I met Agnes one year ago in the “The Art of Ritual and Sacred Space” training and remember vividly her beautiful altar she'd created at the workshop venue. Lots of crystals, gods and goddesses and a lot of amazing herbs, tinctures and smudging sticks. I was in awe of this beautiful little space she created, so I asked her to have a conversation with me about plants, smudging, and Mother Earth.
Agnes, what was your intention when starting with yoga and smudging and ultimately founding your own business?
Reconnecting to yourself. I had the feeling that I had lost the connection to my own intuition, to who I am as a human being and to my role here on earth. We are all children of this Earth, we are all held in love, and we are protected.We are allowed to be who we really are and we are part of the bigger picture. Last year I travelled to Peru and a man I met during my stay told me that the ground in Peru is particularly sacred as this earth has been praised and treated as a temple over the past years, decades and centuries. When I was there I felt this energy so deeply, I was so grateful for this experience. I wanted to bring this idea back to our reality in Germany. There is so much potential in treating every square centimetre as sacred and in acknowledging our Earth. And by doing so, something in you changes and you receive feedback from the earth. Nature is so magical! As humans we are not isolated from nature but we are actually dependent on nature. I think we have a huge responsibility to treat our earth mindfully.
It’s our home. Be kind to your Mother.
How did you start with herbs and smudging?
Due to my pharmacy background and my love for plants, I wanted to know which plants are used traditionally for healing and smudging and I wondered if we have local options and alternatives. How did people smudge in former times? Smudging is a ritual that has been carried out for thousands of years. So I started to learn more about our local plants, digging into our local roots and history and a huge universe opened up. For example mugwort is one of the oldest healing and smudging plants in Europe, besides juniper, yarrow, camomile, sage or lavender. We all know these plants and apply them in various situations, but we can definitely also use them to smudge. I was so amazed by these plants and the idea that they are growing everywhere around us that I wanted to learn more.
How do you connect with the Earth and the plants?
I love being outside. In Hamburg we have many parks and when I need to ground myself, for example after traveling, I go outside, take off my shoes and socks and walk with my bare feet on the ground. It feels so good and magical! I also have a huge tree in front of my house which always reminds me of Mother Earth, and I love watching the seasonal changes on the tree. I grow some herbs on my little balcony like sage, rosemary or thyme. I love watching them grow and sometimes add some magic to them by watering the plants with crystal water and using them to smudge afterwards. I also go outside to collect herbs - you cannot buy a blooming mugwort and it feels just so special and beautiful to use all parts of the plant.
How do you create a smudge stick?
You start with collecting the herbs you would like to use and let them dry off a bit (without drying they might start to rot), then you take the bundle of herbs and you start wrapping a string around the bundle, from bottom to top and back again.You can play with the colour of the thread and set an intention while creating the bundle. At the bottom of the bundle you keep a little sling so you can hang it upside down to fully dry for 1-2 weeks. It can be kept like this forever.
What are your favourite local herbs to smudge?
I adore mugwort as it is one of the oldest healing plants in Europe, it clears, and transforms, and supports life transformations. Our local sage is also amazing and as powerful as white sage, which is very popular but grows mostly in California. It is great for clearing rooms, people, items or thoughts. I also love meadowsweet, it is the plant of my heart. It spreads lightness and supports in transitions, for example the transition from girl to woman as it is a very feminine plant. Some herbs are used for cleaning and some are used to bless and attract good energies. You shouldn’t be using both at the same time but cleanse first and then attract the energies you need in this moment.
Which plants would support times of transition and give courage?
Yarrow! It is very strengthening and reminds you of your own roots. Yarrow is the “last man standing” in the fields when it is a really hot summer and everything is withering.You can use this quality of yarrow for yourself, strengthen your roots and fuel yourself with courage.
What is your favourite ritual?
I love the “Rauhnächte” (The Twelve Days of Christmas) and always take the time to sit down during these 12 days, sometimes up to 3 hours, to bathe in this magical time. One ritual I really like is creating your own “Rauhnacht” candle, fueling it with my intentions and wishes and then burning it over the next months. To create that candle, you can prepare a beautiful space and then set your intentions for the year to come. These intentions and wishes are then carved into the wax.You can use a needle to scratch words, symbols or letters into the wax. I also love to tie dried herbs around the candle, using plants that support my intentions.When you burn the candle, the herbs burn as well and radiate a beautiful smell.You can also use essential oils and rub them into the candle wax.
Is there anything, you would like to share as closing words?
Be patient with yourself. We are allowed to rest, to chill and to be. Like nature and plants that adjust to the seasons. There is so much potential in the peace with ourselves that we can then transmit to the external world.That’s what we need in this world right now: tolerance and peace.
Agnes is a Yoga teacher, space holder for Cacao ceremonies and women circles, and offers smudging workshops. She is born in Lithuania where collecting herbs and mushrooms and tending a garden is part of everyone’s daily life, and nature’s magic is passed on in beautiful stories and myths.The seeds for her love for Mother Earth have been planted very early in her life when she spent her summer holidays with her Grandmother in Lithuania rambling through the forest and pickling vegetables from their own garden. Due to her love and interest for plants, she decided to study pharmacy to strengthen her knowledge. In the beginning of 2020, she decided to quit her corporate job as a project manager to focus full time on her business, Mother Earth Yoga in Hamburg.
Pictures by Silje Paul
Text by Nina