Wisdom of the Herbs is a unique Certification Program that focuses on local wild herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees, sustainable living skills, healthy life-style, skillful use of intentionality, and profound connection with Nature. Eight full weekend meetings span the arc of three seasons, from April to November.
Our hands-on curriculum facilitates deep engagement with the local wild plants through plant identification, plant spirit communication, and sustainable wild harvesting. The daily rhythm includes herb walks, harvesting and preparing local plants for home remedies and wild edibles, lecture and discussion, and communion and play with wild Nature. Learning primitive and homesteading skills and addressing food as our first medicine emerges naturally out of this rich fabric.
The profound challenges of these transition times offer profound opportunities as well. We believe the balance of experiences, knowledge and skills offered in this program are an excellent foundation for those who wish to take their part in the harmonious personal, community and planetary evolution that is currently emerging on the planet.
Dates: April 22-23, May 20-21, June 17-18, July 15-16, August 12-13, Sept 9-10,
Oct 7-8 and Nov 4-5, 2017.
Class meets 10:00 am to 4:00 pm for eight weekends. You are welcome to arrive as early as 9:30am to commune with the land, browse the library and visit with your classmates over a cup of herbal tea.
Tuition: Tuition is $1750. The non-refundable, non-transferable deposit of $250 holds your place. (See below for payment options.)
Local Wild Plants: Herb walks and nature adventures allow students to rapidly build their wild plant identification skills and relationship with the local herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs, combining scientific knowledge with intuitive connection with the spirit of the plant. Practice spiritual dowsing, an ancient art of inner knowing, a highly useful tool for communing with nature beings and much more. Become proficient at identifying plants using the botanical key in Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, the standard field guide preferred by amateurs and professionals alike. Experience the timelessness of communion between Nature and self.
Wild Edibles: Learn to identify a wide range of wild edibles, at what stage to harvest them, and how to properly prepare them. Practice the principles of sustainable wild foraging and ways to offer gratitude.
Medicine Making: Over the course of the eight meetings, students will make tincture, infused oil, salve, poultice, compress, capsule, pill balls and smudge, working intentionally with the spirit of the plants. Students apply these skills to put together a customized first aid kit for home use.
Food as our First Medicine and Healthy Life-style Practices: Throughout Wisdom of the Herbs, we address and practice using vital foods and supportive daily practices to nurture health and healing. Our Saturday potluck lunches serve as a laboratory to practice the essentials of preparing whole and traditionally processed organic foods, locally grown when possible. Explore how to eat by blood type. Learn principles of physical and spiritual cleansing and detoxification, and experience how thought, word and attitude affect cellular vitality.
Sustainable Living Skills: Primitive and homesteading skills are tremendously valuable in these transition times. Participants receive step-by-step technical and attitudinal instruction from our guest teachers on fire making by friction, and carve their own bow drill kit, and also learn cordage making with local plant material, milkweed and dogbane. We check in with the gardens regularly and review principles of root cellaring and cold storage of crops for winter use.
The Inner Journey: Working joyfully with the nature beings and each other, a rich, safe, grounded container is created, allowing inner shifts and often life-changing openings for participants. Our eight meetings from spring to fall allow time for students to not only experience these profound spaces but also to truly integrate them into their daily lives.
Small Class Size: The small group size (no more than 21) allows each participant to see every plant and hear the instructors on our herb walks, and facilitates sharing and discussion, an important part of our program. Wisdom students tend to bond readily, and create a ‘Wisdom culture’ which often extends beyond our meetings.
Physical Demands of the Program: During Wisdom of the Herbs, we are outdoors much of class time, walking and hiking, sitting and lying on the earth. We are only able to accept applicants who are essentially healthy and able to accomplish moderately difficult hiking. Please contact Annie if you have questions.
Second Year Participation: We encourage participants to return for a second year to build upon the foundation of the first, growing and strengthening their knowledge and wisdom within the healing container of Wisdom of the Herbs and expanding into the limitlessness of inner and outer Nature. Second year participants may return as an Assistant, (See Assistantship Program), or as a regular student. Several students have attended for three years!
Who benefits from taking Wisdom of the Herbs?
Everyone who wants to walk out their door and greet their plant-neighbors by name.
All who seek to live more sustainably on the Earth and foster deeper communion with Nature.
Herbalists and alternative practitioners who want to meet the healing plants ‘in person’ and spend quality time on their own healing process.
Major medical and alternative health-care providers interested in holistic healing through healthy life-style, food as medicine and herbal remedies.
All who are in preparation for the transition-times we are experiencing – peak oil, climate change, economic instability and Earth changes.
Seekers who find personal and spiritual growth in communion with Nature.
Parents who want to raise healthy children naturally and pass on knowledge of wild edibles, healing plants and home remedies.
Gardeners who want to know who the ‘weeds’ are and how to use them for food and medicine.
Everyone who wants to take the next steps in his or her self-healing process.
Interview, Tuition, Registration, and Payment Options
(download our printable registration form)
Interview and Essay: Before you register, we require a phone interview to discuss your goals and why you would like to participate in Wisdom of the Herbs, as well as give you an opportunity to ask us questions. Please read this entire program description before you call. Phone Annie for an interview appointment at 802-456-8122. The essay that we ask for on your Registration form may be a summary of our interview conversation.
Tuition: Tuition is $1750. The deposit of $250 ($100 for VSAC applicants) holds your place and is non-refundable and non-transferable and needs to be submitted with your registration form. Full payment of the balance is expected on the first day of class unless arrangements for a Payment Plan or non-degree Grant have been made at the time of registration.
Early Registration Discounted Tuition: To receive the Early Registration
Discounted Tuition of $1650, $100 off, your tuition must be received and fully
paid by April 1, 2017.
Payment Plan: Arrangement for use of the Payment Plan is made at the time of registration. Full payment of the tuition is expected regardless of attendance. If you miss a weekend, please mail your payment to us. Please let us know if you are interested in a customized Payment Plan. A printable payment plan form is available for download.
Commitment at Registration: Attending Wisdom of the Herbs entails commitment to all eight meetings. We make every effort to assure that our participants and our program are a good match; indeed, we often witness a delightful synchronicity in the matching process! Submitting the Registration Form means commitment to attending the program, and to full payment of the tuition regardless of attendance and regardless of payment option.
Grants: Qualifying Vermont residents may apply for Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) non-degree grants. You must be a Vermont resident for at least one year by the start-date of the program and qualify by income. VSAC awards grants on a first-come-first-serve basis while funds last. Apply early, as funds tend to run out by the end of the calendar year. Please note that it is possible to secure funding by applying early for a grant, even before you are certain that you are taking the program, and then if you do not need the grant, simply inform VSAC.
For speedy processing of your application, apply on-line at www.vsac.org, and find ‘Grants’ under ‘Quick Links’ in the right-hand box. For help with the on-line application or to request a paper application, call Vermont Student Assistance Corporation: 1-800-882-4166 or write P.O. Box 2000, Champlain Mill, Winooski, VT 05404-2601. You can also contact Wisdom of the Herbs School director Annie McCleary for an application or with any questions, 802-456-8122.
Students who apply for VSAC grants are asked to submit a $100 non-refundable deposit with the registration form. We will refund whatever amount of your deposit exceeds the tuition after the after VSAC has paid your tuition, which is after you attend the first class meeting.
Lunch and Snack: Lunch serves as laboratory to practice using food as our first medicine and mainstay of our health and vitality. On Saturdays, students are asked to bring a generous potluck dish. We offer these guidelines for the potluck: use whole foods, (not industrially processed); local and organic as much as possible; vegetarian dishes or organically raised or respectfully harvested meat. No refined sugars or white flour. We ask that any nightshades (tomato, eggplant, pepper, potato) be side dishes, not in a main dish. Please label all ingredients and note where the ingredients came from if you can. On Sundays, students are asked to bring a bag lunch. We provide healthy snacks as well as herbal teas, available throughout the day.
Books: Each student receives Wisdom of the Herbs written by Annie McCleary which contains information on 73 local plants, summaries of her major lectures and many resources. Students are required to bring to class Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide for plant identification. We highly recommend Peterson’s Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson and Peterson’s Medicinal Plants by Steven Foster and James Duke. An extensive list is supplied for supplemental reading.
Independent Projects: Participants are asked to engage in an independent project outside of class. Projects may include artwork, journaling and research, making herbal remedies, building a home apothecary, storytelling, or tending to your own healing journey. Participants present their projects to the group during the last weekend.
Making up missed class time: Wisdom of the Herbs offers 16 days of instruction, which is 96 hours. We want you to be there each and every session for this precious experience. If you must miss any class time, you are invited to make up a total of 2 days in another year of Wisdom of the Herbs, if there is room in the class. Simply let us know you are coming.
Certification: A beautiful watercolor Certificate of Successful Participation will be awarded at the end of the program. Certification requirements include active participation in a minimum of six out of the eight weekends, reading Wisdom of the Herbs by Annie McCleary, completion and presentation of the independent project, and full payment of tuition.
Scents: For the comfort of all, please do not wear any scents, natural or otherwise. Thank you for your consideration.
Comments from Graduates of Wisdom of the Herbs:
The plant people are my people now and I not only understand how to identify them but also to be open to their energies. A.M
Wisdom provided the space for me to learn to trust my connection with plants and connect more personally, deeply and honestly with plant spirits. A.F.
I have gained a knowledge of the plant kingdom that I never could have imagined possible coupled with the wisdom of our planet and universe. I have gained a beautiful family and relationship with the plant people, winged ones, rock beings, and all creation. M.B.
Not only have I gained knowledge about plants and herbs but also I have had the opportunity to grow my understanding of relationships, of how to live in community and harmony with all the beings that populate the Earth. D.H.
I learned to identify the plants I knew as a child. S.C.
It is not so much a gaining as it is an opening up and revealing what has always been there and seeing the trees and flower and plant beings – the rock and water and sky beings and we are one. K.D.