I know that I’ve neglected my self expression lately. There have been long periods when expressing myself was too painful, too difficult, too frightening. I remember days when I had so much to say and so many stories to share. Now, I sit in silence more often. I observe, I listen. The old stories no longer bring me joy. So I stay on the lookout for something new forming.
An AP English student during high school, I went on to minor in creative writing in college. I was known for my poetry and short stories, and I shared my creativity openly and freely with the world. Now, I still spend a lot of time journaling, but not much of my writing sees the light of day. Sometimes I never even go back and read any of what I’ve written. About a year ago, I took a pile of about 15 full notebooks, dropped them into a bag and threw them right into the trash. I then took a stack of at least 10 painted canvases and had them taken directly to the garbage dump. Those notebooks were filled with healings, love poems, and songs. My paintings, all intuitive art. I had poured so much of my heart and soul into a stack of paper that I began to live there. I bled out into paintings until I became trapped there. When I looked around at my actual life, I was surrounded by shadows and strangers, my heart filled with heartache and pain. I think it was easier to get rid of my hopes and dreams in one trash dump. It was easier to pretend that love never happened to me than to process the depth of grief and loss I was experiencing.
So I stopped writing for a while. I stopped painting and creating in general. In essence, I stopped being myself. For as long as I could remember every aspect of my life had been filled with creative endeavors. Creativity was the manner in which I processed and maneuvered through life. If I couldn’t afford to buy something, I’d make it. If I wanted to see something, I’d paint it or draw it. If I loved someone, I created art for them, I cooked for them, I wrote them love poems. Creativity flowed through every action I took. When I was hurting, my art was also my bandaid and my healing. It fueled my life and soul purpose. When I lost hope in my art, I lost hope in all of life.
Over the years herbalism has brought me so close to the core of who I am and who I have been lifetime after lifetime. Herbalism led the way for my personal health journey and gave me a way to integrate my creativity with my own healing process. Working with plants is much different than painting an image. Working with plants isn’t a project or something you do simply to display for mere admiration. Plants move you from creation into co-creation. They teach you gentleness, patience and balance.
Spring has been flirting with me these last few weeks. The sunshine comes out of hiding and assures me that warmer days are on the way. Daffodils and dandelions are appearing around the yard and I’m starting seeds here, and there. I am entering into a new 7 year cycle and everything seems fresh and adventurous. While at the same time, I’m still working through grief and trauma from years passed. Shedding layers one day at a time. The weight feels no where near as heavy as it did 8 years ago, or even last year for that matter. I see myself blossoming into the woman I only saw on vision boards, dancing across pages of dream journals so long ago. She is manifesting in physical reality, and that’s an amazing thing to witness, to experience, to be.
This weekend I started the second segment of my yoga teacher certification program. I spent two 7-hour days reading, practicing yoga, discussing the life of Ghandi and studying bones and muscles of the body. This training is the experience I need to meet my health and spiritual transformation goals. I’m so glad I’m finally taking part in this opportunity. However, bright and early Monday morning, it was right back to the work week routine.
I’m tired. Aching to spend time alone and at rest.
Cook, clean the house, do laundry, clothe and bathe my 3 year old son (we lovingly refer to him as the human tornado) all while trying to get ready for an evening at work. I couldn’t help but long for the “me time” that I typically get to enjoy on the weekends. All I could think about was the new herbal salves and creams I wanted to be working on. I knew that if I attempted to make something in one day, I just wouldn’t have the time. It would not give me the quality I was looking for in a finished product. So as I decided to begin one small step in the process instead and that made me happy. I welcomed a sense of relief and tamed my sense of deprivation. I realized that this was where the true magic happens.
After four years of making my own herbal preparations, cosmetics and remedies, I’ve learned that simplicity is the key to quality. The quality of energy exchange must be high in order to attain optimal healing benefits. There have been times that I have ordered supplies, herbs, and containers in bulk and set out to make a bunch of stuff at one time. Not to say that the quality was bad, for the most part it wasn’t from a technical perspective. However, there were a lot of factors that come into play that just aren’t necessary. For the most part I’d end up spending a lot of money and with a ton of extra products sitting on the shelf. The energetic value also just isn’t there. Later, I began using more herbs that I had grown myself, dried and saved from the previous harvest year or harvested fresh while in season. This gave my creativity a boost as well. I like to see what I have on hand to work with naturally and then add to that.
For example, have you ever noticed that you are easily drawn to healing crystals that turn out to be are perfect for your needs in the moment? The same phenomenon happens with plants. Plants speak the language of energy much better than we humans do. They also absorb and carry energy as we do as well.
At the beginning of the season, I begin getting ready to make herbal preparations for the year by starting with infused oils. Herbal infused oils are the base for nearly every medicinal salve or cream I make. So today I have a few oils on hand already, but the recipe that really called to me was an arnica infused anti inflammatory cream for pain. This may have a lot to do with my sore yoga body right now. It may also have something to do with the layers of deep emotional pain I’ve been shedding, but haven’t seemed to shake quite completely. It might also have a little do with the menthol crystals I just ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs for the first time and am so excited to try. Often intuition does need any further explanation. It just seemed like to perfect timing to start a batch of solar-infused arnica oil. It will take about 2-3 weeks to prepare.
So I began to think about the month ahead. Mercury in retrograde, New moon in Pisces, the Indian Festival of Holi, Full Moon in Libra, Spring Equinox and then my papa’s birthday on March 23rd. Holy shift. March is presenting with a pretty intense energetic lineup.
My grandfather meant a lot to me. He was a major source of love and admiration in my life until his sudden passing when I was 14 years old. My first tattoo features a carnation along with the quote, El Amor Nunca Muere (Love Never Dies in Spanish) and my grandfather’s initials embedded in one of the leaves. After having that tattoo 8 years now, I realized I never really looked into carnation symbolism. At the time I chose it simply because it was my birth flower as well as the national flower of Spain, where I studied abroad. So only a couple of days ago now, I discovered that while carnations symbolize love, affection, and deep admiration they also signify missing another. They mean to say that someone is unforgettable and are commonly given to say, “I miss you.” How fitting.
I think that when I lost grandfather I experienced a tremendous soul loss. I spent many years attempting to retrieve those pieces of myself in all of the wrong ways. I think that as a young teen I felt that he was the only person who heard me and loved me for whomever I chose to be. Since 14, I’ve grown, changed, and healed so much. But I observe myself closely, nearly as closely as I observe the types of people and connections I attract into my life. I have observed myself being drawn into attractions of deprivation; attractions where I have been unconsciously attempting to heal old childhood wounds through unhealthy relationships that mirrored past traumas. Yet I have also observed how healing these childhood wounds does lead to healthier attractions. No matter what I’ve been through and no matter who I’ve chosen to love, I am and will always be the common denominator.
Though today I found myself exhausted and more vulnerable to the emotional ups and downs that come along with being a young single mom transitioning into a new way of life. A woman leaving a somewhat difficult life story behind and opening her heart to form new relationships and possibilities. A quote from Ghandi continues to echo in my mind,
“The first thing you have to learn about history is that because something has not taken place in the past, that does not mean it cannot take place in the future.”
From this point onward I think this in all of my manifestations. Whenever I am triggered and feel the past creeping into my thoughts, I remind myself that something different is possible. There will always be new stories to be told, new synapses to be formed, more friends, more family, more love. There will always be more love.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be nurturing my arnica infusion. Charging it under moonlight and allowing it to take the loving experiences spring is ushering into my life. To me, that is the energetic foundation for what I will be creating this month. Allowing time for new experiences to enter, allowing space for love to evolve and grow. Allowing old painful stories to fade farther and farther into ancient history.
Infusing your craft with not only oils and herbs, but with hope and the joy of raw experience is similar to programming or charging crystals. Everything we use, wear, or take into our bodies has a vibration of its own. This knowledge I believe is the key to making your own medicine. Medicine is not just a pill or supplement to be taken. But it is a prayer. It is a challenge to vibrationally align yourself with what it is that you wish to achieve with your creation. As you allow time to cultivate your own healing magic you allow yourself to embody that magic. I encourage you to be as patient, kind, and loving with you as you would with a beautiful flower or healing herb in the garden.
Folk Method for Herbal Infusions
1. Place dried herb in a mason jar leaving a few inches of open space at the top of the jar.
2. Fill the jar and cover herbs with oil of choice (I typically use fractionated coconut oil)
3. Once herbs are covered completely, leave about an inch of space between the top of your oil and the lid of the jar.
4. Cap tightly and shake well.
5. Place your jar in a warm sunny windowsill or on a sunny porch.
6. Shake jar 1-2 times per day for 2-3 weeks.
7. Strain herbs from oil using cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze out any remaining oil.
8. Store in clean glass containers or dark bottles.
Once you have finished your infused oil, you will want to label them and store in a cool dark place. You may add a few drops of Vitamin E to prolong shelf life. Shelf life may vary (typically about a year) depending on the type of oil and herb used.