The Necessity of Learning to Become Native Again
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
The topic of what it means to be “native” or “indigenous” is a highly contentious one, ruffling the feathers of landless, cultureless “white folk” far more than it bothers even most activist Native Americans. It is, however, an essential exploration for everyone on this planet, with a true and irrevocable connection to the living land being the best and only long term chance that our human kind has.
IN-DIG-E-NOUS: adj. 1) Occurring or living naturally in an area; native.
2) Intrinsic, innate.
“We see in the present best efforts of groups of non-Indians an honest desire to become indigenous in the sense of living properly with the land.” -Vine Deloria. Jr. (Sioux historian)
One does not take as good of care of a place when they imagine they are only visiting. In this age of constant migration, the best hope for the suffering environment may lie in people of every race and culture settling down and committing to a place that speaks to them, heeding the implorings of its spirit and tending to its needs. The survival of myriad other species, and the future of humanity as well, may hinge on the degree to which we are able to set aside our comfortable habits, preconceptions and assumptions – and rebecome conscious participants, discovering what it means to be native again.
Now more than ever we need to look to not only the remaining land-based tribal peoples, but to the qualities and possibilities our primal minds. Indigenous modes of perception become all the more essential as our modern society reels out of balance both ecologically and spiritually. The land-informed stories of indigenous populations can help us recover our lost awareness of self and place. The knowledge of how to live in balance, in a sustainable way, already exists– in the ways of the ancient ones of every continent. The information is all too often lost along with the unraveling of tribal customs, with time tested skills and informed insights vanishing as fast as the lands appropriated for development. As our existence and enterprises become increasingly commercial and controlled, our pleasures ever more vicarious, our sense of both culture and place perverted or absent, as both our schedules and our thoughts race ever faster, we can still turn to they who have lived here, and loved here the longest. Turn to the Indian elders, the placed peasants, the Hispanic dirt farmers with their knowledge of weather and wild foods, Amish farmers, those nomads still following the reindeer and the seasons, or the Kayapo and their jungle pharmacy. We must turn to them, not in order to emulate or simulate, but in a respectful search for the truths that are our birth right, for what it means to truly belong. We are not “settlers,” we are simply the unsettled.
For all the differences in the world views and cosmologies of indigenous peoples, there are certain qualities they generally share in common. From the Saami of the northern edge of Scandinavia to the Australian Aborigine, primal perception is likely to incorporate the following tenets:
1) The Earth is alive, self directed, with it’s own primal consciousness.
2) Life is inspirited and thus sacred with an innate, intrinsic value. The rocks and the lichen that feed on them, the trees and the rain that drips down them, all creatures and all people are vested with spirit, meaning and purpose.
3) All elements of the sacred whole are interconnected, interdependent, interrelated at the deepest levels… and all should be treated as our relatives. At the root of all personal and societal turmoil is the illusion of separateness, a dis-ease which must be guarded against from birth until death. Since there is no truly “other,” all beings are hurt by the dishonoring or degradation of any one.
4) Humanity’s additional cognitive abilities position us not above the rest of creation, but sorely in need of deliberate rituals to keep us grounded in relationship, purpose and place. Our unique gifts were meant to result not in libertine distraction, but advanced responsibility. Our kind is called to attend to the needs and lessons of the natural world we are a part of…. to acknowledge, partake in, protect and provide for the plants, animals and waters that in turn nourish, instruct, inspire and house us.
5) Existence is to be smelled and tasted, embraced and absorbed. No words for food are meant to substitute for the benefits of eating…. and all symbols and gestures are meant to bring us deeper into the actual wordless, physical, emotional and spiritual experiencing of life.
6) Everything in the world functions in part as a message, and all that happens to us, positive or negative, is potentially a valuable lesson. All truths and all beings are tested, and it is through these challenges that we earn our blessings, demonstrate our qualifications, validate our worth, manifest our love.
7) Spiritual knowledge or power requires the complete, painful dissolution of illusion and the fearful societal self… and a committed realignment and recommitment according to the designs of Spirit and Place.
8) Such designs exist for all things, heeding the imperatives of Gaian rhythm, pattern and will.
9) All things occur in cycles, and all energy and life seek to circle— to return to its migrational origins, to spin in the grass before settling down nose to tail. All there is is an eternal now, rolling over in place like a salmon, exposing in turn each of its sides Summer to Fall, Winter to Spring, first night and then day. Humankind, too, turns in place, sequentially offering up the face of an anxious infant, a tempestuous teen, a focused adult, a grandfather or crone.
10) The Seeker’s quest moves towards and never away from authentic self and inspirited place, heightened awareness and applied magic, meaning and mission…. a true journey home.
Primal mind isn’t just for the shamans and seekers of a few tribes, the tranced-out Ladakh, Kogi or the Shuar. It is, rather, a region or capacity of the instinctual human body, accessible by even the most predisposed of us. It surfaces during love making, while crossing the slick head of a waterfall, in the presence of enraptured children, whenever circumstance and surprise have delivered us most fully into our sentient bodies. At these times the Earth reveals itself as unquestioningly sacred, imbued with the numinous. Even the most mundane expressions of inanimate Nature appear alive, and one can sense movement in patterns of fiber and the grain of mineral and wood. We find ourselves in the timeless now, the eternal bodily and psychic engagement with the present, a part of an interconnected universe that unfolds and contracts in cycles. Even if only for the shortest period of time, we jettison words for reality, symbol for touch, and know the world through our primal minds. We feel more alive, complete, tested and worthy. And we are. Honored to be. Honored to be here now.
We each become more indigenous to the degree that we reside in our primal minds, in place, in the bosom of the land, in the lap of the moment. Becoming: coming to be, leaning how to really be, coming onto and into one’s self. In re-becoming native, we re-create a contemporary culture, community, vocabulary, spiritual practice, and finally a history true to our mixed-blood ancestry and the urgent and trying times at hand. Along with our grounding comes an almost forgotten humility. We look to the the first “two legged” peoples to inhabit this continent for guidance, but we must also each establish our credibility directly with the land. We need to own our deepening connection, the fact that we too belong to the places we’re promised to— even as we actively respect the ways of those peoples who showed respect to the land for so long before us.
In time we may come to recognize being native as a condition of relationship. Of sensitivity, engagement, reciprocity and allegiance. To survive, those facing the tests of the next century will have had to learn to be placed. And they’re likely to be of ever more mixed blood. They will be the descendants of Shona and Aborigine, Mongol and Semite, Hispanic and Cree, and they will have learned respect. They will be the proud inheritors of the affections of Aphrodite, the temperance of Chuang-Tzu, the resolve of Odin and Ogun, the determination of the Berserkers and the spirit of Crazy Horse. No matter where they’re situate, they’ll have survived because they came to know and manifest themselves, completely and unapologetically, as indigenous.
And this alone will have brought them great satisfaction.
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21st Century Herbalists Book Now Shipping
The first shipments of our new book 21st Century Herbalists have mailed out, with more following soon, and everyone should have theirs soon. As some of you have already gotten to see, Wolf put a lot of work into the questions and the respondents shared both their wisdom and their personal stories. Please do let me know how you like them and what your favorite parts are (as well as whether or not we can quote you): Write Wolf and I at: HerbalResurgence@gmail.com
Limited Edition Selling Out
There are less than 100 copies left of the Limited Edition hardcover versions, and soon only the regular paperbacks will be available. Order in the next few weeks to have a chance of getting one of the few cloth bound copies before they sell completely out: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com
40% Wholesale Discount
If you have an herb related business, retail website or catalog, I encourage you to stock and resell some, to help spread the herbal inspiration. I can give a full 40 percent discount on orders of 10 or more, plus actual shipping. Write me at: HerbalResurgence@gmail.com
Free Review Copies
I will send this book free to the first few folks who assure me they will write and publish a review of our collection of herbalist interviews in a popular magazine, newsletter or blog with a large readership. Reviews should be from 1200 to 2500 words in length, describing some of the content as well as the stories and information you found most useful or insightful. Email us to tell us 1. Where your review will be published, 2. The size of the readership, 3. Why you look forward to writing about this book, and 4. Your snail-mail address. We’ll give you a full digital copy to read and review, and once the review has been published you can request a paper copy as well. Write: HerbalResurgence@gmail.com
Credit, Entitlement, Earning & Reward
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
verb [with obj.]: to do something or have or show qualities worthy of reward or punishment.
The topic of deserving doesn’t come up much in my (herbalist, activist, nature lover, outdoorsman) circles, though it is an important issue in a number of ways. We may sense that what we do deserves more respect that it gets in the larger society. Someone may feel that they deserve to make a decent income from their able work… or more often, feel undeserving of the title of “herbalist” or “activist” or “mother” even though they’ve experience much, learned a lot and served many.
We are – it must be said – undeniably deserving… every one of us, no matter what our faults might be. We deserve a pat on our back for our good intentions as well as how much effort we put into fulfilling them, and we deserve any benefits or rewards that come of it. We deserve both the rewards and the consequences that arise from all that we manage to do, and from whatever we either fail to do, or choose not to. We deserve credit for all that we are proud of, and for for what we are less proud of as well. Credit is not about boos or applause, so much as an assignment of personal responsibility and public accountability.
noun: public acknowledgment or praise, typically that given or received when a person’s responsibility for an action or idea becomes or is made apparent.
It is a natural human need to be credited and acknowledged, and a healthy society hinges in part on an accurate crediting of its members. Credit is an attribution of responsibility, recognizing that someone is responsible for an omission or deed, including misdeeds as well as to successes and accomplishments. It is important that we be credited, meaning that we be given both the personal affirmation and difficult reality checks that we all need. It is also important and healthy that we give credit to others, not only praising each other for truly praiseworthy characteristics or acts, but also holding each other accountable. After all, for it to really matter, both the credit given and the accredited person much be credible.
The words “credit” and “credible” both originate with Latin credere, meaning “to believe, to trust.” We need to be able to trust the value of what we credit, and not undermine it with exaggeration, flattery or pretense. And those we give credit to, need to be able to trust the sincerity and accuracy of the credit given.
“Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.” –Aristotle
noun: the fact of having a right to something.
Herbalists, activists, artists, teachers and parents (to name only a few!) generally deserve more credit and appreciation than they receive from a public that’s increasingly learned to take things for granted, and that often seems to feel entitled to services. It is common for people to expect on the spot herbal consultations as soon as they hear someone is an herbalist, or think they can automatically expect help with their broken car if they find out an acquaintance is a mechanic, stopping them in store aisles or the middle of a sidewalk, and often being offended if told they need to email a request or schedule an appointment.
Entitlement means having title, and hence a right. No one has title to us, our time or our knowledge, nor do they have a right to our services. We can make a choice to provide assistance, advice or care at any time, whether for money, barter, or free… but we do not owe it to anyone, and they are most deserving our our help when they see its value, and credit and honor the source. This is at least in part a class issue, since it shows up most often among the middle and upper classes, and is so seldom found in the attitudes of those living in rural areas close to the land, or in conditions of poverty.
Our community contains a lot of middle class folks, and we too need to be on guard for any creeping entitlement in our own attitudes and the ways that we interact with people. Nobody owes us praise, as much we may desire it, and only in the “good manners” of kingly courts is it required that we feign praise for what we have no love or respect for. We’re not owed help, it’s a gifting, nor are we obligated to help or heal anyone else… instead, we choose to! We’re not entitled to have a teacher, though a teacher may accept us based on our interest and commitment. No one is entitled to a teaching slot or book contract or job unless it’s actually been promised to us. We have no inherent right to make a living income from herbalism or anything else that we might love to do, what we have is a splendid opportunity to do so… replete with difficulty and impediments, years of learning and financial risk, blessings and satisfaction. And we are not automatically entitled to our titles… only by virtue of our growing wisdom and worthy work.
“It takes long practice, yes. You have to work. Did you think you could snap your fingers, and have it as a gift? What is worth having is worth working for.”
-Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials
verb: gain or incur deservedly in return for one’s behavior or achievements.
The key to earning, is effort and achievement that we deserve to gain from. It derives from the Old English earnian, “laborer,” and refers to the benefits received for our labors. Anyone can be the recipient of an hourly wage or false praise, but it is our character and actions – and how honorably, thoughtfully, effectively, powerfully, artfully we act – that earns us the most credible of credit, the esteem we can trust… our own self respect and self love.
The root of the word “deserve” is the Latin deservire, meaning “to serve well.” We’re deserving, deserving of the rewards and satisfactions, whenever we’re well serving this world. And it is through all kinds of service to our families, to our communities, to the wild earth and our most precious priorities and ideals, that we can trust our life, titles and gifts are deserved.
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CONFESSIONS OF A SOFTIE
The Value of Hardness, & The Softness of Caring
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
I’d frankly prefer that you called me a “healthy balance of extremes” than a “bizarre bundle of contradictions.”
Call it instinct or attitude, but I do like feeling still capable of responding effectively to emergencies that come up at home, of physically repelling attackers if the situation arose, moving heavy objects that need to be moved, even being able to sprint into a burning building and carry someone safely out. I’ve surprised myself with how much strength I’ve maintained in spite of a liver-compromising virus, numerous sleepless nights, and the handicap of most of my waking hours being spent sitting in front of a laptop’s glowing screen trying to reach out to the world. That said, I’ve decided at 60 years of age to join Kiva working out on the weight bench. The way I figure it, one is never too young or too old to harden up a bit…
…especially, if you’re a convicted softie.
I suppose my virility has never really been in question, given the number of children I sadly helped create without getting to help raise, and yet one has to question how much testosterone is involved in my fussy attention to way each page looks in Plant Healer Magazine. My favorite rifle is an antique Winchester with flowers carved into its walnut burl stock. And I’m on 24 hour call as the family hair designer… kindly spare me the more stereotypical jokes.
Don’t get me wrong, I have always been quick to defend principles, rights, my land and loved ones, to stick up to bullies and protect the small, even on those rare occasions when physical violence was required, and with inordinate success. The contradiction, is that as much as I would hate to lose in a confrontation that mattered, I don’t much enjoy winning either. I’ve apologized to those belligerent drunks I once had to render immobile, felt oddly out of sorts even after my onetime brief battle with a child abuser, and have actually paid tribute to the few honorable opponents. We enjoy watching the fierce determination and martial skills demonstrated in Mixed Martial Arts videos, but I’m always relieved when a rare decent referee steps in to end a fight that has become one-sided, and get choked up when a favorite and kindly Brazilian combatant is hurt.
Likewise, although I know myself as an unapologetic part of the natural food chain, I have gotten a tear in my eye or an quietly aching heart anytime I have killed some, feeling love and connection, both the gift and the loss. The only real joy I’ve ever found in shooting something, is dramatically putting holes through ugly, environmentally unsound, plastic sheathed machines that have not just insulted my aesthetics but failed me in their designed purpose, such as confounding computers, irreparable remotes, and especially my friends tasteless TVs (with their permission, mind you). Kiva has also pointed out the fact that I seldom go out to target practice without first spraying myself with some of Rosalee de la Foret’s scrumptious lavender spritzer.
Just as ridiculous, I suppose, is how much pleasure I get from shopping for Rhiannon, Loba and Kiva, and my having 14 different women’s clothing searches saved in my Ebay preferences. Or my penchant for designing clothes (the just don’t make ‘em the way I see ‘em!).
I’m constantly cleaning and decorating our tiny studio cabin, and regularly redecorate it. How hard is that? And let’s just get it out of the way… I kissed Kiva’s plush-toy ringtail after she left for town today, and love tender snuggling above most activities.
I can pretty well harden myself to most levels of physical pain, yet I have a history of crying when watching movies, and I can barely deal when our daughter suffers in any way.If you want to catch me making silly little cooing kid noises, just show me a picture of a kid… like the one below of Nick and Sloane’s clever little Django.
There is an inarguable value to a certain hardness. There’s be few successful efforts in this world without trying hard. Being too soft can border on amorphous, undefined and ineffective, and can lead to being spineless or inactive, a victim or spectator rather than an active participant with purpose, will and determination. This world needs more hard commitments on our parts, to try to make changes, right wrongs, defend the innocent and helpless, recreate culture… to love, and to help heal.
Juniper allergies or not, I plan to do some bench presses and curls sometime today, tempering those mammalian muscles. I will try not to be quite so sensitive and get my feelings hurt when we have inadvertently disappointed or pissed off somebody. I will continue to make ever harder commitments to the places, people, creatures, plants and values that matter most. But as much hardening I ever do, I confess I’ll always be a bit of a softie.
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I am right now completing the layout of the final 20 pages of the Spring issue of Plant Healer Magazine, a task I take great pleasure in. Giving attention to every font, the editing and framing of every illustration, the careful placement and juxtaposition of information and images, the graphic balance of sentiment and silliness, photorealistic plant portraits and politically incorrect humor. The poster below is one I couldn’t resist including in the magazine, even though it has little to do with herbs per se. Our daughter Rhiannon had dressed up as the intense Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, prompting me to substitute her picture inside a famous Kahlo self portrait. Hope you have a lovely week! -Wolf
A Taste of Snow
…has kissed the cliffs and trees of the Sweet Medicine Canyon, in the wild Gila of the American Southwest. In these years of less and less precipitation, we are especially excited to see, feel, and taste the gently falling flakes. The view out the window is almost mesmerizing, or at least, makes a perfect excuse for ignoring the laptop and the writing for a few minutes.
I spent the last two days laying out nearly 250 pages of the Spring issue of Plant Healer, creating many more art posters for you all, and catching up on emails while Kiva drove 60 miles to the nearest town with faster internet. Her mission was to upload the files for the new book of interviews, “21st Century Herbalists.” We plan to start selling the EBook and taking advance orders on March 4th, the day of the magazine’s release. By early April we will start shipping special limited edition Hard-Cover copies.
Sleep has been hard for me lately, but it gives me a chance to hear our resident Ringtail Cat (in the raccoon family, not related to cats) as she fools around in the next she made in the ceiling. It’s mighty strange that we never had one den in the house until Kiva accepted them as her medicine animals, and now one likes to sleep directly above her head where we sleep in the loft.
She doesn’t go outside much in the snow, we’ve noticed, likely displeased with the wetness and not wanting to be easily seen against the covering of white.
As you can see from this picture, our other wild house guest prefers to stay dry as well. If you look closely, you can see Miss Rebecca Cottontail taking refuge in the “Oasis” under the patio chairs.
Miss Cottontail still lets us come within a few feet of her with no nervousness, and it seems she feels safe and comforted under the house and in earshot of its soundtrack of old time Americana and Alternative Latin music.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny again, so I wanted to get a few pics of the weather to you before it changes back to the normal dry and warm… and before the final 50 pages of the magazine call me back to its creation.
Stay warm yourselves, and enjoy what looks to be an early Spring most places.
DIVERGENT STEAMS OF HERBALISM
Alternative Healing & The Mainstream
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Excerpted from Wolf’s upcoming book “Plant Healers and Wisdom Keepers”, and will also appear an in the Summer 2013 Issue of “the Magazine Different”:
Intro: One of the most difficult things facing anyone, is the tension between the pressure to fit in and the desire to be our unique selves. It doesn’t help that the credibility of our chosen field of herbalism is often discounted or discredited, even by our parents and peers, making herbalists question their worth and seek some kind of accreditation that might earn acceptance. And yet, we find that there is both some pleasure and advantages to be found in not having been accepted as “mainstream” in the past 500 years.
“Better to be who and how we are, than to try to fit in!” –Rosemary Gladstar
A grieving herbalist friend of ours posted on a private group about how family members were threatening to disown them both over their attendance at an herbal conference. Other people posted about similar situations of being ostracized, pressured or manipulated by parents, siblings and friends for practicing herbalism “instead of getting a real job.”
In the latter cases, the insinuation is that being an herbalist is neither “real” nor respectable work, even if the herbalist is in fact making a decent income for their selves and their loved ones, with some of us treated as if we are irresponsible hippies or aimless daydreamers by the very people who most loudly assert their love for us. In the former situation, it would seem that the woman’s family equate herbalism with something far more threatening than simple NewAge indulgence or unregulated plant constituents, with a darker, more nefarious, subversive, or even unholy purpose implied.
It’s alarming when we recognize the degree to which herbalists continue to be looked down upon, trivialized, dismissed, defamed, vilified, and directly or indirectly pressured to move on to a more practical vocation. It’s also mighty odd, given that scientists consider over two-thirds of the world’s known plant species to have some medicinal use, that more than 7,000 of the medical compounds found in the modern Pharmacopoeia derive from plants, and that even the most generic grocery stores sell a plethora of commercially profitable herbal preparations these days. Yet, for all its commercial successes, the actual practice of studying and recommending medicinal plants for the treatment of illnesses and imbalances remains largely unacceptable, beyond the norm, outside the fold.
This is arguably a problem we need to recognize and be ready to deal with if and when it comes up. At the same time, as far as problems go, “going our own way” can feel mighty darn good!
Acceptance & Belonging
The desire to belong is strong, whether to a family, clan, club, church, professional association, ethnicity, culture, or nation. This is true not only for herbalists but for most of humanity, and also for a majority of our fellow animal species. Membership in a group provides pleasing company and increased physical security, help with hunting or extra sets of eyes to watch out for approaching danger. More significantly in the case of we humans, is the opportunity to identify with others sharing a common purpose, with similar interests, opinions, desires, priorities, and codes of behavior. Membership can translate into emotional security, offering comforting friendships, alliances, and pacts. We may enjoy our efforts more, and accomplish more in alliance. Plus, to be accepted by those we identify with or look up to, is to have met their criteria and qualifications, bolstering our sense of worthiness and competence, while providing both a place and a way to belong.
Just being a plant lover, herbalist, or folk healer makes us a member of not only a community, but a lineage of purpose. This may not always feel like enough, however, and we may have a natural psychological hungering to feel an accepted part of the larger culture, the mainstream, the norm. We may even feel guilty about not identifying more with it, earning more of its praise and rewards, or being happier when we are in the midst of it.
There’s no question about it. There are obvious indisputable advantages to our embracing professionalism, legitimacy, organization, or guild registration, or otherwise earning credibility with the authorities and at least some portion of the mainstream consumer public. Official and public acceptance remains rare, fickle, conditional, and uncertain, however, and only ever comes at a high cost in terms of the years given to formal education and many thousands of dollars in tuition fees, as well as in our efforts to prove ourselves. And at no point is it likely that a “certified herbalist” will be viewed by either the professional community, or the average consumer as equal to an industry scientist or licensed medical specialist.
What we find, are:
•Some unregistered herbalists feeling inferior to, or else excluded by the approved members of professional herbal associations.
•Community herbalists imagining that they are insignificant, just because they mainly treat their families, neighbors, and friends.
•Caregivers working nights to pay for nursing school, in hopes of more certain employment aiding the ill.
•Nurses feeling inadequate or under-recognized and underpaid, in comparison to medical doctors working in the same facilities.
And even if we earn a half dozen letters of credit and affiliation at the end of our names, get a well -paying position doing herbal research or a teaching job at the university, we will still be seen by many outside of our community as fringe, as pseudoscience, as a counter-current or side channel.
Once we come to terms with this fact, we have the choice of either:
1. Consciously and willfully rejecting the process of accreditation, legitimization and public relations, sacrificing any benefits…
2. Willingly focusing our energies and resources on winning as much acceptance as possible regardless of the extent of inequity or disregard, and without fooling ourselves that herbalism is or will soon be truly “mainstream” again.
“…mainstream culture – there was no fitting into it back then, there’s no fitting into it now.”
From the very beginnings of what it means to be human, the shape of herbalism and the shape of the mainstream of human society and culture were the same, and where people migrated or ideas evolved, the principles of natural healing and cabinet of plant medicine knowledge would go too. When a culture swerved towards one direction or the other, its medicines swerved and undulated in unison, for it was not only the preferred way of healing, it was often the only effective means.
This began to drastically change in the early Middle Ages, especially as “familiarity with healing herbs” became an indicium, an official indication of witchcraft according to the Catholic Inquisition of the so-called “civilized nations.” In Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and England especially, terrible tortures were used to extract confessions for a horrific number of accused witches, many of whom were accused for no more reason than a profane oath, a tendency towards disobedience, or “the gathering of fruits and plants for medicine.” Many were apparently turned in by jealous or weary spouses anxious to be free of them, and many more were easily implicated by their role as midwives, herbalists and healers.
Most herbal practice at the time included a bit of conjuring, invoking, entreating or praying, making it easier to understand how the Inquisitors following Father Bernard Gui’s 1315 manual Practica oficii Inquistiones, were able to convict so many people on evidence of “collecting herbs on bended knee while facing the East and praying the Lord’s Prayer.” (Inquisitor Gui also cited “discovering hidden facts or manifesting secret things” as reason for conviction, something I would be found particularly in violation of). In Peter Binsfield’s 1622 manual Commentarius en Titulum Codices lib. IX de Maleficis Mathematicis Et Cetera, his indicium included something as simple and seemingly innocuous as “seeing a woman gathering flowers from various trees and putting them into a pot.” This, in spite of the fact that herbs had long been used ritually by the church itself, and that a rival inquisitorial tract, Girolamo Menghi’s 1626 Fustis Daemonum, suggests that “A good preventative of demon possession” is to combine not only gold and other ingredients, but also Frankincense and Myrrh.
By the 1700s, the mainstream of society was veering even farther from the course and cause of herbs, becoming ever more estranged from the natural world. Professional organizations in Europe, and then in America, began to insist that only their vetted members were competent enough to be paid a wage for their consultations and house calls, and by the 1920s and 30s were able to frighten lawmakers and voters into passing laws against unlicensed practice. While England made it possible for practitioners to earn accreditation and a license, in other countries including the United States it became possible to continue practicing only if one denied that they were diagnosing or treating illness. While herbal product sales increased dramatically in the 1970s and 80s, herbalism itself became indelibly linked to – and tainted by – an association with commonly dismissed New Age thinking and practice. Plant Medicine has largely remained a semi-legal, semi-outlaw, alternative field ever since… and we probably need to get used to it: a different healing stream, committed to following its own evolving direction, aptly finding its own channel of ingress and expression, proudly assuming its own characteristic shape.
I have to tell you… normal is highly overrated.
–Charles “Doc” Garcia
mainstream |ˈmānˌstrēm| noun
1. ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional
2. the dominant trend in opinion, fashion or the arts
Let’s be clear: Increasing public acceptance of and support for herbalism is a worthy and perhaps even necessary goal for us, irrespective of its degree of attainability. I say this, because the more people whose trust we can win over, the more we can help… and the more support that herbalism will have, as increasing numbers of regulations are decided or voted on. No matter how polar their politics or what ethnicity they might be, the majority of U.S. and European citizens think of themselves as being in the “mainstream.” For this reason alone, if we want herbal healing to be embraced by the larger society, it is to them we must appeal, to them we must hope to educate and stretch, entice and inspire.
That said, before we go too far in our attempts to be accepted by and integrated into the mainstream, it could be helpful for us to first take a good look at its character and direction. Whether we are talking mainstream medicine, fashion or entertainment, you’ll note that it tends to be marked by:
•A general absence of critical thinking.
•Acting out of fear, such as a fear of unconventionality, the fear of medical self-care, a fear of trusting the aid or advice of anyone unofficial.
•Default acceptance of the opinions, research, beliefs, prejudices and proclamations of people and institutions in power, popular celebrities and official “experts.”
•Dependence on and subservience to the edicts and strictures of officials, agencies and authority figures.
•Endemic superficiality, responsive to sound bites rather than making deep investigations.
•Allegiance to conformity, or even uniformity, as exemplified by fads, adherence to fashion trends, uniforms, dogmatism, regulated behavior and self-restraint.
•Greater individual worry about appearing “weird” or different, than concern about doing the best thing.
•Mistrust of and resistance to the unfamiliar, unusual, untypical, uncommon, unconventional, unorthodox, out of the ordinary, irregular, abnormal, aberrant, “strange,” exceptional or unique, eclectic or eccentric, adaptive or creative.
•Disregard for options and alternatives, more resistant to considering new ideas, methods, means, products, practices, and possibilities.
Those outside of the mainstream are more likely to:
•Act out of vision or instinct, hunch or hope.
•Listen to the pronouncements of authority figures, agencies and official “experts” with a critical ear.
•Personally experiment, and independently evaluate.
•Investigate deeper, and weigh supposed facts against personal intuition and observation.
•Challenge entrenched beliefs, systems, prejudices, and protocols.
•Sometimes question their own habits and assumptions.
•Place more importance on authentically being themselves, than on conforming in order to fit in.
•Value and appreciate the unfamiliar, unusual, untypical, uncommon, unconventional, unorthodox, out of the ordinary, irregular, abnormal, aberrant, “strange,” exceptional or unique, eclectic or eccentric, adaptive or creative.
•Be more afraid of being a meaningless, conformist “cog in the wheels,” than of being thought of as different or weird.
•Be open to options and alternatives, considering new ideas, methods, means, products, practices and possibilities.
My dictionary definition of “mainstream” includes “conventional,” which that same edition describes as actions “based on or in accordance with what is most generally done or believed.” For this simple reason, we cannot be truly and completely conventional if we are an herbalist who acts on or in accordance with our own observations and beliefs, convictions and aims.
We may think we could be happier fitting fully into the mainstream, or that it’s the most practical and safest choice, but if so, it would be best to first decide if it embodies the values and characteristics, the goals and means for getting there, that we personally aspire to.
And if it is students, clients or customers that we seek, we would do well to be realistic about the propensities of the mainstream, how many we can serve and how deeply we can engage and benefit them… and grateful for the creative, sensitive, receptive alternative.
alternative |ôlˈtərnətiv| adjective
1. one or more things available as additional possibilities
2. of or relating to behavior that is considered unconventional and is often seen as a challenge to traditional norms
Nearly everything alternative is painted in the mainstream as being either extreme, subversive, heretical, unseemly, fatuous, or foolish. Alternative schools are often dismissed as undisciplined daycare for the children of liberals, and alternative novels criticized as being for the effete. Members of the mainstream often seem to enjoy being disgusted and mortified by what they call “alternative lifestyles,” from communal living to gay marriage. And anything other than conventional medicine is considered quackery, whether via deliberate fraud or self-delusion.
A number of mainstream scientists speak as if alternative medicine (including herbalism) meant “ineffective or unproven” or “without any scientific basis or verifiable results.” Alternative practices “do have scientific value,” quipped one of the commentators on Randi.org, but only “to psychologists studying delusional behavior!” A standing joke among MDs, is that “alternative medicine” means an “alternative to medicine.” This includes plant medicine in the eyes of the great majority of them, considered of little more use than colloidal silver and magnet therapy. One online rant goes as follows: “Herbal Medicine? Give me a break! If herbs pass the test, they’re just medicine. And if they don’t, they’re just soup and potpourri.” This prevailing attitude on doctor’s forums and in many scientific circles helps explain why up to a third of all herbalists go to such incredible lengths to establish academic, professional and scientific credentials. They don’t spend so much money on formal education and memberships just to get a better job in the field, or to be better informed and positioned for influencing the academic community… they’re hoping at the least, to avoid being completely ignored, disregarded, denigrated, and dissed.
The writer Richard Dawkins calls alternative medicine – herbalism included – “a set of practices which cannot be tested, refuse to be tested, or consistently fail tests”… and without mentioning that most research is conducted by an industry with a vested interest in profitable synthetics, is usually done on isolated compounds rather than whole plants, and fails to take into account individual constitutional factors. Thank you, Dick! His is one example of how the mainstream discredits any but conventional, institutional practice… by totally missing the point!
As I have learned from Kiva, herbal effects are indeed testable – in some convincing way or another – if:
•Using whole plants, not constituents.
•Paying close attention to dosage, when to use dry or fresh plant material, and means of preparation
•Looking for more than an isolated action or effect.
•Taking into account the constitutions and health histories of those in the study.
•Measuring health as more than the alleviation of symptoms.
Herbalism and other nature, folk, tradition, and experience-based healing practices are not merely complimentary adjuncts to “modern medicine.” They’re vital alternatives to the conventional, blind-sided, narrow minded, profit motivated, corporate financed, pharmaceutical drug pushing, in many cases life endangering medical paradigm.
Nor is alternative medicine an insubstantial alternative to “real medicine,” it is an alternative way of perceiving the body, illness, treatment, and the very notion of what it means to be healthy.
“It is often thought that medicine is the curative process. It is no such thing… nature alone cures. And what [true] nursing has to do… is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” –Florence Nightingale (from Notes on Nursing)
You might think of alternative medicine the way you think of alternative energy. Wind and solar power are alternatives to mountain-leveling coal mines and air polluting power plants. Or the way you think of healthy whole foods from the woods or garden, an alternative to the mainstream American diet of processed carbs, sugar and salt, hormone laden meat, genetically modified vegetables, canned food, and snacks. Or like what is undoubtedly the best music these days, not the formulaic (certified, licensed) mainstream music being pushed, but the often unsigned (uncertified), independent musicians creating new Alt-Country/Americana, Alternative Rock, World Fusion, Alt-Latino and more. Think about how much the mainstream media sucks, and how necessary are any alternative sources of much needed news.
In a similar way, we are the alternative – to a fearful, highly distracted and controlled humankind, increasingly divorced from its nature and from the natural world, out of touch with its native intuition, instincts, emotions and their triggers, dreams and service, purpose and calling. And herbalism is an alternative – to institutional/industrial health care, to viewing the body as a mechanism or chemical factory, to treating symptoms instead of causes and imbalances, to the restricting of health care access and total dependence on technology and drugs.
Some of you may be attached to identifying with or being thought of by others as mainstream, but let’s get serious! How mainstream is it today, to practice plant medicine apart from its twisted pharmaceutical successors, to make one’s own preparations, to think of health as wholeness instead of an absence of symptoms, to provide advice to nearly anyone who asks, to put ethics and quality ahead of income, or to be concerned about the health of plant populations as well as of the people served?
I frankly don’t know hardly any mainstream-type people in the field of herbalism. Nobody has done more to broaden the appeal of herbalism than the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, for example. Yet on closer examination, we see that she, like I, has a soft spot – and acts as a magnet for – radicals and activists, wild women, frisky fellow and self-proclaimed freaks, outlandish outliers and edge-dwellers.
“These people are my tribe. I’m one of them! I identify with them because I’m a bit freakish and outlandish myself! I just have a sweeter cover, perhaps, than many of my fellow radicals, is all!” –Rosemary Gladstar
If your reputation is based on clinically informed medical herbalism, you’re clearly still not mainstream if you teach aromatherapy, promote critical thinking, or sing “I’m An Herbal Rebel” at events full of other alternative-type folks. You may be an officer of the American Herbalist Guild making inroads in the scientific or legislative community, but you are unavoidably alternative if you’re also an activist, eco-tourist, or conservationist, teach energetics, or had an herbal epiphany at a Grateful Dead concert. Academic degrees are impressive, as are any years of study you may have put into your botany or chemistry, but these things are not enough to earn you full mainstream membership, if you are known to administer to the homeless, volunteer in Nicaragua, fight to protect endangered Sandalwood trees, foster free clinics, run a first aid station at a Rainbow Gathering, sleep in the back of your herbal business to save money, prefer nature documentaries over action-movie superheroes, or discuss in public what plants seem to be communicating to you.
Sorry, but at most – if you are quiet and guarded about much of who you are and what you believe, and are careful with your appearance and language – you may be partially accepted by a mainstream that you can only partially relate to.
Confluence & Divergence
“Just because I have success, doesn’t mean I’m part of the mainstream.”
So what might be a healthy relationship, a healthful confluence with the predominantly unhealthy mainstream? How can we interact with it that serves both our well- being and our purpose, draw from it what we need or desire, trade with and help its members, influence and help heal its culture? Consider the following model/parallel.
In many parts of the world, for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years, the majority of the population lived outside of the few urban areas, gathering or producing food, living in rural villages with cultures that helped keep them aligned with the spirit and needs of the land. Cities, with their closely packed buildings, constant commotion and mind numbing noise, were seen as rather unpleasant places one traveled to in order to trade their rural produce or crafts for things that couldn’t be obtained elsewhere, meet and hopefully mate with someone from a different town or tribe, and party hearty! With any luck, one would wake up suffering no worse than a hangover, recover their wagon and newly scored goods, and then get the hell out of Dodge as quickly as their feet, horse, or jalopy would carry them.
Imagine now, if you will, mainstream society as an old-school urban center, with the herbalist as the ecocentric outlier, a feed-stream periodically entering the mainstream in order to exert a positive effect, teach or be taught, exchange products or services for what’s needed or enjoyed, dance with the most attractive elements until late at night… but always returning to the alternative of our true community, to the source and heart of herbal wisdom, identity and mission.
If we are to give our lives to this work, we perhaps need to become more comfortable with, and find more satisfaction in being different… and to be more fulfilled and satisfied, serving not the masses so much or so deeply as the exceptions – those exceptional folks courageously looking beyond current convention for the most natural, healthful alternatives.
I was once asked if I had ever treated “mono.” Even if I were a clinical herbalist, I likely still would have had to say “Yes… monotony, monopolies, monotheism, monoculture, and monosyllabic cliches.” And a good treatment for that is a protocol of divergence, diversity, multiculturalism, and intelligent investigation and communication.
Let us return our watercourse analogy again, in closing.
While the mainstream features the greatest volume, it is also in some ways the narrowest and straightest channel, herding, compacting, densifying and considerably accelerating everyone caught up in its flow. As anyone who has ever been caught up the central current of a fast river knows, it can be exceedingly hard to paddle out of its hold and into a preferred path. Even within the river itself, there are deep currents that do not run nearly so fast, and to either side can often be found shallower waters slowed by their more intimate contact with shoreline terrain, affording one time to consider both where one is? heading and what we are passing by. There are even eddies, areas where the water catches and swirls, sometimes sending floating objects temporarily back in the direction of the headwaters, the source. Each of these is an available alternative to mainstream: The depths, where meaning is paramount but few reside. The gladly uneven, explorative, meandering edges. And the pivotal moments of eddy spin, when we’re helped to find our way back in the direction of the dream and connection, to where our herbal journey began.
Indeed, what we have been calling “alternative” is never a single option, but a multiplicity of directions, possibilities, methods, means, and personal styles.
Rather than seeking a single unified body of herbalism, let us celebrate the many divergent streams. And rather than obsessing about herbalism’s acceptance into the mainstream, let us celebrate our divergence. Let us be happy with the healing effects we are able to have on any members of the dominant culture… and thrilled with those atypical and alternative thinking folks who will continue to comprise our main clients and favorite suppliers, our students and teachers, our allies and tribe.
Excerpted from Wolf Hardin’s upcoming book “Plant Healers and Wisdom Keepers”, and it will also appear an in the Summer 2013 Issue of “the Magazine Different”:
And help yourself to the Free 154 Page Long Plant Healer Sample Download:
(Feel free to re-post or quote this – with a link please)
A Free Sample Issue of Plant Healer Magazine
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154 Pages, 20 Complete Articles, Over 250 Illustrations
“Plant Healer is amazing… the most beautiful magazine I’ve ever seen, bar none!” –Phyllis Light
We’re giving away a free 154 pages long Plant Healer Magazine Sample – the size of a small book! Those of you who subscribe, will have already read the 20 articles that appear in their entirety here, but now the rest of you can get also get a feel for the “Magazine Different”… while taking advantage of this gift of valuable information for anyone interested in herbalism, wildcrafting or foraging articles:
Jesse Wolf Hardin: For The Love of Plant Lovers
Choosing An Herbal School
Herbal School Directory
Paul Bergner: Critical Thinking For The Herbalist
Phyllis Light: Tree of Life
Rebecca Altman: In Defense of The Quick-Fix
Stories of The Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous
Herbalism On The Frontier: J. I. Lighthall
The Art of Plant Healer: Ernst Haeckel
Herbalpreneurship & Making a Business Plan
Kristin Brown: Make Your Own Herbal First-Aid Kit
Jesse Wolf Hardin: Finding Your Path in Herbalism
Matthew Wood: The Lymph/Immune System
Juliet Blankespoor: Growing Medicinal Herbs in Containers
Sam Thayer: Wild Rice
Loba: Harvesting & Drying Wild Plants
Susun Weed: Edible Seeds
Robin Rose Bennett: Everything is Medicine
Kiva Rose: Exploring Traditional Models of the Healer’s Practice
Please help yourself to this PDF download, and share it with others. Unlike the Plant Healer subscriber download codes, this link in unmonitored and free for all.
“This is the first publication I’ve seen in my 38-year career that captures the wild diversity of herbalism in North America while still reflecting excellence and high-level practice… points of view from many regions, traditions, and schools of thought.. for the practicing herbalist from entry level to advanced, inclusively.” -Paul Bergner
Plant Healer Described
If you didn’t already know, Plant Healer is the largest, most comprehensive publication ever created for the herbalist and forager communities, a quarterly PDF over 250 pages per issue long, a yearly total of over 1,000 full color pages covering the practice, history, culture and art of folk herbalism as well as wild foods foraging. Plant Healer combines cutting edge science with heartful intuitive practice, practical skills that enable and personal stories that inspire. Enjoy a diverse range of articles on everything from botany and cultivation to wildcrafting and traditional foods recipes, from diagnostics and treatments to coverage of regulations and the history of herbalism, from herbs for expecting mothers and tools for starting an herbal business, to plant art and herbalist fiction. Contributors include:
Paul Bergner, Matthew Wood, Kiva Rose, Phyllis Light, Jim McDonald, 7Song, Sam Thayer, Loba,
David Hoffman, Susun Weed, Christa Sinadinos, Juliet Blankespoor, Sam Coffman, Robin Rose Bennett, Sean Donahue, Rebecca Altman, Rosemary Gladstar, Christophe Bernard, Henriette Kress, Kristine Brown, Virginia Adi, Wendy Petty, Mélanie Pulla, Traci Picard, Darcey Blue French, Renee Davis, Susan Leopold, Sabrina Lutes, Catherine Skipper, Sarah Baldwin, Sophia Rose, Katheryn Langelier, Charles “Doc” Garcia, Kiva and Wolf… and many, many more.
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Apportioning Our Time:
Buried in Work, or Busily Alive?
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Looking up from my writing and out our cabin window, I see a wild river canyon that’s forever prodding me to play “hooky” from my schedules and responsibilities, calling for me to come outdoors and play. I easily imagine myself quietly removing the window screen, sliding out and making a dash for the trees the way I more than once escaped the uneventful, uninspiring and often suffocating classrooms of my youth. The difference, is that there is nothing uninspiring about the work I am pledged and given to, it breathes life into me and allows me to help breathe new life into the larger culture of my human kind, and can be too eventful if anything. The significance, importance, value and even urgency of this work of culture co-creation makes it always fulfilling, and much of it feels like play even if sometimes it can all feel like too much… too much for a couple of people, too much to get done in a single day, on schedule, or by a certain deadline. Even our much needed breaks are in one sense something else on the endless to-do list, another commitment to keep. There are always a zillion things we desire to do for pleasure, on top of all that we want to accomplish for other people or for some special purpose… and there definitely never seems like enough hours in the day to do it all.
Indeed, I write this on a morning when I have a Plant Healer Magazine issue to start laying out, art posters and article illustrations to create, new book of interviews to prepare for publication and announcement, articles to finish writing on topics meant to aid and inspire our community and the rest of our kind. My partner, Kiva, sits a few feet away finishing her latest blog post while simultaneously researching printing companies, looking for art and photos for the magazine, dealing with our accountant and head-numbing finances, providing free tech help for subscribers, and trying to catch up on 70 recent emails from folks who not only would like but deserve detailed replies.
In this day and age, it’s easy for an herbalist or anyone else to feel overwhelmed by all the tasks we’re expected to handle, from minding homes to tending careers and causes. As plant healers, we’re expected to “wear many hats.” We may need to plan and take wildcrafting trips, seed and water a garden or spend time ordering fresh quantities of the herbs we use, do the thoughtful work of making medicines or seeing clients, read or even write new herbal books, attend classes to increase our knowledge of the craft or else prepare to teach herbal courses that help inform others, create new ads for our products or add material to our websites… all while still trying to give quality time to our friends, our families, and our sometimes neglected or undernourished selves.
This is not only a quandary of the fast paced modern world, however. The historic homesteader had to get up before dawn to take care of the domestic animals before breakfast, cram the homeschooling of the kids in between household chores, taking care of a large enough garden to feed an entire family and still trade off a surplus, and cutting enough firewood with a laborious crosscut hand saw to keep the house warm at night. Hunter/Gatherer groups are believed to have had a larger proportion of unscheduled time than in any society since, and yet it seems that rather than choosing inactivity, they opted to fill their hours exploring new regions and new ideas, by indulging in new forms of art and reveling in new songs, actively developing a culture of mythos and beauty and not just necessity.
It can be tempting to wish we had enough income to pay for more help with our projects, enough to cover expenses without having to pay so much attention to business. We can see, however, that the most satisfied and fulfilled of people are usually those who truly enjoy doing what they are doing, who would do the same things even if there was no money in it and no one made them, who are motivated to do things for more than their own personal self. And we can see that while the wealthy have the greatest amount of “free” time, they are often the most dissatisfied, more bored than aimless suburban teenagers between school terms.
Besides, time is never really “free.” We are born with an undetermined yet finite number of hours in our mortal account, and since we don’t get to add the bank, it’s up to us how, where and why we spend the capital of our lives. We can tell we are taking on too much when our focus becomes diffuse, our tasks scattered and disconnected, with more projects in motion than unfinished… when we are losing our inspiration, or exhausting our essential selves. Otherwise, if we remain inspired about our work, excited about the possibilities, satisfied with the feel of our efforts, fulfilling our purpose or role and moving in the direction of our dreams, we may be crazy busy but we will not be depleted.
We don’t necessarily need to do less, only to consciously and responsibly choose what we do, whether we are intently laboring, consciously relaxing and nourishing ourselves, or giddily at play. The real issue is neither how much we do nor how fast our pace, but what we do: how meaningful, valuable, intentional, purposeful, pleasurable and satisfying our acts.
On several occasions, I’ve heard folks say that they “hate waking up to so much work,” but the only real alternative would be to never wake up. When we’re dead, we won’t be making any more cynical jokes on social media about imposing deadlines. When we’re buried in the ground, we’ll no longer have any reason to complain about being “buried in work.” In the meanwhile, let’s gladly get on with the work of being wholly, purposefully, intensely and – yes! – often quite busily alive.
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Sam Coffman & The Herbal Resurgence
–Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous – Near The Grand Canyon – Sept 19th-22nd–
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
We’re really stretching the bounds of herbalism and herbal conferences at the 2013 Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous, hosting over 50 of the most adventurous class topics again this September. From Anne Merrill’s “Ecology of The Body” to “Animist Herbalism” by Sarah Lawless, teachers will be taking the craft ever deeper into the heart of what the folk tradition is all about.
Now, thanks to a last minute rescheduling, we’re pleased to announce the addition of a teacher who can provide a radically strong emphasis on herbal empowerment and preparedness:
Sam is the founder and instructor of the Human Path courses near San Antonio, Texas, a curricula that it rare or even unique in its combining of herbal instruction, physical fitness, self defense, nature awareness and path finding, foraging, mental acuity and much more. He is a rare fellow, an ex-Special Forces medic who is committed to our humanity’s role in and responsibility to the living planet whole, and someone who combines strong opinions with deep kindness, irreverent humor and outright fun. Rather than suggesting we hide our heads in the sand and just hope for the best, he suggests we instead equip and train to be “the best possible human in the worst possible circumstances.” Check out his classes, blogs and more at: www.HumanPath.com
Sam the Plant Healer Writer
Sam will be writing regularly for Plant Healer Magazine, not only on issues of importance but also practical skills such as “ditch herbalism,” herbal first aid, foraging and more. Read his awesome first contribution on the topic of Licensing in the upcoming Spring issue, available for download on March 4th. Subscribe at: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com
Sam Interviewed in our new book 21st Century Herbalists
My just completed interview with Sam is one of the most extensive, inspiring and challenging of the 21 conversations appearing in the new Plant Healer book: 21st Century Herbalists. This 386 page, heavily illustrated book will be sold through the Plant Healer website to NonSubscribers as well as Subscribers, and will hopefully be ready for sale March 1st. Look for it.
Sam’s Classes at Herbal Resurgence 2013
Last but not least, Sam will be teaching a minimum of 2 cutting edge classes at Herbal Resurgence this Fall. These include one on post-disaster herbal treatments from a man who truly knows his “stuff”… and the first class on the terrible GMP regulations that have been driving small herbal medicine makers out of business. Other conferences have been featuring workshops on “how to comply,” making Kiva and I all the gladder to have Sam reminding us there are alternatives to ignorance, obedience, surrender or resignation!
1. Remote & Post-Disaster Herbal Medicine: From Regional Disasters to The Zombie Apocalypse
with Sam Coffman
Natural disasters, social breakdowns and political upheaval are all a natural part of human history, but can be seen to be increasing in frequency and severity. In addition to this, many of the same issues that can be found in a post-disaster setting can also be encountered in a remote setting where resources are limited, and the skills to survive and flourish in these scenarios can make us better and more enlivened practitioners in our everyday lives.
Sam will focus on how herbalists and herbal medics actually can have an advantage over allopathic care in a post-disaster or remote setting as the primary health care responders, addressing:
•What are a few of the most important health-care concerns in this kind of environment that don’t require herbs, medicine or supplies?
•What are the primary considerations in setting up a remote clinic where there are little to no resources?
•How do you physically structure a clinic to maximize efficiency and security concerns while giving patients the best care possible when time is limited?
•What is the importance of triage in an herbal clinic?
•What herbal preparation methods work best for a remote or post-disaster setting?
•If I could only choose 10 herbs, what would they be for a post-disaster or remote setting?
•What types of herbal pharmacy methodologies are most efficient in a remote or post-disaster clinic?
…and much more.
2. GMPs: The Dietary Supplements Good Manufacturing Practices Law and Its Impact on Herbalists
with Sam Coffman
During the summer of 2007 the FDA established a regulation entitled the “Current Good Manufacturing Practice” (CGMP) In Manufacturing, Packaging, Labeling, Or Holding Operations For Dietary Supplements. The Dietary Supplement (DS) CGMP rule requires persons who manufacture, package, label, or hold a dietary supplement to establish and follow current good manufacturing practice to ensure the quality of the dietary supplement and to ensure that the dietary supplement is packaged and labeled as specified in the master manufacturing record. Navigating your way through this set of regulations as an herbalist is extremely time-consuming and tedious. Sam will break down the DS GMP specifically as it applies to the independent or small-business (less than 20 full-time employees), and clarify as succinctly as possible what the DS GMP means and what options exist to work with or around this set of regulations. We will cover:
•The history of the current GMP and how (and why) it got to what it is today.
•The DS GMP explained as simply as possible in 10 minutes or less – as it applies to medicinal herb products.
•Is the World Health Organization’s GMP different than the US GMP?
•Who is subject to DS GMP regulation by the FDA?
•What’s the worst-case scenario, legally, and how would it play itself out step-by-step?
•What actually drives the FDA’s need for compliance on DS GMP and how can that be to your advantage?
•How do your 9th amendment rights stand up vs. DS GMP?
•When to use and when not to use an attorney
•For Intrastate commerce only: The legality of Federal mandates to regulate a product that does not cross state borders.
•What is prima facie evidence and why do you need to understand very clearly how this applies to you as a clinical herbalist – whether in relation to GMP or anything else related to your practice?
•What is the easiest and least expensive roadmap through the DS GMP mess for the small business herbalist who complies 100% to these regulations?
•What are all of the options based on who you are and how you are providing your herbal products to the public?
Sam is a full-time teacher and herbalist in Central Texas. While protecting himself legally as a practicing, clinical herbalist (and individual supplier of herbal formulas & preparations), he stepped “through the looking glass” in regards to the American legal system and clearly understanding what our actual constitutional rights are as United States citizens. He has worked with attorneys on these subjects, but more importantly with private citizens who have spent years researching constitutional law and legal precedents.
If you are looking for a through explanation of the regulations and your rights, options and possible responses, than this is the class for you. And many of the lessons that apply to the GMP situation will apply to any other regulating or restricting of herbs or herbalists that we have to face in the future.
To Purchase Early Discount Tickets, Go To the Registration Page at:
Kitchen herbalists, clinicians, teachers, anarchists and patriots, homesteaders and urban visionaries, herb growing mothers and children who love plants… and now Sam Coffman, another welcome addition to the diverse fabric of this folk herbalism tribe, contributing in his own signature way to this alliance of purpose we call the Herbal Resurgence. Medicine of The People, and so much more.
Thank you Sam. And big thanks to you ALL, for being a part of this.
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