Native Roots courses explore ancient health knowledge

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Centuries ago, before the advent of modern medicine, people healed themselves. This summer, Native Roots in Taos wants to share those techniques with you.

This summer, Native Roots is presenting a series of classes on ancestral, folk, and indigenous herbalism and healing. The classes draw on the wisdom of local and visiting teachers.

"The classes give voice to the people (from whom) the healing traditions comes from," said organizer Morgaine Witriol of Native Roots in Taos. "The teachers are genuinely engaged and have dedicated their lives to that which they are teaching. There is a true passion from each teacher to seriously address how one person, one community and the earth itself can navigate the balance of health in an honorable way."

Students from previous sessions say the classes have been powerful learning experiences and given them tools for their own spiritual growth and physical healing, empowering them to move ahead in their lives.

Josephine Marcus, a great-grandmother from the Taos Pueblo said, "I went to a class and saw something that the old people used to do on the Pueblo. Sometimes we don't realize that we should go to classes like these. We put it off, but then when we go, we learn that it's something to help you out in life and it gives you hope."

Dr. Gina Perez-Baron, a family medicine practitioner, said, "Morgaine uses her intuitive knowledge and learned organizational skills to being to the forefront those who carry the history and deep knowledge yet lack the ability to enter into the mainstream. She is a woman on las fronteras who uses her privilege and deep respect to bring us all to a higher place."

The programs began more than a year ago with a series of Sunday courses last summer. Since that time, there have been classes offered throughout the different seasons focusing on permaculture, drought-resistant crops, herbalism, medicine-making and bodywork, all based on ancestral and indigenous healing arts.

"Native Roots classes are heart-centered, guided by people wholly connected to the practices they teach and offer an endearing community atmosphere for participants," said Bee Falcon, Taos Reiki practitioner. "The teachers generously share how traditional healing methods can enrich our relationships to each other, the elements, and the planet."

This summer, a series of workshops will be offered on Sundays in June and July.

Summer Sundays

Margaret Garcia will be leading a session Sunday, July 8 that includes a medicinal plant walk and instruction on making medicine with herbs and food. Garcia grew up in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, home to her family for 12 generations.

She will share the knowledge she learned from her family and focus on herbs that grow easily here and have not been overharvested. She will talk about farming and fermentation as well. "I'm excited to help people reconnect with Mother Earth and to make a connection with their own lineage," Garcia said.

Other workshops in the Sunday series include:

• Lakota songs for healing and herbs with Howard Badhand, Lakota Sundance Chief (July 1)

• Use of rocks and stones in therapies for the body with Ana Chavez, sobadora, Native hands-on bodyworker (July 22).

August sessions

In August, two special intensive courses will be offered. From August 2-5, Tonita Gonzales and Rita Navarette will present a course on understanding curandismo "in the depths of the heart." Traditional healing approaches, such as hands-on healing (sobadas), fire cupping (ventosas), healing with medicinal smoke (moxa) will be covered along with laugh therapy and a discussion of the healing power of the sweat lodge (temazcal).

The second August session is an advanced intensive course on ancestral, folk and indigenous herbalism and healing and will be held August 6-11. It will cover herbalism, plant walks, and medicine making, along with topics such as growing drought resistant crops and healing ceremonies with teachers Emigdio Ballon, Margaret Garcia, Ana Chavez, Bernadette Torres and Henrietta Gomez. The August immersion classes will be accredited by the University of New Mexico - Taos and will be held at local Sol Feliz and Tierra Drala farms, Taos Pueblo, and in the mountains.

For youth

Also this summer, kids ages 12-17 can attend camp with Native Roots. It's called Folk, Farm and Forest Youth Camp and is held from July 23-29, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The camp will focus on permaculture, medicinal plants, folk traditions, art and music. Five full scholarships are available now, and Native Roots is actively raising funds for additional scholarships.

For more information

Organizers hope to make the classes as affordable and accessible as possible. For more information, pricing, and scholarship availability visit nativerootshealing.com. Classes are being offered on a sliding scale, and there are limited work-trade spaces available. Tribally affiliated members in New Mexico are invited to attend on a donation basis.

Native Roots can be found each week on Saturday at the Taos Farmers Market. Their herbal product line of health and beauty products includes bug spray, grief tea, osha honey and herbal hot chocolate, plant starts and herbs. Their products are also offered in the Taos area at Manzanita Market, Taos Co-op, Sol Foods, Taos Herb Company, Oh My Garden, Farmhouse Café Store, La Tierra Mineral Gallery and Box Canyon in the Ski Valley or online at nativerootshealing.com.

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