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ROSEMARY GLADSTAR

We are honored to introduce our first edition with a conversation featuring one of the most important living wisdom keepers of Nature, Rosemary Gladstar.

Known as the “Godmother of American Herbalism”, legendary Nature lover Gladstar teaches us that plants are portals to an encounter with our innate wholeness. 

As the founder of the Traditional Medicinals, Sage Mountain Herbs, The International Herb Symposium and The New England Women's Herbal Conference, Gladstar has connected us with the green wisdom of Nature through her brilliant writings, teachings, symposia, study courses and herbal formulations.

Alongside leading the herbal renaissance, Gladstar has been a revolutionary figure in shifting the culture’s awareness toward the preciousness of plants. She has pioneered ecological sustainability in the herb trade through the establishment of the non-profit organization and Hildegaard’s 1% for the Planet partner organization, United Plant Savers. 
 

 
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Rosemary, you exemplify a person who has translated their reverence for Nature into a brilliant life’s work. Can you please tell us about your Love of Nature and how this has shaped your journey? 

I’m not sure there’s any way to separate my love of Nature from myself, or who I am, or what I do in the world.  It is everything I am, that we all are, really. But sadly, so many people are disconnected from themselves ‘as Nature’ and that has caused an enormous disconnect with our relationship to the Earth and the universe we are one with.  When I walk out my door and engage all my senses in the Natural world around me, I am at peace and at home. I feel my aliveness and so so deeply reverently in love with this world of Nature.  When we love something with all our hearts, when we are impassioned by it, we will do everything we can to preserve it.  That love has been what has inspired me all my life and driven me to accomplish the things I have. 


When I am feeling hopeless and helpless, which I suspect we all do now and again, all I have to do is turn to Mother Earth/Nature and she reminds me of how powerful and strong, ancient and wise she is. She also directs me and reminds me there is always work to be done, and to get busy! If I stay busy and do the work she’s assigned me to do, then I trust I am doing my part.  And, really that’s all we can do. 

Can you please describe an aspect of the natural world that has had a significant impact on your thinking?

I feel very fortunate, because I grew up on a small farm in Northern California. Surrounded by hills, fields of wild plants, the tantalizing scent of the Oak Madrone forests and magnificent temple like Redwoods, I grew rather weed like and free. I would lay in the fields as a child naked in the sunlight, surrounded by wild oats and tall grasses, and looking up at the sky I would pray that when people looked in my eyes, they would see a reflection of mountains, and meadows and wild places.   I wanted to be more mountain than human…. or perhaps a tree or a plant.  For me, like so many other ‘nature children’, the process of learning to be in human form this time around was the challenge.  

 

What is your earliest memory in the natural world?

I have two very distinct early memories of experiences of the Natural world and its impact on me.  The first was a dream I had when I was around 4 years old.  Its odd because I so seldom remember my dreams these days, but I remember this dream from nearly 70 years ago as if it was dreamt  but yesterday.   I am running, running joyfully through a large field resplendent  with  violets; violets everywhere, those deep purple violets that are so common and so beautiful.  The air round me is filled with a thick mist, almost a light rain, but more misty than rain. And I am just running through, over, and in these violets, through the misty world.   I’m not sure where I was going, except I had this distinct feeling that I was running homeward ~ coming home. 


My other early memory is of being on our farm, Wildwood Dairy in Kenwood, California.   I was maybe 5 or 6.  My brothers and I had gone into the woods in the late afternoon and we were heading back home through the fields where the cows were kept.  Cows, as you may know, are innately curious beings and out of nothing more than curiosity that entire herd of cattle came stampeding towards us.  I’m quite sure that neither of my brothers was frightened as they helped my father milk the cows and knew them quite well.  Perhaps they were just trying to frighten me the way big brothers might do to their little sister! In any case, they hollered at me to start running, and run we did for our lives clamoring upwards to the nearest tree, which just happened to be an enormous willow tree, an enormous Mother Willow that swept us up into her arms and held us, protected us.  I remember that feeling so vividly, of being supported and held and rocked, and loved by that beautiful Mother Willow.  And never wanting to come down….  So Willow, of course, became a special friend of mine, a life time teacher and  ally tree for me. 
 

 

My other early memory is of being on our farm, Wildwood Dairy in Kenwood, California.   I was maybe 5 or 6.  My brothers and I had gone into the woods in the late afternoon and we were heading back home through the fields where the cows were kept.  Cows, as you may know, are innately curious beings and out of nothing more than curiosity that entire herd of cattle came stampeding towards us.  I’m quite sure that neither of my brothers was frightened as they helped my father milk the cows and knew them quite well.  Perhaps they were just trying to frighten me the way big brothers might do to their little sister! In any case, they hollered at me to start running, and run we did for our lives clamoring upwards to the nearest tree, which just happened to be an enormous willow tree, an enormous Mother Willow that swept us up into her arms and held us, protected us.  I remember that feeling so vividly, of being supported and held and rocked, and loved by that beautiful Mother Willow.  And never wanting to come down….  So Willow, of course, became a special friend of mine, a life time teacher and  ally tree for me.