By the light of the New
we renew and grow...
With the popularity of my Making Medicines by the Moon post, I thought I would follow-up with a series of posts exploring herbs of each Moon phase, staring with the New. I've also added a very brief look at the original Greek Medicine Energetics which informs some of the ways that Traditional Western Herbalists categorize herbs by the Moon.
Herbs of the New and growing Crescent Moon are excellent for most any remedy-making endeavor as the power of the brew will grow with the Moon’s waxing. Remedies such as stimulating brews, warming bitters, energizing nervines, restoratives, alteratives, and remedies for new beginnings, for children, and to jumpstart vitality are especially auspicious.
Traditionally, the New Moon is a time of hot and moist herbs. The tradition I am referring to is Greek medicine with its four element system of earth, air, fire, and water and its corresponding qualities (or energetics) of cold, dry, hot, and moist. The Moon was linked to the seasons of the solar year. The New Moon, representing a time of birth, youth, and vigor, straddled the season of spring into summer which moved from the time of water (represented in the west as the time of spring) to the time of fire (represented in the south as the time of summer).
Side note: If you’re a modern Pagan (like myself) who works with the common elemental correspondence system where east is the direction of spring and air and west the direction of autumn and water you’ll have to do a bit or rearranging in your brain to grasp this system.
When I correspond herbs to Moon phases I don’t rely solely on the traditional categorization of herbs by their temperature and quality. Instead, I incorporate my knowledge of the magick of each herb as well as its medicinal uses and the energetic signature of each Moon phase, which you can learn about in my original post on making medicine by the Moon.
I also work with the six tissue states of Traditional Western Herbalism (TWH) which builds upon the Greek system while incorporating Galenic (as in the Roman herbalist Claudius Galenus), Culpeperian (made that term up, but I am referring to English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper), and the United States physiomedicalism tradition (aka reformed Thompsonianism which was begun by US American herbalist Samuel Thompson and refined by Dr. Alvah Curtis and further codified by Dr. Joseph M. Thurston). I highly recommend studying Matthew Wood’s The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification for an in-depth understanding of tissue states. The six tissue states have various names, but I use the following combination names which link back to the original Greek quality system while incorporating more modern physiomedical actions. I will also include the other names that you might find these tissue states referred to in your studies.
The Six Tissue States of Traditional Western Herbalism
- Hot/Excitation (Irritation, Choleric)
- Cold/Depression (Melancholic)
- Dry/Atrophy (Atrophic, Sanguine)
- Damp/Relaxation (Lax, Atony)
- Damp/Stagnation (Torpor, Torpid, Bad or Impure Blood, Phlegmatic)
- Tense/Constriction (Wind, Sanguine)
Since I also work with the tissue states and Lunar magick, I am interested in experimenting with the tissue states in correspondence with the Lunar phases. It is an ongoing process, and I am not seeking hard rules but general guidelines. Here are my following New Moon tissue states correspondences:
The New and growing or waxing Crescent Moon strengthens the Hot/Excitation and Damp/Stagnation tissue states.
The New and growing or waxing Crescent Moon alleviates the Cold/Depression and Dry/Atrophy tissue states.
I wrote about the tissue states briefly in Morning Mischief, but I’m currently writing up a tutorial that I have been teaching to my offline students on using the six tissue states of TWH and incorporating astroherbology for the Lunar Apothecary. It has been a really fun ongoing experiment and one that has proven useful again and again in my practice.
Herbs of the New + Waxing Crescent Moon
Milky Oats (Avena sativa) : Oats are not generally associated with the moon, but as a warming and moistening nutritive tonic that builds the blood and alleviates nervous exhaustion, I find Oats to have a special affinity for the New Moon. As the New Moon calls us to begin a cycle of emergence and to slowly expand our energy after a period of waning contraction, Oats are richly nutritious, lending us foundational strength for the work ahead. The generous nutritive qualities of Oats give us a hint to its magickal uses, too, which are primarily for prosperity and abundance rituals.
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) : Ginger root stimulates an underperforming circulatory system, moving blood and heat throughout the body. Ginger awakens the senses and calls the body to action! It clears out lingering colds, damp conditions, clears catarrh, and lifts the spirits wherever dourness or melancholy might dwell. If you want to use the heating properties of Ginger, but are someone who already runs dry, reduce the Ginger content of your brew while adding in moistening herbs like Milky Oats or Angelica.
Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus) : Blessed Thistle can be a great choice when you want to take advantage of the clarifying and clearing energies of the New and growing crescent Moon. The eliminatory powers of Blessed Thistle act as a purifier of the blood. In combination with its skin-opening diaphoretic properties, Blessed Thistle helps to re-establish balance or homeostasis in the body. The herb is also a nervine and can be used to relieve spastic pain and headaches, especially when brought on by nervous tension. Blessed Thistle relieves brain fog and has a markedly uplifting effect, perfect for greeting and working with the energies of the New Moon.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) : I love Lavender for all phases of the Moon, but for the New Moon I think of it as a great nervine for the performance anxiety that the energy of the New Moon can bring on. For some of us new beginnings are a welcome change of pace, whereas for others it is a big cave o’ uncertainty. Wherever you may fall, Lavender can soften the sharper edges of the Moon’s slicing crescent energy, helping us to focus on what needs to be done without getting overwhelmed by the details.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica) : Angelica is another example of an herb that falls under the traditional interpretation of a New Moon herb as hot and moist. Angelica is more warm than hot but were still in the same neighborhood. I’ve posted a full plant profile on Angelica as part of my Plant Ally Project: 30 Day Challenge.
Need more Moon medicine and magick in your life?
Join me and a circle of starry-hearted magick-makers in the Lunar Apothecary.
Look for my posts on each phase of the Moon and their herbal correspondences in the coming months. In the meantime, have fun reading up on the art of astroherbology or making your own herbal remedies.