My journey with herbal medicine started when I was 5 years old. I’d been diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease and the doctors said there wasn’t much that could be done other than to keep me on antibiotics for the rest of my life. A battle was waged between my mother, who believed the doctors, and my grandmother & great-grandmother who were Ozark Grannywomen (a term used to describe herbalists), who lived with us in Colorado. I listened carefully and chose my path. My grandmothers were right, my life depended on using plants instead of antibiotics. They were my teachers; my heart was healed… doctors puzzled.
Now it’s time for a Grannywoman/Root Doctor Revival. The reason those traditions phased out giving way to our current regular medicine is because (aside from AMA strong arming) practitioners didn’t have a convincing scientific explanation for what herbs do. A revival means we need to understand the science behind medicine and the role of botanicals. So, this site, and my teachings, blend the two together along with the magical “behind the scenes” workings of energetic realms.
If you’re looking for a school that offers a “Master Herbalist” certification, this isn’t it. In fact, I completely reject the term Master Herbalist. I agree with Susan Weed when she said it takes 7 lifetimes to master herbalism. The longer we study and practice herbalism, the more humble we become. We are life-long learners so that’s the aim of this school, to provide the widest possible curriculum in easy to digest stages for beginners to the most advanced.
Instead of a certificate to hang on the wall (which means nothing to those who know and isn’t recognized by governing agencies), how about results based learning? How about building a unique profile of achievements to demonstrate to others what your growing skills and areas of accomplishment are? Now that’s something we can offer.
Moving along with my own story…
Time after time, I would get a medical diagnosis for a condition doctors said they couldn’t heal (other than by heroic surgery), so I applied the techniques of natural medicine…and again, recovered. Don’t get me wrong, there are great doctors and sometimes their heroic methods are what’s needed. But I know from my own experience that when they say a condition is incurable, it only means they lack that power and we need to heal ourselves…and we can.
In 1998 I fulfilled a childhood dream by going into a very remote wilderness to live and learn directly from Nature. This was the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Preserve in the Arkansas Ozarks. I was the only person living on 15,000 acres. No roads, no phone service, totally off grid. For most of the ten years I was there, I lived alone and rarely saw other people. I was in a documentary about Ozark seed saving and I’ll post an excerpt of that video where I describe some of my motivation.
Long story short, I got connected with Kent Bonar, known as the “John Muir of the Ozarks”, a famous naturalist. We spent time together in wilds and soon started teaching together for a primitive skills school hiking in four times a year on the topics of herbal medicine, plant identification and food foraging. When I left the wilderness in 2009 (still living pretty much in the bush), I continued teaching students coming in from several nearby states. They asked me to start teaching online, so they didn’t have to travel all the time. I developed online courses and the herbal database, but it was tough because the internet just doesn’t work all the time out in the woods.
During this period up to the present day, a volunteer effort was made by many Arkansas plant lovers to support me in this work, so the Ozark Herbal Academy is really a volunteer, community effort to bring all of us together. The last few years have been devoted to fine tuning the Ultimate Herbal Database (a 15- year project so far) and I stopped teaching online but continued with regular classes in different parts of Arkansas and at the Texas Herbalismo and Moonflower herb fests.
I created the Herbal Database to “connect the dots” between all herbal traditions, natural medicine, and western medicine. Its regularly updated with the latest research. It can’t be niched down to a select group, it’s for everyone who speaks English.
I do the website myself because everything is done at minimal expense to make this work affordable to others. Money’s coming in go to support the work. I’m a volunteer like everyone behind the scenes because all of us know we’re at a critical point, the future of life on earth is uncertain. Whatever can be done to support life, must be done.
The school itself is mobile, it follows me around where ever I happen to be teaching. At this time, all of the classes are at the Open Air Meditation Sanctuary located about three miles outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The Sanctuary itself is open to the public with beautiful hiking trails and meditation spots. Camping sites are available as well as a B&B where folks can order delicious vegan meals (plus, there’s a hot tub). Folks should contact me for more information.
Additionally, I produce YouTube videos and suggest you subscribe to the channel, though you can also find them here on the site.
And, do join our Facebook group, Herbal Knowledge Keepers.
Though I’m not online all the time (and sometimes struggle to get there), I’m devoted to assisting in any way I can so don’t be shy about getting in touch. Use the contact form and let me know how I can help.