumed and replaced by other mediums for sales and entertainment. The sales component was undermined not just by a shift in the public’s opinion of “primitive herbs” versus “modern cures,” but also by the rise of giant corporate producers and an increase in the prevalence of mail-order businesses. The very valuable role that Medicine Shows played in bringing entertainment, education and culture to the people of rural American was assumed first by the new medium of radio being fast adopted even in the most out of the way settlements, and then in the late 1940s by the introduction of television. One no longer had to walk any further than into their own living rooms to hear and eventually see musicians playing their favorite songs, Native Americans dressed up in tribal costume, lectures of interest, comedians and magicians peddling their jokes and tricks.
There are a huge amount of websites, journals and other publications by catty licensed physicians still dedicated to “exposing quacks.” Under their definitions of quackery, we find a list of “errant and misleading” practices that includes not just remarkable treatments like ionic cleansing, colloidal silver and glucosomine supplements – but also such tried and respected fields as herbalism, acupuncture, aromatherapy, holistic dentistry, osteopathy, chiropractic and complimentary medicine.
“Why use chemical drugs when nature in her wisdom and beneficence has provided in her great vegetable laboratories, relief for most of the more common and simple ills of mankind?”
–Joseph Meyer (1930s)
In most cases Medicine Men were working to earn a living, yet their primary wish and purpose was to contribute to the quality of people’s lives, ease the burdens of their ills and restore them to function and fitness. Few traveling marketers can be dismissed as profiteers, and many were first and foremost devoted to their role as genuine and caring healers.
Throughout its century of optimal prominence, the traveling Medicine Show was the number one threat to the monopoly of licensed health care and pharmaceutical drugs, with the Medicine Man the main counterirritant to the institutionalized prestige and superior status and position of the medical doctor. In the same way, herbs and herbalism today comprise an essential counterbalance to the corporate whitewashing of their often dangerous products, and are attacked precisely because of the challenge them might post to drug sales and profits. The corporate strategy at the time of this writing is to defame or belittle the efficacy of whole plant medicines while marketing products made from isolated or synthesized chemicals and chemical recombinations employing herbal and nature-associated marketing language. Recent legislation such as the GMP (the Orwellian coined “Good Manufacturing Practices”) continues the attack on herbal preparations made by the owners of small herbal businesses while favoring national and multinational corporate interests.
The traveling Medicine Show, like the practice of herbalism itself and other forms of natural healing, have served as positive and creative forms of resistance against a life-crushing, de-naturing paradigm. They are, by any definition, truly “alternative.” The struggles to keep Medicine Shows and herbalism itself alive have fundamentally been contests over control of our own existence and health, impacting the most intimate relationship of all: that crucial relationship between ourselves and our bodies.
These days, if we do a search for contemporary “Medicine Shows” on the internet we will turn up several pitchmen marketing historic Medicine Show acts as entertainment for conferences, festivals and schools. In most cases these showmen’s approach is to reinforce the unfortunate and inaccurate stereotype of the medicine seller as a charming but dishonest bunko artist, fleecing audiences of country rubes with his clever tricks and lies. More accurately, it is the corporations and their dutiful elected officials who are doing the worst fleecing of the public, while the icon of the Medicine Show represents democratic resistance to dominant cultural dictates, to deleterious synthetic drugs and an institutionalized health care system. It stands in truth as a herald of options and call to choice.
The worst of the Medicine Show products were generally less dangerous than the well accepted drugs being massively prescribed to people in these times. These events for the common folk empowered them to take control of their own health and well being, the opposite of what current advertising seeks to do. We were told by the Medicine Show pitchmen that we had a choice as to how we live our lives, and that we could have an effect on how long and well we survive.
“No man lives forever,” the Medicine Man might say, “and in due time age shall have its mortal say. But until that moment it is up to us to make the choices that can extend our stay on this bountiful earth and increase our healthy enjoyment of it.” We may or or may not purchase the proffered bottles of “Dr. Goode’s,” but we take home a feeling of individual empowerment, a bit of curious information and heart-lightening song – a tonic for the spirit that sinks in deep, and lasts long.
The above article is excerpted from a much longer article appearing in Plant Healer Magazine, Winter 2013… and in 2015 it will serve as the first chapter in Hardin’s book “The Traveling Medicine Show”. For updates and more articles by Wolf and Kiva, subscribe to the free Plant Healer Newsletter at: www.PlantHealer.org
To subscribe to Plant Healer Magazine, go to www.PlantHealerMagazine.com
(Feel free to RePost & Share this Article)
2014 HerbFolk Gathering Teachers Confirmed!
Plant Healer’s 2014 event for herbalists will be again held at gorgeous Mormon Lake, in the forests south of Flagstaff and the incomparable Grand Canyon – Sept 18th-21st
LONGER CLASSES: You asked for longer, more in-depth classes, and we’ve done as asked: no classes will be shorter than 2 full hours, with many 3 hrs. and 5 hrs. long.
In keeping with our Enchanted Forest theme, our awesome teachers will be be presenting classes with a folkloric/mythic component as well as clinical and hands-on audience participation. Make plans now to attend next Sept. 18-21st. Keep abreast of the latest updates as well as read a trove of articles and interviews for herbalists by subscribing to the FREE Plant Healer Newsletter. Subscribe by filling in your name and email in the box at: www.PlantHealer.org
It was painful selecting proposals from the many intriguing applications we received this year, but we made our final choices based on how closely the classes fit the theme and what balance of topics were needed. Many who didn’t get a slot for ’14, will be hosted in ’15 and beyond as we continually evolve new themes.
Our 2014 HerbFolk presenters are not only esteemed herbal elders but also the important up-and-coming voices of our times – including a curandero, a novelist & storyteller, a perfumer, an ethnobotanist, an herbal beer maker, an intuitive in traditional Chinese Medicine!
We are happy to announce our 2014 Teachers:
David Hoffman • Matthew Wood • Guido Masé • Sean Donahue • Chuck Garcia • Phyllis Hogan • Kiva Rose • Jim McDonald • Kiki Geary • Merihelen Nuñez • Ben Zappin • Kristi Shapla • Asia Suler • Irina Adam • Rebecca Altman • • Robert Rogers (maybe), Shana Lipner Grover • Elaine Shiff • Stephany Hoffelt • Denise Tracy Cowan • Jesse Wolf Hardin and more to follow
“What an exciting conference! Plant Healer events are the new wave of herbalism, featuring speakers and a community rich with a combination of long hands-on experience and fresh creativity.”
”This is a must not-miss event for those who love herbs, great herb teachers, great music (Wow!), cutting edge presentations, herbal friends and fun; in a beautiful setting.” –Matthew Wood
Reviews & Pics From the 2013 Herbal Resurgence Finale
The concluding Herbal Resurgence was nothing short of incredible. Kiva and I were deeply touched by the incredible sweetness of everyone who came, a particularly wonderful gathering of this most unusual, sensitive, caring, loving, creative and motivated tribe. Things went amazingly smooth, the weather was perfect, and the memories we’ve gathered are a bouquet we can expect to last a lifetime. Next year’s HerbFolk Gathering is going to be like nothing before… but first we join you in commemorating this year’s
Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous…. fostering the birth of new conferences across the country,
fueling a movement.
Lena Carol was the first herbalist attendee to write us this year:
“I’m still on the road back home, but truly feel like it is home I am leaving behind. I have been to all kinds of events from regional ones to women’s conferences and I have truly never felt so welcomed, so empowered, and so wild as I do at Plant Healer gatherings. I would like to attend lots of different conferences every year if I was able, but if I could only go to one it would have to be the Resurgence, Medicine of The People, Herbfolk or whatever else you ever decide to call it. There is nothing like it for sure! It feels like my tribe, and in so many ways it has give me back my life! Thank, you, thank you!”
Asia Suler – an inspired young herbalist and upcoming 2014 teacher – wrote the following lovely review:
The Herbal Resurgence: Finding “Self, Earth, Plant and Purpose”
”By mid-morning on Thursday the healers market was filled with conference attendees. Children and elders with long hair, donning talismans and roots, sneakers, shawls, baseball caps and button downs. On one table slow burned moxa, on another, delicate rolls of herbal manna wafting the faint scent of cinnamon and maca. From the beginning, I had heard wonderful and diverse things about the Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous. It was a gathering of disparate teachers and skills, an invocation of ancient and resurfacing traditions— a wild, wide and expansive invitation to re-imagine the worlds in which we all live. In short, it was a celebration. Not only of the groundwork, the bedrock, the wellspring of herbal and earth-based wisdom— but the sheer diversity and individual nature of its resurgence.
”Over the course of the next several days, time seemed to stretch, grow simultaneously tumultuous and still. In between the life-expanding classes, the sheer depth of knowledge presented and shared, there were moments of profound self-sanctity— arrival. Underneath, and around, and within the heart of this gathering was a call— not only to come to know the green beings of this world, and the ways in which they create space, but to find your own place within the nature of existence. Instinctively, each plant can feel and find its own distinct niche to prosper and grow. While tall mullein thrives alongside the sun-baked highway, creeping chickweed is at its most succulent in the cooling shade of giant ponderosa pines. People, healers, herbalists, teachers are no different. Each one of us has a sacred place in which we alone have the ability to root, receive, flower forth and grow. In their cornerstone class: “Our Medicine, Our Path: Recognizing Our Unique Gifts, Carving Out a Niche” Kiva and Jesse delivered an eloquent and inspiring summation of the true blessing of this conference. The divine encouragement of this gathering is not simply to explore the charted terrain of the communally given, the known, but, as Jesse so eloquently summarized, to develop a “personalized relationship with self, earth, plant and purpose.”
”Just as people change, transform and grow into new and more authentic incarnations of themselves— so does this beloved gathering. Ever true to themselves and the always-evolving nature of living and learning, Kiva and Jesse have invited this gathering to heed the call of its own metamorphosis. Next year’s envisioned HerbFolk gathering promises to be equally illuminatory and incandescent. In fact, it has already become the embodiment of this gatherings most sacred teaching: change, find oneself, honor the diverse and healing being that you are, and seek out the transformation you alone can carry into this waiting world.
Stephany Hoffelt, insightful herbal teacher and student of the plant kingdom, posted this review on her Naturally Simple Living Blog:
It’s been a while now since I’ve been away from my friends and I am sitting here missing them like mad tonight. The Herbal Resurgence Gathering has come and gone, for 2013. The attendees are all home to our various communities feeling recharged and inspired. As always, there was something about the feeling of camaraderie that occurs at this conference that makes you wish you could bottle it and just take little sips all year long.
Also appealing is the fact that Mormon Lake is a beautiful place. That first night wandering around on the mountaintop campsite, illuminated by the light of the full moon, reminded me that this gathering was a timeless event. Since the very earliest days, people have been drawn to converge on places like this. Snuggling in my sleeping bag; listening to the elk bugle lulled me to sleep faster than any lullaby.
I have to admit, I am prone to choosing to attend the classes held outdoors. Learning underneath the towering pines is infinitely preferable to being stuck in a hotel conference room. The trees hold us in their healing energy and open our heart and our minds to the messages we are hearing. No class made that more clear than the class Julie Caldwell taught on Sentience of Place. I also think that I think teaching in that environment brings out the best presentations, as well.
There were so many amazing offerings this year, it was hard to choose between them all. Teaching myself this year, made that even more challenging. I missed some classes I really wanted to attend, especially Sean and Jim’s class which I heard was amazing. Still, I managed to get my fill of herbal wisdom. I finally got to take a couple of classes from Matt Wood on Tongue and Pulse diagnosis. Larken Bunce’s presentation on her work with free clinics was inspiring and Sam Coffman’s class on GMP’s was almost enough to make me relax about that issue, just a little. I was especially happy to watch my friend Traci’s class on holistic body image because she brought up a lot of topics that need to be discussed and addressed about we as providers approach the idea of encouraging a positive self-image in our clients.
Even the vending hall is just fun. Instead of a place where people are trying to sell you stuff, it takes on the its own unique character as a social gathering place and a venue for learning. The medicine makers who come to this conference freely share their wisdom and ideas. Rebecca Altman outdid herself this year with inspiring new products and familiar favorites.
I am always amazed by the fact that year after year Kiva and Wolf manage to send participants home fired and ready to take herbalism back to the people in their communities. The people who come to this conference aren’t just business people or there to network. They are people who share a calling- each one of them is lured by the plants to spread a message of empowerment and independence. And the plants connect us all in away that the term colleague doesn’t quite cover.
It is an honor, and a blessing, to be a part of that community.
Irina Adam, Romanian born herbalist, sensualist perfumer (see her Etsy Shop) and 2014 HerbFolk presenter writes:
”Among the land brand new to me, surprising new plants, tastes and smells, beautiful new friends…
”The healing power of story stood out for me as a theme in this conference. What’s more magical than a good story, told mindfully, and listened to all ears, that comes at the perfect moment with just the right message, and opened up space.
”Some of my favorite story medicine was in the ‘Hawthorn’ class, with Sean Donahue and Jim McDonald, and Kiva and Wolf’s ‘Our Medicine, Our Path’.
‘… And see ye not that bonnie road
That winds abut the fernie brae?’
”There was a palpable calmness, inclusiveness and friendly vibe at the event. Kiva & Wolf were present, welcoming and delightful. It didn’t feel rushed like other conferences can be, tho it went by so quickly!
”This was my first journey to the Southwest. The site is gorgeous, with Ponderosa pines and wildflowers blooming all over. On my way home I begged my friend Irene to drive thru Sedona, and thus got to be for the first time ever in a canyon in the high desert! The rock walls, and the variety of plant life took my breath away. Now i can imagine the canyon at the Anima Center.
”A very personal experience was that i got to go at the last minute, as if on the tiny wing of a faerie. It went by so lovely and quickly that while i was there part of me wasn’t sure where i was.. I realized this especially when i woke up from a nap in the flowers wondering where am i, for a little longer than usual. Right where i should be… And when i returned part of me was definitely in the Ponderosas for the next several days. Still wandering in the yellow flowers, still listening to the stories, allowing them to change my being.”
Phyllis Hogan, our dear herbalist friend (Winter Sun Trading Co.) writes:
“The Herbal Resurgence movement is fueled by the boundless energy and committed drive of some of the most creative and cutting-edge herbalists out there today. The topics presented, the products and formulas at the Healers Market, and the infusion of social consciousness into this latest Plant Healer event was innovation at it’s finest. And at the foundation of it all is a deep respect for the plants on all levels. If you want to know where modern herbalism is headed, getting involved with this forward-thinking scene is a must.”
Maleza Furiosa touched us by writing:
“Back from the 2013 Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous. What an event this year… never in my life have I had my identity, my experiences, and my damn stubborn sureness of the necessity of this meandering branched path mirrored back at me from so many directions. My deepest gratitude to Kiva Ringtail Rose for her honesty, tenacity, and trailblazing.”
Cynthia Margarita kindly said:
“This was such an incredible event, my favorite this year! The magic of the Coconino forest was an amazing background for all the learning and inspiration we got from the amazing classes.”
Nancy Green was energized, which makes all worthwhile:
“Once again, you should be pleased that all your hard work managed to produce a wonderful gathering. There were so many wonderful presenters and topics, it was really tough to choose, I was inspired and energized! The site is perfect; the fellow travelers, delightful; the classes, valuable and diverse. (The shopping’s pretty great, too). I found Julie Caldwell’s “Sentience of Place” a particularly moving and profound experience. Wow! I definitely left in an altered state!”
Lovely Kristen’s thank you made our day:
“I want to thank you and Kiva again for putting on such an amazing gathering. The variety of voices makes us stronger. I felt an upsurge of energy and passion…”
Dear Laurel Beck reminds us of why we do this work::
“The workshop topics were inspired. We were offered a balance of practical issues and equally essential forays into the heart and spirit. Wolf and Kiva managed to be in 50 places at once, taking care of details and people nonstop. They kept their arms around us the whole time. No small trick with over 300 people to look after. How did they do that?!!!
”Integrity shone through the whole event, from the organizers to the teachers, to the people I sat next to during the classes. And the forest, of course… After several days of being in such beauty with people who understand what life really is, what’s important – who we are and how we fit into the larger fabric of life on this beautiful planet – it’s been difficult to reenter the not-so-real world of my everyday life. But I have come back changed, and full of gratitude for this experience! So many blessings and a thousand thanks.”
Kiva and Wolf’s gratitude goes out to all the wonderful attendees, sponsors, teachers and volunteers, for Trail Boss Don and all his help, and for the additional photos contributed for this blog by Adrienne Ellis and Irina Adam.
To see many more photos of this event, click here to download the latest issue of:
(Please Share & RePost)
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
“….I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on the earth.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
All things happen in a place, in context and relationship, in present time. It is always now and here where we act on our choices, effect the world, and taste its pleasures. The quality of consciously being here for that opportunity and experience is what we call “presence,” but it is certainly not something we can ever take for granted. Every moment is a decisive one, with a choice as to what degree we are either dwelling on our tasks problems… or dwelling in the sense and satisfaction of the actual experience.
Outside our cabin we’ve set up a rudimentary hot-tub, an old cast iron hulk rocked in with a fire pit dug out directly beneath. Those times the rains overfill our storage, we carry the extra bucketfuls over to it and enjoy the most amazing soaks. But even here, engaged in mindful practice, it remains an effort to stay present. Even with the hot water relaxing the muscles and loosening that death-grip of the linear mind, even with the steam rising before us as from a great cauldron of creation, and a gentle rain with the effects of an elixir. Still the words come, betraying the experience. “Wonder how the plug I made is holding up. Cork would have worked if…” (Shhhh!, goes the steam), “Seems hotter than last time” (Hush, the heat is speaking to you!). “So much to do before going to town tomorrow…” (Hey, where are you?), “Should be enough rains to fill another tub or two” (Wake up! You’re missing out on the bath at hand, the feel of the wind evaporating the drops of water on your cheeks, the look in wifely eyes, the incremental melting away of tension from each and every floating muscle).
Before the word “dwell” came to mean “to inhabit,” it meant “to linger.” Thus when eating there is a potential for our consciousness to dwell within a world of taste, as for our beings to linger inside the flavor of each special moment. There is a tendency among people, however, to watch television or talk nonstop at meals. Other than the first bite, we may consume an entire plateful while barely paying attention to its banquet of sensation, the fine distinctions between spoonfuls of the same entree, the slow sensuous melt of butter fats, the interplay of orgiastic spices. Once the first sample mouthful has met with our approval, we may not take notice of it again for the duration of the meal unless alerted by an unexpected flavor, an incongruous texture or suspicious smell.
When that happens, an element of life is lost to us, just as it is when we give less than our full attention to the fingers of the masseuse kneading our backs, or obsess over the coming day while a glorious sunset lights up the scene around us. One can, in fact, go their entire adult life focused on either anxieties over the future or nostalgia for a long lost childhood of fun and adventure, always a step ahead of or behind the actual experience they are going through. It’s possible during sexual activity to be so focused on a mental fantasy or titillating memory that one is barely present with the lover they are with, and for a botanist to be so engrossed in analysis that she forgets to delight in the brilliance of common flowers… that she fails to stop and heed the “be here now” clapping of lime green cottonwood leaves. Small birds nest inside many of the hollow street signs of our cities, their little heads turning to watch every person that hurries by, while it’s usually only the occasional child who notices their peeps and dallies to look and listen. And many of us would likely be in grave danger crossing the road without traffic lights, inured to the sound of vehicles until we hear the alarming screech of braking tires.
Historically, our species started out every bit as present, aware and attentive as the wildest creature. Evolving consciousness made it possible to sense the world beyond our local bodily forms, contemplate the future, and build a culture of collective memories as no other plant or animal yet has… though not yet at the expense of primal awareness or lived experience. It was only with the rise of early civilization – and the resultant divorce from the natural world – that we as a species began to suffer a disconnection from the messages as well as needs of our aware and intuitive bodies, from our ecological context and responsibilities, and from the rewards as much as the demands of the always momentous current moment.
In time, and almost by default, it became the role of uncommon Medicine Women and shamans to purposefully retain and utilize the increasingly rare quality of presence. It was usually their born propensity for heightened awareness and deep feeling that led them to their calling in the first place, and then their specialized work certainly required it. The shaman was able to benefit and learn from the distant flights of consciousness, because of his ability to be simultaneously but substantially present in more than one place at once, and see deep into the heart of a person or problem by focusing his attention and energy on single point, by intently being nowhere else.
I’ve been using the noun “present” to mean the current, fully experienced moment, but the word can also refer to something that we give to somebody. It stems from the Old French “bringing something into someone’s presence,” and the experiencing of present time is indeed a present — a gift — from the Anima, from Spirit, to us. And a gift we pay a high price for ignoring. Both usages of the word originate in the Latin adjective praeséns, “at hand, now, here.” The gift at hand, the gift of conscious life, close enough to touch!
If it’s disrespectful to turn down a gift, to turn one’s back on a teacher or friend in the midst of making their point, then surely it is all the more so to ignore the miracle of the moment, to turn away from the present experience and face inward towards a mental movie, to ignore the communications of the world around us and focus solely on our own internal dialogue… or to pass by the awakening dandelion, absorbed by a mental picture of a wrapped rose at a distant florist’s. We can get literally “caught up” with abstract thought, caught and held fast like fish in a trawler’s net, surrounded on all sides by wide-eyed images and flailing priorities, caught up in our heads while the real world we are a part of remains largely ignored and unengaged. All the while, reality waves its earthen arms, feathered wings and evocative cloud forms in front of us, as though to win us back.
Presence is a combination of noticing and grounding, the opposite of obliviousness and disconnection. In presence, there is no tolerance for distraction, and no room for denial. It includes being there completely for dangerous or uncomfortable situations, noticing not only the pleasant odors but also any unpleasant but telltale smells. It is literally the place of action and response, where we create and accomplish. On the other hand, it not in the imagination so much as in the now, that true ecstasy can be found. It is there that we come together with our lover, where the jam meets the tongue. Indeed, bliss is not ignorance, as the old saying claims. Bliss is a gift of living in-tense-ly, where each moment unfolds anew, where even the most cherished of memories are wholly experienced in present tense.
The means exist for our return to the now, no matter how distracted or resistant we might be. The doors to the present can be blown open by an unexpected clap of thunder, the tart bite of an orange, a morning’s splash of cold water on our face, the sudden starting or stopping of the evening wind, or the first glimpse of a falcon dropping through the air in pursuit of downtown pigeons. And they can be teased open by a whiff of homemade bread, fresh out of the oven. Relaxed open by the ministrations of massage. Sang open. Danced open. And breathed open, with a sigh. Opened, and entered.
Entering the present we are ourselves penetrated — by every real thing around us, by the weather and the ground, by the people that are with us, by the totality of life. While we may not be able to exist without future considerations and schedules, we’d do well to remain aware of the degree to which we default in our engagement with the world around us, neglecting available gifts and lessons. The present can never fit onto a schedule, for it is both too big and too fleeting for that. Mark the now on your daily planner and it is already gone. The calendar we focus on describes a world that isn’t here yet, which as any child would tell us, pales in comparison to that which is.
For the student of Anima, presence is the crucial first step in the path of connection and power. Multi-tasking should never be expanded past the level at which you can be fully conscious of all aspects of every ongoing project. Greater-Body (sometimes called “out of body”) journeys should be predicated on your ability to consciously and effectively center and ground. Presence is literally the essential groundwork for building up you powers of intuition, discernment and decision-making, and of energetically (with your consciousness) as well as physically effecting the reality that we as Medicine Women and Shamans are working to co-create.
With the continual regaining of sensory attentiveness – of the vital present – comes a great awakening… to the sense-gathering organs and the sights, sounds, tastes and appeals of the larger world/self around us. To the bone and truth laden ground below us, the enticing trees and the birds that call from them, the breath of wind that fills us and the smell and color of the fruit on the table. To the clouds that fall as drinking water, to sate an awakened thirst. To the needs and gifts of family, coworkers and friends. To our instincts, calling us to a life of purpose, magic and meaning, in the language of dreams.
It’s Fall as I write this, and already the elk are bugling in the canyon. The high cascading notes sound like the percolation of wild lust, like bravado, excitement and hope. Like the gate keepers’ flourish, announcing our destined return. Like a clarion call.
We’re welcomed back no matter how often we try to leave. Welcomed here, grounded in authentic self and inspirited place. Welcomed back to the wild now… and in these ways, welcomed home.
(Share freely…. www.AnimaCenter.org)
Eating Nettles, Crossing Rivers: 20 Years in Paradise
Happy 20th anniversary to me!
Holy moley, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since my arrival! But then, when I think about it, a whole lot has happened…
A Not-so Brief Recollection
On August 19th, 1993, Wolf picked me up at the Greyhound drop off in Socorro, NM. I didn’t have much hair on my head, or much baggage besides a backpack full of old journals, my mountain bike and an ancient Apple computer that must’ve weighed about 20 pounds. I was on my way to follow my dream of being a writer, and I’d bought the computer for 500 bucks, from an ad I saw in the paper back in San Francisco, just a few days before my bus ride out of there. Somehow the bicycle and the computer were both lost in transit, so when Wolf first saw me, I was circling around the bus, oblivious to Wolf leaning against his land partner’s truck, sizing me up with every confused “where did my things go?“ lap I made around the bus.
It was, being August, monsoon season. And on the ride from Socorro to the canyon, there was a giant lightning storm, the likes of which I’d never seen. My heart was already split wide open by the journey I’d undertaken, following what seemed to be a spirit-given message to find a place to caretake in New Mexico. All the way through S. Cal and Nevada I’d had this strange feeling that I was in my way back to what felt like my source, on my way back to the very root of my being. And now, with the thunder and lightning stirring me up, I couldn’t sit very quietly. I shouted to Wolf, over the mayhem, “I feel like screaming! … I’m coming HOME!!!”
It was only ten days later that I came out of the canyon to make some phone calls. I dialed up my parents and told them that I’d found my home, and I would be living here forever. My father asked to speak with Wolf. No hello, or any of those niceties my father is usually very good at. Instead, it was, “Are you able to take over her medical insurance?” Needless to say his reply about how Frank James got the cooperation of doctors to cure a wounded Jesse did nothing to warm my folks up to the idea of me living in such a godforsaken place in the company of a wildman for the rest of my years. “Why can’t you just join the Sierra Club or something?” my father asked me. “Why do you have to waste your life yodeling to the mountains?” It was kind of funny, even then, but still it made me cry.
That very night, we returned home in the almost-dark. We turned off the four wheeler and were about to head back to the cabin when a very loud series of probably four or five flute notes rang through the canyon, from the direction of the ancient Kachina cliffs. We looked at each other with wide eyes and stood there in the dark for a while, listening to the echoes fade. The next morning I climbed up to the cave of the Red Wolf Mother barefoot and pledged my devotion, forever and ever, to the spirits of the canyon. Imagining that I must be a wolf too, I took on the name Loba which means Wolf in Spanish. A little embarrassing to discover, much later, that I was a whole lot more like an elk!
Wolf was just at the point of slowing down and then stopping his music and speech tours, mostly fund raisers for ecological campaigns but also a means for keeping the food bill paid. He was finding it harder to leave this magical canyon at the same time as I was settling into home.
My first several years were full of joy, but not without challenges. Our first Winter we had absolutely no money and no running vehicle. Every so often a check would turn up in the mail, from an old friend of Wolf’s, or from his publisher, just in the nick of time. I sold home canned applesauce in town made from the trees at Saliz Canyon and got really good at working the woodstove even in the warm autumn days, so we didn’t have to buy much propane. I did all our laundry outdoors, in the old clawfoot bathtub or at the river in a basin. Wolf fed me endless plates of giant pancakes to counter my urban anorexia, and taught me huge amounts about the art of cooking, including how to how to bake bread and pies, and cook meat, how to pay attention to the details, like perfecting the texture of biscuits, the not-too-sweetness of cakes, and warming plates before serving. We kept me stocked in hippie essentials (miso and tahini, organic raisins) from the local mail-order buying club whenever possible, and we always had plenty to eat, thanks to having credit at the local grocery store. The raccoons loved my biscuits that turned out more like hockey pucks, and it didn’t take me long to improve.
My lost bicycle was eventually retrieved from Greyhound, and well into the winter that first year I used it to get to town for food and mail, packing everything in and out up the steep mountain, or out through the seven river crossings. Eventually our truck got a new engine, with the last of my waitress money, but often the river would go up and make it impassable, even for the little four-wheeler. I read Euell Gibbons, and got really excited about harvesting acorns. A land partner taught me about harvesting Bee Balm and Watercress, Lamb’s Quarters, wild Mustard greens and Dock. I taught myself how to preserve large quantities of the wild foods, through lots of trial and error. There were good acorn years, and then a string of no-acorn years, which made the bears hungry. One of those skinny bears broke into the house, (well, I admit I left a window open!) and ate 6 loaves of freshly baked bread.
I got so used to being home all the time, it became even harder for me than Wolf to ever leave. Fluorescent lights and loud city noises that I hardly noticed before made me feel distressed, just being around them. Getting stuck anywhere without an open window made me anxious. I’d find myself sticking my head, sometimes even my feet, under the faucets at restrooms, any time I was too far from my river. I was turning into a different sort of creature, more alive, more sensitive, more particular about what I subject myself to in this world!
We had many interesting guests and students due to Wolf’s teachings and alliances, including many famous artists, musicians, dancers, activists, writers, editors, publishers, teachers and school directors, plus lots of young people simply wanting to connect to something wild and real in themselves. We hosted interns and vision questers, retreaters and apprentices.
As a way to empower me, utilize my gifts and share this transformative canyon, Wolf encouraged me to host annual Wild Women’s Gatherings beginning in 2000, as well as the co-ed Wild Foods Gatherings that brought men and women from all over the country and world together to celebrate the bounty of the land, and the abundances of our own wild hearts in relationship with the land. I still hear from participants who tell me how much these events in the canyon changed them or their lives!
I was asked to write a column in Sagewoman magazine by our friend Anne Niven, and wrote for her wonderful quarterly for women for over five years. Wolf and many musician friends including Joanne Rand and Jenny Bird recorded a CD of music and spoken word that I got to sing on, called The Enchantment, using a little digital recorder purchased for us by a supporter. The help of various supporters that believed in our work and mission made a huge amount possible that would have never happened otherwise, and a few of them are still loyally giving to us to this day. We built structures one little piece at a time, whenever the donations would come in specifically for that purpose, with the help of skilled friends, volunteers, and a woman intern that stayed for about two years. Wolf continued to get his articles published in dozens of different magazines every year, though it was mostly to affect and inspire the world as very few of the publications actually paid.
We never knew where the next dollar would come from, so it was quite literally one miracle after another that kept us both afloat and soaring in our own ways, inspiring thousands of readers and seekers. None of it could have happened without Wolf’s constant drive and his standards of excellence. He is quite the role model, whether or not we’d like to admit it. (Ain’t he, people!) With his unflinching, uncanny gift of seeing into the hearts of all of us, he reaches out in ways that can heal as much as they discomfort, rattle and stir. He reminds us, over and over, how the reins are in our hands, and every color in the palette within reach, if we just claim the bravery to truly open our eyes, and every other one of our atrophied senses. To truly see our Earthen reality for all the pain and beauty and craziness that it is, and to claim ourselves still worthy of every valuable experience that we insist on. But never to wallow in the new age neverland of “it’s all good”, where personal response-ability takes a back seat to maintaining all our most comforting illusions.
Wolf’s ability to shift and adapt kept us affecting the world in every way he could see possible, through all the changes; global, and closer to home. Through all the challenges of deaths in the family, health problems and interferon treatments, high water, broken vehicles, help that came and went. There was not a single day, and there is still not a single day that goes by, that I’m not in amazement at so much that he has accomplished, by sharing his gifts, and doing whatever it takes, every single day, no matter how bad his liver is feeling, to keep our life flourishing. It was his dream to affect the world without compromising his needs for solitude, home, and love. By living that dream, he has given us all, especially his family, and any who have experienced Wolf and/or Anima Sanctuary in person, gifts way beyond measure.
In 2004, I began corresponding with a wild-voiced woman poet whose writing I admired above all others, and we began sending her chapters of Wolf’s unpublished novel The Kokopelli Seed. She was stunned to see how much the character was her, even down to the physical description, mannerisms, troubled past, and healing commitment. Even stranger, he’d began writing The Kokopelli Seed the year of Kiva’s birth. After much heartful correspondence we welcomed her and her tiny four year old Rhiannon to this family and mission. It was clear that she had much to give me and to this work and purpose, and much to receive from this life, with the strength and courage to deal with all the many challenges. And Rhiannon proved to be the incredible daughter to us that Wolf had predicted, a loyal and sweet and entertaining child that attached herself to us from the very first moment we met. Together, the four of us have been able to accomplish even more for the world while still attending to our own healing, growth and happiness.
In a short time we renamed our project Anima, Wolf’s word for the vital life force, and the land and restoration effort once called “Duration Ranch” (we’re here for the duration!) got renamed Anima Sanctuary. Kiva’s lifelong love affair with the plant world deepened to an intensive study and obsession with herbs. Wolf bought her piles of the best plant books, and she devoured them. She spent many hours out in the canyon learning what the plants had to teach her themselves, through direct observation and intuition. She began making medicines, trying them out on all of us, taking notes, synthesizing vast amounts of information and experience in a relatively short amount of time. Both Wolf and I experienced profound shifts in our health status with the use of herbs and medicines recommended and made by Kiva. Soon she had clients in town and online, and very quickly became a trusted source of folk medicine to locals that were in-the-know. The town doctor even began speaking about her with respect, and would at times ask her opinion about various usages. She and Wolf developed a new understanding of our diagnostic Medicine Wheel, that led to new understandings of ancient constitutional theories.
Before long, we shifted the focus of Anima to be more focused on teaching practical, plant-related as well as lifeways skills. We started holding plant medicine gatherings, offered online herbal and lifeways courses, and spent less time hosting retreaters, which used to be our main source of income besides the help of our supporters. Kiva’s blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots, became amazingly popular. She gathered the friendship and support of many well-known herbalists, and both Plant Healer Magazine and conferences were born! The magazines readership just keeps growing, and the events for herbalists and wildcrafters have become a gathering point for an exciting community of folk herbalists, ecological and herbal activists, artists and healers.
And for me, my priority shifted to becoming “Mama Loba” to Rhiannon, homeschooling her and learning all the ways that a child can teach us so much! I learned about setting precedents and dynamics , and how to make my moment-to-moment choices as mindful and honorable as possible. I learned about having some boundaries, and at the same time I couldn’t help but open my heart fully and completely to this amazing child that was, and still is, as loving as she was ever stubborn. As inspiring, sillymaking and otter-like as she is beautiful. And she can be as forgetful and pigeon-toed as me! Wolf and Kiva’s constant guidance helped me through every instance of doubt and confusion, as I’ve gotten the blessed opportunity to experience being a mother, and to feel a daughter’s love!
20 Years of Loba Doin’s:
Cooking and Heating Fires built: 7,000 (approx. one fire/day)
Gallons of rainwater moved from one place to another: approx. 185,000 gallonsGallons of rainwater moved in the middle of the night: approx. 6,000 gallons
Loaves of bread baked in my woodstove/s: 5,000 (approx. 5 loaves/week)
Pots of soup: 2,000
Mason jars washed: 35,000
Flashlights Lost: at least 30
Years I’ve held onto my current flashlight: 3 1/2
Floats in the River: 7,000
Quarts of jam and fruit sauce made & canned: approx. 2,000
Hours spent dancing, mostly in the kitchen: 2,000
Braids I’ve made in our hair: 20,000
Pounds of wild foods gathered, processed, and eaten (not counting half-wild apples): at least 2,000
Years that I processed approx.. 200-500 lbs/ local apples/year: about 10
Years that the apple flowers froze & wrecked the local crops: about 10
Rattlesnakes eaten: 60
Medicine sweats conducted at dawn: at least 40
Minutes I spent submerged in the water one January at dawn (during a medicine sweat): about 5
Hours I’ve spent on the Internet: less than 20
Temperature of the hottest bath water I’ve gotten in: 122 degrees
Half-dead moths saved from drowning in the bathtub: 8,000
Packrat nests dismantled from outbuildings: 100
Pretty handmade aprons amassed (gifted by Wolf): at least 85
Cookbooks amassed (most gifted to me by Wolf and Kiva): at least 85, not counting at least 100 that we sold or gave away
Years I’ve been working on my ever expanding cookbook: 17
Miles I’ve walked or run in the canyon: at least 4,500
Miles I’ve walked or run barefoot: at least 1,000
Hours that I’ve spent searching for some missing thing: too embarrassing to count!
Times I’ve driven all the way to Albuquerque barefoot: Once. When I went to pick up Kiva and Rhiannon at the airport, I forgot my shoes at the first river crossing after hiking out, I was so excited!
Datura flowers I’ve picked for Kiva Rose: 10: one the first day she got here, and then one each year after that, on her birthday
And, still, there’s so much to learn and do, and so much more room for growth!
Still So Much To Learn
Today I’m still learning more about how much there is still for me to develop in myself in relation to others. How to honor people’s real needs and gifts as well as my own can be a tricky balance, especially for someone like me who is not always conscious enough about others’ motivations. Or my own, for that matter. And then, there are the “wants” to figure in! How to be as open hearted as I always want to be, while still maintaining some boundaries.
I’m learning that with becoming more grounded in reality, there are some harder feelings to have to deal with. I spent much of my life floating on a comfy little cloud with my favorite pair of rose-colored glasses firmly secured to my face. Seeing only the best in people, all the hope in the midst of all the pain and despair, and only the best in myself, most of the time. Now I’m coming down to earth, which is where I want to be, but sometimes reality can be tough. Depression runs in my family, and I have to work harder sometimes to keep those tendencies from getting the best of me. I am learning more about taking control of my own mental habits and patterns. It’s amazing to learn how the brain creates its own “wiring” that makes joyfulness or depression, more or less accessible!
I’m still learning how to pay better attention to my surroundings – how to notice when the gutters get full of juniper needles, and act on it right away, or ask for help. The more aware of my world that I become, the more I see that needs tending, and the more I really want to take care of things. But at the same time, I’m also figuring out how to give more energy to the things that are not so essential, the creative fun things that make the chores seem less weighty. How to nourish the practical as well as the playful parts of myself. How to be more whole, every single day, with the not-so-simple magic of time and space management. I will probably always spend too much time running around in circles, chasing my own tail, but I am working on doing less of this, getting more done a bit more efficiently, and having more fun in the process! Kiva and Wolf are my loyal coaches in all my efforts towards this goal, and in so much more!
My dear Kiva has helped me in so many ways, from getting more organized in my daily routines to teaching me special skills. Lately I’ve been managing to fit in more dancing and singing, painting and tea parties. Kiva bought felting materials as a special gift for Rhiannon and I, and we’ve been working on a doll together. Wolf got us a Scrabble set, and we’ve been having a blast playing with it, while learning new words with a giant dictionary. I’m planning creative projects with our wwoofer on-site helpers, and other ways to structure our time together to be more enjoyable and productive. I’m making time, always, for my own renewal, which for me has to include plenty of just-family time, and daily alone time, too. I’m still plugging away at that cookbook of mine, and am realizing that although it may never seem “done” enough to me, I need to find a stopping point, knowing someday I can make a Volume Two!
Goals and other Things I’m committed to getting better at in the next 20 years:
Wolf and Kiva and I have a little joke that when one of us says “I’ll try” another says, “Don’t just try, do it”. Below are the things I’ll probably forever be working on! But I commit myself to doing my very best, every single day!
• Listening and noticing things in the moment, and acting on them
• Seeing the world, and myself, from a more grounded perspective, instead of swinging from rose-colored glasses to the polar opposite
• Balancing work and play, focus and spontaneity
• Tending the land and our structures
• Recording and sharing what seems most valuable, that I learn from this life
• Helping support and honor Wolf and and Kiva’s works in every way possible
• Delegating with clear communication
• Staying open-hearted while having some boundaries
• Managing time and space more efficiently
• Eliminating guilt or obligation as a motivation for anything
• Following through on my goals and dearest inspirations
• Being just a bit more functional when away from home
I feel so blessed to be able to live in this magical place that is the ultimate teacher and inspiration. And to be surrounded by a family that also teaches and inspires me in so many vital ways, as well as supporting, nurturing and helping me. I so appreciate being valued for who I am, even more than for what I do. And yet, it is by doing the things that I want and need to do, oftentimes over and over, that I have become who I am, and will continue to become more myself, as time goes on. I am, after all these years, someone who loves to tend: fires, my home & family, others, and myself. I am a river lover, a devotee of dewdrops and a petter of mosses, a gatherer of greens, a barefoot kitchen dancer, and always, a cook who spins in circles looking for the salt, and a very grateful eater. I am a little girl growing older who will always be about 5 in my heart, a human with the spirit of an elk, a very silly and devoted elk who, once upon a time, named herself Loba.
Thanks to all of you who read with open hearts and minds, and who gain sustenance and inspiration from all our efforts. I hope my words, example and love encourage you in your own becoming and doing, in your choices and commitment to living your dreams! It means a lot to me to share with you my amazing life in paradise, crossing rivers and gathering nettles….
Sorry about the repeat posting on the Medicine Woman’s Roots blog regarding the Interviews book, it seems WordPress randomly decided to republish an announcement from last April (Note: technology, experts and government – 3 things we’re told to trust instead of ourselves!).
Preparations for the Herbal Resurgence Finale continue at a breathtaking pace. By the the time the first of you arrive on Sept 19th, the last task will have been tended to and a wonderful event will be ensured. It’s a happy thing how many folks are coming, and how very excited everyone is to be either getting ready for the trip or else are already on their way. It will be awhile before Kiva’s next post, and she’ll be off FaceBook and unavailable for emails again until the 20th. If you are just now hearing about this unique event for herbalists, go to the website for full info and registration: www.HerbalResurgence.org
The Southwest’s monsoons are predicted to come to a close shortly before the conference, with sun forecast for the four days we are at Mormon Lake, Arizona.
The water has been a huge blessing in what has been an extended drought, lasting longer than they have in recent years. The vast array of plant life in this botanical and wildlife sanctuary are surely as happy as plants can be, and all seem to swollen with vitality and joy as the afternoon’s provide their daily life-giving rains. Many parts of the canyon bottom are too thick with growth to pass through. Below are some of our verdant river willows, next to one of our United Plant Savers boundary signs.
The monsoons have, of course, made for quite an adventure when it comes to getting as many of the conference supplies and merchandise from the Sanctuary to where our vehicle is now parked.
I took the next photo from our little cabin homes/studios/offices, facing Northeast..
The normally no more than knee-high San Francisco River has been varying between thigh deep and chest deep for the past six weeks or so. Kiva, Loba and our little (ok, not so little anymore!) Rhiannon have made multiple trips with backpacks full of Plant Healer books, office supplies and gifts bags for the conference attendees. Folks should feel they can count on our dedication to making the Plant Healer events happen no matter what the obstacles!
If we weren’t carrying anything it would be nothing but fun to bob about, swept downstream as we make for the other shore, a river playground more than a problem. But without being able to get a four-wheel-drive out, all food has to come in on our backs, and all conference goodies go out the same way. In this image, Kiva and Rhiannon study the river from right below our cabins, wondering if the boat will be needed.
Packs are carried down the cliff from the mesa-top cabins to the river’s edge. When the waters are low and slow enough we hoist the packs above our heads and carefully feel for soft spots and holes so that nothing we’re carrying gets soaked and ruined. By the time the river reaches up to our crotches, it is often moving too swiftly to stay upright, and we opt instead to ferry the pack across in our inflatable kayak.
Crossing the river seems like the easy part once we start up the mountain to the van, a steep mile long climb on a narrow deer trail through the ponderosas. The view, however, is spectacular, witnessing the mists from the rain soaked canyon rising in spectral clouds that glint with all the colors of the rainbow as the sun reflects on their drifting particles. From the top, we can see miles in several directions. From one short stretch the road we can even see the tiny cabins of Anima Sanctuary far below, appearing not isolated but nested, insulated, protected by the vast forested wilderness we can see surrounding it and the winding river that seems to serve as a moat holding at bay any forces of destruction.
The above shot is from the sacred cliffs downriver from the Sanctuary which can be seen below the Gila Wildlands lettering. The retreats and workshops are not currently being offered, so busy are we with our books, magazine and events.
The next photo below is taken of the seventh crossing (counted from the nearest vehicle access the mouth of the canyon).
Our county and the feds have argued about whether or not this should be called a “road.” You decide.
Herbalist and friend Juliet Blankespoor visited us with her husband and daughter shortly before the last rising of the river, and soon we’ve been expecting a visit from Rhiannon’s dear pen pal Caille from North Carolina. She will hopefully be staying with Rhiannon while Kiva and I are at the conference, having the kinds of magical experiences that this place provides… and that young’ns are often best at opening up to.
As always, any difficulties that come this homesteading lifestyle seem like a small price to pay for living the finite days of our lives in the lap of the real and natural world that is our home, our teacher, our context and inspiration. We’ll love bringing the incredible Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous to the wild folk healer tribe, but we’ll sure miss this sacred enlivened canyon while we’re gone.
Wild blessings to you all, from Kiva, myself and our family.
Now Available to Order, the New Book:
THE PLANT HEALER’S PATH
A Grassroots Guide For The HerbFolk Tribe
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
with Kiva Rose
plus David Hoffman, Paul Bergner, Phyllis Light, Rebecca Altman & Roger Wicke
302 pages, 8.5×11”, over 100 photos & art illustrations
Limited Edition Cloth Covered Hardback!: Preorder Now: $39 (shipping early September)
Ebook – Download Available Now: $25
Order Now From:
“That which was suppressed is back. The wise women and crazy men, in all their multicultural diversity, are finding their voices. Even if the monolith of the dominant culture is ignorant of this, finally we are listening to each other. The Herbalist’s Path, is the clearest description yet of this truly grassroots manifestation of herbalism – of humanity’s re-connection with healing nature and the wild.” –David Hoffman
The Story of The Plant Healer’s Path
by Kiva Rose
The Plant Healer’s Path is the first of two volumes by my partner Jesse Wolf Hardin, cofounder of Plant Healer Magazine, along with essays, medicinal plant profiles and favorite herbal recipes by myself (Kiva Rose), David Hoffman, Phyllis Light, Paul Bergner, Rebecca Altman, Sam Coffman & Roger Wicke. Wolf tackles topics vital to an effective, empowered herbal practice, with tips for the fullest living of our lives, and will prove as useful, inspiring and transformative for those of you with decades of experience as it will for anyone just getting started in herbalism. You’ll open the book up to an overview of herbalism’s history and celebration of lineage and tribe, and you’ll finish with an unflinching vision of both the near and distant future of this vital field. “It is a past that we can learn from and feel rooted in, and a future we are each called to help make.”
The Plant Healer’s Path is a veritable cultivator’s guide for growing “our practices and community, our awareness, purpose, satisfaction and bliss…” From Wolf’s Introduction:
“Throughout the ages, there have been among us women and men who felt called – impelled – to work with plants, assisting in the healing of bodies and psyches, community and the land… sometimes gladly bearing the mantle of yerbera, healer or root doctor, while at other times affecting people and the world without accepting the honor or duties of a title, or even realizing how much medicine they truly provide. And never, it seems, has this insistent calling sounded more clearly in some of us, as we awaken and respond to the great challenges of our lives and times, reclaiming some responsibility for both our personal well being and that of our society and our planet.
In the process of heeding this call to service, we’re rewarded by becoming more awake and alive, excited for the adventure, and better able to sense and savor. We each become – in our own individual ways – the needed place holders and wisdom keepers, the proactive doers and teachers, the joyous care-takers and determined healers for our times.”
I recommend that you read The Plant Healer’s Path, that you be informed and affirmed by it, your understandings deepened, your perspectives expanded and shifted. I recommend you be drawn in, like a kid to a garden spectacle, like a lover to his heart’s yearning. And I hope that it will awaken, excite, empower and propel you on your own signature path of healing.
“To be an herbalist in the U.S. in the 21st century is a lot more than just knowing some herbs and what they are ‘good for.’ It is a path of passion, enchantment and commitment and sometimes disillusionment in a wild and diverse community of peers and elders, a path complicated by industry propaganda, cultural resistance, magical thinking, ‘herban’ legends, regulatory obstacles, poor financial compensation, and a lack of educational or professional standards. Whether just beginning or already walking the path, The Plant Healer’s Path provides a panoramic road map of the terrain – both internal and external – for any person called to healing with plants… with thought-provoking essays on the issues most important to our work.” –Paul Bergner (Herbalist & Teacher)
The Plant Healer’s Path explores:
• Herbal community, tribe and culture.
• The language and terminology of healing.
• The power of our personal story.
• Herbalists as seeds of change.
• Extreme herbalism.
• Identifying needs and goals, and whether to go the professional route or not.
• What we most need to know to either start or further and deepen our herbal eduction.
• Choosing our path, defining our particular niche and role, a “summons to shine.”
• Reconciling traditional and scientific approaches.
• How to understand and deal with issues of licensing and regulation.
• Identifying pitfalls, illusions, myths & other impediments to a maximally effective practice.
• Divergent streams of herbalism, the diversity of approaches, no two herbalists alike.
• Discernment, critical thinking & “response-ability.”
• Ethics for herbalists, and clarifying and living by personal own code of honor.
• The empowered herbalist, the right to practice, and herbal activism.
• Making a living in herbalism, and the true richness of the herbalist life.
• Apportioning our time, the value of retreats, the importance of nourishing ourselves.
• The joy of herbalism, and lightening up.
• Co-creating a culture of healing.
• The future of herbalism.
“In The Plant Healer’s Path, Jesse, Kiva and others offer their shared insights offer and an exploration of folk herbalism, rejoicing in our diversity and challenging our assumptions.”
–Jim McDonald (Foundational HerbCraft)
“How can I begin to describe the many ways that herbalism can impact a person’s life? How the herbs can call and change you and help you become the person you were meant to be? How you can find your herbal community, your herbal tribe, by following this pathway? Or how the resurgence of folk herbalism may be a key to a revitalized health care system for this country? Or, maybe… you should just read this book! The Plant Healer’s Path is a result of Jesse Wolf and Kiva Rose digging down deep into their relationship with the plants and the profession, and holding the torch high for us. What more could we ask for?”
–Phyllis D. Light (Appalachian Folk Herbalist)
The Making of The Plant Healer’s Path
by Kiva Rose
Every path has not only a route and destination but also a beginning. It’s been nearly ten years since Wolf and I got together under some very magical circumstances. It’s been a wonderful if in some ways difficult transformation for me and us, but a few things have remained consistent from the beginning. For one thing, we have always been writers with a similar passion, perspective and style. Publishers had already released several books by him by the time I arrived, including Full Circle, Kindred Spirits and Gaia Eros for the alternative spirituality and nature-awareness audiences, and I was a poet who learned to use my poetic images to craft very personal essays first for SageWoman magazine and then beyond. Wolf also draws the evocative art you’ve seen many times in this magazine, and he loves my sculpting and encourages me in all my interests, but it is through our writings that we are able to share with you the most of what we know, and the most of our selves. His Anima blog and my Medicine Woman’s Roots blog have reached, informed and empowered a vast number of folks, and Plant Healer Magazine and Newsletter have become essential ways for us to combine practical clinical herbal information with wildcrafting and homestead skills, conservation, the enjoyment of food, art, healing culture, folklore and plant infused fiction.
From the beginning, I imagined that my first book would be a compilation all my clinical herbalism pieces from my blog and Medicine Woman courses. Instead, I now find myself pulled towards creating a series of volumes with the folkloric emphasis and feel that excites me most, to write plant and healing inspired tales that evoke a new mythos (stay tuned!). And instead of my writings on herbs and herbalism going into a clinical book, I’ve designated a large number of them for use in these books of Wolf’s that we’re releasing. It seems totally appropriate that we appear together in The Plant Healer’s Path and its upcoming companion – The Healing Journey: Walking The Spiral – given that we spend much of our days at desks a few feet apart, a shared window overlooking the Sweet Medicine River, tapping our hearts out on our twin solar-powered Macs.
“Part poetry, part herbal ethnography, Wolf has created an herbal call to action full of wisdom and insights from him and other remarkable contemporary herbalists. Most plant healers will find that this book strikes a deep chord in their soul, affirming what they know while pushing their boundaries for growth.” –Rosalee de la Forêt (Methow Valley Herbs)
At the onset, I did not imagine Wolf writing such an important series for the herbalist community, though I knew he had much to contribute if I could only find a way to provoke it (telling him he “can’t” or “won’t” usually does the trick!). I came to herbalism through the processes of my personal physical and emotional healing, while he came to it as an extension of his work healing the land through his riparian restoration efforts, helping heal the wounds and debilitating insecurities of the students he taught and folks he counseled, and his commitment to assisting the healing of humanity’s painful separation from the natural world and their own natures. Neither of us were cut out to be clinical herbalists daily seeing clients, yet our love and devotion to herbalism and herbalists align, our writings are kindred in a special way, and it’s a shared message we are devoted to.
“Jesse Wolf provides an inclusive, vital and passionate look into the practice of herbalism, giving voice and validation to the resurgence of a widespread, diverse herbal community whose roots go deep. The Plant Healer’s Path weaves plant medicine, politics, practical advice, poetry, history, story and lore with insightful monologues from some of the most influential voices in contemporary herbal practice. Everyone who enjoys a relationship with plants – from foodies to gardeners to medicine makers to clinicians – will find inspiration in these pages that challenge you to actively participate, in ways small and large, in the ancient and continuing story of health, vitality, and co-evolution with the plants and the green.” –Julie Caldwell (Humboldt Herbals)
From the most practical tips and lists of choices and options, to much needed inspiration, encouragement and vision, The Plant Healer’s Path casts a light on the journey at hand, on our individual, custom paths that are our practices and lives.
“We are as seeds,” Wolf insists, “embryonic, emergent, seminal! As seeds, we’re the products of a particular process of reproduction, propagation, improvisation and advancement that serves diversification and variance – thus also serving the continuing evolution and possible improving of our kind. We are not just receptacles and transmitters of existing traditions, like replicative gene sequences. We are instead the potential for healthful alternatives, adaptations, mutations and celebrations. Every one of us, vital packages of potential needing to be turned loose.”
Consciously fulfill your potential, and taste the rewards of your personal Plant Healer’s Path.
Limited Edition Cloth Covered Hardback: Preorder Now: $39 (shipping early September)
Ebook – Download Available Now: $25
40% Wholesale Discount on orders of 10 or more of the regular Softcover Edition
Write for details: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org
(Thank you so much for re-posting this on your blogs and sharing the news any ways you can!)
I apologize for the slower pace of posts in this, the busiest quarter of our year. We’re back to working 14 hours or more per day until the Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous (Sept 19-22), not only on event preparations but the upcoming Fall issue of Plant Healer Magazine, the Plant Healer Annual book, my new book for herbalists (see below), website changes, newsletters and blog posts. And we’ve also taken a little time off from writing in order to travel to the wild high country for nourishment and inspiration, and time for relatively relaxing artwork done for friend’s logos, the magazine and cover, and birthday presents for a certain someone.
Our Daughter Turned 13
It is with great pleasure that I announce the thirteenth birthday of our daughter Rhiannon. She is in the second day of its celebration as I write this post, enjoying the amazing digital 3D portrait that Kiva did of her (one of the first she ever made) and the drawing and needle-felted otter doll that Loba created for our kid, baking herself a Russian red velvet cake and engaging in precious games. It is a blessing and relief that in spite of entering her teens, she continues to unabashedly play with as much gusto and imagination as any child, uttering appropriate nonsense along with sage wisdom, erupting with otter noises when least expected. Raised here in the wilds, she demonstrates none of the resentment, disinterest or disdain typical of more “properly socialized” young adults. Tomorrow is a date that I value even more, the day that Mama Kiva first arrived with this barely four year old sprite, with mischief in her sparkling eyes and a clearly expressed longing for a father and a home. She’s gone from a little pup that easily curled up in my lap, to a lean 5’ 2” young woman already with long lanky legs extending out from the chair when I twice a day still sit and hold her, and she has every indication of ending up as tall as her fraternal grandmother. When she leaves to see the world, she will have grown not only in size but in depth and ability, with a strong love and knowledge of self, earth honoring values, and an irrepressible spirit. And I am so glad she can be so fully, so intensely, so happily at home until then.
Anima Sanctuary Improvements
Good folks Marc and Ron spent yet another weekend here helping get our remote solar electric and water systems up to par. While we’re trading for some assistance, their overriding motivation is being heroes of the canyon and rescuing their odd “Swiss Family Robinson” friends when these crucial life support systems began to fail us. A month ago we couldn’t run both laptops much past dark without losing all our power, but with new batteries and Marc’s improved wiring we haven’t had to start a gas generator once in the weeks since. Most recently they added screening to the water catching rain gutters to keep out the juniper bits that were clogging the pipes, brought quality rain barrels, and made plans to install an electric water pump to move it from the barrels to the cistern so that we don’t have to run around with buckets during every much needed storm. Ron’s eyesight has degenerated to the point where he can barely see, and yet he could see enough to help Marc direct our WWOOFer volunteers in the construction of cistern walls to protect it from the New Mexico sun. What a guy! And for Marc to drive 5 hours each way to get them here from Tucson, after a hard week’s labor, is nothing short of heroic either.
We have two work exchange helpers here this month, with more due in October. Most come through the WWOOF international program, that puts people looking for experience and work instruction in farming, permaculture etc., together with small organic farms and projects like ours who need the extra hands. In time ,we hope to also find a low-impact, wilderness loving person or couple willing to commit long-term to a caretaker/support position here, trading some daily maintenance labors for the right to live in a cabin in this magical riverine canyon. Until then, Loba enjoys teaching primitive homestead skills and backwoods cooking, and benefits from the assistance that the rotating WWOOFers provide.
The much needed seasonal monsoon arrived, turning the canyon foliage a verdant and glowing green. Higher river flower pushed in lot of clay from the fire-burned areas upriver from us, but it never got to high to get a 4×4 out with enough effort. The reduced rainfall is indicative of the increasing drought in the American West, and is indeed worrisome, but for now we are relieved to have the fire danger over for another year, and to witness the precious plant life thriving from its August drink.
Free Herbalism Newsletter
As an Anima reader you know that we write about many important topics besides medicinal plants and health matters. I do pieces illuminating American and world history, address social and political issues, write homestead how-to, natural history and food and cooking pieces, and everything related to self awareness and effective and satisfying living in this day and age. But for any of you particularly interested in self care and herbs, we’ve now expanded our free newsletter to include not only event information but plant profiles, excerpts from past or upcoming Plant Healer Magazine issues, excerpts of interviews with herbalists and wildcrafters, and even articles about healing that won’t be found anywhere else. Renamed the “Plant Healer’s Newsletter,” it will be published sporadically, 6 to 10 times per year, with an average 20 pages of info and illustrations per issue. Tell your friends about it, especially those who are usually unable to afford books and zines. You can email us for details about easily affordable display ads for your businesses in the newsletter… and if you are a writer, you can send us submissions of your work for us to consider for its pages. You will be able to subscribe on any of our websites once we complete this year’s makeovers, and for now you can subscribe to the Plant Healer’s Newsletter by entering your name and email address at the top of the intro page at: www.HerbalResurgence.org
New Book by Wolf & Kiva
The Plant Healer’s Path is the first of two books I’ll be releasing over the next year. Its followup in 2014 will focus on nature awareness, sense of place, homesteading, plant spirit medicine and earth-path shamanism, while The Plant Healer’s Path covers everything one needs to consider to get into a personalized study and practice of herbalism. Now that Kiva is no longer planning to publish a book of her much loved clinical herbalism writings, it’s especially good that they’re being featured in The Plant Healer’s Path and its upcoming companion volume… along with contributions from the much respected practitioners David Hoffman, Phyllis Light, Paul Bergner, Sam Coffman, Roger Wicke and Rebecca Altman. Limited edition hardcover copies will ship by the second week. You can preorder your copy and download the Ebook from the Plant Healer website (www.PlantHealerMagazine.com). Even those of you with little interest in herbs per se, may find useful its sections on tribe and lineage, purpose and calling, finding our gifts and niche, creating a personal code of honor to live by, nourishing and empowering ourselves, and living our dreams.
Future Anima Posts
Even with all else we are doing, we will continue to put out the Anima Blog for as long as we can. Since we can’t personally write the many thousands of you in our community with our canyon news and new tales, this blog provides us with the means to share our lives and work with you. Rhiannon has a piece of her own in mind that she wants to write for us here, and Loba will soon be contributing something to mark the 20th Anniversary of her moving to the Anima Sanctuary and partnering in this life and mission. And you can of course look forward to more of my essays guaranteed to stir, rattle and inspire.
Live deep, adventure often, and remember to savor.
Rhythm & The Drum
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
I’ve always been a drummer. Throughout the years of creating artwork for a living, the decades of writing articles for books and magazines, and now giving most of my hours to creating events and Plant Healer Magazine. I cannot walk from one end of the room to the other without tapping on various objects to hear their different tones, and my family has to tell me to calm my tapping foot when we try to watch a movie.
The hourglass shaped djembe that Joe Wheeler made doesn’t get picked up much, but it is a treasured reminder of the value of rhythm, of the hundreds of concerts I put on as benefits for different causes. A six person bluegrass band couldn’t make people get up and dance as well as I could with a single guitar playing singer and this lion-hearted drum. And in keeping with the tone of the concert rap, many of those same folks would get up the following morning and follow the beat of the drum to important protests against the cutting of the last giant Redwoods, poisonous gold leeching operations, the world bank and the world’s corrupt bankers. Rhythm is a propellent that can propel troops forward in battle or contribute to someone’s physical and spiritual healing, a powerful element in product advertisements but also the driving element in many cultures of resistance.
At its most basic, rhythm is simply a repeating pattern of beats marking the passage of time. It’s embodied in the very cycles of nature: of life and death, evaporation and rain, the sequencing of ocean waves and tides, the inhalation and exhalation of animal breath, the donning and shedding of leaves. Earth is a planet heavily influenced by the recurrent phases of an orbiting moon, dependent upon and defined by its steady pace around the sun. The consistent heartbeat of the mother is the first sound a fetus hears afloat in the womb, and a child is born into a rhythmic world. In a sense, the health of an individual or ecosystem is the result not only of its diversity, but the polyrhythmic interaction of its constituent parts. Taking this metaphor a step further, it’s as though through its practiced separativeness civilized humanity has gotten “off beat,” out of synch with the overall composition of greater creation.
Rhythm can be also an aide to reconnection, with the drum as an instrument of rhythm. Drumming has the potential to lead both the player and the engaged audience into deep sensory and emotional contact with their natural selves, each other, and the natural world they are an integral part of. Played rhythms can reflect and at times entrain with the rhythms of the body, suspending normal cognition and intellection and leading to an expansive feeling of connection or oneness. The result may be not only be musical but magical.
The word “religion” comes from the Latin for “binding together.” By this measure, a religion is a system of perception binding together all the fundamental rhythms that each of us experiences: the personal rhythm of the human body, the larger social rhythm of the family, tribe, or nation, and the enveloping cosmic rhythms of the planet and universe. The everyday, and the miraculous and unexplained. When spirituality “works,” its practitioners experience a sacred dimension of rhythm and time. For “primitive” indigenous peoples, the drum is a vehicle for this experience. The medicine elders of many tribes and traditions — such as the Inuit of Canada, the Hourani of Ecuador and the Siberian Buriat – employ distinct mesmerizing rhythms for the purpose of encouraging an altered, hyper-intuitive state that can lead to sacred visions, heroic spiritual assignments or miraculous cures.
Drums produce the low frequency “steep fronted” sonic impulses that most strongly affect the auditory cortex. Interestingly, experiments in the field of biofeedback have determined that the psychically aroused “alpha/theta border” occurs when the electric brain waves are pulsing at a rate of six to eight cycles per second— the predominate tempo of Haitian Voodoo music and African trance dancing. The theta state occurs after sex and right before sleep, the twilight phase when linear thought succumbs to free form images, and awareness of the narrowly defined self is supplanted by identification with the shifting fields of an organic whole.
“What if we took the drum out of Rock? Well, suh, I don’ know… it just wouldn’t roll!”
The drum’s purported ability to provoke personal religious experience was understandably threatening to various state churches and their far flung missionaries, as was its tendency to excite behavior the Christianized Roman Empire ruled “licentious” and “mischievous.” Portuguese colonizers in Brazil in the 16th and 17th centuries enforced laws against the percussive music of their African slaves. The sound of Native American drums was sometimes enough to trigger a violent response from the U.S. Cavalry during the messianic religious revival of the late 1870’s known to historians as the Ghost Dance. Preachers in the U.S. railed against the influence of “rhythm and blues” in the post-WWII period, accusing hip-shakin’ Elvis of being an agent of the devil. Since the 1960’s drums have been a regular feature of protests throughout the world, from efforts to save the Daintree Forest in New South Wales, Australia, to “drum-ins” at the Nevada nuclear test site.
The styles of drums range from tiny Asian finger drums to the giant hanging barrel drums found in various Buddhist temples in Japan. Some have one head, others are covered at both ends. Hand held open-frame styles were popular with Siberian shamans as well as the Druidic priests of ancient Great Britain. The most popular handmade drums in America today are designs that originated in Africa: the narrow bottomed ashiko, and the aforementioned djembe. Until the introduction of the first plastic heads in the 1950’s, drums were built entirely of natural materials. Their womb-like shells were usually constructed of wood or clay, with animal skin heads stretched tight with the help of iron bolts and rings, or with cord laced at the sides.
The carvers of ceremonial drums take into account the religious symbolism of the materials they are made with. The bodies of the instruments may be sculpted into the shapes of animal spirits, dyed with sacred minerals or shed blood, or hung with fur and feather. In Cuba as late as the 1860’s priests of the Abakua brotherhood are said to have used drums made out of human skulls during their funeral rites, alongside symbols of resurrection. In ritual terms, the impermanence of life is made more bearable through the apparent impermanence of death.
Other traditional percussion instruments employed for ceremonial and spiritual purposes include rattles, shakers, gongs, bells, claves (wood blocks), the African m’bira (thumb piano), and the Brazilian berimbau— a wire affixed to a wooden bow, struck with a painted stick, and with a coin eased against the wire to affect a haunting vibrato. In the creation of rhythms the player becomes a part of a process that goes back to the very beginnings of time.
“A sound precipitates air, then fire, then water and earth,” Joseph Campbell wrote, “and that’s how the world becomes. The whole universe is included in this first sound, this vibration….”
I won’t be stopping my work today to play my drums, but I’ll damn sure play my Mac keyboard. As I lay out the pages of the magazine, I will be dancing the illustrations into place in a set of patterns not unlike a musical composition. The words will come tumbling out in a steady rhythm, tapped out my laptop computer with fingers that – like irrepressible kids – can’t seem to stay still in their seats. Writing, breathing, and walking with a rhythm. Rhythms of resistance. Rhythms of sex and play and laughter. Rhythms of restoration and healing.
Both our fullest enjoyment of our finite years, and the very survival of the human species may hinge on this one thing: our purposeful re-entrainment with the rhythms, cycles, processes and needs of the greater living world. So gather the drums! With every shake of ones rattle we can be embedded deeper – in the Gaian composition, the music and the magic, the direction and the dance. The drum calls us to loosen up, to get out of our busy heads, to feel deeply, and above all to move… to be transformed, and to bring about change.
Forward, then. Forward in the rhythm.
The Necessity of Learning to Become Native Again
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
The topic of what it means to be “native” or “indigenous” is a highly contentious one, ruffling the feathers of landless, cultureless “white folk” far more than it bothers even most activist Native Americans. It is, however, an essential exploration for everyone on this planet, with a true and irrevocable connection to the living land being the best and only long term chance that our human kind has.
IN-DIG-E-NOUS: adj. 1) Occurring or living naturally in an area; native.
2) Intrinsic, innate.
“We see in the present best efforts of groups of non-Indians an honest desire to become indigenous in the sense of living properly with the land.” -Vine Deloria. Jr. (Sioux historian)
One does not take as good of care of a place when they imagine they are only visiting. In this age of constant migration, the best hope for the suffering environment may lie in people of every race and culture settling down and committing to a place that speaks to them, heeding the implorings of its spirit and tending to its needs. The survival of myriad other species, and the future of humanity as well, may hinge on the degree to which we are able to set aside our comfortable habits, preconceptions and assumptions – and rebecome conscious participants, discovering what it means to be native again.
Now more than ever we need to look to not only the remaining land-based tribal peoples, but to the qualities and possibilities our primal minds. Indigenous modes of perception become all the more essential as our modern society reels out of balance both ecologically and spiritually. The land-informed stories of indigenous populations can help us recover our lost awareness of self and place. The knowledge of how to live in balance, in a sustainable way, already exists– in the ways of the ancient ones of every continent. The information is all too often lost along with the unraveling of tribal customs, with time tested skills and informed insights vanishing as fast as the lands appropriated for development. As our existence and enterprises become increasingly commercial and controlled, our pleasures ever more vicarious, our sense of both culture and place perverted or absent, as both our schedules and our thoughts race ever faster, we can still turn to they who have lived here, and loved here the longest. Turn to the Indian elders, the placed peasants, the Hispanic dirt farmers with their knowledge of weather and wild foods, Amish farmers, those nomads still following the reindeer and the seasons, or the Kayapo and their jungle pharmacy. We must turn to them, not in order to emulate or simulate, but in a respectful search for the truths that are our birth right, for what it means to truly belong. We are not “settlers,” we are simply the unsettled.
For all the differences in the world views and cosmologies of indigenous peoples, there are certain qualities they generally share in common. From the Saami of the northern edge of Scandinavia to the Australian Aborigine, primal perception is likely to incorporate the following tenets:
1) The Earth is alive, self directed, with it’s own primal consciousness.
2) Life is inspirited and thus sacred with an innate, intrinsic value. The rocks and the lichen that feed on them, the trees and the rain that drips down them, all creatures and all people are vested with spirit, meaning and purpose.
3) All elements of the sacred whole are interconnected, interdependent, interrelated at the deepest levels… and all should be treated as our relatives. At the root of all personal and societal turmoil is the illusion of separateness, a dis-ease which must be guarded against from birth until death. Since there is no truly “other,” all beings are hurt by the dishonoring or degradation of any one.
4) Humanity’s additional cognitive abilities position us not above the rest of creation, but sorely in need of deliberate rituals to keep us grounded in relationship, purpose and place. Our unique gifts were meant to result not in libertine distraction, but advanced responsibility. Our kind is called to attend to the needs and lessons of the natural world we are a part of…. to acknowledge, partake in, protect and provide for the plants, animals and waters that in turn nourish, instruct, inspire and house us.
5) Existence is to be smelled and tasted, embraced and absorbed. No words for food are meant to substitute for the benefits of eating…. and all symbols and gestures are meant to bring us deeper into the actual wordless, physical, emotional and spiritual experiencing of life.
6) Everything in the world functions in part as a message, and all that happens to us, positive or negative, is potentially a valuable lesson. All truths and all beings are tested, and it is through these challenges that we earn our blessings, demonstrate our qualifications, validate our worth, manifest our love.
7) Spiritual knowledge or power requires the complete, painful dissolution of illusion and the fearful societal self… and a committed realignment and recommitment according to the designs of Spirit and Place.
8) Such designs exist for all things, heeding the imperatives of Gaian rhythm, pattern and will.
9) All things occur in cycles, and all energy and life seek to circle— to return to its migrational origins, to spin in the grass before settling down nose to tail. All there is is an eternal now, rolling over in place like a salmon, exposing in turn each of its sides Summer to Fall, Winter to Spring, first night and then day. Humankind, too, turns in place, sequentially offering up the face of an anxious infant, a tempestuous teen, a focused adult, a grandfather or crone.
10) The Seeker’s quest moves towards and never away from authentic self and inspirited place, heightened awareness and applied magic, meaning and mission…. a true journey home.
Primal mind isn’t just for the shamans and seekers of a few tribes, the tranced-out Ladakh, Kogi or the Shuar. It is, rather, a region or capacity of the instinctual human body, accessible by even the most predisposed of us. It surfaces during love making, while crossing the slick head of a waterfall, in the presence of enraptured children, whenever circumstance and surprise have delivered us most fully into our sentient bodies. At these times the Earth reveals itself as unquestioningly sacred, imbued with the numinous. Even the most mundane expressions of inanimate Nature appear alive, and one can sense movement in patterns of fiber and the grain of mineral and wood. We find ourselves in the timeless now, the eternal bodily and psychic engagement with the present, a part of an interconnected universe that unfolds and contracts in cycles. Even if only for the shortest period of time, we jettison words for reality, symbol for touch, and know the world through our primal minds. We feel more alive, complete, tested and worthy. And we are. Honored to be. Honored to be here now.
We each become more indigenous to the degree that we reside in our primal minds, in place, in the bosom of the land, in the lap of the moment. Becoming: coming to be, leaning how to really be, coming onto and into one’s self. In re-becoming native, we re-create a contemporary culture, community, vocabulary, spiritual practice, and finally a history true to our mixed-blood ancestry and the urgent and trying times at hand. Along with our grounding comes an almost forgotten humility. We look to the the first “two legged” peoples to inhabit this continent for guidance, but we must also each establish our credibility directly with the land. We need to own our deepening connection, the fact that we too belong to the places we’re promised to— even as we actively respect the ways of those peoples who showed respect to the land for so long before us.
In time we may come to recognize being native as a condition of relationship. Of sensitivity, engagement, reciprocity and allegiance. To survive, those facing the tests of the next century will have had to learn to be placed. And they’re likely to be of ever more mixed blood. They will be the descendants of Shona and Aborigine, Mongol and Semite, Hispanic and Cree, and they will have learned respect. They will be the proud inheritors of the affections of Aphrodite, the temperance of Chuang-Tzu, the resolve of Odin and Ogun, the determination of the Berserkers and the spirit of Crazy Horse. No matter where they’re situate, they’ll have survived because they came to know and manifest themselves, completely and unapologetically, as indigenous.
And this alone will have brought them great satisfaction.
(RePost & Share Freely – www.AnimaCenter.org)