Weeds in the Heart exhibition at Ruskin Mill

Posted on September 16th, 2013

Garlic-paint-edit(1)We are pleased to put on our first combined exhibition including text from the book in progress and Fiona’s paintings. We are expecting to publish the first volume (Spring) of ‘Weeds in the Heart’ around the middle of 2014.

We chose this title Weeds in the Heart as a homage to both the sacred plants around us commonly perceived as ‘weeds as well as our belief that those perceived ‘weeds’ of our psyche, the dark places within us that we hide from and deny, are also the pathways to our deepest healing.

Exhibition for ‘Weeds in the Heart’

Posted on June 5th, 2013

RoseWe are very happy to announce Fiona’s first exhibition of some of the panels from the book in progress. The exhibition starts this weekend in Chalford at The Old Chapel.

This coincides with an article appearing in this month’s Caduceus magazine with Fiona’s story of healing soul loss and Fibromyalgia, along with a book excerpt.

New Bursary!

Posted on April 11th, 2013

Thanks to the generosity of a previous student, we are now able to offer one £100 Bursary for each course run. This means there are around 10 available over the year. The Bursary is intended to enable those who would struggle to afford a course to be able to attend.

To apply, simply send us an email with a request and brief outline of your financial situation and we will be happy to help!

Weeds in the Heart

Posted on April 4th, 2013

Mugwort-smallWe are pleased to publish a sample chapter of the book myself and Fiona Owen are working on ‘Weeds in the Heart’. Click on the picture to read my experiences of working with this wonderful herb and Fiona’s experience expressed through her rich paintings and sketches.


Posted on September 18th, 2012

We all adjust ourselves constantly to our environment, sometimes with a degree of consciousness, though mostly with very little awareness of what we are actually doing.

Voice is just one adjustment. Body language, in the shape of thousands of micro-muscular and myofascial shifts, is often completely unconscious. As we move through daily encounters, we may not only mimic the the person we are with, but adjust ourselves according to our preconception of what is suitable (to make someone else feel comfortable, for instance). Within these preconception lie layer upon layer of ancestral habit, and within these layers lie clues, ancient doorways and mysteries about who we really are and the history we carry within us.

These adjustments, which help create our various social personas, often present themselves during a process of healing. I remember one person whose father would hit them on the left side of their face, which only surfaced when exploring a whole body left-right imbalance. In this case we found that if this person was approached from the right they presented themselves in an open hearted and inquisitive way. If they were approached from the left (and these difference were very subtle), they experienced a slight tremor of anxiety, a contraction of their lower belly and a shallowing of breathing. As they released these patterns it was not only a revelation in their day to day interactions, but also unlocked a path of healing related to their father and caused some significant easing and relaxing of posture.

If you are curious to notice your own patterns in this area, depth of breathing, eye contact, and connection with your Hara (centre of balance in lower belly) are good places to start observing yourself. As always with the process of conscious healing, witness these things without trying to change them. Regular compassionate witnessing reliably produces more sustained shifts than a willful act of intervention.

It may be of interest to healers / potential healers that a high degree of unconscious myofascial adjustment is very common amongst the highly sensitive people drawn to this path. This can allow us deep insight into the person we are with, but potentially at the cost of losing our own grounding and our own centre. One of the most fundamental skills for healers is to be able to stay strongly rooted in our own identity whilst extending compassionate awareness to others.

Late solstice harvest

Posted on July 6th, 2012

St. John’s Wort flowers and oil made by Rachel, head gardener at the Asha centre. St. John’s Wort is one of the few oils that must be made in sunshine and not heated. For many other oils (marigold, comfrey, chamomile) I find a gentle heat overnight in a slow cooker makes the best oils, but St.John’s Wort would be damaged like this. Instead it should be harvested as dry as possible, chopped fine, covered with a base oil (Almond is a fine oil to use) and left where it can be exposed to sun over two weeks. Obviously this can be rather problematic in England, but the main concern is to keep a check in case it becomes cloudy (with water) or has condensation collecting on the sides of the jar. If this is the case, 20 minutes of gentle heat should help clarify it. Once a rich red colour (2-6 weeks depending on sun) the oil can be easily strained through a coffee filter. This is an oil I use frequently in the clinic, particularly when there is hyper-sensitivity. Used in this way it is often experienced as warming, calming and protective.

Rose distillation day

Posted on July 13th, 2011

Last Sunday (10th) a group of 15 herb folk met up at the Asha centre in the Forest of Dean to sample and distil a selection of the wonderful collection of Roses they grow there. Since electric/gas seemed so sterile in such a beautiful environment, we made life far more difficult/colourful for ourselves by distilling over embers collected from a fire. The 2 hour process of blowing on the ember to keep the heat up was enjoyed by all, and we ended the day with three subtly different rose waters to sample.

Legal and political herbal news

Posted on February 28th, 2011

I decided to put this up since so many people have asked me about what’s going on with the combined European legislation, statutory regulation and codex political changes. Of these, codex is the one I know least about, but I think I can give you an accurate picture of the other two.

From April this year (2011), the Traditional Medicines Directive (TMD) comes into force. This is derived from European regulation designed to harmonise Over the Counter (OTC) sales of herbal products. It will mean that any product for OTC sale must have a TMD product license. These licenses are not as difficult to acquire as drugs licenses, but still expensive enough to make this market impossible for small producers. Requirements include providing evidence of traditional use in Europe, GMP (Good Manufactury Practice), and quality control/safety/labelling requirements. The costs per license (per product) is apparently in the region of £30,000 – obviously making this a market for the bigger players. Interestingly, of the 70 products so far to acquire licenses, about a third are through pharmaceutical companies.

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May herbal fun

Posted on May 15th, 2009

Amber with the dandelions

Amber with the dandelions

Amber with her pet snail and our basket of dandelion roots! We’re have good fun on this May medicine making – as usual there’s way to much to fit in but so far we’ve made nettle tincture and juice and sieved comfrey oil through a mesh of cleavers.

April 2009

Posted on April 9th, 2009

So exciting when the plants start to appear! I can almost forget I’m a herbalist in the winter without the constant inspiration around me. This year we are really happy to welcome Rachel to be working with us, running a whole series of evenings and Sunday’s facilitating people to connect to plants – see the ancient plant wisdom page under workshops.

With Spring I also feel like I’m starting to emerge – our first winter in a Yurt was good, but does rather eat up your time! More insulation next year…….