This year I am excited to be presenting a brand new winter workshop series with an interesting twist!
The series will be based on each of the four elements: EARTH, FIRE, AIR & WATER.
I've decided to integrate into my teaching some of the approaches I use in my private practice as an herbalist. My goal is to give people simple tools, along with a useful perspective on health assessment to bring into their own self care each day. The workshops are designed to offer skills and new insights to anyone, ranging from community members with a natural health interest to health practitioners looking to learn more about herbs.
...SO... why the four elements, you ask?
Well, the elements are fundamental units of matter that we can all perceive through our senses. They are present not only in us, but in all of nature. The elements played a key role in traditional western herbal medicine for millennia. To this day, various approaches to healing in many cultures are based on the elements. Currently, this age old approach to health assessment and treatment is having a resurgence in the herbalism practiced in our own culture. And to me that makes sense.
The characteristics of each element are in constant interaction with each other in all places. When a particular element's characteristics are dominant, the signs can be perceived in the body. Their presence can indicate balanced health or the symptoms of disease. Similar characteristics also manifest within the plants which may become the food or medicine we use.
With an understanding of the elements and their properties in food and medicine, along with deepened insight into or our own elemental make-up, we can choose wisely the most appropriate foods and medicines to help bring about balance and health in our lives.
A simple example of this can be seen in the fire element and the chili pepper. Fire has the characteristics of burning heat, and a reddish colour, just like chillies. When we eat chillies, we experience the burning sensation in our mouths and bodies, and our skin may turn red temporarily from the increased heat. In this way, the fire element manifests itself within us when we ingest a chili pepper.
If we tend to get cold hands and feet, this is a sign that we could benefit from more fire element in our bodies. We might then want to bring more chillies into our diet in order to build our internal fire, bringing more heat and circulation to those areas.
When we overheat, we might need cooling, watery substances like cucumber, watermelon, or the herbs plantain or marshmallow to re-establish the balance.
Each of the four workshops in the series will focus on one of the four elements. We will look at the element as it manifests within the body and within various herbs and foods. And since all elements are in constant interaction with each other, we'll be discussing the role of every element (not just the themed one) at each workshop.