The mind, in the service of the heart, can open itself up in some interesting ways.
Let me explain. Ha! Or try to ..
Yesterday morning, still a-bed. Although (from deep under the covers) I was assuring my oh-so-chipper in the morning husband that yes, I was waking up and would report for coffee soon, I was actually slipping sideways into a sort of dream. I found myself in conversation with a flower.
Well, not quite 'in conversation with a flower', but as it was a sort of dream, you can imagine how hard this is to explain in waking terms.
It was one of these ---->
Variously known as wild pansy, johnny-jump-up, sometimes love in a mist, let's call it by another of its names, heart's ease.
I never plant these, it's rare that anyone does, I think. They just pop up every year of their own accord and rarely in the same place twice, which is part of their charm. There were lots of them this past summer, so I made a small jar of tincture, and in the last few days I've been sampling it, "keying it out" as we say in the trade. Getting to know its personality as it makes its way through me.
Up until making that tincture this summer I haven't paid much attention to the possibilities for heart's ease as a medicine plant; I just enjoy it in the garden and use its cousins the violets.
In the 'dream', if that's what it was, there was only the flower. I had no sense of my self, it didn't cross my mind as odd that the flower was enormous .. but never mind that .. and something/one was speaking about how it helps humans. (Wow is it ever hard to write this sort of thing out!)
My mind tried to take notes: Ease headaches. Soothe pain. Cheering and kindly. Teaches about fitting one thing into another. (what?) Expansiveness (what??) There was more, but too much to record here and most of it wasn't quite in words anyway, but impressions, emotions, sensations ..
This is as close as I'm likely to come to translating one of these experiences into words. I get these 'sort of dreams' quite often, mostly in the fall and winter. Rudolph Steiner, father of biodynamic gardening methods and Waldorf schools, says (somewhere, and if I find the quote I'll let you know) that trees actually awaken in the winter, they're asleep in the summertime. If you consider that human children grow in their sleep, that it would be the same for trees makes a sort of intuitive sense. If we allow for a moment that this is true, then it follows that we and the trees (and plants) may communicate with each other better in the seasons when they are not actively growing.
Don't think about that too hard or it all falls apart,
especially as my little flower is an annual, not a tree ..
This is not a matter of facts, anyway, but of understanding.
In any case, it seems to be that the spirits (for lack of a better term) of these creatures, the plants, are more likely to reach for me and teach me in my dreams in the fall and wintertime. I can understand that it might make the reader uncomfortable when I say they reach for me rather than I dream of them. It may be a little of each, but I can't say.
I can say this -
just because we don't have words for these experiences
in our secular society
doesn't mean we don't have the experiences themselves.
It's not that these experiences are more likely when I've been taking the tincture or drinking a tea made of the plant, in fact I was surprised that it happened this way. Most often these experiences seem to come out of the blue. Nor can I summon them. And although they seem very much like dreams they're somehow different. In 'normal' dreaming I have a certain degree of self awareness and control. In these I feel more like a vessel into which something (delicious and wonderful) is poured. Information, you could call it, but not facts ..
Officially, herbally, heart's ease is used in a number of ways. In teas or as external washes, its mucilage is moisturizing to irritated tissues, so it can soothe a dry cough or a hot rash. It lessens pain, tones the vascular system and is said to be good for the heart. Where do the qualities that I was told about in the 'sort of dream' come in?
That's something I'll just have to find out as I go along. "Fitting one thing into another" is particularly intriguing, don't you think? And how on earth can such a tiny flower offer us "expansiveness"?
As I (struggle through) writing this post, I think I'm beginning to understand what heart's ease might be saying .. when the mind serves the heart it becomes part of it. We think of them as separate entities but they needn't be, shouldn't be.
Once the mind is 'fit into' the heart
(or is the heart fit into the mind?)
we undergo a metamorphosis.
We become a different sort of creature than we were before.
As to the expansiveness heart's ease speaks of? That's the vast inclusive nature of Creation.
That's something impossible for the mind to conceive of while it deals only in facts. The heart-mind-as-one operates above facts, in the realm of understanding. That's the realm that the rest of Creation exists in; the one we fell from when we chose to divorce heart from mind.
That choice wasn't final; the story doesn't end with Adam and Eve, it begins there. We each stand a chance at redemption, metamorphosis, fitting one thing into another. Every moment we're alive we have that chance; that's free will. And that's pretty amazing.
If you'd like to read more on the herbal uses of heart's ease, there's a nice article that includes the Ayurvedic perspective here and another of the traditional uses by Mrs. Grieve, here .