Witches Butter by Sara Wright

The other day I found the most beautiful fungus on an aging white pine set against deep green moss that was almost arcing over the brook. When I looked up Dacrymyces palmatis I discovered that it’s common name was “Witches Butter.” That figures I thought – this must mean that this plant has medicinal qualities, and of course it does along with the fact that the fungus is edible.

Any time I see the word witch associated with a plant if I am not familiar with it I start digging into research inevitably coming up with the same kind of information – the plant/ tree/ fungus/slime mold is edible and has medicinal value.

The word witch as many of us know has at its root to bend or shape. Shape -shifting by non –ordinary means.

Witches were and are healers that use herbs, talk intimately with animals, are counseled by plants and humming trees. Witches wait patiently for instructions,

It’s no surprise that in fairy tales witches almost always live in the woods and are solitary creatures by nature and design.

After having spent the most creative more than half of my life living alone by choice, my non – human neighbors have become my teachers. It is painfully obvious to me that listening to nature is an art form lost to western culture.

Observing, listening, refusing to make judgments or draw premature conclusions allows Nature’s truths to seep slowly into our bodies. I think of this process as a kind of percolating –  extraordinary knowledge and insights arise out of these complex relationships with the rest of nature that only some Indigenous cultures seem to be able to maintain today.

Although I am not a witch in the western tradition as in Wiccan I am one having been initiated by nature.

I’ll give the reader one recent example. A number of years ago while walking through a Bosque along the river in NM on a daily basis during the winter months, always before dawn, I began to sense light emanating from under my feet underground. I could feel that this light was beneficent but it also seemed that I was tapping into the unknown. Very mysterious. I was learning something but what?  Having learned to trust my body’s truth I waited for more information.

When I learned that the latest research in western science had discovered that mycelial networking operated much like the human brain does by creating synapses accompanied by sparks of light that wove the roots below my feet into one tapestry that stretched across unbroken ground, I still experienced as sense of awe and wonder! I thanked my body for hearing the message: We are all connected! At least in some places. These networks stretch across parts of the desert in the wetlands if they are protected as this area was. Most desert lands have been trashed by cattle grazing destroying the networking. The same process occurs in more temperate areas when roads are paved over the earth, cities are built or agribusiness pollutes the earth with chemicals. I could go on here.

My point? If earth was allowed to be in her natural state the underground networking would stretch across the whole planet. It is amazing to think that such complex communication lines lie just under the surface of our feet.

One of the things I love most about being in unbroken stretches of forest, and I do have one nearby (12,000 plus acres), is that it is very easy to slip into that light trance state while walking slowly. Softening my vision with intent I feel and sense that communication occurring beneath my feet, experience being loved by something so much greater, than I can comprehend. Every time I enter this forest I can her/him casting a veil around me as I slip into “all there is.” My only thought afterwards is to give thanks for the two people who saved this land from destruction.

The witch in me is always repeating the same words: let the Powers of Nature lead you Home.

I listen with deep love and appreciation, grateful for instruction.

BIO: Sara Wright is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.



Categories: Earth-based spirituality, General, Mother Earth, Nature

Tags: , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Thank you Sara! I love that wonderful feeling of trance walking in the forest, being open, just waiting to see who or what will show themselves to you. I’d like to know what you will make with the “witch butter.” Also wondering what uses the readers have for “witch hazel.”

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  2. Many of us witches are not Wiccan.

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  3. not sure what you mean about being a witch here!

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  4. I hadn’t known about the underground sparks of light! I also feel very connected to the forest as I walk by and breathe in the aerosols emitted by trees that have been shown to have myriad beneficial physical and mental health effects. It’s amazing what a walk in the woods will do!

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  5. When I hear “witches butter” I’m thinking it would make a good salve- maybe a pain reliever of some sort? I know the colorless white “ghost pipes” are very good for pain.

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  6. Thank you, Sara. I’ve seen Witches Butter, but I never thought to research it and see if it was medicinal. I love walking in the woods and connecting to the Divine/Nature, too. I feel grounded and uplifted when I’m in the woods and I feel very stressed if I don’t get out in the woods enough. I’ve been practicing Nature Bathing way before I learned about it. Now it is popular. I’ve read that some call it Vitamin N because it is so necessary.

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    • supposed to have anti-tumor properties as well as an ability to deal with respiratory problems – for some reason this comment won’t go to Annelinde….

      Oh god now it’s ‘nature bathing’ an in phrase I despise I guess because once again nature is being used by us for something to do with healing us.

      Without giving back – Reciprocity is what nature is all about.

      Of course humans USED to know that being with Nature allowed them to be at peace because we are all connected to NATURE…. s/he is our teacher…

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  7. Thanks Sara, really inspiring, connecting, honouring!

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  8. Your description of light emanating from below reminds me of several of the Diva paintings I have created. Many of the paintings have roots coming out of the bottoms of my feet; there is one painting where my long hair turns into roots going into the ground. There are many ways to communicate and experience Nature around us.

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  9. Beautiful post! I always love to see the astoundingly bright lime green lichen growing on trees and rocks but never knew it had medicinal value. Great to know that!

    I have learned about the connectivity of the mycelial network of which mushroom are the fruit but had no idea it could emit a light. Now I have inspiration to get up early (not a morning person) and head to the Bosque to see if I can see that. How amazing! And western science is just now re-discovering the healing properties of so many mushrooms which of course our ancestor knew long ago when spirituality was Earth-based.

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