The secret lives of plants

photo by Wendy Yalom

photo by Wendy Yalom

I never saw myself as “good with plants.” I’d struggle to keep houseplants alive, and my greatest successes were with growing mint.

Mint grows like a weed. 

Then, I met Matthew Wood, an amazing American herbalist and author. At the time, I was struggling with gluten intolerance, lead and mercury poisoning, and a parasite. My entire system was a mess, and I had trouble even walking. 

During one session, he took herbal tinctures gently swabbed them on my arm. With each different herb, he felt for changes in my pulse. American ginseng, dandelion root, angelica...I was introduced to amazing herbs I now use everyday. 

He wanted to test one herb he didn’t have, so he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. He took a small scrap of paper, wrote down the name of the herb, and placed it on my hand.

My hand color immediately changed, and I felt my nervous system relax. 

He felt my pulses soften.

For the first time, I felt the power of the plant spirit realm. 

An entirely new world opened up to me, and I fell completely in love with the plant kingdom. 

Matthew sent me home with a list of herbs to take, including a protocol using Easter lily flower essence. Flower essences are vibrational remedies developed by Dr. Bach in the early 1900s. Dr. Bach believed flower essences worked on the emotional and psychological well being of the patient, and when these were treated, the physical disease states were healed. I was to take three drops of flower essence a day for seven days before the onset of my period, and follow this protocol for three cycles. The first period would likely be worse than normal, the second cycle slightly better, and the third would be much improved.

Part of me doubted a vibrational remedy containing no physical plant matter would be able to improve physical problems. I know now from my experience with Chinese medicine how deeply our emotional states impact our reproductive health (and health in general), but at the time, I was pretty desperate...and for $7.90 a bottle, the flower essence seemed like a worthwhile investment. 

Plus, I remembered how invoking a plant spirit could change my pulse and the color of my tissues. 

And, my heart wants to believe in magic. 

I started the protocol on Easter morning. Easter lily, I’ve learned, is highly potent in her action. As predicted, my first cycle was … terrible. Absolutely terrible. Without going into graphic detail, I felt like my reproductive tract was being totally cleaned out. The second cycle was slightly improved, although still intense. By the third cycle, I was a different woman. My cycle was completely transformed. To this day, I’m still amazed by the physical healing properties of Easter lily. 

Afterwards, I became obsessed with flower essences, trying as many as I could get my hands on. 

One afternoon in meditation, my mind’s eye journeyed to a beautiful garden. It almost felt like the Garden of Eden, where I felt myself working with the divine blueprint of the plant kingdom. In this vision, I felt the plants as beings...almost like angels or ascended masters. I felt a tremendous amount of healing, and I realized I had crossed the threshold into a deeper relationship with the plants. 

I realize now, when you work with a flower essence, you are invoking the power of that specific plant being to come help you. Each plant spirit has a different skill set, although all can help us in some way. Borage helps open our hearts and give us courage and strength. Yarrow helps to tonify our energy fields. California poppy works with our desires for glitz and glamour, bringing us back to the richness within. 

There are healing spirits among us, right here on earth. We see them on our walk to work, we sit on them in the park. They are all around us.

By putting together a flower essence formula, I feel like I’m gathering a small team of plant allies to help work through the layers holding back my soul’s embodiment. You don’t have to work with flower essences on this level in order for the essences to be effective. You don’t even have to believe they will work. But, I find working in this way provides amazing, amazing results. 

Flower essences have been tremendously helpful for healing from my miscarriage. Mimulus helps calm known fears. Bleeding heart helps heal heartbreak. Angelica provides a sense of energetic protection, and I see her as a gatekeeper between the plant and more traditional “angelic” realms. I’ve been able to accept the fluid nature of the universe, and understand a critical lesson of motherhood:

Your children’s decisions are their own. 

When I went into our garden after the miscarriage, I could feel a symphony of compassion from the plant guardians in the garden. Providing condolences. Offering their medicines. 

Many days, I go outside and lay on the bare earth, because I know the earth will heal me. I meditate to the sound of the bees, and I let the plant spirits come work on me. The roses. The borage. The dandelions. The more I surrender to the spirits and processes of nature, the more peace I feel in my heart. 

The plants are gentle, but I’ve noticed they call out to many of us. Sometimes subtly, other times more directly. If you feel the call of the plants, I invite you to start meditating with them. Ask them for help, either energetically or in person. Approach them like a friend, perhaps providing an offering, and sit. Just sit. You might hear wisdom, or you might feel a presence. 

The most important thing is to sit, listen, and let the journey unfold. 

Healing is everywhere, all around us. We just have to listen. 

Three days after my miscarriage, I was at a Buddhist memorial service.

This was the reading:

A flower blooms in silence,
and never returns to its stem.

In a moment, at just one place, 
it forgoes all its life.

The voice of a flower,
the reality of a flower stem.

There the happiness of eternal life 
is shining without regret.

-Shibayama, Zenkei

I hope to live this one tender life, shining without regret. 

And I know the plants are here to help.

I hope you'll join me on this journey.