- Raised in a conservative Baptist church, Amanda always felt the divinity in the world but questioned the disconnect between the teachings of the church and her own experiences.
- After experiencing miscarriages and feeling unheard by medical professionals and her preacher husband, Amanda found healing and strength through acupuncture and connecting with plants, which led to a disruptive divorce and ex-communication from her church community.
- Amanda explored alternative ways of knowing and being, including herbalism, and discovered the transformative power of listening and dissolving the distinction between human and non-human.
- Through her work as an author, podcast host, and artist, Amanda shares her heart-centred offerings and messages to help others remember their connection to the divine and the interconnectedness of all living beings.
- Challenging the systems and structures that don't resonate with our hearts
- The transformative power of listening and the importance of being heard
- Reconnecting with nature and dissolving the distinction between human and non-human
Recorded 29 August 2023
If you have a miscarriage, lot of people don't even think there's a soul or a life or a baby there.
It was just this invisible happening that most people couldn't connect with. People thought, you have three kids, why are you sad? No one had ever listened to me. And no one was believing anything I said about what I thought was going on with my body. All the appointments were 10 minutes, if that, and they didn't hear a word I said.
And that's why I loved the acupuncturist. There are people we meet that are life changing. My first session with her was almost two hours. She just let me say everything I needed to say about every single miscarriage and how they'd happened. When I finished she put her pen down and she looked at me and she said 'someone should have been taking care of you – I can help you.' In that moment, the healing started because she heard me, she cared.
By being heard, she strengthened my voice. That was the change that opened the portal for me to the plants and other ways of knowing and being. And it was the beginning of my exit from the previous life. I just didn't know it at the time.
You're listening to the Still Curious Podcast with me, Danu Poyner. This show is dedicated to exploring the lives of people whose most sincere orientation to the world is curiosity and care – the people I refer to as grokkists. In each episode, I set out to connect with the unrepeatable person who is emerging from the place where history meets biography.
My conversation partner today is Amanda Nicole, who describes herself as a liriodendress, a human embodiment of the tulip poplar tree. Amanda grew up in a conservative Baptist church in the mountains of Appalachia. As a girl, she went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and every Wednesday night. As her mum put it, if the church doors are open, we're gonna be there.
Amanda didn’t need persuading to pursue a relationship with God and the divine. She had always felt there was divinity in the world and that she was connected to it, so little Amanda was very focused on being good because being good was what helped you to be with God.
But she had a lot of questions, especially about the parts of the church’s teaching that told her she was separate to God.
I was having trouble reconciling this idea that God is love with the anger, and the destruction and the hate. What I was told repeatedly when I was small was that the purpose was to break my will. And they did, in large part, they did break my will. And it's why I did such a good job for so long, and I think it's why it was so disruptive when I changed my mind.
Amanda felt her life had been planned out for her. She was dreamy and had aspirations of being a writer, and did study literature, but this was too off-brand and so ended up marrying a preacher and settling into the life she describes as a kind of cookie cutter existence.
After three healthy pregnancies she began to miscarry, not once but four times. This led Amanda to the acupuncturist you heard about at the beginning, which opened up alternate ways of healing, knowing, and being. And so Amanda meandered into the woods where she began speaking to trees and other benevolent nature beings, listening to the wisdom of plants and realising that they were communicating the voice of the divine.
I will start to feel a physical, almost energetic sensation in my heart space and I can feel it. It's hard for me to talk. It's as if all of my attention and knowing and consciousness is being directed to my heart space. And that's how I know that the tree is saying, yes, I'll talk to you.
Amanda started to study herbalism and became briefly involved in a Christian herbalist group, before being kicked out after asking a question about communication with plants.
They called me a creature worshiper and they tossed around words like pagan and witch. I felt like my experiences with the plants actually brought me closer to God and to the divine. So I told them that I thought their God was small.
With her voice strengthened, this was a threshold moment. Then came a sudden and disruptive divorce that Amanda found out about by email, and after that there was no turning back.
I feel that the systems that I had been a part of, and that exist in this world as a human collective, are full of bondage and fear and necessity and an emphasis on the head rather than the heart.
I decided I'm going to pursue something different and I'm going create something different. And with that divorce, a lot of times you're just trying to survive. And I said to a friend of mine during that time, I'm not interested in just surviving. I want to create a life.
The life Amanda has since created is about sharing verdant, heart-centred offerings, using plant communication and medicine to help people remember they are loved, and part of something larger. She did become a writer, and is the author of Flowers for a Girl: Plant Medicine & Sexual Trauma. She is also the human voice of a podcast called Whispers: Plant Spirit Medicine.
My background and Amanda’s could hardly be more different. I grew up in a non-religious household, have spent most of my professional career accustomed to the starting assumptions of scientific and technological rationalism, and most importantly, I lived a large part of my early life almost entirely in my head, an affliction from which in some ways I am still recovering.
All of which to say, this was a very interesting and unusual conversation for me, but ultimately a joyous, humbling and affirming one, in which we bonded over the problems of institutions that have a way of obscuring and suffocating the very things they are supposed to represent. We also shared a deep appreciation for the sacred practice of listening, and I learned something of personal and spiritual importance through communicating with a blueberry.
Please enjoy all this and more in a very special conversation with Amanda Nicole, coming up after the music on today’s episode of the Still Curious Podcast.
Links and resources
- Amanda's website: 'The Liriodendress'
- Entosophy (Tree Wisdom): an interspecies dialogue
- Whispers: Plant Spirit Medicine podcast
- Amanda's book: Flowers for a Girl – Plant Medicine and Sexual Trauma