ARTS/West, 132 W. State St., is known for holding a wide variety of classes for residents in the area. Now, the people of Athens can get educated on uncommon ways to better their health and spirituality.
Raridon, who uses they/them pronouns, initially began their career as a political organizer. Raridon became sick during their work and started using tumeric to improve their health. They continued to study herbalism and healing with plants over the past five years and ultimately created the organization.
The class will be held at ARTS/West on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There is no fee to attend. However, there is a $10 to $20 suggested donation for the class. In addition, all participants must wear a mask.
Raridon said they wanted to make the class easily accessible to residents and not charge a fee for attending.
“It’s important for me to have educational offerings that don’t have a cost barrier for folks because herbal medicine is people’s medicine,” Raridon said. “And it’s important that folks know what resources that they have, especially when they have difficulty getting care.”
The two-hour class will discuss medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane and shiitake. Raridon will demonstrate overall health benefits as well as an experimental group excercise. Participants will decipher what mushroom to use for a specific scenario. In addition, Raridon will prepare a reishi mushroom tea for the class to try.
Raridon said they chose to use mushrooms in the class because the plant represents vitality and is very powerful to one’s physical and spiritual health.
“Mushrooms as creatures are amazing,” Raridon said. “This idea that this mushroom can be supported deeply to the immune system, deeply to our spirit, is something that I’ve witnessed with my own body as something that’s been really … beneficial, especially in times of stress.”
Erika Galentin is a clinical herbalist at Sovereignty Herbs, 7247 N. Coolville Ridge Road. The organization’s motto is “plants change lives,” with its mission being to provide herbal education and wellness coaching in the area.
Galentin said this class is a great opportunity for residents to gain plant education in the area.
“It is wonderful and inspiring to learn how we can help ourselves, and our bodies using tools like medicinal mushrooms,” Galentin said in an email. “Having classes like this being offered to the residents of Athens is empowering to our community and supportive of community health and wellbeing.”
While medicinal herbs and plants are not traditional medical treatments, Galentin does not refer to them as “alternative medicine,” because its function is the same as traditional medications.
“Herbs, like nutrition and movement, are tools for wellness,” Galentin said. “And all people should have access to the tools they need to forge their own wellness journey.”
Galentin also emphasized the importance of education on medicinal herbs and plants and the importance of users not to solely rely on them for health treatments.
“We must get away from the idea that herbs or medicinal mushrooms are going to fix things for us, like pharmaceuticals or surgery can,” Galentin said. “It needs to be accompanied by nutritional and lifestyle practices that also support our wellness.”
Raridon agreed in combining Western medicine methods and herbal and plant medicine. They also emphasized how people of different economic and geographical backgrounds have different options than others.
“If there’s a way we can support our health and well-being in addition to what is offered in those settings, I think it’s really important that we have options and we know about them,” Raridon said. “It would be great if everyone had access to what they needed, no matter what social position they were in.”
Raridon said there may be people who are skeptical of these medical treatments and that different people will have different experiences depending on their own bodies and spirits.
“Just try it yourself, and see what you notice,” Raridon said. “Ultimately, the real proof is in trying it for yourself and just seeing how that sits for you and your body.”
People who are interested in the class can register here.