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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Journey 3: Marshall, NC/Southeast Wise Woman Herbal Immersion

Merry Meet Friends!
Michelle here bringing lots of light and love!

Wow, what a fantastic week! The SE Wise Woman Herbal Immersion was the best gift I could have gifted myself.  The sign at the entrance to the room we met in said: The Red Tent; Wild Women of all ages and stages.  I knew that I was in the right place but that sealed the deal!  Corinna Wood is a gifted teacher and herbalist and her assistants, Jenna, Jackie, Laurie and Virginia made us feel as if we had known each other for years.  It is a pleasure to be in the company of like minded women always and this was immensely pleasurable.  The Immersion was held at Bend of Ivy Lodge which is absolutely gorgeous, rooms were comfortable and clean and the food was wholesome and delicious. 

We started our week on Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 5pm.  First we individually stated our name and did a gesture that we felt described us.  Our name and the gesture was repeated back to us by the group.  Then we played, Anyone Else?, a game in which we stated a fact or facts about ourselves and asked, Anyone Else?.  Then the person or persons would step into the circle with us, acknowledging the commonality.  Each who wished took a turn.  It was a wonderful way to get to know each other.  Then we went outside to do our first plant walk.  Afterwards we formed a circle, sang a blessing and sat down to a delicious dinner.  In the evening we held our opening ceremony outside.  We formed a circle around the fire pit as the staff played drums and we sang songs to Gaia.

Every morning we started our sessions with a song, shaking ourselves loose and breathing deeply.  We took plant walks every day to identify wild plants for food and medicine.  On Monday afternoon we made herbal medicines with plants we collected.  Monday evening there was a circle of youngest to elder.  If we wished we could stand in the middle of the circle and share something with our sisters.  Each one of us did.  Tuesday we discussed women's health issues in the morning session.  In our afternoon plant walk, Corinna said to the women that when she awakened she had a thought to honor me as a breast cancer survivor and thriver and the eldest woman of color in the group.  She asked if they were willing to pick medicinal plants to make an infusion to gift to me.  They all agreed and each one after picking the plant came to me and paid their respect.  I was deeply moved and of course cried.  What a lovely way to be honored.

On Tuesday afternoon by the river, we did gentle yoga stretches.  On Tuesday night we watched The Burning Times, a documentary about women accused of being witches for meeting in circles.  If actual burnings were still happening in the US, we would all have been burned.  It was difficult to watch that film as it is any film of injustice, prejudice and inhumane treatment.  The only thing that made it somewhat bearable was the organic popcorn. Yummy!  On Wednesday morning we used a talking stick to discuss our feelings about the film.  Afterwards we discussed nourishing foods for our bodies.  Corinna said something that gave me the answer to why I had been snacking in Greensboro and not in Earthaven.  Our bodies are always or usually hungry for food because we don't get the vitamins and minerals from foods that are non organic and processed.  When we eat nourishing wholesome foods we don't feel the need to snack as often or at all.  That is so true.

Nettle soup was made with the nettles collected that morning and boy was it delicious!  Wednesday night we had free time.  Some of the group went into Asheville and the rest of us went to Hot Springs for the hot tubs near the French Broad River.  I started not to go but I'm glad I did.  We shared more and the water was very healing for the sore knees and legs some of us had from all the plant walks up and down hills.  When we returned to the lodge, the Asheville group hadn't returned yet.  We played the cupid shuffle song and I taught the women the line dance.  As we were dancing the other women came in and joined in the fun.  I said to them it would be nice to present the dance to Corinna and staff.  One of the women, Michelle, (I was called Mickie to cut down on confusion) suggested that we "flash mob" Corinna.  I never heard the term before but its when someone or a group comes up to a person or persons and starts to dance.  We practiced with one of the staff members, Virginia, which is who found the song.

On Thursday morning Corinna didn't attend the morning session for the plant ID quiz so we were upset about the line dance.  The plan was for me to ask if I could teach a body movement, cue the music, get on the floor and signal the other women.  I thought about it and felt Corinna would ask me to share it at that night's sharing.  I went to her assistant, Jenna and told her about the dance.  Jenna said I was correct about what would be said, so just to do it and Corinna would love it.  We changed it to everyone going out together when we heard the music. When Corinna came down she moved to the other end of the room which kind of threw me because we practiced from the other way.  That's from being in my head too much.  Corinna was ready to go outside for our plant walk so everyone looked to me as to what to do.  I was just as confused and finally said let's do it!  The music was loud and Corinna, thinking it was an audio mistake started dancing until she saw synchronized movement.  SHE absolutely loved it!  Later we did it for Deva, the cook and Corinna asked, "May I dance this time?"  We laughed and said of course.  AT the end of the dance she said, "I knew it would pay off having women of color." 

In Thursday's afternoon session we communicated with plants and learned about herbal first aid.. Later we made tinctures.  That night we dressed in red for our Red Tent sharing.  We could teach a dance, share thoughts or give whatever we wished to share.  It was wonderful.  On Friday, our last day, we made a healing salve and talked about where to go from here.  After a beautiful lunch, we had our closing ceremony out in the woods.  Of course, there were plenty of tears.  There is so much I'm not writing but it was overwhelming and I don't know if I could write it all.  I have been to many conferences, some mixed and some just for women, but never have I felt as moved, grateful and loved by people who didn't know each other six days before.  We formed a bond that I hope will not be broken. 

Until next Sunday.....
Merry part and merry meet again,
Gypsi Mama Michelle


  1. Awesome to hear the positive spirits in regards to this leg of the journey.

    You transcribe these moments well, putting us right in it. Keep da faith!


  2. Ditto WideZike. I think you inherited your ability to regale (give a colorful account of) your journey from Aunt Alma. I look forward to each post - it allows us all to journey vicariously through you.

    Much love always...

  3. Thank you Brandon and Debbie for your comments. I'm happy that you feel a part of the journey. Blessed be!

  4. Great read..see all that dancing we do has made you the star of the