Posts in Plant Healer Events
Good Medicine: Medicine Making + Plant Alchemy

Plant Alchemy

Good Medicine Confluence Classes

Medicine making can be exquisitely easy, as with folk simples or the act of making tea, or it can be incredibly complex, all depending on what the practitioner prefers and what the patient needs. At the Good Medicine Confluence, we strive to provide classes that cover all parts of the spectrum, and with as many hands on labs and demonstrations as possible!

If you’ve ever wanted to dive in to advanced soxhlet extraction, immerse yourself in the flavors of teas and infusions, learn the basics of percolation, or even make your own hydrofoils, this is definitely the time and place to do so! Honey and glycerine based medicines, simples, formulae, and every kind of booze based medicine are being taught at this year’s Confluence, so be sure to try a little bit of everything! 

For more about this May’s Good Medicine Confluence in Durango, Co, including more about our amazing teachers, more class descriptions, and the schedule head over to

An Introduction to Building Deep & Lasting Relationships 

With Our Plant Allies Through The Use of Simples

Traci Donat

(2 hrs.)

By working with plants, one at a time as a simple, we are best able to fully understand the magic of that plant, and to appreciate its gifts physically, emotionally and spiritually. In this beginner level class, Traci will introduce several ways in which to fully immerse yourself into a relationship with a plant.  By exploring various ways of working with and connecting with individual plants we approach plant medicine as a deep immersion in the bounty and layers that the plants offer rather than simply being a salve for symptoms or complaints.  

Traci will share her personal journey with Motherwort and will be exploring several other commonly available plants that are used as simples. You will learn how to connect, experience and make medicine with them.  The class will include tasting several different plants and herbal preparations as well as hands-on experience.

Hands-on Demonstration Art Lab:

Tinctures & Percolations 101

Amanda Furbee

(1.5 hrs)

Do you like making things with your own hands? I do! I love to get in there with the plants and create delicious and healing blends for friends, customers, family and myself. Kitchen witchery is a growing and evolving revolution that is awakening people globally. Making us aware of what we are putting into our bodies, on our bodies, our pets, children’s and our homes.  

Tinctures. What the heck is a tincture? Curious about learning how to preserve herbal medicine? Tincture making is one of the oldest ways of producing and preserving a concentrated form of herbal medicine. Join me in this hands-on Tincture making basics class. We will go over the art form of making a tincture with the folk method, percolations and double extraction method. Go into details on why you might choose one over the other depending on the plant. I look forward to seeing you all there!

The Science of Herbal Extractions Part I:  The Basic Essentials

Lisa Ganora

(2 hrs)

Medicine-making is one of the best parts of being an herbalist. As we transform the gifts of the plants into teas, tinctures, oils and salves, we can honor those herbs by making the best of their powers with cleverly crafted creations. Throughout life we continue to experiment with our herbal products, inevitably coming up with some expensive compost, some steady workhorses, and some shining stars of potency or deliciousness. By learning a few basic scientific principles behind extraction, solubility, preservation, and formulation of our herbal medicines, we can improve both efficacy and flavor and help our medicines to be more appealing and powerful. More stars, less compost! And remember – the best form of medicine is the one that your clients will continue to take.

In Part 1, we’ll talk about what’s behind solubility and extraction: what makes some herbal constituents love water, while others would rather come out into various percentages of alcohol and water, glycerin, fixed oils, or other solvents/menstrua. We’ll look at the effects of heat and pH (acidity or alkalinity) on solubility, the influence of the individual plant matrix, how extraction/infusion time comes into play, and which herbal extracts are compatible or incompatible with each other. How oxidation, light, and heat affect stability and storage will also be discussed. And we’ll practice organoleptic evaluation (the traditional herbalist’s way of judging quality) which can be quite as effective as phytochemical analysis in many cases. Detailed handouts will be provided.

The Science of Herbal Extractions Part II: Advanced Techniques

Lisa Ganora

(1.5 hrs)

In Part 2 of this celebration of medicine making, we’ll look at some specifics of water extractions (infusions, decoctions), tinctures (macerations, percolations), and infused oils, and share tips to improve the consistency/stability of your salves. Learn how to take your pretty-darn-good herbal preparations to the next level by understanding weight and volume measurements and conversions; the polarity of your solvent systems and alcohol percentages in your hydroethanolic menstrua (!); how like-dissolves-like in herbal pharmacy; theory & practice of extraction ratios; and the dreaded and beloved Dilution Equation, which comes in extremely handy for getting the right alcohol concentration for your tinctures.

Herbal pharmacy is an art and a science; come infuse your art with the power of phytochemistry! Detailed handouts will be provided.

Understanding Plant Alchemy: Spagyric Preparations & Chemical Synthesis

Warren Kistenbroker

(1.5 hrs)

Spagyrics is the Alchemical preparation of plants based on reuniting the soul, spirit and body of the plant. We will discuss different methods and techniques within plant alchemy along with what constituents are extracted within those methods. This will be more of a practical and lab based approach and understanding to the esoteric philosophy of alchemy. We will touch base on traditional methods, along with exploring advanced concepts of chemical synthesis within the alchemical practice that gave birth to the modern day pharmaceutical industry.

Alchemical Cannabis & Herbal Extraction 101

Warren Kistenbroker

(1.5 hrs)

Soxhlet Extraction is arguably the most effective and time efficient method for the extraction of medicinal constituents from medicinal herbs including Cannabis, as well as from spices and fruits. Soxhlet extraction can be use to make incredibly potent tinctures, infused oils and raw extracts that are impossible to make otherwise. In this introductory class we will explore how a soxhlet extractor works, and its different actions; along with using it to make an extremely potent oil infusion of medicinal herbs for topical use.

Hands-On Demonstration Lab: 

The Endocannabinoid System, Constituents, & Preparation:

Advanced Soxhlet Extraction

Warren Kistenbroker

(1.5 hrs)

We will dive into the ancient history of cannabis and talk about different traditional preparations from around the world. We will explore the endocannabinoid system within the human body and how this system works with the constituents found in cannabis/other plants. We will also learn about the extraction of cannabis and how all these constituents work together to increase the vital action and synergy (aka entourage effect). Upon diving deep, we will recombine an alchemical preparation of hemp and walk through both the chemistry and philosophical/spiritual representations.

Making Medicine With Hydrosols

Leslie Lekos

(1.5 hrs)

Hydrosols are made through the process of steam distillation and consist mostly of the water-soluble components but also some of the oil soluble components of the plant.  The use of hydrosols in herbal medicine is vast and under utilized in modern times. Historically in Europe hydrosols were used widely until around the 1850’s at which time they fell out of favor due to the commercialization of essential oils. Essential oils were marketed as much stronger and effective and the use of hydrosol became unpopular.  

Hydrosols and essential oils; though both made in the same steam distillation process, are very different in application.    Essential oils can be quite toxic due to their extremely high concentration levels; where as hydrosols are quite safe and have a broad array of uses.  To illustrate just how concentrated some essential oils are, it takes about 10,000 roses to make a 5 mL (about 1/6th of an ounce) bottle of rose essential oil, where as to make the same amount of hydrosol it would take about 4 to 8 roses.

Today the benefits of hydrosols are regaining attention. Many herbalists have begun to distill their own and use is becoming more known.  Yet the use of hydrosols is still somewhat unfamiliar to the herbal world on a whole.  Hydrosols add medicine and flavor to cooking, they shine in skin care recipes, they are stable water extractions that are used internally as medicine, they can be used in mouthwashes, as cleaning agents and in aromatherapy practices.  In this class we will be discussing in detail how to use them and providing demonstrations and recipes for making many different types of herbal medicine. 

Hands-On Demonstration Lab: 

Hydrosol Co-Distillation

Leslie Lekos

(1.5 hrs)

The process of making hydrosols is not difficult once you have the right equipment and understand the basic processes that are involved.  Anyone can be a distiller and in fact historically in many parts of Europe most households were distilling for personal use for their food, medicine, cosmetics and cleaning.  

In this class we will be going through the step by step process of producing hydrosols through the steam distillation method in a 50-liter copper still.  We will also talk about production in other sized stills and the benefits and drawbacks from different sized stills.   Essential oils are also mostly produced in this same way and we will touch upon that process.  

Each part of the still will be discussed and how they each work during distillation: the boiler, retort, hat, bird’s beak, condenser, heating elements, sealants and hoses.  We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of distilling in different types of mediums: copper, steel and glass and good places to purchase the equipment.  Storage and ways to detect spoilage will be covered as well as care for the still between usages.  There will be ample time to answer your questions.

To demonstrate the distillation process we will be making a co-distillation hydrosol from a variety of aromatic species from the Durango area.   Co-distillations as opposed to a single plant distillation, is when multiple species are combined to be distilled together at the same time.  Co-distillations can be a way to remember and enjoy a place or to formulate for a particular use.

Sweeten Up!: 

The Healing Medicine of Honey

Jenny Solidago Mansell

(1.5 hrs)

Herbal preparations such as teas and tinctures are standard in almost every herbalist’s apothecary but for some reason herb-infused honey hasn’t enjoyed quite the same popularity. Herb-infused honeys are a good choice for many people who are unable to, or prefer not to, use alcohol-based preparations. Honey is emollient (soothes and moistens skin) and antibacterial. For this reason it has been used as a dressing for wounds and burns in both ancient times and modern. Honey is also a convenient way to extract water soluble constituents for those who may not have time for tea. In this class, learn how to make infused honey using the folk method as well as some favorite herbs for infusing in honey and their applications. We’ll go over when and why to take herb-infused honey internally and how to use it externally for both cosmetic purposes and to support the body’s healing processes, including personal case studies from Jenny’s experience. We’ll also touch on other preparations which utilize honey such as elixirs and oxymels and also about the importance of sourcing local honey. Things may get a little sticky since participants will have an opportunity to try a honey facial mask while learning how to use honey as part of their regular cleansing regimen. There will also be a variety of herb-infused honeys to taste and enjoy. Honey reminds us how joy can be a medicine in its own right and how to take delight in our herbal practices. Come learn about this amazing substance from the bees!

Hands-On Demonstration Lab: 

External Herbal Care:

Plant Medicines For Pain & Healing

Sage Mauer

(1.5 hrs)

It’s time to love up the body with some big plant magic! Come join us as we cover ourselves in plants and soak in their healing energy. Applying herbs externally to the body is a powerful and effective way to receive their medicine. Many topical applications of plants will be explored experientially in this class, including herbal washes, juices, oils, salves, compresses, poultices, laying on leaves, and brushing with bundles. We will explore herbal oils, salves, and compresses to relieve pain, soothe inflammation, calm the nerves, relieve aching muscles and joints, and speed tissue healing. We will discuss different formulas for specific conditions, troubleshooting herbal oils, and working with both fresh and dried plants. Through self-massage we will experience some of the most incredible plant infused oils together. Herbal oils will be offered in class for self-massage including Pine, Spruce, Cottonwood, Black Birch, Mugwort, Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Sweet Annie, Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Ginger, Violet, Plantain, and more! Those attending class should wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty with plants. Come give your body some love!

Sensory Exploration Through Herbal Infusions

Brigit Anna McNeill

(1.5 hrs)

There is a way to taste a plant in stillness and openness that can bring one into bodily conversation and an understanding of how the plant works.

Take a moment to still the body and awaken the senses, allowing the sacred art of tea drinking- herbal infusions and potions to be the gateway into the language of your body. Things shift and change within the body as the plant starts to have an impact, things open and move. The emotional and physical start to come alive in different ways and memories and visual stories are felt. From tuning into the felt sense of what the plant does by learning to pick up on the plants smell, feel and sensations that start to whisper through the body and be felt in different places can really help one to see the power of their own senses and the power of the plant.

When the body touches, tastes, looks at and absorbs a plant it changes something within; a warmth in the heart, a relaxation, an aliveness, an upliftment, grief, lust, love, sadness or a grounded awakening. When a person can start to awaken to how to listen with all of their body, magic can happen and a conversation has begun between plant being and human being.

Tea Time:  A Tasting Experience

Rose Nuffer

(2 hrs)

This is a workshop for the senses. We will begin by calming and quieting the body and mind, to open ourselves up to observing with all of our senses. Then we will taste, one single herb tea at a time. Each tea will be made of one Arkansas grown or Arkansas wildcrafted herb, and the herb’s name will be undisclosed before and during tasting so that we can taste unhindered by assumptions, facts and details we have stored in our minds. Of the five herbal teas we will taste, some will be of herbs commonly known and some, lesser known.

In silence, we will take time to sample each tea and record our observations as we listen to our bodies’ senses. After each tasting we will share what we experienced and work with language to help us describe our experiences. And during this post-tasting discussion, each herb will be named as well as the type of tea preparation. Some history and information about each herb will also be shared, to help put our experiences into context. All skill levels are welcome. A list of possible contraindications for each herbal tea we will taste will be available for those who would like to participate and need clarity. This is an opportunity to get outside of your logical mind, listen to your body, connect with the herbs and learn more.

Hands-On Demonstration Lab:

Sweet Remedies: 

An Herbalist’s Guide to Glycerin in Medicine Making 

Dani Otteson

(2 hrs)

Glycerine is a sweet, emollient liquid that lends itself well to plant extraction and the preservation of products. This class has a very specific focus on the use of glycerin in medicine making. We will discuss the nitty-gritty of this substance, from glycerin’s origins and makeup to specific methods for use. Class will include a hands-on demonstration of making glycerites for ingestion (a great alternative to traditional alcohol-based tinctures). We will also address other ways in which glycerin can be used in herbal preparations, both topical and internal.

Hands-On Demonstration Lab:

Infuse With Booze: 

Bitter & Cordials Making 101

Amber Shehan

(1.5 hrs)

Fresh herbs, fruit, spices, and booze - what’s in your jar? Join in a hands-on workshop that will let you craft your own bitters or cordial. There will be a demonstration and discussion of techniques, but then you get to dive in and have fun! 

Preserving herbs and fruit in alcohol for both health and pleasure has been done for centuries. You can make your own easily, whether you want a simple cinnamon whisky or something to rival the 56 herbs of Jägermeister.

GMC Classes: Diagnostics + Therapeutics

Since the very inception of Plant Healer events, we have always placed a strong emphasis on the most practical building blocks of herbalism. Many of these elements are especially useful for the home, community, or clinical herbalist and can be widely applied 

Diagnostics and therapeutics make up a vital part of an herbalist’s skill set, and it’s especially exciting to see the ongoing expansion of diagnostic techniques in the Western herbal traditions and communities as experience grows and wisdom deepens and is shared. From addiction to tongue diagnostics to the microbiome, these classes offer an opportunity to increase your understanding of how to better treat those in your care. Particularly important is the amount of nuance included in many of these classes, including those regarding vaccinations, cholesterol, and addiction. 

I have worked as a clinician off and on during the 15 years I’ve been an “official” herbalist, but I’ve found diagnostics and therapeutics just as important when I’m practicing more informally, or even just trying to suss out the cause behind my daughter’s chronic iritis or addressing the symptoms of Wolf’s 50 year stint with HCV. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of being able to recognize patterns and symptom sets, and diagnostics are absolutely vital for that purpose. 

You can check out the entirety of the schedule right here on the Good Medicine Confluence site, along with more about all of our amazing teachers and details about the event!

Chronic!: Treating Reoccurring Illness With Herbal Medicine:

(1.5 hrs)


The goal of this class is to help practicing herbalists and advanced herbal students gain practical skills working with people with chronic health care issues, We will cover a number of medicinal plants, therapeutic categories and ways of putting together formulas for individuals. This includes using various preparations such as teas, tinctures and external applications as well considerations such as dosage and patient compliance.

Essential Herbs For Toddlers & Their Families 

(1.5 hrs.)

Juliette Abigail Carr

What herbs are the most helpful for this unique, transformative time? Let’s go deep into specific herbs for an era of deep physical and emotional development, as well as incredible spirituality and newfound connection with the broader world, an age that often needs our support. We will also focus on herbs to support the larger constellation of the toddler family. Specific formulas and creative ways of getting medicine into squirmy kids (and grouchy partners!) will also be discussed. 

Oh Shit!: Pattern Assessment & Treatment of Bowel Imbalances

(1.5 hrs)

Betsy Costilo-Miller

Digestive imbalances are one of the most common complaints that draws people to working with herbs and food.  Living with chronic constipation, diarrhea, pain or discomfort impacts not only digestive function, but quality of life as well.  This class will focus on assessing the why behind the symptoms- is a person constipated because of disrupted nerve signaling to the bowel, or are they constitutionally dry and therefore unable to maintain normal tissue function? We will explore methods of assessment, from tongue diagnosis to stool patterns, and discuss an extensive materia medica that is focused on meeting the needs of unique tissue patterns in the bowel. 

Face, Tongue, & Body Diagnostics

(1.5 hrs)

Emily French

Our bodies are constantly telling us about where they could use some strengthening, some detoxing, some warmth, or cool, moisture, nutrition, rest .. you name it. Brought to the awareness of modern western herbalists by William LeSassier and others, and fleshed out (excuse the pun) by Chris Marano, Margi Flint, Matthew Wood, and other contemporary herbalists, face and body diagnostics have once again become an indispensable part of the practice of many health care practitioners.  Eye troubles? Snappy joints? Let's take a look at your liver. Learn about where each of the organ systems opens to the face/head and tongue, how to read a person's thyroid health in their neck, how the shine in our hair and the ridges in our fingernails, or lack thereof, are indicative of kidney and adrenal function, how our tone of voice reflects the health of our organs, even what butt pimples are trying to tell us about our lungs. Each and every part of our external body is relaying messages about what's happening on the inside.

If you have a little handheld mirror here in Durango with you, please bring it along. It’s great to be able to see these things right in the moment. I’ll bring some too, but the more the merrier!

Lyme Disease: The Great Teacher

(1.5 hrs)

Emily French

The Lyme saturation in which we find ourselves is a powerful teacher about post-antibiotic medicine, the sophisticated movement of plant medicines through ecosystems and the human body, the incredible ability of bacteria to adapt, survive, and continually strive toward balance, and about turning to the plants for healing when few other options remain and watching them literally bring life back. The Lyme complex of infections, the ticks, the forests and fields, do not have to be our enemies – in fact, they are our teachers. And once we understand what's happening in our bodies when faced with these infections, we don't have to feel afraid – we know what to do; we can move toward healing.

This in-depth workshop will cover herbal approaches to the following facets of Lyme Disease: deterrence, infection, acute care, and chronic support. Learn about the most potent plant medicines for Lyme borreliosis and common co-infections, as well as lifestyle and dietary guidelines to strengthen immune health and improve quality of life, whether the goal is avoiding or healing from a long-term Lyme infection. With the right approach and a little bit of luck, people come out the other side feeling healthier, more truly themselves, and more connected to the green world than they did before they got sick. There are great teachings in this…

Cholesterol: The Good, The Bad, & The Bullshit

(1.5 hrs)

Marija Helt

We hear a lot about cholesterol, especially with negative connotations. From the news media, from healthcare providers and for some of us, from the scientific literature.  A careful reading of the latter will show that much of what we hear about cholesterol is outright BS or otherwise oversimplified.  Does a high level of cholesterol cause cardiovascular disease? Not necessarily. Can a high level of oxidized cholesterol cause cardiovascular disease?  Absolutely.  But the key word here is “oxidized”.  More on this in the class.  

Cholesterol is, in fact, a critical molecule for health.  It is part of our cell membranes, it is the scaffold from which our corticosteroid hormones are made and it plays a role in immunity.  Did you know that elderly folks with what would be considered high LDL live longer than similar aged folks on statin drugs? Or that older folks with higher levels of cholesterol have a longer predicted lifespan and a lower risk for neurological issues? And that statin usage in general has not resulted in a reduction in the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease? 

HDL (high density lipoprotein), what we often hear called “good cholesterol”, is a carrier composed of proteins and lipids that transports cholesterol to the liver for breakdown or recycling.  LDL, what we often hear called “bad cholesterol”, is a fairly similar carrier that transports cholesterol out into circulation so it can get where it needs to go to do its important jobs. The mantra has been that high levels of HDL in circulation indicate a reduced risk for heart disease, while high levels of LDL are indicative of increased risk.  You will see it stated as irrefutable dogma.  A critical look at how research is done and interpreted, who does the research and, in some cases, how data is ignored, shows that not only is this idea of good versus bad idea is (in the least) over-simplistic or (at worst) may be largely inaccurate.  We’ll look into the scoop on HDL, LDL, statins and even get into an important CVD risk factor that’s less often tested for, vLDL (very low density lipoprotein).  Oh, and some herbs!  : ) 

The Importance of Bonding & The Human Microbiome: Germs Aren't So Bad

(1.5 hrs)

Sharon Hockenbury

What if I told you that there are 2-3 pounds of microorganisms living in your gut and they are your friends?  This intricate and delicate system, call the Human Microbiome is the catalyst for gut health and the foundation of the immune, nutritional assimilation, behavioral and neuro health and it starts with the birth process.   Come and learn how we can establish a healthy Microbiome system and continue to support it through a lifetime.

Winter is Coming: Warm Remedies For Cold Constitutions

(2 hrs)

Juliet Howard

Do you shiver and ache deep in your bones at the coming of winter? Are you seemingly always cold and bundling yourself in a cocoon of socks, layers, and blankets? You may have a cold constitution that is forcing you to have barriers to your experience of abundance in the cold seasons. 

Herbalism is not a one-size-fits-all science. Unlike allopathic medicine, herbalism looks at the whole person, the whole plant, and how the two can create synergistic healing. Each person is markedly different and requires methods of healing that differ accordingly. In my studies in constitutional herbalism, I have learned that although you cannot change your core constitution, there can be a change in the ways you nourish it. Learning to warm yourself from the inside can drastically change your life and perspective. There is beautiful ritual in every season we encounter. Those who run cold often loathe the winter months, and I hope that by providing folks with remedies and rituals for the colder months that they can look forward to winter, rather than dread it. 

I hope that you will leave this class prepared, and dare I say, excited to take on winter. You will have the tools necessary and some printed reference materials to help keep you warm through the colder months using food, herbal medicine, and ritual. Winter is such a powerful time of reflection, restoration, and creativity, and this critical time should never be dampened by dread of the cold. My goal for this class is for you to feel inspired to throw medicine-making parties in the fall and winter to prepare and celebrate this beautiful time of year. 

This is a hands-on class where we will be making warming medicines

Using Plants to Support an Individual Approach  to Childhood Vaccines

(2 hrs or 2.5 hrs)

Jaunita Nelson

If there’s a topic sure to create polarized views it’s whether or not to immunize our children.  Whether you are an anti-vaxer or a pro-vaxer or somewhere in between, this class is designed to do two things: provide facts about the vaccines and give practitioners options for herbal treatments. When we as practitioners help folks make choices that are individualized for them and help take the charge out of their choices by giving them tools designed to support them we empower them.  When we can provide non-judgmental support and compassionate care we can enhance their relationship with plants as well as help them improve their family’s health.

Addressing Sexually Transmitted Infections  From an Herbalist’s Perspective

(2 hrs)

Jaunita Nelson

Sexually transmitted infections have skyrocketed in the last few years in some cases increasing 75% over previous years.  Gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, all are on the rise.  Public health clinics across the country are being closed for lack of funding and support.  This is the environment that many folks find themselves in today.  As herbalists we have a unique opportunity to step up and support folks who are struggling with these infections from a different perspective helping them as whole, unique individuals.  This class will talk about the medical model of care and provide options for treating and supporting the whole person using herbs.

Menopause in Preschool:  Helping Older Moms & Grandma’s Raising Kids Through The Change

(1.5 hrs)

Jennie Isbell Shinn
There are increasing numbers of women giving birth in their 40s, and grandparents raising grandchildren. These are not brand new realities, but they are renewing trends and growing in frequency. Herbal support for menopause, including wholistic, and counter-cultural mental- and emotional shifts away from external mirrors and judgments toward inner clarity and power are just one piece of the menopause pie. When the requirements of parenting, from young children to teenagers overlaps with menopause and croning, what’s a mama-Crone to do? In this workshop, we will take a look at the numbers to see how common these circumstances are and in what communities it is most prevalent. We’ll also look at a handful of common physical menopausal symptoms and possible solutions (like disordered sleep, mood swings, new hair here there and not where it used to be, body temperature changes, fatigue), but our real focus will be on care of heart- and mind- for women and families navigating many life stages at once. What are the most nourishing things for body, mind and spirit at this time? What needs to be grieved and how to manage that flow? Are there new rituals for these women? For their partners? 

Radical Self-Care for the Generative Systems

(1.5 hrs)

Emily Stock

This class will explore a myriad of external therapies to bring circulation and healing to the generative system, more commonly referred to as the reproductive system. Our generative systems, regardless of gender, are just that: the creative power center of our beings. Taking care of ourselves in this way allows a window of opportunity not only to find better cycles, less pain, less stagnation, and an easier way of being, but also to make time for ourselves in a way that opens and lifts the spirit and grounds our sense of place through the root and second chakras. 
While you may have heard reference to pelvic steaming, moxibustion, castor oil packs, and pelvic floor work, this class will demonstrate ways to do each of these things in an applicable way, along with proper indications and herbs to take alongside pelvic treatment. These practices are deeply healing when done with proper care, attention, and consistency.

Many of the things often described as “women’s care” can also be applied to people who don’t have vaginas, and we will be focusing on the pelvic bowl as an entity that deserves healing for all genders. 

Elements Part I

Elemental Interactions: Understanding Chinese 5 Elements
(1.5 hrs)

Emily Stock

In this class we will comprehensively review the Chinese 5 Element system, with special attention to how the elements and their corresponding organ systems interact with each other. 

Wood ~ Fire ~ Earth ~ Metal ~ Water.

The foundation of Chinese medicine is both poetic and practical. We will be using classic metaphors of nature to deepen our understanding of patterns within the body. While some perspectives offer a ‘personality test’ view on the 5 Element theory, we will be instead focusing on how each elemental interaction happens within any given person and identifying the ways to see each of the 5 elements at work in one body. A particular clinical challenge is being able to see which pattern rises above the rest, and how to identify where to begin with treatment. We will use clinical examples and natural metaphors. 

This class will also focus on the ways in which the elements interact within the body, revealing both generative and control cycles between organ systems, emotions, and tissue states. This is where the 5 Element system comes to life in our bodies and in our clinical practices. Once an element is identified as being out of balance, how do we influence it? How can we anticipate what that might mean down the road for other organ systems? And how can we trace back to the beginning of an imbalance to see where it all started? Come to explore this ancient perspective on balance.

Elements Part II

Elemental Spirits: Understanding The Spirit Aspect of The Chinese 5 Elements

(1.5 hrs)

Emily Stock

An important part of the Chinese 5 Element system is the spirit aspect of each element and organ system. 

Hun ~ Shen ~ Yi ~ Po ~ Zhi

While it was once integrally incorporated into the Chinese 5 Element system of thought, the spirit perspective has been left out of modern practices and has been largely left to the Taoists to continue the lineage. Clinically, the spirit aspect of the 5 Element system can lend much to both our understanding and efficacy of treatment. This is where we become whole, where the thread between what is surfacing and what lies beneath becomes clear.

We will discuss each spirit element in detail, creating a map for emotions and spiritual work. This will include how they can relate to one another, and how it all fits within the modern more physical approach to Chinese medicine. 

When separated into 5 aspects, which are then related to their corresponding organ systems, the nebulous idea of spirit starts to take form. Understanding how aspects of ourselves nourish and regulate other aspects, we can then start to embody our own spiritual evolution. 

When Plants Are Abused

(1.5 hrs)

Angie True

Struggles with addiction, food sensitivities/allergies, mental/emotional health, environmentally-induced chronic illnesses such as autoimmune disease and other common modern maladies are the primary reasons for seeing healing facilitators of any type, and all of these go back in one way or another to dysfunctional relationships with plants and nature. We probably share or have shared those symptoms ourselves, and talk about them all the time: in our practices, in the classes we take, the things we read and write, to our families and friends. 

So how come making simple changes -- dietary, lifestyle, herbal – can be so hard? Why do intellectual explanations only go so far, with ourselves, with clients, with our nearest and dearest? Could it be because we’re still looking at chronic conditions through the same reductionist lens that allopathic medicine uses?

Join us to create multidimensional maps of meaning to explore personal, ancestral, cultural, global and cosmic relationships with plants and planet. Learn how to connect with your own and your people’s relationships with food and medicine plants, re-contextualizing the shame and self-blame for chronic conditions that our culture has taught us. 

Hands-On Workshop:  Focus On The Feet: Tending & Pampering

(1.5 hrs)

Lisa Valantine

Our feet are meant to walk the earth, touch the earth intimately, and yet as often as not, our feet are neglected and incased in shoes and sandals and do not receive the healing benefit of earth's electrical charge or the awareness and reverence that they deserve.  Through loving rituals of cleansing and purification we will engage with the intricate history surrounding the ceremony of washing the feet as a means to demonstrate humbleness and to invoke a sacred act that honors the divine in ourselves and others.  We will learn ways we can support the care of the feet on a daily basis - from earthing and exercise, acupressure and massage, wraps and masks, soothing balms and healing foot baths.  There will be a wealth of information and demonstration, as we all practice on ourselves.  Much of the information in this class will be helpful for those engaged in elder care.

Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Vitex & Other Herbs For Women’s Challenging Times

(1.5 hrs)

Ellen Zimmermann

Meet and learn from Vitex-agnus-castus, my plant ally.  She is an an exceptional herb used to balance the sex hormones of the body including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.  During several passages of life, a women’s body needs support to ease the difficulties of these changes.  Vitex, as well as other herbs we will discuss, can assist during these challenging times.  We will also explore the mind- body-spirit connection during these passages and learn how herbs, foods, relationships and lifestyle, can be optimized so you can be the best you can be at each life stage.

GMC Classes: Magic, Ritual, & Story in Herbalism

Herbalism can be so much more than plant chemistry applied to our chemistry (although, that is certainly its own form of magic), and throughout the ages, plants have been deeply interwoven into human lives in the form of magic, ritual, and story. Over the years of hosting the Good Medicine Confluence, Wolf and I have witnessed how powerful these topics can be for our HerbFolk community and we make concerted effort to bring together a diverse array of perspectives and voices to teach about the plants in a magic and story infused way. What I love how our teachers work to make these topics infinitely applicable to the daily life of an herbalist, whether celebrating the seasons of life, healing through story,  or grieving the death of loved ones.

While many more of our classes could actually be placed under this category, here’s a sampling of those that most directly relate to the topics at hand. I hope you’ll enjoy this look at peek at the upcoming Good Medicine Confluence, and I can’t wait to see many of you there!

Head over to the Good Medicine Confluence page to see a full list of the classes, a look at our amazing teachers, a tentative schedule, purchase tickets, and more!

The Herblore of Midsummer: 

Plant Magic of the Summer Solstice 

Rebecca Beyer

(1.5 hrs)

The Solstice approaches! The culinary, folkloric, and medicinal uses of the sacred herbs of the Summer solstice will be examined through the lens of Western European plantlore. This class aims, through the deeper knowing of key plant species and their rich stories, to create space for understanding the ways in which European-ancestored people or those interested in European plant lore, can tap into the lore of their own lineages to more deeply connect to their ancestral lines all the while helping to combat the rise of cultural appropriation in these challenging times.

Sunday Intensive: 

Narrative Herbal Medicine: 

Weaving Words & Healing Herbs

Heather Wood Buzzard

(2.5 hrs.)

So many of us have turned to herbs. So many are now turning to words. Narrative medicine and herbal medicine, distinctly, are the two oldest forms of healing. In the times when these were the two primary forms of care, chronic disease was less rampant, infectious disease was a number one killer, and both narrative medicine and herbal medicine were called upon daily to save lives and move mountains. Today, both narrative medicine and herbal medicine have been thrown by the wayside in favor of high-tech, clinical, and sterile modern medicine, which can save lives but can also kill and comes with marked side effects, something narrative medicine does not come with and herbal medicine comes with very rarely.

A primary tool of the narrative herbal medicine practitioner is close listening to the client, a muscle which can be an exercised and strengthened through close reading and reflective writing. Close reading builds the skill of deeply listening without adding or subtracting from the story or attempting to place it within society. The skilled witness must interpret within the story which areas are sacred, which profane, which aspects are vital to the teller and which are footnotes, what shocks and revelations they have dealt with, and what they have done and what has been done to them to bring them to their present condition.

The story of a client is unexplored territory which the process of close reading gives us the tools to map. When we as practitioners try to locate ourselves within our client’s story intentionally, we may find it unfamiliar. The principal of minimal departure tells us that we expect to hear or witness something that doesn’t vary too greatly from what we already know. This is good and to be expected. But the patient wants to be seen and found, whether or not their narrative fits within the circumference of our comfort zone. Care givers may assume that a client is speaking from a baseline of reality somewhat close to their own truth, but this is not necessarily the case. 

In this exploratory class, we will navigate our way through mapping the space where herbs and words coincide. We will cover topics including, but not limited to, narrative humility, the doctrine of signatures, poetic medicine, tools for narrative knowledge, the language of the body, the language of the plants, and constitutional medicine.

Death & Dying Part I: 

Preparation, Acceptance, & Herbs For Grieving

(1.5 hrs.)

Julie James

“A culture that does not know how to die, will live in fear of the unknown.”

The dominant culture in America has become wholly and unhealthily removed from the process of death and dying. We tend to see any open discussion of death as ghoulish, we deny death and at the same time have a bizarre obsession with images of violent death, horror, and ideas of what comes afterward. We have come to this state in a relatively short period of time– as recently as our grandparents’ time, families still honored their beloved dead at home, tended lovingly and mindfully for their bodies, and during the process of dying, stayed with their loved ones, caring for them and surrounding them with community, family, and children. Now, too often the process of dying is relegated to sterile hospitals, with the dying isolated from their community, accompanied often by only their doctors and nurses. And when the body finally dies, it is whisked off to a mortuary, unseen and untouched and unloved until it is finally presented in a sterile, artificially preserved and painted manner. Families who seek to care for their dying at home are seen as oddities, and if they then choose to care for the body of their beloved dead themselves, atrocities.  And yet the right to care for our dying and our dead is so very human, and is a deeply healing way to come to terms with death. We are able to more closely work through our grief and loss when we are not disenfranchised from it, when we can openly and publicly mourn, when we can properly honor the relationship that we had and the transition of that relationship. And with that more profound understanding of the process of death and dying, we receive the unmatched gift of emotional and psychological acceptance and closure that can support us in the process of grieving. 

In this class, we will look at historical death traditions in American culture and how and why that changed so much, as well as the many cultures that still honor the process of death. We will discuss how herbal allies can help us to be present and supported in the process of dying, how we can ease the passing over that threshold by our beloved, and how we can work through the grief and loss after death.

Death & Dying Part II: 

Home Funeral Practices, Legality, History, & Rituals

(1.5 hrs.)

Julie James

In Part 2, we will examine how to be with death in a more personal, direct manner, and examine how herbalists can work in and with hospice, death doula, and home funeral organizations, how we can offer pre-death care to the dying and to the community, and how we can help clients regain their incontrovertible right to home death, and become, if they choose, an active participant in the transition as well as the honoring of the body after death. 

We will look at the physical process following death, how to care for the body, and the legal issues surrounding this process. Regulations are already in place that protect our right to home funerals, and disposition of the body, including alternatives to embalming.

By speaking clearly and plainly about death, we hope to start a larger discussion that will continue in our communities and beyond. It is long past time that we take back this extraordinary final journey, making it our own and embracing a deeper understanding and acceptance of our own death in the process.

Old World Meets New World: 

Wax Pouring, Bone setting, & Folk Herbalism/Folk Healing Practices 

in The Ukrainian Settlements of Western Canada

(1.5 hrs)

Dionne Jennings

Moonshine, Goose fat, axle grease, beeswax and holy water—what does this have to do with herbal medicine? Join Community Herbalist Dionne Jennings and explore the folk healing and herbal practices of Ukrainian immigrants & descendants in the Ukrainian settlements in Western Canada. 

Herbal medicine is of course, the medicine of the people. Let’s learn more about how our Ukrainian ancestors practiced it, and honor the hard work, hardships & resourcefulness that contributed to our body of herbal knowledge & these largely forgotten traditions.

Newcomers to Canada from Ukraine came in hopes of acquiring land and a better life for themselves & their children. On long, sea-sick ridden voyages across the ocean, they brought with them grains, seeds, herbs, plant cuttings, tools, as well as many healing practices which were very much needed while surviving their first long & harsh Canadian winters. Access to doctors & hospitals in the settlements was extremely limited. Hardship & poverty were daily obstacles to endure & overcome & the people had to be resilient & self-sufficient out of necessity, as well a reliant on their closest neighbors & community members. We will explore support for healing the physical body as practiced by Plant Doctors & the Bone-Setters, as well as the practices of sweating, steaming, cupping & leeches. We will also explore where the physical & spiritual intersect, examining the idea that sickness was a result of imbalances, evil spirits, or spiritual crisis. Spiritual Healers, sometimes also known as wise women or “witches” practiced “Wax Pouring” a divination ritual to cure “Fear Sickness” or the Evil Eye that had been cast on them. 

Part of folk medicine practice at the time was augmenting herbal treatment with influences of the spiritual/supernatural. This would include many familiar herbal practices such as making infusions, poultices, & salves with blessed plants and herbs, but also using other ritual objects as instruments of healing such as knives, holy water, candle wax & ribbons from church. First Nations medicine and intersection with spiritual practices certainly also influenced the folk medicine as it was practiced and developed at the time. Plant medicine-our original system of medicine-was practiced by all of our ancestors, as was medicine & ritual for the spirit. Come hear some stories of mine!

Babas & Botany: Flora, Fauna & Cosmology 

in Ukrainian Healing, Ritual & Folk Art 

(1.5 hrs)

Dionne Jennings

Like all world cultures, the Slavs had a deep connection to the plants and to the land. Spirituality, ritual, and religions that came after all have strong connections to the natural world. Let’s explore the influence of & connection to the natural world as part of Ukrainian folk tradition-from the gathering, use & blessing of aromatic plants and herbs, as well as the symbology and influence of plants and flowers in various facets of Ukrainian folk art. We will discuss some herbs that we are familiar with the the Western materia medica and some rituals around harvesting them on the Summer Solstice for best healing & charms, along with: 

•Pysanky: Pysanky are Ukrainian easter eggs made by a resist technique with dyes from local plants and beeswax. They are pre-christian & have many associations & with fertility rituals, symbology to sun gods, the tree of life, the great goddess, and there are many plant, animal & celestial symbols that are used to adorn them. 

•The ritual & symbolism of Motanka dolls. Motanka are dolls of protection, or ritual charms, made by hand using plant material, bits of fabric scraps & rags. Intention, wishes & prayers go into making the dolls for health, fertility, & protection. Motanky have connections to the goddess Rozhanytsa which can be traced back to ancient Slavic & Trypillyan culture 

•The symbology of the Tree of Life & it’s connection to Great Goddess in handcrafts such as embroidery, also known as “vyshyvky” for clothing & protective “rushnyky” used in ceremony and for the home. 

•We will also explore Flora & Fauna in traditional Ukrainian Folk Tales including mythical tales of blooming ferns, magical trees, & the ideas of certain trees being favored by the gods. Let’s share some traditional tales and explore their symbolism & mythology together as a group. 

Ancestral Women Healers: 

Ukrainian Folk Herbal Practices

(1.5 hrs)

Dionne Jennings

Seers, Solstice, Seneca Root & Survival: this class is dedicated to the strength of the Ukrainian women in our ancestral lineage. Herbalism and healing as we know it today looked a little differently as practiced in the “Old Country”. Let’s explore the role of woman as healer in Slavic culture. This class will be 2 parts: an exploration of herbal and folk medicine practices by and for women in the Old Country, and a dedication to the resilience & strength of those women & those practices that were brought with them to Turtle Island.

Herbs & plant medicine were known & called upon for thing like day-to day healing of the household to ritual practices that were in the realm of the psycho- spiritual healers, often known as witches, involving incantation, divination & prayer. Harvesting herbs on certain ritual days & incorporating them into charms, spells, ritual and divination were common place in Ukraine several generations back, & some of those rituals are still practiced today. Using herbs to maintain health & treat sickness & illness, as well as visits to the local healer for things outside the realm of the physical (the evil eye, possession) were common place only a generation or two ago in what is now also known as North America, and yet much of those practices have slowly been lost and faded from our cultural consciousness. Doctors were sparse in the Ukrainian settlements & reliance on ones own knowledge of healing practices, local & cultivated plants for tending the sick & injured was a necessity. Reliance on strength & fortitude were necessary to survive the first harsh prairie winters and much of that fell on the shoulders of women.

There is a rich and ancient thread connecting current cultural & christian practices that stretches back millennia to pre-christian practices with origins in the pagan & shamanic. There is a rich connection to plant medicine that’s been all but severed from the women who came before us. Let’s explore what we know, what’s been left behind, and how we might continue to incorporate it today. Come share in some stories dedicated to those times relating the fortitude of the feminine and their connection to the land. 

Grieving Our World With Plants

(2 hrs)

Jasmine Kocie

There is a collective grief that lies under so much of the pain, anger and projections we see in the outer world. Influenced by the state of outer reality, social and cultural breakdowns and breakthroughs, the poignant words of nayyirah waheed, and the teachings of plants, Jasmine brings this class forth to explore the act of grieving with plant allies that support this much needed process in these times. We'll be introduced to a variety of herbs and their energetics, discussing how we can work with them for personal and collective grieving. We'll discuss the power of witnessing grief and spend the end of our time here going inward for an inventory of what we are grieving. 

Medieval Remedies: 

A European History of Nine Sacred Herbs

(2 hrs)

Dani Otteson

The history of Western herbalism is long and winding, with many fascinating periods of development. The medieval period saw blending and transition in culture and belief, which stretched into all aspects of life. Several medieval medical texts featuring the use of herbs, chants, and rituals survive today. What’s more, preparations from said texts have recently been proven in a University setting to be extremely effective against virulent pathogens. 

This offering will explore plant medicine and magic as they came to be in medieval Europe. Class will include an analysis of the Anglo-Saxon nine herbs charm from the Lacnunga, discussion on the medicines of the plants featured, and how these herbs fit in to modern ritual and herbal practice. We will make medicine bags based on these writings, and come away with a deeper understanding of some familiar (and maybe not so familiar) medicinal plants, as well as a feeling of connection to this element of history. History of medicine is a deeply intriguing study, as it introduces us to our earth-based medicines as ancient, ancestral, and also deeply effective in the modern world.

Poetry as Medicine: 

Building an Apothecary of Encouragement 

(1.5 hrs)

Jennie Isbell Shinn

Herbalists and teachers of herbalism often tout the holistic nature of the herbal medicine. This workshop is about building an apothecary of encouraging words— poetry and other metaphoric prose — to use when an intake process or an unfolding case study indicate that a common theme of the human experience is active. From isolation to inspiration, mystical encounter to mundane recollection, poetry and metaphor touch us in the deeps of emotion, intuition and our collective unconscious. As herbalists we address nourishment, lifestyle, presenting symptoms and general vitality; we can also develop assessment skills and a file of poetry as medicine for soul health. In l.this workshop, we’ll consider common emotional states that go with physical conditions and life stages, touch briefly on the risks of transference and projection, start building a poetic apothecary, and imagine what prescribing inspiration might look like. 

Plants as Allies: 

A Journey Into Plant Spirit Medicine

(2 hrs)

Megan Waddy

This workshop will focus on deepening your relationship with plants, nature and community through the use of heart-centered perception. Participants will be guided through a meditation practice and be offered small doses of plant medicines in order to experience a deep sense of embodied presence and connection with the unique energy of each plant. Exercises to cleanse and protect your energetic body, open and deepen your innate intuitive gifts, and use intuition based diagnosis in a clinical setting will be explored.