Starting in February 2019, our nine month 100 hour program on folk herbalism and traditional aromatics begins. The heart of the work is about developing closer alliances and relationships with 2 dozen plants, learning how to ethically harvest them and make herbal and aromatic preparations.
As a folk herbalist I believe in healing that is based in nourishment, resiliency, joy and direct relationship with the plants. I feel that learning is best done when we get our hands dirty and connect to the plants directly in the field. The herbs themselves will teach us by simply observing and listening to them, and then turning them into preparations that we can work with in our day to day lives.
In this series of classes, you will be learning how to make decoctions, teas, syrups, infused oils, salves, broths, bath salts, distillations, natural perfumes, essential oils and hydrosols from these plants.
As a therapist I am deeply interested in how plants can improve mood and wellbeing. For that reason the program has an emphasis on mental health and emotional resiliency. From bone broth to syrups to essential oils and natural perfumes, herbs have long played a key role in helping people to heal and recover from stress, trauma and emotional suffering. As part of the course, we will be covering topics such as the nervous system, thyroid health, the vagal nerve, gut/brain axis, microbiota and the adrenals.
This course also emphasizes aromatics, working with the scent and fragrance of plants for their therapeutic powers. That means we will dive deeply into traditional distilling with a copper still and the making of hand crafted aromatic preparations. This practice is key to the ancient arts of perfume making, alchemy, making aromatic liquors as well as essential oils and hydrosols.
I believe that knowing plants directly by growing them and meeting them in the field is key to becoming a good herbalist, perfume maker, aromatherapist, medicine maker and distiller. I am aquatinted with hundreds of plants but I am only deep friends with a couple dozen. These are plants that I return to again and again to hear their songs- touch, smell and taste them. This course is designed to open and deepen relationships with these plant friends.
As part of the course I will be taking folks on two retreats- one to the Oregon Coast and one to the Fire Rose Farm- home of my main teacher Joyce Netishen. These are opportunities to deepen our relationships with each other, the land and the plants.
As a folk herbalist I believe that we can serve our families, allies and community with simple, gentle plants and fungi that will help us to feel stronger and more resilient. Here are the dates and a course outline for the year.
Saturday February 8th Dinner from 5-8
Sunday February 9th 10-5 Working with Cottonwood and Western Red Cedar
Sunday March 17th 10-5 Exploring bitters- Oregon Grape and Dandelion- with Margi Flint
Sunday April 7th 10-5 Spring rising- nettles, berries, bone broth
Sunday May 5th 10-5 Learning Hydrosols with Leslie Lekos.
Saturday June 1st and Sunday June 2nd – Both days 10-5 The art of Natural Perfuming with Jessica Ring
Saturday June 22nd to Sunday June 23rd Leave 9 on saturday and return at 5 on sunday, Retreat to the Coast to work with seaweeds, mugwort, Douglas Fir.
Sunday July 21st 10-5 Pleasure and Joy: Distilling lavender, working with mimosa
Saturday August 25th and Sunday August 26th Leave 9 on saturday and return 5 on sunday. Retreat to Fire Rose Farm in McCleary, Washington to work with Joyce Netishen. “Distilling the Land”, Fire Circle and making Wild Aromatic incense.
Dinner Saturday September 22nd 5-8
Sunday September 23rd Chocolates and Cordials with summer herbs and fruit. End of Summer Play.
Joyce Netishen lives and works at the Fire Rose Farm, a small farm located outside of the Olympia area in McCleary,Washington. Joyce was my primary teacher from 1995-1998 when I apprenticed with her. Above all else, Joyce taught me the importance of cultivating deep relationships with the plants by spending time in the field getting to know them. To sit with Joyce is akin to siting with plants themselves. Joyce sees people in private consultations and has led apprenticeships and taught for 30 years. She is kind, deeply wise, funny as hell, is an extraordinary healer and is deeply devoted to the magic and beauty of the plant path in life. You can find her website here: Fire Rose Farms.
Margi Flint is one of the most revered and loved herbalists practicing in America today. Her book “The Practicing Herbalist” and he rfocus on assessment through tongue, pulse and face has influenced thousands of herbalists throughout the years. Margi practices in the seacoast town of Marblehead, Massachusetts and over the past forty years has become their “village herbalist.” We are incredibly lucky to have Margi come out to help teach this year. She not only brings decades of expertise, she herself embodies the best aspects of herbalism today: practical wisdom, a huge heart, love for the plants and for the people she helps. You can find her website here: Earthsong Herbals
Jessica Ring has been deeply immersed in the world of artisan distillation, essential oil, hydrosol and natural perfume making for over adecade. Her knowledge of aromatics and the chemistry of scent is matched by her deep reverence and poetic enchantment with the natural world and its creatures. You can find Jessica spending long days hiking along river beds, forest groves and deep in her garden in search of the fragrances that she can distill and weave into her perfumes that are truly medicines for the soul. You can find her website here: Ring Botanicals.
Leslie Lekos is the director of the Wildroot Herb School in Bellingham, WA which offers herbal courses and intensives by top-notch herbalists from around the country. I met Leslie a few years back when I brought Margi up to Bellingham to teach. Leslie is one of the kindest and warmest herbalists I have had the pleasure to meet. Leslie makes a line of sustainable wild harvested and organically grown hydrosols and essential oils and is truly one of the experts at drawing forth the heart and soul of plants through the still. We are very lucky to have her teach about making excellent hydrosols this year. You can find her website here: Wildroot Botanicals
About me: I am a therapist and herbalist who has long been interested in how plants weave into people’s lives as healers of the heart. I studied botany and botanical medicine in college, studied with Joyce Netishen for several years and went to graduate school in counseling and became a licensed professional counselor in 2005. I have a deep knowledge of the role of trauma and how it can profoundly affect people both emotionally and physically. When I was a younger man- I went through a profound time of deep distress emotional anguish and confusion that led me to the medicine and beauty of plants. I have worked in hospital settings and private practice as a counselor to help people who are struggling through profound periods of sorrow emotional pain and spiritual emergence.
If I have a single philosophy – it is that I believe joy, connection and beauty are ways back from the depths of trauma- and by opening our senses to plants and the natural world, we can write new narratives that connect us back to the land, to each other and to our own good hearts.