Ancestral Apothecary school is dedicated to the study of herbal, folk and indigenous medicine.  For over 15 years, we have been committed to creating a learning community centered on people of color for the study of herbal medicine which honors the diverse cultural healing traditions of the Bay Area.

Ancestral Apothecary is the prayer and dream of Atava Garcia Swiecicki.  Atava has been studying holistic healing and herbal medicine for over twenty-five years.  She is inspired by the healing traditions of her Mexican, Polish, Hungarian and Diné (Navajo) ancestors and has been trained by western herbalists, indigenous healers and Mexican curanderas. Atava began teaching herbal medicine classes out of her home in Oakland in 1997.  She was inspired to share her love for plants with her community. She realized that teaching people a few basic herbal skills could make a huge difference in people’s health and wellness.

Over the years her classes grew in size and length until one day Atava realized that her back yard business had transformed into a school, which she renamed Ancestral Apothecary School of Herbal, Folk and Indigenous Medicine.   Her vision was to create an educational center that was centered on people of color where people from many different backgrounds could come together share their herbal knowledge and ancestral medicine.

The first regular ongoing classes at Ancestral Apothecary were the Curanderx Toolkit and Herbal Allies.  As the school continued to grow we added more classes and more teachers, and in 2016 we launched Cecemmana, our nine-month herbal training program. Currently Ancestral Apothecary is in hibernation as Atava begins a new chapter of her life in New Mexico. Atava is actively seraching for a new person to steward the school.


Ancestral Apothecary School was born of a dream and a prayer to create herbal educational spaces centered on people of color. Herbal medicine has always been integral to people’s resilience in the struggle for liberation and this moment is no different.  We believe in the power of plants and our ancestral medicine to help us heal individually and collectively from systemic racism and the impact it has had on Brown, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Color).

Every year we raise funds for BIPOC & QTBIPOC students who apply to our Cecemmana program. Cecemmana is a Nahuatl word that means to sprinkle and plant seeds on the earth. This program is dedicated to planting seeds in our diverse communities for future herbalists. This comprehensive training will provide students a solid foundation in the art, science & spirituality of herbal medicine from a people of color (poc)-centered perspective.