Fifteen years ago The Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference began with 200 women studying herbal and other natural tools to support physical and emotional health. It has since grown into one of the most popular and vibrant herbal events in the country. This year, organizers expect more than a thousand women of all ages and backgrounds at the gathering, which takes place from Friday, October 11, through Sunday, October 13, at Kanuga, a lakeside conference and retreat center outside Hendersonville.
“In addition to practical learning about earth-based healing and women’s health, this year’s conference will be a celebration of the Wise Women community that has developed since we began,” says conference founder Corinna Wood. “Many women whose friends have been encouraging them to come for years will join us for the first time.”
The schedule includes more than 50 classes offering a diversity of perspectives and a range of indigenous traditions from the Southeast including Native American plant walks, Southern African-American rootwork and healing traditions from the Scots-Irish and Afrolachian traditions. Three featured presenters, Sally Fallon, Dr. Jody Noé and Gina Breedlove, will offer programs based on participant feedback and requests. Fallon will teach the traditional food class Raw Dairy and Real Milk, exploring the benefits, safety and health of the controversial food source; and Challenging Politically Correct Nutrition: The Oiling of America, discussing the cholesterol theory that led Americans away from traditional whole foods.
“Focusing on the importance of nutrient-dense foods for health has been my life’s work, starting with my bestselling cookbook Nourishing Traditions,” says Fallon. “In my classes we will examine the importance of returning to traditional foods like butter, eggs, raw milk, organ meats, sourdough bread and genuine bone broths.”
Dr. Noé discusses the science behind the craze surrounding cannabinoid oil (CBD), medical cannabis clinical applications and the human endocannabinoid system. As a naturopathic doctor, Noé focuses on bridging the gap between modern medicine and natural healing. “Past participants appreciated her practical and passionate perspective on methods for reducing many common issues including anxiety, pain and insomnia,” says Wood.
Gina Breedlove teaches Your Voice and the Power of Sound, a class focused on using voice as medicine. According to Wood, the sound healer has been wildly popular ever since leading an evening concert at the conference several years ago. “She works to create a safe place for deep emotional healing to occur,” says Wood. “Participants are truly blown away by her presence and depth.”
Other classes include Phytonutrients and Food as Medicine, with Dr. Crystal Dawn Silas, Deep Immunity with naturopath Rebecca Word, and The Flavor and Nature of Herbs with Chinese medicine expert JulieAnn Nugent-Head. Karen Rose, a Master Herbalist and founder of Sacred Vibes Apothecary, will travel from Brooklyn to bring a fresh perspective on urban herbalism, cultivating relationships with community, land and plants. The all–women African drumming group, Giwayen Mata, will be back by popular demand this year, drumming under a full moon throughout the weekend.
“My need for agency over my own life and that of my family is being met in so many ways at this gathering,” says Gennifer Hogan, who will attend her fourth conference this year. “I have gone on the most wonderful weed walks, learned about making medicines and preparing more nutritious food for my family, and learned things about my body that I would have never even thought about.”
Since the conference relocated to Kanuga last year, attendees’ lodging options range from lakeside camping and bunk beds to cottages and accessible rooms at Kanuga Lake Inn. Fourteen-hundred biodiverse acres, with a 30-acre lake and 20 miles of hiking trails ensure that attendees have abundant opportunities for communal experiences and connections with nature.
“I so look forward to the beauty of the old trees and the mist rising off the lake during morning meditation,” says sixth-year attendee Annabeth Hardcastle. “I also look forward to seeing old friends, learning new things and just relaxing in the presence and beauty of the circle of women who make up this gathering.”
Kanuga is located at 130 Kanuga Chapel Drive in Hendersonville. For details and online registration, visit SEWiseWomen.com.