The medicine way

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The lupine grand finale?

On June 10th the lupine theater played for a full house.  They perfumed, awed, and colored the landscape extraordinarily.  We onlookers gushed at their purple, pink and white symphony and deeply inhaled their essence.  Their lupine-ness shined superb; never were the nature theater-goers more charmed. We silently applauded their beauty.

By July 3rd the producer shuttered the doors and declared the lupine show ended for the year.  But did the lupine show really end?  Or was it just beginning?

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As much “lupine” as the flowering petals

Every plant, animal, rock, human and solar system unfolds.  Each reaches its zenith to produce ethereal petals, baby fawns, red sandstone, innocent newborns and dazzling suns.

And then what happens?  The energy shifts.  Flower petals die while seed pods nourish. The frolicking baby fawn running in large overlapping circles matures to a doe twitching her ears, alert for danger.  The surf pounds stone to white sand.  Babies grow up to teenage rebellion, body piercings, peer approval, report cards and beer on the beach. Solar systems?  From their magnificent explosion outward they implode back into space.

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Solar system through the leaves

As I walked down the road this morning, I witnessed plants in so many stages.  Some shimmered in their peak hour, gorgeous with revealing beauty.  Others shriveled on the surface as energy pumped toward hidden seeds.

I thought how indigenous people utilized different parts of a plant for alternative purposes.  The flower petal might ease arthritis.  Seeds provided nourishment and energy.  Brewed stems and dried leaves aided the liver.  The root, pounded and dried and ground, healed depression.

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Flowering vervain

A plant was not harvested willy-nilly in early July to use that root, just because your friend suffered.  No.  A wise medicine person waited and listened to the plant, determining when the energy suffused the root.  Only then did one pray for guidance and gift tobacco before pulling the plant-being from her soil.

One needed to think ahead to next winter and spring, when Grandmother lay dying.  What root or flower or leaf might assist her?  What would the people need?  And the medicine woman would look at the earth to see what plants bloomed profusely and nod and say, yes, thank you, and listen closely to the plant’s teachings.

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At the zenith

As I walked, I thought also of we humans and the differences in our unfolding.  Are we always the same being, filled with the same energy?  I think not.  My father at 81 seemed a completely different man than those days at age 65 in Florida when he grinned at the jets overhead and said, “Another bird coming into Paradise…”   That man was totally different in stature and focus from the 44 year-old aimed at expanding his pharmacy stores.  And at age 32?  How can we even compare the 32 year-old and the grandfather who adored the antics of squirrels?

I look back at my life and think the same.  Who was that young mother in the woods, watching children build tree forts?  Who in the world was that young married woman bagging sticky raisins in the food co-op?  Who sat in native sweat lodges praying so fiercely?  Who in the world was that blogger in 2012 who enjoyed telling personal stories so much?  Where did all these beings go?

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Before Queen Anne’s coronation

Turn, turn, turn and the world keeps turning, never to return to exactly the same place.

Many spiritual teachers say all is change, all is impermanence.

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Birch becomes soil


The youth may look like a flower, all beauty and shining and energy.  The adult may look like a root, hardening, shriveling, turning deeper in the earth.  And the grandmother? She’s approaching Spirit, lightening up, preparing to fly beyond the known.

Each of us, in our different stages, shares different medicines–different gifts–to ourselves and others.  The flimsy temporary beauty of flowering gives way to earth which yields to essence.  Each needed in its own way.

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Old, but still useful

As I walked back up the road, I thought of my friends and the way the mind tends to think of them as certain unchanging beings with certain characteristics.  What if my friend is truly an unknown mystery, changing and morphing and shifting as time passes?  If we fully realize that this is true, might we sit in awe and interest to see who she is today?  Not who our mind defines her from yesterday.

Every encounter would feel brand-new, like a beginning.  Who is this lupine without flowers, all growing and bursting seed pods?  Who is this moon, this shape-shifter, today? Who is my mom in her mystery?  Who am I all brand new?

And who, I wonder, are you?  What medicine do you offer the lupines, the cashier at Walmart, your grandchildren, your very own self?

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About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in July, 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to The medicine way

  1. Carol says:

    How much deeper were the thoughts the lupine instilled in you than those I had yesterday as I gathered stems laden with lupine seed pods in my attempts to control their spread in my windmill bed. In other parts of the yard, they are welcome to spread their beauty, but sometimes restraint is important.

    • Kathy says:

      I agree with you, Carol–sometimes that restraint and weeding and tending are necessary. My mother was doing the same in one of her flower beds yesterday. As for deep thoughts…they seem to keep arising!

  2. “A wise medicine person WAITED and LISTENED to the plant…”

    Two of the most telling characteristics of wisdom.

  3. debyemm says:

    So many of my friends are truly an unknown mystery, changing and morphing and shifting as time passes. And in my heart, I know that all of them are. I fully realize that this is true, and I sit in awe and interest to see who they are today, knowing that tomorrow they and my self as well will be different. Everything in its own time and we will know that, if we allow it to be. May the energy that comes to and from me always be beautiful in my own sight !! LOVE your blogs !!

    • Kathy says:

      I love that you’ve experienced this as well, Deb. My mind so often thinks a person is the same as a label. But I’m learning every day that it’s much more mysterious and beautiful than that. THANK YOU for your love! I am loving these blogs lately that seem more attuned with Spirit in some way… *hugs*

      • debyemm says:

        I think I came to that point because my family seemed to have me “locked in” when I was much different as I had lived away from them for some time. It was embarrassing some of the stuff they dredged up for my husband. So, I guess it was understanding that personally that allowed me to let people “change” and not “assume” too much. HUGS

  4. Sheryl says:

    For everything there is a season. I’m absolutely fascinated by how the medicine people once knew how to listen to the plants. It’s such a rare skill today.

    • Kathy says:

      It is such a rare skill today, Sheryl. I was fortunate to meet some people several years ago and watch them work with a few plants. It’s an almost-lost art that I hope doesn’t altogether disappear.

  5. dawnkinster says:

    “What medicine do you offer…” Thought provoking. Who are we indeed? And who were we and who will we become. I guess we’re just lucky to have each other on the journey.

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, there may not be answers to these questions about what medicines we offer…but I do believe each of us has a “medicine” we share with one another. And you are so right–we are lucky indeed to have these others accompany us on our journeys through life.

  6. This is one of the most profound articles that I’ve read thus far- on the Internet or in anyone’s blog. It is so well written and thought provoking. I wonder every day just who in the world am I and I’ve yet to find the answer, even in my elderly stage of life. I don’t think there is an answer for any one person to declare that, “this is who I am or what do I have to offer to the universe?” I feel very inadequate and that I’ve just coasted to this point in my life.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Yvonne. I a so glad this touched you at a deep level. These are the kinds of questions that really mean something, that don’t skim the surface. Please do not feel inadequate because you cannot easily find an answer. Because you feel like you’ve coasted to this point. The “answers” I believe are in our essence. What you’ve offered to the Universe can only be seen in retrospect. You have been an essential part of the Whole, I believe. Trust that it will all be revealed…

  7. Heather says:

    Indeed, who are any of us? And when?

    • Kathy says:

      Heather, I don’t believe there are definitive answers to these questions, at least while we’re still alive and breathing. But I do believe it’s our essence–our everyday exchanges–our friendships–our attention–which reveals it. Thank you for pausing to consider…

      • Heather says:

        It reminds me of the quote about how a man can never step in the same river twice. That one has always stuck with me. It’s true. I am not who I was yesterday, or even moments ago. I’ve changed, and so have the places I visited.

        • Kathy says:

          Hmmm, I don’t remember hearing that quote before, Heather. But I love it! And yes, the places we visit are never the same either. Always something new to learn, a new angle to see.

          • Heather says:

            It’s apparently a Heraclitus quote: ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’

  8. Barb says:

    I think of plants as evolving and gifting in each stage. I’d want to be like that, too. I hope that even when old, we can sprout new ideas and seed thoughts and emotions that might come to flower even after we’re gone. For instance, I think the seeds your dad sowed over the years continue to flower. My friend says it’s been very cool and wet in Eagle Harbor. She has her cottage for sale.

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, I like your take on this–that we can flower even after we’re gone. And it’s so true. The natives often talk about how our actions should affect seven generations. Come to think of it, my dad often spoke about wanting his legacy to affect his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.. As for your friend, Mary, having her cottage for sale–I am sorry to hear about that. It was cool and wet here earlier, but lately just darn HOT. I am hoping to take a trip “up north” to her neck of the woods very soon.

  9. jeffstroud says:

    True that, I witness nature almost everyday through my camera lens recording the cycle of nature and each “season” is beautiful in it’s own way and purpose ! I have always been fascinated with the idea of the medicine “way”, nature provides it is up to each to listen and watch…

    Beautifully and thoughtfully written!

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, thanks for stopping by to read and comment–I am so glad to see you. Some of the photos that intrigue me so much are those taken in different seasons. They really highlight now life shifts. And I know you relate to the medicine way, as well. Our indigenous people have so much to teach us all.

  10. Sybil Nunn says:

    Kathy, you always write with such sincere honesty. And you make me think. We seem to have lost contact with Mother Earth. I think the World was a better place when we were mindful of the gifts of nature around us. We are so out of touch now …

    Sorry … what was the question ?

    • Kathy says:

      Sybil, there are so many darn questions. Some of the spiritual teachers say that the questions are the most important thing because they open up our minds–the answers are only secondary and always changing. Like you, I think the world would be in much more harmony if we were simply mindful and not so gosh-darn determined to be a dominant species. What if we cared for everything like our brothers or sisters? Ooops, more questions!

  11. john k. says:

    You have such a gift of verbalizing your thoughts and intertwining them with your experiences. Your insight makes me pause to examine how your message relates to my life. I have switched locations with my children for the holiday. The ten days prior to leaving our house were some of the most satisfying and joyful I’ve had in many years. To my surprise, my children’s photos of my grandchildren at the house and Second Sand Beach brought me the same satisfaction as I had experienced when I was there. It is something new and wonderful that is evolving in me. I hope this joy, this stage in my life will last a while longer.

    • Kathy says:

      John, I am so glad that you paused to relate this little essay with your own life. That makes me happiest–when people take the time to see how it applies to them. How wonderful about those special days recently. It’s interesting to see what connects us with our innate inner joy, and what seems to propel us into our suffering. So happy that you love Second Sand Beach and your house up here… I talked with a native woman yesterday who did a sacred fast on First Sand Beach a couple years ago. To think you could be driving by and never know that she was fasting and praying for the people for four days and four nights.

      • John k. says:

        You are a very special person that they take you into their confidence and open their souls to you.

        • Kathy says:

          Well at least one native anyway, John! I used to know many others around here, but not very many now. This one is a friend from ‘way back.

  12. Brenda says:

    Kathy, this is a powerful message. It is tugging my heartstrings and reminding me to wait and listen—-especially when situations make me feel stressed and overwhelmed. It’s wise to use this approach in times of doubt, too. There was a long period of time when my life was in a shambles and I felt very lost and afraid. I spent that time in deep prayer (all the while I was going through the agitated motions of my days)…waiting, observing and listening. I believe it helped me make it through those times and come to understand the lessons brought to me.

    These connections that you bring to light are BIG and so powerful. I love how your words flow so easily and the message is clear. So often my words gets jumbled as I try to make sense of situations and events and even people. Am going to try this new approach—the medicine woman approach. ❤

    Happy 4th of July!!

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, it felt to me like a powerful message as it came through, as well. I listened too… Lately I have been waiting and listening for when Spirit wants to speak, and then trying to get down the words. These are the only kind of posts that seem to make me happy these days. When I try to write blogs like in the old days it makes me sad afterwards. Strange, isn’t it?

      And I can see you as a medicine woman as you sit in your house, the energy going deeper inward as you move toward God…and then calmly watching the energy going outward as you express it…


      • Brenda says:

        Thank you so much, Kathy ❤ Being a medicine woman would bring me such joy for being helpful to anyone in need. I love being in touch with nature and sharing benefits from nature's bounty. ❤

  13. Debbie M. says:

    “The only constant in life is change.”

    The bigger question is, “Do we embrace the inevitable change with openness and a tingle of excitement?” Our answer is directly linked to our joy. I have found that with aging (and I am definitely middle-aged), my attitude and response to change dictates the path I take: living in the moment by letting go of the past (not the same as forgetting the past!) and looking forward to the next season!

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, that is a good point. How often we humans fight against change in some way, afraid of what it might bring? Yet when we let go into the unknown–no matter what it shall bring–we open ourselves to so many gifts. I like that question: “Do we embrace the inevitable change with openness and a tingle of excitement?” It feels so good to do that.

      • Debbie M. says:

        Yes, it does! I have had to learn to let go to enjoy the anticipation of the unknown! Aging is one of those areas where we don’t have a choice about upcoming changes. My prayer has always been to learn how to age gracefully!

  14. Joan Haara says:

    Absolutely my favorite blog post of yours, yet! Well said!

  15. christinelaennec says:

    Excellent reflection, thank you. I think one facet of the mystery of who anyone is, is that each of our friends draws out different things from us. For example, sometimes two people whom I love, don’t find much resonance with each other. I, too, wonder who was that other person with my face and name from long ago. But mostly I feel that as time has passed I have become more true to myself, and shed aspects of myself that don’t serve me quite so well as others.

    • Kathy says:

      Christine, thank you for bringing out that facet of the mystery. It is so interesting about resonance–this could be another blog altogether. Like you, I find myself becoming more true (at least to the self I am today) and sometimes find others falling away. I still like them, but so much has changed. Thanks for commenting.

  16. I really enjoy the way your mind works. And I really enjoy the way you express that in writing.

  17. I Wilkerson says:

    Guess I got to get me some lupines!

    • Kathy says:

      Yep, it sounds like you do, Inger. I love the “medicine” in daisies. Once I dreamed that they were chattering away and giggling. Have never been able to look at a daisy the same way since then.

  18. This is lovely, Kathy! Thanks for this thought provoking post!

  19. Bonnie says:

    This is the essence of Kathy, the words flow expressing ideas, the thoughts of one who doesn’t take anything in this life for granted. Change…..every season of life invokes change. Wonderful post, with ideas to chew on.

    • Kathy says:

      Bonnie, happy to hear you enjoyed this. I do take things for granted at times–but keep trying to wake up to the beauty that’s all around and not just coast through the days. Many blessings to you up in Nova Scotia…

  20. I’m saving this in my special file to read over and over again, Kathy. It is a brilliant piece about…eternity and evolution, the spirit and spirituality, life and death, love and loss and longing for what has to change, will change, and forever is changing day to day. Did I mention how brilliant this is? As brilliant as a bright star shining above us, forever changing, yet forever shining light on the universe.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, may you keep talking, my heart just swooned as you brilliantly commented… lol… I was channeling the Universe, you know, just like a certain kinky lady…

      • You DO channel the universe… I have no doubt about it!! BTW, I had no idea you were on my Kinky site – I just ‘happened’ to decide I had to stop by and see if you’d written a new post (I’ve had company since the 2nd). I love how the universe brought us together. ox

        • Kathy says:

          Hey, me too! I love when this happens. Suddenly your spirit was right here and I was suffused with desire to see what you had written today. And simultaneously you were here… Fun!! 🙂

  21. Karen says:

    My…how the lupines took you do down a thought provoking path. So very true that we need to look at all aspects of life, from the tiny beginnings to their finality. While different, each stage gives pleasure in its own way.

  22. This post is amazing. The comments are also amazing. Thank you!

  23. When I was a little girl I thought being an adult was a permanent state. I couldn’t wait to get there! I think the biggest surprise I had when I got here was that the growing never stops! I love how Emily Dickinson says that we turn not older with the years, but new every day. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Emily Dickinson surely had it right on. You know, Barbara, I have never thought about that before–but I did the same as a child. I thought “adulthood” was one permanent state. How interesting. And it certainly hasn’t been anything expected. At all!

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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