Enchanted Healer Excerpt: The Portal

by on April 21st, 2014

Intro: It’s with great pleasure that we’ve released our second book in a trilogy, The Enchanted Healer.  This book is not only our first lengthy all color edition, and the most lushly illustrated project of ours ever, but it also the first of ours in years to address topics of sentience, the extrasensory, awareness, presence, plant spirit, places of power, vision quests, shamanism, ecstatic cooking, the aesthetics and art of healing, and other topics related to the awakeness and enchantment crucial to any Seeker, Teacher, Quester, or essential Healer of bodies, psyches, spirits, communities and ecosystems.  The following is an excerpt, from the first chapter “The Portal”,  I hope it introduces some of the flavor of this work of love, and that you enjoy its message and effects.  You can order your own copy on the Bookstore Page at: www.PlantHealer.org

Portal by Jesse Wolf Hardin

The Enchantment page 2Enchanted Healer second page 72dpiPortal Sky flowers 72dpiportal last page of text 72dpi

Thank you… and Share Freely

Enchanted Healer Books Shipping – & Reviewed by Kiva

by Kiva Rose on April 15th, 2014

 Kiva with Enchanted Healer cover 1-72dpi

Enchanted Healer Books Now Shipping!

I’m excited to report that the boxes of full color Enchanted Healer books have arrived from the printer!  And they came out great!  The thickness of the paper and vibrancy of the full color pages makes it really stand out.  This morning our daughter Rhiannon and I boxed up the many U.S. pre-orders and we’re shipping them from town today, Priority 1st Class.  International orders will ship on Friday.  Domestic orders should start arriving at your homes and p.o. boxes very soon.  Hurrah!

I should tell you that I’ve decided to also publish The Enchanted Healer later on Amazon.com later, in order to reach way beyond our herbalist, healer and nature lover community… but because of their limits on color book length, it will appear there as two separate volumes – Book I and II – and will therefore cost regular buyers twice as much as what it costs you, our tribe.

And we’ll have copies for you to peruse at this year’s Plant Healer event, the 2014 HerbFolk Gathering in Arizona in September, hope to see you there!  (Go to the Events page at: www.PlantHealer.org)

Below is my review of this important book, excerpted from the Spring issue of Plant Healer Magazine for any of you who haven’t gotten to read it yet, and for any of you who have blogs or newsletters that you’d be willing to share it through.  If you do, thank you!

If you haven’t already, you can order your personal copy from the Bookstore page at: www.PlantHealer.org

Thank you much, and Spring Blessings from all of us…   Kiva


Enchanted Healer Shipping Party!

Enchanted Healer Shipping Party!

Enter the Portal:
Becoming The Enchanted Healer

by Kiva Rose

The Enchanted Healer is one who has gone to that other world, been changed, and committed himself or herself to the All Life, and in a real and often painful manner, died to the mechanical world.  She or he no longer seeks the approval of the skeptic, but rather to heal all things, to bring them into right relationship with all others.  The boring world stops at the door of Earth-with-a-Soul.  I hope you readers enjoy this journey into the enchantment of the Healer as much as I have.”
Matthew Wood, Herbalist

The Enchanted Healer is a new book whose mission is to enchant the reader, assisting us in maintaining and growing a sense of enchantment in our daily lives as well as in our individual healing practices. Its art and insight cast a spell invigorating our curiosity and wonder, our inquiry and our ecstasy. Author Jesse Wolf Hardin invites us “to and through the portal of awakeness and awareness to a place of discovery and delight,” a wholly interconnected world rich with the wisdom, beauty and power of inspirited Nature.

The “Healers” this book seeks to empower, excite and celebrate come in many forms, not only the Herbalist and Physician, Acupuncturist and Naturopath, but also the Nurturer from gardeners and conservationists to caring parents and artful cooks, the envisioning Seer, the spirit-mending Shaman, and the paradigm-changing CultureShifter…. not just helping heal bodies but feelings and spirits, family and community, society and the endangered living land.  As Wolf writes:

“Healers help assist, adjust, counterbalance, shift, direct, nurture and mend… Healing is an active contribution to the balance, integrity and expression of a whole that is and should be always dynamic, morphing, unfolding, improving, and revealing.”

We each come to the portal of our enchantment the same as we come to our healing paths: in our own personal ways, following a circuitous route that is as unpredictable and magical as it is deliberate and planned.

The Journey to My Enchantment

My Journey To Enchantment

“Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.”
J. R. R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories

I was first drawn to the work of the Healer through my experiences of spending time with plants. Down on my hands and knees in the grass, surrounded by the wild plants I was only beginning to know the names of, I could easily become lost for hours at a time in the detail of their intricate leaf veins or trailing roots or by the way they moved in the wind and rain. Even in the small patches of woodland oasis amidst the surrounding urban chaos I would find myself transported into another world by the patterns of light flickering across dew-damp wildflowers. These threads of wildness that wove through the city were surrounded on every side by traffic, but still insulated me from the harsh sounds and often frantic pace of the human world. In my green havens I could slip into a sort of reverie, and imagine myself in Tolkien’s tree guarded Lothlorien or the forbiddingly dark forests of Grimm’s fairy tales.

As a homeless teenager, I spent many nights in city parks, climbing up into welcoming branches and sleeping with my legs and arms wrapped around the comforting body of a living tree. I told my secrets to their leaves, and listening to them whisper back with every small breeze. While some seek talismans in technology or human wrought things, I have always found my portal into the otherworld through the plants. One taste of a feral Mulberry or inhalation of Honeysuckle on a humid night can send my senses reeling past the veil and into a Faery touched landscape. Not only have plants ignited my passion and imagination for most of my life, they’ve also provided me with focus, love, and direction in my darkest hours. Learning how the weeds I grew up with could tend the wounds of the body, as well as those of the heart and spirit, only drew me further into the enchantment that began with my first memory of a Yarrow flower as a toddler.

As fellow lovers of plants, I know that you – too – have come to this journey and mission as much out of love and passion as practicality or necessity. You more than likely recognize something magical in the effects of medicinal herbs and in the very processes of healing and repair.

“The plants have open our minds and hearts to new ways of looking at the world and your purpose within it, revealed the presence of spirit in all things and the potential for apparent miracles in our practices and lives.”

The Enchanted Healer book, too, is not only a resource but a revealing… of “how wonderful we can feel, of all we can be, of all the possible ways we can help ourselves, others, and this world to heal.”

Kiva with Enchanted Healer open 2-72dpi

Envisioning & Manifesting

In The Enchanted Healer, Wolf also discusses the many ways in which a Healer can manifest, providing a look at the twists and turns of how we practice, and how far that healing can extend:

“A mark of a Healer is feeling drawn – compelled, even – to try to ease suffering and help remedy unwellness, unwholeness and imbalance wherever and whenever it is encountered. This often manifests in careers as health care providers, but also shows up as hospice work and counsel for the dying, a dedication to plant conservation or land restoration, habitat protection or wildlife rehabilitation, and even stopping to comfort a lost kitten we see. The instinct to help and heal seldom ends here, however, and often extends to empathy for the homeless and volunteer work on their behalf. Awareness of the corporados’ destruction of the last wild places, and activism to address it. Soon it can get to the point that it would feel hypocritical to help a woman with bruises on her face without trying to free her from an abusive relationship, perhaps even volunteering at a shelter. Or to administer herbs unless we know they are from a sustainable and ethical source. Or to make a good income from a healing practice without donating some time or money to those who cannot afford health care. Or to meekly conduct an under-the-radar practice without facing or taking a stand on increasingly onerous regulations.”

The Enchanted Healer covers subjects as diverse as Healer archetypes, plant spirit, plant and animal totems, utilizing and heightening our physical senses, so-called extrasensory perception, eros and sexuality, the magic of cooking, self care and nourishment, Anima and the vital life force, Gaia the living Earth, healing vision quests and places of power, and creating sanctum and sanctuary for ourselves. It is a book intended to both inform and inspire, to clarify and create space for further imaginings and understandings:

“To ‘envision’ is not simply to foresee or forecast, but to recognize patterns and possibilities, to mentally create ideas that beg to be acted on and tested, models that can then be sculpted, manifested, realized in the physical reality. To continue on a path, we must either see or envision the way ahead. To treat a symptom of bodily, cultural or ecological disease, we conceive of its causes, and imagine the best possible treatments, acting on not only what we already know and can see, but also on our growing understanding and experience of the unseen.”

We need not only inspiration, but also clarity, discernment, focus and follow-through. It’s so easy to become diffuse and pulled in too many directions as a Healer. By the very nature of our vocation, we Healers must be multifaceted, but the complex and competing work of study, clinical work, medicine making, sorting through current research, botany, activism, gardening, wildcrafting, and much more can be overwhelming and lead to a feeling of being pulled in too many directions. Wolf effectively breaks down many of the most vital elements and aspects of being a Healer, and makes them accessible, exciting, and achievable for all of us.

The Inner Sanctum www.PlantHealer.org

The Enchanted Healer also provides in depth insights into the working practice of the Healer, and delves into the vital importance of self care. Many of us fall madly in love with our vocation, pouring our whole selves into studying, practicing, and endlessly striving to become better at the mending and nourishing that healing entails. But at some point most of us will find ourselves at a crossroads, wondering whether we are good enough to deserve the title of Healer, when tending others has taken its toll on our energy levels, when the complexity of physiology and chemistry is overwhelming, and when we don’t know if we can continue down this path with more support and strength.

On those days when we wake up tired and worn down from our work, what we most often need is self nourishment, and the time to re-emerge ourselves in the enchantment that first drew us to healing in the first place. Once exhausted, it can be difficult to even remember what that was, or it can seem faded out or inaccessible when seen through such tired eyes. The Enchanted Healer both looks honestly at this important subject, and also suggests ways in which to nourish the self and recharge:

“We can only optimally nourish others, of course, when we have and continue to nourish our selves, our body with all its hungers, our emotional and spiritual needs, tending and feeding and watering all that we need to heal, strengthen, deepen, manifest, and bloom. Whatever your role in this life, you will be better at it and more satisfied with it if you take the time – and do what it takes – to nurture your inherent gifts and talents, imagination and creativity, ideas and desires, calling and missions, hopes and dreams.

It is then that we can best nurture other people, their well-being and their dreams as well as the community we are a part of and the land that needs us. It is as Nurturers, too, that we make things better. And it is making things better that makes us Healers.”

The Enchanted Healer art by Jesse Wolf Hardin

The Beauty & Song

The Enchanted Healer is beautifully illustrated with over 650 photos and paintings by many talented artists including Wolf and our friends Katlyn Breene, Lauren Raine and Madeline von Foerster, with its look and feel intended to be an important component in the spell this book weaves. Words and images merge to create a portrait of a magical life, a Healer both enchanted and enchanting, and opening a portal into the storybook forest. Turning the pages is choosing to walk through the open door, and step into a mushroom marked fairy ring where the ancient dance of the healing arts continues each and every moment. As Wolf tells us:

“Enchantment is not about being bewitched or bewildered, it is a healthy glamour that amazes us with revelations of magic in the mundane, of significance in the overlooked, misunderstood or undervalued. It is neither hallucination, feel-good diversion, self delusion, sleight of hand tricks or entertainment. It is allure, necessarily followed by engagement with what fascinates us engagement with the ever so real world and our work within it… albeit a world that will always be at least in part a wonderful mystery, and everyday healing work that is northing less than extraordinary – not so much credible as incredible, not so much known and conventional as mysterious, adaptive, and mind blowing… with effects and results that can be astounding, awe inspiring, and incontrovertibly phenomenal.

The Enchanted Healer www.PlantHealer.org

The portal to our enchantment is often closer than we think, disguised as something common but betrayed by a faint smell of wild herbs, ocean fog, or forest moss, or concealed by Fir and Spruce boughs sweetly singing in the wind.”

Enchantment is the place of magic and meaning where we gather, and where we recognize each other. The gift of the book The Enchanted Healer is not only that it awakens and empowers our lives and practices, but also that it brings us together.

I’ll meet you there.

–Kiva Rose

Kiva with Enchanted Healer open 1-72dpi

Enchanted Healer by Jesse Wolf Hardin  www.PlantHealer.orgTable of Contents 2-72dpi

Order from the Bookstore page at: www.PlantHealer.org

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HerbFolk Updates & Free Herbal Newsletter

by on March 24th, 2014
Subscribe for Free at: www.PlantHealer.org

Subscribe for Free at: www.PlantHealer.org

Free March Herbal Newsletter Ready For You

The Plant Healer Newsletter is a color pdf supplement to Plant Healer Magazine, featuring abridged reprints from the magazine as well as interview excerpts and original articles about herbs and herbalism from you – our folk herbal community.  It is absolutely free, in order to provide inspiration and information even to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it.  Subscribe by simply filling in your email address on the appropriate line, at: www.PlantHealer.org

The March edition sends out today, 35 pages that includes:

Herbal Treatments for Sinusitis – by Jim McDonald – A lengthy, in-depth article from one of our core Plant Healer writers and teacher at the upcoming HerbFolk Gathering, excerpted from the Herbal Resurgence Classes Book.

Traditions Not Trademarks – by Rosemary Gladstar – Addressing what could be only the first in coming threats to our folk recipes and even our expressions and terms, the shameful trademarking of her freely shared term “Fire Cider” by ignominious Shire City Herbals.

Fire Cider Recipe – by Kiva Rose – Encouraging the free sharing of “the people’s medicine.”

HerbFolk Gathering Updates & News

The Portal – An entire introductory chapter from our upcoming new book The Enchanted Healer, with text overlays on lush illustration taken directly from the book’s pages.

If you aren’t already subscribed, you can still download the latest issue by clicking on this complimentary link: MARCH NEWSLETTER LINK


Enchantment PreOrder Poster 72dpi

The Enchanted Healer Book

The Enchanted Healer is the second in our trilogy of books for herbalists and healers of all kinds, this time focused on the spirit of the craft, developing awareness and the senses, plant totems and savoring the enchantments of herbalism.  It’s been at the printers for awhile, and should be in our hands in a very few weeks now.  We’ll start shipping to those who preordered earliest.  Again, you can see the entire first chapter at it appears in the book, in the latest Plant Healer Newsletter linked above.  You can preorder your full color copy on the Bookstore Page at www.PlantHealer.org

“What Kiva and Jesse have delivered through the labor of their dreams and shamanic schemes is a great ride!  In The Enchanted Healer, they do not write ABOUT herbalism, dreams, a healers path; rather they invite us IN to experience the texture, smells, sounds and urgings that the plant world so lovingly beckons us to.”
Kathleen Maier, Sacred Plant Traditions


2014 HerbFolk Gathering News

Preparations continue for the upcoming Plant Healer event: The HerbFolk Gathering – Sept. 18-21, 2014.  This will be our 5th Annual event, including the earlier Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference with its Western and clinical emphasis, and the Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous with a focus on the Medicine of The People and herbal access for all.  This time our latest incarnation, The HerbFolk Gathering, will have an Enchanted Forest theme evoking Herbalism’s many enchantments as well as the latest in practical herbal knowledge.  Teachers like the visionary herbalist David Hoffman, Matthew Wood and Sean Donahue will be presenting spirit infused topics like never before.  But one thing that all Plant Healer events have had in common, is the particular community it attracts: the most interested and interesting, unconventional and visionary of herbalists, wildcrafters and culture-healers!

From that first unlikely conference at New Mexico’s famed Ghost Ranch in 2010, to 2014’s celebration at the awesome Mormon Lake Resort in the forests of northern Arizona, Kiva and I have been blown away by the support, affection and enthusiasm of our wilder tribe.  It has been an honor to create what our friend Paul Bergner called a “new nexus of the folk herbalism revival,” an opportunity and place for the coming weaving together of community, learning and celebration, helping to usher in not just a more natural healing paradigm but also a healthier world.

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 • Shana Lipner Grover • Elaine Shiff • Stephany Hoffelt, Jesse Wolf Hardin and more…

“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.”
-Paul Bergner

Plant walk with 7Song-72dpi

Networking HerbFolk

With all our wonderful teachers selected and the site contracted, we’re now busy with getting the word out to folk through Kiva’s social media presence and the help of people like you who are mentioning it in forums, or announcing it on websites.  Anyone asking can get an HerbFolk graphic for use online, a pdf info packet to share, or poster master to print out and post wherever appropriate.  Write us at: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org with “conference networking request” in the subject line please.

If you have a website, you can link to our web graphics below.  Grab them from this post or write us to send you copies:

Link To: http://www.planthealer.org/herbfolk.html

Link To: http://www.planthealer.org/herbfolk.html

Link to: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

Link to: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com


Masquerade Ball:
Get To Work on That Costume!

Remember that the main night’s entertainment will be centered around an all-species, faeries and woodfolk Masquerade Ball!  Come as you really are on the inside, as the magical character, animal or plant that speaks and dances through you!

There will likely also be a second night of dancing with a live band, if we can find a fitting group to perform.  The Enchantment theme narrows down the possibilities a little bit, and there are very professional groups of interest in Arizona, so we are researching more bands in California again.  If you have a suggestion for an enchanting but also danceable, earthy group, send us an email with the subject “HerbFolk Band.”

Plant Person cartoon-72dpi
Receive Free Tickets, Vending Table
& Advertising as an
HerbFolk 2014 Sponsor

Applications are available for HerbFolk Sponsorships, earning benefits equal to the level of your contribution.  Promote your business, school, craft or practice, through our website and at this unique herbal event this September 18-21.  Write us for the new app with full details: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org


HerbFolk Tickets

Tickets for Plant Healer’s 2014 event go up in price in June, so get yours soon for the best deal.

Group Discounts

The more folks that you get to participate, the cheaper it is for everyone to attend: 10% discount for 6 to 9 people, 20% off for 10 to 24, and a full 30% discount on groups of 25 or more.  The director needs to submit all the names at one time, and to make sure that all participants pay within a week from submission for discounts to apply.

To Register or for More Info click on the Events Page at:


Mormon Lake Lodging Cabin 72dpi
Cabins Should Be Reserved Now!

Many of you like to camp in the trees near the event site, or choose to stay at an inexpensive motel in nearby Flagstaff, but those of you hoping to rent a cabin this September will need to reserve yours soon.  Cabins always sell out long before the event, so we’re asking folk to please fill the rooms to capacity even if it means inviting friends to share it.  More people can be accommodated that way.  Contact the Resort directly to make reservations: http://www.mormonlakelodge.com/lodging/
928-354-2227 Ext 10


“There’s nothing like your Plant Healer events, by any name… truly nothing!  I am affirmed.  I am empowered.  I am changed!”
-Karen Colter


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Plant Healer - The Magazine Different - www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

Plant Healer – The Magazine Different – www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

Hosting Anima Sanctuary Volunteers

by Loba Hardin on February 2nd, 2014

The Experience & Joy of Hosting Anima Sanctuary Volunteers

Thank You to My On-Site Homestead Helpers!

by Loba

This amazing canyon wilderness has blossomed from 33 years of guardianship and restoration, with a forest of cottonwoods and willows where there were once none. The wild places of the world are suffering greatly from human impact from pollution to pavement and habitat destruction, but I am witness to the ways in which human residents can be essential to the land’s protection and nurturance. This amazing inspirited place would be destroyed by now if not for our partner Wolf fending off threats as well as planting and tending. Our neighbor has invested much money into fighting trespass in the courts, while our role is being present, day after day, making a difference on the ground. To exist here we’ve had to learn not only the basics of off-grid homesteading, but things like carpentry and building and vehicle maintenance don’t come easy to eccentric writers and ecophilosophers and artists and cooks like us are not naturally very good at.


My friend and caring helper Marcus with his dear daughter Ella.

My friend and caring helper Marcus with his dear daughter Ella.

Over the past decade, it has gotten even harder to take care of the basics like keeping our cabins from rotting and the water and electric systems working, due to all the projects we’ve been doing to try to help affect and heal the larger world. All the books being written, the HerbFolk conference we organize, the Anima teachings and Plant Healer Magazine have all taken a lot of attention, to where Wolf and Kiva work on them up to 14 or more hours most days of the week, only taking time away to get some daily exercise in the canyon and take in another dose of the beauty and satisfaction. I keep so busy with food processing and preparation and Rhiannon’s home schooling that having assistance has become increasingly crucial. Our dear “Trail Boss” has been coming when he can to lend a practical-minded hand, with he and his son Danny installing the fire fighting water sprinkler system paid for by you readers when wildfires threatened the sanctuary. Our caring friend Marc has been taking time off from his own business in the city to drive here and improve our solar electric set-up, and make it to where I can run a solar electric fridge after so many years of hauling melting ice in from town (sometimes on our backs, when the river was too high to drive!). He is also installing a solar electric water pump system that can move precious water from our rain barrels to a storage tank, I can’t thank him enough!

Marc, Waloo, Andrew and David install the sanctuary's first fridge in 33 years... Solar powered!

Marc, Waloo, Andrew and David install the sanctuary’s first fridge in 33 years… Solar powered!

Andrew, Jacqui and Waloo learn about the new water pump and filter that Marcus donated to us.

Andrew, Jacqui and Waloo learn about the new water pump and filter that Marcus donated to us.

For assistance with the more everyday chores, we’ve been hosting volunteer helpers over the past 5 years, mostly young folks eager to trade their help for a chance to live in a wonderful place for 30 day periods learning new skills, gaining the experience needed to perhaps finding their own land to purchase and protect and re-wild and make into their cherished homes. While we can’t offer herbal education with Kiva so busy writing, we can offer a cabin in paradise and meaningful existence close to the land and elements. I’ve been fortunate to host a number of great volunteers so far, including some with a lot of physical energy who truly enjoyed working hard outdoors, women and men who felt fueled by the beauty of the land, exhibited both spunk and diligence, were able to stay focused even while chatting and took pride and satisfaction in a job well done.

Trail Boss and Danny on roof direct construction of the outdoor kitchen and helper area.

Trail Boss and Danny on roof direct construction of the outdoor kitchen and helper area.

Nina, a happy helper!

Nina, a happy helper!

It’s amazing to walk around the Anima homestead and see all the projects that have been completed in the past two years, which could have never happened so quickly (and some, not at all!) without their help. We are so grateful for Rhiannon’s beautiful new bedroom addition complete with pretty treadle-sewed curtains, and her hand built bed, the lovely outdoor kitchen, the horno beehive oven, the cold frames and potato grower. I wonder how many cords of wood our helpers have chopped, and stacked, and brought to the kitchen in wheelbarrows upon wheelbarrows, to help keep the bread coming from the ovens, and the soups bubbling upon the stoves. How many pieces of clothing they’ve helped to mend and alter, the boxes of Plant Healer books they’ve happily packaged, the heaps of wild greens they’ve harvested & processed, the meals they’ve helped me cook, and so much more.

Fritz, Hanna, Greg and Gina start construction of our horno oven made of clay.

Fritz, Hanna, Greg and Gina start construction of our horno oven made of clay.

Danny teaches helper Jason how to lay pipe for the fire fighting system.

Danny teaches helper Jason how to lay pipe for the fire fighting system.

Helper cooking 72dpi

One helper this Winter was Alissa, and she was such a gift to me. We got huge amounts of work done. We filled the wood shed with split juniper, organized & cleaned the storage sheds, baked lots of bread in the horno, and she organized and sorted the kitchen pantry and the helper kitchen. She also built a box potato grower all on her own, and put many hours of hard work into creating draining ditches on the steep road up to the Anima homestead, and smoothing out the road by hauling & fitting many rocks into the crevices that had formed during the monsoon and flood season. It was her letter of thanks to me after she left, that inspired me to write this post… and I will include it at the end.

Alissa enjoying the kitchen magic!

Alissa enjoying the kitchen magic!

And Alissa helping bring some organizational sense to my storage "barn"!

And Alissa helping bring some organizational sense to my storage “barn”!

Drying greens.

Drying greens.

My most recent helpers were Andrew from Ontario, who also leads wilderness trips in Arizona, Waloo from Colorado, and Jackie and David from Mass., all of whom have made wonderful contributions in their time here. They’ve worked on the Gifting Lodge and the surrounding area, including underneath the lodge, which was hiding some truly epic rat nests and some very outdated gear. The Equipment Shed has gotten much better organized. They dug up the pipeline that was buried in the flood last Fall. Marc taught David how to assemble solar panels, they’ve done some small building projects, and worked with Andrew on maintenance and repair work, as well as helped to make many loaves of bread, calzones, pot pie, zucchini and banana cakes, veggie and wild meat soups and so much more! Waloo is working on a lovely bedcover made from recycled materials and an old appliqué made by Wolf’s dear mama many years ago. Everyone has helped with cleaning and all the other little tasks that make the days go more smoothly. And Jackie brought a smile and a song to dish washing, gracing all the kitchens with her beautiful, loving spirit!

Jacqui and David in Loba's Enchanted Kitchen.

Jacqui and David in Loba’s Enchanted Kitchen.

Andrew rolling the dough.

Andrew rolling the dough.

Gutters 72dpi

The hardest part about having helpers for me is trying to manage and direct the projects, I have a hard enough time directing myself! And it takes a few weeks just to learn the very basics of what it takes to live this life, so that folks are usually leaving by that time. To make it easier for me, I have asked Wolf to write up a post calling for long term residents that have the practical skills and temperament to instruct and direct the volunteers who pass through, and to keep some wood chopped and vehicles running in between. Someday we hope to attract one or two people get really inspired and driven by the healing mission of Anima, who could devoted themselves to taking care of this place with us, excited by all the possibility of a possible “lifetime” relationship with the canyon and commit to serve in whatever ways possible, but until then a manager/caretaker could be a huge boost.

Installing a ceiling in Rhiannon's new bedroom, after she literally outgrew her treehouse!

Installing a ceiling in Rhiannon’s new bedroom, after she literally outgrew her treehouse!

It was great having Danny to instruct and direct this great crew, shown in Rhiannon's finished new room.

It was great having Danny to instruct and direct this great crew, shown in Rhiannon’s finished new room.

In closing, it’s very important to me that all the helpers realize just how much all their efforts here make it possible for Wolf and Kiva to spend the long hours affecting all the thousands of people that they do. For me, it seems kind of ridiculously ideal that I get to spend so much time making delicious food in the kitchen and tending the homestead, and feel like I’m actually affecting the world at the same time! Amazing and true! Even the hours I spend nourishing myself in my “downtime” contribute to making it all possible. The wholeness and healing we’re trying to facilitate in humanity, must start with each person, making time every day to love and honor ourselves, and to stretch and develop like a great old tree!

Fritz and Hannah making a circus out of their work!

Fritz and Hannah making a circus out of their work!

I really hope that each and every person who has put their heart into their work and learning here to know how hugely valued their time, presence, willingness, openness, songs, and assistance have been. We so appreciate all your heart-full efforts. And I so hope that you feel the pride and satisfaction you deserve! May you carry the torch for all who dare to live their dreams, regardless of the effort needed and the risk of disappointments, and may you find inspiration, adventure, increased self-knowledge and humility in every yet-to-be discovered fork in the road!

Loba hanging yucca blossoms to dry.

Loba hanging yucca blossoms to dry.

Below is the letter that sweet Alissa left for me, describing the simple joys of being a helper here. Thank you Alissa, thank you to all present and future helpers, and thank you to every reader who shares our aims… and who through these blog posts, are a part of our lives.

Blessings and Big Hugs to you all!

“Dear Loba, I have so enjoyed my time here at Anima: the loved, healing, wild canyon. I’m sad to leave, but I know that the wisdom and feelings this place and experience has given me will stay with me and resonate throughout my life elsewhere like memories of an old friend or of other beautiful wise & wild places I’ve come to know.

“It feels as though I have been through some schooling while being here. The school of simply being, existing naturally, as we are, woven in nature. I’ve come to own my wildness in truly being in the present moment & in my body, simply sensing. I’ve also come to own my human-ness by really noticing and savoring moments & sensations- being truly aware- enjoying every pleasurable experience and exploring and learning from unpleasing times. Experiencing exists in the context of being human in nature (there’s no not being in nature in this life). There is no separation between humans & nature & this realization comes periodically throughout life, but here in the canyon I’ve realized it constantly. I’m reminded of my belonging to the world by the javelina startling me on my way to the outhouse, by the coyote howl & fox bark, by the countless tracks of bobcat, elk, bear, heron & raccoon right next to my human tracks on the river bank. I’m reminded by the sound of the rustling of the wind in the few leaves left on the cottonwoods & by the sight of the trees’ trunks reflecting low yellow sunlight against the crisp blue sky. I’ve explored darkness with the new moon & smiled at the sunrise.

“Thank you so much for your inspired nurturing presence and friendship, for opening your home and heart, and for all the delicious food, of course! I have really enjoyed getting to know you, working with you & learning from you. It’s been so much fun cooking, talking & listening to music with you and Rhiannon. (& the campfire feast was a blast!) Your singing to the canyon is like a siren song call to wildness. Also I had no idea what a treat it is to split desert juniper firewood. I can’t list all I’ve learned, enjoyed, & appreciated here, but it is in the simplest tasks that I learn so much of respect, humility, service, understanding, compassion, & love. Thank you for fostering an environment for this learning, and thank you for teaching by example. I feel like I have really practiced being more aware & wild – necessary qualities for being fully human & truly alive. Many Thanks and Much Love, Alissa.”

Those interested in possibly volunteering can click here to download the Anima On-Site Helper Application.

(share freely)

The Enchanted Healer: Creating Our Next Book

by on January 13th, 2014


Creating Our New Book “The Enchanted Healer”

Every moment that I wasn’t working on Plant Healer Magazine projects or the HerbFolk Gathering in the last two years, I have been giving to the creation of our next book, “The Enchanted Healer.” The second in what will be our trilogy for Healers of very kind, this will be our first full color book, and the first to bring light to subjects of plant spirit, shamanism, awareness, the senses, and awakeness and enchantment in our work and lives. For those of you who enjoy feeling like a part of our efforts, here below are some journal entries about the production process. They are numbered rather than dated, but roughly appear in chronological order.

Entry #1: Inspiration For A New Book
As important as clinical research is to a healing practice, just as important is the child-like curiosity, entrancement and obsession that leads to fruitful investigation and new ways of perceiving and practicing. The faculties that can make us better Healers are the same senses and sensibilities that make it possible for us to truly, deeply enjoy our studies and work. Reason and emotional, spiritual and “magical” ways of perceiving are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, ultrasensory engagement, heightened awareness, shamanic therapies, and an open mind are all crucial to a powerful practice… and enchantment is often a necessary ingredient to remaining in love with and satisfied by our work and missions. Hence what will be our next book, “The Enchanted Healer.” Much to do, to pass on the necessary information and tools, and to cast the equally necessary spell of awakeness and delight.


The Enchanted Healer www.PlantHealer.org


Entry #2: Who This Book is For
“The Enchanted Healer” is written with our core audience in mind, our community of wild-hearted folk herbalists, wildcrafters, alternative therapists and natural Healers… but also many other kinds of Healers doing their best to contribute to the wholeness of our bodies, families, neighborhoods, societies, and ecosystems. This includes people giving helpful holistic counsel, doing body work, making natural medicines and body care products, cultivating endangered medicinal herbs and other species, creating visionary paintings and films, teaching healthful values and tools to either children or adults, opposing environmental destruction or injurious s, practitioners of with the aim of increasing not only a healer’s effectiveness but also their enjoyment of every aspect of a life of ultra-awareness, deep connection, inspirited and heartful service.

Entry #3: New Book Chapters Selected!
The final choice of chapters for our new book “The Enchanted Healer” have been selected! There will be 25 chapter topics and a bunch of sidebars and Kiva essays, that I am anxious for a chance to announce. Included will be the following, and more:
• The Portal: Opening To The Magic & Wonder
• The Healer: Seeker, Seer, Shaman, Nurturer & Culture-Shifter
• Seekers & Teachers
• Deepening Awakeness
• Lessons of The Hummingbird: Agent of Awakeness, Bringer of Life
• Practicing UltraPresence
• The Work & The Reward: Self Exploration & Self Worth
• The Feeler: Healing, Emotion & The Senses
• Planet Eros: Connection, Wholeness & Bliss Through Enlivened Sexuality
• Body Mind Balance
• Growing & Exercising All Levels of Awareness
• Prophecy & Destiny
• The Healing Arts & The Aesthetic of Healing
• Sacred Indulgence: Nurturing & Tending Ourselves
• The Enchantment of Cooking
• Satisfaction & Hungering
• Inner Sanctums: Creating a Sanctuary Conducive To Our Enchantment
• Imaginariums & Cabinets of Wonder
• The Enchanted Drum: Healing Reconnection Through Rhythm
• Walking The Edge: High Water & Ecstatic Living
• The Totemic Journey: Finding & Learning From Our Plant & Animal Guides
• Places of Power
• The Healing Quest
• The Song of Gaia: Epiphany of a Living Earth
• The Enchantment

Entry #4: Kiva Rose Contributions
Hardly a week goes by that we don’t get emails asking when my partner Kiva Rose is going to bring out a book of her works. She still plans on an exhaustive collection of her personable herb profiles, though delayed because of her having so many “irons in the fire.” I was, however, able to encourage her writing 10 amazing pieces that reflect her spirit, interests and passions more than any before – strongly and sensually evocative, folkloric with mythic sensibilities and intent, celebrating what is most enthralling about the healing arts and being an herbalist. As fascinating as her personal story and style, their most powerful contribution to “The Enchanted Healer” is the way they provoke the reader’s own exploration and embrace of their true selves, of the mysterium, and of contemporary Healer roles. So far we’re sure this book will include these Kiva’s pieces:
• Creating New Healing Traditions
• Reinhabiting – 3 Steps To Here
• The World In a Flower
• A Ballad of Brambles (Plant Folklore)
• Enchanted Medicine Making
• Flowers From Stones
• My Spiraling Return
• Talking With Plants
• Enchanted Medicine Making
• Where My Skin Ends & Flowers Begin

Entry #5: Involving Other Writers
My original idea was to include sections from other writers in “The Enchanted Healer,” much as I did with the previous release, “The Plant Healer’s Path.” But several of the people whose wisdom I especially value turned out to be predisposed. We were sad that Paul Bergner and David Hoffman, due to family and professional responsibilities, did not have the time to provide contributions like they did for the last book, and Phyllis Light needed to turn attention to nurturing and healing herself after an accident that blessedly slowed her down are helped refocus her priorities. It is just as well we didn’t have more pieces to try to include, however, since the illustrations are taking up so much space. And there are still substantial wise quotes by Paul, amongst the hundred or so other author/teachers whose remarks I’ve managed to include among the chapters.

Entry #6: Design & Color
With the order of the chapters for “The Enchanted Healer” decided on, and with nearly all the chapters written, I need to think about illustrations. A big factor is whether to go with color or black and white interior, since picture selection hinges on it. Many extraordinary photos require color for contrast as the tones are near the same, and if it is to be B&W like “The Plant Healer’s Path”, then I need to select for contrast ahead of time. I’m getting more and more attached to the idea of color content, I confess, though we can expect it to cost a lot more. Why? Because this book is meant to literally enchant and not only inform but enchant, visuals are at least as important as words for that purpose, and there is nothing as effective in that regard as incredible, lush, vibrant hues. The many fairytale-like images are evocative and transportive when dressed up in color, supporting the book’s central theme of revealing the enchantments of the healing arts, the magical in nature, and the wondrous in the everyday.

Entry #7: Course Materials Included
We’ve decided to add about 15 pages of helpful self-exploration questions and practices/exercises, mostly taken from the “Senses” and “Awareness” sections of the Anima online courses. With the courses temporarily suspended and available to only a few exceptions, here is my chance to share some of the core material that we’ve seen help our students so very much.

Entry #8: Book Appearance & Flavor
This book just keeps getting bigger, and it is now going to be impossible to keep much below 300 pages in length! To take maximum advantage of the big 8.5×11” color format, I built full page color images in Photoshop that fill all the way to the edges of the paper, with special framing, the text often appearing atop beautiful botanical image “bleeds”, contrasting color fonts, collages and design elements. Kiva and I spend hours picking out what we consider to be the most perfect possible illustrations for each chapter section or page, selected from among tens of thousands of images. Every photo and painting then requires editing and sizing, before being inserted into the design. Making these full page composites is taking many, many times longer to arrange and lay out than the quarterly Plant Healer Magazine issues, even though roughly the same length. Even though it is my own hands manipulating the trackpad, I fees as surprised and excited as any child to see each page take shape out of the mist – on this MacBook “screen of infinite possibilities.” I can only hope that our readers will find it as exciting to turn to each page, and as hard to leave each page behind… that it they will come away not only thinking new thoughts but with a feeling. Elation. Inspiration. Exhilaration. I started to write “I can only hope,” but I can do so much for than that. I can give this book my very best.

Entry #9: Book Design
I chose Times New Roman font as the most legible for the main text, and Cretino for the main titles. The complex Cretino family has the feel of old folkloric letter styles while evoking an edgy contemporary feel, hopefully conveying that folk healing and enchantment are as vital today as they ever were in our historic past. Illustrations include classic paintings, amazing plant portraits, Left out of “The Enchanted Healer” are the sometimes campy or tongue-in-cheek images that I enjoy having in the magazine, and I’ve instead gone only for the art and photos that may contribute to the enrapturing of its readers.

Entry #10: The Decision To Print in Color
Today Kiva researched the cost of printing an initial run of a few hundred copies of “The Enchanted Healer” books, for nearly 300 pages of color, on high grade coated paper with a soft cover… turns out it requires as much money as a new luxury car, and more than I spent on materials to build the cabin that we wrote it in! Scariest, of course, is that we have to pay it all up front, emptying our business account with no certainty of how many copies will sell or how quickly the investment will be recouped. Recouping the expense will be slower regardless, since printing costs are so high we feel we can’t mark the price up very much above what we pay for them. As crucial as is is that we meet our expenses, making an income has never been as important to us as affecting, affirming, inspiring, and stirring as many good people as we possibly can… and an all-color, highly visual book just might help with that!

Entry #11: The Book is Done!
Okay, wow, it is finally finished! “The Enchanted Healer” is now completely illustrated and laid out, after many 16 hour days of hard work on it…. all except for the Introduction which I still need to write, a Foreword (possibly by our esteemed friend Matthew Wood), the finalized table of contents with page numbers, and the graphic covers of course. I can’t seem to stop myself from repeatedly scrolling through the thumbnails of the finished pages, first looking for any little glitches in need of fixing, then just enjoying the way the color themes and striking forms transition from one chapter to the next. I so hope it helps to bring increased delight, wonderment, and indeed enchantment… to our loving Healer readers.

Entry #12: April Book Release
With another issue of Plant Healer Magazine to put together soon, I am pressing hard to first get “The Enchanted Healer” completely ready for the printers, probably in the next few weeks. The plan is to begin accepting pre-orders sometime between now and March, with the first copies being shipped out in March or April (yes, 2014). We’re so very excited!

Entry #13: Help Reaching Beyond The Choir
This is the first book I’ve written in awhile that has the potential to be appreciated and utilized by folks outside of the herbalism and natural healing fields. With “Healer” defined more broadly, there are many people involved in self exploration, the heightening of awareness, spiritual seeking of any kind, ceremony and ritual, teaching and counseling, shamanic studies and cultural -co-creation who would surely benefit from the information and inspiration that we intend “The Enchanted Healer” to provide. Kiva and I will be depending on our devoted core community to help announce and network this book to other audiences, online and otherwise. We will likely ask folks soon for suggestions in this regard, as well as requesting assistance in getting this message of empowerment and enchantment out “beyond the choir.”

Entry #14: Feedback
Before printing a book, I always send my manuscripts out to a few folks whose feedback helps improve the end product. I value the response whether positive or not, I often put to use any suggestions, and I especially need to know when and how I might ever offend some group. My aim is to stretch readers to seeing things beyond and outside of their assumptions, but I need folks to hear me and consider what is said and I can’t have them closing their ears to what might help them the most. The first feedback to come in is from the herbalist, Plant Healer writer, and care-giver Virginia Adi. Besides her other helpful observations she wrote that: “I actually feel as though it was written just for me and I am pretty sure most of your other readers will have the same reaction, feeling ourselves indeed to be seers, nurturers, artists and visionaries….Wonderfully readable.  There are some excellent observations and quotable remarks that I have read so far and I will give you more feedback when I finish it – I do not want to forget to remark on the little stuff as I go too.  Some favorite lines from “The Enchanted Healer” include:
• ‘Healing who and what needs healing-not just bodies and not just people’
• ‘We can be neither right nor particularly effective if our powers of seeing are limited by the fears of what we might find, or if the truth of something is distorted or obscured by our assumptions, our expectations, or our projecting onto something what we want to see.’
• ‘We need to feel enchanted again…’

Entry #15: Enchantment Book Cover
Alright, the front cover for “The Enchanted Healer” is done. I had so many ideas for what to put on the cover that is was difficult narrowing it down to a single image. My first temptation was to draw something for it, but for this book trilogy I’ve opted to work with photographs and photoshop instead. Since this book begins and ends with allusions to portals – openings to enrapturement and wonder in the everyday world – I felt strongly that their needed to be a picture of a natural opening in a forest or in the cliffs. Perfect for this purpose seemed to be a view looking out to the light from inside a special, magical feeling cave. Given the title, Kiva agreed it also needed a human figure worked into it, and it needed to be a figure that is clearly turning to face the opening before stepping out into an amazing world of limitless possibility. Now that the cover is ready for people to see, I can post some of these entries about the book creation process, and share with us our growing excitement.

I hope this handful of entries give some insight into the creative process here at Plant Healer, and afford a sense of the love and devotion that goes into each publication.  We pour into them not only our hearts and knowledge but also the hours of our finite existence, making “The Enchanted Healer” not just a gift of enchantment but a gift of our very lives.

If you have a well read blog or newsletter, or are able to post on a popular online group or site, you may be interested in writing an advance book review.  If so, send us details along with your request at: PlantHealer(at)PlantHealer(dot)org

–Jesse Wolf Hardin

(Thank you for re-posting and sharing)


The Traveling Medicine Show: Herbs, Empowerment & Entertainment

by on November 11th, 2013

 Watkin's Remedies Wagon 72dpi

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.

Medicine Wagon model 72dpi

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.

Medicine Show cast 72dpi

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.

Baker's Medicine Wagon 72dpi

“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.”

Travelling Medicine Show #3 poster 72dpi

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!”

Medicine Show sellers 5 poster 72dpi

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.

Medicine Wagon 2 -72dpi

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.

Attacks on quackery were also attacks on herbalism, funded by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

Attacks on quackery were also attacks on herbalism, funded by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

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.

The propaganda campaign against "patent medicines" was focused on all makers of herbal preparations, not just "snake oil" scam artists.

The propaganda campaign against “patent medicines” was focused on all makers of herbal preparations, not just “snake oil” scam artists.

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.

Stanley's liniment contained zero snakes, but it did have helpful camphor and cayenne.

Stanley’s liniment contained zero snakes, but it did have helpful camphor and cayenne.

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.”

Remedies & Extracts wagon 72dpi

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.

Medicine Wagon drawing 72dpi

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!

Mark's Celebrated Medicines wagon 3" 72dpi

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.”

Medicine Show sellers 4 -72dpi

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.

Medicine Shows continued into the automobile age, until they were killed off by the drug companies, the A.M.A., and the popularity of TV.

Medicine Shows continued into the automobile age, until they were killed off by the drug companies, the A.M.A., and the popularity of TV.

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.

Dr. Krohn Medicine Wagon 72dpi

“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

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A modern medicine wagon, displaying its maker's humor.

A modern medicine wagon, displaying its maker’s humor.

2013 Herbal Resurgence Reviews – & 2014 HerbFolk Teachers Announced!

by on October 29th, 2013


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 DonahueChuck 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.”
-Paul Bergner

”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

               Grand Finale 2013 Resurgence banner-72dpi

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.

Phyllis Hogan calling directions at Herbal Resurgence - photo by Adrienne Ellis

Phyllis Hogan calling directions at Herbal Resurgence – photo by Adrienne Ellis


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!”

Some Herbal Resurgence Teachers 2013 – Left to right, Front Row: Ryn Madura, Stephany Hoffelt, Larken Bunce, Ingrid Bauer, Ben Zappin, Tracy Picard, Carolyn Gagnon, Julie Caldwell, Juliet Blankespoor, Jessica Baker, Kiva Rose; Back row: Katja Swift, Feather Jones, Phyllis Light, Jim McDonald, Howie Brounstein, James Swan, Sean Donahue, Sam Coffman; In far back: Jesse Wolf Hardin

Some Herbal Resurgence Teachers 2013 – Left to right, Front Row: Ryn Madura, Stephany Hoffelt, Larken Bunce, Ingrid Bauer, Ben Zappin.  Middle Row: Tracy Picard, Carolyn Gagnon, Julie Caldwell, Juliet Blankespoor, Jessica Baker, Kiva Rose; Back row: Katja Swift, Feather Jones, Phyllis Light, Jim McDonald, Howie Brounstein, James Swan, Sean Donahue, Sam Coffman; In far back: Jesse Wolf Hardin

Kiva Rose with Irene Wolansky of Mountain Rose, our most supportive sponsors.

Kiva Rose with Irene Wolansky of Mountain Rose, our most supportive sponsors.


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.

Asia Suler & Juliet Blankespoor, Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous

Asia Suler & Juliet Blankespoor, Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous

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.

Resurgence teacher and Plant Healer Magazine writer Sean Donahue.

Resurgence teacher and Plant Healer Magazine writer Sean Donahue.

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.

Herbal Resurgence Teachers Stephany Hoffelt & Traci Picard.

Herbal Resurgence Teachers Stephany Hoffelt & Traci Picard.

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’.

Jesse Wolf & herbalist Howie Brounstein, Sept. 2013

Jesse Wolf & herbalist Howie Brounstein, Sept. 2013

‘… 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.”

Irina Adam with Kiva Rose, Resurgence Finale.

Irina Adam with Kiva Rose, Resurgence Finale.

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.”

The pine forests of Mormon Lake.

The pine forests of Mormon Lake.

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.”

7 song leading a plant walk at Plant Healer Magazine's HerbalResurgence 2013

7 song leading a plant walk at Plant Healer Magazine’s HerbalResurgence 2013

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.”

Sam Coffman, 7Song & James Snow at Herbal Resurgence 2013.

Sam Coffman, 7Song & James Snow at Herbal Resurgence 2013.

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!”

Sweet Resurgence teacher Julie Caldwell with Jesse Wolf Hardin, 2013.

Sweet Resurgence teacher Julie Caldwell with Jesse Wolf Hardin, 2013.

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…”

Kiva's class at Herbal Resurgence

Kiva’s class at Herbal Resurgence



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:

The Plant Healer Newsletter

Rocking to the band Las Cafeteras at Herbal Resurgence Finale.

Rocking to the band Las Cafeteras at Herbal Resurgence Finale.

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Ultra-Presence: Welcome To The Wild Now

by on October 20th, 2013

Wolf Brown Hat 2011-5"-72dpi


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: Loba’s 20 Years in Paradise

by on October 6th, 2013
Happily swinging on my tree swing, a few years after making the canyon my home.  Ecstasy!

Happily swinging on my tree swing, a few years after making the canyon my home. Ecstasy!

Eating Nettles, Crossing Rivers: 20 Years in Paradise

by Loba

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.

Anima Wilderness Sanctuary – AnimaCenter.org

Anima Wilderness Sanctuary – AnimaCenter.org

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.

I came to the canyon with my head shaved, and by this pic was taken at the Magdalena Ice Cream Parlor it had already started to grown back out!

I came to the canyon with my head shaved, and by this pic was taken at the Magdalena Ice Cream Parlor it had already started to grown back out!

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.

We once had a full blooded wolf companion here, as well as our smart and loving cat "FurPuddle".  Rather than replace them when they died, we committed the land to being a USFWS wildlife refuge instead.

We once had a full blooded wolf companion here, as well as our smart and loving cat “FurPuddle”. Rather than replace them when they died, we committed the land to being a USFWS wildlife refuge instead.

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.

Learning to can fruit!

Learning to can fruit!

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!

Finally happy to be me!

Finally happy to be me!

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!

Loba and Wild Women's Gathering-72dpi

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.

The Gila wildlands got a lot more Winter snow 15 or 20 years ago, and I made the most of it!

The Gila wildlands got a lot more Winter snow 15 or 20 years ago, and I made the most of it!

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.

Kiva, Wolf, Rhiannon and I shortly after their arrival... "Otter-Daughter" was so little still!

Kiva, Wolf, Rhiannon and I shortly after their arrival… “Otter-Daughter” was so little still!

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.

For a long time we taught students at the Anima Sanctuary, until our events, books and Plant Healer Magazine needed our focus and time.

For a long time we taught students at the Anima Sanctuary, until our events, books and Plant Healer Magazine needed our focus and time.

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!


Today's Specials-72dpi


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!

Wolf's Mama drew many lovely cards for me.

Wolf’s Mama drew many lovely cards for me.

Card for Loba from Mama-2-72dpi

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!

My sweet brother and I, shortly before he ended his own life.  He wanted me to overcome and heal from the insecurity and lack of self-love that my siblings and I grew up with... I know he would be proud of how far I've come!

My sweet brother and I, shortly before he ended his own life. He wanted me to overcome and heal from the insecurity and lack of self-love that my siblings and I grew up with… I know he would be proud of how far I’ve come!


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!

Kiva and I.

Kiva and I.

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

Rhiannon has grown up a lot in her ten years here with us.  She is pictured with her best friend Caille, whose mother brought her all the way from Tennessee to spend a wild and wonderful two weeks here with her.  We all four miss you Caille!

Rhiannon has grown up a lot in her ten years here with us. She is pictured with her best friend Caille, whose mother brought her all the way from Tennessee to spend a wild and wonderful two weeks here with her. We all four miss you Caille!

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….

Love, Loba

...and Beebalm too!

…and Beebalm too!



Order Now!: The Plant Healer’s Path by Jesse Wolf & Kiva Rose

by Kiva Rose on August 10th, 2013

Plant Healer's Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Now Available to Order, the New Book:

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.”

Plant Healer's Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin

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)

Peasant girl Flowers-72dpi

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)

Spruce Tip Basket by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Spruce Tip Basket by Jesse Wolf Hardin

“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)

Kiva Rose Hardin www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

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)

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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)

modern dance-72dpiFrom 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.

Love, Kiva

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