June 29-July 2, 2018
This year Sacred Gardener is running one three-day herbal medicine intensive on the Canada day long weekend (June-July…). On each day of this workshop we will focus on a different aspect of practicing herbalism. The first day Steven will be re-introducing you to your lost relations, the Herbal Healers! Whether you’re a trained herbalist or a beginner, you may have never met these herbal Kings and Queens in their own realm; never seen and experienced them in their summer glory.
The first full day is for helping participants, in a experiential and intellectual way, shift to this traditional ‘animistic” way of understanding. This course is aimed at utilizing a shamanistic understanding of plants for healingThrough Steven’s introduction to the plant community and intimate understanding of these beings we come to experience the plants in a deeper, personal way. We begin to see that a plants physical attributes embody deeper characteristics, which are keys to the plant’s healing nature. Understanding plants in this way, through the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’, has been greatly misunderstood and diminished. Steven’s grasp of this way brings this art back to live. The plants physical qualities (shape, texture, smell, taste) are the chosen clothing to embody mythical beings. These beings also live in our bodies. The herbs don’t cure the patient in most cases, their spirit restores balance and strength to the body and then our body is no longer a proper host for the disease or ailment.
After a day of learning from the plants what their ‘medicine’ is, in the second day of the workshop participants will be immersed in a day-long exercise in intuitive healing, With a simple but revelatory series of steps, Steven walks us through many gates into a deeper realm of intimacy with the wild plants around the farm. At the end of the second day in sacred circle we’ll voluntarily share our insights and intuitions. With the support of Steven’s intimate knowledge of the herbs, as well as books (as ‘objective’ and historic guides), the insights from our journeys with the plants often come together with startling accuracy.
What is shared never leaves the circle but the insights and knowledge from these stories are the gifts we can all walk away with. While sharing at this level of intimacy is a little uncomfortable it has many purposes. First there is the support and amazing effects of simply being compassionately witnessed and listened to. And by hearing the specific story of each person and plants they found, all participants are enabled to learn in a first hand way, what would take years to learn by yourself. This exercise and the sharing gives us access the deeper magic that a community of herbal healers can hold.
The third day will be spent learning traditional ways of harvesting and drying herbs as well as making decoctions, infusions, concoctions, tinctures, salves, creams, vinegars, wines, syrups and elixirs.
While it is important to understand that each plant has its own spiritual medicine and temperament. We must also move beyond our intuitive connection to a learnt tradition. Each part of the plant requires its own special treatment. For example, when we are working with a plant’s flower, its essence can be easily distilled, but can also be easily lost. So, a gentle approach is needed. Seeds and roots are generally dense and need a more intense approach to draw out the medicine. The medicine of some plants are water soluble and others need extensive boiling or alcohol to draw them out.
No matter how long you’ve been doctoring people, nobody masters the mysteries of our body’s health. That’s why it’s called a ‘practice’. But, knowing the plants, knowing the preparations and being able to read people well, is a good start toward making ‘response-able’ decisions about what the herbal remedy should be given at what time and in what dosage.
As herbalists, over time, we develop a tool kit, so that just like the old-time doctor or medicine man, we have our medicine bag at the ready when it is needed. This last day of the workshop will bring you a long way toward getting a year-round medicine kit ready.