Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goldenrod - Summer's Last Sun

Green Witch's Herbal Wisdom

Goldenrod – Summer’s Last Sun

Goldenrod is the last burst of sun in the summer, as summer turns to fall and leaves fall from tress and nature begins her slow retreat inward.

Goldenrod – Botanical name Solidago – sol meaning sun - is quite appropriately named. We see her by the roadsides and often think of her as a common weed. Some who suffer from allergies mistake her as a culprit, but that’s her companion ragweed. She’s insect, not wind pollinated like ragweed who brings so much suffering to those with allergies and hayfever.

This summer I made a tincture of goldenrod’s flowering tops after listening to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar speak at the Northeastern Women’s Herbal Conference about goldenrod being a remedy for SAD (seasonal affective disorder). My original intention for the tincture was to support a friend’s daughter who was living in Scotland and was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder during her the long dark rainy days in Edinburgh.

Today, I decanted the tincture I had made in vodka and sat with goldenrod while she spoke to me and told me about her healing properties. The tincture came out yellow and had a sunny sweet taste to it, true to her name.

I mused back on my journey in the hills of Vermont, harvesting this beautiful yellow weed. I was lucky enough to find an entire field of nothing but goldenrod. In this field, I noticed a surprisingly large percentage of the plants had a bulbous mass in the stem where it looked like the plant had swallowed something, sort of like a snake after eating a mouse or rabbit – bulging grotesquely at the sides of what would normally be a svelt and slender body. Goldenrod, I discovered, after dissecting this bulbous mass on her stem and doing my own research, was often host to many beneficial insects including wasps that lay eggs in her stem, giving them the bulbous, goiter-like appearance. The wasps then feed on some of the more harmful insects like mites that may be a nuisance to the plant. Smart plant ;) No wonder goldenrod makes space for them!

In speaking with goldenrod this afternoon as I decanted her, she was very chatty and was thrilled she was being put to use as most people don’t know about all her powerful healing properties. Goldenrod enjoys being used as an infusion or tincture. She’s a blood cleaner and circulatory enhancer. Goldenrod infusions and tinctures support the kidneys in flushing toxins from the body and tonify and support the natural balance and function of a healthy bladder. A bit obvious, but I remember this by her yellow flowers that are the color of urine when I haven’t been drinking enough water. She balances the bladder bringing on urination if there is trouble urinating and balancing excessive urination by holding the blueprint for a healthy bladder. She can also be taken when there is an infection in the bladder or kidneys to help clear and realign our natural flow and healthy inner watery balance.

Goldenrod’s flowers make a beautiful natural dye and you can use her dried flowers and foliage in sachets in your linen closets and dresser drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh. You can also smoke her dried herb to give a deep rushing opening to the heart and lungs – think flinging open shutters on a dank dusty attic and welcoming in warmth and sun light. In her fresh state she makes a wonderful bouquet to brighten any heart and home.

UPDATE one month later....

As an herbalist there's always that incredulous part of me that asks "Does this really work? Really??" Over the holidays, like many, I sank into a depression, the long dark days, the over extended holiday schedule, the absence of daylight and the mugginess in New York without the invigorating cold behind it. Goldenrod kept calling to me form the corner of my apartment and I kept waving my hands at her and saying I didn't need her I'd get to her later. Finally after a few days of moping lethargy I finally picked her up and took a dropper full. Is this really going to work, I thought unscrewing the cap to the tincture. I put a dropper full of tincture on my tongue and swallowed and it was literally like taking a mouth full of sunshine into my body. My entire demeanor head to toe changed. I thanked Goldenrod, mostly for her patience and not telling me I told you so after she had been calling to me for two weeks.

As we come up on the holidays and darker days, call on goldenrod as an ally. She's so excited to be here with you. Can't find goldenrod in your health food store? Drop me a line - sensualshaman@gmail.com I have a few extra tinctures available for $11 each.

Green Witch Blessings!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Path of the Green Witch

Smoking sweet grass filled the air as a line of women walked in procession adorned in flowing skirts and ribboned crowns. We processed in order of age, Susun Weed, the elder and High Priestess of our group led us in chant, as our bare feet meditated on each step through the forest, connecting us deeper into the Earth Mother’s embrace. I, at the back of the line of women, the youngest, Susun at the front, the eldest - we bookended between us generations of mothers and daughters holding a space for a whole healed planet and the wisdom of nature to unfold within each of us. This was the culmination of a seven month herbal apprenticeship, an experience that in its rewards, hardship and transformation are one of two of the most life-changing and soul-inspiring journeys of my life – (the other being my five year apprenticeship with a Celtic Priestess.) We walked deeper into the forest to Hecate’s crossroad’s, a trident road that forked into three directions. Susun asked us to choose wisely and decisively which path we would walk and in making that decision to not look back.

We chose the left path, the path of feminine initiation, which led us to the sacred mesa. We walked up the granite nature made stone steps, to the mossy bank where the altar of Artemis resided. Susun whispered into our ears as we passed the gateway onto the mesa “From woman you are born. Into this circle you are born again through this group of women.” She sealed each invocation with a kiss - each of us passing through the gateway. Susun called the sacred corners and elements and looked to me being the youngest to call the above and future generations as she called the ancestry and the ancient ones . We when connected to the sacred center and called in our individual wisdom and power to connect with the power and wisdom of the group, initiating a beautiful matrix of connection among, nature, ourselves, each other.

We then met in the direction of the Sun as Susun initiated us as Green Witches on the path of the Wise Woman. When our inner voice guided us, we each rose and stepped forward into the direction of the Sun, where we made our commitment to the path of the green witch.

The Green Witch is one who communicates directly with the plants, and one who knows and remembers how to speak directly to nature. She is one who slows down enough to hear the voices of the plants and to remember their songs and to entrain to their energetic imprints for healing of herself, her family, her community. The Green Witch is a Wise Woman who knows healing in her whole body because she is entrained to the healing energy of the Earth, elements and nature. She shares information freely and lives in the Earth’s natural state of abundance. The Green Witch is in a stand for the Earth, as the Earth stands for her.

As we spoke our commitment to the group, Susun painted our right big toenail green reminding us now every step we take is that of a Green Witch. We closed dancing Widdershins around the altar of Artemis and singing the song of women as we released the elements, the center, the above and below. As we came, so we returned, through the forest, processing, a line of witches, barefoot, ribbons in our hair, one green toenail, to reconnect the wisdom of the plants to the world once again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Angry Mama Grizzly

Last night, my Fall Sensual Shaman Immersion group completed the Animal Spirit Immersion where we met and entrained to our animal spirit energy and explored its place in nature. On being guided to the under world, my native American roots took over and I found myself in nature around a sacred grotto that I had visited several times in real life. I was wearing tan buckskin and wore a quiver and held a bow. I had long plaited hair in braids and a tan muscular woman’s body. I dove through the watery grotto until I came to a secret cave where I surfaced. Pulling myself out of the water, I rested on the ledge of the cave peering back and my reflection. I washed my hair and plaited braids in the water feeling eyes watching me from a dark recess within the cave. I stood and walked toward the eyes and asked my power animal to reveal itself to me. Ferocious jaws and a roaring mouth and fierce eyes came into focus as a female grizzly bear stepped out of the darkness three inches away from my face. That can’t be right, I thought. I journey with spiders, snakes, lions, horses. A grizzly???

“This will be interesting,” I thought. I asked again and the grizzly roared. I entrained myself to her and welcomed her into my body, my spine and her spine aligning. Our ancient brains merged and I awakened to a deep animal knowing within. Within the Immersion group our animal clan awakened and moved through space together which included an eel, wolf, leopard, two eagles, mama grizzly and homo habilis. In meditation, mama grizzly spoke to me – “Take ownership of your ferocious protective mother energy.” I moved through the animal kingdom pondering her medicine. Grizzly’s destroy anything that portents to threaten her cubs. I realized that with all my new age-y non-violent communication training and Earth mama compassion, I found myself at times apologizing for ferocious feelings of protection for those I loved. The New Age-y Rainbow clan 'love your brother and sister' way of being, can sometimes program even the useful inner fight out of even the compassionate warrior.

Seeing dear friends and loved ones in disastrous relationships, or self-inflicted pain cycles, I had trained myself to stand aside and support where they were, which often reinforced and enabled these pain cycles to continue, when a deeper inner roar was actually present that my soul desired to express. I found myself this past week listening and watching as a close friend of mine agonized over a former lover become emotionally available to her again and again. I also watched while another friend of mine newly exploring polyamory at her husband’s persistent demands, struggle with her husband’s tantrums when she found someone she wanted to connect with on an intimate level. I remember during both of these conversations, an inner savage protectiveness rose up in me. “Hurt my friend again and you’re lunch,” I thought silently. Then I would smooth out these inner brutal impulses with reprogrammed thinking of “honor where my friend and her relationships and lovers and that pain as necessary teaching experiences. Support and love are medicine.” Mama grizzly wants to destroy those that threatens her family but she also wants to slap her cubs upside the head and say “What are hell are you doing? Why are you tolerating a situation that supports less than your most magnificent, radiant self-expression?” To my tribe, you may get slapped upside the head this week. Know that it’s my deepest expression of love. Today, mama grizzly says “I love you and I have no apologies.”