I first heard the call of the plant kingdom about three years ago. A late summer drive back up to my western Massachusetts college town from NYC had me smelling and feeling things I was not accustomed to. “I think the trees have something to say to me this autumn,” I divulged to my friend. I had no idea that I was about to embark on a journey that would awaken me to the wonder of all flora, large and small. I hadn’t a clue about the medicine that existed all around me.
What is it that we value most in those people we call friends? Many may say it’s their energy – their sense of humor, their good advice, and ability to console in times of need. These facets stem out of that person’s way of being; they are a reflection of their perspective on the world. Good friends are those whose perspectives we cherish; there’s something about their way of being that we hope to adopt ourselves. Their very presence is good medicine for us, helping us see things differently and gain access to places we rarely go.
When we befriend herb, plant, or animal spirits – asking them to become our allies and grant us their medicine – we are essentially asking them to shift our perspectives to match their own. We acknowledge that their way of being in the world is something we can learn from and often find that these spirits aid us through long eras of our lives.
Catnip was my first herbal ally, arriving to create a friendly bond between my body and spirit, loosening the grip of procrastination and my tendency to over commit myself. It is really a wonderful herb for working through transitions and overcoming inertia – any circumstance in which the alignment of your body and spirit is truly necessary for success and well-being.
Undertaking a shamanic journey to meet our allies can reveal so much more than any book or teacher can tell us. But the most important thing is to approach these teacher friends with respect, intention, and gratitude. The whole of nature speaks to us, reaching out with love and compassion to meet us exactly where we are. Simply asking for a guide to reveal itself is all it takes to start the journey.