HerbFolk 2014

I stream of consciously wrote about HerbFolk the day after it ended, in my journal. That journal entry is below, in its raw form, with my disjointed mind processes trying to digest all the diverse elements of intense delight, joy, inspiration, learning, questioning, challenging, and more that took place within the short span of just 3.5 days. Enjoy.

“Perhaps my favorite part was the little things: talking with friends, new and old. The tea bus. Coming in at all points during the day to laugh with Giuseppi, pick up more tea, and interact with various others doing the same. Talking with Jim McDonald, crouched uncomfortable yet excited over his table, shouting important questions over the sounds of various others doing the same, as the band blasted its dance tunes, and I laughed at Jim’s witch hat. Dancing in the back corner of the main tent, then having the esteemed herbalist David Hoffman join me, the music awkwardly working its way through his older body. I can see the silhouette of Guido Mase, who taught one of my favorite classes, as he rocks out to the rhythm of his own internal symphony. We all dance together like wild animals, to the raucous celebratory music of the night, and gather back up again after all the music has ended, still masked and sweating, to share stories, jokes, and seriousness. Meeting Bethany the first night, then taking her to the tea bus. Late night conversations every night, then my long walk up the hill behind the gathering, by moonlight and starlight, stumbling over stones and laughing. Interspersed meet-ups with familiar faces from all over the country, and all too often folks who know me, but I can’t remember them. The conversation with trees, from the past month, culminating in my tree classes with kids. Having my students come to me with huge smiles, then dancing surrounded by them during folk dance class. The satisfaction of selling medicines that I wildcrafted and handcrafted, for the first time. The most awkward interactions with an old romance, as we coincidentally take all the same classes, over and over again. Taking classes with well-known herbalists that I’ve read about for years, then just hanging out after class and around the gathering, chatting. David Hoffman buying my journal, to write his autobiography in. Getting caught in the thunderstorm with my students, and just crouching under a stand of Ponderosas to listen to the rain--- until an especially huge “BOOM!” with lightning sends us running back under cover. I grab plants while running down the path; we sit on the stage in the main tent later, playing plant identification games. The feeling of total inspiration after Guido’s classes: I too wish to teach like this, elegantly mixing science, mythology, poetry, and personal experience into an eloquent and fiery presentation that I had to remind myself to keep breathing through as I listened, enraptured. The feeling after some classes, like I’ve just been washed clean after a great storm, and the ensuing clarity and brilliant inspiration, a new way of looking at the world. Receiving blessings from new friends and teachers at the end of the gathering--- feeling seen, and met. I hope to honor others, especially the even younger generation, in such an authentic and generous fashion, as well.”

(3 weeks and many journeys later...)
I think back often to my HerbFolk experiences. Having met so many other like-minded folks, I feel further validated being who I am as an edge-walker, clinical herbalist, artist, and quirky gypsy. I feel more confident with sharing what I know, being honest about what I don’t know, and asking all the questions that arise between those two. My favorite is questioning all that I think I know and don’t know, holding a completely malleable world view. I’m especially grateful for all of the people that I met at HerbFolk, and the connections born from the short yet intense interactions of just a few days together in an herbally focused setting. Small actions can create great ripples. The smiles, words of encouragement, questions, reflections, stories shared, and more have certainly created great ripples in my life, that are now rippling out into my own community. I’m creating what I call in my heart, “The Herb Temple.” It doesn’t have a formal name, yet. Really, it’s just a little old renovated storage shed, a wooden shack with a garden, here in Patagonia, AZ. But, I cleaned it out, painted its belly an internally glowing red, added shelving, tables, decor, and herbal goodies, and am transforming it into an herbal clinic, store, community center, and educational center. We just opened (all nice and red) today.