Kat Harrison may be the most magical person I know. Her work as an ethnobotanist over the last thirty years has taken her to many places, from the jungles of the Amazon to the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. She explores myriad realms, from the ritualistic, artistic and visionary to the practical concerning food, shelter, medicine and clothing- all through the lens of plants.
I first learned about Kat when I was living in NYC and just getting my feet wet in the study of permaculture and plant medicine. I have a vivid memory of the first time I listened to a recorded talk she gave while I was working on a painting. Kat’s message was profound and direct- pay attention to the plants around you, to the way you use plants, to the history of the plant, to consider the plants as beings. Her words deeply resonated with me, and spoke to the relationship I was cultivating with the medicinal weeds of NYC.
I thought then, this woman has to be my teacher.
I consider meeting and becoming a student of Kat’s as proof of magic in my life. Her encyclopedic knowledge has not stopped her from being one of the most humble people I know.
As serendipity would have it, the painting I was working on while listening to Kat’s interview was about the magic of mugwort. The proliferation of this medicinal and mystical plant in abandoned lots and sidewalk cracks of Brooklyn made me question the dichotomy between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’. Through paying attention to the plants, I saw that the middle of New York City was still a part of nature. Medicine plants (many weeds are medicinal) may have made their way there as a response to an imbalance within the humans sculpting that land. Mugwort’s medicinal and energetic properties are regulating, especially to the female reproductive system. Mugwort, Artemisia Vulgaris- is named after Artemis, a virgin lunar deity known for her independence and for her tendency to roam with a pack of dogs. Mugwort is a plant associated with the liminal, dreams, the subconscious, female intuition. One might consider the properties of Mugwort the perfect tonic for the constitution of NYC.
The magic of mugwort continues in my life through concocting the Dream Weaver Mist which evokes vision and lucidity in dreams.
Pairing Kat with the Dream Weaver Mist was a no brainer. A magic lady with a magic plant.
Photos by Darling Dear Photography