I was so relaxed after I left the “Herbal Traditions Retreat with Rosemary Gladstar and Friends”. Nature, good food, singing, ceremonies, and new friends will do that to you.
I stayed in a cabin right on the grounds of the conference site at Camp Helen Brachman in Almond, WI. It was chilly all 3 days 50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit with wind and sometimes light rain. Heat in the cabins came from space heaters and good ole’ body heat.
I signed up in early Spring to attend this retreat. It was like I came full circle to meet Rosemary Gladstar. Here’s why.
In 1997 I sent for brochures and catalogs of herbal correspondence courses. I was 16 and trying to figure out how to be an herbalist as a profession. The internet wasn’t a “thing” at that time so all my searching had to be done by postal mail correspondences. I received some information from Sage Mountain, Rosemary’s company. I kept it all those years as a reminder of what I might do someday – be an herbalist.
Although, I already was one. Learning on my own. Afraid to tell anyone of my interest.
I told this quick story to Rosemary, about why I kept the brochure all these years. How I was “underground” “in the closet”. I asked her to sign it. She had a little walk down memory lane looking at some of the pictures in that brochure. Then she said
‘You know being underground is good too. That’s where we get nourishment and gather reserves. That’s where plants get ready to germinate and bloom”. Hearing her say that helped me not feel so bad about all the years “I wasted” hiding my interest and not pursuing it with vigor.
Here I am now, holding workshops, offering herbal advice, and incorporating my knowledge in my day job as well.
So, what did I learn? Some topics were new, some were a review, and others were great to revisit and ponder over again.
A couple of things I heard multiple times from presenters and attendees was “Food is Medicine” and “eat as close to the land as possible”.
Chrystal Dawn Silas, MD likened taking herbal remedies while eating a low nutrient diet to “throwing a tic tac at a raging elephant”. It doesn’t make much difference to take an herbal remedy for an ailment if you aren’t eating a diet of veggies, whole grains, fruit, greens, water, and protein.
Another big topic at the conference was inflammation is a precursor to chronic disease. Inflammation comes from having a diet that isn’t focused on nutrition and is highly processed and grown with chemicals.
Humans have co-evolved with plants not with chemicals. Our bodies haven’t figured out what to do with them or how to metabolize them. Chemicals may have been researched and found harmless to human in small amounts. Where is the research that studied multiple chemical interacting with one another? The chemical in our food, clothes, carpets, couches, body care products, pharmaceuticals, on and on.
We are also exposed to medicines and chemicals that our wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to filter out. Millions of dollars are needed to retrofit and up-grade water treatment plants. Why so expensive? Why can’t we as a society make this a priority? Why can’t companies partner with municipal governments to make this beneficial for all?
Food chemicals introduced after WWI; since the war was over and we had no use for the new chemicals made for the war effort. Those companies wanted to continue to make money so they found ways to introduce products for daily living.
“Better living through chemicals” I’d change it to “easier living with a cost”
This led to plastic and synthetic everything – clothes, medication, food storage, etc. Now many of these chemicals are being found to be endocrine disruptors floating along in our streams, air, food.
Other topics I learned about:
- Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic techniques of reading the face, tongue, and hands to determine what imbalances might exist in the body
- How to formulate herbal remedies for specific ailments
- Herbal remedies for muscle spasms, pain associated with toxicity, fibromyalgia pain
- Herbs for panic attacks
Rebekah’s plant walk taught me more about:
- White pine
- Raspberry leaf
- New england aster
- Strawberry leaf
- Primrose root
- Pine sap
The conference food was excellent! Organic, locally grown, veggies, tea, greens . . . everyone was so sad to go home and leave the cooks behind.
We sang a song of thanksgiving before every meal. All 150 of us! It was a wonderful way to start a meal.
Teachers were excellent! I went to Margi Flint, Rosemary Gladstar, Chrystal Dawn Silas MD, and Rebekah Dawn. Angelique “Sobande” Greer initiated a wonderful opening and closing ceremony. Tears, song, and all.
Rosemary Gladstar surprised us with a change in presentation topic one evening. She told us all about Herbal Elders that had taught her through the years. Some are still teaching and some have passed to the World Which We Cannot See. She had one of a kind pictures of some Herbal Elders and Teachers that I’ve heard about but never seen pictures of. Most were pictures Rosemary took herself.
- Grandmother Mary who survived the Armenian genocide (Rosemary’s grandmother)
- Jasmin, Rosemary’s mother (she was at the conference! And such a delightful positive woman)
- Juliette de Bairacli Levy
- Tasha Tudor
- Cecilis Mitchell, Mohawk Elder
- Donna D’Terra
- Susi Wahlrab
- Cascade Anderson
- Raylen, Kaui Elder
- Norma Meyer, British Columbia
- Adele Dawson
- Kewaydenoqua, Ojibwe Elder
- Doña Enriqueta Contreras
- Maria Oaxaca, Mexico
- Dr. Wu
- Mary Jorgerson
- Dinah Verris
One of Rosemary’s presentations was about making Zoom balls. They have herbs that promote vitality and energy. The recipe can be adapted to included any powdered herbs and it’s a delicious way to eat herbs. I was her assistant on stage! I helped her mix the nut butters and powdered herbs and then rolled enough balls for the participants. What an honor!
This retreat was well worth the money and time away from family and work. I came back relaxed – mind, muscles, mood.