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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: heart medicine

Wild Rose: At the Heart of Wholeness

Katie Gordon

This Spring has been a time of big growth and profound synchronicities. It seems as soon as I wonder how something is going to work, an answer makes itself known. I hold the same trust for our human tribe. That while we're wondering how we'll get to the other side of the mess we find ourselves in, we know there is another side. 

At the same time, we all experience this incredibly deep and at times pervasive emotion: fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being hurt (physically or emotionally). Fear of unlived potential. Fear that we're doing it wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of our darkness. Fear of our light. And that's okay. It's just one of the many beautifully complex things that makes us all human and able to relate to one another. 

Sometimes, though, that fear causes us to close off ourselves and our hearts. We put up walls to protect ourselves from being seen because that fear makes us vulnerable. At one point in your life, and maybe still, it was necessary to protect yourself. Our bodies & psyches have an amazing ability to advocate for and protect us. But sometimes, what was once necessary to keep us safe on one level or another gets ingrained in us as a pattern that doesn't serve us anymore. 

This fear response is a pattern I've been working with a lot. The impulse to close off and shut down, especially when my heart is involved, can be so strong sometimes. When I feel that impulse, Rose is my medicine to soften around the edges and tap into my deeper, wiser, inner fire.

Photo by Adarsh Ik

Photo by Adarsh Ik

I've heard Rose referred to as "heart healing," but I think it's not so much about healing, our hearts are always whole after all, as it is about reminding us of our nature. Rose is a heart salve. It calms as it brings us back to our truth and back to ourselves in moments when we forget that we're already whole. Rose teaches us about discernment. About when it's necessary to protect ourselves and when that sense of contraction is coming from an old wound and is an opportunity to re-member a part of ourselves. 

This year, the Midsummer Wild Medicine Bundle features Wild Rose and Hibiscus: herbs to calm, cool, and soothe {heart} heat, as well as an overheated, overstimulated body and nervous system. With touches of Sandalwood, Vanilla, Amber, and Ginger. As Summer Solstice is a fire festival, the bundle will explore fire magic and the medicine that the element of fire brings. In Chinese medicine, fire is associated with the heart, so we'll explore the physical and energetic heart, what it means to "heal" the heart, and what role plants have in the process of re-membering ourselves.

Order your Wild Rose + Hibiscus Wild Medicine Bundle by June 8th to be in the Midsummer Wild Medicine Keepers. In addition to getting your bundle for the discounted price of $50, you'll also get:

  • an e-book with a write up of each item, recipes for that I've tested but didn't make for the bundle, and a recorded audio/visual meditation to connect more deeply with the plant spirit medicine of Wild Rose
  • behind-the-scenes communication with pictures and sneak peeks into the medicine bundling process
  • an additional surprise gift to use in your Midsummer celebrations and help you connect with the Fire medicine of the season
  • a chance to win the a spot in the Wild Medicine Keepers for the following Wild Medicine Bundle (Lughnasa)

Curious about what might be included in the bundle? Read more here.

W I L D R O S E: Behind the Veil

Katie Gordon

My journey with Wild Rose has been one of deep trust, discernment, and acceptance. Not the “I guess this works for me” kind of acceptance, but the kind of acceptance that makes you say, “Oh. Right. I get it now.” The kind of acceptance that allows you to sink deeper into your physical and emotional body with gratitude for the journey and the love that has perhaps left us bruised and bleeding, bowing deeply to the light and shadow teachers on our way.

She’s been one of those friends you realize has been with you all along, in the most subtle ways. A spirit that has reflected to me my grace, strength, and delicate power in the moments I needed reminding. Rose keeps opening my heart to trust: myself, my voice, the rhythm of the universe, and the unfolding of it all. Wise in her ways of boundaries, compassionate in her full, open, clear, strong heart.

So the other day, I wandered off into the woods to commune with her. Along the McKenzie, they’re just now barely in bloom. Walking along a tree-covered path near my favorite bridge, to my left I see a hollowed out tree that looks like one I used to imagine as a kid to be a portal to the land of the fae. Behind the tree is a steep hill, and at the top of the hill, I see the Sun just poking through. A voice from somewhere deep in my roots says, “We’re going up there.”

I’ve never felt so clear in my footsteps and strong in my legs. Knowing full well I’m on the right path. But to what? I have no idea. As I get to the top and look around, there’s Wild Rose everywhere. And interspersed with the Wild Rose is Yarrow, another of my favorite plant spirits.  Just hangin’ out together.

wild rose.jpg

You know that feeling you get when you’re in a strange or foreign place, a bit disoriented, when all of a sudden you see something familiar and you immediately feel pulled back into your body? I think for most of my life, I’ve felt like I’m in a foreign place that I don’t understand, and don’t understand why I’m even here when nothing that “normal people” aka muggles do makes much sense to me. So when I stepped into that sunny patch of an otherwise rainy forest to be met by these two, I sat down to listen. And in her typically soft yet grounded, wise way, Rose says…

Hold space for trust. Slow down. Like, way the fuck down. Feel into your rhythm. Your time. How does your body and soul want to move? What does She want to do? Or not do? How can you love yourself more wholly?

And I realize: This connection is beyond me. This is more than Katie. This relationship is ancient. We have known one another through lifetimes.

Trust and all will be revealed.

Allow yourself to be held.
By the Earth,
by other awake souls,
in the vibration of love.

You don’t need to allow in fear, hate, or judgement.

{She says…}

Hold your space from a place of trust & compassion.
There’s nothing to prove.
Nothing to do.

Let your soul speak to & through you.

Trust yourself, your feelings.
No, they’re not permanent,
but they are
revelatory & real.

Listen.

Trust.

Wait, if you need to.

When have those whispers been wrong?

In honor of Wild Rose, in honor of deep self-trust, the Midsummer Wild Medicine Bundle will be crafted with the intention of bringing you into communion with the beating of your own inner wild heart and the whispers rising up from within. Wrapped in gold in honor of the Sun at its highest point of the year, these packages will be sent out in time for you to play with during your Midsummer night revelry.

Blessings of the Wild,
Katie

Herbs for Stagnant Anger

Katie Gordon

You know how anger can live in your body? How that smoldering heat can take up residence for so long that you can physically feel it? Stuck, hot, fiery, like you're living in a pressure-cooker? That, my friends, is stagnant anger. Stagnancy means energy isn’t moving. When energy isn’t moving, our body-mind-soul doesn't function optimally. In Chinese Medicine, anger is related to the liver, energetically and physically. To put it simply, when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, the liver gets overwhelmed and stressed out. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy, and when it's stressed out, you think it works smoothly? Answer: Nope.

With a stressed out liver, energy stagnates EVEN MORE and anger, along with poor digestion, allergies, and compromised stress response, among other things, often manifests. It's like a hot mess negative feedback loop. This isn’t to say that anger is a direct result of liver stagnation. There are a gazillion things that can cause us to feel angry. However, emotions are energy and supporting your liver with herbs (as well as movement, finding healthy ways to express anger, etc.) can help move that stagnant energy because if energy isn’t flowing freely, you're left feeling stuck emotionally, physically, and even mentally.

So here's a few of my favorite plants to help move stagnant anger. Think cooling, sedating, calming...

This is in no way an all-inclusive list. Keep in mind everyone’s body responds differently to plants. It’s best to experiment with how your body experiences various herbs. Take your time to develop relationships with these plants. Explore what really nourishes you. Listen to the plants themselves and get curious about how to interact with them.

Bitters: Bitters are cooling. Why? I actually don't know. But they are, and the liver loves them. Happy liver = smooth flow of liver qi/energy = less energetic & emotional stagnation (Yes, that's a hugely simplified version of a much more extensive discussion on liver energetic and physiological function. I'm sure I'll talk about bitters in the future A LOT because we should all be using them way more than we do, but for now you get the idea.)

Motherwort: Also bitter. Very bitter. I don't recommend straight motherwort tea if you actually like to enjoy your cup of tea. But as a tincture it's fabulous. It is, among other things, a nervine and antispasmodic, meaning it both acts on the nervous system and relaxes tension. Muscle spasms and tension are often a symptom of a stressed out, stagnant liver. Motherwort moves that constraint. Another beautiful thing about Motherwort is its effect on the heart and the connection it reveals between the heart and liver. Mainly the anger that results at feeling unable to express our hearts, our emotions, our freedom, our creativity, our individuality, and our deep voice. The anger of feeling unheard, unseen, and even unvalued.

Rose: One of my absolute favorite plants in the world for overheated tissues! Now, there are lots of reasons for tissues in our bodies to build up heat, but one of the big ones is anger. When this heat has no where to go (because we don't express it in a healthy, productive way), it stagnates. Cooling, sedating, Rose speaks my language. Considered a relaxant nervine, Rose relaxes the nervous system, and in particular, it works beautifully to relax the liver, relieving stagnation and tension in the liver. I find it works wonders for people experiencing nervous exhaustion and adrenal fatigue as a result of too much heat. I think what I really love about Rose is the sweet, heady, wild, and thorny aspects all combined into one plant. Rose is tough yet compassionate, resilient yet tender, tenacious yet she invites you to soften your edges, set down your sword, and explore those parts of yourself you so staunchly defend.

Lemon: Also cooling, sedating, and sour, lemon has become well known as something we squeeze into our water in the morning to get our digestion moving. Cooling and sedating plants cool and calm hot, irritated tissues as well as a hot, irritated mood. You know that rising heat we feel when we're angry? Our chest and face get hot, we probably start sweating and in cartoons steam comes out of the character's nose? Lemon, especially when blended with other deliciously cooling, sedating herbs like rose and salvia (see below) can help to cool and ground that rising heat.

Salvia: Native species of Salvia, particularly when paired with nervines like lemon balm, lavender, salvia (aka sage) can cool, ground, and shift that fiery energy because it’s a stimulant. Stimulants move stuff around. My personal favorite to use is White Sage (Salvia apiana), which in terms of herbal energetics can be heating or cooling depending on who you ask. This is the reason why it’s really best to experiment with how your body experiences plants. For me, this plant clears heat, stimulates movement (of energy, digestion, tension, fluids, blood, etc.), and grounds me into the present moment.

Of course these plants will support the movement of energy, but what most of us also need to do is learn how to experience, feel, process, and express our anger. But that's for another post.

Here's a recipe for a tea blend to help move some of that stagnant liver qi...

Lemon Calm Tea Blend
1/2 c. hibiscus flowers
1/3 c. lemon balm
1/3 c. rose petals
1/4 c. peppermint or spearmint
1/4 c. rosehips
1/4 c. lemon peel

Combine all of the ingredients well in a bowl or mason jar. Store in said mason jar or some other air-tight container. I brew about 1 Tbsp. per cup of water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. This makes a (beautifully pink) iced tea also! And please feel free to play with the ratio of herbs and perhaps add fun things like lavender or lemongrass or vanilla bean or...

 
 
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