The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More - Arin Murphy-Hiscock 2017
Discover and Develop Your Senses
Attune Yourself to Nature
Discovering the Green Witch
While everyone interfaces differently with the world around them, we all acquire information via our five senses.
Most people are primarily visual. In social situations of every kind, we take our cues from other people. Observing their clothes, their body language, and their physical appearance we get clues how to behave appropriately. Seeing different colors also stimulates us in different ways.
Here are some exercises to help you develop how you use your sense of sight:
✵ Sit in front of a window, and use it as a frame for what you see through it. Examine everything within this frame, taking as much time as you require to really look at what you see. If you like, divide the window into quarters and examine the view, quarter by quarter. Look at textures, colors, and light and shadow. Allow yourself to really see things in detail, things you usually just glance at and take in during a split second.
✵ Look at a color photo of an apple, then at a real apple. How are they different to your eyes? How are they the same?
✵ Set an everyday object on a table in front of you and look at it carefully. Then hold it above your normal eye level and look up at it. Set it on the floor and look down at it. Move it to the left, then to the right. How does the position of the object change how you see it?
Sound is overwhelmingly present in our lives. Traffic (cars, airplanes, etc.), the sounds of radio and television, and the noise and conversations of crowds surround us nearly all the time. Our world is very rarely truly silent. The sound of wind through the leaves of a tree or of water lapping the shoreline are sounds that speak of very specific environments that call up specific emotional reactions. Hearing helps us fill in what our vision reveals to us. If our sense of hearing is taken away from us, we feel lost, but it’s also true that if we are in an area that is too quiet, we can become uncomfortable.
Here are exercises to help you deepen your sense of hearing:
✵ Sit in a familiar place in your home and close your eyes. Listen deliberately and with awareness to the sounds of your home. What do you hear? How many different sounds do you hear? Where are they coming from? Can you identify them? (Do not attempt this exercise just before you go to bed, or you will find that your attunement to little sounds will cause you to be distracted by noises all night.)
✵ Sit in a public place like a mall or a restaurant and perform this exercise again. Do it with a friend by your side so that you can relax and not worry about what’s going on around you. How are the sounds different? How is the way you listen in public different from how you listen at home?
✵ Sit outdoors and perform the exercise. Do you find it more difficult to identify outdoor sounds? Where do they come from? Do you hear more or fewer sounds than you hear indoors?
Children are always touching everything they encounter. As we grow up, however, we learn that it isn’t socially acceptable to pick up everything we see and handle it. Our concern for personal space also forces us apart. The sense of touch can be further broken down into specific kinds of senses that we often consider to come under the heading of touch: the perception of pain, the perception of temperature, the perception of pressure, the perception of balance and equilibrium, and the perception of body awareness or location.
Try these exercises to explore your sense of touch. If possible, do them with your eyes closed so you are not using sight to influence your sense of touch:
✵ Gather a feather, a small bowl of salt, an ice cube in a small bowl or glass, a piece of wood, and a satin ribbon and set them on a table in front of you. One by one, explore the touch of each item. Take as much time as possible exploring the feel of each item. Don’t try to analyze the sensations: just observe and accept them, enjoying the sensory input. Pick the item up; stroke it with your fingertips, with your palm, with the back of your hand. Run it along your forearm or your cheek. Hold it in your hands and feel its weight and shape. How does it feel if you hold it still? How does it feel if you move your hand while holding it?
✵ Find a patch of sun. Move your hand into the sun and feel its warmth. Move it back into the shadows and feel the absence of heat.
✵ Set a bowl of warm water and a bowl of cold water on the table in front of you. (Make sure the warm water isn’t scalding.) Sink the fingers of one hand into the bowl of warm water, leave them there for a minute, then remove them and put them into the bowl of cold water. How does the temperature contrast feel? After leaving your fingers in the cold water for a minute, dip them back into the warm water. Does the warm water feel different now?
Our sense of taste is often drowned in excess. Fast food and canned meals have lowered our standards of taste to such an extent that if we taste a carrot freshly pulled from the earth, our taste buds are overstimulated and we lose the complexity of flavor. Even more common is biting into a fresh apple. The tangy flavor surprises our taste buds, which have become used to the duller flavor of fruit stored for periodic release over the winter and spring. Produce imported from other areas often travels for days and loses the depth of its flavor. We have become accustomed to dull, chemical-like tastes.
To remind your taste buds of single flavors, do the following exercise:
✵ Wash and dry your hands. On a table, set out a small bowl of salt, a small bowl of sugar, a small bowl of an herb such as rosemary (preferably fresh, but dry will do), a segment of orange, a slice of lemon, a glass of water, and a slice of plain bread. Sit down and touch your finger to the salt, then touch your finger to your tongue. Allow the taste of the salt to spread across your tongue. How does it taste? Can you describe it without using the word “salty”? Cleanse your palate by taking a sip of water and a tiny bite of the bread. Repeat the action with the sugar, then cleanse your palate again. Continue along through the foods, taking the time to allow each flavor to sink into your taste buds. Imagine you are tasting each food for the very first time.
✵ Repeat the above exercise when you take the first bite of your next meal. Taste each item on your plate slowly and carefully, and imagine you are tasting each one for the very first time. This is also a wonderful exercise to perform with seasonal foods such as local fruit that has just been harvested. Strawberries grown locally and picked during strawberry season, for example, have a very special taste that cannot be replicated by hothouse berries grown across the country in the off-season.
We usually underestimate the power of our sense of smell. Smell is a delicate sense that picks up minute shifts in air currents, and it’s often overwhelmed in the city by exhaust from cars, dirt and refuse, perfumes and overscented soaps, and the general effluvia of thousands of people living close together. Alternatively, when we travel to another area, such as the seashore or the countryside, we can be overwhelmed by the odors there simply because we are not accustomed to them or because they are not diluted or covered by other scents.
Try these exercises to help deepen your understanding of your sense of smell:
✵ Sit in a familiar place in your home and close your eyes. Breathe evenly. As you inhale, notice what scents you are smelling. What is the general overall scent of your home? Can you further identify the individual smells that constitute that overall scent?
✵ Repeat this exercise in a public place, with a friend along to keep an eye on what’s going on around you. When you close your eyes, how would you identify the location simply by its smell? Can you identify smaller, individual smells?
✵ Repeat this exercise outdoors. Do you find it easier or more difficult to identify individual smells outside?
THE SIXTH SENSE
Alongside the five basic physical senses, there is another method you use to gather information. This is the sense people call the sixth sense. Your sixth sense tells you that someone behind you is staring at you; even though you cannot use one of the five physical senses to confirm it, you can sense it. The green witch knows and understands that this sense cannot always be explained. She also acknowledges its existence and accepts information acquired via the sixth sense. There are various explanations for how the sixth sense works. Some say that your personal energy field (sometimes referred to as the aura) picks up the energy fields of other things and information passes between them.
Living in an urban setting, people tend to become desensitized to the sights, smells, and sounds of their daily environment. A green witch should never allow herself to become desensitized, however, because this means she will miss minute shifts in energy, changes that may signal a problem of some kind. The old adage “familiarity breeds contempt” has some application here as well. Cultivating your sixth sense can help you avoid the trap of desensitization, for it allows you an alternate method by which information comes to you.