Our Purpose

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.

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.


faqs

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Over the years, questions have arisen concerning classes, information on curanderismo, and research materials.  The most significant questions are listed here, with my answers.


    Rebecca Nicole Garcia Johnston July 2015

    Catalog

  1. Can you send me a catalog of classes, costs, and class dates?

    You may print out these website pages for your reference. All the information concerning current classes and online classes is on this website.  This includes scheduled topics, dates, costs, and payment policy.  You may save or print these pages for your convenience and reference.


  2. Connections

  3. Can you put me in touch with other curanderos and curanderas in my area?

    Curanderos and curanderas do not usually network.  I suggest you start with a local Hispanic herb store, often called a Yerberito or Botanica, for local references.

    A wonderful guide to modern herbalists can be found on Amazon.com.
    21st Century Herbalists: Rock Stars, Radicals & Root Doctors by Jesse Wolfe Hardin. ©2010-2012.


  4. Contexts

  5. Are there textbooks for your courses?

    There are no textbooks for the course. I do recommend the following books for your personal collection and use:

    • Any books by the late Michael Moore of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.
    • "The Complete Guide To Medicinal Herbs" by Penelope Ody.
    • "Wise Woman Healing" by Susun S. Weed.
    • "Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West" by Gregory L. Tilford.
    • "The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine" by Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D.
    • "The Male Herbal" by James Green.
    • "Mother Nature's Herbal" by Judy Griffin, Ph.D.
    • "Infusions Of Healing" by Joie Davidow.
    • "The Complete Woman's Herbal" by Anne McIntyre.

    These are a good start.

  6. Curanderismo

  7. I am doing a research paper on curanderismo and Hispanic herbalism.  Can you tell me what you know or where I can find information on the topic?

    I can tell you what I know if you are willing to take the time and be trained or sign up for my classes; as I have not yet written the definitive book on the topic. 

    For  an overview of the subject, I suggest:

    • "Infusions of Healing" by Joie Davidow
    • "Mexican-American Folklore" by John O. West
    • "Witchcraft Along the Rio Grande" by Marc Simmons
    • "Curanderismo: Mexican-American Folkhealing, 2nd edition" by Robert T. Trotter
        (even though I disagree with the methodology he uses in his studies) 
    • "Homegrown Healing: Traditional Home Remedies from Mexico", by Annette Sandoval

    You can also peruse the extensive database at Baylor University School of Nursing for excellent information concerning Hispanic folk medicine.
    http://www.rice.edu/projects/HispanicHealth/Courses/mod7/mod7.html

    For a view of curanderismo in context, I suggest you read:
    "Bless me, Ultima : A Novel" by Rudolfo A. Anaya


  8. Commitment

  9. How much time will I need to put in to benefit from your class?

    That depends on what you want to get out of the class. Some students come for the snacks and the ambiance. Others come to develop their skills as herbalists, and still others just like to learn a little bit about everything. We don't grade, but as a rule of thumb, to earn an "A" in any type of class typically requires at least 4 hours of study per hour of in-class time, per week. In-class lectures run 4 hours on average. Online courses require more self-discipline, and about the same time commitment.


  10. Clinical Practice

  11. Do you offer clinical training?

    Classes in The Sequence include hands-on training and practical skills. Beyond that, my apprentices and some select students are offered an opportunity to work with me on various cases. Because of the nature of my practice, an ongoing clinical studies course is not practical; however, due to repeat requests, as of 2015 we offer Street Herbalism Boot Camp!


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    Compensation

  13. How can I pay for classes?

    Pay with check, cash, or PayPal. Arrange payment when you register for your class.


  14. Comprehensive Correspondence Course FAQ

  15. What format are the lectures in (written, audio, or video)? 
    How many hours per week are the lectures? 
    Apart from the lectures themselves, how much time should I expect to spend in study and homework? 
    Is the homework mostly reading and writing, or will I be making remedies or otherwise engaged in hands on assignments?

    The lectures are in writing, you will want at least 2 hours per week just to read them. You will want 4 to 10 hours to try things out, study, practice. Some classes are hands-on, try to choose them when the live classes run, and Skype in or Google Hangout.

    Curanderismo is a hands-on practice, and as with any apprenticeship, you need a significant amount of knowledge, skill, and instinct before you can grow with book learning. Reading about it is akin to reading about sex acts. If you don't know how it 'feels', its all castles in the air.

    Start with a one-day course on a topic that interests you, and when you're ready for more, start with the Introduction class. This is an introduction to how I practice curanderismo, to understand the underlying philosophy and culture of this tradition that has been active in my family in California since even before it was part of the USA.


  16. Coming vs. Corresponding

  17. How do I know whether to take the class   online   or come out to Richmond?

    If you have the time and ability to come to class, its definitely worth being present. Stories, other students' contributions, hands-on experiences make the live classes unbeatable. Many fans of the school live in other states, so the online experience was created. Our students think we do a great job with it, but nothing tops face-to-face.


  18. Class Choices

  19. Do I [have] to take the Introductory class? I know something (or) I've taken classes elsewhere (or) I'm a practicing herbalist!

    The right question isn't 'do I have to', it really is, 'do I get to?' or 'is it okay if I?' or 'isn't it cheating if I?' True, this is a fun class, but that doesn't make it an easy one. Most important, it is the best introduction to what Traditional California Hispanic Herbalism is, how it evolved, and the basic skills needed to move forward. Can you make a tincture? The (late, great) Michael Moore didn't do it this way - are you sure you do?

    Introduction to Traditional California Hispanic Herbalism is the first class in the practitioner Sequence. This is the class all practitioners and practice-minded students need to take. We use these techniques again and again in later classes and assume you know the steps for these basic skills. This is the class where we teach you to do it the right way for this field. If you'd rather a simple sample, if you want to taste the flavor, try a Quick class, or a weekend event. 

    The intro class is offered 2-3 times a year. Can't wait? That's fine; the Intro classs is also offered  online  .


  20. Commence

  21. How do I get started?

    Read some of the articles online. If you're hungry for more, sign up for a class. Watch the Events page for lectures and gatherings in different parts of the country. (Register for events with the event host.) From time to time there are free lectures. Pick a Saturday class that piques your interest - come alone or with a friend. Call or e-mail the Webmaster or the Director if you're unsure where to start. When you're ready to commit?  Register for a class.





chuck and Giant Moa

A Word on Certification

Many herbal schools give certificates of completion or certification documents. In California this means literally nothing, as the state does not recognize herbalism unless practiced in conjunction with Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. The practice of alternative medicine is tolerated as long as practioners do not diagnose or make claims of cures.

For the current legal status of alternative and complementary medicine in this state please see California BILL SB 577 as passed by the legislature in 2002.

Students who complete several courses at this school receive a small leather medicine pouch in recognition of their efforts. Several former students have continued their education at other institutions, some are practicing healers, two are doctors, most use what they have learned to help family and friends.

If you absolutely need a certificate I would be happy to make one up listing the courses you took and presumably passed. If you sat like a lump, never asked a question, or fell asleep during one of the many fascinating lectures don't ask for a certificate.