Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Herbalist Spotlight-Kiva Rose
I love bringing these herbalist to my blog. Herbalism is not a fixed art, and herbalists from around the world work in various forms of our passion.
We have experienced those that have sanctuaries to protect and grow herbs, those that are clinical practitioners, midwifes and soon to be doctors, and Tina Sams who developed her love for herbs into a bi monthly magazine.
Today I share with you a little lady with a big calling.
Kiva Rose is a vibrant young woman in her late twenties. She continues her commitment while being partnered and mothering her daughter, Rhiannon who is about 8 years old.
She lives in the Gila of New Mexico and along with Loba and Jesse Wolf Hardin, maintain the sacred area of the Sweet Medicine Canyon while also offering retreats and classes.
I asked Kiva Rose a few questions to share with you today and I am sure you will enjoy the knowledge of this young woman who is very active in her work by writing, consulting, teaching, and living!
Do you remember what was going on in your life that lead you to herbs?
Plants make up most of my earliest memories. I grew up in the Appalachians and deep South where the plants are especially prolific and present.. Yarrow, Burdock and Honeysuckle were everywhere and figured very large in my imagination and playtime. My mother’s garden was a huge inspiration to me and I spent long hours playing in the dirt and tasting plants. Having been something of a nomad for much of my adult life, I learned to love the plants wherever I was. And yet, the pieces didn’t fall completely into place until I found my real home here in the Mogollon Mountains. Once I arrived here, the plants began to really speak to me, and my calling as a Medicine Woman became more and more clear under their guidance. So although I have been in love with the herbs from the beginning, I didn’t really find my path until I came home to this very special place and the medicines particular to this land.
How old were you at that time?
From near babyhood really, but more in a focused way by the time I was seven or eight. I was in my early twenties when I came home to New Mexico and really began learning and practicing herbalism in an intensive way.
Can you share some of the work that has most influenced you? Such as books, blogs, video and lectures.
I was, and still am, influenced by the archetype of the European Medicine Woman from the fairytales I grew up reading, and I am still continually inspired by the Curanderas, Yerberas and medicine people of my home here in the Southwest. As far as particular herbalists and their work, my first herb book was Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West and I have been very influenced by all of his books and work. Other than Michael, other primary influences include Matthew Wood, Susun Weed, Paul Bergner, Henriette Kress and all of the Physiomedicalists, especially William Cook. What I like best is work that derives from direct experience with plants and people, and imparts a sense of intimacy with the herbs that only comes from years of daily interaction with the remedies.
When making plant medicine, are you drawn to any particular method?
I consider myself very much a practitioner of folk medicine, in the Appalachian traditions of my childhood and also the very special blend of Hispanic/Apache/Navajo/Anglo medicine traditions of this area. I tend towards simpling in my practice, although I also rely on both traditional and improvised formulas for certain situations. I make 90% of all my medicines from local plants. My whole approach to herbalism is very hands on and earthy, I want to stay close to the practices of my ancestors and yet adapt enough for my practice to be relevant and effective. Keeping my medicine simple allows me to imbue it with intent and prayer, and on the most practical level, helps me ensure both quality and consistency. The purpose of the Medicine Woman Tradition is to blend the ancient and the new into a grass roots approach for women that is more than just a way of making medicine or tending to people’s health concerns, it’s a way of life and being.. The Medicine Woman Tradition teaches that healing is not about being free from pain or discomfort, but rather the pursuit and integration of wholeness in all aspects of our lives.
Do you have a most memorable event, conference, or one on one experience with any of our herbal foremothers and forefathers or any other key person used in your path of herbalism? And how has that influenced you today?
I haven’t spent much time within the mainstream herbal culture. Instead, most of my person to person herbal learning has been gleaned from the Hispanic and Native elders of my local village and area. This has been a moment to moment process, spent on shady front porches and next to aquecias with the old people who still remember the roots their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers used from this very same soil. I don’t recall a single moment, it’s been more of a long line of slow spoken encounters with the people who have utilized these herbs as medicine for generation after generation. Through these amazing individuals I’ve learned nearly forgotten medicine making techniques, the names and uses of countless native herbs and a certain unique way of approaching the healing process as a part of everyday life, as common sense as tamales and posole. The remedies that come directly from this place are very special to me and of primary importance in my practice. I feel that the healing I facilitate with my clients and students is a direct outflow of the profound power of this special land.
Where are you located?
I live and work from Anima Center, a botanical and women’s sanctuary in a remote river canyon nestled among the Mogollon Mountains of southwestern New Mexico. These mountains are essentially the southernmost stretch of the Rockies, and are a part of the Gila bioregion. This area shelters an amazing diversity of both flora and fauna, and provides an ideal location for studying wild herbs in their natural habitat.
Do you work with the public and could you describe your work? such as:
Do you teach classes?
Anima Center offers both on site and distance learning in the form of correspondence courses, workshops, events, internships and apprenticeships. All classes, consultations and other services are offered by donation.
Do you offer consultations?
I offer both online consultations and in person consultations.
Do you travel for herbal work?
Although it’s hard to leave my beautiful home, I do sometimes travel within the Southwest and Rockies to teach with my partners Loba and Jesse Wolf Hardin.
How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer, calendar of events, blogs, weed walks, etc?
To learn more about my work at Anima Center, and the Medicine Woman Tradition visit www.animacenter.org and also my online herbal blog at www.bearmedicineherbals.com or you can email me directly at
Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it unfolds?
Each year we continue to deepen and expand the Medicine Woman Tradition, and each growing season we restore more of the sanctuary land with native plants. As we grow, I hope to be able to offer a haven and learning place for more and more women to study, heal and experience the transformative magic of the herbs and the Medicine Woman Way.
Most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is one word of wisdom or sage advice you could leave them, what would that be?
Sense, serve, savor.