It is a Winter Solstice tradition for me to divine which plant(s) will serve as my ally for the upcoming year. While it may seem odd to be concerned about plant allies during the dark of the year, it has always felt right to me. As the sun begins His return, I feel that the... consciousness (for lack of a better word) of the plant world begins to shift as well. I've tried for years to put words to this particular feeling that I get, but it defies my efforts to properly describe it. Machaelle Small Wright says of the winter solstice in her Perelandra Garden Workbook: "I feel that then the architectural blueprint is complete and its information is accessible to me."* This is as close as I've come to anyone describing my feelings of the solstice moment in terms of its affect on the plant world.
The process for revealing my upcoming ally is simple. I generally use a pendulum along with a list of plants/seeds that are available to me. Only once before have I been given more than one plant with which to ally during the year, and I've been doing this for seven years or so. This year? THREE. Three creatures of the green whose secrets I am to unlock. I'll admit, I'm a bit effing intimidated. I normally work with more plants than my designated ally, sure, but the ally is the one to whom I devote massive amounts of time and energy. I grow the plant, tend it, breathe with it, eat it, study it, make offerings to it, use it in witchcraft, etc. Needless to say, three plants is going to be a stretch for me. Perhaps the challenge will do my lazy ass good.
So, the plants: Poplar (specifically Balm of Gilead), Mugwort, and Dittany of Crete.
I've worked with both Balm of Gilead and Mugwort before, so I'm pretty excited to delve deeper into communion with them. Dittany of Crete is totally out of left field for me though. I've never used it in any form. Hell, I've never even seen the plant beyond a few pictures online. It is also unique in that I've typically been allied to plants that are found locally, despite the fact that my list always includes those that aren't local. I suppose this was inevitable. Dittany isn't even hardy in my zone, but I'll worry more about what to do with the plant next winter after I've come to know this beautiful herb a little more intimately.
*(NOTE: The referenced book is a bit New Agey for my taste, but as with many such books, there are definitely gems of wisdom to be plucked.)