Refer back to the “Getting to Know Your Plant” module for more details in practicing these exercises.
Cleavers Plant Meditation
Let’s meet Cleavers first hand and get to know him! Start by finding a patch of Cleavers growing in your yard or a nearby park. I like to start off my relationship with a plant by sitting with it and listening to the stories it has to tell.
Find a patch that you can sit near. Greet the patch and quietly ask if you can harvest a small sprig. Listen quietly for an answer. You may “feel” the response – an urge to move closer…..or a block of energy pushing you away. Respect the plant’s response and move on if it says no. Or, instead of harvesting a piece, sit down next to it and observe it. I find a magnifying glass is always handy to have on hand.
If Cleavers says, “yes” to your request to harvest a piece, do so gently and thank the plant. You may wish to leave a simple gift – a crystal, a pinch of tobacco, mugwort, or other sacred plant, a seashell, or a pretty pebble you have found. The gift doesn’t matter, the intent is what’s important. Even a song can be a gift.
Settle yourself down and follow this guided meditation or create your own to communicate with Cleavers.
If you prefer to have an audio file of this meditation, you can download it to your phone to play outside.
Next, use sensory exploration to get to know Cleavers. If you have a loop or a magnifying glass, grab it now, along with your notebook and a pen or pencil.
At the top of your page, write “I SEE”…
Now begin to write down everything you see. The colors of the leaves, their shapes, their size, the pattern they grow in, any visible hairs or other textures. How the leaves clasp the stem. The shape of the stem – are there any ridges? Any bits of plant that aren’t leaves on the stems? Get as detailed as you can, writing down everything you can see with your eyes and the assistance of the magnifying glass. Now what else do you notice? Any brown spots? Holes? Is the stem hollow? Are there flowers? Describe them. Colors. How many petals. What bits are in the center of the plant? No need to know botany and correct terms. Just describe what you see, even if it’s as basic as “globs of orange stuff on long, white stems”. Describe as much as you can see. What makes this plant unique? Different from the plant that is growing next to it? What about any seeds? Fruits? Roots? Bark? Describe it all.
Move on to touch. Write “I FEEL”….
Close your eyes and feel the plant. What do you feel? Write it all down – softness, ridgedness, prickly, sharp….
Next, move on to sound. Write “I HEAR”….
Again, with your eyes closed, wave the plant next to your ear. What do you hear? Scratchy? Rustling? Nothing?
Now it’s time to smell the plant. Write “I SMELL”….
First smell it as is. Does this plant have a scent? Write that down.
Now, put your canine senses to work. Shred the plant, breathe on it quickly several times in a row, then breathe in deep. What do you smell now?
Finally, let’s taste Cleavers. Write “I TASTE”….
Break off a fresh piece of leaf about the size of your small pinky finger nail. Chew it between your front teeth. What do you taste? Write that down and continue chewing. Keep chewing until the plant disintegrates in your mouth, observing and writing down any flavors as they appear.
You now have a great picture of who Cleavers is. If you ever have to pick him out of a crowded plant patch, you shouldn’t have any problems! A huge thanks to my teachers Isla Burgess for introducing me to this exercise and Lisa Ganora for sharing her ‘coyote’ technique for smelling a plant.
Drawing Your Plant
The final exercise is to draw Cleavers. Don’t be afraid to draw, it is fun and can be learned! The more you practice this exercise, the easier it gets. Refer back to the video on how to do a blind and modified contour.