Jeanne' Berger attended her first renaissance festival in 1981. She had become something of a workaholic following the loss of her mother, the homestead and a divorce. In her search for a new beginning, an invitation to The Maryland Renaissance Festival sounded most intriguing, and proved to be that and more...
She was deeply moved by the spirit of the grounds and the festival. Through that experience, she came to know that she was destined to be a massage therapist. "I had the place and I had the purpose to heal."
In January of 1982, Jeanne' began her training at PMTI. That year, she met PMTI alum Marianna Frantz. They created Her Majesty's Healers and began work at the Festival in August 1983 "with a vision, a wing, a prayer...and a lot of chutzpa". [Marianna later left to devote more time to her private practice but has returned on occasion.]
Her Majesty's Healers was founded on five elements: healing, community, money, education, and fun, all in balance. "I define success as a balance between [the 5 elements]," Jeanne' explained.
Their work has been received well from the beginning. Each session is a creative work of art. There are a few "standard" treatments. The work can include anything and everything they can think of, including music, poetry, fruit, fans, bells and energy work. One therapist sings lullabies while teaching infant massage.
Jeanne' loves "crafting something new from my whole body of knowledge and experience."
Jeanne' admits that she "weaves the line between massage and performance". She integrates mythology, poetry, music, and bodywork. Her biggest inspiration is the space in which she works. "The power of 'place' is the epitome."
Working outdoors brings some challenges, though. "We are open rain or shine." She teaches people how to be successful in every weather condition.
Sometimes the therapists work one-on-one with the client. Somtimes they offer treatments that include 2, 3 or 4 therapists working together.
How does Jeanne' manage all of that? "If your had an orchestra leader who led a full complement of musicians, at times they would be playing together and sometimes you would have 2 or 3 instruments." Thats how she coordinates things.
In finding therapists for her team, she's primarily "looking for those really seeking community and family, where they can create in a very safe place." She asks "What would the world be like if we were more concerned about what we have to offer than what we have to hide?"
Given the way Jeanne' uses so many different kinds of work together, it's not suprising that she advises massage therapists to get as much continuing education as they can. "Try a new flavor of things," she advises. "Learn something completely different. It will renew you. You have to shift into something a little different and bring that back in [to your work]."
Jeanne' has taken Thai Massage several times times, as well as courses in aesthetics, aromatherapy, spa therapy and lymph drainage. But her time at PMTI was foundational. "My experience there is one of the highlights of my life. I tell everyone about PMTI. I think I chose the best school."
How does she keep doing this after 22 years? Jeanne' explains that she is fed by her work as much as she feeds people through her work. During the off season she works as both a massage therapist and a dental hygenist. But for Jeanne', returning to the festival is returning home. "My real work is 'Her Majesty's Healers'."
"Her Majesty's Healers" is now the place Jeanne' calls home. She truly believes in the power of the place and experiences it as "the place where I could come from my center, explode with unlimited creativity and become a magnet to attract others to heal and love in my nature and nurturing garden."
"I'm having the time of my life."