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March 06, 2020
Listen : Observe : Adapt : Heal
by Xenia Viray of Myths of Creation
Hello! My name is Xenia. I am an artist and entrepreneur and I am writing today about how to develop a relationship with plants and plant consciousness. A little bit of a caveat with me: I believe “how to” guides should be creatively interpreted as starting points and anchors but that each of us has our own map and vocabulary. Part of what plants want to teach us is how to cultivate a level of consciousness that is beyond the linear.
When we talk about a relationship to plants and cultivating a personal relationship, we are talking about a practice in self-trust, patience and activating a muscle that many of our lineages have been severed from. When we want to develop a relationship to a plant, there is no definitive guide, but I do believe that whatever you are called to: whether it’s a bloom that keeps appearing in your life or a plant name you keep wondering about; that’s the place to start. Lastly, “medicine” is more than what you can buy at the drugstore. Music can be medicine and so can laughter. Medicine is anything with a vibration that heals or teaches or both.
Now let’s dive in.
For me, the first plant that I ever had a relationship with was a jade I was gifted in college from a professor who rewarded me for giving the “best criticism” in poetry class. I was 19. I didn’t understand plants as alive or even sentient. I never heard of repotting a plant or fertilizing a plant. Google wasn’t a verb yet. I named my first succulent Mr. BoJangles and sat him on the window sill and he did very well, but as a college student i was still very much in the mindset that all learning was institutionalized, verbal and structured. I didn’t yet know how to learn outside of books just yet. I didn’t know how to listen to that jade and he died after a few years because I didn’t know how to pay attention. What I learned from that jade was that all life needs attention and nourishment, even the most low-maintenance of life forms.
That’s the big word right there: Attention. Plants require us to slow down. To visit and revisit. To adjust. And they require our respect. The spiritual process is well-served by our imagination and empathy. Can we imagine that the beings on this planet are having sentient experiences beyond the scope of our five senses?
The second plant I was in a relationship with was a succulent with big beautiful rosettes and a delicate bunch of tall pink flowers. A desert beauty.
My partner and I both took care of this plant. We had her for about a year and she was very happy. She kept her tall stems with pink flowers and collected dew on her leaves. During this time in our lives, about 6 years ago, we became very interested in plants. We were coming into the end of our twenties and at the time I think we thought we were nesting, but looking back, I see we were missing nature because of living in New York for such a long time. We were longing for the vibration of the natural world.
After about a year, our succulent quite suddenly started to fall apart. To sort of break open and wilt. We felt guilty and confused, unsure of how we killed her. We hadn’t overwatered her. She had the same amount of sun. There were no visible bacteria or parasitic insects. We actually had paid close attention and moved her, repotted her, changed her drainage. So we felt helpless when she was unable to keep herself together, but we left her outside in the sun, visiting her everyday, hoping somehow she would hang on.
And then one day we noticed that beneath her big decaying rosettes, many tiny babies were sprouting in her shadows and had been for sometime. They were underneath, where no one could see. What had at first seemed like death and decay to us, was a cycle of life that happened under our noses, and upside down. She grew in ways we couldn’t predict and taught us to confront our preconceived notions of growth, adaptability and thriving.
That plant taught me how uncreative I had been when understanding how growth can happen.
How linear we believe our trajectories are. How limited we are in understanding all the possibilities and pathways to growth. And what happens when we are humble enough to surrender to life itself having an architecture that is beyond our capability to plan or control.
The third plant I am currently in a deepening relationship with is a Passionflower. I used to run a shop in Brooklyn, Myths of Creation, and one morning I Indulged myself in opening my space late, and found the most beautiful trailing Passion Flower plant at Antidote Apothecary. This plant was lush. I recognized her blooms from photographs I had seen on Instagram. To me she was very alien, Otherworldly, like Bjork, she was both natural and unnatural, brazen among the vines in her desire for attention.
I decided to take her back in a cab to the shop. I felt an immediate connection with this plant because of her otherworldliness. At the time I didn’t realize she was considered an invasive vine in certain climates. I brought her to her new home, my Brooklyn shop, where we showered her with humidity and the vibration of other small drops of essential oils in a diffuser. I tangled her around the shelves and jewelry wanting her to adapt to this environment and her environment to adapt to her. She blossomed and bloomed so beautifully.
And then her season was over and her blooms predictably came to a slow down and her vines continued to grow, flowerless. Unproductive, as we call it in human speak. She was resting or cycling through another season, as nature sees these phases.
Then on January 11 of 2019, I had for the first time, a “Medicine Reading” with Deborah Hanekamp, aka Mama Medicine. Deborah is able to see auras, look into other lives, and see hidden talents and blocks, among a multitude of other intuitive skills. In this first reading, she focused on my relationship with plants as guardians and helpers and teachers.
The very next day, in the middle of her “non-blooming season” a single bloom arose from the Passion Flower, and she shone so beautifully for just 24 hours before closing up. As if the energetic knowing transferred to me through the energy work invited her, excited her to show me that she wasn’t just a miracle of nature, but perhaps beyond what we as humans think we know about nature - supernatural.
The third lesson thing that this Passion Flower taught me was about transition into a new environment. I transplanted her from the shop where she was starting to look tired, to the outdoor space of my home where she could enjoy a spring of full sun, which is what all the books say she would love the most. She looked super unhappy with the change. She weakened almost instantly. The year of growth faded and she shrunk to one single flimsy branch.
I was ready to beat myself up because I had failed to keep this passionflower alive. My partner tried to reassure me, “No, she has babies at the base. She is going to be fine,” he said as we tried to raise this Passionflower in an outdoor space on the East Coast. He said it but I didn’t believe him at all.
But after some time, from a cluster of leaves that were barely half an inch she grew, and she grew upward. She grew up a lattice to be five feet with three long vines making flowers consistently and happily. She climbed the vine without any hesitation to reach toward the sun. She remembered how to be outdoors even shaking off the memory of only being safe inside.
She just needed space to rest. She also needed to shed the old her that was adapted to the old space, entirely to the point where she looked dead. And with patience and confidence in her own unique timing she was able to completely revitalize herself. She had to shed years of what she worked so hard to grow to become even bigger than we could have ever imagined.
Listening is just allowing yourself to understand that spirit makes everything, that we are all channels and vessels from spirit. We quite literally come from stardust as far as the Big Bang Theory is concerned. We are spirit manifested.
Quietly observing the way nature is creative, adaptive, self-loving and takes care of itself, is contained within the observation of a plant. The plant shows you how you make assumptions about growth. About acceptance and surrender. You don’t have to do anything but take care of her. Be in silence with her. Observe the sentient wisdom of the earth that is also present in you, that is wordless and knowing and trusting of the processes that have been part of our wiring since way before humans had words.
Our hearts know to beat. Our lungs know to breathe. We reach up towards our mothers for food, for hugs, for warmth when we are born. This silent understanding of our intelligence and divinity and what we can be and what we don’t have to be is what the plants reflect back to us. They create a contrast for all the things in our lives that are unnatural, that do not feel right. They are an example of responsiveness to our environment when it’s not being supportive and what we need in times of transition, rather than blaming the organism for not thriving.
Here are some suggestions to ignite your personal journey with plants beginning with the rose as an example.
Follow Xenia on Instagram and visit her website here.
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