2020 Guest Speakers

Amikaeyla Gaston

Amikaeyla, a Palera and Priestess of Oshun, is the Founder and Executive Director of ICAHSI, the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute. She travels the world serving as a Cultural Ambassador for the State Department doing expansive work with political refugees, war survivors, and at-risk populations worldwide “…opening paralyzed voices and transforming wounded spirits through the miracle of her music”. - Laura R., President, Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Appearing internationally on Television, Radio, and Film with appearances on PBS, HBO and in the Sundance Film Festival, Amikaeyla is a nuanced thought-leader, author, public speaker, and performer, and is the proud recipient of the United Nations Global Woman Award; the Voss Foundation Emerging Women Leaders Award; the Pioneer Award for Exemplary Leadership and Outstanding Service in Social Justice and Advocacy; and the International Hero for Peace and Forgiveness award. She has been proclaimed as “a force for change as one of the purest contemporary voices” by National Public Radio (NPR), and is the winner of twelve WAMMY Awards for Best Jazz, World, and Urban Contemporary Vocalist. MTV says “her sultry sound is like listening to velvet waterfalls, and her soulful flavor captures the listener with dynamic passion and sincerity”.

Often called into difficult scenarios to offer inter-cultural literacy and deep restorative justice work in support of transformative and peaceful solutions, Amikaeyla is a highly sought-after public speaker and performer who shares her thoughts, songs, and music from the stage.

Workshop: Of Water & Honey - Songs, Stories & Spiritual Practices to honor Oshun

Description: Come and Celebrate the Divine Feminine Orisha (Deity) who is the mother of the sweet fresh waters, and is especially important to women West African cultures and descendants of the Diaspora. Oshun ~ lovingly known as the Goddess of Love and Goddess of the River combined ~ embodies the energies of fresh water and the essence of all things “honey” such as health, wealth, bounty, fertility, love, family, and sensuality.

Dr. Claudia Ford

Claudia J. Ford, PhD

Dr. Claudia J. Ford has had a career in international women’s health and development spanning three decades and all continents. Claudia is a midwife and an Ethnobotanist, who studies traditional ecological knowledge, women’s reproductive health and sustainable agriculture. Dr. Ford is on faculty at Rhode Island School of Design where she teaches Women’s Studies, Indigenous Knowledge, Environmental Literature, and Environmental Justice. Claudia serves on the boards of The Orion Society, a community that publishes Orion literary magazine, and the Soul Fire Farm Institute, committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. Claudia is the director of an on-farm artists’ and herbalists residency program, Tisané at Maple Homestead Farm, and she is a writer, poet, and visual artist; a single mother who has shared the delights and adventures of her global travel with her four children.

Workshop: Decolonizing the Stories of Herbal Medicine

Description: The history of western medicine requires that we examine, know, and embrace health justice challenges, and the various ways that the histories and herstories of medicine and herbalism have glorified and exalted an oppressive colonization of both plants and people, while erasing and destroying the lived, land-based, traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and communities of color. Many herbalists strive to understand and represent transformed relationships with the plant world but struggle to understand and collaborate with diverse ways of being in human society. This workshop will provide an opportunity to review, discuss, and reflect on the task of unlearning, learning, decolonizing and reclaiming the stories of herbal medicine. The workshop will also identify contemporary responses to health inequalities including grassroots advocacy, decolonized movements for herbal medicine and food.

Elaina Bright

Elaina Bright

Elaina is an indigenous herbalist, healer and product designer for Juices & Berries Apothecary. Using knowledge passed down from generations of healers in her family, she focuses on using plant spirit to create balance in her clients life. Working with Elaina is always a personal exploration in how your body responds to your lifestyle. Creating balance allows your body to perform its healing functions with a gentle nudge from the plants that support us. Elaina received a Masters of Science in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2019. She enjoys spending time traveling around the world and learning medicine from indigenous healers from many cultures. Her travels include The Afro Caribbeans of Costa Rica, The Mayans of Yucatan, Mexico and The Bedoins of Saudi Arabia. Specializing in the health of Women, Elaina strives to bring wellness back to her community.

Workshop: Discovering your Healing Narrative

We all have a message inside us that will transform our healing into something tangible and real. Something we can release. Journey with me into the land of indigenous storytelling for healing. Allow me to set the circle and hold space for you to create and explore your healing narrative. Write and speak your truths or sing and shout your truths, whatever feels right for you. We will pass the bundled herbs and share our stories, however true or false they may seem. We will bare our souls and heal amongst our tribe. We will journey together towards healing.

I have a story to share.
We welcome you.
I have a story to share.
And we hear you.
I have a story to share.
And we heal you.

Flora Deminis

Flora Domenis

is a Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic Therapist, specialized in Lifestyle, Nutrition & Vedic Psychology with over 27 years of experience infused by Earth traditions from around the globe.

Workshop: Ayurveda's Millenary tools for modern guidance

Lydia Koltai

Lydia Koltai

Lydia Koltai is an herbalist, permaculture practitioner, community activist and homeschooling mother of four amazing children. She began her herbal studies in 2003, after learning about indigenous cultures and their medicinal plant practices in an Ethnoecology class in college. In 2007, while pregnant with her first child, Lydia completed a 13-week shamanic apprenticeship with Susan Weed. Since that time, she has continued to practice and study, providing herbal remedies and advice to her family and community and attending herbal classes to continue her own learning. Currently, she is enrolled as a student in the Chestnut School for Herbal Medicine. For the past two years, Lydia has been leading herbal education workshops in her community and is passionate about sharing the wisdom of the plants with anyone who shares a love for the green world.

Workshop: Wild Medicine: A Walk in the Woods with Plants that Heal.

Description: This workshop will consist of a 1.5-2-hour plant walk and a plant spirit meditation exercise. I will lead participants on a walk around the grounds and forest, identifying medicinal plants that grow on the land, discussing their uses, and sharing samples of medicine I have made with those plants. We will discuss various ways to connect with and learn from plants as well as how to identify plants safely. We will conclude the class with a plant spirit meditation designed to help participants connect more deeply with a plant and begin to build their own relationships with healing plants.

Stephanie R. Bird

Stephanie Rose Bird, is the author of eight nonfiction books, including: The Big Book of Soul: the Ultimate Guide to the African American Spirit: Legends and Lore, Music and Mysticism and Recipes and Rituals, (2010, Hampton Road Publishers), A Healing Grove: African Tree Medicine, Remedies and Rituals (2010, Chicago Review Press), Light, Bright, Damn Near White: Biracial and Triracial Culture in America and Beyond (2009, Praeger Press) Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo and Conjuring with Herbs (June 2004, Llewellyn Worldwide Publishers) and “Four Seasons of Mojo: an Herbal Guide to Natural Living” (Llewellyn Worldwide Publishers, 2006),“Mama Nature’s Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss,” (Green Magic Publishing, 2018). Her most recent book, “365 Days of Hoodoo” was released last winter and is a top 50-100 amazon special category bestseller.

Bird works as a magickal herbalist, aromatherapist and is sole proprietor of Almost Edible Natural Products. Her products include organic herbal soap, incense, potpourri, bath salts, sachets and dream pillows. Bird writes regularly for www.naturallycurly.com as the resident herbalist and expert on natural ingredients. She has been a professional member of the Handcrafted Soap Maker’s Guild, for whom she wrote a column “Soap Worts: Useful Herbs for Soap Makers.” Bird’s professional memberships include: the American Botanical Council’s, Herb Research Society; the National Association for Holistic Health and Aromatherapy and Black Midwives and Healers: International Center for Traditional Childrearing. Her writing on , Hoodoo, green witchcraft, shamanism, holistic health, herbalism, complimentary therapies and herbal lore, focused around African diasporic healing ways, is featured in “Sage Woman,” “The Beltane Papers,” “International Journal of Aromatherapy,” “Aromatherapy Today,” “The Oracle,” “Herb Quarterly,” “Herb Companion,” “The Llewellyn Magical Almanac,” “The Llewellyn Herbal Almanac” “Enlightened Practice,” e-pregnancy and “Natural Home and Garden.”

Workshop: African American Healer's Medicine Kit

Theeda Murphy

Theeda Murphy

Theeda Murphy is a dreamer, an empath, a healer. Her desire to heal herself and others has taken her to interesting places in the world but most importantly within herself. Theeda has worked as a counselor specializing in trauma and grief for almost twenty years. She is a practitioner of Ifa, a traditional African religion and has spent most of her adult life studying astrology and tarot. Although she has an advanced degree, her real education has been through real life experiences and the unique ways in which life unfolds.

Workshp: Basic Astrology for Magical Women

Description: Every magical woman should have a basic working knowledge of astrology. Knowing the astrological cycles allows you to create rituals and workings that are in tune with the natural cycles of the Universe. This course is designed to give you a brief introduction to the ancient art and science of astrology.

Yaa T. Muse

Yaa Tanisha Muse

Yaa Tanisha Muse offers doula services, breastfeeding support and life coaching under the umbrella of Yaa’s Healing Lab, her transformative holistic wellness business aimed at facilitating the healing of black families—a mission she pursues through the focus on and empowerment of black women and children.

Yaa’s healing work journey began in college after curing herself of seizures through a change in diet. Since then, she’s gone on to navigate a series of challenging life experiences, allowing her to relate to others who have faced similar circumstances; recognize their behaviors as being a result of those circumstances; and offer life-changing guidance through the use of exact language that affirms their feelings, what they’re going through, and the goals they strive to manifest.

Yaa is a rites of passage program graduate and co-facilitator in training, a birth doula through Birth Well Doula Training, a breastfeeding peer counselor through the Maternity Care Coalition, and a certified nursing assistant and unit secretary.

Since 2010, Yaa has led Courage Lessons, a guided lecture and visual consultation designed to identify and transform areas in need of healing; and seasonal Sisters’ Moon Gatherings, quarterly ceremonies under the light of the new and full moons where women reflect on what they want to release from and attract into their realities.

Yaa, a mother of one, lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, traveling for Yaa’s Healing Lab clients up and down the East Coast.

Workshop: Courage Lesson

Description: A Courage Lesson with Yaa Tanisha Muse is a guided and visual lecture designed to identify and transform areas in need of healing. Simple practical tools will be provided to recognize self-sabotaging patterns of behavior, thinking and coping and shift them into healthier systems that support your goals and help you to become your better self.