July 2 – 9, 2011

Plant Spirit Medicine℠ Training Course

Session One

with Alison Gayek & Eliot Cowan 

My training and years of clinical work have convinced me that the overwhelming majority of our health problems, of all kinds – our physical health problems and our mental and emotional health problems – are caused by pain in our hearts, our spirit, and our soul. — Eliot Cowan

What is Plant Spirit Medicine℠?

Humans and plants have lived together for countless generations. We are family. Our plant relatives are generous and helpful, offering us food and medicine. Like us, plants have spirit, and their spirit can nurture and heal us. Plant Spirit MedicineSM brings us into balance and harmony. It is the shamans’ way with plants. A millennial practice known to all peoples, it was rediscovered in the West by Eliot Cowan, and has proved just as effective in today’s world as in times past.

Who teaches this course and how did it come about?

The Plant Spirit Medicine℠ course is taught by Eliot Cowan and Alison Gayek. The course was developed by Mr. Cowan, who also authored the book, Plant Spirit Medicine. Eliot has been teaching, leading healing retreats, and maintaining a private practice for many years. He began to study and practice herbalism in 1969, then temporarily set it aside to study acupuncture. He received his Licentiate, Bachelor and Master of Acupuncture degrees from the late J. R. Worsley at the College of Traditional Acupuncture, Leamington Spa, England, and served on the faculty of that institution in 1979-1980.

In the early 1980’s, Eliot once again turned his attention to herbal healing. Following a recommendation by Dr. Worsley, he began seeking the guidance of the plants themselves to support the healing of his clients. In this way, Eliot rediscovered the ancient shamanic practice of plant spirit medicine.Eliot has continued his healing work through the traditions of the Huichol people of Mexico. He completed his shamanic apprenticeship with the late Don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, an eminent Huichol Indian Shaman.

Alison Gayek has been teaching Plant Spirit MedicineSM with Eliot Cowan since 2002. Always looking for the path that spoke to her heart, Alison found herself reading Plant Spirit Medicine in 1996 and immediately knew that she would study and practice this healing modality. She began studying with Eliot Cowan in 1997 and graduated from the PSM course in 1999. Since then, Alison has maintained a strong effective PSM practice. As a teacher, Alison teaches the PSM Practitioner Training Course, graduate clinicals and skills courses, and also works to teach, mentor, and support new graduates as they start their own practices. In addition, she is a qualified clinical consultant and provides clinical consultation for students and graduates. Alison has continued her healing work through various pilgrimages with Eliot Cowan and David Wiley. She is a Granicera -- a Weather Shaman -- in the Nahua tradition indigenous to Central Mexico.

The Plant Spirit Medicine℠Course

Classes consist of 8 one-week teaching sessions spread over approximately a year and a half, with substantial practice and home study between sessions. The Plant Spirit Medicine℠ Training Course is a serious course of study that prepares students for a vocation as a Plant Spirit Medicine℠ spiritual healer. Like any viable profession, it requires a good amount of learning and work. There are no prerequisites. Any student who dedicates him or herself to the work will have the preparation necessary to begin a practice and help others.

Currently we have reserved the following dates for the classes:

Week 1 July 2-9th, 2011; Week 2 December 11-18th;

Week3–8 TBA For more information please email us at psminfo [at] bluedeer [dot] org

The Plant Spirit Medicine℠ Training Course is organized as follows:

• Weeks 1-4 are dedicated to classroom study of Plant Spirit Medicine℠.

In these weeks, participants develop the capacity to understand what a client fundamentally needs as well as the skill to provide it. Students learn about Chinese Traditional Five Element theory, relationship with plant allies, basic shamanic methods, and developing a practice.

• Weeks 5 and 6 are clinical weeks where you present clients under the supervision of Eliot Cowan and/or Alison Gayek.

• Week 7 is dedicated to following treatments given by your teachers in order to give you the grounding and experience necessary.

• Week 8 is a time for you to lead the treatments under the guidance and careful watch of your teachers, preparing you to work on your own.

When students complete all 8 weeks successfully, they will be eligible to become full members of the Plant Spirit Medicine Association, and be inducted as lay spiritual healers of the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing.

Participating in the Plant Spirit Medicine℠ program brings personal value and healing to the participants. It is an engaging course of study. Some people have found that this program has helped them to find and follow their life purpose.

Chinese Five Element Methodology The five element methodology is one of the most enduring of the classical oriental philosophies, having stood the test of centuries of use. It invites us to view the world as a cycle of transformation of the energies of sunshine, earth, air, water and growth. It allows us to see people in a deep, even poetic, way, rekindling our senses and expanding our capacity for empathy.

Shamanic Methods

The medicine of plant spirits comes from building friendships and alliances with them. You will learn how to enter non-ordinary states of consciousness (not drug-induced) in order to apprehend the medicine of the spirits of different plants.

Materia Medica

Students visit a number of local wild plants and befriend the spirits of those plants. You will learn the method for expanding and refining your plant spirit materia medica with the plants that grow in your own area, enabling you to bring the appropriate plant spirits to each of your clients.

Practicum Participants will hone their assessment skills and learn about treatment planning and healer-patient relations. At the end of the course, each participant will perform treatments under Eliot Cowan’s or Alison Gayek’s supervision, demonstrating their understanding of the Chinese pulses and other aspects of traditional five element assessment, and the clarity of their relationship with their plant spirit allies. Students will then follow treatments, allowing them to acquire grounding and confidence in the practice of Plant Spirit Medicine℠. During week 7, you will have the opportunity to follow treatments performed by your instructors. In week 8, you will lead and deliver the treatment with the teacher following you. After you complete these weeks, you will work on your own. During the initial period of working on your own, you will be required to work with a clinical consultant to ensure your confidence in the medicine.

Course On Learning

All students will be required to complete a course called The Enemies of Learning. This course develops the flexibility of mind necessary for effective learning in the PSM course and beyond. There will be a separate fee of $500.00 USD for this course. The instructor is Daniel Sprinkles, a shaman in the Huichol and Nahua traditions.

Temple of Sacred Fire Healing

After completing the clinical requirements, students will be eligible to be inducted as lay spiritual healers in the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing. This induction provides students with legitimacy, credibility, and recognition within society.

Plant Spirit Medicine Association

In addition, students who have satisfactorily completed their course work and clinical supervision will be eligible for full membership in the Plant Spirit Medicine Association, a professional association dedicated to the support and practice of Plant Spirit Medicine℠.

For first hand accounts and more about the reality behind this transformational, yet gentle healing see the book Plant Spirit Medicine by Eliot Cowan (1995, Swan Raven & Co). To order a copy, visit http://www.sacredfirecommunity.org/sfc/marketplace/plant-spirit-medicine. You can also order the book from Amazon.com.

Tuition Costs

The cost of the course is divided between tuition, room and board, and two one-time fees. The costs are:

• A one-time non-refundable registration fee of $300.00.

• The cost for the course is $1700 per week. This fee includes tuition,

room and board for 7 days and nights, and other associated costs.

• There is also an additional one-time fee of $500 USD for the Enemies of

Learning Course.

You can register for the course by clicking "Register" on this page, or by calling the number listed. You have the option of using a credit card or sending your payment by mail. It is recommended that you register as early as possible because numbers are limited to 25.

You can pay for the entire course at the beginning or pay the balance for the week one month before each session. The costs for the first session are due two months prior to the start of the program.

In addition, all students are strongly encouraged to receive PSM treatments from their nearest PSM healer by the end of the course. Costs of treatment vary from healer to healer. To locate your nearest healer, see the relevant section below. Please note that neither Eliot nor Alison give PSM treatments during the course except where the client is referred to them by the client’s local PSM healer. Exceptions are made when the student does not have a PSM healer who lives within their state or close by.

Conditions of entry into course

This course is potentially life-changing, so be prepared for personal growth! No previous clinical, shamanic or herbal experience is necessary. You may feel a desire for or commitment to professional healing work and for giving back something of yourself to the life that sustains us. As previously mentioned, you are strongly encouraged to have received PSM treatment before completion of the course.


Alison Gayek

Alison Gayek has been teaching Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan since 2002. She began studying with Eliot Cowan in 1997 and graduated from the PSM course in 1999. Since then, Alison has maintained a strong effective PSM practice.

Eliot Cowan

Mr. Cowan is best known for making accessible two treasures: the indigenous Huichol shamanistic tradition of Mexico and an approach to deep healing with the spirits of plants.

Details & Pricing

The course consists of eight one-week sessions spread out over approximately two years, with substantial practice and home study between sessions. Future trainings:

Week 2 December 11-18th; 
Weeks 3–8, To Be Determined

The cost per session is: $1700. There are several initial program fees as well. See "Tuition Costs" above.

This course is presented by the Plant Spirit Medicine Seminary of the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing. No prerequisites.

Graduates will be eligible to become full members of the Plant Spirit Medicine℠ Professional Association, and to receive certification as lay spiritual healers of the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing.