GREEN WITCH INTENSIVE
with Susun Weed
by Linda Saboe
I saw the road cutting to the left as I came around the
bend on Rt. 212. Before I could read the street sign, I
braked, snapped my turn signal on, hoping that no one was
close behind me. About a half mile down the road I had second
thoughts. Was this the road? Why had I turned without reading
the sign? Allowing self-doubt to cloud my intuition, I turned
back to check the sign to see if I was indeed on the right
path. I was to spend the next four days in the presence
of a woman who finds no charm in such silly self-indulgence.
Of course I was on the right path--I'd turned hadn't I?
The Wise Woman Center is a place of transformation and
healing. Before Susun acquired it, the land had been a quarry--rocky
outcroppings, gouged-out canyons and cut bluestone stacked
high forming man-made cliffs.Every inch of soil was laid
down by Susun, transforming the scarred earth into a place
where plants, animals and women grow and heal. I had been
told that the Green Witch Intensive would be transformative
and over the next four days I came to understand what that
As I approached the driveway, one of the apprentices was
there to show me the way in. Susun stood at the top of the
driveway, greeted me by name and showed me where to park,
making sure to tell me to avoid damaging the plants.
After my car was parked, Susun turned me over to one of
the apprentices. A long-limbed, willowy woman, Meghan was
the youngest of the circle of women gathered for the Green
Witch Intensive. It was Meghan's duty to orient me to the
property and the simple rules that all need to follow when
living in the midst of goats, geese and faeries. Always
close gates and doors to keep critters in or out; bluestone
is slippery when wet; keep to the paths so as not to trample
the plants living there and watch out for altars.
When all the women were gathered we were served the first
of several delicious infusions and given schedules outlining
the events that would fill our days. The talking stick was
passed from woman to woman as we introduced ourselves.
Something magical happens when that sacred stick is placed
in your hands. I am not a natural speaker and have always
shied away from speaking in public. I almost never say what
is on my mind. But the stick gives permission to speak,
to put out there what is in your heart. Words, always hard
for me to come by, came easily. The stick gave me the courage
to be heard.
The weed walk that followed was the shortest of the four
days worth of classes with Susun, but I learned more on
that one walk than I had in the past year of self-study.
For anyone contemplating doing a workshop with Susun, I
suggest that you leave pad and pencil alone. Her teaching
style will engage you so fully that taking notes will only
cause you to miss valuable information. If you listen, what
she tells you will become yours. If you ask a question,
you will most likely be guided to an answer rich in botanical,
philosophical and mystical lore.
Susun doesn't suffer sloppy thinking. Assumptions will
be questioned, errors corrected and faulty logic challenged.
One day, during casual conversation, I spoke of something
that I'd been told years ago as a child. Something I'd simply
assumed to be true. "That makes no sense," Susun
said, and proceeded to show me why. I soon realized that,
damn, it didn't make sense! What made even less sense was
that I had never thought about it, questioned it or researched
Song filled our days. Mornings brought the song of the
apprentices as they made their way up from the Nettle's
Patch to start the chores of the day. Minerva, one of the
oldest, brightest souls I've ever met, led us in a moving
meditation called Qi Kong.
Afterwards, we had a large breakfast of grains, fresh goat
milk, yogurt, bread, honey and fruit. And infusions--always
infusions. At 10 we had class with Susun, then lunch, talking
stick followed by class at 3:30, then dinner.
food was simply spectacular. Simplicity being key--grains,
greens, goats milk, yogurt and cheese, and wild salads.
Nutritious infusions and strengthening vinegars will change
the way you feel in a short time. I can only describe it
as a clean, centered energy. You will be sated without feeling
heavy. You will be nourished in every aspect of your being
as well, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Each evening brought a different event. Our first night
was magical. We were served a scrumptious dinner complete
with freshly picked wild salad followed by a concert. Everyone
was encouraged to dress in Goddess garb to listen to Julia
Haines sing and play the Celtic harp. Those of us who live
in jeans and t-shirts availed ourselves of the many costumes
Susun has collected over the years. A concert under the
stars decked out in our finest!
The last day was one of the most moving experiences in
my life. Right up there with birthing babies, but this time,
it was I being born in the company of women. Initiation
was not something I had really thought about. I was never
one to join groups or participate in ritual. I was there
to learn about the medicinal and nutritional uses of plants.
But, after three intense days (it ain't called an intensive
for nothing), with these incredible, talented women, I knew
I wanted to be part of this thing. I'd spent my entire life
being apart--this time, I would participate.
Later, I swam naked in the pond. It had been many years
since I'd felt free enough and safe enough to be in my skin
with others. I found out that floating on my back with 30
feet of water holding me up, beads of duckweed sparkling
in my hair is a truly magical way to spend an afternoon.
I highly recommend swimming in duckweed for what ails you.
As the day moved into evening, we began to part company.
Last words were spoken, business cards, phone numbers and
email addresses exchanged. We cried, hugged each other and
Susun hugged us all. Susun's generosity of spirit, her love
for the earth, her respect for life and for death makes
her one of the most powerful women I have ever met. Susun
is nothing if not present. A hug from Susun is a hug to
be reckoned with--full of love and letting go. A mother's
Woman by woman, we left as we came, but we left a little
stronger, a little wiser and fully nourished.
Many thanks go out to the apprentices, Meg, Meghan, Verena,
Melina, Corrina and Minerva. Thank you all for your hard
work, kind words and sweet songs. I hope I spelled your
names right. Thank you, Susun for the wonderful work you
do; for creating a safe place where women learn, love, discover
their names and find their voices.
in the end, we are all food
Read more about being a Green Witch