Plant Spirit

Last Year at South East Wise Woman’s Herbal Conference in the Mountains of NC I had the pleasure of taking Pam Montgomery’s Class on Plant Spirits. While I have made it my souls work to create garments that respect and honor Mother Gaia, this was mostly a big picture thought pattern for me grounded in logic and science. One in which I wanted to create clothing that through it’s production was sustainable in how it took and used materials, honored the people and plants involved with a garment creation, and was conscious and mindful of how it put waste back into the environment. I have spent the past 15 years focused mostly on the wellness benefits of our natural dyes and their medicinal properties such as Indigo’s calming effect on the nervous system or sandalwood’s ability to fight acne and scaring.

Pam’s class sparked another deeper thought pattern for me where I began to include questions like what is the spirit of the plants I collaborate with, how does each plant wish to be honored and shared, and how can Gaia Conceptions be a channel for not only their healing properties but their spiritual message. Plants are our oldest and most ancient ancestors after all and each one has a unique story to share. Essentially my spirit began to see and recognize the plant spirits asking me to connect them to others, to you.

Building a Relationship

The overall reach of the class was a series of tools and techniques one can use to develop a deeper relationship with any plant allie and the plant star for this class was Mugwort. So I have spent this past year getting to know Mugwort in as many ways as I could. I started with using a smudge of Mugwort in my ceremonies and rituals each morning and using her in my bath and body oils. I then planted her seeds in the Spring, nurtured and danced with her in the Summer, and then finally harvested and made pretty smudge sticks this Fall. It was fascinating to see what other plants, insects, and mushrooms she liked to keep company with. Her guidance has been fierce but gentle, so much so I didn’t fully realize the breath of it until sitting down to write this post.

I also began to read and learn more about her through the writings and teaching of others. My most recent discovery was Aquarian Dawn’s blog post on Mugwort which I found by taking her fun quiz “Which Magical Herb Are You?”. Guess which plant I was ? Yup, Mugwort. The sentence that jumped out at me the most in her post was…

“those of us attracted to the healing powers of herbs start to sense its existence as we begin more and more to get to know the medicine plants of the earth. And this is why mugwort is so beloved by herbalists – she is a door opener, a wayfinder, a welcoming bridge to the realms of consciousness needed to cultivate a deeper relationship with the natural world. Mugwort is a witch’s herb, a stirrer of visions and an opener of portals. She heightens our extrasensory perception while simultaneously dropping us deep into our center. It’s just where we want to be. “ Amber Magnolia Hill, from Aquarian Dawn

YES, YES, YES!!! and that is exactly what Mugwort has done. Mugwort is the shaman of the plant world, a guide for both plants and animals to understand their own magic, their medicine, their souls. Mugwort is a daily reminder for me that the human being is more than a physical body, but also incorporates a “body” of life energy, a “body” of sensitivity and feelings, and a spiritual essence or Self. This is also true for each plant and mineral found here on earth, Plant Spirits are energetic imprints of the life force of plants which interact with the subtle bodies of the human being, and evoke specific qualities within us. We are familiar with this concept in things like Flower Essence or the downloads of information found in Crystals. Both of which have shown up to teach, assist, and support me throughout many lifetimes.

“Mugwort opens up chambers of ancient memory within the brain, bringing to one’s dream life stirring visions of past and future that overflow with magical imagery. The symbols that dance through your mugwort-touched dreams pull out the cobwebs of our forgetfulness and assist us in remembering old, unwritten ways of healing and living that attend to the needs of spirit and soul.” Judith Berger, from Herbal Rituals

Mugwort has asked me to go beyond the medicinal wellness benefits of our natural dyes and fibers and go deeper to their energetic imprints, their Spirit. The last year has been one filled with visions, intuition, healing, and a humbling request to gracefully bring the Plant Spirit Medicines of Gaia’s fiber and natural dye plant allies to the consciousness of the Gaia Conceptions Tribe, to make the invisible, visible. While their medicinal qualities can be a sign post to their spirit, Mugwort has taught me it’s only through time, intention, and active listening that we can truly become soul sisters.

I’m not totally clear on how this will manifest and feel very much at the beginning of something, a life’s work if you will. I’ve started taking classes such as Intuitive Plant Medicine, by Asia Sulfer and the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicines Immersion Course. I’ve also decided to give each plant we work with the same dedication and relationship building techniques that I used with Mugwort over the next few years, dedicating myself to a different plant each month or longer when needed. I also plan to travel to different areas to meet certain plant spirits in their native homes and to meet the keepers and friends of each plant used in our garments. Mugwort will be a guide and supporter in this quest for a deeper more metaphysical understanding of the plants already tapping at my spirit. I’m open and excited to collaborate with other Plant Spirit practitioners so please get in touch if you feel called to do so.

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Gaia Garden – Late Summer

Lotus flowers in the Gaia garden pond 
Lotus flowers in the Gaia garden pond 

As many of you gardeners know, it is a joy to watch the progression of growth over the spring and summer seasons.  For the past two weeks we’ve had very hot weather and very little to no rain.  Our garden, which is pretty much always in direct sunlight, was definitely feeling the effects of the heat.  In mid-July we put in an irrigation drip system that can attach to our rainwater tank and is able to use a gravity pull to bring water to the beds without needing a pump.  A couple of days ago our rainwater harvesting tank was almost completely empty due to the lack of rainfall.  When I hooked up the hose to the tank on Saturday water was barely dripping out! Then two days ago, late at night, the rain finally came! Since then we’ve had a bit of rain every day and we can tell the plants are very happy!  

Enjoy this slideshow of recent shots of the Gaia Natural Dye & Fiber Garden.  Some highlights:

Indigo plants are flowering
Indigo plants are flowering

– A few of the indigo plants we started from seeds have really been taking off.  The indigo plants have very pretty, small, bright pinkish/purple flowers.

-The cotton plants we started from seed this spring have also been shooting up, especially the ones we planted along the little creek near our studio. 

-Our water plants in the pond are thriving and have pretty much completely covered the water surface and the lotus flowers are stunning! 

-Our eucalyptus plants that we got as starters from the Greensboro Farmers Market this spring have been growing and are beautiful.  In another year or so we’ll start using clipping from these plants for packaging the garments that we send to you! 

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Gaia Garden – We’ve got cotton!

Look what we found!! While we were outside watering the Gaia Garden this morning we noticed that our cotton plants are producing cotton! We planted these this spring with seeds from California.  The seeds are a variety of cotton that is an orange color!

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Southern Nomad – Studio Excursion

The Creek That Runs Beside The Gaia Garden
The Creek That Runs Beside The Gaia Garden

For our first Southern Nomad post, I thought it would be a good idea to take a walk around the Gaia garden and the neighborhood where we are located, giving ya’ll an idea of what our little corner of the universe is like and featuring some places you might want to check out when you are visiting us at the Gaia Studio and Nomad Boutique.

Gaia Gear for Studio Walk
Gaia Gear for Studio Walk

It was a REALLY hot day here in Greensboro, NC when I set out for my walk, so I chose lightweight, loose fitting fabrics for the majority of my Gaia ensemble, all of which can be purchased at http://www.gaiaconceptions.com/shop/.  Here’s what I wore: light hemp/organic cotton knit kaftan shirt in chocolate, medium stretch hemp tube top in terra-cotta, and organic cotton simplicity blockprint 4″ shorts with the large, pomegranate blockprint.  I topped the whole outfit off with one of our woven necklaces in indigo, made with some of our leftover fabric scraps.  If you place an order with us online, these adorable necklaces/headbands are often included as a special free gift. I also tested out some natural deodorant that we made for a previous blog post (Nourish-Natural Deodorant, Wednesday, July 30th).  It worked brilliantly, so be sure to check out the recipe in that post.

Outside the Nomad Boutique
Outside the Nomad Boutique

I began my trek outside of the Nomad Boutique where you can try on and purchase some Gaia Gear of your very own!  Then I made my way to the Gaia Garden, which is just a few steps away from the store.  When you come and visit, the garden is a must see.  One of the plants that is used in our natural dyes here at Gaia Conceptions, indigo, can be found growing in the garden.  While we do not have the space to grow the amount of indigo we would need to actually produce our own dyes, we are currently talking with local farmers who would be able to provide that service in the future.  The garden is also just a peaceful, secluded place to relax, with whimsical lanterns hanging in native pokeweed, a plant with which the berries can also be used as a natural dye; and a babbling stream nearby bordering the train tracks that mark the site of the future Greenway connection.  

Pretty Lanterns and Pokeweed
Pretty Lanterns and Pokeweed

Just across the tracks you will see the Black Diamond Food Forest, another welcome addition to the Westerwood/Cedarwood neighborhoods where we are located.  The Food Forest is currently under construction, but when completed it will provide an educational community space, promoting a unique spin on urban, sustainable agriculture.  For more information and more great photos visit their website at http://www.blackdiamondfoodforest.com/.  I made my way past the food forest and headed up Guilford Ave., took a left on Prescott St., and a right on Bellemeade St., making my way through the shaded streets of small, but well-loved homes.  The surrounding neighborhood is an eclectic mix of cute cottages bordering the outskirts of Downtown Greensboro, opening up to a more commercial district with empty storefronts that are slowly transitioning to thriving businesses and new apartment complexes that have sprung up around those merchants.  I took a left on N. Eugene St. and noted this transition from home life to work life, passing the baseball field on my left.  NewBridge Bank Park where the Greensboro Grasshoppers play has been a draw for baseball fans since it opened in 2005.  The buildings of downtown provide a subtle city backdrop in the distance.

Deep Roots Market Co-Op and Cafe
Deep Roots Market Co-Op and Cafe

I stopped on the corner of N. Eugene and W. Smith to grab a much needed cold drink and a bite to eat for lunch at the Deep Roots Market.  Another recent addition to the neighborhood, this cooperative grocery store and cafe offers a delightful selection of food from their hot salad bar.  This is also a great place for the community, as they provide meeting space that is available to members to reserve and anyone can become a member to enjoy the benefits of the space and support fresh, local, organic food in Greensboro.  They also have a helpful website with loads of information and photos: http://www.deeprootsmarket.coop/.

Future Site of Greensboro Greenway Just Outside Our Door
Future Site of Greensboro Greenway Just Outside Our Door

After I finished lunch I headed West, back toward the studio by way of W. Smith St.  I made a left onto Prescott St. at the completed cornerstone for the Greenway that will eventually be connected to the train tracks as I mentioned earlier.  To the left I spied some graffiti on one of the older buildings that is located across the street from our studio.  This area is set to be transformed into a multi-use complex in the future that will provide both housing and businesses in one place.  I sort of like the look of the graffiti, but we are all excited here at the Gaia Studio and Nomad Boutique to watch our neighborhood grow and thrive in new and unique ways.  I hope ya’ll will take the chance to come and visit us here, and that you will get out of your car and take a walk around in your Gaia gear!  Until next time…remember to listen to your inner nomad and explore the universe one step at a time.

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