Healing Uses of Plant Technology: Redux

In mid-June, Oxalis had the pleasure of presenting at the Allied Media Conference, a convergence of makers, innovators, visionaries, and world-builders, which centers people at the margins, based in ever-beautiful and gritty, Detroit.

Our presentation, Healing Uses of Plant Technology, was part of the Healing Justice Track, featured on the main conference day. We planned to welcome about 60 people, and sadly, a few minutes after the start time, we found ourselves at capacity, with participants filling the chairs, and walkways. So many folks explained later that they intended to join but weren’t able to be in the space.

We are, therefore, offering Healing Uses of Plant Technology: Redux, a summary of highlights from our AMC hands-on session.

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The elements and plant spirit medicine as a path of practice by Karen L. Culpepper

Plants spirit medicine is an ancient technology that is a path to healing and higher care. It has helped folks cope, feel, heal and transform. As a collective, we thrive to include all of the elements (earth, water, air and fire) on the community altar. The community altar is always a beautiful, on-site creation that comes to life during our facilitations and served as the muse for the first movement.

Take a moment to explore how invoking the gift of each element can look like and what that could feel like in our physical, mental and emotional bodies. What are some examples of accessible ways to access the elements? How can each of the elements show up as a technology for transformation?

Examples included:

  • Air:  (the container) word medicine, breath, skies, singing
  • Fire: (candles) incense, candles, writing a letter and burning them, sun
  • Water:(cleansing) baths, spirit pours, bodies of water, juicy fruit, foot soak, the rain
  • Earth: (plants) feet on the earth, seal of earth around you, mud bath, crystals

We also discussed a few different plant parts, explored taste through a few herbal and investigated how different plant parts show up

  • Roots are the anchor of the plant and we tasted a digestion tincture that included root herbs such as dandelion root, ginger and angelica.
  • Leaves help the plant breathe and to inspire us to imagine what we are breathing life into we tasted motherwort glycerite to bring calm to the heart. 
  • Flowers are new growth, the heart and emotional support and we used pink rose glycerite to open our heart space.
  • Berries/Fruit nurture seeds that enable the plant to be created and we sampled hawthorn berry glycerite, which is a cardio tonic and brings in the energy of compassion.

Horticulture as inspiration for self-care by Miriam Zoila Pérez

Plants and caring for plants (horticulture) are not new healing technologies, they’ve been integrated into our lives and communities forever. What’s new, actually, is living so apart from nature and plants–and the ability to now bring them into our homes, thanks to globalization and the commercialization of plants that can adapt to our shady dwellings.

During this workshop I shared some basic tips for caring for houseplants, many of which you find in my houseplant parenthood instagram account, or in this zine I created. I also offered participants two opportunities to reflect, which are below. You might want to journal in response to these, share with a friend, visualize or record yourself a voice memo.

Reflection 1:

What is your people’s relationship to plants? What do you know about your lineage, your ancestors, your family and their relationship to horticulture and growing plants? Being grounded in our ancestral and community practices can be an important way to connect to those before us. If you don’t know about your blood lineage, what about the communities you were raised in? What are their relationships to plants?

Reflection 2:

  • One of the beautiful things about caring for plants is the attention and nurture that it cultivates in us. What if we took those same moments as an opportunity to reflect on our own care and nurture?
  • Imagine you were going to check on a houseplant. You’d touch the soil for moisture (to see if it needs water), you’d look at the leaves, you’d see what growth has happened, what leaves need pruning.
  • Take a few minutes and try checking in on yourself the way you would a plant. Are you hydrated? How’s your growth? Is there something that needs to be let go? Is your environment supporting you?
  • Once you’ve reflected on those questions, think about any action steps you might take. If your plant looked dry, you’d water it. Is there anything you learned from this reflection on your own wellbeing that needs response?

Makin’ Hands Ritual by Richael

“Hands” or mojo bags are a conjure form of amulet, where blessed curios are collected, and either carried with you or placed in a sacred space. We created hands to honor the theme of reclamation–power that is ours and since been scattered, stolen, or lost. Plants are strong kinds of curios, and when hand-making is ritualized, becomes a strong spiritual/emotional companion.

Materials: cotton tea bag, permanent marker, plant parts in bowls.

  1. Start the ritual by holding the cotton bag in between your hands. Find an intentional rhythm with your breath and set your intention (reclamation or another that resonates).
  2.  Lay your bag onto a flat surface and mark your bag. You may choose a set of symbols with deep meaning to you, a signature or variation of your name, or another marking that comes to you.
  3. Once your bag is marked, it’s time to collect your plant parts. Use your hands to pinch the plant material and stuff into your bag. As you stuff your bag, speak affirmations related to your intention, into the bag. Do not stuff your bag until you speak your affirmation aloud.
  4. Once your bag is stuffed, cup the bag into your hands, and begin to breath life into it. Breath outward into your bag at least ten times. You may continue your affirmations, if you feel moved.
  5. Finish your ritual with a self-gratitude and offering thanks to your community of support (living or not, human or not, etc). Place your mojo in a secure place on your person or at a sacred space.

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