I had the extreme pleasure of working alongside Dr. Terry Willard of Wild Rose College between 2012 and 2014 as a Herbalist in his clinic, a student coordinator, Iridology instructor and as his personal assistant and editor.
Working with Terry, whether we were shooting videos for online courses, managing his store of herbs and flower essences or uploading herbal monographs, was a learning experience in all of the branches a herbalist might choose to follow in his/her career. I learned about the running of a clinic and a college, the making and marketing of tinctures, formulas and cleanse-friendly foods. I learned by sitting in with Terry how to question a client efficiently but compassionately, addressing the root of the problem while caring for the symptoms. I followed his queue by creating my own blog, and took part in the larger herbal community by representing the college at events and tradeshows.
My beginnings in herbal medicine are humble. Casting about for that big something I was going to do with my life, I was plagued by the nagging feeling that there was an important task to accomplish and I was needed somewhere – and if I didn’t get moving I was going to live in the limbo of early-twenties uncertainty forever.
At that time I worked in a trendy cafe and every morning I passed by the Wild Rose College brochure of classes that occupied advertising space in the cafe’s entrance along with ads for yoga studios and babysitters.
One day on my break I picked that brochure up – and encountered the word “Herbalist” for the very first time.
“An herbalist uses plants and other natural substances to improve health, promote healing, and prevent and treat illness.”
quote courtesy of www.healthcommunities.com
Helping people is something that excites me; indeed at the time I was deeply involved in helping people in my life and, for a while, tended to make friends solely with people who needed my help to heal (I hope to write more about this habit of healers and how to make it work for you it later).
I began taking courses at Wild Rose in 2007. On my first day of Botany & Plant Identification I knew Herbalism was the something I had been asked to do, and I never looked back.
Words From My Mentor
Terry was probably my most influential herbal mentor, and his words of wisdom are ever present in my head, whether I am creating a new formula or working with a client. Some of the points that stick with me the most over the years are included below, some paraphrased due to the very general nature of my memory.
“The Whole Herb and Nothing But the Herb, So Help You Herbalist.”
I don’t know when Terry started using this expression but I will never forget it. It was a tongue in cheek endorsement of the use of a whole plant in lieu of an extract. Because nature is perfect without our interference, a plant can be relied upon to provide all of the components (including its’ unique energetic imprint) better than any extract ever could. Terry liked to tell us there are thousands of chemicals in a plant that we don’t know about, and the combination and amounts of those chemicals interact in just the right way to give us the needed action of a herb.
“Those are festival foods.”
Referring to breads, desserts, candy and other less than wholesome foods, this was Terry’s way of saying that a particular food is best consumed only during celebrations and not as a part of everyday life. We expect to eat like kings and queens at a feast everyday in the Western world, and reframing that expectation for a client can help them accept that eating healthy foods most days is best.
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
This one is related to the quote about festival foods; I’m sure it is not his own quote but it is one he used often. Terry held that on average most cultures had a festival or celebration about once per month. So, once per month is a good time to cut loose and eat your favorite festival foods.
“Those are software problems, not hardware problems.”
This is a brilliant metaphor for the influence one’s mind has over the health and well being of one’s body. Some people with the strongest minds don’t know how to use and release their mental energy. In short, they think too much, and that thinking increases their stress to the point of having a physical impact on their nerves, organs and tissues. The problem isn’t with the tissues (hardware) themselves but with the overthinking and enervation (software) that caused them to become stressed.
“Watch what you ask for. We are more powerful than we think.”
By putting a thought or desire strongly out into the Noosphere we are making a request that can alter physical reality. This effect is especially strong when compounded by the thoughts or desires of many people.
“Earth, Gaia, Pachimama, Puchimama . . .”
The planet we live on, by whatever name you call Her. Terry would say all four of these names together (usually in this exact order) as if to remind that She is known to and venerated by many cultures. His love of cultures and the wisdom they hold for us has inspired me to research medicinal and spiritual lessons from other parts of the globe.
These expressions hold memories for me that complement the learning I received directly from Terry and from other instructors and herbalists at the Wild Rose College. They keep attitudes and theories that I find helpful in my work close to the forefront of my brain. They have become a part of my culture.
Herbalists have the honor and responsibility of reacquainting the people of our time with traditional lifestyles, a healing education that improves the quality and meaning of life for the people who lack a culture of their own to guide them.
Though he has since moved away from Calgary to the Rainy Coast of Southern BC, Terry Willard has left a legacy of connection and knowledge behind for the little community of herbalists who choose to make Alberta their home.
You can read Dr. Terry Willard’s blog to learn more about his philosophies and thoughts of healing, life, the universe and everything. It is located at www.drterrywillard.com.
This year I moved into an apartment in the city. One if its best features is a 10 foot by 4 foot, South-facing patio that backs onto the quiet alley behind my building. When I first planted a few tomato seedlings in late March I never dreamed that this tiny space would become my sanctuary, complete with dappled shade and soft grass for sunbathing.
The tall vines grow up the railing, keeping me hidden from passersby in the alley below. And the best part – all of the plants in my garden are edible as greens, fruits or flowers!
Tips on Patio Gardening
1. Plant a zealous amount of seedlings of the climbing and vining type.
Planting a multitude of seedlings means you will have plenty of young healthy plants to choose from for your patio garden. I started my seedlings inside in March in a sunny window. My seedlings included black and red cherry tomatoes, sugar-snap peas, chives, thai basil, beets, chamomile, and lettuce mix.
2. You can buy mature plants at the garden center for your garden to give it some green in the early weeks.
I acquired a 4 foot tall rosemary tree that sits in the corner of the garden and brings the eye up. It gave the young garden some ‘height’ while the other plants were still tiny. Some tall leafy garlics and organic strawberry plants, and thickets of nasturtium and sorrel added instant color and body to my garden.
3. Choose planters that are lightweight and easy to move. Weight is an important consideration for unsupported patios. A freshly watered planter with soil and a robust family of plants is surprisingly heavy. My 1’x1’x3′ planters weigh about 40 pounds each before watering.
Another reason to have easy to move planters is that your garden will evolve as the seasons progress and your plants get bigger, flower and produce fruit. You may want to move them around to give some plants more sun or shade depending on their preference. I arrange my garden like I arrange furniture, to freshen up the place and make it new again (this is a huge advantage of container gardening by the way). Get planters with handles for bonus points.
**Make sure your planters are at least 12 inches deep.**
My first set of planters were too small (only 6 inches deep) to sustain my tomatoes and peas so I ended up transplanting them into larger wooden pots mid-season so they could make it up to the top of the railing.
4. Arrange planters around the perimeter of the patio, leaving space in the center for your sanctuary.
I found a 3 foot by 9 foot roll of soft, realistic plastic grass to grace the center of my patio; I call it ‘the lawn’. It has become a second living room where I can read while laying in the sun. I even removed my deck chairs in favor of lounging on the lawn. This picture was taken in June when my peas and tomatoes where still less than a foot tall.
Decorating my garden included adding a couple of pretty river rocks that act as miniature tables, a peppermint plant from my mother in law’s garden and a small firepot for chilly nights. There is also a barbeque sitting over the railing. As you can see we managed to pack a lot of living into a small space. Next year I plan to get a garden gnome to guard the sanctuary!
5. Train your viney plants to grow up the railing, filling in the gaps with bushy flowering/fruiting plants.
Privacy is important to me. Although my patio backs onto a quiet alley I prefer to sit down on my lawn and pretend I live in a jungle. I can see out but my neighbors can’t see in.
Have Fun and Personalize Your Garden
Cherry tomatoes are my all-time favorite garden fruit! The amount of tomatoes we got out of our 3 3-foot planters is astounding, and with only 1 tray of lettuce we couldn’t keep up with eating what we produced.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
And while you are at it, take a picture of your patio garden to share with me and other gardeners in the comments below. Happy Herbing!
New Classes, Practicum programs and Clinical opportunities for Herbalists, Iridologists, Students & Groups in Calgary & Lethbridge!
Many of the courses below can be applied towards your Wild Rose College of Natural Healing credits or practicum hours. Other colleges may also accept our programs for credit – please ask your college administrator.
Attend the First meeting of the Energetic Practitioners to provide input into how the group will be run, including how often it is to be held and on what days, which modalities and instructors we will learn from, and to find out other administrative details such as the cost of the program and payment plans.
Please come to Ray of Light (address below) on January 30th, 2014 to attend the 1-hour meeting. We will begin exactly at 6:05pm.
You can also sign-up for the Iridology segment, beginning that evening, at the link provided HERE.
6:00-7:00pm, January 30th 2015: Administrative Meeting
Introductions, discuss layout for modalities and clinical practice nights, confidentiality agreement
Choosing modalities to focus on for the rest of the year (Iridology + 2 others), as well as modalities for next year. Suggestions for instructors and modalities will be accepted for review. Students who wish to instruct a segment should attend this meeting to present the idea to the group.
Discussing cost (which changes depending on instructors) and payment schedule
Discuss meeting 4x monthly instead of 2x monthly
Volunteer clients for Clinical Practice nights
How to Find Ray of Light Holistic Living: Starting from Crowchild Trail, exit onto Flanders Avenue and continue through the main gates of the Currie Barracks. Take the first Right turn into the parking lot across from building B8.
“The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love…. It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community. A community practicing understanding and loving kindness. A community practicing mindful living. The practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Next Buddha May Be A Sangha” in Inquiring Mind journal, Spring 1994.
Within this three to four day gathering I wish to cultivate a community sharing information, reminders, and a call to awakening. Through the sharing of medicine we remind each and every
single person how beautiful we really are. We care for our home, each other, and our conscious awaking.
This particular Sangha focuses on medicine through the light of Kosha. Kosha is the multi-integrated layers of a human being. Anna (physical being), Pranna (energy being), Manna (the mind), Vigna (intuitive wisdom), and Annanda (connection to source).
Energetic presenters focus on Prana (breath), mudras, Chinese medicine/chi, Doshas-Ayurveda, and herbal medicine.
Intellectual presenters focus on chakra, psychology, belief systems, meditation, cultural healing, and intentional community living.
On the final day we will unite all the Koshas to open up the creativity of dance and music, prayer, and the creation of Maitreya in all of us.
Website and details to be provided soon. In the meantime please bookmark this page and check back often for updates. Namaste!