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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: wheel of the year

Yarrow: Magic of Blood + Spirit

Katie Gordon

Have you noticed there's been a lot of talk recently about boundaries?

It seems like everywhere I turn, sometimes subtly, sometimes not, I've been seeing books, articles, products, Facebook posts, newsletters, and conversations around boundaries. When I start recognizing patterns like that, I know it's something to pay attention to. And it makes sense! With all the seeming chaos happening in the world right now, setting strong boundaries is ESSENTIAL. 

Photo from

Photo from

Mabon begins the third cycle of Wild Medicine Bundles.

Two years ago, I began crafting these bundles to provide soul + body nourishment, simple rituals, and an invitation to explore the connection between the bodysoul and Earth's cycles. With each turn of the wheel of the year, I've fleshed out my ideas a bit more and trusted myself and the plants to speak in ways that feel approachable. In ways that look like: ritual skincare, teas, baths, anointing oils, and room sprays. 

For the upcoming Mabon Wild Medicine Bundle, Yarrow came forward as a plant ally in setting + holding boundaries, but it felt like there was another reason to feature Yarrow, a reason that was just hiding under the surface. After sitting with it for a bit, I realized what that reason was:

Yarrow affects and moves blood, and blood symbolizes spirit. 

What does that mean and what does it have to do with boundaries?

In traditional healing modalities, blood nourishes Spirit. So if there's stagnation, irritation, heat, or depletion of blood, it'll affect the person's Spirit, which often looks like anxiety, insomnia, depression, and issues around boundaries. Yarrow moves stagnation so that the blood can nourish a depleted, starved Spirit. But as a cooling plant, it can balance overheat in the Spirit, helping one to feel calm and grounded. For me, Yarrow brings me back to my center, reminds me who I am, what I stand for, and where my boundaries need to be in order to be of service in the world. 

Sounds pretty necessary right now, yes?

In each bundle, I've been including a specific meditation or guided journey to connect with the spirit of the plant, but also with an aspect of yourself for which this plant might serve as a mirror. Within your Mabon Wild Medicine Bundle, you'll find a spell. A boundary spell. I'll be guiding you through it, but you'll have lots of space to actually be guided by Yarrow and the other plants featured in the bundle to learn how to set boundaries for yourself. Because boundaries are loving, not just for yourself, but for the people in your life.

Yarrow teaches us about shifting out of being the Wounded Healer and into the Whole-d Healer*. Grab your Mabon Wild Medicine Bundle before September 13 to get the discounted rate of $50, the e-book with product descriptions, uses, and extra recipes, and the guided Boundary Spell. PLUS you get a chance to win the Samhain Wild Medicine Bundle for free! Get yours here.

*Whole-d is a term created by my friends Lola + Tigre at Wild Playground

Ascendance of the Earth

Katie Gordon

The first apples have appeared in the local farmers market, and even though the days are still warm, the nights have become cool and crisp.  Fall is fast approaching, but as summer wanes, time seems to hang suspended in the air, the pause just before Autumn serves up her harvest.  Indian summer.  It's a time of peace in which we can appreciate the fruits of our labor and that of the Earth.

In Chinese medicine, the time between Summer and Fall is the season of the Earth element.  According to the book Between Heaven and Earth, "Earth's density and mass sustain our momentum, keeping us aligned in the direction of our desired goal."  It is during this time that we can use this energy to generate change without losing our balance.  Earth and its energy represents our center of gravity, the place we always come back to when we need grounding.

Late summer, the time when Earth emerges, is associated with transformation.  Makes sense, right?  Days are getting shorter, weather is getting colder (in most places within the northern hemisphere), school is starting again, summer's time of fresh fruit and vegetable abundance is at it's climax, and soon we'll be heading into the wintery decay.  It's all part of our earthly cycle.

The organs related to Earth are the spleen (yin) and stomach (yang).  The spleen is one of the main organs of digestion, it helps to recycle red blood cells, and is where white blood cells trap organisms that cause infection.  Energetically, it incorporates whatever we take in, food, experience, etc. into the substance which makes us who we are.  According to Sarah Powers, it is the source of life for other organs because it takes the pure essences of ingested food and converts it into blood and chi.

We all know the stomach is primarily responsible for digestion, assimilation, and distribution.  From the stomach, immediately usable nutrients are sent to the spleen and things that need to be further broken down are sent  to the small intestine for more filtration.  Consider this: the stomach is the first thing to receive our food, other than our sense organs (mouth, nose, eyes, etc.).  It is responsible for nourishing our energy on all levels, physical, mental or emotional, which is why it is so important to take in unpolluted food and food that will nourish our individual constitutions.

Remember when I said our Earth energy is what grounds us?  So what happens when this energy, our spleen chi, is out of balance?  Our whole system can fall into a state of disharmony.  We end up feeling disjointed, uncertain, stressed out, and mentally and physically drained.  Our sleeping, thinking, eating, even breathing patterns can be thrown off.  We feel "ungrounded."  We may experience feelings of anxiety, worry, pensiveness, or off-centeredness.

This obsessive, anxious thinking depletes your spleen energy.  You may begin to feel mentally tired and dull.  Soon you might start to notice some digestive issues you've recently developed (or maybe you've always had them since you've always been an overthinker) ranging from indigestion, gas, and bloating to IBS.  When you deplete your spleen energy, it affects your stomach since they have an energetic relationship.

Likewise, it's possible to deplete your spleen energy.  Irregular eating habits, lots of cold or greasy food, and eating close to bedtime can all contribute to a decline in spleen energy.  When your stomach and spleen have to work harder to assimilate and digest the food you take in, it can lead to physical depletion of spleen chi, which eventually can cause mental weakness.  The mind affects the body just as the body affects the mind.  What you feed yourself contributes to your overall well-being on all levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I read a quote the other day that said "Don't think.  If you do think, act."  The next time you start to overanalyze or obsess over something, ask yourself if you can do anything about the situation.  If you can, take that first step.  If you can't, try to let it go.  This ability to "let go" in our lives is an important skill for our health as well as our sanity.

So in this time of Earthly abundance, take a moment to enjoy this brief pause between birth and death, growth and decay, and cultivate a sense of groundedness, of being at home inside yourself, at ease wherever you are, while still being able to connect with the world around you.  You'll notice if you take a moment to ground yourself in this time and place, you'll be able to think more clearly as well as be more adaptable when the unexpected arises.