” In all spiritual work, it is necessary to ignore what is being taken away and to watch what is being received.” –- Swami Rudrananda


I’ve just returned from the 9th Annual Plant Spirit Medicine Conference held at the Blue Deer Center in the New York Catskill Mountains. My heart is full and I have received so much.


“Toto, I’ve a feeling I’m not in Chicago anymore”

Just the drive from Albany Airport to the Blue Deer Center was spectacular. I could feel stress melting away as I drove through country roads, next to rivers, trees, among hills, among awesome natural Beauty.  Reaching the bend in the road, I approached the Center’s entrance and offered a prayer of gratitude. Seeing my teachers Eliot Cowan and Alison Gayek and my colleagues was, as always, a celebration. And that was just the start!


What happens at a Plant Spirit Medicine conference?

I love gathering with PSM healers from all over the country to explore new areas of growth in our healing practices, catch up on our personal and professional lives, learn, sit by the fire and listen. Talks, panel discussions and workshops happen around a beautiful fire. We open our hearts to each other, our medicine, the sacred gifts of the Land at the Blue Deer Center, our teachers and the world. We learn, we share, we explore, we squirm in our seats, we ask, we debate, we honor one another, we hold our people and our medicine and our prayers for all of the above and we march on home afterwards renewed, inspired, re-invigorated and filled with joy to take to our healing practices, our families, our communities, our people.


This year at the Plant Spirit Medicine conference: healing, inspiration, nourishment

It is so beautiful that as we come together as PSM healers we in fact help to nourish and heal ourselves in the beautiful land, among Nature, as colleagues, exploring our challenges, our gifts, learning together.  “Exploring the Mystery of Nature” was the conference theme this year. A number of presentations, exercises and panels helped us to connect deeply to overcome challenges and discover our strengths and our amazing potential as stewards of this medicine. Tsaurirrikame David Wiley shared his expertise and heart with us as he coached and challenged us with his presentation of “Practice Building for the Spiritual Healer.”  Maggie Freier gifted us with a thought-provoking presentation titled “Confidentiality and Crisis Management – The Tarasoff Decision and Beyond.”  Mai Duong and Kateri McCue encouraged us to support each other with their talk on “The Power of Partnership.”  Alison Gayek inspired us with her presentation “Nature as Oracle: Letting the Divine Natural World Support Your Healing Work.”  Susan Skinner, Robin Lockwood and Clare Pearson shared insights on their healing practices in a panel discussion “How Connecting to Nature and the Mystery Helped your Practice and your Clients.” Our dear teacher Eliot Cowan read beautiful excerpts from his new Plant Spirit Medicine book due out in April 2014. Our Plant Spirit Medicine Association Board (Annie Smith, Julie Ellerbeck and Dena Sparks) facilitated a wonderful Town Hall Meeting where we learned of recent developments, new initiatives, and opportunities to participate and make a difference in our Association.

Huichol Deer Art at the Blue Deer Center Conference

A feast of Plant Spirit Medicine healing

As we closed the conference, Julie Ellerbeck presented us with beautiful artwork by her client Kate, who inspired by PSM created a lovely painting honoring our medicine.  I experienced all of the above as a great big banquet which left me filled with joy, inspiration and gratitude for the beauty and power of this medicine, the opportunity of serve our world as a Lay Spiritual Healer, and for the amazing people who I have the honor and the pleasure to call my colleagues.  If you are a member of the Plant Spirit Medicine Association, please stay tuned to the PSMA newsletter for more coverage of this year’s beautiful conference.  Thanks and appreciation to Robin Lockwood and Jane Wollack who put on a wonderful conference this year and to everyone who made it possible, including the great Staff of the Blue Deer Center.