Apprenticeship in Herbal Medicine – Drimlabarra Herb Farm.
Starts December 2023 by Correspondence Course then
6 weeks fully catered residential Tuition
from 15th April to 4th May and 16th Sept to 5th Oct 2024.
Applications now open for 2023/24
An apprenticeship opportunity with Keith Robertson MSc FNIMH,
co-founder of The Scottish School of Herbal Medicine and one of the UK’s leading herbal educators.
Also joining us accomplished Welsh Herbalist Nicola Dee Kelly MNIMH
and the unique Irish Herbalist Danny O’Rawe MSc. MIRH, Dip Herb, MABC, Dip Nat, Dip Arom.
A unique opportunity to learn about growing, identifying, harvesting, drying, processing and using herbs throughout one complete season within a small, unique group. We are recruiting for a maximum of 4 live-in apprentices. If this would interest you then please contact us for an application form or download by clicking on the link below
Or e-mail me for a copy at keith at herbalmedicine.org.uk (anti – spam please add the @)
This apprenticeship is seen as an opportunity for hands on and experiential learning in all the practical aspects of being a Herbalist. It is a glorious gift to really slow down and disconnect from the modern madness that is human life and dive deep down into the world of plants in a truly supportive atmosphere.
Learn how to listen to plants and make strong connections with the local medicinal plants of Arran Learn how to find or grow herbs, harvest them and make beautiful medicines, as well as how to use them safely and effectively for improved health. We will also be looking at how to grow and prepare living food for optimum nutrition. This is an apprenticeship in experiential, self directed and self reliant learning.
This program is designed for
- People who are passionate about natural medicine, plants and want to become more empowered by knowledge about self care.
- People who want to try and have a direct experience of plants as intelligent beings in their own right as opposed to just a container for interesting chemicals. We will certainly cover constituents etc. but our main focus is actually meeting the plants.
- People who want to rely less on the medical system and want to be able to help themselves, their friends and family with simple health challenges.
- People who have already made the step towards a Vegan diet and lifestyle. Keith’s research in Nutrition led him to follow this diet for the past 35 years.
- People who want to know how to identify, grow, harvest and process their own herbal medicines – learning how to make and dispense herbal remedies – storing herbs, stock control, making liniments, tinctures, oils, ointments, creams, poultices, aromatic waters (distiling) and more
- People who value an experiential, hands-on, practical and traditional energetic approach to herbal medicine use and are less concerned with an academic or professional qualification.
What will you learn?
Botany and plant identification Learn to recognize your food and medicines so that you can safely pick in the wild, supported by frequent herb walks.
– plant habitat and the Doctrine of Signatures
– botanical features of root, stem, leaf, flower and fruit
– using a plant key
– family characteristics. Families can tell you a huge amount about plants (E.g. if you know the brother would you lend the sister money???)
Harvesting and processing herbs
– Careful harvesting ensures long term sustainability of the plant. Intentional processing ensures a high quality medicine.
– Organic cultivation and sustainable/wild crafting
– harvesting and processing techniques for barks, roots, leaves, flowers and fruits
– drying, storing and processing herbs.
Making and dispensing herbal medicines
Tutorials will involve some time spent in the dispensary to allow a practical understanding of the use of herbs for medicine – formulating and prescribing for specific ailments.
Celtic Herbal Medicine.
We have been developing a deeper understanding of the Celtic Herbal Traditions with collaboration between Scottish and Irish Herbalists. This has the Elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether at its core and these form the framework for the teaching. For our latest book please see. Celtic Herbal Medicine
Plants as chemists
Knowing how the plants exert their therapeutic actions allows us to better understand how to use them medicinally.
– overview of plant metabolism
– using the pharmacology of taste to discern energetics, therapeutic qualities and indications of herbs
– introduction to holistic phytochemistry – mucilage and polysaccharides, phenolics (tannins, salicylates, flavonoids, anthraquinones), bitters, volatile oils, saponins
Materia medica and clinical applications
Taught via the experiential pharmacology of taste as well as through discussions and question – answer sessions. Using the traditional energetic framework of constitutional types and temperaments, we will consider in detail how the herbs do their work energetically, how they might effect and safely treat different constitutional types and people’s tendency to disease processes linked to their constitutional type. This will include formulating strategies and treatment planning, dosing, contra-indications and safety concerns.
Pharmacy and medicine making
Make and take home a wide variety of remedies for different ailments and build your own first aid kit.
– water extractions – infusions, decoctions
– solvent extractions – oils, tinctures
– emulsions and liniments
– plasters and poultices
– creams and ointments
– flower essences
– the herbal first aid kit
Plant attunement and plant appreciation
A contemplative and experiential approach has been built up over the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine’s long career and this is our key into unlocking the book of nature and allowing us to glimpse the meanings emblazoned on creation. Using a seven step process to study plants following Goethe’s Botanical writings as edited by Rudolf Steiner.
1. Introduction to Goethe’s botany: consideration of ‘the Archetypal plant’ and the plant as a living, changing being.
2. Metamorphosis in the leaf realm – expansive phase followed by contractile phase before flowering. The 4 principle formative principles: linear elongation, planar spreading, indentation and shorting or raying.
3. Leaf, flower and fruit as related stages in plant development – transformation of the leaf organ into the flower and further to fruit and seed formation, with an associated second expansion of the petal, contraction of stamens and pistils and a third expansion in fruit and contraction as seed.
4. Demonstrating the above making visual leaf sequences by lining up leaves from a plant according to the order they appear on the stem.
5. Exploring differences and similarities of the above by looking at leaf sequences of the same species growing in different environments.
6. The pictorial expression of the plant through the flower and the higher formative principle affecting the leaf organs. The flower as the clearest expression of the character of a species or a family i.e. the ‘gesture’ of the plant.
7. Looking at common themes specific to different plant families: number association with respect to number of petals, compound leaf or number of leaves to complete a 360° spiral rotation around the stem e.g. 5 in Rose family.
8. Observing processes with respect to movement looking at the different levels: root, stem. Leaf. Flower. Fruit and Seed. Comparison to human morphology.
9. Seven stage process to interpret the gesture of a plant: exact sensory perception exact sensorial imagination, inspiration, intuition, imprinting, growing and reproduction.
10. Using different artistic media as expression of plant qualities e.g. drawing, painting, drama, sculpture, voice etc.
11. Use of range of physical media for making pharmacy preparations e.g. water, alcohol, glycerine, cream, oil, ointment, poultice, liniment, compress etc.
How is the programme structured?
What to expect.
Drimlabarra Herb Farm has been a vegan sanctuary since 2000. The plants here have never had any chemicals or poisons near them and have been lovingly studied over the years by a steady stream of talented Apprentices – where better then to try and listen rather than talk down to plants? We work together Monday to Friday and then the weekends are your own breathe out or to explore your surroundings. We ask that you do not leave the island however for the 3 week periods in order to properly ground yourself here.
This Apprenticeship will start in December via our 1 year Correspondence Course which will form the backbone of the teaching.
The face to face teaching is spit into 2 parts. Apprentices will come to the Isle of Arran for Part 1 on the 15th April till the 4th May 2024 and for Part 2 from the 16th September till the 5th October 2024. There will be contact in between and research to continue in the summer with optional conference or cultural meet ups with your group and your tutors. It will finish end of November with the final meeting online and the final assignments completed on the Correspondence Course.
We take on a maximum of 4 Apprentices and we have rented a cottage on the shore near the Herb Farm in Kildonan village for the group and to provide you with a private room in a special place with all mod cons (log fires, living room, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.) Teaching will take place mainly at the Herb Farm and guided herb walks around the island.
One of Europe’s most respected herbal clinician Danny O’ Rawe will join us from Ireland for part of both sessions
The cost for the tuition including Correspondence Course worth £450 and all materials etc. is £3,650
The cost for full board private room is £1,950 with fully catered vegan organic food – locally produced wherever possible. Installments can be discussed at interview – total course balance to be paid before arriving for Part 1.
Interviews will take place in November and if successful you will be informed before the end of that month.
Music is a part of any true cultural experience and features throughout your time here and the process can help you unlock all sorts of areas if you let it – even perhaps your music and art for example. If you have a portable instrument please bring it – otherwise we have a variety of instruments, guitars etc. to use. We host a series of marvelous concerts featuring some of Arran’s finest performers through the programme as musical and artistic bonds are formed and celebrated.
Depending on where you are in the world – during the summer break we can facilitate you meeting up with the group and your tutors at a couple of conference or cultural events. These will incur additional costs but effectively you get a back stage pass. For example so far confirmed –
HerbFeast 17th – 19th May 2024 in Southern Ireland – a fantastic conference with top speakers from around the world and of course an introduction to our beautiful Irish Herbal tribe!
Arran Folk Festival 9th, 10th, 11th June 2024
We can facilitate privilege access to the Concerts featuring world class Celtic musicians from around the UK. Keith is proud to run the 3 Open Folk Sessions in the afternoons so you will be made to feel very welcome.
Celtic Herbal Medicine.
Included as part of the Apprenticeship programme is the exploration of our own Celtic Roots. After our initial few days exploring the farm we will head off at least once a week on guided herb walks to Arran’s special and sacred sites interspersed between the teaching days. In the past we have visited to the Machrie Standing Stones, Holy Isle, Glen Rosa, the many Chambered Tombs and King’s Cave. Arran abounds with ancient treasures – some well known and others that we like to keep a little secret. A Celtic Fire Ceremony in Part 1 celebrates Beltane in May and in Part 2 celebrates the Autumn Equinox. We are joined again by the magnificent Danny O’Rawe ND MIRH Irish herbalist and scholar with the accomplished Herbalist Nicola Dee Kelly MNIMH representing Wales.
This immersive and practical learning experience spread over 12 months easily equates to at least 300 hours of formal teaching Plus of course 6 weeks of herbal living and amazing freshly prepared vegan food.
The School issues its own certificate of attendance.for this and completion of the Correspondence Course alone already acts as an access course to the main Herbal Schools offering further professional training.
In addition you will receive –
In-depth individual consultations with Keith and a month after follow up via video link or telephone
The Correspondence course worth £450 or exemption if a SSHM Correspondence course graduate
Assigned reading and study guide and all study material.
Full access to our extensive Herbal Library and study room with wood stove and kitchen. Eco shower block with power shower and solar / wood sauna. Pristine sandy beaches with seals, otters, basking sharks, herons, falcons etc. are 5-10 mins walk away. There is also a good local Hotel and regular buses around the island.
2024 dates for the face to face programme are: arrive Monday 15th April and depart Saturday 4th May for Part 1 and arrive Monday 16th September and depart Saturday 5th October for Part 2.
If your initial Application meets our requirements, there will follow an in depth interview process either by personal visit or video call.
Timetable 2024 Apprenticeship
Generally, outside of the Intensive your weekends are your own to explore Arran and process and breathe out.
Introduction 15th April
Arrive and settle in. Introduction to fellow apprentices.
During your stay we meet every morning mid-week to touch base, share ceremony and music and do blind herb tastings. Then you are most welcome to join us in the garden, weather permitting, where discussion and experience continue or pursue your own plant studies. Interspersed in this format are formal teaching days to ensure we cover the material.
Induction into the workings of the programme and the farm. Introduction to Blind Tasting methodology. Touch base on the assignments completed on the Correspondence Course with Course tutor Nicola Dee Kelly MNIMH. On going throughout the course – Diet and Nutrition including preparation of living and superfoods for optimum health. Introduction to practical Veganic Gardening.
Introduction to the Energetic Approach developed by Keith and SSHM using the Elements ~ Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether and the appropriate body systems.
Introduction to the Contemplative Approach developed by SSHM to help us read the book of nature. Choosing our plant for our Personal Plant Project. This study continues through the 8 weeks with an informal presentation to the group at the end.
EARTH ~ Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT) Skeletal System (SS)
Roots. Earth Introduction to Botany and Plant Families Blind Tasting and Pharmacy – Making practical herbal preparations.
WATER ~ Urinary System (U/S), Lymphatics, Reproductive System (R/S)
Stems. Principles of Cleansing and Detox. Herbs for the systems. Chemistry of Water. Herb Tasting and Pharmacy – Making practical herbal preparations.
AIR ~ Respiratory System (R/S) and Skin
Leaves. Botanical Identification, foraging and leaf sequences. Introduction to Massage and Physical Therapy, Herb tasting and Pharmacy.
FIRE ~ Cardiovascular System (CVS) Links all elements. Nervous System (N/S) Hormonal System (H/S), Muscular System (M/S), Immune System.
Flowers. Aromatic Medicine. Understanding the body’s control systems and how to rebalance them. Herb tasting and Pharmacy.
ETHER ~ Psycho-Spiritual System. Genetics and Epigenetics.
Seeds. Shamanic Processes and Plant Ally Meditation. Herbal Medicine and Quantum Physics. Plant Intelligence. Beholding the Heart of Nature. Herb tasting and Pharmacy.
Energetic Medicine ~ Overview of Traditional Energetic Medicine Systems: Ayurveda, TCM, Humoral. Overview of tongue and pulse diagnosis.Applying this to the Elemental framework.
Whole Plant Medicine. Pulling it all together. The future for Traditional Herbalism. Revision and question session. Personal Plant Project individual presentations. Feedback from programme.
Friday 4th Oct. Closing the group ceremony. “To every meeting there is a parting”
Apprentices leave the farm the next day. .
NB Apprentices should arrive on the dates stated and not before as we have a private family commitments to honour.
For accommodation outside these times see visitarran.com, booking.com, Air BnB etc. or ask at interview.
Cost for the teaching on the apprenticeship programme £3,560
£900 deposit on acceptance and then payment balance. You will be asked to sign the following agreement
“I realize that with the small number of places offered, the £900 deposit is non-refundable and only transferable with the School’s agreement. For our part we will do everything our end to make sure you get the course you have paid for. Please note that the full course balance is due before you arrive for Part 1.
EITHER in 2 installments: £900 payment deposit and Balance paid in 2 installments of £1,375 by December 1st 2023 and by 1st April 2024.
Apprenticeship applicants who have not completed the Correspondence Course previously can get started on this in advance of the apprenticeship programme as a foundation.
If you have already paid for and started the Correspondence Course, the Apprenticeship course cost is £3,650 – £450 = £3,120 Payable as £900 deposit on acceptance and
EITHER £1,150 payment on 1st Dec 2023 and Balance of £1,150 payable on 1st April 2024.
Fees for Apprentices Accommodation:
own private room in traditional Arran cottage by Seal Shore in Kildonan
Full Board ~ all wholefoods and wherever possible organic for 6 weeks £1,950. This is also due before you arrive in April so you may wish to make a one off payment for this or add this into your payment plan. This can be discussed at interview.
This apprenticeship aims to let the plant world help you to ‘unfurl’.
INTRODUCTION TO TEACHING SESSIONS
We will follow a bodily systems approach which you will have already encountered with the Correspondence course overlaid by the Elements and practice many blind herb tea tastings throughout. You will be provided with a handout for this method and be guided at each tasting.
Food as medicine will be an ongoing topic and you will be expected to help gather and prepare freshly harvested food from the garden for lunches on tutorial days. This doubles as an educational function as you learn to recognise plants and practice sustainable harvesting.
Each teaching block will involve:
- meeting of plants outside in their habitat as direct access to Materia Medica & botany;
- practical sessions making and experiencing different preparations;
- Philosophy & Energetics and ongoing Q&A’s;
- going through case histories to illustrate therapeutic strategy;
- working with the elements through phenomenological methods of gaining insights into plants using the Goethean approach.
- includes nutrition, pathology and organic gardening.
- there will be opportunities for work experience in the dispensary for which hours can be logged.
You will work with your own case history as direct learning about herbal therapeutic strategy over time. Your first session will be face-to-face and follow ups will be via video or telephone.
Over the years it has been such an amazing experience watching people connect with plants in a way that illuminates them both. In a place solely devoted to plant study connections between plants, people and the planet are deepened and we all leave the richer for the unique time of learning together.
Feedback from 2020.
“Numerous serendipitous events brought me to the magical Isle of Arran and Drimlabarra Farm for the Herbal Medicine Apprenticeship during this uncertain, unpredictable year of 2020. I could have never anticipated the priceless friendships I would make and profound experiences I would have during this 2-month immersion into the enchanting natural world of plants. Much, much more than just an education on herbs and how they work, I developed deep connections with and respect for the plants and nature overall. This experience gave me the opportunity to slow down, be more present, grow spiritually and learn to better rely on and trust my own instincts and intuition. It felt a bit like a beautiful 2-month meditation. And as a vegan, the school’s commitment to kindness and non-violence, as well as their organic approach to growing plants, was very important to me. While I came away with a much deeper knowledge of herbal medicine (ie. how to create tinctures, teas, oils, hydrosols, creams, poultices, etc), it was the deep-dive into actually experiencing the plants in their environment, sensing their innate intelligence (looking, tasting, feeling, drawing, connecting energetically with them) that made the most impact on me and will stay with me always. I will forever look at the natural world with deep gratitude and reverence. Thank you, Keith, Danny and Nicola and all the beautiful souls that made this an experience I shall never forget.”
Founder, Plant Powered Living