My Experience at the Midwest Herbal Conference 2017

Ever since I’ve been working on the divine feminine app, I’ve been hearing about the ‘Herbal Conferences’ and how great they are. They are all over the USA (most likely the world?), and I have heard from woman after woman that they are incredible.

But they have not been high on my list to attend because I did not consider myself a ‘herbalist’. Maybe a ‘herbalist wanna be’ but intimidated and overwhelmed by all of it.

Use plants to ‘heal’? Not me! I’d pick the wrong plant. Heck, I can’t even deal with my garden. I’m a ‘gardener wanna be’ too but I just don’t have the time nor the knowledge for it.

So I signed up for the Midwest Herbal conference with a bit of trepidation. I love circles and drumming and all things spiritual, and the conference had that, so I figured I would be okay. Plus my other motivation was meeting these ‘wise women’. I learn so much and see so many possibilities when I attend these events. It might not be ‘me’, but you see all these other paths you could have traveled.  I applied for the work program because not only did it knock a good chunk of the registration cost off, I also figured that this way I’d get to see the ‘insides’ of the conference and meet even more women.

The first place I was assigned was the kitchen. I found that amusing as you can add ‘cook’ to my long list of ‘wanna be’s’. My mom was not a cook. She was a career woman: a pharmaceutical rep for Bristol Meyer Squibb and a darn good one. That was back in the heyday of that career where she’d win contest after contest and get trips to Europe and thousands of dollars. But cooking wasn’t her thing either. And I’m not sure I ever even saw my dad so much as open a can, so we rather fended for ourselves or made do when it came to meals.

On marriage number one, I broke out all those cookbooks and tried my hardest, but gave up rather quickly as life got busier. Too many times of spending hours on a meal only to have it come out horrible. No way. Not for me.

Today I just try my best when it comes to meals. Husband #2 does cook, and we make do with our ‘basic 5’ meals. But again, it’s not fun. We’re tired and stressed out, and he reminds me a bit of Ramsay in the kitchen, so I confess I use that age-old traditionally male trick of ‘no dear, I don’t know how to do it. You better do it.’ 😉

But working at the kitchen at the Midwest Herbal conference rocked. The woman working in it and running it were kind, efficient, hard working with music playing and dancing. THAT’s what a kitchen is supposed to be like. All that love going in to the food. I wish I had that community at home where at least sometimes you were able to share the responsibility and repetitiveness of cooking with some other lovely people. I would guess a lot of us feel that way.

I had a break on my work duties, and then my next job was to help with the Tents making sure that the presenters had everything they needed. I found myself finished at the last tent with the Rev. Judith Laxer and the Art of Ritual. So I sat down.

Judith grew up in a different religion, but like many of us, she did not find what she needed in that environment and is now a licensed, ordained, SHES (Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards) Minister. She was funny and lively and … the workshop was a circle. In the three and a half years that I have been hosting Women’s Circles on the new and full moons, this weekend was actually the first time I did not host one, and it being a beautiful full moon, I had been feeling badly about that.  How wonderful to find myself in a circle!

Judith spoke about the need we have for ritual, what makes a ‘ritual’ and how your actions form a ‘cone of power’: directed energy that you can then send towards something of  ‘the greater good’ or a personal intention.  Sound silly?  Both prayer and the power of your mind have been scientifically proven.  (I write about that in this elephant journal post of mine here.)

The night ended with the Keynote speaker Ubaka Hill. I was pretty much beat by this time, but wow, is Ubaka talented and charismatic: a great first day.

Yada yada yada. I don’t want to give you a play by play of the whole weekend. Every single woman there had her own unique experience and found what she needed. The more I go to these events, the more I see the similarities. Sometimes for the newbies, it can be overwhelming. Here you are in this ‘safe place’; possibly for the first time in your life. And THINGS COME OUT. Things that need to come out: feelings, emotions, conversations. But I’m not going to lie; sometimes that is difficult. And those things manifest themselves in physical ailments like migraines and exhaustion and whatnot. I think I’m finally learning how to better navigate these waters and the dance of ‘engage/disengage’, learning when I need to run off and recharge.

Which is what I found myself doing Saturday night. Wait a minute, let me back up a minute. The highlight of my Saturday was a workshop by Ubaka Hill. Luckily it was at the farthest location and therefore a bit lighter attended than it would have been. Maybe 15ish of us there while she taught us this amazing ‘vocable’ song (sounds that aren’t ‘words’ but are more gutteral, more ‘authentic’ in a way?) and how to drum and sing and make music along with it.

We spent the majority of the workshop learning the rhythm and the vocables and it finally climaxed in a tight circle with drummers, rattles, etc., some of us singing each a different verse, taking turns standing in the center letting the music wash over us and take us to different planes. We were back in the forest, and it was a windy day so the leaves even accompanied us. 

We were using this to form that ‘cone of power’ that Judith spoke of earlier.  And then at every circle I went to, we would then set a beautiful intention at the end.  You know that ol’ adage that you can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re going?  Well, this is a group of women who know where they want to go and what they want to do!

And Ubaka said that unlike some of those trips where ‘what’s done in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. Nope. Not at these conferences. Take what you learn and go forth. Help others to have these experiences! Rippling across the world. That’s what we’re doing.

Anyhow, by sunset, I had again had enough and found myself heading back to my remote cabin where I ran into another work volunteer. We found ourselves talking and sitting down in the tent field enjoying the beauty and quiet of that full moon and doing a lot of laughing and sharing stories.

The thing that got us started was when I confessed to her that I wasn’t all that into herbs. ‘Huh?’, she said. And as I explained my background, she talked about her’s.

She told me a story about how mullein ‘spoke’ to her teaching her an important life lesson.  She is studying with Linda Conroy, the founder of the Midwest Herbal conference and also the founder of Moonwise Herbs, and she told me how incredible Linda’s program is and just how life changing.

Maybe someday I’ll be a herbalist I told her, but for now, at least I have my lovely, wild backyard and neighborhood forest. When life and anxiety gets too much, I go out there, and it always brings solace and comfort.

And then she said something that shifted everything for me, ‘Karen, you are a herbalist. That is what you’re doing when you’re out there in your garden and the woods. You’re communicating with the plants. THAT is what being a herbalist is. You don’t have to know every plants name and its function and be able to prescribe or suggest remedies … you just have to be willing to LISTEN.

You just have to be willing to listen.

You know Ubaka said something else that really stuck. She said, ‘we’re building a culture.’

All these circles and events and the concept of the divine feminine. We’re finding our roots in indigenous cultures, and we’re adapting them to the now and what works. With nature and drumming and exploring and letting out our feelings and figuring out how to really live with them and use them and shifting our thinking from mind to heart while still ‘getting things done’.

And by going to these events and then bringing back what we learn and really making ‘community’ where we live (and hopefully small neighborhood women’s circles), we’re redefining what ‘feminine’ means. We’re changing the world.

The divine feminine.

Are you listening?

Find a Womens Circle .Com … add your women’s circle, add your event, check out what is near you … the divine feminine app.  Rising.  <3