By Tash Nikol
I Honor My Skills.
In our first session at Centro Ashe, each of us randomly selected a plant ally card. We passed the deck of cards displaying an illustration of a plant, its common name, family name, and a quote associated with each.
When the cards came to me I took a deep breath closed my eyes, centered myself, and pulled Jengibre. The card read, “I honor my skills”. “Oh great! Another symbol linking me to work” was the first thing I thought. It definitely made me chuckle a little to myself because I knew very little about the complex healing powers of this herb and the plants in its family.
For the month long apprenticeship program, we all were granted the gift of a plant ally, that grows here in the Costa Rican Tropics of Talamanca. These allies were to be herbs that we would be connecting with in ways that included our own family lineage, our body’s constitution, and the medicinal and traditional uses of the plants. The most experience I had with the plant was with the rhizome at this point.
So far, Ginger, my ally, has presented itself to me in various forms. First, in our Intentional Medicine Making class, where we learned the basic practices of making teas, decoction, herbal tinctures and salves. Here we made our first tincture with ginger that Molly explained to be traditionally used to aid with motion sickness, digestive needs, for circulatory support and to promote cardiovascular health. I cook with ginger often and these were all properties and uses I had no idea about. Following this, I met the super powerful white turmeric and Zedoaria. Both in the ginger family and thought by the indigenous people to have extreme healing power as anti-venoms, to be anti-cancerous, to aid with mental disorders, and to have reproductive benefits (including being an aphrodisiacs). Through this, I felt a different appreciation for the quote “I honor my skills” -- an appreciation that embraces the significance of the foundational work and support of the ginger plant. And, I am continuously feeling this presence within myself in a different way.
Sumi, Coralillo (Redhead)
I Live with Passion.
I had never met the plant before. I pulled my card like Tarot, and did not know much about it at the time. It’s common modern use as ornamentals in people’s yards, but in the first week, I learned of it’s use traditionally in the Costa Rican tropics as a topical medicine for skin infections.
I discovered its red flowers, but as delicate flowers, and that’s when our connection caught me. That is when I started to feel it as a delicate plant -- one with a fire inside. Its quote read, “I live with Passion.” When I pulled the card I asked to myself, “what do I need to know at this point in time to help guide me,” and the mantra of the plant felt very fitting.
I feel like my purpose for this year is to unleash my inner-flame and my creativity. It’s not a coincidence that I did not get a plant with outwardly loud flowers, but I got a flower that clearly has a fire inside. I feel like I’m in the beginning of that in my own life -- I am trying to ignite the fire within me in that same way.
Remember your Essence.
When we passed around the cards I took a deep breath and asked the guides to choose a plant that would be a teacher for me. And, I pulled cacao. Chocolate has always been a part of my life since I was a little girl. My mom would bake the richest chocolates, and I enjoyed helping her. My dad grew up in France near a famous chocolate factory so chocolate was always a staple food in our house, specifically dark chocolate. It was always there for healing, but I didn’t understand its healing until I began to learn about it as a medicinal plant.
That’s when it resonated with me the most. I now see chocolate as a abuela. One who hugs warmly and brings constant love. And now since I pulled cacao as my ally, I’ve literally been eating chocolate in every way from the bitter seed, and the butter, to the chocolate that is made by the people here in Talamanca. Seeing it here and its source, straight from the tree, has been a very spiritual experience for me.
Now I see chocolate as a heart opener. It’s sensual, strengthening and stimulating and I feel it is activating to the heart chakra and the root chakra together. Allowing energy to flow between them, and as a stimulator for anything blocking that flow. It stimulates the areas that allow energy to pass back in forth in the body. A lot of the time we are stuck in our root chakra and cacao helps to open that passage between it directly into the heart as well. It makes you want to move and dance, and helps us to connect to our bodies spiritually and beyond.
For me, it helps us to remember how to love ourselves first and how to share that love with others -- when you share chocolate your sharing love.
I Calm Down and Direct My Energy Toward My Goals.
When the cards came around I put my energy deeply into what I was feeling, and I pulled Lemongrass. I didn’t know a lot about the plant before. One memory I did have of the plant was that my partner gave it to me the first day that we met. He had mentioned things about it but at the time plants and I were not in alignment on my personal path. I’d seen the herb before but it really didn’t resonate with me then.
Now that I am on this journey of plants and herbal medicine, when I pulled the plant I felt connected to it as my ally for me because I am naturally drawn to aromatic herbs. The quote stuck with me because over the last few months I’ve been wanting to learn more about plants and herbs, and now these opportunities have been naturally aligning for me.
The smell of the herb gives off such a happy feeling. I connect with it more now because that is something I want to give off as well. It’s also a calming herb which I feel is a trait I embody. There is so much I want to do on this journey and it’s difficult to decide what to focus on first, so I look forward to how my connection with this herb will evolve over time.