Glimmerings of a Botanical Life
Discoveries while Meditating on the Star Tarot Card
By Willow Walker
Glimmerings of a Botanical Life
Meditating on the Star Tarot Card
Following Qapel and Catherine Sensei’s wonderful course on the Kabbalah, I ‘blind picked’ a card from the major arcana of the Tarot to study for the next year…. The Star!
Prompted by a shamanic/tarot/buddhist friend, I set out one evening to find a suitable pool in nature (preferably surrounded by sparse vegetation, with a tree and an ibis) where I would be able to enact and embody the card: a naked woman is poised with one knee on the ground, the other foot is resting on the surface of the pool; she’s pouring water by star light, using two earthenware jugs.
After a short walk from my home I found what felt to be the perfect place amongst open woodland and heathland, so continued westwards enjoying the evening sounds and smells.
Following an unfamiliar track I came upon a vibrant aspen fluttering and whispering its leafy song in the dying light. Pausing to savour the moment I looked down and to my great surprise and joy spied a colony of the most beautiful star shaped white flowers – a species that I had never seen before. Though small they exuded an exceptional purity and calm.
The European Starflower & Robin Cowe
Later at home I identified the plants as Chickweed Wintergreen or European Starflower which, it turns out, is very rare in the South of Scotland and was last recorded at this particular site in 1866. The discovery led me to contact Robin Cowe, the botanical recorder for Berwickshire, who, the very next day, came over on his bicycle to meet me (for the first time) and marvel at the plants.
And then…bee orchids!
After several hours showing him around some of the more biodiverse spots nearby and chatting about other unusual plants and locations we went our separate ways. Later it came to me that he’d said something about bee orchids … why had he had that strange look though? I looked them up – they don’t grow this far north. Hmm.
Two days later, I took my car into Berwick to be fixed. I walked to the edge of town, vaguely looking for a leafy spot for a picnic lunch while I waited. A brown field site on an industrial estate looked inviting… poor soil, sparse grasses, a variety of wild flowers… I wandered around.. what’s that?! A bee orchid! No! A huge colony of bee orchids – over a hundred spikes flowering in their full sexy glory.
A photo to Robin to confirm identity and yes, great excitement – the first time they have ever been recorded in this area. So the Bee orchids are moving north. Climate change, quorum signalling/sensing or both?
Awaiting a Starlit Night: Be(e) Aware
All I need now is a starlit night so that I can go to the pool with my jugs. Maybe in July or August when it gets dark at night again and the Perseids are showering. By the way, Qapel and Sensei’s mantra for The Star card is “Be Aware” ( Bee aware?!) and Namgyal Rinpoche’s keyword for it is Revelation.
Willow Walker is a sangha member based in Scotland. Alongside her passion for the wild plant kingdom, she is also professional seabuckthorn milker for her company Wild & Scottish.
An Episode from our Podcast – The Tarot: Introducing the Major Arcana
I enjoy Planet Dharma’s podcast and recommend the brilliantly clear and concise “The Tarot: Introducing the Major Arcana” in which Qapel goes over all 22 of the cards, from the Fool to the World, giving pithy summary statements about each one and brief comments on how you can use or work with them. Especially useful for those who attended the 2023 Kabbalah course but not the Tarot course in 2022 .
— Willow Walker
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