It's October - must be time for our annual trip to the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference! So it was...Jen and I drove down last week, early, for the work exchange. I love arriving early; it's like a mellow hive of bees for a long day of setting up, and then during our 8 to 3 parking shift up on the mountain about a thousand women show up for a great big party!! It's buzzing and beautiful by the time we walk down past the rhododendrons and into the cluster of tents and buildings at the heart of the conference.
|yes, I took this picture in the bathroom|
This year there was a focus woven throughout the weekend on reworking the messages that we get in the media about what beauty looks like. One of our easier jobs (after 5 hours of lifting heavy tables and setting up hundreds of chairs) was hanging up signs on all of the bathroom mirrors with messages like the one above. I was feeling pretty open and vulnerable already, but reading some of the signs got me teary, because my daughter was coming to join us for the weekend and would be reading some of them while washing her hands and checking her hair in the mirror. Can you imagine reading loving messages about your inner beauty when you were eleven and just figuring out how you fit in the world?
|how I amused myself while waiting for the first rush of campers!|
Everyone finally arrived, the conference began, the knowledge started flowing, the smiles were ear to ear...Within the first hour Eliza had revamped her wardrobe to include a sassy pair of refurbished leggings and a wild scarf and was running around barefoot and grinning. She quickly fell in love with the woman leading the young girl's program for 10 to 12 year olds, and kept telling me, "it's just what I imagined it would be like." Ah, my heart.
|Vitex, or Chasteberry - a plant I'm getting to know|
The Mother of Herbalism, Susun Weed, was the main draw this year, and she is as wacky and wonderful as her books (Healing Wise is a staple). Some of her ideas were kind of out there for me, but she is quite a storyteller and is as twinkly as she is gruff.
I always try to push myself to learn about something new at this conference. This year it was stone medicine. It was inspiring to listen to a woman speak passionately about the 450 million year old almondine garnets that are found in the mountains around Asheville, where we were, and to have her explain how they can be used to help blood-related issues in the body. Stone medicine has a history thousands of years old, but the most useful way to approach it is instinctively. Have you ever been drawn to collect stones? Or kept one tucked in your pocket? I was sharing some of the class with Eliza over dinner and she very matter of factly said, well you know you can use rocks to heal yourself - if you lay one where you're hurting, it will help you feel better. All right. She's in touch with her intuition...
She loved the nature games they played in her Soil Sisters program, and the chocolate-herb truffles and healing salves they made, but I think her favorite times of the weekend were Friday night, sitting in my lap (I know, but it was so nice...), listening to Beautiful Chorus and to Susun Weed tell stories, and the dance party we had on Saturday...
|oh yeah, Soul Train|
|oooh, there she is, back there in the middle, in the green|
|tryin' out new moves|
My last class was about dreaming, and listening to the parts of you that don't get to speak so much when your brain is talking. So many messages this week about deep listening, about changing the myths in your life ("I don't have enough time for that, wish I did"), about giving focus to the things you want in your life. In so many ways, nothing new, and in so many ways, what I need to hear All The Time. Our drive home gave us time to process and share what we are leaving with...Eliza was too tired to share, but told me over and over again, thank you for bringing me here. I came home remembering that I am a spiritual person. Grateful and full.
|Our Ohio sisters|