Plant Spirit Ally Challenge Day 15: Journey
Welcome to day 15 of the #PlantSpiritChallenge! Today's task is to take a magical journey to meet the spirit of your plant ally and learn from her in a new way.
Journeying with plant spirits is a central part of metaphysical herbcraft. Plants are eager to share their wisdom with us, and to inspire us in working with them; but it takes practice and attention to become skilled at traveling with them. Today I'd like to share with you four of my favorite techniques for connecting with the green ones.
1. The most basic method of journeying with a plant is to visit it where it grows. Take a jar of clear water--or some form of blessed water, so long as it doesn't have salt in it--and a small snack. If you are new to journeying, you might want to take a timer with a gentle alarm. Sit as close to the plant as you can comfortably get. Then take a few moments to connect with it: touch it, smell it, taste it (unless it's poisonous. Then use the appropriate cautions.)
Once you feel strongly connected to the plant, ask her to be your companion on a spirit journey. Ask her to communicate with you if she is willing. Offer her some of your water. Then get comfortable, close your eyes, and begin your journey.
There are many different kinds of visualizations used to begin spirit journeys. If you have a favorite method of entering the necessary state of mind, feel free to use yours and skip mine. But if you don't, here's my favorite visualization:
See yourself at the top of a set of 13 stone steps. Breathe slowly and evenly, and picture yourself slowly descending one step at a time, counting each step as your foot lands on it, from thirteen down to one. As you descend, breathe in the fragrance around you, the breath of the plants. When your foot hits the ground at the base of the steps, you should be in a relaxed, receptive state of mind. Beside you, there will be some kind of landmark: a pillar, a standing stone, a pile of rocks, even a dinstinctive tree. Touch this and remember it: you can use it to bring yourself back from the journey any time you need to. Before you lies a forest, green with summer, and through the trees an earth path winds into the shadows. Follow the path until you come to a clearing in the woods. At the center of the clearing is a flat stone large enough to stretch out on. Here is where the spirit of your plant companion can meet you. Pay attention to everything you see, and to the sensations you feel in your spirit body. Everything you see and hear in your journey is a message--but don't analyze it during your vision. Just observe, and remember. You can think it all over later. You may encounter a spirit that will speak to you, even take you by the hand and lead you to other landscapes. But even if you don't, there are messages for you in this otherworld. Plants aren't like people: they communicate in many abstract ways. If you only get sensations and fragmented impressions, that's all right. There is no wrong way to journey, no failure. There's only what the spirits wish to share with you when you visit their realm.
When you know it's time to go, return to your landmark at the foot of the stairs. Then tell yourself it's time to return to your body, and ascend the stairs, this time counting from one to 13. Open your eyes and move around, stretch, and eat your snack. Record your experience in a journal now, or after you return home.
Before you leave, thank the plant, and pour the rest of your blessed water at its roots.
But what if the weather is abysmal, or the plant is growing somewhere public, where you won't be able to journey without interruptions? Or what if you feel strongly called to work with a plant, but really have no access to the live plant? That's where the other methods come in.
2. Gather some of the plant and bring it home. In this case, find the plant growing abundantly somewhere. Ask the plant for permission, and wait until you feel a definitive "yes" from the plant. Take only what you need: what you harvest shouldn't leave an easily observable impact on the plant population. Once again thank the plant sincerely, and leave an offering of blessed water. If you see any litter in the area, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Then return home with your plant. Create sacred space if you wish, and sit comfortably, holding the plant in your non-dominant hand, or placing it across your lap with your hands resting on it. Or lie down and place the plant over your third eye or your heart. Then use the same journeying technique as described in the first method, including the snack at the end. And yes, thank the plant again when you are finished. And be sure to handle its remains respectfully, returning them to the earth if you can.
3. If you don't have access to a living plant, you can work with the dried plant. Purchase dried herbs only from a reputable supplier. The seller should be able to tell you not only what plant, and what part, you are purchasing, but should also know the plant's origin, and whether it was wildcrafted, organically grown, or conventionally grown. My supplier of choice is Mountain Rose Herbs.
Make a quart of strong tea (technically a "tisane" if it isn't made with the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis!) with the leaves with the dried herb. How strong is up to you--for journeying, I tend to just throw a few good handsful of tea into a pint jar, and pour freshly boiled water over it. I cover the jar and steep for five minutes if it's something delicate like leaves or flowers, 10 minutes if it's berries, and 15 to 20 minutes if it's roots. If you plan to drink some of your tisane, strain it and pour it into a cup. Be careful, it will still be very hot!
Then take your tea, create sacred space, and get comfortable. Sip the tisane slowly if you like. And breathe in the steam created by the tea, closing your eyes and focusing on the fragrance. Do this until you feel relaxed and tuned into the energy of the infusion. Then begin your journey as described in the first method.
When you are finished, dispose of the spent herbs respectfully.
CLEARLY if the plant you are working with is toxic, you shouldn't ingest it! Be sure to use common sense for this exercise.
4. Instead of making a tea, grind your dried herb with a mortar and pestle, or a clean coffee grinder reserved only for herbs. Use the ground herb as an incense on charcoal. Spend a few moments breathing the scented air before using the visualization described in the first method.
This method is great for a group, with someone designated to hold space and feed herbs to the charcoal throughout the journey so the smoke continues to scent the air. If you DO journey in a group, consider setting aside time at the end for participants to share their visions with one another if they wish. Sometimes remarkable insights can be gained in this kind of circle.
When you are finished, dispose of the herb's ashes respectfully, or save them for spell work.
If you are disappointed in the results of your efforts at first, don't give up. Communicating with plants requires patience for most of us--but keep trying! Spirit rewards tenacity.
And finally, a few words of advice. Use common sense: don't ever ingest a plant you don't know. If you're drawn to an unfamiliar plant, find out what you can about it before you start touching and tasting. There are very few poisonous plants in the world, but there are some. While I believe in trusting my intuition, I also believe in backing it up with research.
If you suffer from asthma or any other respiratory disorder, don't use method four. Smoke is not the friend of compromised or sensitive lungs.
And most important of all, always approach the plants with respect and care. Treat them--and their habitat--with reverence, and do what you can to protect the earth so the plants have a place to grow.
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