Hello friends,
It’s snowing. Again. Here’s a folktale for you, with some thoughts to follow:
ONCE UPON A TIME, on a green hill in Wales, a shepherd watched his flocks peacefully grazing. In the grass at this feet he noticed an unusual flower. Its blossom bore the shape of a key. He picked it and put it in his buttonhole. All morning he enjoyed its sweet scent. That afternoon he left the sheep to another hill. There on the hillside he came upon a stone door that he had never seen before. He wondered if somehow he’d got lost, but no, looking around he saw this was indeed the old familiar valley where the sheep had always grazed.
The shepherd tried opening the stone door but it wouldn’t budge. Then he noticed it had a little keyhole. Chancing that the key flower might fit, he tried it in the hole. To his surprise it fit perfectly. When he turned the key flower the stone door opened.
You might expect it to be dark and chilly inside that hill, but it wasn’t. From the center of the hill there shone a light that glistened like sunrise on a lake. The shepherd walked toward it. There he found all manner of treasures: mounds of shimmering gold and shining silver, heaps of bright emeralds, rubies, sapphires and pearls. He could barely catch his breath, for such riches were beyond imagining. He thought of his loved ones waiting back at the cottage, and began stuffing his pockets to the brim. He took off his socks and used them as pouches. He used his wool cap as a sack.
Hurriedly he set out for home. The weight of the riches was great upon him, but his gait was light nonetheless, for he imagined the joy on his loved ones’ faces when he shared with them the dazzling gems.
The further he got from the hill, the lighter the load seemed to grow. Soon he could no longer feel the weight of it. He stopped to check his pockets and pouches. To his great dismay they were filled, not with jewels, nor riches, but with leaves - crumbly dry leaves - the likes of which he would rake up and toss on the compost heap. The shepherd turned his pockets inside out. The bits of dry leaves blew away on the wind. The shepherd trudged home, puzzling over the day, trying to make sense of what had happened.
When he got home, he wanted to tell the story of the key flower, the stone door, and the riches inside the hill. But when he tried to speak of it, his throat grew dry and his thoughts scattered. He knew whatever he said would sound foolish, so he kept still.
In the days and weeks to come, he often searched for the stone door, but he never found it. He often scanned the grassy hills for another key flower, though none was ever to be found. It wasn’t until much later, sitting at the fireside one night, that he decided to tell his tale. In his mind’s eye he saw it all with great clarity as if it had been yesterday. The thoughts formed freely in his mind and flowed from his lips like a bright river. Afterwards, his loved ones remarked what a fine story it was, and that he was a good teller of tales. He told them it was all true, every last detail, and they scoffed, “What a rascal you are!”
As the years passed by, the memory of that afternoon stayed bright within him and always brought a smile to his face.
This story has roots in Wales but was told to me by way of Australia, from my friend Nichola. Thank you, Nichola for sharing this story with me three years ago. It has inspired on many levels.
If you’re subscribed to this newsletter is likely that you’ve had a moment with a certain flower or plant that has stopped you in your tracks. There was something about it - the beauty of the flower itself struck a chord, the color of the petals, the shape, the way the light made the flower glow, the scent, that feeling of touching on a deep mystery. It is almost unspeakable. To see that flower, that plant and feel it ring like a bell from within you. Your key flower. The flower that opens up worlds for you. The flower that enlivens your energetic and psychic senses. The flower that in just meeting alone offered resonant wisdom, felt like a poem or told you the oldest of stories. You remembered something secret and holy in this meeting. Enchantment moves between you. You are changed by it. This experience could be considered a form of kinship. Kinship as a verb; you are responsive, you are responding to the relationship between you and this plant.
When this kind of inspired meeting happens, when a plant touches you in this deeply embodied place, we recognize it as a big moment. Just like in the shepherd, we want to harvest the riches of this meeting, to hold on to the treasure that we have been offered a glimpse of. We feel so taken aback by the power of it, that we try to claim that encounter as ours, as something we can claim and put in our pocket. But it is within this meeting, this relationship, that the magic exists. Our attempt at possession or pursuit dulls the experience of kinship. We try to recreate it, relive it, but the nature of this encounter is ephemeral, just like the spring ephemeral flowers. ;)
This is why I love flower essences. An essence is not extractive, nor does it try to possess. My practice with essence making is rooted in an act of devotion, honoring that moment of transformation when we meet our key flower. We do not have to harvest any parts of the plant to get in touch with its medicine. For me, making an essence becomes a ritual practice that honors that moment in which I can feel into resonance with a certain plant, it anchors me here. Essence making is a ritual practice that honors the ways in which the story of this plant shimmers through the world. Essence making is a practice of recognition, of being called into presence to all of the earth’s magic. I bring my offerings, my prayers, songs and poems to the flowers. Essence making is a practice of tending.
If you are interested in joining Turning Toward The Flower, a class on crafting flower essences and finding your key flower, the time to sign up is now. Registration closes Sunday. We begin Monday. You do not have to attend the live sessions, recordings will be available to watch. You can read more about the program here. There will be instruction on how to make flower, gem, animal and environmental essences, but the remedies you craft during this time together will be informed by your conversation with that which speaks your secret names from beyond

To remembering our key flowers, no matter how far away spring might feel.
With snow & deep murmur of awakening bulbs,
x Liz
begins March 14
When we make essences we work with the invisible; inviting the community of Earth to pattern itself into the bowl at our feet. There is a deep listening, giving attention to meadow, flower, road, grass, stoop, stone, tree, bird, building, river and the way life sings through all of these beings. This class has formed from a desire to co-conspire with wherever we find ourselves right now, the story that is ever-becoming and the emergence of Spring blossoming. From your own home, we will center our creative practice on essence making as a way to engage with the deep medicine of place.  This class will encourage you to spend quality time where you are and use practices such as writing, personal ceremony, movement and play to enter into collaborative cahoots with flowers, plants and other magic that is right outside our door. There will be instruction on how to make flower, gem, animal and environmental essences, but the remedies you craft during this time together will be informed by your conversation with that which speaks your secret names from beyond.
This class is for you if you
want to learn about essences: what they are, how to make them, how to use them
are thinking about placed-based magic
want to use dreams to inform your medicine making
want to embody qualities of the elements
want to write flower poems
want to let story present itself to you
know how to make essences but are curious for more
want to create flower rituals
want to look long enough to hear