Aloe Vera and The Nature of Medicine
It's a full-time job keeping up with a garden that gives so much. I'm very grateful for these spacious spring days dedicated to the cultivation and processing of so much abundant medicine.
If you know where and how to look, you'll find precisely the medicine you need growing all around you. With a hot summer coming on, many of us will grab a bottle of aloe vera gel from the drug store to treat our sunburns. But how many of us take the time to receive this soothing medicine directly from the plants themselves?
Working with plants isn't just healing because of the physical medicine that results from our efforts. There is a more subtle type of energetic medicine that infuses into our fingertips when we connect with and care for plant beings. There is medicine laced into the ongoing relationships we cultivate.
When we look out from our soul's window every day and notice how the plants in our garden have grown, shifted, and adapted to their changing environment. There is medicine in the continual noticing.
When we trample, slash, and uproot the plants (as is inevitable sometimes) and instead of discarding the bodies, we honor their death enough to reinvest their nutrients into a path of healing. There is medicine in honoring and participating in the cycles of death and life.
When we spend hours bent over glass bowls, scraped knuckles peeling green leathery strips from slimy jellyfish pulp. There is medicine in the mutual ripping open of skin, in the discomfort of piercing our edges so we may bleed into each other.
A few months from now, when my dry, red skin is screaming with the summer heat, I will pop aloe vera ice cubes out of my freezer. I will remember my efforts and the efforts of the aloe, and all the forces that conspired to provide the exact nourishment I need in this moment. There is medicine in the remembering and in the foresight to prepare for the future. There is medicine in the practice of caring for ourselves, in anticipating our own needs and gathering the resources together to meet them.
And when I share this experience with all of you, when I manage to crawl out of the cozy loneliness of my witch's cave to share with you videos of how I slather myself with plant slime, because I truly believe this is the surest path to genuine fulfillment. There is medicine in overcoming the fear of being witnessed, in allowing doubt, judgment, and misunderstanding to be overtaken by the inspiration to shine truth.
And then knowing someone out there will be inspired by this too, sparking their curiosity to start noticing their own plant neighbors. There is medicine in the self-perpetuating nature of medicine. One act of tenderness or one moment of peace can set off a chain reaction – healing is contagious.
Like a crystal spring, once healing bursts through the earth it keeps on flowing home to the sea. And there is medicine in choosing to step into this healing stream instead of just watching from the bank as the pure water passes you by. There is medicine in the exhilaration of cold water rushing and smooth pebbles between your toes because it shocks you back into your animal body. It boomerangs your mind back into the home of your heart.
When we work with plants there is no room for worry, there is no taste for competition or jealousy. There is only space for sensation: for sharp and smooth and sticky and wet. There is only space for stiff muscles and happy exhaustion, for pungence and coolness and relief.
There is medicine in the opportunity to reenter our own bodies with the innocence of a child. There is medicine in discovering afresh what happens when we push the boundaries of our own landscape. There is medicine in the shedding of thoughts, which reveals the jewels of intuition, our true riches. There is medicine in simple presence, in the willingness to empty ourselves so we may be filled with light.
There is medicine in knowing that transformation is not only possible, it is eagerly awaiting, smiling up at us from the petals of flowers, quivering in anticipation inside succulent stems. All we need is a little loving intention to activate the magic. And there is medicine in allowing ourselves to trust the plants.
There is medicine in the bravery to listen to our own whisperings. And there is great medicine in the courage to conjure and reengage the innate healing powers residing within.
Thank you, Aloe Vera, for the medicine of these musings.