Do you have peppermint, sage, parsley or catnip growing in your garden or a pot on the porch? Is there an aloe plant on your windowsill? Are there raspberries, nettles, dandelions in your yard? Besides spicing up a stew or salad, have you wondered about the medicinal benefits these plants have to offer?
Herbs, trees, flowers, mosses, and ferns are the foundation of our modern medicine, and the tradition of herbal lore stretches back through the centuries to our very beginnings. “Herbs are key to a greater understanding of our health and of our relationship with Earth,” says EagleSong Evans Gardener.
Herbalist, teacher, lecturer, writer and gardener, EagleSong has been studying herbs and plants for more than 40 years. Her education began as a child in Seattle, where she was allowed the freedom to be outside a good deal of time. She came to relate intensely and intimately with nature. She also spent summers helping on her aunt and uncle’s farm in Twisp, where she experienced the wildness of Eastern Washington and learned the value of hard work needed for a farm to prosper.
After graduating high school, this independent, intrepid young woman created her own ecology and anthropology learning experience through Fairhaven College in Bellingham. This took her and a friend to Cape Alava, on the Olympic Peninsula, the westerly most point of the contiguous U.S. The two young women lived in a shelter near the beach for three months, studying life in the forest, on the beach, in the sea and hanging out with spirits of the ancestors of the native tribes that had inhabited this area in the past. The day they left, Dr. Richard Doughtery arrived to begin excavation of the ancient Ozette Indian Village archeological site at Cape Alava, adjacent to their camp.
This experience inspired EagleSong to leave college and begin a deep immersion in the University of Nature. Her path with gardeners and herbalists, to shamans and storytellers from many cultures and countries, has produced an unusual depth of field and scope of practice.
Six years ago, EagleSong traveled to the midlands of England, to visit the village where her grandmother was born and directly experience her lineage of the Wise Woman tradition, which she practices today. She studied healing herbs and plants used by her European ancestors. She returned with an appreciation and acknowledgement of the wisdom of country people, and a deepened alliance with the magic and medicine of hawthorn tree, an herb she affectionately refers to as “the gnarly old hag.” Its most beneficial feature, she discovered, is to strengthen the heart, physically and emotionally. A tree with 2,718 species around the globe, hawthorn thrives locally. EagleSong harvests the leaves, flowers and berries for use in teas and tinctures, as well as many other plants growing in the Northwest.
EagleSong founded RavenCroft Garden on the outskirts of Monroe in 1992. The term croft was first used in the British Isles, before the 12th century. It refers to an enclosed field, usually adjoining a house that is bigger than a garden, but smaller than a farm. Here, EagleSong offers classes, apprenticeships and women’s circles, where the tradition of tuning in to the language of nature is practiced and the deep wisdom of herbs and plants and their relationship to humans is experienced.
RavenCroft provides an earth-centered, woman-honoring educational experience, a pathway that deepens our understanding of the connectedness of all things.
“Herbs are our green allies,” she says. “Keeping herbs in our hearts, hands and homes nourishes and strengthens our families and communities.”
In addition to classes and circles offered at RavenCroft, EagleSong is an international speaker who was featured just this year at the Northwest Herb Symposium, the Green Gathering on Camano Island and the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. She will be speaking at Women of Wisdom in Seattle this month. She also has a blog, ravencroftgarden.blogspot.com, where she “ruminates on cultivating of life and a garden in the wise woman tradition.” There you can find her dancing through the seasons and sharing her unique perspective on health and healing.
Every September, EagleSong hosts the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference at Camp Hamilton in Monroe (pacificwomensherbalconference.com). This is an annual celebration of woman and nature, offering workshops and intensives in herbal medicine making, wild-crafting, radical botany, shamanic herbalism, fermentation, a Kidz camp and more.
You’re invited to join EagleSong at RavenCroft Garden, to experience a women’s wisdom circle, take a class, or dive deep in the Healing From the Ground Up community-centered herbal apprenticeship. Men are welcome to join the nine-month apprentice program and weekend classes as well. Allow yourself to awaken safely and wisely to new and ancient ways of health, happiness and longevity with herbs.