Christine Simmons Robert Sabo
Bob and I are were both delighted to become a part of the growing Network of Botanical Sanctuaries under the sponsorship of the United Plant Savers back in 2008. We feel a growing responsibility to both learn and teach more about Stewardship with Nature and what we have called “wildlife.” As stewards of the land, there are many difficult questions we continue to ask each other and ourselves about the direction(s) botanical medicine may take in the future. There are many issues for which we need to find solutions, from managing the plants as well as to how we utilize them for the healing of ourselves and our planet. uPs is addressing many of these solutions. Here at the Wellspring Valley we are glad to be a part of this dialogue and experience.
The connection of environmental toxins with disease is becoming clearer as we begin to understand the havoc that the complex interplay of neurological and endocrine disrupters along with carcinogenic substances may create within our bodies. The plants become desperately needed to heal these chemically induced diseases. With all of the growing needs for plant medicines and as our population increases it is easy to see the possibility that the entire planet may become one large cultivated garden with only small areas that really would be considered wild. This is liable to change the dynamic in ways we can only begin to understand.
The Indonesian Island of Bali is a beautiful example of what this could look like. The Balinese with their ability to live their life as art have created a paradise garden, very conscious of the idea of living downstream, and of bio-diversity, and yet there is very little wilderness left. We spent several months there and the only really wild areas we saw were when we climbed Mt. Agung, from about 3500 feet to the summit at 10,000 feet. It was incredibly beautiful to be a part of that environment for half a day. In part it is the last of the wilderness itself that makes the mountain so sacred to the Balinese. Mt Agung is the Mother Mountain representing the navel center of the world and therefore the dynamic and spontaneous principle of both man and nature. I think the mountain will always be kept wild. It is closed to climbers for the whole month of April for ceremony. Of course for the Balinese there is no separation from Nature and the sacredness of all life and it shows itself in the way ceremony is an integral part of their daily life. This is what Bob and I strive to create here at the Wellspring Valley and we make sure we set aside at least small areas that are allowed to be “wild” in as much as it is possible.
We bought our 100-year-old Victorian house with 30 acres overlooking Donegal Lake, 25 years ago. Much of the acreage had been planted with crops at one time but in the latter years it was being used as a horse farm. We mowed the fields for several years. Over the years we have sold some acreage, some of it is mown and some has been left wild. We planted a couple of acres of Christmas trees, sold some, and we left many that have now become a beautiful stand of Norwegian Spruce. We decided to let the majority of flat land on the hill overlooking the lake return to forest. It has been a fascinating process to watch. Amazing how fast the land returns to forest. We have had to manage it somewhat of course, especially to route out the exotics. We have had our challenges like the Multiflora rose that was planted as a result of some farmer’s ill-conceived notion of using the rose for living fences. As most of you know this wild rose did not stay in nice neat rows but has wandered everywhere the bird flies! I have found the flower essence to be quite useful for releasing habitual patterns that cling and hook in like the barbs of this rose. However, one bush would give me all the flowers I’d ever need for essences and I’d be happy to encourage other things that would be just as useful to the bird-life as the Multiflora rose and much easier on our fruit trees and our flesh!
We have over 50 plants, trees and shrubs that I know of that can be used for medicine. We have kept some of the fields mown and we are learning when to cut and when not to cut in order to foster certain meadow plants. We have been organic gardeners from the beginning and have created numerous gardens. We have woodland gardens with at risk herbs, a circular garden, shade and sun herb gardens, and even a labyrinth mown into the grass.
As an acupuncturist and herbalist of the Five Element Tradition I have long recognized food as medicine. And so our food gardens have been just as important as our herb gardens and a great source of research and knowledge. We have been organic for 25 years and have followed the Findhorn and Perelandra gardening process of co-creating with Nature since the early 90’s. Using a communication system of Kineseology (muscle testing), Machaelle Small Wright pioneered a system of “talking” to the plants and soil, insects and even the soil bacteria. In this process we work directly with the intelligence of Nature. The devas are the aspect of nature’s intelligences that hold the blueprint for a particular pattern. The nature spirits are more like the blue- collar workers that actually do the work of bringing an idea into manifestation. The deva, for example of a tomato, would be the same in my garden as it would be in Ohio, however the nature spirit of tomato would be unique to my garden or to yours.
Over the years I have had some amazing experiences following either Machaelle’s recommendations or more direct communications from the devas. Bob was quite skeptical in the first years but he has come around to see that there is something to all of this. I think there is a lot more that I could be doing and I think the nature intelligences are sometimes “frustrated” with me because of my time constraints. I think they’d prefer if I spent more time gardening. For example, sometimes they have to tell me the second best time to plant something because I’m not available the time they’d prefer. But I can feel how delighted the plants get when they are appreciated and how they need us as much as we need them. They mediate between the sun and us. Their flavonoids and carotenoids enable them to handle the frenzy of harnessing photons directly using chloroplasts and it is the same flavones and carotenes that enable us to handle the frenzy of life, as they become a part of who we are. Our gratitude creates an alchemy that raises the consciousness in both of us, and this draws together the right plant(s) for the right person at the right time. Ah-h-h-h-h-h. When this happens, to me it feels like an aspect of living with-in grace
Some of the most interesting of the Perelandra work has been the use of triangulation to create systems of harmony and balance. It is similar to companion planting (like the 3 Sisters – corn, beans and squash). Three different plants are grouped together in a defined space. They sustain and nourish each other in ways science is only beginning to understand. Often the results are lovely to behold. This is something I’ve noticed that happens too frequently in the wild to be considered random. It is part of nature’s order and organization. Of course, the dynamic aspect of nature is often so strong it appears to our eyes to have no order, but that is very misleading. We are just not familiar enough with the kind of order and organization that nature uses and the kind of consciousness it is combined with to be aware enough to know how to work with it. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we have forgotten. Perhaps the biggest question is how do we re-member?
I love this Quote from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book The Lost Language of Plants. This section is from the understanding Stephen gained from an experience he had at Rosemary Gladstar’s the night he laid his sleeping bag next to Golden Healing Pond. (Thank you Stephen and thanks Rosemary for all your creative efforts with the standing people). This quote is about those of us who are called into the service of the green.
“Perhaps this is the real work of herbalists these days… to listen to the heartbeat of the plants, to seek to understand the medicine power from it’s source, to share that with others, and ultimately, to restore the wild gardens, ensuring the continuing integrity of the plant communities.”
The Wellspring Valley continues to evolve as we re-member. Bob retired from breeding exotic birds so that he might spend more time with the sanctuary and the gallery. Our plans for the future of The Wellspring Valley include learning and and teaching more about the dangers of environmental toxins, phase I and Phase II detoxification process, the soil bacteria and microbial inoculants, phyto-remedial plants for cleaning air and water, co-creating with nature, planting wild gardens, and strengthening and developing deep ecology. With high hopes for all of us, we look forward to the help we’ll receive being a part of the uPs Sanctuary Network.
Let us stay open to possibilities and connect with the Coherent wave patterns emerging from the Infinite Density of the Vacuum’s Potential that allow us to manifest, with the greatest of ease and grace, the most workable, joyful and ecological ways of living. Thank you, thank you.