Early one morning in March, I arrived at the end of a curvy gravel road, in front of a door in a hedge that says “this must be the place”.
I pass through and enter Regeneration Springs, a cozy hideaway for healing and education, a plant sanctuary, and a playground for nature spirits and two dogs, Bubba and Buster. It is the living dream created and tended by Donna Caire, massage therapist and herbalist extraordinaire.
Being here feels like permission. Like the inner child can emerge and look around and wander into a nook or cranny and discover, or rest. It’s a safe place. It’s imbued with whimsical decorations. And woods laced with breezy spider webs and the movements of damselfly wings slowly opening and quickly snapping shut.
In a small town named for it’s healing waters, Donna is lucky to be the steward of a natural spring. The water is cool, mineralized, and feels amazingly soft and nourishing on the skin and soul. Folks come from all over the region to soak in it and be on her massage table.
That morning, I came for the flowers. There’s a diversity of ecosystems on her acres of property that go from woodland to wetland, leading into the river. Donna generously took time to show me around.
This was the biggest essencing trip yet.
It took –literally– all morning to get them set up. Read that as: sweaty and pulse pounding by the end, from physically gathering and doing them, but also from running the energy needed. In full sun, heat and humidity, no less. Oof. Note to self: no more doing 8 at one time!
Flower Essences gathered:
- Greybeard/fringe tree
- Cherokee Rose (climbing) (white)
- False Garlic/Crow Poison
- Red Buckeye
- Wild Yellow Swamp Azalea
- Daisy fleabane
While the flowers were stabalizing on the water, I wandered over to sketch a nice specimen of Spiderwort, a common yet quirky plant that appears to be growing out of an oversized upright runner of grass. These tall, leggy plants produce a spray of intensely blue-violet flowers with pointed buds that hang down in clusters.
Let’s do the science first.
How did it get it’s name? Here’s an answer from 1894, in a wildflower book by George Iles: “Such are the delicate blossoms of the spider flower…till the hot sun blasts them. Then they melt away like wax. The withered, mucilaginous petals can be drawn out into fine threads like those of a spider’s web, hence the popular name.”
It’s true! The flowers really do disintegrate.
For a cool science moment, observe this one day. They bloom in the morning, and are reduced to a gelatinous mush by the late afternoon (in our area I’ve observed it’s sometime between noon and 4 depending on the heat index). And, you can be a repeat customer; the next day or so, one of the buds underneath the current flower will turn it’s head upright, and keep the cycle of bloom going. They are capable of producing hundreds of flowers in a growing season.
Once in a garden they proliferate well year after year. They rarely have diseases and pest issues, and they thrive all across the US in a variety of habitats, as it’s a plant native to North America. They provide a food source for a variety of bees and other fauna, including humans. There is even record of them being used medicinally. Based on the internet poking around I did, this plant seems to be making a revival of sorts in the foraging and wildcrafting circles.
And, I was pleased to learn that the wandering, prolific but delicate Purpleheart plant growing in my garden, with it’s pink tripetaled flower, is related! Purpleheart was one of the first flower essences I made when I was learning the process. (I discovered it helps me with feelings of displacement and not being where I belong.)
Spiderwort now stands out to me because it’s an indicator species.
Their colors will reveal the health of a habitat when it comes to two toxins: air pollution and radiation.
For air quality, look to the petals… are they pale violet instead of blue? Then the air is more polluted.
For the presence of radiation, look to the stamen… are they pink? Then, you guessed it.
I have a soft spot for indicator species.
(For human ones too.)
Back at Donna’s, the 8 flower essences were finally done.
I combined them with brandy in jars, labeled, and Donna and I stood apart several feet from each other and sampled the leftovers one at a time, noting our responses.
To me, using a just-made flower essence water is a pretty precious thing: it’s invigorating to feel the full circle of having worked with the plant. It’s also, well, intimate, somehow.
We noticed most our responses were similar! Until we got to Spiderwort.
I felt my energy descend, get heavy, and full of sadness. I began to droop.
I looked quickly over to Donna. She looked back.
‘I feel concerned and anxious.‘ she said softly.
We stood a moment, sensing in more closely, silently getting our info on what this could be.
‘Is it coming from the inside or outside?’ I asked.
After a moment, she said ‘Outside.’
For me, it felt inside.
Very Curious! I wonder what this one does?
I was puzzled as I packed up and headed home.
Had I discovered a flower essence that was a total downer? After Buttercup I knew there was such a thing as essences I didn’t understand. . . to be shelved until more info rolls in. But, was there such a thing as a bummer flower essence? It went against all I knew about this modality!
I clarified my intent to understand. I knew enough to know I didn’t know enough. This was a discovery project, after all. Sometimes not knowing feels like doubt. Other times it feels like wait and see. I wasn’t sure which one this was.
Driving home, my emotions began to wobble, and darken. The weather matched my mood; there was a sudden afternoon downpour.
In Louisiana, there’s two predictable things about driving through summer storms:
one, there will be drivers that speed through without a thought to the slicker street and lack of sight;
and two, there will always be an end to the cloud that one suddenly drives through: an edge, a threshold. Meaning, you’re in a downpour one moment, and clean air the next.
Knowing the edge is out there is the sweet spot that makes the whole downpour drive endurable, but it’s sometimes intense getting up to it.
And it’s worth it: beyond that edge is the sensory beauty of steaming streets, smells of ozone and asphalt rising through the car vents, and the dazzling light of afternoon sun reflecting off everything.
Regardless of weather edges or other edges in life, making it past the edge into clarity is a breakthrough. (I love breakthroughs.)
Good thing, because this ‘bummer’ concept was an edge for me.
What would be the breakthrough?
I’ve had plenty of edges as a result of working with plants.
One of them came up strong during herb school: the fear of wildcrafting, because of the possibility of snakes or Lyme’s disease. I’d had more than one friend go through tremendous suffering from that disease, and I was scared to brave the ticks for a wild harvest.
My solution to this at the time? Order what I need online. Even the ones that I could have picked from my back yard. Especially the ones I could have picked from up the road.
One day, I was unloading a box from Mountain Rose Herbs, feeling delighted to open a bag of mugwort and smell. It would become a warming homemade herbal belly oil.
My dear friend and herb school buddy looked at me with a wry grin, knowing it was growing wild and free and fresh and potent two miles from where she lived by a creek on the mountain.
She said, “You know, Megan, you are going to have to get over your fear of the outdoors if you are going to work with plants.”
I scrunched up my nose at the twanged nerve.
But she was right.
A decade later, I’d had my breakthrough into the clean fresh (safe) air of the outdoor wilds… I was cautiously wildcrafting, and that day, I was still driving through the rain.
Feeling the downward inner spiral led me to feeling things I hadn’t felt since I was an angsty teen . . . very unlike me at this point in my life.
It was as though something had reactivated an old neural network in my brain: the program for ‘sad, no matter what’. I knew that feeling, that energy. I got off that road a long time ago . . . It was disorienting and stumbling to feel the neuronal rut again. The energy on it felt impersonal, out of place with my present life. This was just a record playing. Yet I was clearly reliving it, was in it. What happened?
The rains stopped by the time I pulled into my garage.
I turned off the engine. The jars of flower essences in the passenger seat clinked together. I looked at them.
“You are worth it.” I said to them, out loud, from my slumped mood.
They were silent, of course.
I gathered up and shuffled into the house.
The cats approached and sniffed my shoes curiously. They bumped my legs with furry soft bellies. Their touch brought me out of my head and into the present moment, where all was quite well, actually.
Two realities at the same time; a dark mood, and ‘all is well’?
Honestly, which one am I in?
My head hurt. I rubbed my eyes.
Well which one do I want to be in?
I bent to pet the kitties.
Well duh. I want to feel good.
This is a lot. I need a nap.
From somewhere a knowing floated up: Let go, so it can come back to you with understanding. Until then, do nothing.
Two days later ‘it’ came back.
I was in the full swing of work mode, feeling good! when a client called up with a last minute request for an energy reading session.
She walked in, sat down, and after settling said, ‘I’ve been sad and unable to cry for 20 years. Can you help?’
My mind started running through information on how to help.
Then, gently, an image of Spiderwort materialized in front of me, in my inner eye, poster sized.
I stopped running mental data.
I watched as the flower just floated there.
I didn’t have the Spiderwort flower essence with me. It was home, on the shelf, quarantined in a corner, next to Buttercup.
OK, I see you. . . I don’t have your flower essence here. Can you still help?
A pause, and then the huge flower slowly floated silently towards my client, and dissolved into her personal energy field.
I watched. Nothing appeared to happen. Not even a blink. My client and I just kinda looked at each other, like a pause in conversation. Only, more awkward.
We moved on with our session.
But by the end, a good energy clearing had happened bringing a few tears.
A few weeks later, my client checked in. There’d been more tears, this time on her own.
Then, almost two months later, after I’d done enough work with this essence to feel comfortable using it for sampling with others, I offered some and she agreed.
Her report came back; it had made her sleepy.
Spiderwort flower essence has been a wonderful journey of discovery for me.
This plant has shown me so many concepts: the doctrine of signatures, essences in combinations, the impact of colors in formulating, and supporting energetic movement in the body.
What does this flower essence do?
Observing this plant in action reveals it’s secret:
It stands on a tall jointed stem off which large thin lateral leaves protrude, like old fashioned radio antennae. Flowers sit at the top in clusters. In the summer, a closed flower pod will raise up from below the current flower, and then bloom fully upright, a delicate and slightly pearlescent blue violet color reflecting what’s going on in the environment, for several hours, then it slowly melts and withdraws within hours, after which it nods it’s head… the next day another flower surfaces. . .
Do you see it?
So far, here’s my best guess:
. . . It surfaces the stagnant/toxic mental patterns that is in/around us. (Thank you Donna for connecting this dot on the toxicity!) I have no doubt now that the spiraling down thoughts on the drive home was a direct result of the action of this essence (amplified by the heightened state of making them plus the 7 others I sampled that day).
In other words, it isn’t a ‘bummer’ flower essence. The ‘bummer’ was already inside of me, from my teen years! It was an old emotional/mental toxicity I had buried in an old inactive neural network in the brain, and this essence surfaced it so that I could see it in present time and so it could be dissolved.
. . . It helps sedate overstimulated energy and nerves, descending the energy in the body. This latter part may be the sleepiness!
We live in a fight or flight mode in our culture. The animal of our body is being overstimulated adrenally, mentally, emotionally from ‘excitotoxins‘ in food, unstable hostile politics, and social media dopamine addiction (to name a few).
When our lives are not as overstimmed, we can relax into a quiet alert state, like healthy babies do. Though, it is possible that the youngest generation does not know this basic state of nervous system ease, as a result of the intense electronic and wifi presence penetrating everywhere now. (Where do people go to learn the natural ease when they don’t learn it as children?)
This background external intensity can rachet up our stress like a slow boil on frogs, so we don’t even realize how wired we are. Coming down from this can feel like ‘sleepy’! I see this all the time when doing Craniosacral Therapy with clients. When giving a ‘stillpoint’ to help reset the cerebrospinal fluid rhythm, I watch as their nervous system energy idles down one level, then another, then another… like gear shifting dropping down an engine. Often, by the third drop, folks are asleep on the table.
. . . Here’s an Edge! It doesn’t seem expel the energetic toxin it surfaces. For this reason, it works well alongside other essences; one to keep the energy moving so the stagnation can clear, and a second to bring in the next step information on wellbeing. So far I’m finding that all three together helps an edge become a breakthrough.
. . . It has an affinity for working with the yellow flowered essences, such as Common Hawkweed (a good energy mover) and Yellow Swamp Azalea (a good energy lifter).
A note on the colors: From my art days I learned that purple and yellow are opposits on the color wheel. . . in other words, they play well together. Maybe that theory is rooted in more than looks . . . perhaps together, their polarized light frequencies create a dynamic tension that supplies the energy needed to help move stuckness on.
This kind of dynamic tension is something I recently learned in a training of Ortho-Bionomy, a form of esoteric manual osteopathy.
With this approach, a therapist may follow an energetic spiral into a place of dysfunction in the client, while at the same time spiraling their energy out in the opposit direction . . . and the tension between the two spirals increases –generating energy– until FLOOP! the stuckness in the middle comes flowing out.
Like I said, esoteric. And, it works.
Maybe this principle is at work here too.
Everything vibrates, especially color, being a frequency of light . . .
Donna and I corresponded months later about my Spiderwort findings.
She sums it up best!
“I wonder if it is responsive to where we see/feel the energies – some may be residing within and others without. And consider what spiderworts do – they can be a signal to toxicity in the environment . . . maybe it only detects? And in that sense brings awareness that will help it move?”
Yes yes yes!
Thank you, Spiderwort Deva. You show us that to unearth and see clearly the dysfunction is half the task, and that rest and vitality comes after.
Thank you, Donna, for all the gifts you bring and share.
Thank you, Reader, for being on this adventure with me.
I am now taking a break from blogging. The project enters a different stage as I do the bookwork part of discerning the 35+ essences I’ve gathered this year. That’s a lot to integrate. Time to focus there.
❤ May your dreams include the green people. ❤
All photos, text, illustrations copyright 2018 Megan Assaf
A Louisiana Flower Essence Project and it’s materials are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.