THE WOMEN’S HERBAL CONFERENCE STORY
…. A long time ago, in the woodlands of Northern California, the first Women’s Herbal Conference was birthed. The year was 1976. Rosemary Gladstar had a vision of a gathering of women, singing, drumming, dancing together, sharing, learning, honoring and celebrating the healing power of plants. Held at a rustic outdoor camp in the hills of Cazadero in Northern California, that first Women’s Herbal Conference attracted several hundred women the first year! It was overwhelming, in fact, but every bit as magical and amazing as she had dreamt. There was so much enthusiasm, cooperation, sharing, learning and playing together that the WHC naturally continued to grow like wild joyous seeds planted in fertile soil. Every year thereafter in those rolling golden hills of California, women met ~ and still are meeting to this day~ to honor woman spirit, the earth and the healing power of plants.
When Rosemary arrived in New England in the late 1980’s, her dear friend, Gail Ulrich had just started a small east coast women’s herbal gathering in her back yard at Blazing Star Herb School in Massachusetts’s. Though a smaller event, it had the same wonderful spirit and energy that the California gatherings had. Gail invited Rosemary to partner with her and for the next several years, Rosemary and Gail co-created and organized these amazing events together. It was one of those rare partnerships that made the work easy and joyous. Though a lot of details and hard work go into organizing these events, it was never work to them, but a dance of spirit and service that resulted in a joyful grand event each year. Gail tragically passed away in the summer of 2000, just a few days before the conference she had created and loved so much. Who would ever have dreamt that the dream would outlive the dreamer and that Gail’s life would live on through the lush green legacy she left us. Rosemary remained committed to carrying on Gail’s legacy, and her dream lives on through the New England Women’s Herbal Conference. We also created the Gail Ulrich Memorial Educational Fund that provides scholarships for women who, for financial reasons, might not be able to attend.
Today, it’s delightful to see the many Women’s Herbal Conferences springing up around the country ~ sister conferences all honoring the sacred feminine, the power of herbs, and the Earth as Gaia, a living being. Each conference has its own unique spirit and all are wonderful. If you have the time and inclination, try attending different events when possible. Though one of the wonderful things about returning to the same event year after year are the friends you meet and the family that grows from these gatherings. At the New England Women’s conference, there are women who first came as babies in the arms of their mothers, who are now teachers and organizers of the event! Families with several generations from great-granddaughter to grandmother, sisters, daughters, step-daughters, mothers, grandmothers, friends, partners, co-workers and sisters-of-the-heart who attend together, as well as women who arrive alone, soon finding they have friends and family they never knew they had. Together we weave a magic that fills our hearts and spirits and stays with us through the year until we meet again…