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Blowing Smoke: a teaching dream

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

I don’t know about you, but if you are like me, when the weather warms in spring, after a long drizzling cold has kept you inside for most of three or more months, you cannot wait to get outside!

I reason that the plants I’ve had safely tucked away in my greenhouse and in my living room feel the same anxious need for fresh air.

So, on the first, crisp, April day, I fling open the windows and doors of my home and head out to the greenhouse. There, I survey the plants, give them a pat and a promise that as soon as Easter weekend has passed (that’s the calendar mark in South Texas that guarantees no more freezes), I’ll bring them all outside. I can hear them sigh! So, in going, I leave the doors and windows open.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

However, I learn the hard way, that this is not such a great idea. Seeing the open door without a screen as an invitation to nest inside, Yellow Jackets get busy and before I know it, there’s a huge nest dangling from the greenhouse ceiling just inside the door. Bummer.

Looking around, I also find a nest under the railing of the deck by the pool a few yards away. These are really inconvenient places for us to share space with these beneficial flying insects, as they can be really aggressive if their nests are threatened.

I cringe at killing any living thing.

Indoors, I catch most insects and arachnids with a tissue and release them outside. I apologize to scorpions and cock roaches before I crush them. And as for wasps, usually, I can coax them to leave of their own free will by inviting them to do so.

I look like a fool, standing in the doorway waving my arms, calling the hornets and daubers out, but I really want to keep my Karma clear. And this is one way I do it.

In this case, though, there are multiple nests and many workers. Catching them is not an option except by a professional as in the video below:

To clarify, while I have enjoyed the company and nurture of indoor plants and landscape gardens for many years, I am a complete novice at vegetable gardening. My garden is very small and, I confess, not terribly well attended. But I do have good intentions and as a steward of the earth, I want to learn to garden organically: without using poison.

Hmmmm… I stand observing the nests for a long time. I watch the workers come and go. They have no idea they trouble me. This is their world, after all, not mine.

I recall years before, watching my husband poison or burn these creatures to death. My consciousness can no longer tolerate such violence. Besides, as I said, wasps benefit my garden by eating other insects and feeding them to their developing larvae, so I don’t want them to leave my garden altogether; I just want them to nest elsewhere. I have to think.

How can I ask these animals to leave without hurting them or being hurt by them? I decide to let it go for another day. I’ll do some research. See what others have done.

But I don’t research right away. Instead I sleep, and dream:

I am outside looking for wasp nests. I see two. One is ginormous! My son and daughter are playing at an outdoor table right beside the nest. From across the yard, I start screaming, calling them to me. I am frantic, demanding. Now, I try to think how to get the yellow jackets to move without making them angry or harming them. I use the leaf blower, only instead of air blowing out, it blows smoke. Sage! Smoke fills the greenhouse and all around the garden. I am smudging! The yellow jackets fly away and their nest falls. I think about where I can reattach the nest so that they can carry on living peacefully out of the main flow of our space. I decide to use a hat pin or super glue and replace the nest on the grapevine trellis.

When I wake up, I cannot wait to tell my husband about my dream, because this is the day he has threatened to “get rid of” the yellow jackets no matter what.

“Just let me try this first,” I say. “I have received a teaching dream!”

It is said, that Shamans are able to receive dreams that show them how to help heal someone or a certain circumstance. So, I know that this dream is an amazing gift to me from Spirit World.

I heard about moving the nest from the Texas Guru of organic gardening, Malcolm Beck, several years ago, so I know my subconscious has given me this reminder. But, having never heard of smudging as a remedy, I wonder if it will work.

I have harvested and dried an entire Mexican Bush Sage plant from last year’s garden for smudging purposes. This plant, also known as Salvia Leucantha, is not a Texas native, but is well adapted and grows prolifically in the South Texas region. I love it for its spires of bluish-purple, for the fact that it requires little water, and because the butterflies love it, too! Plus, I learned from a Native American healer that to best clear one’s space and/or body of negative energies, one must use plants (sage, cedar, lemongrass) native to or grown within their particular regional soil when performing a smudging ceremony.

I gather my tools: an abalone shell, dried sage leaves, fire, and feathers. Walking outside, my pulse quickens. I am aware of danger, but I feel no malice toward these creatures and thus I believe they must understand energetically that I mean to do them no harm.

Standing a few feet from the first nest, I light the sage and blow on it to kindle the fire, producing smoke. Carefully, quietly, I approach the nest. As I come closer, I see maybe five workers, busy at their task on the paper cone hanging by a hair’s-width, twig-looking extension, and hexagonal cubicles forming. They are calm, barely notice me. I begin to blow smoke vigorously toward them, directly my breath, sending loving-kindness, and praying peace.

As soon as the smoke surrounds them, they fly, rising high overhead and swooping off left and right, landing in nearby trees. I continue blowing smoke. Going next to the nest under the railing a few yards away, following the same protocol. Again, the yellow jackets fly, not attacking, simply leaving.

For a few minutes more, I circle the garden, smudging the entire area, burning the rest of this sacred sage. Now, I sing a blessing: to the creature beings, to the plants, to the earth, sun and sky, with gratitude for this plant’s medicine, for the insects’ service, asking them to return as they wish, but not to nest here.

I gently knock the nests loose from their moorings and carefully replace them on the trellis nearby (with super glue) as I have been instructed to do in the dream (and by Malcolm Beck).

The Yellow Jackets have gone.

I am in awe. And as I return daily, checking whether the workers have returned to rebuild, not finding any nests anywhere in the garden or around the pool, I am convinced:

All That Lives guides and informs us if we will only listen.

1 Comment

Unknown member
Sep 11, 2021

wow. this is such a nice post. I love your story. If ever you are in Austin, Texas and consider remodeling your patio, don't hesitate to contact

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