Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Healing Spirit of Plants

"It has always been a part of human nature to seek close contact with the sacred and to bring spiritual visions into the world. Throughout history, people have sought to converse with the spirits of nature, especially those of the plant world. Evidence of this communication with the spirit world can be found at some time in every culture throughout the world.
"The people of old recognized the importance of establishing a sacred relationship with plants. They listened to and worked with the spirits of trees, shrubs and flowers. They became masters of the wilderness and came to understand how humans are woven into the web of life."

I found the BEST book on the Healing properties of plants at the library yesterday, it is called The Healing Spirit of Plants, and it has the most interesting first few chapters before it gets into common plants and their uses and spiritual attributes. I just am so loving it right now!
I have read this theory many times before, and over the years I have realized it is really for me it has gone beyond theory, as I can experience the effects of it on a daily basis, and sometimes most profoundly:

"Humans, other animals, and plants all have an individual essence that is made out of this spirit energy. It not only helps to shape our character but also affects our overall sense of well-being. When our spirits are high we feel energetic, dynamic, and creative. This ethereal energy is highly impressionable and our spirits can easily be dampened by those around us and our general environment. When our spirits are low we feel drained of energy, sluggish, uninspired, and lacking purpose.
Trees, shrubs and flowers all have a spirit or essence that endows them with personality, just as people do. It is thought that each species possesses a distinct energy or life essence that can be experienced as a sensation or feeling. The impression is subtler than the more readily defined emotions of anger, grief, fear and joy. They represent a wide spectrum of emotional shadings, each distinctly representative of a particular plant species.
It may be the reason people have always been drawn to the plant world in times of sickness is that they instinctively know that plants emit a particularly vibrant form of spirit energy. It is one that has potent uplifting affect upon our own spirit."

This is EXACTLY why we need a little flower in mid winter and late winter...something to lift our spirits and make us smile...why do flowers make us smile? They have a little plant spirit inside of them that mingles with our own when we acknowledge their vibrant little life; how could it NOT make us smile?
When I feel closed in and fed up, I go for a walk in my forest, and I feel calmed, balanced, quiet. My junipers don't emit a lightly dancing kind of spirit, but more of one of the ability to just "BE", of calm and enfolding and quiet and wisdom.

They have a very old spirit to me. It would be like visiting your very old great great granny who doesn't talk much, but rocks and knits and smiles at you now and again as you talk to her about your troubles, and only by virtue of the talking, the knitting and smiling do you feel as if all your problems dissolved right there.

I have this very large Rose Geranium (if you've never experienced this plant's scent, I HIGHLY recommend that you do!!) that I stumbled upon last summer when I needed something big and green and growing on my porch to welcome some visitors coming in the next days, and I snapped her up. The lady I bought her from was sooo wise, and put me in my place very kindly. I was looking at some straggly little plants on her front porch that were on a sale shelf, and when I came in, I asked, "How much are the straggly looking little plants in the front?" She immediately looked stricken and said, "Shhhh! Don't let them hear you say that, they are very sensitive." I immediately felt bad and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" Then as we both went out to the front to inspect the asked about plants, I saw this HUGE Rose Geranium, and I said, "Wow! What is this?"

"That is a Rose Geranium. I've had her for so long, I'd be sad to sell her to anybody who wouldn't take care of her."
I firstly knew I needed something this big and impressive, but I also wanted to prove to her that I did know about plants, and that I would take care of it. I paid a pretty penny for her, but after much promising that I'd take care of her, bring her in before the first frost, keep her inside, repot her as needed, water, sun, lalalala...yeah yeah yeah...I was able to take her home. I thought "Sheesh" to myself and went on home with her.
She was indeed impressive, and visitors who came in the next few days asked about her and smelled her very fine scent, and we marveled at the tiny little rosy purple flowers she produced, and it was good. I remembered to water her the rest of the summer, and I loved her, and I grew to really love her. Everytime I went by, all I had to do was caress her topmost leaves and my hands were scented heavily with her glorious earthy, musky, sweet smell. There is nothing else like it!! I began to talk to her, and so did the kids.
I had to talk to them about not pulling off her leaves to get her scent as they went by, but she would give all they needed if they just asked her in their minds, and they barely brushed the tops of her leaves. They were impressed with this new kind of wisdom, and so was I.
When October finally came, I knew it was time to keep her in at night, and so I did; Faithfully putting her out to enjoy the last of the sunshine during the day, and coming in to enjoy the warmth at night.
One night, I forgot about her...and it frosted. I was sick. I knew I had failed her, and I felt her anguish at loosing so much of herself. The next day, I gently and carefully snipped off anything that had frozen, and watered her, put her in front of the window where she'd catch the sun, and profusely apologized to her. I was so sorry, I felt like crying. I've never felt that she was angry, though, just sorry it happened at all, but still going strong, still living. Not an "oh well" kind of going on, but more of an instinct to live.
She surprised us all by becoming long and lank during the winter, and we've enjoyed her sweetness everyday.

Recently, we had a very warm day, and I let her out for the afternoon, watering her with the hose and watching her reach out to the warmth of the sun all the rest of that day, marvelling at her spirit in wonder. I forgot about her in the rush of my evening duties as the mom, and the next morning, as I walked by to touch her leaves, I was in a state of shock...where in the world...
a gasp, a cry of disbelief...I'd left her outside again.
I felt so guilty, I thought there must be a punishment or a law against such neglect. It was terrible. She was frozen worst than the first time, and I chanted "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm soooo sorry..." as I brought her in, and poured water on her, hoping (as I'd read this somewhere before) that if I watered her before the sun had a chance to warm her, it might diminish some of the damage that the cold had caused.
I waited to see what would be alright and what would need trimmed, and then I very carefully set about trimming her again. It was so terrible, and there were only 6 little weak stems with leaves on the large main stem left. It was a travesty, really. I could only send her my love and water her, and promise to keep her in the sunshine-filled window, I fed her special plant food and talked to her and cajoled, and now she is beginning to thrive again. She harbors no ill feeling, which I think can make me feel all the worse. Such an innocent creature, depending on me for all that she needs, and she gives so generously of herself for our happiness...I could learn so much from her.
And the most important thing I have learned, is that my life has been mirroring hers. When I've felt at my worse, I've neglected her, and some of her has withered and died, but she keeps going because it is all that she knows. She is abundant and forgiving and loving simply by virtue of who she was created to be. I know I have that inside of myself, and she teaches me to humble myself enough to become as open and full of goodness as she is. No one can convince me differently about her spirit, and I don't need to convince anyone else of it, because she is a precious lesson to me about caring not only for others, but also myself, without pointing fingers or guilt or resentment...who could ask for anything more from a little green plant?!

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