..I’m a bit stuck on a name right now, but I’m not going to let that stop me from sharing the content, and letting folks know what’s coming up next. This is something I’ve been trying to get to for some time, and since spring is almost here, I feel a need to get rolling. Don’t we all long for green and growing things right about now? I love winter, and all the magical things we can make with conifers, poplar buds, spices and dried plants from our last harvest – but, enough is enough, and I for one am very ready to get into the garden, the fields and forest and feel the earth beneath my feet one more.
I imagine Danny has a bit of cabin fever about now as well – perhaps some of yours do too.
So; without further adieu, here is what I’m planning for an April 2 start up.
This course will be open-ended, and self paced, although I very much like the idea of a tight knit group working together, I also respect the reality of our busy lives and that not everyone can keep up with a schedule. So, the first thing you need to know is, while it *should* take about a year to complete this program, you have as long as you need.
Second – what we will be covering is a pretty wide range of material, but not geared to a professional/practitioner goal, more of an Intro – to Intermediate student. There is a great emphasis on understanding and learning through doing; so many projects and recipes and suggested exercises, not all of which you are marked on – but which seek to bring the plants we discuss into your life and home, so you can begin to work with them safely and effectively.
There will be some theoretical work – for example I will want you to get used to using the Latin name of each plant, mostly because common names can overlap and you just might end up with Joe Pye weed when you went to order Boneset…botanical names are important. If you want to go more deeply into botany and plant identification, I will be providing a great list of resources. but the emphasis here is on working daily with the herbs featured on the course. We’ll learn their Actions – primary and secondary – and thus, how we might use them for various conditions and preventively! – we’ll learn about Energetics, or how to personally experience a plant’s Vital Actions so you have a better sense of when to use it (as opposed to just going by a list of actions in a book); we’ll start on some of the principles of formulating, the art of pairing herbs in groups (two, three or even more) to optimize efficacy; we’ll be spending a goodly bit of time on the principles of making stuff with herbs! and that means salves, tinctures, glycerites, elixirs, vinegars and oxymels, pastilles, decoctions and syrups, and more.
Because this course is for YOU as well as your companion animals, we’ll take time to explore the making of lotions, hair rinses face creams, and massage oils, because it’s not just the animals who need care; we need some too.
We’ll learn how to incorporate herbs into daily use, blending teas for all sorts of common complaints (and for pleasure) also how to make and use nourishing infusions to keep us at our healthiest; medicinal uses of popular culinary herbs and spices, recipes for herbal vinegars/salad dressings, soup stock, baked goods, marinades and more. I will be providing a detailed and more organized Course Outline by the end of the week – Friday March 8. What I can tell you right now, is how we’ll break down our learning pathway; it goes like this.
Because culinary herbs are so common and often a beginner’s first contact with herbal medicine, we’ll start this course looking deeply at 20 of them, their full range of medicinal application, as well as how to prepare them in a variety of tasty, nourishing and healing ways. Many of these herbs have become very popular in commercial use, and so often their full range of action is limited by the emphasis on one: Ginger for chest colds! well absolutely, but there is so much more to ginger (Zingiber officinale) than this. I’ll be making suggestions for cultivation, medicinal uses, creative recipes and more, all with herbs you most likely know well, but might not have thought of is quite this way..for you, and your canine /feline companions as well.
Several of the herbs we think of as culinary, overlap into the commercial section; turmeric, ginger and cinnamon have enjoyed a lot of popularity medicinally in recent years, for example. But when we look at “commercial herbs” as a whole we find many that are not commonly used in cooking; many that do not grow locally, and almost all that are now sold mostly in healthfood stores and veterinary clinics, in dessicated, standardized, powdered medicinal form. I personally fee l that while using plants in this way is often effective medicine- and much better than using harsher drugs and chemicals- it is also very much the tip of the iceberg with regard to these powerful medicinal plants. With herbs like St. John’swort, arnica, echinacea, calendula, astragalus, Devil’s claw, slippery elm, milk thistle, hawthorn, chamomile, evening primrose, feverfew, gingko biloba, saw palmetto, ginseng, valerian and black cohosh, we often think of them only in terms of their one, popular action, when in truth there is much more to all. This section of the course will explore these and other commonly used and popular herbs with an eye to preparation and dosage, actions aside from the wellknown; safety/interaction issues, and alternatives you can often find right outside your back door.
…which brings me to, what to my mind anyway is the most exciting part; Wild plants and local medicine! Because this is often new territory for students, and because there are so many unsung heroes of the plant world in this category, it’s by far the largest – although not so large as to be overwhelming. In this section we will be exploring – literally – the yards, fields and woodlands local to our hones, and learning about the powerful and immediately accessible benefits of plants many think of as weeds: some we will cover include dandelion, stinging nettle, burdock, mullein, chickweed, plantain, yarrow, mugwort, Motherwort, heart’s ease, goldenrod, boneset, elecampane, ground ivy, skullcap, bee balm, Solomon’s seal, a variety of mallows, wild rose, self heal, raspberry, hawthorn, elder, poplar, pine and other conifers, and many more. We’ll learn how to identify these wild plants, gather them ethically (or cultivate in our own garden) dry/prepare and use them all, for ourselves, our families, canine and feline friends…and wind up with a section on building your herbal apothecary, with ideas for salves and ointments, first aid, tools you’ll need for keeping and using herbs, and of course – recipes!
I have geared this course to be packed with information and provide exercise and tools you will use long after it’s completed. It can also be used as a starting place for deeper study; I offer an intensive 18 month Practitioner’s programme for those wishing to work herbally with cats and dogs. And my goal as always, in working with plants for the benefit of us all, is to facilitate in others the connection to nature and ways of healing that are gentle and powerful – healing animals, ourselves, and the earth.
The cost of this course is $350.00. While I will be making many suggestions for books you will want to purchase as you go, the only one required is a field ID guide, for the wildcrafting section. Otherwise, all notes are my own. Supplies – jars and bottles, mortar and pestle, oils and vinegars etc are of course, extra costs to consider.
This is an online course; while I emphasize fieldwork and practicuum, it is taught online at your own pacing.
Throughout all sections, herbs will be examined for use in support of common health issues; urinary and digestive tracts, for immune balance, to support the skin, address minor injuries, abscesses, rashes and burns; for soft tissue injury and osteoarthritis, parasite control, cardiovascular support, anxiety, and more.
Interested students please let me know asap that you’d like to enroll; I may have to put a limit on numbers, depending how many applications I receive. If you think you’d like a spot, email me and I will be sure to hold space for you. Further details will be available by request.