Intro: For the release of my partner Wolf Hardin’s newest book, Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle, I asked our friend Becca if she would interview him about it and its creation. The following first appeared in the locally loved Glenwood Gazette, and is excerpted for you here. Both this book and others of interest to rural folks, history lovers, outdoorsmen and women, can be found on the new website I made for him. –Kiva Rose
with Catron County Author
Jesse Wolf Hardin
Interviewed by Becca McTrauchle
Q) You write about events in this area in your book about the people and the firearms of the historic West, called Old Guns & Whispering Ghosts. Your novel The Medicine Bear takes place in Arizona’s White Mountains, the Gila forest, and Columbus, New Mexico in the early 1900s. Now we have your collection of short stories set in this area, Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle. You may be the most prolific writer hanging a hat in this area since Zane Grey. What inspires this obsession?
A) The region of Southwest New Mexico and Southeast Arizona has a unique flavor all of its own. When a person is likeably odd, standing out from the generic crowds of the day, and interesting in an exaggerated way, we might call them a “character”… well, this land here is not just the stage and backdrop to our mortal play, it is itself a character in a very similar way. It may look like other parts of the planet, but it feels different… with a rough edged authenticity, an almost magical or spiritual ambiance, and enough hardships and inconveniences to attract only the hard headed and self-reliant. It’s mix of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cowboy culture provides an increasingly rare example of the libertarian thinking, community spirit, and backwoods values that once characterized all the so-called Wild West. On the other hand, this area is emblematic of rural America in general, from the love of nature and wide open spaces to the determination to do things one’s own way. In Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle, I write about a countrified sensibility that family farmers in Maine and swamp-rooted Cajuns in Louisiana can relate to. And for my many city dwelling readers, the Western ethos in this book can be inspiration to live a more authentic, adventurous, enjoyable, honorable, purpose-driven, and even heroic life.
Q) What caused you to settle here, and how long ago?
A) I moved here from Taos in 1979. It’s been nearly 4 decades now, since I was vehicle-less and having to walk the 10 miles to Jakes’s Grocery for supplies. That’s over two-thirds of my life, enough time to be tempered, and tested, and time for the place to help sculpt me into what I am today. I arrived with a passionate love for the land, and over the decades I came to find many of the same qualities in its people. Whenever I celebrate wild animals, un-dammed rivers or western history, I am also celebrating every man or woman today who dares to be different, refuses to be bottled up and controlled, and stands up for what they believe is right.
Q) You write for a lot of different audiences it seems.
A) I want to reach and affect as many kinds of people as possible, and one does that by relating to folks through the ways that we share in common, and in the ways that each best understands. Important concepts like awareness, critical thinking, healthy wildness, our liberty, and taking personal responsibility can all be expressed in the language of gardening or in terms of balanced ecosystems, in the metaphors of attentive down-home cooking or using the example of riding a rodeo bull, good parenting or resisting a government’s injustices. For another thing, I am a complex person, and I’m not fairly represented unless I express my loving father, sensitive cook, and inner wrangler sides… as well as my commitments to land conservation, and my determined resistance to onerous government regulations and invasion of our privacy in the name of security
Of everything I’ve ever written, Pancho’s comes closest to me talking off the cuff, showing all sides of myself and all sides of the issues, uncensored, unguarded, and unrestrained. This is the “Straight Shot,” to quote the title of my first Catron County newspaper column. It hopefully features enough focus on sentiment, beauty and enchantment to make some crusty ol’ boys squirm, while equally discomforting any “politically correct” readers by my making fun of a trippy New Age visitor and extolling the logic of the .50 caliber rifle. Many of my friends and fellow residents consider this a simple case of telling it like it is, while my detractors at least have to concede that I am an equal opportunity offender!
Q) There’s 107 stories in Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle, about everything from the democratic system to Elfego Baca’s shootout, the wisdom of onetime local character Sammy Giron, and heirloom treadle sewing machines and the important mending of our lives and our communities. That’s quite a range of topics. So tell us how you decided on the title you did. Pancho really had a motorcycle?
A) The cover photograph shows Villa admiring a bike that he was being shown for the first time. While most comfortable astride a spirited horse, this famous revolutionary and ex-bandit was quick to accept the offer to take it for a spin. History does not tell us if he dumped it or not, though he certainly fell hard when he was ambushed and assassinated in his touring car not very many years later. Curiously enough, it was an Indian brand motorcycle, an interesting fact given Pancho’s Native American ancestry, and his raiders use of bows and arrows against the machine guns of the U.S. army when, in 1916, he ordered the first military invasion of this country since the War of 1812.
I think that this iconic cover photo evokes the twists in this region’s poignant history, the clash between technology and land-based lifestyles, between modernity and the old ways, between the fear and lies of our age and an ageless, honest, free, courageous, and plumb-enjoyable way of being.
As a personal aside, I can tell you that I owned some kind of motorcycle from the time I was 12 and riding a Tote-Gote mini-bike, including Harleys and a 1946 Indian Chief during my biker outlaw phase… symbols and tools of my independence. And yet I gladly sold my final motorcycle, a classic Triumph Bonneville 650, to my friend Tuffy Jones who co-managed Uncle Bill’s Bar in the village of Reserve… anything in order to make the semi-annual payments and hold on to my treasured home.
Q) What else is on the plate for you?
A) I have two more books coming out in the next year, first The Healing Terrain about sense of place, the importance of home, connecting to the land, gardening medicinal herbs, gathering wild foods and so on. And the second being Lawmen of The Old West Unmasked, exposing the real lives of some famous badge wearers like Billy The Kid’s murderer Pat Garrett, and Wyatt Earp, the con artist known in his day as the “fighting pimp.”… while bringing to light the deeds of some lesser known but truly admirable and heroic lawdogs including local characters Arizona’s Bucky O’Neil and Ranger Burt Mossman, and Reserve’s own icon of oversized huevos, Elfego Baca. Then maybe a book on the traveling Medicine Shows that provided health care and entertainment to the rural people of the 19th and early 20th centuries. And I’ll continue coediting Plant Healer Magazine, providing information on healthy herbs of all kinds and breaking our dependence on federal health care and often harmful pharmaceuticals. Herbalists have a few things in common with the finest of frontier men and women, in keeping tradition alive, and in taking risks to do good.
Q) Last question: I see that the illustrations for Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle include some of your drawings, photographs of old time Western movie actors, images of the region’s varied landscapes, and even a photo of the Men’s Room door of Uncle Bill’s Bar with its wonderful painting of a cowboy and his horse stopping to relieve themselves at the edge of the trail. Is there maybe some consistent theme that you planned?
A) You gotta be kidding! (smiles)
Q) OK, good enough! Thank you much!
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Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle: Wild West Sentiment, Backwoods Humor, & Outlaw Wisdom For a World Gone Astray
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Championing the herbal and eco communities, answering email, producing a magazine and free newsletter, and creating events like this September’s HerbFolk Gathering all take a huge amount of Kiva’s and my time. A priority, too, is playing with young Rhiannon, finding and instructing our periodic on-site homestead helpers, hiking and exercising, soaking up the energy of this wild canyon and getting the rest that we need. Yet, somehow, we still need to find the hours in our long days to write new material, sharing our insights and experiences, the ideas, skills and tools that help others with their healing practices and fulfilling lives. This includes new articles for Plant Healer Magazine, as well as the books we have planned for you.
It is books, after all, which have the best chance of reaching and affecting people beyond our folk herbalist circle, and books that may still be found helpful by the generations to come. The 2014 Annuals are in progress as we speak, as is a second book of Herbalist interviews, a volume on old-time Medicine Shows and sellers, Kiva’s tome on constitutions, a collection of Plant Healer humor, and even a book featuring a treasury of articles from the first five years of the magazine… the latter planned to mark our upcoming 5th Anniversary! But there are none we feel is more important to the healing tribe than what we call the Trilogy. In combination, these three comprise much of what we consider to be the essentials for defining and embracing our purpose, optimizing our efforts, increasing our effects, and maximizing our enjoyment.
“We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being. Each of these has a creative power and a vision far beyond any rational thought or cultural creation of which we are capable.”
–Father Thomas Berry
As most of you know, first in the series is The Plant Healer’s Path (the foundations, including getting a healing education, picking a role and finding a niche, critical thinking, codes of honor, and personal empowerment). Second is the full color volume The Enchanted Healer (covering awakeness, awareness, heightened senses, shamanism and extrasensory perception, Gaia, plant spirit and communication, wonder and enchantment). And now comes the final piece to this journey of self-discovery… because self-discovery requires the deepest knowing and experiencing of nature and place.
The 3rd Book In Our Trilogy for Healers & Seekers:
THE HEALING TERRAIN
Nature is the source of our medicine, and the inspiration and example for a healed world and way of life. And intimacy with place is essential to the most effective healing practice, understanding the natural and human history of one’s bioregion, being familiar with its weather patterns, ecology and wildlife, not only its native herbs but its character and needs. This empowering process of familiarization, relationship and commitment to earth where we live is called reinhabitation, optimally leading to our reindigenation as we become inseparable extensions and agents of the living, purposeful land once again.
The Healing Terrain is meant to contribute understanding, inspiration and means for this life-altering reconnection, further informing and equipping even those of you already most attuned to the natural world. It will feature not only my writings on this theme, but also a large number of new pieces by Kiva Rose, a possible Foreword by the pioneer of bioregionalism Judy Goldhaft (Peter Berg’s partner and Planet Drum cofounder), plus special sections by awesome herbalist visionaries David Hoffman, Phyllis Light, Juliet Blankespoor, Dara Saville, and Robin Rose Bennett.
Nearly 20 years in the making, the Healing Terrain was first titled “Coming Home: Reinhabiting Self & Place,” and all the illustrations for it were going to be artistic photos of Anima Sanctuary through its stages of restoration and fruition. Terry Tempest Williams was planned for its Foreword, and publishers approached. The history of this land is still a component of the new version, along with so much more: Finding and rooting in one’s most healthful home. The geology of place. The healing power of water. Land restoration, trusts, covenants, and legal protection. Building a relationship with a plant. Gardening with natives. Herbaria and plant collecting. Bioregional herbalism. Creating a native calendar. Wildcrafting. Personal rewilding. Healing the land as nature helps to heal us, and then helps us to heal others.
Book Creation & Progress
I finished the last piece of mine for The Healing Terrain last month, and corrected the typos that Traci and Aleah caught with their kind proofreading, leaving only two more contributions I’m expecting to receive. Hoping to have something from Judy in the next two weeks for the Foreword, bringing this book up to nearly or just over 300 8.5×11” pages. I am just now completing the illustration and layout, over 350 photographs, drawings and paintings by myself and other contributors, and including some historical pieces. Every section needs specially selected pictures that not only illustrate its content but evoke its feel. Every picture needs editing in order to look sharp in black and white, and given a border to optimize its appearance. Each chapter header needs to be placed in a suitable graphic banner. Every page needs an artful arrangement, and paragraphs look best when they can be made to end at the bottom of a page instead of breaking in the middle. All of the last page of each chapter needs to be filled in order to look best and not waste paper. Chapters look best when they start with the turn of a page instead of facing the end of a previous chapter. Should all this matter to you? Will everyone even notice? Probably not, but hopefully the overall effect will accomplish our goal of providing a rich, pleasurable and stimulating means for conveying the information, ideas and stories we’re committed to providing, our contribution to everyone seeking to do the work of healing, or seeking to know the benefits and joys of being whole, being wholly enlivened, being wholly healed.
September’s HerbFolk Gathering and the Fall issue of Plant Healer Magazine will require almost all of our time again as of mid-July, so we need to get The Healing Terrain ready for printing by early next month. The plan is to begin accepting advance orders the first of August, then to start shipping books the first of September beginning with those who preorder. And you can order the first two volumes of this trilogy of books already – The Plant Healer’s Path and The Enchanted Healer – by clicking on the Bookstore Page at www.PlantHealer.org
Watch for advance excerpts of The Healing Terrain in the complimentary Plant Healer Newsletters we provide every month. The next Newsletter issue releases Tuesday, be sure of getting your free 33 page download by going to www.PlantHealer.org now and filling in your name and email in the spaces shown.
(Thank you for reposting and sharing. Savor and Celebrate!)
Intro: The following is a chapter from our newest book The Enchanted Healer, by my partner Jesse Wolf Hardin. The Enchanted Healer is our only full-length book with all full-color pages, covering the topics like herbalism and shamanism, medicines of the enchanted forest, body/mind balance, the heightening of awareness and the senses, plant spirit and intelligence, vision quests, places of power, cabinets of wonder, and much more. “The Healing Arts” makes the case that our efforts to heal ourselves, others, and this earth, is beautiful – and that beauty matters! To order your own copy of The Enchanted Healer, please go to the Bookstore Page at: www.PlantHealer.org
The Healing Arts & The Art Of Healing
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
The Living, Healing Arts
1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works appreciated for their high level of quality, particularly their beauty and emotional power
2. works produced by such skill and imagination
3. (the arts) the various branches of creative activity
4. a skill at doing a specific thing, improved through practice
The term “healing arts” can be used to refer to a collection of holistic, noninvasive fields, traditions and techniques, generally expected to include such things as herbalism, acupuncture, chiropractic, counseling, and massage therapy. These practices and any other forms of healing people and planet are “crafts” – carefully learned, practiced and applied – that then become “art” at the point where we:
1. We make our work a creative process and apply our own imaginations.
2. Strive to maximize our skills, and do the highest possible quality of work.
3. Seek to touch/affect people at the deepest emotional and spiritual as well as physical levels.
4. And try, as a matter of both course and principle, to do that work as beautifully as we possibly can.
These days a stark line is often drawn between conventional medical care and alternative or holistic therapies, between phytotherapy and folk herbalism, between hard science and folklore, between the necessary growing of food crops and the nonessential raising of ornamentals, as well as between the supposed florid Artist’s life and the sober existence and sensible priorities of the “normal” woman or man. Not so in many ancient and tribal societies, nor in the attractive land-informed cultures that we are together working to create. For them and us – from nourishment to remedy, from planting to harvest, birth to death – is an opportunity to meld ritual and necessity, substance and gesture, artfulness and practicality, working to make every act and result not only productive but evermore meaningful, beauteous and satisfying!
There is little doubt that a healthy psyche is an integral component in the healing of the body, and that any healing of the collective/cultural psyche is essential to any last remedy of the current ecological and psychological imbalances. As the pioneering psychotherapist Carl Jung wrote, “An Artist is a vehicle and moulder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind.” And I am not talking about the Artist as a rarified elite. My sense is that the Anima, the vital life force of this living planet seems calls upon us each to serve others, the planet and ourselves by consciously participating in the ours and human kind’s evolution, as the crafters of our society and artisans of our lives. It is what the sacred indivisible whole/holon wants and needs to seed, and what I in my own personal role am devoted to grow.
What we hope to sow and water in this modern un-landed culture is not only more artistic and meaningful form in our day to day existence, but also the sprouting art of life: the art of conscious, responsive, celebratory relationship and mission. Mine and my partner’s intent with Plant Healer Magazine and books not only to help preserve and nurture branches of the endangered traditional healing arts, but to reclaim and showcase the many graphic styles, potent symbols and aesthetics… not only to help inform and inspire effective Healers but also to encourage – with all our deeds and hearts – ever more artistic manifestations of the active art of healing.
Living Arts: Art that lives; and the act of making an art of our every act and moment.
Healing Arts: Art that heals; and making an art of our every healing act.
Examples of Artfulness
Just as there are different styles of art, there are different styles of teaching, of restoring the land, of practicing herbalism or the healthful laying-on of hands. It is the herbalist community that I have been most closely associating with over the past decade, however, and it is my fellow lovers of plants and their medicines that I can quickest site as examples of what I’m talking about. While no two herbalists are alike – exhibiting a very wide range of tastes in clothing and lifestyles – the vast majority I’ve known all demonstrate a very personal, individualized art of living and healing.
Notice how folk herbalists of any culture find hidden patches of desired wild plants largely by their form and color, as in tune with the patterns and hues composing the land as is a painter with her visions of forms and palette of endless chromatic possibilities. We can see surely the art in their purposeful ascertaining of patterns and composing of response, in their deeply partnered dance of natural healing and allied plants… and in what they collect on their shelves, hang on the wall and wear on their bodies. Each of these herbalist’s clothes express their particular persona, the decorating of home and clinic to reflect their particular values and beliefs, preferences and desires, hungers and callings.
On their desk may be a collage of the tools of inquiry, alongside the frivolity of plant deco. We may note the curving lines and brass sheen of a vintage druggist’s scale, a hand-me-down magnifying glass, a surreal earth goddess or primitive carved crucifix, the predictable vase or Mason jar with flowers long ago having died and dried into twisted shapes too amazing to throw outside. On the window sill, colored glass of some sort that’s sure to refract into the room its enchanting morning lights, Arkansas crystals and sun hungry potted sage. And on their persons, dress and accoutrements that communicate something about the kind of people and practitioners that they are, their character and interests evident in a display of threads… whether modest but attractive skirts singing out their roots in the rural South, or loose fitting clothes from Thai pants and Guatemalan wapil blouses suggesting globally acquired wisdom and a relaxed demeanor, or sculpted shirts and ties that function as statements of health care professionalism.
Framed and hung are photos of not just kids or grandkids or aged sepia portraits of unsmiling great-grandparents, but images of treasured places as well, from topographic maps marked with one’s favorite spots for gathering wild herbs, to snapshots of significant spots on an oft visited wilderness trail. Paintings of flowers, or goddesses, or faeries, or vine covered cottages that invite us to world of veritable magic. Historic drawings of Yerba Mansa or flowering Mullein, or voluptuous Victorian era mushroom porn. The deep greens of Mormon Lake’s forests may draw the eye to the words centered on an HerbFolk Gathering flyer, wreathed in images of medicinal plants and some of the teachers that champion them. Competing with glowing gallon containers of precious tinctures, are likely books chosen for not only the valuable information they contain, but for their illustrations as well.
Art can be seen not only in the objects they surround themselves with, but also in their gestures, acts and tasks. Just watch how they customarily acknowledge, empathize with, speak to, ask for the collusion of, and somehow express their profound gratitude to those medicinal plants that they kneel before in acts of humble connection or unplanned ceremony. See, also, the deft movements of hands and blades as leaves are separated from flowers and roots, not unlike the sculptor removing elements of stone or wood to reveal a focused and refined purpose within. Their creation of formulas can be in some ways like the art of cooking, with brilliance, intuition and adaptation augmenting tradition, evaluations made with alert taste buds and noses that know. The rhythms of their interchanges with clients and patients can be like practiced choreographies with room left for on-the-spot improvisation – in what I think of as the herbalist’s song and dance. Inspired and fueled by not only necessity and compassion but impassioned aesthetics and taste, theirs is a practical trade made into something complexly personal, focused on a vision and purpose, intent on increased excellence and effectiveness – a point of service and connection that is art at its most relevant. Important. Magical. Sacred, even.
The work of the Artist-Healer could well be considered sacred work, in that style and symbol can not only decorate and communicate but also educate and consecrate, helping us to perceive the connections between all forms living and non, the relations between all elements and beings, and the inner heart, soul, spirit of each and every thing. And as with any sacred endeavor, their work is most numinous and powerful when the Artists are themselves transformed in the process of its inception and creation. This ceaseless falling apart and being remade is characteristic of the Artist as it is of the Seeker, the Shaman, the spiritual Adept.
Whenever we artfully work, employing symbols and energies, inspiration and intuition, there is an energetic threading between us and those who participate in the experience, between the viewer and the viewed, and the viewer and the Artist, between the Healer and the client or society or place. Through the art we make and experience, we’re each transformed into an agent and component of creation, our sense of mission fueled, our senses and dreams heightened, our emotions stirred, pierced by an overwhelming sense of the inseparable unity of all things and the timeliness and importance of our healing, helping, beautifying efforts.
Creatively giving shape and form to the underlying energies which animate our species in a “container” that can hold the experience allows for a shamanic, holy, and whole-making ritual to be made real in time. The act of participating in the creation of art is a magical, ceremonial rite, a sacred liturgy, a higher-dimensional form of communion, a kind of “performance art,” which simultaneously transfigures the unconscious energies in both the Artist and the surrounding field. The act of art-making partakes of the nature of the divine, in that the entire universe, which is itself a living work of continually-unfolding art, becomes infused with endless-inspiration as we consciously realize our relationship with our ever-evolving and never-expiring, creative spirit.
There can be no doubt that modern industrialized medicine can help mend serious wounds and successfully treat some conditions. It is generally not, however, a craft since it there is little hand work and most diagnosis is based on a computer generated template/model of symptoms and prescriptions. It is hardly ever an art, since it is a relatively rare M.D. these days who has gone beyond the trade’s impersonal practices to a place of passionate dedication, or who sees and treats a whole person rather than symptoms and organs. They avoid getting to really know their patients, avoiding getting too close, eschewing “messy” emotions. Their offices and hospitals are institutional and uninspired, usually only slightly less ugly and conformist than a prison. While sometimes proficient within a limited model, they are often lacking in the earmark of artisanship: creativity! To the contrary, alternative Healers of all kinds tend to be more creative and adaptive, looking beyond the assumptions and conventions, acting out of a passionate sense of mission, and doing their work in a deeply personal, empathic and artist way. With personal aesthetics. Honed sensitivity. Engaged emotions. The involvement of their spirits as well as minds. Intentional style. A strong sense of calling. And practiced flair.
Healers outside of institutions and norms tend to be mistrusted, undervalued, discounted, even legally harassed precisely because of their Artist’s ways, because they serve a calling and fulfill it authentically and stylistically, daring to bypass conventional dead ends, and to be creative in the ways that they instigate and support healing. We unconventional artisans are denied official accreditation, and when we do seek professional status it comes only from groups themselves outside the “credible” norm. The Artist-Healer, however, will not be satisfied walking the beaten path, needing to follow the inner creative urge instead, being self-empowered to make choices and make turns based on insights and experience. And they work not only to heal a person or community, but to be a container and conduit for the expression of the creative thrust, intent and direction of the Anima, of the life force, the dynamic natural whole.
Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Pagan, Pantheist, Agnostic or whatever… the work of the Artist-Healer is to serve something larger than themselves or a client. It is to serve a larger purpose and aim, to serve something akin to “spirit” no matter what we choose to call it. And to do it in the most loving and lovely ways.
1. an activity involving skill in making things, usually by hand
2. demonstrating a high level of skill in carrying out one’s work
We’re each connected to one another, to self and home through blood and bone, magic, history, need, service, touch, caring and love — manifest through the moving force of our crafts. Craft is one way in which we express our inner spirits, serve our planet and our purpose, and make both real and physical our seemingly magical co-creation of our world. Craft is our deliberate and potentially artistic manifestation and effect, as opposed to that which we unconsciously cause or create. At one level it is our practices, our applied skills, our trade. At a deeper level it is every conscious way that we make our visions visible, respond to the needs of the people, culture and land around us, and otherwise share our dear gifts.
All things, all beings are at once both creator and the created, the influenced and the influence, the actor and acted upon. It is the option of the Healer – and the Seeker, the Activist, Teacher, Shaman, or Shifter – to be fully, vividly aware of the effects we have on the world… to make every act as intentional, and as beautiful, as we’re able.
In the present dominant paradigm, craft is often thought of as something one purchases or is an audience to, instead of inhabits and embodies. But it was not always so. Not so for the pale villagers of ancient Europe who left us the sculpted body of the archetypal Earth Mother, the bearer of all of life. And not for the first hominid inhabitants of this state called New Mexico either. The ancient pueblo people left behind shards of painted pottery that continue to evoke the Great Mystery, fired clay fragments of a life of honoring, picture-puzzle pieces still vibrating with the energy of years of reverent touch. They spoke their fealty for the land in rock art carved out of their collective and individual souls, lightning bolts and the seed-carrier Kokopelli painted on the sides of caves. Here too are the forms of the crafters’ fingers and palms, their signatures, the marks of their self-aware beings, in painted hands reaching out to descendants and heirs alike across the chasm of time. They gifted enduring images of their priorities and loves, deities and dreams. They left behind for others their holiest expressions of wonder and communion, the evidence of a marriage with place and spirit consecrated through timeless craft.
It is no less true in the case of contemporary arts and crafts, in the painting the fantasies and mythologies that enliven, share and extend our beliefs. In the making of jewelry that are talismans meant to empower or mend, the fashioning of clothing that not only covers and decorates but reveals something about us and celebrates what we love. Drumming that’s ever improved, enlisted to communicate with primal visionary self and the “Great Spirit” that informs us. Massage, that not just relaxes but helps to heal. Words, too, are craft when formed with care, delivered with rhythm and design, woven into ceremony, employed to inspire courage or heal a broken heart. Poetry that stops thought and inspires a more intense living of life. A novel that moves the reader to tears, to change, to action. Correspondence and diary entries, as honestly and lyrically and one can make them. Words that can evoke the smell of rain on the fur of a wild creature , the taste of lightning, the warmth of man or woman’s flesh and the feel of the ground where they lay in lust. Careful conversation with friends, with words invested with meaning and mission. Words not blurted out or spilled from lips, but formed like a stone canyon elegantly carved by a flowing river. A child reminded of her intrinsic worth. The ill consoled, informed and encouraged. An endearment whispered in a willing ear. Even our most mundane daily labors rise to the level of craft, art, even ritual, when done consciously with all our heart, awareness and skill, for more reasons than the simple making of an income. And even the most repetitive chores, whenever they’re executed with both intention and panache.
We are all potential crafters, of course, in that we are born with a chance to craft every aspect of our lives. Craft is by it’s very nature proactive. We craft medicines, craft a practice, craft a strategy for how we want to influence our world. We craft a home out of a mere house, craft family and community, craft our futures to the extent we can. The word “craft” is first and foremost a verb of great power, denoting direction, activity, process, effort and purpose. It is only secondarily a noun, referring to an association of activated individuals, or the creations, effects and outcomes of the active Healer.
Part of our purpose as sentient beings on/in this planet, is to make an articulate contribution to conscious, responsive, celebratory relationship, to true encompassing health which is wholeness. In our ecstatic revealing, bridging and healing, we have the opportunity for a further dissolving of any boundaries between us, the living land, the Anima, or spirit. Between the creator and the created. The Healer and the healed. The crafter and the craft.
The Artist-Healer’s Responsibility
Being responsible for the form and effects of our actions can be daunting, and staying on the sidelines, avoiding being a force, trying to remain unseen and out of the loop might be tempting… but it is simply not possible. Even if we were to try to avoid responding, initiating, confronting, creating, or in other ways taking any responsibility, we would still leave some imprint on the world. We therefore may as well make it a true reflection of our authentic selves, serving our caring purpose. At best, we can make that imprint evocative, inspiring, instigative, aesthetic, excellent and exciting. Every awake act, every motion or gesture of our hands can be the craft and art that communicates who we are, who we strive to be, and what we hope to give and achieve.
The pencil for the writing of ours’ and world’s story – for the creation of our art – is in part in our hands, ready for us to make the changes that are needed. We have an entire chest of colors to choose from, with the now and future our unlimited canvas. We have the pharmacopea botanica for most of our bodily healing needs. All the necessary materials, it seems, are at hand for whatever project we might launch, awaiting only the actual sweep of the painter’s brush, the slice of the sculptor’s knife, the swirl of the kitchen ladle, the gathering and processing of the herbs, the pouring of the salve of tincture, the purposeful and ceaseless reaching out to help.
The result of such graceful deliberateness – I repeat – is our connection… including connecting with the proactive practice and craft now weaving us back into both the literal and magical material of our experience and existence. Together we co-create the living fabric of our reality as well as of our culture, assuming some response-ability for how it turns out… jointly painting on that billowing fabric the story of our missions, our struggles, our miracles, and our beautiful, beautiful hope.
You are at once a Healer and a person still actively engaged in your own healing. You are the subject and creator, witness and participant, viewer and doer. As such, this kinetic relational process that we call “art” involves – even requires – not just the illustrator’s pen or paint, writer’s keyboard or gardener and conservationist’s shovel and seed, not just the activist’s manifesto or massage therapist’s table, cotton bandages or healthful herbs… it needs you.
See what you can do.
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Announcing a New Book by Jesse Wolf Hardin:
Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle: Wild West Sentiment, Backwoods Humor, & Outlaw Wisdom For a World Gone Astray
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Order from the new website:
You readers of this Anima blog are a diverse lot! Some of you have recently taken an interest in Anima Wilderness Sanctuary and projects like river restoration or Plant Healer Magazine, a few hundred others of you have been around since the beginning. Somewhere around half of you tend to be liberal, alternative types, pantheists, anarchists or pacifists, activists and conservationists whom Jesse Wolf has written most of his books for in the last few years, including 3 titles for those into herbalism, natural healing, and nature’s enchantments. The other half of you readers, however, are a more of a mix of rural libertarians, politically incorrect homesteaders and back-to-the-landers, primitivists, traditionalists, survivalists, old-timey folk, kitchen sink medicine makers, cowboys, mountain men, and wild women.
It is for you latter folks that Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle was written.
Warning: You shouldn’t even think about reading this book if you are 1. PC or easily offended, 2. uncomfortable with strong or unconventional opinions, 3. disinterested in history, 3. turned off by sentimentality, or 4. can’t take a joke.
When Wolf first came to remote and conservative Catron County, New Mexico 35 years ago, he was a biker/philosopher/artist seeking the “real world”, wildness and roots. He arrived in a hippie looking school bus with a mean Harley Davidson, promptly selling both the bike and the engine out of the bus for the down payment on what became the Anima Sanctuary. To introduce himself and his ideas to the community, he wrote 107 articles/essays for a number of regional newspapers, a number of which have also appeared on this blog, and all of which have been compiled for you now in this unique new book.
Nearly 300 pages long, Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle provides a healthy balance of unusual insight & Old West history, natural history & controversy, sassy commentary & sweet sentimentality, good humor & bad attitude, packed with ideas meant to awaken you to the depths & the dance of life. Wolf’s tales not only tell us about the way things used to be, but how they can be… a clarion call for us to live more awakened and meaningful, responsible and purposeful, adventurous and satisfying lives.
You can read a review by our friend Becca below, and order your own copy now at:
(thank you for re-posting and sharing)
Review of Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle
by Becca McTrauchle
Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle is a unique collection of 107 thoughtful, humorous, colorful, inspiring, and attitude-filled essays describing the more fascinating experiences and perspectives of the rural West, leading to insights for even the most urban reader about our difficult modern times and the “fullest living of life.” Author Hardin draws from over 35 years of astute observation and reflection, rooted as he is in the backcountry of the incomparable American Southwest.
From the Introduction: “Deep in the mountains of southern New Mexico lies the self proclaimed “sovereign county” of Catron, one of the largest and least developed counties in the entire country, and a place with far more elk than people. It seems to exist in its own time zone, at the frontier edge between a moseying past and rushing future, present reality and infinite imagination – a community in open resistance to both the dictates of the federal government and the boring normalcy and conformity of our times.”
Hardin moved back to his home state of New Mexico as a young man in the 70s, searching for the Wild West of his childhood movies and books, a place that would be as authentic and interesting as the suburbs seemed artificial and generic. And he needed look no further than the opinionated, strong willed, old-time community of Catron nestled in the Gila wildlands, and his riverside homesite seven river crossings from the nearest pavement.
In Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle he brings to life for you “the fast disappearing world of small towns and uncluttered vistas, of knowing humor and countryfied wisdom, and a more authentic and enjoyable way of living. Herein you’ll find a world of wild animals in the kitchen and wild-foods gathering, unbroken spirits and unbroken horses, lives vigorously lived and promises kept, cowboy hats and ‘thank you ma’ms,’ a backwoods view of politics and a non-typical, backwards glance at authentic Western history.” Chapters cover “the problem with authority and the absurdity of airline safety manuals, the ramifications of Pancho Villa’s Indian brand motorcycle, and the importance of really paying attention whenever tasting your biscuit and jam. The value of authenticity and resistance, country dialects and the honoring of tradition, the real meaning of the word“wild”… and taking time to look at the world through the eyes of a child. Curious true stories about eating packrats, pondering the significance of bear poo, how to alienate vegan pacifist guests, and many other eruptions and realizations of a backwoods life.”
For the residents of the rural West, reading Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle must feel like a homecoming, or pulling up a chair in the general store to hear a well told tale. But for city folk like me, it feels like being transported to a strange and wonderful place, timeless, stunningly primal, filled with curious sights and a chance for real adventures for anyone with the spunk and follow-through. In the course of learning about the history and ways of this unique place and its residents, I learned a lot about myself and what I really want out of my life, developing some of that strong will that that seems to sustain those people insistent on living a free, exciting, genuinely Wild West existence in these trying futuristic times.
Amazing N.M. Wilderness Home in Exchange for Site Management
Announcing a unique opportunity for one to two people: A long term on-site work trade position at the enchanted Anima wilderness sanctuary, tucked away in the remote mountain forests of S.E. New Mexico. It costs a huge amount to purchase land and build a house, and truly awesome wild land is becoming nearly impossible to find… but for the right folks, an incredibly enchanted home can be had in exchange for able assistance and devotion to this place and purpose.
And to everyone reading this, please help me to get this announcement out to others, so that in time we can find the enthused and responsible people needed to fill a stable Anima Site-Manager/Helper role!
To Apply, Click on, Fill Out & Return the:
Anima Site Manager Application
We are offering:
• A long term or even lifelong home in this very special place, a restored riparian ecosystem surrounded by millions of acres of national forest and designated wilderness seven river crossings from the nearest road. For a full description of the land, plants and animals, turn to the About The Anima Sanctuary page of our Anima Website: www.AnimaCenter.org
• Long term use of a lovely little cabin in the pines not far from the river, with limited solar power, a small kitchen and sleeping loft.
• Compensation in the form of firewood for the cabin stove, and possibly some propane and food or a cash stipend depending on the kind of help given and the person’s situation.
• An important role and meaningful mission, taking care of the land and maintaining the infrastructure that make it possible for Anima and its Plant Healer projects to stir and help heal the larger world.
In exchange for:
• An average 3 to 5 hours per day of happy helping, depending on needs and what’s going on, up to 5 days per week, with fewer hours when there are fewer projects.
Tasks & Projects:
• Vehicle repair and solar system maintenance
• Clearing brush to reduce wildfire danger
• Firewood splitting and stacking
• Helping organize and manage the kitchen and storage
• Kitchen help, cooking and baking, cleanup
• Cabins maintenance
• Land restoration, removing invasives, restorative planting
• Directing temporary helpers/volunteers from the WWOOF program when we have some
• Possible help with proofing articles, other creative projects
• Possibly weekly shopping trips to the nearby village of Reserve
A love of nature, dedication to the preservation of wildness, and commitment to limit our own impacts as well as protect the land from other threats. Love for old fashioned ways and crafts, close-to-the-land living, authenticity and adventure.
Practical Skills or The Ability To Learn Them
A long term helper needs to be skilled in fundamental homestead skills, or willing and able to learn them. At least one helper needs to either already know or else learn what it takes to operate a chainsaw, maintain a simple solar electric system, and do basic maintenance on vehicles. And it would be good if there was a woman who delighted in being an able creator in the kitchen.
Awareness, Practicality & Responsibility
Because of how remote the Sanctuary is, a high degree of awareness and self sufficiency is vital, and common sense is a huge plus.. There is, for example, no chance for assistance in case of a fire. Wildfires are already a big danger in the Southwest, and it is absolutely essential that no one make any mistakes here with fire or coals that could lead to the destruction of the land and structures. Likewise, it is not easy to get mechanical assistance in the region, let alone to get a mechanic to come down the river to help, making it extra important that vehicles and saws be well maintained. While it is only 8 miles to the village gas station, it is 100 miles from any good parts stores. We found out early that a head full of visions and good intentions aren’t enough, it also takes practical thinking and determined efforts to live like this.
Ability to Enjoy The Primitivity & Isolation
Given the very small number of people living down here, and how focused Wolf and Kiva are on writing books and publishing Plant Healer magazine, this position might work best for someone who can enjoy and benefit from the solitude… or else 2 close friends or a committed couple that can provide each other with the desired company.
Minimal Monetary Needs & Focus
It’s not likely that we’ll be able to pay cash wages in the foreseeable future. Site managers would need to either have few cash needs, or else a fixed income or savings to cover your personal purchases and health care expenses. Basic solar lighting power comes with the cabin, and we supply the wood for the woodstoves. Food and propane for the gas burners are provided by us in those cases where our helpers have no funds to contribute. It is a rich life, but those riches have nothing to do with money!
Able To Take Satisfaction in Elemental Tasks
While our mission to further the healing of this ecosystem and the larger world might seem exciting or kind of exotic, a lot of the work of Anima is basic homesteading and general upkeep. It’s important that the site managers/helpers feel the personal, grounding or even spiritual benefits of what is historically called “hauling wood, carrying water”: finding satisfaction in the daily ceremony of mundane tasks mindfully tended.
This position would also work best for folks who not only love nature and a close-to-nature lifestyle, but who also harbor some basic rural aesthetics, people who aren’t too uptight or “politically correct.” Even the few hippie types in the Southwest tend to be part redneck, which is to say “down to earth,” straight talking, independent thinking, and often libertarian… as are we.
Things To Consider
While we produce a magazine and books for herbalists, there is no promise of herbal instruction due to the many deadlines we keep.
Power is DC only and minimal, although it could be improved and expanded. There is also minimal internet access at the sanctuary due to the tight limits enforced by the satellite provider.
While we love dogs, horses and livestock, they are prohibited by agreement with the USFWS as Anima is a wildlife refuge. Well behaved indoor pets are ok.
It’s 2 miles of canyon trail to our parking area, 7 miles to the village with a small grocery store, 60 miles to a larger grocery store, and 100 miles to a Wallmart or to the nearest community of “alternative” type folks.
We have to minimize vehicle traffic in and out of the canyon, as we got special permission to drive through designated roadless land to get home. There can also be weeks during which we have to walk in and out due to the river rising in the late Summer.
Children are welcomed if and when they are happy to be here, and committed to help.
For over five years now I have hosted volunteers coming through the WWOOF organic farms program, and it has been good for them and the Sanctuary. We’ve built an horno mud oven, composting outhouses, an outdoor kitchen for groups, and a fire fighting sprinkler system, plus planted willows, just to name a few things. The problem is that it takes a lot of my time to teach how to do everything, and then the volunteers move on soon after learning the ropes. The longer that helpers/managers might stay, the more it would free time up for the important projects we are trying to get done. If things work out, it is possible for this to be a very long or lifetime position for one or two folks. A one year minimum stay would be a blessing, and a person or couple who discovered they loved this place, life and purpose, could find here a lasting home and mission.
To Apply, Click on, Fill Out & Return the:
Anima Site Manager Application
(please share and re-post)
Hello Friends from Elka – formerly Loba!
A number of you have written for updates from me about our homestead life and I sure meant to, there has just been so much living to do! And all of us here caught a stubborn flu that has only now started clearing up. I feel like I’m only now waking up again, to a world of adventures and tasks and music and color!
Springtime at the Anima Sanctuary is busting out in gloriousness all over! Even with hardly any rains yet to speak of, there has still been enough moisture for this amazing procession of miracles: there are nettles to eat, brilliant red barrel cactus flowers, giant yucca flower stalks shooting up every single day. The stalks are the streaked purple of an artichoke’s center before they open fully into their shining ivory-flowered beauty, gracing the land with their magnificence.
There have been some Spring-like new beginnings for me personally, too. Many years after discovering that I’m much more like an elk than a wolf, and still being an “elk named Loba”, I was overcome by the silliness of it. As most of you know, the Spanish name Loba means “she wolf” and grew out of my love for the Caroline Estes book “Women Who Run With The Wolves”. I finally decided it was time to fully embody my true self, character and nature, which means taking on a name that truly represents who I am, how I feel and how I tend to act. A name change may seem difficult for everyone who knows me or who has read my articles in SageWoman and Plant Healer magazines over these many years, but my dear family has agreed to calling me the more appropriate “Elka” from now on, and I hope you will be able to, too! My only regret is no longer being able to title my upcoming cookbook “Loba’s Loving Kitchen”… looking for a new name for it now.
I’m not sure if I reported last time, that our friend and supporter Marcus had brought me a 12 volt (runs off the solar batteries) water pump, so that for the first time ever I can move rain water we catch into a storage tank without back-hurting buckets. He installed a propane freezer and solar powered fridge that have made my life, meal planning and food storage so much easier! And there has been lots less food wastage than the decades when I had only ice chests and ice carried in all the way from town or even packed down the mountain on our backs when the river flooded.
It’s Spring Cleaning time here in the canyon, something that takes many forms! We’ve been cleaning out the sheds, moving out lots of things for the thrift stores and dump, clearing lots of brush and wood and dead grasses that are dangerous kindling each scary fire season. Fire season is officially here in the Southwest, with over 30 wildfires already hitting the region, and we’re in the midst of preparing for it.
Our wonderful helpers, Paeonia and Sean from Boise, Idaho, spent a solid three months here doing tons of work clearing to help us get ready, as well as lots of other cleaning, organizing and maintenance work while they were here, helping with kitchen chores and prep, and sewing on our antique treadle machine whenever we could make time. Wolf’s sweet daughter Rain also came for 6 weeks to help out with all our efforts and spend some quality time with him.
We were all so grateful for their important assistance, and so glad that everyone seemed to enjoy each others’ company so much! I was also grateful for all the hours of enjoyable work, as well as some very special downtime, that we all got to spend together! It was also great to see folks gaining inspiration and learning from the books in the lodges, cooking enthusiastically, making music, sharing stories and jokes and helping each other whenever there was a need! It’s very satisfying to walk around and notice all the improvements.
Our homestead helpers come as part of the international WWOOF organic farm network, mostly young folks excited for real life experience on the land, eager to learn new skills from woodstove cooking to building maintenance. They’re often a lot of help, and grateful for the time in a riverside cabin is a forested New Mexico wilderness. They make it possible for us to give more focus to the projects to affect the world, from our books and events to teaching.
In time, however, I think we are going to need to offer a long term or even lifetime home to a person or couple with the skills needed to tend this place, as it can be hard to teach everything needed to a series of folks who will leave after month or two. I plan to write a description of this position in the next month, and I will post it then for you to kindly forward to the kinds of folks who may be interested.
Besides Wolf’s other new books, including “The Enchanted Healer, he’s also created two others for different audiences. “Pancho Villa’s Motorcycle” will be released next month, a collection of the alternately humorous, historical, sentimental, attitude filled, and sometimes politically incorrect tales originally written for our backwoods neighbors and now being made available to the general public. Then in June he will publish his latest book for those interested in Western history, entitled “Lawmen of The Old West Unmasked.” Unmasked, because he exposes so called heroes like Wyatt Earp as the scoundrels they really were, while telling the stories of less known sheriffs who were true “Peace Officers”, men taking risks to guard the peace and freedoms of the West’s wild hearted citizens. As always, he works in his points about the importance of liberty, honor, self reliance, and a love for the land. These titles don’t exactly fit in the Plant Healer bookstore, even though we consider there to be plenty of deeper cross-over… so Kiva will soon be launching an Old West Scribe website where these and other related books by Wolf can be ordered.
We look forward to another full year of inspiring and helping people, from our special sanctuary “seven river crossings from the nearest road.” Nothing could be more satisfying than continuing to give to the world, while giving to ourselves this life close to the elements and full of spirit.
To all of you, old friends and new acquaintances, may your Spring and Summer be blessed. No matter where you live, county or city, please don’t forget to get out and admire all the new buds and bees, butterflies and flowers!
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
Thank you… and Share Freely
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
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.
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.”
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 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 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 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.
Order from the Bookstore page at: www.PlantHealer.org
(please re-post and share… thank you)
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
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.
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.”
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:
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.”
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
Tickets for Plant Healer’s 2014 event go up in price in June, so get yours soon for the best deal.
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:
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!”
(Share & RePost, Thank You)
The Experience & Joy of Hosting Anima Sanctuary Volunteers
Thank You to My On-Site Homestead Helpers!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.