The Magick, Medicine, and Wisdom of Plants

Not lavender, but pretty just the same.

I recently decided to dive into making herbal-infused oils for massage, salves, and other uses. It is something I have dabbled in a little bit, but I always look for ways to make my craft better. I’ve only done calendula-infused oil before now, but about a month or so ago (because my method is so precise and scientific, ha ha) I infused some lavender in sweet almond oil. I didn’t decoct it until a few days ago.

One thing I love about my dive into herbal magick and medicine is how it grounds me. Most of my life I have felt pretty ungrounded, which is to be expected I suppose, since I have an abundance of Aquarius (air sign) in my chart. Separating the lavender from the oil was a very grounding process: smelling the aromatic lavender as I poured the oil from the jar, squeezing the oil out of the lavender and feeling the oil on my hands – it was an experience that was definitely grounding, which was truly healing in its own right.

Lavender and I have sort of a history. Let’s just say that I have never been a big fan. Any time I have smelled a lavender scented lotion or candle, it has made me turn around and run the other way so fast. It has seemed like a harsh scent to me, not very gentle, and definitely not calming like people talk about it being. I definitely didn’t get it.

But lately lavender has started to grow on me. It started with my exploration into essential oils. I started using an oil with lavender in it on my pillow to help me calm down and sleep better. At first I couldn’t stand the smell of it, but as I kept using the oil, it became easier to use. Then I started using dried lavender flowers in tea. When I buy dried lavender to use for different potions, I have really started enjoying the scent of it, even better than the scent of the essential oils. I recently went to a circle/group where it was proposed that those herbs and scents that we have a hard time with indicate some sort of trauma or blockage in the area that the plant/scent is said to help with. I believe that there is some truth to that.

The oil was my latest lavender creation, and as I decocted it, I really enjoyed the grounding process. I did it before work the other day, and so after I finished getting all of the oil out of the lavender, I walked away and finished getting ready for work.

And then, something strange happened when I was driving to work: I started crying! There was really nothing that happened during my morning to bring it on; it just happened. It wasn’t a big cry, but I could tell that it could be if I let it. However, since I was on my way to work, I was not going to let myself do that. But I knew in my mind that the lavender that I had my hands in was working its magic on me and my body was trying to release some pent-up trauma that it was holding on to. Lord knows I have enough pent-up trauma in my body. I hold on to every emotion under the sun. I have a lot of trauma that I know is still stored up from childhood, when I didn’t feel safe enough to release it, and that feeling has followed me into adulthood as I hold on to negative emotions in fear that I might make someone else mad or hurt someone else’s feelings with my own emotions.

And then yesterday, on Thanksgiving, the deluge came and there was no holding it back. I don’t think I could have predicted it because the situations that brought it out seemed so innocuous. First, I was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV rather begrudgingly because I don’t like the commercialism of the holidays but I love the parade. Then the holiday commercials started rolling, the sappy ones when the family comes together, or the kids are doing cute things. I found myself tearing up at a lot of the commercials, and I sat there wondering, “What in the hell is wrong with me?” Then, my partner and I had a continuation of a conversation that has been going on for a couple of weeks that does have a small electrical charge to it, and my daughter made a rude comment when I asked her to do something.

That’s all it took.

I excused myself from the living room to get ready to visit family, and while in the shower I lost it. It started pouring out. I let some of it come, and I felt the urge to scream, which I have never had happen before and which was kind of scary and freeing at the same time. I knew that I couldn’t just scream in the shower; I’d probably scare everyone in the house. But I remembered advice about screaming into a pillow and finished my shower so I could do that. So for the moment the crying stopped.

When I got out of the shower I sat on the bed, but was interrupted by my partner who came in to finish getting ready too. He made a couple of comments related to our conversation, and then the crying started again! I was rather perplexed at this point because I knew that he would think that all of this was because of a conversation that was really not that emotionally charged to begin with. But he walked out of the room and I was able to let more of the crying out. There was no more urge to scream at this point, but I’m not sure that it isn’t waiting for me at some point in the near future. I am beginning to understand what is so healing about primal scream therapy, or at least I did in the moment when I had the urge to scream.

My point of writing this personal story is so that you can see how beneficial herbs and plants are to life. They are friends and allies, and teach us things about ourselves if we let them. If I completely shut lavender out of my life because I don’t like it, I wouldn’t have experienced the healing power of a good cry. I fully believe at this point that lavender is working with me to learn how to express my emotions in a healthy way instead of holding on to them, a lesson that I know that I desperately need. I’m sure I will have plenty more emotional escapades while working with lavender, and I hope that I don’t completely scare my family in the process. But learning about myself through learning about herbs and plants is an amazing gift that I never thought would come from this path that I have taken. At least, I never thought it would manifest itself the way that it has. I have already had some amazing experiences with a few plants, and the funny thing is that those experiences weren’t with plants that I would have chosen. They have been with plants that apparently chose me. That in itself is a magickal thought: these plants chose me. They wanted to work with me. I wouldn’t have chosen lavender to work with, but lavender is working with me and the medicine that it is bringing is amazing.