Plant Spirit Ally Challenge: Day 2 -Meditate

In an ideal world, you would be able to meditate with a living example of your chosen plant ally. Michelle Simkins of Hagstone Publishing has already written a wonderful primer on meditating with a live plant, and I encourage you to read it if you have a green acquaintance who has budded or flowered. But how can you work closely with a plant who is currently dormant within your bioregion?

As April slowly unwinds into May, my nights are cold. Here in Northern NY, temperatures regularly dip down into the 30s until around Memorial Day weekend. Yes, tree buds emerge as red and green starbursts. Yes, the songbirds and tree frogs have returned. I’ve even seen a mosquito. While some early spring plants have blossomed, many will not emerge for a few more weeks thanks to the lingering promise of frost.

My mugwort ally remains snuggled in a bed of soil. I know where the rhizomes rest, and I regularly return to say hello and check on their progress. Like most plants, we can’t see all the activity below the soil. To meditate with a live mugwort this time of year is to tap into very drowsy energy. If you are lucky enough to know where your plant ally slumbers, return regularly to keep vigil.

Below the light of April’s full moon, I reached out to mugwort. I cleared the layer of leaves, and moved the shell of last year’s growth to make room. I reverently  touched the cold soil. Soon, they will grow. I whispered prayers of greeting. Then I waited. I took note of the sensations running through my body. I felt a sense of fatigue, yet a promise for dreams. The mugwort seemed almost haughty, eager to remind me of their power even as they huddled in the earth. My dreams have certainly been vivid and strange these days. Such is the power of mugwort.

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Dried mugwort made with last summer’s growth. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019.

While meditating with a vibrant plant is ideal, there are ways to make a connection with a sleepy specimen. Thankfully, I have some dried mugwort I harvested last year. If you are lucky enough to already have the beginnings of a relationship with an established plant, working with dried parts – leaves, roots, flowers, or even seeds – is a wonderful alternative.

Dried mugwort is wonderful to have on hand. It is excellent for a sleepy, dream-inducing tea. Others have shared that it helps them commune with the spirit world. If you are working with a dried plant that is safe to ingest, tea is an excellent way to meditate on its properties. All parts of mugwort are safe to use, but you should avoid it if pregnant*.

As you prepare your tisane, examine the way the dried plant looks. See its color, and make a guess at what it would look like lively and vibrant. Feel the plant. Notice the difference in textures. Crush the plant between your fingers and inhale. Take note of how your body reacts. Once you pour hot water over 1-2 teaspoons of dried mugwort, let it steep and inhale. How does the scent change? How does it make you feel? Let it steep for 10 minutes. This is the perfect time to sit, breathe, and reflect on the changes in scent and color. Finally, when it’s ready, taste. Feel the warm liquid on your tongue and hold it there for a moment. As you swallow, feel it flow into your body.

No matter if your plant is bursting with green or just emerging from its wintry slumber, this is a great time to reflect on the coming days. Tomorrow is supposed to be a time to make an offering. Ask, aloud or in your mind, what the spirit of your new plant ally would like. Be prepared for what it asks. Seek guidance for future activities, especially with the creative projects such as creating shrines, writing a prayer, and crafting a spirit doll. Meditation is the beginning. As you progress, continue to make time for meditation with your plant ally. Check in, both with your body, and the plant spirit. Taking the time to still your mind and observe is foundational to the work.

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*Mugwort is known for bringing on menstruation, so while normally safe, it could cause a dangerous situation during pregnancy. As always, if you have any concerns, you should consult your doctor or midwife.
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