This Sunday’s Plant Attunement at Clearpath Herbals Medicine Gardens in Montague was sweet, successful and sublime. I am hard pressed to think of a better thing to do on a sultry Sunday afternoon, sitting in a garden bursting with color, listening to the transporting and grounding sounds of gongs while sitting in open and appreciative awareness with plant elders.
Chris Sturk of the Binaural Beat Brothers set up two large gongs and somehow accompanied himself on didgeridoo while the group sat and attuned with plants nearby. First up was codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula), a Chinese medicinal known for its deeply tonifying properties. Its Chinese name is dan shen, meaning ‘poor man’s ginseng’, and it is esteemed almost as highly as its namesake. We have two beds filled with this climbing perennial vine, growing as one mass up and around wood and string trellising. Right now they are bursting with hundreds of unique bell-shaped flowers, and both beds were humming with honeybee activity.
After the session during the group share, most if not all of the responses were spot on. More than one person felt the medicine of this plant as nourishing and conserving of water, and one actually felt (or ‘saw’) water rising up his center and then cascading down like a falls flowing down a series of steps. Another person said the plant made her feel whole, supported and stronger in a grounded way. Codonopsis is one of the most reached-for adaptogens in Chinese medicine. It powerfully nourishes our core reservoir of energy, and helps to nourish and moisten organs that have become weaker, dryer, malnourished. It is famous in Chinese medicine especially for rejuvenating atrophic Kidneys (core foundational energy), Spleen (digestive power and intelligence), and Lungs, the three organs that comprise the Triple Heater, responsible for healthy water metabolism, and often described as a fountain.
The second herb we sat with was a large, showy and still maturing poke plant (Phytolacca americana). People had a much different experience with this plant elder. Everyone was clear that poke has a forceful, brash male energy, and most got messages that were loud, strong, and decisive, maybe even a little ‘too much’. Whereas we could have sat with the codonopsis and continued to get messages, the poke plant was quick, to the point, and done with each person within the first few minutes. Everyone was also clear that poke would be strong, protective medicine, aggressive in its approach, moving, even cutting things out that didn’t belong. Poke, considered mildly toxic and to be used with care or under supervision, is a profoundly powerful lymphatic motivator and blood cleanser. It is also a strong immune stimulant and has been used in higher doses as a form of phytochemotherapy for dealing with cancers.
I could share much more about what each person had to say, but I think you get the point. Oh, by the way, although each plant attunement was twenty minutes long, everyone agreed that time flew, even when the poke finished with everyone a few minutes in. So there it is, another success in an unbroken series of plant attunement successes that Clearpath Herbals has been facilitating, outside and inside, for many years now. It is continuing proof and testament to the extraordinary gifts that are intrinsic to all of us. All we have to do is blow the dust off these little-used instruments and start practicing.
It was such a sweet affair that Chris Sturk and I have decided to schedule at least one more plant attunement event before we put the gardens to bed this autumn. The next Plant Attunement with Gongs in the Garden will be Sunday, September 10th, from 1pm – 4pm in the gardens.