In this month’s post, we wrap up our celebrations of spring, and look forward to the warm, sunny months of summer that lay before us. We encourage you to dive into the energetics of summer with us, and like the previous post exploring the energetics of spring, we will share with you all the details of a class you are encouraged to participate in at Golden Poppy if you want to learn even more.
The summer solstice, which is the day in which summer begins, is a time of profound power, and when we call upon and align with the energy of this time, we become the embodiment of growth, abundance, vitality, and increased life force. The solstice is a time that has been celebrated and honored since ancient times, and is deeply aligned with the element of fire. During this day, it feels as though the sun is unwavering in the sky, illuminating the world without an intent to leave. Matter of factly, because of this phenomenon, it makes sense that the word “solstice” is derived from the Latin word meaning “still.”
This time, energetically, asks us to align ourselves with the cycle of re-birth and death. We are invited to look within ourselves, assessing our goals, and achievements to date. While winter solstice asks us to move inward, deeply analyzing what we truly want out of our times here on this earth, deeply nourish our being, and find groundedness, summer solstice is a time of letting go. We separate ourselves from what no longer serves us, and seek to remove barriers that stand in the way of achieving our most fruitful, abundant life.
While the solstice marks the “true” initiation of summer, the key elements of the energetics of this time continue throughout the season. We are moving fully away from the darkness of winter and spring, and fully into the light and heat. It is this time of year we likely feel the most alive, as life force energy is moving swiftly through our bodies, and in the environment around us.
Fire energy is also prominent around us during the summer. This might be in subtle ways such as the barbeques shared with friends and family, or the campfire you may sit in circle around on warm summer evenings. It might also display itself much more prominently, perhaps in the way the stars seem to shimmer twice as brightly on nights absent of clouds, or in the way that if we are not careful and attentive, the energy of the sun can leave burns on our skin.
Summer asks us to go for it. It is a time of growth and abundance and pursuing our dreams utilizing the fire that is burning deep within us. Summer reminds us that we have all that we need already, and illuminates the path forward toward living our life most authentically.
Living in alignment with seasonal energetics is also about seeking balance with their corresponding energies. This helps us to avoid imbalances that may result in discomfort or conditions within our bodies. For example, in summer, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these include such things as feelings of irritation or agitation, excessive perspiration or perhaps heat rashes and hives, or disruptions to our sleep. Therefore, we should seek to balance the fire energy by consuming cooling herbs and foods.
Foods typically associated with fire in TCM are those that are also usually bitter. This is due to the fact that these types of foods stimulate our digestive fire, alleviating sluggishness or stagnation in the body, and also encouraging the body to produce saliva to help jumpstart the process. These types of foods are typically greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, as well as herbal greens such as chickweed, plantain, and nettle.
Additionally, cooling herbs include those that have diaphoretic (meaning they increase sweating, helping to alleviate the body of excess heat) or astringent (meaning they have a cooling and drying effect in the body, helping to balance excessive moisture in the form of humidity and heat) actions.
Each season, we will offer a class that is comprehensive and in-depth, teaching participants how to align themselves with the rhythms of each season. This class series will take a deep dive into the energetics of the seasons and how these affect your body and your state of health, and apply this knowledge in easy-to-use ways so you can begin to match your body to the rhythms of nature.
We will discuss energetics from an Ayurvedic, TCM, and Western herbal perspective; touching on ancient traditions as well as their modern counterparts. We will cover herbs, foods, and lifestyle habits for each season to help bring, and keep, your body into harmony with the world around you.
These will be longer, lecture-style classes, so come prepared to take notes and discuss!
Summer Energetics Class:
Sunday, June 13th, 2-4 pm MST. This will be a zoom class so if you can’t make it live you can still sign up and get the recording.
Thank you so much for joining us on this exploration of summer energy, and we hope to see you soon!
“Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a green hand to confound you.” ~ W.E. Johns
March often feels like a month of transformation, with the switch from Winter to Spring. We patiently flow through the last snow storms of April, knowing their moisture is a blessing, and arrive in the month of May, where collectively, our faith in the coming of summer is the strongest. After several years where drought has scorched our lands, we know that the moisture will brings us the water that will encourage sweet seedlings to emerge. We have faith that our hands will no doubt soon have dirt under our fingernails, and that time to tend to the earth is here.
We have faith that despite the fact there is undoubtedly one last snowfall event in May here in Colorado, that we know it is the last breath of winter, and that the longer, warmer days are here to stay. We have faith that all things green will now grow with immense strength and begin to share their magic and wisdom with us. We hold faith that our bare feet will soon be able to fully dance upon the green grass of the earth beneath us and that the songs of birds will become the full-time soundtrack of the outdoor world.
May Day, a sweet and traditional, though not official holiday, celebrates the beautiful plant beings and the full onslaught of the warmer months. Traditionally it is a day in which gift baskets are left for neighbors full of brightly colored flowers and sweet treats. It is a day where the energy of excitement for the abundance that lies ahead is shared by the whole community.
May Day coincides with a day deeply rooted in European cultures, the celebration of Beltane (also spelled “Bealtaine” in Modern Irish, “Bealtuinn” in Scottish Gaelic, and has in older times been spelled “Beltain” or “Beltene”). It is the first of the ancient fire festivals of the year. The purpose of this festival is to mark the halfway point between the first half of the year, and the second, and the belief was that this time marked a perfect balance between the light half of the year and the dark half.
Beltane is a day of profound energy, and the ritual bonfires that are ignited symbolize a celebration of the return of light and fertility. It also celebrates the abundance of life and the growth that is to come. The bonfires were an incredibly integral part of the festival, and it was believed that the smoke of the fires held sacred and protective qualities. Matter of factly, cattle were walked near the fires, where the smoke could engulf them, as a means of protection for their herds. Couples who wished to declare their intentions for marriage would hold hands as they leaped over the fire. And the ashes from the bonfires would eventually be scattered over crops to protect them as they grew.
Traditional practices of this day also include such things as decorating homes with bright, particularly yellow flowers, offering the blood of cattle to the fairy mounds in an effort to appease them with the goal of decreasing their mischief on this day, and the decorating of thorn bushes with ribbons, shells, and flowers – the bushes were known as “May Bushes” and were so decorated as they were thought to be particularly important to the fairies.
Perhaps the most well-known tradition associated with May Day and Beltane is that of the May Pole. This was a pole that was adorned with brightly colored ribbons and flowers, placed in the center of a field where the people of the village would gather to weave a dance around it, dressed in bright colors. As they danced, they would sing and dance to express their joy at the coming of the growing and harvest seasons.
As we move into this month, and into the summer that will soon follow, we invite you to call upon the energy of this time. Where in your life might you make more room for merriment and joy?
We invite you to take the time to simply dance on this day, particularly with your feet upon the earth, and express gratitude to our beautiful plant allies for their food and medicine, their nourishment; and for the pure joy that is life.
This is the time of year when the flowers really get going. Some of the first few to show their colorful faces are dandelions, violets, and members of the Crocus Family, one of our favorite being Pulsatilla, also called Wind or Pasque flower.
The energetics of these plants are all that of light, they impart feelings of joyousness, gentle breezes, and are soothing to the soul.
Dandelion flowers are edible and make a wonderful addition to spring salads. Their bright yellow color is full of antioxidants, and their slightly sweet and bitter tastes is perfect for moving the blood, lymph, and digestive system. The leaves are also edible, though often a bit more bitter than you may want, we love sauteeing them with a little bit of balsamic vinegar.
If you are harvesting dandelions, be absolutely sure you know the place you are gathering them from. As one of the most commonly hated ‘weeds’, they are very often hot-spots of chemical weed killers. So it’s best to only harvest from places you know have never been sprayed with chemicals.
Violets are also a deliciously delicate flower that can be added to salads, sprinkled into your water, or placed on top of sweet treats. They are considered to be a moist plant that helps the body hold on to more water, which is particularly helpful in dry climates or in people with drier constitutions.
Pulsatilla is one of our favorite anxiety remedies, however, it is not one to be used by the novice herbalist. They are a strong medicine and best in drop doses or in homeopathic form, certainly not something you want to sprinkle into your lunchtime nibbles.
What other flowers are popping up near you this time of year? Are any of them edible or medicinal?
If you don’t have one yet, grab a copy of a guide to edible and medicinal plants in your region and start checking out what grows near you. But be mindful, we don’t suggest you begin to harvest or wild-craft plants until you’ve had some training in ethical harvesting. Our natural world is more delicate and more in danger every day due to human activities and it’s always best if you can grow your own or purchase from local growers vs. harvesting in the wild.
Come on a walk with us.
Even in our world made up of concrete and asphalt, skyscrapers and bustling vehicles, wildness still occurs.
Today we want to take a walk with you, through your neighborhood, and while we do, we ask you to take notice. What wildness do you see?
Do you see the squirrels chasing their tails as they wind themselves up the oak tree you pass by?
Do you see the plantain, an incredibly medicinal little weed, growing in your neighbor’s driveway? How about the dandelions that continue to rise up despite the perfectly manicured lawn that surrounds it?
Perhaps you see the bumblebee, buzzing through the yarrow bundles that stand tall next to rose hedges and day lillies of front yard gardens. Did you know that that small bee probably traveled almost 3 miles to be in your view today?
If you listen closely, you can hear the soft screechings of hungry baby birds, snuggled up in their nests, excited for their mother’s return.
If you look closely, perhaps you notice the very wheel of life occurring within the same space – new sprouts rising up from the earth, while at the same time the plants that dominated spring are slowly fading away to make room for what is to come.
In this month’s post, we will discuss how to connect with the wild plants that surround us, however, we wanted to invite you to start with this exercise to understand that “wildness” never truly goes away. We are guests on this planet, and while we may have built cities, the cycles of nature that have existed far before us in time will continue on even long after we are gone. We invite you to sit with and ponder this thought, and to know that you do not have to venture far to truly connect with nature.
Wildcrafting, while often thought of as a fancier word for foraging or harvesting plants from the wild or undeveloped places, is so much more than that.
Wildcrafting encompasses cultivating a relationship with the plant itself and the ecosystem that surrounds it. It is also understanding the role of ourselves and the part we play in stewarding the land. In nature, everything exists in a balance, and while we may have been invited to participate and receive gifts from the wild, we must also never forget that we are guests and have a duty to return the favor.
“You never take more than you can use to survive on Mother Earth. You always respect the plants, because, without them, we wouldn’t be here. And you always give back. So when we harvest these plants, we develop relationships with them.” – Craig Torres (quoted in the book Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Forêt and Emily Han).
Beyond connecting us with nature and our surroundings, there are unique benefits to getting outdoors and harvesting wild plants.
When we consume plants, their very essence and most innate properties are transferred to our bodies. Unlike cultivated or domesticated plants, where the environments are more controlled and conditions are carefully curated to better ensure their growth, wild plants are hardened by nature. Wild plants go back to basics – meaning that only the strongest survive. This means that the plants we have the opportunity to harvest are the most genetically sound, and have adapted and evolved to meet the challenges presented by their environment. Therefore, when we consume these plants or utilize them, these very properties of adaptability and resilience are transferred to us, to help our bodies heal in more profound ways.
Wildcrafting is also an educational experience. Many of us oftentimes are not aware of the essence of the ecosystem we are a part of. Learning to forage helps us better identify what plants are native to our area – long-standing ancestors of the land, and those that are more recent. We learn how all things are interconnected, from the smallest sprout to the tallest tree, and how all aspects of nature partake in a delicate dance of symbiosis and competition to create harmony and balance.
Unless you are of Native descent, chances are your people were not the original keepers of plant knowledge where you live, and it’s vital that we acknowledge the Indigenous people who lived on this land before us who gave their knowledge to settlers.
When settlers and colonizers arrived, the Indigenous people welcomed them and taught them the ways of this place; where the streams were, which plants to use for food and medicine, and how to find the game for meat. As the colonizers took over and pushed the Indigenous people onto reservations and away from their ancestral homes, the fact that the knowledge of how to live in these places came from them was also pushed from our collective memory.
If you are going to be wildcrafting, before you go find out which tribes lived there before, and find out how they honored the plants when harvesting them, and then do the same to honor their ancestors.
If you are going to be selling and profiting from those wildcrafted plants, then it’s also a good idea to then donate a portion of your profits to the descendants of the original people, as a way to say thanks and pay reparations for the knowledge you have been given.
Alaska Native Adrienne Blatchford has this to say :
Alaska friends, some reminders for people that are picking berries and foraging plants on Indigenous land. I share these because First people have been great cultivators since time immemorial, leaving little to no footprint and have maintained a healthy eco-system while doing so. Please honor the lands where ever you are as if they were the lands your Ancestors have turned to dust and become a part of.
- Before you head out, never say I’m going to get….or catch…or pick lots….say I’m hopeful. I hope that we are blessed with a bountiful harvest or catch. We have a spiritual symbiotic relationship with the land, waters and what they provide, they hear your spirit. We are taught not to be boastful about the bounties from the land.
- thank the berries and plants as you harvest them. Let them know you are nourishing your body or using them for medicine, feeding your family, helping elders. They hear you and will come back to offer themselves. That symbiotic relationship again. Permission and consent. They give themselves to you. Your good luck (wierd word) will continue to also be bountiful when you respect the land and what is given to you.
- leave a small offering before or when finished with your harvest, different areas practice this. A bead, tobacco, a piece of candy, a rock. Something to let the others out there know you are thankful for their guidance, the land your appreciation for your offering from them. We stick it under the tundra or a rock, lots of stories around that too.
- make sure you share a portion of your first harvest with an elder or single parent household or with someone who has a hard time getting on the land. When you help take care of our community, it will take care of you.
(Read her entire post on Facebook here)
We have emphasized the importance of understanding the balance of nature and that we are invited guests. We have a responsibility to give back to nature, just as much as it gives gifts to us. When we approach nature, we should approach with a perspective of stewardship.
What is stewardship? Stewardship is defined as “the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property.” In the context of wildcrafting, stewardship means ensuring the continued vitality and sustainability of the ecosystem we are harvesting from.
Overharvesting is a real problem in wildcrafting. Medicine from nature is truly a gift, and an exciting one, but we must recognize that taking too much can be detrimental to the ecosystem, and can even result in the loss of species. As more people discover the magic of foraging, and are welcomed to it, the importance of doing so ethically must be stressed more than ever.
Cultivate a Relationship with Plants
Can you ever truly understand someone without knowing their name or their story? Of course not! Plants are the same way. We cannot truly connect with their medicine if we do not understand the foundation of the plants we are working with. Get to know the plants you are foraging – study them, read about them, get to know their botanical makeup. Spend time with them before harvesting and really assess them – what is the shape of their leaves? Do you notice color variations? What type of soil do they grow in? What plants grow around them? Learn their name – do they have nicknames? What is their scientific name? Ask many questions!
Do Your Research
Remember that every ecosystem varies, even those local to you. What may grow abundantly in another part of your country, or even another part of your county, may not grow as abundantly outside your back door. Matter of factly, something that may grow abundantly locally may be endangered in another area. Take the time to research impacts on the plant you are seeking to harvest and be informed before you leave your home.
Additionally, take time to research plants that have sacred connections, especially to people who are indigenous and original stewards of the land. With such things as the rise in interest in plant medicine and using plants as a means of spirituality, this has led to overharvesting of sacred wild plants integral to indigenous culture. By conducting research effectively, you can avoid causing harm in this way.
We also encourage you to be wary when purchasing wildcrafted plants, and to make sure the plants you purchase are harvested in an ethical and sustainable manner, and to take care to avoid purchasing plants that are endangered if you can.
This may be one of the most important steps when wildcrafting and in further cultivating a relationship with plants. Before harvesting, we should ask permission to harvest a plant. Plants too are sentient beings. This is truly as simple as it seems, all you have to do is simply ask permission aloud to the plant you wish to harvest. You will receive an answer, likely through your intuition. As mentioned by herbalist Asia Suler of One Willow Apothecaries, oftentimes, if you feel drawn to a particular plant, it is for a reason, and it is likely you will receive a yes. If that is the case, express gratitude to the plant for its offering as you harvest. However, sometimes you may receive a no, and often it is for good reason. Perhaps that plant is struggling with a disease that may not be readily apparent on the surface. Perhaps the plant is vitally important to the plants growing around it, and removal of it would disrupt the symbiotic relationship it currently exists within. If you receive a no, again express gratitude for having the opportunity to connect with the plant and move on to another day.
Give a Gift
A final step of wildcrafting ethically is to return the favor. What can you do to be a good steward? Can you gift the plant with water from your water bottle? Do you notice invasive plants that may be impacting the ecosystem that can be removed? Perhaps you can leave something personal from you, such as a stone or some other offering that you feel is special. Always remember to say thank you for the gift you received.
“If we choose to use plants as our medicine, we then become accountable for the wild gardens, their health, and their upkeep. We begin a co-creative partnership with the plants, giving back what we receive – health, nourishment, beauty, and protection.” – Rosemary Gladstar (quoted in the book Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Forêt and Emiy Han)
We warmly wish you well as you embark on a journey to discover the wild plants that exist around us. Here in the Rocky Mountains, we are blessed with a multitude of wild, medicinal gifts that grow abundantly. However, we strongly urge you to always be sure of the identification and proper uses of plants before consuming them and to always adequately prepare before you head off foraging. Pack sun protection, plenty of water and snacks, and always tell someone where you are going!
By: Ashley Noack, CCH
(June 21-July 22)
Element: Water—Receptivity, Emotions, Healing
Planet: Moon—Feeling, Unconscious, Maternal
Body Part Ruled: The Breasts and Stomach
Patient / Listening / Sympathetic / Sentimental / Nurturing / Loyal / Protective
Summer arrives and we slip easily into the nostalgic feeling of childhood, home, pot-lucks and popsicles. The work in the field has slowed, the air is thick, and the water is oh-so inviting. Take comfort, dear one—it’s Cancer season.
Cancer rules the home and the center of all domestic activities, cooking, child-raising housekeeping, but more than this—the emotional labor and physical work it takes to care for another. Cancer individuals are symbolized by the crab, a creature that moves with grace between the physical and emotional, subconscious realms.
They easily feel into other’s unconscious motives and desires. This makes them very apt caretakers, as they not only are able to anticipate the physical and emotional needs of others, but also being active listeners they respond to the unspoken needs of their environment. They are deeply devoted to loved ones, which can also lead to a tendency to over-give and feeling exhausted. When the flow of giving and receiving becomes imbalanced, a soft-hearted Cancer can inadvertently close themselves off to the love and support that is so necessary for their well-being, and retreat behind a hard exterior. They do need support and encouragement in their personal relationships, but the Crab, take warning, is well-equipped with claws and a shell to defend itself from being mistaken as a door-mat.
Cancer’s need to be loved and cared for in return can reinforce this sign’s reputation for being become ‘clingy’ or ‘needy,’ their claws clamped tightly around the overpowered object of their attention. It is important for this sign to be conscious of co-dependent patterns in relationships, as the need to love and be loved turns toxic.
When pained, the sign can also slip into passive-aggressive tendencies, preferring to retreat to into their protective shell, defensively snapping at others, and swirling in their own tidepool of self-pity. However, this sensitive, broody, and moody sign is as dynamic as the moon itself, so rest assured, with a little TLC and time this water-ruled crustacean will emerge.
Being ruled by the Moon, it comes as no surprise that Cancer rules the breasts and the stomach– both soft, round, and nurturing of life. And true to their nurturing nature, care and sustenance for a Crab come through food. As such, they can be prone to emotional eating. Becoming aware of their emotional connection to food, especially foods that cause them to feel heavy and weighted is of great importance for Crabs.
Their diet often is reflected in the quality of their lymph, the ocean inside us, which can become easily congested in their water-loving bodies leaving them feeling dull, bloated, and stagnant. They may also be prone to gaining weight and have a difficult time releasing it, especially when food is used as a barrier to protect their sensitive self. Food equates to security for these folks.
Care-taking is a cornerstone of a Cancer’s identity, so health is an important aspect oftheir lives which they will gladly prioritize. For the Crab, doctor’s visits and appointments with caregivers represent sources of comfort. Because the Crab has such faith in doctors, it will be important for them to work with providers who can acknowledge their emotional needs– people who will take the time to ask them about their loved ones, and be sympathetic to their health concerns. Despite being a watery sign, Crabs are not wishy-washy when it comes to getting great care either. They tend to be traditionalists, seeking therapeutics that are ancient or ancestral. They will appreciate any well-known folk remedy, food as medicine, as well as time-tested medical disciplines, like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
A Crab’s giving heart cannot be understated. They can live with a perpetual weight on their chest, spending much of their time feeling worried and concerned for the well-being of others, while needing to redirect and conserve this care for themselves. Holding in their sometimes turbulent emotions can create an unnecessary burden on their open hearts. This tension can lead to hard-heartedness, aggression, fatigue, irrational thoughts and actions, and depression. By accepting these emotions and their inherent wholeness, their spirit becomes soft and luminous like La Luna herself. Come to the ocean, open your expansive heart, and let love in.
These suggestions are intended to be informative and enlightening. They do not replace the guidance of a healthcare professional.