ghosts, herbs, biting burros

I tend not to board planes to go places, but when we had to cancel our road trip to take care of my sister, I had no choice but to go to the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference by airship. Happily, the flights to and from were uneventful (though I lost half my potions when the security dudes decided to stick the one quart baggie rule on me. But being so high from the conference still, nothing so minor as the one quart rule could bring me down. A week later, I’m still feeling the love.

The conference was held at the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM, former home of Georgia O’Keefe. The weekend was filled with an amazing, feral energy that imbued an already enchanting landscape with a magic that only herbalists and wizards can conjure. Organized by Kiva Rose, Jesse Wolf Hardin and Resolute, the conference brought together an array of herbalists from all over the country. The featured presenters were Rosemary Gladstar, Matthew Wood, Phyllis Hogan, Kiva Rose, Paul Bergner, Charles Garcia, Phyllis Light, Jesse Wolf Hardin, 7Song, Jim McDonald and Howie Brounstein. There were many other guest presenters as well as vendors and three nights of amazing music performed by Flamenco World Company, Tina Collins & Her Pony and the now official TWH band, Rising Appalachia.

Two incredible teachers who inspired me are Kiva Rose and the uproariously humorous 7Song.
kiva-7song closeup

And of course, Jesse Wolf Hardin. I had an image of him as serious and unapproachable, but in fact, he’s a very huggable and goofy guy with an astounding and inspiring message for all of us. I hope to visit The Anima Center one day to spend time with and learn more from Wolf, Kiva, and the rest of their family.

Going to New Mexico is going home for me. I lived there for almost a decade back in the 60s and 70s. My body feels good in the high desert and my mind feels at ease under that big, expansive sky. I had my first born there. It’s where I hope to be when I die.

I’d never been to the Ghost Ranch when I lived in New Mexico — had never ventured that far north. Unlike Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the northern Spanish land grant region has not been built up and run over with malls, markets and trendy shops. On my way to the ranch I had to pull over several times to photograph the land. Here are some shots off I-25 North.


With its spectacular mountains and rock formations, unobstructed by tall buildings, populated by ravens, vultures and little blue-tail lizards, I spent a lot of time catching my breath in awe. For a visual artist, this country is simply astounding. I understand why Georgia O’Keefe kept a home there. Add to that, the energy generated by the conference, the experience was awe-inspiring.

This mesa dominates the ranch.

During the conference, I made notes of places I wanted to revisit and photograph. I like to take photos after an event for some reason, as if catching echoes. Wherever you turn on the ranch, you find little surprises, if you look for them.

Here’s a sweet adobe bench with surprises inlaid on the back.



A very tall carving of St. Francis.

Chimes to pleasure the birds and burros.


A labyrinth! The first I’ve ever walked. I built a small altar for my sister on one of the center stones.

Things are wonderfully low-tech on the ranch. No cell reception and I refused to bring the tiny laptop my husband so sweetly offered. So, here are some “road signs.” Who needs a GPS?

One of the guest houses.

The dining hall.

This friendly, old swayback would follow a person closely, allowing pets and nuzzles, but really just wanting some food. When she determined no food was available, she’d follow someone else.

A pretty corner in the old “Ghost House.”

An irrepressible cottonwood.

Where I slept on the “upper mesa.”

My bed — packing to go home.

One view from my room.

And in the other direction, this is the first thing I saw in the morning.

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