You Can Have a Green Ally! by Susun S. Weed
Herbal medicine is people's medicine. So why don't more people use it? Because it can seem complicated and scary, for starters. That's the reason I urge you to use herbal medicine simply -- one herb at a time. And that's a good reason to have a green ally: one plant that teaches you the fundamental principles of herbal medicine.
Herbal medicine is spirit medicine as well as body medicine. Our green allies tend our souls along with our sores. So why don't more books and courses talk about plant spirits? Or, if they do, why do they divorce it from herbal medicine? Because it’s not something that is easily written or even talked about. You have to connect with the devas and fairies yourself. And that's a good reason to have a green ally: one plant that opens you and guides you into the realms of green blessings.
Herbal medicine is broad, deep, wide, timeless. It takes seven lifetimes to become an herbalist. Take the time this year to develop a relationship with one special plant: a green ally. How?
Choose a plant that grows very near to you. . . no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place . . . in a pot on your balcony is just fine . . . in a park is great . . . so is an alley. . . or a backyard.
You can read about the plant you've chosen if you do know the name, but it isn't necessary. The point is to develop a special caring, nurturing, relationship with your green ally.
First green ally exercise: Sit and breathe with your green ally for 3-10 minutes a day. You breathe out and the plant breathes in; the plant breathes out and you breathe in.
Second green ally exercise: Make a detailed drawing of your green ally, as accurate as you can make it. Then do a soft-focus, impressionistic drawing of your green ally. When the weather is too inclement to breathe with your green ally, breathe with your green ally's picture.
Third green ally exercise: What part of your green ally is usually used? Are other parts helpful? Experiment by making several small tinctures, oils, and vinegars of the different parts of your plant. Ask to plant to help you discover new ways to use her.
Fourth green ally exercise: Observe the conditions that your green ally chooses to live in. Does your ally grow near to people (to be used) or far from them (to be left alone)? In a shady spot (cool) or a sunny one (warm)? In a wet area (moist) or an arid one (dry)? In rich soil or poor soil? Plants make alkaloids and glycosides in rich soils; resins and essential oils in poor soils.
Fifth green ally exercise: Write a story from the point of view of your green ally. Let your ally speak to you and through you. Listen for the voice of your ally in your dreams, in your day dreams, in your mind. Write down what she says.
If this is hard, try writing with a pen instead of on a computer; or try writing with your non-dominant hand. A warm-up exercise given to me by Jean Houston is to first write a page of praise of your ally, tell your ally how wonderful she is, and how much you like her.
Final green ally exercise: Introduce one or more friends to your green ally. Tell them what you know, what you feel, and what you think about your ally. If it is edible, feed them some.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus) officinalis illustration from Medical Botany (1836) by John Stephenson and James Morss Churchill. Wikimedia Commons.