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The Courage to Change: A Conversation with Rose Tea

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We'd like to welcome guest blogger, herbalist and flower essence practitioner Phelicia Magnusson, who will be sharing her wisdom and herbal insights with us for the next few months. Welcome back to the Remedies family, Phelicia!  

All winter long I’ve been sipping rose tea or mingling with members of the Rose family: pulling out my Hawthorne tincture, adding Rosehips to my Nettles, slipping Rose petals in my hot chocolate and reaching for apples and pears. I’ve been calling on my plant allies who have a thing or two to say about holding the heart, staying open to connection and feeling protected within the courageous vulnerability that is the heart broken open. Which is to say, a beautiful state of openness that rarely feels pretty, but to which a rose, with its thorns, or the bittersweet berries of Hawthorn have a lot to offer. All winter long I’ve been hearing the same thing. “You must be both. You must be the bloom and the thorns, the sweet tartness, or the small offering of Rose Hips after the hard-work of extracting all their pesky hairs. You must surrender to vulnerability and build the appropriate container that allows you to do so.”

In 2016 I spent 6 months traveling, five of them outside of the country and four of them doing really intense work in the Peruvian Amazon in strict diets to learn from various plants used in Amazonian Curanderismo (healing). For those four months the jungle became my classroom and its’ teachers, the plants, along with my teacher, Dony, the curandera, or shaman, kicked my butt in the most deeply loving of ways. The plants showed me my fears, my forgotten childhood memories, and the origins of wounds held in traumas my conscious mind had protected me from by not remembering; the plants reminded me of a truth I’d heard echoed in the words of James Baldwin, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” I reentered the U.S. hungry for home and haunted in my sleep by election dreams.

Through the presidential election I’ve witnessed the United States be forced to re-examine some of its oldest wounds: remnants of racism, sexism, and the types of fear that utilize oppressive tactics to seize power for some by disempowering many. I’ve been training myself to see the bloom when all I can feel is the thorn, to become aware of the ways we are indeed growing as a nation. I’ve see many folks powering community through creative acts of resistance, coming together to march, make art, trade skill sets, take personal responsibility for creating safety, hold one another accountable and wake up to each others lived realities; here I see the bloom of growth through very intentional effort.

Winter isn’t over yet. Usually its’ arrival promises time to go inward, to dig deep, to move at a slower pace and catch up on all the projects that the rest of the year doesn’t offer time to. I offer an invitation here to those for whom winter has felt more like a battle than a time to cozy up, and to those working hard to face the things they wish to change (resolutions anyone?)…The invitation is one I’ve been cultivating as I’ve become more intentional in my work with plants, it is this: go slow when you can remember to, notice what’s growing outside (what’s popping up as winter thaws?), sip Rose tea, or add flowers to your bathwater (Calendula is great if you’re feeling the winter blues), check-in with yourself (how are your petals, and your thorns?), soften into your own container in the recognition that staying open to the present is your greatest protection and show up by creating something that demands your love.

Phelicia Magnusson is a sensitive creature who works in fierce love. She is an herbalist and flower essence practitioner whose formal training took place at Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Western Herbalism in New York City and with Delta Gardens in Hampton Falls, Massachusetts. Her own journey to working with herbs came much by accident when she encountered dandelion leaf in a woman’s yoga study after college. Since then she’s reflected on the ways her great grandmother grew herbs as potted plants in her Brooklyn apartment, and the way her childhood was spent observing the forest in Northern Idaho. Phelicia is particularly interested in the intersection of ritual and healing and she has spent a good deal of time learning in ceremony with plants and elders in the Peruvian Amazon as well as the the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. As a healer, Phelicia has a great deal of gratitude and awe for the plants themselves, the infinite wisdom they hold, and the elders and traditions that hold plant wisdom sacred. In her work, Phelicia’s mission is to be a medium between plants and people and to support individuals in reconnecting with the wisdom of their bodies and the missions of their hearts. Phelicia is deeply humbled by the courage people draw from in sharing their stories and becoming present in their own healing.


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