Review: 8th Annual 2019 Midwest Herbal Women’s Conference
2019 Conference Vision: “Nourishing Ourselves & Our Communities”
If you’ve never been to an all-women conference, or to an herbal conference, you might consider the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference (MWHC) offered each spring or the Mycelium Women’s Conference each fall. These conferences take place in rural Wisconsin on a campground where ritual, safety, and knowledge grow while being nurtured.
The herbal conference offers optional three-day immersion courses and pre-conference workshops. The full conference starts Friday afternoon. Prices for the conference vary depending on when you register and what type of lodging you choose. Camping is available.
The conference started with an intention setting ritual in Artemisia’s Lodge. Beginning at one entrance to the large hall we organized elders first in order of age, from the other entrance was youth from the youngest first. Lining up 400 women is no easy task. As we started asking age and ordering ourselves, it turned out my roommate (in my cabin) was at the front of our line at 82 years old.
Baskets were passed around, filled with: rocks, mussel shells, clam shells, pine cones, kidney beans, and fresh rose petals. Each of us picked one item to bring into the hall. On the slow walk into the room singing the song we had learned outside, we were anointed with lilac water. Lilac was the official plant ally for this conference, she was in full bloom. Lilacs grow in abundance in Wisconsin.
Entering the hall from two sides, we circled in a spiral, singing one of the many songs we sang through the weekend, till the room filled with women. Ayodele Drum and Dance joined us from Chicago. Once everyone was inside we stopped spiraling.
We were invited to whisper an intention for the conference into our earth object. Then we added our items to the altar starting with rocks, as they were the most sturdy objects and furthest from breaking down. Each object was called in order with the rose petals being added last. We built an altar on a table covered with a brilliant tablecloth. The center had the beginning of a star created with rocks. A work song was sung as each person brought their item forward to the table and placed it.
“Weave and thread. Mend and Heal. This is how our work gets done.”
An auspicious beginning, 400 women singing and spiraling and setting intention. The large round table with the beautiful altar was moved to the side where it sat until the closing ritual.
During the regular three-day conference there are six sessions of workshops and plant walks to choose from starting at 3:45 Friday afternoon until the closing ritual on Sunday at 3:15. Before each meal there is also singing with a songstress leading the group and teaching the words.
The camp and the kitchen have a 400 maximum capacity which has been filling up with a demand for more. This is just one of the reasons the originator of this conference, Linda Conroy Moon, added a Mycelium Conference in the Fall. Large tents are set up for dining, a market place, massage therapists, first aide, and for workshops. Some workshops are also held in venues such as the retreat house were the presenters are housed.
The conference provides a Kids Camp for girls and boys (ages 3-11) with age related fun events. During summer this camp serves students from inner city Milwaukee. There is a lake with boats and swimming. An Arts & Craft building is available for younger children who also spend time with their mother or guardian during meals, evening activities and in-between times. Complimentary childcare is available during keynote speeches so the women can be fully present with the speakers.
Additionally, they provide a Teen Camp for girls (ages 12-17). They provide workshops for the teens including sessions such as:
- I Am My Sister: Healing our relationships with women
- The Plants as Teachers
- Fostering Resilience
- Peer Listening
- Grounding, and Channeling Nefertiti (which was run by a woman who makes natural makeup!)
Teens are welcome to attend the keynotes and the drum circles.
Although, there is a charge for child care, there are scholarship options and work exchange positions for those in need. There is a silent auction held in the Marketplace tent to raise money for the scholarship fund and they take donations.
The theme for the conference September 27-29, 2019 is Mycelium Mysteries. Mushrooms grow through the deep underground network of mycelium and Linda Conroy Moon relates this to how women learn and will heal our planet. Here lies the hope in the space these two conferences create, that women have the knowledge and the power to make change on our planet.
It is a learning lab that strips out one of the biggest challenges for many women, the distraction of men who tend to take over, even if they don’t intend to. Women are trained to give up authority to men, so Linda creates a space for women to fully experience their power.
Expanding the herbal conference, creating an additional yearly mushroom conference because of their interconnectedness with the ecosystem is brilliant. The Mycelium Mysteries includes herbal workshops on a smaller scale, just as this conference included a couple of mushroom workshops. So many women have come up to her saying that in regular mushroom learning environments the men take over. These conferences have wide consequences.
On Saturday night there is a talent show, called the Stone Soup Follies, followed by drumming and dancing. It is wild fun. The amazing creativity includes: song, dance, comedy, poetry, music, storytelling, and even rap. The Children’s Camp and the Teen Camp joined in the fun by creating and presenting during the first half of the show.
This conference offers six sessions with multiple workshop to choose from, each an hour and a half long. Other activities include:
- drum circles
- fire circles in the evenings
- socializing in the dining hall at the end of the day (snacks are put out, good bread with topping options, and tea are always available)
- cranial sacral work, massage on a massage chair, or reflexology (available in 15 or 30 minute increments)
- shopping in the market place
At the end, we met for the Closing Gathering back in Artemisia’s Lodge where it had all started. Again, we lined up to enter from two sides. The table with our created mandala sat back in the center, the drummers in place, and some chairs were placed in the center for the elder grandmothers.
We are taught another song outside so that we walk in singing. We spiraled around and around till each of us circled by looking into each other’s eyes. We connect via eyes as we sing a song of each other’s beauty. Slowly we come to a stop. The table altar is pulled up from each corner breaking the pattern created in the first circle until it is deconstructed. We sing again. We move with our hands connected and continue the spiral. We bonded, we met eye-to-eye.
It was sad to leave new friends and the good meals behind. The food is one of the big attractions of this conference: excellent soups, healthy bone broths, salads, hearty stews, and vegetarian options. Nutritional infusions of oatstraw, nettles, and rosehips are also available. Sauerkraut is offered at every meal. Good sprouted rye or wheat bread is made available. There are beans, grains, and gomasio finely ground rich with flavor. A paleo meatloaf was also served with potatoes one night. Many come back for the food and the nourishment this conference provides.
The conference is an adventure in the wilderness. Similar to camp experiences for many city children, this conference is a life changing event on many levels.
I challenge any woman to check it out and consider putting it on your to-do list, there is nothing quite like it. Some places are more polished (Omega in NY, Esalen in CA, Kripalu in MA), but you will not get the wonderful meals provided by Linda Moon who years ago founded Wild Eats, or the wisdom of the Wise Woman Tradition of healing that is provided at the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference.
Plus it has the unique aspect of being a woman only space. This is a safe place for women, and a great place to stretch and grow and nurture yourself and others through community.
Indeed, this conference lived up to its theme: “Nurturing Ourselves & Our Communities.”
Julene Tripp Weaver facilitated the following workshop at the Midwestern Women’s Herbal Conference (Spring 2019).
Giving Our Health Word Power:
This workshop will provide a clearing space to crystallize what is necessary for your health, no matter the challenges. We will explore our personal experience through writing to our illness, to our loved ones, to our pain. Through timed writing and discussion, this presentation will encourage finding one’s voice, developing our inner resources, and the healing power of expression to confront stigma and promote strength.
Midwestern Women’s Herbal Conference Spring 2020:
The MWHC is currently accepting presenter applications for their Spring 2020 conference. Details can be found here for the theme: “Living on Purpose”.