A Few Moments About My Mentor, Rosemary Gladstar
Rosemary Gladstar is one of the people responsible for reigniting western herbalism here in the U.S.
You can read her long list of accomplishments elsewhere, from authoring many books on herbalism, founding the United Plant Savers and the International Herbal Symposium, carrying on the New England Women’s Herbal Conference for 30 years, and bringing thousands of people back home to the plants.
I want to take this time to share with you a more personal perspective about Rosemary and how she’s impacted me as a teacher.
The first gift, the ability to rest in and occupy my heart
Whenever I get to the part in my thanksgiving address for my teachers, I begin with the first person I consciously and intentionally called teacher, Rosemary. Even now, when I bring her into my consciousness here, tears immediately come and my heart opens. Therein lies the first gift I’ve received from her ~ the ability to rest in and occupy my heart.
That gift alone would be enough to spark a change in the world. Me, one person, able to come home to my heart a little more often. But like all cascading events, it doesn’t end there, it multiplies exponentially out to everyone I come into contact with. I open my heart, I share it with others, then they share it with others, and so on, someday wrapping the planet in a kinder space.
How does she do this?
First, by occupying the space within herself. Her connection to the plant world is so deep, the field of that connection embraces those around her. We step in and feel the connection. If you ever visited her long time home in Vermont, Sage mountain, you feel it when you get out of your car. This unassuming magical connection mirrors the plants themselves. Quiet and so subtle that if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. The connection can be expressed in the simple act of gathering pine cones and fallen pine boughs to place in a room where we gather, the pausing to take in the beauty of the flowers or a gentle caress as we walk by. This is the practice of expressing gratitude. This grateful state is our true home. The home channel for all other beings on the planet.
The Second Gift, inviting us all to join in
The second way she’s impacted me is her ability to invite others to join in.
I have never experienced anyone who cultivates others to step in and step up like Rosemary. These small acts of invitation to teach or perform nourishes small seedlings of talent into gorgeous full flowers. The New England Women’s Herbal Conference and later, the International Herbal Symposium, year after year showcased new and upcoming teachers and performers well before they became the well-known and beloved polished presenters you now know. She has a knack for recognizing something wanting to shine through and inviting it in. The list of people who were given a start by Rosemary is a long and gratitude filled one.
A lesson standing out from that time, that I pass onto my students is Rosemary saying to me, “In the beginning, teach wherever you’re invited, for whatever you’re paid.” Good advice, especially when you’re just starting out.
When I first met Rosemary I was already well on my path as a science teacher in a male dominated world.
She recognized something in me and invited me to teach both at Sage Mountain and at the Women’s Herbal Conference. I received an exposure to the Feminine in profound ways I didn’t know I was missing. This culture was so foreign to me coming from science and collegiate basketball, that at first I felt like a “tree among the flowers”. Foreign as it felt, it still felt like a homecoming.
Third Gift, Feminine Fierceness
Another gift I’ve received from Rosemary I’d like to share is her example of feminine fierceness.
I have witnessed her time and time again stand strong, with compassion and kindness, but standing firm none-the-less in what she believes in while inviting dialogue. How I make sense of it from the outside is that it is a deep and profound groundedness in right relationship and the willingness to speak from this place to power.
Whether it be in conversation with fellow students about certification for herbalists in the 90’s to our legal right for any of us to call fire cider by it’s name without fear of litigation or her support of health freedom. She has been a profound example to me in standing firm, with kindness and speaking my truth.
Our “fairy godmother” of herbalism has been a spark for others.
When you wander in the herbal world you will spot her touch upon the community. Those little white bone crescent moons resting close to the hearts of thousands of people across the country (and world) are a signpost of her teachings. A small, yet poignant ceremony when you finish studying with Rosemary is the receiving of this small necklace. So significant, that we teachers in her lineage adorn the necks of our students with the same tiny moons.
At the end of our very first Apprenticeship at Heartstone we gifted moons during our graduation ceremony. The students (all of them our friends, willing to go on a wild ride that first year) later told us they had been secretly hoping they would be getting moons.
I was once told by a teacher, anytime you have a chance to study with a master (now I use the word elder), get yourself there and do it.
I tell all my students, go to the conferences and go to the classes the other teachers are going to and for goodness sake, go to whatever class Rosemary is teaching.
I love watching her walk by on a weed walk with 50 or 60 people following like little ducklings. To hear her laughter and joy at sharing her friends, the green ones, with her new two legged friends is such a joy.
How to study with Rosemary Gladstar
Rosemary is not offering her herbal apprenticeship at Sage Mountain – but you maybe able to catch her at various conferences and live teaching engagements at various herbal schools. Please, if you get the chance to be with her, for even just a little while, do it!
You can find her online in videos!
Another way of studying with Rosemary is through the very same Science & Art of Herbalism correspondence course I, and thousands of others have taken.
This course is still in the hard copy, send-to-you-at-home, form and it’s also online now as well.
This course has been foundational to the learning of not only the thousands of herbalists out there, but many of your teachers, including me, as well.
There are various levels of engagement from completely on your own to handing in homework that staff read and comment on. Important to note that Rosemary still reads everyone’s final assignment. If you register at the time of this post, she’s having her yearly $75 off sale!
So now I’d like to end where I began, in gratitude.
Thank you Rosemary, for the gift of your presence, for sharing your wisdom with all of us, for bridging the way to the green world, for helping to make the world a better place, and thank you for helping to make me a better person.