The electricity has been a bit unreliable lately. Our electricity comes in over wooded hills from another town via poles, and along this desolate stretch of poles a fuse kept blowing. The folks from the power company found themselves walking the line over and over to find what was drawing the power and flipping the fuse. I ran into a couple of them in the woods when I was out for a walk, and they were determined but discouraged. It was cold, windy, turning dark and they were fruitlessly walking up and down the same forty seven poles.
Since the power company employees were not optimistic that a fix was in the near future, we gathered nearby family for a candlelit dinner at the farm. Our woodstove could keep everyone warm and fed while we waited for the power to return.
As the evening unfolded, the electricity would come on only to falter a few minutes later as the fuse blew again. Even though we’d been told the problem, each time the power came back on we would relax and think the solution had been found. Then five minutes later the power would blink off again. The third or fourth time this happened we had enough sense to refill some buckets with water and flush the toilets.
As it grew dark we heated a mishmash of food on the woodstove while we played charades. Half the fun was that we really almost couldn’t see each other in the gloom. Well into the evening when many were snoozing on various flat surfaces, the power came on for a longer stretch and everyone went off to their own cold beds.
In the morning it looked like we had entertained a thousand guests most of whom were under the age of five. As I surveyed the scene, I thought long and hard about the cany wisdom of my grandmother who kept a very small basket of damaged toys for us grandchildren and NO MORE. The only item I can remember is a pair of broken googly eyed glasses which gave a surprising amount of pleasure for something that could not actually be worn. But in general her collection of toys was so dire that we ignored them. Instead we played with a bowl of polished rocks. Perhaps the littlest grandchild even ate some of the rocks. Grandma did not seem to be bothered with the details of how we entertained ourselves and neither were we.
Her strategy had more appeal than ever as I considered the chaos of seventeen bins of toys spread throughout the downstairs of our house as if by tornado winds. Those dear sweet visiting grandchildren had been very busy. I wish I could say that this was a random occasion successful only because in this instance they could dismantle the household under the cover of darkness, but that would not be true. The fact is, there are just too many bins of toys and several dear souls intent to spread them everywhere during even a five or ten minute visit.
And so after a long interlude picking up the toys and considering if I had the will to disappear them, I thought how refreshing it would be to go into the gardens and see what was happening. I thought to myself, “This could only lift my spirits after the dampening experience of picking up ten thousand random toy items.”
The snow had receded enough to uncover the grass and gardens in many spots. I had noticed a few days before that the Hellebores were about to bloom. Known as the Christmas Rose in England, this plant often blooms about this time of year here at the farm. I expected to greet its blossoms with fanfare and delight. Even a bit of gloating.
This was not to be, for just as I had noticed the Hellebores, so had the deer. They had eaten the whole bed. I was furious! As I stomped around I wondered, “Just how early do I have to start spraying “Deer Off”?” Apparently when the snow is still falling, the ground is still frozen and the season is still winter.
Later that day as evening came once again- no power outages and no toys on the loose- I saw from my kitchen window eight deer in the garden. They looked so robust and plump that they resembled jersey heifers more than deer. Really, it was hard to call these roly poly things deer…… and I knew exactly what had made them so fat and sassy. MY Hellebores.
In gardening as in keeping a tidy household when children are afoot, the only thing to do is throw in the towel and accept that deer are going to munch and children are going to handle and discard every last toy available to them. For now, the grandchildren get a reprieve from a toy purge (maybe I can get Grandpa to do the next clean up), but the deer? I’m firing up my spray tank tomorrow, that is, if there is anything left to spray.
Our personal power is within us. It is the divine life force energizing our being. Yet current world structures don’t rest in the experience of each person being responsible for and benefiting from their own personal power. Instead most institutions and many individuals work to accrue more power at the expense of others. Is this power dynamic of more and less powerful individuals the only one possible? Can power taken from others ever be used in a benign way? What is the future of our current power dynamics? Can we have a world without them? Can we have a world with them? But first, let’s consider some of the different ways power changes hands.
Some power is accrued by those who have something we want. A kid who wants a cookie is apt to comply if someone says they will give him the cookie if he does what the person with the cookie wants. The person’s power in this situation comes from the desirability of the reward. On a larger scale, people in political or institutional power can get other less powerful people to toe the line by offering or withholding desired resources or privileges. All these situations are an abuse of power.
Some power is accrued through “being the expert.” If we are seen to have an expertise, it gives us power over others. It behooves us all to be cautious about the use of this power and to move slowly in giving and receiving advice. Often things said casually by “an expert” are taken way too seriously by the person receiving the information. Here’s a silly example of this. Whenever I played cards with my father when I was a child, if I messed up dealing the cards or made any mistake during the card game, my father would say, “They’d shoot you out west for that.” As he grew up out west and was also one of two main authority figures in my young life, I took his remark literally. To this day I am painfully slow when I deal cards, so much so that everyone in the family gets up to get snacks, go to the bathroom or take a seventh inning stretch whenever I deal (And BTW I finally beat Jim at cribbage).
Some power comes with the office. We have all seen the danger of this in the abuse of children by priests. Should we assume people holding power because of their position in the world deserve this power? Powers come from advantages of birth that bring monetary advantages or social status. Should we assume those in possession of more resources know best how to use them?
One subsect of accrued power is the power we give celebrities of all sorts including social media stars. What kind of authority should we give people who have successfully marketed themselves on Tiktok? Should we make decisions based on their opinions? It may be harmless when it comes to choosing a new shampoo, but is it ever a good idea to give anyone a role of power in our lives?
As almost every woman and child knows, some power is accrued by size differences that give adults, in particular men, a power advantage right from the get go.
I have yet to find any arena in which the more powerful deserve it or use it well. I believe this could be done if someone was God realized because the authority that comes with God realization would be used only with pure love. For the rest of us, isn’t any use of power at least a little bit tinged with something besides love? This doesn’t mean it is not a worthy goal to use whatever power we inadvertently garner with as much love and as little ego as possible. That is vital. It also is vital not to seek power or bestow power on others.
How do we retain our personal power in the face of these imbalances of power? No sooner had I started to write this blog than I found myself at the receiving end of a power play. I wish I could say that I went right to thanking the universe for sending me a chance to examine this issue in the flesh, but there was some grizzling before I got there.
In this power play the person had the power to do what he did, and I was stunned by the inhumanity of how he used his power. While I did not have any power to change what he did, I wanted to remain in my power and not sink into feelings of powerlessness. I realized I was still in possession of my personal sovereignty which gave me the power to choose my response and my attitude.
I was distraught after the power play. This meant that first I needed to take care of myself and process my feelings of sadness and anger. I did this by writing several zippy letters that I chose not to send and talking to a couple people that I knew could contain my story. Letting myself express all my feelings opened me up to a felt experience that the way this man had handled the interaction had nothing to with me and only reflected on him. This helped me know it was none of my business to try and “fix him” by critiquing what he did. At this point I burned my letters to him. I needed to let him go. All of this processing helped me slowly find an attitude of more equanimity. I also felt a renewed determination to solve the problem I now had because of his power play. After a few days, I found myself surprisingly exhilarated as I worked to solve the problems this man had caused.
Then there was a plot twist. The man’s daughter contacted me, needing a big favor. As I considered this situation, I recalled an experience I had when an older woman that I did not know was incredibly rude to me. Later, I asked the woman’s daughter why the woman had been so nasty. She told me that the woman hated my mother. I was startled. After all, I was not my mother. Now I had an opportunity to NOT pull a power play on the daughter because of her dad’s behavior. I could break the cycle and help her out. I liked how my decision to help left me neither feeling powerless nor pulling a power play in some act of revenge that would only continue the circle of poorly used power.
And so with this experience I was reminded that like everyone else, my life has included experiences in which I have been given no power or given too much power. Like many kids with controlling parents, I grew up wary of power. I chose first to appease the powerful patriarchal mother I had and then later steer clear of her as much as possible. But of course, she gave me my first experience of power, and this is the template I have to depart from in order to heal.
Our early experiences as powerless in relationship to our parents triggers old wounds. I saw it when this man pulled his power play on me. What I was really reacting to was his dismissal of me in the same way I had been dismissed by my family of origin. Now it’s our job to heal the wounds with kindness towards ourselves. We need to embrace the truth that we always have our own personal power and with it the freedom to choose our attitude. And in these dying days of patriarchy, we need to proceed with caution about how we use accrued power that is not our own.
People can say that accruing and losing power will always be the prevailing dynamic, but we have gotten to the end of the line with this patriarchal template of hierarchy. It crumbles before our eyes. As our faith in institutions dies, we don’t have to see this as the death of faith. We can transfer our faith in institutions and top down authorities to faith in ourselves. Our planet requires it of us. What will this look like? I do not exactly know, but here at the farm we are trying to explore this new model and so help ground it on our planet.
The new model is co-creation, and the resources we will need to depend on and take responsibility for are the inner resources of the divine feminine and the divine masculine in each of us.
In co-creation it is understood that everyone is part of the one, different but indivisible with the whole. Consensus is the operative model and the strengths of the inner divine feminine are the tool box that help us arrive at consensus. Then the divine masculine kicks in by translating this inner wisdom into wise action. Patriarchy is power used to suppress the wisdom of the divine feminine to act in a rudderless and destructive way.
My first lessons in co-creation came in the form of co-creative efforts with the Angels and Elementals. The Angel and cabbage poster was from 1993, about six years into my co-creative work with the Angels and Elementals. In these early years, I didn’t really grasp the concept of co-creation. I projected authority on my Angelic and Elemental partners. However, they never took on this projection. They have always operated from a framework of our oneness, equality, indivisibility and wholeness. During the last thirty five years I have met with my Angelic and Elemental partners to come to group decisions about everything that happens here, and they have never pulled a power move on me. Ever. They hold such an energy of unity consciousness that co-creation with them has been like riding a bike with training wheels.
The harder work came in holding unity consciousness when co-creating with fellow humans. That has been an arena of much learning for me. I crash my bike quite a lot.
To take equal (not more or less) responsibility for what is happening in any group, respect divergent views and stop projecting our stuff on others requires maturity. When we sit in a circle together in the mode of co-creation versus hierarchy, we must sacrifice accrued power for the more unknown territory of equal among equals. It is tough work to see the divinity in EVERYONE.
We all enter the work with baggage of the patriarchal mindset sort. Well, I certainly do. When we meeting in a circle with the hope to work from our shared divinity, things can go sideways. It takes a lot of time to get to the consensus so necessary to co-creation. Sometimes we all just want to get it over with and give the decision to an individual. If we resist this temptation, the co-creative decision has this wonderful life affirming energy, but it requires patience to get there.
Top down authority is familiar. If a person in the circle is massaged into and accepts a controlling role or simply takes the role, participants can get a quick and familiar feeling of community in shared feelings of powerlessness and dislike of the authority figure. We can feel angry, but it’s familiar. When we sit in a circle together in the mode of co-creation versus hierarchy, we are all in it together. But there are not very many structures in our world where this is what groups do, so hierarchy is often the model we fall back on if we get anxious.
As we practice this new model, kindness to everyone involved including ourselves, patience, calm, breathing, waiting, letting go especially of fear and sitting in quiet all come into play. We have to keep trying and keep examining how and when we drag the old patriarchal baggage back into the dynamic. We have to take ownership of how we might see patriarchal patterns as a perk. Taking all the responsibility and power or taking none are sometimes not as scary as being an equal among equals. Co-creation requires self examination, honesty and courage. It also requires keeping on keeping on. Humor helps too.
But embrace it or not, co-creation is the model which we are being collectively called to. If humanity has long been errant children testing our limits with Mama Earth in our own drama of an out of balance power dynamic, now we need to take responsibility for ourselves as co-creators with Gaia and all sentient beings on this planet. Perhaps humankind had to go through a ripening process to be mature enough to know its shared divinity. But now is the time we must leave our childhood behind and flow with this different dynamic of divinity in a sea of divinity.
Our Angelic and Elemental partners operate from a dynamic of love in a unified energy field of love. They welcome us into this framework. The damage being done to Mother Earth is the last gasp of patriarchy. Gaia’s response is not about power but about love. She shows us what we do to ourselves. She mirrors back the truth to us that we must love ourselves and our planetary home enough to move from collecting and misusing power into a co-creative dynamic of love.
As patriarchal structures continue to fall apart, all of us will be called to go into the unknown of co-creation. But unknown doesn’t mean bad. Our co-created gardens and co-created Green Hope Farm community lead me to know this unknown will be more beautiful than we can possibly imagine.
As we practice these new skills of co-creation, we will be called upon to lean on the inner resources of the divine feminine within us with its skills at containing other points of view, vulnerability, intuition and consensus building. If we own our divine feminine then our own inner divine masculine is going to come on board. The out of balance feminine will no longer count herself out and the out of balance masculine will no longer act in a rogue and destructive manner but listen and co-create with our divine feminine.
When I was talking about writing this blog, staff goddess Vicki reminded me that the Crete Essences ( found in the Mediterranean collection section) are so helpful in this work of accessing our divine feminine as part of co-creating a new reality here on Earth.
Crete held a vastly harmonious civilization that was not based on the power dynamics of patriarchy and power politics. In its land and Flowers it leaves us tuning forks as we too work to create a world in which we experience ourselves as co-creators birthing a new harmony.
To those who say none of this can happen, I say, “Let’s try this and see if that is so.” I think we are going to be surprised by what is born after the collapse of patriarchy. This New Life will be a wonder beyond our imaginings.
A local potter friend answers the frequent question, “How long does it take you to make a pot?” in this way: He says, “5 minutes and a lifetime.” Skills developed over decades mean he can throw a pot very fast, but to say it takes just 5 minutes is misleading.
This is true of so many things all of us do in life. Here at the farm one example is making Flower Essences.
The process begins now on winter days when we are gripped by chill winds and blowing snow. This is when I take inventory of all our Mother Flower Essences. It’s an inventory of nearly a thousand different Flower Essences. I go through them all to make a list of what needs to be made in the upcoming growing season.
Low inventory of a Flower Essence from an annual plant like Zinnia means I need to get seeds to grow the Flowers and plan where to plant them in the gardens. If it’s a perennial or wildflower, I need to concentrate on where I have seen the Flower in bloom and when it blooms.
I divide my list into Flowers that bloom in early spring, those in late spring, early summer, late summer and fall. I have learned the hard way that Flowers come and go much faster than it seems.
Take for example Dandelion. It appears this friend is with us for weeks and weeks and weeks. But Dandelion actually has a short season (albeit a splashy one). We go through a lot of Dandelion Flower Essence as it is an ingredient in many of our Flower Essence combination mixes. It is an absolutely essential mainstay in our collection. I have sometimes waited too long to make our year’s Dandelion Flower Essence. I then have had to walk through all our fields (30 acres of them) to find enough Flowers. That it could be hard to find Dandelion Flowers sounds improbable, But check it out this year. They go by all at once, and then there is nary a blossom. So I make this Flower Essence as soon as the Dandelions begin to fill the landscape in early May. Gaps in inventory come from me thinking, “Oh the Trilliums are just out so I have time.” when actually they’ll be gone next week.
Needless to say, I read through my chronologically organized master list frequently during the growing season. I keep the list next to the door from the office into the house so I pass it many times each day. Anything to keep me focused. And yes with a thousand Flower Essences to keep track of, I still sometimes slip up. The memories of searching high and low for a Flower just a little bit too late sear into my memory and keep me as alert as possible.
Not every day is right for making Flower Essences. The Angels and Elementals know best so I check with them. Sometimes they pick very unlikely days for Essence making. Only as the day unfolds do I feel the quality of the light and grasp possible reasons why they picked the day. One classic kind of day for making Essences is what we call a North Storm. This is a high barometric pressure day of very clear bright sunlight, brilliant blue skies and a certain crispness to the air. However, my co-creators often surprises me with when we make Flower Essences.
Once I have the green light to make Essences, I travel to fields, woodlands and gardens with glass bowls filled with water. I work hard to give the creation of each Flower Essence the loving focus it deserves. This means a serious chat with each Flower. I ask for permission to make an Essence from its petals. I also ask the Flowers to pick the best blossoms for me to use to make the Essence. I include the Flowers, the Angels and the Elementals in my request that they make the blossoms in the water into a Flower Essence. There is no Essence without these participants, and it fills me with gratitude that they are there ready to work with us humans.
When I return later in the day to retrieve the Flower Essence, I always thank all involved including the Elementals of the individual Flower blossoms. They held the concept of the Flowers so beautifully in manifestation that a Flower Essence could be made from their blossoms.
When I was six and making Goldenrod Flower Essence in the field behind my house, my Flower friends kicked in their gifts without my conscious request, but now my heartfelt acknowledgement of their role seems the very least I can do.
In all these conversations, its hard to miss that Flowers not only look very different but they have different personalities. Some Flowers are very reserved, and I must sit at their side and wait patiently for them to speak. Some love to visit. Some are so enthusiastic that they wake me up at dawn to get started on the project. Flowers have always felt like dear old friends to me. Even when I met a Flower for the first time, it feels like a kindred spirit. Loving all kinds of different Flowers helps me be more accepting of the bouquet of the human race. Some of us are meant to be Lilies and some of us are Peonies and some of us are Thistles. It’s all good.
For some reason when I think of my chats with Flowers, I often recall the unusual moments when a Flower has called out to get my immediate attention- For example, so many times when in the back of a jittney taxi in St John with no volition to stop the vehicle, I will hear a wildflower on the side of the road yelling to me. Later I have hiked back to find these loud new friends who called out. No regrets. Among other Flower friends, this is how I met Christmas Bush and Wild Physic Nut, two dynamos in our collection.
I also seem to have something I would call Flower vision. I can space out and miss some event happening right in front of me ( just ask my children) but even in a fast moving car, I pick out the briefest flash of color or form of a Flower and know I need to stop everything and have a visit (just ask my children). Once my Flower vision meant that I had to climb onto the roof of a Bermuda bus stop to befriend Screw Pine. Yes, I was seven months pregnant so yes, people in passing cars probably still remember the moment just about as well as I do (BTW that baby is 27 and he’s fine. Maybe I fired up his gift for risk taking with moments like this, maybe I simply gave him fodder for therapy).
But I digress.
It may take me 5 minutes to get a bowl in place and a Flower Essence underway but it’s been a happy lifetime learning how to work with Nature to make the Flower Essence. The “work” brings community, purpose and adventure in equal measure. The adventure part adds so much laughter, especially after the fact. I recall scratchy bushwhacking through brambles and buckthorn to get to Flowers talking loudly. I remember the time I stood on a car during a hurricane to reach a palm blossom. This was probably the same trip when I was at a fancy Bermuda lunch and asked the hostess if I could borrow a ladder to harvest some Queen Palm blossoms in her garden that were calling to me. Fortunately she had a good sense of humor and a long ladder. I recall the many time I’ve worn the wrong clothes but must dive into the fray anyways. Twigs in my hair and tears in my sweaters are par for the course. Sometimes even the right equipment is no match for the job. Many times my mud boots have sunk below their rims to fill with swamp water or mud. There are also times I’ve had to backtrack over a hill or mountain because a Flower has called me back (just ask my children). There have been so many moments when I’ve just had to slip a kayak in the water to go see a Flower or led a motley crew to some obscure location for a Flower that I am in desperate need of (just ask my children). I have loved every minute of it. I hope the children did too. And now that they are adults and scattered to the winds, I have the great good fortune to have new young friends to take on Flower adventures.
Here is one of them in the Morning Glory fort having a bit of an adventure. I can’t wait for this summer. He has a taste for the unknown and I am sure a Flower will call us there.
As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!