Offerings are what we give before we receive. Offerings demonstrate our commitment to energetic balance… paying forward you might say. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, than offering up something before you receive something keeps balance… think about it.
I have been taught to “offer to the spirit of the plant” before I gather. Sometimes we are looking for the plant, so we send a voice for help in locating a good stand that is safe and abundant enough to gather from. We sing songs to honor the plant nation, to show gratitude for their help, to ask creation for help for their regeneration and protection.
Cultivating this habit is not just about being “good,” or you might get struck by lighting or something, rather it reminds you–the gatherer–to take notice of what is right in front of you, to be grateful, to be respectful, to make good relations with this helper—especially if you want it to help you. Listen to them.
Before Gathering we look around and ask these questions:
1. Did I get a “yes” when I put out the offering?
2. Am I able and willing to be present emotionally and mentally? When we are “somewhere” else we can make mistakes, or get confused, or not remember what our task at hand is.
3. Is this a large enough stand of herbs to gather from, and will they be able to regenerate?
My basic ratio is “one to five,” in other words, if I were gathering flowers from a plant, I would take one out of every five. Gather one part, leave four. This is the hardest thing for beginners; the tendency is to take more than the stand will support. Care enough to do this, and you will be able to gather from the spot year after year.
4. If the herbs are growing by the water….do I know what is up stream? Is the water polluted? How bad? Farm chemicals… livestock, etc? Check it out, and if you haven’t a clue, maybe it is better off to not pick from the spot.
5. Is this spot “clean,” free of other potential toxins… dead animals decaying near by, chemical spraying? Christmas tree farms will sometimes have St. John’s Wort growing, but often they spray toxic chemicals, and the herbs are contaminated in high concentration.
7. Is this private, or public land? Do I have permission from an owner or agency? Am I willing to go outside policy and procedure to secure a needed medicine?
8. Am I absolutely positive I know what this herb is? Many look-a-likes can be poisonous. Proper identification will prevent accidents and injury.