I am still on a bit of a spiritual high from the HerbFolk conference last weekend. Although I am home and getting back into routine I feel like I still have a bit of that euphoria from the conference left inside. There is something wonderful that happens when you spend a whole long weekend with kindred spirits. These herb folk get me. We are all different, with different levels of experience, religion, ethnicity, and life choices but at the end of the day we are all a little wild. We love the herbs and the land we live on and are out there in the world to make a difference. That is what makes these conferences by Kiva Rose and Jesse Wolf Hardin special, the people.
If you aren’t familiar with the Traditions in Western Herbalism put on by the folks over at Plant Healer Magazine (which is one of MY favorite herbal periodicals) you should be. Every September Kiva and Jesse put on a great conference with new themes each year near Flagstaff Arizona near Mormon Lake. Each year they have a new theme and bring in both well known and unknown teachers from around the herbal world to teach different classes. This year the theme was “HerbFolk” where a lot of classes on myth, legend, and traditional healing practices from different cultures were featured along with the tried and true classes like how to make an herbal blend and how to make your own perfumes.
Like last year I camped out in the open camping area. Unless you reserve a spot or show up super early you don’t get a defined camping spot, you just go out in the field and pick somewhere to sleep. This is where I chose to sleep – by a beautiful and pristine pine… and by the biggest mosquito spot in the whole camp. I swear I was eaten alive by those darn blood suckers and no one else was touched! Obviously I am especially sweet… or something.
As always, there were some tough decisions to be made as to which classes I would take and next year there will be even more competition for my attentions as the classes will range from 1.5-3 hours! On the first full day I took an amazing class about amber, frankincense and myrrh resins from Kiki Geary which was an amazing and inspiring class about the uses of resins for deep down soul shattering issues. I look forward to working them into my practice more and seeing what discoveries I can come up with based off of her class. I also took classes with Matthew Wood author of two of my favorite herb books The Earthwise Herbal(s). The most interesting class was the healing through hispanic ritual with “Doc” (Charles Garcia owner of the California School of Traditional Hispanic Medicine) and Lori where they discussed their healing practices then performed two healing rituals called Limpas. One of the rituals was performed on me. The closest I could come to describing it is a combination of shamanic drumming, energy work and guided meditation. I really still can’t describe what happened but I can describe how I felt after. The ritual was done on me because of my chronic back pain from an injury I suffered 10 years ago. Although I have been able to treat and cure many health related issues I have not been able to resolve my back pain however I try. I have been doing a lot of personal work on my self and had a break through a few months ago that I feel like my body and my soul are being pulled in two different directions and that I resent my body because of the limitations it puts on me. The limpa was a beautiful ceremony based on community support, love and support which I can say truly has helped me come to terms with the battle between body and soul. Although my body is no better (but hey, maybe it will be if I keep working on it) my soul doesn’t feel so restricted. I am a beautiful person who is loved, and who loves, and although my body may be more restricted than most my soul still shines through. So, Chuck, if you are reading this, thanks a million again (and thank Lori too please). I needed that shining light and love in my life and I am still touched by it today. I am sure that feeling will last for years to come. I also have to give a shout out to Guido (author of The Wild Medicine Solution) for his awesome Hawthorn class. What an amazing story teller this man is. He put up his class notes here and, even though you don’t get to hear his awesome story telling skills, its still pretty interesting.
The other highlight of this conference is the entertainment. On Friday night there was a fairy tale creatures masquerade ball where a very patient teacher tried to teach us traditional folk dancing… the kids did a great job… herbalists, apparently, don’t take direction well but it was probably the most I have laughed in a LONG time. Hilarious. Also, since I love gnomes I dressed up as one… so what would a gnome wear to a masquerade ball? The picture below shows what I came up with… Note the mushrooms on the mask.
On Saturday night there was an awesome band called Tesoro a fun fusion between flaming, mariachi, and rock and roll. I love watching the herbalists let loose and dance away the night to amazing bands.
So there you have it. My amazing weekend in under 1000 words. I will keep you updated on their goings on throughout the year and maybe you can join us next year?