Lessons from Cottonwood


On my way out to harvest nettles last week, I was presented with an abundance of cottonwood buds from a tree that fell during the storm a couple weeks back. Other than appreciating the tall shade they provide during the summer, I have not yet worked with Cottonwood’s medicine. This year, my dreams were of walking through groves I know so well with a new awareness of Cottonwood, as if they were spotlighted. Harvesters and their formulas kept popping up in my life. Cottonwood was calling.

As I read about Cottonwood in Scott Kloos’s book {Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest and Use 120 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness}, this is what I found, “On an emotional level, the deep anchoring and solidity of this tree is a signature for its ability to impart calmness. Black Cottonwood teaches us to radiate a quiet dignity and to receive and transform chaotic energies. It has shown me that when I feel overwhelmed by, there is often an internal process of change trying to take place. It asks me to stop resisting and ho into the process so that transformation can occur.”

Reflecting on this, I realized that I’ve been distracting myself with my work, not wanting to sit with some challenging emotions. It’s easier to busy myself than face some hard truths I would rather ignore.

I went back to the fallen tree to sit, cry, and listen. After letting myself be held by this old Sage, much like I did when I was a child, I gathered some buds, left an offering of gratitude, and went on my way.

I believe that plants come to us when we’re needing the unique medicine they have to offer. We may not know what it is right away, but after some internal and external investigation, we can find we are intrinsically interconnected with the forest/desert/coast/wilderness.

As we nourish and rebuild our relationship with the wild parts of ourselves and our environments, we become more in tune with the subtle messages and lessons that are being shared.

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