The Tension Between Resting & RiskingMar 14, 2023
We are in the liminal in-between, floating between seasons, elements, even worlds.
A chasm exists between our shy, inner dreaming and a burgeoning gleeful pounce outwards. Have we filled our spirit storehouses sufficiently in order to begin these springtime emergences? Have we rested our reserves well enough this winter?
I have been watching the exposed white nape and shoulders of Snowdrop, hovering just at the soil’s surface, vulnerable and gutsy. Leaf tips sharpened with evolutionary grit, they are always one of the first to gamble during the not quite winter/not quite spring fringe.
Undeterred by the tease of sun and then ensuing snow, Snowdrop is some kind of expert in the tension between rest and risk, enthusiastically bursting out of the ground only to remain in an icy suspension for days at a time.
Psychiatrist and Chinese medicine practitioner, Leon Hammer describes two kinds of springtime / Wood Element activity: “...the ability and decision to move forward (Wood-Yang), and the capacity and decision to retreat and wait (Wood-Yin). Nature has put them together in the same energy system for maximum survivability.”
This is a common theme I am noticing in the humans I work with too, this tension, discomfort even, between the sleep of winter and the desire to initiate a primal rebirth (or focused manifestation of any kind). We are being asked to pause at an invisible threshold, ears pricked for what is most needed in this careful moment.
I do not believe it is a random coincidence that Snowdrop grows right at my doorstep this exact time of year. In some Native languages, the term for ‘plants’ translates as “those who take care of us” (Robin Wall Kimmerer).
I feel into how Snowdrop is tending me with their body’s bright resonance: coaxing me towards gentleness during these times of transition, reminding me of hope when I feel stuck or frozen, encouraging my mind to stay open and fresh for what is to come.
And of course it is not surprising to also learn that the bulb of Snowdrop contains the alkaloid galantamine which is approved for use in the management of Alzheimer’s disease in over 70 countries worldwide (among many other things), some scholars even arguing that it was Snowdrop that Odysseus used to clear his mind of Circe’s bewitchment in the Odyssey (but according to who is telling the story, there may have been a good reason why Circe put this spell on Odysseus and his men!)
What have the plants been conjuring while we have been looking the other way? The parallels are stunning (and unsurprising) between the adaptations evolved by the plants we live with and our human psycho-spiritual or physical needs.
Two new episodes from the Woman Who Rubs the Mountain podcast find this level of intimacy and insight into with the living world:
In "Plant Spirit Medicine for Initiatory Times," Sara Artemesia and I explore entraining our nervous systems to giant tree meditators, radiating ourselves from the inside out like flowers, and honoring the many plantcestors who rest in the land where we live.
In "Whispers from Dreamland: a Conversation About Being a Modern Druid," director of the Green Mountain Druid School, Fearn Lickfield, shares with us the precious story of how she courted and married Dreamland, what it means to be a practicing, modern Druid, and how to consciously merge the traditions of ancient Celtic gods, goddesses, and far away lands, with the old knowings and ancestors of our current landscape.
Let us be tended to by the plants, who are our godparents, our philosophers, our doctors.
As always, many thanks for allowing me to visit your inbox and share a small piece of myself (and Snowdrop) with you.
Excerpt from the Feb 2023 newsletter. If you would like to receive my monthly love letters, click here.