Growing down

There’s a marvelous power in feeling rooted: a delicious upsurge of creative energy, a sense of self-authority, an expansiveness. I believe we miss ~ somewhere in our deepest psyche ~ being trees.

I think we’re also confused about the idea of being rooted. I don’t think it means necessarily that we have to live in the place we were born, or the place our ancestors came from (as if we could really know). Nor do I think it means we have to commit to living where we are now. I think rooted means to tap into life. Sink tendrils of trust and vulnerability into unknown territory: the dark soil of our subconscious; the airy heights of greater consciousness; the liquid medium of community and environment.

In the Spider Grandmother stories (from the Hopi), Spider Grandmother spun each being into existence, but she never cut the thread and so we are all connected to her, the great mother, and through her to every other being, every other tree, stone, porcupine, person. This sense of connection, kinship, tie, to all other beings is, for me, the sense of being rooted.

From another perspective: we all share the same elements. The water in me has been a part of a million other creatures, land features, plants; the air we breathe in has been around the world in a gazillion other breathes. The sun provides us all with the same light and warmth, and the earth is below all of our feet and feeds us daily with blessings and beauty.

So why don’t we all feel rooted all of the time? Because we forget. Because we get lost in the idea that we’re separate. Because we become afraid of our surroundings or our larger communities or our food or a thousand other things that we feel disconnected from.

Yet we all of us have this connection. We all have the support and strength within us. Each time we take control of our own lives we can feel it. Working with medicinal plants is an excellent example. If we can grow a pot of mint or fennel and then take it if we feel cramping or indigestion we are growing roots. Each time we know the plants that grow around us not only by name but by nature, we are growing roots. When we can feel, intuitively or instinctivly, when to harvest the nettle for the greatest potency, we grow roots.

When we make our own salves, or lotions, or soaps we grow roots. When we knit or weave or sew, we grow roots.

When we step into our communities, know our neighbors, know where they come from and something of that culture, a story or two, we grow roots. Every time we forge a connection ~ either to community, to nature, to our own creative power ~ we grow roots.

Recently I had the pleasure of teaching on a permaculture for the herbalist course. My remit was to introduce the students to basic skills: lotions and salves; lozenges and candy; soaps and rubs; hydrosols, vinegars and alcohol distillation ~ skills that any self respecting weed wife would have. I was surprised by how many ‘a-ha’ moments I witnessed. There is so much we can do that we’ve forgotten. Or we’ve been told we can’t. And that’s a sure fire way to cut roots.

But we can.

We can do so many things for ourselves. We can create, intuit, re-learn many many ways to reconnect to ourselves, our communities, our environment. It’s largely a matter of trusting that we can.

Sometimes we need a little push. In the past people became apprentices, nowadays there are internships, volunteering positions, work-trades, retreats and classes. It’s not only about learning the subject material itself, it’s an opportunity to connect with others, with a particular landscape or environment and truly, with yourself.

In a forest the roots of the trees overlap and intertwine with those around. That’s strength and health. Resiliency and power. Together we too grow, rooted.


This June I’ll be co-facilitating a Magic, Medicine and Myth retreat in Scotland where we’ll be examining what it means to be rooted and practicing, through medicine making, storytelling and community, being rooted. It’s an opportunity for deep exploration and connection, I hope to meet you there.

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