Poison path, shadow work and love

Today my first Datura flower bloomed (or perhaps, last night). The moon is waning in Aries, the sun in Gemini. This is the first of my seed to bloom babies.

(From Instagram…) A few years ago, when discussing plant usage in magic, I innocently said: just think how rich the energy of an herb would be if it was grown from scratch with intention. 💚

Here I present to you my very fist from scratch intentionally grown magical plant. From seed harvest to flower bloom, this beauty has walked the cycle with me. And I admit, I’m a ridiculously proud plant mama! 💚

I’ll admit, last year when I started my poison garden, I was mildly scared of my poisonous plants. Since then, I’ve come to realize so many of our common plants are poisonous and that has eased much of my angst in relation to them. Obviously they still need to be treated with care but I’m not as fearful that their lessons will be ruthless.

(… Thought continued beyond Instagram) I started on my poison plant path a little out of no where. It wasn’t something I intended to do. When my teachers initially shared a paper on growing Mandrakes, I thought “that’s nice but I have a cat and a kid and it ain’t never gonna happen (cause my internal dialogue voice is slang and sassy like that). So I took the paper and skimmed it and dismissed it. Quite honestly, I’m not sure why I decided to grow mandrake. I think I was skimming over my papers, saw it and then thought, that could be cool to try. I contacted Sarah from BaneFolk to ask about seed sellers she’d recommend for Mandragora seeds (Strictly Medicinal and Alchemy Works) and before I really thought about it, I’d purchased my seeds from Strictly Medicinal Seeds. And I planted them with NO knowledge. I wasn’t systematic about it. I knew nothing about growing seeds, dampening off, fans, light, temperature, cold water stratification, etc. I just bought a seed starter kit and planted them by my window in the room where I do magic.

And I talked them them daily. Gave them a lot of water at first until mold came and I finally realized that was a bad thing (cause I didn’t recognize it as mold at first–I just naively thought it was old man Saturn making an appearance–I really knew NOTHING about plants). But I started to learn and before I knew it I had 16 thriving mandragora seedlings and a life that had been turned upside down.

Every skeleton in my closet: from my partner’s bisexuality to my frustrations with my coven were publicly outed during this time (against my wishes/consent). It was a hard season. But probably a very necessary one in terms of me finally making some decisions that needed to be made.

Suffice to say though… Mandragora is considered one of the gentler poison plants, so if my life was being turned inside out during this growing process, what would other plants do? Because somewhere in the midst of all this, I decided that I wanted to try my hands at the other plants so I went back to Strictly Medicinal and purchased Henbane, Datura, and Belladonna (and a few others). So when I approached Henbane, Datura, and Belladonna (especially Belladonna), I did so with eagerness and apprehension. I was scared. Shit was gonna get realer than real. Was I ready for it?

And suddenly the potato beetle struck and I was fighting an infestation in my Mandrake plants. And my Henbane would start but never last. And the Datura and Belladonna was doing nothing. I read and intervened and left alone and fretted. And secretly admitted in side of me that I was scared a bit of the Belladonna and Datura (but mostly the Belladonna cause she’s known to be a cruel mistress). I talked to her, trying to work my way through the fears but she never grew. I talked to the Datura, dried her out and started again. And she grew. Small but she grew enough for me to be able to crack open about 4 seed pods to harvest her seeds.

And in the meantime, I left my coven, joined a new one, learned a lot about plants, started therapy and grew.

This year, my relationship with the plants is different. People for some reason think I know things about growing plants. HA! I’m still winging it, just on a larger scale!

But this year my Datura is thriving (minus an infestation of caterpillar larvae that I’m still treating) and my Belladonna (which I purchased from BaneFolk when Sarah came to do a talk in Montreal in the Fall) is doing well and is ready to be transitioned to a bigger pot (out of it’s seedling pot).

And I think there’s something in all that about the nature of working with poison plants, the poison path, and shadow work. The plants are not cruel per se. Our shadows are. Of course I was fearful because I wasn’t ready to face my shadows last summer. This summer, I have an army of plant allies to support me through the work so even as the world feels like it’s falling apart and the bandaids are being ripped off from society; I am ready for the work.

I’m ready to face the ancestral wounds that have been passed down through my maternal line and know what my boundaries are as I address them. I have stepped out of toxic relationships that have help me back and let go of my FOMO, which kept me in situations where I couldn’t thrive. I’ve come to recognize what is my journey vs my partner’s journey vs our journey and he’s taken more ownership of his own nature/personality so that I don’t have to do the work to help him understand/navigate his emotional reactions. Life isn’t perfect. It’s far from perfect. But I’m no longer scared of what Belladonna may have to teach me (and I recognize that that may come bite me in the ass–ah hubris, you are ever a constant companion!)

The plants are teaching me to be a better person. They are teaching me to observe, stand back, wait. To grow and reach for the light. They are supporting me on my journey through the shadows and reminding me at every turn, the answer to the darkness is love. It’s always love. For every path, every turn, every poison or fear; the answer is to reach for the light (however little it may be) and be lead by love (not the rainbow unicorn sparkle love but love as sacrifice, commitment, and work).

Shadow work is there to help us find our way to love and to Persephone’s journey through the darkness in order for us to grow.

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