2017 Radical Herbalism Gathering – Programme

– Radical approaches to health –

Anxiety As Teacher – Kirsten Hale
The pathology paradigm teaches us that ‘something is wrong with us,’ locating the source of the concern within our own physiology. It is hyper-individualistic, replicating ideas that we are creatures separate from our environments, able to be chemically or otherwise changed to rid ourselves of the thing, of the anxiety, of the experiences our physiology is expressing. It replicates hierarchies: white, capitalist, patriarchal, cis-hetero, ablist narratives. What happens when we resist pathology? What can be learned? What intimacy can be re-gained with our somatic and non-languaged based places of knowing? This class is an overview and discussion of anxiety as somatic teacher, the energetics of anxiety and complex web of social and physiological relationships happening in the eruption of our physiological tensions into anxiety and freeze patterns as well as ways of partnering with plants to deepen the learning.

Elements of a Trauma-Informed Practice – Kirsten Hale
One of the first things I say when teaching about a trauma-informed practice is that power and privilege are always, always present. A trauma-informed practice seeks to increase choice, power, autonomy and clear relational experiences for the person seeking support. It resists the pathology paradigm and seeks to inform and empower. This class is an exploration of how we can resist re-creating models of care and relating, that replicate core areas of trauma. It is a celebration of the inherent ways the plants teach us to serve and ways we can deepen our service to each other. We will look at some core energetic and neuro-emotional patterns present in various traumas and how we can safely align with the needs of who we are serving in our practices and our formulations.

Dialoguing with our different voices – Elizabeth Svanholmer and Rufus May
This workshop will explore different ways we can become more aware of different parts of ourselves. This voice dialogue approach can be useful for understanding and negotiating conflicts between different parts of ourselves and with others. There will be a chance to try out an exercise where we can ask parts of ourselves questions.

Elisabeth Svanholmer is passionate about facilitating creative, supportive spaces for people to talk about their experiences and learn from each other.

Now living in the UK Elisabeth worked closely in Denmark with Trevor Eyles as a voice-hearer support facilitator, helping develop support to voice-hearers and other users of psychiatric services, as well as teaching health-care professionals how to relate to voice-hearing, how to support them in the experience, and how to initiate and facilitate self-help groups. She is still one of the organisers of a bi-monthly Danish open meeting for Hearing Voices groups in Western Denmark.

She has facilitated training on the hearing voices approach, mindfulness and understanding the highly sensitive person in Denmark, UK, Canada and Australia.

Elisabeth has co-facilitated a mindfulness group and a hearing voices group. She presently co-facilitates monthly arts and wellbeing sessions in Calderdale, and has many years of personal experience using bodywork and mindfulness with distress, overwhelm and hearing voices.
Rufus May has worked as a psychologist for 18 years and also organises retreats and training around holistic approaches to mental health. He has an interest in promoting more hopeful and enabling approaches to psychosis and other extreme states of mind. This includes mindfulness, group work, body work & communication skills. His interests are originally rooted in his own experiences of confusion, psychiatry and recovery.

Natural Cosmologies, Ifa and Pathways to Healing – Mama D and Buki Fagbenle

Each of the many world cultures have developed a unique relationship with the cosmos. Many indigenous cultures, through long association with their environments, have developed systems of life practice which combine the material and spiritual in a seamless unity of being. What can we learn from these kinds of relationships with nature, within and without, which can help our healing practice? How can this help us to understand how our life’s purpose is shaped by our relationship with that which we call nature?

Mama D and Buki Fagbenle share their understanding and insights into the nature of nature as indigenous African and specifically Yoruba Ifa spiritual livities.

With the world becoming a global village, there is a need for western traditional practitioners to learn and understand the ways of indigenous healers around the world. Why? Because mental health is being worsened through systems that aren’t working. We are proposing radical alternatives to wellness through nature and community while introducing you to Ifa cosmology and the Orisas. Our session will highlight the different traits of each Orisa and participants will be encouraged to choose the Orisa they most identify with…….

Radical Bodywork Network
This is a facilitated space for bodyworkers, and other holistic practitioners – but open to anyone interested – working in grassroots, anti-oppression frameworks to meet and share experiences, ideas and build a community around what we do. Come and share conversation, news about projects, resources, trainings, practises, dreams, desires, Qs, challenges…

What do we mean by Bodywork? We’re using this term as an umbrella for any transformative or healing work done with or through people’s bodies. Examples include Massage, Acupuncture, Somatic practises, Dance, Yoga, T’ai Chi.

What do we mean by Radical Bodywork? Work that is radical (from Latin radix, radic- ‘root’) looks at the roots of a problem. It is holistic and embraces the bigger picture. When bodywork is radical, it understands health in the broadest sense of the word (the emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual, social and political). It acknowledges the root causes of ill health that include oppression, structural economic inequality or a polluted environment and works towards supporting on an individual level as well as the wider health of communities beyond the individual. It’s usually done in a way that makes it accessible to more people, and particularly oppressed groups. We see bodywork – when done well, and with awareness and critical analysis – as a political tool and an integral part of radical social change. We celebrate it as a way to facilitate wider healing of communities and as a form of body-affirmative activism in a world of body-shaming and systemic oppression.

Trans health and competency with Otter Lieffe
This workshop will provide basic trans-competency training for anyone – including holistic health practitioners – allying with trans and non-binary folk around health. We will focus on respectful use of language and sensitivity around discussing the health of trans and non-binary people. This workshop will be led by a trans woman holistic therapist who will speak from her own experiences. If there’s time, we’ll also hold a discussion around the use of herbs in supporting transgender and non-binary people.

As trans-competency is a wide and complex subject, this workshop will be just the beginning of a conversation and there will be limited time for questions and answers at the end. For safety we wish to state that, in keeping with the rest of the gathering, this space will not tolerate transmisogyny, transphobia, derailing or other disrespectful behaviour of any kind. The workshop will be directed towards cis health practitioners but trans and non-binary people are also invited to contribute. The voices of trans and non-binary people will be prioritised throughout.

Men’s Health – Drew Rose, Dave Shand and herbalist Nathaniel Hughes (Men only, trans inclusive)
This is a continuation of the Men’s health workshop last year which was an opportunity to discuss what it means to be male and the experience of being men in our society. It will be grounded in a feminist discussion of male power and privilege (patriarchy). It will be a non-judgmental space to explore how patriarchy affects our health in its widest sense. To further this discussion herbalist Nathan Hughes will discuss self care for men: “It is likely that mental health issues in men are under-reported (the incidence as appears in national statistics is lower than for women), since men have a significantly higher rate of suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and imprisonment than women. I suspect that historical and current male power structures actually only ever serve a minority and the failure of social structures to meet the needs of the majority of men is profoundly related to these symptoms.

This is such a broad issue I don’t believe that there are specific ‘male’ herbs. However, in my practice three themes are prominent – care of the heart, care of the prostate and integration of anger, all of which can be supported well with herbs. Alongside this herbal support to help improve somatic and emotional awareness can help strengthen the broader foundations of good health.”

Sharing the Knowledge, Power and Rage: Women’s* experiences of sexual health, fertility, herbs

This is a space for sharing experiences, skills, knowledge and resources; there are no ‘experts’ or ‘teachers’ when it comes to our bodies. A space where we can address and challenge the hierarchical structures and authority that dominate women’s* access to our sexual and reproductive freedom.

The session will be a sharing space and directed by participants but to get a flavour these are potential themes that might be covered:
— What can we learn from being more in tune with our bodies?
–What are the ways we can keep ourselves from getting pregnant what we feel about them and their pros/cons, (explorations of experiences with conventional contraception, abortions, herbs, fertility awareness, types of sex)?
–Common infections (thrush/Bacterial Vaginosis/ UTI’s): how they impact our sexual identities and sex lives and what can we do about them?

(women* only, trans and non-binary inclusive, some discussion on hormones/reproductive biology is likely to take place)

This space will be facilitated by Kate: I am a dog owner, sparkle fanatic, student midwife, cis woman, and constant explorer when it comes to my body. Angry at knowledge about my body being told or withheld at health professionals discretion, everything I know about fertility and herbs I have learnt through trial and error, meeting rad herbal women, friends experiences and quite a bit of reading. I very much look forward to continue learning and sharing with you all!

Everyday ​Herbal Medicine: session by & for young folks (10-18yrs) led by EmFyahSis and Reecespect
(and the young at heart who wish to learn from the young​)​*​
Herbs as medicines​: herbal ​hunt, info exchange,politics, creative conversation​s and movement
* Centred on the young, but if there are not enough young attendees, EmfyahSis and Reecespect are prepared to run a workshop for older people who come with their inner child open, ready to respect young people as teachers…​

Let’s Talk About Chronic Illness – Amani Omejer, Becca Temple and Nicole Vosper

What does it mean individually, politically, and as a community, to experience chronic illness? What is it like to live with it? What is it like to treat someone with chronic illness, and what do “patients”/practitioners need? What impact does capitalism have on our psyches and our way of dealing with chronic illness? How can we develop a society in which invisible and chronic illnesses are more understood and held space for?

Three individuals living with chronic illness and a herbalist experienced working with chronic illness, want to discuss these questions and more. Whether you live with a chronic illness, care for or have loved ones with chronic illness, or work with people experiencing this, we welcome you to come along and be part of this conversation.


– Ecological sustainability & justice –


Herb Growers Network

Formed at last year’s gathering, this informal network of growers will share information and tools around the processes and challenges of cultivating and supplying medicinal herbs in our regions. How can we community-support herbalism so that our plant medicines are grown and harvested locally with a resulting respectful connection with our lands? Share knowledge with growers, connect and participate with networks locally & beyond and find out how we can collectively move towards mutual abundance with our herbal medicine. The session will explore herbalist-grower partnering, training and peer support.
With Jane Wallwork-Gush (Organic Herb Trading Co), Carol Stone (Plotgate CSA), Alice Bettany (Sacred Seeds), Chris Roe (Feed Bristol), Karen (Dancing Dragon Herbs) and Nat Mady (Hackney Herbal)


The richness of diversity in our communities – Muzammal Hussain & Shumaisa Khan, Wisdom In Nature

We can be more effective and build more resilient communities when we are able to bring all parts of our selves into our work. In this taster workshop, we will explore some of what we have in common and also what makes us different and unique. We will each take responsibility for creating a safe space in which we can step into the many parts of our selves, including parts we may have found are not often welcomed. By receptively witnessing our diversities, we are better able to value the rich landscape of our fellow human beings – an experience that can strengthen our work in groups and enhance our appreciation of life and our communities.

Shumaisa Khan – Herbalist in training, permaculture and food sovereignty activist, co-worker with Muzammal Hussain in the Islamic ecology project. Muzammal Hussain – Journey therapist and activist integrating Islamic theology with permaculture principles.


Struggles over land and resources – Victoria AeynLorna Mauney-Brodek

Victoria Aeyn will talk to us about the Frontline Anti Fracking Resistance currently happening at Preston New Road. After the local councils decision against fracking in the area was overturned by central government, many different groups with different angles have come together at the gates and via ‘pop up protests’ to create a strong powerful resistance to stop fracking. In this workshop we will learn how the people of the Lancashire are standing up and stopping fracking because #WESAIDNO! How we are organizing and how you can help.

 Lorna Mauney-Brodek went to the protests in defence of land and water resources from the threat posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The conflict in North Dakota between the Lakota Sioux and the company over the construction of the $3.6 billion dollar Dakota Access pipeline began in April 2016. The Sioux communities began their protest following the failure of the company to consult the tribe over the use of their tribal lands — despite multiple requests by tribal leaders — and a demand that the company preform an honest environmental impact report for the project.

– Social & Health justice –


Beyond activism and self-care – changing the way we relate to impossible demands – Nathan Eisenstadt
In the last few years the call for a more personally sustainable approach to the practice of social change has gained increasing traction in radical social movements. We are beginning to accept that when facing social and ecological crises of such magnitude, we need also to care for ourselves and each other lest burnout or disillusionment take their toll. Yet often, the response to this acceptance is to perforate our impossible schedules with ‘self care’ as if this were the antidote to that sickness we all suffer from: activism. Against this view of activism as pathology, in this workshop we explore what it is about how we intervene in this world that brings us to life and how activism might itself become a form of self care.


Herbalists without Borders
This workshop will be looking at the progress Herbalists without Borders UK has made in the last year. It was set up as an umbrella organisation for various projects around the UK that were responding to the migration crisis where thousands of people were stranded in Europe and thousands made destitute in the UK by the new immigration bill. We will hear from herbalists who have continued to visit France to the camps there, and from herbalists who have set up free migrant support clinics. Herbalists have a lot to contribute towards this global humanitarian crisis, and we want to continue the discussion on the best ways to use our skills. With Melissa Ronaldson, Catherine Johnson, Lizzie from Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers, Unity Herbal Clinic in Glasgow and Shelly & Josephine from Herbalists without Borders Bristol


Prison Transformative Justice – Nicole Vosper & Heledd (Empty Cages Collective)
Prisons and mental health
The UK now has the highest prisoner suicide rate in the world, and levels of self-harm are unprecedented. This session facilitated by the Empty Cages Collective introduces the prison industrial complex and the state’s plans to build more six new mega-prisons and five new prisons for women. The main focus of the workshop is exploring the links between prisons and mental health. Two prisoner family members will share their experiences of loved ones with IPPs (Imprisonment for Public Protection sentences), which are basically life sentences for minor crimes. We will then explore the links between oppressive psychiatry and imprisonment in terms of disorders that pathologise and criminalise people and keep them in prison. Learn what you can do to resist this state violence and how to show solidarity and lend practical support to these campaigns.


– Herbal medicine in practice –


Forgotten European Herbs – Julie Bruton Seal and Matthew Seal
The Forgotten Herbs workshop will focus on a number of formerly familar medicinal herbs of our countryside that have dropped out of everyday use. There are many reasons for the decline in the British Pharmacopeia, but equally there are good reasons to look again at the virtues of unduly neglected wild plants. This will be an illustrated talk, with some tastings if we can organise it!
Julie Bruton-Seal is a practising medical herbalist, iridologist and cranio-sacral therapist. A Fellow of the Association of Master Herbalists, she is also a writer, photographer, artist and graphic designer. With her husband, the editor and writer Matthew Seal, she has written five books on herbal medicine, the most recent of which, Wayside Medicine: Forgotten Plants and how to use them, will be published in May 2017.


Herbs for Children’s Health – Annie McIntyre
Anne will share some of her wide experience of treating babies and children using our favourite local herbs. She will discuss her approach to preventative health and resolving everyday childhood ailments and look at different ways to administer the remedies.

Anne McIntyre is a Fellow of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (FNIMH), a Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners’ Association (MAPA), and has been practicing herbal medicine for over 35 years. She is the author of several books on herbal medicine, including The Herbal Treatment of Children, The Complete Woman’s Herbal, The Complete Floral Healer, The Herbal Treatment of Children, and The Complete Herbal Tutor. Anne’s latest book is Dispensing with Tradition: A practitioner’s Guide to using Indian and Western Herbs the Ayurvedic Way.


Herbal Foot Care for Hardworking Feet – Lorna Mauney-Brodeck
Lorna has spent the last decade caring for the feet of the homeless and the displaced. She trained up at the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic, a collaborative care clinic serving our friends on the street in Atlanta, GA. This clinic utilizes both herbal and conventional therapies. Without alternate means of transport, foot pain or infection can drastically affect one’s daily prospects and access to life’s necessities. The foot services we offer not only treat foot specific issues such as corns and fungus, but also provide whole body health benefits such as stress reduction, immune support, pain relief, and emotional support. We will explore some foot care basics, discuss effective herbal foot and wound care preparations, and hopefully save a little time for Q&A at the end!


Chinese Tongue Diagnosis – Dedj Leibbrandt
The basics of the ancient art of Chinese tongue diagnosis is easy to learn and will be covered in this workshop. This skill will be useful to everyone that treats patients. Please be aware that for us all to get the most out of the workshop we will need to look at each other’s tongues and discuss personal medical information.


How to make percolated tinctures; a practical demonstration –  Chris Gambatese

Percolation is method employed primarily for its ability to create concentrated herbal medicines (1:1 fluid extracts) in brief periods of time (as little as 2 days). Percolation can be used to create tinctures of any strength as well and also in a rapid fashion. Dried, powdered herb material is evenly packed into a cone shaped device (in our case a bottomless, inverted wine bottle) and a combination of water and ethanol percolate down through the material for collection. We will discuss how to make your own percolation cone and all the steps for creating concentrated medicines from it while demonstrating some steps of the process. Chris Gambatese is a community herbalist based in Cork City. He is passionate about making all his own medicines from seed to bottle and incorporates some innovative processes using some principles of Alchemy. In the past few years, he has also become certified as a brewer and distiller and regularly teaches classes in both fields. His latest project is organising guided tours specialising in the native plants and fungi (especially medicinal), archaeological and sacred sites, and places of cultural significance in Ireland, lead by local herbalists and naturalists. The first 2 tours are in conjunction with Rosemary Gladstar’s Plant Lover’s Journeys.

Veterinary Herbal Medicine
A discussion about holistic dog care covering all aspects from diet to preventative treatments, with a focus on avoiding over exposure to pharmaceuticals. An overview of some common conditions seen in our canine companions and how to treat them with herbs. There will be room for plenty of discussion about herbal treatment for all out animal friends according to the group needs.

Reagan is a holistic veterinarian practicing in Glasgow. Since graduating from the University of Glasgow faculty of Veterinary Medicine in 2014 she has since gained post graduate qualifications in western veterinary herbal medicine and traditional Chinese acupuncture. Reagan is a wellness vet with pro-active approach to health. She is passionate about improving animal welfare through natural and integrative medicine.


Herbal Folklore – Sam McLoughlin and David Chatton Barker
Folklore Tapes is an open-ended research project exploring the vernacular arcana of Great Britain and beyond; traversing the myths, mysteries, magic and strange phenomena of the old counties via abstracted musical reinterpretation and experimental visuals. The driving principle of the project is to bring the nation’s folk record to life, to rekindle interest in the treasure trove of traditional culture by finding new forms for its expression.

Currently their projects explore the lore, legends and remedies of native plants found in Britain along with a residency working with the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall. Through these two ventures the collective have evolved their unique organic live performances which integrate the use of hand-made electro-acoustic instruments and immersive analogue projections into a magical experiences.

For this unique appearance at RAD HERB GATHERING Sam McLoughlin and David Chatton Barker from the group have crafted a bespoke experience in which the pair will engage the audience through a multi-sensory ritual performance of cures, magic, divination and portents all connected with the rich variety of available plant life. Incorporated into kind of organic-audio-visual-theatre-lecture using plants as puppetry, shadows, instruments, storytelling and healing.


Full kidspace programme – click on ‘Kids Programme’


Evening programme

Friday Night

Films: Screaming Queens 56mins, Visions of Abolition 83 mins

Herbal Jeopardy

Music with Lianne Hall

Saturday Night

Open Mic – with a musical focus!

Jer Reid DJ set!

Nettle, Rose and Mugwort fire songs 11.00-12.00 at the Mugwort space, alcohol free quiet space for sharing songs to honour the land and connect to the heart.