Transcript: Episode 9

This tran­script has been edit­ed for clar­i­ty. There may be dif­fer­ences between the audio and this tran­script.

John: 0:01
Where I’d like to go is to your first expe­ri­ences with your grand­par­ents. In your book, you spoke of this unique expe­ri­ence, that they intro­duced you to this path, that you’re on.

Jen Frey: 0:18
My grand­par­ents were just amaz­ing, lov­ing, won­der­ful peo­ple to be with, and I was blessed to spend lots of time with them, and my last grand­moth­er just died a few months ago. I also just turned 48. So to have grand­par­ents in your life that long is such a gift. But so, yes, I don’t have a mem­o­ry of plants not being impor­tant in my life. My mom is incred­i­ble at keep­ing house­plants alive. Don’t ask her to gar­den, she does­n’t like to gar­den, but house­plants yes. So I always send my house­plants to her when they need a lit­tle bit more atten­tion. But my grand­par­ents both of them, both sets of them grew their own food, and so they taught me from an ear­ly age that the best med­i­cine comes from your back­yard.

Jen Frey: 1:04
And my mater­nal grand­fa­ther? He was 100% into organ­ic gar­den­ing. He was a life­time sub­scriber to Organ­ic Gar­den­ing Mag­a­zine, but he was fol­low­ing those prac­tices before that even became a big deal, and Rodale Insti­tute start­ed right where I grew up or near where I grew up. So it was very much in his aware­ness and so he taught me that you have to sing to the plants. His green­house always had music play­ing for them. We asked per­mis­sion before har­vest­ing.

Jen Frey: 1:38
He nev­er quite said about com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the plants. Lat­er in life, my grand­fa­ther had demen­tia, and so while he was still with it, he made sure to give me all of his gar­den­ing books, and one of them was the Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tomp­kins and Christo­pher Bird, which is all about the intel­li­gence of plants. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I did­n’t read that until my grand­fa­ther was too far gone, because by the time I read it I was like, oh, I did­n’t read that until my grand­fa­ther was too far gone, because by the time I read it I was like, oh, I think he did com­mu­ni­cate, but he just did­n’t have any­one to talk to about it.

Jen Frey: 2:14
So that was a great sad­ness in my life. But, yes, my grand­par­ents were piv­otal in my expe­ri­ence con­nect­ing with plants and under­stand­ing that plants are just incred­i­ble con­scious beings. Though they nev­er used that word, treat­ed them like, like they were con­scious beings did you have any idea of the path that they were lead­ing you on?

Jen Frey: 2:35
like that at the time oh my gosh, no, um, that would be won­der­ful. And I think some­times peo­ple like some­times when peo­ple hear my sto­ry or oth­er teach­ers’ sto­ries, you for­get that there’s like all these curves and ups and downs, like we don’t real­ly know. Until fourth grade and in the strangest way, we got these week­ly read­ers and there was one about a shaman, and when they were describ­ing what they did I was like, oh, this is the heal­ing that I have been want­i­ng to do. But in that arti­cle it said you had to be male and indige­nous. So I was­n’t, obvi­ous­ly I’m not that. So I scratched that off the list. But then I tried, like all these dif­fer­ent ways of like, okay, well, how can I meet this dream? And so I start­ed with herbs by between fifth and sixth grade Time, like, real­ly saved me from hav­ing to take antibi­otics.

Jen Frey: 3:37
So that was my intro­duc­tion to herbs and I dove in more. And then junior high, I start­ed with flower essences and home­opa­thy. So I start­ed all these round­about ways, and one of my new­er rev­e­la­tions that I had­n’t thought about in a long time was I had want­ed to be a car­di­ol­o­gist when I was late junior high, and it’s because I real­ly thought the heart was just so impor­tant and I want­ed to help peo­ple have healthy hearts and in high school I shad­owed a car­di­ol­o­gist who was a woman and she told me look, if you want to have fam­i­ly, if you want to have kids, this is not the right pro­fes­sion to be in.

Jen Frey: 4:18
So I scratched that too. But now, com­ing full cir­cle, when I had this real­iza­tion, I was like, oh my gosh, the heart is the cen­ter of all of the work that I do. So here I am and my pro­gram. I have an appren­tice­ship I called Heart Trans­for­ma­tion, because it’s all about the heart. So it’s the same thing. So the path has always been there. But no, I did not know where I was going. My grand­par­ents def­i­nite­ly did­n’t know where I was going and they would be shocked.

John: 4:44
know where I was going, my grand­par­ents def­i­nite­ly did­n’t know where I was going and they would be shocked. Actu­al­ly, when did the idea of key and kin come into this? Did this come from your grand­fa­ther?

Jen Frey: 4:53
No, this came from Robin Wall Kim­mer­er, so I think I’m not sure that came out of braid­ing sweet­grass.

Jen Frey: 5:01
Yeah. So I’m not sure. I have to go back and look at dates. I’m not sure what was first. She wrote Braid­ing Sweet­grass and she talked about it there. But she also wrote an arti­cle for yes Mag­a­zine called Nature Needs a New Pro­noun, and so wher­ev­er I heard it first, that’s what start­ed it, but it is that nature needs a new pro­noun. I give that to all of my stu­dents in all of my class­es and encour­age the use of ki is the sin­gu­lar non-gen­dered pro­noun for ani­mat­ed pro­nouns. So rather than using it, and then ch’in is plur­al.

Jen Frey: 5:38
So yeah, it comes from Robin.

John: 5:40
It’s a won­der­ful way to relate to the plant life. It real­ly per­son­al­izes them, does­n’t it?

Jen Frey: 5:47
It makes you feel that it’s not an object, but it’s some­body who’s just vis­it­ing for the sum­mer now, when I read peo­ple who are in this work, work­ing with plant spir­its or herbs or what­ev­er and I’m read­ing their stuff and they use it it’s like it jos­tles me, it hits me in the heart and I’m like have to read. And so I’ve real­ized that using these pro­nouns, we don’t think about how impor­tant lan­guage is, but it’s so impor­tant and so using those pro­nouns have real­ly shift­ed my brain, even though long before that I thought plants were alive and I would always ask their per­mis­sion and have con­ver­sa­tions with them as if they were intel­li­gent beings, because they are. The pro­nouns them­selves changed that rela­tion­ship as well.

John: 6:36
It brings respect into the light when deal­ing with plants in many ways. That’s what I found using it. It just was a high­er lev­el of oth­er than just being ten­der with them but refer­ring to them in this ways. That’s what I found using it. It just was a high­er lev­el of oth­er than just being ten­der with them but refer­ring to them in this way. What was life like just before you met Pam? For you, how far along your path were you and how big of an influ­ence, if any, was Pam Mont­gomery?

Jen Frey: 7:00
So life was well. There’s a few things to answer here. Life was chaot­ic and awful. My life was chaot­ic and awful. Do you want to think about that? To be a flower essence prac­ti­tion­er.

Jen Frey: 7:21
So I start­ed with herbs. I start­ed with a small herb prac­tice, but I always herbs. I feel like it’s a for­eign lan­guage to me. So I just always have to strug­gle with them and every­body was on med­ica­tion and I did­n’t know how that was inter­act­ing in their body, let alone to throw an herb in there. So when I final­ly stud­ied with David and Kate and they were togeth­er, I was study­ing with them togeth­er it was just like this huge light bulb went off. It’s like, oh, this is what I’m meant to be doing. It’s like I under­stand this, I don’t have to work at it, they just blow through me. It makes sense. So I already had my prac­tice. I had been teach­ing client com­mu­ni­ca­tion for many years before I met with Pam. So when I got to meet Pam, when I got to study with her, it was real­ly a deep­en­ing in of what I already knew and a con­fir­ma­tion of what I knew, and that’s going to go back to this chaot­ic time.

Jen Frey: 8:12
So what was going on in my life is I was real­ly liv­ing in two worlds. I was in a very tox­ic mar­riage with a nar­cis­sist, and I did­n’t know what a nar­cis­sist was at the time, so I had no under­stand­ing of what was going on. It was­n’t until many years of ther­a­py after­wards that I final­ly got to like say oh, so that was­n’t actu­al­ly healthy. So I had been most­ly a stay-at-home mom and when my kids and I home­schooled my kids and but then when they start­ed going to school, I had all this time to just be with the plants and I would have these incred­i­ble expe­ri­ences that I did­n’t hear from any oth­er teach­ers and I would want to share them with my then hus­band and he thought I was lying and mak­ing it all up, so he did­n’t care if that’s how I spent my time dur­ing the day, but when he was around I was­n’t allowed to dis­cuss it and we had to go. He was a finan­cial advi­sor, so we had to go real­ly deep into the super­fi­cial aspects of our cul­ture and so I was split. It just became real­ly obvi­ous that I could no longer if I was going to con­tin­ue down this way. I could­n’t be in that mar­riage.

Jen Frey: 9:32
And there was anoth­er big, impor­tant cat­a­lyst in my life that actu­al­ly led me to study with Pam, and that’s that my broth­er died sud­den­ly in 2011 at the age of 36. And so I was deep in grief when I went to meet Pam as well. So my world was already shift­ing and it was already becom­ing obvi­ous I could­n’t go back to where I was before as well. So my world was already shift­ing and it was already becom­ing obvi­ous I could­n’t go back to where I was before his death. So that’s where life was not won­der­ful. My time with the plants was incred­i­ble and amaz­ing, and then once I made the deci­sion to leave that’s when we make those deci­sions that every­body thinks the leav­ing is the hard part, but it’s real­ly the part lead­ing up to the leav­ing that’s the real part Once you make that choice, every­thing flows and you get reward­ed Not reward, I don’t like that word but life becomes more won­der­ful.

Jen Frey: 10:18
But you’re not los­ing all that ener­gy that it’s tak­ing for you just to try to sur­vive and main­tain, just try to stay as healthy as you can in a real­ly unhealthy sit­u­a­tion. So when you get all that ener­gy back, it’s like, oh, now I can like real­ly do fol­low my heart and real­ly do what feeds me.

John: 10:35
Jen, can you talk a lit­tle bit about the basic forms of plant com­mu­ni­ca­tion and how do you know? Or, for the lis­ten­ers, how would they know that what they’re expe­ri­enc­ing is real?

Jen Frey: 10:47
Yeah.

Jen Frey: 10:48
So, like I said ear­li­er, my work is all based around the heart, and the heart is real­ly the cen­ter.

Jen Frey: 10:53
And that’s one of the big things in our cul­ture is that we tend to put every­thing into the brain and log­ic and rea­son, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with nature does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly fit there because it’s beyond any­thing that we can even imag­ine. So we have to start by get­ting into our heart. So that’s the basis for any­thing and every­thing, and it’s still the basis for me. I mean, like they have to com­mu­ni­cate with me, not nec­es­sar­i­ly all the time, but some­times, like we were just at a spe­cial, we were on vaca­tion at this real­ly spe­cial place and I’m just try­ing to relax and I’m get­ting mes­sages for them. So that does­n’t hap­pen all the time, but if I want to com­mu­ni­cate with the plants, I still have to start by get­ting into my heart. There’s so many ways to do that. The eas­i­est way that I find, and the way that I most teach, is to work with grat­i­tude and how we know that we’re in our heart space is because there’s a phys­i­o­log­i­cal shift in our bod­ies.

Jen Frey: 11:48
Our breath­ing tends to slow For me, my shoul­ders will drop, some­times inch­es. Our bod­ies relax, our heart rate slows, we just we feel crawler Some­times. We’ll feel, some­times my hands will feel big or my feet feel weird, like we might have dif­fer­ent body sen­sa­tions. So when we’re in that space, then we know that we are more able to receive infor­ma­tion. So first step, if you want to com­mu­ni­cate with the plant, is to look for a plant that wants to com­mu­ni­cate with you, like who’s show­ing up in your life, because we just think that nobody wants to com­mu­ni­cate with you, like who’s show­ing up in your life, because we just think that nobody wants to com­mu­ni­cate with us. But once peo­ple start to learn this, then they often get over­whelmed because all of the plants want to com­mu­ni­cate with them at the same time. So go ahead.

John: 12:37
Sor­ry, I was just going to say that I had always learned that just look around your house, because the ones that you need most will be grow­ing around your house.

Jen Frey: 12:46
It might be weed.

John: 12:47
No, not weed. I mean any kind of plant, Right From a mullein to a wild cab­bage. What­ev­er it might be that you need to relate to, or that med­i­cine, that’s a good place to start.

Jen Frey: 12:59
Absolute­ly, and that’s one of the rea­sons why. So I always taught plant com­mu­ni­ca­tion in per­son and I pre­fer to teach in per­son, but I start­ed doing them vir­tu­al­ly dur­ing COVID just because we had to. And it became such an incred­i­ble expe­ri­ence because peo­ple were com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the plants that are right there that they’ve had rela­tion­ships with Some they’ve known they’ve had the rela­tion­ships and oth­ers they did­n’t, but it made it so much more per­son­al for them. So I love that. I think it is impor­tant to work with the plants that are right there. Often we think we have to go to exot­ic places or real­ly rare plants, but it’s the ones that show up for us every day that have the most impact on our lives.

John: 13:40
Now just go over again that our lit­tle Zoom work­shop with you, where we had to go out­side and do the same, find a plant that wants to com­mu­ni­cate with you, and I can’t remem­ber. How did you know the name of the plant that I was work­ing with?

Jen Frey: 13:57
Oh, because I knew the plant Well. I can’t remem­ber if you sent me. I think you sent a pic­ture, but I’m not sure.

John: 14:05
Oh, yeah, yeah, I sent you a pic­ture, that’s right, that’s right. But you some­how the char­ac­ter­is­tics of what we’re find­ing out you also knew about, and I was just sur­prised by the whole expe­ri­ence of, because there’s a num­ber of ones that I was drawn to but they just did­n’t feel right. I said no, thank you, and then as soon as I found this gar­lic mus­tard plant that was beside the house, down a lit­tle dingy laneway, it just spoke vol­umes, but it was a beau­ti­ful expe­ri­ence. Now I want­ed to explore some ideas in your Chap­ter 10. And where I want to direct the con­ver­sa­tion is around grief and the explo­ration of how plants, plant com­mu­ni­ca­tion, plant med­i­cine can be a great ser­vice for those who are griev­ing deeply and just to have that kind of extra sup­port is, they’ll find, quite pro­found.

John: 15:07
So in Chap­ter 10, you’re pre­sent­ing the Black-Eyed Susan plant, and what I liked about the title that you picked was Chang­ing Our Sto­ry and why this Relates. It seemed to me that you were talk­ing about peo­ple who are hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty form­ing attach­ments, and I was read­ing for me between the lines that they had expe­ri­enced some kind of grief or trau­ma. Would you be able to speak about that?

Jen Frey: 15:31
So of course you bring up that chap­ter, and I say of course because, as I say very hon­est­ly in the book, that’s the chap­ter that I had the hard­est time with. I must have rewrit­ten it at least 30 times and I’m still not com­plete­ly hap­py with what came out, but the plants have con­tin­ued to work with me and that is grow­ing a lot more. So I said that’s the one that I had the hard­est time writ­ing. But also I was shocked that the plants want­ed Black-Eyed Susan in the book, because I thought we were talk­ing most­ly about light, and there are oth­er plants that I work with. I only work with Black-eyed Susan in small instances, but since the book has come out and talk­ing with so many peo­ple, that is the it’s amaz­ing how Black-eyed Susan has con­tin­ued to come up.

Jen Frey: 16:15
So this is a huge sub­ject and I’ll just say that I’m used to hear­ing peo­ple’s trau­ma sto­ries and I’m actu­al­ly real­ly like I read all kinds of books about trau­ma, because I’m fas­ci­nat­ed by how we respond to trau­ma and how we are. Our bod­ies, our brains. All of it are so incred­i­ble. Now, we’re so adapt­able way more adapt­able than what we real­ize and so we have all these mech­a­nisms for try­ing to sur­vive through our trau­ma, to sur­vive through our trau­ma. And what the plants say, what all of nature says, if we work with them, is that we’re not our trau­ma and they want to help us to heal it so that we can remem­ber who we real­ly are.

Jen Frey: 16:55
And on top of that, I also just have to say that trau­ma isn’t in of itself a bad thing, like trau­ma or the pro­cess­ing of our trau­ma can give us real­ly big gifts. Like every­thing in life, there’s gifts not say­ing that we want to go around trau­ma­tiz­ing peo­ple, so, yeah, so Black Eye Susan, one of her gifts is help­ing us to look at the expe­ri­ences that we’ve had in life and see them in a dif­fer­ent way, and so that’s where the gift comes out. No-tran­script. Okay, so I’m just paus­ing because my guides are giv­ing me infor­ma­tion, so I’m just going to back up a lit­tle bit. And if we we all have fam­i­ly mem­bers, right and if we ever share, if you get, if you have the priv­i­lege of hav­ing sib­lings, and you ever talk about a sto­ry from your child­hood with your sib­lings, every­body’s going to have a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

John: 17:51
Yes no-tran­script.

Jen Frey: 18:23
respond to it. And the ener­gy that’s held with­in, like the sto­ry that we attach to it, that’s what trips us up again and again, and so if we can shift that, then that helps to release the ener­gy from our bod­ies and then invites who knows what into our lives.

John: 18:41
I see grief. I mean, I’ve been a deep griev­er, I would say, since child­hood, and then there was a real­ly big one that the moth­er of my kids had passed away, one that the moth­er of my kids had passed away and what I’ve learned is that with grief, it’s a quin­tes­sen­tial emo­tion that real­ly defines the kind of per­son that we will become.

John: 19:06
It’s like that deep soul, deep heart, ener­gy that we need to, whether would take it to be tak­en down and then just work with that hard, hard ener­gy, or we just bury it and don’t do any­thing with it, which makes our life even small­er, with less capac­i­ty for com­pas­sion and love. But every­body, there’s been no one who’s ever been on this plan­et that has­n’t gone through grief in some form right.

John: 19:36
As they say, every­thing that we love, we will lose, and right up to the very last breath that we take is our big loss when we leave this world. And so I just love that idea that this trans­for­ma­tion, this pow­er­ful trans­for­ma­tion that comes to us is through this deep emo­tion, and there’s no oth­er way to get there. I mean when we, as you wrote in your book, love is heal­ing, and so that’s why grief and love are sis­ters, that they grief in one hand and love in the oth­er, and it just the more we can car­ry, the big­ger our embrace becomes and the greater, or the larg­er, life. And so what I loved about Black Eyed Susan was that for me?

John: 20:22
it was hit­ting on that, that too, but per­haps more gen­tly than grief. But it’s, all part of it, isn’t it? That’s what I was look­ing for with the wis­dom of plants to help us through these big trans­for­ma­tions in our life.

Jen Frey: 20:38
Yeah, they’re def­i­nite­ly there to help us through. And the part with grief that goes back to what I was say­ing with my broth­er that when, again, when he died and there’s grief nev­er man­i­fests the same way for any­body, every­body and every rela­tion­ship. When we lose, like if we’re only talk­ing about grief in the terms of los­ing a loved human being or maybe an ani­mal being, because there’s so many dif­fer­ent forms of grief. But if that’s what how we look at this, or that’s the lens that we’re look­ing at right now, depend­ing on our rela­tion­ship, we have dif­fer­ent lev­els of grief. So, like when my grand­moth­er just died, I did have grief. It shocked me actu­al­ly the depth of grief. So, like, when my grand­moth­er just died, I did have grief. It shocked me actu­al­ly the depth of grief that I had because we had been know­ing this was going to hap­pen for a long time and she was 98 or 95.

Jen Frey: 21:22
So, like it was a ton, Where­as my broth­er was 36 and it was quite sud­den. It was such a shock to all of us. But what hap­pened in that moment when my broth­er died is that my whole world broke apart. And when you lose some­body again, even if it’s some­body that is like going to die, when they’re foun­da­tion­al in your life, it has to rock your foun­da­tion.

John: 21:46
And.

Jen Frey: 21:46
I think this is what you’re get­ting to. Is that how it defines a per­son? Because it rocks our foun­da­tion and it is an oppor­tu­ni­ty, if we choose to take it and not every­body takes it If we choose to take it, it is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reeval­u­ate our life and what’s real­ly impor­tant. And let’s just be com­plete­ly hon­est in our cul­ture, so much of what we think is impor­tant is actu­al­ly not impor­tant. They’re not, and it’s actu­al­ly quite harm­ful for us as human beings to be like alive, awake, aware humans. Well, greece gives us that brief oppor­tu­ni­ty of like who are we? Because we just lost. What I’m get­ting right now is that we like to think that we are these sep­a­rate beings, but we’re not. We’re inter­con­nect­ed. So when this being leaves our life, we lost a part of us.

John: 22:37
Yes, very much so.

Jen Frey: 22:39
Right. So now we have to read­just and of course that takes, some­times years, some­times, like I think, the grief is always there. I’m guess­ing I will always miss my broth­er and grieve him, but it’s def­i­nite­ly not like when he first died. I was on the floor for days just in a pud­dle of tears, unable to do any­thing, and clear­ly I’m not doing that any­more. And just going back to this con­nec­tion of grief and love, the thing that helped me to get through my broth­er’s, the grief around my broth­er, was rec­og­niz­ing that if I had­n’t expe­ri­enced the love with him that I had expe­ri­enced, I would­n’t have expe­ri­enced the lev­el of grief. So they are inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed and grief is the ulti­mate expres­sion of love.

John: 23:25
Very much, so I agree with that. What did you say with that? Did you want to share a lit­tle bit about Michael and why your love was so intense for him?

Jen Frey: 23:33
My broth­er Michael. Yeah, so my broth­er.

John: 23:36
Michael Sounds like quite an indi­vid­ual the way that you spoke of him in your book.

Jen Frey: 23:41
He was. So first my broth­er Michael. We’re not bio­log­i­cal sib­lings. Our par­ents mar­ried when I was five and he was six, so we were 18 months apart. But he came into my life when I was three and he was four. So we grew up togeth­er and I don’t know, he was quite an indi­vid­ual. He was the cen­ter of my world. He was the cen­ter of my uni­verse. Fun­ny as could be, he would roll on the floor with laugh­ter and you could be so angry with him and yet you would just have to laugh. So my broth­er tend­ed to get away with a lot because every­body just laughed.

Jen Frey: 24:17
But he, going back to this trau­ma, I still I have my sus­pi­cions, but I still don’t know what it was. But there was some kind of a trau­ma in his life, I would say around mid­dle school age and maybe even late ele­men­tary. And so he start­ed exper­i­ment­ing with alco­hol and drugs and he became an addict and he had many years where he was real­ly good and he got his life back in line. But then he need­ed some surg­eries and he was giv­en oxy­tocin. So it was real­ly like he got hooked and it was about six weeks after he got oxy­tocin. Then he died and it was sor­ry, not oxy­tocin we love Oxy­con­tin and it was bru­tal. It was just bru­tal. He had a son that was. I’ve nev­er seen a par­ent love a child the way my broth­er loved his son, and so that’s a gift for us that we get to still see his son, who looks so much like him. And and yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know, nobody ever asked me to talk about him, so I don’t quite know what to say.

John: 25:18
Well, thank you for shar­ing that part, because it real­ly did touch me in the book and for me it real­ly set up the fol­low­ing chap­ters and gave a beau­ti­ful foun­da­tion for what you would write about in fur­ther chap­ters. So in mov­ing on you talk about releas­ing grief and romanc­ing plants. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard it put that way before, but I under­stand. Will you touch on that first?

Jen Frey: 25:49
Sure, the romanc­ing plants part. Yes, yeah, yeah. So this is some­thing that the plant showed me. I have this ash tree that I absolute­ly fell in love with when I was doing my train­ing of the Pan-McDum­rey place and as I was doing this, oh, actu­al­ly I’m sor­ry I’m get­ting ahead of myself. That’s why you’re ahead. So just the one who gave me the name Romanc­ing the Plants.

Jen Frey: 26:11
But my first expe­ri­ence was actu­al­ly with wil­low, and this was many years before name romance in the plants. But my first expe­ri­ence was actu­al­ly with wil­low, and this was many years before. And, um, and I was in a class oh, actu­al­ly, with starhawk and was at our local col­lege in the mid­dle of the sub­urbs and they had like a lit­tle gar­den out­side and we were I don’t quite know what the exer­cise was any­more, but I know we were sup­posed to con­nect with the plant and so I and we our eyes were sup­posed to be closed. So I con­nect­ed with this beau­ti­ful old wil­low tree there and all of a sud­den I had an orgasm, just stand­ing there con­nect­ing with this tree, sur­round­ed by peo­ple, eyes closed, com­plete­ly closed, like not attempt­ing any of this, and it shocked me and I was like what is hap­pen­ing? And now, since then I’ve done lots of work, and so now I under­stand what was hap­pen­ing. What we even call orgasm is sim­ply ener­gy mov­ing through us drift­ing through us.

Jen Frey: 27:08
So that’s what I was feel­ing. But that was such an unknown expe­ri­ence to me. One of the things that I learned from Pam that she had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence that was like, oh okay, so I’m not crazy, this is a thing. But again, after­wards I start­ed work­ing with the plants more and real­ized it’s pos­si­ble. So from that I start­ed work­ing with plants as well. I’m going to use this term, but a lover and I don’t mean like I like hon­est­ly, I don’t go out to have orgasms with plants. It’s not some­thing that I need to do, that I want to do, but it’s real­ly just rec­og­niz­ing that plants are oth­er beings who I can love and I can expe­ri­ence love with, because I get lots like with. When I with plants, you just get so much uncon­di­tion­al love.

John: 27:57
Yes, and you feel it. It’s a very phys­i­cal response.

Jen Frey: 28:00
Right, and so they gave me this prac­tice called romanc­ing the plants, and there’s real­ly no I say prac­tice, but there’s real­ly no prac­tice Because real­ly, just look­ing at them as if a lover, touch them as if they’re your lover, speak to them as if they’re your lover, write them love poems, how do you engage with a plant and feel that ener­gy?

Jen Frey: 28:22
And I con­tin­ue to share it because what I’ve noticed is, unfor­tu­nate­ly, there are so many peo­ple that have been so trau­ma­tized in their rela­tion­ships with oth­er humans that they don’t feel safe in roman­tic sit­u­a­tions, or some­times even just in the periph­ery of humans, and so when they’re engag­ing in romanc­ing the plants, it allows them to have that expe­ri­ence of love and safe relat­ing with anoth­er being. And also in my class­es, one of the times that I taught this, every­body was like I don’t know how to romance some­body, like I don’t know what that means, so it was like, oh, okay, well, so the plants also help us to learn that. Help us to learn how we want to be greet­ed, what makes us feel loved and how do we show that to anoth­er per­son or anoth­er being, and so it has pro­found heal­ing impli­ca­tions, as well as anoth­er way to receive infor­ma­tion and guid­ance from the prayer.

John: 29:20
Can you share the exer­cise Romanc­ing your Plant Ally you includ­ed in the chap­ter.

Jen Frey: 29:25
Yeah. So what I encour­age peo­ple to do, like I said, is to write a love poem. So you want to? Again, we always start from the heart. So you want to get in with your heart, con­nect with your a love pole, just as if they were some­body you’re court­ing.

Jen Frey: 29:45
So that’s part of this whole work with plants is that our soci­ety is so used to. I don’t like pam talks about seduc­tion and I don’t even want to say it’s seduc­tion. It’s almost like um kid­nap­ping, like one of the images that’s get­ting is like hit­ting peo­ple over the top of the head. And we’re very non-con­sen­su­al as a soci­ety and even when it comes to sell­ing things, we want to force you to buy this, whether you want it or not. And the plants? That’s not how nature works. Every­thing’s based on con­sent and it has to be ben­e­fi­cial to all beings involved, and so work­ing with the plants in this way, it’s learn­ing how to court, learn­ing how to like, real­ly rec­og­nize what makes them feel loved, what do they need, as well as like, then trans­lat­ing it to anoth­er being so we work with. It’s a long way of say­ing we write a poem.

John: 30:34
Is the poem the kick­starter for hav­ing peo­ple then go out with an open heart and find a plant to com­mu­ni­cate love to.

Jen Frey: 30:44
So it’s more the oth­er way around. It’s more like the poem is well, it’s not real­ly the cul­mi­na­tion we want. Gen­er­al­ly we’re doing we have a rela­tion­ship with the plant before we get to the poem. So that’s why I don’t start with that exer­cise because, just like any­body, if we take it back to human rela­tions, we don’t know when we go out on a first date with some­body we’re not going to want to like. We don’t know every­thing that they need or that they want or they love. We don’t want to open up our hearts real far Not with plants. It’s safe. You can open your hearts as far as you want the first time, but there’s a get­ting to know. And so the more we work with plants or any aspect of nature, the more we work with them, the more they reveal them­selves and then the eas­i­er it is for us to express our love to them.

John: 31:29
Yeah, I liked how you approached the plant and it was like when touch­ing it. It’s like a soft stroking, what’s the word? I’m not express­ing this right.

Jen Frey: 31:38
Caress­ing.

John: 31:39
Caress­ing with the palm and then maybe the back of your fin­gers, right, and I’ve been doing that for a long time, and now that my grand­daugh­ters are get­ting a lit­tle old­er, I even taught one of the girls that’s two years old how to approach a plant and do the same thing Just to caress with your soft hand and then the back of your hand. So she was doing that with her moth­er lat­er on.

Jen Frey: 32:02
I love it yeah.

John: 32:03
They’re nev­er too young, right.

Jen Frey: 32:05
No no.

John: 32:06
So let’s revis­it the wil­low tree.

Jen Frey: 32:08
What would you like to know, John?

John: 32:10
I think it’s prob­a­bly one of the eas­i­est trees to iden­ti­fy. Right and what’s the ben­e­fit of the wil­low tree?

Jen Frey: 32:17
Well, there are lots of gifts, and so this is part of the whole point of this work is that the more we work with the plant, the more they reveal them­selves, and they always reveal what we most need at that time. So, again, wil­low is the one that intro­duced me to this con­cept of romanc­ing plants. I mean, they did­n’t use the term at the time, but it opened me up to this pos­si­bil­i­ty. And after my broth­er died, wil­low was one of the first plants that real­ly helped me to get out of what I call the abyss of grief. So when he died, I real­ly did­n’t know if I want­ed to stay in this world. I mean, I had two kids and I would nev­er have thought of leav­ing them any­time before nor after, but at that point in time I was just like I don’t think I can sur­vive this world with­out him. And so I went into this very deep, dark abyss of grief, and wil­low was one of the first plants to show up, and so we had a wil­low on our. I was liv­ing on a farm that we had a wil­low that I would go and spend time with every day and would just wrap weep­ing wil­low would wrap their branch­es around me and just real­ly hold me and wil­low told me just to give over the grief and that wil­low could take this and hold it and trans­mute it and if I ever want it back, I can get it back. But there’s more. So it was like grief at that point was too much for me to han­dle. I could­n’t func­tion, I could­n’t breathe, and so it just helped to light­en the load a lit­tle bit so I could start to func­tion in the world.

Jen Frey: 33:49
When we look at the herbal impacts of wil­low, it con­tains sal­i­cylic acid, which is a major pain-reduc­ing ele­ment, and so it only makes sense that the whole spir­it of Wil­low helps reduce our pain.

Jen Frey: 34:06
So when we talk about grief and grief, I would say, is prob­a­bly the biggest com­po­nent of pain, but any­time that we need some help, wil­low is able to hold it for us, and I work with Wil­low. I’m not sure if I put this in the book or not. I work with Wil­low in a dif­fer­ent way as well, and so I share this, because I know you work with shaman­ism too, and it’s that some­times we want to be invis­i­ble in this world, and so we need that invis­i­bil­i­ty. Wil­low helps us to know when it’s time. Some­times we just need to do some work and not leave like an ener­getic trail or maybe we want. This isn’t when I would work with wil­low, but I know some peo­ple. When they who live in cities and want to com­mu­ni­cate with plants and they don’t feel safe doing it out there, you can call on wil­low to sur­round you and pro­tect you and just let oth­er peo­ple pass you by. So that’s anoth­er great gift from wil­low.

John: 35:27
When you’re speak­ing of wil­low and hold­ing your grief in our grief cir­cles, that we teach or not teach, that we hold our grief as we speak and wit­ness the grief and the pain that we car­ry, and just the way you were speak­ing of it, well, it just sound­ed like she’s form­ing a con­tain­er as well as hold­ing you. Yeah.

Jen Frey: 35:41
Yeah, and so I just want to speak to that a lit­tle bit. John, is that so often, when we’re in that griev­ing process because we just lost some­one that we love dear­ly and that’s the form of grief I’m talk­ing about Like there’s this oth­er grief of like the plan­e­tary stuff hap­pen­ing right, there’s thoughts or the loss of habi­tat or what­ev­er that. There’s all of that. But par­tic­u­lar­ly los­ing some­body, often we want to hold on to our grief because we feel like that’s the last thing that we have of them. And so that goes back to ear­li­er when you said about some peo­ple. Don’t want to let it, don’t want to move beyond. They stay in the grief and always want to be the mourn­ing, the mourn­ing per­son whether I was going to say wid­ow, but it could be the mourn­ing par­ent, who­ev­er but that’s the def­i­n­i­tion that we come for our­selves, because we don’t want to hold it or we don’t want to let go. We’re afraid if we do we’ll lose any oth­er con­nec­tion with that per­son.

Jen Frey: 36:30
And it’s absolute­ly not true.

Jen Frey: 36:32
And I think the most impor­tant thing is, when we’re ready to process through and let go, what we dis­cov­er is we have a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ship with that per­son and we can con­tin­ue to have rela­tion­ships with them, but more than any­thing, we free our­selves to to find who we tru­ly are as well. So that’s one of the things wil­low helps us to do is, if we’re real­ly want­i­ng to hold on to that pain, wil­low invites us to be like here, you can let it go a lit­tle bit, and it’s a and there’s also some­times there’s a lit­tle bit of shame in that, like I should­n’t enjoy life, I should­n’t be hap­py. But that’s absolute­ly not true. Like life is a mixed bag where we can feel all of these emo­tions at the same time and, most impor­tant­ly, we are meant to be hap­py and joy­ous when­ev­er we can. And that’s what our loved ones would want us to be any­ways. And if they did­n’t, then they had seri­ous issues. But if we’re mourn­ing them, if we’re real­ly griev­ing them, then I’m guess­ing they would want us to be hap­py and healthy indi­vid­u­als.

John: 37:33
And that kind of brings us to our next chap­ter in your book, where you speak of the pow­er of love. Of course, rose is the plant that you choose for embrac­ing grief and the pow­er of love. In this chap­ter you define love.

Jen Frey: 37:48
Yeah, you’re going to chal­lenge me here because I can nev­er remem­ber the exact words, but it comes from N Scott Peck and it’s his def­i­n­i­tion, and it’s that love is the will to. Oh gosh, john, you might have to read it for me, but basi­cal­ly, what it is that we want when we’re expe­ri­enc­ing love for anoth­er per­son, it’s that we are want­i­ng them to grow and to be who they can be, and we want the same for our­selves. It’s like we’re nour­ish­ing each oth­er’s soul. Growth Close enough.

John: 38:21
I could­n’t find the exact one.

Jen Frey: 38:22
That’s okay, I’ll put it in the show notes.

John: 38:27
So how does Rose work its mag­ic?

Jen Frey: 38:31
So first of all, again I said the heart’s every­thing right and I work with love, and love is the guid­ing force for my life.

Jen Frey: 38:37
It was before my broth­er died, but even more so after he died. I just start­ed work­ing even more with love. But what I dis­cov­ered with some of my clients was that some­times they had a hard time receiv­ing love, and I don’t just mean like in a rela­tion­ship, I mean trans­mit­ting the ener­gy of love to them to help heal what­ev­er’s going on. They could­n’t, it was too much, and we know that we all not we all, but most of us have some trau­mas around love or have some beliefs around love or whether we are lov­able, and so Rose helps to do the same thing. While over­rid­ing all of those beliefs, rose comes in a form that is much eas­i­er for our bod­ies to digest and just opens us up to that pos­si­bil­i­ty. It real­ly helps our heart. Of course, rose is noto­ri­ous for help­ing hearts, trans­mit­ting the ener­gy of the heart. Rose also helps us to soft­en, and the soft­en­ing is anoth­er form of strength which is counter to what our cul­ture nor­mal­ly con­sid­ers strength. We nor­mal­ly think of strength as being real­ly rigid and and big mus­cles like.

Jen Frey: 39:51
Then I had that club, like we’re gonna club you over the head because I’m so strong and what we any­body who has done any work, work­ing with com­pas­sion or for­give how hard that actu­al­ly is it’s way hard­er to be com­pas­sion­ate and or engage in for­give­ness remain in your heart than it is to over­pow­er some­body, and so that’s where the soft­ness is. And then, when it comes to grief, well, I had been work­ing, so I said wil­low helped me come out of the abyss. There were a num­ber of oth­er trees that I was work­ing with at the time and I had been work­ing with rose. But then I was at an herbal con­fer­ence and it was my first big gath­er­ing since my broth­er had died and Robin Rose Ben­nett was there and I was express­ing my grief and she put her arms around me and she said rose in all ways all day.

Jen Frey: 40:42
And so that just gave me per­mis­sion to go even fur­ther with rose, and I did rose in all ways. I took rose glyc­erin, I made rose tea, I had rose truf­fles, I put rose lotion, rose hydrosol, rose flower essence. Of course, spend­ing time with rose, all the things. And so rose just helps us remem­ber that we are love and we are love and helps to heal our heart and in that heal­ing also helps us to, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to grief, real­ly helps find the beau­ty of that grief and the beau­ty of the rela­tion­ships that we are griev­ing.

John: 41:20
Can you take us to your self-love rit­u­al?

Jen Frey: 41:23
Yes, that one I can def­i­nite­ly tell you about. So I offered this. This is a thing that came to me from Rose, actu­al­ly after my divorce or when it was pri­or, that, when we were in the sep­a­ra­tion that I real­ly tipped a heart that I don’t love myself. No one else can love me, and I know there’s all kinds of issues around that quote. But I also feel that there’s some truth in that, and it’s not that we can’t expe­ri­ence love, but since we’re all con­nect­ed, we can’t ful­ly expe­ri­ence because we’re not allow­ing our­self to take in the love that’s expressed towards us. So I real­ly took it to heart and in that time. So I real­ly took it to heart, and in that time Rose showed me this self-love rit­u­al and I share it as a guide. It’s not dog­mat­ic, but what helps me was I got a can­dle that was rose-scent­ed and I will light it. And well, when I cre­ate sacred space first and then I light it and I say some form of a prayer, as in light­ing it, often to the tune of I’m light­ing this can­dle in hon­or of love for myself, and then sev­er­al things hap­pen, numer­ous things can hap­pen. So once the can­dle’s lit, then I can engage in an activ­i­ty that makes me feel loved. So it could be tak­ing a bath, it could be sit­ting down and read­ing a book, it could be med­i­tat­ing. It could be tak­ing a bath, it could be sit­ting down and read­ing a book, it could be med­i­tat­ing. It could be eat­ing choco­late, any like it could be the unlim­it­ed things there. And part of this is also dis­cov­er­ing how, what makes us feel loved.

Jen Frey: 42:57
And the oth­er thing that I sug­gest peo­ple do, and I did, is so often our cul­ture teach­es us to not love our bod­ies, and so we spend time in front of the mir­ror. And before you get to the mir­ror, you might want to start with an aspect of your body that you like. So eyes are often a good one. Hands, some aspect that you can appre­ci­ate at least. And again, we’re engag­ing in self-love, so we’re just bathing this aspect of our­self in love and remem­ber­ing all the ways in which they help us and bring such beau­ty to our life.

Jen Frey: 43:33
So it’s our eyes.

Jen Frey: 43:33
It’s like all the dif­fer­ent amaz­ing col­ors we can see and the faces of our chil­dren or our grand­chil­dren or our loved ones, or like all that we get to expe­ri­ence with our eyes or with our hands.

Jen Frey: 43:45
Like all that we get to expe­ri­ence with our eyes or with our hands, like all that we get to expe­ri­ence with our hands, and so this is usu­al­ly a long process of like many times, but we even­tu­al­ly want to broad­en that so like from our hands maybe up our arms to our elbows and just real­ly lov­ing them, until we can get to the point where we can love our entire bod­ies scars, cel­lulite, all of it and we see the beau­ty and we’re so grate­ful because these incred­i­ble bod­ies despite what our cul­ture wants us to believe, they are the only rea­son why we get to expe­ri­ence all the beau­ty in the world. Right, and this is only tem­po­rary and no mat­ter what ugli­ness we think our bod­ies might emit or have, it’s real­ly noth­ing, it’s real­ly just all per­cep­tion and that can all get shift­ed. And once we can real­ly love our bod­ies, then we’re just free. It frees us up from so much stuff and again, the more we can love our­selves, the more love we can expe­ri­ence and the more love we can share with oth­er beings.

John: 44:48
We are just about out of time. Can you speak about chap­ter 13,? Liv­ing to Die? You spoke about poi­son hem­lock. What’s your thoughts?

Jen Frey: 44:56
So I work with poi­son hem­lock. I’m laugh­ing, because this is a high­ly poi­so­nous plant and most peo­ple are so scared of this plant and I see so much rhetoric about like basi­cal­ly, if you see this plant, you got­ta destroy her. But like how you’re gonna destroy key are you? They don’t real­ly tell you. Any­way. For me, poi­son head­lock came to my life in such a strange way and now we’re the sanc­tu­ary that I live in. There’s poi­son head­lock all over, and poi­son head­lock reminds me of roy­al­ty, so I refer to her as the queen and real­ly reminds me to embrace who I am and my gifts.

Jen Frey: 45:34
But the real rea­son why I includ­ed poi­son hem­lock in this book is because we have such a fear of death in our cul­ture, and also not just a fear of death, but we look at death as a fail­ure cul­ture and also not just a fear of death, but we look at death as a fail­ure. All we’re sup­posed to do is try to be as young and alive as we pos­si­bly can, and that’s not real­ly the point of life. The point of life is to learn lessons and to heal and to grow as indi­vid­u­als, as souls, as com­mu­ni­ties, and so Poi­son Hem­lock helps us to over­come that fear of death and to and in that process, real­ly embrace life. So I’m going to give my caveat that I gave in the book. So when I talk about poi­son hem­lock shar­ing this les­son, I am talk­ing about the plant spir­it of poi­son hem­lock or the flower essence of poi­son hem­lock, not ingest­ing poi­son hem­lock in any way because she is dead­ly.

Jen Frey: 46:25
So, not rec­om­mend­ed to do that.

John: 46:28
And in the spir­it form, right. Let’s talk about that as how some­body may expe­ri­ence Hem­lock in rela­tion­ship to dying.

Jen Frey: 46:39
Yeah, so with poi­son Hem­lock in the spir­it. So when we’re talk­ing about plant spir­its, when we’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them, that’s who we are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with, it’s a plant spir­it. So when we take a tinc­ture, we’re ingest­ing phys­i­cal aspects of a plant and that’s only one part. And we can depend­ing on how the tinc­ture is made and depend­ing on our rela­tion­ship with the plant we can also engage with the plant spir­it at that lev­el, but often that does­n’t hap­pen engage with the plant spir­it at that lev­el, but often that does­n’t hap­pen. So when we have this direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion, this encom­pass­es all of the aspects of the plant. So when we work with the plant spir­it of Poi­son Hem­lock, they just show us that death is mere­ly a tran­si­tion. There’s noth­ing to be fright­ened about it. It’s not an end­ing and, yeah, it’s just anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty of grow­ing and heal­ing.

John: 47:31
Well, you’ve gone above and beyond, jen. Thank you so much for all your wis­dom today. I am just as tick­led as I was just before, think­ing that you’re going to be on the show. So thank you so much for being here and you’re bring­ing your ener­gy into this con­ver­sa­tion, and it was just as effec­tive as it was from Ro. Did you want to talk a lit­tle bit about? Is it this way?

Jen Frey: 47:56
Yeah, sure. So first, thanks, Thank you, john. I was glad to have a con­ver­sa­tion with you. I’m always glad to talk about plants but, yes, also glad to con­tin­ue the rela­tion­ship. So, brid­get’s Way, that is my com­pa­ny.

Jen Frey: 48:10
And it came about because when I first start­ed open­ing up actu­al­ly it was the herbal prac­tice the god­dess Brid­get was real­ly big in my life and she is the Celtic god­dess of heal­ing, among many oth­er aspects, and so just felt right, and so in that I always see my work as being a con­tin­u­a­tion of being in hon­or of her, help­ing to cre­ate a world that’s safe and lov­ing, and that’s what I try to do on my work. So I do have oth­er class­es, course plan, com­mu­ni­ca­tion class­es and I have, as I said, an appren­tice­ship pro­gram where we work with the plants. In the first year it’s most­ly plant spir­its. In the sec­ond year we work with oth­er aspects of nature for our own heal­ing and also for work­ing with help­ing oth­ers, includ­ing the land. And I have oth­er class­es for co-cre­at­ing with nature. And, yeah, there’s lots of infor­ma­tion. I have a web­site, brid­get’s Way­com. You can check that out as well. Yeah,