Demystifying plant communication
Throughout my life I have had a very special relationship with plants. It is a form of plant communication that is often difficult to explain to people. When I was a youngster, I remember sitting in the side yard harvesting plantain seeds into a bowl to make medicine. In these early days I didn’t know that this would someday lead into the work I do now. I just knew my green allies wanted me to practice using their stems, leaves, roots, and flowers. Some of my favorite herbal friends were Wild Carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace, Chicory, Plantain, Joe Pye Weed and Staghorn Sumac. They grew in abundance around the railroad tracks near my house. There were literally tons of wildflowers to discover and I was in my glory. I didn’t go to the library to learn about them instead I simply walked in their presence and listened with my heart wide open. Looking back I remember I was always happy when I was around them.
Winter of my youth
Unfortunately, our winters in Central New York were long and very snowy in the 70’s. Some of our snowbanks were at least 2 feet high. In these extreme conditions I had to go many months without seeing much color at all and it got quite lonely without my friends. But, when spring would final come, which was around the end of May, they would call to me. They would tell me their stories and tell me which plants were safe and which to avoid. For example, during one of their lesson they told me that as pretty as buttercup flowers were, I was not to eat them fresh. This insight proved helpful because they are quite poisonous unless dried or used in a flower essence. I really didn’t think this was a special gift back then. In my mind I truly thought everyone could hear and sense them.
When I got a bit older, I spent a lot of time exploring field guides and reading the entire Foxfire Series. I loved the drawings of the various plants. If you haven’t explored this volume of books, I highly recommend them. They are an anthology of Appalachian wisdom from elders that have since past. You can learn everything from canning to broom making and all things in between.
My Wayward Years
In my late teenage years and early 20s life really got away from me. As a result I left my passion behind and lost myself in a maelstrom of false friendships, substance abuse and a path of self-destruction. It took me about 15 years before I reconnected with my joyful pursuits. I had a really difficult time finding myself in the fog. Through yoga and Reiki I was able to resume my path. In my practice I was able get quiet and allow the love to flow from heart out into the world. From there I would listen to what was being communicated back to me. The act of plant communication began anew and I was overjoyed! My heart has been energetically blocked for so many years I still have a hard time showing my emotions, but that is where my plant allies help me out.
A Compassionate Way to Harvest
Today I was harvesting some comfrey (knitbone, Symphytum officinale) to make an herbal infused oil. One of the important things to do before you begin clipping leaves is to begin with a short meditation and ask the plant if it’s okay to take parts of them. This is how you start the plant communication process. Then explain what you’re going to do with the leaves, flowers, roots, etc. so that she knows that they are going to be used in a good way. Once you take only what you need send her healing energy or leave a small gift of tobacco or your hair and thank her for her gift. Think about it, what kind of energy does your medicine have if the plant matter is taken against their will? We need to be mindful of the life of all living beings. I truly believe plants are sentient beings. The big brains of the science world are always debunking this notion, bully on them! They probably rarely get outside to make an informed experiential decision for themselves.
So, I encourage you to begin really seeing the plants and trees around you. Listen to how they sound when the wind blows through them. Notice if they smell a certain way after a rainfall. Have you ever picked up bloom that has freshly fallen? If so, have you examined its exquisite intricacies? I invite you to observe a plant’s life-cycle, noticing what they look like at the beginning of their season to the end of their life or when they go into hibernation. This is a great way to become grounded, which can be a foreign or lofty goal when you feel nothing but anxiety and fear of what is coming next. It is my hope that my words get stuck in your head and they encourage you to get out in nature for a few minutes a day and observe colors, shapes, smells, textures, and the effects of the season. Perhaps one day you too will strike up a conversation with a lily or even a dandelion, which are very talkative…by the way 🙂
Please reach out to me if you want to learn more or would like to see a workshop regarding plants or herbal medicine. We love talking about plants!