Report: 1st Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering

Almost a month late, but now I get to turn my mind back to the lovely Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering that I attended last month. I had been thinking of blogging about my talk here and sharing learning materials, but I decided to put those on my practice blog and concentrate on my impressions of Scotland, the Gathering, and my interactions with the lovely people I met while I was up there. For those that are interested, the stuff pertaining to the workshop I lead can be found here: Herbal Pharmacy as Direct Action

I got involved with the Gathering through a friend and course colleague from University, Ally Hurcikova who invited me to speak. The Scottish Radical Herbal Network is new and has just launched this gathering being its first expression of community made manifest. So it was particularly lovely to be there to help birth an idea, and an idea for, and in, a country that is very much like my own (more thoughts on this later – there’s another post brewing).

I arrived at the gathering late evening on the Friday, unfortunately missing out the day’s events. The ride was longer than I’d planned – it’s easy to forget how long this island that we live on is! 450 miles later, I found myself in the rural and rainy splendour of the shores of Loch Tay.

That night it blew a gale – literally, with many tents being knocked flat. Mine was miraculously okay, though my bike was blown over (off its sidestand, up to vertical, and down on the other side no less). Fortunately the crash bungs did their job and the only damage was a mirror. At the time, I didn’t go running up the hill to look at the damage, instead wanting to stay inside nursing a pint and watching the excellent documentary about Juliette de Bairacli Levy (Juliette of the Herbs) – an inspiring insight into someone of my grandmother’s generation who was way ahead of her time both in the use of herbs, of documenting a passing way of life of Europe’s Gypsies, and in holistic veterinary medicine. Then I went, sorted out the bike, made sure the tent was okay, and crawled into a sauna.

Saturday morning I was asleep, as I didn’t sleep much in the gale, though in the afternoon I was a contributor to a group discussion called ‘Herbal Activism: Stories from camps, campaigns, & community clinics’ – I was talking about my experiences in the Calais migrant camp back in the spring. It is inspiring to touch base with others involved in such work – both regarding the pressing matters in Calais, and the wider picture of how Herbal Medicine can integrate into helping in acute and often oppressive situations.

Late afternoon brought a lovely talk, demonstration, and taste test of the various seaweeds that can be found on our rocky shorelines, and how to forage and use them. Thanks so much to Roísin and Séamus ‘The Twa Corbies’ for such an interesting talk filled with life, love of the wild, knowledge and above all else an unmistakable Celtic soul. Diolch yn fawr iawn am y gwaithdy bendigedig!

The evening saw a Ceilidh – and a bottle of wine. An ideal opportunity to let go and focus on fun and merrymaking!

Sunday saw me give my talk, which went well – I won’t go on about it as you can look it up if you want. The afternoon brought a lovely workshop on Constituents and Energetics – stuff that I was taught in University, and already knew really but I’m nosey and I love to see other people’s teaching styles. Afraid I did get a stern look when I shouted ‘anthrocyanins’ from the back of the room (Rather than the more generic ‘flavonoids’ that was expected). Sorry Clare.


Then a lovely big meal and a chance to chat with the hangers-on on Sunday morphed into staying over (in the building, not the tent this time), a Monday morning filled with a lazy breakfast and helping pack up the event stuff before throwing my leg over the bike once more and heading south – via the Fortingall Yew tree, which I just had to stop off at to pay my respects.

So, we came together and made something special. We made community, laughter, learning and started forging a shared vision for how we can help to make this world better by using our modern and ancient skills, and our traditional strengths and background from these rocky shores of Prydain. I can honestly say I was privileged to be a part of it!

But I’m not the only blogger there – Here are accounts from:

Scottish Radical Herbal Network – First Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering: A Celebration of plants & people, in all their diversity

Twa Corbies’ Rambles – Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering Magick

Little Red Tarot – Notes from a Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering

Loch Tay

With wild scenary like this, Loch Tay leaves its mark in the memory!

Categories: On The Road

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