Summer Solstice Herbal Retreat Weekend

2019 Summer Solstice Herbal Retreat Weekend!!

“Building Resiliency”

June 21st – 23rd, 2019

John Redden is joining us again!

At OTTER RIVER FARMS, near Port Burwell, Ontario

Given the global climate tragedy that we are all now already experiencing, the theme for the next retreat will be all about building resiliency. Watch for updates or sign up for my newsletter for updates!!!

Click here for the Registration Form (PDF) 



10:00am to 5:15pm (1 hr break for lunch at 12pm and a 15 min break in the afternoon)

The day will include three speakers – Matthew Wood, John Redden and Christine Dennis. Each speaker will approach the topic of “soul healing” from different perspectives.

The Whispering of the Spirit, the Animal Self, and the Awakening of the Spirit Self – With Matthew Wood

At first, in our spiritual life, we are dependent on the “whispering of the spirit,” that “still small voice within.” This helps us to develop our “instinct for truth,” which, like all of our instincts, comes from our animal self or body self. Animals give us our senses, instincts (cold-blooded animals), dreaming and simple emotions (warm-blooded animals). All we add is consciousness and the ability (if we can) to control what we are thinking about or imagining. We are not a whole being, according to the shamanic perspective, until the human and the animal are integrated. The age-old symbol of the shaman is the half human/half animal. When we dream of the animal self we gain eyes and ears in dreamtime, or the spirit world, and awaken our spirit self to sensation.

Evolution of Psychology and a Template for Soul Retrieval and Healing – With Christine Dennis

We are born into this human experience with much more then just a “blank slate”. And as we journey through this lifetime, and come more into being, we discover who it is we really are. Considering that our soul essence is eternal thus always there and unchanged, how is it that there are times in our life when we seem to feel that we have lost our soul? And so where did it go, and how do we find it again? And just as importantly, WHO is left running the show when the soul is lost?! We will explore how our understanding of the psyche has evolved and how it has finally caught up with the ancient teachings.

The Travelling Soul, leaving our Celestial home, and the Return Journey – With John Redden

The Western Esoteric Tradition teaches the purpose of life and how to achieve our ultimate goal through training our consciousness. Judeo-Christian traditional literature, Classical Greek mythology, Medieval Monasticism and modern Evolutionary Cosmology all contain elements of the perennial truths we seek. History becomes legend. Legend becomes metaphor. Metaphor conveys the Essence.

Supper – 5:30pm (for Friday Full Day Workshop participants only)


Regular Summer Solstice Herbal Retreat weekend – Registration @ 6pm

Friday evening

7:00 to 9ish pm

Spirits of Earth & Fire: Healing Body & Soul – With Matthew Wood, John Redden & Christine Dennis

Spirits of the Earth include Air and Water, land, springs, animals and forests. Spirits of Fire include the Celestial Spirits in the stars above the Earth Plane. Matthew will teach from his experience with the “three selves” of the shamans (spirit, human, animal), equivalent to the spirit, soul, and body of European tradition. The plants bridge to us from the animals: wolf, deer, rabbit, turtle, etc. John will teach us, as Hildegard von Bingen and others taught, that the Soul’s home is among the stars: we travel home between lives, in our dreams, during meditation, prayer and ecstatic visions induced by entheogens. This will include the Medieval Monastic attitudes of body and soul healing. Christine will teach her insights into Self, Chief and tribe members, or parts of the whole, and her experience using entheogens for deep healing.


Breakfast – 7 to 8:45 am

7:45 to 8:15 am Lawn Yoga – With Laura Vazquez

9 am to 12 pm (15 mins break at 10:30am) – Animal Medicines, Plant Medicines – With Matthew Wood

This is an ancient, worldwide tradition, though preserved more fully among the First Nations of North America. “When a plant looks like an animal or is used by an animal, this is called a “spirit signature,” and indicates a special relationship to that animal. These are the most powerful plants and the most deep way to understand plants” (Karyn Sanders). The assignments are not made arbitrarily, by human beings, but by the plants and animals themselves and are revealed in their signatures: brown, furry roots or antler-like branches, etc. Medicines of the Bear (Angelica, Burdock, Am. Spikenard), Badger (Yellow Dock), Wolf (Agrimony, Solomon’s Seal, Werewolf Root), Elk and Deer Medicines (Vervain, Monarda, Mints, Cleavers, Dogwood), Rabbit (Rabbit Tobacco or Helichrysum, Lycopodium, Bittersweet Vine, Wild and Barnyard Nettles), Turtle (Gravel Root, Boneset, Oak), Snake (Black Cohosh, Wild Ginger, Rattlesnake Master), Eagle (Pine), Swallow (Celandine), Raven (Wild Indigo, Black Cohosh), Underwater Panther/Catfish (White Pond Lily), and the Fairies (Elder, Hawthorn, St. John’s Wort).

Lunch – 12 to 1:30 pm

1:30 to 3 pm –Animal Medicines, Plant Medicines – With Matthew Wood

Matthew will continue on this afternoon from his morning talk.

3:30 to 5 pm – Herb Walk – With Matthew Wood and any others who wish to contribute and share their plant wisdom!

Supper – 5:30 pm

7 pm to 8 pm – Lawn Yoga – With Laura Vazquez

8:30 pm to ? – Summer Solstice Gathering by the Fire

Kava social by the fire. Bring some songs, instruments, wine, poems, or stories to share by the fire.


Breakfast – 7 to 8:30 am

7:45 to 8:15 am

Lawn Yoga – With Laura Vazquez

9 am to 12 pm (15 mins break at 10:30am) – The Living Nature – With Matthew Wood

Our living green Earth is the abode and incarnation of the Living Nature of the shamans, the Soul of the World, the anima mundi of the old philosophers. Animism (the experience of the Living Nature) is our natural state, without which we cannot be healthy. Plants not only heal our bodies, but our souls. When our body and soul is unified we can meet our spirit. When our animal self is actualized in dreamtime the eyes and ears of our spirit open up. Overshadowing the Living Nature is Sophia, or Star Woman, who brought the stars (archetypes, spirits, wisdom) to Earth, where they imprinted on Eldest Turtle in the beginning of time. The herbs will help us with this journey – are already helping us move into the New World of the future, where we slow humans will live in closer harmony with our plant and animal friends. This morning we will discuss some of the plants of yesterday in greater detail, as well as a few new ones, learning how they can help us connect to the important lessons of the Mother Earth, the Soul of Nature, Sophia, and Creator.

Lunch – 12 to 1:30 pm

1:30 pm to 4:30 pm (with a 15 minute break half way through)

This afternoon will be focused on understanding how we learn and form habits of growth or addiction by observing physiology. We will look at the key systems involved, as well as dosing and microdosing.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, The Paths of Pleasure and Contentment – With John Redden

We will look at the relationships between Dopamine, Serotonin, Cortisol and Insulin and human behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology is the tracking of our endocrine system, our nervous system and our thoughts. Corporate industry wants you swimming in dopamine and sugar whilst religious leaders in the pulpits and nutritionists warn you of the dangers by recommending the path of serotonin. Do not let confusion be your epitaph.

The “Other” System: The System NOT Mentioned in Medical Text Books – With Christine Dennis

This system was discovered over 20 years ago and has not yet made it into anatomy and physiology text books. This “other” system is like a built in adaptogen. It helps our bodies cope with stress and is the bridge between body and mind.

Dosage – With Matthew Wood

The “rebound effect” of modern pharmacology teaches us that a medicinal or toxic substance creates an initial action through its own effect on the organism, plus a secondary response as the organism re-establishes self-regulation. This is called the “primary and secondary action” in homeopathy. The first cures by stimulating the organism, or kills by over stimulating; the second cures by self-healing, or restoring the organism to its original state by re-inforcing Herbalism to follow the first, homeopathy the second method. Differences between material and energetic, or large and small dosing. Differences between herbalism and homeopathy. The law of similars (“like treats like”) and the law of contraries (“hot to cold.”

Thank you and Closing – 4:30 pm

Speaker’s Bios


Matthew Wood MSc (Herb.Med.) has been a practicing herbalist since 1982. In a period when many authors and lecturers are merely “arm chair herbalists” who offer theories and opinions based on book learning, and others have turned to the exotic traditions of India or China, he has been an active practitioner of traditional Western herbalism. He has helped tens of thousands of clients over the years, with many difficult health problems. While Matthew believes in the virtue of many other healing modalities, he has always been inspired to learn, preserve, and practice the tradition of herbal medicine descending to us from our European, Anglo-American, and Native American heritage. He is a member of the American Herbalists Guild (registered herbalist) and has earned his Masters of Science degree from the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (accredited by the University of Wales). From 1992-2005 Matthew lived at Sunnyfield Herb Farm in Minnetrista, Minnesota, seventeen acres dedicated to herbs and herbal teaching. He now lives in the tiny burg of Martell, Wisconsin, across from the Rush River, in a 157 year old log cabin. Matthew Wood is the author of eight books on herbal medicine and is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild.


John Redden is a Western Medical Herbalist with an eclectic background.

He has over thirty years experience growing and wild crafting herbs, manufacturing remedies and clinical practice. As a member and former vice-president of the Ontario Herbalists Association, he co-founded “A Celebration of Herbs”, Toronto’s largest herbal event..

He is a hands-on teacher of numerous aspects of holistic herbal medicine and teaches popular and advanced classes in his workshop / laboratory and at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

John’s studies in the U.S., Britain, and Canada have culminated in the founding of Viriditas Herbal Products, whose clients include professional herbalists, naturopaths, and medical doctors. John also enjoys collaborating with NDs to produce patient specific remedies extemporaneously. Post-graduate herbal studies in Scotland and Spain along with naturopathic continuing education with oncology expert, Dr. Neil McKinney ND have helped John become effective in treating patients with complex medical conditions including cancer. In the late 1970’s John spent about a year at Findhorn in Forres, Morayshire, Scotland. It was here that he began an ongoing dialogue with the life-beings and light-beings of creation.

Recently (2015) John was recognized as a Herbal Elder of Canada by the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations “for his outstanding contributions to the field of herbal medicine.”


Laura Vazquez is a certified yoga teacher for over 10 years now. Her focus is on gentle yoga exploring both physical and spiritual approach. Each student is encouraged to take the next step in their own path to wholeness. Laura’s spirit led practice pays special attention to physical alignment, movement of energy, and opening the heart. For Laura a successful practice leaves everyone calm, alert and happy. Laura also has a keen interest in the plants and herbal medicine, which she has been studying much of her life and is a major importance for her.


Christine DennisChristine Dennis RH, MNIMH, MSc. (Herb Med.) has a Master of Science degree from the University of Wales (MSc.) in the UK. Christine is the past president and current Professional Member of the Ontario Herbalists Association (RH) as well as a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (MNIMH) in England and is a graduate and clinic instructor for the Dominion Herbal College Clinical Program.

Having a balance of bio-medical, traditional and energetic herbal medicine training, Christine considers herself to be an eclectic herbalist. She has a great deal of hands-on experience in the field with 20+ years seeing patients and facilitating herbal and health classes.


Contact Christine by email ( or by phone (519-874-4532).

Contact Us

Have questions or want to book an appointment? E-mail me here.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt