Herbs for Times of Tragedy
Since originally posting this blog it seems like America has become only more violent. But that would be disingenuous because, especially for communities like Black folk, Indigenous folk, Queer + Trans folk, Womyn folk, and the multitude of intersections of these identities, America has long been a relentlessly violent place. We're only just starting as a larger culture to acknowledge that it may be so.
But we haven't decided to reject and uproot the violence within our systems of power that allow for the incredible acts of everyday violence that goes unchecked and unchallenged. We haven't rejected but instead have continued to breed a culture of mass shootings to the point that we have grown numb as a people.
It makes sense to be angry and exhausted and worn-down and afraid and confused and grieving. It makes sense to be anxious and depressed and heart-broken. There is no magic pill to relieve us of the pain. As a community herbalist invested in the welfare of the web of folks I care for, I can offer to share with you what has been shared with me by our plant kindred who have an ability to remain kind to our confused species even when we don't seem to make any damn sense at all. These are not herbs that are meant to make you "tougher" or more "resilient" to the violence - they are meant to help us let the trauma pass through us so that we may know it but not let it rot our bones and spirits. These herbs offer to hold space, hold hearts, and give us the gentleness we all deserve.
While the following is only a short list of suggestions, I am working on a much larger resource on herbs and trauma that I'll be sharing freely with folks in the coming weeks. I'll post about it on my blog and the various social media outlets where I can be found.
Given the recent events in Boston, I was reminded that I have wanted to start a community conversation about herbs in times of tragedy. In my own practice I work with lots of folks who are recovering from various levels of violence and trauma in their background, so I have certain herbs (including flower and gem essences) that I find myself reaching for often. In general, I reach for adaptogens (such as Tulsi Ocimum sanctum) and nervines (like Oats Avena sativa) for dealing with the impact of trauma. I think Bach's Rescue Remedy is an excellent in-the-moment aid and I usually keep a small bottle on me. The remedies I use range depending on the circumstances as well as when I use them, but Rose (Rosa spp.), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Elder Berry and Flower (Sambucus nigra), Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) have all been useful. For those who hearts are hurting right now, consider inviting in Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) in as a tea, tincture, glycerite or powder.
For herbalists, street medics, birthworkers, social workers, and others who find themselves working on the edges, I always recommend knowing what plants are your allies - the ones who have your heart when things get really tough - and to develop a sacred relationship with them before the hard times come.
What other herbs have folks used? I look forward to learning about other folk's herb allies and the way we support our communities when they are in pain.
Be well, be tender, and reach out to those around you.