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I was first introduced to the Hawthorne tree on a plant walk at Elk Lake, outside of Victoria, BC, in 2005. Her firm red haws, soaked in brandy, yield a gentle heart tonic, said the guide. But the subtle pome fruits and sharp thorns melded with the blue-black osoberries and the plumed foliage of elderberry and I quickly forgot her qualities and appearance. Two years later at the farm, on a whim I asked Dan if this tree grew on the land, if she was included in the line of saplings that stood sentinel just to the east of the raspberries. He said no, but that if he saw a Hawthorne he would point her out. A kind of restlessness grew up inside me. I contemplated roaming the woods with an internet photo, but at the time this seemed frivolous. Just a tree, my mind chided me. The following summer I participated in another plant walk, this time at Burgoyne Bay on Salt Spring Island. An hour into the walk, the guide stopped us in the shade of a thorny tree. “This is-”
I’ve been waiting for you.
My eyes teared up. My mind, ever vigilant, scoffed. Whoever heard of tree speak?
But. I’ve been waiting for you.
Since this time I have sat with plants on a number of occasions to ask for guidance. Sometimes I receive answers, sometimes I walk away with a calmer body and deeper breathing. Always I leave with a sense of gratitude. Next time your heart feels troubled or your mind unclear, take a walk in the nearest forest or go to your own back yard. Let your body choose a plant or tree and sit beside it quietly. Focus on your heart beat to help yourself be present, and then see what you perceive. The generous and gentle wisdom of plants is all around us; all it takes is a few minutes to stop and listen.
To explore plant spirit medicine more deeply:
Liddy Flewwelling in the Eastern Townships of Quebec – liddyflewwelling.com/workshops-2/
Stephen Buhner – The Secret Teachings of Plants