(written as part of the Meditating with Aromatics project)
For this meditation you will need either a sprig of flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium) or a few drops of the essential oil. The flowers that give the best scent are those of the wild honeysuckle that grows extensively in woodlands, but many garden varieties are beautifully fragrant too. The essential oil is expensive, and usually only available pre-diluted in either coconut or jojoba oil. I have a bottle of the diluted absolute that I use as a perfume, especially during the winter when the quintessentially summery aroma can lift the spirits when summer seems an age away. If you use the oil, dab a little on wrists and other pulse points and let the fragrance fill your personal space. If you are using the flowers, this meditation is best done at dusk or after as most of the scent is released at night to attract the pollinating moths. You will find that your room fills with the scent especially if it is warm.
Settle into a chair, keeping your back comfortably straight and take a few slow deep breaths to ground yourself. Close your eyes if you wish to.
You are standing at the start of a path that enters ancient woodland. It’s beginning to get dark and the light has become that shimmering blend of the final rays of sunlight and the softer, silvery light of a rising full moon. The trees are like vast pillars with fissured bark and leaves that quiver in the evening breeze. You touch the ones on either side of the path and their bark feels nicely warm from a day of sun. The path is chalky white and dry, and it gleams invitingly so you begin to follow it. The air is still full of the day’s heat and also the scent of a million green leaves and moss and fallen wood, but as you walk you catch another smell.
It’s quite different to the verdant rich smell of the forest and it comes and goes. One moment it is there, a bright and enticing perfume, then it is gone. It seems exotic and familiar as childhood all at the same time. As you follow the shining path, the scent becomes stronger and more focused and intense.
The path ends rather abruptly with a clearing in the forest. A meadow of rough grass surely only ever cropped by deer and rabbits stands before you. The change is dramatic as you step into the open and look around. The moon has just crept above the tree-line and its light turns the meadow into a sea of silver grass waving in the light wind. The clearing is entirely surrounded by oaks and other tall trees, all gnarled and ancient, and climbing up most of them are the vines of honeysuckle and you know now where the heavenly perfume was coming from.
At the centre of the clearing is a fallen tree, slowly decaying into the grass. It must have been a true giant when it lived because the fallen trunk must be more than six feet high as it lies amid the meadow plants. Honeysuckle has grown up around this too, embracing the branches and twining lovingly round the upturned root ball. A gale must have felled this tree years ago, but as you approach the tree you do not feel sad at its death. It must have seen centuries of life and as you climb carefully onto the trunk, you can see in the crevices the movement of small creatures, insects and wood-mice who have made this their home.
Sit now on the trunk; it’s wide enough to sit quite comfortably. Tendrils of honeysuckle flowers wave softly in the breeze, their pink and gold petals catch the last rays of the sunset, while the white ones become luminous with moonlight. At the sun finally sets, the flowers become bleached of colour but the white becomes almost fluorescent. They glow with an unearthly brilliance. As they bob, their scent fills your mind almost to overflowing. It’s a deep perfume, with many layers, but it makes you feel extraordinarily happy and relaxed.
All around you, you can sense movement in the forest beyond, and in the sea of grass, and you feel a sense of excited anticipation. From the eaves of the forest, you see the shining of many eyes and it makes you take a deep breath almost of fear, but not quite. As you watch, from the trees there emerges first one deer, then many. They’re all females with fawns, and they step warily into the open. They stay close together but as they relax, the group spreads out and begins to graze.
You can see also many other creatures here and there, from rabbits to voles, all going about their nightly business. They’re aware of you but unconcerned. They know you are no threat. Closer to you, a moth is exploring the funnel-shaped flowers with long, elegant proboscis, tasting and enjoying the sweet nectar.
As you sit surrounded by nature, you feel more a part of the natural world than you have ever done before. You feel warmth and love towards all the animals and the plants that are around you and you sense that they extend a cautious welcome to you. While you enjoy this feeling, ask yourself what you can do to serve the natural world better. Without nature, humans would starve, so how can you make a difference to your slice of the world?
Let the thoughts not conflict with this growing feeling of oneness with nature, but rather let the two complement each other.
After a time, the deer seem to melt seamlessly into the forest again and it is time for you to go. Whenever you see or smell honeysuckle again, this experience will return to your mind and both comfort and motivate you anew. Walk back to the path and follow the way it leads back to the edge of the forest and back to your day to day world.
When you are back, be sure to make some notes of what you experienced and felt, and also eat and drink something to fully return to your normal reality.
(Diluted honeysuckle oil is available from here: http://www.amphora-retail.com/honeysuckle-diluted-10ml-p-561.html )