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Wise Women Gather at Kanuga Lake

Wise Womens Festival Conference Support Staff Members at 2017 Conference, Photo by Kendyl Stein.

By Natasha Anderson

The 14th annual Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference (SEWWHC) takes place Friday, October 12, through Sunday, October 14, at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center, a new venue with expanded lodging and increased accessibility in a biodiverse setting. More than 1,000 women are expected to gather in the 1,400-acre woodland location to focus on ecological stewardship, empowerment and nature-focused health and wellness.

“Based on our early registration numbers, women seem to be especially excited about the expanded housing options,” says conference founder Corinna Wood. “Once on site, we’re sure that participants will fall in love, as we have, with the beautiful setting at Kanuga Lake.”

The event spans Kanuga’s main conference center and its two adjoining youth camps. Attendees can choose from camping, bunk beds, cottages and accessible rooms at Kanuga Lake Inn. Weekend meal tickets are available and local food vendors provide alternatives for a range of dietary preferences.

“SEWWHC creates a place for women to take a literal and metaphorical deep breath, a space to feel safe and inspired while becoming empowered in practices to enhance body, mind and spirit,” says naturopathic doctor and SEWWHC instructor Rebecca Word.

Reishi mushrooms simmering in broth. Photo by Corinna Wood

Conference participants can choose from more than 50 classes and intensives on a wide range of topics from herb walks and medicine-making to many aspects of women’s physical and emotional health. Dozens of leading regional herbalists and instructors will share their skills, including Sobande Greer, Ombassa Sophera, Jody Noé, Amanda David, EagleSong Gardener and Suki Roth. The conference also welcomes back Rosemary Gladstar, a foremother in the women’s herbal conference movement which began around the country 30 years ago and inspired the SEWWHC. Gladstar will lead a feature session on the opening evening of the event.

“Rosemary is one of our favorite instructors,” says Wood, “and we’re delighted that she will be joining us to inaugurate the new venue this year.”

Talented performers, including master drum teacher Ubaka Hill, will also attend, leading an ongoing celebration of sisterhood and community through music and dance. Intensive experiences include Hill’s Rhythms That Move You and EagleSong Gardener’s Herbal Secrets for Cultivating Your Wild Heart. Budding herbalists can choose from classes such as Making Medicine from Your Yard and DIY Herbal Remedies. More advanced topics include Health Freedom for Herbalists, about overcoming legal barriers, and Nootropics and the Neuroendocrine. Herbs, Slavery and the South with Sobande Greer and Transcending Historical Trauma and Grief, with Cherokee elder Patty Grant, are among the popular returning classes.

“This gathering meets a woman where she is at in her evolution,” says Word, “whether she is just beginning to explore Wise Woman traditions or is more advanced and really wants to get in touch with her inner nerd.” Word will teach Gut Brain, investigating the impacts of gut microbes on nervous system functions such as mood, cognition and behavior, and Tame the Flame: Foods For Fighting Inflammation.

Women of all ages connecting. Photo by Jesse Kitt

“SEWWHC is a place where women can pursue so many of their gifts and interests, dancing to wild drum beats and whooping it up, while deepening their investigations into plants, cultural traditions, healing and social justice,” Word says. “I doubt any woman leaves without filling her cup to overflowing.” Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center is located at 130 Kanuga Chapel Drive in Hendersonville.

For details and online registration, visit Registration discounts are offered until August 31.

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