Since the beginning of July I've been taking part in Esmerelda Little Flame's Temple of the Twelve which involves working with 12 colours over a course of 13 months. Over that time we learn lessons by the different challenges that are set for us, to discover more about ourselves and ultimately endevour to understand and accept ourselves.
The colour I'm working with this moon is Green, for each colour there are a set of questions in the accompanying journal and one in particular really struck me for Green.
A Tree or Flower for GreenAs soon as I read this prompt I knew exactly which tree I would choose for the task, it had to be my Clementine tree. Clementine entered my house in the Spring and has been living on the kitchen windowsill ever since then. When she first appeared her company included 2 Orchid's and The Mystery Plant along with some ever present Ivy Leaved Toadflax that seems to make it's way into my house magically. As the year continued she began to collect more plants around her, most of my herbs have spent time around her and in the Summer our Basil plant moved onto the sill for good followed by a pot of dried Lavender from my mum's garden.
Find a tree or bush, or even some flowers in your area that call to you. Those with green thumbs might purchase a tree or bush. Every week spend a half hour with it, for as many weeks as you wish. Draw a picture of it, photograph it, hang ribbons in the branches, leave offerings for the faeries there, whatever calls you. Study the type of tree that called you in a book or on the internet. What is most important is that you develop a bond with it. Talk to it (even silently) about your hopes and dreams. Learn from it, be still and quiet, and listen. It will speak to you, even if you don’t realize it right away. Cry with it, laugh with it, just be with it.You might make a wand from a branch, or press some of the leaves in a book to save them. You might clean the area if it is in a littered park. You might take a friend with you to visit your tree or flower. You might play music to it on an instrument or from a CD player.This project is completed when you have a strong bond with this tree or flower, but you may return to it anytime you wish. Write your experiences with your tree or flower. - Temple of the Twelve: Experiential Journal
When we first got Clementine the man at the plant shop told us to give her sugary water and not to worry too much if she shed leaves randomly. I still remember the first time I saw her, running my fingers over her bark and feeling right then that she had to come home with us, she was mine from then on. We left her for a little while, mostly because we didn't have the money for her to begin with, and I thought about her every day. Whenever we went by the plant shop we would stop and I would look at her, stroke her trunk, the little leaves and wait for the day I could take her home.
As soon as we got her home we put her on the windowsill and I went out into the garden and gathered some of the dried flowers that were out there. I put them on the soil as an offering and ever since then I've continued to do it. I've hung herbs from her branches to dry, with orange, red and pink wool, placed wild thistle flowers and daisies at her feet, kept Amythyst crystals beneath her. A while ago I cut a red tie from a top I had and tied it to her so that every time I see it I think of life, energy, balance. The colours I use when making offerings are always bright, vivid and represent passion to me.
Another reason I chose Clementine is that she has a really amazing energy which you can feel whenever you're around her. There's a playful, almost mischevious spirit to her which seems to respond to you when you spend time around her, especially when taking care of her or leaving things by her. On other occasions there is an absolute still peace to her that spreads through you, especially if you need help or advice. If I'm feeling sad or confused I often go and sit in the kitchen or stand and rub my hands over her, look at her leaves, talk to her or explain things to her. Whenever I do that I get a strong sense of everything being exactly how it is meant to be, it reminds me of the way my mum always says 'if it's meant to be then it will be' or how Steven always tells me 'whatever will be, will be' when I'm upset. There is something really soothing about being about plants when you're feeling low, for me the bright green of Clementines leaves always cheer me up.
The cycle that Clementine, and plants in general, go through is also something that helps me and inspires me. Plants are constantly forging new growth, shedding the old or the dead, making their flowers, fruit, seeds. Some die back in the Winter and sleep, some grow all year around. They all thrive at different times and in different locations. Often if they're in the wrong spot they grow weaker, if they're in the right one they grow stronger and more vibrantly. I think people can learn a lot from them, we can learn to focus ourselves on what we need to do, we can learn to take care of ourselves and we can learn that it's ok to let things go if we don't need them anymore. A plant doesn't keep hold of it's dead leaves, they drop away. I think often people need to do that themselves but we have more trouble doing so, we feel like maybe they might be revived or else feel guilty for letting them go. With a plant it's easy to see that if they keep hold of dead leaves then they can't grow, can't be nourished, can't be strong. The same applies to us all and by watching and connecting with plants I think we can learn to accept that process ourselves.
I think the fact that different plants grow well in different places is also an important lesson because that too applies perfectly to us. We are all different, have different strengths and weaknesses, different things that we enjoy or don't enjoy. Putting ourselves in places and situations we enjoy strengthens us whereas being in places or situations we don't enjoy makes us feel weak. The fact is that not everybody will enjoy the same surroundings, the same people, the same activities, and it's okay to realise that and move yourself somewhere else. Trying new things can teach us so much, we learn new things that we enjoy or don't just like a plant can. We can grow and thrive in strange places that seem completely nonesensical just like a seed can, if we don't try those things, if we don't let our curiosity guide us sometimes, we might never know. Still I think it's also important to realise what you do like, what you feel happy or comfortable with, and have the confidence to stick by those things. A plant that thrives in the shadow or at night will never do as well in the sun, it just isn't built for that, and people can be that way too. Forcing ourselves to do things we don't really want to do isn't good and sometimes we need to accept that those things aren't for us, and defend that which we know is right for us. There is a huge difference between being prepared to try something new and doing something which we know deep down isn't for us.
I remember the first time Clementine got flowers on her, little white things all over. I remember the first thorn I ever found on her, tiny and half hidden behind a huge spruce of leaves. I remember the first time she ever started growing the smallest fruit you've ever seen, how I jumped up and down with excitement and couldn't stop smiling. I remember how that first crop of fruit all got knocked off the plant and how upset I was and how, now that she's started growing new fruit, I'm pretty protective of her. Right now she has 2 clementines growing and the one you can see in the pictures above is the biggest any of them have ever gotten and I'm so proud that I have to stare at it every day. Feeling that way about a plant can seem odd I suppose, yet it's also taught me a lot about the kind of person I am. I'm the kind of person who gets excited every time one of my plants gets a new leaf, the kind of person who thinks nothing of sitting down and talking to my herbs, who thanks them every time I cut a piece off them. The mentality I have for my plants is one that spreads to everything else too, by practicing patience, gratitude and love with my plants it makes it easier to practice it for everything and anything else. It makes it easier to practice it for myself. By reaching out and connecting with plants I find it easier to do so with others, the energy of plants and humans is so different and yet so simillar at the same time. It helps me with my job, it helps me to understand the fundamentals of the earth, of science, of emotions, of energy, of everything.