We have had a flowering bush called Clethra for years that flowers with these rather unremarkable white flower spikes made up of lots of smaller flowers. But the fragrance of these flowers completely undoes me. I swoon. I want to spend my afternoon right beside them with their elixir wafting over me. I close my eyes and I am carried away. The bees feel the same way – they swarm all over these flowers; so much so, that I must compete for a safe space for my nose. This bush is also called Summersweet, which is a good starting point to describe its fragrance which is sweet like honey and rich from the earth.
A year ago, when I took a class called Intuitive Plant Medicine from Asia Suler and learned to make flower essences, Clethra called me to make one from her blossoms. (Unlike essential oils, which are concentrated distilled oils of the plant, flower essences are an energetic imprint of flowers captured in water at the height of their bloom.) It is fun making the essences and using them, but I discovered the real magic for me is sitting with the essence after it is made and doing an “attunement”, as Asia calls it, which is a meditation allowing the flower’s essence to come through and speak. The process includes sensing them in my body and feeling what memories and emotions arise and then asking the flowers what they want me to know.
Clethra said to me: “I am Clethra, ancient Garden Goddess of Desire. I am calling you to let yourself sway in the breeze with me and dance with the bees. Open to receive your hearts’ desire with your whole body, feeling deeply into your soft animal belly. Let my ancient, sweet scent intoxicate you with yearning for deep connection to the Earth.”
Although I know many people receive messages from all sorts of beings in all sorts of ways, I wasn’t really ready for the depth of the communication I received and my worthiness to receive it. But none the less, when I sat with the Clethra essence for the first time and did the attunement and wrote what Clethra had to say to me, I felt incredibly alive, and on fire with her life force flowing through me, literally full of desire. It was so erotic, that I was even a little embarrassed. I think this desire to be with Nature as a lover, to feel the sensuality She brings to us, is a deep longing that we learn to suppress in our culture. She is so alive, and when we allow Her life force to flow through us, it can arouse us in ways that we don’t know how to express or share.
It awakens in me a deep heart desire for this joy to be with me always, this embodied desire to be fully aware of and connected with Her body, the Earth. And I realize that I don’t have to limit my joy. No matter what else is happening in the world, I can still experience unlimited joy, wherever I find it. It is like a resurrection, a realization that joy is our birthright and something we are worthy of. There is no joy ceiling!
For five years I have practiced intuitive painting with Chris Zydel and I have learned to be in touch with my feelings and intuition where I only have to know what the next brush stroke is and what color. And just like praying the rosary, one bead at a time, both practices help me to be able to drop out of my chattering mind and hear my heart and my intuition. In this way I am sometimes able to hear Her guiding me.
A recent intuitive painting I did seems to express this feeling of connection from the Divine. Often and usually these intuitive paintings don’t make literal sense, but rather speak from what we are feeling in our hearts and bodies. These rings around my neck have shown up several times, and rather than feel restricting, they are empowering and releasing my voice. And the taproot growing out of my third eye and the birds speaking to me? Well, I can’t help but see the message that perhaps I do experience the Mystical in everyday miracles like the scent of the flowers and the birds whispering in my ear, and life force of the Mother Earth that I feel rising up through my feet. Little by little I am learning to trust Her and know that She is truly with me, whether it is the voices of the flowers, my paintbrush, words on the page, or nudges in my heart.