Jason Harler

I grew up in various places along the coasts of California, the Pacific Northwest and up into Alaska in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. As a very young boy I was always most at home in these old forests, beaches and wild places and I’m grateful to have had such freedom and unmediated spiritual access to them while I was so young. As kids, my identical twin brother and I created our own worlds, languages and spiritual beliefs which always placed us as integral players in a vast cosmic play within Nature as magical beings with healing powers. At a very young age I knew I wanted to be a healer and believed it was my destiny.

Along with my early belief in my healing powers came a strong creative ability. Creating beauty as an artist and being a healer were one in the same for me. Being an entrepreneur, an artist and healer became my chosen path by the time I was in high school and I started my first business at 18 after I apprenticed with a tailor after school for a few years.

Back then, knowing the healing properties, folk stories and preparations of plants was a deeply personal and spiritual path while my professional goals launched me into fashion design, painting, film making and performance art. I had small and successful companies working in these areas throughout my 20’s in Seattle during the late ‘80s and into the late ‘90s.

By that time, yoga was becoming bigger than running as a “fitness” movement and I began to feel strongly that the world might be ready for some goodness, beauty and healing of a specific kind so I sold my advertising and film production company called Evolution Engine, and took over a year off to sail and vision a new direction for my life. During that year, I wrote a business plan for a place that combined aspects of a remote retreat healing center in nature, yoga center, performance space, restaurant, boutique hotel and public baths and that would be beautifully designed, sustainably conceived and programmed with the brightest lights of the wellness and cultural worlds. I called it the Center for Integral Living and eventually through sheer luck and grace I was able to sell that business plan to a visionary hotelier named Andre Balazs and become a key part of his development team. Many twists, turns and years later I opened that place in 2005 as The Standard Miami Beach and it still exists to this day as a deeply healing and beautiful respite from the world for those who know it. I also received a street level MBA in hotel management and business development in the process.

After a decade of my life creating and managing hotels and nearing 40, I decided it was time for me to downshift my life and focus on more spiritual and deeply creative pursuits so I left Miami and went on the road for several years. I designed a few more hotels and bath houses as a consultant. I began an apprenticeship in laboratory alchemy and spagyrics, deepened my lifelong commitment to my practices within the hermetic arts, became an astrologer and eventually I started a new business called American Medicinal Arts. AMA is my umbrella company and is a means for me to further explore the frontiers of the arts and sciences of medicine making, healing arts of all kinds, ethnobotany, storytelling, hospitality, and transformational program design. As AMA, I’m also hired to create all natural skin and body care products for boutique hotels and private clients, design spas and bath houses and create wellness programming that merges performance art and the healing arts.

In 2012, I chose to settle my life in a tiny town on a river, both called Trinity, in Texas, where I live within a small permaculture food forest with my great loves and teachers – my partner, my lab and garden, and my studio. In 2014, I opened a little art, herbs and product shop here in Trinity called Leadbelly Elevator. I’d like to expand my offerings to include a monthly free herb clinic for the locals. I’d also like to pursue apprenticeship in acupuncture once I finish my classes at East West.

I’m nearing 50 years old now and I began my course studies at East West when I was 45. I chose East West because of the integrity and wisdom of Michael and Lesley, and because the program focuses on the great global herbal traditions. To me, the syncretic nature of the EW program is uniquely hermetic and totally Information Age all at once. I’m honored to have been able to study here with such great plant people and such a powerful sense of community. It’s the community, after all, that has changed and inspired me the most – renewed my faith in what we can all be for each other when we live our truths.

These days, I feel I am forever at the edge of a vast ocean of possibilities which only inspires me to never stop learning and never stop creating. I’m grateful to have been able to live my life by the grace of my creativity and I love assisting others in finding their own true paths through the work I do.

It’s in these tense post-modern times that, when the polarities between beliefs couldn’t be stronger, everyone needs to be especially true and deeply creative with their lives. After all, within and without, we are our own Great Works of Art…

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is more people that have come alive.”
–Howard Thurman

Details of our work and projects can be found at www.americanmedicinalarts.com

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