Dear friends of Floracopeia and Medicinecrow:
Greetings from my forest hermitage, where I have had the good fortune to spend the last month, close to nature’s elements again after a long period of travel, teaching and work. I was rather exhausted when I arrived, especially from the October trip to India, but I’ve been using herbs Read More and eating healthy foods and doing qigong and meditating and chopping wood and carrying water, and am feeling much better.
Partly because I have had this precious time for rejuvenation, partly because I have been in an introspective mood here in solitude, and partly because it is the solstice time with its endings and beginnings, I have been thinking of all those who have contributed in large and small ways to my life this year.
We are at the end of a phenomenal year for Floracopeia and Medicinecrow, which for me has been like several lifetimes because so much has happened. Literally thousands of people have come in contact with our growing mandala in some way, and hundreds have played important roles in the various events and developments that have happened. I am very grateful and appreciative to everyone who has supported us in innumerable ways, knowing how valuable time, energy and financial resources are.
This letter is to acknowledge all of you, some individually and some collectively, and to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunities I have been given to serve the holistic vision we share, opportunities that have come from your support of that vision. It is a long letter, but if you are diligent you will probably find yourself in it somewhere. If you make it all the way through there is a poem waiting at the end.
To start, many thanks to three people who are the foundation of everything at Floracopeia and Medicinecrow: Jai Dev Singh, Taya Malakian, and Darren Engstrom. Together you have collectively brought about the manifestation of our little company in ways that have far surpassed anything I ever thought possible.
Jai Dev: you have now been with Floracopeia for three years, making you the senior member of our little company. You have contributed immeasurably, not only in terms of hard work but also creative inspiration, technological developments, and the good qualities of your presence. Thank you for everything.
This year, Kari Lane left to pursue her own aromatic dreams, and thank you Kari for everything you contributed. Now, Meghan Archer has returned after a three-year maternity leave.
Meghan, it was always a pleasure to work with you, back in the days when it was just you in the office and me on the road; I am honored and pleased to have your presence again, and I know everyone feels the same.
Thank you Jonathan Valdman, for your dedication and support of our rapidly growing enterprise. Thank you for speaking on the panel at the Medicine Buddha retreat, and for creating Sudarshan Herbal Sanctuary, and for starting essential oil distillation in Nevada City, and for growing tulsi all summer and bringing it and your still to the retreat and getting one dram of oil from a ton of leaves, and for attending all the Farm to Pharmacy programs at Goldthread Farm, and all the other good things you have done and are doing. Congratulations to you and Laura, welcoming your daughter to the world soon.
Thank you to our dynamic pair of business geniuses, Penny Lane and Bruce Schnitzer, without whom we would be lost adrift in the dark and dangerous waters of business without a clue of how to navigate.
Many thanks to the team of people who are working behind the scenes to help us keep it all together on our complex, leading edge, high tech web sites: Tyler Jensen and Mathew Sinson and even some I don’t know in India.
Special acknowledgment goes to Mojohito Richerson von Tchudi, who lives up to his aristocratic name with his love of Dharma and deep dedication to the Floracopeia vision. Thank you, Mojo, for attending all our retreats and paying attention to every word and then becoming our sound guy at the Aromatic Alchemy event and then joining the tech team and now doing so much work on the web sites that I can’t keep up with you. Glad to have you on the team, and that includes the work you are doing on your farm and with your herb garden and your still.
Another special acknowledgement goes to you, Judy Godec. Thank you for writing the product pages so well, and for reviving the work on the Pharmacy of Flowers, and for hosting one of the most enjoyable weekends of the year, and for keeping bees and making perfumes.
Thank you David Lovere, for not only the tech and graphic support you have provided this year, but for many years.
This year we finally outgrew our capacity to handle the increasing flow of oils arriving from afar, to bottle and label and ship and track and keep it all together with a myriad little manufacturing details. Thank you Mary Jo at M&D for taking on this huge department of the company, and for doing it so well. There is a reason that we grew out of our capacity to handle the manufacturing.
Here is a standing ovation and thunderous round of applause for the thousands of people who supported our vision and the farmers and distillers we support by buying our products this year. THANK YOU! I know that most of you are completely satisfied with our aromatic treasures, and find many enjoyable and therapeutic benefits from them. I also know that they last a long time, and you probably have more than you need already, but wouldn’t it be lovely to add some irresistible new items to your collection anyway?
This year has seen the launching and rapid growth of the Floracopeia Mandala affiliate program. What started as a few dedicated people at the beginning of the year has now become hundreds of people. Thank you to each and every person who has taken the time and energy to work with us to develop your own mandala of teaching and using and selling our oils. It has been a steep technological learning curve for us, as everything is state of the art customized software, so thank you for patiently bearing along with us and even actively helping at times, as we worked out the various headaches large and small until we now have a smoothly running and unique business model. Thank you also to Christina Winslow for undertaking to write a book about this innovative system, and to spread the word about it.
Thank you also to all the business owners who are retailers of our products across the country. This list has also grown exponentially this year, doubling from around 100 to now over 200. I know how complex it is to stock a display unit and keep track of inventory and do pricing and reordering and help customers, so you have my gratitude for that. It has also been a learning process for us, putting all the systems in place to be able to supply you at this level efficiently, so thank you for your patience.
This year we had two major events in the Nevada City area at the Shady Creek Center: the Floracopeia Teacher Training Intensive and the Aromatic Alchemy retreat.
Thank you Jillian Root, for coordinating those events so gracefully. Thank you also for your hard work getting us into Bioneers and Greenfest and other places, and then packing everything up and transporting it and setting it up and being on your feet all day with crowds of people and then packing it up again and transporting it back. I’ve done it, I know how much energy it takes, so I am grateful that you wanted to do it. And thank you to Neo too, for being such a good support throughout.
My gratitude goes to everyone at Shady Creek Center as well, for hosting our retreats and graciously working with us. Thank you Lorenzo and team for being willing to learn how to prepare healthy meals and supporting our local farmers. We’re looking forward to many more events there.
Special thanks go to everyone who traveled from all over the world to attend those two events, as well as those who attended the Medicine Buddha retreat over a year ago; in total almost six hundred people joined us. These were extraordinary gatherings by everyone’s accounts, and high points of my professional and artistic life. The energy, enjoyment of learning and community of good hearts were complemented by the beauty of the environment, the presence of the healing plants, and the knowledge shared by world-class teachers.
And sincere thanks to the incredible teachers at those events, who all gave excellent presentations: William Siff, Herbert Strobl, Kathi Keville, Katie Haley, Josh Geeter, Arjun Das, and Wahneta Trotter, just to name the primary teachers at the spring retreat. There were also at least a half dozen interns and work study students at each of the three retreats as well, and thank you to all of you. Thank you Krista Holland, for your dedicated work behind the camera at the Teacher Training, and then for teaching yoga at the Aromatic Alchemy gathering.
Thank you Simrit Kaur, for the divinely inspired kirtans that you offered to everyone at these retreats. It is always a blessing to participate in your musical devotions.
Thank you, William Siff, for making the long journey from your home in the Berkshires to be with us twice at the retreats. You deserve the standing ovations that you got, for many good reasons. Thank you for all the hard work you are doing at Goldthread Farm, and for inviting me to co-teach your Farm to Pharmacy program this year. Your vision and mission and the dedicated efforts you are making are some of the most important social, medical, and spiritual contributions being made to our society at this time, and it won’t be long before they are widely recognized.
Thank you everyone who came from all over to attend the Farm To Pharmacy program. They were three unforgettable weeks of being close to the healing plants, being out in the sun and rain, and getting our hands covered with herb juices and aromatic oils from harvesting, drying, tincturing, and making syrups and honeys. It was a lot of information in many lectures and herb walks and medicine making sessions, a lot of hard work, a lot of good food, and lot of fun and laughter. Thank you to Bridgette and her crew for the delicious meals every day.
Thank you Thomas Schieffer for the tireless and dedicated work you do every day at Goldthread, taking care of the plants at all stages and in every season, supporting William and the pharmacy. It is a true herbal apprenticeship, and all the hardships will be paying off many-fold.
The year has also been an extraordinary time for me as a teacher. Many wonderful conferences, classes, speaking engagements, interviews, workshops and retreats have taken place all over the country, most of them by invitation and hosted by individuals who have taken a lot of time to coordinate and promote, to bring me to their community, and to share the hospitality of their homes. Thank you to each of you that has played that role in my life; being able to make new friendships and acquaintances and connect with new communities is what has given me the vitality to maintain an otherwise grueling schedule of travel for a long time.
Special thanks are due to those who have invited me to participate and teach at longer events with larger communities or faraway places. Thank you Niika Quistgard for hosting me a third time at Rasa Ayurveda Center in Kerala, even though it nearly killed me, and for all the good work you are doing there. Thank you Ruth Hartung for organizing the Sedona Spring Planting Festival every year for three years, and for including me in it each time.
This year also brought the launch of Medicinecrow.com, and all the potential for networking, teaching, learning, sharing and knowledge that it represents. It was a huge amount of work for Jai Dev and Darren and a whole team of web guys, so thank you all for that.
And now we have so many good teachers on Medicinecrow: Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Jill Stansbury, Josh Geeter, L.Ac, Robert Sachs, William Siff…there he is again. There’s a great lineup for the coming year as well: Richo Cech, Melanie Sachs, Dr. Marc Halpern, more Jill Stansbury, Arjun Das, and many others. And to all the members who are making it what it is, and more joining us all the time, many thanks to all of you.
I told you it was a long letter…one more page to go.
Now we come to another circle of the mandala, and that is all the people who are working hard to take care of the plants and to produce the aromatic treasures that we all enjoy and benefit from. Many thank yous to all the farmers and distillers in South Africa, India, South America, Indonesia, Australia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. who work hard to cultivate, harvest and distill the aromatic plants. To Rabindra in Nepal, Ermias in Ethiopia, Tajul in Assam, Dante in Ecuador, Herbert in B.C., Peter in Colorado and all the rest…William Siff in Massachusetts…there he is again.
Now we come to the last ring of the mandala, which is actually the center, and that is the plants themselves. And to the plants we owe the greatest thanks, for feeding us, and making the world habitable, and for fuel and fiber and protecting us from the harmful rays of the sun, and regulating the seasons and regenerating the soil and purifying the water. And it is through the plants that we come to the underlying and overarching forces of life that they represent and contain and transmit, the sun and moon and earth, water, fire and air, and the ancient lineage of ancestral intelligence that they carry, and our connection to these forces that is so deep we cannot comprehend it. This, to me, represents something crucial about life, a sacred dimension to our existence that we can remember and feel and sense again through the use of the aromatic treasures nature has blessed us with.
Thank you Johanna Atman, for first speaking on the panel at the Medicine Buddha retreat, then launching a grassroots healthcare revolution in Calaveras County, and now the rental of your beautiful off the grid house in the mountains. The beauty and peace here have inspired poetry again, a necessary nutrient for my soul.
And finally, thank you Katie, for doing the best you could to share the difficulties and uncertainties of my homeless life of travel and teaching, and for all the nice things you brought us during that time, and for everything you contributed to Floracopeia. This little excerpt from my retreat journal is offered to everyone but dedicated to you, written on Christmas Eve.
Is this freshly fallen snow that is causing the frogs to rejoice?
No, it is crystalline moonlight blanketing the forest.
Is this a meadow of jewels shimmering with fairy lights?
No, it is a myriad rainbow prism dewdrops clinging to tender blades of grass.
Is this a gathering of wise elders seated on the mossy ground?
No, it is a ring of mushrooms that was not there yesterday.
Is this a winged messenger bringing news from the sky?
No, it is an eagle watching the pond.
Is this the Empress of tides wandering through her iridescent palace?
No, it is the moon floating in clouds.
Are these veils across hidden worlds, slowly parting to reveal their secrets?
No, they are mists rising at twilight.
Are these diamonds glowing in the recesses of my dreams?
No, they are galaxies adorning the crown of night.
Is it the song of dawn that stirs the forest?
No, it is a breeze moving through the treetops.
Are those ancient voices in the distance, calling in a language long forgotten?
No, it is geese making their long journey across the horizon.