What would it feel like to truly embody the essence of water – this beautiful giver of life, the source of which we need to thrive?
When you close your eyes, and feel water in your body, of which we are are mostly made up, where and how do you feel this element in the body?
What words come to mind?
Do you feel it on a cellular level? Do you feel it in the tender membranes of your organs? Do you feel it in your blood, gently moving through your veins the same way that a river moves across the land, carrying sacred nutrients along the way?
Do words like juicy come to mind? Perhaps feeling a calling to let go of more rigid structure and sink more into the flow?
As we drop in and explore the beautiful way we can work with the element of water, we encourage you to continue to be curious about the way you work with and embody water, physically, energetically, and spiritually.
Energetics of Water
As we enter December in Colorado, we move slowly over the threshold from late autumn into the beginnings of the early winter. At this time, we can learn so much from the spirit of water, calling us to also slow down. In nature, we witness rivers and streams and how they are no longer moving with the mighty roar and rush as they do earlier in the wheel of the year. They instead move more slowly, similar to the way the beautiful wise Crone walks slowly down a path, without hurry and with intention.
In some places, we see water freeze all together, truly beginning to embody the energy of winter, which is aligned with the element of Earth, the element that is most aligned with this season. Water becomes a solid form, standing still with time, a deep sacred pause.
Water beckons us to live life in a state of flow. While water is always with us in the water cycle, at no two moments is water ever the same. You will never step into the same river or lake – it is always shifting, and the rain that falls on your face are never the same droplets as once before. Water reminds us of that there is magic in this, and that while we may have elements of the stagnant that help keep us balanced, such as the banks that hold the river in place, that change is to be embraced, and that we are allowed, and even encouraged, to grow, shift, evolve, and explore new places.
Water is also deeply connected to our emotions, and our heart chakra. When water is in balance in our bodies, we feel in control of our emotions, and also feel that our nervous system is nourished. We find ourselves in a state of non-attachment, able to move with fluidity and grace. However, if the element of water is in excess in our bodies, we may find ourselves overly emotional, or solely acting from a place of emotion. Additionally, if we do not have enough water element, we may find ourselves disconnected from emotion, and feel energetic blocks or suppression of our heart chakra.
On Working with Menstruums
As herbalists, a beautiful way we can work with the spirit of water is in building kinship with the spirit of water as it exists in the menstruums, or mediums, that we use in creating herbal remedies. Almost all menstruums alchemize with the element of water to extract the properties from plants that work as medicine within our bodies.
Herbal Infusions or Decoctions: This is the most accessible and simple way to work with the element of water, and it is also the most gentle form of medicine and extraction. An herbal infusion can also be thought of as a strong tea, where the herbs have been able to steep for over 4 hours. This is ideal for working with nourishing herbs, where the extraction we want is that of minerals and vitamins to help nourish our bodies. A decoction (where herbs are gently simmered for a period of time) is used when the herbs are mostly hard parts (roots and barks), where more heat is required to help extract the properties of the herbs.
Tinctures: Tinctures are a beautiful way to witness the alchemy of water in herbal medicine. Tinctures are utilized in a more acute way, when we want the medicine to be potent, and address symptoms in a more targeted manner. Since we do not want to put herbs in pure alcohol or pure glycerin, water is used to dilute these ingredients. The water works to help extract the properties of the plants in collaboration with the alcohol or glycerin, but makes it gentle enough that we can joyfully take the medicine into our bodies. You can work with water further by adding the tincture dosage to a small glass of water or juice, which is also recommended to be more gentle on our mucous membranes versus taking them directly.
Flower Essences: It is this form of medicine where we witness so profoundly the incredible alchemy of water. The water in this instance actually co-creates with the energy of the sun and the energetic frequency of a flower (or even a gemstone!) and preserves it (further preserved when brandy is added to the essence). It becomes a holder of the vibrational energy of nature in that exact moment, and then can be worked with by us to help us find healing on a subtle, energetic level in our bodies.
Water is also known as a carrier of intention, and the magical ability for it to hold these makes it an incredible ally to work with to amplify our deepest desires. When working with these menstruums, you can co-create and alchemize with the water yourself, by perhaps singing into the flower essence a song of your heart, speaking your gratitude into your morning tea, or whispering your intentions in creating medicine to alcohol or glycerin, and how you hope it will work with those you share it with.
Herbal Allies of Water
We finish this series by exploring and celebrating the herbal allies that have an affinity for the water element. These herbs help us to weave in the vitality and life force of water in our bodies, so that we may too live in a state of flow and fluidity.
Demulcent Herbs: Herbs that are demulcent mean that they have moistening properties. These herbs even tend to have a viscosity to them, or have gel-like substance that are deeply nourishing to the mucous membranes and cells in our body. Think of the powerful ally that we find in the desert, Aloe, that has the most generous gift of soothing gel that can restore hydration to our sunburnt skin. These herbs are also cooling in the body, and help counteract dryness we may experience as a result of our environment. Especially as we move into the deep winter, call upon herbs like Marshmallow, Linden, and Licorice to help ensure moisture and lubrication in our bodies.
Herbs of Water: It is when we take the time to pause and be present with nature that we are able to receive the beautiful messages it is trying to share with us. When we observe plants in their natural habitat, we learn about their affinities. We can work with herbs that have deep reverence for the spirit of water that live in very wet environments, or close to bodies of water. Willow and Nettle are herbs that deeply love the water, often growing next to streams and rivers. Additionally, we can embody the spirit of the early spring, when water is most abundant, by working with the early season, deeply green herbs, like Chickweed and Violet.
Alchemy Herbs: Lastly, there is a beautiful herb that is known for the way in which it alchemizes with water in beautiful ways – Lady’s Mantle. This sweet herb has a cup-like form, where it collects rainwater and morning dew, holding it each day like a sacred diamond trophy. This plant honors the water each morning, holding it high for all to see. There is an old Irish belief that splashing the water on your face from the fresh morning dew held by Lady’s Mantle will make you incredibly beautiful and restore and hydrate your skin better than any serum! Additionally, Lady’s Mantle has an affinity for the menstrual cycle, helping to restore flow if irregularities occur.
As another year comes to a close, we want to wish our beautiful community a wonderful holiday season. You all make our hearts so full, and we are incredibly grateful for the continued support, and for the opportunity to share in exploring the magic of the plants together each day. Thank you for your readership of this monthly blog, and thank you for your patronage. Cheers to the mystery of the winter that is upon us!