Yesterday evening Paul and I took a little ramble over to the island ..
.. and a lesson was relearned.
We went to a spot we know where eyebright grows. It's just a little meadow at the bend of a small river, nothing special I suppose, but it's one of my favourite places, his too. He gazes at the quiet little river and longs for a kayak, I dive into the long grasses of the meadow to see what I can see.
As it turned out, the meadow had been mowed, maybe to make it suitable for camping. Not to worry, eyebright is a tiny, wiry, tough little plant and undaunted by mowing. If you'd like some background on eyebright and pictures of the meadow here's my post from last year . Go ahead and read it now if you like, I'll wait.
Paul is quite fond of eyebright, so he dove into the meadow ahead of me and called out "I think I found some!" before I had even fought my way out of the cloud of deer flies surrounding the car.
I was actually a bit crestfallen to hear he'd already found it, half the fun is the hunt. But here's where it gets odd .. down on his knees, he had a tiny purplish flower between his fingers all right. I couldn't see it clearly without my reading glasses (which I had deliberately left in the car) but I knew it wasn't eyebright. How did I know? Because I couldn't see it without my glasses.
Eyebright is technically "too small" for me to see it unaided, but I can. Put the same sized flowers of say, selfheal in front of me and I can kinda see them, enough to make an i.d. anyway but not with any real clarity... unless it's what I'm looking for that day, then I can see it very well indeed. Eyebright, on the other hand, is always crystal clear to my eyes and practically trips me up. I can make out every tiny bloom, the sweet coppery leaves, the wiry stem, all of it. It is not only that it's a distinctive little plant, it's more than that. It can reach past my eyes and into my .. heart maybe? so I can see it perfectly, in all its glory.
Paul wandered off to the river's edge and I let myself be pulled into the meadow; it wasn't long before the eyebright found me.
Usnea is like that too, another tiny creature (a lichen) that I don't need good eyesight to see. It calls to me with a voice like a bell that I don't need good hearing to hear, either.
Developing a relationship with the natural world depends on our senses - to a point. Some people tell me that they long to, but "couldn't possibly" learn to pick their own berries or medicines because they can't see well enough. But it's not about the eyesight, it's about vision. My eyesight is better when I take eyebright, worse when I don't (stupid computer) but my vision is fine.
I recently had another lesson about eyesight vs vision.
I'd had a hankering to try a puff of weed again, something I used to like but sort of grew out of. It's sometimes nice to get out of one's regular thought patterns, and even though I have some pretty 'out there' thought patterns compared to most (!) I still like a change. I hate booze, but I needed to lighten up some, so I turned to my old green ally. (We have access to clean-grown pot or I never would have considered it, seeing as how most cannabis is just loaded with residue from the crap they spray on it.)
It was a very interesting experiment that I enjoyed in some ways. Marijuana is a teaching plant, after all, not to be shunned, but respected. It did, for sure, lighten up my mood. But the next day I went out to the garden and I couldn't quite see properly .. something wasn't right. It wasn't an eyesight thing, it was vision. Not only could I not 'sense' the garden as I usually do, I could tell that it couldn't sense me.
That was frightening.
It's one thing to be invisible in a crowd of human beings - we all know what that's like - but over the last several years I've become accustomed to being welcomed by my trees and medicine plants. No matter the season I walk out my door and I am embraced ... but that day there was nothing.
Yes, marijuana is a teaching plant. It certainly made me more jolly, but in doing so I became divorced from my heart-senses. I had only my normal senses to go on, and they just aren't enough for me. The same thing has happened if I have occasion to take something like a Tylenol - physical senses still function but the connection between senses and heart isn't there.
It's like prayer. In prayer you can say the words but sometimes you just aren't feeling it. Other times there are no words, or it's so far beyond the words you could be reciting the alphabet for all it matters, yet you know your whole heart is plugged in to Something Good.
This is my .. frustration when I try to 'teach' people about the relationship that plants - and indeed all of Creation - want to have with us. There are those who get it; they don't even need teaching, they just think they do. In fact, the plants will teach them just as they teach me, these folks just need a little human support to let them know they're not crazy, this is really how it is. Then there are others who just won't open themselves up - or they can't because of the influence of some substance in their system. They can't or won't acknowledge the plants as anything more than a collection of phytochemicals .. and that means the plants don't open up to them, either.
This is one of the reasons I don't like to work with anyone who wants to mix drugs with plant medicines or treat the plants as though they are drugs. While symptomatically they may benefit from the plant medicines, they are blocked from the rest of the medicine that plants offer, the spirit medicine.
I had used the marijuana recreationally, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just not conducive to the way I like to live. I probably will use it again, just differently; it is a teaching plant and right now it's calling me. Out of respect, I intend to listen, but that probably means I'm going to have to sit with some living, growing plants of that tribe as I would with any other plant I work with. Because that's one plant that has been so badly disrespected and misused since it has become trendy as a 'medicine', especially recently, it is probably of the utmost importance that I go to it more humbly than I did. It gave me its phytochemicals all right, but with-held its real medicine.
The way it shut me down was a frightening lesson but an important one. I may believe myself to be heart-led but it might not take much for me to lose that. It taught me, too, how difficult it must be for folks who don't or can't live as I do, barefoot in the garden all summer, to get themselves reconnected to their own hearts, and through that, to Creation. I know that all of Creation calls out - joyfully - to us to rejoin our place in it. But what happens for those who can't hear it?
I know that if something like a "harmless" toke or one headache pill can throw me off, then so must antidepressants, HRT and many other, if not all, substances of that ilk (which most Westerners take for granted) actually serve to keep many, many people closed off from their heart-senses. If I were the suspicious type - and I am - I would wonder if keeping us imprisoned in the mind doesn't play into the hands of the puppet masters.
Do you see what I mean?