As I said in my last post, there is hope. Big hope rising from that which has been invisible coming to the forefront, a shadow revealing itself, demanding action. But let's not kid ourselves: it's going to be rough going for a while now.
It sure felt like maybe we were through the eye-of-the-needle of the eclipse; that things were going to get clearer, lighter, less clouded over.
The time before the eclipse seemed dream-like, a liminal space, a boundary, a border crossing to lands unknown. In fact, lots folks reported crazy intense dreams, and I experienced them too, a strange vividness of night-life.
The eye-of-the-needle, the narrowing, the widening strikes me as a potent metaphor for this experience: tempers, personal space, liminal space, all getting honed to a fine point. That we have to contract before we can expand. Maybe things we're going to spread out, become less pointed and poignant afterwards...
What I've realized is that it's going to take time. It seems to me that folks who traveled to totality have moved through, widened their horizons quicker. The rest of us are still muddling the shadows. Astrological, emotional, internal, spiritual weather (what ever you wanna call it) can be like that.
So here we are. The air is full of that same smoke, the West is on fire, the streets are full of water.
There are spiritual and emotional considerations, and then there are practical ones. If you live in the West right now your lungs are probably feeling a bit like sandpaper from all the smoke. I have lung issues from living in a moldy house for years, so I've been relying on these plants for as long a time.
If you are currently in a damp climate I recommend that you not add more moisture to the air, and simply brew this as an infusion, but if you're in the dry zone, adding a bit of water-vapor to the air can actually help the air quality in your home.
Firelung -steam / tea*
All or any of the following medicine plants:
Mullein Verbascus thapsus leaf (the famous beloved lung herb) (Strain yer Mullein well in tea, as the wee hairs can actually be irritating. Use cheescloth or coffee filters <3 )
Elecampane Inula Helenium leaf/ root / blossom (I use leaf & blossom in steam only)
Lungwort Lichen Lobaria Pulmanaria (windfalls only - please. Do not remove living lichen from trees. )
Culinary Sage Salvia officinalis leaf (tea only)
Nettle Urtica Dioica leaf (tea only - I've not found any benefit to steaming with Nettle, but there are about a million benefits to taking her internally)
Citrus Peel (especially orange) washed, dry & aged
Birch Beula betula leaves (steam only - an ancient Finnish folk remedy of Birch steam)
Conifer boughs (I usually stay away from Western Red Cedar (Thuja picata) because of its oils' intensity & cumulative allergens, but my dear friend April recently reassured me of trying it again. Same for California Redwood boughs. The same essential oils that give these boughs their medicine potency, also can create allergic reactions in some folks.)
(I also use Turtle Island native Grindelia integrifolia, as a lung aid, but instead of wild-harvesting them, I cultivate enough for my own needs, sharing and reseed in my garden. That is my practice with most of the plants that are not in my medicine tradition, and especially plants that are native to the unceded lands I live on.)
Add Rose, Hawthorn, Borage & Lemon Balm to hearten your heart and brighten your spirits.
To make an infusion, simply apply about a cup or so of the herb/ quart of hot (but not boiling water). Cover with a lid. Let it steep for 4-12 hours & strain (strain your ). Keep refrigerated. I like to both blend my herbs & reheat the infusion, or add it to my otherwise hot tea, but there's lots of different practices.
To make a steam simply chop up the herbs and throw them into a pot of water or a crockpot without a lid. Simmer throughout the day. For a steam-treatment, place a towel over your head and shoulders engulfing the pot into a "tent". Breathe in deeply. For little ones, you can do what my mom did and create a tent over their beds with some sheets, and the pot next to it on a stool. (fun fact from the 80s: our big pot was made from aluminum. So to avoid that mistake, DO NOT STEAM (or cook with or eat from) with aluminum, or teflon, or any other non-stick products.)
If you're somewhere that's experiencing extra rain, moisture, and even damage to your things from flooding, do consider infusing these herbs to protect your lungs from mold blooms. My mold allergies were created by a damp climate, and I still struggle with that every rainy season. You can certainly help your lungs if you're in that situation. Add ginger for warming, Turmeric to help with inflammation, and Usnea lichen (sustainably harvested from windfalls, please) to fight infections and to help your immune system kick viruses and bacterial issues out of your system. I've been working a writing up a small mold-health protocol that I have used for years myself, and hope to release it soon.
There is a heaviness to a world on fire, a world under water, a world being leveled by strong winds, a world under political duress and societal reckoning. A world that is changing, so rapidly that there is no denying it anymore. We need to be resourceful & resilient, take care of ourselves and each other, unlearn and relearn, rediscover old ways in this new age. A fire may leave a forest devastated, but it also creates a fertile place for plants to grown. Like I said in my last post, these times can do the same for us: make room for new growth and ideas yet unthought of.
Last month's eclipse was the perfect metaphor for what we seem to be experiencing collectively right now. Darkness can be a powerful agent for change. We may not be quite through it yet, but we've learned a lot. And I'm not just speaking metaphorically. The eclipse taught us a lot about astronomy, brought us together, rekindled our awe, gave us a break, a pause to ponder things bigger than our little lives.
Facing up to climate change, political change, change in these little lives of ours can be challenging. Having to accept the truth, the reality-shift, can hurt. It used to be easy to turn away from it, but frankly it's starting to feel like there's nowhere to turn anymore. So, let's all take a deep breath of our medicinal steam & face it head on. I'm right here with y'all.
Oh and listen to this beautiful song from Raye Zaragoza, a good medicine for these times.
*(Disclaimer: Respect plants, learn about their medicine! Always take good care to research herbs & how they relate to your own health, counter-indications, allergies, dosages. If you're not sure whether something will work for you, research it, or see a qualified practitioner.)