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Topanga stories

the green witch Herbalist, gardener, teacher and healer, MARYSIA MIERNOWSKA, combines her expertise to create wellness products at her WILD LOVE APOTHECARY in Topanga. INTERVIEW BY ERIN CASTELLINO PHOTOGRAPHY BY BUNNI WYLDEFLOWER

What is your background, Marysia? While I have a multicultural and diverse educational background, a common thread in my life has been a passion for understanding how people and places relate – and how to heal some of these relationships. Perhaps it was moving from Poland to the US as a young child and growing up in various languages and cultures that opened my curiosity to how we relate as humans to each other and the natural world. This inquiry has led me to travel and study internationally. It brought me into the field of architecture and intentional community design, landscape design, biodynamic farming, permaculture, activism, herbalism, shamanism and ultimately back to the folk healing ways taught to me by my Polish grandmothers.

Marysia Miernowska at Wild Love Apothecary

Upon leaving Northern California and my work with the Cohousing company in Nevada City, I taught Spanish and Art at a ski academy in Northern Vermont, where I lived in the woods and had more plants then people to talk to. It was then, in a period of seeking to deepen my relationship to forests I lived in, that I found and began studying with Sage Maurer at The Gaia School of Healing & Earth Education in Vermont. My apprenticeship brought me back to my own lineage of herbal medicine and opened me up to deeply healing, soulful and magickal relationships with the Earth and plant spirits. When I moved to Los Angeles a few years later, I fell in love with the Santa Monica mountains and began creating sacred gardens for retreat centers and private homes, with the intention of creating beautiful sanctuaries for people to connect with the plants and with nature in a way that enhanced the vitality of the drought ridden ecosystem. While I loved working with my hands in the soil, I noticed a great need in LA to create more bridges of connection between the land and the people. I was seeing that our mountains were struggling and asking for loving relationship with people that would tend the wild; and many of the people I was helping as an herbalist were suffering from a lack of nourishment, groundedness and rooted connection to the Earth. I opened the California Branch of The Gaia School of Healing & Earth Education in 2014 and have been training herbalists and leading people of all backgrounds on the 10 month Sacred Plant Medicine Apprenticeship ever since. Last year, I partnered with Jesse Eidsness, a graduate of The Gaia School, to open Wild Love Apothecary. We shared the dream of creating a space with opportunities for the people of Los Angeles to connect to the medicine and magick of our mountains and to the nourishing tradition of herbal healing. We wanted to bring “the village witch” back to the center of town, and to bring back the old pharmacy where folks could come in and talk to a trained herbalist and receive the remedies they needed; to support them through anything ranging from a respiratory infection to grief weighing on their heart. It has been such a blessing to open the apothecary and to offer this to our human and plant communities. Tell us more about what you do. I am the director and California Branch of The Gaia School of Healing and Earth Education. I take students on a 10 month long Sacred Plant Medicine Apprenticeship that is both a course in medical herbalism, as well as a spiritual journey deepening relationship to Self, Spirit and the Earth. I also offer Regenerative Earth Action Plans for property owners, farms and estates who seek to develop a sustainable relationship with the land they steward. This work is such a passion of mine, since I see first hand how we can garden in a way that builds soil, creates a soil sponge, holds water, feeds the small water cycle, sequesters carbon and actually is shown to help reverse climate change and heal the drought ridden land. I teach some of these practices with Linda Gibbs, a Gaia graduate, permaculturist and Kiss the Ground soil speaker for our Gaia Rhythms course – we are passionate at doing what we can do educate the people of Southern California about the difference they can


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