Published on September 28th, 2017 | by Andrea Bertoli0
Medicines from the Edge: Herbal Medicine in the Jungle with Sarah Wu and Stephen Brooks of Envision
Last year I was able to attend Envision, a four-day immersive experience in the Costa Rican jungle. It was my first festival, and there was dancing and playing and surfing, of course. But the reason this festival attracted me was that it was so much MORE than dancing and playing. I was attracted to the daily yoga, healing tea, spiritual tents, talks with community activists, and the overall sense of building and growing. But are we building in the jungle in Costa Rica?
Well, if you spend anytime with festival co-producers Sarah Wu, and Stephen Brooks you’d understand that we are building a fundamentally different world. “Now more than ever it’s important to find your tribe,” Brooks said in our interview, and their festivals and events are one of the best ways to make that happen.
This event offers a new vision of what community could be: engaging with others in educational workshops, playful yoga classes, delicious food sharing, and hours of dance and play on the beach and in the jungle can build connections. The goal of Envision, and all of their events, is to continually get people to connect to the earth, and to each other, and to change their lives.
I was introduced to these lovely humans when I attended the Festival last year, and have had interviews with each of them since. They are both passionate about plant magic, building community, and committed to teaching others about how a different path is possible.
In addition to Envision, they host workshops and educational trainings at their teaching center, Punta Mona on the Caribbean coast. Coming up next month is the Medicines from the Edge conference, focused on herbal medicine and engaging with the healing properties of tropical plants. This event is happening 19-22 October and you can register here.
Wu became interested in herbs natural healing to manage her own health issues, and has been working as an herbalist for 17 years. She explained that the title of the event speaks to its intention: in Nature, the edge is where ecosystems overlap. At these edges we find two ecosystems coming together, leading to increased biodiversity. That concept, translated into human connection, means that where we reach our edge is where we have the most potential. If we stay stuck in the middle, there is less potential for growth, for possibility. Stepping away from our center creates potential for greater connection, and potential for greater healing.
Medicines from the Edge is also a way to connect with the spiritual traditions that many Americans have been distanced from through generations. While it’s more common to find ‘grandmother knowledge’ in Costa Rica, still many traditions have been lost. But younger generations of Costa Ricans – and the large expatriate community – are tuning into these traditions and reconnecting with this knowledge. As Wu explained, humans have coevolved with plant medicine, and it’s becoming more clear that people are craving this knowledge.
This is the first year Medicines from the Edge will be held at Punta Mona, which has a huge collection of edible and medicinal plants, with over 150 plants and trees cataloged on the property. At a space like Punta Mona, Wu says, “You can really work with the plants, see the healing happen in real time.” This location also allows for bathing in rivers, playing in the mud, attending a sweat lodge.
So if you want to tune into the healing powers of plant medicine, check out Medicines from the Edge in October. Wu will also be hosting an Herbal First Aid training, starting 12 February, just ahead of Envision. At the herbal first aid training, Wu is again partnering with master herbalist 7Song to provide an immersive field clinical workshop featuring practices and procedures for the practicing herbalist. Attendees then can put these skills in action during the festival in the herbal first aid tent, offering services to all Festival attendees. You can register here.