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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 1
20 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 1
s you read this, the older
sections of various New
Mexico towns and ru-
ral adobe villages are
host to "Yerberas"
and "Curanderas," traditional
Hispanic healers skilled in the
ways of plant medicine, some of
whom could be right now pre-
paring a favored mix of flowers
to try.
South of this Land of Enchant-
ment, their Central American
counterparts are seeing to the
needs of not only their fami-
lies but the populations of their
neighborhoods, and elder Hou-
rani in the jungles of Ecuador
work to ease the pain of child-
birth, heal infections and reduce
fevers in areas where no other
form of care exists.
Meanwhile, to the east, an Ap-
palachian "Grannywife" kneels
to tend her garden just as her
grandmother and great grand-
mother did, with her own ever
deepening understanding of each
species' characteristic blend of
properties and effects, while
across the ocean the herbalists
of Great Britain draw from both
historic tradition and the imme-
diate instruction and example of
the fey forest.
Not too far north of New Mex-
ico's high mesas, a 21st Century
mountain man with a primitivist
bent gathers usnea lichen for his
wounds and watercress for his
dinner, seeking not only primal
nourishment and healthy ways of
treating his problems, but also
to achieve a degree of self reli-
ance in an age when when most
of us have become increasingly
dependent on factory farms and
highly-paid medical specialists.
And westward, a mother in
a city of over several million
people gives her child carefully
crafted peach tincture whenever
he is nauseous, as well as admin-
istering elderberry to ward off
his colds. She does so, not be-
cause she lacks access to mod-
ern hospitals or the insurance to
cover doctors' costs, but because
she wants to provide the most
natural and holistic care pos-
sible... and because she -- like
her fellow formal or informal
healers -- seeks to take respon-
sibility for the health and well
being of her self, her family, and
the all too ailing world.
The motions we make are not
all that different today, whether
looking into eyes and pressing
palms to foreheads, grinding
plants with a mortar and pestle,
pouring the alcohol for tinctures
or the steaming water for infu-
sions, or gathering remedy and
sustenance from mesas and jun-
gles, mountain parks and the
overgrown edges of suburban
landscapes and urban park-
ing lots... and whether wear-
ing native-woven cloth or
the latest in hemp fashion.
Each take their cues
from the natural world
and their own intuitive,
telltale bodies. Each is
an empathic who cares
so deeply that they are
drawn to act... not un-
like yourself, perhaps.
And all feel called to
help, sometimes in an
entirely informal fash-
ion, other times taking
on the role of a com-
munity healer in one
form or another.
Without even know-
ing one another, they are
kindred, connected to each oth-
er through their attentive, hand-
to-stem connection to plants.
Whether living hundreds or
thousands of miles apart, they
remain nonetheless joined in
an alliance of purpose, part of a
common clan even when hailing
from vastly different tribes. And
when they do meet each other,
whether it is by accident or in-
tention, there is usually immedi-
ate mutual recognition, born of
not just of a shared cause but a
shared curiosity and perspective,
passion and love.
29 renowned herbalists from
a wide range of backgrounds will
be gathering Sept. 15th through
18th, in order to meet and teach
at the international Traditions In
Western herbalism Conference,
to be held at the beautiful Ghost
Ranch retreat center near Santa
Fe, New Mexico.
This unique event brings to-
gether many of our time's most
vital voices into a single forum,
emphasizing experiential learn-
ing and hands-on understanding
for herbal students of all levels,
and truly for anyone with an in-
terest in effective personal health
care. Presenters like Robin Rose
Bennett, David Hoffmann, Paul
Bergner, Ryan Drum, Kiva Rose
and myself share operative tra-
ditions from ancient to contem-
porary, often with the flavor and
spirit of the bioregions and land-
scapes we live and practice in.
And most importantly, TWH
teachers bring personal experi-
ence to their classes. Their pres-
entations on energetics, diag-
nostics and treatments benefit
from a combined total of over
400 years of active practice!
The need for increasingly self-
sufficient communities, and for
natural and regional approaches,
is likely greater now than ever
before. And no wonder then,
that the interest in herbalism --
and in natural healing in general
-- is on the rise again, respond-
ing to the needs of neighbors
and loved ones as has always
been the case, but now spurred
by lowered incomes and
layoffs, by the dangerous
side-effects of the flood
of prescription pills and
the ever heavier burden
of sky-rocketing health
Herbal and nu-
tritional care is pre-
ventive as well as
curative, not elim-
inating but certainly
lessening the need
for high-tech tests,
allopathic treatment,
antibiotics and other
suppressive drugs.
Developing such
skills ends up not only
saving us money, but it
also results in primary
care that is better for you
-- more natural, holistic,
intuitive, nourishing and sup-
portive -- as well as the atten-
dant rewards of increased bodily
awareness and sensory input, the
benefits and pleasures that come
with a more intimate and cog-
nizant relationship with nature,
an ability to read the conditions
and needs of others, and thus
best able to positively affect the
The Anima tradition's defini-
tion of health is "wholeness,"
with the healer's work being to
Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference
An Empowering Gathering of Indigenous
and Contemporary Healing Traditions
by Jesse Wolf hardin