This class with Susun was incredible. It was actually the first class I took with her almost three years ago in California. I took it again that summer after we moved cross country to New York. Now again this weekend. I could take this every summer and go deeper each time.
Before this I loved studying about plants -- how to identify, harvest, use, etc.This class opened a whole new world for me, a world in which I was empowered, which is what I have learned Susun and the Wise Woman Tradition is all about.
We use our senses to learn about plants, rather than the books, on this day. We look at the plants, noticing shape, nuances, color. We smell parts of the plant by rubbing it between our fingers and and inhaling its odors into us. What's important is we learn to listen to our own innate survival wisdom. When we smell what is our reaction? Do we want to toss it, put it in our mouth? For the purpose of this class we listen and acknowledge this wisdom then move to the next part: taste.
We put some leaf in our mouth and chew and swoosh it around our mouth. Again we listen to our wisdom. Do we want to spit it out immediately, keep chewing, swallow? No matter the knowledge, for this exercise we spit it out. We do not swallow.
I remember taking this in California and we came to a castor plant which many of us know well there. We were encouraged by Susun to try this with the leaf. Many cringed, some would not even do it. We had heard warnings of poison. I did. I smelled and knew it was not to eat. I tasted and definitely knew not to eat. No poison, pain, or ill effect, just knowing by taste. None of us got sick or felt weird after. I trust Susun and what she is teaching. How are we going to learn to re-recognize these tastes if we only experiment with salad herbs?
During the first part of the class we learned of ways of understanding plants, like Susun's medicine wheel of tastes, to help us know where to place what we experience. Included here are the 4 moving questions. (There is a wonderful link for this on our website - The Medicine Wheel of Plant Uses ) They go together because when encountering a new plant we want to learn not only where and how to use it but in what quantities and in what menstruum.
We also talked briefy about psycho-active herbs and their ability to help us talk with plants. This I am cautiously fascinated by and plan to learn more of when taking "Magical Plants" later this year.
We learned of chakras. Of course there are many systems of thought regarding this. We learned of colors associated with each chakra and the areas they represent. We then can look at a plant and its colors and the place where that color lies on our chakra if we were to sit on the ground next to it imagining our root chakra in the ground a bit. For example, our root chakra is red. A plant with red in its root would be more powerful for affecting this chakra than a tall one with a red flower. (It was also stressed to understand that this AFFECTS rather than simply helps or harms.)
We learned Susun's version of the doctrine of signatures which is too conceptual for me to try to write in words here. Simply, understand that plants were around a lot longer than humans, then apply that knowledge to the doctrine of signatures.
After an incredible lunch, we were led by Susun, in pairs or singly as we chose, to a plant that we could not identify. We were then left there to experiment as we were shown and use the knowledge of the day and the silence of the moment to commune with the plant and see what we learned and believed to be true of the plant. We were so accurate when compared with herbals later, sometimes eerily so, and sometimes only vaguely. Susun stressed that if we hear from the plant to use it in a way different from an herbal, the plant is right.
Of course, some of us, myself included, doubt our ability and knowledge. At the Wise Woman Center, we are taught to trust oursleves, and I am slowly getting there. This class is a wonderul support for that. It is fun now to visit plants that I have even identified and heard other people's words for, and learn my own.
If someone only took one class I would highly recommend this one!
nourishing wholeness anywhere