Poisonous Plant Medicine
“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” – Carl Jung
“Poisonous” plants can be powerful medicine. When understood and respected they guide us to our whole self. They are fierce teachers, helping us embrace what we’ve been taught to avoid.
In this 6-week online series, you will learn all about the lore, magical, & historical use of poisonous plants. We will dive deep into their healing messages through our focus on plant spirit communication, inner-alchemy, and shamanic journeying.
Every week we will be ending class with a shamanic journey in connection with one of these magical plants. These journeys will be a time for you to connect with your higher self and the messages of these plants.
[If you are local to Brooklyn check out the in-person version of this offering here]
Plant Spirit Communication & Poison As Medicine
Week 1 will introduce the cornerstones of this series. If you can only make it to one class, make it this one!
Plant spirit communication is the practice of using our intuition to directly connect with plants. This is in diametrical opposition to capitalistic, material reductionist herbalism that dominates the plant medicine world. Instead of asking what you can get from a plant, we ask the plant directly what they want to share. This allows us to experience the healing benefits of herbs without having to ingest or even be in the same vicinity of a plant. This is a skill that everybody can develop!
“Poison” as medicine is the spine of my work with poisonous plants. Why do so many consciousness shifting plants make us feel physically ill? What can we learn when we balance the typical “light and love” approach to spiritual paths with shadow integration? What if the majority of the suffering we experience is not from the things we are afraid of, but from our avoidance of those things?
Belladonna & Henbane: Sex, Death, & The Unknown
Sex, death, and what is unknown are generally considered taboo topics of discussion. Poisonous plants will lovingly take us right into those oft avoided places. Almost all the poisonous plants we will discuss through this series of classes are aphrodisiacs. Why would so many plants be connected with both our entry into life and our exit? These plants suggest that there is little separation between life and death, pleasure and suffering - and the best way to understand this is to go right to the places that seem the scariest to our conditioning!
Belladonna, aka deadly nightshade, literally means “beautiful woman,” her latin name Atropa comes from the Greek fate “Atropos” whose job it was to decide when each human life was to come to an end.
Henbane has many myths associating it with the Underworld, including its use in the wreaths that crown the souls of the dead as they descend to Hades. In European folklore it was used to attract lovers, and is still used for divination in communicating with the spirits of the Underworld.
Datura & The Persephone Myth: Healing Trauma Through Psycho-spiritual Death & Rebirth
“God’s presence is there in front of me, a fire on the left,
a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire, another
toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream.
A head goes under on the water surface, that head
pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire,
and so end up in it.”
Persephone is both the Greek goddess of flowers and Queen of the Underworld - what a beautiful dichotomy! After she was kidnapped by Hades, he created a shade garden of plants able to grow in the darkness of the Underworld, filled with the plants included in this course. The Persephone myth is a powerful analogy for what happens when we walk through the fire of our pain and emerge on the other side, newly reborn. In today’s class I will share the Persephone myth and explain how we can apply its lessons to our own lives.
Datura has historical uses that span the globe, from being holy to Shiva worshippers in India, to being included in some of the brews of ayahuasca shamans, to being worshipped as a God by tribes of Western North America and the Huichol of Mexico.
Foxglove, Monkshood, & The History of Witches Flying Ointments
Did you know that the image of witches flying on broomsticks comes from a psychedelic folk practice from the middle ages? Unfortunately, we have lost all documentation from the folk herbalists using this type of divinatory medicine during that time period. The only written accounts we have are survived in court records of witch trials where one of the main ingredients of witches flying ointments was said to be the fat of Christian children… sigh. In this week’s class we will talk about how we can recover and reclaim this ancient practice - free from false dogma!
We will also discuss the lore surrounding foxglove and monkshood - two very deadly poisons whose extracted alkaloids are used in some of our modern Western medicines.
Yew & Hellebore: Meeting The Crone
Meetings with the Crone are inevitable on the poison path. The Crone is a wise elder archetype who has wisdom she wants to pass down to us… but she does not allow for anything less than authenticity. Think Baba Yaga. I seem to meet her most often when I’m hanging around with hellebore or yew. Today we’ll talk about what to expect (the unexpected) when working with The Crone.
Last winter a fence fell on top of my yet to bloom hellebore plant and I wasn’t able to fix the fence for 6 weeks. I assumed it was a goner. But to my surprise when the fence was finally lifted, that little hellebore not only sprouted new leaves but had over 10 new flowers blooming - all whilst in near complete darkness! If that isn’t the most beautiful metaphor for the human experience, I don’t know what is.
The yew tree is thought to be the mythic Yggdrasil, or World Tree. They can live to be thousands of years old and are among the oldest of all living organisms on the planet. They are often found in old cemeteries where their roots intertwine with the skeletons of the dead.
Mandrake & Amanita: The Lost Wisdom of Shamanic Lineages
Mandrake and amanita muscaria are perhaps the most mythologized of all plants.
Mandrake even makes an appearance in Harry Potter (yes, those screaming mandrakes are based on real plant lore!).
The red and white caps of amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, are perhaps the most easily recognized symbol of psychedelic plant medicine 🍄Most Christmas lore is actually rooted in amanita muscaria lore. Shamans of Northern Europe would wear red and white capes, going door to door to bring divinatory messages during the winter months - sound familiar? Reindeer are known to eat these little mushrooms, hence the mythology of flying reindeer and Rudolph’s red nose.
In the final class of this series we will speak about the forgotten shamanic lineages tied to these plants and discuss as much of their endless lore as we can fit in!
[SOLD OUT] Group 1 dates:
Week 1 - January 20th
Week 2 - February 3rd
Week 3 - February 17th
Week 4 - March 3rd
Week 5 - March 17th
Week 6 - March 31st
[Group 1 is sold out as the entire series but a few individual drop-in classes are still left]
Group 2 dates:
Week 1 - February 10th
Week 2 - February 24th
Week 3 - March 10th
Week 4 - March 24h
Week 5 - April 7th
Week 6 - April 28th
We will meet on zoom every other Sunday at 7pm EST for 6 weeks. Each class lasts for 3 hours.
You can sign up for the entire series for $175 or take individual classes at $35/each.
I try to make pricing as affordable as possible ($29 per 3 hour class when signing up for the whole series) but I understand finances can still be a barrier. There are a limited amount of sliding scale and/or payment plan spots available. If interested please send me an email with a few sentences about your interest in this course to email@example.com. The only caveat for choosing sliding scale pricing is that you promise to pay it forward when the opportunity presents itself to you. I have benefitted from sliding scale pricing throughout my life so I understand how helpful it can be during tight times!
Please reach out with any questions!