Morningstar Healing Arts: Ancient Wisdom – Modern Medicine

Howard W. Morningstar, MD, Sue Morningstar, WHCNP, and their daughter Aja Morningstar, MD are Morningstar Healing Arts, offering preventative, acute and chronic illness care at their integrative family medicine practice in Ashland. The Morningstars combine the best of both worlds, ancient wisdom-based healing along with up-to-date modern scientific medicine.

In today’s interview I had the pleasure of speaking with Howard, Sue, and Aja to learn about their extraordinary lives and partnership here in the Rogue Valley.

Hi Sue, Howard, and Aja, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today! To begin with, congratulations on the great work you have done in our community over the course of so many years. The scope of work that the three of you cover is truly amazing.

Thank you, Shields! Although we have been serving our community since 1996, we realize that some people newer to our valley may not be familiar with us, and so we are excited to introduce ourselves and our unique medical practice to all.

My first question is for Howard, and that is to ask you about the original vision behind the creation of Morningstar Healing Arts here in Ashland, Oregon.

Our vision started decades ago when we were young hippies living off the land and studying natural wisdom-based healing in Wolf Creek, Oregon. Sue was a midwife attending home births in the spiritual tradition of Ina May Gaskin, and I began studying herbal healing with my beloved teacher Rosemary Gladstar.

My first exposure to healing arts was when, as an undergraduate at Harvard majoring in Folklore and Mythology, I became entranced while studying the magical healing techniques of Siberian shamans. When we arrived here in 1981, it was natural for me to connect with local healers around me in the back corners and wilds of the Siskiyou Mountains.

As we got deeper into this sacred work, Sue and I both realized that we could vastly expand our abilities by studying modern medicine and midwifery, and offering what we had learned to the wider community. Without realizing it, we were setting ourselves up to be pioneers in what is now known as “integrative medicine.” So, with this in our hearts and minds, we dove into intense study at Yale University Medical School and School of Nursing and trained, myself as a family doctor, and Sue as a certified nurse midwife, before returning back to Ashland very eager to manifest this dream.

Sue, you and Howard go back a long way. Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Howard and I have been blessed with an epic romance that started when we were best friends at age 3 in nursery school. Ever since then we have shared our hearts, dreams, and visions. We’ve been married for 46 years, and have worked together as healers for over 31 years. We are further blessed with the “unreasonable grace” to have our two children and their families living close by in Ashland, where we can enjoy seeing them and cavorting with our five grandchildren.

I have spent over half of my life in a “sitting meditation.” From this I have learned to cultivate awe and gratitude and find joy in whatever life may throw my way. I can only hope that these lessons are transmitted through my presence to those around me, helping to create healing and wholeness for those whom I am blessed to touch.

Howard, as you and Sue moved forward in your lives together, you two came to some very clear insights of how you wanted to serve the world together.

Sue and I have been thinking outside the box since we were very young. Although we were raised in a very traditional middle-class environment, we soon realized that this civilization is not sustainable in the long run. So, when our daughter Aja was an infant, we outfitted a school bus and headed to Oregon in search of a better life. We lived on a commune and dedicated ourselves to a simple “back to the land” life, where we had the vision of working to do our part to transform and heal the world. Here we found our core gift and offering: the work of bringing traditional earth-based healing wisdom into modern awareness and medical practice.

The design of your building is a space created with vision, mission, and purpose. Please tell us about the thought and intentionality that went into creating such a powerful healing space.

We decided to create a nurturing, healing temple, inspired by Native American tipi design and sacred Kabbalistic sacred geometry that offers a safe, transformative, and loving space for our patients. We built a modern medical office building that is filled with natural light, plants, and beautiful artwork, designed to uplift your spirit even before you enter the front door.

Aja, five years ago you joined your parents at Morningstar Healing Arts. You yourself are a medical doctor and have brought with you over ten years of your own experiences. What has it been like for you to join your parents and to work as part of this dynamic trio you all create together?

I feel so blessed and lucky to be a part of this team. It has actually been a really easy transition. It feels like home. When it’s right, it falls into place. It’s really great to see what we can learn from one another.

Since I grew up close to the earth, in nature, using herbs and natural healing has been second nature to me all of my life. I’ve witnessed my parents’ joy in service, and wanted to participate in this sacred journey with them.

Sue and Howard, you all have worked very hard in the community for a long time. What is it like for the two of you to have such deep connections here in Southern Oregon?

It is amazing to drop in and really know the nuances of our unique Ashland community. Over the years, we have developed third and fourth generation connections with our patients and their families.

A big part of family medicine is knowing when and where to refer people when they need specialty care. We’ve developed trusting connections with professionals of every type, from neurosurgeons to homeopaths and everything in between, so that when one of our patients needs more than we can offer them, we know the best place to send them.

Please talk about the values of your practice together.

These days medicine is becoming more corporate and industrialized and often feels mechanized and impersonal. We are self-employed in private practice, and so we answer only to our patients. We are here above all to serve you. We know that when you are sick or hurting, you want to get relief as soon as possible. And so we leave space in our schedule every day for same day appointments for urgent matters. We decided long ago to participate in Oregon Health Plan, Medicare, and most private insurance plans so that we can offer our unique blend of healing arts to all.

Howard, can you please give us an overview of the services available at Morningstar Healing Arts?

We offer all of family medicine, except for obstetrics, from the day after birth until the end. We offer wellness and preventive visits, skin cancer checks & minor office surgery, care of acute illnesses and injuries, lifestyle coaching, nutritional counseling, in-depth herbal medicine, sexual and intimacy counseling and spiritual counseling. We also provide integrative care of chronic illnesses of every kind. We do most of our work in person, but since Covid, we also offer telemedicine visits when appropriate.

We are so grateful that we have attracted the highest quality staff to help us fulfill this sacred mission, people who are kind, intelligent, compassionate, who get to know our patients over the years and really care about them.

Sue, please talk about your practice.

As a women’s health care nurse practitioner, I specialize in gynecological health in all phases of a woman’s life, from puberty to elderhood. From a young woman’s first pelvic exam to menopausal symptoms, from hot flashes, osteoporosis, sexual concerns to contraception options, I offer women and girls a listening heart and compassionately address health care needs. I have watched young girls reach adulthood over the years and have had the unique opportunity of serving three generations of the same family, which is such an awesome privilege.

After I was ordained as a rabbi, I trained as a spiritual counselor and offer spiritual guidance for people going through times of pain, loss, and grief.

Aja, what other services do you provide?

I am board-certified in both family medicine and integrative medicine. This means I know what works, what may not work, and what may be harmful from various disciplines, whether herbs, supplements, pharmaceuticals, body work, or energy work. In addition to full spectrum family medicine, I also offer gender-affirming care.

Howard, where do you and Sue get the tenacity to do what you do?

A powerful question. Our work is not only our livelihood but also a spiritual quest. Every quest involves a question, and the question here is: “How do we give our gifts to the world? And how do we make a difference during this time of world crisis?”

I feel our work is a sacred prayer and vision of the healed world we want to create in reality. And so, our energy flows naturally into this work as water flowing downstream. As much as we give, we receive that much more, and that’s what sustains us. It’s an understatement to say that this work energizes us.

What do you love most about the work you get to do?

Howard: I love my connection with our patients, the window into their hearts and souls is a gift and an offering that moves me to my core. It’s such a blessing that we have manifested livelihood that is also our spiritual path.

Sue: My fascination with the miracle of birth and women’s health began at age 6, when I convinced my mother to breastfeed my baby sister. Since then, I have been living the dream of that little girl, to assist women in reaching optimal vibrant health throughout the life cycle. My work as a spiritual counselor answers the call of my soul, as I try to lead a life led by compassion and deep listening. And one of the absolute highlights of my professional career occurred last week, when Aja and I saw a particularly challenging patient together! As a Mom, my heart was overflowing.

Aja: I love caring for whole families, from young babies to great grandparents. It is my very great privilege to partner with my patients on their healing journey. I want my patients to feel heard, valued, and that they have a partner in navigating the healthcare system. My role is to give information and advice. Your role is to make decisions. I most love helping people achieve their healing goals.

Howard, what is the process for becoming a patient of Morningstar Healing arts?

We are looking for patients of all ages, genders, and circumstances that resonate with our healing philosophy. We invite you to visit our website at, and if you feel that resonance, call our office at 541 482-2032 to schedule a no-charge “meet and greet” conversation with one of us to see if it is a good fit.

In conclusion, are there any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers today?

Healing is a harmonious state of balance and is a natural process. Simply treating symptoms, while sometimes needed, is like unplugging the oil indicator light on your dashboard because the light is annoying. It’s usually best to uncover and remove the causes of illness and obstacles to healing. We look at environmental, genetic, cultural, psychic, and energetic causes of physical manifestations of disease.

We offer our patients the range of choices available, and help them choose their unique pathway to healing. We enter into a therapeutic partnership with you as you journey towards wholeness.

Thank you so much, Shields, for giving us the opportunity to share our healing philosophy with our community. May everyone be blessed with the best possible health and well-being, now and always.

Learn More:

Morningstar Healing Arts

534 Washington St, Ashland

(541) 482-2032

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