Ceremonial plant dieting is a traditional method of honoring the plant world. The ceremonial process offers a unique way to connect deeply with all aspects of a plant, opening gateways to spiritual realms and facilitating powerful transformation at physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Plant dieting is a traditional term referring to a wide range of methods whereby plants are ingested in order to form a deep relationship with them and to receive their gifts of guidance and healing. This book presents a way of experiencing plants as conscious spiritual beings and aims to demonstrate how common plants in our hedgerows provide a form of “medicine” that can help us take an evolutionary leap to a new vision of reality.
In modern Western culture plant diets are often associated with plants known as Teacher Plants, Master Plants, or Plants of Vision. These are generally psychoactive plants like Datura, Sacred Mushrooms, Peyote, and many others that are described as opening gateways to higher consciousness.
The experiences described in this book are of plant diets taken with nonpsychoactive plants. These include plants and trees such as Primrose, Dandelion, Oak, Elder, and Dog Rose, all common medicinal plants not typically known for their consciousness-raising effects. However, in my experience, while not chemically psychoactive, the plants we are dieting most definitely can behave as entheogens, or “gateways to the divine.” With their help we can safely visit levels of consciousness that may have seemed reserved for so-called Teacher Plant ceremonies. Perhaps, when approached with honor and reverence, all plants can behave in this way.
6 Primrose Bealtaine
Initiation and New Beginnings
Primrose comes as one of the first flowers of spring, offering light and hope after the darkness of winter. Ruled by Venus and considered female in gender, her bright yellow flowers surprise and delight us, lighting up the fields and bringing splashes of illumination to the woods and hedgerows. She is associated with the element of earth and with spring goddesses. Primrose unlocks the spring and offers us a means to move forward. This is the “Key Flower,” a gift from the gods and goddesses to show us the way to the hidden treasure inside ourselves and inside the Earth. It is time to move toward the light, time for initiation and rebirth into the freedom of our creative potential.
Associated with the growing life force of spring, the Primrose has long been considered to have special powers. This is a traditional herb of Bealtaine (pronounced BEE-EL-TANA), bursting with bright, creative energy and initiating new beginnings. Primrose awakens both romantic love and spiritual transformation. It is an ideal plant to diet with at this season of fertile growth.
A Time of New Beginnings
Bealtaine, otherwise known as Beltane or May Eve, is the major fertility festival of the year. This is the time when all of nature is rapidly growing and moving forward with rampant potency. It is a time to celebrate the fertility of the land and our own creative urges; a time of growth, expansion, and playfulness when sexual forces are at their peak. In Ireland, Bealtaine marks the start of summer. Traditionally, in our Celtic Pagan past this was the night to celebrate the union of the Horned God and the fertile Goddess. Young couples would make love outdoors in the forests and green fields, reenacting the sacred marriage between Earth and Sky to ensure the fertility of the land.
In modern times we can kindle a sacred fire and jump the flames in order to purify, to let go, and to bring forth our wildness and creativity. This is the time to take a leap in to the power of our own potential. Bealtaine is a time to gather with like-minded others, celebrating love, creativity, and the power of nature. Hawthorn trees (as well as the primrose) are particularly associated with this festival, and for some people the timing of Bealtaine is reckoned as the day the hawthorn first blooms. We can honor the trees by dressing them with ribbons and flowers, giving thanks and celebrating their burgeoning growth.
Primrose--The Key Flower
Plant family: Primulaceae (Primrose Family)
Other common names: Samhaircin (Irish), Primevère (French), Primavera (Spanish), Primel (German), Key Flower, St. Peter’s Keys.
Description: A hardy, deciduous perennial growing to a height of 3 to 6 inches. It has a rosette of long, crinkly leaves from which grow pale yellow flowers with deep yellow centers. These flowers arise on individual stalks in April or May. Flowers are sweetly scented and have a pleasant flavor.
Habitat: Grassy banks, roadsides, sea cliffs, waste ground, woodlands, and fields.
Distribution: The genus is comprised of about 550 species. Native to Europe, Asia, and northern West Africa, Primrose is a protected plant in certain parts of the world, in which case the roots should not be disturbed unless being cultivated at home. Primrose is not a North American native, although it is locally established and a variety of cultivars exist throughout North America.
Parts used: Flowers (gathered April-May), root and rhizome (gathered March-April), leaves (gathered March-April).
Primrose as a Spirit Medicine
In my experience, Primrose has a very clear, pure, healing energy that washes away extraneous mental activity and brings feelings of deep peace. It clears obsessive thinking, bringing a calm, secure sense of connection with the Earth. At the same time it is light and playful, lifting feelings of heaviness from the heart, releasing stuck patterns and restoring hope. When we feel stuck or confused, Primrose clears the mind and enables us to gain a new perspective. It frees creative energy that can then flow unimpeded and without judgment. In this way Primrose can open a huge surge of creativity, facilitating major change in people’s lives and helping them in their quest for wholeness. When it appears in a healing session it frequently heralds a time of transformation.