I have family visiting for Thanksgiving this week.  Yesterday my sister-in-law and I were reminiscing about how it has become a staple in our family to share what we are grateful for around the table.  We both sorta looked at each other like, “oh no, what are we gonna say this year?!”  We jokingly looked around the room for clues.  “Um… I’m grateful for this plate?”  “I’m grateful for the ceiling!  "Ya, it’s not leaking!”  Which isn’t really relevant if you live in Southern California. 

It’s easy to remember all the things that aren’t working in our lives.  And it’s easy to wish that we had more.  More money, more time, more things… more, more, more!  Sometimes it takes a great loss to remember what’s important. 

Grief is a necessary and beautiful way to empty our cups.  It cleanses our filth and righteousness on a deep level and brings sparkle and receptivity to the body, mind and spirit.  It gets our values straight and teaches respect.  Forget if you have been taught that its not OK to cry.  A real man or woman is OK with shedding some tears.  It brings us back to our true selves.  “…when we have been softened and made kind, we are more authentic, more powerful, and ultimately, more authoritative”, Eliot Cowan, Plant Spirit Medicine. 

When we look to nature, we notice that the trees are losing their leaves.  The sun has turned to a lower angle in the sky.  It’s cold!  (Yes, even in Los Angeles, the season has changed a little).  The days are shorter.  Its times like these that we can remember what we are truly grateful for.  Grateful that we even have trees.  Grateful that when the sun comes out from behind the clouds, we stop to feel its warmth.  Can you imagine if it was nighttime all the time?  Thank goodness for the day, however long it is!

So, what are you grateful for?  Well, if you are stumped, here is a list that might inspire you!

1.     My health

2.     Family

3.     Friends

4.     Nature – the earth, the sky, the ocean, the mountains, the critters, the plants…

5.     Work

6.     Community

7.     Love

8.     Food

9.     Plant Spirit Medicine ;)

This is my list so far.  I hope it is some help as you ponder what you will say around your Thanksgiving table!  It’s also a good reminder as we go into the holiday season.  Let’s remember our gratitude in the face of materialism and the stresses that come with the season and share our gratitude with one another! 

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AuthorCourtney Shelburne

The vital and timeless ritual of initiation has been lost to our modern culture.  As a result, many young people are confused or resistant about entering into adulthood. They long to discover their life’s purpose and their relationship to the wholeness of life.  The summer right before I turned 25, I had the opportunity to participate in a coming-of-age initiation.  This was a huge gift in my life that allowed me to connect with the person that I was born to be, to find a deep trust, knowing, and connection with my true path. 

Although I am not at privilege to divulge all of the intricate details of that powerful and magical week of transformation, I can share my experience.  At that time in my life, I knew there was more to life than what I was currently experiencing.  There were signs that showed up for me before going through initiation.  The wake-up call for me materialized in the form of depression, dislocating my knee, and a compelling urge to indulge in risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol.  I had lost connection with my mother and had rekindled relationships with my dad, step-mom, and little sister.  I had been living with a close friend in our own apartment for almost a year, and was trying to make up for all the partying I had missed out on by not going to college.  When one of the women in my community asked me if I was interested in going through this process, I jumped at the chance!  Something inside me knew how important it was and how lucky I was to still be younger than the cutoff age… barely!

As the 9 of us girls and our warm and loving guides came together and opened the sacred space, the skies that had been clear and sunny all day filled with clouds and the showers blessed us.  The amazing week started with the powerful grace and presence of nature. 

During the week, I had a number of chances to connect with nature.  At first it was sort of like going for a hike.  Then, it was like going camping.  Then, it became an opportunity to sit with my emotions.  It was extremely uncomfortable for me; to sit with Mother Earth and let her hold me.  To remember that She was our true mother.  No matter what life had brought me up to that point, I knew that Mother Earth would always be there for me.  It brought tears to my eyes to allow myself to be held.  I realized that she had always been there for me whether I recognized Her or not.  This was the beginning of my re-connection with my rightful mother.  The mother to us all.  Even if my birth mother had disowned me, I could still find comfort knowing that Mother Earth was here for me, no matter what.

Ask yourself these questions:

1.   How do you feel about Late Summer, harvest time?

2.   What is your relationship like with your own mother?

3.   How do you feel about Mother Earth?

4.   How do you feel about the way we treat Mother Earth?

5.   Do you feel comfortable nurturing others?

6.   Do you feel comfortable being nurtured by others?

7.   When was the last time you put your bare feet on the dirt?

8.   How do you feel about the color yellow?

9.   How is your digestion?

Late Summer is the time of the Earth element in the Chinese 5-Element Philosophy of Plant Spirit Medicine.  Are you feeling fed and are you digesting what life is bringing you?  The good thing is no one has to go it alone.  My hope is that you find the healing and nurturing you need. 

If you feel called to get what you need from the plant spirits, who offer nurturing and balance and bring you back into harmony with nature, Plant Spirit Medicine is available to you.  If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can make an appointment with me here:

If you are living in another state or country, you can go to the Plant Spirit Medicine Association website to find a PSM Healer in your area!  Click here to visit the PSMA website:

If you are interested in Women's or Men's Initiation or other programs for all stages of life, click here:

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 Venice Canals on a rainy winter day. 1.5.2016

When I was a little girl, I remember that going outside at night was scary!  The shapes in the trees and the shadows in the bushes gave me the heebie-jeebies!  A few days ago, I went outside at night and I saw that the maple trees had lost their leaves.  “Ah, winter”, I thought to myself.  I went up to one of the trees to admire it.  It towered over me with its twisting bare branches and its reddish winter buds that seemed to resemble bugs.  It was cold for a winter night in L.A., dipping down into the 40s.  The air was still and the street quiet.  There was no one around save the shadows and the sounds of my heart beating.  My mind was busy, and the “what-ifs” started whispering in my ear.  What if something jumped out of the shadows?  What if a creepy person snuck up behind me?  What if the tree buds really were bugs getting ready to crawl all over me?!

 Santa Monica, Mountains,Solstice Canyon, CA 1.15.16

  My mind had taken over and my body froze.  Fear brought chills that crept up and down my spine.  On some level, I knew that this was all a story my mind had made up and that there was nothing to be afraid of.  But, the unknown of what I couldn’t see, what my mind couldn’t figure out, was giving me the creeps!  What was that sound?!  Adrenaline kicked in and I was able to get back home where I was safe.  The light was on, everything was where it should be, and I was calm again.

  Courage: the ability to do something that frightens you.  Many times fear can have a negative connotation, but without fear, we would not have courage.  Fear is an emotion.  Like other emotions, fear is natural.  It is important to let ourselves feel fear because it has a legitimate role to play in our lives. 

When was the last time you were afraid to do something?  What happened?  Did you do it anyways and transform fear into courage?  Or did you feel overcome by fear and let it deter you from your ambitions?

In fact, what are your ambitions?  The maple tree has an ambition to save up its energy in the winter so that it may bloom and grow new leaves in the spring.  The maple tree doesn’t question who it is, it lives from an intrinsic knowledge that it is a maple tree and this is what maple trees do! 

We, also, were born with a distinct personality and unique force that makes us who we are.  Unlike the maple, though, we sometimes forget who we are.  We get distracted, oftentimes by our own minds, and lose track of what makes us us!

 Santa Monica, Mountains,Solstice Canyon, CA 1.15.16

What makes you you?  Let us take a hint this winter season from the maple tree and contemplate who we are. 

*What did you know about yourself when you were only a child?

*What have you learned about yourself as you have gotten older?

*What patterns have you noticed about yourself?

*What are your ambitions?

*What are you afraid to do?

A lot of times we are afraid to do what we want or need to do the most.  Yet, we become afraid to see who we truly are, the deepest parts of ourselves.  To celebrate our untapped source, we can foster our own special qualities and keep them sacred by exerting as little energy as possible this season.  The maple tree is conserving its energy by not growing new leaves just yet.  But when it does, it will be magnificent!  Let us not be hasty to do too much in a season that beckons us to do very little.  When I was with the maple tree this season, I got the sense that it was giving off a feeling of fear in order to keep itself sacred and deflect harm that may come its way.  And it worked!

A couple years ago, I had a completely different experience with a maple tree in the summertime.  I was in Oregon visiting family with my husband, Marshall, and we came across a Big Leaf Maple.  I sat with the tree in the park and observed it and felt into its energy.  There was someone nearby playing a cello.  It was soothing and relaxing and I laid down next to the Big Leaf Maple on the ground.  I closed my eyes and let my spirit journey to meet the spirit of the tree.  There, I asked BLM for his medicine so that I could bring the medicine back to my clients.  It told me to turn my face to the sun and I did.  Then, I said I didn’t want to.  It asked why and I said it was too bright.  BLM said, “Do what is right for you.  You don’t need to do something someone says if it isn’t right for you”.  Then, still in the dream journey, we sailed together down the nearby stream.  When we came to an obstacle such as a rock, we simply went around it, not letting any fear get in our way.  If the boulder was big, the water simply built up with courage and went around it.  At the end of our time together, I thanked the Big Leaf Maple for its wisdom.  Now, in my Plant Spirit Medicine practice, I call on the spirit of the BLM when I have a client who could use some courage and help getting around obstacles with ease and calmness.  And Big Leaf Maple is happy to help.

 Santa Monica, Mountains,Solstice Canyon, CA 1.15.16

If the maple tree didn't know to stay quiet in the wintertime, it wouldn't have had the energy in the spring and summer to display its gorgeous leaves and flowers.  And it wouldn't have shared the same depth of wisdom, bringing more healing to my clients.  The maple wouldn't have been living up to its potential.  And neither will we this year if we don't take the time to tap into our own purity.  So let's take the time to do "nothing" this winter.  I think we will find that doing "nothing" can do a lot.

(c)Elizabeth Noble Photos

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AuthorCourtney Shelburne
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Ah, it's summer.  People are having barbeques, going to the beach, laying out on the lake, and catching those warm sun rays!  It is the perfect season to get to the heart of the matter (so to speak)!

The fire element of summer, in the Chinese 5-element philosophy of Plant Spirit Medicine, is all about joy, connection, love, laughter, control, passion, and protection.  Each of us are able to express all of these characteristics when our fire elements are in balance.  We live in the natural world, which is a living expression of connection.  We are part of this natural world and it is part of us.  We all connect to each other through the voice of our hearts. 

There is an obstacle that we face in our culture that makes it difficult to recognize the voice of our hearts.  We live in a society that validates only one voice as the one true voice and this is the voice of the mind.  Sure, the mind does many great things for us.  It keeps us safe, out of danger.  It helps us solve problems and fix things.  Our minds have limitations though.  The mind is all about resolving concerns and avoiding loss.  As human beings, we have come to think that our minds can understand anything and everything. 

When we only live from our minds, we start to feel separate from everyone and everything.  Our minds create things that separate us from each other.  Computers, the internet, video games, driving, cubicles, drugs, television, Facebook, Twitter.  They give us an illusion of connecting to each other, yet it is not true connection.  With the mind in charge, we have more concern, worry, and fear. 

However, when we let our hearts be in charge, we know we are part of something greater.  While the mind chatters on, the voice of the heart is more subtle.  It is a deep knowing inside ourselves.  And this knowing connects us to each other.  The heart has no linguistic articulation.  It is more of a feeling.  When we feel compelled, inspired, affected by love; this is the voice of the heart.  It doesn't require thinking, it just knows.  It is a balanced sense of emotion that moves and guides us in the right direction.  Have you ever thought to yourself, "I am not sure why, but I know this is right!"  The language of the heart is love.  The mind is afraid of love because there is a potential for loss.  The heart, however, knows it is about something more powerful.  It is when "us" becomes more important than "you" or "I". 

The plants know all about this heart connection.  They have the gift of knowing how to live in harmony with each other and the elements and the creatures.  They live from their hearts and we can learn a lot from them. 

We have separated ourselves from the plants.  We often forget they exist.  Yet, even in the bustling cities, they are all around us!   Let's take a moment to connect with them!  Go ahead.  Select a plant near you.  Say hello.  Introduce yourself.  Now observe it.  What does it look like?  How does it grow?  Get closer.  What emotion do you feel arising from inside you?  Good job!  You just connected with a plant!  When we feel other human beings, it means they feel us.  Likewise, when we feel plants, they feel us too!

We can hear the voice of our hearts by quieting our minds.  When there is a thought, we can visualize it as a cloud passing by.  In between thoughts what is left?  Our hearts!  Listen and you will hear. 

Plant Spirit Medicine is a beautiful tool to balance your fire element as well as all the other elements!  The plants can offer their healing to you through the connection that your Plant Spirit Medicine healer has with them.  So, take advantage and go visit your local PSM healer for a wonderful healing session!

Think of what you would do in your life right now if your sense of anxiety and fear was much reduced.  With your mind working for your heart, so much is possible!  If you felt like you could not fail, what would you do?  At the very least, it would be extraordinary!

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blueprintofspring

A mother gives birth to a child.  This child is human and will always be human.  It won't grow up to be a lion or a snake or a whale.  It has the inner vision of a human, a blueprint.  It will grow hair, nails, and learn to use its thumbs.  It won't grow wings or leaves or fins because those simply are not in the plan.  

As this child grows he continues to make decisions, consulting his inner vision that he carries in his soul.  He was born with this vision and as he interacts with the world, he will make choices based on his unique personality and blueprint.  He may stop getting taller, but his mind and spirit continue to grow.  With every experience he has, he learns and becomes wiser with age.  These are some of the energies that spring, which correlates to the wood element in the Chinese 5-element philosophy of Plant Spirit Medicine, brings!

The wood element of spring is all about direction, time, plans, decisions, boundaries, and anger.  We each have the capacity for all of these qualities within ourselves.  This is part of our spiritual blueprint!

"The perception of life purpose is the dawn of spiritual vision", Eliot Cowan (Plant Spirit Medicine).  When we are young, it is important to follow and discover our own unique inner vision.  And we continue to do so with each experience for the rest of our lives.

I grew up with a spiritual tradition and started learning to meditate when I was 3 years old.  Meditation kept me in tune with my spiritual blueprint.  When I was 10, I had a vision in a meditation that I was a healer.  I wore a white doctor's coat and consulted my client, reassuring them that I could help them with their personal issues and health issues.  It was a type of healing where I didn't administer any form of pharmaceuticals, but gave them healing in a completely different way.  

After the meditation, I contemplated my vision for a while.  I had no reference for what this healing modality could be, so I just filed the experience away.  I knew I wanted to help people in a deep way and I just figured it would unfold in time.  And, as it turned out, I was introduced to Plant Spirit Medicine 9 years later.

In traditional indigenous societies, there is much more attention paid to discovering one's gifts and developing them.  Each person has a unique role in the community based on what their strengths are.  Here in the states, not as many people come from this point of view.  We try to act the same and accomplish the same things.  Most of us end up working at jobs we dislike to make money, not because it is our life's calling.

Imagine if your gifts and inner vision had been nurtured and supported when you were a child and young adult.  How would your life be different?

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There is a ritual, in traditional indigenous societies, that marks the transition from child to adult.  Usually this is performed soon after puberty where a child undergoes some fasting and other hardships in the wilderness, away from their family, and under the guidance of elders.  Until recently, this type of ritual has not been very available in our culture.  In 2005, a couple of women from my community (www.community.sacredfire.org) began a powerful initiation program to lead girls into adulthood.  Not long after, an initiation to bring boys into adulthood also emerged.  Now they are available under a program called Lifeways (www.community.sacredfire.org/lifeways/).  With the cut-off age of 25, I was lucky enough to make it in just under the wire at age 24 3/4!

When I finished this transformative week of initiation, the change I felt inside was palpable.  I related to the world, my family, and my friends in a new way.  It was through the eyes of an adult and with a stronger connection to nature.  I suddenly had an undeniable trust that no matter what life brought me from here on out, it was all perfect and that I could not stray from the path I was meant to be on.  There is a blueprint for my life and I know that I am following it without question.

It was only 6 months later that a burning passion to study Plant Spirit Medicine arose from my heart and I signed up for the class.  My path began to unfold in magical ways and I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to go through initiation to find my alignment with my true self. 

Plant Spirit Medicine is also a strong and subtle force to bring us in touch with our unique inner gifts and give us direction.  So, here we are in the spring season.  We can work with the energies of this season to tap into our own inner blueprints, our inner visions.  The willow tree sprouts from seed and starts growing up to be a tree.  Its plans dictate that bark is in order as well as leaves.  What direction will it grow?  What branch will come first?

Picture yourself as a tree.  Visualize your roots going down into the earth.  Ask yourself what you need to do to open your life to more growth and change.  What gifts do you have to offer that come from your inner blueprint?  What gifts do you have that are already being revealed in the present moment?  As time moves on, let the wood energies propel you forward!  Rejoice in your inner growth and the growth that has already been brought forth!  And visit your Plant Spirit Medicine healer so that the plants can help you on your journey!

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Visit These Links For More on Plant Spirit Medicine!:

Adrilia Pedersen, Plant Spirit Medicine healer in the Chicago area, keeps a regular blog on her website too!:  http://www.adriliavpedersen.com

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AuthorCourtney Shelburne
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The five elements govern our lives and the lives of everything we know.  It is a way of expressing the cycles of nature and the processes of living and dying.  We are not separate from nature.  We are part of it.  By observing the plants and how they live in each season, we can learn to be in both harmony and balance in all the aspects of our lives.

Water is the element that expresses the wisdom and gifts of winter.  The trees have lost their leaves and, although it may look like they are doing nothing, there is a lot happening on the inside.  They are embodying the power of rest!

What is rest?  We may think of sleeping, watching TV, or taking our lunch break.  Maybe we strive to do yoga, meditate, or go for a walk.  Or, perhaps even an event dedicated to rest like getting a massage, going to the spa, or taking a vacation.  These are all great ideas to incorporate rest into our lives.  However, it is not enough to simply perform these activities (or inactivities).  Our intention behind resting and our relationship to rest play a big part in the quality of rest we get. 

Ask yourself: have you ever gotten an amazing massage and at the end felt like you needed another one?  Or gone to bed at a decent hour and woken up feeling like you could sleep all day?  Have you ever gone for a walk and been unable to enjoy it because your mind was running a mile a minute?

Even when we are resting, there are many things that distract us from resting deeply.  And these things stem from fear.  Oftentimes there is an large imbalance between the things that stress us out and those that give us true rest.  "Who these days can claim their life is free from anxiety, nervousness, concern, stress, tension, worry, numbness, or thinking?  How many people engage in escapist strategies such as television, movies, computer games, reading, spectator sports, overeating, drugs, alcohol, dysfunctional love affairs, pornography, overexertion, shopping, and so on?", Eliot Cowan (Plant Spirit Medicine).

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We are also very concerned with being productive, encouraged by our peers to keep working and be active.  But to what end?  The very concept of taking a break and doing nothing may bring on anxiety.  Have you ever noticed that it is more difficult to get your to-do list done in the winter than at other times of the year?  This is because winter is beckoning you to rest.  We may think that doing nothing is unproductive.  I am here to tell you that when done right, doing nothing is very productive indeed!

We can look to the water element for the answer.  Picture a still lake.  It can bring a feeling of mental and spiritual calm and tranquility.  A rushing river or stream embodies flow.  Notice how the water is adaptable, twisting and turning around its surroundings.  Even the crashing waves of the ocean can be very peaceful.  It reminds us that although our outer world can seem busy and chaotic, we can still find refuge within.

Turn your attention inside.  There you will find your own sacred spring that is unique to you.  Without any agenda, dwell on that sacred spring.  Notice its color, sound, scent, emotion.  It may be overflowing or depleted.  Do not try to change it, only notice what is there.  Be honest with yourself.  You might feel tapped out.  Or you might feel nervous with too much energy.  It might feel like a combination of both!  Just by having this awareness of your own sacred spring, you are connecting to a very deep part of yourself.  This is where your DNA lives.  Through the power of awareness, your sacred spring balances itself out naturally. 

When our water element is in balance, some advantages we may notice are:

  1. Flexibility, flow
  2. Strong sense of self
  3. Inner calm
  4. Confidence
  5. Freedom
  6. Ability to see what you have
  7. Self trust

We may also get a break from:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Nervousness
  3. Stress

"We have to meet every moment with the right juices... When the pool is full, we flow with the changes like water does.  If the pool runs dry, there is fear, paralysis - no flow" Eliot Cowan (Plant Spirit Medidine).

We can bring this awareness to everything we do (and don't do).  The sacred spring is always within us and we can take the time to rest and build up its energy so that we have more to draw from for the remainder of the year.  Getting a PSM treatment can also be helpful to balance the spirit and set you off on the right foot.  So the next time you find yourself in line at the DMV or caught in traffic, be aware of your sacred spring.  And next time you take time to rest, be clear on your intention to slow down and rest deeply.  You wont be sorry you did!

 

Visit these articles to learn more about winter and Plant Spirit Medicine!

Mary Novaria, writer, shares about winter and mentions Courtney in her article in the Huffington Post:                                                http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-novaria/how-i-embraced-the-winter-blahs_b_6615158.html

Adrilia Pedersen, Plant Spirit Medicine healer, keeps a regular blog on her website:                                                                     http://www.adriliavpedersen.com

See Courtney's past winter posts!  Click below:


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When I was a little girl, I remember I used to get so excited when my father would come home from work.  It was like you would see on TV; I would run to him as he walked in the front door.  I remember going with him to the park near our home and racing him across the grass.  He let me win.  In the summertime, I remember getting up in the wee hours of the morning to go with him to work.  We would stop at Winchell's to pick up donuts for the employees, and one for ourselves of course!  

Eliot Cowan says in his book Plant Spirit Medicine, "A father is the one who shows us the way through the world; through him, we come to know what is of value in life.  His hand on our shoulder gives us the feeling of dignity and self-worth.  He is the first and greatest authority.  Because he respects us, we respect ourselves, we respect others.  The father's role is to recognize our essence, to encourage and instruct us so that it may come forth and bless our life with its unique quality". 

In the Chinese 5-Element philosophy of Plant Spirit Medicine, metal is the element having to do with the father energy.  Metal expresses the season of autumn, our connection to Divine, how we relate to authority, what we value, and our expression of grief.  We feel grief when there is a loss in our lives.  When we are able to express grief, we are able to soften.  In turn, "we are more authentic, more powerful, and ultimately more authoritative" (Plant Spirit Medicine, by Eliot Cowan).  

Do you remember good times spent with your father?  At that time, what was your relationship like with authority?  What was your sense of self worth?  What were your values?  What was your relationship to Spirit?

What if our fathers were not present in our lives?  Then we experience a great loss.

My parents divorced when I was 7 and my father's role in my life became less prominent.  We had visitations every other weekend and then, after a few years with my parents arguing a lot, I didn't see him at all for a while.  My life with just my mother and I was less stable.  They had a custody battle that my father won when I was 12.  By that time, my relationship with authority had gone down the tubes and I rebelled whenever I had the chance.  In my teenage mind, my own parents couldn't even get their stuff together.  How was I to trust other authority figures?  

There were some rocky teenage years.  It felt like my spirit had been broken.  In search for what was missing, I went back to living with my mother for a few years.  I dabbled with drugs.  I dated men, but didn't know what I was looking for.  Once again my relationship with my father had become sparse.

But then, there was something new.  Something different about him.  I had heard that he and my stepmother and my sister had been getting some type of healing…  Something called Plant Spirit?  Plant Medicine?  I should try it, they said.  

Well, I could see that something about them was certainly different.  An openness perhaps?  I couldn't quite put my finger on it but our relationships were benefiting from it!  So, why not?  I tried it.  It brought me back to myself.  I had been lost, but there I was again!  Where had I been?  Not connected to Divine.  Not connected to myself.  I could grieve the loss of myself, the years that felt wasted from being disconnected.  And I valued more than ever my own essence, my own self-worth.  Thanks to my father, stepmother, and sister for shining light on this important path of rediscovery, I was back!  And thanks to my healer and teacher Eliot Cowan.  And even more importantly, thanks to the plants themselves.   

So I ask you again:  Do you remember a time when you did not have your father in your life?  What was your relationship to Spirit?  What were your values?  What was your relationship like with authority?  Have you grieved the losses you have experienced in your life?

We find ourselves now in the autumn season, the season of the metal element, and we notice the days getting shorter.  We grieve those warm summer days.  The leaves display their gorgeous colors of red, orange, yellow, then fall to the ground.  They are a metaphor for what we value.  As they say, you don't know what you've got 'til its gone!  As Eliot says in his book "Grief gets our values straight.  It teaches respect.  If grief has been deeply felt, a person who has just lost a loved one is clear about what is important and about how precious human life is. Our main problem with grief is that we don't like to feel it.  We think we have to be strong in the conventional masculine sense instead.  This type of strength is not really strength at all, but rather a pathological refusal to let go.  Before the essence of the Father can inspire us through our lungs, we must be clean, pure, and empty inside".

So let's all grieve our losses together!  Let the rain inspire our tears.  Let us clean ourselves out to welcome in our true inspired selves.  And let us do this in preparation for the next season, winter, whose element is water, and whose own essence encourages us to be empty inside in order to build up the energy inside ourselves which will then burst forward in the spring!

 

 

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"There is only one active ingredient in plant medicine: friendship.  A plant spirit heals a patient as a favor to its friend-in-dreaming, the doctor"
-Eliot Cowan (Plant Spirit Medicine)

As I walk into Temescal Canyon in the local Santa Monica mountains where I grew up, I am like a child filled with curiosity, excitement, and wonder.  I am eager to learn, and I know I will, just like I always do when I befriend the plants.  It's just a question of what will I learn today?  What wisdom and medicine will the plants bestow upon me today that I can offer to my clients?

I see my friend hedge mustard.  When I was a child, my oldest brother and I walked together in the Rancho Palos Verdes hills and came upon this plant.  My brother said it was ok to taste the flower and we did!  Now, I'm not sure if this really happened or if it was a dream I had as a child.  It doesn't matter, either way it was a true experience that I had of the plant.

That is when hedge mustard and I first met.  And just a few years ago we met again on this path in Santa Monica and reconnected.  He taught me about the suffering of our people and that many are lost.  He taught me about the value of money and letting it push you up, rising with it.  A mountain of gold.

I wonder what I will learn today?

I come across California Juniper.  I remember visiting the spirit of this plant out in the desert at Vasquez Rocks, maybe 40 minutes away.  He taught me about boundaries.  What is appropriate?  Getting up in someone's face?  Or being too far away from them?  Also about determination.  He said "Sometimes it is important to be pushy".  A plant in the desert knows a lot about what it takes to survive.  And, from what I can tell, our people can benefit from this wisdom.

"Plants... are not under the illusion that they are separate from the rest of creation.  Observe how any plant interacts with soil, air, minerals, animals, and insects.  Everything around it is enriched and benefited by its presence".
-Eliot Cowan (Plant Spirit Medicine)

I continue down the path, open, connecting, merging with nature.  Which plant will become my friend?  And what gem of knowledge is in store for me and my current and potential clients?

I wonder what I will learn today!

-Courtney Shelburne
Plant Spirit Medicine Healer

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Nature boldly expresses her creative plan and vision in the spring as zealous plants erupt at the earth’s surface bringing forth their abundant and beautiful blooming bouquets.  Like the dandelion whose growing edge can burst through concrete, we too emerge into spring, after our winter rest, ‘raring to go’, with clear vision and a sense of purpose.   The element wood in the Chinese Five Element Theory is the energy of spring that provides us with the sense of renewal and reawakening.  Wood, which embodies the energies of our liver and gall bladders, enables us to move forward with confidence, vision, determination, and strike out in new directions!

It is important to take special care of our livers and gall bladders in the spring.  When healthy, these organs enable us to move toward what we have set our hearts on.  When unhealthy, they can make us short tempered, angry, and indecisive.  

The season beckons us to make ourselves more vibrant, efficient and take action.  Physically, the liver and gall bladder aid the digestion of fats and oils, acting as a filter and processing and breaking down for excretion everything that enters our body.   Mentally and spiritually they are the decision makers that allow us to make split-second decisions and give us the courage to take action.

Anger, the emotion of wood, is a healthy feeling that gets a bad rap in our society.  Yet anger is appropriate, necessary, and helpful when setting boundaries.  If someone offers you coffee, for example, you can set a boundary by clearly saying “no thank you, I don’t drink coffee”.  Many of us don’t want to offend someone by confronting them in this way, and might just politely accept the coffee.   What happens when we ignore our need to express anger over time?  It builds up.  Someone steps on our foot and instead of exercising an appropriate boundary by saying “please step off my foot”, we might actually shove them and say “back off!”  Or maybe we are on the freeway and someone cuts us off.  We might drive recklessly and cause an accident or give them an obscene gesture.  To help keep our wood in balance, it is important to express our anger appropriately when we feel our boundaries are being "stepped on".  It may feel like there is all this anger that is bubbling up and it may come out inappropriately at first.  But after practicing expressing our anger appropriately for a while, it levels out and peace is found within.     

Another scenario that brings up anger is when our vision is stifled.  We’ve made our intention, see our clear direction, created our strategy, decided to act, but our plans are thwarted.  This can be very frustrating!  The best thing to do is to allow ourselves to feel anger.  When we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, no matter which emotion, it gets a chance to be expressed.  Only then may it become ready to subside.

The opposite of this scenario is when our vision gets too much power and takes over.  We are so fastidious in our scheme or sketch that nothing ever gets started because it’s never quite right.  We get so caught up in it coming out perfect that we can’t see the forest for the trees.  This is when we might be lacking some wood energy and could really benefit from some clear vision and direction.  The best thing to do is to take a break and come back to it when you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Wood energy gives us the ability to ‘see the big picture’ and allows us to plan and design in all areas of our lives.  It gives us confidence in expressing our true nature and manifesting ourselves in the world.  Ways that we can continue to cultivate our wood energy this spring are…

 

1. Spend time in nature.  Experience the awakening of spring as the buds bloom and the birds sing! 

2. Express your anger.  The more we allow ourselves to express the anger that bubbles up inside us, the more balance we bring to our lives. 

3. Start something new.  Just as nature is reinventing itself, we can too.  Be creative, make things, do things, and take action.  

4. Enjoy food in season.  Explore your nearby farmers’ market to discover what foods spring has to offer. 

5. Be in bed by 11pm.  Its important for you to be asleep during your liver and gall bladder hours in order for them to rejuvinate during the night.

 

The more we allow spring to guide us this season, the stronger and more confident we will be in our vision, clarity, and direction, lasting throughout the year.  After the sun grows warmer and the blueprint of spring wills its divine arrangement, joy emerges and the wood element is transformed by the fire element bringing summer…

 

Courtney Shelburne

Plant Spirit Medicine Healer, LMT

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Welcome to my website!  I invite you to explore through my pages and subscribe to my blog.  I will be posting some interesting information related to Plant Spirit Medicine and Therapeutic Massage.  Thanks for visiting!  I look forward to see you around here again soon!! 

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