Archive for March, 2014


The Florida Herbal Conference 2014 was held February 28th to March 2nd at YMCA Camp Winona in DeLeon Springs. The beautiful lakeside camp was the perfect setting, under majestic oaks along Lake Winona.  I was so excited to be invited to attend as part of a work exchange program. Numerous classes and workshops were held throughout the weekend and were organized into the themes of Kitchen and Garden, Clinical Practice, Meet the Plants, Herbal Traditions and Mind Body and Spirit.  Keynote speakers David Winston and Susun Weed hosted intensives and brought with them  wisdom of the history of herbal medicine in America and spoke passionately about practice continuing to be unregulated and accessible to all. “Starting in the 1960’s, there were only about 4 books available on practicing herbal medicine”, said Susun Weed. “The many herbal conferences being held  now have sprung from a single one and our dream is that the herbs and plants continue to be the people’s medicine”. Additional activities included the inspiring vocal resonance of The Beautiful Chorus and sacred drumming at the camp fire circle.  The event opened and closed with beautiful and moving ceremonies and vendors were on hand to offer not only their quality wares, but to share even more knowledge. A youth program was made available this year and was well attended. Many attendees took advantage of the spacious camp to pitch a tent a enjoy the experience of camping, cooking dinner outside or joining up for nourishing meals served by 3 Suns Bistro.  I was privileged to make new friends and connections and was pleased to see that many people traveled from out-of-state to attend.  Event organizer Emily Ruff, director of the Florida School of Holistic Living, along with Patty Coulton and Lesley Greene and their knowledgeable staff organized an unforgettable event and I’m looking forward to next year. As Emily likes to say, if anything can go right, it will! For more information visit http://www.holisticlivingschool.org. The 2015 conference will be held February 27th to March 1st. Hope to see you there.

flherbalconference2014 Photo credit: Roger Prince

Church Of Iron Oak, ATC held its 23rd Athame Makers Workshop January 24th to January 26. During this two day workshop, participants are given the rare opportunity to craft an athame, a ritual blade, in sacred space in their choice of ways. Experienced smiths and crafters from Church of Iron Oak and The Guild of Govannan lend their experience to assist in creating a personally designed blade through either forging or casting into a mold. Along with the metal work, many choices of exotic woods are available for handles and a very well equipped workshop never fails to help produce professional looking and very treasured work.

Church of Iron Oak was committed to the smith path from it’s beginning. The Smith Path refers to the principle that each person can reach their goals in life by their attitude and their work. “We were already doing smith rituals and holding workshops to make rituals tools in sacred space”, said Lord Paracelsus, Principle Minister of CIO. “We wanted to teach how to connect with and feel the transformation of spirit”. Over the years, this workshop has drawn participants from across the United States. “It was amazing! Fantastic and transforming”, said Amber Moon of Central Florida Pagans. “Jump on it when it’s available again”.

The workshop opens Friday evening with a ritual called The Opening of the Forge. This ritual is based on an ancient Mesopotamian rite recorded in cuneiform the the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Lead Smith, Second Smith and Forge Smith lead the ritual by consecration of the participants, the recitation of The Making of the Forge from the Library of Ashurbanipal, a reading from the Enuma Elish, the creation story of the succession of the Gods and the Nanurbi, a cleansing of the ground on which the forge stands. As the fire is stoked and ready for forging, attendees begin an ancient fire chant in Babylonian and when the Forge Smith signals the ready, each person steps forward and gets a chance to hammer piece of steel. This popular ritual is attended by both young and old and inspires many to sign up for future workshops.

When the athames are completed, the Smith Gods are thanked for their help. At this time, the tools are consecrated if the intention is for the creator to use it in ritual. A Release of Product ritual is performed if the tool the participant created is intended to be given away. The Release sends it on it’s way with your love and blessing.

The smith path requires humility and will. “Each participant is consecrated with the Blood of the Forge (a tiny bit of coal dust dissolved in olive oil) and is charged to have humility and will before the Gods of the Smith,” said Lady Dragonstaar, HPS and Principal Minister of Church of Iron Oak. “To have will to continue in the face of adversity and humility to recognize when the path has become irrevocably blocked and must find another way. They are further charged to have focus in their work.

“In more than 20 years of workshops, we have never had a student injured in the process of making their athame in spite of handling unfamiliar and dangerous items such as molten metal, high-speed sanders, band saws, and lathes.”.I was honored to have the opportunity to attend in 2013 and forge an athame. If you would like more information on this workshop or any others hosted by Church of Iron Oak, please email scribe@ironoak.org