2016 Winter Issue
Plants as Agents of Change
Blessings to you on this High Holy Day of Imbolc otherwise known as Candlemas, the cross quarter day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. At this time of the year the angle of the sun shifts to such a degree that the resulting gain in light each day is noticeable. It is truly the time of year when the light returns and the promise of spring awaits us. Here in the northeast I marvel at the change but even more so I was shocked when I woke this morning to 52 degrees. It has been one of the warmest and least snowy on record. Change is in the air.
Here at Sweetwater Sanctuary we are excitedly making changes to our house, gardens and center building preparing for the next big change in our lives. As we shift away from long term programs like the apprenticeship and into more ceremonial Plant Initiations and Nature Evolutionaries work we find the plants stepping forward to help us during these changing times.
One of the big changes in my life is this will be the last year I teach the Plant Spirit Healing Apprenticeship which will take place in Nevada City, Ca, I have been teaching both herbal and plant spirit healing apprenticeships since 1987. This year will be the 30th year of apprenticeships. I have made the decision to stop teaching apprenticeships for many reasons but I want to say that the years have been rich and full with amazing people, good times, massive transformation and, of course, awesome plants. My reminiscence took me to some letters written over the years:
“I did a greenbreath w/ Mugwort the other day and was overcome with gratitude for you and the work that you do. Your apprenticeship program was a completely life changing event for me, a defining moment (as I know you are aware). I really cannot say thank you enough.” J.F.
“I wanted to take some time to say thank you for what it is that you do on and for this Earth. The teachings I received from the plants through you- as I see you as such a clear bone for the plants to work through- have been absolutely life transforming, healing and ultimately, the essence of my work with them.” S.P.
“I am so privileged and blessed to have been able to work with you and to meet a lovely group of people and plants through your introductions. Thank you again, I am traveling with all of your guidance and inspiration, I have always seen you to be a "mover and a shaker" for the cause of greater healing on the planet.” D.L.
“Wow - who knew that life could be so grand?! I am filled and nourished with
What struck me about the letters from apprentices of the past was not their praise for me but how deeply they had connected with the plants. This is what it is ALL about – relationship with the plants and trees and the deep change they can and do make in our lives. I made a commitment to the plants years ago and as I read these letters my heart fills and I feel good. I stayed the course and followed the guidance of the plants and held a container for folks to become intimately involved with plants and trees so that personal, professional and planetary healing could take place. This brings to mind one of my favorite songs, “And so, today, my world smiles
So now on to the present - Just because I’m teaching my last apprenticeship this coming year doesn’t mean I’m done teaching. I will be in the UK in July teaching Part I of a Plant Spirit Healing Intensive. This is not an apprenticeship in the strictest sense but it will be packed full of information and experiences and once Part II is finished in 2017 you will have gained almost as much as in an apprenticeship. I will also facilitate a Nettle Plant Initiation in the UK.
I will teach Plant Communication; Reclaiming Our Birth-Rite here at the Partner Earth Education Center in Vermont. This course is at the foundation of all plant work because it teaches you how to learn from the plants themselves. If you work and develop the communication skills that this course teaches you then can go directly to the best teachers of all – the plants.
Other places you will find me this year are at Rowe Center teaching Plant Spirit Healing. I will be in Ohio facilitating a Dandelion Plant Initiation and will be teaching at the Northeast Women’s Herbal Conference and the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference.
Many folks want to take courses to deepen their relations with plant and come home to themselves while bringing healing into to the world. But, unfortunately, not everyone has the financial resources to follow the call of the plants. With this in mind I ask those of you who can to contribute to the Scholarship Fund so that a worthy student may attend a class. We thank you in advance for your generosity.
As I ponder how plants and trees change us and invite us to be filled full of our true essential nature I want to shower you and them with eloquence as this is one of the finest ways to praise and yet I find myself turning to one much more eloquent then myself to express what happens in our love affair with plants:
White Flowers by Mary Oliver
in the fields
I lay down in the darkness
to think about death,
but instead I fell asleep,
as if in a vast and sloping room
filled with those white flowers
that open all summer,
sticky and untidy.
in the warm fields.
When I woke
the morning light was just slipping
in front of the stars,
and I was covered
I don’t know
how it happened-
I don’t know
if my body went diving down
under the sugary vines
in some sleep-sharpened affinity
with the depths, or whether
that green energy
rose like a wave
and curled over me, claiming me
in its husky arms.
I pushed them away, but I didn’t rise.
Never in my life had I felt so plush,
or so slippery,
or so resplendently empty.
Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers
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