Around 8 weeks ago, I sowed wildflower seeds in the Medicine Wheel of the WytchWood potager, which is the vegetable, fruit, flower and herb garden at my home practice. If you follow Flourish on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you may have seen photographs of the changes in the garden, and for those of you who have been engaging with my posts or asking about it during appointments I thank you so much for your lovely and encouraging comments!
I have previously had the privilege of working allotments but it has been a dream of mine for over 30 years to create my own medicine garden where I could sow, grow and use its harvest in my work and to be able to craft remedies, products and powerful spirit medicine from them. I am a born Earthworker - growing, using and sharing plant medicine, connecting with the spirit energy, guides and teachers of the green world, is my heart's home. But this doesn't come without knowing your crafts. It may have taken many years to achieve my dream but the journey of seeking, learning, gaining knowledge and practical experience is the only way to get to the destination. One of the things I used to have stuck to the window of the greenhouse at one of my allotments was 'A mighty oak is just a wee nut that stood its ground.' (there's a little more about this in my blog post Message From A Wee Nut)
This morning, the first flower appeared from these seeds sown at the end of April, and it was the small red poppy in the picture above. Every day I watched the seedlings slowly grow, sprouting from those tiny seeds, forming their roots in a new landscape, developing their leaves to grow ever taller, reaching to kiss the sun. I kept imagining the beautiful flowers they would eventually become while appreciating everything it takes for them to get to their flowering form.
In the past few months, life has changed so much for all of us. We've adapted in whatever ways we've been able during lockdown, which has shown all of us the things we've been prioritising in our lives and whether these priorities have been fulfilling us. The fear and panic of the lockdown in the initial stages made way for an evolution of our lives and many of us have learned - and are still learning - from this. Many are keen to rush back into the life they had before, misguidedly thinking it still exists somewhere, by returning to the actions that continue to distract. We all run away from things in our lives - it's part of our fight/flight response - but the pandemic has prevented us from running away, and fighting would only be with ourselves which will not help us to survive. We've had to find new courses of action and these have not been outward movements but rather journeys inward.
While we are in a very different situation to where we were at the beginning of lockdown, there are some aspects that are similar. Many of you may now be experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety that are similar to what you experienced at the beginning of lockdown. I feel this is in part due to concerns that the world we are returning to will expect us to be the same as we were prior to the pandemic, and we cannot be that person because we are no longer that person. We've had less opportunity to discuss our feelings with others because the places that we do this - cafes, homes, pubs, restaurants, therapeutic spaces - are the places we gather to talk about our lives, they are the places where we discuss politics and the world and share our ideas and feelings on these. We haven't been able to collect which means the thoughts and feelings we have cannot be bounced off or validated by others and so we can become doubtful of ourselves - we may think that we are the only ones thinking these thoughts or feeling these feelings.
With shops, hairdressers, pubs and cafes opening, it may seem as if 'normal service is resumed'. But we still cannot talk about what matters to us because to do this we need to huddle - we need to be physically close to each other to discuss our innermost thoughts and feelings so that we can be reassured that what we are sharing is heard and respected, and this happens with a hold of our hand, an arm around our shoulder, a hug. Personally, and professionally, I never want any of us to get to a point where we think it's normal to shout our innermost feelings across a 2 metre distance in a busy public space. No one ever made any sense of the world in this way and no ideas or revolutions were formed like this. Just like online platforms like Zoom, Skype and Facetime, this new world - albeit temporary - of socialising from a distance tricks us into thinking we are connecting with each other while we are still not able to fully disclose and discuss the things that matter to us. They need real connection for these to be processed, understood, shared, heard and respected.
With the gradual phasing of a different world, I feel we are also entering into a world of mistrust and judgement of each other, and our inability to connect in person for the past few months has created an environment for this to cultivate. Many of us don't realise the deep emotional impact this has on us. Viewing each other as possible virus carriers aside, another example of this is face masks. Whatever your feeling, they have become deeply polarising - there are strong opinions on both sides in wearing them or not. This means we are both judging others and being judged ourselves when we step out into an unfamiliar world, one in which we do not know what kind of a world it will become. We are being assessed, in a second, as to the kind of person we are by one single choice, one single action. We are creating a hostile outer environment, and the last thing we need when we have been unable to truly connect with each other for months is hostility and mistrust.
An expectation for us to return to life that has some faint resemblance to a life now gone can trigger old thoughts, feelings and patterns of behaviour, an unwelcome return of those aspects of ourselves that we may have bravely faced and addressed during lockdown. As life moves on, it may feel as if everything we learned about ourselves, others and the world around us during lockdown is not only being overlooked but is actually being devalued.
But in all things, there is wisdom to be gained in the lessons we learn. If we have taken the opportunities the past few months have afforded us, we have been making a journey of self-discovery and being given revelatory discoveries of others too. The experience of gradually stepping out from lockdown is a challenge and a choice. This is where we can choose to apply everything we have learned. It is a test - will we value its teachings and honour any new commitments we made to ourselves? It is giving us the opportunity to create something new, one that our souls always long for. A world of tolerance, peace, joy, love, equality and justice that is borne from our pain, grief, suffering and sacrifices.
Our emergence from the tiny seeds scattered in Spring - the promise of a new and different life - forming our roots in ground that is new to us, developing ourselves and the light within us to grow and shine its beauty out into the world.
Just like the WytchWood wildflowers, I see what you've went through these past few months to become who you are now, and it is incredible and beautiful. No matter what flower you are in our new landscape, I love and appreciate all that you are and you must too.
Copyright © Andrea Doran, Flourish and contributors 2020. All rights reserved.