She stands alone, brilliant among the lush green foliage all around her, her reflection shimmering in the water flowing nearby.
Regal, proudly displaying her lady parts, demanding to be seen and heard.
I have the sticky nectar of Scarlet Lobelia flowers on my fingers. It smells sharp and sexual and earthy and green. It tastes sweet like honeysuckle. I’ve been gathering these flowers to make a flower essence spirit medicine from this plant.
My very first impression of this being, after she made herself known to me, was an image of a swirling red skirt. I thought of a Spanish woman dancing with castanets on her fingers, swirling around at the epicenter of a joyous gathering.
A closer look revealed many individual flowers making up the brilliance of the whole. I thought the individual flowers resembled giant clitorises jutting out from the skirts, all joining together in a holy dance, swirling around the stem and foliage rising from the damp, richness of the creek bank.
She leaves one thinking of blatant sexuality, moistness, pleasure, women dancing, and most of all, unrestrained JOY and FULL EMBODIMENT.
There is a sense of profanity about her, but it is part of an almost overwhelming sacredness in the wholeness (holiness) and joy she exudes.
The sacred in the profane
The common names for this plant could reference both the profanity and the sacredness. The common name Scarlet Lobelia may cause one to think of a scarlet letter affixed to the clothing of a fallen woman, whereas the other common name, Cardinal Flower, is a reference to the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals, evoking a certain kind of sacredness.
Both of these seem to me to be unfairly biased patriarchal interpretations. A scarlet woman is bad, but a scarlet man is holy? My sense of her is that she rises above these cultural biases captured in her names, and she shatters them.
She is red like menstrual blood. She is profane on the one hand, displaying common aspects necessary to physical existence, yet completely and utterly sacred in her creative power, in her ability to bring forth life from that same blood.
She is fully in her body, with all the vulgar messiness that physical existence requires, and also fully in her spirit self, with all the sacredness that is born of the Divine. She is a non-dualistic reality that encompasses all aspects of being. She is whole, she is holy.
Profane, adj. – Common or vulgar
(sweating, shitting, pissing, eating meals made from killing other living beings, sex, blood, death, all the stuff necessary for embodiment)
Sacred, adj. – entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy
(spirit, vitality, joy, beauty, creative force, Goddess)
Before I made my flower essence, I spent over a week visiting Lobelia cardinalis every single day, meditating with her, journeying with her, learning her energy and personality. As I described at the beginning of this post, I was immediately attracted to her spirit, the sense of sacredness I felt in her presence. But I didn’t yet fully understand the profane aspects, apart from the blatant sexuality. However, she found a way to show me. Read on.
On one such daily visit with her, I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to urinate. It came on so suddenly and so strongly, I didn’t think I could make it back into my house. It was early morning, I had just pulled on a skirt and top to go outside. I was wearing no undergarments. My back yard by the creek is secluded. In light of all this and my overwhelming need, I just let it go right there onto the ground. I pissed right where I was standing. For a moment I just stood there in shock at what had just happened. I don’t have any incontinence issues, so this was not a usual experience for me. I took a moment to take it in.
It gradually dawned on me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Lobelia cardinalis was communicating with me in a very visceral way, and my lesson was to understand more deeply the profane aspects of her being, about the very real activities that creating and feeding and detoxing these human bodies requires. It was then I truly understood the deeper meaning of profane, and its necessity for wholeness.
When I asked for this plant ally (as I wrote in a previous post), I was feeling spiritually dejected, depressed, not fully in my body, disconnected from my joy. Lobelia cardinalis showed me how to return to wholeness.
Start with the body, she whispered.
Start with embodiment, full, unabashed and unashamed embodiment. Embrace the physical body. Attend to its needs. Love it. Do not be ashamed of it. Move it with passion and joy.
Then use it to reach for the heavens, she added.
You can’t sit around in a depressed and frozen state, unmoving, dissociated from life, wallowing in endless thoughts, and expect to experience the sacred. All sacredness must begin with the profanity of embodiment. It is the vessel from which we are able to experience sacredness.
I nodded my head. I understood.
And then she returned to the profanity of her wild and joyful dancing, knowing her sacred lesson had been conveyed.
After that week of experiencing and learning, I felt I was ready to make spirit medicine by capturing her essence into an energy tonic. I asked and received permission from my Lobelia cardinalis to take some of her flowers for my potion. I harvested only a few of them from the very top of the cluster, leaving the rest to be pollinated and seeded so she will hopefully grow here again next year. I gave her a few strands of my hair in exchange.
Having learned the lesson she gave of finding the sacred in the profane, I decided to add an amethyst crystal to my bowl to amplify her spiritual energy. I intended that the flowers represent the root chakra, the center of our physical embodiment, and that the crystal represent the crown chakra, the energy center of our spirituality.
I made my essence on the eve of the 2017 Leo New Moon Total Solar Eclipse.
As I thought about the dark night of the soul I was experiencing when this plant ally came to me, it occurred to me that this would be good medicine for any of the dark times of a woman’s life. That it was made on an Eclipse underlined how to navigate during times of darkness when we can’t see the way. I learned that the way through is to embrace your passion and follow where it leads, experience your earthly embodiment, until you finally come out into the light, the lightness of Spirit, on the other side of the darkness.
Sometimes the profanity of life is routine and ordinary; sometimes it is dark and mean. I intended this essence to help one to find the sacred in the profane, no matter the circumstances, by supporting a solid grounding in the body.
I expressed my intention as I set the bowl of spring water, amethyst, and flowers into the sun.
- May this vibrational flower essence medicine support the partaker to emerge from the dark times of life by grounding into the body and a deeper awareness of the self as both an earthly and spiritual being
- May this essence help to connect the energy of the root and crown chakras, lighting up all the other chakras in between, in order to reveal the most vibrant, dynamic, multi-dimensional whole self.
Update: Scarlett Lobelia Transforming into a CRONE (Fall of 2017)
Still fully embodied, regal in her maturity.