Speaking with Elder
Herbal Magick and the Witch
Yesterday, as I was planting seedlings in the vegetable garden and weeding the garden beds, I looked over at my American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) bush, and I noticed she was looking a little off. I took a break from digging and pulling to take a closer look. As I walked closer, I could see several dead branches mixed in with her lush green stems and leaves. I went to my tools and selected my sharpest trimmers for her care. I knew I needed to help this beloved bush so she could thrive.
As I stood before her, I could hear her. She was speaking to me about her discomfort. I sat down near her on the fresh green grass and listened. The sun was at my back, allowing me to take in the beauty of her green leaves. Nestled within some of these green leaves, I could see small green buds beginning to form. Her energy felt healthy, but she was also uncomfortable. She felt somewhat hindered or blocked.
I took the time to just sit there on the grass and listen. In the trees around me, I could hear the birds singing and the kids playing in the yard next door. The breeze rustled the leaves of the Elder and the tulip tree above me. As I spent time, her voice became more apparent. It was subtle and peaceful, but not audible like a human voice. More like the push and pull of energy like waves on the sand.
When I felt the time was right, I stood and touched her green stems. Through our direct connection, I could sense more of what she needed. As I walked around her, I allowed her to show me. I let her guide me to where the dead branches hindered her growth and vitality. The branches tugged at me, catching on my pockets. Other branches would catch my eye, and I could see where new growth met deadwood.
I stayed for as long as necessary, allowing Elder to tell me when and where to cut. At this moment, nothing else existed. The kids playing in the yard next door became echoes in the distance. The birds chirping in the trees no longer seemed to make a noise. In the labor of providing care, the world seemed to stand still as I became one with Elder.
When we seek to utilize herbal magick, the connections we establish with our plants a fundamental aspect we often miss. We live in a hyper-productive world where the subtleties are often missed in our push to move on to the next task. The relationship between the witch and the plant is essential when performing rites with plants and herbs. Plants teach us how to care for them as well as ourselves. This connection can be established in many ways. If you ever feel like your herbal magick is falling short, try taking time with your herbs. Slow down and listen to their voice and receive the message they have for you. They may tell you the best ways they can and should be used. They might alert you to the presence of deficiencies. Or they might tell you how you can care for yourself by cutting away dead weight, like branches pulling and tugging at your clothes.