So I’ve been ruminating on roots…inspired by their undergroundedness.

Roots are the below to what is above.  It’s deep.

In a healthy plant, the root structure reflects the foliage.  As the leaves and stems reach wide, so do the root hairs branch below.  It’s the literal, physical foundation for the beauty we witness and appreciate on the surface of things and a wonderful metaphor for these winter times.  A mirror image in the darkness.  A good, quiet secret.

Now that all the rushing of the holidays is finished, we need to rest and restore.  Most likely our nervous systems were overstimulated with travel,  parties, and tons of social time.  When all that goes away, there is a tendency to wonder “Is that all?  It happened so fast.”  Enter the root as metaphor…

A root moves micronutrients and water up into the aerial plant parts.  It’s also a storehouse that feeds the plant in lean times.

Similar to a dormant plant,  it’s important to get back to what roots us–to go back to listening to our our inner dialogue.     Really take the time to ask yourself “Did I have a good holiday?”  “Did I really enjoy that (literal or symbolic) wild airplane ride?”

The New Year is a great opportunity for coming back to the “underground” energy  that feeds us.  The pulse of what gives us our vision,  strength, and stability.

This late fall and early winter season I’ve had the very good fortune of making some amazing roots into medicine.  Both are adaptogenic in nature– a plant that works on moderating the human stress response, helping to develop stamina for life’s bumps and thrills.   Introducing the dynamic duo:

Rhodiola~Rhodiola rosea,  a northern beauty!!  Literally smells like a (rootish)   rose.  Native to Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia.  Used to nourish the lungs, and often taken to prevent sickness in said cold climates.  “Shown to enhance alertness, reduce fatigue, and improve memory and depressed mental states” (Adaptogens, Winston and Maimes.)  Beneficial for the heart, helpful for regulating blood sugar levels and compromised immune systems.  Life feels a little brighter with this plant on your side.

And then there is…

Ashwagandha~Withania somnifera:  the Hindi name for this plant, asgandh, refers to its horse sweat odor.  This fellow may stink up your kitchen (if you are processing it into medicine) but it will also strengthen your chi like no body’s business.  It is calming plant, yet perfect for perking up a sluggish thyroid gland (suitable for hypo folks, not hyperthyroid.)    Works on anxiety and nervousness.  Good for stress-induced insomnia.  I love this plant for how strong it makes me feel…just a small dose once or twice a day makes a noticeable difference when I’ve got projects and no one to complete them but me.

Both handsome roots do so much more than I’ve just given them credit for.  They are the tonics of the winter, the quiet yin heart dirt energy.  Root medicine.   I love that we can both be rooted, and take roots into our bodies.

It’s time to get deep…

Deep rootedness, part one…

November 17, 2011

Lately I’ve been thinking a ton about being deeply rooted..being planted, really.

Secret:  there are days when I long to actually be a plant.  It seems to be a more peaceful, predictable experience.  But when sense starts talking again, I realize I am personifying the phyto-experience, and that is the wrong thing to do.  Both humans, plants, and all species are in the same boat when it comes to control.  That is, we have very little.  We respond to our environment, and respond again.   Leaves move to greet the sun and are literally shaped by lack of water or other extreme conditions.  Roots grow directly into sewer pipes when necessary.

While I am a bit fragile in extreme conditions, I can at least water myself.  I won’t forget and die of thirst, thank goodness.

This fall has been full of lots of harvesting and chopping…Yellow Dock, Skullcap, Blue Vervain, just to name a few.  I am learning how to be an herbalist, and  to remember the deeper cycles of things.

For instance:  Guess what?  You have to harvest when the harvest is ready.  You can’t just put it on your to do list and get back to it.  I am reminded of my mom putting up food (tomatoes, green beans, peaches) until the wee hours of the night.  As a child, I was always so amazed at how late she would stay up to get the job done.   Close enough to being a farm girl, she would fret about picking the peas and what to do with all that zucchini.  Poor dear.  I get it now.  Even though I am tired, getting the herbs chopped up and soaking in the alcohol (to make the medicine) is very important to me.  They receive a lot of star energy as I work late at night after my family has gone to bed.

So as I am dwelling on rootedness, and how I am not so good at it, I am cooking up roots.  Pots of them.  Because I’ve had a bad cold, and now I must make medicine for me.  (Roots for rooting.)  I like this…