Programme 2018

The Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering is based around three broad workshop themes:

  • Radical Health & Herbalism

These sessions are focused around radical and alternative approaches to health in general, and to herbal medicine. Approaches which aim to go deeper into examining and questioning the root causes of ill health and creatively proposing alternative ways of tackling them. 

At the 2018 gathering they will include: Wild Fermentation and the Microbiome, Solidarity Medicine Making, The Politics of Experience,  Herbs for Anxiety & Stress, Connecting with the Resources of the Body, Plant Study Session, Death & Beyond,  Ecotherapy: techniques for attaining and maintaining good mental health through Nature,  Bone Flesh & Cartilage: Strengthening Ourselves. 

  • Sustainability, Social & Environmental Justice

These sessions bring attention to and explore different axes of oppression and injustice in our society today, asking each of us to consider our roles in perpetuating oppression and how we might be able to collectively challenge it.

At the 2018 gathering they will include: Responses to Patriarchy,  Psycho-emotional Health: Substance Use & Recovery, Exploring Class, Trans Health & Competency, Prison Abolition, Race & Health,  Tour of Tombreck Permaculture ScotLAND site

  • Scottish Health & Herbal Heritage

These sessions focus on our own specific cultural context of health in Scotland & the herbal practices and traditions tied to our land & individual bioregions. 

At the 2018 gathering they will include: Native Medicinal Fungi, Herb Walk Skillshares, The Work & Legacy of Mary Beith – Scottish traditions with relevance for community herbal medicine today, A Kist in Thyme: Herbal Storytelling.

Radical Health & Herbalism

Solidarity Medicine Making with Herbal Unity & The Golden Foot Collective

This will be a practical session to collectively make herbal remedies for use in the Herbal Unity Clinic in Glasgow & the mobile migrant support Golden Foot Clinic. Herbal Unity is a free clinic offering herbal consultations, medicines and massage to people affected by the asylum process and their allies. It will be an opportunity to learn how to make simple medicines which can be repeated at home with recipes provided, at the same time as providing practical support & solidarity to others fleeing from oppression & conflict. We will probably make up a tea and a muscle rub and explore some of the herbs involved in the recipes. There is a suggested donation to cover the costs of the materials which is £3 per person. You will take something home with you and also leave something to be distributed to migrant communities.

Wild Fermentation and the Microbiome: Birte Weiss & Ed Pybus

A practical workshop making kimchi and fermented salsa. Fermentation has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. Unlike industrial processed foods, wild fermented foods are alive with complex bacterial activity which helps preserves food, improves flavour and provides incredible health benefits. This workshop will explore the processes involved with wild fermentation and health benefits of fermented foods. It will also give you a chance to make some fermented foods and try some delicious ferments. The workshop is suitable for children, although younger children may require supervision.

Ed & Birte are both home fermenters with lots of practical experience in making wild fermented food and drinks including kimchi, salsa and kombucha. This is their first collaboration and will be a unique experience for Scottish Radical Herb Gathering 2018.

The Politics of Experience –  Lisa Fannen

 This workshop will look at some of the history, language and politics of what gets called ‘mental health’ including discussion about bio-medical understandings, approaches and diagnosis: It will look at some of the history of psychiatry, and anti-psychiatry movements & alternatives, and consider some historical & cross-cultural understandings of consciousness. And will engage with some of the progressive conversation around and understandings of psycho-emotional health in social context. The space is for information exchange, questions, shared dialogue and solidarity.

Facilitator: Lisa Fannen. I’ve been interested in looking at what health means in the broadest sense of the word, and in the context of social change and social justice for quite a few years. I’ve run related workshops in squats, community centres, schools and put together a feminist health book called Threads. I practice bodywork one-to-one in Edinburgh, am part of the Radical Herbalism Gathering organising collective and the emerging Radical Bodywork Network. I also write, am experimenting with text, sound, film & movement, and try and walk outside the city as often as I can.

Connecting with the Resources of the Body  – Rufus Mayfield and Elisabeth Svanholm

We believe everybody has wisdom and expertise about their experiences and what is helpful… Trauma, overwhelm and the stress of daily life can disconnect us from our bodies. Grounding techniques reconnect us with the here and now, with the body and the resources we have naturally available. This workshop will share a range of exercises both individually and in 2s; and give space to reflect on what happens when we connect with the body’s resources. We encourage autonomy that people should adapt the exercises to their needs and preferences and opt out of particular exercises if necessary. We are not promoting one truth or superior way of doing things, rather that there are different ways to ground ourselves and connect with our bodies and that Western technology based culture can often alienate us from this.

Elisabeth – I have a background in dance and mental health training. I’m interested in dialoguing skills and ways to use body awareness to promote psycho emotional wellbeing.

Herbs for Anxiety & Stress – Lucie Bradley

Stress and anxiety are major contributors towards compromised mental health. Herbal medicine has much to offer to support and alleviate stress and anxiety states. With Clinical Medical Herbalist, Lucie Bradley learn about herbal remedies useful for stress and anxiety, both physical and emotional.

Death & Beyond – Lisa Fannen

A facilitated space to share anything we might have felt, sensed, experienced or percieved, around or at the time of someones death, and/or in the time since their death.

Facilitator: Lisa Fannen. I’ve been interested in looking at what health means in the broadest sense of the word, and in the context of social change and social justice for quite a few years. I’ve run related workshops in squats, community centres, schools and put together a feminist health book called Threads. I practice bodywork one-to-one in Edinburgh, am part of the Radical Herbalism Gathering organising collective and the emerging Radical Bodywork Network. I also write, am experimenting with text, sound, film & movement, and try and walk outside the city as often as I can.

 Ecotherapy: techniques for attaining and maintaining good mental health through Nature – Jess Raine

 Learning from, and connecting with nature is a powerful resource for us to take control of our mental health, improve it and maintain it. This workshop will explore some practical techniques based around observation of nature that can be used personally to aid inlooking after our mental health, can become part of a practitioners ‘tool box’, or can be passed on in group settings. The workshop will
take place outside, is open to age 12+, with a maximum capacity of 14 people.

Jess Raine loves to be outside and can usually be found lighting fires in woodlands over which she likes to brew potions! She has worked in the field of environmental education for about 5 years and has mainly worked with adults with mental health issues ranging from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and post traumatic stress. She usually works in Midlothian but more recently has worked in Glasgow with Refugee and Asylum Seekers.

Plant Study Workshop – Cath Kay, Jean Senior, Dianne Murray

2 hour plant study session with guided journeying. In this session, we hope to give people some new tools to experience and learn from the wild plants that grow around us. Learn to slow down and connect with the plant world. As a group, explore the uses and wisdom of one particular plant, to be chosen on the day. Guided journeying led by Dianne Murray will allow participants to meet the spirit of a herb. Participants can ask specific work/questions for the herb, or get a greater insight into the character of a plant. Drumming is used to drive up the energy and call the spirit to come forward. Participants should finish the session feeling a sense of groundedness and contentment.

Things to bring if you can (we will have some extras to borrow)

  • pencil and notebook if you want to record impressions on paper
  • art materials – coloured pencils, crayons, pens or paint
  • camera/phone if you want to take pics rather than draw
  • A rug to lie on for meditation

Please wear clothes appropriate to the weather – warm, waterproof, hat etc. We will be spending some time outside with the plant and want to be comfortable (it might be sunny, but we won’t bet on it!) Might want to bring something waterproof to sit on – if you like to sit rather than squat outside, and it may be a small plant that we’re looking at.

Much of the session is quiet meditation time, to slow down to plant time, calm the mind and note your own impressions. Mobile phones may be used to take photos but please don’t get lost in them, or use other functions (social media, check messages etc)

Kids/parents might find quiet time difficult – if you need to talk or deal with other things, please respect the group’s silence and go somewhere else to do this. You are welcome to re-join the group when you are ready.

Dianne Murray describes herself as an energy medicine health coach, crossing the boundaries between body and soul, connecting the physical with the spirit. Believing that everything has its own spirit, she works with plant, animal and human connections, assisting people to communicate across the vale. She often uses drumming to help people journey.

 Cath Kay and Jean Senior are both experienced Medical Herbalists. They have a combined experience of over 33 years in clinical practice 16 years. Cath works at Neal’s Yard Remedies in Glasgow until recently and is now working with a different clientele in the ex-mining villages of West Lothian. Jean has runs her own busy complementary therapy centre in Helensburgh. Both Cath and Jean committed to harvesting local wild plants and use them to make medicines for clients, believing that the link between people, plants and the planet is vital, and to harvest and use the wild plants that grow around us is part of our heritage. It links us to the world and gives us the ability to survive by ourselves, outside the conventional global systems and unmediated by big business.

Bone Flesh & Cartilage: Strengthening Ourselves – Rosy Rapacova

A large amount of people in Scotland suffer from conditions of the musculoskeletal system, such as arthritis, autoimmune condtions, tendonitis and back pain; it’s an emerging chapter in herbal health care. There are some herbal formulas handed down through the master herbalist tradition, which can be very effective in helping to treat them. In this workshop we will examine these specific herbs and formulas through demonstration, discussion, taste and application. Learning how to strengthen ourselves through use of these herbs as well as diet and lifestyle change. This workshop is most suitable for those who are familiar with herbs and want to look a bit deeper.

Rosy is a Master Herbalist based in Fife, who runs the ‘Meadowsweet Herbal Apothecary’ offering herbal consultations, talks, workshops and organic herbal products. She also runs ‘Meadowsweet Organics’ market garden, growing half an acre of organic medicinal herbs, and has a strong interest in treating autoimmune conditions and the musculosketal system, as well as future plans to set up a herbal CSA scheme and social enterprise.

Sustainability, Social & Environmental Justice

Trans Health & Competency – Otter Lieffe

This workshop will provide basic trans-competency training for anyone – including holistic health practitioners – working with trans, non-binary and intersex folks. We will focus on respectful use of language and sensitivity around discussing health. This workshop will be led by a trans woman holistic therapist who will speak from her own experiences. If there’s time, we’ll also hold a discussion around the use of herbs in trans heath.

The workshop will be directed towards health practitioners who do not have trans, non-binary or intersex lived experiences but would like to ally with people who do. As trans-competency is a wide and complex subject, this workshop will be just the beginning of a conversation and there will be limited time for questions and answers at the end. For safety we wish to state that, in keeping with the rest of the gathering, this space will not tolerate transmisogyny, transphobia, derailing or other disrespectful behaviour.

The second workshop will be a facilitated space only for trans, non-binary and intersex folks (based on self-identity, there won’t be any gender policing) for a shared conversation around holistic spaces, trans exclusion/inclusion and our health.

Otter is a working class, femme, trans woman in and out of Brussels and Berlin where she runs a holistic clinic called Safer Healing. She is the author of Margins and Murmurations and Conserve and Control.

Exploring Class – Dom Hunter, Shannon, Rhona Donaldson

The UK class system is complicated and contested. It is embedded within the global class system, at the same time as having it’s own specific characteristics and compositions. This workshop will emphasis the ways it effects working class and poor communities whose members are demonised, expendable, and exploited. It will also attempt to place the historical transition of herbalism from a people’s medicine to a capitalist commodity into the context of the current class system. Drawing from our personal experiences as class embodied individuals, we will examine the ways in which our material and psychological lives are shaped by our class position.

While we will introduce some ideas and concepts, please be aware that much of the workshop will require your active participation and willingness to reflect on your own class position. We are limiting the workshop to 20 participants and would ask those interested to sign up prior to the workshop in order to collect our ground rules and optional reading material. If those of you who are from poor or working class
backgrounds are apprehensive about attending the workshop, please feel free to approach any of the facilitators beforehand via the Gathering organisers. The workshop is in two 2-hour parts and we ask that you attend both

Dom Hunter is an ageing chav, whose first 25 years depended upon the informal economy including sex work, robbing, and dealing. For the last12 years he has been an anti-capitalist motivated community organiser and spent too much time watching football. He is currently working on a book about himself, poverty and anarchism, whilst paying the bills as a mental health support worker.

Rhona has ongoing experience of working in and with working class and poor communities as a community gardener, forager and enthusiastic herbal student. From a Scottish working class background and a first
generation higher educated position, she hopes this workshop will stimulate an ongoing discussion around how the influences of relative class position seep into so much of our interactions and our work.

Shan is from a blue-collar working class background in rural Canada, buthas been working and living amongst mostly middle-class folks in Scotland for over a decade. Currently they’re coming to terms with what it means to be shifting into the middle-class themselves. They are a trainer at Tripod (, interested in how social and environmental justice movements can work intersectionally to dismantle systems of oppression in ourselves, our groups and the world.

Responses to Patriarchy – Dave Shand

A facilitated conversation about feminism, patriarchy and anti-sexism work. This workshop will be a space to ask questions, share our struggles and build solidarity between people of all genders working to critique, challenge and survive patriarchy. The specific content of the workshop depends mostly on the priorities of those who attend and our collective responses to questions and issues raised. However it will begin with introductions, a little of the context of the workshop (within a wider movement around psycho-emotional health and radical herbalism) and an opportunity to share our definitions of some of the frequently used terminology within these conversations. The workshop will be participatory and will involve some small group work. Every effort will be made to ensure that the space is safe as possible, accessible and relevant to marginalised people.

The workshop will be facilitated by Dave Shand who, amongst other things, is a queer, white, working class, cis, anarchist, farmer and herbalist from Scotland.

Alcohol, drugs and Recovery: Community responses, action and solutions to substance use. – Ron Senior

The workshop will examine emerging trends in substance use in Scotland and look at some of the factors that may contribute to people’s use becoming problematic. We will also discuss the Scottish Recovery Movement and explore some of the responses and solutions growing in our urban and rural communities. We will consider the elements common to successful recovery programmes from Scotland and throughout the world

Ron has a background in community development and local action and has over twenty years’ experience working in rehab, supported housing and community recovery settings. Ron currently leads the Argyll & Bute Recovery Service.

Without Walls: Thinking Prison Abolition – Kelly Bornschlegel and Lou Dear

The workshop will explore the framework of the prison industrial complex, specifically recognising the role systems of oppression such as white supremacy, heterosexism, patriarchy, settler colonialist and capitalism play in the prison system.  We will also explore why and how to incorporate an abolitionist approach into organising for no-borders and against immigration detention.  In doing so, we will discuss social justice alternatives and imagine an abolitionist future.  The workshop will be interactive, and will be a space for exploring, critically discussing and imagining, open to all ages.

Race & Health – Ellie Muniandy

This workshop will look at issues and discussions around Race and Health. In terms of health, I am coming for an experience of working in mental health services and psychotherapy. I will be providing some different examples of how healthcare discriminates against people of colour (POC) and be sharing experiences both I and others have had as workers in the Health and Social Care sector.

In the first part of the workshop I will focus on the difficulties and dimensions of race and racism within both wider society and within ‘activist’ circles. I will talk about the trauma experienced by POC, what it looks like and the effects it can have on people’s mental and physical health. I will also talk about health inequalities, how does race play out in healthcare, both historically and currently for example the research into medical professionals ignoring or minimising physical pain of black people and the historical experimenting on black women that advanced gynaecological care.

The second part will be focused on the people attending the workshop, I will develop some exercises that allow people to explore how best we can support each other, both emotionally and physically? What does supporting someone’s physical health look like? What forms of radical health care are available to us.

I am a counsellor/psychotherapist. I have worked in the third sector in Edinburgh with a range of different organisations and client groups. I currently work for Health in Mind, a mental health charity managing the trauma counselling services. I was born and brought up in London. I have been consistently told that I am someone who asks difficult questions, I take this as a great compliment and it is my belief that the role of facilitator is one where such a talent is vital.

Tour of Tombreck Permaculture ScotLAND site

A short talk about the history and work of Tombreck, followed by a tour of the site.

Tombreck Farm is in Highland Perthshire beside Loch Tay and on the south facing slopes of Ben Lawers. Tober Brown inherited the farm in 1997, and since then has planted thousands of trees and helped to create the community at Tombreck, which currently numbers 20 people. We have a herd of pedigree KuneKune pigs, many hens, herb, flower and vegetable gardens and sell produce at our on site farm shop. Tombreck is home to the Big Shed community building and several small businesses including ecological architecture LLP, We are also a Permaculture ScotLAND Centre.

Healing Culture: Poetry & Wellness – Helen Moore

A space to sit back and listen to poetry, then maybe write some yourself? Helen will read from her work, with themes including deep ecology, psycho-emotional health, ecofeminism, decolonising and rewilding. Based in Moray, Helen’s creative practice draws on wild places she frequents and the ecotherapy programmes she co-leads to support wellbeing in the community. She also leads ecopoetry workshops in schools and universities and her poetry is widely published and translated. Her most recent poetry collection, ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015), is acclaimed by John Kinsella as “a milestone in the journey of ecopoetics”. FFI:, Helen’s reading will be followed by an opportunity for dialogue and some prompts to encourage new writing. Bring pen and paper.

Scottish Health & Herbal Heritage

Native Medicinal Fungi ~ the therapeutic use of indigenous Scottish mushrooms – Monica Wilde

This session will cover twenty fungi that can be harvested in Scotland and explains their medicinal properties, the appropriate type of extraction technique and known doses, harvesting season and geographic areas where species have been recorded. It links in with Scottish Radical Herbal Network’s aims and values as it teaches people to harvest their own medicines, making the knowledge available to all. It is also important as the interest in this area grows to teach people to harvest sustainably, know which species need protection and to make preparations that are safe.

This workshop will be facilitated by Monica Wilde – I have a Masters degree in Herbal Medicine, am a Fellow of the Linnean Society and a founder member of the Association of Foragers.

Herb Walk Skillshares – Cath Kay & Jean Senior

A herb walk skillshare to collectively investigate what is growing within an easy walk of The Big Shed. Share knowledge and stories of the plants that are growing and how to use them as medicine and food safely and respectfully. Including a discussion on the ethics of foraging – should we be gathering from the wild? What are the benefits to us and others, compared to the costs to the creatures, the wider environment and the plants themselves. Max participants 20, children welcome with a grown-up.
Participants need to be able to walk over rough ground. The walk will cover up to a mile and will involve crossing stiles, rough grazing etc. Wear sturdy boots and clothes appropriate to the weather.
Feel free to bring baskets, paper bags, for carrying foraged goodies.

 Cath Kay and Jean Senior are both experienced Medical Herbalists. They have a combined experience of over 33 years in clinical practice 16 years. Cath works at Neal’s Yard Remedies in Glasgow until recently and is now working with a different clientele in the ex-mining villages of West Lothian. Jean has runs her own busy complementary therapy centre in Helensburgh. Both Cath and Jean committed to harvesting local wild plants and use them to make medicines for clients, believing that the link between people, plants and the planet is vital. They both grow their own plants for harvest in their own gardens, allotment and at a local community garden.

A Kist in Thyme: Herbal Storytelling with Amanda Edmiston

“Over the course of a year… for four seasons, I worked with two primary schools and older folk in rural Stirlingshire, combining memories and anecdotes about local plant use with research into the plant stories found on Tobar an Dualchais the School of Scottish Studies archive to create new herbal storytelling workshops. The work incorporated practical and art lead elements with social herbal history, connections to the land, sustainability, story-sharing, folklore and everyday magic. It was fascinating discovering what was actually commonly used in the last hundred years and the symbolic use held in folk magic traditions and stories that were still alive and well 60 years ago.
The workshop revolves around my storytelling…over the past 8 years I have been researching, collecting, writing and ‘storymending‘ folklore and traditional tales which reveal how we connect to the land, each other and the plants and how we use them. These stories were once the root of how knowledge of everyday plant remedies was handed on and still have the ability to transport listeners to a plant filled dreamworld. “

Amanda Edmiston researches, collects, writes and retells stories which feature the way we interact with plants. Workshops, writing, performance and interactive storytelling sessions available for all ages. Amanda has created sessions for international gatherings of herbalists, Achamore Gardens Trust, Herbfest in Dorset, Battle of Bannockburn Physic Garden, Chelsea Physic Garden in London and Edinburgh International Science festival amongst others.
She is currently working on an intergenerational project with Rutherglen based community gardening group Grow 73 developing a story, sculpture and nature trail in Overtoun Park, the project seeks to connect restory and regrow our land and communities.

Kid’s Programme:

Plant Dyes – Mary Lou Anderson

We’ll forage around and find some plants to make paints and dye’s with. We’ll forage some willow and make our own charcoal for drawing and camouflage

Nature Connection – Mary Lou Anderson

This is a nature connection workshop being held by Marylou.It is on for an hour and we’ll play some nature games, make a Spring wand and cook a snack on the fire.

more info & other kid’s sessions coming soon!