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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

Celebrating 35 Years of Training Shamanic Herbal Apprentices

Green blessings of the evergreen season.

I am back from my trip to Paris with my daughter Justine and my granddaughter Monica Jean. We saw lots of plants that we knew, our friends the weeds, and visited botanical gardens to meet plants new to us, including acanthus, which I knew only from carvings. I will share more of our Paris plant times with you in future ezines.

As the year closes and darkness draws us closer to the fire, I think ahead to the coming year. What will 2019 hold?  I create my new schedule. I write a letter to all my correspondence students. And I set my topics for my HealthyLife.net radio show and my Enchanted Forrest chat group. No doubt, there will be additions and adjustments to be made as life unfolds, but, for now, I commit to being at these places on these days and talking about the set topics. Join me.

And join me in celebrating 35 years of training shamanic herbal apprenticeships.

It was 1983, and I was teaching at Omega Institute (where I will be again in 2019) when a young woman sat next to me and declared her intention to live with me. She was attending a college that required her to live and study hands-on with a practicing herbalist. Even though such a thing had never occurred to me, I agreed, and in 1984, Daphne Ross graduated as apprentice number one.

From then until now, 35 years, roughly 526 women have committed to a live-in shamanic herbal apprenticeship. (I am not including live-out apprentices, nor the apprentices I trained in Germany and Florida.)

Those 526 women paid a sizable application fee, spent half an hour or more on the phone with me while I tried to talk them out of living with me as an apprentice, and then were asked to reaffirm their commitment to stay in the program, no matter what. About 490 of them actually showed up and stayed for more than a day. And 316 (sixty percent) stayed for the amount of time they committed to (from 2 weeks to 6 months), graduated, and were initiated as green witches.

I am so proud of them. They are an amazing group of women who are helping me spread my idea: Herbal medicine as people's medicine. The medicine that grows right outside your back door. They are the vanguard of a new/old way of taking care of ourselves. They are the mycelium that is taking off from my spores and spreading. Whether they are organizing women's herbal conferences or taking care of those they love, writing books or cutting CDs, tending gardens or making art, they take joy in the green blessings around them and share them freely with others. They are my lineage, my daughters and granddaughters, my sisters, my beloveds. They have passed through a daunting and dangerous portal that I humbly hold. They carry a bit of my energy with them now. We share wisdom.

Help me celebrate shaman herbal apprentices in 2019.

All graduated apprentices.  Come back to the Wise Woman Center in 2019. Come for a moonlodge, come for a work weekend, come for a class weekend, come when you can, come alone or with your family, come as it is best for you. (I believe Lisa and Astrid are cooking something up about an apprentice gathering. That would be fun.) Let us celebrate you and your life.

Someone, preferably a past apprentice. Please create a virtual place where past apprentices can connect with each other. I want a place where apprentices can "brag" to each other about their successes, large and small, a safe place where to share joy without fear of jealousy. I trust that it will manifest in 2019. In celebration.

Everyone.  Celebrate with us. Make this the year you come to moonlodge, help out on a work weekend, or get your hands dirty at a workshop. Who knows what fascinating apprentice you will be rubbing shoulders with when you do. Some past apprentices have written books. They all have fascinating stories to tell.

Apprentices of the future: I have recently completely revised the information about shamanic herbal apprenticeship. Please refresh your webpage and read the new and longer letter.

Whether you are interested in apprenticing or not, if you plan to come to the Wise Woman Center in the future, you may find what I have to say about apprenticeship worth your while to read. It throws a light on the rigors of my apprenticeship program and the seriousness with which I go about this sacred work. It may even make you laugh.

Apprentices past, present, and future, and anyone who enjoys sentimental journeys. Meet me here every other week to look back at three and a half decades of training shamanic apprentices. Photos. Stories. Memories. Plants. Goats. Goddesses. Green witches. Joy.

My next book: Abundantly Well, the Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution is slated for publication October 2019. I am applying myself diligently to the final work on it. I know you will be pleased with it. I am. It is another book you'll cherish, filled with information you can trust. A synthesis of fifty years of studying health and wholeness.

·        1984: Susun in her chakra shirt. Too bad the photo is black and white. Clove Tsindle, apprentice number zero, has finished her three year cohabitation and is keeping goats nearby. She still works with herbs professionally. I am either talking with her or with Daphne Ross, apprentice number one, who is opening my heart to women's need for ritual space.


·         1985: Daphne and Susun. Daphne begins a long and productive line of apprentices who use the wild, rocky land here at the Wise Woman Center as a canvas to express their desires, their longings, their wishes. The oak tree where Daphne made magic is 35 years older and larger. The ties of red cloth she fastened to the branches are long since gone. The little pond at its feet is sometimes dry. And the child Daphne called forth shares her life in magical ways. I am so honored that our connection has endured for 35 years.


·         1986: Pam Montgomery and Susun hamming it up at a Green Witch Initiation. Pam does it all: She runs a teaching center, she writes books about plant spirits and herbal medicine, she organizes Green Nations Gatherings, and so much more. Our year together came at a time of enormous change for both of us and the bond we formed is deep and enduring. Love you Pam.

1987: That is Robin Rose Bennett, apprentice number seven, holding up her hand. She is the author of two books, she teaches herbal medicine and sometimes accepts apprentices, and she does stunning work in community gardens. We are bound by our love for each other and by our mutual love for our Canadian friends Daphne and Keyawis, bringer of peace. Hugs and kisses to you.          

White Feather is on the other side of me, wearing a black head scarf. She has taught at the Wise Woman Center every year of its existence and has interacted with the majority of the apprentices. She is my Wolf Clan sister; we share adoption by Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, of the Seneca Nation. With grandmother's blessing, White Feather has put out a book and video on the Seven Directions Movement Meditation. Two over from White Feather is Savatri. In front of her, with her knee up, is Jane La Force.

Jane la Force was notable for bringing her own goats' milk with her whenever she would return for a visit. (And it has been too long since the last visit.) She says my goats don't eat as much poison ivy as her goats so her goats' milk offers her more protection against the rash. Jane taught herbal medicine and kept a big homestead for many years, but I don't know what she is up to these days.

Mireille from Holland is on the far left in this group of apprentices on a field trip in the upper Catskills. On the far right is Lauren, and next to her is Chava, the author of "What Apprentices Learn." Her essay captures in just a few words the essence of being a shamanic herbal apprentice. In between Mireille and Chava are Patty, Mary, and Sara. Hmm. There are only two women there, not three. Time for you to help me out apprentices. Are you in this picture? What do you remember of this day? Was it the day you all got piercings and I got in trouble with your moms for letting you do it? Or were we just stopping at Pete's for ice cream after a long walk in the woods with Penny?


This was a big year for apprentices. Lots of superior women; 13 graduated shamanic apprentices. Way to go gang. The blue robe was a gift from Edith. Heavy Chinese silk. I demurred. She had five daughters. Surely one of them would like it. "No," she insisted. They will never use it. Here, many women will wear it and enjoy it." That blue robe, a little the worse for wear, is still in the costume closet. Perhaps this is a Goddess Pageant, or perhaps we were dressing up as the major arcane of the tarot. Is that tarot author and tarot maven and science fiction writer Rachel in the blue robe? Margaret is clowning on her right. Miss you girl. Heidi, Debbie, and Minaqua are in front with Amelie and Annette. Haven't heard from any of you in ages. I know you will let me know if I got any names wrong! I do depend on you.


The man with the beard is Joel, of Joel and Tish, favorite students who came to every class I taught, everywhere, for two years and then asked permission to carry on the teachings. I love you both so much. Sweetheart the goose and I are at the right and Tony is on the left, smiling. She has gone on to great things, both as a person, a mom, an herbalist and a teacher. Good on you Tony! I miss you. Is that McKenzie ? Holly? Carol? How come Kahla is not in this picture? This group of apprentices included an anthropology student doing her field work at Laughing Rock Farm. Her advisor kept calling to caution her not to "go native," but it didn't work. After a month of living with wild women, she painted two beautiful murals (still there and still enjoyed) at the apprentice house (The Nettle Patch) and then took off for a Rainbow gathering, never to be seen again.

As for this photo, no, we did not plan to all wear pink pants, it just happened that way and we made it a Kodak moment. The biggest grin in the photo belongs to Marianne from Germany, who, I am sure, continues to light up everything her life.  Emily is next to me, and next to my heart. Then I think that is Blade, who does great magic, but it might be Inana, or even Phillipa, from New Zealand; it's hard to tell. In green is Bets-sea, the youngest apprentice ever. (She turned 17 while she was here.) Love to you all. On the right is Tanta Rose, a women from Holland who arrived by taxi one day, exclaiming "No need to call. You are a shaman, so you were aware that I was coming." She fit right in from the first day and made herself indispensable despite her limited English.

One of the highlights of each apprentice group is the Goddess Pageant, when each apprentice presents her goddess archetype to the group. Their pieces are imaginative, creative, fun, and well costumed, as you can see. The goddess on the right is a glowing Lauren. Sweetie! Next to her is Emily, great herbalist. On the left Julie is hanging out in D'Arcy's lap. Julie is also a great herbalist, a goat keeper, and a teacher of Wise Woman Ways. I cherish our on-going relationship. Miss you D'Arcy. What's up with you these days? In the middle, a bejeweled Maura and a resplendent Marcie. My memory seems better at a twenty year distance than at a quarter century distance. Ha!

Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $21.95
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed.
The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $22.95
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
For excerpts visit: www.menopause-metamorphosis.com

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed.
Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $21.95
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011
Author: Susun S. Weed
Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health. Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations.
Retails for $29.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Abundantly Well - Seven Medicines The Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution
Publication date: December 2019
Author: Susun S. Weed
Seven Medicines build foundational health and guide you to the best health care when problems arise. Includes case studies, recipes, exentsive references and resources. Introduction by Patch Adams illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard 352 pages, index, illustrations
Retails for $24.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com



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