As you’ve probably already guessed from this website, I love plants. Medicinal plants have been a long time focus and calling although all plants are healing in their own wonderful and varied ways. This blog post has been a very long time coming. Its first stirrings began many years ago and came again while harvesting St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) flowers in the bright, warm, embracing sun in the summer of 2015. It had been a trying year full of unexpected changes as my mother had died suddenly in the very early and sleepy spring. Anyone that has experienced grief especially the raw grief that comes on abruptly unexpectedly leaving you breathless in an instant as all the oxygen in your universe is viciously sucked away in one soundless swoosh. My experience certainly didn’t pale in that regard. It left me feeling as tiny as a fish flopping around outside of its safe, natural borders into unchartered, foreign, and wholly un-supporting terrain.
Spending time with the plants was the only thing I wanted to do. The only thing that still made sense to me and brought connection. In that unfamiliar rawness being around most human beings was too painful. One of most influential people that would ever be in my life was gone. Blink. Gone. The burden of needing to act “normal” was too great. Conversely, the plants had no such expectations of me. They welcomed me, open arms, grief and all and never wanted me to be anything other than what I was. In case this is new to you, plants have consciousness, they have spirits. They have presence and in that presence is a profound healing beyond words and at times beyond comprehension or intellectual explanation. This level of healing needs no explanation. It only needs to be experienced, trusted, and honored for what it is. What is needed is awareness and the willingness to learn a new language. What is needed is to be open to the plant’s energy and consciousness and to how it is speaking to you and then to embrace and hold that experience close to your heart.
I found myself spending much time walking the Medicine Wheel, meditating with the plants, singing to the plants, playing my flute, and harvesting the plant’s gifts. I especially found myself spending much time with St. John’s Wort, or St. Joan’s Wort as she prefers. On this particular day I was harvesting St. Joan’s Wort in the baking Sun to be made into a healing oil. It’s one of my favorite things to do. She has been one of my plant allies for several decades. Early on She drove away “seasonal blues” and calmed sciatica pain and sore muscles. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of sharing her medicine with so many people through classes and remedies from her bright yellow flowers that turn red when bruised or steeped in oil. Making St. Joan’s Wort oil and salve has become a catharsis for me, a rite of passage, and just one of the ways that I keep reconnecting with Her power year after year. The year my mother passed I found myself drawn to her over and over again. A strong drawing not out of balance but a gentle knowing that She was there waiting for me daily. I would seek Her out making flower essences, oils, solar infusions, and many times solely for the purpose of being in Her energy. This particular afternoon had been one of those moments that should be frozen for eternity the connection is so complete and profound that a timelessness drifts over like a summer breeze a completely welcoming surprise. As I bent to examine the bursting yellow blossoms it suddenly occurred to me that I was healing. I was working through the feelings surrounding my mother’s death one day at a time with the help of this absolutely amazing and powerful plant. I’d noticed over the months, that my energy and vitality were returning. At times I was even laughing and the deep and heavy sadness was lifting. In this beautiful, profound “ah ha” moment that burned deep in my soul I realized on an even deeper level that THIS is my medicine. This. All of it. Being in relationship with the plants, connecting, being on the Earth, harvesting in the way my ancestors have done for thousands of years. Simple, beautiful, and profound. This. This was my “medicine”, my power. I’ve been teaching about medicinal herbs and doing healing work for well over 30 years and yet there is always room to stretch farther, to go deeper.
Even now I can feel Her roots working their way into my soul, into my Being. And I smile. This is the nature of the sacred medicine plants when we approach them with love, with gratitude, devoid of ego, and with an open heart. Bringing our whole selves with us; broken, bruised, and wounded. Or happy and joyous. It doesn’t matter. They react and relate to the authentic. To the real. To the childlike. To humility. To me it requires a complete giving over of the self and allowing oneself to be led. To be guided. Allowing yourself to “not know”. Letting it be okay to not have all the answers. That is where we become teachable. It is the place where the everyday and the sacred collide stretching on into eternity. This is where we embrace the Divine and in doing so we touch the sacred within ourselves. This is the place where we truly connect with the sacred medicine plants.
On this Summer Solstice Day, the Day of St. Joan’s Wort, I head out again to find Her. Seeking out her wisdom, her strength, and her medicine. Honoring her in whatever small ways I can to give back for all the incredible gifts she has given me, gifts I know I will never be able to repay.