To say Healing Camp is a wonderful experience falls short of the mark. It's an introduction to a traditional way of life that is as rich and as satisfying as it is deceptively simple.

Gathered around the fire, fifteen strangers become fifteen friends. Together and as individuals we witness miracles. We receive healings. We share and express and create. We belong. We find ourselves. We are made whole.

But most importantly, we bring the fire with us when we go. The transformation is both subtle and profound. So much so, that many return - some as participants, some as volunteers. Myself, I returned as a volunteer. It just feels good to be there, to witness the magic and mystery of it all over again.
~ Natale

Whenever I see the announcement for another PSM Advanced Class I don't really have to "decide" whether I'm going or not. It is just something that I know I'm to do.

I graduated in July 2003 and after I presented a client and passed the pulse test I was given the authority to go out and practice this medicine. Whoa!! Every part of me was whirling and though I was excited and full from all that we had learned I was truly a bit overwhelmed and feeling that I might not really have what it took to offer this medicine to people. There was so much to remember and what if I didn't get it right? Ha! Imagine thinking about getting it right!

Just before the last week of class ended we heard that there would be an Advanced Class offered the very next month. It crossed my mind that I probably already had enough to try to absorb but something kept saying you must go. So I signed up. The most important thing that happened for me with that first Advanced Class was that I saw practitioners there who had been practicing for several years still asking the same questions perhaps in a different way, that I was asking after having just finished the class. That class gave me the courage to begin practicing the medicine.

Each year when I see the offering of the Advanced Class I always work to find the money to go. I call it an offering because it feels like and offering has been given to me that our teachers agree to keep teaching and holding the space for me to deepen my knowledge of this medicine. It is an offering given to me because I feel it is such a gift to be in class with my colleagues. Each time I go I learn something new. Eliot often says, "I've said this before" and of course who argues with Eliot right? But I think that as I practice and continue to learn about the medicine it is just in that particular moment that I become ready to hear what has been said before.

I go to Advanced Class because it is such a great support to see colleagues who are just beginning and colleagues who are seasoned come together and share the same types of successes and insecurities. It is great to come and be reassured by our teachers that we are exactly where we are suppose to be. I am always touched as I watch my colleagues bare their souls and sometimes their asses just so each of us can go back to our practice and then have something more - something new to offer our clients.

So I sign up for Advanced Class and Clinical and Conference each year because that is my offering back to this medicine. It is the least I can do for my clients to continue to explore the mystery of this medicine. It is the best thing I can do for myself.
PSM Practitioner, Graduated 2003

The best gift I have ever given myself is a healing camp with Eliot Cowan. When I have some life issue (physical, mental or spiritual) I need help to heal or explore, I seek assistance from a man (a shaman) I deeply respect, and a healing tradition I fully trust. This respect and trust stem from an inner knowing and from 6 years of work with Eliot.

It is hard to describe in words the bliss of the healing camp experience. A small group of people gathers together for 5 days in the beautiful space of the Blue Deer Center. With Eliot’s help we enter a sacred realm away from the demands and distractions of daily life.

Eliot, with the help of his staff and the land, create a protected and safe space for our healing experience. In this divine cocoon, I am able to explore issues and express and experience emotions that are inaccessible, and in some cases too painful, to explore elsewhere. When I enter the healing camp space it is as though I go to a place outside of time. In this place I am able to experience my authentic self, a self often hidden and inaccessible to me in my day-to-day life.

Here I can step out of my limited identity, and the superficial stories I use to define and portray myself to the world. Here I learn to listen to the voice of my heart, and to distinguish between my heart’s voice and the voice of my mind/ego. Here I learn the difference between acceptance and resignation, pain and suffering. I find that each treatment with Eliot strips away layers of the dross covering the true essence of my spirit.

To describe the many miracles of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing received from my work with Eliot would require an entire book! One way of describing the essence of this work is by saying that each time I work with Eliot I experience a “paradigm shift”, or a “sea change”; some movement in the core of my being that alters my life experience or perspective in some fundamental and critical way. It is as though I enter the healing camp asleep and I leave awake; awake to some vital truth - a truth necessary to align me with my heart’s truth and with divine will.

When I leave camp, I know in the depth of my being, that my spirit has been healed. And as a result of my work with Eliot, I now know that as long as my spirit is healed, it does not really matter what happens to my body! And I also know that life’s challenges and my body’s ailments are all part of a perfect tapestry woven by the divine to aid in the healing of my spirit.

Warmly, India

After graduating from Plant Spirit Medicine in 1999, I was excited and felt ready to go. I knew the material, had practiced 50 pulses a week, completed my homework, and had set up an office. Remembering Eliot's words that the real learning began in our clinical practices and with ongoing study, I plunged in. Starting with clients from my practice TAs I was immediately faced with the doubts and insecurity that shadow all beginning practitioners. Was I reading the pulses correctly? Did I miss a block? What is the harm in letting my client continue her acupuncture treatments at the same time as receiving PSM if that is what she wants to do? What the hell is the CF and how do I know if I got it? Why does my client still have her complaints — what am I doing wrong? You get the picture. We've all been there. I foraged my way through those first months, checking and rechecking that I had correctly assessed the pulses and delivered the medicine correctly. I remember several times when I had to stop, take a deep breath, and ask for help from the divine source of nature. While that helped, it wasn't until I took my first advanced clinical about 4 months later that I started to breathe easier.

During that clinical I got to ask my questions (or download my panic), refresh my skills, and get the encouragement I needed. I found out that I was going through a rite of passage that every practitioner needs to go through. And equally importantly, I got the opportunity to hone my skills. A few months after the Clinical, I took the PSM Advanced Class. Once again, I deepened my skills and understanding of our medicine by getting feedback on my pulse taking, emotion testing (and color, sound, and odor), ability to assess CF and the all important area of client management. Without the guidance of Eliot's teachings and the time with my colleagues, I may have eventually given up. Instead, I made a commitment to my learning and have attended every clinical and Advanced Class I could possibly attend. Each one was different and each one taught me something. All of them increased my effectiveness and with my increased effectiveness, my practice grew. It didn't all happen at once — each class built upon the previous one. I can clearly remember the jumps in my understanding and effectiveness; as if something had just turned on inside of me and all of sudden it was clear. I continue my learning today, knowing that the art and skill of this medicine is something that one can continue to grow in for a lifetime. And if my clients benefit, then I'm happy.
— PSM Practitioner, Graduated June 1999