Day Two of Forty

So, for 40 days and 40 nights—one or the other—I intend to post here in word counts in increments or multiples of 40, so from 40 words to 1,600, but probably somewhere in between most days. My intention is to “write through the Divide”—we all know…the one that we Americans apparently are split between. But I call bull on that, because we are not so divided as we think we are. I’ll keep this paragraph of my intro for each post, so if you’re seeing this for what feels like the bazillionth time, sorry, but someone else may be seeing it for the first time.

Accelerated Medicine for an Accelerated Year

Our negative emotions are not meant to be maligned, but rather to push us toward how we’d like to spend more of our time feeling—joyful, peaceful, calm or elated, with a sense that all is as it should be. But when sadness, anger that morphs into simmering frustration, or depression come on, they can feel hard to dislodge.

The best antidote is free: To shift back into feeling well, express gratitude—quite literally, in your head, aloud or on paper, state those things and people for which or for whom you feel grateful. This can be small or grand—from gratitude for the mother who gave birth to you to, or, if you are adopted, the one who raised you…or, if you have a troubled relationship with your mother, other women who’ve helped support you along the way; for the father who’s been there for you when times have been tough—or, if you don’t know your father or don’t have a good relationship with him, other men in your life who have been there for you; for your overall well being; for having a roof over your head, food to eat and clothing; maybe you feel grateful for a skill you’ve developed over many years—or for a talent you came in with and have continued to nurture. Or maybe, it’s just the sun itself, knowing that it’s there, even behind those clouds.

If this feels hard, the truth is it can be. Sometimes—this is true for me—some prep is needed before turning on the gratitude. For me, the preparation is sometimes singing and dancing to a favorite song, taking a shower, or going for a walk and admiring the trees and laughing at the squirrels. Just something to dislodge doomist thoughts that too often seem to be on a continuous loop.

Once you get the gratitude going, it may be necessary to stay off social media and avoid the news—not altogether, but long enough for you to truly feel appreciation, so that you might, unlike Hansel and Gretel, lay smooth, bright stones along your path so that you find your way back easily.


Keeping a gratitude jar is a simple way to cue up appreciation. (Photo by Leigh Glenn.)


A Time for Letting Go

Autumn is an especially good time to assess where we’ve been and where we are. Doing this sets the stage for winter, the go-inside time, a time for dreaming and breathing new visions that can come to fruition in the coming months or years.AutumnLeaves

The assessment process is akin to psychic closet-cleaning: Does this attitude still suit me? Would I look (and feel) better if I integrated this particular state of mind into my mental/emotional wardrobe? The fact is, sometimes we have to make room for the new by first getting rid of the old.

But just like cleaning out the closet, some psychic clothing is hard to get rid of. It’s like finding a toy from childhood in the box way over to the side on the back shelf. It is still there, taking up space. And while it may signify in ways, a better, less complicated time of life, it still begs the question: Why am I hanging on to this?

For me, mental/emotional downsizing has been an ongoing process. What amazes me most is that, based on the majority of the people I’ve met over the years, we all have a natural inclination toward growth. Growth can be quite uncomfortable—just ask any 10-year old with growing pains!

To a great extent, plants can help us to better align with our soul’s purpose here—both the general human purpose, which is to be about love for one another—as well as the specific purpose and purposes for which we exist. Whether we simply sit with plants and sketch them and note what feelings arise in us as we do, or whether we take them internally as medicine, they can help strip away some of the strictures (either self-imposed or the deep-seated kinds that are inherent in old family or ancestral patterns—sometimes they are one and the same!) and enable new pieces of ourselves to land on fertile soil and germinate and take root.

I’ve written about agrimony before and its potential for helping to free us from the drama triangle—neither persecutor, nor victim, nor rescuer be! But other plants—those that can help us to “process” our experiences and work through our body’s excretion pathways (liver, kidneys, bladder, lungs, intestines, lymph, and skin) can also be helpful, because experience, which represents all of our interfacing with the world around us, also gets processed through these paths of excretion.

Although using plants is seldom a one-for-one, this-for-that endeavor, if we check in with ourselves and know what we’ve been feeling the previous season or months, we may have a better handle on which plants to look to. For example, anger is the realm of the liver, so bile-stimulating plants (dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock as well as the yellow bitters, such as Oregon grape and goldenseal)Goldenseal berrying may be helpful. On a physiologic level, these herbs help to promote digestive secretions, so actually can help us to better digest our food. Anger, which can throw us into sympathetic-dominant mode, makes it hard for us to digest our food, which is why it’s best not to eat when we’re angry. But given all the anger-causing potential of our culture, people can experience low-grade anger for long periods of time—and that can depress digestive function.

Many medicinals are diuretic, but typically spare minerals, unlike synthetic diuretics, which can deplete potassium and others. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are where one’s essence is stored and are also the seat of fear. So, if you check in and have been feeling a lot of fear in recent months, certain plants may help you process that energy. Nettle leaf, dandelion leaf, plantain leaf—these are all mild herbs and taste pretty good, too. Nettle is specifically tonic and nutritive for the kidneys.

Many other plants provide both physiologic and energetic effects to those who take them. Of course, intention is everything and that’s why it’s nice to approach any use of plants with intention—whether the intention is to resolve a specific issue and heal or just to feel more secure in ourselves. Volumes can and have been written about plants as medicines and plants as energy workers. If you have questions about using plants in either of these ways, you can always e-mail me at artofearth at yahoo dot com.

And for people who are on medications that may prevent them from using alcohol extracts or teas, there are a whole host of flower essences they can use that work specifically on the energetic level and won’t interact with the pharmaceuticals.

This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any particular condition. For help with specific conditions, consult a healthcare practitioner who is qualified to help you. If you want to use plant medicines as part of your healing process, consult an herbalist.