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Heart Perception In Herbalism with Stephanie Hazel (EP#219)

In today's episode Mason speaks to the wonderful Stephanie Hazel. Stephanie is a traditional Western herbalist, teacher and earth lover whose passion for her craft is robust, poetic and deeply felt. Stephanie and Mason delve into the sensory landscapes, the realms beyond intellectualism and linear thought, covering all manner of juicy topics like heart perception, animism, herbal dieta, herbal apprenticeship and so much more!

Click The Links Below To Listen Now 

 

 

 

In today's episode, prepare to be transported into the enchanting world of herbalism as Mason sits down with the incredible Stephanie Hazel. Stephanie, a traditional Western herbalist, teacher, and earth lover, brings forth a passion for her craft that is as robust as it is poetic, inviting listeners to explore realms beyond intellectualism and linear thought.

Stephanie and Mason embark on a captivating exploration of the sensory landscapes, diving deep into topics that range from heart perception and animism to herbal dieta and apprenticeship. With each exchange, they unveil the rich tapestry of wisdom woven through Stephanie's experiences and teachings.

At the heart of their conversation lies the concept of heart perception in herbalism—an idea that transcends the notion of the heart as merely a pump. Stephanie eloquently elucidates how heart perception involves listening with both body and heart, allowing for profound insights into the healing properties of plants to emerge. Emphasising the fusion of intellectual knowledge, intuitive knowing, and embodied experience as essential components in cultivating herbal wisdom.

Stephanie generously shares her approach to teaching herbalism, highlighting the importance of reverence and respect when interacting with plant allies. She advocates for a guided process that honours the deep connection between humans and plants, ensuring a safe and meaningful exploration of this sacred relationship.

For those eager to delve deeper into Stephanie's teachings, her courses—Plant Allies and The Wild Edge of Herbalism—offer unique opportunities to engage with herbalism in a way that transcends conventional education. Each course is a doorway to a world where plants become not just subjects of study, but cherished partners in the journey of self-discovery and healing.

Stephanie's wisdom shines through as she and Mason explore the practice of embodied listening, highlighting its transformative power in fostering harmony with plants and the environment. Their conversation serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of honouring perceptive senses alongside intellectual understanding—a testament to the profound wisdom that awaits those willing to listen with an open heart.

Tune in today for a powerful and profound journey into the heart of herbalism with Stephanie Hazel—a true plant person and universal voyager whose insights will leave you inspired and enlightened.

To learn more about Stephanie and her courses, visit her website here.


Mystical picture of a forest.

"If we are to accept that animism is actually the base state of being human rather than it being an alternate for theology, then we don't have to choose to be animist or try to be animist. We just have to remove the illusion of a dead mechanical universe. And if you take that away then underneath is our existent state of animism."
- Stephanie Hazel

Mason & Stephanie discuss:

  • Heart perception in herbalism.
  • The power of using single herbs over formulas.
  • What it means to hold an animist worldview, in herbalism, and life.
  • Plant dieta and the importance of holding reverence in herbal practice. 


Who is Stephanie Hazel?

Stephanie is a traditional western herbalist located in Uki, North NSW on Ngarakwal country. Stephanie is currently focusing on supporting herbalists, naturopaths and herbal folk to re-engage with the lost art of plant relationships and sacred herbalism as a foundation stone of herbal medicine. Stephanie is convinced that in a world of information overload, reconnecting to our intuitive heart wisdom and the ancient human-plant relationships is key to bringing our world into balance. Learn more about Stephanie here.

Resource guide

Guest Links
Stephanie's Website
Stephanie's Podcast
Stephanie's Instagram
Stephanie's Facebook
Stephanie's Herbal Allie's Online Course
Stephanie's Wild Edge Of Herbalism Online Course

Mentioned In This Episode
Stephen Harrod Buhner
Mathew Wood Herbalist
The Emerald Podcast
SuperFeast Reishi

Related Podcasts
Wild Woman Way with Susun Weed (EP#23)
Entering The Imaginal Realms with Stephen Harrod Buhner (EP#88)
Alchemystic Fungi with Bryan & Mikaela (EP#190)

Connect With Us
SuperFeast Instagram
SuperFeast Facebook
SuperFeast TikTok


Check Out The Transcript Below:

 

Mason:

Okay. Steph, we're on. Thanks for coming on the pod.

Stephanie Hazel:

What a pleasure.

Mason:

Yeah, everyone has a quick turnaround. We were on, was it only two weeks ago that I was on your podcast?

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah.

Mason:

And it was a goodie, so we were like, all right, we have to do this again.

Stephanie Hazel:

I think it was 10 days, actually, 10 days ago.

Mason:

Heck yeah. We're efficient and adaptable.

Stephanie Hazel:

So efficient.

Mason:

I mean, I think it was like, I've started talking about organisational structure in the shape around eco and modelling that on somewhat of an ecosystem, and then we were like, oh God, we had a really good chat there thinking maybe that's not the thing that we want to be talking about on the podcast, I agreed. But even though I think we'd get a couple of our brothers interested in that.

But then once I really started going into heart perception, you're like, well, it's kind of literally teaching that in herbalism and then it kind of went off from there. And I think we struck on that cord especially. It was important for us to have a conversation. I'm about to roll out that constitution for SuperFeast, and one of the aspects we caught in the source essence was the nature of heart perception, the reality of heart perception when energising our roles, and then when working with clients and when working with herbs. And it's been a long time since I've been there in the thick of, especially talking to someone who's really in the thick of teaching it and really embodying that reintegration or that, whatever we will call it, many things when we get in there. In clinic and with students, so I'm really excited about diving into the deep end today with you.

Stephanie Hazel:

Thanks Mason.

Mason:

Yeah, thanks. Heart perception. Let's start there. Let's get the stigma of us hippies leading from the heart, just let's get it out of the way and that we're bypassing all science and all reality just to be in this place that's an easy out that we can just call it heart perception and avoid all reality.

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah. And then just make up whatever we want about things that say we're proceeding with our heart. Yeah, totally. I think as you said, Stephen Harrod Buhner is an amazing herbalist and eco philosopher, I would call him, who died, I think it was last year, just fairly recent, which is a great loss to the herbal community. And his work actually, I started teaching like this before I read his work, but his work explained it in this beautiful way and he has this concept of heart perception, that the heart is a sensory organ. It's not just a pump, it's actually an organ that allows us to communicate and sense our environment, I guess what we would call the 'sixth sense'. So if our sense of smell is located in our nose and our sight is located in our eyes, then our intuition or our gut feeling is actually located in the heart, and through the heart we're able to receive very complex pattern recognition information due to essentially our heart's ability to sync up our frequency with other beings.

And you see that all the time with anyone who's a mother and has a newborn baby or who's been around a mother and newborn baby, that's what co-regulation is, right? Your own heartbeat, the mother's heartbeat, actually almost controls the heartbeat of the infant and helps them to regulate their circulation, their blood pressure, their nervous system by that kind of heart syncing. And so Stephen's kind of pitch is that you can actually train yourself to do that. I call it embodied listening. So you're listening with your body and your being and your heart in order to look quite deeply into plants and learn about them as healing beings and as spirit beings.

Mason:

And then I always go into, I don't know whether I do it as a justification or whether I actually need to understand the physical mechanisms and measurable mechanisms, like whether it is EEG measurements or ECG measurements, to prove that there's something going on in terms of way that peripheral information comes through and you can measure it going to the heart from the heart. Can you explain how you approach, or to the best of what you see as relevant when you are teaching your students of, explaining how that informational frequency is read, where it comes from, how that then works with the mind or the brain?

Stephanie Hazel:

So I think the thing there is that science isn't out of place now where we are able to measure that yet. So I think attempting to really try to understand that will be theories at best. And so I don't think that we're saying that heart perception should override or is more important than any other way of knowing, but I've developed this model that is really, I share with my students called The Three Ways of Knowing. And basically what I'm pushing us towards, more and more and more data and information is not going to get us into insight and wisdom. We have this mistake we make in our culture, when it comes to anything, that more information, eventually if you just put more and more information in, that will magically transform into insight into a problem. But insight requires a lot more than just data.

And so we have these three circles and one which are the three ways of knowing. And in the place that those circles overlap is where we have wisdom and true insight into something. So I want all herbalists and herbal people in Australia to be moving towards a place of wisdom with plants rather than just information about plants. And that means you have to integrate the intellectual knowing, which is really important. Study and data and what science can tell us about the mechanism of how things work and what receptors, different chemicals work on. That's all important, but it has to be put on a level playing field and balanced against what we can learn through heart perception, the intuitive or the imaginal realm. And also what we know through our embodied experience. The basis of a clinical trial is actually an embodied practise. So it's like, we gave people this herb and then we said, how do you feel?

It's really simple and herbalists have been doing that forever. It's how most of the knowledge that we have about plants in the recent history has been like, yeah, well my mentor told me that using a herb in this particular way in his clinic for the last 30 years had this particular outcome. That's accumulated, embodied information that's really important. So when we bring this embodied practical wisdom, what does it feel like when you take it? What happens when you take it? When we bring the kind of intellect in, which is like, what do we know about this plant? How does it work? What's its chemistry? And we bring this like, what do I feel when I sit with this plant? What can I learn through heart perception, meditation, dreams and visions? When we can bring those three aspects together, then we can move to herbal wisdom.

Mason:

Amazing, loving it. That isolation, you can see how it's necessary to relate to the embodiment, intellect and heart perception in isolation while finding your footing, and can also see how intellect in excessive isolation within an institution is going to just obviously dominate. Likewise, if you are only approaching with heart perception, that's going to dominate. But nonetheless, at some point you need to cross the chasm into other aspects of that Holy trinity. Do you find that that's how you need to approach it, that everyone feels them in isolation to begin with and at some point, how do you teach what happens when they finally become embodied in a sense, or integrated so that they start crossing over? How do they interact when it starts crossing over and you get a bit more expertly in this practise?

Stephanie Hazel:

That is such an amazing question, and I would love to say that I know the answer to that and think the reality is that I have been teaching in this way because I think that part of the herbal, well our Western culture in general, just sucks at heart perception. That's the part that we discount as fantasy, as make-believe, as childhood, as all those things. So it's a part that's been most lacking in my education as a human and especially my education as a herbalist. But I've managed to repair some of that loss through psychedelic plant use and teachings through there and meditation and all those kinds of more visionary practises. But as far as a serious practitioner of this kind of heart-based herbal wisdom, I'm like a few steps ahead of most people I know, but I've had to reclaim this from the bits, the hints and the tips that are lying around. And I've created this kind of study because it's what I most needed. So I don't know that I'm the kind of level of expert that can actually answer that really beautiful and advanced question.

Mason:

And I really appreciate that in terms of what your personal experience has been then, maybe, when you did have moments where you did catch a... For instance, I remember when, say in one of Stephen's books when he was talking about something going on with someone's lungs, and he would hear the interviewing questions coming back and he was intellectually analysing what they were saying and going, okay, they've been around this, that's a lung condition. Or that they're saying it's gut then, but then I keep on coming back to the lung. And he was intellectually going, at the same time, the imaginal realm opened up and he started getting a vision of swamp cabbage or something along those lines, and was connecting the dots. And I remember reading this going, far out. That overwhelmed me in terms of the mastery there.

But since then, I have observed little snippets of when that occurs. It's been a few years since I've been really sitting in that space of embodying other skills. But just for you, the experience, just those times when you've had, what's the experience been like having an interdimensional interplay in clinic if it has ever happened, or if you've observed it?

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah, that's an easy way to frame it. I think it's been happening more. I had about three years off clinic, having a baby and then working on this kind of teaching work, and I've recently come back into clinic, and so since having three years really dedicating myself to going deep into this kind of plant wisdom, it's actually been happening so much more. I think three years ago when I was in clinic last, I wouldn't have been able to answer that. And I've just noticed a lot of those moments. And for me, the way that it really helps me to bring the imaginal and the heart perception is using cards. So I have some plant Oracle cards, and then playing with them and drawing a card while someone's talking. And so that creates this imagery trigger. It creates a place my imaginal self can work while listening to what they're saying and then seeing a card and just having this moment of like, oh, click, click, click, click, click.

So I'm seeing this story or this archetype coming through and that relates to what you are saying in this way and that relates to your adrenal. So someone was in here, they pulled a card, I think this is the kind of druid Oracle deck, and they've got, I think it was Woad. So Woad is a card that was traditionally, is a herb that was used by the Picts to paint themselves blue during battle. They would use this blue dye and these incredible patterns and go naked into battle. And it was about your embodying the battle spirits. That's a real Warrior's card.

And [inaudible 00:11:38] was a woman who had just weaned her second child, has going through a separation with her partner, is trying to work out how to put her own needs first, has chronic fatigue. And then I just had this thing of, yeah, warrior, adrenal, Rhodiola, weight loss, and all of those things has clicked into place and that the Warrior's Woad card was just like a trigger for that deeper, more mythological aspects of Rhodiola, which is a Warrior's plant. And so Warrior's plant, because as a warrior you need to be able to have endurance and stamina and a strong metabolism and performance. But there also was something she was calling in her life that was about standing on her own two feet.

Mason:

Oh yeah. What was it like then? So three years you've been diving into this. When you were in clinic before that, obviously we've chatted about in terms of what you know academically is extensive, and in order to be in clinic and be qualified, you need to have an extensive amount of clinical information that's intellectual. What was that feeling where you hit that glass ceiling that made you actually pivot over to this place? What was the feeling like for you? We have a lot of people who listen to this podcast will talk to us at SuperFeast. So I know that there's a lot out there in the population that hit that delusional... I don't know if that's the right-

Stephanie Hazel:

Disillusion.

Mason:

Disillusion, yeah. Going, oh my gosh, I got out of uni, I'm told I'm qualified. But then just how did you make that pivot and know where to go, because the crossroads for a lot of practitioners in that area.

Stephanie Hazel:

Totally. And that's what was such a beautiful relief coming back into the clinic and having a whole new capacity to actually turn up and find paths. And what I used to feel like was really overwhelmed and I was really centred in the mind and I was trying to work out the problem and be like, okay, they've got this and they've got that and they've got this diagnosis and this symptom and this liver and this cell... And trying to then make, I had this pressure on myself to create a perfect formula that was going to address all of their symptoms plus their deepest underlying imbalances that would take not that much work from them and that would magically fix them in the next four weeks. Completely unrealistic expectation of myself that is based on our unrealistic expectation of what healing and medicine is in the west.

So we had this medical model where we go, oh, I go to the doctor, I say, I've got psoriasis. And they go, here's corticosteroid cream, just put this on. And I can then be magically fixed with this magic silver bullet that they've given me and that's it. I never go back.

So that was there. And now that I've shifted my focus from understanding disease, I did a lot of study understanding disease, and I've gone actually, I want to understand plants and I want to understand not just the plants, how they work on cells, I want to know how they work on spirit. What is the invitation that each plant has for spiritual or psychological transformation? Because when you can match that up with the person in front of you, then what I'm finding is often a lot of those physical symptoms also magically match up. And I've moved towards working with single herbs a lot more.

Mason:

Yeah. Which is, again, that's a realm that intellectually, within herbal systems, doesn't make a lot of sense and is somewhat, I know in Chinese medicine it's frowned upon, but when you enter tonic herbalism, it opens up as like a, yeah, still within this intellectual sense, it's not appropriate, but it gets very different when you bring in heart perception or personal perception of a herb that is an ally. So yeah, I really, I love that distinction. That you found that.

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah. And so there was something so overwhelming, because I was trying to always find all the perfect combinations of herbs that would fix all the problems, and then I was trying to draw on this huge array of plants that I've studied. But I don't really know those plants. I know a lot about them. It's like a superficial depth. It's like, if you described all your friends to me, I've never met them, but that's not the same as actually sitting down and having a cup of tea with them. And then if I was trying to matchmake one of your friends with one of my friends, but I'd never met them, I just heard you talk about them, the likelihood of doing that correctly would be really low.

Mason:

I kind of forgot about this part of the conversation here, is that the combinations of herbs and the trying to put as many herbs in as possible that are going to solve those issues, trying to ignore the dilution of the dose that happens as you include more and more and more. And also not taking away from the magic of when you find a cohesive formula, and it is just perfect as well.

But it brought up a few years ago at SuperFeast when I would have really institutionalised herbalists come to me and say, you cannot sell that herb on its own. And I'd go, well, there are the formulas here to meet majority of the population with that, but the reason I've got these here is because we started in such an imaginal realm of very slow moving and patient people who were looking for allies and so on and so forth. They'd be drawn to a herb and they had to work with it. And it's just popped up in terms of our making sure we lock in and embody that. So you're bringing that up. It's flooding me back with that appreciation of that.

Stephanie Hazel:

Chinese Herbal medicine is really about formulas generally, and they've been masterfully crafted, and I know some Chinese herbalists who started off trying making their own formulas or adapting formulas and after 10 years in practise they're like, the traditional ones just work best. It was gone back fully to just the traditional formulas, but that's not western herbal medicine. Western herbal medicine is very much our history, the history of simples and single plants. And so then you have people, we got no training in good formula creation, and I see formulas coming, especially from western herbalists and naturopaths that are like, okay, well this person obviously isn't sleeping well. They have some anxiety and they've got some metabolic issues because there's like seven different herbs in here. It's like that person's just gone. Well, I guess I'll put hops and passion flower and skull cap and chamomile. And I saw a formula the other day and CBD and oops, and lemon balm, and it's just like, why would you just put five herbs that are all nervous system sedatives in one bottle with nothing else?

And I had a client that actually came to me depressed and tired, and we worked out, what was happening was that she was taking this formula and it was too much for her body. She was getting depressed because she was having all of these sedative herbs with no kind of, I would say, no skill in actually carefully matching those plants to that person. And if you want a formula, your formulas should be then balancing other aspects rather than just... Or actually, a friend of mine brought a bottle in and he had said that he'd gone to a naturopath, sorry, his client had gone to naturopath and he'd called the naturopath to be like, I don't understand what this formula is - he was an acupuncturist - can you help me? And the naturopath literally said, oh, I just put all the lady herbs in because she's having menstrual problems.

Mason:

Yeah. That's unbelievable that that's where western herbalism landed.

Stephanie Hazel:

And I don't say that to denigrate naturopaths at all. There's just very little training in, one, how to make formulas, or two, how to use simples. And so then where does that leave people?

Mason:

Well, and then the opposite I think happens within Chinese medicine herbalism where they're like, don't even try. Here's the formula. And there's a beautiful... I mean I run off the four to five metaphorical archetypes within a herbal formulation to ensure that it's well-balanced. I find tonic herbalism to be quite forgiving, and is it like scallywag herbalism in that way? But there's a basic formula and it follows and it was there.

But yeah, I'm going to park that, but to come back to the simples, but have that be relevant. So you need to be able to perceive, sometimes it's called the linchpin. I know in classical Chinese medicine it's like, yes, the heart fire seems like the problem, but if you actually track, you're going to find the blockage, the linchpin, which is always, it's like, it's just finding the one thing. It might not be the instrument that's out of tune, it might be the conductor that isn't giving the right signal, or so on and so forth. How do you relate to that? Of going and finding that one herb. Is it a linchpin in the body, energetically or spiritually? Can it be something physical that you find is that turning point? I don't know if you relate to it as a linchpin or not, but that, yeah.

Stephanie Hazel:

I don't personally. I like that idea when you're looking at trying to understand what's happening in someone's body. For me, in choosing simples, where I'm moving towards at the moment is, we are looking for resonance. So when I study a plant in this kind of three tiered way, in the triumvirate way of the intellect, the mind and the heart, especially working with the heart, I try to find myths and stories, and there are lots of myths and stories about plants out there and often they point to an essence or a sacred property of a plant. And so I try to tie in what that essence is to mythological language. That's how I think our heart and soul communicates with itself. And then there's always a few, the energetics of that plant, the heating, cooling, drying, all those things. I kind of look for a resonance first with that mythological essence and then from there check back and be like, are the energetics of that plant in line? Is there an organ system area affinity that is appropriate here?

So with this client I was talking about before, the kind of mythological essence was around the warrior and standing on her own feet and finding her own ground and finding her own way, and then some of the physiological symptoms was she was cold, sluggish, constipated, and overweight, had low thyroid, low motivation... And so then you're looking at the, with Rhodiola, when you use it in a low dose especially, it's very much a stimulating herb, so she's kind of tired and slow and heavy, and so it's the right energy for her and it has a lot of adrenal supportive actions. And so with this woman, she has been breastfeeding and doing a lot of the parenting. I think she's pregnant and breastfeeding for seven years or something and quite burnt out but not burnt out in a skinny nervous way, burnt out in a kind of sluggish and overweight way. So for me, there's like a metabolic, adrenal system affinity, there's the right kinds of energetics and properties and there's this mythological affinity.

Mason:

Is there a natural system that emerges? So coming to the myth, say, that relates to, in reality, the focus is never going to come to necessarily symptomology, it's going to naturally come towards supporting maybe a stage of life that that person is in or who they innately are or that constitution or maybe a part of them that is wanting to come out or whatever. I mean, I'm just trying to understand that world of how you relate to what's actually happening there and what the original intention is behind introducing a herb. Because for many people it's like, well, of course we just want to solve their problem so we can pat them on the head and then pop them out the door and they can shut up and go away. It's like the steroid cream, so on and so forth, or ripping gall bladder's out of people or whatever.

It's just, you get out of here. So if it's not about solving what's wrong, which is why I really enjoy talking about this style of herbalism because I actually, I personally don't work that way, and so I always felt flat relating to the clinical herbalism that was like, Rhodiola is drying and does this in the body and it's adaptogenic and it solves this problem and this problem. And I'm like, I know it's relevant but I just can't get behind it. What, do you relate to, is the intention of this? And then of course you can see that you are following going, all right, and there are symptoms and also, they are valid. Is that an equal validity in that sense? Is it just that the order comes from heart perception then making sure we're covering that so we do ensure that we are being beneficial to the body and treating the symptoms? How do you relate to that system if there is a system?

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah, it's interesting because that's always been like, I'm a bit of a fixer. I love fixing things and fixing people. It's kind of part of the reason why someone gets into medicine. Helping people out, and at first I really wanted to just fix people's symptoms so they felt great and loved me and thought I was amazing and then were really happy. And what my journey has been about personally has been, one, realising that most of that fixing actually comes through their own choices. That generally people have symptoms because they have eaten and moved and chosen and lived their way into those problems, and they need to eat and move and choose and live their way out of those problems. And so most of that fixing work is actually not my job.

I can give them the information they need to make better dietary choices and exercise in the mornings if that's what they need, but there isn't really a magic herbal formula that's going to help someone sleep really good quality sleep when they have four coffees a day and they're on their screen till 11 o'clock at night and they have undiagnosed food intolerances that they don't want to look at. I can give them all of the kava and passion flower in the world and it's only going to help a little bit. Actually now often with my clients I'm like, this is what you need to change, and if you want, we can do health coaching, so I'll talk to you for 30 minutes every week for the next 12 weeks and we'll keep you on track for these really difficult important changes. In the meantime, let's look at some of this more psychospiritual growth that you are crying out for or you wouldn't be here and we can use a herb to support you in that deep layer of transformation so that you can make all these changes in your life.

Mason:

Great answer. It's fascinating, crossing that chasm. Okay, that falls into something that popped up before. That's a really, I'm not going to say difficult, but whatever, I'll say difficult. I find that process difficult to communicate and to have thought about. Because so much when you are healing, that's just, healing people, when you feel like you're a doctor or the person that's healing and you've climbed up and the institution tells you that the higher you go, the more accolades you have, the more you're helping and healing people and you're like, great, and your identity really wraps around the fact that you're helping treat these symptoms.

Even though we say the pretty things going, oh, I'm not treating the symptoms, that I'm just supporting that person to treat their symptoms, there's still a sense of ownership when you are an institutionalised, intellectually driven excessive, in a place... Well, that's what I've experienced personally anyway, not to put it on everyone else. You've kind of been in clinic and then realise that there's a glass ceiling there and wanted to manoeuvre over, which, what have you found when you're teaching people who are really in that place, especially when they're really maybe doing good work and it's like going, oh, I'm going to have to sacrifice a lot, I don't even know whether there's anything on the other side of that chasm that's going to make me more effective. I'm just feeling a kind of draw.

Is there a dark night of the soul, do you feel? Is there, what, personal inner work? I feel like I was really poised for it due to the plant medicine, everything I'd already done. So I found it to be an easier place because I could see the realms and knew that they were real. But gosh, when you haven't done that work, naturally I know that's why you facilitate people, to understand how to enter into that space. It'd be great to hear about how you help people on that journey that they're taking themselves to integrate that part into their clinic. I mean your whole clinic changed, your whole approach changed. What is that journey for a practitioner? What are they going to come up against?

Stephanie Hazel:

Such tricky questions. I guess I want to flag a few things first, because that's a really good question so it'd be a long answer. But first it's like, you can learn plants this way and still practise in a more "normal" style. It's just that, you can gain from knowing the plants in a deeper way, actually getting that insight, you gain greater clarity around when do I use passionflower? When do I use hops for sleep? Or when do I use Damiana? When do I use rhodiola? They're both metabolic adrenal antidepressant herbs. Where's the differentiation? And when you know them with that multiplicity of awareness, then it's really clear which one of those herbs it is. And Matthew Wood, who's one of my hero herbalists, is so amazing, he wrote in one of his book The Book of Herbal Wisdom, and this really stayed with me. It's something like 20 years ago I read this, and he said that if you know 30 plants really well, you can be a master herbalist and you'll be a master herbalist knowing 30 plants really well, really knowing them, much more easily than knowing a hundred plants so-so.

You've got the same amount of knowledge overall, but if you spread it out over a hundred plants, you'll probably be confused a lot of the time. And so that was really inspiring for me, about, well, how do I learn 30 plants really well? What does he mean by that? How do I start moving towards that? And so even if people want to practise in a more symptomatic disease-focused way, which is fine, a lot of people want that in clinic. A lot of clients come wanting someone to help them with their IVS. Totally legit.

Mason:

They might need it. They might really need that at that point, because it's unbearable, yeah.

Stephanie Hazel:

Totally. Or someone might come in and they're incredibly stressed and they really need support and they don't have the capacity to make all those changes, but that still allows you to have that greater sense of clarity and confidence in choosing which herbs are right for that person. And that's something a lot of herbalists and naturopaths and healers working with plants, you leave university and there's a huge amount of overwhelm. Of like, well, I don't actually feel confident in my herb choices, or, it's really unclear to me and that's something that this kind of learning can really support.

Mason:

Well naturally the psyche of modern medicine or institutional naturopathy is not integrating this for a reason, because it's not easy and there's something you're going to have to face internally that stops them from just doing like... It's clear that it's going to be more effective. There's no harm in doing it, there's demand for it yet it's not done. What's blocking on a collective psyche level?

Stephanie Hazel:

So what's blocking is that, in order to engage with plants in this way and to trust what you are receiving from plants, you have to have a fundamentally animist worldview, which is completely at odds with the current worldview that we have. And that's that fundamentally animist worldview that says, yes, all of earth is alive, every rock and tree and leaf has a spirit, consciousness exists everywhere, and this little plant, this little chamomile plant in my garden, is intelligent and actually communicating with me. That's a big leap to make if you've grown up in the west. In the western industrial capitalist machine, that's a big leap to make and you would definitely know the incredible work of Joshua Schrei who's got the Emerald podcast. There's an amazing episode that anyone who's listening to this podcast right now and finds is interesting, should absolutely listen to this episode. It's called Animism is Normative Consciousness.

Mason:

I've got it downloaded. I was just going to go and have it, just make sure I'm not fibbing. That's the one episode that I had downloaded from that amazing podcast on my-

Stephanie Hazel:

Amazing. I listened to it twice and I'm like, really need to listen to it again because the point he basically makes, he says that 97% of humans throughout time have been animists. So if you lined up a hundred of humans that are representative of all times, cultures, places, in like proportionally representative, even accounting for the fact they've never been so many humans alive on the earth, 97 of those 100 would be animist. And so actually it's an aberration, a cultural aberration to not be animist. A very powerful point.

Mason:

I love it. And you alluded there to say someone who needed to stay within a, staying approachable to people that wanted to treat symptoms. I guess it kind of just goes to show that you've communicated that saying that you need to have a fundamentally animist view, that would be someone I guess who has integrated their animist view of the world and have been able to integrate it into the other aspects of, I mean, I kind of go, I always, because get so lost in this world when we talk about layers of psyche and integrating layers of psyche, I always just rest on, we've talked about Ken Wilber's models and I'm just like, right, okay, so that's where animism lives really down in the core of our being and that takes a lot. That could be really connected to childhood, that can be really connected to times where we were an animist and then someone just went and came and cut us down and was like, get the hell back into reality and we had a negative association that can make it really difficult to go back and connect.

Or those who don't and they're like, oh my gosh, amazing. I am in a hierarchical symptom/problem/solution led institution, but I'm comfortable in myself enough to go back into animism and remember and realise... Yeah, you come across - I find them to be unicorns - these doctors who are just in this medical system, yet they're going and doing plant medicine, they're aware of all these concepts, they've integrated heart perception, but they're also integrated aspects of themselves so that they don't need to be 'against' the system and they're just slowly growing throughout and perhaps it's their animism that makes them realise that that growth within something that's innately soulless and growing gently and slowly, in that will restore life. But nonetheless, the fear of that animism is, you're right, so fundamentally, you didn't say fear, I did, it's daunting. I find it daunting. I find that I've still, even though I've led from that, that's how I look at my organisation and that's how I, but nonetheless...

Stephanie Hazel:

I think there's something there. So if we are to accept that animism is actually the base state of being human rather than it being an alternate for theology, then we don't have to choose to be animist or try to be animist. We just have to remove the illusion of a dead mechanical universe. And if you take that away then underneath is our existence state of animism. As you said, childhood, children naturally talk to flowers. And my two-year-old, she's like, mama, what is the tree saying? It's just normal for her to engage with the world around her as alive and sentient and interested in her and in itself. And so there's some work that we can do there to be like, okay, in the Enlightenment, in the birth of rationalism, in the late 18 hundreds we had a process in Europe which was called the Enlightenment because it was coming out of a really awfully dark time, the dark ages of European history where the church was just, we had the witch hunts and the Inquisition and the church was just being really evil in that time.

And so rationalism was an incredible liberation from the church to be like, actually God is dead, all of that is bullshit, and only the mind is real. So only my personal thoughts matter and some dude in a box saying that, he's going to torture me because I'm [inaudible 00:36:59] with an imaginary devil, that's. So it was an Enlightenment of kinds, but it's like the swing went so far that we were rejected, in Europe, all of the mystic spirit worlds because we were trying to escape from the church. And so Descartes was a famous, I think therefore I am, that became the catchphrase and from that point we shifted in European history to say they have a story, the University is a machine, the body is a machine only humans are intelligent, everything else is blindly following out that dictates of its DNA and its biochemistry. The universe is a bunch of meaningless interactions that are biochemical in nature and there is no animating force, except for the human mind.

And so that's really recent. That's like 300 years ago, right? It's like a blip in the timeline of humanity. So, I don't know. All we need to do is to just see that that's the story we've been told and be like, oh yeah, actually, do I want to live in a world where it's just some weird organic machine and everything is meaningless and everyone's just like the survival of the fittest, everyone's just competing with each other and I'm actually horribly alone because this world that's meant to be my dearest companion is actually just a bunch of genetic biologic wrenches and gears. It's an awful place to live. I don't want to live in a world where that is the story that I'm telling myself.

Mason:

I don't know if you have inklings, how much you think about the future, how much you have visions about things. We've built these institutions and structures that have, and sometimes I kind of rationalise it to myself that perhaps this was a reaction that we had to have in order to meet the booming population and the suffering that comes from that booming very quickly and meeting it with agriculture and meeting it with industry and then meeting it with technology and just we had to almost be, I don't know, shut off from the reality of what was dying as we went along. But then, we've got it and now we can see the potential to go and lift the veil a little bit and bring the spirit back into these institutions or maybe not, I don't know. Do you think about the future and where it goes and what that process looks like from here?

Stephanie Hazel:

What I think about is that, as a child and as a young woman and as an almost middle-aged woman, in my heart there is a deep yearning for the wildness of life and for a sense of a kind of ecstatic communion with the living earth. And that's why I'm a herbalist and that's why most people I know who are interested in herbal medicine started. They wanted to be a conduit for the wildness and the vitality of the green world in the world of humans. That's what witches have always been. They've been the go-between, between the world of plants and spirits and the world of human. And that longing lives in me, and so I move towards that and that's all I need to think about.

It's like, yeah, I want to think ethically about the choices that I make and sometimes I have anxiety, especially as a mother of a small person, just like, okay, my child is, when I was pregnant, I'm like, this is a warrior child. She is determined and she falls off the 10-year-old play equipment and is right back up there and I'm like, hard work, but good for her because I think the world she's going to be growing up in is going to need that kind of strength of character. So I have anxiety there, but I don't know that it's particularly helpful for me in my world to go too far down those lines, but to come back to what's in my heart and what's in my belly and what my soul is calling out for and just move towards that.

Mason:

Yeah, that seems, gosh, I don't know, the word 'healthy' doesn't seem to justify it, but that's what comes to mind. So you've got a six-week facilitation when for those who are really wanting to understand especially the plants and what the potential of a plant ally is, especially within the context of heart perception. And then beyond that four months of, I guess that has the four-month course that has a retreat coming up and hanging out with you up north is more still layering on the Plant Allies, but more layering in what you were just talking to in regards to being drawn to that wilderness. Am I right in saying that?

Stephanie Hazel:

Sorry, you actually just cut out for a moment there. It's raining quite heavily. Can you repeat that question?

Mason:

Cool. Yeah. So you've got the six-week course for people interested in Plant Allies, which I think that can be done remotely, from my understanding. Okay, great. But then when you go beyond that course, if people want to keep on going when it's the depths of what you were just talking about and getting to the heart of, that guiding towards the wilderness, and I know that's got a retreat that comes up and visits you up in the north there... How do then, and I'm not asking to be encapsulated in terms of exactly how you facilitate that whole process, but what is it looking like? Because that longing of the wilderness amongst such straight lines and domestication and that feeling of suffocation of, I know that feeling all too well and perhaps gone through an approach where that anxiety has been relieved and absorbed and transformed to a certain extent or worked with now, but how do you facilitate that for those people that are getting that calling and, you've got that four month process, what does that even begin to look like?

Stephanie Hazel:

So as you said, I've got a six-week course starting on the 25th of March, and then with people who want to go deeper, it goes for four months. So the six-week one is called Plant Allies and then the full course is the Wild Edge of Herbalism. And so the Plant Allies is really an embodied practise and when you're talking about, what do people have to bridge? What's the block for bridging from this much more clinical world to a wilder, more animist world? And actually it's just practise. So the course is really embodied, there's a short talk where I talk about animism and those things, but actually people learn through the doing. And so it's online, it goes six weeks, people get a box of different tinctures with numbers, so the plants are unnamed and people are taking a plant every day and there's an expectation that you commit to a 10-minute meditation practise where you are attuning to that plant doing some heart perception work and also just sitting down and reflecting, how have I been feeling today taking this herb? And I'm actually using really low doses.

I'm talking five drops of tincture three times a day. I used to use more, and I just found that actually people get stronger results from the lower dose. And in taking a plant every day and having a practise of sitting down and just communing with that plant paying attention, energy goes where attention flows. When we come to pay that attention every day and offer the plant our respect, we do start to learn things and feel things and notice things that don't make sense to our rational mind. Because you don't know what that plant is, it takes out the risk of confirmation bias of saying, well, I'm taking chamomile, so I'm looking for feeling relaxed and calm because it's a relaxing herb. And I find that really important because our minds are so strong and our heart perception is so underdeveloped that doing it blind is really important.

So you have that week and then everyone comes together and the first part of the class online, which is on a Monday evening, is everyone just sharing their experience. So then you hear all the other people reflecting on what they've noticed, still not knowing what the plant is, and people are like, oh, actually that happened for me too. I just didn't think that was the plant. And you get this kind of really important group feedback experience. And then we do a really in-depth class looking at the mythology, the energetics, the traditional use, the scientific literature, bring all those different aspects we talked about earlier together, but that only happens once you've had an embodied and heart-based experience of that plant. So you're then interpreting all this data through the lens of your personal practise. And what I notice is that about week three, people suddenly go, oh yeah, I actually know what I'm listening for.

Like for the first week, I don't know if I felt anything, I don't know, maybe this, maybe that. But when they've gone through the process three times and they've heard the group reflect things back to them that they were feeling, when they've picked up really obscure things, that they shouldn't have been able to pick up just from taking five drops of tincture that that plant is known for.

I remember I was teaching Tulsi once and someone's like, I don't know what it is, but I've been trying to have a meditation practise for 20 years and this week every morning I got up and meditated. And Tulsi's kind of special quality, she's like the inner sanctum. She's this beautiful spirit herb that reminds you to come back into what's holy in yourself. And someone's picked that up just because they, out of the blue, started meditating every day after trying to for 30 years.

And so when you see that happening again and again, you start to trust yourself and you start to trust your heart perception, which is why it's so much more powerful doing it in a group and doing it blind in this facilitated way. I'm kind of jealous of my students because I've done it all on my own knowing what the plant is, but then taking people through that, I'm like, yeah, I'm learning all these things about these plants through watching my group, and I'm like, yeah, see, I did feel that, I knew I was right. You can really trust yourself when you didn't have your mind involved, you didn't know what it was and you still felt it.

Mason:

That one example being one around meditation, do you find some of the interpretations and the classifications and words and did you like, people going, I feel like this would be good for this symptom, or I feel like this has this kind of classification officially in clinic and those kinds of areas as well?

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah, both. So another example is Reishi. In one group, and again, the groups are different, in one group we were looking at Reishi and three out of the fifteen people were like, it's really weird, this week, I don't know what it was, but I was on holidays and I ate all this bread and I'm actually allergic to gluten and I had no symptoms. Someone was like, yeah, I have all this IBS stuff and all these food intolerances and my gut was amazing. And I was like, that's interesting, reishi and gut, hadn't really thought about that.

And then I realised of course, because it's an immune regulator, if you have immune mediated gut problems which most allergies and food intolerances are, then it's going to actually smooth that out, with three people with that same experience of their food intolerances kind of going away. So I use that clinically now. If someone comes to me and they have disconnection from their spiritual self and they have some stress and needing to anxiety, needing to downregulation and they have gut-based food intolerance, immune stuff, or any immunological stuff going on, then with those three things, I'll go for Reishi.

Mason:

Is there anything Reishi can't do? There's a lot. I shouldn't say that.

Stephanie Hazel:

No. You know what though, with Reishi, some people in the group don't feel anything because it's not that Reishi is like, and one of my friends was actually doing it, and she's like, oh... So a friend of mine who works for SuperFeast told me, you can never have too much Reishi. I was like, yeah, you can never have too much Reishi as in it's never going to be a problem, but it might be unnecessary or unhelpful. It might just be not the herb that's actually doing what you need to have happen in your body.

Mason:

That might be someone sharing who's in the packing room, who doesn't actually, because we have training that's specifically doesn't say that, it's very much something we do not say to people. That was the first experience I ever had because Reishi was the herb I've probably gotten the hardest and fastest, and fasted on for 10 days, just water and Reishi. And then afterwards had such a distinct, I could still feel the effect, but had zero effect in terms of wanting to take it again and then just went off it for four years. And it was the most profound, the people say, should I cycle things? And I'm like, it's more how to describe that there's no effect at all, or there's no affinity or frequency at some point. It's such a better way of describing it rather than, yeah, you should get off it right now. It's like, no, there's just nothing there. That's fine.

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah, it's pointless. Reishi is a herb that's incredibly safe, I think. I haven't gone into all the literature and safety you have, but my perspective on Reishi would be like, it's incredibly safe, it'd be really hard to injure yourself with Reishi. Not true for things like Rhodiola or hops or there's herbs that are much stronger herbs. Really hard to injure yourself on Reishi, but it might just be a waste of your time and the plant.

Mason:

Yeah. You have to be ignoring, again as well, when it does get to the point where it's like maybe it's blood pressure, maybe it's testosterone levels, you would've had to ignore symptoms that were coming up and be so disconnected from taking of a herb and such megadoses for so long and not making that connection. And that's kind of sometimes almost the nice part of, if you're not going to learn heart perception the easy way, you're going to have to learn it the hard way and you're going to get blindsided for what happens when you ignore taking a herb. But that doesn't mean that a herb is dangerous, it means that what's dangerous is having people not have perception of their own bodies and then have connection to what they're taking and just be given something blindly, which is rife within the medical system, naturally goes over into the herbal system. And that's especially the focus of those first six weeks, and then that broadens out, does it?

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah. So what I'm looking at in the four-month journey, so it is almost like the first six weeks is the bootcamp where you learn to trust your own heart perception and you learn to relate with herbs like this. And then we're doing a four-day retreat, which is going to be a lot of really beautiful kind of deep ecology practises. So nature connection, Stephen Buhner Harrod perception work, going off and be like, Hey everyone, go off and find a plant, do this practise, come back, let's talk about it. So a lot more like, how do we go deeper unravelling the veils and practising this skill? Again, in that beautiful on the earth, on the ground, in the nature... And also be a kind of ritual at the end of that. For me personally, I'm kind of a secretly, I guess less secret now that I'm saying this on a podcast, secretly practising pagan witch, that I've been doing that for a really long time, earth-based rituals, elemental work.

And I find that a really beautiful way to... Ritual is like the message to our subconscious that we're entering into an altered state and a state I believe that is around sensing the imaginal. And when we use symbols that are meaningful for us and our culture, it tells our subconscious, like autohypnosis, self hypnosis... Okay, now this part of my brain can be quiet and this other part of me can come online. So if I find doing ritual in a semi-regular way helps me stay in that space and also helps me then open to other communication. So we're doing some ritual work as well in that retreat.

And then the next 10 weeks is looking at, similar to the Plant Allies, taking a herb blind for a week, but then there's another week where that group is a much smaller group, we'll then be like, we're going to be looking at, how do we then go deeper with the capacity and the potential for psychospiritual transformation that every herb holds? And this is something that I'm really exploring for myself at the moment. I don't profess to be an expert of this at all, but there's an invitation. In my work with the Plant Allies, I feel like every time I work with a plant like that, this beautiful invitation arises, this person using Tulsi to start their spiritual practise, that there was a block for them of finding that inner sanctum that allowed them to rest in that space. So if we were working with Tulsi that week, I'd be like, okay, from this whole experience you've had with Tulsi and from this class and the myths and the stories, what is it that you go, that's something that I've been wanting to move towards?

So another example would be mugwort. mugwort's a very powerful plant. When I work with that plant in this way, there's lots of dream work. Also, people having dreams and visions for their future, like actual manifestation dreaming, not just night dreaming. That came out through all the blind groups that I wouldn't have ever guessed. And there's a really powerful sexual trauma healing potential in mugwort as well, like healing the wounded feminine to enable women to get into their power. And so in that, if it were a mugwort week, I'd be like, well, here are the invitations. Actually dream. Dream into the future. You really want to have or actually heal your sexual trauma so you can step into your power. So if you're taking the sexual trauma option, then this is the week like, book into counselling twice. If there's someone you need to talk to about something that happened, go and do it. Use this plant. Lean on this plant as an ally and a support, to support you to do the really hard work of showing up fully as a human.

Mason:

The Plant Ally, there's absolutely no mystery in why you chose that term. We brought up a little bit of the aspect of if I was to sit down with a friend and have a cup of tea and get to know them, it's like there's no better analogy than talking about a plant in that than talking about it like a friend who you've met, not just someone you've read about in a textbook who apparently has these qualities therefore, yes, I will choose them. But it's also been some time since I've really articulated it in, I go back to the, probably again, it's one of Stephen Buhner's books where they talk about where, I think maybe it was [inaudible 00:54:43] or something, that these five ethnobotanists and herbalists were going along the Amazon and they all just went at the same time, bang, and they saw a herb and they all went and found that herb and they all happened to found an ally at the exact same time, and it all had a profound signature and they went and healed something together.

And they all had this bond around this plant ally and this plant ally was locked into their story forever. And I feel like that was Chaga to an extent Schisandra, and actually just realised while you were talking. Then we chatted about Bupleurum last time and how I've had that feeling like I've got some deep work to do with the herb. And I've been in such an intellectual place recently and I'm now back in a liminal space, rolling out our energetic constitution and so forth, talking to you now, I'd been blocked by things I read going, really don't take Bupleurum on its own, it's best in a formula because of these clinical reasons.

And I've been hooked and really been locked into that. And I think I told you last time, I was like, there's something stopping me though from taking that minor Bupleurum formula, and I've got four Bupleurum formulas there, and I'm like, oh, I can't do it. I don't know why, and maybe I'm scared of what's going to happen. I just realised now it's because I have some work with an ally to do and I can feel that there's a friend that I've got to walk a part of the journey with. How do you describe to people rather than something just going and getting excited over a herb that you go like, oh, I love the idea of that herb, I think it's an ally, versus when you know you've got an ally on your hands?

Stephanie Hazel:

To clients or students?

Mason:

Students.

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah. Well, so there's a beautiful story. So story is really powerful, right? Myth and story is really powerful and that resonates with people really deeply. And I interviewed this woman, Jackie Bushel, who's an elder herbalist in Australia. She used to be a lecturer at one of the universities and left because it was too intellectually rigid for her. And she's also a mythologist. She works with myth and does initiations out in the desert. She's amazing. And she told me about the Celtic Wiseman called Banshee, which we would've been called, where the Banshee comes from. And these were ancient herbalists that were so deeply connected to the idea of Plant Allies that whole families of herbalists would work with only one plant their whole life. That they would have one plant that was the only plant they ever prescribed, and if it wasn't the right plant, they'd refer you to another family. They're like, no, this medicine isn't your medicine, go to this other family in that village. Did you just get, I just got goosebumps just saying it actually.

Mason:

Yeah. I'm feeling it. I'm with you.

Stephanie Hazel:

And the depth of commitment and relationship that that speaks to, actually, I don't even have a reference point for that.

Mason:

I mean, it's Shakespearean without the tragedy, Shakespearean level love story. And to have the permission, to have that deep of a love story with a friend or an ally, with that... Beautiful.

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah. Yeah. It's like full monogamy right there in the plant world. And so that's an example of this kind of plant ally-ship in an extreme and complete way. And I also think that the Amazonian Curandero dieta tradition is another example and actually have been using the term soft dieta to talk about the Plant Allies work. And a friend of mine who spent four years at a long time [inaudible 00:58:26], fully apprenticing Curandero, she recently pulled me up on it. She's like, hey, can you not do that? Which I really respect and I love that she kicked my ass for that, so she should. Her name's Skye Cielita Flor from Deep Earth Dreaming. She's a deep ecologist.

Then her point, she's saying, well, a dieta is a very specific thing, and it's actually a really deep commitment. When you're doing a dieta with a plant, you are inviting that plant to take root in your soul, and if you break your dieta or you break the commitment you've made to that plant, or that plant doesn't feel like you're honouring it and respecting it and creating enough room for it in your life, there are serious consequences. You will go insane. You will get sick. She's like, so don't call it a dieta because it's actually really serious business. And she's right.

So telling stories like this to be like, these are the kinds of relationships of mutuality and commitment that can exist between plants and people, that's not what we're doing here, but we are walking towards a kind of relationship, and relationships are mutual. Anyone who tries to have a relationship, romantic relationships or friendships where all they do is just take when they want and completely ignore the rest of the time and think that being is just there to give them a good time all the time, that's not going to go very far. And so the best I can do is to share some of those stories and let people find that out on their own. But there is a warning I've had in the mugwort week one time, which is, I'm not doing mugwort this time because it's big. I actually had a young woman who was 25 and we were working with this plant in this way, and she had all these repressed memories of really serious childhood sexual assault that she had completely blocked out all return.

Mason:

These aren't benign substances that are here to have fun, good times and be like, oh my gosh, animism is so awesome. This is serious business.

Stephanie Hazel:

Everything loves me.

Mason:

God, everything's connected. It's just so good.

Stephanie Hazel:

And I've been working with her since then and she has good support and she's got some good plant allies that are helping her and some great family, and ultimately she's like, I'm so grateful, this is really important and all this stuff, all this anxiety and all these weird things I have around intimacy now make sense and I'm able to heal all this work. But it's a bit like, yeah, well, not sure that I'll be doing mugwort on the level one next time.

Mason:

Good awareness. [inaudible 01:01:03].

Stephanie Hazel:

Plants are beautiful, we're in deep relationship with them. Relationship doesn't always mean nice times.

Mason:

Yeah. I've got a couple of notes that I think would be good cans of worms to open if we were to jump on another podcast. Because this is a realm of herbalism that I'm like, it's really amazing to share it. I'm really looking forward to at least a few people from the SuperFeast community connecting with you and going through the process with you. And if not this one, if you've caught it too late, if you're listening to this podcast too late, and we'll repeat as well, just to be in this, even just to be in this conversation though, because it's such a fundamental part, not just SuperFeast, but what I respected about when I first felt a deep reverence towards herbalism, not that I don't have reverence for clinic, but to the extent which really got me ignited.

And thinking about the ownership of herbs by institutions because they haven't been able to enter into this space... Likewise, I can't enter into their space, there's a little cross pollination I guess that needs to happen there. But just hearing you talk about that mugwort being so powerful yet at the right time, maybe it's not one to blast out there and just put into the water supply of Sydney so that everyone, you know, it's too much.

And likewise, some herbs have more force. A herb like Reishi, perhaps even Tulsi, are a bit more gentle. And that's where I've talked about tonic herbalism with people who are really rooted to the classics and they go, well, there's no such thing as a non-tonic herb because the most toxic herb, when you find... I'm like, oh my gosh, shut up, you're validating me too much. And I'm like, yeah. But it's so outside of the reality of when you find that perfect toxic herb, it needs to be out there and people need to be able to find and be taught about how to use it. But of course, it's not appropriate for people unless they know that you're supported to be able to work with that ally and go deep. But yeah, it's kind of nice, this imaginal realm. I'm really remembering that whole nature of 'we don't have to be scared, we just have to be aware'.

Stephanie Hazel:

You have to just be brave.

Mason:

Yeah.

Stephanie Hazel:

It's brave. With the Bupleurum I'm like, yeah, maybe you are scared, maybe you're not. And it's like when people say to me, oh, I'm going to do ayahuasca and I'm actually really scared. And I feel like, well, yes, you should be. Fear is a natural, appropriate response because you are opening up these really deep realms of your own soul and other places too. And that fear is an important response there. But I also think, just to go back, you said not putting mugwort in the water supply, it's like, well, I have a question mark around. I do think something is different when we approach plants with a particular quality of reverence and create a space for that more mystical quality to come through. I don't think it always comes through.

Mason:

Good point.

Stephanie Hazel:

And so when I have students that are taking these really low dose herbs and they're sitting with every day, it's like when someone's doing a dieta out in the jungle and all they're doing is sitting with the plant, sitting with the plant, sitting with the plant, there's a way that I believe the plant responds to that. And whether that's just that we become more sensitive because we're directing our energy there, or whether the plant itself is like, yeah, thanks for the respect, I'm going to come and talk to you. I'm not sure which one of those is true, but there's something that happens that the depth of experience people have in those processes is not what I would expect if I just gave a friend a cup of mugwort tea when she was over. I'd be quite shocked if, maybe if all the circumstances were perfectly lined up, it could be the trigger that tipped repressed memories to come out, right?

Mason:

It's a great, great point. Absolutely amazing point. Oh, there's so much juicy stuff. I'm excited for everyone who's going to be doing the course and for everyone listening to, sometimes I forget, I was just talking to a few people in my team, how after 13 years, 12 and a half years, I think at this point in the same business, I forget that now, even though I've talked about some aspects so many times and I'm bored of talking about certain parts of herbalism, or that now's just the time when there's a few people who are starting to clock onto this. And so nice for me to have this conversation and reclaim it as a part of SuperFeast, to know that, I don't think everyone realises how fortunate we are to be able to have courses here based in Australia, but from people around the world to be able to do this.

This isn't stuff like getting taught in universities, and it's not something that you can just be like, oh my God, that sounds awesome. After reading Stephen Buhner's books, I'm just going to start teaching it. It doesn't even happen like that. So I'm really excited-

Stephanie Hazel:

It's hard to even do it, just like reading Stephen Harrod Buhner's books, and in a way, the first group I made was because I was like, I don't think I can do this on my own. And so it is something in the community of practise and in the facilitated process that's almost, that's really necessary I think, in discovering this kind of work. Not that people can't do it on their own or make their own groups. Go for it, but it's not that easy to do just from reading a book because it's not an intellectual mind practise.

Mason:

So beautiful. Remind everyone again of the best place for them to go and check out the offerings and sign up.

Stephanie Hazel:

Yeah, great. So you can go to StephanieHazel.com.au and they'll see it under the courses tab, there's the two options. The Plant Allies six weeks and the four-month Wild Edge of Herbalism. You can also, there's a spot my website to book in a phone call with me. Because you can share that link with someone just like, I'm interested, but I just want to work out if it's for me, I brought a bunch of questions, then they can just book in a call and I can have a chat to them.

I appreciate there are some intellectual hurdles involved in that process. So there's space there. I'm really passionate about this, happy to talk about it. And we start on the 25th of March, which is a Monday, so I know that's about two weeks after this releases, so if you're interested in doing this, then move fast.

Mason:

Amazing. Enjoy everybody. Thanks so much for coming and having a chat. I really enjoyed it.

Stephanie Hazel:

So juicy. Thanks Mason.

Mason:

Heck yeah, definitely part two. I know sometimes everyone, I say that and I just have a throw away, kind of like, we're having a part two... We're actually going to do a part two, everyone. So if there are any topics that we haven't covered, maybe even that, we'll send them through and we'll keep a collection of questions that you might have for Steph.

All right, see you later.

 

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