by JoAnne Dodgson
Unleashing Love, MoonDance Journal, Walking the Spiral Path, Gifts of the Grandmother, and Cocooning.
My bundle of sage was dwindling. This particular sage plant offers vital medicines for smudging ceremonies. I've heard it called Indian Sage, Buffalo Sage, Dakota Sage, but the sages labeled with these names in herb stores were not the plant I was looking for.
What I love about this smudging sage is the way the dried silvery green leaves can be crumpled into a ball and once lit, gently burn like an ember. On the burning sage ember, other plant medicines can be added - cedar, sweetgrass, osha, juniper, white sage, tree resins. This allows for a natural smudging ceremony, similar to the old ways, as close as I can get anyway in places where hot coals from a smoldering fire are not readily available. With this sage, there is no need for the toxic charcoal tablets often used in smudging ceremonies.
To find a place to wild-harvest the sage, to replenish my herb bundle, became a passionate quest. The lands near my home in New Mexico are abundant with desert sagebrush, an intriguing yet distinctly different plant. So my search ended up taking me across state lines into the mountains of southern Colorado. Intuitively, I headed toward an ancient rock formation which holds stories of indigenous peoples who lived there in centuries past. I sensed I'd find sage in the wilderness lands surrounding the sacred site.
Walking among the towering pines, I shared a gift offering with the land, plant nations and spirits to request their help in finding the smudging herb. I'm- looking-for-Sage became a silent chant, a drumbeat setting the rhythm for my explorations around the land. I found feathers. I listened to the ravens call and watched turkey vultures coast high in the winds. I shared quiet companionship with rabbits and deer. I welcomed the sight of the ancient crumbling rocks, feeling embraced by the presence of my old friends. But the sage was nowhere to be found.
Late in the afternoon, beginning the hike back to my car, my mind got consumed by distracting chatter. Had I come all this way only to return home empty-handed? I should have talked with an expert who really knows about plants. Am I just wandering around following my heart, aimlessly getting off-track?
Slowed by depleting tugs of doubt and disappointment, I stopped and stood still in the middle of the path. I breathed in the pines. I felt the earth beneath my feet. I remembered what I had come there to do. “I'm searching for Sage,” I spontaneously said aloud to the trees. I took a few steps into the meadow. “And Sage is searching for me,” I said with a smile, playing around. But I loved the feeling of this new possibility: I'm looking for Sage and Sage is looking for me. Instinctively we now were joined in the hunt, both seeking and searching, reaching out to meet up.
I walked on through the meadow, moving in rhythm with re-awakened curiosity and intent. Something lying on the ground near a tree caught my attention - a collection of bones bleached white by the sun and nestled in the earth. I leaned in to take a closer look. And there by my foot was a sage plant, graceful stems of tiny mint-green leaves reaching out in all directions, soaking up the sun.
I glanced around and discovered yet another plant and then a whole cluster and then even more. Sage plants were flourishing in the meadow. How had I not seen them before? We crossed paths in the closing steps of my journey, coming full circle, not far from where I'd started my search.
Sage taught me something essential about manifesting: It's a mutual thing. It's embodied in connection. What we seek we will find when we know (without a doubt) that it too is seeking us – be it a plant or a friend or abundance or love. Manifesting is a birthing, a calling-into-existence, an intimate weaving of the choice and intent of everyone and everything involved.
About a year after my wild-harvesting adventure, I noticed my bundle of smudging herbs needed replenishing. I wasn't sure I'd have a chance to travel across state lines before the first frost to gather more of my beloved sage. Hiking the mesas behind my house, I looked around for other medicinal plants to gather up for a fall harvest.
I walked along the pathway of the dry riverbed I call the Mama Arroyo. She's a wild curving passage through rocks and desert soils shaped by rushing waters from thunderstorms and snowmelt. All other tributaries branch off from and connect back with her.
I stopped to rest along the banks of the Mama Arroyo at a confluence of pathways I'd wandered through countless times. Lying down on warm soils beneath turquoise blue skies, a particular shade of silvery green caught my eye. There among the wildflowers and gnarled tree roots was a sage plant – graceful stems of tiny mint-green leaves reaching out in all directions, soaking up the sun. I looked around and found another plant and then a whole cluster and then even more - an entire communal gathering of Sage. How had I not seen this before?
Sage magically appeared to help me see something I hadn't quite fully grasped: Manifesting is an easeful and natural thing. It's an organic unfolding. It's deeply rooted in gratitude for all that already exists. Like a wild river, manifesting naturally flows from the source of fertile passions - remembering who and what we love, what we want, what we've come here to do. Relaxing into our dreams, trusting ourselves and the universe are vital nourishments. Self-imposed pressure, stress, force and fears will distract and mislead us, box us in and keep us stuck.
Though seemingly magical, our natural ability to manifest thrives inside the knowing that anything, and everything, is essentially within our reach. Sage showed me that what we are searching for is often much closer to home than we think.
2009 © JoAnne Dodgson