Adornment: Healthy Flattery & Rituals of Self-Love
The upcoming Spring Issue of Plant Healer Magazine will include the second installment of the Herbalist Fashion department, this time focused on wild-hearted Feral Style as modeled by our own Kiva Rose along with Leah and Chloe of Rising Appalachia. Below is a brief excerpt from the opening essay meant to encourage self love as well as self adornment, with the full article available by subscribing at: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com
Healthy Flattery & Rituals of Self-Love
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
I watch as she stops to admire herself. Far from conceited about her looks, she has spent much of her life disappointed in her shape and doubting her attractiveness. Some times she wore formless clothes that hid her curves, other times her outfits and jewelry that none could see past. I am fortunate to have witness the evolution of a wardrobe that now reveals and accentuates her true, powerful and beautiful being.
Instead of critically scowling at her reflection as she has at other times, this morning she wears a self-knowing smile. She admires the handwork on her peasant blouse, adjusts it until approving of the way it hangs and highlights, arranges her flowing hair, then one by one lifts her necklaces from their perch and slips them over her head. The first is a magical bear’s tooth, ivory toned in its silver and moonstone berth. Next is a bear’s head carved out of sparkling green amber, then a gold capped elk tooth that speaks of her other half. From her ears she hangs Middle-Eastern bangles that hint at her love of belly-dancing, and native beaded hat bands evoking the spirit of our local Southwestern tribes. She steps back from the mirror and smiles.
There exists a potential for both enchantment and deep connection every time we mindfully adorn, tend or nourish what is surely our sacred body. Full noticing is an essential and sensual sacrament: admiring the quality of, smelling the scent of, listening to the shuffling of, delighting in the glint of, savoring the tactile softness of our carefully chosen clothing and decorative jewelry, tattoos and hair styles. And clothing and adornment are not only a way for announcing our gender, tastes, identities or means of livelihood, she proves that they can also serve as a visible way of honoring ourselves.
Dressing up for ourselves is important, like making a nourishing candlelit meal even when there is no one around to eat with us. It is an act of acknowledgment and love that the body and the subconscious both appreciate, helping to mend any illusory schism between the spiritual and the physical, helping heal the wounds made whenever we’ve overly scrutinized or criticized our bodily shapes and forms. To embellish is literally to “make beautiful,” but the act also implies our recognition that what we decorate is deserving of the expense and effort. In this way conscious dressing-up can communicate to the depths of our being that we believe we are worthy of the attention and embellishment. In this way earrings aren’t put on in order to win compliments, elicit desire or find a mate – not for any external reason – but as a gift to ourselves, as we continue the healing work of self-understanding and self-love.
The word “adorn” derives from the Latin ornare, meaning “to equip” and “get ready.” Adornment, at its best and healthiest, makes us each the alchemists and artists of our own existence, a deliberate expressive act equipping ourselves with self-knowledge and self-confidence, getting ready to live ever more beautiful, generous and manifested lives. As with the similar sounding word “adore,” to adorn speaks of the value of healthy appreciation and ritual tending. One can dress-up to “fit in,” to impress, to please or even to discomfort others… or we can don and adorn in order to honor and demonstrate our special selves instead.
She turns her head and catches me watching her, first looking alarmed and self conscious, then her features shift as if to say she feels both honored and recognized. She then steps outside, not into a busy crowd but a congregation of ancient pines and turquoise sky, gleeful songbirds and gurgling river. Like her, the sunlit crimson cliffs and brilliant wild blossoms seem to have put on their best, holding their heads high, glowing in the face of every test.
Now let your wild side shine….
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