People often ask how and why I chose to include certain plants in the deck, while leaving others out. Sometimes, folks even get upset that their favorite plant isn’t represented. “How could you not include Echinacea?” they ask, a twinge of outrage in their voice.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t chose the plants. Not really. They are the ones who chose to be included in the deck.
Believe me, there were times when I struggled because some of my own favorite plants were not forthcoming with messages to share. Certainly, I have a strong relationship with many of the plants represented in the cards, but some of them surprised me with their insistence to be included.
For me, maintaining authenticity and integrity was of the highest importance for this project. During its creation, I had a strong sense that I was merely a vehicle for the plants to have their voices heard on a broader scale. I had a deep knowing that if I tried to control or manipulate the process to better fit what my mind thought it should be, the creative spark would evaporate, and the plants would stop speaking to me altogether.
Plants are like people, in some ways. They have distinct personalities, and they don’t always get along with everyone. One person’s medicine can be another’s poison. I acknowledge that my own experience and background, as well as my physical location, influenced the creation of The Herbal Healing Deck. How could it be otherwise?
And yet, I maintain the view that for this particular deck, these are the plants who wanted to be included. These are the ones who spoke to me, who allowed me to get to know them. They weren’t always the most popular plants, or those most commonly used in medicine. While including popular plants like Echinacea and Lavender might have boosted sales of the deck, they did not, for whatever reason, seem to wish to be included at this time. While their choices baffled me at times, I felt the need to surrender to the process and listen to the messages I received. There was enough synchronicity surrounding the creation process that it felt guided to completion. In the end, I trust in what we have created.
Another question I’m sometimes asked is what the message of a plant not included in the deck might be. For example, “What would be the meaning of Feverfew?” Occasionally, I happen to have an intuitive hit on the plant in question. Other times, I have to admit that I don’t know the plant intimately enough to answer on the spot.
I don’t claim to know everything about herbalism. How could I? From the moment I began my herbal studies, one thing has struck me: it would take lifetimes to study every medicinal plant on the planet. Even to get to know the plants in one’s local habitat–their names, identification, growing habits, cultivation methods, and medicinal applications–could easily take a lifetime or two. It takes even more time to cultivate deeper relationships with the plants. I’ve found that I can meditate with the same plant spirit over and over, and each time the plant will reveal something different to me.
Over the years, I’ve had to ask myself a question. What is more important: getting to know a few plants like close friends, or collecting an encyclopedic bank of herbal knowledge? I think you can guess which path I’ve chosen. I’ve always been someone who values having a few close friendships over an army of acquaintances. The same has held true for my relationships with plants.
That being said, I’m always open to the possibility of connecting with other plants in the future. There may even be creative projects that feature some of the herbs not included in this deck. Which plants would you like to see represented?