Touch Junkie - On Plants, Intimacy, and Environmental Energies by Heidi Beierle
I visit a park with two swings hung between large firs. I frighten myself in the swing thinking that I might lift right out of it and continue my arc to the treetops. As the season moves from dark to light, I also walk the garden. I put my nose in all the daffodils and follow intoxicating scents to their source. When the cherry blossoms burst, I find fairies, sprites, and other magic in the garden. I come close to flying. This is how I connect to spirit. I talk to plants and touch them. I see and hear their responses. I read vitality in environments as indicated through them.
I mention plants because I believe that our level of intimacy with self, others, and environment is directly reflected through vegetal vigor. You may have read The Secret Life of Plants, a 1973 book that compiles practical to occult scientific studies from plant ESP to organic agriculture. You may have read The Botany of Desire, a recent examination of human-plant relationships. What surprises me about these books and others is that as a culture, we forget the power plants have to affect human health. Throughout history, there have been exemplary gardens and gardeners who bring the magic of plants to the fore. We bludgeon them with scientific studies. We’re skeptical, and then we forget. And the cycle repeats.
Not all of us ignore plants’ wisdom. Granted, not all of us are green thumbs, but if we consciously acknowledge plants as living, feeling, thinking, responsive organisms we go a long way toward satisfying their needs and our own. This pattern of acknowledgement affects our other intimate interactions. I use my houseplants and outdoor plants to help guide my personal well-being. Do my plants need more light? Do I? Do they need different nutrients? Do I? Have I spent much time touching my plants? Do I crave more attention? Are they crowded? Should I spend some time alone? Are they Lonely? Do I need to socialize? Plants climbing out of their pots? Need a change of scenery? Happier with decorative touches? Wear anything that makes me feel beautiful? In need of new soil? What do I need to blossom?
Especially as it relates to intimacy with other people, plants teach us patience. It takes time to determine if changes restore vitality. One of my plants had me moving it all over the house for months because I thought it wanted different light. Turns out it wanted wet feet. We communicated. I misunderstood for some time, but the plant was insistent, and I finally grasped its message. People behave similarly. There are things we notice. We can influence overall health through reacting to observations. I address people the same way I behave with my plants. I talk to them. I touch them. Often, they’re hungry for intimacy (not necessarily sexual), for having someone notice, care, or connect. It takes time. Intimacy is a protracted and honest exchange.
The same is true of environments outdoor and indoor. I once worked in an office with diseased and neglected plants. The overall energy in that environment from the people and the building was reflected in the plants’ health. One of my friends cultivates a sizeable organic garden every year on a forested plot of land. The garden flourishes, and creativity abounds. Healthy urban communities are distinguished by their plants. If plants are happy, then people are happy.
As I watch plants, I learn that they give us enormous clues about our own energies and vitality. When I saw “What the Bleep Do We Know,” I was affected by the art installation that captures water after positive and negative meditative influence. We are 90% water. I became more conscious of how my own thoughts could affect the clarity and beauty of my emanations. Plants are also mostly water. They absorb our energies and reflect them back to us.
Note the plants where you live, work, and visit. Are there any? How are they doing? Limp? Perky? Check in with yourself. Flaccid? Buoyant? What kind of energy do you put out? Enough to choke an elephant? Buffet for a mouse? Ice cream on a hot summer day? Cherries and red wine at midnight? Listen to them. Pay attention. They can be your daily oracle.
Heidi Beierle lives in Eugene, Oregon. She specializes in writing, painting, human relating, non-verbal communication, body arts, performance, astrology, and constructed environments. This winter, she teaches “Intimacy and Ecology: Lessons in Primary Sensation,” a workshop that connects our creative natures to our social and physical milieux. Contact: [email protected].