Catnip: Procrastination, Commitment, and Energetic Honesty
Article ID: 12315
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Khi Armand
Posted: March 16th. 2008
Times Viewed: 3,336
So a couple months ago I began a work-exchange apprenticeship at an herbal shop in a town nearby. The circumstances surrounding my start there were more than coincidental and my life has never been the same.
It all started one day when a friend and I were planning to drop in on this favorite shop of ours after driving around the college town adjacent to our own.
It was the beginning of the semester and during our chat about magickal theory, the end of summer, and recent events in our lives, I mentioned my newfound, but yet unexplored, affinity for the plant world. Having arrived back in semi-rural Massachusetts from New York, it seemed like every tree was reaching out, urging me to explore some kind of communication with it.
“I think the Goddess wants me to work with plants”, I said as we pulled into a parking spot.
We explored every nook and cranny of the store, like always. The owner stood there with a grin, surely not remembering our last foray into his shop as an entire summer stood between this time and the last.
There was no 'Help Wanted' sign in the window, but I knew I needed to ask. Before the words came out of my mouth, he said, “So how would you guys feel about working here?” A semester later, I've gained a new friend, amassed a ton of both medical and energetic knowledge about plants, and discovered a way to communicate with them.
For as long as I could remember, I had a block between my desires and my actions. I'd be lying in bed or sitting on the couch with both personal and obligatory things to do and places to be and not have the ability to get up and go. Goals unreached, worlds unexplored, talents and skills unrefined, I'd sit, unable to move. My tendency to procrastinate only enabled this paralysis. I was literally 'stuck', and for an ambitious person like myself, it was terrifying.
Worse than that, I had commitment issues. Not the kind usually associated with men in relationships, but the “over committed student who agrees to do every project asked of him” kind of commitment issues. It's true. No matter how resolved I was to make time for myself and leave my schedule uncluttered, I'd manage to squeeze in more than my fair share of obligations to others each semester.
I was a people pleaser and had trouble saying, “Thanks for asking, but no. I'm just too busy.”
A couple of months into my apprenticeship, the word 'catnip' kept floating around my head. I often hear things and see things in my mind's eye that have no apparent relevance to my life or the current situation; I sometimes hear whole conversations and stories told by only-God-knows-who, utilizing words I never use in everyday conversation.
But when 'catnip' started showing up in what I was reading and on well-placed signs in town, I knew I wasn't just being a magnet for psychic residue or chatty spirits. Though it took me a while to do so, I finally went on an herbal journey.
With cues from Starhawk's Twelve Wild Swans and some tips from my boss, I put on my ritual garb (generally consisting of a colorful feminine skirt and my masculine camouflage t-shirt) and a gray handkerchief-bandanna. It was time for some Hedge-Witchery.
Pulling up the Wikipedia page on 'catnip', I imagined the plant material on my altar in the context of the whole plant. Even computer images can be useful in magick. Asking the plant to reveal itself to me, I rubbed it on my face, sniffed it, tasted it, put my ear to it, and other kinds of sensual silliness. Then I closed my eyes, hands above the plant, and imagined entering its stem based on the pictures I'd seen online.
Of course, it felt silly at first, but I attuned to the seemingly random impulses guiding me. I sensed a great deal of blue and yellow, smelled a kind late spring right outside, and heard babies laughing. The word “friend” came to me and I knew that catnip worked incredibly well with other plants, both therapeutically and ecologically.
I got the sense that catnip would be good for children making the transition into puberty – a change in body often complemented by a change in schools and attitude. Catnip could ease that.
Before leaving, I thanked the plant spirit and asked how it might be able to help me.
A soft androgynous voice replied, “I can put you back together”.
I was skeptical about my journey, afraid I'd heard too much of what I wanted to hear, but had my findings confirmed by my mentor, an herbalist himself. The colors I sensed were significant because of catnip's neurological associations.
Catnip extends a joyful contentment to others and is, indeed, an excellent complement to other plants. It's also perfectly safe for babies to imbibe and excellent for transitions – especially the one I'd sensed during my trip. He suggested that I drink a cup of catnip tea a day for a month, the usual time span necessary for a plant to affect your energy rather than just your body.
I began my regimen, drinking at least a cup of catnip tea each day. While drinking it, I'd repeat silently to myself “My body and my spirit are friends” and “I am committed to my own spirit” while visualizing my body and spirit as patterns blending into one another.
I'd miss a day or two here and there, but it wasn't long before I noticed a change in my life. It might sound elementary, but I was getting up and doing things without second-guessing myself. I'd catch myself pouring a glass of water without having spent minutes convincing myself to do so. I was being creative, not just planning creative endeavors. I was waking up each morning looking forward to the day.
My paralysis was melting away.
I also became more conscious of my energetic input vs. output. When asked to join a project or endeavor, I'd stop to evaluate my time and the necessary energetic expense. We are finite creatures, only invincible when we're honest about our energetic resources. I found holes in my life where I'd been leaking energy to places and people not giving back in the ways I'd been waiting for or expecting them to. I found a new wholeness, my higher self's desires taking priority and my body following in suit. I plan to visit catnip again soon and ask if I've fully learned what I need to from it in this phase of my life.
You may have an herb or plant you've felt an affinity for, or have always been curious about a plants properties beyond what you've read in books. Try an herbal journey, but do some research before deciding to take it internally.
There is a multitude of ways to incorporate an herbal ally into your life – oils, tinctures, and teas are only some of them. You can carry it in a cloth of an appropriate color, sprinkle it onto your clothing or in your book bag, or simply meditate with it each day.
The most important thing is to respect the plant's spirit, and you'll know how to do so. Keeping it on or near your altar and smudging it with sage or another cleansing herb before use is a great way to honor the plant for its teachings. Remember to thank the plant and write down your findings.
Cruden, Loren. Medicine Grove: A Shamanic Herbal
Starhawk. Twelve Wild Swans
Location: New York, New York
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