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This year, I visited the Earth Sanctuary, retreat center, sacred ground and a not-for-profit nature reserve. Situated a mile outside of Freeland and before Langley, on the south end of Whidbey Island.
Wooden benches situated at the sides of the pond invited contemplation and a reflective moment while watching the mist rising from the still water. Bird calls and sounds of flapping wings filled my ears. It is evident that this is was a refuge and habit for local wildlife. The intentional art and sculptures were discovered around turns of the path and prayer wheels called me back in to meditation.
The meandering 2 miles of trails led me through an old growth forest and an arborerum; a recent project and restoration site for many native plants. The arboretum intends a return to old growth forest by replanting a variety of native trees including Fir, Cedar, Birch, Spruce, Redwoods .
I am called down the labyrinth path and discover a natural a salal hedge labyrinth intended for contemplation in walking meditation, a metaphor for representing life’s journey. The labrynth
has a single continuous path leading inward to the center – a metaphor for lifes journey, the only thing to do is travel forward, one step in front of the other, until reaching ones goal. An arrival at the center occurs before turning outwards again to complete the journey and attain the goal. A walking meditation is both an inward and outward journey, there is the activation of the left and right brain through movement and stimulation of our bodies circulation and lymphatic systems; during the walking contemplation ones awareness moves inward to finally reach a calm center; the core of our be-ing and connection with the inner realms of our mind and oneness in our body. A labyrinth can represent a sort of pilgrimage for those who are unable to take a longer sacred journey or pilgrimage like the camino de santiago, vipassana meditation or the kumbh mela. An interesting piece of trivia is that there are labyrinth patters found throughout the world in various cultures and also found in basket weaving designs, paintings, drawings and hedge borders.
Above is a visual of a labrinth by the website: http://wellfedspirit.org/labyrinth_pages/graphics.html
Down another path I discover the Fen Pond stone circles. I am reminded of the sacred stones in the popular television series Outlander, a ceremonial circle used for prayer, intention setting and giving thanks. Not much is known about stone circles today; however many have suggested that these circles are sacred sites intended for prayer with precise astrological alignment to the movements of the sun and moon, combined with sacred geometry.
Pairs of stones are aligned in true north and south, also to the winter solstice sunset and to the run rising and setting in the summer; connecting one back to the 4 directions and grounding into the land, interweaving ritual back into daily life while connecting with the greater mystery.
A reminder of the interconnectness of all things; interweaving nature, the sun and skies and mother earth into all life. Stonehenge in Great Britain perhaps being one of the most well known sites. There is an informative website called The Stone Circle Theory by Simon Hedger who offers additional reflections. For more information: http://www.stonecircletheory.com/
Further on the path a meadow opens up into the Cottonwood Stone Circle and I marvel at the 12 majestic stones towering 11 feet high.
The grounds have been a home to Ospreys with educational artwork found along the path. Ospreys are able to breed on almost every continent except near the South Pole. Apparently Ospreys can live for 10-12 years, however these birds were once on the endangered list (although now listed as a threatened species) – according to the New York Department of Conservation, largely their population had decreased due to the insecticide Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT – more commonly known — which caused reproductive issues and thinning of egg shells in the newly laid eggs. DDT is classified in a group of chemicals called Persistent Organic Pollutants aka chemical substances that stay in our soil and the environment, bio-accumulate through the entire food chain, posing health risks to humans and animals in our food chain and the all of the natural world. Used previously in agriculture, DDT has now been banned from agricultural use in the United States, as it has shown to impact human health including being linked to infertility, breast cancer and other endocrine health issues. Take note, this insecticide has a half life of 25-30 years – meaning once DDT is in the soil it stays there for a very long time.
By no means am I am expert on the history of Buddhist monuments however I immediately recognized and appreciated their presence, Having once been gifted a prayer wheel myself – I will share my limited knowledge of the Tibetan prayer wheel or Mani wheel found along a bend in the path… A Prayer Wheel provides an opportunity to spread spiritual well-being and blessings while spinning the wheel. Spinning the prayer wheel is done with the proper intentions. Holding elevated intentions for the well-being, spiritual blessings and highest outcome of all beings is essential while using the prayer wheel; incorporating visualizations and mantra will align one with the Body, Speech and Mind of the Buddha.
Set your intention setting while spinning a prayer wheel. Intend on strengthening the mind and contemplate offerings such as :
- “May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering.”
- Reciting a prayer or a mantra can also be done while spinning the wheel to align ones spirit with the on loving kindness and equanimity for all sentient beings.
- Om Mani Padme Hung, the mantra of loving kindness and compassion is often written on the outside of the wheel in Sanskrit.
A stupa is situated on a hill – a sacred mound intended for enlightenment and created for various purposes (from a burial ground to marking an profound event or created as a receptacle for offerings). A clockwise walking meditation around the stupa is done in reverence or reflection to radiate spiritual blessings and for specific meditation practices. Prayer flags are found around the paths.
Also on the nature reserve was a tall dolmen -a megalithic tomb of two or more, upright stones set with a space between and set with a horizontal stone on top, which could serve as a meditation room or in the Hindu tradition represents “the cave of the heart”, a protected place for reflection.
The most sacred space for me was the First Nations Medicine Wheel used for prayer and healing. The significance of this prayer wheel reminds one again of connection to all that is, all our relations, the 4 directions, the 4 seasons, mother earth, our grandfathers and grandmothers, and the elements. So much can be remembered through strengthening connection to all that sustains us on planet earth.
What a serene way to enjoy the afternoon in this birth and wildlife sanctuary. In 2008, the visionary and designer and founder of Earth Sanctuary, Chuck Pettis, was recognized in the September 2008 issue of Science of Mind magazine as one of 12 people making a difference in the world. If you are on Whidbey island, this space is worth a stop.
Much of the restoration is being done by the University of Washington ecology students to complete projects in this remarkable site. A huge thank you to all those who have contributed to such a stunning serene location. Until I return again…
With the goal of contributing in a small way to building a growing community, I am writing about my recent herbal medicine infused experience at Botanicals at the Beach: The Northwest Herb Symposium.
Being fond of travel (both local and afar) and having a sweet spot for local herbal gatherings (conferences leave me feeling inspired), I must say that the NW herb Symposium is one of my favorites. Situated in the San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island offers a scenic drive and picturesque site for herbal medicine infusion and education. I have so many amazing photos of this event- that I am excited to share my visuals and experiences. This herbal medicine conference is August 23-26, 2018 and is only a 3 hour drive from Vancouver.
Previously known as Fort Casey, the site of the conference was a previous army barracks; however recently turned children’s camp, with dormitories and tent camping available; situated on the edge of the ocean with stunning sunsets, cliffs and rugged skylines. The land still has the original army barracks and original majestic character of colonial houses complete with original moldings and claw foot tubs.
Some historical commentary apparently the US army opened Fort Casey (as it was called back then) back in the early 20 century to guard the entrance to Puget Sound. In its time Fort Casey was the fourth largest military posts in Washington. Today, Camp Casey and its grounds provide an opportunity to relax, reflect, appreciate nature and learn in a serene retreat environment.
The historic lighthouse is a short walk away and the local herb walks found us meandering into the forest to learn some traditional application for these valuable Pacific Northwest trees and native medicinal plants.
Numerous varieties of seaweeds are in the sound for viewing in Ryan Drums famous seaweed walks create a peace filled learning opportunity. The talks are held in line with the pull of the moon- so when the tide is out- either an early morning – or if we are lucky a mid day event. Morning yoga, organic herbal teas, exhibitors and vendor tables, sublime teas from B. Fullers Mortar & Pestle tea company in Seattle, local sponsors and evening movies round out this weekend event.
Perhaps one of the best things about this weekend is the intimate learning environment so close to nature, where the ratio of students to teachers is perfect for facilitating good conversation and mingling with everyone, instilling a “like family” environment. Having been here 2 years in a row, there are now familiar faces of those who have attended previous years events. The care and detail focused organisers of Botanicals on the Beach (Jay and Bridget, Rose and Nancy and likely others) offer a well organised event intended to give back to the herbal medicine community and in their 5 years of existence (3 years of conferences) have sponsored many of the best herbal medicine educators for their presentations.
The first year I attended the gathering there was Leslie and Michael Tierra, Jillian Stansbury, Amanda McQuade Crawford. Local San Juan Island herbal experts like Ryan Drum, PhD in Botany, Denise Joy (fourth generation herbalist), Leslie Lekos and Natasha Clarke brought their knowledge of local plants and Netta Deberoff, a fifth generation Doukhobor herbalist, shared her knowledge of creating an herbal hot pot and Eaglesong Gardener brought to life her personal stories of Hawthorn and I will forever more hear the words to the song “Row Your Boat” with new meaning! This year Susan Weed brought her wise woman wisdom to the conference and David Hoffman, BSc, FNIMH, RH (AHG) shared his thoughts on the future of holistic herbal medicine. Kevin Spelman, PhD, RH (AHG) another notable speaker bringing his expertise and research on mitochondria and cellular function to the discussions –ALL of the talks have been super informative, well researched, fun and packed full of learning.
Botanicals on the Beach also addresses environmental issues relevant to our health; last year’s key note speaker, Joseph Pizzorno shared research from his newly published book “THE TOXIN SOLUTION”: (How Hidden Poisons in the Air, Water, Food, and Products We Use Are Destroying Our Health). As if the title is not explanatory enough, he spoke about environmental toxicity and the impact of xenoestrogens on our endocrine health and organ function and how to improve this issue. Kevin Spelman brought in additional research about environmental toxicity, metabolic syndrome and the role of mitochondria functioning for healthy DNA replication and function. This year I had the pleasure of offering a talk of Phase 1 and 2 liver function, why a healthy liver is essential for the health of our whole body and our immune system and offered suggestions and research on various foods, herbs and mushrooms being studies to support liver detox. I also had the pleasure of sharing some of my clinical experience with herbal medicine and dermatitis; offering some recipes from my recently released book “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Medicine” and some insights and historical antidotes from the past about skin health.
For those interested wanting to expedite learning on health, healing and herbal medicine in a nature rich setting – check out this event. Save the date and website and be informed via email when the registration opens for 2018. Bring your friends; there is more than enough room for everyone.
The gathering is relatively new in its inception – which means that it requires the growth and continual support of the herbal community and sharing via social media in order to thrive and continue to offer such great speakers in an intimate setting- please share this post with other herbal enthusiasts who would be interested in a stimulating weekend. There are topics and experiences here for all levels of herbal medicine experience: from general interest and medicine making to practitioner track level presentations and embrace the opportunity to sit and chat with teachers over dinner after a talk. Save the dates for next year’s North West Herb Symposium conference (August 23-26, 2018) and circulate this valuable opportunity with your herbal community.
And if you thought this Whidbey Island NW Herb Conference post was just about an herb symposium, it was actually herbally infused with many adventures…prior to my arrival at Camp Casey, I visited some of the local herbal sites found around the island. Click here to view my other adventures: The Lavender Wind Farm and the Earth Sanctuary nature reserve.
- Date: Thursday, September 28, 2017
- Time: 7-9 pm, Cost $ 20 plus GST
- Join us for a fun and interactive class on topical first aid.
- Learn how to use herbs topically on the body for various health complaints.
- Learn how to prepare a poultice, and understand the differences between a fomentation, compress, liniment and poultice and when to apply and what specific herbs to use for common first aid.
- Explore the use of kitchen herbs and foods for topical application.
- We will prepare topical applications of herbs in class and you will leave with tools for preparing your own herbal topical applications at home using fresh or dried plants.
Space is limited, prepayment guarantees your space in class.Pre register at: email@example.comLocation: Downtown Vancouver
Additional details and location will be provided upon registration
Join Medical Herbalist, Katolen Yardley, MNIMH for a morning of herbal medicine making. Create your own first aid products for sprains, strains and bruises, athletic recovery and arthritis.
We will make:
- A Topical Anti inflammatory Cooling Liniment
- A Turmeric, Cayenne Pain Relief Salve and an
- Arnica Comfrey Healing Lotion.
- Learn how to prepare a poultice and fomentation while you
- Sample an anti inflammatory herbal tea in class.
Date: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Time: 9am – 12pm
Cost: $ 70 plus GST
Pre registration and prepayment required to reserve your space
Location: South Granville, Vancouver BC
More information provided upon registration.
To register email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: 604 683 2298
If you are curious about herbal medicine, passionate about learning ways of incorporating herbal medicine into your daily lifestyle and thirst for some tranquil time in peace filled nature; consider joining myself, Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ Medical Herbalist and Sharon Brown Horton for a fun, inspirational, information packed weekend – at our second annual Gambier Island Herbal Medicine Making retreat.
- Partake in a 2 day Medicine Making weekend while camping on an off the grid property.
- Learn what it means to be on an off-grid-property and understand the details of island life.
- Meet local medicinal plants through a herb walk in
majestic rainforest and meadow land.
- Take a water taxi to a stunning quiet Island to learn about herbal medicine making.
- Enjoy the local animals on property and the gorgeous view overlooking Howe Sound. Perhaps we will encounter some ocean life and sea lions on route!
- Collect medicinal and garden edibles for salad and enjoy a delicious lemon balm desert, sip on herbal tea throughout the day.
- Prepare herbal medicine recipes and learn how to incorporate various local plants herbs as foods and medicine.
Join Katolen Yardley, Medical Herbalist & host Sharon Brown Horton for this informative workshop!
Details for this 2 Day Intensive Herbal Medicine Making Workshop
Price Includes: 2 days of teaching from 10 am until after 5 pm.
Vegan friendly dinner on Sat, Breakfast Sunday, Herb Salads on both days.
Overnight Saturday camping (limited tents provided).
Additional information shared at time of registration.
Herb Walk and Ocean Time
Day 1 Dive into Medicine Making and learn how to prepare lavender whipped body butter, lemonbalm ginger syrup, herbal infused oil, herbal snacks (fruit leather or power balls) and wild flower herbal infusions
Day 2: hydrosols and aromatic floral waters, a medicinal lip balm, mint and rosemary cordial, luscious wild flower coconut massage oil, immune vinegar, black forest chai, therapeutic herbal honey
An introduction to Herb identification, Plant family recognition and Wildcrafting considerations will also be covered.
Cost includes instruction booklet containing all recipes
There will be an option to purchase Katolen’s recent book The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies for $ 25.
Reserve the Date: Saturday June 24 & Sunday June 25, 2017 Rain or shine!
Prepayment required. Space is very limited â€“reserve now.
2 Day Medicine Making, Supplies and Handouts: $ 270 + GST
Food & Accommodation: $ 85
Plus $ 45 Water Taxi to island
Total: $ 413.50
Email: info@ alchemyelixir.com for more information
Join Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist for a fun and informative morning creating natural cosmetics and body care products using Herbal Medicine.
Learn how to make natural and clean body care products for you and your family
We will discuss herbs for skin care and create chemical free recipes the whole family will enjoy. During this workshop you will create and take home:
For more information call Alchemy & Elixir Health Group
Date: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Time: 9am – 12 pm
Cost: $65 plus GST
RSVP and prepayment to reserve your spot, as space is limited!
Location: South Granville Vancouver
Additional details and location will be provided upon registration
Good Living Options with Herbal Medicine
Join us for an experiential and informative talk on incorporating herbal medicine into your lifestyle. This talk offers gems for new and seasoned herbalists alike! We will discuss some back-to-nature home remedies and effective herbal medicines (including kitchen vegetables, spices, well known herbal medicines and wild plants) for common family health issues from the newly released book, The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies. For more information on the book click here!
The book was inspired by the urgent need to recognize the value of mother earth and the gifts which she provides, especially plants – both serving as our foods and also our medicines and the importance of taking steps to maintain and preserve the health of the earth for our own wellbeing, and the continued accessibility of our healing plants for the health of generations in the future. There will be an opportunity to ‘sample the flavors’ of some gentle herbs during this talk (so bring a spoon and a drinking mug!). Book signing will occur after the talk!
Authors Bio: Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ is a medical herbalist and nature knower with over 20 years of experience with herbal medicine. She specialises in womens health, digestive and skin conditions and has a private practice in Vancouver and Port Moody BC. She believes in providing usable tools for healing through inspiration and education. Katolen teaches herbal medicine courses at Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, Langara College, and offers seminars and lectures to the general public. Katolen is a clinic supervisor of a Dominion Herbal College approved student training clinic. She is the Vice President of the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations (CCHA) and a second term President of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of BC (CHA of BC). Katolen is the author of the book – The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies (release date July, 2016). For 18 years appeared regularly on Global Televisions Ask An Expert News Segment – a nationally syndicated news program speaking about herbal medicine. Additional information can be viewed here.
Quotes of Praise for the Book:
“…. how refreshing to find a book on herbal medicine that readily acknowledges the sacredness of herbal medicine and its connection to the Divine. As much as the ‘science’ behind the art of herbal medicine is both valid and necessary, too many authors focus on the former, and ignore the latter. Thankfully, Katolen also illustrates how many herbs have food-like qualities and their specific ability to provide foundational phyto-nutrients to help address the many ailments that our bodies are subject to today. A wonderful book – both for the lay person to whom it is addressed, as well as the practicing herbalist.” – Richard DeSylva, RH, DNM (Registered Herbalist, Doctor of Natural Medicine), founder of THE HERB WORKS
“What a great book! It is full of little jewels and ‘sound bites’ of wisdom – both ancient and modern. Written from the experience of a Herbalist that has worked for many years in the trenches of clinical practice, while teaching enthusiastic students her skills and art. A must read for novices, with great formulas and programs for even experienced Herbalists. Well done Katolen.” – Terry Willard ClH, PhD. Clinical Herbalist and author of 12 books including the Wild Rose Herbal Textbook series and Flower Essences: Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution.
“This book, written by a practicing herbalist, is a treasure trove of useful information. From the actions of herbs to how to dose them safely and from household uses to clinical applications, there is something for everyone in these pages. With lots of recipes, clear instructions and a wealth of interesting tidbits, this is the herbal medicine book you have been waiting for. Beginner herbalists and experienced practitioners alike will find much of value here. ” – Chanchal Cabrera MSc, FNIMH, RH(AHG) -Medical Herbalist, Horticulture Therapist, Chair of Botanical Medicine, Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, Director, Gardens without Borders Biophilia Center and Botanic Gardens
Talk & Book Signing: Join Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ for an informative and experiential talk on herbal medicine and the launch of her new book: The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Medicine
I am very excited to announce the release of my new book “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies.” Inspired by the urgent need to recognize the value of mother earth and the gifts which she provides, especially plants – both serving as our foods and also our medicines and the importance of taking steps to maintain and preserve the health of the earth for our own wellbeing, the continued accessibility of our healing plants and the health of generations in the future.
This back-to-nature home remedy and herbal medicine making guide provides details on effective herbal medicines (kitchen vegetables, spices, well known herbal medicines and wild plants) for common family health issues. Inside the 310 pages of this hardcover book you will find recipes for various common health concerns: from an upset stomach, indigestion to arthritis and sore muscles, wound healing to acne, eczema, hives as well as body care recipes (body washes, insect repellents, cleansers and hair masks).
Regardless of if you are a beginner or advanced in your herbal training – this book is for you! Providing guidance for preparing infusions, decoctions, medicinal honeys, general tincture preparation, herbal vinegars and topical applications as well as general first aid guidance using herbal medicine. There are also tasty food recipes which incorporate edible plants into ones diet.
Color photographs offer assistance with plant identification, this is a reference manual; offering tips for both beginners as well as recipes and traditional and modern applications for advanced herbal practitioners.
Featuring a long list of medicinal plants including detailed descriptions on the use of Turmeric, Lavender, Nettles, Heartsease, Sweet Violet, Self Heal, Juniper and Sage; common kitchen herbs and even vegetables and also some lesser known medicinal plants such as Watercress, Daisy and Sunflowers!
We all know that what we put on our skin is absorbed into out body. There is more and more research conducted on groups of commercial synthetic chemicals (largely found in cosmetic use and cleaning supplies) known as Xenoestrogens – also known as Endocrine disruptors (known to increase our bodies estrogen levels, and contribute to health conditions including infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, lowered sperm counts and have the ability to disrupt thyroid function, and linked to obesity, and a large list of health issues).
The cosmetic and body care recipes inside this book are environmentally friendly and Xenoestrogen free – they can play a small role in reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals typically found in common packaged cosmetics and also reduce the impact of environmentally toxic chemicals in the environment, our water and food chain and on marine life.
Packed full of herbal wisdom, traditional use and just the right amount of science, readers will gain confidence in plant identification as they dive into the art of creating ones own elixirs at home. In short, “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies” is a simple, straightforward, and beautiful guide to herbal remedies that will help you take charge of your health using nature’s own medicine.
There is some urgency in remembering and recognizing the value of mother nature and the plants which she grows. We reach for what is familiar! That which we use daily -those very habits which we see our family repeating daily, is what we will likely repeat as adults. Our habits today create the habits of the next generation- we need our future generations to remember the importance of clean soil, clean air and accessible plants, both as our foods and as our medicines. This book is a small tool for the remembering of the value of our plants and how to apply them as medicines for common first aid.
Some reviews of the book can be viewed here.
More about me: You can view a more in depth bio here on my website www.katolenyardley.com: Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – I have been in private practice for almost 2 decades (not to date myself) specializing in women’s health, digestive and skin issues. I have taught herbal medicine making classes for over 25 years, and offer my wisdom and experience to a variety of students in workshops and classrooms.
Autographed copies can be purchased online from my website: www.alchemyelixir.com or books are also available for purchase online: at Amazon, Indigo Chapters, Barnes and Nobel, Banyen Books, and hopefully at a bookstore near you.