Robin Rose Bennett founded WiseWoman Healing Ways in the late 1980s. She is a writer, an herbalist, a green witch, an activist and a WiseWoman. We chat with Robin and find out more about her wonderfully wise and green world.
When did your love for plants first materialize?
I didn’t really realize that I had an affinity with plants until I got involved with herbal medicine and started taking an interest in healing myself. However, having said this, I am not sure how true it is as I have the deepest and fondest memories of being a very small child and loving the oak and willow trees in my backyard.
I think I always loved plants and nature but the environment I grew up in simply didn’t encourage this to develop. It was only when I started to travel and live in beautiful places that my being started to be filled with this love for nature.
I started to delve into the world of medicinal plants to solve my own health issues and within a couple of years of that, I was not only on my way to healing the issues I’d been having, I was inspired to begin studying herbal medicine in more depth. However, when I was introduced to the reality of plants as sentient beings, it opened up a whole new world for me.
How did traveling alone impact the person you are today?
It was such a profound experience in my life. I was so shy, frightened and insecure, and my sense of self was so low that during my first big travel experience with my best friend at the age of 19, I assumed that every friend we made was due to her.
Traveling alone, after this first experience, gave me so much more confidence and I would say that more importantly, it showed me that I could be afraid of something and do it anyway. I learned that fear was something that could be overcome.
How would you define how plants can heal the heart and the soul?
We have lost a conscious sense of our kinship with the Earth. By spending time with plants and trees, this kinship returns and heals everything – it is absolutely essential.
For some, it might start by drinking a tea and when I can get that person outside to meet the plant they are drinking, it changes everything and the results are phenomenal. Plants are profoundly loving and generous beings.
What I have found is that plants know who they are, and when I drink that plant, that helps me become me. This is the healing that everybody longs for, along with kinship – having a sense of who you are and a sense of who you are in relation to the world around you.
Do meditation, spirituality and plants go hand in hand?
I wish they did. However, many cultures all over the world have been co-opted into thinking of everything that isn’t human as a thing or an object, something to be consumed, there to be used without thought or gratitude.
If you work with plants mindfully, with meditation, and are open to their spirits then the healing becomes even more multidimensional. Partnering with the plants with conscious intention enhances the healing process even further.
By learning to be a little more still, and simply sit with a plant for example, it increases one’s ability to meditate as it brings more stillness and serenity inside.
What can one expect from a session with the Green Witch of NY?
To be surprised – in a good way. In our herbal teaching clinic we go into the heart and the depth of things, to find the story behind the health challenge. Someone may come to us with a migraine for example, but we will be exploring more than just the condition they came for. They will experience really being heard and cared about.
We hold a sacred space for people who come in. They will walk away with herbs that will help what they came for, be that of physical, emotional, mental or spiritual nature and additionally, they will walk away with a real sense of the possibility of healing themselves. They will also know that their well-being really matters to someone other than themselves.
Why were weeds labeled ‘weeds’ to start with?
I would imagine that it must go hand in hand with that human desire to control everything. Weeds grow wild and free, they pop up where they were not planted. Being wild and free and untameable are traits that are very much frowned upon, especially in Western cultures.
Do you recommend the use of herbal medicine as part of one’s lifestyle?
Absolutely. Herbal medicine is part of everyday life. Put plants in your food, teas and vinegars – anywhere you can.
What can you tell us about your 3-year apprenticeship program?
The apprenticeship program focuses on herbs through the seasons, and herbs for specific body systems, and on getting in touch with how to learn from the plants themselves. This is liberating to those who participate – frees people to become who they really, it happens as a result of doing the work.
We attune ourselves with the cycles of the moon and the cycles of the seasons. It is very much a spiritual and physical journey, completely blended together. I have come to realize that green witchery has many connections with indigenous practices of earth respect and connection; all apprenticeship classes take place within a sacred circle.
I am currently creating two longer online programs – a 3-month version of the apprenticeship will be available in mid-February and then a year-long online apprenticeship will be available by autumn 2022. I will continue offering my outdoor apprenticeship programs as well.
How do you see the evolution of herbal medicine in Western society?
I see two distinct trends.
One is the utter commercialization of it, seeking to turn it into strictly-for-profit, and to keep medicine out of the hands of everyday people. This is the uglier side of the evolution of herbal medicine.
The other trajectory is wonderful – people remembering that this is something we evolved with, this is something that our grandparents and great grandparents did and these are ways that we can help and support our families.
I am very much about helping people take their health back into their own hands and there are other herbalists that do as I do. There are also clinical and medical herbalists who offer high level, professional work. The trajectory of herbal medicine that I would like to see grow is increasing connection to the earth in which our plants grow and increasing peoples’ access to medicine. Everyone deserves to have access to the medicine they need for healing. It is happening, just perhaps not as fast as we would like it.
(IG – robinrosebennett).
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