The character, actions, and qualities of plants are not merely causal but are also relational. and learning about a plant with only the intention of knowing what it’s “used for” or what it’s clinical applications are limits us to knowing just one or two sides or angles of it’s full spectrum of being.
Plants, like people and other sentient life forms, embody qualities that are reflective and variable depending on both internal and external inter- and intra- actions. Reductionist science, patriarchy, and hyper-darwinianism have conditioned us to focus on “cause and effect” or “when this happens this is the result” instead of the relational effect. The relational effect occurs when two or more actions, qualities or events happen together.
This often creates synergy which occurs within the plant and between its individual characteristics as well as between the plant and the person that is engaging it and the external environmental conditions that it inhabits.
I’ve begun using plant oracles as a system to connect into the archetypal/mythic fields of plants in effort to understand them better for myself as well as to guide others in their own relational exchanges with plants. I often picture, organize, and draw them as mandalas so that I can shift my own linear conditioning and envision a more comprehensive expression of the plant.
I use plants as oracles or tools of divination in a few ways:
- If I have a question or an issue I'm working with I'll ask for a plant to show up that can help. I'll watch for what the next plant that comes into my awareness is. It can come into my awareness in my backyard, on a walk, on the internet, in a book, or by a friend or someone else mentioning it. Sometimes it might come in a dream or a vision. The general rule is that if a plant comes to you 3 times in any way, that is the plant you need.
- I will choose a plant that I am feeling drawn to or that is the most accessible to me and see how I feel when I take it as an herbal preparation, flower essence, or just sitting with it.
- I dowse, using a pendulum, for the plant or sometimes plants that I need or that have something to share with me.
Mullein has a life cycle that consists of 3 main phases. It is a biennial/two year plant that spends its first year as a ground dwelling plant with leaves that circle in a basal rosette pattern. The second year it begins to lift and it’s leaves enlarge and push upwards and out. The final or third phase happens during the summer of the second year as its flower stalk surges up like a torch and its gentle yellow flowers spin themselves around it.
It’s botanical name is Verbascum thapsus and is believed to refer to the prehistoric city of Thapsus in Sicily. Verbascum likely means “plant”, so it is the plant of Sicily. Thapsus was a Greek city and one of the most important cities of that time.
Mullein, as it is widely known, lubricates mucosa both along the respiratory tract and within the joints, especially the vertebrae and other nerve rich areas such as fingers and toes, enabling the full range of breath through the lungs and movement of the body. This lubricating feature places it within the realm of the element of water as well as the direction of the East and the season of Springtime.
With such a strong water characteristic, Mullein falls into the suit of cups. The suit of cups corresponds to our ability to receive, hold, carry, and facilitate liquid in its many forms. Mullein as it embodies this quality and it’s leaves actually hold water droplets left over from the morning dew within it’s layer of fuzzy hairs. Mullein can enable us to hold and balance water as it is needed throughout the body. Water and the suit of cups relates to emotions, feelings, and how we relate to others as well.
One could definitely make a case here for the suit of wands when Mullein has made it's second year stalk and is in full bloom. In fact, the old stalks are traditionally dipped in beeswax and called "Hag's Candles" and "Witches Wands".
Mullein is ruled by the planet Saturn as Saturn offers its virtue of structure, hence the material needed to design the cup or container. Saturn provides the physical and real world architecture and matter necessary for form to be created. Saturn also constricts and enacts limitations which are also qualities needed for energy to be directed into creativity and manifestation.
Mullein acts upon the structural capacity of the tissues to hold or release water and create dynamic equilibrium or ionic balance.
Mullein strengthens the flow by ensuring the watery parts of ourselves aren't stuck or unevenly distributed. It shifts water to where it is needed most.
It’s doctrine of signatures indicates the cilia of the lungs and upper respiratory tract as expressed in its soft, furry, lobe shaped leaves and certainly the spine with it’s tall, straight central stalk.
When Mullein comes into our lives it is time to strengthen our container so that we can embrace and receive abundance and love as well as release it.
It helps us to notice when our cup runeth o’er and we must either let go, share, or rearrange our excesses so that we can be clear, breath deep, and focus. Mullein aids us in standing tall and centered as we maintain our roots while lifting straight to the sun. This can be a strong commitment to a goal, practice, or a dream.
Use mullein to align your heart chakra as any plant that tones and supports the lungs corresponds to the heart and that general area of the body. When our hearts are broken or we feel grief it can often become stuck in our lungs due to the tightening and /or holding of breath that occurs as a response to stress and fear.
Bring Mullein into your life or daily practice by drinking Mullein tea, using it in a smoking blend, or taking Mullein flower essence.
Mullein tincture can be made from both the root and and the leaves. The leaves are more attuned to the lungs and the root more attuned to the joints and nerves.
Or take a walk in your neighborhood and see if you can find it growing near you and sit with it if you can. Mullein likes to grow in poor or disturbed soil so you'll find it in old garden beds, roadsides( I don't recommend harvesting from there), the edges of trails, and sandy fields.