“We may need to be cured by flowers.
We may need to strip naked and let the petals fall on our shoulders, down our bellies, against our thighs. We may need to lie naked in fields of wildflowers. We may need to walk naked through beauty. We may need to walk naked through color. We may need to walk naked through scent. We may need to walk naked through sex and death. We may need to feel beauty on our skin. We may need to walk the pollen path, among the flowers that are everywhere.
We can still smell our grandmother’s garden. Our grandmother is still alive.”
–Sharman Apt Russell, in Sisters of the Earth
Last week, this beautiful rose made me drop to my knees with delight on my way out to the tiny temple. I drew my Womanrunes card and got the Sun and Moon, rune of laughter. Yes. This right here. This is a beautiful moment. As I knelt beside the rose, the Body Prayer song* welled out of me until I had tears in my eyes.
When I at last went inside, I opened a book I’m currently reading to this very quote:
“The frailest of nature’s objects, these most female of emblems, have staying power. Staying power has healing power, too. You can stand in front of flowers and look them in their many eyes and see just them, and for a moment you are doing only one thing fully, being in the presence of their tart soil and tender personalities, and connecting with the tart and tender within yourself.”
–Molly Peacock in Sisters of the Earth
Then, later in the week, I was surprised by the gift of another flower outside my tiny temple. This one a volunteer pumpkin blossom, a little too late in the game to succeed this year, but still feeling like a blessing of the season to be graced with. My Womanrunes card that day was the Pentacle which makes me think about my responsibility to protect my own energy and boundaries even when so much clamors to be done. It is more vital than ever to just sit for a minute and admire a flower. That same afternoon, when I returned to the tiny temple to collect my laptop, I noticed that the pumpkin blossom has closed back up or fallen off. If I hadn’t taken that very moment to appreciate it, I may never have even known it was there.
In the anthology Sisters of the Earth, Sharman Apt Russell muses:
All around me are plants that heal and connect to the human body. The yucca spiking above is a steroid. Mullein acts as a mild sedative. Mullein root increases the tone of the bladder. Juniper is used for cystitis. Yarrow clots blood.
My body is interwoven into the chemistry of juniper and yarrow. The tone of my bladder is related to mullein root.
How can we doubt our place in the natural world?
Several years ago I wrote a poem called Body Prayer, which is included in the Girl God’s Mother Earth book as well as in my own Earthprayer poetry collection. I was so touched when Goddess Magic Circle sister Angelique (Deb) shared a chant she created from the last stanza this poem. I’ve been waking up in the mornings singing it, or sitting by flowers and singing it, and it delights me. It also brings my mind back to self-care, an ever-present issue it feels like for women.
At our most recent small study group in my tiny temple, we also sang it:
My body is my altar
my body is my temple
my living presence on this earth my prayer…
May we each be healed by flowers, time to ourselves to sit on the earth and sing, and the simple, every day beauties and miracles that surround us each day.
“The autumn woman moves towards dreamtime. Though she knows her limits, she has also felt limitless. She has known the ineffable. She wakes at night from dreams of high windy places where small blue flowers bloom, and she knows in her bones that such places exist. Luminous beings appear in her dreams and pull her towards them. She recognizes the dust of infinity in a windstorm, the fragrance of timelessness in a fire…”
– Patricia Monaghan, excerpted from Seasons of the Witch
Ooh, I love Molly Peacock’s writing, both prose and poetry! (Love the name coincidence, too.) You might also like Maxine Hong Kingston’s creative nonfiction book called “To Be the Poet,” which is very meditative and includes some of her poetry.
On one side of my family, it was my gentle grandfather who took on the “woman’s work” of gardening in the back yard (next door to my great-aunt’s garden). He cultivated beautiful roses at the side of the house, as well as tomatoes and cucumbers in back. I wish I weren’t allergic to tomato, more so than the usual gimp with inflammatory issues, because the smell of a tomato vine that has been in the sun is a powerful, powerful scent memory for me. One of the things I loved best about my Dziadzia was his ability to be strong and dig the earth for the vegetables, yet gentle enough to make the beauty of roses right where anyone pulling into the driveway would inevitably see it. I almost see it as the ability to combine utilitarian writing work (including teaching!) with creative writing.