The following is an extract from my bi-monthly newsletter, The Moonlight, that all of my Lunar Apothecary students receive. Each month we explore a Moon sign and phase, as well as associated herbs, and different aspects of herbal medicine, magick, and practice in addition to the material of the yearlong ecourse. If you're thinking "heck yeah, I want more of that!" you're invited to join the Lunar Apothecary.
The first of TWO Full Moons in Sagittarius happen at the end of the week. The next Full Moon in Sagittarius is in June so we have a lot of fiery lunar energy happening over the next two cycles. When the Moon enters into the sign of Sagittarius adventures are on the horizon and with two Sagittarius Full Moons back-to-back energies are getting stirred up and wanderlust, whether of the physical, emotional or spiritual variety, comes into bloom.
While it is traditional to associate the elder energies of the Crone or Old Wise One with the Dark of the Moon, the Full Moon in Sagittarius has a Sage quality to it - both when speaking of age and of the herb (Salvia spp.). Sagittarius is associated with the Ninth House of the birth chart which is the House of adventures and travel, but also of philosophy and the perspective gained from a life that is lived. In other words, the Ninth House does a lot to shape who we will become in our elder years. Since the Full Moon is a time of maturation and Sagittarius the sign of wisdom gained from experience and age, I always feel a distinctly Crone energy during this time. Sometimes the Crone is a gentle grandmother welcoming us in for a warm hug and other times the Crone is a fearsome visage of all that unsettles us. And hey, if we pay attention to our fairy tales, sometimes the kind grandmother and the fearsome one are the same.
Sagittarius is also a mutable fire sign which means it embodies a fire that is flexible, adaptable, and changing. So while Leo is a intense fixed fire sign of solar heat and Aries is the sudden cardinal fire of a lightening bolt, the fire of Sagittarius is the heat of our blood running through our veins and the moving flame of a poi spinner's light. Mutable signs teach us adaptability and as a mutable sign Sagittarius teaches us that wisdom does not come from sitting in one place and following the rules - wisdom is gained by being uncomfortable, in charge, following the wind, coming undone, and any other myriad ways we experience life. In short, it is the wisdom gained by growing up.
What wisdom have you gained through age, clever one?
Sage (Salvia spp.) is in many ways a mutable herb with a strong fiery element. As a sun-loving plant often found in dry and desert settings, Sage shows its ability to adapt to harsher environments than many of its herbal companions. Indications for the herb include similar signs to the environment that the plant enjoys growing in - look for dryness and heat with signs of sometimes accompanied by signs of mental burnout. Sage is quite resinous which is one of the reason that it is so excellent as an expectorant in cases of chest and head colds where there is excess mucus. Overall, Sage helps to regulate the fluids of the body, especially in cases of stagnant conditions (such as poor circulation) or excess secretions (such as too much sweat from hot flashes or wanting to dry up breast milk for weaning), but because the herb has mutable qualities it can help where there is lack of fluids and secretion as we'll see in a moment. The herb also helps with the oils of the body, improving the digestion of oils and fats (in part, because of its bitter taste which stimulates digestion and the production of bile). As a restorative for the mind, Sage helps to clear out mental fog by improving circulation to the brain and oiling the tracks of memory. It is an herb of Jupiter and it seems in its Crone wisdom to temper the excesses of Jupiter in order to let the benefits of Jupiterian energies shine through (i.e. longevity and the wisdom that comes with age).
A Note on Sage + Smudging
In North America, White Sage (Salvia apiana) has become an increasingly popular herb to use for smudging or cleansing by smoke. The herb has historical and modern-day use amongst American Indian groups primarily located along the southern Pacific Coast, but since becoming popular in New Age and Pagan communities, White Sage has been overharvested to the point of endangerment and, clever ones, there is nothing sacred about wiping a plant out so that it can sit about collecting dust on the shelves of shops.
So what to do? First, if you're able, grow your own White Sage as it can help in small ways to turn the tide of its endangerment. Second, you only need one leaf at a time to effectively engage White Sage's clearing properties - no more mega bundles! Third, but maybe most importantly, find other plants to smudge with. There are plenty including Juniper (Juniperus spp.), Mugwort (Artemisia spp.), and Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) to just name a few. Have fun getting to know your local and ancestral smudging plants and give White Sage the space and support it needs to regenerate in the wild.
When using Sage in your practice, know that the herb has different qualities when prepared either hot or cold as a tea. The cold tea restricts while the hot tea stimulates. In other words, the cold tea is good to curb excess sweating (such as menopausal night sweats) whereas the hot tea brings out the aromatic qualities of Sage and stimulates secretions. One of my favorite ways to prepare Sage as medicine for cold and 'flu season is to make a simple Sage honey by infusing the leaves in local, raw honey for a cycle of the Moon. You can strain the leaves out, but I typically leave them in, eating them as I go along. Add a teaspoon to water for an instant cup of cold care and sore throat soothing tea with antimicrobial qualities.
The flower essence of Sage is sweet and simple: it helps us to connect with our wisdom. Through working with Sage we gain perspective which is a crucial component for growing our wisdom. Use the essence during times of transition (such as a school graduation) to help integrate all that has been learned for the path ahead. I also enjoy using the essence when someone feels clouded or confused about their self-worth - Sage helps us to connect with our own unique wisdom even if we didn't know it was there in the first place.
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