Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Springfield Sanctuary Herb Festival 2013

Speaking at the 2012 Festival.
Photo credit Debs Cook

This year will be the third year that I have been a speaker at the Springfield Sanctuary Herb Festival in the Cotswolds. The 'Celebrating Herbs' festival runs from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September 2013. The other speakers are all amazing - practising medical herbalists and experts in wildcrafting - there are practical workshops and guided herb walks. Camping is available in the field. The programme is here as a printable pdf.

Camping at the Festival.
Photo credit Chris Head

I generally take an historical and folkloric approach to my talks. Last year I spoke on Herbal Fumigants:"Burning, suffumigation and smudge: using smoke to clear the air" based on the idea that many people believe that the practices of burning herbs and smoking were brought to us from the New World with tobacco. So I took a look (with demonstrations) at the Old World uses of non-tobacco smoke, from the incenses and entheogens of the classical period to Bald's Leechbook which tells us "geréc þone man mid þám wyrtum" (smoke that man with the herbs); through the early modern period and into the 20th century.

Demonstrating a mugwort 'smudge' stick.
Photo credit Debs Cook

At the request of a number of people in the audience, as well as some overseas members of Sarah Head's herb apprenticeship programme who were unable to attend, I did promise to make an extended version of my notes available as an e-book, and it is as I start to prepare this year's offering that I'm prompted to get that out before I actually deliver the next one! I do hope some of my herby friends can be persuaded to review it - let me know and I will gift you a copy.

With my 'pirate's chest' of goodies.
Photo credit Debs Cook
This year the title of my talk is "The historical legacy of blessings, curses, and charms in modern western herbalism." I shall be bringing along my wooden box of goodies with loads of things to demonstrate again, (last year's audience called it my pirate's chest!) I think that interacting with the herbs is so valuable to supplement booklearning - it's one of the main reasons why people choose to attend festivals and join groups.

Sarah Head runs Springfield Sanctuary herbal apprenticeships and I am proud to number myself amongst her alumni. Her blog 'Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife' is here.

Springfield Sanctuary is part of Wynyards Farm, a small arable farm in the Cotswolds belonging to Sarah Head's parents, Pryce and Marjorie Watkins.

Debs Cook's Herbaholic website 'Herbal Haven' is here.

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