The Medicine of Place: Place-Based Herbalism, Imaginative Realms, & Land Connection with Tyler Wauters

“We need to engage in these relationships to help inform us on how we take care of a place… and how do we practice environmentalism? How do we become stewards of the land? And how do we tend to our body and tend to those around us? We have to take that out of the books and out of the classroom and really apply it for ourselves and have that direct experience.”

In this interview, we’re speaking with Tyler Wauters, a teacher, naturalist, herbalist, wild-crafter, and co-founder of Hawthorn Institute. Tyler reminds us of the critical importance of place and land connection as it relates to not only our own health, but the health of the whole - environment, plants, people, and future generations. We dive into the imaginative realms of Tyler’s childhood, his serendipitous journey onto the plant path, and ways we can begin to build relationship with place.

You’ll hear about the “sacred chemical ecology” of living organisms and how you can connect with an entire forest and ecosystem with a single “communicator” plant ally. You’ll also learn more about the offerings at Hawthorn Institute (the school I wish was available when I first started my journey!).

Tyler has been a program director and core-faculty member of the Hawthorn Institute since 2013, Tyler has also taught for the Herb Pharm Herbaculture program since 2008. He teaches a wide variety of topics ranging from, Wildcrafting, Wild Foods, Ceremony, Bio-regional human and natural history, Ayurveda, and Botany. Tyler has devoted his life to the practice of community herbalism and he brings his passion and knowledge of nature into everything he shares. Tyler’s intention is to ignite deeper connections to place, people, and plants.

Tyler has studied with Frank Cook, 7song, Isla Burgess, Sonia Masocco, Dr. Vasant Lad, and Dr. Claudia Welch.  He thanks all of his mentors for sharing life’s wisdom.

Show Notes

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How Tyler came into Ayurveda, herbalism, and wild-crafting and describes his childhood as living in the imaginative realm

  • How the weeping willow was Tyler’s first plant ally of many to come

  • How serendipity in Asheville, Carolina led to his first foray into herbalism with a flower essence course

  • Frank Cook, Tyler’s first mentor who set him forward on the path that he is still on today

  • Tyler describes the place he inhabits now, the water ways, and native peoples of the land - Klamath Siskiyou bioregion, the regional rivers, and tribes that have existed on the land: Tututni, Tolowa, Latgawa, Takelma Dine, Yurok, Karuk, Shasta and so many more

  • A really important aspect of place-based herbalism is doing research and learning about place - the human and natural history and becoming a participant in your local ecology and relationships around you

  • Draw on those connections and relationships to illuminate how we might relate and work with a plant

  • Tyler’s views on true holistic health, and how it involves establishing a relationship with your environment and place, so that you’re not just tending to yourself

  • The evolution of our connection to our environment and how that impacts our health and informs our life

  • Ways to build relationship with place: (1) Start with developing a primary embodied relationship with an elder and “communicator” plants or trees, and notice what aspects you connect with, then (2) look for a local human mentor and teacher to support you

  • The wisdom that is held with an elder tree, and how you connect with an entire forest and ecosystem with a single “communicator” plant ally

  • Why Tyler believes connecting with the elements is vital

  • Tyler shares his insights regarding the unseen aspects of connecting to nature, and how Ayurveda informs this

  • How Tyler spends his time connecting to nature and medicine

  • “Sacred chemical ecology” of each living organism, and gives an example with St Johns Wort, noticing the cycles of it’s circulatory system and its own sacred alchemy that is living

  • What engaging in magic means to Tyler

  • How Tyler co-founded Hawthorn Institute, and how participants discover herbalism thru personal connection

  • The challenges and insecurities Tyler faced when he first started his path as an herbalist and teacher, and the doubts and questions that surfaced

  • How Tyler considers Hawthorn a living organism, and how it’s constantly changing and evolving

  • The one quality that Tyler works to embody as a teacher

  • What is feeding Tyler’s wild, including wild crafted manzanita sugar and the hard questions that push us to our edge!

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Connect With Tyler Wauters


Hawthorn Institute is now accepting applications for Class of 2019: Early Bird Applications for 2019 Programs DUE Jan 19!

Resources + Links Mentioned 

Frank Cook


Isla Burgess

Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Institute

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