80 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
We have forgotten something that our ancestors practiced intuitively – the ability to relate sensitively to non-human life. When we are “in relationship” with something, we are much more likely to respect and protect it. Re-finding the common language between ourselves and plants is important for many important reasons, foremost ecological.
Paul Devereux in Earthmind warns us “For a long time now we have been unable to remember our former closeness with the earth—due to this amnesia, the ecological problems now thrust upon us have come as a shock… we notice the emergence of an amnesia that is really a double forgetting, wherein a culture forgets, and then forgets that it has forgotten how to live in harmony with the planet.”
Whether you are an herbalist, aromatherapist, flower essence or energetic worker—all of us working with plants have a responsibility towards ourselves, our clients and the plants themselves to develop an ongoing conversation with the plants we are working with. It is not enough to see them as a commodity, i.e. a bundle of chemical constituents with specific actions. Our relationship must go deeper and recognize the aliveness of our healing partners.
Most importantly, there is no separation between ourselves and the rest of nature. We are all interconnected. Nature is a large important part of our psyches. Without a healthy and ongoing relationship with nature, we become lost and disconnected from the whole. Much of the suffering on the planet today is due to this gulf that has been created in so called modern society between our souls’ real needs and the artificial needs imposed upon us by a profit-oriented world. As Stephen Aizenstat says in Jungian Psychology and the World Unconscious: “We are born out of the rhythms of nature and to destroy nature’s psyche is ultimately to end our own.”
Just like we all learn to read nowadays, our ancestors would have learnt the language of the plants, trees and animals that surround us. Unfortunately, we have lost this common language. Now we have the opportunity to re-learn it, to rebuild what was lost and to put nature back into its rightful place. We can do this through developing intuitive feeling and a sense of knowing above and beyond the ego-mind’s internal chatter.
Cathy Skipper is English by birth and spent her adult life in rural France, where she farmed, trained and worked as a herbalist and aromatherapist and taught practical herbalism, botany and aromatherapy at the L’Ecole Lyonnaise de Plantes Medicinales’ in Lyon. She also participated for four years in an experimental approach to energetic healing called ‘Life cell’ under French Kinesiologist, Caroline Gupta. Her plant training in France included a two year course with Claude Lefebvre on Plant Communication. She left France last year to live and work in New Mexico with her partner Florian Birkmayer.
Cathy’s work involves building bridges between aromatic medicine and herbalism as well as recognizing the importance of healing the healer and reconnecting with nature. In her teaching she marries, theory, practical work and energetics with an underlying intention of helping students develop an intuitive relationship between themselves, the plant/essential oil and the patient as an impetus for healing. Her work with Florian is centralized around the work of Carl Jung and the psyche, aromatic molecules and the mind. She is co-author of Aromatic Medicine.
Florian Birkmayer, MD is a Wounded Healer and the co-developer with Cathy Skipper of AromaGnosis, which synthesizes Jungian Depth Psychology and aromatherapy. A holistic psychiatrist, he has an extensive background in trauma and addiction as well as Equine Assisted Therapy. He views himself as a bridge-builder between different medical worlds and works closely and respectfully with a wide range of healers. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He completed his psychiatry residency at the University of New Mexico. He has previously served as the director of the Dual Diagnosis Clinic at University of New Mexico Psychiatric Center and as the director of the Substance Use Disorders program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albuquerque, NM.
Please note the entrance to ArborVitae is on 14th Street not 8th Avenue. Our classroom is room #1302 on the 13th floor.