By Jessica Shepherd
This past November, Kate (Herbalist and blog partner), Lauren (Herbalist, Mother, and Farmer), and I traveled north to Portland, Oregon for the fourth annual Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. It was our first time attending this event put on by the National College of Natural Medicine–which has been around since 1956. It was a weekend overflowing with seriously talented teachers and lots, and lots, of lovely herbalist’s and plant loving people whom attended! The love and intellect of “the green” altered us into a state of plant medicine connection and learning bliss! As usual the teacher’s were incredible and filled us with inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, Cascade Anderson Gellar was the keynote speaker and her talk titled ”Pioneer Plants Survive, Thrive, and Provide” was eye-opening, highly informative, and delivered with love and of course, her charm. I took a class with Naturopath and Healer, Deborah Frances titled ”Herbs for Empowerment”– it started off with, and ended with songs, and a hip wiggle or two! She was a fire-ball of delight and kept the information flowing–I am grateful for all she shared.
Yes, song, glorious song, both classes I attended taught by herbalist Scott Kloos were filled thru and thru with plant songs–saturated with intentions of love, healing, and connection to the plants–his class was an experience I am still feeling the vibrations from! I highly recommend to check out his herbal extracts Cascadia Folk Medicine–I came home with a few to work with and am beyond impressed. Then there was Sean Donahue truly a gifted Herbalist, and Poet (amongst other talents) whom opened his class titled “Wortcunning and the Four Powers of the Witch” with a profound meditation that served as a gateway to him then sharing a wealth of information and knowledge which applied to connecting with the plants and to life–lived out purely from the heart. If you are lucky enough to have Sean come through and teach in your area I highly encourage you to check him out! Those are just a few of the extraordinary classes offered at this gathering as there were even more on topics like Community Herbalism, Herbs and Dreaming, Health Justice, Wildcrafting, Making Medicine, Growing Medicine, Physiology of Stress and Botanical Interventions, Magical Herbalism and much more!
And lastly, but not least at all, is the always anticipated Herbal Market Place filled with talented Medicine Makers, Healers and Gardeners sharing their herbal potions & wares. Smile’s upon smile’s were exchanged from all angles of the room, as were many wonderful herbal goods! I had been anticipating visiting Lori from Camamu Soap–”made by hand, with heart “–as their soaps are my favorite herbal soap out there–and yes, I bought 6 bars! I also picked up some incredible Maple Honey and Fireweed Honey from the very talented and delightful Benjamin Pixie of Pixie Honey Company. He had some of his bee’s pollen that we tried a small grain or two of and it was like nothing I have ever tried before–tasting the depth of an array of floral nectar flavors was whimsical in my mouth, and the color of the pollen was beyond vibrant, with rich shades of orange–wowza! After sampling, we watched someone buy a bag and you could tell it was a serious treasure for them indeed! The place was packed with talented and loving crafter’s!
We drove home exhilarated from 2 full days of classes and we had plenty to discuss about all that we experienced at the gathering. I give many thanks to not only the incredible teacher’s, but also to those whom helped sponsor the event and all whose efforts went into making it happen. Herbalists like myself, and my friends had a truly wonderful time–it was worth the 8 hour drive and I am excited for next year already!
And most of all, I give thanks for gathering’s such as this, that bring us together from near and far to Celebrate the Plants and keep the herbal traditions alive!