The Article below was taken from the Autumn 2018 of ESSENCE magazine the official publication of the BFVEA.
How Plant Spirit Medicine has Woven itself into my Life - Karen Stead-Dexter
Although fairly new to essences I have worked closely with plants since a child. I was introduced to the wild, hedgerow plants by my mother’s friend, and she helped open a doorway into the world of the plants and their energy, and my love for nature. I remember the joy one Christmas in the mid 1970s as I opened my first flower press – it was time to explore and bring back the wonderful beauties I had marvelled at on my walks. I would collect the flowers and very carefully and gently lay them on tissue paper to be pressed, and then later added them into a scrap book, detailing the journey I had with that plant – where it came from, how it smelled, and I would also draw little sprites next to each one. I realised as I got older that what I was probably drawing was the plant spirit itself.
There is something really magical and special about that time as a young child, having that simple awe and wonderment with every journey and every plant. This was my first real connection with plant spirits that has never left me …
although today I no longer pick the flowers but take detailed photos instead, and grow and dry flowers and herbs for teas, medicinal, herbal and culinary use.
I grew up in south-west Scotland and spent many free hours either exploring our garden or the hedgerows along the back lanes on the outskirts of where I lived. The woodland areas were a haven for me and my thirst for plant knowledge. I was given a plant identification book at twelve years old and this truly was my bible. At the age of sixteen I was a volunteer ranger on a private estate not that far from my home, and I loved taking people on guided walks where I could talk about the rare plants and animals we could see along the way. I loved telling people about herb lore, and in particular where plants got their name. I feel blessed that I was given such a rich plant knowledge through my childhood, learning about the wonders of Mother Earth.
Later in my academic life, when I taught ecology, I realised that not everyone understood that much about the natural world, or really understood the essential life under their feet, the plant kingdom. Having to teach undergraduates how to identify common UK trees and plants to me was appalling; this was something they should have learnt at an early age! I only hope those I taught have taken away that awe and wonder that plants can bring.
Moving to the South-West of England, now nearly seventeen years ago, really strengthened within me the need to connect on a much deeper level with plants. Undertaking Shamanic and Energy Medicine training over the past twenty-six years, incorporating everything from Buddhism, Celtic Shamanism, Navajo Native American Medicine to Inca Shamanic techniques, has really helped me hone my skills in understanding and honouring the plants. And undertaking the Diploma in Flower and Vibrational Essences with the Chalice Well in 2015/2016 has deepened that need in me to really study Plant Spirit
Medicine; and that has helped me so much in the last few years.
Starting with the Bach flower remedies I decided that in order to truly know the essences I really needed to meet the plant, to journey with it using shamanic techniques, and thus gain its deep medicine/wisdom as a result. I now use this method with every essence I work with, and it allows me to know it in a profound way before using it with my clients. I also teach Plant Spirit Medicine – for example I recently completed teaching a group of people about the Navajo Medicine Wheel. In the south direction of the Wheel lies the ‘Place of the Plants’, and I introduced teacher plant essences – Peyote,San Pedro, Mugwort and Ayahuasca – for the students to work with. Through journeying with these they then each received very powerful medicine from the plants for their south shields, which helps their Everyday Child.
I also make my own essences, and the one plant that calls to me each Full Moon is Mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris. At certain Full Moons she will call to be made into an essence and I find that each essence is so, so different. I helped
co-create an essence with her at the Summer Solstice Full Moon in 2016 and this was joyous, energetic, and full of life, and yet the one at the Harvest Full Moon in 2017 was calming, still, and recovering. I love what she brings about at these different times in the year. And I love how the process of being called in by the plant suddenly allows the space for everything to fall into place to produce the most wonderful essence. It is pure magic!
I use essences in my Energy Medicine work every day. My clients are given a combination essence to take away and allow the healing to continue. Clients include not just humans, but horses – I have had amazing results with horses, where one in particular wanted to consume the whole bottle, AND followed me out of the field wanting more! – also dogs and my birds of prey. I have eight birds of prey altogether and work as a falconer as well as a therapist.
Combining the two businesses now allows me to bring in both Bird Spirit
Medicine and Plant Spirit Medicine for my clients. And, yes, I give them animal essences too, especially bird essences that I feel are appropriate for them.
Through all my energy work I love bringing people back to nature, to really help them connect with Mother Nature again, to feel her love and compassion; and in return they will realise that She needs to be protected and nourished.
I continue to increase my Plant Spirit Medicine knowledge through dialogue with the plants … they are my teachers, they are my guides. Each month I go out with the intention to connect with a plant that wants to share its medicine with me….and each month I connect deeply with that plant. I’m doing what truly makes my heart sing in this life and feel really blessed that the plants are with me at every step.
Karen is a member of the BFVEA and holds a First Class Honours degree in Environmental
Science, Masters in Radiation Physics & PhD in Environmental Geochemistry &
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org www.kingfisherhealth.co.uk