Women's Herbal Symposium

My sister, Kate, and I just got home from another week at the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium.  For 26 years we have been attending this gathering, which happens three weekends a year in Laytonville, CA.  

This event is a campout filled with classes and workshops, delicious vegetarian meals, hundreds of inspiring women and children, a marketplace with handcrafted goods, as well as music, massages, nature, rituals and more!  

There is a beautiful childcare tipi for the younger children with Waldorf trained teachers.  Six or seven varieties of herbal tea are served with breakfasts and dinners.  Saturday night has a talent show and late night singing around the fire.  Sunday is the maiden and crone ceremony followed by drumming and dancing around the fire. 

There is a free 24 hour wellness clinic, staffed with an EMT and herbalists, and stocked with countless natural remedies.  There is a self help area, with various salves, ointments, oils and tinctures, as well as professionally trained herbalists available to treat everything from dehydration to tick bites, and myalgia to dysentery. Patients are treated quickly and comfortably, with respect and love.  This is a perfect example of how all health care should be! 

For many years Kate and I have been on the staff, helping to set up the village, carry out various jobs, and pack it up when it’s all over.  We are honored to be on the Random Task Force, the team that is the nuts and bolts of this event.  We are proud to work on an all-women team, hauling, lifting, and doing the behind-the-scenes jobs that make the event run smoothly.

I have learned so much at “herb camp” over the years.  There are classes for beginners and classes for advanced herbalists.  There are workshops on everything from seaweed harvesting to Chinese medicine, from plant identification to basket making, from hormone balancing to herbs for pregnancy.  Each session boasts 50 different classes, including some specifically for kids and young women, and others specifically for older women.

What keeps us going back??  For me it’s inspiration.  Every time I attend I get a renewed sense of myself, and I wish my life could be longer so I could do many more things! Returning home this time, I am inspired to make more of my own medicine, learn more about our lymphatic systems, take African drum classes, and practice fire dancing (which I have always wanted to try, and I did for the first time!)

~ Molly