We invite you to join us for our Community Herbalist Retreat - an annual three day plant centered celebration for practicing and aspiring herbalists, held in a beautiful rural Maine setting during the height of summer.
We have an absolutely fantastic weekend of non-stop herbal learning in store for you!
Our retreat setting is the Blessed Maine Herb Farm - our lush herb gardens and the woodland, waterways and fields that surround us. We'll have use of our School House at the edge of the medicinal herb gardens for indoor classroom space and a tent as needed, and will plan plenty of enjoyable time for walking the Medicine Trail and splashing around in the Wesserunsett Stream between formal classes.
The Community Herbalist Retreat is a relaxed, intimate, inspiring and rejuvenating time spent in the slow lane among the plants and with those who share a love of herbal medicines.
This sense of community, of building a cohesive plant honoring, reciprocal, eco friendly, woman centered, entirely magical, deeply spiritual, loosely woven, yet immensely supportive group of like minded people, all coming together for the weekend...well, it's a lot of fun and it's an excellent herbal learning experience, on so many levels, and, honestly, it's deep soul nourishing inspiration of the finest kind.
Bring your notebook, yes, but also bring your curiosity, your child spirit, your willingness to enjoy and relax, to share, to drop your mask and relate soul to soul in a loving and supportive plant centered community setting.
Come play...we'll be celebrating our beauty, deepening our understanding of the medicinal as well as magical properties of plants and trees. We're going to create amulets, poppet dolls, flower mandalas and herb bundles, and practice plant identification skills...we're also going to journey within, tend to our inner selves as well as dance with plant spirits and learn to sing a sacred water song. During the course of the weekend, we will rock ceremony, prayer, dream, storytelling, singing, drumming, art making, and of course, our morning yoga...while enhancing our sense of mutual support as we build confidence and skills necessary to move forward as community herbalists. Seven fabulous meals, camping and all materials are included in the fee.
“It was a privilege to be on your land and to be with you and the students who you brought together…I felt present and my heart was opened - and i felt that other people were in the same place too. Vibing together is the best. I experienced healing. And so much enjoyment being with these beautiful people who you brought together and attracted….I also experienced something that left me heightened and inspired - and was lifted up. I think you helped me to get to another level….Anyway, I had a meaningful experience during the retreat. And I want to thank you for that…Thank you again, I look forward to coming back.”
"As I am sitting in my home decompressing from the weekend, I want to thank you for a special weekend. I am so grateful to have been a part of such an extraordinary experience - it’s just what I needed to reset myself after an incredibly challenging school year teaching. My heart is so full right now and I am over the moon as I process the connections to feminine energy, to our Mother, and of course my own mother. Thank you for sharing your space, energy, and love with us; you are a beautiful soul! Hope we meet again…."
"I just attended and taught at a weekend retreat at Blessed Maine Herb Farm, in Athens. It filled my soul to reconnect with dear friends, meet new ones, eat delicious food, learn new things, sleep like a rock, do yoga, create art, partake in sacred ceremony, sing, chant, drum, and rattle. I've released some of what I don't need and made space for new growth. It was nourishing and transformative."
"Thank you, Gail Faith Edwards, for sharing your knowledge, your holy space, and your wild heart with us. Thank you to the staff with boots on the ground for taking such good care of us. Thank you to everyone who attended and held space of safety and unconditional acceptance. I'm already looking forward to next year."
"I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed the retreat . . . I got a little emotional at the end, because so much of what you and others were saying and doing resonated so strongly for me. I haven't been with such a like-minded group in such a long time! I felt so truly gathered in and lifted up . . . definitely soul restorative! Thank you for holding such a beautiful space for us all!"
"Thank you again for three wonderful days at your retreat!"
Our weekend begins on Friday morning (arrival/ set-up between 10AM-11:30) and continues to mid-afternoon on Sunday.
Here's what we've got planned thus far:
Grieving with Pine with Suzanne Stone
In this experiential class, we will honor Pine as a grief walker through story sharing, tree meditation, poetry, identification, folklore, medicine, & magic. We will explore Pine as a grief ally throughout time & explore ways to walk with Pine ourselves. We will drink Pine tea together & share ways to offer to this dear Tree Ally in our own lives.
Suzanne Belle Stone has the fortune of being among Pines daily as well as being a student of Gail's. Suzanne is a Community/Intuitive Herbalist who lives with & honors the spirals of the seasons. She tends & is tended to by herbal/tree allies & land spirits where she resides along the coast on unceded Wabanaki land, often called Maine. Here she grows & co-creates herbal creations with these plant allies. Suzanne teaches classes that focus on honoring relation with the verdant world, hands-on co-creating with plants, kitchen & Tree medicines, planetary & plant folklore & magic of her Irish/Scottish/French/Celtic ancestry as well as paying homage to the wisdom of other traditions & ways. Most recently, she has the honor of working with children in a Forest Day & homeschooling enrichment program during the school year.
Healing Lyme and other Tick-borne Diseases with Herbs with Cecilia Quimby
During this class we will review preventative measures, early treatment after a tick bite and present new information on the effective treatment of chronic Lyme and co-infections. There will be discussion of the use of herbs to heal Lyme disease and also the use of Baltic amber to repel ticks, used preventively.
Cecilia Quimby is a Registered Nurse, for 40 plus years, and is currently working in Southern Maine in Home Health. She studied herbalism with Gail Faith Edwards, Mischa Schuler and Deb Mercier. Cecilia is a longtime Tai chi practitioner.
Extraction Presentation with Kathy Gray
I believe folk medicine making is absolutely reliable (and more magical than standard methods); however, it can also be fun to geek out a little... Let's discuss double extractions, spaghirics, and alcohol intermediary oil extractions! Demos and samples included.
Kathy Gray is a community herbalist, energy worker, and forager of wild food and medicine. She lives off-grid in the Moosehead Lake Region, but also loves to learn from travel and adventure. Home is where the wild heart is!
Creating Flower Mandalas as Ritual and Blessing with Pam Post
We will discuss mandala making as a form of meditation, altar, ritual, and prayer and as a traditional practice spanning years and cultures. We will intentionally gather our plant material and assemble our mandalas, share an intention if that feels right, then release our mandalas and send our prayers out into the world.
Pam Post is a botanical artist living in Waldoboro, whose medium is plant material. She began creating flower mandalas while studying at Blessed Maine Herb Farm as an apprentice community herbalist in 2019. Her designs have been featured on greeting cards and calendars andin books. She also eco prints plant compositions on paper, silk, wool and leather. Her ecoprinted scarves, books and purses are sold durning summer months at mid coast farmers markets
Electuaries: Take your Medicine the Delicious Way! with Julie Hundley
We are going have some fun learning about and making or own herbal remedies with Honey! Electuaries are easy to make, have a long shelf life, and are a great way to sneak more healthful herbs like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger or lavender into your diet. Not only is honey delicious, it is a natural preservative with antibiotic properties. You will have the opportunity to sample some already formulated electuaries, and you can make your own herbal formulation using some light golden honey from Julie’s apiary.
Julie is a biodynamic gardener and beekeeper and has been caring for Sunnyknoll, six acres of heaven in Southern Maine for the last 25 years. After having taught for 25 years, Julie retired and transformed Sunnyknoll into a place where she can teach others how connect with the natural world through relationship with plants. Julie spends her growing season with aspiring gardeners, many of whom are young teens, teaching about the honorable harvest and recognizing plants as living allies with much to offer spiritually, emotionally and physically. Through reciprocity, students are inspired to learn to pay attention, look deeply and and give thanks to our other living relatives that inhabit the garden.
Saturday and Sunday Morning Yoga with Ryan Jackson
We will meet amidst the garden to practice gentle and healing yoga. It is known that we store trauma in our tissues and after the past couple of years, we could all use a welcome release. This yoga practice is designed to calm the nervous system, lessen emotional distress and release stored trauma and grief from our bodies. Bring your yoga mat and let’s come together for some rest and restorative yoga to begin our days.
Ryan Marie Jackson lives with her husband, two daughters and Great Dane in Massachusetts. She is an herbalist to friends and family and has coached many through various healing nutritional programs. She is a trained adult and kids yoga teacher but spends most days home-schooling her children and playing with plants in the kitchen. She was drawn to herbalism via diet and gardening about 20 years ago. After having children, herbs became an intuitive way to care for her family and she has been studying whole-heartedly since. She has attended many classes throughout the years, learning from well-respected herbalists from around the world. Definitely a wild-hearted herbalist, her inspiration comes from the plant spirits and the mind-blowing science of it all!
Fantasy, Folklore and Modern Meetings withDeb Fate Mental
The Fae are always leaving - or are they? Many people are are hearing the call of the Fair Folk again. Who are they, though? What do they want? Deb will be exploring this and more during this class.
Deb Fate-Mental is a bean feasa, an archetypal Wise Woman, and has been in practice for almost a decade. Her healing expertise combines traditional plant lore with authentic, old-fashioned shamanism and spiritual healing that is rooted deeply into her animistic ancestral beliefs. Deb helps people Remember themselves via healings, classes and readings so they may re-connect with Nature and the Divine.
The Sacred Water Song
Honoring Earth’s Waters.We will learn a traditional First Nations Algonquin song to honor water, hear a bit about the history of the water song, why it is sung and display a water bowl created by a descendant of the Algonquins. We will hand out cards to each participant with the phonetic song words written on them. We will sing this song together down at River at water’s edge as we sing and turn to face each of the directions.
Color Medicines withGail Faith Edwards
We’re going to use plants, minerals and stones to create our own pigments and then turn the pigments into watercolor paints and use them to express ourselves using Intentional Creativity practices..
Fa Lo Santuccio, Do a Little Holy Thing with Gail Faith Edwards
The practice of Benedicaria is all pervasive in Southern Italia. These spiritual practices and traditional ways of restoring health to body, mind and spirit, long referred to as "just the way we do things", became known as Benedicaria, a term that links spiritual faith, from the dawn of time, to our physical well-being. We're going to continue exploring the pharmacopeia and practices of the Benedetta, and also to deepen the dream work we began a couple of years ago. This work will be informally woven into our weekend together.
Gail Faith Edwards, is a Community Herbalist with more than forty years experience. She is the author of several books on herbal medicine, operates a vibrant medicinal herb farm, school and herbal products business and consults with clients. She teaches internationally, leads sacred journeys to Southern Italy twice a year and has students around the world.
Friday Night Story Telling
Gail will read the story of the Sybil of Cumae. This tale gives us some ideas regarding the path we must take to be true to ourselves and to those we work with as community herbalists and healers.
Saturday night fire, Summer Solstice Ceremony, magical plant gathering
We will have the opportunity to release that which no longer serves us and welcome fresh, new energy into our lives. This will be an event full of symbolism ~ with drumming, energy clearing, a little drama, and infinite transformative potential. We will be gathering herbs for magical purposes, as is traditional on this sacred night, after the ceremony.
Sunday morning magic hour - creating amulets, poppet dolls and herb bundles.
Sunday morning Barter Faire - bring your beautifully handcrafted items to barter!
Blessing of Roses Ceremony will close our weekend.
SEVEN EXQUISITE ORGANIC MEALS AND CAMPING ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR FEE. All our meals will be freshly prepared with local, organically grown produce, and this is included in your fee. In fact, our mealtimes are sure to be one of the many highlights of our time together!
Choose your camping spot in the herb gardens or up in the new orchard, next to the newly planted pollinator habitat, an acre full of native wildflowers. The views are beautiful up there and the sky is so big. You can get fresh wild water at the spring or use the water provided from our kitchen. It all comes from the same fabulously pristine source, an ancient glacial lake buried deep under the earth here.
You will need to bring a tent and camping supplies if you intend to camp, a knife, basket or bag, notebook and pen, and personal items of choice. We have a limited amount of rustic indoor sleeping space for those who prefer indoor accommodations. You will still need to bring a sleeping pad, blankets, etc. Please let us know when you register that you would like this choice. Again, these spaces are limited and assigned on a first come, first served basis.
A list of local motels and bed & breakfasts will be provided to those who ask.
Please note that the retreat is a smoke free zone. Dogs, drugs and alcohol are not permitted.
We ask that all cell phones be turned off during classes and we have a strict no cell phones in the gardens policy to protect our pollinators. You may use your cell phone, as necessary, in the driveway area.
Detailed Schedule 2023
FRIDAY 10:00 -12:00 – arrival/camp set up Opening prayer 12:00 noon 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch 2 – 3:00 – Oil Extraction with Kathy Gray 3:00 – 4:00 - Tick Prevention and Care with Cecilia Quimby 4:00 - 5:30 Fantasy and Folklore with Deb Fate Mental 5:30 - 6:30 dinner 7:00 – 8:30 Storytelling with Gail
SATURDAY 7:00 - 8:00 - Yoga with Ryan Jackson 7:00 coffee and tea 7:30 – 8:30 breakfast served 9:00 - 10:00 Stroll the herb gardens together
10:00 - 11:30 Petroglyphs on the River outing - sing the Water Song to Bless the Waters
12:00 – 1:00 lunch 1:30 - 2:45 Honey Electuaries with Julie Hundley 3:00 - 4:00 - Making Color with Gail Faith Edwards 4:15 – 5:30 Grieving with Pine with Susan Stone 5:45 – 6:45 dinner 7:00 – 8:00 Fa Lo Santuccio - Healing Dream Preparation with Gail Faith Edwards 8:00 - 10:00 Summer Solstice Fire - Magical Plant Gathering
SUNDAY 7:00 - 8:00 yoga with Ryan Jackson 7:00 coffee and tea 7:30 – 8:30 breakfast served 7:30 - 8:30 Stroll the gardens independently 8:30 - 9:30 – Creating Protective Amulets and Fumigation Wands/Smudge Sticks 9:30 - 10:30- Barter Fair! Bring your herbal or other handmade creations to trade! 10:30 - 12:00 - Flower Mandalas with Pam Post 12:30 – 1:30 lunch 1:45 - 2:30rose blessing closing ceremony 2:30 - 4 PM camp breakdown and depart
Note: If you are staying off the farm please arrive in time for the opening ceremony at 12 noon on Friday.
Register and pay in full for the Community Herbalist Retreat at the link provided at the top of this page. If you are a currently enrolled student in the Year-Long Body Systems course you are eligible for a 25% discount on our registration fee. Email email@example.com for coupon.