The Power of Subtlety

Flickr-strawberry bloom-patrick_standishDeb Buck, Guest
Waking Times

Have you ever noticed how the power of burning a smudge stick can change the course of one day?  How deep breathing can guide a different response in the time of trauma? How remembering to sing a song when your sad or to drink a cup of Dandelion Root tea when you are already feeling spectacular can make life even better? How paying attention to the thermal nature (heating or cooling) of your food can powerfully affect your health? Or perhaps noticing in this very now moment… the effect of the bear root that burns while I am writing this blog which is helping to keep the flow of words and creative energy moving? These simple tasks can be some of the most powerful movements to support a more meaningful life for ourselves..

I invite you to consider and sense a common thread that weaves each of these scenarios together.

Subtlety: The Power of Subtlety.

Since I met my mentor Doug Simons, he has taught me, “If you train yourself for awareness, then you see the subtleties and you see their significance.”

From my experience, to truly appreciate subtlety you have to hone your awareness to sense it. In the practice of cultivating awareness, the plants can help us to awaken to subtlety. Tasting them, touching them, deeply observing, smelling, drinking tea…activating all the senses to connect. The subtle power of Plant Medicine is deep, steady and subtle, yet, results are profound and maintained. When we seek to change an imbalance in ourselves we have so many choices and so many approaches. Have you ever noticed that most of the modalities that are based on observations of the rhythms of the natural world have a similar thread woven throughout each modality? Subtlety follows the flow of the natural world and can touch the deeper layers of our being.


  • Contrary to common thought, the healing process does not usually require disastrous results. Being in our human form we consistently have a desire for the quick fix or the cure-all pill with immediate results. And no wonder… because we currently live in a world designed for satisfying instant gratification which can set us up for dis-empowerment and disbelief in the natural process of healing and ourselves. Rather, the healing process requires a deep trust and knowing of the power of subtlety. We can actually move through the process with joy AND empowerment to eventually move closer to the harmony we are working towards.

    When we offer a plant medicine, often, we are working to restore the balance and create alignment in the body which is necessary for the body to heal. We are working to create a container in which healing has the opportunity to unfold. The plants simply aid us in recovering our own equilibrium when we lose touch with our well being and fall into imbalance. The plants understand the importance of slow and subtle resolve and the benefits of gentle, yet, consistent and powerful action.

    I want to honorably mention one of my greatest allies… Mallow… a true teacher of the power of subtlety. Scarlet Globe-mallow, Yerba de la Negrita, Common Mallow, Marshmallow. All of them (and many unnamed here). These incredible plants give such great reminders to me of the importance of gentle, yet, powerful medicine. Mallow is nourishing to the mucous membranes of the body and promotes the cellular integrity from deep inside. The green potency and high nutrient content aids in the reception of necessary vitamins and minerals. The mild drawing action extracts toxins yet simultaneously regenerates healthy tissues. Mallow can help restore balance and cool inflammations/heated conditions and yet moisten/ soothe the tissues of the body preventing excess dryness.  Mallows love to be made into a cold (room temperature) infusion tea or perhaps a green drink, a green powder added to water, food or smoothie. The leaves taste delicious when added into a summer salad. I love to create a shampoo/soap with 1 yucca leaf, a handful of mallow greens and flowers, a little coconut oil, and essential oil of your choice blended and strained and kept in the fridge until it smells a little off (about one week and hopefully you use it all up before it expires).

    The more sentient we strive to be and align ourselves with the other sentient beings who live here, like the plants, the more we can attune ourselves to the essence of deep healing. In my opinion, Doug lives by one of the most powerful mantras. He reminds us that, “we are here to learn to become better relatives”.

    About the Author

    As an herbalist, Deb Buck has an incredible passion for facilitating the transmission and reception of herbal medicine in the oral tradition.  She see’s the significance of conveying the messages of the Earth and the voices of the plants. Deb feels it is important to bring awareness to the way these messages are being portrayed. She is a co-facilitator of Chanchka Remedios, where this article was originally featured.

    This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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