Cultivating Connection With The Plants

How would you describe your relationship with plants? Is it one of intimacy through food, body care, and mutual tending? Is it one of creative inspiration? Is it a budding curiosity with a desire for more? Whether you identify as a horticulturist or an urban house-plant parent, you are in relationship. You are cultivating a reciprocal connection with another living thing, and without words, it’s communicating to you its preferences, its needs, and when it is thriving. In return, you are given the gift of its beauty, oxygen, and perhaps flowers, foliage, fruits and roots to nourish your own body.

I was in conversation this week with a fellow island dweller — she a current student of herbalism and I an artist working with natural dyes and plant symbolism. More on our talk is soon to come but one of the most interesting points of connection we discussed was the ways we are in relationship with the plants. In our individual practices, both of us are experiencing a slow “getting to know you” with our plant allies, hers from a medicinal perspective and mine from a more symbolic or thematic one. Both of us find ourselves in long-term studies, meditations, and observations with a single subject of interest, focusing our concentration on an individual or small group of plant beings with the intention of revealing the many layers of their unique personalities. 

  A photograph of white zinnia flowers

Cultivating Relationship

My personal interest in plants bloomed when I moved to the island in my early twenties. My home for the first two years was a native plant nursery and during my time living and working there, I inevitably learned the names and personalities of many of the plants of my new island home. Learning about Hawai`i’s native cultural practices from various teachers and practitioners has also indirectly led to an authentic love and awareness of the plants here.

Essentially, to be in relationship — with a person, a plant, an animal — is something that is cultivated through time. Relationship building is gorgeously slow. A complexity of layers are revealed when we commit our presence and dedicate to an investment of time.

 

I think often about the abundant, readily accessible knowledge on the nature of plants that we have at our fingertips by means of our tiny computers and how that contrasts to early explorations and discoveries (growing relationships). Deciphering the medicinal from the poisonous — lucky for many of us modern humans — is now only a Google search away. It’s internet dating for us and our houseplants, being able to do a quick search online to learn about how much light and water to give to the new friends we bring home. And yet sometimes even still, something goes amiss and our once lively green friend becomes wilted. Even with access to an incredible database of tried and tested information, how do we ensure the most stable, long-lasting relationship? Time, presence, and engagement really seem like the only ways. (For people and plants).

 

 

A photograph of a wild garden

 

Hina Luna + Plants = ♥︎

In my creative practice, I work with the plants in a couple primary ways, each quite different from the other and yet together they make up part of the complex personality of the plants.

In the tangible, I am processing and extracting color from ground plant parts — roots, bark, leaves mostly. Through water quality, heat, fermentation, and the addition of color shifters (iron or alkaline/acidic elements), I am exploring the chromatic properties and abilities hidden within the bodies of the plants. With each seasonal collection of offerings from the Hina Luna studio and often even for the year, I concentrate on a limited palette, making the long and slow and beautiful investment of time; cultivating my craft, growing in relationship. It often feels like nothing short of magic. 

On a conceptual layer, I also work with the images and energies of a limited selection of plants each season. The deciding of which plants I focus on is more channeled than chosen; an exercise in listening, observing, feeling. Sometimes it’s a scent that has me captivated in a memory I can’t explain (ancestral perhaps); a volunteer that pops up in the garden whom then pops up in conversations, in song, in poetry, and in the lives of others; an ancient symbol carrying an intention of something I wish to offer myself and the collective in a certain season of our lives. Inspired by their physical and behavioral attributes, each plant is also a representation of a symbolic energy, a divine deity, a celestial body. Folklore is rich with stories of plants that bring love, bestow luck, offer protection, and more. I can only imagine that these associations are made by drawing connection lines between the shared qualities of one to another, like a night-blooming flower to the moon.

 



Plant dyeing requires a commitment to a slow process. Lasting results are not achieved when rushed. Yet even more, exploring the conceptual story of a plant is the slow, slow. I balance my discovery process with both personal observation and meditation as well as the research of other experienced sources. I’m interested in what relationships ancient and indigenous cultures had and have to certain plants, the ways they’ve weaved them into their stories, utilized them in their medicinal practices, featured them in their arts. 

Hina Luna’s intention is to inspire connection through beautiful means. Because the plants are to thank for much of the inspiration and literal creation of Hina Luna, most of the offerings shared through the shop are an ode to them. Botanical soaps, plant dyed candles, plant ally oracle decks — all to inspire and contribute to your growing relationship with the plant beings around us.

Featured Plant-Powered Offerings In The Shop

For starting/deepening your relationship

Magic In the Mundane: An Introduction To Connecting With Plants In The City zine

For opening up intuitive conversation

Dirt Gems Plant Ally Oracle Deck
Plant Ally Talismans Poetic Oracle Cards

For connecting with your fellow plant lovers

Letterpress Drying Herbs Card

For inviting the plants into your home space

Hawaiian Vetiver Incense Bundle
Plant Dyed Botanical Beeswax Altar Candles

 

 

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