William Blake famously wrote of "the doors of perception" that keep us from seeing everything "as it is. Infinite." Our brains do, indeed, filter our perceptions to help us manage our experience of the world. We will talk about this process of "sensory gating" and how psychedelics and other medicines from the plant and fungal worlds can help to shift our sensory gating.
Emerging science tells us that psilocybin changes the very structure of the brain, shifting our sense of who we are and how we relate to the world. We will delve into that science and its implications. And speak of ways to work with these mushrooms to integrate our consciousness with the living world.
Oxytocin plays a pivotal role in childbirth, and in inspiring people to nurture and protect each other. Come explore this molecule, and the plants that help to elevate or potentiate it. This being Mother's Day, we will spend a lot of time with Motherwort, of course. We will also explore Blue Cohosh, Blue Lotus, and other oxytocic herbs.
Blackthorn and Bramble. Hawthorn and Rose. Thorny plants grow at the borders between forest and field, between this world and the Otherworld. Come learn about the magic of thorns and the sacred beauty they protect.
Lá Bealtaine comes when the Hawthorn blooms. This ancient Irish festival marks the beginning of the bright half of the year, when life flows from the Otherworld, calling forest and field and hedgerow into blossom. We will explore both traditional and modern ways to celebrate this season of fertility.
Our habits of mind so often stand in the way of our experiencing the living world directly. We will explore practices and medicine allies that help us enter into an embodied experience of being alive on Earth.
We are deeply connected with all the living beings of this world with whom we share breath. In a time when species are vanishing, forests are burning, and the climate is changing, we cannot help but feel grief and loss and fear – even if we do not name or acknowledge them. We will talk about the nature of this grief, and ways that plants and fungi can help us navigate it.
The line between poison and medicine can be a thin one – and sometimes poisoning can be an initiatory threshold that allows one who transmutes the poison and lives to tell the tale to enter into a new way of being and seeing. We will explore what magical and healing traditions teach about the nature of poison. And we will speak of the gifts and virtues of poisonous plants like Datura, Aconite, and Yew.
A fascinating new study points to the likelihood that our heart rates influence the ways we experience time. We will explore the implications of this possibility: Does a Blue Whale experience time as moving more slowly than a Sparrow does? Does a forest hermit experience time as moving more slowly than a stockbroker does? And we will look at how herbs from Passionflower to Coffee may change our experience of time by changing the rhythms of our hearts.
We are used to associating testosterone with masculinity. In reality, this molecule plays in important role in bone density, muscle size and strength, fertility, libido, and more in people (and other creatures) of all sexes and genders. We will explore the nature of this molecule, and herbs that increase, reduce, modulate, and synergize with it.
Snow melts, water flows, and the first flowers emerge. Life stirs in the land and in our bodies. In this class, we will talk about common plants like Dandelion, Violet, and Nettles, long used to help the body clear out the metabolic residues of seasons past, and other allies that can help liven our minds and spirits as new life emerges around us.
Throughout the body, histamine acts to stimulate inflammation as a part of our frontline immune response. In the brain, histamine is associated with alertness and wakefulness – and histamine imbalances are associated with agitation, panic, and addiction. We will explore the nature of histamine, and the ways in which herbs like Reishi, Albizzia, and Rose can play in balancing histamine responses.