Interview with Robin Rose Bennett
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
Introduction: Robin has been a practicing herbalist for over 20 years, focusing
on the spiritual and ecological lessons of the plants as well as the treatment
of illness. What she is best known for is her rather extensive study of the wild
carrot, particularly as an ancient and still viable means of natural birth
Jesse: Your writing about the use of wild carrot (Daucus carota) as a form of natural contraception would seem to be another way to empower women, by giving them conscious control over their fertility. You believe in individuals taking personal responsibility for not just their fertility, but their well-being.
Robin: I do. You can’t control fertility, though you can engage it and to a certain extent, direct it. This is true of healing, too. It’s about engaging the life force itself and that offers us a different way to look at health. Culturally we’re taught to conceive of healing and illness as if it were a military operation that we have to win, as if our bodies were against us from the beginning and we have to be armed and ever vigilant to prevent “them” from failing “us.” Even natural healers are prey to this conditioning.
Growing beyond this perspective into a more compassionate and loving approach to taking responsibility for your well-being takes time and experience to see what works and what doesn’t, what actually supports healing. Cultivate a deeper relationship with your body, learn to listen to it and you will find that your body is wise, truthful, and its messages/symptoms are always rooted in love for you.
Jesse: What is the role of medicinal plants, among our healing choices?
Robin: The medicinal plants offer us physical and spiritual nourishment. They are our elders and our healers. On a spiritual level what you are making part of yourself when you take a medicine plant into your body is that knowing, that wholeness. The plants and trees, and the weeds of the seas invite us back home to the Earth, to the living heart of Gaia. This then brings us home to the heart of ourselves, and that allows us to truly heal.
Physiologically, the medicine plants match us on a cellular level and are able to be assimilated into the structure of our bodies more completely than nutrients we ingest in any other form. They offer us primary nourishment for systemic healing, and tonic properties to restore or optimize the functioning of our body systems. The plants not only help us heal our physical ailments, they also help us to become more fully human.
Jesse: What is the role of the Wise-Woman — the Medicine Woman — in today’s society?
Robin: The Wise Woman teaches from her own well of experience, walks her talk as truthfully as she can, and holds a vision of the sacred web of life. She freely commits to using her gifts in service of Gaia and all her relations. The Wise Woman’s role is to help one who comes to her in a time of transition, not only to heal illness, but also to guide you to awaken your true nature, your full aliveness, to step into your wisdom, to own and develop your gifts and responsibilities as a human being.
She helps to awaken your physical senses and rekindle your direct relationship with all that is divine by guiding you to joyfully connect with Earth, especially the plants, flowers and trees. She is a mirror of the magic in the everyday and the power of self-love. What the Wise Woman offers her people today isn’t necessarily different than it once was, but extending the teachings out to as many people as possible has an urgency about it now.
Jesse: Besides writing books and instructing apprentices, you also travel and teach, including at the Anima Center in New Mexico in mid-August. What kinds of experiences do they have?
Robin: Participants enjoy getting to “stop the world,” to encourage personal transformation and/or replenishment. A warm, supportive community usually forms quickly. We enjoy sharing weed walks, plant stories and medicinal information, harvesting, making medicines, planting, Goddess songs and dances, moving meditations, working with the elements, meditating with the moon, and creating joyous rituals for healing. There is often much laughter (and some tears) and we savor delicious, lovingly-prepared foods.
Guided meditations take you into sacred spaces, inside yourself, a plant, a stone, or even deep within Gaia herself. Always, we commune with the medicine plants and trees, the birds, insects, and animals, the water, air, and sun, helping us to awaken to the magic of every moment so when the retreat is over we can take that magic back out of the circle into our lives, into the world. I am excited and honored to be coming to work at Anima and am so looking forward to visiting your sacred land and working with Loba and Kiva Rose and the women.
Jesse: And if you knew that only one message would be heard by the majority of humanity, what would you personally hope to advise them?
Robin: We are being invited, cajoled, threatened, and encouraged to live from a new paradigm of love not fear, connection not separation, generosity rather than greed. It is obviously scary, but it is also exciting. We are each more than we seem to be. The time we live in is full of promise and many people are feeling the call to fall back in love with life on Earth.
Now is the time. Choose to renew and pursue your sense of connection with the
immanent Spirit that is within everything on Earth for Earth holds the key to
opening your heart to joy, and joy awakens your spiritual wisdom. You matter.
There is only “us” and we are all inextricably intertwined.
Jesse Wolf Hardin is a founder of the earth-inspired practice of Anima, caretaking a restored river canyon where he co-hosts folks for wilderness retreats, quests, and events like the Women’s Wisdom Plant Retreat with Robin Rose Bennett, Aug. 25-28: Anima Wilderness Learning Center, P.O. Box 688, Reserve, NM 87830, www.animacenter.org . For information on Robin’s courses, books and events, please visit: www.robinrosebennett.com , or call (973) 728-5878.
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