The orchids get another spring to bloom, and this year there are twice as many. They reflect the magic in this little patch of forest that is just a ten-minute walk from my place. The forest is behind a park managed by the city of Corvallis. It has been relatively left alone for a long time, but well used by the locals and crisscrossed by deer trails. An amazing ash tree and several oaks that live there are in the 150 to 200-year-old range. When I’m in their energy I can feel their wisdom far beyond human intelligence, but it is so old and deep that I cannot fathom it. Douglas fir was planted in one large area about 50-70 years ago. It has become rich in fungi and mushrooms, birds, insects and wildflowers. And the incredible fairy slipper orchids.
Last year I found out that all the trees and their ecosystem will soon be gone, cut and bulldozed into a housing development. I still cry about it sometimes. And I visit the forest often, enjoying the time we have left. I tell the trees and the devas and nature spirits what is coming so they are prepared.
But the orchids. To me they feel so special, never having lived in a place where they grow wild. A few days ago I told them what was coming. For a moment I considered if I could transplant a few, but they seem so much a part of where they are. I asked them to let me know if there was anything I could do for them.
That night I had a dream the orchids were making themselves into flower essence.
There was my answer. The next day I went to the forest to make the orchid flower essence. How fortunate that a few days before I had taken a drive out to the spring on Kings Highway and filled up a few gallon jugs with pure spring water! I filled two cobalt blue bottles with spring water, got my crystal bowl and went to the forest. I always ask the flowers if they want the water bowl just put underneath them or if they want the blooms to be cut and put in the water. They said they were willing to be cut and as I snipped them into the bowl, I could smell their faint vanilla sweet scent. The flower essence is charged by sitting it in the sun for an hour or two, and as I sat there, I felt I must give them a gift in return.
A song suddenly came to me, its melody insistent, the words simple. I sang it to them while the essence charged.
Orchid song, orchid song
Orchid song is song of the forest
In the breeze, in the sun
Weaving light around everyone
Orchid song, orchid song
Orchid song is song of the forest
In the trees, in the sun
In the weaving all are One
A few days later I was able to sit and get a full transmission from them:
We cannot be separated from the forest. We are inexorably part of it, part of the greater whole. Our roots are irrevocably entwined, as is our energy. We have an agreement to weave our support within and throughout the ecosystem here. You only notice us in the spring when we bloom, but we are here – transmitting – all the time.
Not only do we have a song that is always a part of the greater chorus of life, but as you felt, we draw out the songs of others so they can know them and sing them to their fullest. Our songs, scents and blooms come from tenaciously rooted and intertwined runners of light and energy that is the matrix we live in.
Just as we cannot be separated from the forest, you cannot be separated from the Divine, or from your world. Everything in your world is alive with Divine energy no matter how dark it looks to you. You are not alone, you are not separate. Your nature is like ours, intertwined and a part of the whole. Your song makes up a sweet and important part of the chorus of all.
When human beings realize this, all toxins they have produced on the planet will transmute into light. With love and care they will sing a new song of love for all life. Harmony will spread. Balance will be restored.
The flower essence not only contains our essence song, but the song of the forest. Use it to connect to and be aware of the web of life, to connect to your song and to find the beauty of how it connects to all other songs in all the universes.
Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
— Theodore Roethke, American Poet
Fairy Slipper Orchid Calypso bulbosa
One of the things I like best about shamanism, and any kind of spiritual work for that matter, is the knowing that all kinds of helpers, teachers and allies are available as consultants in challenging times. And we are in some hellified challenging times right now.
Here in western Oregon in less than two weeks, over a million acres have burned from wildfires. Entire towns have been destroyed. There were so many fires happening across the western states at the same time that there was a shortage of firefighters. Fires here had less than 25% of the optimum number of firefighters. The ones that were here worked 14 hour days doing the most difficult work in the worst conditions. I am so grateful to them and to their guardian spirits who kept them all safe.
Those of us who did not have fires advancing toward us and did not have to evacuate dealt with a pall of smoke so thick that for several days we had the worst air quality in the world. It was dangerous to go outside.
Our first reaction as humans is to want to do something to help. In our shamanic and spiritual communities a call went out to focus on rains coming instead of fires burning.
I thought about who I could ask for help.
I decided my action would be to go into journey mode to ask for help from ancestors who had faced something similar before and who experienced a good outcome. My helping spirits took me to where a tribe of about 15 people stood gathered in a circle. Fires burned in the hills close around them and smoke filled the sky. They were gathered on a small dusty plain. Water was scarce, but they had a little bit left in a jug. They poured it into a bowl and set it in the middle of the circle. They included me in the circle, we held hands and began to sway. I locked eyes with a young boy who wore a cloth wrapped around his head turban style and had white dots painted on his forehead, nose, and cheekbones. He grinned and bounced up and down on his toes. Others also had painted dots on their faces. Some were humming.
I began to feel a shift in my body as they showed me that they became the feeling of rain in their bodies. Someone was speaking kind and loving words to the bowl of water in the center of the circle. It was being invited to merge with the people, with the air, with the sky. I felt a luscious cool expansiveness within me and in the circle. The first few big drops of rain drew giggles from the children. The drops hit the dust in beautiful spatters. The swaying and humming continued. The drops became a shower. I could hear steam hissing from the hills as the water met the fire. The circle unclasped and everyone swirled and danced with one another in the downpour. An elder picked up the now overflowing bowl from the center of the circle and gave it to me. As he did, I saw the future of the next season with the hills being thick carpets of green dotted with colorful wildflowers. There was a feeling of partnership and harmony, and complete trust in the outcome. I thanked him for the water and the wisdom.
Back at my sacred garden in non-ordinary reality, I set out an altar cloth and put the bowl of water on it. I asked that the Undines, the water elementals, teach me what I need to know about being in balance with the rain within myself.
Nature has an intelligence that most of us do not understand. That is because we have not been taught how to have a harmonious relationship with the spirits that make up nature - the Elementals, the Devas and Nature Spirits. We can ask the fire elementals to be merciful and stop burning, we can ask the winds to change direction and ask the rains to come. But we need to realize and respect that they have their own greater purposes which we know nothing about. We don’t want to cross the line into thinking we can manipulate the elementals with our will, or on the other end of the spectrum, feel as if we are always completely at their mercy. Our relationship with nature is always a co-creative process. If we are unconscious of that, as many of us are, our environment is unbalanced because what we are creating is unbalanced. So nature will reflect that.
I believe that in the future humans and nature having harmonious relationships with one another will be the norm, not the exception. We will develop new beneficial ways of living and working together with natural resources that we will think of as kin instead of resources, and we will nurture instead of manage.
This summer I unexpectedly and divinely deepened my relationship with flowers. The virus lockdown slowed the pace of life and I had a few months to just be more present and observant. Working at home on screens all day opened a need for daily walks around the neighborhood where I noticed that there seemed to be so many more flowers this year. There were more types I had never seen before, and the volume of blooms was spectacular. I felt them getting my attention, waving in the breeze, flashing their colors, dropping petals at my feet. I found their uncommon beauty in the wild; tiny calypso orchids beneath the firs, and delicate “pussy ear” mariposa lilies at the meadow’s edge. Then I had friends giving me unusual flower starts; red nasturtiums and watermelon poppies. I was surrounded by their colorful beauty, and I was paying close attention.
At the same time I was meeting so many flowers, I was reading co-creative gardening books by Machaelle Small Wright. She works with the Devas and nature spirits to co-create her garden in Virginia, which she calls Perelandra. She makes flower essences from the flowers in her garden and has been using flower essences for healing and balancing for many years.
I realized that the flowers were saying to me that now is the time for me to make flower essences. I have wanted to try making my own flower essences for many years, but never got around to it. Apparently the time was not right until now.
Flower essences are not totally new to me, I have used them on and off for the past 15 years or so. I was introduced to Bach’s Rescue Remedy first. We used to take in and socialize feral kittens and find them homes. I put a few drops of the remedy in their water and rubbed some on their ears to help their anxiety as they adjusted. Impressed, I also used Bach’s remedies for myself and family (if you have an adolescent in the house, I highly recommend checking out Bach’s remedies for teens - and for yourself as well!).
The amazing thing about flower essences is their subtlety. They are a form of energy medicine. Similar to a homeopathic remedy, the energy of the flower is imprinted into pure water, and then highly diluted. I knew how they were made, but I didn’t exactly know how they worked. Then I had a journey.
In a recent shamanic journey circle, we were doing a Lower World journey to an animal who had a message for us. I found myself in a meadow full of flowers. I lay down in the grass and watched the flowers swaying in the breeze. Honeybees and bumblebees gathered around me on the flowers and they began to speak about their relationship with the flowers.
They said in addition to the pollen, they receive the energetic song of the flower. The song is like its frequency. Each flower has their own song. The bees can hear it, and they hear which flowers are singing at the frequency that is resonant with them for what they need right now. This frequency of the flower is what is imprinted in the water when making flower essences.
They took me to a thistle to have me hear what its song sounded like. I couldn’t really hear a sound, it was more of a feeling or sensing of that frequency. Then when we went to a lily next, I felt the song was different, but I couldn't say how. I remarked that I didn’t seem to be very good at hearing the flower songs. They told me that it would take some practice for me because I was not a bee. They said they would help me. They said that learning to tune in to the frequencies would help me to know when flowers wanted to make essences with me. Then as I was ready to make them, I needed to ask the flower to infuse its frequency into the water.
They reminded me to thank the flowers too, so I would have a harmonious relationship with them, and they would want to keep working with me in partnership.
I have much gratitude for my balcony plants and my friend Francie’s backyard garden. We made some beautiful flower essences to work with and share. The joy I felt making the essences helped me know that I was tuned in to the songs of the flowers.
To help you tend to soul issues that may manifest in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of your life, and to give you tools to empower your path to harmony and well-being.
-There are so many kindredspirits doing the work out there. I include these links to help our community connect with one another.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -
My friend and herbalist mentor, Lawrence Birch is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, plant whisperer and shamanic practitioner. If you need custom tincture blends or are interested in a wildcrafting apprenticeship, he is the teacher extraordinaire:
Roger Wheelock and Gayle Ruth are shamanic practitioners and teachers in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. https://www.rainmother.com/ I am grateful to be able to take part in ceremony with them, and to support their love for the Peruvian people through the World Ayni Association.