That Night as I Lay Sleeping

By Rosemary Gladstar

(That Night was a night long ago at Golden Seal Sanctuary in northern tip of the Applachians. This was really part of a dream that sparked the founding of United Plant Savers. A few years later, this farm became the first UpS Sanctuary dedicated to North American At Risk Medicinal Plants)

That night I laid my sleeping bag next to Golden Heart Pond and drifted off to sleep to a cacophony of night sounds one would expect to hear in a jungle. The forest here was that alive! The moon was full, beaming its luminous light directly on my bare head, drawing me into its wonder. Restless because of the moon’s fullness, I didn’t sleep well. Sometime during the night I heard my name called loudly enough that I woke from a
light sleep. In truth, I was hoping it was the handsome farmer. Fully immersed in the world of the green, the mythological green man personified, my heart was awakened and I was enraptured. But it was not to be; he slept deeply, unaware, in his cabin on the hill. It was the moon, she was calling my name. I heard it as clearly as one hears the ring of a bell on a clear dawn morning. She was calling and as I listened, she filled me with story.

Calling me back to the beginning of time, before time, before light. Cosmology unfolding. Into the stars, the air, the darkness, I saw the creation of light, of green matter, of infinite creatures forming. Millennia passing, exploding in tiny starlight patterns in the night. How long did I dream? Birthing from the most primal beginnings. Masses swirling,
mountains pushing upward from massive plates shifting, earth’s surface upturned. Minerals and crystals forming, breaking up, forming into tiny particles of soil. Organic matter. Witnessing the first forms of life, algae, lichen, miniature ferns unfolding, tender, rooting in the tiniest substance of subsoil. All life as one, I with it, witnessing. Though I saw it all, I remember little, and what I remember my limited vocabulary can’t adequately describe. Unlike those poets who weave feelings into words that others can understand and those brilliant minds that travel into time and come back with word paintings, I can share only that I lived this vision, understood, felt it grow in my being and returned from the journey transformed.

What I remember most of that night, and what impacted me long after, occurred towards the end of the journey. Earth was formed, darkness intermingled with light, and life forms were beginning to root. There were beings, bits of star like energy that roamed this newly formed globe, creating and recreating the gardens of earth. Some worked with rock, mineral, some with water, some, those of us amongst them, worked with the living green matter. Millennia passed. The gardens were in place.

We are born again and again, renewed by the forces of life, each with our own eternal spark. There are those who are called fully into the service of the green, unknowingly following a calling as ancient as life on earth. These are the caretakers, keepers of the green, watching over the gardens through millennia. And throughout time, when the gardens are in danger, this energy is called home. The plants respond, animals respond, rocks and minerals respond, we respond.

Perhaps this is the real work of herbalists these days. Not to argue politics, create standards, or to set up regulatory boards for which we one day may be sorry, but rather to listen to the heartbeat of the plants, to seek to understand the medicine power that streams from it’s source, to share that with others, and, ultimately, to restore the wild gardens
ensuring the continuing integrity of the plant communities.”