The Green Woman Tale: Parts One and Two

Pass the Talking Stick and express yourself. Share thoughts, experiences, stories, songs, dreams, art. Discuss medical, political, scientific and other important issues.

Moderators: Wise Woman, Lady Alinor

Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:06 am
Location: NSW Australia

The Green Woman Tale: Parts One and Two

Postby chloeopal » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:02 am

Some folks may already have read this tale from the ol forums but I felt to repost it......
The Green Woman:
Part One....

As science broke down plants into the parts of them ‘active’, or companies focused on introducing ‘new’ wonder herbs, there was something that fell away, was veiled. It wasn’t that the information wasn’t valid, but that it was touted as the only route to understanding and clear seeing. One that missed that unnameable blend that nature creates in a plant, that’s not measureable. A kind of essence....

Sam had watched her aunt when she came across a plant she didn’t know....
There was a recognition and respect with which she approached it, a sitting with. Deep breathing, so slow as to be almost the pulsing of the plants own inhalation, exhalation. Carbon dioxide in, oxygen out. each life form echoing the other. Some observers might see nothing going on, but it was a simple ritual ancestors had practiced back through time....
Perhaps there were physical similarities to plants she knew, a shared hereditary that could give clues as to its strengths, never assuming over familiarity with a potential new friend. A small piece in the mouth and chewed, spat out immediately if the taste was unpleasant. No one said you had to eat a whole lot to get to know a plant! If it passed this somewhat intuitive test agreeably, she held it in her mouth and felt for burning, tingling, other sensations, any change in taste. If there was none , then she swallowed. Then she waited, feeling overnight for effects. Then, again, a little more, repeating the same process. If no ill effects were noticed, over time, it was considered edible. But if there were noticeable effects, they would be explored carefully, they could be clues to medicine contained within.
Nowadays it would be sent off for testing, active ingredients explored and nutritional percentages analysed. If it proved ‘valuable’, they might be isolated and reproduced, to be bought as pharmaceutical drugs. All the while emphasising the danger of utilising the plant for common folks, without degrees...odd paradox. It was the taking away and then reselling it back to people that seemed dodgey. Surely once medicinal properties are identified, one aware of the range of processing, in tradition for so long, could access it and if it was poisonous you can bet it’d be remembered!
What a way to gather plant knowledge, through experiential learning. There were enough manuscripts gathered now that could be cross referenced if needed too....

All this was jumbling around in her mind, along with her bowels, as the bus shook along the dirt road. She was on her way to visit said aunt for a couple of weeks, annual pilgrimage. Same time every year. Get away from concrete and computers. Fear encouraging news reports on violence and impending doom. She was headed for the perfect antidote. Auntie Clarissa wasn’t your average grey haired pucker cheeked robust smiling eyes stereotype, she was all that plus a kick on her like a mule! You just knew the kettle’d be on the boil in preparation for your arrival accompanied by an opinionated rave on her latest project. Simple pleasures that’s what I need she thought, enough with appointments and timetable living...
She gazed out at the passing world hazily with the odd percussive bump...

“This is your stop me dear”, the bus drivers voice woke her from internal ramblings. She gathered her bags and jumped up, “thanks”, “Nice to see you around again luv”. She bounced down the steps and almost right into the series of individually crafted mailboxes that marked journeys end, and the lanes. One an old dairy tin, one an old bent shovel, one aged but elegantly carpented...
She checked the box and got set for heading up the lane, that cup of tea seeming elementally desirable as the bus kicked back dust into her vision. Hang on, there was something in the box. A small parcel, oddly enough in Clarissa’s own handwriting, addressed to Sam. That’s odd , still I guess she’ll reveal all, in her wise way. It was heavy in her hands, and her curiosity was barely able to be kept at bay to not bust it open then and there. Full of surprises as usual she thought absentmindedly. At that point she had no idea how right she was...

It wasn’t unusual for Clarissa not to be around when you arrived, she might be off wild crafting or just meandering about soaking in the day. Sam sat down, the kettle was on the pot belly stove which wasn’t lit, she probably got distracted half way through, the fire was laid ready to light. Sam looked at the parcel she held. It was brown paper bound in string, with enough sticky tape to stop an army, but being one mere woman she found a knife and cut it open. Inside was a leather pouch, soft to the touch with wear. Inside it was a set of playing cards and a note. No, they weren’t a deck to play poker with she realised as she shuffled through them, they were some kind of divination or tarot deck. The drawings were mostly in earthy tones, pencil with watercolour washes layered over. The imagery was detailed, figures seemed to blur boundaries with plants and animals interlaced with labyrinthine patterns, like Escher’s art they warped and confused seeing. The note...sure enough, was in aunties script, more scribble actually, but she read on...
“Got called away, someone’s trying to shut down Edna’s medicine making, say its unhygienic and unsafe, danger to public health, never heard anything more ridiculous in my life! She’s so house proud it’s virtually an obsession. Anyway love, might take a week or so to sort this out, so make yourself at home and I’ll see you when I’m looking at you. The sheer arrogance of so called regulators, the things these people do to ones nerves. ”
Sam could almost see her shaking her head, and smiled. “Oh yes the cards I found in a rare cleanup, they belonged to your mother, never really fancied them myself. Anyways, enjoy them, but don’t get too serious eh?” No Clarissa, and yes I am happy to water all your multitudinous, slightly limp plants.
They are engaging, she thought gazing at the card she held, as her vision traced a vine like sworl of lines, morphing into a vortex, almost trance inducing, as they became a waterfall and then a river. A leaping salmon that had such eyes she felt guilty as she thought with her belly, fresh fish.....mmmm. But the card was so engrossing it took her a time to connect with her inner ravenous hunger and put it down, leaving it upturned, the others in the bag. Transfiguration, she thought absentmindedly as she bent to light the fire and looked around her....odd word.....

The house was brimming with natural chaos, “Seems they got the wrong woman with Edna” she thought. Cuttings at various stages, potted up plants, piles of paper with illustrations and notes, books, vases of unusual flowers, and a vine that had wedged a way through a crack and was firmly making its way towards the study. Although there really wasn’t any distinction between ‘the study’ and the rest of the small cottage. The sofa had a doona on it for handy napping and there were bookshelves in every room. To give credit where due, her medicine area was scrupulously organised, with a book at the end of the shelves listing what was in stock, or needed topping up. Sam knew Clarissa rarely treated anyone, her main relationship was with the plants, and the tinctures, dried herbs, flower essences, infused oils and god knows what else, were a side tangent that possibly Edna had some of. Hence her aunt was partly responsible for her troubles. Edna had been a chemist in the 1930’s during the great depression, after which she turned and applied her knowledge and skills to what she called ‘peoples medicine’ and she and Clarissa became firm friends. One trained by science, the other by growing and wild crafting.
Sam headed for the fridge. To her delight there was a variety of tempting smelling cheeses, some smoked trout and bread. Any tomatoes Clar? Perfect. She prepared her snack, deciding after to go harvest some parsley, mint, chickweed and see what else was up in the garden. The garden was a continuum of the houses energies, the two blending into each other, and then finally into the forest....

The relationship between us and plants has been around as long as we have existed. Our ancestors were probably algae, or ate them, as they developed limbs and animalian conciousness in primordial slime, she thought. Returning her gaze to the card she noticing something she hadn’t before, a hemlock plant dappled with purple on its stem not unlike the colouration on the fishes skin. How did I miss that? I must be tired. Garden later, cat nap first. Sofas ready, willing and able to provide. It felt good to be here, the to do lists she had left behind seemed a million miles away as she slipped into sleep.
She dreamed of a man with a trout skin cloak, dappled in greens, blues and purples. A man with wild eyes and a feel of the shaman about him, who spoke languid as water. Touched u are, like your grandmother, and he reached out a hand and placed it on hers, cold and damp, there’s danger and you know it. That’s why your here innit, before they come, to save the ol ways from em. She raised her eyes to his and saw they had no pupils, round and dark like pools. Watch yourself, they come in forms to deceive, he whispered in a burbling and bubbling, then was gone like a vision, and she awake as morning. Jesus that fish must have been off she thought scrabbling for distance, her conscious mind alerted and shaking off sleep....

Part Two:

She lay back down and tried to think of boring mundane things but her new fishy friend was not so easily dismissed from her. Whhheeeww she exhaled and reached absentmindedly over to the nearest pile of paperology for distraction. In her hand she held an image of hemlock, an old one, like those in medieval herbals. Woodcuts that were originally botanically accurate, drawn by monks mostly, then reproduced from drawing to drawing in darker ages to become but shadows of their previous accuracy as time passed. It was a poisonous plant taken internally, but Sam saw it as a magical herb, one to be carried for protection. Somewhere round here would be more information about this deadly member of the carrot family.

I don’t even have a phone number for Edna. People knew everything about everyone round here, for all her eccentricities they left Clary alone but surely the word would have got out if anything untoward had happened? Like what, a trout man driving her away? I need to go for a walk.....
Pulling her boots on and avoiding looking at the card and pouch she stepped outside. Don’t take em too seriously eh? I need to walk, just an average stroll at auntie Clarys.
The day was cloudy but warm as she stepped out, the familiarity of the garden calmed her, no hemlock here, all, parsley n dill. A nice stroll she thought, yep Ill pick me some greens. Handily a basket, complete with scissors in it was sitting, on the deck. Chickweeds looking happy she smiled. Clary’s garden was one where weeds were encouraged, being full of wild food goodness, they had beds to themselves to flourish merrily without fear of pulling or pesticides. She crouched down and began to snip, the rhythm soothing her, as she cut nettle, lettuce leaves, baby silverbeet, dandelion tips and parsley. Fresh salad greens ready and I’m going to go visit the neighbours, find out some more about you n your surprises Clary....

The folks next door, some way in these parts, were a young family with that glow that slightly bemused Sam, being beyond her range of experiences. Friendly, simply living their lives. Clary spoke of them kindly and mutual visitations for the odd cuppa had kept them in neighbourly touch...
“We haven’t heard from her since she went to visit her friend. That was almost 2 months ago, she left raging against regulations and destroying traditons, like she was fired up for another book, or a court case. You know how she was, some big wigs shut Edna down cos she was teaching people how to use the medicines that Clary helped to make. Misinformation or something, trained chemist should know better than to meddle with herbs.
“Can we do anything for you?”
“No, that’s ok, I think I just need time. Time, and some contact details, you wouldn’t have Edna’s number?”
“Let me have a look, I’ll ask Fred if he knows anything else and if he does I’ll let you know straight up. At least you’re here, and that’s something, you can keep the place ticking over. She must have got real fired up this time, she always was one for a mission.”
Sam wandered bleary eyed and in a state of shock back to the house, the old place was her headquarters, as the garden and the vines encroached. She didn’t know where or what to do, but collapsed on the sofa and slept. No nightmares, no visions, just sleep for a weary traveller.....
The date on the discarded parcel wrapping was 2 months ago...

When Sam awoke at least she felt rested, but as her eyes scanned the house she saw it in a new light. This was Clary’s life’s work scattered around her now, piles and lack of filing and all, it was an act of devotion from a woman who adored things green and growing. What was she meant to do now? Why had no one called her? Who was there? Clary hadn’t been a blood relation but she was a friend of the family going way back. There was no landline here, and Sam had happily left her mobile back at her flat.
She unconsciously sat and fiddled with the leather pouch, soft and warm. Her hand delved in and shuffled away, she pulled another card. A woman, a green woman, with nettles in her hair and bushflowers all around her. A blend of the two realms. Thank goddess she sighed, no ominous forces here, natures soft side. Not despite, but because of her sting though, nettle taught awareness. Green awareness. The card eased her but also brought tears.

Through the eons shamans voyaged to discover from the plants themselves, in a less Linnaeus based format, what medicines they carried. Passed down what they learnt orally, sometimes only to apprentices. Is that what I was for you Clary? An apprentice? Did you expect me to translate all these piles as only you could? I don’t know enough, I barely know a handful of plants and I’m no shaman, although my fishy friend imposed some faith in me. Her dream flooded back, how could anyone expect her to save the ol ways from anybody, when she didn’t have them in her comprehension? This was Clary’s work, I’m just a sometime gardener and artist. What of Clary’s affairs, she thought as she looked towards the door and noticed a bunch of semidried plant matter bound to the architrave.
Getting up somewhat nervously she picked it up and saw the speckled stems. She turned and began to see the space as it truly was, a frenzy of activity had gone on here, a driven focus with an emphasis on finishing and ‘organising’ research. Hemlock was bound protectively in other places too.... above the kitchen window, on the bookshelves. This was Clary’s legacy, but where was she herself?

Sam made her way into the study and there on the desk was the closest thing to organisation she’d seen, apart from the medicines. A document on beautiful sepia paper, “A Post Apocalyptic Herbal”. Not in the scribble of the parcels note but a calligraphy like lettering designed with intention. She turned the page, apocalypse, jesus i thought I was getting away from that....
“Chlorophyll is made up of the most similar substances to our own blood, so much so that in world war two it was used, over pigs blood, for transfusions to wounded soldiers. Doesn’t it follow that to live with plants in our diet bolsters the blood in our systems? The digestive system circulating their goodness to other systems and organs, as liquid fertilisers can return nutrition to the plants and soil.
Infusions and other liquid herb preparations, some based on water, others alcohol, oil or vinegars are drawn into our bodies. Each technique enhancing particular qualities of individual plants characters and strengths. Plants certainly have different personalities and touch our souls in different ways. “
Particularly if you choose them as your main companions like you Clary, Sam thought. How could anyone resist your slightly feral ways. In her era of youth she was probably considered a distant relative indeed from some of the more ladylike rolemodels of the time, and hence not the ladies household guide reader, or good husband catch. She harkened back to a more pagan character, deeply immersed in her herbwifery and natural spirituality. Her church was outdoors and her altars tended to be overflowing, rather than silently poised.
So far in the reading, the apocalypse seemed far away, thank god. But when Sam thought of Clary’s era more, the depression would have seemed apocalyptic. Her work with Edna and creating medicine for people to access and afford, sprung from the rather gnarly roots of great wars that now seemed distant to our generation. A luxury for some on this continent at least. Talk to someone living on the streets, a refugee, be it from society or another political system, and there might be some different opinions, or some more post apocalyptic remedies. The soothing yet awareness sharpening green woman card came back to her....

Lady Alinor
Posts: 416
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:15 pm

Re: The Green Woman Tale: Parts One and Two

Postby Lady Alinor » Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:22 pm

SO GLAD that you reposted "The Green Woman Tale"!!!!

I think about your tale quite often,
Thank You!

Posts: 199
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:38 pm

Re: The Green Woman Tale: Parts One and Two

Postby ItalianBee » Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:48 pm

I'm just starting to read this - going to pace myself, give myself a treat regularly rather than gobble it all up!

Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:06 am
Location: NSW Australia

Re: The Green Woman Tale: Parts One and Two

Postby chloeopal » Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:29 pm

Hi Lady Alinor, Italian Bee, Maketh me happy that youre enjoying the tale. Thanx :P

Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2016 12:39 pm

Re: The Green Woman Tale: Parts One and Two

Postby Hawke » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:51 am

Thank you for the tale- sounds like my house LOL :lol:

Return to “The Talking Stick”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest