I didn’t grow up feeling a lot of trust with the plant world.
My family had a sweet little garden (growing mostly tomatoes and gladiolus—my father’s favorite), but I didn’t have a kindly old grandmother teaching me about the medicinal uses of the weeds surrounding our suburban tract home.
I climbed trees and ran through fields of grass, but in the back of my head, I was conscious of nefariously hidden dangers like poison oak and thistle spikes.
My yearning for that knowledge—the ancestral relationship and trust with the plant world—came in my twenties.
I remember that first year of awakening to plant magic. I bought at least a dozen books about medicinal of uses herbs, took as many classes as I could with local teachers, and had shipments of bottles and bags of dried herbs coming to my apartment every week.
But there was something still missing in the equation. I wasn’t actually out in the world interacting with the plants. I was inside my apartment, researching and reading as much as I could—ordering dried plants grown halfway around the world off the internet—and dabbling in plant medicine from that space. I started the first version of this blog during that time, sharing much of that recently gained knowledge.
So while I was so excited about all this new knowledge I was gaining and the wisdom I was remembering from the medicine women of my lineage, I was deeply insecure about it. I was lacking an innate self-trust when working with plants. I would constantly be popping open a book or googling on my phone to remember and find out what their properties were.
Without that level of self-trust, my relationship with the plants was one-sided.
I had never walked the land I lived on and been able to confidently identify many the plants and their uses. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the ability or the knowledge. It was that I had so much anxiety and fear around it that I couldn’t fully hear and know the plants in that way.
I started going on herb walks with local teachers, taking careful notes and tons of photos trying so hard to commit it to memory—to lock this wisdom deep inside my brain by repeating it over and over again like I used to study for math and science tests.
But it never fully took.
Cut to this very week.
I’m currently in Ireland on an ancestral pilgrimage of sorts and also doing some location scouting and connecting with local wise woman for a retreat I’m hosting next spring.
Ireland is such a special place that still holds the magic of the ancient world. The country is covered in protected sacred sites that date back to thousands of years before Christianity hit the scene in Europe—a time when the land was the people’s source of divinity and mystery. Their devotion to the goddess, the fae, the sun, the stars, and the moon is so very present even today.
The other day, I was on the Hill of Tara—a sacred site where the goddess crowned kings, warriors and priestesses were buried and sent to the otherworld, great feasts were had to honor the sun sabbats, and many many other great moments occurred. This place is old, y’all. And its energy has preserved it all in the trees, the grass, and the stones.
It’s basically a big open grassy hill surrounded by trees and bushes at the edges, holding a protective barrier of sorts. I was really into the wild edges of this place. Each time I tried to walk into the center of the hill, I kept being called back to the trees on the side.
So I’m walking through the deep and dewy grass that is completely soaking through my fabric TOMs shoes (first rule of Ireland—wear rain boots!) and realized I was walking past hawthorn trees bursting with red berries across their bough—a sign of the fall season.
I looked up at these trees and started to say, “I know you” over and over again.
I know you, Hawthorn.
I know you, Blackberry.
I know you, Nettle.
I know you, Elder.
It was like, all of a sudden, all that knowledge I’d been dumping into my brain finally clicked in—in this land of my ancestral heritage.
There was no fear of being wrong or hurt or poisoned.
In fact, I plucked the elderberries right off their branches and into my mouth. I grazed my arm past a nettle and watched my skin bump up from the sting in pure delight knowing it was getting my blood flowing and making me feel alive.
Here—in a land that feels like home to a part of my soul.
I know you.
I know me.
I am this land.
This land is me.