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A Bed of Earth & Sky of Dragons

Stoodley Pike in the distance, just above my home - taken from a walk - with yellow gorse flowers and the red early-ripening hawthorn berries behind. I wrote this poem in celebration of one of my recent times connecting with this dramatic and abundant landscape, in the liminal end-of-summer time. On this walk I met and re-met many plant friends. Feeling slow, anaemia still making hills hard to approach (I nearly gave up with some anxiety and dizziness), I felt the message to slow down and make the hill a gradual journey - stopping to meet tree friends along the way. A young Alder, abundant with flowers and cones, was infested with a beetle - but I felt their will to survive and find balance - and softly we communicated, in the soft breeze, sun and sheep-bleeting. I invited a warm cloak of spirit to soothe their wounding, as I also felt the promise of healing for my medicine-making, in their offer of cones and flowers. I felt the need to wait to harvest any, to return when they were recovering. Alder is a potent lymphatic medicine for infections and strength of the compromised lymph nodes. A seasonal problem for me, which was especially pronounced last winter. I am attempting to take my herbal and plant medicine work to a more self sufficient level, through experimentation and research and communication with the plants I am working with - their lore and meditations. This is my antidote to the sometimes prevalent anxiety I experience, as my body adapts to colder evenings, more damp weather and the usual challenges for the immune system (especially when working in a school!). This time used to mean being in a state of fatigue, illness and recovery all winter long, and the trauma of being perceived as a weak, "too sensitive" and sickly individual from childhood into recent adulthood. Now I still have the embodied memory of this, but also the deep relief of finding medicine and of my emerging more self-created life path.

Lifelong chronic immune system imbalances and IBS are stable now mostly (with flare ups during stressful times), but the reminders are there to keep senses tuned and primed. Medicine making, herbalist expertise and support and plant honouring are empowering ways to manage what used to be a very isolating, confusing experience full of resignation, trial-and-error strategies, depression and false self-medication. I've been reflecting on this journey lately, how largely invisible chronic conditions can be incapacitating and the incremental damage societal attitudes and lack of awareness / acceptance can create. In herbalism and friendship with like hearts and minds, plus taking the leap into the herbal medicine treatment and lifestyle changes 4 years ago this autumn - I've found the empathy I long lacked. Gratitude for this only opens out on my walks and time in the valley landscape as I now take my healing journey deeper: to the self supporting resilience of hedgewitchery and folk herbalism...

On a warm crisp end-of-August afternoon I hiked higher, higher, slowly, meeting mushrooms (false chanterelles mainly) and then lay on the earth, in my favourite sitting spot somewhere beneath the monument in the picture. Nestled in a sunny brook-carved crevice where waters were my music, soft breeze my comfort and the sky my meditation. I felt anxiety of the human mundane fade fast, mind chatter surrender to the present, as sky dragons spoke to me playfully and with timelessness...

Sky -

Home to soft dragons

Floating on a sun-warmed

Wind -

Playful caresses

Filling my chest

Down to the painful places

Where the root must uncoil

To nest in primal rock-fire

Earth -

Holding body

The body perceiving


The flesh the whisps of heath grass

Heathen flesh -

A happy beast by bubbling

Waters -

Licking the sore dry -

Moist and warm

The song of flow -

Is in my blood

I lay receiving

Knowing naught else.

25th august 2018

#stoodleypike #calderdale #naturepoetry #heathen #plantspiritmedicine #treelore #dragons #natureblog #aldermedicine #folkherbalism #herbs #druidpath #hedgewitchery #queerspirit #queerandwild #animatelandscape #animism #herbalmedicine #natureconnection

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