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Poppies and the Accidental Artist

Posted by admin on Apr 9, 2011

©2011 by Antonia Gentile of ourlifeisnow

I’ve always had a romanticized connection with poppies. They seemed to appear frequently throughout my life, so I accepted them as a sort of totem, and collected images whenever I had the opportunity.

poppies1saIn a recent spring and summer, a very interesting set of serendipitous events unraveled like a cinematic opera with poppies and their essence as a flower starring in primary and supporting roles. Events that, in hindsight, I understood to have been intricately connected to my inner work and personal journey to better understand my soul’s path.

Winter had given way to early spring in all its natural glory. I decided to flee the city and accepted an invitation to spend a weekend at my family’s vacation home in the Catskills Mountains of upstate New York. A perfect way, I thought, to say farewell to a winter of discontent and enjoy the arrival of the new and long awaited season.

I quickly shed the layers of my city persona and walked about the grounds, taking in the view and exchanging the sounds of sirens with the busy buzzing of nature in spring. As I made my way to the back of the home, I was astounded at the sight of some very large wild orange poppies, lined up perfectly in multiple rows against the white shingled rear, facing south. It must have been their big premiere! I sat quietly and meditated before them, breathing deeply and taking in their beauty.

Across from the poppies were scraps from various types of wood that had been collected in months past from the nearby forest for use in the fireplace. Not one to spontaneously lift and move around heavy pieces of wood, I went about carefully uncovering one after another, as if I intuitively knew there was a treasure buried underneath somewhere.

One apple tree piece had a unique trinity form that resembled the aorta of a heart, or perhaps a person opening up their arms, inviting a hug. It seemed to call to me.

Like me, it needed a little bit of fixing up. Some layers needed to be shed. It was covered with all sorts of things from dirt to moss to worm rings (unlike me). It definitely had potential and just needed someone to recognize its distinction.

poppies1My affection with this fixer upper of a piece of apple wood and simultaneous discovery of the poppies seemed to fit in perfectly with my recent studies in vibrational medicine, and specifically my budding adventures in Flower Essence Therapy. Flower essences, as the energetic blueprint of a flower, assist us in reaching our highest potential, bringing our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health into greater balance. As each flower is associated with a specific pattern of imbalance, the taking of its essence brings out our ability to better release negative feelings, providing us with the ability to love, forgive, let go, be wiser, and so forth.

I plopped the apple wood on a piece of oak tree bark used as a makeshift end table, as if a psychologist inviting my client to become comfortable on the therapy sofa.  I faced the wood in the direction of the sun, which was starting to beam bright at early afternoon. Then I decided I was going to make an essence from the poppies.

I did not have my flower essence guide with me at the time to reference, so I was not familiar with the imbalances the poppy as a vibrational remedy assists in, but I did know that essences were safe to use, so I had nothing to lose in trying. I carefully plucked the petals from the poppies (thanking them in the process for the gift of their use), cleaned and placed them in a bowl of pure spring water under the sunlight, and covered it all with a slate of flat glass for protection from mosquitoes, dirt and bacteria.

For the rest of the afternoon, I started to work on the wood, with the goal of first removing some of the surface items and doing some cleanup prior to cutting away at the first layer. It was apparent from the beginning that many layers would have to be to cut into before this piece could reveal anything close to a smooth surface.

The worm rings themselves were about one eight of an inch deep, which meant that the entire piece would probably have to be chipped into by that amount, for most of its circumference, and with lots of help from sandpaper. This would be an arduous project taking time, patience, and definitely more than one weekend in the country. What was I thinking? I had to get back to my office job in New York City eventually.

poppy3-wikiI removed the glass cover from my poppy essence concoction and poured a small amount into a cup to drink from, saving the rest for later.

At this point, I was sweating, tiring, and had earned a tan from being in the direct May sunlight for so long. I decided to close up shop and continue the next day. I took some more of the flower essence and then wished the wood adieu.

For the rest of that weekend in the Catskills and on as many weekends for the remainder of the summer as I could travel there, I continued to work on the piece and take my poppy essences. I would begin my day working on the wood outdoors, and see the sun set with it, until eventually I could not see any further.

Chipping away, I had been releasing layers of my own etheric being, layers that did not serve me any good, and much having to do with the past that needed to be let go of. I could almost feel a specific emotionally painful experience be released from my cellular memory with some of the cuttings. As I was releasing, I was making room for the new. My intuition increased, revelations came to me, and I felt a lightness, with renewed hope for the future as the summer progressed.

poppies1-galleryOne local store I visited sold an interesting array of tasteful items from vintage comics and books to clothing and organic tea. The owner also mentioned that he owned the art gallery upstairs with a cooperative group of local artists, and that I was free to take a look.

I remember how wonderful the light coming in from the windows in the open space felt on my skin, as I was surrounded by all this creative work. I mentioned my woodwork, and Alan invited me to participate in their next opening. I was intrigued by the idea, but me, an artist? This is a hobby that I stumbled upon, if even that. To some others, it was even facetious.

The rest of that summer I continued to make progress on my wood, eventually bringing it back to the city for the final touch-ups and polishing. It was beginning to look a lot like art. The September reception date hovered over me. “Why not?” now crossed my mind more than “Yeah right.”

As I entered the gallery that crisp fall evening in the mountains, I was almost teary eyed at the sight of my piece, confidently propped on a pedestal for all to see upon first entering. I had titled it “Open Heart,” and priced it high enough that it would not be sold – how can you put a price on love, anyway?

Here I was, surrounded by artists whose works were sharing the same space as mine, their creations priced as high as in the thousands of dollars, and whose encouraging words were unlike any others. My distinction was being recognized.

The Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminsky and Richard Katz describes the qualities of the poppy essence as “finding spirituality within one’s heart; balancing light and love; developing an inner sense of knowing.”poppies2

I cannot say for sure if the poppy flower essences I made during that summer co-created the events that led me to discover the artist that always existed in me but was latent. However, I do know that today, creativity is part of my daily life, and my artistic endeavors have expanded into many avenues, from fine art to creative writing. The intention is always to raise consciousness for both me and my audience.

Editors’ note: This is part of a longer story that you can see at: http://ourlifeisnow.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/poppies-and-the-accidental-artist/

About the author: Of herself, Antonia Gentile says, “I am freelance writer on topics such as natural health, sustainable living, inter-faith spirituality, and the creative and healing arts. I have written essays, poetry, comedy, travel memoirs, and a screenplay.  My writings on health and spirituality, in particular, are driven by some very personal experiences, experiences that have placed me on a journey of intense inner work (the opus of my soul) as well as self-education.  Simply put, our nation’s health care system is not designed for healing but instead for illness management.  I found it imperative to get in the driver’s seat and educate myself on topics ranging from food science to energy healing to therapies from ancient cultures of the eastern, Native American, and Asian traditions.  Knowledge is power, and my mission is to share that with others.  Visit my blog, http://ourlifeisnow.wordpress.com or write to me at antoniawrites@yahoo.com .”



This is such a heartwarming story (no pun intended, really!), and I too believe Poppy essence is excellent for accessing and even materializing creativity – after all, it matches the orange chakra, right? Thanks for this great post!

April 12th, 2011 | 2:15 pm

Thank you! I enjoyed writing it and am now looking into the use of more flower essences for healing.

April 20th, 2011 | 8:12 pm