Connecticut's School of Herbal & Energetic Studies


Our Amazing Teachers

Often turned to for field expertise regarding fungi, Zaac Chaves guides people through realms in which the details matter immensely. Zaac's greater research compassionately seeks out least-harm approaches to bioregional livelihood. As an extension of this approach Zaac rides his bicycle to work, practices a vegan diet, and maintains a waste vegetable oil fueled car. Employed as a detail-focused naturalist, Zaac performs botanical field work, writes, and interprets historic research. Zaac currently serves as an administrator on the board of the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association and has been honored by the Explorer’s Club regarding his epic Transtaïga bicycle journey.

Chris (Painted Turtle) Harris comes to us with the wisdom of Native Ceremony and is willing to share the teachings as he lives them in his spiritual life. He is a member of the Mohegan Tribe of Indians and although he spent time at Indian ceremonies as a young boy, he started paying attention to the lessons of the Red Road 25 years ago. He has a strong belief in our connection to Mother Earth and simply shares what he lives.

Chris (Painted Turtle) brings his years of experience and Native wisdom to Twin Star for a variety of classes and events throughout the year. He teaches 'Honoring the Four directions' in the Foundations in Herbalism class.

Tina Hartzell, Reflexologist & Twin Star Office Goddess

Tina started on her healing journey in 2008 when she serendipitously signed up for a Reflexology class. Her intentions of simply learning the technique in a few hours immediately grew in to a passion. After 300 hours of coursework/study, 100 hours of hands-on experience and a rigorous exam, she became a Certified Reflexologist. She has since taken courses in Meridian Therapy, Jin Shin Jyitsu, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy and Reiki – all modalities that enhance her Reflexology skills. For the last 3 years she has been studying herbalism at Twin Star and shortly after her studies began she felt called to work with the Magdelene energy to consciously contribute to the healing of humankind. All her skills combined translates into an “East meets West” common sense approach to healing. 

In addition to keeping busy with her practice, Tina loves to travel and arrange tours to Central America and Southwest France. She lives in Gaylordsville, CT with her husband and 3 children and believes this corner of Connecticut is truly magical!

Carly Hilliard, LMT, Yoga Instuctor, Herbalist, Energy Healer

Carly Hilliard is the founder of Terraloka Massage and Wellness in Kent, CT. She is a licensed massage therapist, yoga teacher, herbalist and a reiki master. She studied massage therapy and bodywork at Kirpalu Center for Yoga & Health. Carly spent a year and a half volunteering in the SAVA program at Kripalu and as well as the Omega Institute. During this time she attended many workshops and programs in different healing modalities. Her passion for herbal medicine started when she was just seventeen years old after visiting a local herbalist and introduced to herbs and energy medicine.Since then she has formally studied at Twin Star Herbal Education and has completed over 500 hours of training in Herbal Medicine and her love and passion for herbalism has deepened. Carly teaches reiki and energy medicine in all it's many forms. She has devoted her life in helping others transform on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Her intention is to guide others to deepen inner awareness and love for themselves so that they can fully heal.

Shelley O'Neil MD is a family physician from Denver, CO who has been drawn to healing for as long as she can remember. In fact, she feels that she has had many past lives as a midwife, shaman and a healer in different capacities. In 2014 she left her practice and transplanted to the East Coast to study grass-roots herbalism with Twin Star. She has had so much fun that she decided to stay for a while! She has also successfully completed the first year of a two year certification in Eden Energy Medicine and is looking forward to participating in a Plant-Spirit Apprenticeship with Pam Montgomery in 2015. She brings her expertise and enthusiasm to teaching the Anatomy and Physiology portion of our Foundations in Herbalism class.

Deana Paqua, MA, LMT is a spiritual teacher, holistic health educator, shamanic healer, and reiki master in practice for seventeen years. She is also an adjunct professor at Westconn in the Health Promotion department. She has worked closely and trained with local and indigenous shamans for over twelve years, and been initiated multiple times into the healing traditions of the Andes and Tibet. She provides spiritual and holistic health education for healers, empaths and spiritual seekers, so that they can transform trauma, pain and loss, and empower themselves and their gifts to make a difference. Deana provides classes, healing sessions, and training programs specializing in shamanic healing, reiki and holistic health education. For more information about Deana, please visit her website at

Herbal Medicine Farmer and Herb Justice advocate Benjamin Schwartz of White Pine Community Farm. White Pine Community Farm was established in 2008 with a mission to address food justice issues both locally in Dutchess County and in New York City, specifically in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Food justice means many things. To us, it means increasing urban/rural solidarity by bringing our educational programs to the city, and bringing the our community from the city to the farm. It also means addressing the inequities of our food system by increasing transparency and access, becoming an educational resource for our community where everyone feels they are part of the family. For more information visit wassaiccommunityfarm.

Ilana Sobo works as a community herbalist, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Yoga Instructor in the Greater New York City area and Fairfield County CT. She has spent over 14 years in the fields of Ayurveda, Yoga and Herbalism and has work with &apprenticed for several of the pioneers in Botanical Medicine & Ayurveda in the US. She also has unique apothecary training spanning over 10 years and regularly compounds tinctures, salves, essential oil blends, teas and flower essences for her local community. Ilana also formulates organic customized skin care, essential oil perfumes and medicinals through her healing project Shakti Botanica. She is available for consultations and classes on Ayurveda, Yoga and herbology by appointment, visit her at