When I enter wild plant communities my intention is to foster an intimate, co-creative relationship.
It is the only way I can harvest now. Once I opened that door there was no turning back. The journey has been both a learning, an unlearning and a coming home.
As a harvester of wild medicines, the healing properties of the Black Cottonwood tree
bud (Populus trichocarpa) have been at the heart of two of my
plant medicines for 25 years — called Balm of Gilead. This tree species is family to me.
The Cottonwood trees not only provide a healing oil, they have taught me much about the intelligence of trees, plants and the living land — even the air and water.
But look at the thousands of unreachable buds growing higher on the tree. What's a few lower branches dying off?Then imagine that method of harvesting repeated a few years in a row. Initially it barely looks like a dent. But in a few more years those lower branches will become mostly barren, leaving very few reachable buds for you and others.
The Cottonwoods tell me they do not like insensitive harvesting practices. When with them, it is who we are that matters most.
Respect and right relations is essential to all species - not just humans or animals. Plants and trees consciously experience our disrespect and harmful ways.
The second most important practical tip I recommend is to make it a standard practice to only take every other bud off a branch, while also leaving the end bud. That's if no one else has gotten to the tree before you. If it has already been harvested, I may spend a bit of time greeting the tree and then I move along.
If I can see and sense that the tree has been harvested with lack of care, I take some time to drop into my heart and consciously give it some loving attention, apologizing for the ignorance of my fellow humans. The authentic, energetic expression of our caring apology and love enables a tree to re-balance itself, in time, you can learn to feel that re-balancing taking place. I cannot emphasize enough how far this simple act can go in helping a tree right itself even in the most challenging of situations.
We humans need to release the belief that intelligence and awareness is strictly for humans and animals. When we open to co-creative relationships with healing plants and trees, the medicinal qualities of a species heightens in the herbs we are gathering.
The trees tell me that not only do the medicinal constituents become more enhanced, so do the other subtle, yet profound, healing energies as a result of our co-creative endeavours. This is how significant we are when in the right relationship with the green kingdom.
In other words, co-creating with, say a Black Cottonwood tree, when harvesting, opens a pathway that would otherwise lay dormant on its own. When activated, the tree will access another layer of itself. How wondrous is that? It does not end there, but that will have to be another story.
These relationships are real and the changing energies are palpable. In this time of awakening that humanity is going through, I suspect many more people are waking to our natural capability to communicate and co-create with all life forms.
Everything comes down to the quality and depth of relationship we have with the world around us. For me this is what being here is all about.
July 21, 2023