Autumn equinox is a time when the veils between the worlds may be thin, and our personal boundaries may be easily perforated. As we approach the end of the year, and crave increased rest, it’s important that our body’s energy not be allowed to stagnate. As we push to get more done with less light, we may see an increase in nervousness and anxiety and the sleeplessness that goes with it.
The Harvest Moon was full last week, reminding us that now is the time to gather leaves, flowers, berries and seeds for the second harvest now at hand. On the east coast, a late summer to early fall hurricane season brings rains and increasing damp along with tapering temperatures. Making the most of the waning light and the gifts of the land are crucial to gathering what we need now for the season ahead.
Personal and Sacred Space Cleansings
The Medicine Woman Mystery School practices smudging as one of its primary tools for spiritual and physical space enhancement.
I tend to smudge with sage, or sage and sweetgrass, in a manner drawn from Native American tradition. Other herbs, such as juniper or cedar may also be used. Native shamans teach that smudging clears negativity and creates sacred space. It open the way for clarity, vision-questing, and communing with the ancestors.
Medicine women in Mexico, curanderas, perform spiritual cleansings at this time of year called “limpias.” The smudge used includes rosemary, rue, tobacco, and other herbs of cultural significance. As we are guided into this new season, smudging in this manner sanctifies our spaces, clears our energy, and blesses our transition into the darkening days.
Berries, Seeds and Plant Medicines
In preparation for cold and flu season, I recommend working with elderberries, pictured, and hawthorn berries. A good elderberry syrup can be made now and used as a tonic when we begin to feel under the weather. Here is a good recipe using ginger, cinnamon and elderberry that is easy to do at home. You can also cook with ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, warming spices which support good mental and physical health.
Hawthorn berries are good for circulating qi, or chi, the body’s energy. It is considered a tonic for healing the heart and heartache, strengthening boundaries and psychic perforations, preventing stagnation, and adapting to change. Here is a good resource for Hawthorn berry syrup and supporting flower essences.
For an overall immune booster, Rosemary Gladstar’s Fire Cider remains one of my favorites. Easy to make, it takes patience and nurturance to wait the 3-4 weeks needed for the brew to reach its fullest potential. Created with powerful intention, the Fire Cider can help kick a cold at its onset.
For a longer term solution to healing accompanying more severe colds or flu, I recommend Wellness Formula and a high quality selection of flower essences and/or homeopathics designed to support the immune system nutritionally and energetically. I am happy to consult with you about these solutions on an as-need basis. As the days shorten and nights lengthen, our bodies need more sleep. For sleeplessness, anxiety, nervousness, headaches, and muscle twitches, Skullcap, a nervine, can offer a respite and improve restfulness. CoreyPine Shane at Blue Ridge Herbal Medicine in Asheville offers information on skullcap and other herbs increasing restfulness here.
Our kidneys tend to weaken as the dryness of summer turns to the dampness of fall. Herbalists often recommend horsetail, both for its tonic effect and as a source of necessary silica. It’s seen as a way to expel toxins. Here is a good source for information on horsetail and a recipe for horsetail tea. However, if horsetail is contraindicated, you may want to research celery as an alternative.
Explore Autumnal Equinox Plant Medicine
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you would like to do your own research, I recommend delving into the Druidic herbs common to Autumnal Equinox. These include the tonic or cleansing use of cider and wine, and herbs such as honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, sage, Soloman’s Seal, and Blessed thistle. As you test and tweak these recipes to your own preferences and experience, you may wish to create a Medicine Woman reference book of your own. Some women write out and draw the pages by hand, then slide the results into plastic sleeves to protect their work and note their processes. I’ve also found recording information in a Gardener’s Journal works nicely, due to the addition of the lunar phases preferred in the preparation of herbal medicine.
How do you record your Medicine Woman workings? How does Autumn Equinox inform your choices and actions at this time of year?