I remember running outside with my sisters on the first really warm Saturday of the spring, when the rain decided to recede for a few days and when the sun always felt so much warmer than it did in the summer. We'd roll around in the small grass hills in front of my family's apartment and let the wind pull us as we took turns riding my scooter down the small slanted walkway in front of our home's stairs, which we'd wheel back to the top for the next to get a quick rush of adrenaline.
After getting bored with that, we'd sit at the small stone pillars around the hill, watching the ants find their way to sources of food and shelter. This was my favorite time. I'd grab the best nearby flowers that I could find, the ones everyone called weeds but I always thought were beautiful. Then after gathering some dirt (sometimes wet, sometimes dry) I'd combine the contents in a small dip in one of the pillars which I used like a mortar and pestle. Yup, I used a sharp rock to crush all that stuff down into a muddy, green and brown pulp.
Then, I'd offer the mixture to the nearby ants or have a southern dinner party with my imaginary friends -it was southern because I called my plant mixture jambalaya.
All my experimenting with herbs and flora started outside that apartment, during the spring and summer seasons. It wasn't until I was 18 that I could identify those flowers: red and white cloves, dandelions, violets, wisteria, holly berry, etc. I even had a run in with poison ivy at one point, that surprisingly didn't give me any sort of rash whatsoever! That holly berry I ate in preschool definitely did though.
My younger days were filled of experiences with nature and her fruit, on class trips to nature trails, with my mother and siblings at parks around the city, the summers with my friends sitting in grass that made them itch but always just tickled to me. Eventually, it led to impromptu treks through the woods with college friends to smoke weed in private and to me eventually finding a stream that became my sacred communal space out in the woods until I left my college down. That area saw so many of my tears, my laughs, my pain, my magick, my love...
When I look back on these experiences I know I was always meant to be close to, and work with, Mother Earth. Nature has been instrumental to my personal healing, and has kept me fairly grounded throughout a lifetimes worth of trauma. Without the trees, the grass to sit in every now and again, the mud to get my hands dirty in...I might've never found my personal power. It's through these same elements that I seek to heal others, to bring them a sense of peace that people and society never once tried to offer.
I now know that spending time at that small pedestal, crushing herbs and mud together, digging my fingers in and offering it to the creatures of the earth that I loved so much, is what led me to the practice of herbalism, green magick, and mysticism. It was my very first initiation. And somehow, unbeknownst to me, I passed with flying colors.
One day, I hope I can lead my children in these small innocent practices. I want them to see the same world I saw as a child: one of magic and exploration. I want them to see the flora around them and be filled with wonder. I want to see them come up with their own ways to use the nearby leaves and fruits, vegetation gifted to us by the planet that we call home. If they're my kids, I know they'll be filled with the same drive to experiment as I did.
Author - Mani Matterz
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