Jillian Hyllantree Twisla

IMG_20200510_192631_2 (1)I am a clinical and community herbalist, an ancestral healing practitioner, and a heart-centered ritualist inspired by the traditions and practices of my ancestors. I’m also a parent to three young children, a lifelong animist, and a teacher with 13+ years of experience guiding folks into deeper relationship with plants and other spiritual kin.

Primarily in my work I see myself as a guide, witness, supporter, and ally to my clients on their journeys of healing, reconnection and empowerment.

My work is deeply resourced by my ancestors and guides and I work from a place of co-creation with them to develop coursework and to hold effective session space. My people are mostly from Ireland, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Latvia and include displaced Jewish lineages most recently from Berlin.

I identify as queer and use they/them and she/her pronouns. I live on the traditional lands of Wabanaki people in what is colonially known as Maine.

My work, beliefs and values
My work has developed as a response to what I see happening in the lives and wellness of the people around me in this lifetime. It has come together based on what I see lacking in our current cultural paradigm and what I’ve found as remedies or antidotes to those needs. There are many antidotes in the world, and through my work I offer a few.

It’s my understanding that much of people’s pain and unwellness is due to a felt sense of disconnection. Disconnection from their own bodies as well as from other humans; disconnection from spirit and from a sense of belonging to a larger network of life and inter-relationality. One of the remedies I work with for tending this wound of disconnection is the development and validation of an animist perspective. Through developing a deeper understanding that all beings are living, and that all beings have spirit, we come to realize that we are in constant relationship. Over time, between reclaiming an animist perspective and learning the histories of our own people and the stories of how we came to be where we are, we can reconnect with a felt sense of belonging. We are constantly held and supported by the network of life and ancient ancestors, and all of our actions have effects on other beings. The development of this perspective teaches a maturity of both relationship and responsibility, and fulfills a deep human need for intimacy. The introduction of journeying practices and other ways to communicate with other-than-humans can be profound towards personal healing and emotional steadiness and is central in my offerings.

IMG_7573Another key component that I feel is culturally lacking for many people in this time is the practice of ritual, and of sharing conscious witnessing to one another’s experiences. Ritual is important and beneficial around times of physical birth and death, yes, but ritual can also be highly beneficial for times of healing, transformation, times of breaking down and letting go, of rebuilding, of renegotiating our needs, wants and identities, in essence, all of the metaphorical moments of birth and death through our lives. These moments are benefited by non-judgemental witnessing and are more clearly fulfilled through sacred acknowledgment. Ritual and witnessing allows us to move more fully through thresholds, with consciousness, thoroughness and grace. Ritual is a foundational piece to much of my session work and courses.

Foundational to the process of reconnecting with self, body, other humans and other-than-humans or spirit kin, is the development of personal empowerment and building a trusting relationship with intuition. It’s something that many people are socialized to suppress, yet it’s deeply helpful for navigating safety and intimacy in relationships and for becoming an emotionally healthy and capable adult. Developing a faith in the deep wisdom of our own bodies, in our ability to navigate the world and to care for ourselves, and in the presence and realness of our spirit supporters allows us to come to full presence in our lives and supports our wellness on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level in a way that nothing else can.

Over the years of seeing clients as a clinical herbalist, I’ve seen more and more clearly that when I suggest herbs to help with specific ailments it might be helpful and empowering for folks, but when I bring in a deeper level of energetic awareness and spirit connection, I see the deepest and most profound changes occur. It’s from this experience that I’ve come to focus my practice on the energetic and spiritual layers, and on getting to that deeper, transformational healing whenever possible.

I do not consider myself a healer, and do not believe that it is my place to heal any other being. I see myself as a guide, and honor my role by holding safe and supportive space, respectfully, for others to do the healing, releasing or transforming that they are ready for. Similarly, I do not feel that my role as a teacher is fulfilled by lecturing or solely transferring information to others so much as it is by inspiring and empowering others to explore, experience and grow in their own way.

I believe in the importance of humility and honesty in the work of any practitioner or teacher, and I am always aspiring to more deeply understand and fulfill the various roles I am invited to fulfill in my community.

My path around healing and spirit work began really early. I was very young when I remember spending time and conversing with other-than-human kin and not-living humans and learning from them about the world. As I grew up and left home, I began looking for other people who shared an interest in spirit connection and plants. My path took me all around North America, Europe, a little into South America, eventually to Australia (Bundjalung land) and then finally back home to the traditional lands of the Wabanaki people here in Maine. In my travels I learned from folk healers, herbalists, ayurvedic practitioners, naturopaths, doctors, traditional shamans, and some just plain good people. I pursued training in a naturopathic program in Australia for three years which gave me a good foundation in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and other medical sciences. I left before the final year of that program after falling in love with plant medicine and realizing that I didn’t actually want to practice as a naturopath. I spent a couple of years in the role of General Manager at a small herbal company in midcoast Maine, but left when I realized it’s not my calling to manage a business either. I gave birth to two children and adopted a third, and found that becoming a parent deeply impacted my focus and my practice on all levels. For the last 13+ years I’ve been teaching, supporting clients, and pursuing my heart-and-soul-work.

IMG_7827I’ve received mentorship in herbal medicine with Dr. Sue Evans and Cathy Avila, in astrology and intuition with Kwah Wa’Adabi, in teaching and gardening with Deb Soule, in astrology with Jenn Brown, in European shamanic practices with Evelyn Rsydyk and Allie Knowlton and in permaculture with Lisa Fernandes and Jesse Watson. I’ve received mentoring and have achieved certification in ancestral lineage healing with Dr. Daniel Foor. Dr. Pavini Moray has also been a mentor for me with ancestral healing work. Some particularly influential teachers I’ve learned from in shorter courses or teachings and through their published work include: Stephen Harrod Buhner, Joseph Campbell, Fredda Paul, Pam Montgomery, Caroline Myss, Sharon Blackie, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Matthew Wood, Karyn Sanders, Mary McLaughlin, Jessica Lanyadoo, Robert Hand, Sandra Ingerman, John O’Donohue and Tom Cowan among surely many others unnamed. I have also had the benefit of learning from dozens of herbalists, shamanic practitioners and healers of many kinds at various conferences and through colleagueship. I am deeply grateful and indebted to them all and pray that my work be a gift from all of them, from my ancestors and guides, from myself, to my students and clients, and that many beings benefit from this ongoing web of sharing.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman