This week, we were lucky enough to virtually chat with Robin Rose Bennett, a story-teller, writer, and herbalist. She has been offering classes in Wisewoman Healing Ways: Herbal Medicine and EarthSpirit Teachings since 1986 – at herb conferences, festivals, clinics, medical and nursing schools, and most joyously, outside with the plants. Robin Rose shares herbal medicine with gratitude for the loving generosity of the plants and the magic, mystery, and beauty of the web of life. She is on the faculty of the New York Open Center and the Arbor-Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism, and is the author of two meditation CD’s and the books: Healing Magic- A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living and The Gift of Healing Herbs – Plant Medicines and Home Remedies for a Vibrantly Healthy Life. On June 3rd, she is teaching Accessible Herbal Medicine through our Virtual Learning Center. Come hear stories of real healing with common plants, trees and wildflowers. You can sign up here!
How did you come to your work as a wise woman and green witch? What is your first memory of plants having magical and medicinal properties?
I’ll touch on just a few aspects of it here, because there are many ways I could answer this. I always knew I was a witch, but didn’t know exactly what that meant, or that I was green. I remember believing that we each have a path that is calling us, and it has to do with what we truly love, what brings us joy, so I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I realized I was walking on mine. Even as a child, I was drawn to the invisible realms, and had the sense that everything in life was magical and interconnected. When I was twenty-one I took a four-day intensive course with my mother, and though the focus was mostly on helping people manifest what they wanted, it helped me experience the interconnection of all things in the web of life in a vibrant and unmistakable way. Discovering that there were other people who thought about these things, I was astonished! I met my spiritual teachers there and studied intensively, and later taught with them for a number of years; it was awesome, powerful, spiritual work that I use to this day, but something was missing, and that was feeling truly joyful about being a human being! I was more comfortable in my mind and spirit than in my body.
I was twenty-eight when I decided to quit my unfulfilling job, sub-lease my NYC apt, and study herbal medicine upstate at the Wise Woman Center, where Susun Weed was growing plants and green witches. I was going on pure intuition, having no idea what I was getting into, nor what half of what she wrote in her brochure even meant!
My first memory of a plant having magical properties was as a child when my mother stroked my cheek with soft, pussy willow buds in the spring, that felt like magic to me! My college roommate, Kristin, introduced me to medicinal plants when she put comfrey leaves and rose hips into a bamboo strainer and drank tea she made with that to help her get over a cold. I was fascinated and skeptical, but open-minded. I’d also been searching for answers to my own health problems, so that’s when I started to inquire about herbal medicine and had my first herbal consultation. I was eighteen.
What does being a green witch mean to you?
It means being true to myself. It means being a co-creator with divine spirit by whatever name one calls that. It means being who I am, a woman consciously connected with the elements and all living things on a daily basis as well as in rituals. It means being madly in love with wild nature, the plants, trees, and fungi of the forests and jungles, and with gardens, and animals, and life. It means being a woman committed to helping others find their health, authenticity and inner freedom with the help of the plants, so that together we can all bring about a healthier way of living on our planet. Health, to me, includes it all: justice, peace, respect, dignity, equality, freedom, compassion for all my relations, including the mountains and the seas.
What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
To trust my timing.
To let go of any desire to be perfect.
To stop trying to prove anything to anyone, to let who I am and how I walk in the world be its own statement.
Do you have a favorite herb to work with?
Even though the plants are our elders, this is like asking a parent who her favorite child is. Impossible! It totally depends on the season, the situation, my intention, where I’m standing and what I need in that moment! With those caveats, I’ll say that at this moment mullein flowers are soothing to me in the time of Covid-19, both as an oil, applied to my chest, and as a relaxing, anti-inflammatory tincture that I add into my medicine to calm me and help my respiratory system. I am drinking horsetail and rose blossoms and rose hips right now, and taking just a little bit of wild carrot tincture or home-made flower essence daily, because wild carrot (Daucus carota) helps energize the 6th and 7th chakras, hence, supports clear vision, and she encourages being playful, both of which are helpful anytime, but especially now.
If you could have tea with anyone living or dead who would it be and what kind of tea would you share?
Another impossible question, it’s too huge, oh my! I’ll choose Alice Walker. Or Terry Tempest Williams. Or the Dalai Lama. (Sorry, three guests is apparently my minimum number for the tea party.) I’d serve them white pine needle/rose/sassafras leaf infusion.
Bonus Question: Sun/Rising/Moon Signs?
Sagittarius sun, Taurus rising, Aquarius moon
I’ve got a few major aspects in Scorpio, too.
Thank you for your wisdom, Robin. You can sign up for her course here!