This is not something that can be spoken of with plain language; it takes a sideways glance and a half-spoken truth to understand it. Sometimes what is needed is a ‘poetry as medicine bundle’ ~ wrapped up and sent off on a wing and a prayer. It is never meant to be dissected, only meant to be held and cherished, drawn close to a burning heart; it is Alchemy ~ also Recipe, to be tinkered with to one’s own liking; handed-down from grandmother to grand-daughter, noted on the back of an envelope, written in a half-formed way. This is also known as ‘Spell’.

After reading lots of books, she gave up on them all and went out to sit in a field instead. There she saw Yarrow standing graciously in front of her. She looked at him for a long time ~ really looked. She touched his florets and saw how they separated into tiny budded flowers and how those delicately opened into minuscule petals. She looked down the stem and saw the arrangements of the leaves and the positioning of the branches, she looked at the ridges on the stalk, at the tiny mites crawling over the leaflets and their tinge of red, she saw the dimple of each flowerlet beckoning in every flying insect with joy. She sat with him and felt his presence and took in the waft of his scent around her. She was with Yarrow for a long time. Then Yarrow spoke to her. It was not the first time a plant had spoken to her, but it was the first plant who had done so for a long time. Yarrow told her how long she was going to live, in a roundabout way. He showed her – on that day, that hour, that very minute – the exact middle-point of her life. She didn’t quite realise it at the time but after a while it started to sink in, the time and date of her death. She couldn’t struggle against it as it had been a message of pure connection and those messages are not easily fought against. Each year now, in the spring, she waits patiently for Yarrow to push up from beneath the ground so that she can talk with him again. Somehow, it helps her to mark the turning of the years. She is so happy; ninety-four-and-a-half seems like a ripe old age to live to.

These medicine bundles can also come in the form of stories. Best spoken into the soft ear of another who is ready and open to receive it. These stories have a life of their own; they can be administered when needed and as soon as they get into the system, they slowly do their work. A part of the healing process is letting a story unfold inside of us. Animals and plants are some of the best storytellers. They know so much about our lives, they pick up so accurately on our emotions, they transmit our thoughts back to us in so many ways, they understand what we are ready to hear and what we are not yet able to handle. They know how to heal us.

We need to enter the realm of imagination and the province of story in order to hear poetry. To do this we must pay exquisite attention to the messenger, be it dog, horse, plant or insect. It may arrive as one word: ‘restoration’, ‘resilience’, ‘fortitude’ ~ a word that will work its way deep into our soul, set seed and grow. It may also come in the form of a memory, a situation, a problem or a challenge. To these, we must alway take special heed. Do not underestimate the alchemy of the healing being handed to us by the ones we love.

And the messages don’t come to us in a linear way ~ this type of healing is not something that can be spoken of with plain language; it takes a sideways glance and a half-spoken truth to understand it.

It is also known as ‘Spell’.