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Plant Spirit Medicine – Episode Blackberry

…not the electronic device.

While interning in Vermont last summer, I gave myself permission to meet plants. I met them before, of course, but not on such a personal level. It started the second night in my dreams. Before sleep I asked aloud to meet in a dream the plant I was supposed to become acquainted with for my time at Sage Mt. That night I dreamed about dozens of plants, plants I never even considered before, like stargazer lilies, feverfew, chamomile, sweet Annie, black eyed Susan, anise hyssop. I think it was ferverfew who said to me laughing, “you think you’re supposed to meet just one plant? Why not all of us?”.

The first plant I really communicated with was pearly everlasting; then hops. A week or so before I left I met blackberry.

The other intern, the garden manager and I went to help out for an afternoon in Amy’s beautiful garden. After some satisfying weeding (yes, herbalists are capable of weeding once in while!) and delicious lunch, Amy led us in plant spirit medicine.

“Close your eyes, allow the rhythm of your breath to wage uncontested. Listen to the reverberation of the drum pulse through your body, breathing deep all the while.

“When she feels ready, let your inner child come to your presence. How old is she? What emotions does she embody? When you are ready let her lake you by the hand and lead you to–“

“C’mon, let’s go!” the six year old me says as she drags me by the hand around the lawn to a row of cultivated blackberries. She plops down to the ground, with her head dreamily under the lowest layer of branches like it was a Christmas tree. I laid next to her, noticing how the plump, juicy, shiny berries glistened like a string of lights. Natures twinkle lights.

“Why did she take me here?” I wondered. The longer we sat the more me and the child me merged. Blackberry felt sweet and scrappy, like a girl who looks too skinny to wield her hidden strength. At first Blackberry didn’t say anything to me, just showed herself to me. But then she encouraged me to pick a berry or two when I was too reserved to do so. I held it an inch from my eyes and watched with wonder as it beamed at me. I wanted to beam, too. “Enjoy life by living” is what she said. Simple enough; my child self could understand.

As I became a young teen-aged me, I moved the Blackberry to the my third eye and felt it awaken my pituitary gland. Fruition. Womanhood rites I never knew to celebrate but felt were validated nonetheless. When I breathed in, all the organs, bones, and connective tissue in my lower back and abdomen defined themselves and then was able to soften. “Let your new self become by being flexible.”

From the third eye/pituitary gland my consciousness sunk into the earth next to Blackberry’s roots. I identified the crisp and dense earthy darkness with the feelings of depression in my 17 year-old self. I sighed as was encompassed by the feeling. After several minuets, I quietly felt a calling to rely on others and give back, to become a part of a community, and to keep growing where it served me. “What serves me?” I asked. “Ha! you are a funny girl. You know it serves you because you’ll grow.”

The berry in my navel called to my early college self. Blackberry was no-nonsense. “What, you don’t think you have to work hard? You have to wait to be inspired? If you would just complete the tasks set before you without reactionary bullshit, you would see that you are inspired.” She told me to toughen up, not because life is rough but because I have all the creative energy to handle all that comes my way.

I started to make meek excuses, “I know, I know. I just can’t seem to do it, everything is too hard.” Blackberry inspired an uprightness in my gut down to my feet and up my spine. As I looked at her thorns, I imagined the strong parts of myself pushing out from my core through my skin to reach out and meet the challenges of life head to head.

At last the berry found its way through my lips. Now I was as myself right now. I let the chewed berry linger linger in my mouth and felt as if its rich juices were rearranging the cells in my cheeks to a new arrangement. After swallowing it, integrity, crativity and self-protection popped into my mind. Just then the call-back drum sounded. I walked back to the circle as an integrated self to share and listen about the experience.

Filed under: Herbalism


Tea-drinking, nature-loving acupuncturist, East Asian Medicine practitioner, herbalism and birth doula living in the Pacific Northwest.

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