Planting a Seed for Holistic Health

By Steven Libowitz   |   October 25, 2018

When Jacqueline Lopez and her life partner, Michael Russer, confronted his double diagnosis of cancer a couple of years ago, they made a whole series of drastic changes. Having seen the results in both their health and outlook, the couple have been eager to bring those benefits to the larger community. Under one or both of their leadership, Lopez and Russer have created Santa Barbara EntheoMedicine to bring speakers and cultivate discussions about the healing properties of psychedelic substances, and more recently began hosting Presencing Process events to encourage others to receive the enlightenment and freedom they’ve discovered through being immersed in the moment.

This weekend, Lopez is spearheading the Plant Food and Medicine Conference: “Eat Your Medicine,” which takes place 11 am to 5 pm Saturday, October 27, on the SBCC campus. The event features two keynote talks and six seminars on a variety of subjects all with the goal of help people discover how to create delicious Plant‐Based Nutrition and Healing in their own lives. In the keynotes, Santa Barbara chef Melissa Costello will share simple secrets to consistently make plant-based meals tasty and nutritious, while USC professor Jim Adams delves into the veritable pharmacopeia of unique medicinal plants available on the Central Coast that not only taste wonderful but also have powerful, proven therapeutic qualities. The latter subject is also closely connected to the seminar with Ojai native plant educator Lanny Kaufer, who will talk about the healing plants that can be found on local Santa Barbara trails, while herbalist Cheryl Fromholzer’s “Herbs – Nature’s Super Supplements” seminar will demonstrate a quick and easy way of extracting the valuable and healing mineral content from herbs for culinary use.

Dale Figtree, the longtime local nutritional health practitioner who healed from lymphatic cancer 40 years ago using an “empowered” diet after all traditional therapies were exhausted, will talk about how knowing the difference between a healthy diet and an empowered diet means enabling the deepest levels of the body’s extraordinary ability to self-heal. Similarly, D.A. Metrov, Bragg Live Food Products multimedia director, will share how he saved his own life from terminal prostate cancer through plant-based nutrition, exercise, and mental discipline. Rounding out the seminars are medicinal cannabis expert Liz Rogan sharing the most effective way to use the cannabis plant and its many extracts to heal specific health conditions, and essential oils expert Lily Rozhko discussing how plant-based oils are valuable for physical wellness support, emotional health, and more.

Admission to the conference is $30 for the six-seminar series, or $45 for the seminars plus keynote talks. Complete details, speaker bios, tickets, and lots of information and links to plant-based websites are available online at

Kaufer, Continued

Lanny Kaufer, who has spent four decades teaching people about edible and medicinal plants and regularly leads Herb Walks and Nature Hikes in Ojai and Santa Barbara, has created a new event of his own in his hometown. The inaugural Ojai Herbal Symposium on “Natural Resilience” slated for November 16-18 will present respected experts, authors, and speakers from across the spectrum of modern herbalism, pharmacy, integrative medicine, Oriental medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and Chumash healing. Classes will be accessible for both professional and non-professionals alike, and begins with an opening blessing by Chumash elder Julie Tumamait-Stenslie and a keynote address from internationally recognized phytochemical researcher Dr. Kevin Spelman.

Amid talks by USC’s Adams, herbalist Sandy Messori of Rivendell Aromatics, licensed acupuncturist and medicinal plant specialist Dr. Fred Siciliano, integrative oncologist Dr. Mary Hardy and Mela Gaskins Butcher, founder and director of the Center for Ayurveda, and others, are more participatory events including yoga, a medicinal garden tour, an herb walk with Kaufer, a public herbal marketplace, and even a “Phytotherapeutic Phunk Dance and Elixir Bar” of of-age attendees at Greater Goods in Meiners Oaks.

Registration is $255 through Friday, November 9, and $285 after. Visit or call Kaufer at (805) 646-6281.

Song Circles: Healing through Rhythm and Voice

Longtime Santa Barbara vocal coach Sloane Reali is teaming with renowned percussionist and sound therapist Nacho Arimany for a special three-hour workshop surrounding the concept that there is no sound as powerful and healing as the authentic human voice. But to unlock that voice, people generally need to feel safe and strong. The two leaders will take participants on a journey to discover the pure bliss of combining vocalization with basic rhythm, pulsating together with hearts and voices united to move toward healing. 

Activities include fun body percussion exercises that engage the body and brain to let the voice unfold naturally, melodies created by the group that will access a deep sense of wholeness, exploring the transformative and healing power of the voice, and allowing the pulsating rhythm to drive you toward your deepest desires, and how to unleash the power of your voice, explore your natural rhythm, and feel the joy of expression.

The workshop, which costs $55, takes place 10 am to 1 pm this Saturday, October 27, at Center of the Heart, 487 North Turnpike Road. Details and registration online at or

Anima Instincts

Anima is billed as “Ritual Theater of the Feminine Underground” – but in my world, the description should follow a three-letter prefix: spi. For while the performances by the dozen or so women who participate in the periodic events work in such genres as dance, song, music, monologue, poetry, and acting, the pieces are as much about spirituality as theater. I have yet to fail to be greatly moved by the depth of the performances, the bravery of the artists, and the clear connection between not only the people on stage but also those in the audience whose witnessing gives the works more meaning and power. And that’s not even mentioning the utterly evocative and eloquent introductions by founder Lisa Citore, the self-described “pleasure activist” and intimacy coach who curates, coaches, and nurtures the pieces along over a period of weeks or longer.

The timing of earlier performances happened right after mass shootings and at the dawning of the #MeToo movement, giving the events extra emphasis. Joining Citore on stage for the fifth evening of Anima, which takes place at 7 pm Thursday, November 1, at Center Stage Theater, are Cybil Gilbertson (whose own organization, Nectar, just celebrated its 10th anniversary), Noell Grace, Melissa Lowenstein, Yamaya Duby, Aurora
Rose Wesman, Samantha Bonavia, Teagan Rose, Justine Sutton, Hannah Brothers,
and Carolin Hauser. Tickets cost $23 general in advance, $28 at the door. 

Awakening Creative Warrior Workshop

Citore is also the co-leader with Melanie Hutton of a one-day immersion this weekend into claiming the creative warrior to discover a freedom and power to live the most inspired, expressed life possible. Is your inner voice telling you there is more to life than this? Are you working a job you don’t absolutely love? Are you longing for more creative play in your life?

Would you like to feel deeper meaning and fulfillment? If those questions intrigue, you might get great value out of this 10 am to 8 pm workshop on Sunday, October 28.

Activities during the full-day immersion focus on Five Qualities of the Creative Warrior: Conviction, Courage, Intuition, Trust, and Wisdom. Through body-centered practices, writing journeys, and group inquiry and sharing, participants will activate a deeper experience of their own creative aliveness. Participants are invited to boldly stand in your path of desire and let the facilitators guide you on a personalized journey of transformation, exploring the qualities of the warrior in service to your soul’s longing, in a safe, powerful, supportive environment, at a private mountaintop retreat.

Melanie Hutton, M.A, is creative catalyst and self-mastery facilitator at Innertegrity, a coaching and consulting practice dedicated to assisting people discover their creative inner brilliance and joy. She is also a singer-songwriter who has produced three commercially released albums as well as live events. Citore is the creator of the Awakening Your Feminine Fire series for women and has an extensive background in tantra, shamanism, and goddess practices. For more details and registration, visit or 

Death and Popcorn

Yoga Soup’s movie night screening of Harold & Maude on Friday, October 26, is more than just a chance to take in the 1971 American romantic black comedy drama directed by Hal Ashby while enjoying a healthy helping of free farm-to-table popcorn. The beloved film that delves into the relationship between a young man who is obsessed with death and a 79-year-old woman who teaches him about living the precious life to its fullest also serves as a precursor to a post-screening discussion about death, aging, grief, and love to follow. Admission to the 7 pm event is by donation.


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