Interview with Madelon Hope

Interview with Madelon Hope

      April 10, 2013

In our “Herbalists we Love” page, we are going to give our readers insight into the lives of  herbalists. Here we will introduce you to herbalists that are well suited as guides into this realm of healing and the passing on of knowledge. Our first herbalist is Madelon Hope who has been teaching herbalism in the Boston area for well over a decade.

We visited Madelon at her home in Arlington, Massachusetts; a home that has welcomed many students eager to learn about herbalism. As I walked across the threshold to enter into this very familiar space I couldn’t help but wonder how many students have come and gone over the years. On what journeys did their apprenticeships take them?

Madelon Hope Interview

Madelon is a petite woman with a very large presence. She is articulate and forthright in her speech and deliberate yet gentle in her manner. You get the impression upon meeting her that she is in charge; although she is soft spoken she speaks with authority and intelligent reverie.

Annie Hall and I arrived with a notebook filled with questions and with a sack of cameras. Madelon graciously welcomed us into her home. As we settled in with our gear, Madelon brought in cups filled with tea that she had been brewing. So, as we sipped our tea, we began to converse with this very special herbalist.


Madelon was born in Pennsylvania but spent most of her childhood growing up in New York City in the Bronx. When asked if she had been mentored or taught at an early age about herbalism she replied that she couldn’t say that, but what she did know as a child was that she felt safe and supported amongst trees and plants. As we all know it is harder to connect to nature in an urban setting but Madelon was able to find a sense of belonging and peace in the city parks of New York. She also recalled memories of spending time at her family’s home in the country, which was across the bridge in New Jersey. The bungalow that they retreated to was near a river and woods, and it was there that Madelon spent time roaming alone in the natural surroundings. She said:

It was these times spent with nature that were formative and influenced me but without much consciousness on my part at that time; I just knew that I liked it!

Madelon grew up at a time when the old ways were being abandoned by immigrants into a progressive society.  Pharmaceutical medicines and antibiotics were making their way to the forefront. Madelon’s mother made an impression in her young daughter’s mind by applying what Madelon recalls as a mustard plaster to her chest.  She remembers her mother being uncertain as to how this should be done but in looking back she understands now that this was a form of herbalism and probably passed down from her grandmother to her mother.

Madelon’s more formal journey into herbalism began 16 years ago when she somewhat serendipitously made the journey up to Sage Mountain to apprentice with Rosemary Gladstar.

I will share with you that I was a psychotherapist for about 25 years and while I was doing therapy I became interested in plants and part of it was because I had a very serious back problem that was not well addressed by allopathic medicine. I went on a journey as many people do and I tried a number of different healing methods.

She found help from acupuncture and from the Alexander Technique but she realized that she needed more. The path she sought lead to the herbal world. “At that time I was also interested in menopausal transition and I started learning about the herbs that are helpful for menopause and began teaching about it.  A friend said that Rosemary Gladstar was offering an herbal apprentice course and that she was going to sign up. She asked me if I would be interested in going and I said sure, not knowing much about it. We were accepted and we traveled up to Vermont and it was absolutely life transforming.”

After the apprenticeship with Rosemary Gladstar, Madelon went on to study with many other herbalists. Matthew Wood was influential. “His approach to herbs just made a lot of sense to me, he talked about herbs having personalities and also about getting to know the energetic of the plant and how part of the energetic is the personality.” Phyllis Light with her powerful, Southern Appalachian approach and her deep roots in folk medicine had a profound influence on Madelon. As Madelon says, “she totally transformed the way I make tea. She decocts leaves and flowers as well as roots. She calls it brewing.” In this way it is thought that you are extracting more of the deep nutrients and minerals in the plants. William leSassier was also a major influence. “So many herbalists have been so generous sharing their knowledge, it is all connected to the earth, and the earth is so generous.”

There is a very profound shift that takes place in your life as you begin to study plants and I asked Madelon how she would explain this phenomenon. This is how she replied:

I think of herbalism as a kind of alchemy, it is a transformative kind of energy and the plants transform our consciousness. If you spend enough time with plants they work alchemical magic on us.  Every culture has a kind of enchantment that we all get inducted into, a hypnotic trance of the culture. When you start working with plants you wake from the enchantment.

“We take a lot of plant walks. I remember one time being in the woods and I came across a little trillium. It was drizzling and the plant was filled with little water droplets. It was a beautiful plant with three beautiful flowers and three beautiful leaves and I just didn’t expect to find anything so beautiful in the woods. The beauty of this flower just seemed to anchor me in another reality. Then there was this wonderful agrimony plant growing down a stone wall that I used to visit – it was so beautiful with yellow flowers. It was during moments like these that something seemed to shift in me. As I said growing up in New York City I saw grass and trees but I didn’t see a lot of plants other than dandelion and plantain. They are wonderful but there wasn’t a lot of variety. Joking, I said, I thought herbs came in bottles and here they were all around me! Indeed, I tell my students that it has been my experience that herbs work their magic on us. We don’t really know what we are getting into when we first approach them but they help direct our lives. We think we are directing our own lives and of course to some extent we do, but the herbs themselves have a transforming effect on us and on our destiny.”


I asked Madelon to consider the environment and the changes and pressures that have occurred over the past century and I wanted to know what she regarded as important to improve and safeguard our lives and our health. She answered by saying, “I am an herbalist so I think about the plants. Get to know those plants that grow around the house, and along the streets and in the parks because those are the plants that we really need to support our health. Pharmaceutical medications have problems as it is and there may come a time when they may not be as available. People want to be empowered to heal themselves by learning about the plants. They may need to harvest the wild plants and grow their own plants. Many of these plants are what we call weeds – they are very strong and they are very adaptable and they have been able to thrive, even in some of the most challenging environmental circumstances that we have in cities. Many of these plants help to detoxify the soil, purify the water and purify the air. They really are agents of cleansing and balance. I say to, get to know about them.”

Madelon feels that her larger role as an herbalist is as a teacher and that teaching is her most compelling focus and commitment. “Working with plants and teaching about plants, it’s important to think about myself as serving the plants.” Boston School of Herbal Studies was founded in 2000 and has been under Madelon’s direction since 2003.  The school offers two apprentice programs, one in Arlington and another in Jamaica Plain. They also offer other courses including advanced aromatherapy and chakra healing.


Herbalism offers many paths to take and Madelon suggests that as we learn we should pay attention to what we are drawn to. “What part of herbalism speaks to you?”

Asked where she believed herbalism is headed, she said that she believed that herbalists today are in a more confident state – they are more confident in their work and study and less isolated. “It is a sort of coming of age.”

I asked Madelon which ten herbs she would not want to be without, and this is her top ten list:
Nettles, yarrow, skullcap, medicinal mushrooms, codynopsis, burdock, dandelion, holy basil, marshmallow, slippery elm

When asked to give me a one word answer for the following well known herbalists here is what she said:

Matthew Wood – Deep
David Hoffman – Thorough
Christopher Hobbs – Comprehensive
Susun Weed – Idiosyncratic
Rosemary Gladstar – Scintillating
Phyllis Light – Amazing
Madelon Hope – “I will let other people decide”

In conclusion I would say that Madelon is inspiring.

Madelon Hope Interview


Mossop Natural Remedies: Review and Giveaway!

flower formula


The Phytobiophysics Flower Formulas support emotions and help people to deal with the sad, painful and traumatic experiences that we all suffer with throughout our lives. Emotions interfere with function which then creates physical imbalance. Through stabilizing the emotional issues in our lives, we may then recover from the physical manifestation.

This quote is featured on the Mossop Natural Remedies website. We were lucky enough to get introduced to Mossop Natural Remedies and receive a sample of their formulas to test out for ourselves. We chose the Rosemary ‘Uplift’ Formula and White Rose ‘Recovery’ Formula.

mossop natural remedies Continue reading “Mossop Natural Remedies: Review and Giveaway!”

On The Road

on the road

We are packing up our cameras and notebooks and heading out on the road to bring you exclusive interviews and personal stories from herbalists across the country.

We’ll introduce you to some of the world’s most well-known and revered healers and teachers, as well to the treasured local village herbalists working diligently behind the scenes to bring herbal healing to their communities.

ON the road

The herbalists we’ll feature have been forging the path for all of us. They are mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers, sisters and brothers. They are our friends, our healers and our teachers. They have been planting the seeds of herbalism in the hearts and minds of all those that have sought to heal and learn from them.

This collection of tales and stories is our expression of gratitude for their hard work and passion, which in turn has made our work possible.

We’ll take a peek into their apothecaries, walk in their gardens, listen to their stories and advice, snag you a recipe or two, and post all the photos, videos and transcripts right here for you to enjoy.

Please check back often or sign up for our newsletter to read the latest interviews right here!

We are delighted and honored that our first interview will be with one of the Boston area’s most beloved herbalist, Madelon Hope, of the Boston School of Herbal Studies.

Hildegard von Bingen

The Middle Ages brought us the Abbess Hildegard von Bingen, the Sybyl (Healer) of the Rhine, considered to be the first German Woman Physician and the mother of German Botany.

The Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode was to receive the young Hildegard when she was 8 years old. She had been promised to the church by her parents at birth as a servant of God. She eventually became the Abbess and would remain in the monastery until her death at the age of 81. Continue reading “Hildegard von Bingen”

Holiday Gift Guide: Natural Gifts for Kids

We are wrapping up our Holiday Gift Guide Marathon with natural gifts for kids, a whimsical selection of outdoor and play things for the little ones, infants to elementary. This year, forget the electronics and find a gift that challenges the imagination. From handcrafted masks and kitchen play sets to small herbal gardens and gardening tools, these natural gifts for kids will create an experience of adventure far beyond the “tube.” Continue reading “Holiday Gift Guide: Natural Gifts for Kids”

Holiday Gift Guide: Hostess Gift Ideas

hostess gift ideas

Looking for a creative gift to bring to your next holiday get together? We have a lovely display of hostess gift ideas for the party planner, from housewarming smudge sticks to vegan candles. See below for our Holiday Gift Guide: Hostess Gift Ideas for some of our favorite items that make excellent presents for the herbalist or nature lover in your life. And, happy holiday partying to you!

holiday hostess gifts

1. Copper Garden Labels; Terrain: $18.00 || Mark flowers, vegetables, and fruit with this set of metallic garden labels. Each galvanized steel wire stake is wrapped in a sheet of copper for marking beds again and again. Set of ten, includes washable pen. ||

2. PALM TAPERS in Melon; Aloha Bay: $6.50 || Distinguish your home naturally with the crystalline beauty of Palm Wax™. Pure Vegetable Palm Wax. When you purchase an Eco Palm Wax candle from Aloha Bay know that you are buying the most eco-friendly candle on the planet. Here’s why: Eco Palm Wax is a steam distilled essential oil that has therapeutic benefits just like our other naturally occurring essential oil scents; Aloha Bay candle colors are 100% REACH compliant; Aloha Bay display fixtures are made from Rainforest Alliance certified SmartWood and our packaging uses 100% consumer recycled cardboard; and Eco Palm Wax candles are vegan without beeswax, paraffin, or synthetic petrochemical additives. ||

3. MINI SMUDGE STICKS BY JUNIPER RIDGE: $12.30 || The perfect little housewarming gift. The most natural form of incense, made with wild plant trimmings and… nothing else. Light the tip then blow out the flame and allow the plants to smoulder. Extinguish with sand or water. Plants sourced in the mountains and deserts of the western USA. ||

4. Rifle Spoon Recipe Cards; Paper Source: $13.95 || Pack of 12. Scoop up these recipe cards for a fun and fresh way to log your best dishes. Each card features the wonderful designs of Rifle Paper Co. Size – 4″ x 6″ ||

5. Set of Four Raspberry Recycled Hemp & Organic Cotton Napkins; TinaProduce: $25.00 || Set of four hand screen printed napkins on 100% recycled fabric with original raspberry basket design.  These napkins are made with 100% recycled fabric; 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. They measure approximately 13″x13″ and are machine washable. High quality water based ink stands up to the typical wear and tear of your household. ||

6. Forest Floor Ornament by Flora Grubb Gardens: $25, set of four $74 ||Our handcrafted Forest Floor Ornaments will add sparkle on your holiday tree. Each glass vessel contains a tillandsia along with moss, lichen and other forest trimmings. Even dried, the tillandsia air plant remains a fascinating natural element in the Forest Floor Ornament year to year. ||

7.  WOOD TRENCHER PLATE SET; West Elm: $44.00 || Medieval times. This plate set is made from reclaimed oak and finished in olive oil. A nod to the Middle Ages, its design is ideal for sandwiches; a small trench holds salt, sauce or garnishes. You can also use one to serve cheese, charcuterie and olives—or flip to become a cutting board. ||||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_–_-


Like the Hostess Gift Ideas Holiday Guide? Be sure to also check out our Gifts for Him and Gifts for Her guides. More holiday suggestions coming your way so check back with us this week!


Holiday Gift Guide for Him: Herbalist Gifts

Gifts for Him

When it comes to finding gifts for men, isn’t that where everyone gets stuck? So this year, we’ve gathered some of the best gift ideas for the nature lover in your life. See below for some of our favorite manly herbalist gifts, ranging from cycling gear to organic shaving creams to local foodie items.

herbalist gifts


1. Lemnos plywood wall clock; abodeon: $95.00 || Designed in 1994 by designer/architect Mori Toyoshi for the respected clock maker, Lemnos, the crisp Futura typeface and natural wood construction reflects Japan’s high regard for purity and simplicity. ||

2. Minnetonka Double Bottom Softsole Moccasin; Urban Outfitters: $48.00 || Classic Softsole moccasin from Minnetonka in rich distressed suede. Stitched moc toe; leather lacing system at the collar that ties at the front; cushioned footbed and double-layer leather sole for slipper comfort that’s rugged enough to wear all day. ||

3. Bentonite Clay Shaving Soap; Babylon Soap Co.: $4.00 || Exfoliating, All Natural, Handmade, Fragrance Free, Vegan Friendly Soap. Derived from naturally occurring volcanic ash sediments here in the United States, bentonite clay is a wonderful antioxidant which aids in ridding your skin of harmful toxins and impurities. Bentonite also offers the “slip” needed to give you a smoother, closer shave. ||

4. Silver Wood Grain Texture Tree Ring – Etched Ring; RootsJewelry: $59.00 || My sterling silver wood grain texture tree ring is completely etched by hand, ensuring that no two rings will ever be alike, no wood grain stroke will ever match up – much like the wondrous nature of trees in reality. I etched and hammered until I achieved a rough, bark-like, organic appearance. My silver wood grain texture tree ring is oxidized and lightly polished to achieve depth and beauty. ||

5. Nook Simple Touch / Kindle Touch case; MariForssell: $49.00 || Stylish sleeve made with brown tweed wool. Sized to fit the new Nook -The Simple Touch reader or other similar size gadget. The case is lined with water-resistant off white canvas. It comes with a rivet reinforced brown leather strap with a snap closure. ||

6. Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup 1 Liter; Nutting Farm in Vermont: $32 || Dark amber color with a robust and complex maple flavor. For the table and in cooking. ||

7. Seal Line Urban Backpack: SM Green; The Urbane Cyclist in Salem: $103.99 || Seal Line Urban Backpacks are unique roll-top backpacks that provide watertight protection around town and on the trail. Find at the Urban Cyclist in Salem, MA. ||

8. Salt & Pepper Samplers; Soluna Garden Farms in Woburn, MA: $15 || Choose salt or pepper sampler, or both for + $10. The gourmet pepper sampler contains tins of Garlic Pepper, Herbed Pepper and Lemon Pepper. The gourmet salt sampler contains tins of Himalayan Pink Salt,Red Alaea Salt and Smoked Sea Salt. Sets come in a silver organza bag ready for gift giving!  Find them online or check their calendar for local markets. ||!/~/product/category=991194&id=4709675

9. BOSTON NEIGHBORHOOD MAP PRINT; J Hill Design: $15.00+ || Artist based in Boston. This Boston Map Print fills each of the city’s neighborhoods with bright bold pattern. It incorporates the year of the city’s birth, bright pattern and the names of all Boston’s neighborhoods. Inspired by vintage flash cards, our Map Prints celebrate the diversity and originality of territories both close-to-home and far away. ||


Be sure to check out the Holiday Gift Guide for Her as well! More gift guides coming up, including gifts for the hostess (or host) and gifts for kids. Happy holidays and happy gifting!

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

holiday gift guide for her

For the all-natural woman on your holiday list this year, shop local, shop organic, but above all, shop smart. She’ll appreciate a thoughtful gift that is also functional–one that she may use out in the garden, for preparing meals, or on the go! See below for our favorite picks from vegetarian accessories to beautiful, handmade bags!

holiday gift guide for her

1. Breville® Juice Fountain® Plus; Bed Bath & Beyond: $149.99 || This 850-watt professional juice extractor with a powerful 13,000 rpm motor juices both whole fruits and vegetables – no chopping or cutting required. ||

2. Potting Scoop by DeWit; Garden Tool Company: $39.90 || The potting scoop was designed with the container gardener in mind…higher sides than a trowel to hold more soil without spilling, a sharp leading edge for planting and digging and a “bag ripper” notch on the side of the blade for opening bags of soil. ||

3. Live Raw: Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty; Mimi Kirk: $11.64 || Raw food recipes for good health and timeless beauty. ||

4. Austin Throw; Pottery Barn: $45.00 || When the weather turns cool, wrap up in our deliciously soft, cozy throw. Knit in chunky Shaker ribs and edged by hand with twisted fringe, it adds texture and warmth to the sofa, bed or your favorite reading chair. ||||FN-Features-_-FN-Handmade-_–_-

5. Belsize Beckley; Hunter Wellies: $195.00 || A new last shape with a classic, simple, silhouette and clean lines, the Belsize boasts a leather-look finish, with a straight cut top, and faux leg strap, featuring a delicate Hunter metal emblem buckle. ||

6. White bracelet-white real leather in silver tubes and magnetic clasp; Chipo4u: $12.00 || The rice white real leather bangles is 5 straps-2mm diameter/strap; Silver plated over brass; 5 tubes on 5 straps of leather. ||

7. OXO Anniversary Teakettle; Williams-Sonoma: $79.95 || OXO’s award-winning Uplift teakettle is a modern-day kitchen classic for its function and style. The cork stays cool to the touch and offers a soft, secure grip, while the spout opens automatically as you lift. ||

8. Grey pleats on White Big Wallet; Ziazia: $28.00 || Made with a great white canvas with tiny grey threads that make little squares, for the exterior and the overlap flap, the interior of the overlap flap is made with grey cotton twill. ||

9. Urban Tote in Chocolate Brown Waxed Canvas and distressed leather; Red Staggerwing of Hampstead, NH: $95.00 || Waxed canvas upper with distressed leather bottom. Bag measures 11 1/2″ wide x 12 1/2″ tall and 3 1/2″ deep. Interior has 3 slip pockets. Easily fits 13″ macbook, tablets, readers, etc., with a fun floral lining. Shop on Etsy or find at the SoWa Open Market in Boston. ||

10. Fringed Openwork Scarf; Anthropologie: $38.00 || Not only a beautiful, bright accent piece to a casual outfit, this scarf is a warm addition as well. ||


We hope you enjoyed our Holiday Gift Guide for Her! Stop in all week for more gift guides. Tomorrow we’ll be revealing our top picks for Him. Happy Holidays!

Falling Into Fall With Delightful Guest Speakers

guest speakers

The temps are dropping, the teapot is whistling, our first course is off to a great start! What a wonderful time of the year to gather together to discuss and share our herbal journeys. Through our first weekend of certification, we’ve learned that many of our apprentices come from rich herbal backgrounds while others are in the very beginning stages of their education. At the Herbal Academy, we hope to be a community of gatherers with all sorts of backgrounds. Everyone has something to learn, something to share and something to bring to this community; we invite all to be part of our school in some way whether that’s through certification, seminars or workshops. Our upcoming October Guest Speaker Series is a great way to get your foot in the door at our school, meet our community and gain a wealth of information from our beautiful guest speakers.

The October Guest Speaker Series is kicking off with honorable guest, Jovial King, on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. This class will be presented by the founder of Urban Moonshine, a Vermont company specializing in Organic Herbal Bitters and Tonics. In this class, Jovial will discuss the importance of having tonic herbs as a part of your daily nourishment – inviting you to spark a revolution in your health and enjoy wellness with nutritive whole herb tonics. She hopes to inspire your relationship with health and the world around you. Read more information on the class here. Goodie Bags will be handed out at this class! Continue reading “Falling Into Fall With Delightful Guest Speakers”