About

My Way To Medicine Making

I make Herbal Medicine. If you ask one of my siblings, they’ll tell you I’ve been an herbalist since I was a kid, placing soft lambs ear on skinned knees to make them feel better. I didn’t realize plants were in important part of my life until I wasn’t living on land and missed having that connection in my early twenties. 

Then a lot of things happened at once. A combination of illness and inspiration pushing the direction I thought my future was going from a future as a veterinarian with an art practice on the side, to this life today. A life that integrates plants and art into the fabric of my life and work fairly simultaneously. In so doing, the magic of nature that carried me into science and healing came back, my health trailing along behind it.

I make Art Medicine. Art is medicine because it shapes culture, because it moves our emotions, because it can teach us about ourselves or others. My art practice is a medicine practice because my interest in healing in central to my art. I am not a healer— I am not doing that work for anyone except myself. The healing that happens within my web happens because you are healing yourself, often in connection to plants.

I make Herbal Medicine. If you ask one of my siblings, they’ll tell you I’ve been an herbalist since I was a kid, placing soft lambs ear on skinned knees to make them feel better. I didn’t realize plants were in important part of my life until I wasn’t living on land and missed having that connection in my early twenties. A lot of things happened at once then. A combination of illness and inspiration pushing the direction I thought my future was going from a future as a veterinarian with an art practice on the side, to this life today-integrating my work with plants and art into the fabric of my life fairly simultaneously. In so doing, the magic of nature that carried me into science and healing came back, my health trailing along behind it.

I make Art Medicine. Art is medicine because it shapes culture, because it moves our emotions, because it can teach us about ourselves or others, and because it can be a way of letting go. My art practice is a medicine practice because my interest in healing in central to my art. Sometimes the art is the object, sometimes it lays in the process. 

 

I am not a ‘healer’ because I am not doing that work for anyone except myself. The healing that happens within my web, happens because you are healing yourself, often in connection to plants.

A lot of my practice developed organically. Through observation practice, collecting, growing medicine making. Careful observation is at the heart of my life and my work on all levels. And some of my biggest learning comes from my direct relationship with the plants and the incredibly special places I call home. 

That being said, there are a few people who deserve mention These people have met me along this path of life, and our knowing each other has moved my life and my work in a new direction, supporting me in working closer to my heart. 

The first is Pam Majauskas, she taught me how to ride horses, and how to ground deeply to make them feel safe. My work with horses lays the groundwork for my capacity to read people and energy and stay with myself in the process. Thank you. 

The second is Nanette Yanuzzi Macias, my undergraduate art advisor. She believed in my art work and made room for it to grow, challenging and supporting me. Nanette helped me recognize the role healing plays in all aspects of my work, a meditation that continues to unravel before me with time and always has a sliver of her voice in it. Thank you. 

The third and fourth are karyn sanders and Sarah Holmes of the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine, they weren’t my fist herb teachers, but they are the ones who brought me deep into the heart of it, showed me the way plants and human energy moved together, and gifted me the tools to become a clinician, holding me tightly along the way. Thank you. Thank you.

I love teaching and have been teaching in different contexts most of my life. I have a depth of experience teaching undergraduates, children, and adults alike.  I push my students to trust themselves and their own intuition, while supporting them to build practical knowledge and experience with the plants in scientific, magical and creative ways.  My interests within herbalism span topics such as nature connection, physiology, chronic illness, ancestral connection, and the intersection health, privilege, and oppression. I teach at the Community Medicine Cabinet reguarly and have also taught at Oberlin College, The Firelands Association for Visual Arts, the Northern California Herbal Symposium, Gathering Thyme School of Herbalism, and The California School of Herbal Studies.

It is not always helpful to hear the alphabet soup of people’s identities. If that is not your thing, feel free to skip this section. Still, I find that it can be helpful to understand a bit about how I walk in the world and where I come from to answer questions about my art practice, my perspective, or, as herbal client, to answer the question ‘will this person be able to see ___ about me?’.

For those of you who want to know…

My full name is Madalyn Sarena Peratoner Berg. I am a queer, spanglish speaking Latinx woman who grew up in Marin County. My grandparents are from Colombia, Italy, and modern day Ukraine. I am the oldest of six. I have been impacted by abelism most of my life, and while I am healthier today, I have walked through the world with invisible disability  and chronic pain for a long time. As a second generation American, my colonization of this place is recent and feels palpable, as does the colonization in my own mixed lineage. Additionally, my family’s relationship to land ownership has gifted me unearned priviledge. Alongside these other identities, this leaves me squarely in the middle of a swarm of selves that beget both privilge and oppression. I see it as part of my work to leverage the privilige I do have.

I acknowledge the land where I live and work as occupied Southern Pomo territory. I grew up in unseeded Coast Miwok land. I acknowledge that this land is stolen land. Native communities are still here- still in community, still in connection to this landscape. 

I want to acknowledge that I, as someone who has never lived on the land of my deep ancestors, cannot fully understand the importance and power of living on ancestral lands in relationship to an ecology that your recent and deep ancestors also tended and lived alongside. It is with grief that I acknowledge ways our political machine of the US creates cultural, land and life loss for Indigenous Americans to make room for both settlers and profit. I feel a parallel pain from the impact of colonization on my Colombian ancestors. 

I believe that land acknowledgements are only as powerful as they are heartfelt. I offer gratitude to this place for supporting and nourishing and teaching me. I offer thanks to Madre Monte, indigenous elders, and science based ecology for teaching me about right relationship to land. I don’t offer this acknowledgement to absolve myself of perpetuating colonization on this landscape, rather out of respect. I know the intersection of land ownership and indigenous sovereignty is a place I have a lot to learn and I am listening.