WH: How did you become interested in this line of work? (tell us a little bit about your background)
Robin: I am delighted to be coming to Wainwright House. Thank you for asking me. I was drawn to the magic and mystery of life from an early age, and always had a sense that everyone had a path that was theirs to walk. I wondered if I would ever find mine and didn’t really know if I ever would. I left home at 16 for an early entry into college, travelled the world with my best friend at 19 after working 3 jobs for one year to save the money, and eventually went back to university and graduated with a degree in creative writing, my great love, along with nature and the plants.
I had no idea that my great grandmother, my mom’s mom, had been a renowned herbal healer in Brooklyn. In fact, I didn’t learn about that until I had been a NYC herbalist (sounds like an oxymoron, I know) for a decade. I met my great-uncle Mac and when we had established a good relationship he let that little pearl out, stunning me! So I come by my herbal leanings ancestrally as well as spiritually.
WH: What motivates you to do what you do? or Where does your passion come from?
Robin: My passion comes from the fact that I care deeply about the health and happiness of all living things, including human beings. I want to live in a world where every child is loved and welcomed and has many reasons to smile, where everyone has nourishing food, clean air to breathe, and clean water. We are in a very confused place in the world right now, and people have forgotten how to live in a good way. I think most people are longing for a return to sanity, to good relations, and to living in harmony with nature and have realized that even having the very latest ________(cell phone, car, computer, boat, etc.) does not bring lasting satisfaction, in fact, it always leaves us wanting more, or believing that we have to have this, that, and the other thing to be enough.
In my thirty years of sharing herbal medicine and earth spirit teachings, I see that plants help people remember how to happy. Plants reconnect us with ourselves. Plants know who they are, and when we take them into ourselves, in the form of chamomile (teas), or garlic-basil pesto (foods), or herbal medicines (Rose hips) they help us know who we are. My native teachers have told me that the plants have remained truest to the “original instructions” from the Creator. Plants are healers. When we heal ourselves, we heal our families, communities, and ultimately our world.
Gardening is well documented as an effective therapy and wild plants heal us in other ways as people will experience for themselves when they join me for the medicinal plant walk, where we will focus on the weeds, which have a much better reputation when they are called, “wildflowers”.
WH: What personal or professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Robin: I am most gratified by having written and had my first two books published, because writing is my first love and because people can learn how to use many herbal medicines and a variety of ways to reconnect with the earth without my being present; readers tell me it is like we are sitting together when they read my books, and that they love reading all the personal stories. We all learn and remember information best when we learn it via a story, and I am a storyteller. I am also proud of having created a medicinal plant garden for my town in partnership with our local sustainability group; it is tended by volunteers and has become a place where people can come monthly to help us tend the garden and learn more about herbs and be part of a community of fun people who care about the earth and each other. I call it “Education at the crossroads” because it is up on a hill in the middle of three roads, but if you look on a map it is called the “Native and wild medicinal plant garden” aka “Douglass Memorial Garden”.
WH: Who are your role models and mentors?
Robin: There are so many. In so many realms. And my mentors and role models are not necessarily the same people. My role models are folks who are generous, compassionate, funny, and who walk their talk in whatever area they work in: art, science, healing, politics, academia, and so forth. They are also the animals, birds, plants, trees, insects, and even the stones who all know how to authentically be who they are. Among my mentors, people whose work I respect and admire and who have taught me important things, both in person and through their writings are: Terry Tempest Williams, Alice Walker, Keewaydinoquay, Starhawk, Malidoma Some, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and so many others. My first mentors were my parents who taught me to be true to myself and to have fun doing it and my first spiritual teachers: June Graham and Jim Spencer, who taught me much about self-love, and my first herbal mentor was Susun Weed, who introduced me to the Wise Woman Tradition and to how to learn from the plants themselves, an invaluable gift that I pass along to my students and apprentices.
WH: What is the best resource for people who wish to learn more about your line of work?
Robin: People can visit my website: RobinRoseBennett.com or WiseWomanHealingWays.com to sign up for my monthly newsletter and read informative articles or find links to podcasts and interviews as well as learn about upcoming classes, retreats, and walks. They can subscribe to my You Tube channel…(Robin Rose Bennett) to watch short videos where I teach about one plant at a time, and finally, my books are timeless, user-friendly resources: Healing Magic and The Gift of Healing Herbs are widely available, both as e-books and paper-backs.
WH: Share a quote sums up your life's philosophy.
Robin: “What is good for us is good for the earth, and what is good for the earth is good for us.” (Susun Weed, Healing Wise)
WH: If you weren't in this line of work, what would you be doing instead?
Robin: Writing full time, and perhaps performing. I love theater and music.
WH: What would be the title of your Autobiography?
Robin: For Love of the Earth
WH: If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you have and why?
Robin: Good Food, Clean water, and an unlimited supply of journals with lovely, handmade paper and my favorite Uni-ball pens. (If I could sneak in really good ale, I’d have that, too.)
WH: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Robin: Walking in the woods
WH: What was the last book your read or PodCast you listened to that inspired you?
Robin: Most recently: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amos Towles and The Witch Wave podcast by Pam Grossman, a past apprentice of mine.
WH: Is there anything else you'd like to share? Please do!
Robin: What we are all looking for and feeling removed from is actually so natural to us, that no matter how out of touch we may feel with nature, or our own hearts, or if we fear we’ve lost our center, there is something about the plants that opens us up without a tremendous effort on our parts. It is beautiful to experience, and to witness. I love being an ambassador connecting people with the plants. They are our elders, our teachers and our healers. And as physical medicine, they work well because our bodies recognize and make use of their chemical constituents and healing gifts in a way that is simply not possible for them to do with pharmaceuticals. Whether we are working with spices in the kitchen, or dandelions in the field, plants offer us healing for heart, mind, body and soul. They fill me to overflowing with gratitude, and I look forward to sharing with everyone who comes to the class and the walk.
Check out Robin's 2 upcoming workshops! Healing Spices: Herbal Medicine in Your Spice Rack on August 8 and Wild Food and Medicine Walk on August 21!