Tools & Talismans #71 Latisha Guthrie

My field guides are my most important tool. A few years ago I traded my oracle decks and books on what the spiritual significance of plants are for really good field guides. The best way to know a plant is to know how it behaves in nature. For me the pathway to its spirituality is through its ecology. This connects my left and right brains and gives them both something to chew on. A place to meet in the middle and have dialog. This has been the single most important discovery in my spiritual path and has clarified my work in the world. That science and spirit are not at odds with one another and neither are the natural questions of my heart.

Next are my herbcrafting tools: the crescent shaped boline to cut herbs with, the basket to gather with, the mortar and pestle to grind with, the canning jar that makes anything from teas, vinegars, oils, salves etc. These are used on a daily basis to transform matter into magic and medicine. Simple, old-school, manual, essential.

What remains are my talismans. I am a devotee of Guadalupe. She asks me to honor my ancestral blood, to know that I am always beloved and capable of great love. Next to her is a small vial that contains the placenta of my daughters. I use it as offering before I gather plants. The placenta is the tree of life that holds all the mystery for generations. On the other side of Guadalupe is my botanical loupe which is both tool and talisman. Strung on a rosary of rowan beads for protection with an owl at center to hold wisdom, my loupe helps me to identify plants but also to know them in a deeper way. The loupe helps me pause, and magnifies for the eyes what can be felt with the human heart. My loupe has helped me master the Art of Noticing and is responsible for turning much of my scientific wonderings into poetry. I always carry sunflower seeds in my pocket because she was my first and most loyal friend; showing me there is always a way to grow toward the light and sow a little sunshine. The little easter egg is a trick I learned from one of my first teachers. She always carried one with her to be able to collect seeds, flowers, this and that. I love that it's so not earthy or natural. It helps me not to take myself so seriously. Finally is a moon shell. In the depths of a confusing major life transition The Goddesses called me back to the Sea to remind me, though much of my work is based in dirt medicine, when I get stuck, it is the Church of the Old Mermaids I must turn to for guidance.

Latisha Guthrie • Ecophilosopher.