seeking solace in silent solitude
seeking solace in silent solitude
~ hero in ~
If you comprehend the darkness, it seizes you. It comes over you like the night with black shadows and countless shimmering stars. Silence and peace come over you if you begin to comprehend the darkness.– Carl Jung
Shades of red sublimely surrounding me from all sides, delighting disturbed dirt with delicate displays. A lone opium Poppy stood shimmering, singled out, black cross marking the spot, cast aside by her common counterparts, Grief and glory, tightly wrapped within her life story. Her head hung low, defeatedly staring below, sunshine willing her warming glow.
Poppy first spoke to me in the early days, her medicine moved me in so many ways. The story she shared centred on world war one, horror, destruction, dreams destroyed, lives lost, boundaries crossed. Spitfires and a soldier killed in action, I watched his wife's reaction, as she opened the note and saw what they wrote. Living room curtains closed to the light as darkness draws in for the long dark night. Sobbing inconsolably, a pain she thought knew no end, but time's a great healer and darkness my old friend. Finally sunlight moved its way in, shining its wonder on all that's within. Revived by life, a return to love, in Poppy fields running around, hand in hand with a new man she'd found.
There's an opioid overdose epidemic encircling earth, offering that moreish bittersweet pain relief for those in grief. Might much of humanity be hurting, living lives far apart from heart, numb and overcome by what's been done, broken dreams with repeating themes. In a world of noise it's easy to block out the silence, in a world of hurt it's easy to lash out with violence. Anything to keep those demons at bay, feeding them or pushing them further and further away. Hitting rock bottom, collapsing to the floor, shouting I can't take it any more.
Synchronous cries of tears and laughter as they rediscover the joy they were after. Perhaps some thought it would be found in the world surround, for others the mirror of life had them turnaround.
Why do so many humans fear the hurt, indoctrinated with pain relief at the moment of birth. Prescription drugs for a stiff upper lip, affliction to addiction, drugs, alcohol, screen time, sugar, sex, chocolate, our attraction to distraction, maintaining the highs to avoid the cries.
Melancholic music and musing, a reminder of the sensitive state sought in silence and sadness, a true hero's journey within from heartbreak to heartmake.
One learns with this work that it is possible to traverse time, remote view life events, other lives and notable places of past. A great sorrow for the human story is seeing where we have been before and watching this beauty of existence topple and fall. Born to new lands, so far from our tribe, feeling so alone, it's hard to describe. Weeping for the sleeping, a human race that seems to have forgotten its true place, as technology now sets the pace. Our deeds of distant past haunting present day, mourning the injustice of karmic debts now called to repay. Sadness whose origin might not be sure, brought to our knees for the next round to endure.
Dear friend, life, it's a classical orchestra of orchestrated events. Sense when summoned and surrender to sadness, set space to sit in its grace, allow its warm embrace to enter that lonely place. Be sure to stargaze on the stroll through the dark night of the soul.
Since Poppy seeds sleep, dormant in the dark, unconscious underground, awaiting awakening, to come out and play in the light of day. What aches and pains, traumas and tragedies, guilt and grief, nightmares and shattered dreams might now surface from the deep for light relief.
These are my own insights, but a great beauty of life is that of perspective, so how might others respond to the spirit of Poppy, unbeknownst to this being the spirit they are receiving. How might they perceive it through their six senses. How might life shift and change before, during and after the Session. And when the tears of sadness long denied are cried, what might blossom from inside.
We focus in on 4 people’s responses and reactions as well as their stories of time spent with indigenous peoples and medicine and the mysterious meeting and meandering that takes place between this and these sessions.
* some participant names have been changed for pen names.
* no participants were informed that it was Poppy we were working with until after they had all shared their experience of the Session.
* no participants were informed that it was Poppy we were working with until after they had all shared their experience of the Session.
My name here is Elu..
I started doing sessions with Andy a few months ago, just at the same time my father got very ill. I was since accompanying him in the process of finding his decision refusing the treatments and dealing with the pain and loss in the process of dying..
I started doing sessions with Andy a few months ago, just at the same time my father got very ill. I was since accompanying him in the process of finding his decision refusing the treatments and dealing with the pain and loss in the process of dying..
But I haven’t felt much alone with it.. although it looks like most of the time I pretty much am.
The allies during the sessions and in the time around were incredibly neatly aligned with what is going on in my life right now.. to the degree of wondering how Andy actually conspires with it all.
This last Ally and Session made me feel like being tenderly held by my hand meanwhile witnessing my father facing to jump off the cliff..
When Andy said the next ally would be one that he knows intimately and since a long time, I immediately had Poppy popping up in my inner vision, which then right away connected to the daily experience of my father being more and more flooded by the apparently only medication able to handle the enormity of his pain. Opiates and Opioids like Morphine and Heroin Opium based medications derived directly from the resin of the poppy plant or synthetically processed. As well as my mother having send a package per mail the other day and used a stamp with a poppy flower on it made me suspicious.
I brushed it away though as I didn’t want to have preconceived ideas and to stay open to what I would really receive during this time with this ally.
I was exposed on an every day basis to the hopelessness of palliative care with only the promise of a painkiller left to numb my father more and more into an altered unpresent state.
There is a really sickening deal coming with these strong medications in this end of life process. okay.. we can numb you so you don’t feel your pain anymore all the time, but you are not going to be much present.. which will eventually weaken you in the longer run and as we are desensitising you in time we will need to push up the dose to keep the pain and the very tricky side effects at bay which eventually will kill you at some point too. What a sweet relief for a few moments.. but far from stable, far from grounded and highly addictive.
Makes me cringe a bit when I think of all the stigmas associated with so-called drugs, that are not applied to modern medicines.
My father was born in the very last phase of world war two.. haunted by the ghosts of inter-generational traumas caused by gruesome struggle and war.. A deeply and highly sensitive man yet encaged in a body that rejects the sensual realm.. with a troubled nervous system difficult to live in.. someone who hardly ever learned how to feel, how to touch or to be touched, let alone to express his imploding grief or love..
He had started smoking with 18 when he joined the army as so many others did And one could say yeah that's the reason for his lung cancer.. making his clock now tick very loud. He is also one of those men broken by the expectation to have it all figured out all the time.. the need to always being and having everything under control, to better never show a sign of sensitivity, weakness or tenderness.
But now as all of his defenses are melting down and in a way poppy has taken his control hostage.. he is losing grip bit by bit.. whatever seemed to be linear.. drifts and morphs into this void of numbness to disembody the pain.. yet in moments something so very sweet and tender keeps shining through like this always hidden smile now finally uncovered tears swelling up and out like a dam freeing a river - I’ve only seen him cry twice before and mostly avoided to cry in front of him.
What don’t we want to feel.. Why do we so struggle and battle against it.. what really is pain.. isn’t it the screaming which we have ignored as a whisper?
It’s many years ago that I allowed myself to slip out of this rat race of problems seeking solutions trying to get rid of symptoms and allowed myself to fall and sink deeper into the cacophony of inner voices, hints, impulses, feelings and sensations that first might feel like an ocean of unrelated randomness.. and yet bread crumbs on my path..
It revealed one thing is for sure.. there is a complete different world opening up.. the moment I am present enough to the more subtle and finely adjusted informations coming through the channels of bodily perceptions when I allow my felt sense to take over..
And what is my felt sense, where is it.. I can clearly say that before I started to get introduced to plant medicines the only clue that I had was that there was something missing but the moment I got in touch with this realm of plants.. something surprisingly familiar was working through my whole system and opening up the pathways that have been clogged by.. wow.. I don’t know what kind of debris.
My whole body got sensitised and by my whole body I mean really my WHOLE body.. everything.. every tiniest little capacity and agency inside of myself.. there to digest, to receive, to stimulate, to nurture, to arouse, to activate, to vitalise, got like an instant waking up call of Ok! Come on! Now we gonna go away from this one way road of just allowing information through the mind or maybe eventually sometimes through the heart.. we gonna open up all the possibilities of every single cell… How do you feel now? What was the state that you were in before? Were you sleeping? Were you numb, scared, traumatised, contracted..? Well anyway now you are going to expand, you're gonna unfold every single tentacle, antenna, switch the channel and tune into being alive here and now.
For sure this has been terrifyingly humbling to my human mind.. because to really be with a plant asks to enter ITS realm under ITS conditions and guidance and be utterly receptive to what I feel and sense when I allow to be completely out of control.
I am so endlessly grateful for all the indigenous peoples in this world who still manage until this point to hold the space and sanctuary for this way of being, of medicine, for this knowledge this wisdom this obviousness.
Here in Europe where I am from, we’ve all been somehow tortured or conditioned out of these ways of perception.. more or less persuaded to betray our most innate capacities of sensing witnessing and connecting.. replacing the own voice with some expert’s voice in order to de-route our direct experience and through that give away our responsibility and ultimately our power.
This different form of let’s call it navigation eventually brought me to.. for me.. the most magical place on earth I was blessed to live and work in for a year.. the Amazon rainforest.. the opposite of numbness..
I have deepened my relationship there, with what I am trying to convey here.. cause this is it.. it's a relationship.. it's a learning.. it's at the very least a two way communication.. and just being in the jungle was already the reflection of the plant medicine opening up the jungle inside of me.. everything that had been contained, constrained, constipated and what have you, was just getting a free pass to be what it is..
Ingesting indigenous plant medicines has been de-armoring and stripping bare, what the insecure part in me controlled in order to protect.. now seeing it from far, it feels that I had to ingest something that would be strong enough to pierce my layers of defense to really feel and sense for myself..
To have the plant show up so distinctly and unmistakably was very helpful for building the inner capacities of receiving and recognising the real source of information. I was starting to learn how plants communicate through dreams, through song, through reflections, through impulses that tickle associations and memories.. things that I had just witnessed or learned already, were starting to make sense..
Not ingesting a plant but opening up to it without its substance physically coursing the body, asks me to even sink to a much deeper listening I feel.. a much deeper trusting also.. to allow the inner ear and eye taste the most subtle ripples. It’s almost like as if it asks to be met halfway.. but meeting something halfway integrates it somehow in a very immediate and interconnected manner it seems.. it does not force anything.. it just meets.. it offers.. it gives to be received or not..
I remember one film project I was working on that was incredibly huge.. I was the editor and there was no way to work systematically how I learned it, because there was no way for me to know all the footage even.. it was just too much.. so I had to fall back onto those skills that the plant world had shown me and trust my open body.. There was no other way to know where to go, how to decipher, to find the needed moments and scenes.. it was more like: Ah.. maybe I open this folder.. I don’t know why but I am opening this folder ok and oh maybe I take this number, ok and then finding really THE things that were so crucial to find.. clearly.. if I still had a residue of doubt left then, it was too strong of a confirmation to be ignored further on.. and on top of that.. the film and footage itself was trying to bring back into awareness how indigenous peoples had lived and navigated this world for the biggest part of our human existence on this planet.
All of this got me deeper involved in something that I’ve carried I feel.. since always.. that this world is so much more and that the tiny fraction that we’re mostly used to live in, allow to perceive or to be in relationship with.. is ridiculously limited.
All of this I was reflecting upon meanwhile Poppy was everywhere around me as a sure sign of spring and as the poison and medicine in my father’s last chapter of his life.. everything came up with being on top around the corner of France’s Capital of Artillery, war mongering its repetitive tale on the streets and in the media.. and how much this most tender blossoming flower has been at the core of so many battles, of so much suffering, either as a substance, a product or the antidote to obsessive control and contraction.
It’s crippling how we have allowed to dismiss the Body and its senses as our tools.. as our tongues.. as our sanctuary and how much pain and suffering it created.
I didn’t really know that I have had Poppy at my side all this time, meanwhile I was wrenched from witnessing the fading of my father into the effects of this strong medications when the actual session happened..
Just immediately before I feel light and sunny as if I gather with kindred spirits.. those that giggle in the same frequency..
I feel it coming in by some puffy texture cleansing my nostrils and out into my surroundings It’s hard to describe as it is an energetic feeling, how the underlayer beneath the carpet on which I put my daily feet gets pulled away.. rugs by rugs get pulled away and out by something.. what is left is this space.. warm and yellow whiteish.. this happens many times again and again to be stripped bare of those covers by this space presencing its omnipresence, it’s between the worlds, it’s when there is even no between anymore.. when here and there is oNe.. I recognize how my father is oscillating this space open even for me as I am so close, as if his state is the bridge that tunes me in.. only this unspeakable peace is left what matters.. makes me cry with relief.. tears drop down with the music.. I sense their shapes on my cheek… I feel how he is lifting up and how he is carried away and how there is this line I don’t cross and how he will be gone and how this detaches from me.. I feel it physically.. this is the pain of the final good-bye however shy I am left here and what I feel are all my nerve pathways in my legs and arms and chest and head like roots ready to connect to send and absorb.. still crying.
How amazingly able you are to be crushed down by the rain seemingly wasted and destroyed forever.. just too tender to withstand.. and the next moment the sun is coming out again and there you are.. smiling your deep red.. thinnest paper like shivering with the winds..
When Poppy arrived a shiver entered my whole body. A feeling I know from the forest. I know somewhere deep inside, it is the moment to surrender. now. Entering a space of deep trust to truly be able to encounter the spirit…
My name is Olga, the Yawanawá people in the Brazilian rainforest gave me the name Nai Shahu Shapu, the woman of the cotton sky.
First only the upper part of my body seems active. A lot of energy spreads around my heart area. I feel my hands very cold and the sensation arises that huge nails grow out of my fingers. Then shivers take over.
The deep, intense eyes of a wild horse stare at me, urgently asking me to follow over a great plain, a dry plateau to a rock formation in the back. He, this wild mustang, guides me to the entrance of a cave. Ancient carvings or paintings decorate the dark side of the entrance. Simple drawings of horses and a sun.
I start to doubt myself and the experience. And then, deep knowing reminds me to surrender - There is a part of me that believes in the passivity of these states. That surrender is the loss of control and willpower to decide. That interfering is manipulating spirit. But another playful me though, clearly decides to enter the cave. For a long time there is only total darkness. UntiI I reach a chamber in the end of the cave. The light is first dimmed, than bright and the cave transforms into a temple of stalactites or crystals. I can see Andy clearly and two other friends that I know are joining this journey tonight. Everyone is sitting in deep meditative concentration, eyes closed. No one sees me. In the center, there is an energetic vortex in movement. Fed by the concentration of the three. There might be more people, working on this prayer, but I cannot “see or feel” them. Again the playful me asks internally: ”With which spirit are we working?” Deep red feathers appear, almost like a hologram in the vortex. These are feathers of an exotic red bird.
Before I entered the state of shivers the eyes of this this mystical animal flashed in front of my eyes already. Now my physical body moans and I start to feel how my face transforms into this wild animal. I recognise this energy, it is a strong feminine force. The feeling of flying is present. Then I lose track.
The next thing I remember is the sensation of water. Someone or something is dipping the back of my head gently in water. Holding me in the cold but comfortable waters. I wonder, is this a Baptism?
The music stops at one point and i give myself time to return to the reality of a cozy yurt and a fire burning. I know I should wait a little bit more to land, but the curiosity is always so big to hear what others found in the realms of this unknown spirit. And so I turn on my phone. Reading my friends report makes me smile in awe. The perfection of spirit: My friend had visions of a vortex and a temple deep down in the earth. It is the friend I saw in the chamber. Another one rode a horse in a deserty landscape, and I wonder if it was her that showed me the cave?
They are both dear sisters of mine. A part of me is proud of our bond that goes beyond the physical planes. Both of them visited me in my dreams when I spend a month in the rainforest with the Yawanawá people. An indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon. Every night another sister appeared in my dreams with a strong message.
When Andy finally shares online the name of the spirit we met, the red feathers I saw in the vortex return to me. Poppy. Poppy is a plant that always fascinated me as a child…
Days before going into the journey I felt plugged into a power source. Charged constantly by the energy of this spring. What surprised me at times was my own enthusiasm, joy, the sharpness of my mind and the authenticity that accompanied my actions. Connections with children and men felt very fluid and easy the days prior our first encounter in spirit.
Days after the session I started wondering about poppy and the energy the spirit embodies. I felt her as a feminine presence. Connected with the aspect of blood and the force of a worrier. In the following days I find her elegance all over the place I moved a few days before the session. She makes me wonder a lot about her gender. And teaches me about the concept of polarity. Masculine and Feminine is not Male and Female. Energy has no gender. The feminine is not always soft, tender and beautiful. It is raw, brave, wild and ugly at the same time.
Since I returned from the forest I am working a lot on my capacity to surrender. It is the work of unpeeling layers of resistance that I inherited from my family, that were implanted by society and programmed by myself. Every time I manage to leave a layer of resistance behind, I find it easier to remember. To connect with an inner knowing that lives inside of me. My genius.
Spending time with indigenous peoples was an experience that accelerated this process. They have such a developed technology of Family, that re-membering the web of creation becomes a living memory. It was a lot of painful work to be confronted with the resistance that keeps me so distant from the memories of oneness, humbles and love.
In the tribe I visited the spiritual leaders do not want to be called by pagé or shaman anymore. In their belief system a pagé is the one that knows how to heal and knows how to kill. The architecture of polarity. By removing this position, I see a big shift in the community, giving responsibility to each and everyone. Calling out for the inner shaman, the wise, the knowing - in all of us.
The tradition of dieting with medicinal or entheogenic plants is ancient. En - theos means in god. Its a practice of initiation into the knowing of our earth. By spending time in solitude and with the use of plant medicines the mysteries of life start to unveil. Dreams become as real as reality. I realised that visions and dreams share the same structure. It is the opening of our soul for the encounter with the subtle plains. I believe that the more we practice and master how to navigate in spirit world, there is no need to ingest any plants anymore. I am deeply grateful for my experience in the jungle, grateful for all original peoples, indigenous tribes and forest communities, who kept the knowing of the earth alive for us. So that we can remember and find our own ways of reconnection with nature. With spirit.
It’s spring time here in Portugal. My heart is dancing, especially when I pass the red oceans of Poppies in full blossom. My name is Selva. I saw myself moving here while sitting in a circle with maestros and maestras of the Shipibo People. It was in the jungle of Peru, about 10 years ago. When I left the jungle, I also left my relationship, my job, the city I lived in and moved to this place. My home.
When the indigenous plants came into my life, they came like a dynamite force. Reflecting back on it, I had discovered the voice of my heart – and with the plants I found the courage to follow it. Suddenly, there was no other way.
The veil was lifted, the bridge was shown into the world beyond words. It had always been around, but I didn’t know how to access it.
Now the door was open. It did not only come gently though, it also brought insights into dimensions of darkness that I wasn’t prepared for.
The strong force taught me to surrender, to observe, to deeply trust and to let go of the struggle to resist. When I stopped resisting and gave up control, the magic happened – the light returned or the journey moved into profound insights.
When I found the work of Andy two years ago, I liked immediately that it is not necessary to ingest the plants or animals or any substance for the journey. And the sessions did not hit me like a train - they come with a different quality, a different frequency, a finer tuning perhaps, but with equal power.
This time, Poppy welcomed me as a woman in a white dress: Follow me to the Temple. In a long lineage of women, we are moving upwards from deep down inside the earth and spiral free into a vortex of tiny little seeds. It feels wonderful. I get moved between places and elements. I move between genders, too.
I’m a woman in the water, a man says trust me, we are going to dive. I want to, but I can’t breathe and panic in fear of drowning.
Then I’m a young man lying on the floor with vines wrapped around my chest. I feel trapped and fight them, again the sensation of not being able to breath. I stop struggling. I lay back down and rest my head in the middle of a flock of sheep. My legs are heavy. The sheep turn into clouds.
In the weeks before the session I already felt in between worlds, as if a tiny layer of reality had moved and change was tangible. Interesting also, I was initially hesitant to sign up. Never happened before. This time I wasn’t sure. When I said yes, I noticed immediately an urge to clean and declutter.
As we moved closer to the session day, fears and anxieties fired up. In the week before I had suddenly lost my life force. Again for the first time, I contemplate to drop out. I was exhausted and resting in bed. But – that also wouldn’t make sense, as the problems or triggers would not magically disappear. What was I trying to escape – life itself? I stayed.
Back to the session: I’m a woman again. I feel dizzy, it’s dark and I am somehow between two worlds. I get very sad and at the same time another layer is holding me in this sadness. The layer suddenly flips up and forms a bowl, it contains the sadness and a shelf appears. There I can put my emotions that I now know how to contain. Wow!! Huge spark of joy and gratitude.
Then I’m diving deep down into the water again. This time I dive alone and deep like never before. It is completely dark and I find a shelf with very old contained sadnesses. I open those jars and release them into the ocean. It is the best feeling in the world.
I open more and more, I love to make space there. The more I let go the more the darkness turns purple and suddenly I find our circle. Another huge spark of joy. We are all doing the same - happily and collectively cleaning out the darkness.
Flashback to another session, I think with Octopus, when I felt a superstrong heart connection to Olga, who was with the Yawanawá people in the Amazon at that time. A highway between our hearts. Deep gratitude for our journey. We start to rise up, again in a vortex. This time I feel tiny little hairs and we open into a bright yellow something – after Andy revealed that it was Poppy, I think it was the plant stem.
Then suddenly my playlist stopped. When I made it play again, I am in a different place. I understand this is where the souls depart. I feel scared. Trusting the spirit, I follow into a dark room and observe, relaxing into the discomfort. Suddenly I see tiny colorful pieces in front of my eyes. A whole world appears and I understand it’s the “backside” of joy and light, where we don’t like to go and still there is gems and tools waiting for us to collect and take back.
I step into the lightspace again, the spirit wraps me into a warm blanket. It feels like a very ancient friend. It also feels a bit like shark skin or sandpaper. It’s gentle but also irritating and it hurts. Last message I get is to focus on being consciously present. To look people really into the eyes, to connect more and smile at strangers. I come out of the journey with a feeling this isn’t over yet…
The next morning I woke up feeling amazing and with the insight how perfectly orchestrated all these inner works flow together – the indigenous traditions and the sessions with Andy.
The following days turn into a challenge. The “containing emotions” vision became an exercise straight away. Deep grief has arrived.
Poppy, I feel you brutally honest, but not letting me down. You are teaching me acceptance, change of perspective, letting go and focus on the things that are present here and now.
I still feel a huge weight on my chest, and I also feel that I have the power to lift it and change. Like shedding a very tight skin – unpleasant and painful in the process, but only for the good in the long term.
In difficult moments I like to think back to one particular experience with the jungle medicines: It was the whitest white I could ever imagine and absolute peace of mind. The spirit whispered to me: You can create this space by yourself, any time – it is inside of you. It is the power of your heart.
My name’s Luiza. My first encounter with the podcast was unusual and serendipitous; it had started spontaneously playing on my phone in the middle of the night, interrupting the podcast I had been listening to before. It came on as if by its own accord; with a life of its own. But as my arm reached out to my phone to return it to what I wanted it to play, I heard these dream-like words play to my ears.
My heart awoke, halting my hands before they were able to switch the channel back. I listened as a male voice began talking; speaking of our connection to nature, our connection to heart; and Foxgloves, witches and arrythmia. I did not know what I was listening to. It was playful and poetic, and so I just let the words wash over me. I felt my heart listen deeply, compelling me to be with it. I listened to it several times that week. It had such a resonance with what was going on with my life at the time.
Previous to beginning the session I had just spent two months living in the Amazon jungle in Peru studying sacred plant medicine practices with an indigenous curandero from the Shipibo community. It was only a couple of weeks after leaving the jungle that I had my encounter with the plantally podcast, so my heart was already very open to the notion of communing with the spirits of plants.
Since my time there I had a way of being and talking with plants that I had not imagined. I had learnt that the plants are not only compassionate and very generous beings, but these spirits contained vast worlds and information too. I believe the plants really need to be listened to and that they want to help us heal what is ready to be healed.
While in the Amazon jungle I had ingested part of the root of a tree named Noya Rao with the hope of binding my spirit to its own. By physically consuming a part of plants physical body in ceremony and inviting it within; I asked and allowed the spirit of the tree to be embed deeply within me, in order to receive teaching and healing. I did this practice through the indigenous Amazonian tradition practice of dieta. This is where a plant dieter consumes extracts of a plant under the guidance of a curandero. During the dieta you undertake certain commitments to the plant spirit via a contract, committing to things like abstinence, periods of fasting, social isolation and non-violence. While the tradition of plant dieta was worlds away from my own cultural upbringing; their was an intuitive familiarity to the way in which I also longed to learn from nature. Though intuitive, it was one which also pointed towards ever deeper truths to the way nature connects us all. I didn’t feel far away from home embedded within this new language of nature.
I was undergoing many changes in my inner world leading up to the session. So I was unsure whether to go deeper when I was invited onto the podcast. I did not know if I could. But I also couldn’t resist my longing to commune with plant spirits. Engagement with the natural powers of the animate world, and the inviting in of the invisible, was something that had recently become a preoccupation of mine.
Feeling a presence without a physicality reminds me that tangibleness is not the only key to making sense of world. So the bringing of something that was initially invisible into visibility was enticing to me. While I am usually a visual person, there was less of a visual landscape for me during the session. My experience of the plant was incredibly somatic, physical- emotionally condensed.
Recently become more aware of all the little parts of me, and sometimes too aware of all the parts outside of me; some were quite invasive. I began being able to hear all of them; all at once; at times too loudly. There was a sharp lack of boundary between myself and other; not quite knowing where my edges were anymore; I felt unanchored; severed; like my consciousness couldn’t do anything but ride the waves of this inseparable mixture of myself and that which was outside of me.
But in this destruction of myself, I had also found myself oscillating between bliss, too. I was feeling deepened within my spiritual connection. I felt deep states of love; a but I also felt quite broken.
In the week leading up to the session, I had become consumed by a grief that seem to tear through me. Like a shyness had come over my entire being. Like my soul was not in my body. I did not know where my love had gone; or why. The loss of that love seem to rip through all I was. I did not know if this was coming from my own feelings, or from something outside me. In truth I hadn’t been thinking to much about the plants I was perhaps communing with during this time. But recently I had been struggling with the lack of a boundary between myself and other. Like I couldn’t find my own diving lines.
When I shared this with Andy assured me that I was not alone; there was comfort in company and told me that the emotions moving in me which I was experiencing related closely to the plant I would be working with within the session.
I tend not to sleep much, but over the past few nights I had spent days and nights sleeping and dreaming. The night before the session, I had a dream where I was standing between tall grass, higher than I could see, which appeared like thousands of scattered reeds that were stretched over a field of dirt and mud. I was not able to see ahead – I began stumbling through them, I didn’t know where it was I was going or what I was seeking on the other end; and I did not know what was waiting for me. All I knew what I had to make my way through this long grass that felt so all-consuming. Like I was surrounded by both too little and too much simultaneously. Clutter and dirt amongst nothingness.
My experience during the session was very bodily orientated and physical; which was unusual to me. That day I had been feeling dissociative. I was thinking my feelings and worried that I wouldn’t be able to feel the plants spirit: unable to connect with myself or it. It felt like there had been a death. Like someone had died. My form had seemed to crumble into in a million discounted droplets.
But as the session began, to my surprise, I felt as sense of comfort come over me; and as soon as I felt that safety tears filled my eyes. I wasn’t sure why I was crying; it felt as If something beyond me was willing me to; to let go and surrender to the experience.
As the music began playing, it became accompanied by the smell of sweet heavenly flowers. My mind tried to quickly recall the scent as its perfume wafted under my nose; I couldn’t help but throw guesses about which plant spirit I was with; while the divine scent was familiar I could not place it. I reminded myself to not attach or think and just be with my body.
As I came back to myself, the shifts and motions began again. Physically my shoulders began shaking; as well as my feet. I had a lot of pressure in my head and around my eyes; at one point my eyebrows lifted up and stretched my forehead to release tension causing my jaw to released too. I let out a sigh as all the tension that I was holding dropped and fell out onto the bed. I felt a deep relaxation, like I had turned back into unbounded stardust.
I then felt a lot of warmth towards the back of my throat and heart; and memories and images of a past relationship came flooding back to me. With this came a compulsion to cry more, grieve more, feel more.
I felt a sensation in my stomach. I came over a bit nauseous and dizzy. Then I heard a voice say “feel your own feelings” then another voice respond, saying “I am” This bit was odd and didn’t make so much sense to me, the unannounced response actually made me chuckle before breaking out into laughter which petered out into tears again. And I was oscillating between bliss and destruction again.
Suddenly, my tears ran dry. I came over feeling sedated. As if in paralysis or in a cloud. As if I was under some sort of sedative medicine. It seemed to muffle my consciousness slightly; covering me in a misty fog. Simultaneously heavy and light - opaque energetically. As it surrounded me it seemed to unravel me from my hypnotic haze and it was as if I had just awoke from my bodily slumber. I started to feel a white light energy surround my body. It was angelic and floaty. Heavenly. The welcomed white light seemed to have swept across my body in a wave of blissful peace. A cross of energy moved down from my forehead and across my arms imbedding a sense of unmoved safety in me.
The experience was very dream-like, almost distorted, I knew I had met with images in my mind’s eye. But which images came at which points, I can’t recall so clearly. What I do remember is seeing an egg with cracks down it and a woman with long dark hair who swayed past me. Most striking to me was an image of Christ that appeared to me; staying for a while; elevating my spirit with his presence. There was this dualistic nature to my experience; both heavy and heavenly.
I still did not know what plant spirit I had been with. But I was grateful there presence with me.
The day after the session, I rose from bed feeling a lot lighter. Embodied. Alive. I didn’t know what had changed. That day I sat under a pear tree in my garden and meditated. I asked the tree for one of its pears; which it said yes too. I gave thanks and focused on the taste and the juice of it and thanked it for its generosity and being with me. It felt so good to be back with my heart and present. So good to feel alive again.
However what my recent experience with the medicine of the Poppy also revealed was that connecting to the spiritual nature of plants is not necessarily something that one needs to travel far for.
I believe the poppy had taught me about resurrection: the contrasting cycles of nature that must embrace both light and dark/ life and death. The resolution in the unity of peace and bliss that comes with rebirth. The turn from winter to spring. Life’s oscillations. When I felt surrounded by emptiness and darkness, perhaps I was just in the birthing canal; incubating.
The session fell on the easter holidays and this felt appropriate. I am half Greek Cypriot and in Greek Orthodox tradition, at easter we paint eggs red and crack them like conkers; the cracking of the egg symbolizes rebirth. I couldn’t help but connect this to the image I’d seen of the cracked egg during my journey. It also felt connected to the release of trauma I’d been experiencing in the jungle and in the run up to the session. I felt as if I was being taught how all the cracks in my mind and body were a necessary part of my rebirth, the womb-like void from which a new me was being born. A wild flower bursting through the darkness of the soil in a dance of wild feminine energy. Even though life’s ups and downs feel jarring, I believe that in the end it brings us back to love and the plants can help guide us there. For our human nature, by remembering the flower when it was in its fullest bloom we can find strength, and by remembering and resurfacing the truth our being and bringing all our pieces back together we find ourselves and our hearts again.
Thank you, Elu, Olga, Luiza and Selva for your beautiful open heart sharing and vulnerability. Thank you to Poppy, my dear friend, whose taught and moved me so much.
One might wonder why this indigenous sharing was invited on this Poppy podcast. I could give many supporting reasons, I could touch on the poem In Flanders Fields… acknowledging how Poppy grew over the graves of soldiers. It would be easy to simply say, Poppy grows in disturbed soils because that’s where her seeds lie dormant. My realisation, one which had me in tears for days over five years ago now, is that Mother Earth watches over humanity’s behaviour and continues to unconditionally love as we divide up and do battle on her body. Sending in her own cavalry, not to wage war but to heal hurts, to allow for grieving, to acknowledge suffering, to let go and grow.
Some of us do not wear headdresses or chant beautiful songs whilst circling the fire, but we have re-membered. Some of us have worn shirts and ties, infiltrated companies, governments and institutions, sowing seeds and welcoming new human displays, blossoming behaviours that light up the world. Some of us are downtrodden, our hearts unable to bear it any longer, this dance between one and other and yet we find it within ourselves to continue on, supported by the unseen, by nature, by spirit, by tribe.
I end with an extract from a book, titled Return of the Bird Tribes
"I remember the day when I walked across the open prairie with my head held high and my feathers blowing in the wind. The soldiers saw only my silhouette against the sky. I walked slowly towards them, arms extended from my side, palms facing them in a gesture of peace. I watched the waves of love emanate forth from my hands.
The soldiers shot me dead.
I knew that they would.
Could I have taught them in another way, when their bullets flew and my feathers blew in the breeze that day? Could I have spoken more plainly than through the example of my deeds? I have died a million deaths and lived as many lives to teach the warrior tribes what they would not learn in any other way."
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