What Poisonous Plants Can teach Us About Healing: An Interview with Kathryn Solie (Founder of Persephone’s Path)
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Hello and welcome! Today, I’m interviewing the amazing Kathryn Solie. Kathryn does a lot of amazing different work, but primarily she teaches some meditation classes and workshops on poisonous plants and plant medicines.
NEVER WORK WITH POISONOUS PLANTS WITHOUT SUPERVISION FROM A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL.
An Interview with Kathryn Solie: What poisonous plants can teach us about healing.
Kathryn Solie: Thank you for having me here!
Ashley: Oh, it is my pleasure and my honor. I have really been getting into this journey with plants and plant medicines and I actually signed up for your Poisonous Plant Medicine, Class 1 and Class 2. And I know that you are going to be starting a new round of that very soon.
I was wondering if you could introduce yourself to everyone? Tell them a little bit about your story, and how you got started on this path, and what you are up to now?
Kathryn: That is always an interesting question to ask because it is hard to know what exactly brought me here. There has been so many different things, but essentially, I work with plant medicine. If I am just talking to a regular person, I just say, I am an herbalist. Probably, not a lot of regular people are listening, so I can kind of go into a little bit more detail in the way that I work with them.
I work a lot with plant consciousness, or what a lot of people call plant spirit medicine.
It’s really similar to the way that you work with crystals in that they have this energetic medicine. I have been really pulled towards poisonous plants. Or I kind of want to do air quotes as poisonous, because it is the dose that makes the poison. Everything is poisonous, even water can kill you if you have a big enough dose.
Those plants have just really called me in the past few years. And their medicine is really needed on the planet at this time. They help bring us into the shadows and to our deeper psyches and to our unconscious into places where we are discouraged from exploring. Our current society only focuses on being happy. Be happy all the time. And it is great if we can be happy all the time, but there is also likely an undercurrent underneath that has all our life stories and moons and fears and that is always going to be there. That is normal and healthy and part of being human. I feel like the poisonous plants can help guide us through those spaces that might be normally kind of uncomfortable.
Ashley: I feel so grateful that you are bringing this up. In my personal journey with these medicines, this is exactly when they showed up in my life. When I really started to consciously dig into that shadow aspect. I found that I needed some support, and this was what came through. For me, this was what my body, my mind, my spirit all needed. To kind of do this work on multiple levels and find that energetic support and that medicine for this, really deep dive inner journey, personal healing, transformative, shadow aspect work.
Was it something similar for you personally that drew you in? Or did this just evolve naturally in your exploration of herbalism?
Kathryn: I think that it was always kind of just part of my makeup as a person, just even as a little kid I was always kind of, not, I would never use the word morbid, I feel like other people might use that word, but just kind of interested in the aspects of life that people try to keep hidden. Even for many years before I really fully stepped on the plant path, I was really on a path of meditation and non-duality and kind of eastern philosophy in eastern religion. I still am on that path, but a big part of that path for me was working with the archetypes of the wrathful deities.
In Hinduism and Buddhism you get Kali, which is symbolic of transformation and of going into these difficult times. Or if you have worked with this astrology — Saturn, Pluto — that kind of energy. I feel like that kind of aspect of life has always felt natural and comfortable to me, and so it really made total sense to me once I started working with the poisonous plants. I was like, oh, this is the same thing that I have been doing my whole life except it is just another expression of it.
Ashley: Yes. That makes so much sense, right. I mean, even thinking about the example of Kali. Kali is the dark goddess, so just as we have almost this shadow aspect represented there. We see that same shadow aspect, like you said, expressed in other places. And it is beautiful to be able to kind of pull these things together and look at how they can influence us on a personal level. But also their greater influence in the world and how we kind of fit into that.
I am really curious about what exactly people can do with these plants. Can you just touch on how someone would actually go about working with these plants as allies and connecting with their medicine?
Kathryn: Because of their poisons, we have to be a little bit more cautious than if, for example, you are going to work with rose, or linden, or oatstraw, or these very gentle, familiar kinds of medicines. With something that has a higher chance of hurting you, you have to be a little bit more careful. Because, I mean, you can actually kill yourself. You can kill yourself or you can go into altered states of consciousness that are not pleasant. You can cause damage to your organs, like permanent damage, so be really careful.
I obviously never recommend ingestion of poisons. There are cultures that historically, and still today, do that. But they are doing it under a lineage and under a culture that understands how to do that. For most of us here in the west, that has been withheld out of us. I have never used it that way before. I do like to recommend working with flower essences, or really safe, energetic medicine essences. The way that I work with essence it can be other parts of the plant as well, but essences, as long as they are prepared properly, should be safe and reliable.
The other way I work with plants is with plant spirit communication.
Without even seeing the plant you can connect in with its consciousness and receive wisdom and medicine and information that is surprising to our rational minds usually. The plant will tell you about themselves and then you can later go look up the plant and find how these things that you were understanding about it lines up with the actual physical medicine of it. It can be pretty mind blowing at times.
Ashley: I love that you work with the plant medicines in this way. This is very similar to my approach with crystals. It’s like really pay attention to what your intuition is telling you and what your inner guidance is telling you about which of these plants are drawing you in or trying to speak with you, or connect with you. Then go look up a little bit about that crystal or that plant and see how it really relates to your life. Rather than always thinking with your conscious mind, ‘oh, what do I have going on right now?’ with the ego mind and letting that dictate what you are working with. Instead, really kind of turning inward.
I think talking about flower essences will resonate with a lot of people who are reading right now because many will be familiar with gem essences and crystal essences.
So flower essences are very similar, but you said that you did on occasion work with other parts of the plant as well? I know that for some people it can be really intimidating — just like with crystals — because some are toxic. We do not want to use a direct method of preparation and that sort of thing. People might be really intimidated by creating their own essences, in particular with poison plants.
Do you have any recommendations for pre-made essences?
Someone that they can trust and turn to who have created these with integrity and with a good know how behind them in a safe environment?
Kathryn: Yes. Well, I sell a lot of them in my shop. I also like, although I have not worked with her essences, Sarah Anne Lawless. And Bane Folk. I always recommend her to my students. She makes topical treatments, which I forgot to mention is another way we can work with poisonous plants. People use them topically for pain like an oil or a salve. She makes really safe, beautiful salves.
Ashley: I think that is a great recommendation. I have worked with some of her essences and really like them. The ones in your shop are great too. You have things that are great for when people start to open to poisonous plant medicines, like henbane and belladonna. These are ones that I think many people are, if they are ready to kind of put a toe in and see what this is all about, kind of drawn to or called to work with.
If you were going to recommend one or two flower essences or poison plant essences for people to start exploring this realm with, what would you recommend and how would they actually work with that essence?
Kathryn: I think it is one of those things like what you just mentioned with crystals. It’s about trusting what you are pulled towards. But, yes, belladonna is the first plant that we journey with on the six-week course. Because I feel like it is one that we can kind of feel easily. Although belladonna can be a little standoffish as well. Belladonna is also called deadly nightshades — you might be familiar with it. The energy of Belladonna is also really needed right now for healing wounds of the feminine.
Ashley: Yes. We talked a little bit before we started recording about how these medicines from these plants can actually be worked with alongside crystals. And how these medicines can be integrated together. I know in your shop you even have a few crystals that I think probably pair very well with these medicines, like black tourmaline.
What are some of the crystals that you have seen pair well or how would you recommend people start to mix and match these? I know a lot of it is personal to each of us, but do you have any tips?
Kathryn: I also make gem essences but I do not sell them as individuals. They are in some blends mixed with other poisonous plant blends. I especially like to use black tourmaline essence for boundaries. Black tourmaline is just my favorite because it is so grounding and it feels protective, and that is also what I get a lot from the poisonous plants. There is kind of this cross over there.
I feel like Onyx can be also another one that kind of has a similar energy. Even something like rose quartz that is so sweet and gentle. The poisonous plants, depending on how you are feeling and what day you kind of interact with the consciousness of these plants, they can have loving, gentle energy as well.
I was hoping I could ask you the same thing — what crystals do you feel like pair well with poisonous plants?
Ashley: Yes. I have been working a lot with black moonstones and datura has been for me a very natural combination. I have been really enjoying that. Again, looking at instead of our normal like rainbow moonstone or white moonstone, the black moonstone has the darkness, the shadow aspect, the realm of what is hidden.
Also black obsidian. Black obsidian for me is very clearing. I find that for me a lot of times what happens when I am working with these plant medicines is I shift out of some sort of behavior, or pattern, or something that is been unhealthy for myself, because I have this kind of realization and awakening to what is happening. It is almost just like someone flips a switch. And for me the black obsidian is really clearing of any of that kind of remnant.
For me the crystals are a quick intense change, but then you need that lasting support of the plant medicine to carry through and really shift and implement change.
They’re that more sustained, very gentle, kind of like harmonizing of those shifts that have been facilitated with some of the crystals. Which can be at times even a little bit strong or overwhelming depending on what is going on.
My background is actually in botany and horticulture professionally. It is something that I have been exploring for such a long time personally. But I really wanted to start just talking about and sharing with people who are interested in crystals. They pair so well together. It’s just been so exciting to have you here, talking about this.
We did talk about your shop a few times Kathryn, and at Kathrynsolie.com, there will be links in the blog that goes along with this but I am wondering… I know that your next poisonous plant medicine round of classes is really filling up and there may be a few spots left, maybe, by the time this episode airs, but …
I am wondering if you can tell everybody a little bit about when you are starting your next round of classes? Or how they can stay in touch with you online or by email to get notified about these?
Kathryn: Yes. I have another round of classes starting soon for level 1. And then there is going to be a level 2 in January likely and then a level 3. I will be offering a level 1 again in the spring time next year probably. If you miss out there will be another chance to sign up. I also do a lot on patreon. That is I do like a 20 to 60 minute video class every month on topics like, plant spirit communication, how to communicate with plants, how to make flower essences, how to make a really good flower essence, tarot, and last month’s was how to make an herbal smoke plant, and all kinds of things. So I am pretty active there, and yes, my shop, everything can be found at Kathrynsolie.com.
Ashley: So when you go to Kathrynsolie.com at the bottom, there is a place to subscribe for Kathryn’s emails which I highly recommend. You will find a link to Kathryn’s patreon also at the top of her website and then, you are also on Instagram @Persephone’s Path.
Ashley: I am so grateful that you are here today and sharing all of your amazing wisdom with everyone!
Kathryn: Thank you so much for having me here and thank you for giving a voice to all the energy, all the medicine of the earth.