Plants and Flower Essences for Ancestral Healing

Plants and Flower Essences for Ancestral Healing

My time spent working with the people, plants, and their relationship has led me far beyond the first few steps I took with my plant ID books into the fields and forests. This is because plants are like that. And nature is like that.

They invite us into a system, a network, a community, or more accurately, they make us aware that we’re already in one.

I often imagine it like a scene from Alice in Wonderland; I bend down to sniff a flower or to observe a leaf and match-up the vein pattern with the picture in my book and the next thing you know, as I go to simply harvest a couple of buds, an entire nation of roots, plants, seeds, and trees, jump into my gathering basket all talking at once and demanding I make them into tea. Or, paradoxically, I’m pulled into the world and wonders of the soils. Making relationships with plants can lead us into unexpected places.

One of those places, for me, has actually been less of a place and more of a practice.  My ongoing contact and exchange with the healing plants has pulled me profoundly into the blood threaded web of my own ancestors and the traditional practices of ancestor veneration that was present in some way within all cultures on Earth. I believe this to be even more than a practice but also a human instinctive drive or impulse that we have been disconnected from. Especially those of us who belong to one or more of the cultural diasporas that have lost place, family, and community based traditions due to colonialism, forced emigration, genocide, and the promise of something better on the horizon (that’s pretty much everyone at this point). 

Plant Study Guide

Plant Study Guide

To deepen my own study of plants and as a method of teaching students I have begun using a Planthenge. This is just a simple model that was inspired by the geometric layout of Stonehenge and the many other sacred stone circles of Celtic Europe, Carl Jung’s model of mandala consciousness, and Paul Bergner’s 4 directions model of studying plants.

“Trust that which gives you meaning and use it as your guide.

— Carl Jung

Basilico~Sweet Basil Magick

Basilico~Sweet Basil Magick

“Where Basil grows, no evil goes” ~Old Adage

“Make sure and add some basilico!” Was a common phrase in the kitchen on Sunday at my grandparent’s house when I was growing up. Basilico is the Italian word for Basil. Whenever someone came to visit in the summer they would ask, “How’s your garden this year?” This meant, “Give me a garden tour so I can make sure you’ve planted your tomatoes and to see if they look as good as mine.”

After a thorough tomato inspection the next question was, “Where is your basilico?!” My Italian family members always wanted to see the garden, and the elders, specifically my grandfather and great-uncles, were always adamant about seeing the garden and inspecting the contents. Everyone grew some traditional Italian food even if it was just a couple of tomato plants growing in pots on the front porch. Even when my grandparents moved to the Adirondack Mountains, where the soil is sand and rock, they turned and  toiled the land next to their little cabin enriching the soil and installing deer fences so they could plant basil and tomatoes. 

Growing tomatoes, basil, and parsley was part of honoring and respecting my family and our Italian heritage.


Plant Divination

Plant Divination

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 allows us just to know 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 reflexive 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.