We have just past the time of Winter Solstice in the North, when the days are dark, the nights fall sooner, the air is icy , the mornings greet us with blankets of delicate frost… More
Flower power : Healing with the land
The beauty of nature for me comes in the medicine, food and materials it offers us , selflessly, so we can survive, thrive, grow and know our place as guardians and custodians of the earth.
Its in the healing trees, flowers and plants we term “weeds” that until fairly recently in our social history, were known for their medicinal and healing properties. Not in a far off exotic land , but here in these blessed isles of what we now call Britain.
In the not so distant past , as recently as the 1940’s and 50’s we still had local wise men and women who held the knowledge of herb craft and plant wisdom. They knew what preparations could support the communities health and well being long before we created the NHS .
Whilst there may have been con artists and quacks selling ineffective concoctions for profit ( there still is ) most communities had at least one person, often one with knowledge passed down generation to generation, whose purpose was to tend the wellbeing of the community. We might call that person the wise woman, the cunning man , a witch, a healer , a shaman , one who knows.
They were the midwives, GP’s, nurses , social workers , care workers , counsellors and advisors others turned to in times of need. They lived and worked with local plants and herbs to alleviate and stave off dis-ease and sickness amongst their local population.
As industrialisation increased, as more towns and cities developed as more and more people were sent to work endless shifts in dirty , dangerous conditions that were frequently deleterious to their health and increasingly removed them from their previously close contact with the natural world around them.
Resources that were once common- belonging to all – the commoners – became owned and only available if sold in exchange for money.
As everything increased in price and cost nature became devalued. It became not our abundant store of food and materials but a commodity and as this spread more and more our capacity to care for the land and support it to grow and thrive diminished.
We orphaned ourselves from that which nurtured and sustained us and we set off down the path of careless destruction and disconnection from our true place in the world.
I believe plants and flowers have never stopped trying to call us back home. To mend the severed ties, to ground us back in belonging to the earth. I have the pleasure of many wild weeds , flowers , medicine on the land I am now custodian and guardian.
As a flower essence and shamanic practitioner and wild therapist who has travelled the healing path all my life , been attuned to the nature kingdom since early childhood , who has never forgotten the presence of the other world or the ways in which it speaks to us I find the most profound healing has come through the use of flower essences.
Flowers are one of natures most gentle and potent , powerful healers .
Their capacity to energetically support our soul healing and bring our mental physical and emotional bodies back into balance should not be underestimated.
When people think of plant medicine they often think of Mother teacher plants like , Peyote , San Pedro , Psilocybin mushrooms and other psychotropic plants that often shift consciousness and awareness rapidly and often quite forcefully needing lots of time for us to integrate their medicine and healing.
People don’t often consider that every plant and flower possesses healing medicine , that is just as profound and brings just as much insight , awareness and healing. Albeit at a much gentler pace and speed . Enabling integration to take place more easily and with less of a shock to our system and psychic senses.
Having had the psychic shock and trauma of psychoactive substances taken too young – the very gentle flower essences have been the most effective remedy for re-balancing , repairing and mending the after effects of opening up too much , too soon , when unknowingly too traumatised to properly integrate the experience.
Flower essences have supported me to repair my energy field, clear ancestral and familial patterning , unblock stuck and repressed emotions, ground and centre my energy back into my physical body , clear my chakra system , stabilise the mental and emotional bodies and lots more besides.
If you find yourself drawn again and again to a particular plant or flower it’s probably trying to get your attention. It has medicine for you . It has energy it wishes to share with you . On some level your being needs it .
Sit with it a while . Notice its colour. Its scent . What comes to mind when you spend time with it. What feelings/ memories arise ? How does your body feel in its presence ?
What is it trying to tell you ?
(All words and photos copyright © Alexa Sargeant /Space for Nature 2021)
The Land is Alive !
The land is alive and bustling with life ! Fit to burst with huge doc and nettle!
The meadow has new wild flowers emerging which is very exciting and I am being shown how to manage the hog weed without causing too much harm .
We have red clover , white clover and a red thing I don’t know the name of but i was very excited to discover! And orchids 😃😃😃.
This year is about watching the space , seeing how it grows , what is here , how much , and working out with it what needs to go where .
This space will be and is a beautiful calming , gentle space to be around wildness and nature without needing to go too far away .
Making it ideal for people who might be socially anxious and prefer spaces with fewer people and less distractions.
We do have a road next to the site but after a while , it tends to blend into the background and sound like the ocean 😃
The bird song drowns a lot of the background noise out as well and listening to birdsong has been reported to provide therapeutic benefits helping relax the mind and the body .
I am getting very excited about the plans and having people supported in their recovery here .
We have had a tough 18 months and sometimes we just need a space to just hang out and be . In nature . With a brew . And nothing more .
Lessons from the land: A Pathway through the woods
The first task I had when taking on this space was to clear the dead wood and brambles left to over grow for years .
Not an easy task but after a few weeks of steady perseverance, the majority of the thorns had been tamed . I’d pitched a little tea making spot beneath the elder and began to observe as spring brought a surge of growth to the land. What had been bare and barren and quite frankly looked a huge mess , began to transform before me into a beautiful woodland paradise.
It became clear early on we would need pathways to make getting round the site easier for people but also so wildlife habitat wasn’t being trampled on. It took a while to sit with the space and work out where best to place them. Some , like the path from the entrance to the compost to the meadow were straight forward and self evident. It was the how of it that started the first conversation with the land .
I wondered back and forth for days trying to work out what to use . Weed membrane? Wood bark ? Stone gravel ? Do i buy stuff in ? Card board ?
The answer came from the land itself as piles of dead sticks from last years flowers mounted up and as the dead grass and moss was raked to make space for shoots and new growth . “use whats here already”
And so the winding path beneath the willows was made of soft green moss and stalks . I continued it past the compost heap and towards the meadow. And then after a sudden spell of snow the sun warmed the land and the site exploded into its spring growth . The paths were overwhelmed and it has become evident that my initial reluctance to put down the weed membrane was not such a bad idea.
By not putting it down immediately I learnt 2 lessons- one that it was in fact a good idea and two that the site needs much wider pathways than I anticipated especially during summer ! I also got to learn why they need more room and the kinds of plants that the land is home too.
Nettle , thistle and common hog weed grow incredibly tall during summer if left unchecked. As do the grasses . They are all vital food and habitat for wildlife and sources of nutritious forage for people. And the site is abundant with them ! Its wonderful but also means it needs to be managed if people are going to access the site on a regular basis . And without weed membrane down the paths need clearing every two or three days . Leave it more than a week and they disappear beneath the green .
There’s something deeply satisfying in taking time to work with and negotiate with the land about what is done and when and why.
By allowing myself to go step by step guided by the space and the wisdom of the garden , by not rushing to impose a solution but giving the place time to show me how it grows I have been able to figure out not just what i need but what the place needs. What the wildlife needs. What the plants need. Where they grow , how they grow and how that effects how the space is used and becomes shaped.
It has allowed me to consider what kinds of workshops and activities might be best suited to here and what can be foraged and utilised for them . And what needs to be left alone . To grow . To keep the balance.
It also reminded me of how we build new neural pathways in our brain by learning new things and doing things new ways . The physical act of laying new paths in the outside mirrors the creating of new pathways within. And so it goes with permaculture. Undoing my human learning to do to , rather than with all beings not just the human .
As I continue to deepen the relationship to place and land it begins to open up and speak more. Nudging me here to do this and there to do that. Advising when to leave alone , stay away or come closer and help out. There are times I notice i am stuck internally and in danger of forcing things to happen and the wisdom of the land supports and offers its advice . To stop. Go home . Rest. Come back in a few days . Do something else for a while . And I do and it works. Things shift and move.
Nature can be harsh and unforgiving in its wildness at times but it is also very giving and patient and welcoming. It shares its abundance and its wisdom willingly . When we are able to listen and hear what it has to say and let go of our human need to control everything. Thinking we know best .
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