Tag Archives: Herbal Medicine

Midsummer Magic

Photo via wortsandcunning.wordpress.com
Photo via wortsandcunning.wordpress.com

This Saturday, June 21, is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and while some say it’s the first day of summer, it actually marks the peak of light, the peak of the element of fire in our Wheel of the Year.  In the old days, and among some groups nowadays, Midsummer is celebrated as a fire festival, honoring the Sun as it passes its highest point and begins to gradually decline into dark, marking the waning of the light.

So this is a turning point. All of the seeds we have sown for ourselves are reaching maturity and coming close to harvest time, when we can see and reap the fruits of our labor. It’s a still point, before the pendulum swings the other way toward darkness, when we begin to turn inward and reflect on this past period of growth.

And as for this fire?  Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation.  It can burn, consume, shed light, or purify.  In order to transform though, there has to be a container, and that is why we have our spiritual practice.  To hold space for ourselves in love and trust.

I have been deeply listening to my soul, allowing myself to feel grounded, settled, and supported. More and more, I’m letting myself say “no” to things that don’t resonate in order to allow space for things that call to my spirit.  Things that I know I’m meant to do.  I’m following the wisdom of my heart, my guides, my allies.  Old wounds have begun to heal, and I’m going back to pick up pieces of my soul that had been cut off and left behind.  This Summer Solstice I’m reflecting on the teachers I’ve had this past year, lessons I’ve learned (mostly the hard way), and how much I’ve grown to trust my Self.  

What this means for Wild Grace?  You can expect to see a lot more work in this space with plant medicine, moon magic, animal spirits, weaving words, and dancing with shadows.  Sharing more of my spiritual practice and my deep soul with you.  

And as for you…What is being transformed in you by this elemental fire that we’ve been in, that’s been burning, transforming, and purifying?  What has this fire felt like for you?  And as this light is waning, what is waning in your life?  What is ready to be lovingly and graciously released?

Advertisements

Plant Totem: Hawthorn, Fae Tree of Heart + Transformation

For a good while now, I’ve been considering how to work with plants just as some coaches/practitioners work with animals.  As spirit totems.  Teaching how to work with plants not to only heal us physically, but also spiritually, emotionally, and energetically.  Understanding what they have to teach us in terms of our relationships, career, life circumstances, money, and most importantly, how to form better connections with ourselves, other people, and with the earth.

hawthorn-tree-12

Lots of herbalists out there write beautiful and well-researched pieces on materia medica of western herbalism, herbal energetics, and the medicinal and therapeutic actions of herbs.  However, I think the deepest healing occurs when we form our own relationship with the plant and learn to work with the medicine it has for us individually.  This is the story of my own journey with Hawthorn, one of my foundational plant totems.

Traditionally viewed as a heart tonic, Hawthorn reminds us to be patient with ourselves, slow down, and give our heart space to breathe, be still, and speak his or her truth.  Though its prickly thorns protect the heart from outside assault, that very protection is what allows it to be such a nurturing and calming spirit.  It provides sacred boundaries and a soft space to rest in times of heartbreak, grief, or when the energetic heart needs a rest.

hawthorn thorn
Thorns of a Hawthorn tree

For the past few years, I’ve been working and learning to listen closely to the whispers (or sometimes shouts) from my heart.  Establishing boundaries, softening, opening, protecting, clearing, and filling up my heart with the things she desires, yearns for, and guides me toward.  It’s been the hardest thing I’ve done so far because so often my ego wants to take over with the shoulds, the have-to’s, feelings of anger, guilt, and most of the time, fear.  Hawthorn came to me soon after my heart got cracked open during part of my Visionary Craniosacral training that I learned to work with the four-chambered heart (another shamanic concept that I’ll write more on later).  The lessons Hawthorn taught me allowed me to integrate the wisdom of my heart and of love itself, sometimes gracefully sometimes not so much.

Artwork by Ruby Clark
Ogham Artwork by Ruby Clark

Hawthorn is known for its associations with magic, witches, and fairies.  As Darcey Blue writes, Hawthorn’s “rank smelling flowers and thorns and association with spirit worlds make Hawthorn a tree of ‘death’ and transformation, and also of protection and caution.”  Death here, to me, doesn’t mean literal death, but rather a shedding, releasing, letting die that which no longer serves us.  The archetypal theme of life/death/rebirth.

A key element of transformation, of alchemy of the soul is in the allowing of what needs to die in order for the rebirth parts of our self.  It’s the Death card of the Tarot: learning how to detach and release, cutting through old patterns that bind us so that we can give birth to new forms and previously unexpressed parts of ourselves.

Death card from the Thoth Tarot

One of my favorite things about Hawthorn is the magical obstacles it presents to us at just the right moment.  It reflects to us the exact lesson we need at the exact moment in life that we need it.  Synchronicity at its finest.  Somehow she knows what we’re ready for, what our next lesson needs to be on our path in order for us to meet our purpose.  Hawthorn will “guard you as it teaches you – sometimes strongly, sometimes gently – but always with love.”

Dreaming out loud

Oh you guys!  I meant to write earlier this week, and then got so distracted.  This windy weather we’ve been having always leaves me feeling a bit ungrounded, not to mention that it’s 80 degrees in January, so my body is all kinds of confused.

At first I felt guilty for my day dreaming.  I tried finding ways to justify it, but I had work to do.  Blogs, marketing copy, programs, irresistible product descriptions, and meditations to write.  Reading to catch up on.  Silver to get polished (seriously).  Instead of doing any of that, I’ve spent the last week visioning, dreaming, and heart-storming.  I watched that guilty “I feel unproductive” feeling come up, wreak a little bit of havoc on my peace of mind, and then I made the best decision I’ve made in a long time.  I decided to let it go for just a couple days and see what happens when I let my intuition, my soul truly guide me.  To see what happens when I just let myself dream, even if it got to feel a little bit too big and too daunting.

And I’ve come to a profound soul truth.  It feels expansive!  Still big, still daunting, but powerful, spacious, and authentic.  And f*cking awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that I wanted to share it with you all!  Because I know dreaming can be scary, we see these amazing things that we want to do, and then think, “How in the hell am I going to make that happen?!”  It’s easy to proclaim “Follow your passions!”  Rumi even tells us, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.”  And you listen to your heart and everything sounds wonderful and bright and shiny.  And then it comes to taking the steps to ACT on that wisdom.  And we freeze.  And sometimes we stay frozen.  But I don’t want to feel stuck, and I definitely don’t want you to feel stuck.

So now you get to take a journey inside my head, through my visions, and a peek into my dreams…

When I was young, my mom had me watch Practical Magic with her.  She must have known that I loved witchy things.  From the moment I saw Sally’s shop, I needed to have my own.  (You all know what I’m talking about, so no judge-y snickering.)  From then on, in my heart of hearts, I wanted my own space for herbs, magic, healing, teaching, and communing.

And now it’s finally beginning to take shape…

I’m beginning to allow myself to really want it, to let that desire guide me, and take real, practical steps to making it happen.  I’ve even looked at potential spaces for it!  And the most fun part, I’ve begun to imagine it.  To feel, see, smell it…

Think vintage apothecary meets Hogwarts meets gypsy caravan with a touch of whimsy.  And a lot of hanging plant matter.  Are you starting to see it come together?  No?  Here are some pictures to help for those of us who need visuals.

An apothecary like this…

apothecary white

With a touch of this (yes, I absolutely need to skeleton too)…

apothecary kitchen

A bit of that…

gypsy

And a lot of this…

drying herbs

It’s being dreamt, manifested, and acted into existence as I move through my fears of rejection, of commitment, and of playing big and showing up for my own desires.  So here is your reminder to keep dreaming.  Big dreams, small dreams, scary, whimsical, childlike, black+white, and colorful dreams.   It can be pretty terrifying to share our dreams of what we really want because if someone shoots us down it hurts A LOT!  You need to trust in your vision so much that even if someone tells you that you can’t, you KNOW in your deepest, gnarliest knowing that you totally can.  Now that you’ve heard about/seen my dream, I’d LOVE to hear about yours!  Feel free to comment below and share with me what you envision, what you most deeply desire to do/create/have/feel in your life?

Shedding off one more layer of skin

As a dear friend reminded me the other day, we’re coming to the end of the year of the snake.  It’s been a year of incredible shedding, peeling back the layers of old stories, relationships, labels, beliefs, and assumptions I’ve held onto.  The past few weeks I’ve been in a slow, painful yet beautiful process of crawling out of my skin.  An old skin.  Like snakes do when they’ve outgrown that layer and it’s time to move on.

shedding layers

For a long time I thought I was meant to work with women struggling with eating disorders.  I even wrote a one-on-one coaching program for healing emotional eating.  I thought it was my calling, my mission.  All along there were lots of signs from the Universe telling me that it wasn’t.  That it was just one step along the way.  I realize now that it was a way to heal MYSELF.

And it was the easy way to respond to the much afeared question: “So Katie, what do you do?”  It was simple and sounded good to just say, “I help women struggling with eating disorders to heal their relationship with food.”  People understood that.  I didn’t have to explain myself or justify my place in life.

Each time I’d say that out loud I’d wonder, “Whose voice is it saying those words?  It certainly isn’t mine.”  It was a cop-out.  An easy answer that in no way encompassed my place in life or my truth.  The problem was I didn’t trust that when I was in alignment with myself, sitting still enough to listen, the people I was meant to work with would find me.  So I resisted what my heart kept telling me.  I stood on my soapbox and told everyone to listen to their gut.  That if they asked their Soul what he/she wanted and needed that they’d get their answers.  That their body would tell them what they needed.  That it’d be scary to trust themselves at first and that’s okay because courage was feeling that fear and doing it anyway.

And as one of my mentors says, we’re great at giving the advice and teaching what we ourselves need to learn.  So rather than sit, listen, trust, be gentle, and know that my soul had a plan, I questioned, ignored, blamed and shamed myself into speaking words that weren’t mine.  Into claiming a place in this world that wasn’t for me because it was easier than owning the work that I love to do and claiming my space.  Luckily, my inner guides had other plans and things began to fall apart so that I could let them go and trust that something bigger was coming.  That the work I had done around emotional eating was really for me, to heal my own scars and wounds.

Now comes the hard part.  The scary, messy, and ultimately beautiful part.  When I have to commit to myself, to my tribe, to the souls who have been on this journey with me from the beginning.  Now I commit to doing what I tell everyone else to do: to speak my truth, even and especially when it’s a bit terrifying.

The truth is, I want to go deeper.  I don’t want to tell women who are struggling with how to love themselves and to own their power that they need to eat.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s unbelievable value in that.  There are amazing souls whose work IS to support people to nourish themselves with real food.

And I want to peel back the next layer.  To go to those deeper, darker places of your soul, to read and listen to the story of your spirit.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Like the Rosetta stone, for those who know how to read it, the body is a living record of life given, life taken, life hoped for, life healed.  It is valued for its articulate ability to register immediate reaction, to feel profoundly, to sense ahead.” I’m fascinated by the connection between the Soul and the physical body.  By the way our body manifests health and dis-eases of our deeper Self.  The way that our body holds, negotiates, and releases trauma.  And how my education through experience and more formal training have prepared me to hold space for people to explore and go through their process.

I’ve known this to be true for a long time, and it’s taken me until now to own this truth:  I’m here to heal through renegotiating trauma, through the power of myth and stories, through plants and the medicine of the earth.  I’m here to teach women to listen, speak, and feel.  To hold space for ritual and soul retrieval.  To go with you to the deepest self in order that your own spirit can heal your emotional and physical body, the connection between the two.  And to help women find happiness by being in alignment with their soul’s truth and loving themselves enough to ask for that much out of this life.  I work with archetypes, movement, your desires, and dreams.  Through the medicine of heartbreak and recovery.  And through holding sacred space for the Soul to come back home.

P.S.  Extra credit to anyone who can tell me what the title of this post is from…

XO

Winter Wildcrafting

I’ve made a new commitment to my soul.  I’m going to spend one whole day EVERY WEEK outdoors.  Whether it’s hiking, at the beach, riding bikes, gardening, or a combination of many things, my heart is happiest when I spend A LOT of time outside.  When I can breathe in fresh air, bury my hands in the dirt, walk through sand and water with bare feet, feel the wind on my face.

view from ortega

This commitment was inspired by the words of an 11-year old homeschooled boy who I saw interviewed.  When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, answered, “I want to be happy.  What do I want to do?  I don’t know yet.  I need to try a few more things.”

As a dear friend of mine pointed out the other day, we’re taught in school how to make a living, not how to live.  And then we wonder why so many adults are on medication for depression, anxiety, and heart conditions.  This isn’t to say that some people don’t have a real medical condition that requires treatment, but how many health conditions are really illnesses of the soul?

 

Motherwort: Heart Medicine
Motherwort: Heart Medicine

 

I also noticed something interesting…

Some chronic back pain (at the back of my heart…big surprise) that has been bothering me for years COMPLETELY DISAPPEARS when I’m outside doing something I love, usually involving romping through forests or tall grass, talking to trees, listening to plants…the usual.

mushrooms on a dead tree

So this Sunday I informed one of my friends and fellow adventurers that we were going hiking and harvesting plants for new potions to be sold here.  Of course we “accidentally” got lost and ended up spending all day climbing up trees, wandering off the trail (which we were specifically told NOT to do), getting covered in mud, and gathering some beautiful plants.  I returned home smelling like sage and pine, covered in dirt, with twigs, thistles, and bits of grass stuck in my hair.  And blissfully exhausted.

inside a tree

6 Reasons to Love Sage

As some of you may know, a dear friend and I have started an herbal medicine and body care company, something I’ve wanted to do since I was little and mixing potions in the kitchen.  Medicinal and energetic properties of herbs is something that is very near and dear to my heart.  More recently, I’ve come to find out it is also where my true nerd comes out.  My background in medieval history and latin has meant that learning the scientific names of the herbs has been more exciting than it is for most normal people.  So today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite herbs, sage.

sage

The name sage comes from the latin word Salvare, meaning “to heal” or “to save”.  My first memory of working with herbs is picking them with my uncle from the garden my mom and I planted in our backyard.  He was explaining to me how in the old days before there were medications, people would use plants they found or grew to heal themselves.  I had a mini mortar and pestle given to me by my grandmother, which I came across during a recent move, in which I remember so clearly grinding up the herbs we picked that day.  I loved to go out to our garden, especially when it was raining, just to listen, imagining I had fairies to guide me and plants to talk to.  Crazy, huh?  Not really.  Kids know what’s up.  I’d wear a red cloak that a family friend had made for me one Halloween (I was Little Red Riding Hood) that was far from waterproof, lean in and bury my face in each herb, taking in the peppery citrus of basil, heady pine of rosemary, and the soothing, warm aroma of sage.  Sage was my favorite back then and is still at the top of my list today.  Here are 6 reasons why you should love it too:

  • Digestive problems – aids relaxation of digestive tract, as well as acting as a carminative, working to alleviate cramping, bloating, and gas.
  • Memory & cognitive function – In part because of its grounding quality, sage improves concentration, especially for those who those nervous vata types who tend to jump from one thing to the next, as well as aides memory, and the ability to think clearly.
  • Purification & clearing negative energy – to drive away sickness and bad vibes, clear the air, and purify spaces.
  • Grounding – This is my favorite benefit of sage.  For those of us over-thinkers, sage helps ground, relax, nourish, and restore your nervous system you when you get that feeling like you’ve had too much caffeine or your blood sugar is too low with symptoms like sweaty palms and heart palpitations.
  • Pain relief & anti-inflammatory – As a poultice or in a salve, sage can be applied topically to cuts and scrapes to reduce inflammation, stop bleeding, and prevent infection. Sore throat.
  • Prevent infection – An aid to the immune system, sage is particularly beneficial for the respiratory tract when it is burnt, steamed, inhaled, or ingested

Kiva sums it up best on her blog: “Sage is a remedy filled with common sense, down-home wisdom and practicality — it gracefully does what needs be done and gets on with life, all while tasting good and filling the kitchen with its savory scent.”

garden sage

Sacred Plant Wisdom Newsletter from Darcey Blue

Happy Monday friends!!

Check out Darcey Blue’s herbal Newsletter…she does awesome work and you can follow her right here on WordPress!

From Herbalist, Darcey Blue, a twice a month subscription newsletter devoted to the Wisdom that comes from the Plants- and helping you find ways to connect with and learn from the plants in a Sacred Way. Each newsletter will focus on one plant, which has offered to me its desire to be included in this work- with information about what this plant wants to share and teach us at this time, poetry, art, recordings , meditations and journey prompts for you, in addition to journalling exercises to help you get the most out of the wisdom each plant is offering and applying it to your own life.
This will include medicinal uses, but will not primarily focus on the physical medicines- but the deeper relationship and sacred medicine this plant can offer us as teacher, wisdom keeper and guide. Flower essences, energetic and emotional teachings, practices and deep spirit healing and connection with the land.

Click the link here to take a look at her newsletter and blog!

Goin’ Back to Cali

Hello sweet friends!

As some of you may know, I’m moving back to Orange County at the end of the month (two weeks to be exact)!  I’m so excited about this next phase of my life and to be able to share it with you all.  I’ll be doing bodywork, nutrition, and teaching yoga classes at Natural Mystic in Costa Mesa, which, if you haven’t checked out already, you definitely should.  They carry bulk herbs, natural body care, and spiritual gifts, and it’s all run by my good friends Ginny and Edward.  You can check out the shop on Facebook or their blog.

 natural mystic friends

I’ll also be helping them formulate some new tea blends, herbal syrups, and body care items, about which you’ll be getting more info and updates SOON, so be on the look out for upcoming emails regarding new product lines and services.  I’m so looking forward to seeing you all and hearing about what you’ve been up to the last few months!