We invite you to join us for our Community Herbalist Retreat - a three day plant centered intensive for practicing and aspiring herbalists in a beautiful rural Maine setting during the height of summer. We have an absolutely fabulous 3 days of herbal learning in store for you!
Our retreat setting is the Blessed Maine Herb Farm - our lush herb gardens and the woodland, waterways and fields that surround us. We'll have use of our School House at the edge of the medicinal herb gardens for indoor classroom space and a tent as needed, and will set aside plenty of enjoyable time walking the Medicine Trail and splashing around in the Wesserunsett Stream between formal classes.
This will be a relaxed, intimate, inspiring and rejuvenating time spent in the slow lane among the plants and with those who share a love of herbal medicines. We'll bask in the wisdom of some of our region's most experienced and accomplished herbalist healers.
We'll have the opportunity to review, sharpen and learn new medicine making skills; practice plant identification, learn about and experience a shamanic approach to herbal healing, be introduced to illustrious herbal ancestors, make art, celebrate our beauty, deepen our understanding of the subtle energetics of the plants and enjoy ceremony, prayer, dream, storytelling, singing and morning yoga...while enhancing our sense of mutual support as we move forward as community herbalists. Meals and all medicine making materials are included.
Our weekend begins on Friday morning (arrival/ set-up between 10AM-11:30) and continues to mid-afternoon on Sunday. We will be updating our Retreat offerings for 2018 over these next few weeks.
We're thrilled to post this year's exciting class line up:
~ Honoring Hildegard - Suzanne Stone
In this class we will honor one of our ancestral wild heart herbalists by learning of the life of St. Hildegard Von Bingen, mystic, visionary, composer, writer, preacher, herbalist, prophetess, abbess & spiritual counselor of the 12th century in the Rhineland of modern-day Germany. She is said to be the first medieval woman to reflect & write at length on women. Hildegard coined the term ‘Veriditas’, the greening power of all of creation. “The world is all verdant greening, all creativity,” Hildegard proclaimed. We will focus on her deeply ecological spiritual philosophies given forth in her visions, listen to her profound music, & delve into some of her herbal remedies, tasting & concocting a few of her recipes.
Suzanne Stone has been studying herbs & teaching children about the plant world for much of her life. Along with her own research & life experiences of learning from the plants & herbs themselves, she has studied at the Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine in Portland, OR as well as with our beloved teacher Gail Faith Edwards. She currently teaches a five month hands-on herbal medicine making course, among other courses, on the coast of Maine, under the name of Moon of Hyldemoer Herbals.
~ Historical-based Natural Dyeing - Deb Fate Mental
In this class Deb will talk about her experiences with historical dyeing. She’ll discuss mordants, dye plants (and one bug) and the different dye methods. Deb will lead us in some hands-on and messy, dyeing experiences with an indigo vat, so dress accordingly or bring an apron/cover up to this class. Deb will also bring some bits and baubles to dye. Gail has some small raw silk pieces to share and you may bring your own natural fibers to dye as well.
~ Magical Mugwort Journey - Deb Fate Mental
Mugwort is Europe’s premier magical and protective plant and one of the Anglo-Saxon Nine Sacred Herbs. Deb will talk about and then lead a shamanic journey to the Spirit of the Mugwort plant. There will be sharing time after the journey if you wish to share all or part of your experience. That’s up to you!
Deb Fate-Mental is an archetypal Wise Woman and has been in practice for almost a decade. Her healing expertise combines traditional plant lore with authentic, old-fashioned shamanism and spiritual healing. Deb helps people Remember themselves via healings, classes and readings so they may re-connect with Nature and the Divine. Deb is currently writing a book and is a Druid-in-training.
~ Honoring Cannabis - Ryan Marie Jackson
As cannabis becomes legal in more states, there is a lot more information available out there-which can be overwhelming. During our class Honoring Cannabis, Ryan Marie Jackson will share some of the updated information available about species, strains, methods of preparation, the endocannabinoid system and how more acceptance of this master plant and our relationship with her is impacting our current culture.
Ryan Marie Jackson lives with her husband, two daughters and Great Dane in Harvard, MA. She comes from a background in yoga and art, but spends most days home-schooling her children and playing with plants. She was drawn to herbalism via diet and gardening about 20 years ago. After having children, herbs became an intuitive way to care for her family and she has been studying whole-heartedly since. She has attended many classes throughout the years, learning from well-respected herbalists from around the world. Definitely a wild-hearted herbalist, her inspiration comes from plant spirits and the exciting science of it all!
~ Wreaths: Beauty as Medicine - Kathy Gray has created wreaths and other forms of woodland art for 30 years. She will provide background on the use and symbolism of wreaths and the materials used to make them, and will discuss the practical and spiritual aspects of gathering resources and creating finished pieces. Everyone will be invited to take part in a wreath ceremony.
Kathy Gray is currently studying in the second half of Gail’s Community Herbalist Program. She has wildgathered plants for food, medicine and art since she was a child. She is a Reiki master and has practiced energy work for over 25 years. She has worked as a formulator at a chaga company and loves to experiment with and create new products. Kathy has homesteaded off-grid in the Maine woods for 10 years.
~ Plants are Sentient Beings - Melissa Dawn Boynton. Plants are vital beings filled with life force energy and the ability to sense those around them. When we tend our gardens with kindness and love we develop a bond with our plants and they with us. Recognizing plants as sentient beings can change how we interact with them. Harvesting and making medicine can be a partnership when we allow the herb to guide us and we invite the spirit of the herb to come fully into the creation. Learn how to open yourself to sensing energy fields of people and herbs. Experience how our emotions and thoughts change the vibration of our own energy, and effect the plants around us. Let’s walk gently into Gail’s gardens and learn to sense the difference between the energy of Rose, Nettle, Hawthorn, Elecampane and all the other beautiful herbs spirits there.
Melissa Dawn Boynton is at heart a gardener and farmer. She is honored to be the tender and keeper of many farm animals and large organic gardens. She also operates her own business, Natural Dawnings, offering massage, reiki, craniosacral therapies and herbal consultations and products. She uses her highly sensitive nature to the best of her abilities in all she does. Melissa and her husband live in Whitefield Maine.
~ Herbs for the Skin - Celebrating Our Beauty - Janet Edwards - Janet will talk about all natural skin care with student centered hands on demonstrations including an herbal steam, oatmeal scrub, a hydrating mist and moisturizer. Handouts will be available. This has become an annual treat and is always an awesome and highly enjoyable class! Janet will have some of her excellent beauty care products available for sale.
Janet Edwards began her plant education in her grandmother's garden at age 4 when she was presented with a peppermint leaf to chew. She is a self taught wild hearted herbalist who has attended many workshops, has spent years in her own gardens with the plants and has a large gardening library. She grows most of the herbs she uses in her products and produces her fabulous skin care line under the name of Mountain Mama of Maine.
~ Dream and Heal, Whispered the Rebel Snake and So They Did - Gail Faith Edwards My ancestors built healing dream temples throughout the Mediterranean, in honor of Asclepius, God of Healing. Our temple priestesses were trained to listen deeply, to divine and bless, interpret dream symbols, intuit physical and spiritual needs, sing prayers and incantations and to use words, herbs, minerals, animals, metal, water and salt to support energetic/spiritual shifts and inspire healing at the deepest level. We will explore this ancient, yet still living, Southern Italian Healing Dream Tradition, discuss the primary herbs used to enhance dreaming in this tradition and some techniques to improve the ability to recall your dreams upon waking. We'll sample a "dream brew" during our class.
Gail Faith Edwards, is a Community Herbalist with more than thirty five years experience. She is the author of several books on herbal medicine, operates a vibrant medicinal herb farm, school and herbal products business and consults with clients. She teaches internationally and has students around the world.
~ Peggy Hamilton will start our day off in beautiful form with a gently paced Hatha Yoga class to open the body, the mind and the heart in preparation for a day of learning and sharing.
Peggy Hamilton is a graduate of Yoga Spirit Studios and is a Registered Yoga Instructor. She owns Raven Hill Yoga Studio where she provides yoga for all ages and abilities. Teaching the importance of connecting mind, body, & spirit through movement and breath work.
Friday night we'll have story telling - more about this soon.
We have a few more classes to post as well.
Solstice Songfire - Saturday night we'll gather together around the campfire for a traditional Midsummer celebration. We'll sing songs and gather herbs in the moonlight for magical purposes. More about this soon.
SEVEN EXQUISITE ORGANIC MEALS AND CAMPING ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR FEE. All our meals will be freshly prepared with local, organically grown produce, and this is included in your fee. In fact, our mealtimes are sure to be one of the many highlights of our time together!
Our chef, Rosa Jane Rosario is a master of the culinary arts and is well known and respected for her food preparation skills as well as her beauty of presentation. She was raised on the Blessed Maine Herb Farm, where she studied by candlelight and learned to cook on a wood stove. Her love of preparing fresh wholesome meals with local ingredients began when she was a young girl, the eldest of four, who loved nothing more than to go out to the garden, gather a basket full of fruits and vegetables, bring it back to the kitchen and proceed to create a tasty meal. Proud of her Italian heritage, Rosa has traveled extensively throughout Italy and regularly spends time in her ancestral village in the Apennine Mountains of Southern Italy. Italian culture–especially its approach to the culinary arts–has greatly influenced both Rosa’s relationship to food and the way she views her role as a community chef. A highly skilled and creative cook who has mastered a diversity of food preparation styles, Rosa knows that the most important ingredient in any meal is love.
You will need to bring a tent and camping supplies if you intend to stay over, a knife, basket or bag, notebook and pen, and personal items of choice. We have a limited amount of rustic indoor sleeping space for those who prefer indoor accommodations. You will still need to bring a sleeping pad, blankets, etc. Please let us know when you register that you would like this choice.
A list of local motels and bed & breakfasts will be provided to those who ask.
We welcome your nursing infants and toddlers, however they will not be permitted into class sessions, unless sleeping in their mother's arms or actively nursing. We will have a child care area set up with a caretaker and planned activities during class sessions. There is a $50 additional charge for child care, to compensate the caretakers. See the link below for this service.
Please note that the retreat is a smoke free zone. Dogs, drugs and alcohol are not permitted.
We ask that all cell phones be turned off during classes and we have a strict no cell phones in the gardens policy to protect our pollinators. You may use your cell phone, as necessary, in the driveway area.
Our schedule for the 2018 Community Herbalist Retreat will be posted in May and will follow a similar format as this 2017 schedule below:
10:00 -12:00 – arrival/camp set up
Opening prayer 12:00 noon
1:00 – 1:45 Lunch
2 – 3:15 – in the garden with Gail
3:30 – 5:00 lake
5:30 - 6:30 dinner
7:00 – 8:30 Storytelling with Susan Theberge
7:00 - 8:00 - Yoga with Peggy Hamilton
7:00 coffee and tea
7:30 – 8:30 breakfast served
9 - 10:00 Martha Ross Vignola - Botanical drawing
10:15 – 11:45 Deb Mercier - Percolation
12:00 – 1:00 lunch
1:15 – 2:15 free time
2:15 - 3:30 Suzanne Stone - Beer Making
3:45 – 5:00 Dan Bucciano - Cannabis Extraction
5:15 – 6:15 dinner
6:30 – 7:45 Deb Fate Mental - Sacred Herbs
8:00 – 10:00 Fire/Song Circle - Eryn Klemenz
7:00 - 8:00 yoga with Peggy Hamilton
7:00 coffee and tea
7:30 – 8:15 breakfast served
8:30 - 9:30 Lauren Pignatello - Herbal Activism
10:00 – 11:00 Gail Faith Edwards- Distilling Hydrosols
11:15 – 12:30 Janet Edwards - Beauty Care
12:30 – 1:30 lunch
2:00 - 3:00 rose blessing/closing ceremony
3 - 4 PM camp breakdown and depart
Note: If you are staying off the farm please arrive in time for the opening ceremony at 12 noon on Sunday.
Register and pay in full for this class at the link provided at the top of this page.