2014 Programme

To give you an idea of the areas we cover here is the gathering programme from 2014:

Radical Approaches to Health

Going underground, holistic approaches to mental health with Rufus May and Elisabeth Svanholmer

Rather than seeking to suppress or get rid of depressions, manic or psychotic states how can we work with them as communities to learn from them and grow through them? This workshop will look at different ways to understand emotional and thinking problems and ways to address them.

Rufus May has worked as a psychologist for 18 years and also organises retreats and training around holistic approaches to mental health. Elisabeth Svanholmer has worked as a trainer of the Danish Hearing Voices Network for 7 years and has an interest in body work and relational approaches to healing.

Life affirming approaches to birth and death with Morag Forbes and Delphine MacMillian

A radical midwife, Morag Forbes, and a soul midwife, Delphine MacMillian, share thoughts and experiences related to supporting the passages of birth and death respectively, including acknowledgement of cross cultural traditions. Followed by space for open discussion and exchange.

Herbalism magic: Flying through time with the green ointment: The history of witchcraft and our native psychotropics with Fiona Heckels and Karen Lawton

The mysterious past of our native power plants calls to us somewhere deep within. Come and explore the exciting, medicinal and magical world of some of our native psychotropic plants and fungi.  Seeped in political history, many of the psychoactive herbs will be looked at but particularly focusing on the deadly nightshade or Solanaceae family. come n hear some of the history, medicinal and magical applications of these herbs–  and do some magic.

Fiona Heckels and Karen Lawton are lively teachers who are witchy herbalists with over twenty years of clinical experience. They run workshops, ceremonies and apprenticeships through Sensory Solutions, their educational community-interest company.

Bodywork and Intuitive Herbal Medicine with Nathan Hughes

Nathan Hughes combines subtle bodywork with the herbs in a way that can potentise both. In the first session offered he explores the relevance of deep body memory and how the resolution of this through compassionate witnessing is a fundamental part of healing. In the evening session he will offer a small experiential workshop for 12 people exploring the combination of touch and herbs. Nathan is a herbalist in Stroud and runs his Intuitive Herbal Medicine School.

Please note ‘Intuitive Herbalism’ – The first book of the series ‘Weeds in the Heart’ will be launched at the Radical Herbalism gathering this year. This is the result of a collaboration between herbalist Nathaniel Hughes and artist Fiona Owen and is an exploration of what it means to work intuitively with plants


Sustainability and Ecological Justice

Use of Native Plants in the UK with Dawn Ireland

This workshop with explore the UK’s native heritage of healing plants, comparisons and alternatives to imported plants to reduce carbon footprint & increase local use and sustainability with Dawn Ireland who has been involved in Earth Based Herbal Medicine Association in Devon.

The crisis of anti-biotic resistance and the potential contribution of herbal medicine as part of the response with Melissa Ronaldson

Melissa Ronaldson will explore the implications of antibiotic resistance and living in a post antibiotic era. She will talk about the importance of understanding the problem and the role herbal medicine has in the solution.

Melissa is an experienced herbalist from London who runs the Herbal Barge, a floating herbal clinic and shop on the waterways of London.

Food politics and wellbeing with Isy Schulz and Nicole Vosper

A talk and discussion focusing on the barriers to eating well in today’s food system. Including some relevant nutritional topics, the consequences of treating food as a commodity, access to food and the reality of food poverty, as well as the impact of food production on the environment and people’s lives.  Isy Schulz and Nicole Vosper will talk about working around food and health in this context with. Isy, who will be co-ordinating all the cooking for the gathering has many years experience in community politics and cooking and teaches about all aspects of nutrition in Bristol. Nicole, whose land the gathering was on last year, who runs Wild Heart Permaculture, growing and educating people about food and herbs, and has done work around food poverty for  Feed Somerset.


Health and Social Justice

Health Justice and Community Organising around Fracking with Becs Griffiths , Nicole Vosper, Carly Phillips and  the herbalists from the Barton Moss Herbal Clinic: Zoe Naylor, Zoe Blackwell, Danielle Kay and Edwina Hodkinson.

There are political and social reasons why compromised and damaged health, as well as health inequalities, exist in the UK and globally, and we want to think beyond herbal medicine to how we can be involved in resolving these. In this workshop we will talk about the concept of health and social justice, how effective community organising can challenge health injustice, and how as herbalists and organisers we can be involved in these. We will look at the specific issue of the proposed fracking sites in the UK, the health implications of fracking, the consequent community struggles and hear from the herbalists who set up the Barton Moss Herbal Clinic.

Indigenous land, indigenous medicine with Suzanne Dhaliwal 

Suzanne Dhaliwal will share information and experiences of the impact of corporate greed and environmental destruction on native land and medicine caused by the tar sands in Alberta, Canada and about resistance work to this violence. She will talk about a new project she is involved with seeking to ally with indigenous recording and preservation of traditional medicines.

Migrant solidarity

There will be information about the current legal situation and changes in the immigration bill that will affect access to free healthcare which could potentially lead to an increasing level of poor health in migrant communities. There will be information for sharing solidarity with migrants, and solidarity with people in detention by Alice Cutler and Tom Daly from Bristol Refugee Rights. This will be followed by space for open discussion and exchange.

Co-ops, Collectives and Mutual Aid with Cath Muller

Cath Muller and other co-operators will

  • Show that collective working and resources held in common are
    • Sexy
    • Healthy
    • Anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, anti-authoritarian
    • Fundamentally undermining of the existing (unhealthy) social order
    • More fun
    • Sustainable
    • Full of potential for creativity and more co-ops!
  • share basic knowledge of co-op options
  • give an idea of the extent of networks and sources of support

Will include case studies of herb related co-ops.


Herbal Medicine in Practise

Practical herbal medicine for beginners – a guide to working with healing plants through the seasons with Lucinda Warner

Lucinda Warner, a herbalist who writes the blog Whispering Earth will lead this introductory session which will look at simple ways to enter into relationship with the healing plants that grow freely around us and use them in our everyday life. We will consider ways in which we can work with the herbs to nourish and heal ourselves throughout the year and discuss practical applications and remedies we can make at home.

The incpetion of the Herbarium and a history of regulation of herbal medicine in the UKwith Tim Lane and Nathalie Chidley

Members of the Herbarium will explain some history of regulation  of herbal medicine in this country, going back nearly 20 years and discuss some of the background for the the birth and development of what ended up as The Herbarium.

The Herbarium is the creation of a small, autonomous group of independent herbalists, who have come together in a spirit of cooperation, to share knowledge and resources, and to explore a different way of organising ourselves in this rapidly changing world.

We do not consent to the erosion, by regulation, of our common law freedoms and rights. We therefore oppose the current attempts to turn traditional western herbalists into the poor cousins of doctors, using herbal ‘products’ as if they were the poor cousins of drugs. Our focus in these times of transition is to rehearse our skills in preparation for energy descent, climate change, and the collapse of unsustainable bureaucracies and power structures.

Herbal First Aid with Dedj Liebbrandt

With over 20 years experience using herbal medicine in acute health situations Dedj Liebbrandt will share her vast knowledge to give practical advice. This is aimed for people new to herbal medicine and experienced herbalists.

Medical Cream Making with Dawn Ireland

Medicinal cream making demonstration and talk on formulating herbal creams that maximise the efficacy of the ingredients, naturally defend and heal the skin & enhance absorption without the need for harsh damaging petrochemicals or synthetic ingredients by Dawn Ireland.


Herb Walks

Alex Laird, an experienced herbalist based in London, who is a co-founder of Living Medicine and works as a herbalist within the NHS Dermatology unit at Whipp’s Cross Hospital and in the Breast Haven, will lead a herb walk around the local area.

Pip Waller, a herbalist based in Llangollen will lead a tree walk around the site.

Chris  from Ipso-phyto will lead a foraging walk, showing you how to identify wild local foods.

Robin Hartford, an experienced forager will lead a walk around the site, and talk about the ethics and sustainability of harvesting from the wild.