Chris Penczak for Rue. He is a bit nerdier looking than his pic. He wears glasses and lots of black. He has a wonderful voice, not terribly deep, but smooth and soothing, which aids him in guiding a meditation; he sells CDs of them, and it would be a worthwhile purchase. Probably the coolest incident of the whole conference for me happened during Chris's plant familiar workshop.
He started with the general concept of the familiar. The plant familiar isn't necessarily our favorite rose bush or patch of bee balm. It's the spirit of the plant, which Chris categorizes as a balm, a bane or a tree teacher, that we connect to in the spiritual realm. Balms are gentle sweetie plants like lemon balm or lavender. Banes are more dangerous plants like belladonna or mandrake, and tree teachers are quite obviously trees.
Then we did a meditation to seek out a plant familiar. So it's all, ground & center, relax whole body, wind around through the world tree, come to a clearing where there are 3 paths. To the right are the balms, to the left the banes, straight ahead the tree teachers.
I went for the trees! I am a big time tree-hugger & woods hiker, so I like lots of trees. But what came through was birch: from the big one on the lawn at my family home, to a Maine mountainside filled with them. As we wound on through, I began to smell a luscious scent that I couldn't quite identify but really liked. I assumed that Chris had turned on an aromatherapy diffuser partway through, which would be the perfect thing to do with this type of meditation.
But when I spoke to him the next day (and he was gracious about chatting with people in between classes) I found that he did not have a diffuser going, nor does he ever, because often hotels don't allow it. So, he said, I probably really connected to the spirit of the tree. I had a claursmellient experience! OK, the actual word is clauralience, or clear smelling.
But, I have found my tree teacher! or at least one of them! Pretty cool. It just seemed natural at the time, not magickal, until I wondered about my assumption that a diffuser was a-going, and decided to ask.