The First Glimpse
As a young lady I explored several paths of herbal healing which spoke to me. Then I came across the most colorful way to communicate, via Plant Spirit Medicine. There are many herbalists abound who have also found there niche with Plant Spirits. I say every Herbalist and Green Thumber have probably dabbled with a Plant Spirit whether they were conscious of it or not. Maybe even YOU have had your own experience!
My mother has raised me to appreciate any living creature, and to care deeply for those Green creatures we invite into our home - most commonly referred to as house plants. I would notice plants craving attention when they needed water. At first it was as simple as, “Wow! That plant needs some water. It is so droopy! It literally won’t survive if I don’t water it right now.”
Can you relate?
I became more in tune with my house plants by noticing which needed water more often, which acted as if they hated water and those which simply seemed happier just having me near them. Yes! That’s right! The plants were happier just knowing that I would continue to stand near them and water them while they were in my home. And that’s really where it all began…
It was like a wave of attention would come over me while near certain plants. Something in the room would beckon me and when I looked at these plants they would pump out more waves. Luring me over to them with subtle hints of rainbow energy . Well! How could I resist? I started experimenting. What happens to the plants when I enter a room? What happens when I try to spot out a plant that needs water in the room? What happens when I ask the plant if it needs water……..?
Now at this point, I was not hearing plants have full on conversations with me about water, the temperature or the nutrients there were in need of. It was more of a brighter perkier plant if they wanted what I asked, or a low energy stand-off-ish plant if they didn’t want what I offered.
How cool! It was making house plant care a lot easier. I was in High School at this point and all I wanted to do in college was study Botany. Plants had become a most interesting species which I believed had more potential than was commonly thought.
The roots of a plant will grow exponentially if phosphorus is added to the soil. With a larger root mass, the plant can match its above ground growth accordingly. More Leg Room = More Head Room.
Fresh out of Portsmouth High School, fresh out of the ol’ Hometown – Green Mountain College was going to enhance my herbal and botanical knowledge. I could already make tea. I remember being entranced by herbal literature and books filled with this-for-that recipes (Echinacea for enhanced immunity, my first Plant Ally). My parents came to visit and took me to the Rutland Food CO-OP where I bought an ounce of Horehound, Marrubium vulgare, to treat an ankle sprain. If you have not tried this herb as a tea, be warned. A seemingly friendly mint with a latin name that designates it as a bitter herb. Ha! I had not yet acquired an herbalist tongue, so naturally I thought it was wretched! This must have started it. My attempt at diagnosing myself and curing it herbally began with Horehound. I’d rather call it the Italian Bitter. Blessed be bitter. In any case, just staring at herbal books alone was not going to suffice. I needed some live action herbalism to really get the message across. There is only so much you can do with a few hundred pages of recipes – you need someone to tell you which direction to spin the spoon so your herbs will gather information from the proper sun sign, etc, etc…
A fellow Green Mountainer and herbalist Michelle H had planned out an informal workshop in the Yes! CoffeeHouse at GMC. My girlfriends and I thought it’d be groovy so we gave it a whirl. My first workshop. The herbalist who spoke had glowing hair and made it clear that I was not the only one talking to plants! Here I was calling them witches while I grew up. Now I realized they were Herbalists. Several years later I found out this magic woman I saw was Pam Montgomery, host of Partner Earth Education Center in Danby Vermont, author of Plant Spirit Healing. That spring I attended Michelle’s medicine-making workshop. She lead us on an herb walk through campus and the surrounding wild areas identifying herbs and gathering those which “spoke” to us. I brought back Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca, which I learned to tincture. My main purpose was for use of menstrual cramps. I also gathered Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris (my second Plant Ally), to enhance my intuition and dream capabilities. Michelle had Calendula, Calendula officinalis, on hand to teach us how to make salves for skin.
Now with a little teaching the herbal books I had randomly bought online made sense! There was more understanding when diagnosing my own ailments and many more avenues I was willing to explore. The Herbal Door opened.
If you have ever perked a lobe when you hear someone say “Herbal Remedy”, if you’ve ever felt unsatisfied with allopathic medication: Go to a Workshop! Take a Class! Find an herbal shop near you and go in! Just reading this blog shows that you are on your way. Ask for guidance and you’ll see there are so many ways to heal yourself. What a great feeling it is to be able to solve your body’s mystery. Whether it be the onset of a cold, sore muscles, or worry you can find organic solutions. The power of plants has lived on since they first emerged from the Earth. Even mushrooms have healing properties. And they want to help you.
The branches, stalks, limbs, foliage, leaves that absorb sunlight; the shoots need nitrogen to vegetate, to expand and grow closer to the Sun.
While living in Prescott, Arizona in 2005 I had a new switch turn on. The Energy of the Earth. In my free time I was studying Chakras, or the ever intriguing Rainbow Serpent living right here inside of us. After recognizing how my chakra energy glowed I was able to see the hues in others, laying gently on the curves and corners of their eyes and face. It would be a friend who opened up to me; they were actually letting me see their “aura” (though sometimes the occasional city-stroller got a buzz of meditation). Honestly it was quite confusing! I didn’t know what it all meant, but I told anyone who glowed to me and that led to lots and lots of good conversation! A dear friend was reading Eliot Cowan’s Plant Spirit Medicine which led him to chatter with Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, and Morning Glory, of the Convolvulaceae family, and like any good friend details were shared and experiments begun. At the same time I was enrolled in an Ethnobotany course at Prescott College and read The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby to prepare myself. It explains how the Ayahuasca plant was used by natives in South America – under its influence natives were acquiring knowledge on how to use plants from the forest and the DNA/chromosomes which run our humanely form.
Ah yes… a truly divine stage for Plant Spirit Medicine to dance.
I had to explore more paths and see where the plants would lead me. My first teacher of Plant Spirit Medicine was Dr. Deborah Frances R.N., N.D. in a class she led at The Herb-Pharm in Williams, Oregon. I was working as an apprentice there and part of my work-trade included free classes from several amazing herbalists. Deborah’s class was focused on Plant Spirit Medicine. She led several meditations which brought us to Plant Spirits. She would introduce them and ask them to share their guidance with us. I sat back and watched as my brain/Third Eye filled with colors and literally spoke to me. It was all so fast and new that I could only feel the emotions they sent me and how my body responded to them. It was a fullness of breath and heart that filled every chakra, every body part. My thoughts were at rest, my brain at ease and my body could fully feel. A sort of new experience considering my brain tends to race. When a Plant Spirit shares their energy with you, it is different from your response to eating it. It’s not all that far from the feeling intuition gives you, actually. It’s a message you are receiving. But who’s to say who sent you that intuition? There could be multiple sources. However, Plant Spirits can be distinguished between species and locations. It is the magic that lives in the Earth that we as humans have a tendency to ignore. Animals speak it too.
The following spring semester, the winds blew in my direction and I was able to add (and attend) the class Sacred Plant Medicine to Green Mountain College’s curriculum, taught by Village Herbalist and Midwife Helena Wu. I had met up with Helena at the North East Herbal Association’s (NEHA) Annual Winter Conference. She mentioned wanting to teach and with Green Mountain being in close proximity to her land it seemed like a perfect match. There were seven other “witches” who decided to attend the course and the results were pure magic! Helena discussed the basics in herbal work: medicine-making, the many ways to approach herbal practice (Ayurveda, Wise Woman Way), and growing. But our main focus was on Plant Spirit Medicine. I brought what I had learned from Deborah’s teachings and was able to explore further! We read from Stephen Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants and used his methods of plant communication. (We also used his meditation techniques on communicating with ourselves!) But before we could dabble in the ancient Plant Spirit dance we had to make a promise to the Earth – to be respectful towards plants and the Green Beings we would try to contact. In actuality plants have lived on the Earth much longer than any of us have, and therefore act as an Elder to us. They have been able to survive uprooting, relocation, any sort of disaster, picking, eating, and trampling all while continuing to thrive and ensure a future generation. It is important to approach a Plant Spirit with respect. You gain trust and friendship which allows you to fully communicate with them. A friend is willing to help you and do favors for you. And in return you do the same for them. With this understood, we could commence communication! Our plant meditations were inspired by holding the physical plant in our hands and mouths. Helena would pass around an herb that most of us were unfamiliar with. She’d lead us all into meditation:
“Relax into the Earth and feel its support.
Say hello to the plant you are holding…
Ask what it is used for…
Ask if you should be using it and why…
Ask if there is anything else the herb would like to share with you…
Thank it for its offerings to you,
Thank it for sharing itself and spirit.”
The most impressive sort of meditation, when I really feel that Plant Spirits are universal, is when you meditate in a group. Wow…breathtaking! Pure coincidence formatted to your DNA. We would go around in a circle sharing what we experienced. And our results were the same. No matter how it was phrased, or what the specific dosage was, the ailment it treated was either very similar or exactly the same as what another group member had received. The plants we were holding were speaking to all of us and literally sharing its powers. This method may have been used by the indigenous peoples of the Earth to learn survival and healing techniques. Just as Ayahuasca was used in South America. Helena encouraged us to practice this on our own and eventually we could contact Plant Spirits who weren’t physically in our presence. Calling to a Plant Spirit without being near the plant.
If this excites you I advise trying it on your own, it couldn’t hurt! Just remember to be respectful, introduce yourself, and keep your heart open. I also highly suggest picking up one of the books mentioned above to be a guide.
Potassium is a favorite to those plants that give us fruit. It also helps maintain vitality in the plant. Be fruitful and multiply [your means of disease resistance].
Bloom where you are planted, my friend. Set flower and create seeds. Gather your nutrients and push forth a highly erotic display of color and energy. Give yourself a way to prevent illness. Fulfill your desires with herbal love.
As so, I take my own advice and offer you my fruits: the experiments, meditations, plant folklore and second opinions fellow herbalists have written. I mostly practice on myself, my partner and my friends. If there is something specific you seek, try the search bar on my page. Or navigate yourself through the Table of Contents. If I haven’t written about it yet there is still a good chance I have the information you are looking for, or at least know of someone who does. Ask and you shall receive.