Focusing Intention and Attention

 

We are living in strange times at the moment and many people have found that with the  extra time on their hands they have been able to reflect on their lives.  Some have taken up yoga and meditation or are watching movies and soaps. Me?  I have never been busier! This lock-down has compelled me to spend more time outside in the garden.  I have built more vegetable beds; I have sown more seeds; I have planted more trees, (www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBIE86dVq5A)  and I have had my head down working.  I have been very busy doing things.  It has almost been as if, because the world is in lock-down, on a go-slow, I have had the opportunity to catch up.  But catch up with what?

When I was living in England, before I came home to Ireland, I lived in a house like this,

and I only had a tiny back-yard garden.

Here in the west of Ireland, the fields are small and are called gardens.  When a person here is talking about a garden they mean a field, not a lawn with some flower beds.  My garden here originally looked a bit like this, (though not as bad I am glad to say)

as this poor garden is just neglected.

For the past eleven years, give or take a year, I have been working with my garden, trying to co-create a place of peace and beauty. I have hungered so long for such a place, a place where I could grow my own food, connect with Nature and encourage bio-diversity.  As I work, I speak to the plant spirits asking them to grow well and to thrive.  I sense, out of the corner of my eye, that spirits of the land are looking on.   I focus my intention on what I am doing and on the plants.

Just before lock-down, we went to visit a very dear friend who has an outstandingly magical garden.  We always come away full of hope and inspiration and lots of great ideas and encouragement.  Her garden is a true labour of love and it shows.  You can see what I mean here –  bealtainecottage.com/about/.  Another friend of ours inherited a well established, mature garden with a beautiful ancient woodland at its edges, a  real olde worlde garden,  anglersreturn.com/home-amenities.php.  These gardens have inspired me so much, to the point where I work, work, work to “catch up” and I have only just realised that I am so busy doing the gardening that I am not just being with the garden.  I am focusing my intention on the garden,  on the outcome of my work; but I was not focusing  my attention which is quite different.

 

My intention is to create the beautiful garden of peace that I mentioned.  Focusing my intention seems to be working. I took a break the other day, a lovely warm day of sunshine and blue skies.  Sitting down and glancing around I really looked at my garden, really saw it..  I was quite surprised to see how lush and beautiful it is.

 

 

 

 

It dawned on me then, (and I feel so stupid about this), that intention is brilliant when it is focused and it achieves a lot.  My intention has created a lovely, wild garden with trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables and fruit. However,  my garden needs my attention as well.  If I really want to co-create with the spirits of the garden and with Mother Nature, I must be attentive to them.  Just as a child needs attention to help it develop confidence and grow,  my garden needs my full attention to enable it to feel really loved and  really appreciated.

Professor Emoto showed in his experiments with water crystals that if something is ignored it pines away from neglect.  If something is shouted at and cursed it will just survive.  Best of all is that which receives loving attention.  (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehlw-9PJkIE)   I believe that showing my garden loving attention will result in a much deeper, more sacred relationship with the land for me; and that will lead to us, my garden and I, enjoying a wonderful life of co-creativity together.

 

Medicine and Magic in the May Garden

 

I love the month of May – the whole country becomes lush and green and seems to me to be full of magical promise. Every time I turn around there is a new plant to discover, a new flower blossoming, a new leaf just opened on a young tree.

Some people might say that it is a terrible year for weeds as the heat and the soft rain have really encouraged vigorous growth but lets not forget that many of those weeds are medicinal and magical.

Horsetail – Equisetum arvense is a wonderful urinary herb and is very beneficial to the body in other ways.  He also has many uses in the garden itself; in a compost tea, as a spray for blight and as a spray for rose fungus, so don’t get too het up about finding him in your garden.  Be grateful and put him to use – that is why he is there.  Horsetail can be used in fertility spells which is not surprising when you see how prolific Horsetail is!

Red Clover – Trifolium pratense – looks so sweet and pretty, actually she really does taste sweet.  Try the flowers in a salad.  You can also use this little herb for coughs and skin complaints as well as part of a detox formula.  As for the garden, she fixes nitrogen into the soil so all your other plants benefit from having her there.  Use Red Clover in a spell for Love, Success and Abundance.

Here is Cramp Bark – Viburnum opulus, also known as Guelder Rose, can be seen in many a hedge row and like other trees she is dressing up in her flowers.  Later in the year she will produce bright red berries.  Although she can be used for muscle tension and cramps anywhere in the body, she is in particular a herb for women.  Always take the bark from a branch or a twig and NEVER from the trunk.

Elder – Sambucus nigra – is a tree that just keeps giving!!!  She shares her bark, leaves, flowers and berries!  The flowers and berries are especially prized for relieving upper and lower respiratory problems.  Elder is said to be ” …a veritable medicine chest…” as she can help with almost every physical complaint in some way.  Not only that, she has the magic of being the Crone Tree, a wise tree with much to teach us.  She is the fierce Mother who will do away with harmful negativity and protect us from all harm.

All of the plants mentioned so far are magical,  of course, simply by being who they are and by the way they share their healing attributes with us.

Here is Marshmallow – Althaea officinalis  looking beautifully lush and green before flowering.  You can see just how soft and velvety the leaves are.  I collect the leaves once the flowers have appeared as they make a very soothing medicine for chest problems during winter.

 

This is a real magical plant. Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea – was grown from some wild seed and I have planted several plants around my garden.  I saved seed last year too and now I have about thirty or more little seedlings sitting in the green house.  I would not personally use this as a medicine although it has been used traditionally for heart complaints.  I use it to honour the faeries and the Spirits of Place, the spirits of this land that I am guardian of.  This is one of their plants and I want them to feel at home here.  I am so glad it is in flower this month as May is such a month of faery activity.  As for the magic of this plant, I use the fallen petals to make a magical summer incense with and include it in my Summer Solstice celebrations.

What list of May plants and May magic would be complete without Hawthorn?

 

Hawthorn – Cratagus oxyacantha – is so associated with the month of May that her blooms are often called May Flower and Hawthorn often represents the Maypole.  Hawthorn is a herb for the heart, helping with blood-pressure issues and reducing cholesterol as well as toning the heart muscle and the cardiovascular system.

Hawthorn is a Bealtaine plant, representing youth, fertility and conception; falling in love and starting a new generation.  I think that her association with the heart is very interesting because if there is one plant, one flower, that can help open your heart to the Beauty of Nature, then it has to be Hawthorn.

Last weekend I attended a herb conference and all of the international visitors and speakers commented on how stunning they thought the Hawthorn in the hedgerows looked.  One speaker, who had travelled all the way from the Amazon, was astounded by Hawthorn’s beauty and her message to us. They were all touched deeply by the beauty of this lovely hedgerow plant.  Don’t you think that is magic?  That one of our magical trees can affect people to such an extent?

Hawthorn is of course, a magical plant.  Here in Ireland she is a faery plant and even today people still believe that it would be unlucky to cut down or interfere with a lone Hawthorn tree.

Isn’t she graceful? Each lone Hawthorn is said to hold the spirit of a faery, one of the Sidh and they are often found at Holy Wells in Ireland.

The time is here now for us to acknowledge that plants are not only sentient beings and have a lot to teach us; they are also wiser than us.  It is easy to build relationships with plants and during this month of May, when our hearts are touched by the Beauty of Nature, go out into your garden, park, hedgerow, cemetery or any wild place and start building relationships.  Our planet, our amazing Mother needs us to do this, wants us to do this and the plants are waiting for us to do this.

Let me know how you communicate with plants and if you need a little help to get started, have a look at the Weed Handbook Volume 2.  Maybe consider the Wise Woman Training which will soon be available in digital format.

May Blessings of love and fruitfulness to everyone!

 

Wild and Free – Elemental Energy

earth

MOTHER EARTH

Thanks to the early moon missions we were able to see what our planet looked like from space.  Our home, the extraordinarily beautiful planet, Earth.  The impression this made on people at the time and since has been profound and certainly added energy to the then burgeoning environmental movement.  Looking at this image today, I feel a deep love for Earth as well as a yearning to become more wild, more earth-like, more of the Earth. The constraints and pressures of modern life on myself, my family and on my friends makes me want to just run away and be free in the wilderness. I think many people feel this same urgency which is why the notion of living off-grid is so appealing.

There are many ways to nurture a more intimate relationship with the Earth in order to feel wild and free once more.  One can go into the wilderness, walk barefoot, hug trees, sleep outdoors … and there are many books which encourage just that.  Jay Griffiths’ “Wild”, George Monbiot’s “Feral” and Rachel Corby’s  “Rewild Yourself – Becoming Nature” to name a few.  It is also possible to enter the “wilderness” through the garden, through the window box, through a plant pot,

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…or even an old paint tin.

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Once you put your hands into soil or compost and intend to grow something, something magical happens.  The spirits of place, the spirits of the land and the spirits of the plant all work with you to co-create.

Once the call is made (by humans) nature responds accordingly to support that defined call.” 

Machaelle Small Wright (author of “Perelandra Garden Workbook – Co-Creative Energy Processes for Gardening, Agriculture and Life”)

Once we start co creating with Nature we are back into the wilderness.  (It is really not very far away – note the Dandelion that springs up through tarmac!)  The energy of the wilderness simply wants to encourage and enable all things to thrive.  Some people describe that wild energy as elemental; and some people go further and describe that energy as being caused by an elemental being.

Elemental beings are the spirits of place, the spirits of the land, the spirits of trees and streams and pebbles and all that we identify as Nature.  One writer, Pam Montgomery describes a water droplet creating a rainbow as light passed through it, as an individual elemental being. (“Plant Spirit Healing”and “Partner Earth”)  As we now know, everything is made of energy, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me that there are energies out there, in the plants, in the garden, in the wilderness.IMG_2148

This, by the way, is not wilderness – this is neglect and the co- creativity has stopped. The wilderness has not returned, with a diversity of plant and animal life; this is a stagnant field, in suspended animation, waiting for love.

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A little patch of our wilderness that flowered this year for the first time!

It is possible to return to wilderness by co creating a garden with helping elemental spirits.  They are also regarded as Divas or architects.  I have been trying to communicate with the Elementals here and I think it is starting to pay off.  The furze above has never flowered in the twenty years I have been here until now.

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Hawthorn with about three foot of growth on lower branches

The Hawthorn has been here for who knows how long without any change until this year.

The trees that we planted over the last three to four years are already ten to twelve foot high.IMG_2028

Our garden is being co-created, I call for help with every task.  I ask for help to grow our trees because they prevent erosion and provide homes for birds and animals. I ask for help when growing flowers and herbs because they feed the insects and birds and provide medicine.  I remember to give thanks for the wild gifts – the medicinal plants, the food plants.

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Hawthorn Berries – Food and Medicine

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Blackberries in profusion

I’ve been working in this garden with intent for about five or six years now and it is still a wilderness.  I do not use pesticides, I do not use fertilizers.  I make compost and call for help from the Elementals and I believe it is working.  Many gardeners would look at my garden and despair because there are no neat rows, it is not tidy and there are lots of “weeds” everywhere. It is definitely NOT a neat suburban garden with no leaf out of place.  It is a garden and it is a wilderness.

suburban garden

A suburban garden here on the left is a fine example of what my garden is not.

Mary Reynolds, a former award winning landscape gardener, has decided she can no longer design gardens because ultimately they need to be controlled to keep the wildernesss out.  She writes,

 “Nature had her own ideas about design…..garden maintenance is fighting the  intentions Mother Nature has for herself.”

Machaella Small Wright argues that

Humans tend to look at gardens as an expression of nature. Nature looks at gardens as an expression of humans”

If we call to the Elementals and work as co-creators we can have wilderness gardens that express both Nature and human. If we call to the wild and free energy of the Elementals we will find ourselves connecting with the wilderness where ever we are.  In connecting with the wilderness we are communing with Mother Earth the Goddess.  For me, I think I’m getting results.    Leave a comment below and let me know how you connect to the wilderness or if you call to the Elementals.