A Word from Rosemary Gladstar

Welcome to the International Herb Symposium

~ A gathering for all people who love plants ~

Welcome, friends, to the 15th International Herb Symposium. While we’d all rather be meeting on the beautiful tree covered campus of Wheaton College, standing together in sacred circle, honoring the plants and the many traditions of herbalism that we represent, we’re so very grateful that we, at least, have this opportunity to gather virtually this year. It enables so many more people to attend this event, both teachers and participants, who wouldn’t normally be able to gather with us. We especially welcome all of you who are ‘attending’ the IHS for the first time, and to those of you who are joining us from countries afar. Welcome to our global herbal community. 

I am also grateful for United Plant Savers for taking on the directorship and organizational tasks of hosting what has become, to many herbalists, one of the more prominent and respected herbal events in the nation. The IHS was begun over twenty-five years ago in an effort to bring herbalists from around the world together to not only share and exchange information about the healing power of plants but also to help weave a global herbal community. We had witnessed how the herbal conferences and events that had begun to resurge in the 1970s, as part of the ‘back to the land’ movement, had helped to create an underground network, a mycelium of sorts, of information and a sharing of plant knowledge and wisdom that often bridged people’s differences and cultural understanding of plant knowledge.  Our hope was to do this globally as well. 

The IHS was unique in that it sought to bring together and honor herbalists from a multitude of backgrounds, training and traditions.  From shamanic practitioners and earth-based community herbalists to clinical practitioners and scientific researchers, to those who grew and harvested our medicinal plants, to the wildcrafter harvesting our wild harvests, all were welcomed – and the various teachings and ways of doing our herbal craft were honored and embraced at this gathering of plant lovers.  There was even an emphasis placed on the wholistic treatment of animals, and a special track for holistic veterinarian practitioners and animal lovers was added in later years inspired by the work of one of our original teachers and inspirations, Juliette de Bairacli Levy.  Welcome All! 

It was also here at the 4th International Herb Symposium in 1994 that United Plant Savers was conceived. It arose out of the need to address the conservation and preservation of our native medicinal plants and our role as herbalists and plant lovers to help lead the way.   From that tiny seed planted in one of the dorm rooms of Wheaton College by a small but dedicated group of plant lovers, UpS has blossomed to be a leading voice of medicinal plant conservation not only in the United States but worldwide as well. The IHS continues to be a major venue for spreading the knowledge for the responsible and respectful use of medicinal plants to ensure that they are here for future generations of plant loves, and most importantly, for the Earth herself. 

While the IHS has long been a major fundraiser for United Plant Savers, and medicinal plant conservation and preservation has always been one of the main focal points of the event, this is the first year that UpS has officially taken over directorship of the symposium. I want to thank UpS personally for stepping up to assume the important role of leading the IHS forward – not an easy task by any means! But as we continue to seek to embrace the many different cultural traditions and various ways we have of loving plants and doing service for them, it’s also a deeply rewarding one as we witness a blossoming of shared information and connections from plant lovers around the globe.   

And, finally, I want to take this moment to thank UpS’s amazing Ex. Director, Susan Leopold and the UpS Board of Directors, along with their dedicated team of helpers who have worked so hard and diligently to bring us another exceptional herbal symposium. Virtually or in person, as plant lovers of the world we have this amazing opportunity to come together, to honor and celebrate the plants and the many unique ways we have of loving plants and doing service for them.  Let us honor our differences, our knowledge, and our herbal traditions. By standing together as a forest of green, or a wildflower meadow of unique and colorful flowers, we have the power to do so much good for this earth and one another. 

Blessed be and green blessings always.

Rosemary Gladstar

Co-Founder of the International Herb Symposium