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About the California School of Hispanic Herbalism

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About the School

School Purpose

image of Lori and Chuck march 2012 from Alejandra Palos
Lori and Charles
March 2012

The California School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism officially opened its doors in January of 1998 in the San Francisco East Bay city of Richmond, California, to teach and preserve the healing traditions of the Hispanic curanderos and curanderas (folk healers) of California. Many of these classes had been informally taught for two years prior to the creation of the school.

Primarily offering classes in herbalism, the school also stresses an understanding of Curanderismo, the healing techniques and philosophies of Native-Hispanic California.  The cross-cultural influences of European and Asian herbs, along with the use of native plants, made California Curanderismo a unique and potent healing medium.  These practices also include the use of intuitive diagnosis skills, psychoactive plants, ritual and magic.

Charles and Lori will also perform ritual healings based on the folklore rites of curanderismo, for those unfortunates who feel their illness is of a spiritual nature. They also investigate some paranormal activities, and may attempt a "limpia" (cleansing) of a person or place if absolutely necessary. We do not video tape our rituals or limpias for the privacy of our clients and their family. We do not use psychics or mediums in our cases again for reasons of privacy. We do use scientific equipment to help us determine if any paranormal activity is present.

About the Director

Charles Garcia 21feb2013

Charles R. Garcia, California Curandero

Charles is a third-generation curandero, having learned much of his skills from his mother, Martha Garcia (who passed in 2001 at the age of 84), who learned them from her father, Desidro Navarro. Charles treated and healed family, friends, and colleagues for almost two decades before going public with his herbal practice in the 1990s. He continues to treat physical, emotional, and spiritual illnesses in the Hispanic and Anglo communities of Northern California. He does not charge the sick or those in need continuing a family tradition.

Charles R. Garcia has lectured on Hispanic Herbalism for over a decade at venues large and small, formal and impersonal.

For three years Charles wrote a weekly newspaper column, "Herbs In Our Lives", and a bi-weekly herbal column for the Sierra Mountain Times. He wrote a chapter on herbal first aid for the textbook Wilderness Emergency Care by Steve Donelan, basee on his lectures to the Red Cross Wilderness First Responders.

Charles also served as a consultant for America's Most Wanted on the topic of Hispanic witchcraft. He has been interviewed on public radio stations in Berkeley and New York City. He was a guest on the local (Channel 4) television gardening program KRON's HENRY'S GARDEN, and Jackie Chin's Zombiepalooza Radio: Dead Again on www.ztalkradio.com. He was profiled on NPR's Latino USA and KQED's California Report.

Charles considers his style of teaching and philosophy of herbal healing as minimalist. If you can make a fire, get a pot of water simmering, find herbs in your back yard, your neighbors lawn, a city park, an empty lot, in a mountain meadow, or in the middle of the desert, you can aid the sick. The unofficial motto of the school is, "is est non silicis scientia." (It is not rocket science.)

Both his clientele and students reflect the bay area in all its diversity. On any given day or night he might be found treating the homeless, lecturing at a medical school, making soup for an HIV or cancer patient, or treating an elderly women's cat for pink eye. (Ask him about that case sometime!)

On his off time, Charles enjoys growing roses, cooking, writing poetry, gardening, cheesy Sci-Fi movies, watching the television series HOUSE, reading Robert B. Parker mysteries and camping in the Sierra while searching for medicinal plants. He has published a down-load novel of fantasy and survival entitled Forever Faire which has garnered good reviews, and the sequel, Return to Faire.

Charles is also a non-denominational minister who has officiated at multi-cultural weddings. He has given sermons in The New Church, the Swedenborg Christian congregation in Pennsylvania.

Charles and Lori Pino have investigated paranormal activities in various building in Virginia City Nevada while hunting for desert herbs.

About the Co-Director

Lori renfaire october 2015

Lori Pino, California Curandera

A curandera since 2014, Lori serves as the school's co-director, maintaining a strong interest in all aspects of Traditional and Modern Hispanic Herbalism. Lori contributes as researcher, aide, photographer, conscience, and visionary.

Having a history of curanderismo from her Great Aunt, Lori began her involvement with the school as a TA and official apprentice. In April 2013, Lori was promoted to Special Projects Manager, becoming full Co-Director for the school in January 2017.

Since 2011, Lori has accompanied Charles to all conferences, including the 2011 and 2012 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference in Arizona, the 2012 Montana Herb Gathering, and the Herbal Resurgence Conference in Arizona in 2013.

After growing up as an Air Force kid. Lori attended the US. Military Academy at West Point. As a girl, she spent time in Texas and knew several astronauts.

Lori is an accomplished fighter with a bowie and tomahawk, as evidenced during demonstrations at Herbfests. Here she is preparing to de-hide at the Sierra Herbfest. Currently Lori's focuses are on the healing, education, and artistic sides of life.

About the Webmaster

Roane texture3

Roane Simkin

A student and supporter since 2000, Roane serves as the school's webmaster and technical advisor, attending classes whenever she is in the area, practicing the wisdom and spirit of Traditional and Modern Hispanic Herbalism, creating recipes to heal and strengthen. Roane contributes as webmaster, site designer, researcher, and challenger.

With degrees in neuropsychology, human factors engineering, and web development, Roane comes from a family of great cooks and foodies. Its safe to say that she has a strong awareness of the effect of food on brain function and behavior.

Roane began her involvement with the school in 2000, quickly becoming the official scribe, capturing and transcribing lectures. In 2011, Roane redeisgned the original website, and has been customizing it ever since, including adding a Shopping page when the school has goods to share.

Roane is an accomplished human factors engineer and user interaction deisgner, has good aim with a long bow but prefers hunting plants, raising animals, dancing with her feet and fencing with wit. She is typically found attached to a keyboard or with her hands buried in dirt; here she is spotted bringing eucalyptus cuttings in through the snow.

Our Credo

Herbalist's Creed ©2012, text by Charles R Garcia, design by Roane: In times of great crisis and need a special healer arises to give care: A common person with an uncommon esire to heal the sick and forgotten. Forged amid distrust and fear they serve the sick with unflinching devotion to ease suffering and save lives. We are these people. We are herbalists. Our traditions have been handed done by all cultures and have survived the fall of civilizations. We risk our own health and lives for those who cannot or will not be cared for by others. Our care is not dependent on re-numeration. We will give care to all and under all conditions though we jeopardize our own freedoms in doing so. And if by light of day the right to give care is taken away from us...we WILL take it back by night. August 14th, 2012 © 2012 Charles R. Garcia and Inspiration Peeks

The Wall of Honor

We honor students who have gone beyond the Call of Duty

  • Lori Pino, friend and Curandera extraordinaire.
  • Clara Sneed, my first apprentice.
  • Yael of the Southwest via Israel, herbalist of two deserts.
  • Joe Schilling of Fallon Nevada, Knife maker to the Plantman.
  • Chuck Acker, Survivor of the Battle of Black Point.
  • Dr. Tania Neubauer ND, teacher and new mother from Portland.
  • Eric Smith of China, a long way from the Motherlode.
  • Lauren Samuels of San Francisco, via Israel, via Britain, first graduate of the Street Herbalism Course. Sorry I ever doubted you.
  • Kaya Kismet, teaching a new generation about the outdoors.
  • Kiva Ringtail Rose, herbalist of the magic mountains, blogger extraordinaire.
  • Jesse Wolf Hardin, husband to Kiva Ringtail Rose, herbal mountain man, author.
  • Lauren Stauber, for her commitment to the path.
  • Roane Simkin, herbal historian, webmaster, unwavering believer.

About Our Students

If you can make a fire, get a pot of water simmering, and find herbs - in your yard, your neighbor's lawn, a city park, an empty lot, a mountain meadow, or in the middle of the desert, you can aid the sick.

Traditions in Western Herbalism Group Photo 18-20aug2015 from Dara Saville

"Just returned from yet another inspiring weekend of herbal learning at the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. Many thanks go out to Wolf and Kiva Rose for all the hard work involved with organizing this event. This year's conference was another round of agonizing over what classes to take and which to miss. The highlight of the weekend for me was attending Charles Garcia's unbelievable class on Poisonous Plants. The session began with him ingesting toxic Monkshood (which he can do because he is a trained professional!), leaving us all dramatically clinging to the edges of our seats. It was akin to watching a magic show! The class continued with doc Garcia's powerful storytelling. He related tales of people unknowingly ingesting or misusing these potent plants, which directed my emotional experience all over the spectrum enabling us to experience the true nature of these plants. I laughed uproariously as he described unsuspecting dinner guests reduced to hallucinogenic chicken impersonations and I cried as I imagined his mother's severe arthritic pain treated by being packed in Nettles for days. Thank you Doc Charles Garcia for a powerful lesson in the magic of herbs, human ignorance, and the compassion of dedicated healers. — with MaryLou Singleton, Kiva Rose, Jessi T Walsh and Jenn Atkins."

- Dara Saville 9-22-2015
 Instructor, Albuquerque Herbalism


Charles and Lori Teaching at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference 18-20aug2015

"Curandero, herbalist, rebel, and street medic, Charles Garcia, who also happens to be a close personal friend and one of my very first teachers. Teaching at the 2015 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference with Lori Pino"

- Kiva Rose 9-22-2015  facebook link
Director, Traditions in Western
Herbalism Conference
Editor, Plant Healer Magazine

facebook link My first class with you, Doc.... unforgettable. I told a friend that you can judge the legend of an herbalist, not by just how full the room is, but by how many other teachers are in the room. There is no doubt, you are legendary! And very entertaining lol

- Cyndi Hughs 9-21-2015

Traditions in Western Herbalism Chuck Teaching photo by Paul Manski 20sep2015

'Doc' Garcia at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, Cloudcroft, NM

- Paul Manski 9-20-2015facebook link

The Kermit by Pagan Humor Because we Get It

- Pagan Humor -
Because We Get It

facebook link If you are smiling & nodding at The Kermit, you will enjoy

2012 High Sierra Herbfest


Over the years I have received support from many people, not only about my herbalism, but also about the life I lead. My friends and family, who have always loved and supported the aims of this somewhat odd and troubled man. My mom, Martha Navarro Garcia, in her last years shared a great deal of knowledge about her father, her childhood, and her belief in the goodness of the universe. Adam Seller, who was my first guide into modern herbalism and became a mentor and friend as well.


 email: curandero50@gmail.com
 phone: (510) 672 7849

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