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journeying with wild mint (continued)

October 27, 2019

I wanted to keep you with me on this journeying with plants that’s occurring so organically it feels as if I have always worked this way. In September I shared words on the continued connection to wild mint and on this journey south I’m discovering an abundance of wild mint such as I’ve never found before. If you’ve been following OUTSIDER for a while, you’ll remember that Iris flower showed up throughout the first half of 2019, firstly on Crete, and then again in various unexpected places as we travelled north, including Slovenia, so that I was compelled to learn more about her, to focus on dreams when I found Iris nearby, to truly listen to what it is this plant was teaching as this is the first time a plant has visited me in this way (in the past it has always been trees). Iris appeared to remind me of our connection to the divine, existing as she does in that liminal space between people and gods, bringing messages, opening doors in the mind to certain new ways of thinking with plants. You can read something of that in the following series of blog posts:

Inviting Iris
Discovering Iris
Iris Finds me Again
Psycholingualgeography and Iris
When Iris and the Mountains Collide

Now, in the second half of this year, wild mint has arrived to usher me along. The mint teachings have been quite different to those of Iris: where Iris was spiritual, bringing hope and wisdom, mint is practical, supporting the work I’ve been doing to connect with stomach, emotion and intuition. When practicing yoga, I have been drawn to focus on the yellow chakra of the solar plexus as this has been clouded. Mint is very much about the digestion both physically and the emotions we swallow, which is another area I’ve been working on. Mint has shown up over and over on this autumn/winter journey south and I’ve foraged great handfuls each time: on riverbanks in France, in mountain streams at 1800m in Andorra (I was not expecting that!), and now on Spanish costal hillsides. This potent wild mint is the first thing I drink in the mornings and it is having a profound effect.

A few weeks ago, I went through a period of strange illness: my stomach ached like never before. I thought I had caught a bug, until I realised that every time I ate something not so good for me (bread, biscuits, cake) I became ill again. I will tell you that I believe this to be part of the healing of the mint plant. As I begin to heal, my body can no longer accept certain foods and drinks (the trees tell me coffee is poison, but I still have one a day because I’m not ready to hear that yet), and to keep ingesting these foods now makes me more ill. 

As this has happened, I’ve become more aware of certain toxic emotional behaviours of my own and those surrounding me. This is not to lay blame, or fault, it is about cultivating an awareness with what I allow into my life, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and creating positive, healthy ways in which to sidestep the toxic. It might seem simple to say ‘well if these things make you ill then stop eating them/stop repeating those behaviours’, and maybe that’s how it happens in textbooks, but in real life people are contrary, we’ve perfected endless self-harming techniques over the years, and all kinds of ancestral trauma that keeps us returning to toxic situations even when we should know better. 

And of course! I am an imperfect person in an imperfect world, who still craves coffee and buns for Sunday brunch, who still says the wrong things or accepts the toxic behaviours of others without always grasping the opportunity to turn things around. As we travel and I make these deeper connections with the natural world, and myself, I’m working to be kind to myself and others, to create this space within which change can happen because I’m committed to this long slow metamorphosis. Every day I give thanks to my body, and to the plants that have begun to show up for me in myriad ways that I couldn’t have predicted or thought to ask for. I simply remain determined to keep heart and mind open to all the teachings from the natural world and to try my best to learn from every encounter. 

I’d love to know if any of you reading this have a plant (or plants) that you connect with for certain healings or teachings? 

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  • Reply Jean Allan Holloway October 28, 2019 at 8:45 am

    It is fascinating reading about your interactions with nature and enhanced brilliantly by the photos. What it does highlight for me is that I too have had, on a much lesser scale, small interactions with nature which were very real but which I really didn’t understand and whereas you, being so close to it, if not right inside it, are able to extrapolate and investigate further, I got diverted by the other ‘stuff’ which fills our world today. I see your journey as being one that maybe all peoples were able to travel and explore in times gone by when people were nomads or maybe living simply, closer to the earth and nature. The words you write echo, resonate with something inside of me, a memory, or dream, maybe but I also think you and the journey you are on, with it seems, many others taking this path nowadays, is a response to her calling us. We are the (supposedly) most intelligent of species, the dominant on this planet and are all horrified by the damage we are inflicting on nature and other species. The guilt and remorse, along with discovering ways of changing it are the topic of the day. Attenborough has a new series which started last night with Antarctica. Watch it if you can! It is riveting, as always, but this time, like none before, shows hope! How nature is responding to the damage we are doing. Maybe she is also calling more loudly to those who would listen, like you. Your words give me hope that we have not entirely lost all contact with the mother of this place we live in, our mother. It is really important that we have the chance to to read of the journeys of someone who has broken away from the chains that would keep us from her. I can’t wait for the next chapter.
    p.s. Having only started on my veggie journey in July, I too find certain foods cause me to feel unwell, full in my stomach and dull headed!!

    • Reply Sophie McKeand October 29, 2019 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you for taking time to read the words and reply. It means a lot, and yes it is so heartening that more people are realising that they don’t need to be educated on how to be outside in nature, they just need to go, to sit, to think, to dream, and one by one I feel this is happening. xxx

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