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melanieI never planned to become an herbalist. Though I spent much of my childhood mashing up plants in my backyard (and unknowingly smearing poke on my little sister while pretending to make medicine... an herbal experiment she'll never let me live down!), my wildest dream was to become an actress. Off I went to NYU where I earned my BFA in Drama. I was on my way to fulfilling my lifelong dream, but something was missing. 

In my second week of college, the 9/11 attacks shook my new city to the core. Deep down, I wondered what use it was to spend my life performing. Would this really make a difference in the world? I believed in the power of art, self-expression, and the magic of storytelling. It had saved my life by giving me a safe outlet for things I couldn't express any other way --but that deep soul work of an actor-creator wasn't what I saw when I took a hard look at the reality of a career in the entertainment industry. 

I began to study community-based performance and took off down a new path of telling the stories of people from all walks of life. I became certified as a massage therapist with the intention of using that income to support my theater work. Working with pregnant teens in foster care, homeless and formerly homeless activists in the Bronx, and receiving a fellowship to create my first solo play in India, and becoming a member of Alternate ROOTS, I felt like I'd finally found my path. When I landed my dream massage job at one of D.C.'s top physical therapy clinics, I was on top of the world. Everything was working out. Then, I got sick. Really sick.

"Uninsurable" because of my extensive history of autoimmune illness, I very nearly died from a severe bout of ulcerative colitis because I couldn't get medical care. I vowed that I'd never let myself be that vulnerable again. I wanted to do something not only to help myself but also to empower other people who were being left behind by our broken medical system. I knew in my bones that herbal medicine was the missing piece. I enrolled at East West in 2008 and never looked back. 

Now, my life has come full-circle. Healing and creativity are deeply connected in my personal life and in my practice. I create original theater and work with herbal & massage clients through my practice in Washington, D.C. Currently, I'm teaching my first online course focusing on women's health and have found that incorporating creativity and soul work into the program has made as big a difference for the women as the herbal and lifestyle knowledge.

As we create from our deepest selves, it challenges us and opens up more of our soul's wounds for healing. And as we tend those wounds, whether they're physical illnesses or cultural soul sickness, we create more space and possibilities to bring forth what we are here on this planet to bring forth. The task ahead of us is immense. We need the plants, the traditional wisdom, our own intuition, and all of our creative abilities & compassion if we are to tend the Earth and our communities so that we may all thrive and live harmoniously. Thank you to everyone at East West for stewarding this traditional knowledge and for always keeping song, creativity, and joy at the center of the process.

Pamela-Shaw-PhotoI grew up in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York and spent my summers outdoors (whether I was in the Adirondacks, at the pool or beach, at day camp playing in the lake or running around in the woods).  I have always loved being outside; I grew up talking to the plants and animals around me.  Both sides of my family have deep connections to the Earth: long-time dairy farmers on one side, and horticulturists on the other.  I didn't know exactly what I wanted “to do” with my life; all I knew was that I wanted to help people and feel like I was making a difference in the world.

I went to art school to become a printmaker, and then got my Master’s in art education. At the end of my first year of teaching, I realized that this was not the way I wanted to make a difference! I still continue to make art for myself, and I am an avid cook and baker (especially French macarons!)  My art website is: http://www.pamelacshaw.com

I discovered Michael Tierra’s The Way of Herbs almost 10 years ago and self-treated several issues successfully, to my astonishment.  It came with a bookmark for East West, and every time I opened The Way of Herbs, that bookmark was always in view.  After four years of working as an executive/personal assistant and personal chef in Manhattan, plus repeat visits to Michael and Lesley’s blog (and the East West website), I decided it was time to take the leap and finally enroll!  Since my start at East West in September 2011, my life has been filled with a great new purpose.

I have yet to decide what I want to “do” with this education, but I know that I am in the right place. I know that I would like to heal as many people as are willing, to empower them to take charge of their own health, and to infuse them with enthusiasm and excitement.  Whether this takes form through teaching others, doing clinical work, or creating a product line, only time will tell.

darcygoldenI started studying herbs while in graduate school at Western Carolina University located in the North Carolina Appalachian mountains. I was fascinated by the knowledge that the locals shared on plant medicine and plants as food. My first herb book was Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible.  I started playing around with cayenne pepper, goldenseal, peppermint and various other simples. When I became pregnant, I bought Susan Weed’s Herbal for The Childbearing Year, which was invaluable. I read about herbs and used them at home for 16 years before starting the East West School of Planetary Herbology program.

In August 2009, after nine years in corporate America, I lost my job due to economy problems. My best friend convinced me it was time to follow my passion. I enrolled in East West in October 2009 and began studying the moment my books arrived. By the time the May seminar rolled around, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the program, so I did not go to the seminar. I got another full-time job and kept studying. I attended the seminar in 2011 and was inspired. I attended the seminar in 2012 and was not only inspired more deeply than before, but was empowered and saw my path unfolding in front of me. I began making plans on the plane trip home. Within a month I had created Emerald Coast Herbalist, LLC and had scheduled herbal medicine making classes at a local café. The classes were well received and I have been asked to continue teaching weekly classes each month. I have eight case studies that have developed from these classes and the word seems to be spreading. I have a DIY website that needs work but is up and running:  www.emeraldcoastherbalist.com. I have recently been asked to write an article for an online magazine about herbs and vitamins to help people stay healthy through the holidays.

I will be at the 2013 seminar ready to graduate and will be working toward acceptance into the American Herbalists Guild as a Registered Herbalist. I will continue teaching and may expand to the local community college. Clinical herbalism will be part-time for now. I hope to be able to do it full-time one day, but if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is to let the universe deliver what it will. I love sharing my knowledge and feel it is VERY important to let people know there are alternatives available.

In my (rare) free time I garden, go camping, hiking and go the beach. I go back to the mountains three or four times a year – a magical place full of beautiful and bountiful herbs.  I love making medicine and have a closet full of ‘stuff’ I have made over the last three years. Enrolling in East West was one of the best decisions I have ever made... Thanks universe!

lexcell2My parents introduced me to herbs and alternative healing at a young age. We grew vegetables and herbs at our Northeastern country retreat to use at home in the city. My amazingly adept parents guided my education on how to grow, harvest, and use the produce for healing, health, and well-being in several family cultural mind, body, and spiritual traditions.

This early education inspired my desire to learn more about healing which resulted in my pursuit of degrees in psychology and nursing. My undergraduate degree is in psychology and anthropological holistic health which I used to study cultural-based health practices. I earned two master's degrees in psychology, and due to my work in HIV and infectious disease, I completed another master's degree and licensure as a nurse practitioner, and earned a doctorate in nursing. When I found the East West School of Herbology, I realized this was a vehicle for achieving my goal to integrate herbology into my psychotherapy and nursing practice.

I currently use my skills working as a holistic-based psychotherapist, entrepreneur, nurse practitioner, faculty at the local university, and as a researcher in psychology and the use of complementary medicine. I continue to explore and experiment with growing healing botanicals and their use in chronic mental illness, illness prevention, psychological well-being, and healing from chronic and acute illness.

My husband helped me transform my gardens into a healing sanctuary to share with family and friends that embody our cultural traditions. With the assistance of my three magnificent daughters, I am finally achieving one of my many life goals to open a holistic health practice and have a local storefront that specializes in herbal preparation and holistic products for the mind, body, and spirit. You are invited to visit our website, www.myenchantedleaf.com for more information as we prepare for the opening of our storefront in Denver, Colo. Namaste.

john_roddyI've always loved the magic of Nature. It all began with growing up hiking and surfing the Northern California mountains and coastline. On most nights my dog, Turk, and I would head to the hills to see what nature may have in store for us. We'd return home with a sack full of plants, rocks, seashells and many critters.

I was probably about eight years old when I put up my first 'tinctures' in water. I was always fascinated with the mysterious alchemy of plants, natural healing and spiritual traditions of other cultures. It helped that I grew up in a family that exposed me to Eastern philosophies and healing traditions.

In college I pursued a degree in transpersonal psychology and gerontology while continuing a side line of delving into holistic studies. This eventually led me to co-create a holistic services business, Golden Tree Holistic, with my partner of 12 years.

On New Year's Eve 2009, I enrolled in the in Professional East West Course. I graduated May 2012. I've gained more than I ever imagined, through the support and curriculum provided, to add to my skill set in helping others on their paths to healing.

In addition to operating Golden Tree Holistic, I'm creating Community Herbs Wellness Center with fellow graduate, Nicole MacDonald, exploring mentorship toward membership to the AHG, completing certification for Medical QiGong and Auricular Therapy, all the while furthering my studies in herbal therapy and functional medicine. I also volunteer as director of a community garden for a local spiritual organization.

I love to paint and sculpt and I enjoy hiking, qigong, making medicine, gardening, permaculture, and tending to the 'girls' - my backyard chickens, pictured above: Summer, Sugarpie, Honeypie, and Lemon Balm (who, by the way, is cool & spicy), and my beautiful, white kitty, Angel.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude for this school and its curriculum. Michael and Lesley have created a wonderful, supportive environment for developing herbalists. The teachers are outstanding and the students and extended East West family... amazing. I'm deeply grateful to share this journey with all of you.

jwagnerGrowing up in Austria, I was surrounded by herbs and, more importantly, people who knew how to use them. We never saw a doctor except for compulsory school check-ups; instead, we were treated naturally - with herbs, items from the kitchen and the occasional use of homoeopathy.

That’s very much how I have been raising my three children for the past 20 years. We’ve seen everything from scarlet fever and chicken pox to whooping cough and impetigo... even the swine flu. We lived in London for 12 years and it was there I was asked to conduct workshops for mothers on how to treat children simply and naturally when everybody around them was popping antibiotics like they were M&Ms. I loved the enthusiasm parents showed for the likes of the “onion sock,” the “curd wrap” (around the chest, not for lunch!) and the “sea salt and eucalyptus tipi” – much more fun than Paracetamol!

So I decided to leave my days in advertising behind and formalise my education in alternative medicine. After reading Biomedicine at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London, I did a diploma in Naturopathy and the Professional Diploma in Ear Acupuncture. I had a small, but successful mobile practice which focused on pregnancy, childbirth and children and continued teaching people to overcome minor ailments “despite their doctor.”

In 2010, we relocated to Singapore and I had to look elsewhere to continue my education. I enrolled in the East West course in January 2011 and am planning to graduate next May with the most amazing bunch of fellow students!

After that I plan to continue my work with women and children. I am hoping to train as a doula and apply my knowledge of herbs and acupuncture that way. As we like living in and experiencing other cultures and will continue our Nomadic lifestyle, I am faced with varying degrees of acceptance of the practice of alternative medicine. I will have to be very creative about how I apply my knowledge and passion!

My other passion in life is food. I share the recipes I concoct in my own kitchen on www.thepassionatecook.com and have been a contributing writer for cookbooks or magazines like National Geographic around the world.

 

kcfigWhen I met my husband I had no concept of whole health or herbal medicine.  I secretly questioned what had been presented to me as absolute truths... in medicine, politics, religion, etc...but never had the courage to explore other possibilities.  We began conversing and I realized that not only did he have similar thoughts, he was not afraid to let them define him.  As we grew our love the smoky veil of false truths was lifted and I began to wholly exist.  My mind was finally free.  He said I was like a figment of his imagination...and so “Fig” was born.

And as our love story began, so began our profound love of plants and plant medicine. He shared with me a copy of the Tierra/Lust Natural Remedy Bible and I was fascinated.  On one hand, I had taken many camping and fishing trips with my mother and had great respect for nature.  On the other hand, as an RN she had raised me entirely in allopathic medicine.  This book was my very first exposure to what I call the true medicine and I was instantly hooked.

Our path led us to Great Cape Herbs Medicinal Herb Farm where we apprenticed for three growing seasons, hands-on learning cultivation, harvesting, preparation and application of over 200 plant species from our teachers Stephan Brown, Eliza Travisano and Karena Stroh.  During our time there we lived in a tent, experimented with a more sustainable way of life and attended several invaluable conferences such as IHS, NOFA and Bioneers.  For the past four years we have been hands-on learning the art of pregnancy, home birth and child rearing.  Our desire to be close to family during this time has brought us back to the Midwest, where the whole living way of life is still a fairly new concept.  It has been challenging, to say the least, but being a pioneer does have its advantages... I will be one of very few herbalists available and it is already clear that I will have many clients.

I used to say "I wish there was a school that applied aspects of all types of herbalism, from all cultures...that I could afford...and do from home.” Lo and behold, it does exist!  What an amazing gift the Tierras and their colleagues have given us!  I began the East West Professional Herbalist Course in February and it has greatly invigorated my love affair with plants.  Upon completion, I hope to obtain certification and begin giving consultations.  Our ultimate goal is to have a small, cozy herb shop where we make preparations of herbs we have grown available to the public.  As we both have extensive experience in food service and are deeply passionate about healing with whole foods, it is likely a small cafe will be included.  We will also offer classes on the basics of herbal medicine at little or no cost.

I love to sing, dance, garden, make art, play with my kids, hear live music, cook, and spend time with friends and family.  When I am not mothering or studying, you will find me at Theater Upon A Star Dance Swan; "a collection of fantastic characters scampering out of imagination...dramatic in spirit... dance their way into a storytellers theater."  My mentor Lorrie Keller is the matriarch of this band of merry artists.  We use our training in modern dance, theater, music, and visual art to create a magical world for children of all ages (as we are all children at heart) to discover their inner creativity.  I believe what we do is another very important aspect of healing.

At age 16, if you had grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, "K.C., you will be a healer!", I would have never believed you...

janekuntzI grew up in the Yorkshire Dales of England. In my late teens I developed a love of travel - not surface travel, like a tourist, but a sinking into and admiration of other cultures. I did Peace Corps, experiencing memorable summers in Scotland, Ireland, Morocco, Italy and Greece. I trained as a teacher/social worker, teaching a variety of ages, and working with troubled teens. A second degree, in theology, led me to church social work in Scotland.

But I always had a passion for health and healing. As a child I rescued stray cats and kept them in boxes in the hedgerow, feeding them scraps from the fish and chip shop.  This passion attracted me to the Seventh-day Adventist church, where I have learned much about preventive lifestyle and natural remedies. I worked at a natural healing center in Norway, before heading for America, where I met my husband, Rick.

My passion took a back seat as we raised our children. But when our youngest went to college, I decided to take the plunge. Mom had just passed to her rest, and there was a small legacy. What better way to honor my dear mother than to learn the plants she had taught me to love? 

After a six-month apprenticeship with a local herbalist, there was no turning back. I tore the brush and briars off a neglected bank, and planted an herb garden. I enrolled with the late Clayton College, intending to complete their Master Herbalist Certificate, and earned their Consulting Herbalist Certificate, but I knew I needed more.

I looked into different schools and was drawn to East West. For me personally, it was a blessing that Clayton closed, or I would not have discovered East West. I love the course itself, and all the extra-curricular opportunities. I can enjoy logging into the online classroom forum and the Wednesday Night Chat with Susan Kramer is a jewel chest.

I would like to complete the 36 lessons, take part in the May seminar, and possibly seek mentorship. My goal is to teach herbal healing in the community and to develop a small home practice, offering consultations, and selling homegrown and wildcrafted remedies. Currently I work alongside Rick in pastoral work, teach a monthly herbal class, and give free consultations when asked. My hobbies are my herb garden; walking with our dog, Wolfy; feeding backyard birds; exploring Maine islands; and horse-riding, cycling and kayaking when opportunity presents. I still love to travel - our family goes each Christmas to bless the children at an orphanage in Honduras. I am developing a medicinal herb garden for them too, and have become by default their "on call" herbal consultant!

hollyhuttonThe Herbal Tarot Deck was my gateway into the East West Course. I am an artist and am working on a tarot deck. I pulled out my Herbal Tarot Deck as an inspiration and started wondering who the creator was. Thanks to the Internet, I discovered Michael Tierra and The East West program. I had been looking at herbal programs for some time and when I found Michael and Lesley's course, I saw it as a sign and enrolled. So here I am three years later, excited about my future, and I am closing in on my last months of the professional herbalist course. I intend to plow ahead and work towards my certified herbalist degree as soon as I complete all 36 lessons. I have been mentoring with K.P. Khalsa for the past year, and will continue until I become a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild.

As a Gemini, I always seem to have two distinct focuses. I have a two Master degrees, one in art and one in counseling. For the past 25 years I have worked in social services, most recently as a deputy director for a large non-profit helping people out of poverty. A few years ago, I realized that I was spinning my wheels. I quit my job last year with the goal of teaching people how they could heal themselves. Currently, I formulate herbal products that I market through stores, fairs, etc. I teach herbal courses through our community college, senior center and retirement centers, etc. Most recently I got a job as a community garden coordinator for Central Oregon, with a focus on obesity prevention. I am an avid gardener and specialize in growing medicinal herbs.

When not working, I ski, hike, camp, go to Burning Man and otherwise dream of traveling to far away places. The East West program has been everything that I could ask for. The weekly chats with Susan Kramer are invaluable, the seminar is exhausting and stimulating, but most importantly, Lesley and Michael have paved the way for those of us who aspire to become clinical herbalists to achieve our dreams.

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