The Plant Spirit Oracle Project

The Druid's Garden

Spirit of the Oak! Spirit of the Oak from the Plant Spirit oracle!

As we’ve been exploring over the last few weeks, plant spirit communication can take many forms.  The rustle of leaves outside of your window, the inner knowing, or the song a plant sings to you as you honor it for the harvest. These simple messages weave a complex landscape beyond what we can sense with our fives senses, and invite us deeper into the mysteries of the earth and all living beings. And as we’ve explored, the voices of the plants, the spirits of the plants, take a number of forms and can appear to each of us uniquely. What is clear is that the more that we open ourselves up to understanding them, honoring them, and working with them, the more connection we have with the living earth in her many forms.

Part of the reason I’ve been sharing so…

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The Druid’s Prayer for Peace: Shifting from Exploitation to Nurturing as a Spiritual Practice

The Druid's Garden

Working with the land, in harmony and peace Working with the land, in harmony and peace

One of the things I’m hoping to do on this blog, in addition to my usual “how to” posts, permaculture, and tree work, is give us a set of working tools and philosophical lenses through which to see and interact in the world.  Today’s post does just this–explores two concepts underlying much of industrial civilization and various reactions to it, and does so with a distinctly druidic lens.

In The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Wendell Berry discusses two approaches to living and inhabiting the world–the practice of exploitation and the practice of nurturing. Berry wrote The Unsettling of America in the 1970’s as a small family farmer’s response to the rise of “Big Ag” and industrialized food systems. The book was truly visionary, and, if read today in 2015, rings even more true than it did in the 1970’s. Berry…

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Plant Spirit Communication Part III: Spirit Journeying

The Druid's Garden

Plants have been teachers and guides to humans for millenia. Deeply woven into our own DNA are receptors for certain plants and plant compounds. Our ancestors understood this, and in different parts of the world, cultivated thousands of medicinal plants, healing plants, teacher plants, for use on mind, body, and spirit. While the physical plant can offer much to our bodies in terms of healing, strengthening, and support (which is the basis of herbalism practice), plant spirits can offer the same thing to our hearts and spirits.  While there are lots of ways you might go about doing this, one useful tool is to enage in plant spirit journeys.  This is the third post in my plant spirit communication series; if you haven’t yet read the first two posts, go here and here.

Journeying is a catch all term that describes “inner” experiences that people have where they go…

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Plant Spirit Communication, Part II: Communication in Many Forms

The Druid's Garden

I remember taking a drive with some friends and friends-of-friends some years ago. As we were driving through a really nice forest preserve with some old trees, one of my friends in the car said, “There’s so much money there in the trees, some of them would be worth more than $1500.” He went on to talk about how his family had recently logged their property and earned over $25,000. Other people in the car jumped in and talked about the forest’s beauty and argued against him; and I just listened. Finally, I responded and said, “Every living being has a spirit. I hope that forest stands forever. They deserve to live as much as you or I.” Before this conversation had started, I was listening to the singing of that forest, so happy, so safe to be preserved. This experience stayed with me, and was a good reminder about…

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Our Pantry Profile: Rosemary

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Rosemary {Rosmarinus officinalis}

The name Rosmarinus loosely translates to “dew of the sea,” given to rosemary because of its affinity for the wind-swept cliffs of the Mediterranean coast, where it originates. Beloved for centuries for its aroma and health benefits, this strongly aromatic member of the mint family is now cultivated worldwide.

Greek scholars wore garlands of rosemary to improve their memory and concentration, and many ancient herbalists recommended rosemary for failing mental acuity. During the Middle Ages, some would wear it around the neck to protect from the plague. Thirteenth-century Queen Elisabeth of Hungary claimed at 72 years of age, crippled with gout and rheumatism, that she had regained her beauty and strength by using “Hungary Water” {largely rosemary-infused}, compelling the King of Poland to propose marriage to her. Along with juniper, rosemary was frequently burned by the tub-full to disinfect the air from disease, from ancient times through…

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Our Pantry Profile: Thyme

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Thyme {Thymus vulgaris}

Common garden thyme has been used for protection, courage, food, and medicine since the beginning of recorded history. A low-growing, aromatic shrub native to the rocky hills of the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, it’s now a staple of herb gardens around the world.

Roman soldiers bathed in thyme to maintain their courage and strength before a battle, and in medieval times, departing knights received thyme-embroidered scarves from their lady loves to keep up spirits and inspire courage. A popular belief was that thyme tea prevented nightmares and even encouraged dreams of fairies. Carrying thyme warded off evil spells and witchcraft, while sewing thyme and fern into the hem of a dress kept the Devil from taking a woman as his bride. Placing a sprig of thyme in one shoe and a sprig of rosemary in the other on the Eve of St. Agnes {January 20} was said…

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Plant Spirit Communication, Part I: Your Native Langauge

The Druid's Garden

When I was  new to my first job, a colleague had given two of us both who had been recently hired an elephant ear plant seedling for our offices. Our offices were next to each other, both with the same window. Each plant was planted in an identical pot and in identical soil. My elephant ear plant grew quite large and beautiful, while my colleague’s plant kept sending up small shoots and dying back. Finally, she said to me, “Why is your plant doing so much better than mine?” And I responded as a druid, totally without thinking, “I just talk to the plant and it tells me what it needs.” She rolled her eyes at me, let out an exasperated sigh, and walked away. She was never a very pleasant person, but she was particularly nasty to me for some time after that. Perhaps she thought I was mocking…

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A Druid’s Guide to Connecting With Nature, Part III: Nature Engagement

The Druid's Garden

Leading you in deeper! Leading you in deeper!

I’ve heard a lot of conversation in the nature spirituality community, including the druid community, about not touching nature, leaving it alone, to simply “be”.  I remember one influential druid speaking at an event and saying, “The best thing you can do in nature is pick up the garbage and get out.”  From a certain standpoint, this perspective makes a lot of sense. It is the same perspective held by many conservationists trying to preserve pristine lands or lands that have been replanted and are healing; the best thing that can be done is figure out how to keep people from mucking them up, pick up garbage, and leave them undisturbed. Because people have a tendency to come in, move things about, pick things, disrupt ecosystems, and generally cause havoc.  Or worse, much, much worse. Further, in a world where most humans can’t identify even five…

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Friends of Forest Farming

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

As armies of amateur wildcrafters pluck Appalachian ginseng, goldenseal, and other medicinal herbs to near extinction, a coalition of universities, nonprofits, and “forest farmers” are working on a solution that will not only help preserve these wild herbs but also prevent supplement adulteration.

The Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition includes Virginia Tech, Penn State, and North Carolina State University; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and other government organizations; nonprofits like United Plant Savers and the Blue Ridge Woodland Growers; and Appalachian landowners and farmers. Together, these entities are developing a model called “forest farming” for cultivating traditionally wildcrafted herbs, including black cohosh {Actaea racemosa}, goldenseal {Hydrastis canadensis}, bloodroot {Sanguinaria canadensis}, ginseng {Panaxquinquefolius}, blue cohosh {Caulophyllum thalictroides}, stoneroot {Collinsoniacanadensis}, wild yam {Dioscorea villosa}, and wild indigo {Baptisia tinctoria}.

During…

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Pantry Profile: Chives {Allium schoenoprasum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

With its bright green stalks and vibrant, lavender-pink and spiky blossoms, chives are a lovely ornamental plant and herb garden staple. Found fresh in the yard in summer and dried in cupboards in the cooler months of fall and winter, chives hold surprising medicinal and nutritional benefits. A member of the Amaryllidaceae family {Amaryllis}, which includes familiar alliums garlic and onions, chives have a mild and pleasant onion-garlic flavor.

Chives have played a role in medicine and protection for more than 5,000 years. The ancient Romans used chives to relieve sore throats, lower blood pressure, and increase urination, while Traditional Chinese Medicine turned to it for coughs, colds, and congestion. In the Middle Ages, it was a popular remedy for melancholy.

A traditional Romani custom was to use chives in fortune telling and to hang them in the home to ward off disease and evil influences. Planting chives in the…

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