Herbal Medicine School

Herbal medicine and witchcraft and wild edibles are all things I have always been interested, and never taken enough time to dedicate myself to serious learning. That changed this year and it was a really great change for me. My friend Raven Mack, who writes excellent things and runs haiku competitions, has an equally amazing partner, Suzanna Stone who runs an herbal medicine school, Owlcraft Healing Ways. I met her through him, and took one day class in the fall of 2014. I learned she offered a 9 month herbal medicine apprenticeship course.

After David and I moved to Beaverdam, he knew I’d been considering the herb school. He encouraged me to take the course. Being supported by a partner in a serious undertaking of time and money really meant a lot. I signed up, and have been enrolled for 8 months so far now. It has created this amazing weekly space in my life that I had not anticipated. Classes are once a week on Wednesdays from 10-3:30. I also do a work trade class once a month to cover part of the fees. Most of the women in the class do the work trade too. Some days this means we help weed the medicine garden. We also helped plant and the later harvest a bountiful crop of milky oats. 3 of us have been working on constructing an outhouse where a composting toilet system is going to be used.

The group of women in the class are a very unique combination, including 2 mormons, 1 lesbian, 1 single waitress who has taken it before, 1 mid twenties communal living yoga person, and 1 homeschooling mama return student too. Most of the women are in their 40’s or older. For all of our varied backgrounds the class has been a very interesting and supportive place. I mention those “labels” that could be applied to the students not to hem them in, or reduce them to a label, but just as a simple way to point out how varied we are. Only about half of the women have had biological kids, but everyone has been incredibly supportive about my pregnancy. I never could have planned to be pregnant while in that space, but it has been a wonderful experience. We start class with song and sage smudging and more songs honoring the directions and mother earth and father sky. The class is held almost exclusively outside. We’ve only been inside on two occasions when the heat was at pretty brutal levels. There is a shaded pavilion class is held on, but we also go on plant walks. Having a day of outside time is really good for my mental health. We also always end with a group song. Every class we drink a different tea blend, and try a different herb for a tea proving. Basically it is a great space that allows for a lot of connection with nature, with women, with intuition, with magic, with meditation, with plants and with peace.

I have learned a TON so far, and feel very inspired herbally. I’m so glad I stopped putting off this part of my life, and so grateful to be supported and to even have the opportunity. I just thought of this, but by huge stepback from activism is really what gave me room to engage in another aspect of my interests, herbal medicine.

The class actually held a surprise Blessing Way ceremony for me one day, which was awesome and amazing. Now that the baby is born, he comes with me to class. I’m looking forward to continuing my herbal education with the Richmond Herbal Guild once class is over.

I’m also hoping to attend the GAIA Herbal Conference this spring in Charlottesville.

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