Taiwan Collection Blog Series–Year of the Fire Rooster

As some of you may know, January 28th marks the Lunar New Year. In terms of the Chinese zodiac cycle, this year is the year of the Fire Rooster.

Fire Rooster Poster

How appropriate that my last blog touched on pecking order, as we are about to enter into a time of rooster/chicken energy. Take a moment to think about the Rooster. You might have the picturesque image of a life on the farm, with a rooster weathervane and the sound of the rooster’s crow at dawn. But, have you ever actually had an encounter with one? Living in rural New Hampshire, just about everyone I know has some sort of horror story involving a rooster. Roosters have long (very sharp!) spurs on their feet, and are known to fight violently with each other, be rough with the hens, and even to chase or attack people. Just think about the connotation of the rooster in terms of cock fighting or being feather pecked and you start to get a sense of the kind of severity that may come with this year’s Fire Rooster energy.

Chickens by Venus Garden
Some neighborhood chickens visited the dormant gardens just as I was writing this blog!

My sense is that this year will also be one in which issues that we thought we had put to bed long ago get reawakened. Perhaps this has something to do with the awakening energy that is affiliated with the rooster’s morning crow. In the weeks approaching the new year I have found this phenomenon to be playing out on both the small and large scale. For instance, a dear and long-time friend of GHF wrote to us this week about confronting patriarchy in her family of origin. When she was a young teenager, she was forced to confront and stand up to her brother who had been molesting their younger sister. Now, many years later, she is being forced to muster up the courage to confront him yet again about another family matter. The injustices of patriarchy that she bravely opposed so long ago have manifested again and present her with a new, yet not unfamiliar, challenge.

I think this illustrates something that may emerge as a pattern in the year of the Fire Rooster. That is, having to re-confront–either within ourselves or in the external world–issues of hierarchy and bullying that we have already faced in the past. But I hope that this reawakening will also allow us to reawaken our inner strengths. Does the image of the Fire Rooster not also conjure up the image of the Phoenix, rising from the flames? A great triumph born of adversity. Perhaps this can be the saving grace in what feels in so many ways like a deeply oppressive year.

Fire Dancer
A troupe of fire dancers perform on the streets of YiLan during my visit to Taiwan to make the Taiwan Collection

This feeling of oppression is very much a part of rooster energy, which also carries along with it a sense of rigidity and and stubborn confinement. Think of the rooster who rules over the hens in his roost. It is not an expansive territory or structure, and it is deeply patriarchal. Add to this the fiery nature of this year’s sign, and we can expect things to feel heated in the coming year. But this is not to say that we can’t make this a productive time. If we find a way to use this energy in balance, it may help us to become more organized and deliberate than before and our hard work will surely yield results.

Three Chickens in a row
Rooster energy may also help us to get our ducks in a row

 

As for finding a feeling of balance during the year of the Fire Rooster, Flower Essences will be of great help to us.  The energy of this year may feel very claustrophobic and stifling as things heat up, here are some Flower Essences from the Taiwan Collection that will be especially helpful:

Chinese Rain Bell

Chinese Rain Bell – This Essence’s affirmation says it all: “I AM a breath of fresh air and a bowl of cool water”

Floss Flower from Taiwan

Floss Flower from Taiwan – Protection from burn.

Eight Saints

Eight Saints – Feeling in partnership with Daoist Ascended Masters

Creeping Daisy

Creeping Daisy – A clarification of loyalty.

Raincoat Flower

Raincoat Flower – “I AM awash in the marsh of love and I will do no harm.”

Round Plum Raspberry

Round Plum Raspberry – Collected from the top of Jilong Fire Mountain, this essence helps us to balance action and inaction, and helps us to contain energy without expelling it immediately.

Orange Lantana

Orange Lantana – “I AM the soft glow of wisdom from the fires of group tumult.”

Sea Hibiscus

Sea Hibiscus – “I AM an ocean of wisdom in a sea of love.” Help to connect to inner friendship and guidance, supportive during times of new beginnings.

 

Also consider using these two in combination, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed by your emotional reactions to the new influx of energy:

Euphorbia of the Ancients

Euphorbia of the Ancients – “I AM an ancient force of equanimity”

Equanimity Venus Garden

Equanimity – This year’s Venus Garden essence. The name speaks for itself!

Taiwan Collection Blog Series — Kowtowing

This week’s Taiwan Collection blog is all about kowtowing. Many of you may have familiarity with this word, but you may not know that it is in fact a loanword from Chinese. This comes from the Chinese word ketou or koutou, which refers to the act of kneeling in front of someone and touching your forehead to the ground. This form of etiquette was traditionally used to show respect by an inferior to a superior (such as a political or religious leader, or one’s elders). You can think of it as the next level up from a bow.

Chickens kowtowing
Kowtowing is all about the pecking order

In English we use this word to refer to excessive acts of subordination or self-abasement. The symbolism of the word then becomes more about worshipping a structure of hierarchy than giving another person the respect that is due to them. When this concept appears in the definitions for the Taiwan Collection, it is most often referring to ideas within ourselves that we pay undue respect to. This form of kowtowing is often at the detriment to our spiritual awakening and self-actualization.This is because these ideas of the mind are informed by societal constructs that distort the truth, ultimately preventing us from experiencing the unbounded love of all as One. When we kowtow to these ideas, we respect them over our own intuition and guidance. We become so bound by our unjustified deference for these ideas, that we become estranged from the path that has been laid out for us.

Spiral staircase in Taipei Garden
Our path is not always a linear one!

As someone who has studied Chinese for many years, I want to emphasize that this is not meant as a critique of Chinese culture or customs. While this word is culturally loaded, the Flower Essences from this collection are not particularly concerned with our divisive concepts of culture. The key concept here is that kowtowing is a symbol of hierarchy.

I believe one thing that the Flowers know, which we would do well to understand, is that hierarchy is a vice of humankind. To push this thought even further, hierarchy is perhaps the vice that is at the root of all of humankind’s other misgivings. Is hierarchy not ultimately the source of all violence, oppression, and selfishness? To use Gloria Steinem’s famous words, these essences push us to “imagine we are linked, not ranked.”

Red Hibiscus from the Temple
Linked blossoms of Red Hibiscus from the Temple

They work to break down outdated patterns of hierarchy that we have internalized, pushing us further towards the reality of unity that underlies all else.

Snow Camellia in bed of green leaves
Snow Camellia reminds us that we are Creator’s light and love in every moment, in every place

The idea of an act of prostration, of showing selfless respect, is not inherently bad. In fact, I often feel like giving a deep bow that touches my forehead to the ground before the Flowers for all of their twinkling beauty and for all of the gifts that they so willingly share with us. But this act comes completely from a place of love and only ever makes us feel loved, never humiliated or unworthy. Within the corrosive constructs of hierarchy, kowtowing becomes a shackle that would prevent us from realizing our preordained place in the Universe, and the truths of Love and Unity within that Universe.

Until next time,

Sarah

Here is a sampling of some of the Flower Essences from the collection, and the types of kowtowing they help us to dismantle:

Allamanda from Taiwan

Allamanda from Taiwan – End kowtowing to fear

Beggar's Tick

Beggar’s Tick – End kowtowing to the expectations and dictates of others

Bleeding Heart Vine

Bleeding Heart Vine – End kowtowing to constrictions and limits

BoHe mint

Bo He – End kowtowing to elders

White Butterfly Ginger Lily

Butterfly Ginger Lily – End kowtowing to the intellectual, procedural, and the serious or heavy

Calliandra from Taiwan

Calliandra from Taiwan – End kowtowing to past tragedies

Closed Blossom Melastoma

Closed Blossom Melastoma – End kowtowing to ownership and territorialism

Scarlet Pineapple Sage

Scarlet Pineapple Sage – End kowtowing to earlier versions of the self

Sky Flower

Sky Flower – End kowtowing to inequality and domination

Spanish Shawl

Spanish Shawl – End kowtowing to technology

Taiwan Collection Blog Series — Bleeding Heart Vine

This blog begins a series of blogs that Sarah will be doing on our new Taiwan Collection of Flower Essences. We hope this will be a fun way to become more acquainted with the essences, especially those which seem obscure or inaccessible!

Before I begin, I wanted to share a little bit about some of the collection’s themes and some particularities about Taiwan.

Sun from Taiwanese flag
The 12-pointed sun from the flag of the Republic of China (Taiwan)

This collection is very much about breaking down the barriers of human-constructed concepts, such as those that separate us by race and language, to reveal a truer truth beyond words and translation. In bringing together information about this collection each flower had a Latin name, English name, and Chinese name. To see each flower through the lens of these various labels was illuminating and allowed us to uncover meanings that are clearly informed by, but ultimately transcend ideas of culture, geography, and society.

Map of flowers showing where Taiwan is
Flower Map of Taiwan

Taiwan is a contested piece of land located off the coast of mainland China in the East China Sea. Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese for a period of 50 years from 1895-1945, before the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) fled there during the Chinese civil war in the 40’s and 50’s. The island continues to be a politically tense region as the debate with China over the sovereignty of Taiwan rages on. As I am writing this blog there is a story in the news of escalating tension between the Taiwanese and the Chinese over military activity in the troubled waters between them. This seems to be the case on a weekly basis. All of these complicated dynamics are coexisting on this land, and I haven’t even mentioned the issue of Taiwanese aborigines. These peoples are the original inhabitants of the island and have a language (part of the Austronesian group that encompasses Madagascar, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Hawaii) and culture that is completely distinct from the rest of East Asia.

Look at JiuFen from Keelung Mountain
On Keelung Mountain by the sea, looking back at the village of JiuFen

As many of you may know, we have often been called to make flower essences from island-inhabiting flowers. The Taiwan Collection is another piece in this island puzzle and the Flower Essences in this collection hold a unique wisdom from the land and people that have developed alongside the floral kingdom there. There is some feeling on the farm that right now is an important time for information coming from the East. I suggest that you take a look at Molly’s earlier blogs here and here.  Also, Himalayan Balsam may be of particular help in opening ourselves up to these essences, especially if they seem strange or different to us. The fear and illusion of difference melt away to reveal the more universal truth of unity and love.

Take, for instance, Bleeding Heart Vine.

Bleeding Heart Vine
Clerodendrum thomsoniae

Bleeding Heart Vine — ?????

I AM full even when I feel empty.

~~Clearing, cleansing, release~~

The affirmation of this essence reminds me of the often paradoxical nature of our lived experience. We are in this world but not of it, apparently diverse but actually one, and we are full even when we feel empty. One way that I interpret this affirmation is that we are filled with and surrounded by love, even when we feel our most hopeless and wretched.

When identifying this flower, I was equally fascinated by its English and Chinese names. In English, ‘bleeding heart’ is suggestive of emotional release. The cathartic theme of this essence is echoed in the Chinese name which includes the phrase “spitting dragon.” The Chinese word ‘to spit’ can also mean ‘to vomit’. When looking at the flower, you can clearly see where this name has come from. Winged red petals extend from fuscia calyxes, further projecting their stamen in what appears to be a projectile vomit of sorts! Thinking of vomiting as a metaphor, I think, reveals something of what this flower has to teach us. Personally, I dread vomiting. Even talking about it is unpleasant and can bring on the much despised gag reflex. But actually, when our bodies have the impulse to throw up, it is because they have detected something virulent within us that we would be better off by getting out of our system.

Prolonging this purge leads only to more discomfort and is not in our best interest. We often experience great relief after we let our bodies do this cleansing work, despite how visceral and unpleasant we feel in the moment.

cluster of Bleeding Heart Vine flowers
Bleeding Heart Vine cluster

Bleeding Heart Vine can be thought of as the antidote to denial. In the short term, denial seems a happy and favorable alternative to experiencing painful emotions. But, in the long term, it becomes a suffocating constraint that prevents any and all progress and evolution. Contrarily, catharsis is extremely difficult in the moment, but it allows us to move on and cease to be dictated to by our unfelt emotions.

Being able to feel and experience our emotions in balance is a skill that this essences can help us with. Failing to process our emotions leaves us feeling boxed-in by them, while living in a constant stream of extreme emotion is equally restrictive. Either way, this essence embodies a refusal to be fenced in, especially by our own emotional or etheric baggage.

This permission to feel, experience, and express (as in, to extract) our emotions in a healthy way is not often emphasized to us. In fact, there is much kowtowing* to the act of ignoring, suppressing, and outright denying our emotions. Bleeding Heart Vine helps to move us beyond these stagnating habits. We would love to hear from you about your experience with this essence, or other questions you may have about our new Flower Friends from Taiwan!

Until next time,

xo Sarah

 

*self-debasing acquiescence, rigid obedience (Keep your eyes out for a blog on this concept coming soon!)

A Blog of Encouragement & Hope

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Friends,

Much high vibrational light energy pours into our planet, and this light wants to flow through us!

What is the point of all this light? It’s here to help us let go of everything we don’t need. It peels away all that no longer serves us. Think of it as cleansing us of all personality detritus so our eternal selves can shine.

Yes, yes, I know! It’s difficult to let go, even of stuff we don’t need. Thembi’s ability to let her entire household burn to the ground then calmly look to a new life with faith, joy, optimism and a sense of humor is something I can only aspire to.

Additionally, it is challenging to remain nonreactive to all that the light stirs up and releases in ourselves and others. Like scum that comes to the top of a soup pot when the soup comes to a simmer, the stuff rising up within us just needs to be removed from the soup without a lot of judgment.

This time last year the Angels designed a garden that would result in the Flower Essence mix Equanimity.

pink-with-green

This Angelic planning gives me hope. The process of removing the scum from the soup pot is a yucky process, and the more cool, calm collected and kind we can be about it the better. The Angels forethought to help us create an Essence for staying cool, calm, collected and kind reminds me that the Flowers and the Angels are ever with us in their unconditional support. They know what we need before we even know we need it!

As the soup scum rises for all humanity, we see mixed results.  Some use the incoming light to purify their soup and shine their light while others remain bogged down, electrically overheating and short circuiting.

The Angels frequently remind me that we can never know who will blossom suddenly, take to the light and let go into a full expression of their eternal selves. It seems best not to peg anyone into a corner as a Flower that will never bloom. We will all bloom someday!

img_4888

Like reality TV, the drama of those electrically short circuiting can be compelling, but this drama is a red herring for many reasons. Our work is not to process how others are reacting to all this incoming light but to focus on letting the light enter our electrical systems and flow through us unimpeded. This is our way to release everything that needs to be released.

In this information age, we often get shamed for not paying attention to what is going on around us. I would respond to that by saying worldly affairs are not what is going on around us but a result of what is going on within us. The light is what is going on, not the scum that is being released from the soup.

I say, if it feels like too much to pay attention to all the “news”, its okay to not to tune in. If we focus on becoming our most light filled selves, the rest will take care of itself. Out of a felt experience of being light, we will illuminate the world. Our own self is the place where we have the most impact and will make the biggest difference.

To put it another way, (as I so often do) overwhelming ourselves with data about how others are reacting to the incoming light is not job one. Whenever I forget this, the Angels remind me to focus more on grounding this light than on examining anyone else’s soup scum.

When I mentioned to a friend this Angelic guidance, this friend felt concerned the Angels’ advice meant abandoning our responsibilities to others. I wasn’t sure how to answer this concern. Then another friend chimed in by noting that grounding the light energy first in ourselves before addressing the upheavals around us was like the directive on airplane flights to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before helping those around us. This was a very helpful analogy.

Before I leave the topic of the drama around us, I want to mention an explanation I received in guidance during a stretch when my personal life had exploded. I was reminded that if any of us walked into the middle of an open heart surgery, it would look like a disaster with the promise of a dire outcome ahead- Chest cavity CUT OPEN! Blood! Clamps! Tubes! People with robes spattered with God knows what! You know what I mean…

Yet the appearance is not the reality. Surgery has a process and takes us in a healing direction. Things appear worse than they were before the surgery began, but this is not so. We find ourselves in dramatic times. We are mid-surgery. It looks like a mess, but the surgery is not over.

In addition to the frequent Angelic guidance to focus on grounding the incoming high vibration energy and not much else, the Angels also suggest we slow down and not just a little bit but a lot.

img_3899

In the quiet of a much slower pace, we can better intuit how to manage all the electrical changes we are navigating, as well as figure out how to more smoothly engage with the world. We also need space and unstructured time so our overtaxed electrical systems can recover between downloads of incoming light.

Like most processes in nature, the incoming light energy does not arrive in one steady flow but in waves. The more we can rest and restore ourselves between light baths, the easier it is to welcome the energy and let it flow through us completely.

The Angels also suggest we release set plans and habits and embrace the practice of improvisation.

img_2538

In less dynamic eras, patterns and habits could remain the same for long periods of time. However everything is currently in a state of rapid change. This means that holding fast to schedules, routines, habits and patterns that used to work may not serve us. When we stay open to going with the flow, unexpected plot changes can be more easily managed and solutions better than anything we have tried before can be presented to us and embraced.

The fact is that the light pouring into us encourages improvisation and makes holding fast to stuck patterns very difficult. Letting go and going with the flow is our way forward.

In addition to letting go, we need more time in our hearts, the one place that is grounded in the immutable and eternal. It’s a place of solace and rest from the change process and a place where we can access comfort, reassurance and guidance from the indivisible Divinity that is our true identity.

img_1047

Flower Essences are the pure vibrational wisdom of Flowers. They have been freed of everything that does not serve. They are the pure light, the Essence that remains after being washed clean. This is one reason why they are such good role models for us right now, as we too are called to shed old layers, release everything that no longer serves our light and be the shining light we are.

As always with Flower Essences, there are no wrong Essences to work with. They all offer wisdom. So trust your own sense of which Essences are calling to you. The Heart Gardeners All blog from last December offered suggestions for these times. Here are some other Flower Essences that have cropped up frequently in the last few weeks.  The waves of interest in these Flower Essence friends reminds us that we all know what we need and we all are working on this project together!

flower-5

Calceolaria– This Patagonian gem offers support to weather the storm of difficult times. It does so by helping us anchor in the immense reservoir of pure knowing and pure compassion within us.

Flower from the Gardens of Taormina– This beloved Flower Essence from Sicily helps us accept what is and isn’t meant to be. It also helps us have confidence that the divine order of our situation will be more apparent as we move forward.

The Letting Go Flower– Another Flower Essence friend from Sicily, this beloved Essence helps us release what no longer serves even when what needs to be released are old ties and relationships that we once held dear.

img_2026

The Water Lily Trio– These three Flowers grow in the emotional matrix of water.  They remain rooted to what is eternal and let everything else wash over them.  They support us to be cleansed and then illuminate our shining, eternal core self.

Celandine– This Flower Essence has been flying out of here since the New Year.  It’s wonderful for all aspects of communication including cell to cell communication. It has a very distinct clarifying wisdom which is much needed right now.

flower-8a

Chilean Firebush– Holy Cow is this one ever relevant!  I am so glad your ordering choices of late called it to my attention- It’s all about helping us let go of mental loops and limitations, stuck ideas and anything that interferes with our experience of expansive infinite intelligence!  Yahoo!

img_4899

Bleeding Heart Vine– This has proven the most popular of the Taiwan Flower Essences so far and no wonder as it helps expedite the release process of all negativity! Don’t be surprised if you get a serious nudge to work with this one.  It is a WONDER!

img_5496

Alex Mackenzie Rose -The Flower Essence to reach for when we need to find the courage of our convictions.

Water Hyacinth– Helps us experience all emotions as helpful information to be understood and released. An enormous support for accepting what is and how we feel about it with kindness towards ourselves.

Redwood-In a nutshell, this Flower Essence offers us the gift of perspective.

photo-18

Musk Thistle– Like the smoothing of ruffled feathers, Musk Thistle moves through our subtle bodies to restore order after any big emotional, mental or spiritual release in the physical body.

 

Thembi

Over the holidays, Thembi’s house burned to the ground. She and her husband, Charles, their four sons and several other young men from Zimbabwe who were staying with Thembi’s family got out of the house in time, but all their material possessions were lost.

You may remember Thembi from earlier blogs I wrote about her or from her recipe in the Green Hope Farm cookbook.  She worked here at the farm for four years after arriving from Zimbabwe as a political refuge. Her husband, Charles, a soccer coach for the Zimbabwe national team, found himself unexpectedly seeking asylum in the US when he was put on Mugabe’s hit list. When he took refuge in the US, Thembi found herself single parenting her four boys in Harare. It took Thembi three years of arduous effort to get herself and her children to the US to join Charles.

How Thembi got her children and herself out of Zimbabwe is a tale of determination and courage. After years of challenges including many bus rides back and forth to South Africa to get food for the children, she finally managed to get all the paperwork to join Charles in the US. During what was supposed to be a last trip to the US embassy to get things finalized, all her documents were stolen inside the embassy. It looked like all was lost, then Thembi made the US officials look at their camera recordings of her showing her paperwork at the first embassy checkpoint. Even when it was agreed that the crime had been committed on US property, Thembi was on her own to get new documents.

When Thembi first stepped on US soil, it was July 4th. She would want you to know that she arrived in heels. This was probably the last time in her life in rural New Hampshire when heels were a good idea.

During Thembi’s four years working at the farm she taught us a lot about going with the flow and seeing life as an adventure. Her deep faith matched her sunny optimism and enormous heart, while her infectious sense of humor and her funny stories of life in Harare took us to another world, truly.

It was an enormous change to leave her familiar African world of family, friends and the bustle of the city to live in the wilds of New Hampshire, but she did it with zest. Her house adjoined the playing fields of Kimball Union Academy where her husband worked, and her boys, soccer players all, took to this life of green grass at their doorstep. Thembi rolled with the whole country thing even as she preferred concrete to turf. She even managed to impart her sense of style to the many layers of clothing needed to keep warm during New Hampshire winters.

After her years at the farm, Thembi got herself enrolled in college and begin a job that worked better for her schedule as a student. We were very sad to see her leave the farm but also awed by her continuing determination to live her dreams in a new country.

As Thembi navigated the aftermath of the house fire, I was reminded again of her indomitable spirit. She greeted everyone who came to help with genuine concern about how they were doing. As we sat at a neighbor’s kitchen table only hours after the fire, Thembi wanted to know all about everyone at the farm and laughed with delight at various tidbits of good news. She literally had no shoes or clothing beyond her pajamas, yet she celebrated our lives without a thought to herself. As the days passed, it became clear that her optimism and general go with the flow attitude wasn’t just shock. Thembi has the gift of accepting what is AND embracing it. Day after day!

I do not know if her equanimity is because she already lost her country, her friends, her family and all her material possessions when she left Zimbabwe. I can imagine that someone who had lost so much already could react to more loss with bitterness, but there is not a shred of this in Thembi.   She is calm about beginning again. She isn’t grimly determined but instead sees it all as the next adventure of her life.

Thembi is anchored in a profound sense of being taken care of by a caring universe even in the midst of this traumatic circumstance. I am sure it took a great effort to find this anchoring, but now it flows from her like a river.

Yes, there is much for her to organize for all her boys, but it is just stuff and they will figure it out. She is moving on and embracing what lies ahead with the same open-hearted optimism, faith and sense of humor that helped her create a new life in America. In the aftermath of the fire, she gives her optimism and love of life to all who enter her orbit. She gives from a place of riches far beyond material things. It is awesome to witness and I thank her for her example with all my heart.

Here are a few photos I have of Thembi.

img_7581

Her grandmother lived on a farm in the country so Thembi always loved being part of farm activities like harvesting  wild ramps in the spring.

 

img_3513

Here is Thembi at her bon voyage party at the farm.

img_6215

Thembi is always ready to chat over a cup of tea.

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!