Jo runs popular herbal workshops and Magical Forest retreats throughout the year. To stay up to date with her latest events sign up to her monthly newsletter (at the bottom of this page).
“I just wanted to write and say thank you for hosting such wonderfully informative, relaxing and rejuvenating day for us all. Everyone felt so inspired by your way of life and your calm and beautiful approach to life. Each time I speak to one of the others we end up speaking about our herbal day with you. A walk in the countryside will never be the same again!! Once again, thank you very much.”
Herbal Medicine Workshops
Adrian and I have been running these lovely workshops on home herbal medicine using plants which we find in the forests, the hedgerows and our kitchen cupboards. In some respect, they are an expansion of my book, Secrets from a Herbalist’s Garden. We take our guests for a beautiful walk in the forest outside my home, and share the Celtic associations with specific trees, do a little meditation under the trees, and sing a little song or two. Later, we go back to my apothecary and we get involved in making home herbal remedies.
Magical Forest Retreats with Jo & Adrian
Jo Dunbar (Medical herbalist, Hypnotherapist & Druid) and Adrian Rooke (Counsellor, Celebrant & Druid), will use four key trees to journey through the seasons and cycles of the year. As you visit each tree during our retreats, you will learn deeply about each tree, and the tree will teach you deeply about yourself. Using druidic ritual, sacred singing, craftwork, traditional folk stories, open hearted sharing and meditations, we open ourselves to the energies of the forest and more fully to our life path.
Each retreat day is a stand-alone, however if you choose to do all four, you will find that travelling through all the seasons with a tree brings about a greater richness of experience.
Inspirations from Egypt
As many of you know, Adrian and I went on a Nile cruise earlier this year, and we were blown away by the land, the Nile, and the sacred sites; but perhaps the most noticeable thing about Egypt is the light. When you look at the ancient images on those temple walls, the sunlight is a major feature, and of course the Sun God, in all its aspects featured throughout the day in everyday life of the ancient Egyptian. The rising sun was celebrated with Frankincense, the noon sun with Myrrh and the setting sun with a mysterious blend called Kyphi. Every moment of the day in ancient Egypt was centred around the sacred, and the effort that they went to, to honour their gods is staggering.
We are basing our workshop on our Egyptian experience, with the Light being the central feature of our day together. Of course, we are not experts in Egyptology, but instead we are taking inspiration from Egypt, and weaving into our workshop day the fragrant essences which I brought back from Egypt, some of the Gods, and Egyptian oracle cards, so that together we can come into accordance with the vibrations of Love, Light and Life, and spread a little Light in the world.
When: Saturday or Sunday 17/18th of February
Time: 09h30 till 16h30
Where: Jo’s apothecary near Petersfield
Cost: £85.00 per person
Please contact Jo to book your place: firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Walks & Workshops
Strength of the Oak Retreat:
We live in a mad world, which is exhausting. The effect of stress on our health is profound, and in order to live sustainably, we have to learn how to use our minds, the gifts of nature, and herbs to calm our minds, restore our energies, and make our immune systems robust again.
We will begin the day with a druid opening ritual, and once we have all introduced ourselves, Jo will explain in some detail how stress affects our body, and we will discuss which herbs you can use to help to restore our cells, and therefore our response to viruses as well as building up resilience in a very busy world. We will also discuss how to eat, and we will share techniques about how we manage our energy output so that we can live well for a long time.
Since this workshop centres around the Oak, Jo will also tell you how the Oak literally heals our energy – it is an absolutely amazing story.
After lunch Adrian will talk about the properties of the Oak tree from the perspective of the ancient and modern day druids. We will visit a beautiful Oak, sit in her energy field, and meditate with her.
Skin and Hair Care Workshop:
This workshop goes beyond beauty, and focuses on using natural oils, herbs, and essential oils to heal and restore the health and quality of our skin and hair. We will discuss hair growth serums, how to grow long eyelashes, repair and reveal beautiful facial skin and hands.
Jo will introduce you to a selection of beautiful natural oils which heal and nourish both aging and youthful skin, and the scalp. Once you have learned the properties of each oil, you will make your own skin cream to take home. We shall make other products too, such as hair growth tonics, anti-dandruff serums, and gentle exfoliators to reveal youthful skin cells without being overly aggressive on the skin.
However, before we embark on our class room activities, we start the day with a short walk into the forest to reconnect with nature, as it is from nature that all these wonderful products come. As Druids, Adrian Rooke and Jo will introduce you to the Celtic celebration of Imbolc, and the goddess Brigit, who is associated with purity and healing. The snows of this time of year make it a season associated with purity, and the first shoots of spring suggest fresh youthfulness. Imbolc is also associated with the Birch tree – a tree with strong healing qualities, particularly for skin and hair conditions.
These beautiful skin care products will cost you pennies; they are easy and fun to make, they can be treasured gifts for special people. The gentle making and pleasure in using these products nourishes the mind, body and spirit.
Winter Remedies Herbal workshop:
We will take a gentle stroll in the forest, talking about the medical properties and folk lore of those plants which we come across, as well as the Druid associations of trees of the Ogham (the Celtic tree calendar). After lunch, Jo will show you how to use herbs and spices from your kitchen and garden to keep yourself and your family healthy over the cold winter months. You will come home with recipes to make your own home remedies for the winter.
Birch Retreat Day
The beautiful Birch is a tree associated with youth, freshness, detoxification and new beginnings. It is a bringer of Light after the dark of winter. Traditionally besoms are made with Birch twiglets, and these besoms sweep out dry old leaves, or negative beliefs about ourselves, old hurts and dramas which just need to go, in order to make way for a fresh new start. Then, she heralds in a bright new beginning for us.
In this workshop, we shall explore the traditions surrounding the Birch, and we create a little spell, where we manifest a brighter better year for ourselves. This is a joyful, creative and exciting time to dream and begin new endeavours.
Spirit of Yew & our Ancestors:
In the Celtic calendar, November is the time of Samhain, when we remember and honour our ancestors. The blood of the ancient’s runs through our veins, and we remember their courage, their struggle for survival and their loves, because without those efforts, we would not be here today, living as we do. The Celts and the Saxons planted Yew trees over their burial mounds and they believed that the Yew stood as a gateway to the world of those who have passed over. The Druids so strongly believed in the afterlife that even financial debts could be deferred to the “other world”. In this workshop, we remember and honour those who have gone before us, for we walk on the bones of our ancestors and stand on the shoulders of giants.
Workshop: Spirit of Oak
Adrian and I are thrilled to recommence our Celtic spirit of the forest retreats. The Oak is the King of summer, associated with the Summer Solstice. A generous protective hulk of a tree-being, we all love this noble tree, and many of us have leaned against his broad solid trunk when we have felt sad or weak. The Oak gives strength, but his Celtic name, Duir, tells us that it also provides us with a doorway into another level of being.
On this day we will explore how Oak can inspire your life. As always, we use sacred chanting, meditation, sharing, and spending time under the branches of this lovely tree.
Workshop: Early Spring (Imbolc). Spirit of Birch.
We begin our journey with Birch, the Lady of the Woods. According to the Celtic tree calendar, Birch is the tree of January, and has traditionally been used magically to sweep out old stagnant energies, and draw towards ourselves a fresh new start.
It is the natural order of life that all things of nature will grow. There is always increase. But in order to increase, we need to lose. The Birch, each year will grow greater in size, but before she grows, she must lose her leaves, for the leaves are old and they have done their job. Thus, in winter, she sheds her leaves, and her life force descends into the Earth. You could say that she reconnects with that from which she has come – her Source. She takes time over the winter to nourish and replenish her life force, and in the spring, she vigorously responds to the irresistible urge to grow and expand.
In the winter months, we too can withdraw from the outer world for a little while and reconnect with our life purpose. Our retreat will focus on shedding and sweeping away that which is outworn, and incubating new plans for the spring surge of energy. Our goal is to manifest our life’s purpose.
Workshop: Spirit of Elder Tree.
Elder (known by the Celts as Ruis) was deeply respected by our ancestors who did not dare to cut or burn elder because they believe it was associated with the great mysteries. This tree is very generous to human beings medically as magically, and we shall be learning something about Elder magic and medicine to take home for your own kitchen cupboards.
Workshop: Spirit of Willow.
Mysterious Willow (known as Saille) is associated with creative flow, the Goddess and our inner femininity. She is related to water and the moon – so we consider the tides of our lives. The taking in and the letting go. As her tendrils dip through the water surfaces, we understand how she helps us to see beyond the obvious, seeing through the reflection that normal life presents us, to the deeper meaning of our life circumstances.
Workshop: Spirit of the Forest
Working with the trees of Celtic Ogham, which the druids of old created using the wisdom of the forest, we spend a beautiful day together connecting with the Dryad (spirit) of the forest.
Through guided meditation and tree oracle cards you will journey to meet and communicate with a special tree. Later in the day, you will spend time in the forest meditating alone with your special tree.
Tree communication can help us to understand some of the currents swirling in our own lives, or the tree may ask us for help. The wisdom we gain from the tree helps us to access some gifts which can add to or direct us on our life journey and offer upliftment of spirit. Everybody’s experience will be special and unique to themselves, and you may find that this experience will have profound effects on your life for years to come.
This is a day of remembering our relationship with the spirit of the forest, and of nature and our mother Earth. We use meditation, walking with the trees, chanting, druidic ceremony, and the openhearted sharing with others to lift our spirits and move forward more clearly in our lives.
Workshop: Birch – An exercise in release and manifestation – sweeping out of the old and heralding in of the new
The Birch teaches us determination in making a fresh start, and also the courage to give of ourselves for the benefit of the whole forest.
According to the ancient tradition of these lands, Birch is the tree of January, and used magically to sweep out old stagnant circumstances, and draw towards us a new beginning.
Working with the spirit of Birch, we have an active day of ritual and spell working, where we ritualistically throw off those aspects of our life which we no longer need, making way for a fresh start. In the afternoon, we learn the composition of the art of manifestation, and then we put that into action for our own futures, making sure that it is in the best interests of all concerned. Most importantly of all – we visit a grove of Birches, to physically connect with the energy of those beautiful trees.
Workshop: Deeping our relationship with the ancestral realms, through the spirit of Yew
Adrian and I are really excited to present this retreat, and already loving our time as we make our preparations for this day. Working with the spirit of Yew, we shall develop a relationship with the immense qualities of this mighty tree which is so traditionally linked to the ancestral realms. As a group, we shall explore the struggles and challenges that our own ancestors had to face, so that we develop a deeper relationship to their lives, which ultimately gave birth to our lives. We will also deepen our understanding as to how the hurts and mistakes of previous generations can manifest through ancestral memory within our own lives. Through ritual, we will send healing back down the ancestral lines in order to free ourselves and future generations from these burdens, and to allow our ancestors to rest in peace. As part of our retreat day, we are going to visit a venerable Yew which is several thousand years old and living in a churchyard within the beautiful hills of Hampshire. This little 13thC church is said to have been gifted to King Henry VIII by Catherine Parr.
Nature Spirituality Workshop: Working with the spirit of Ivy
Each one of us was born to bring a unique gift to this world. You might call it, your special light, which if you choose to let it shine, you brighten the world with the joy of your unique expression of the life-force. Yet so often we hold ourselves back from seeking or expressing that light. Invisible ropes bind and smother our creative expression – lack of confidence or lack of self-esteem, old messages from long ago, a feeling of modesty, fear of taking the chance, or even the fear of asking for support from others.
Ivy is a plant which seeks to rise above the forest in search for its light, but can restrict the growth of its partner trees. Working with the spirit of Ivy, we focus on identifying that light which we wish to find, and also if there are ropes which bind us. We also look at the aspects of the natural elements that we need to strengthen in ourselves to make it happen.
This workshop is about manifesting your life. Anything is possible – you just have to clearly identify your goal, believe in yourself, and have the courage to take that first step.
This is a wonderful gentle and life changing day of celebrating nature and your own life path.
Home Herbal Workshop – Candida yeast overgrowth
Candida is a yeast which normally grows in our gut, but can overgrow and cause health problems such as thrush, brain fog, headaches, abdominal bloating and flatulence, and debilitating fatigue. We shall discuss why people develop this yeast over-growth, and how we can control it through diet, herbs and spices in your kitchen, and easily available essential oils.
We invite you to reconnect with Nature and your roots on this day retreat celebrating our connection to the land. During a gentle stroll along the hedgerows of Hampshire, we shall talk about the medical qualities and folk-lore of the wild herbs and trees that we come across. We shall meet and meditate with The Green Man, and as a group, create a wild animal oracle. With stories, song, and group sharing, we will brighten our rooted connection to this beautiful land which supports us and go home with hearts filled with Light and Love.
Home Herbal Workshop – Dealing with arthritic pain
Bone on bone pain is nagging and unrelenting, often only relieved by pain killers or surgery. However, if the arthritis is not too severe, herbs, food and food supplements can be used to significantly alleviate the inflammation and promote the healing of damaged tissue, which in turn massively reduces the need for painkillers, and/or delays the need for joint replacement surgery. We will also be discussing gout, pseudo-gout, and discuss the more complicated rheumatoid arthritis and what can be done to slow its progression. We shall make a pain killing rub, anti-inflammatory herbal infusion and discuss an anti-oxidant rich, anti-inflammatory diet.
Home Herbal Workshop – Adrenal fatigue and burn out
Jo will explain what Adrenal Fatigue is, why people develop it and how it affects your body. We will discuss life-style advice and how to eat in a way which significantly supports your recovery. Learn which herbs can help to restore health and how to use them most effectively.
Workshop: Hawthorn – Tree of the Heart with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
The ancient Celtic celebration of Beltane is the celebration of love, and centres around Hawthorn flowers – the tree of the heart. On this special day retreat, we explore the medicinal properties and the wonderful magical folklore associated with Hawthorn. Within a small group, we discuss the fascinating power of our hearts, and how each cardiac cell holds precise memories and emotions – even when transplanted into another human being. We acknowledge that the heart generates its own electromagnetic field, which can influence others. Haven’t you noticed how you are drawn magnetically to the warmth of certain people – even if you don’t know them? And we journey into the sacred chambers of our own hearts, where we have the opportunity to heal if we need to, or have a conversation, or simply bathe in the exquisite love of our heart centre. Using druidic ritual, singing, meditation, magical elixirs, sharing and kindness – this workshop will warm your heart and open it, like a flower in early May.
Home Herbal Workshop – Headaches and Brain fog
This month we shall discuss the various causes of headaches and what is commonly known as “brain-fog”. Hormone imbalances, stress, neck strain, liver congestion, constipation and the wrong flora and fauna in our colons can all contribute to the above symptoms. We shall discuss safe and effective home remedies, and, also when it is more appropriate to see a professional.
Stress and Anxiety Workshop
We shall discuss a variety of safe and effective herbs which can be used to calm stress and anxiety and to bring about restful sleep. Learn how stress affects the body and can damage your health. Learn how you can use food and herbs to balance the stress hormones and restore yourself back to health. Learn which herbs are deeply relaxing to allow for a deep sleep; and lightly relaxing so that you can use them during the day but not feel sleepy.
Workshop: Imbolc & Birch with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
Many years ago, Adrian had a grocery shop, which he had tried for ages to sell because he wanted to work as a counsellor instead. No-one would buy it, and finally he decided to try some Druid magic. He arrived early one morning and performed a Druid ceremony, which began with casting a circle amongst the cabbages and cauliflowers, sprinkling the circle with water from the sacred island of Iona and burning sage as incense. He then opened his heart and begged to be set free. The ritual was done, he cleared the space and got on with his day.
The following morning at 6am, he arrived at the fruit market to purchase the day’s produce and was accosted by a salesman who had just been made redundant and wanted to buy a grocery shop. Ten days later the contracts were signed and Adrian was free. And thank goodness for that because he has since helped thousands of people in addiction recovery and has run many much loved Druid rituals and workshops. We shall be working together on a new series of Magical Forest workshops this year – the first, working with the spirit of Birch and Imbolc – sweeping out the old and making space for that which we want in our lives.
In early February, we see the very first signs of spring, and some of us celebrate Imbolc, which means “ewe’s milk”, or “in milk”. It is the time of new beginnings, but also the time of the Spring Clean.
Birch twigs have been used for millennia as brooms to physically and symbolically sweep the house clean of cobwebs and unhealthy ‘energies’. Birch sap has been used as a spring cleansing tonic, and its leaves detox our blood, and introduce anti-inflammatory constituents into our body to alleviate arthritis and stiffness.
In our Birch workshop, we use Druidic ritual to sweep out the old and create our new beginnings for the year. Imbolc is a very good time to confirm and consolidate plans for New Year’s resolutions, and usher in new plans for our new and better lives.
Home Herbal Workshop – Liver Detox and Support
We shall discuss the concept of liver congestion and why it is so important to keep our lives healthy and the bile free flowing. Very important in this process are liver supporting foods, and also herbs which clean and strengthen the liver, and then there is the liver cleanse – a fairly complicated process made easy after our talk.
Home Herbal Workshop – Supporting your immune system
In this workshop, you will learn about a variety of immune boosting herbs, and which herbs and essential oils we use for the bacterial or viral conditions. I will also tell you about very effective kitchen remedies using foods which you will find in your vegetable tray. You will learn the various approaches to treating a cough.
Workshop: Blackthorn and Yew with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
We begin our exploration of the Magical Forest at the time of the Celtic celebration of Samhain, which honours the ancestors, death and transformation, and the beginning of the Celtic year.
Powerfully associated with Samhain is Yew – the tree of graveyards, sacred sites, poisons, ancient druid groves and The Other World. This is a tree which can live for thousands of years, and to the ancient Druids, it represented our transformation from life to death and to life again. Today modern day Druids value working with Yew as an opportunity to turn and face death in order to reach a deeper understanding of the choices that we can make, so that we can deeply enrich own life experience.
Our modern word strife is derived from “Straif”, the name for Blackthorn in the Celtic tree alphabet called the Ogham. Each sound represents a tree, which has a specific meaning. Straif represents a time when black fate has crossed your path, and there is no escape. Our retreat considers what we can do to survive when the darkest, most malign and inescapable influences strike our lives.
This retreat deeply considers both trees and their influences related to our human lives. We shall use Druidic ritual, re-enactment, sacred singing, meditation, and creativity to open up to these two most mystical trees which feature so powerfully in the dark half of the year.
Workshop: The Summer Solstice – The Mighty Oak and The Blasted Oak with Jo Dunbar & Adrian Rooke
Combining a day of Druid ritual, deep connection with ourselves and the plants of the hedgerow, we shall celebrate the Summer Solstice with stories, meditations, songs and herbs.
The ancient Celts called the Oak, Duir (doorway). The Oak tree is the Summer King of the forest who is the doorway to another world, or level of existence. They turned to the strength and power of the Oak for the courage and inspiration needed to embrace new possibilities.
The Blasted Oak represents The Tower in the tarot. When lightning strikes the Mighty Oak, its proud crown explodes and the imagery represents those times in our lives when our world is blown apart.
This day retreat explores how The Blasted Oak affects our lives and how we can work with The Mighty Oak to move through the doorway from a life torn apart to one regenerated with fresh growth. It is a workshop which connects deeply to the iconic Oak, and through this connection reveals our hidden strengths and courage as we transmute our challenges into triumphs.
We shall also explore other hedgerow herbs such as St John’s Wort, Mugwort, Melissa and Vervain. These herbs can bring light and joy into our lives, and in this way, we open our hearts and lives to the joy of the sun at its zenith of power both in the outer world and in our inner landscape.
Workshop: Beltane and Hawthorn – exploring the power, passion and pain of being fully open to love and life with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke take us on a journey along the Celtic Wheel of the Year to the merry month of May and the ancient celebration of Beltane. This is the time when love fills the hedgerows and the Gods and the Goddesses come together in the Greenwood marriage bringing fertility to the land.
The sacred tree we shall focus on this time is Hawthorn which is truly a tree of the heart. Hawthorn is a boundary tree, one of bridal petals and thorns – in this workshop we explore our boundaries, the power and the passion as well as the pain of love, and the graceful acceptance of change. We shall also connect with the Celtic Gods and Goddesses of this period in the Wheel of the Year.
Beltane was always a time of bonfires and frolicking in the woods and the meadows. In keeping with this noble tradition we shall discuss some herbal aphrodisiac potions. As always there shall be stories, joyful song and chanting, meditations and working magically with our sacred Hawthorn.
Workshop: The Spirit of the Hedgerow with Jo Dunbar & Adrian Rooke
Using druidic ritual, stories, sacred singing and the ancient Celtic Ogham (Tree alphabet), Adrian Rooke and Jo Dunbar, bring us deeper into contact with the magic of the wild wood, and the spiritual power of our native trees and herbs.
Venturing into the magical forest can open us to a deeper understanding of our own lives and may help to navigate through the entanglements of our personal journey.
Talk: The Spirit of the Hedgerow with Jo Dunbar & Adrian Rooke
Jo Dunbar, author of Spirit of the Hedgerow, Medical Herbalist and Druid and Adrian Rooke Pagan celebrant, Counsellor and Druid present a fascinating talk at the College of Psychic Studies in London. The talk explores how pagan folk interacted with the physical and spiritual aspects of the forest in the pre-Christian era, and how we can bring the magic of the wild wood back into our lives today.
Spirit of the Greenwood with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
Jo Dunbar, Medical Herbalist and Druid and Adrian Rooke, Counsellor and Druid celebrant, facilitate this wonderful day during which the magical and physical connections humans can have with the forest are explored. Humans always take from nature; but on this day we focus on the spirit of the forest, paying particular attention to what we can offer in service to the forest.
The workshop includes beautiful ritual, talking about the sacred Celtic trees and their lore, guided meditation to hear what the sacred tree has to say to us. Later in the day, we talk a journey into a wild and untouched forest where we spend time alone with our chosen tree. There is chanting and drumming and through The Music of the Plants device – we hear a tree singing back to us.
Workshop: Working Magically in the Forest with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
The energies of nature are sinking deep into the earth now. The leaves have been shed and the seeds are under a warm layer of leaf mould, incubating over winter. So too the sap and energy of the great oaks have descended down into their roots, safe in the dark earth. Pregnant badgers and foxes are underground in their warm lairs, nurturing their young ones. As we follow the energies of nature, we will use this day to sink deeply into our own psyches, exploring which aspects of our lives we are ready to shed, and which seeds we wish to incubate safely in our hearts, ready to grow when the time is right. This is a day of meditation, working together with each other and the spirit of the descending seasonal energies as well as spending time in the forest connecting to the sacredness of our inner and outer landscape.
The modern Still Room with Jo Dunbar
This is a charming day where we follow the footsteps of the lady of the manor into her stillroom. We talk about how she would have used the herbs from her physic garden and the local countryside to make a variety of supplies such as healing salves, cough mixtures digestive liqueurs and more. A light hearted hands-on day enjoyable for both men and women.
Birch and the Spring Equinox – the tree of new beginnings with Jo Dunbar and Adrian Rooke
We begin our journey through the seasons with Birch – associated with new beginnings. We shall explore the energies which Birch brings to the forest and to our lives – such as sweeping out of the old and pioneering new beginnings. Birch is a tree associated with detoxification and a bringer of Light and Love, so we shall make a brew of detoxifying hedgerow herbs and use meditation and traditional stories to strengthen our Light Bodies and spread universal love. As usual, there will be sacred singing and druidic ritual as part of the day.
For information on herbal and druid workshops, lovely herbal recipes to make at home and the latest scientific research into plant medicines, join this monthly newsletter.