Cleansing (Part 3)

Each herb has its own character and brings with it a personality rich with flavor and nuance. Just as each human has personal light so does every plant. Sage brings strength, fortitude, and an ability to cut through the nonsense and get to the root. Its adaptability is obvious as it lives in many different climates including the most arid deserts. Sacred sage of- fers this power to clear and survive to those who are willing to share light with it.

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is also known as holy grass. It is a plant of offering whose smoke carries our prayers and blessings forward. Some say sweetgrass is the blessing breath of the Mother herself and so when she is woven into braids and baskets we weave our blessings with Hers. When paired with sage sweetgrass fills the cleared space with the blessings of the cosmos.

Cedar evokes the protection and power of the ancient trees whose root structures support the great forests. The great trees offer the security of boundaries, protection against the unpredictable winds, and the shelter of their green arms over our fragile heads. The great cedars: sequoia, juniper, cypress, and redwood are among the most ancient living inhabitants of the earth and many have guarded the forests for centuries.

Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) is a beautiful purple plant with incredible cleansing properties. It is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and evoc- ative of a summer day. The word lavender comes from the Latin lavar, which means to wash, and is used effectively in soaps to wash the outer body and teas to wash the inner body. Lavender is a medicinal adaptogen. This means it will adapt to our physiology. If we are in a high stress state it will calm and relax. If we are lethargic and depressed it will uplift us. Lavender works to lovingly balance our physical and energetic systems.

Rosemary (rosmarius officianalis) is a fragrant green shrub that has mythological associations with the goddess Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary, both of whom are evocative images of the sacred feminine in patriarchal traditions. Because of its hardy and resilient nature rosemary offers protection and blessing. My household keeps rosemary plants in front of each door that we may be always protected with the understand- ing that we will extend that protection to others in need and that we may always be blessed that we may share that blessing with others. Rosemary is used clinically to sharpen memory, invigorate, and strengthen weak- ened systems.

Any of the herbs can be engaged individually or combined for smudging. Pre-made smudge sticks can be purchased or you can weave your own. If you do not have an actual stick it is fine to burn the leaves of the dried herbs individually or as loose incense. In smudging you are bathing in the smoke of the herbs who share their blessings. This is a way of communion with the people of the Green places through the elements of fire and air.

Cayenne Pepper flu remedy

Cayenne pepper (Capsicum minimum) is one of my favorite culinary and medicinal herbs. The word Capsicum is derived from the Greek “to bite,” which is a well-earned name. Cayenne is extremely spicy and a little bit goes a fair way towards warming even the coolest constitutions.

Although cayenne is sharp to the tongue it is very gentle and nutritive to the body. It is a wonderful flu preventative. My favorite cayenne remedy is from Dian Dincin Buchman’s Herbal Medicine (p 22).

2tsp cayenne pepper
1.5tsp sea salt
1 c boiling water
1 c apple cider vinegar

Add cayenne pepper and sea salt to boiling water. Steep and cool. Then add vinegar. Take 1 tbsp every half hour to assist the symptoms of a sore throat or general flu-like malaise.

This particular recipe is highly effective. When a sore throat and pressure headache looms I eat bowls of garlic/onion soup with basil, parsley, and cayenne. And take shot glasses of anti-flu preventative every 30 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Source: Buchman, Dian Dincin. Herbal Medicine. Wings Books. New York. 1979