The Longest Night: Herbs for the Winter Solstice Season
The wheel of the year turns deeper into the dark, bringing us to the longest night of winter. The Winter Solstice is both a time of honoring the reflective gift of solitude and the distant promise of the seed sparking to life. With this spirit we invite herbs into our practice that root our dreams into reality as well as warm us with the inner fire of the sun's promised return.
So put on the kettle, prepare your charm, and welcome in the winter!
PINE Pinus sp. Evergreens are sacred trees and remain green throughout cold seasons when other trees lay bare. The needles of the Pine tree can be made into a tea and is an excellent source of vitamin C (more vitamin C, in fact, than citrus fruits such as lemons and grapefruit!). Drink Pine tea throughout the day to clear up congestion and excess mucus.
ROSEMARY Rosmarinus officinalis Warming Rosemary gives us the gift of a dry, Mediterranean heat in the long dark days of winter. After a bought of sickness or a round of the blues, drink Rosemary tea to restore your body’s inner warmth and fire for life. Rosemary is very restorative to all of our blood organs such as the liver, heart, spleen, and kidneys, bringing back balance after a period of fatigue. It is also helpful for a dispelling the winter fog from a dull mind.
VALERIAN Valeriana officinalis A root of water and earth, Valerian is gently sedating, helping us to fully settle into the Season of Slowing Down. Restlessness, insomnia, nervous stomach, and tension, dissolve with the use of Valerian. My favorite way to take Valerian is as a glycerite, but it can also be enjoyed as a tea (even though we use the root, it should not be decocted since that would destroy its delicate volatile oils). Mix Valerian with other herbs such as Mugwort, Anise, and Peppermint to create a potent brew for inducing visionary dreams.
CHAMOMILE Matricaria recutita A classic herb for stomach upset, nausea, and indigestion, Chamomile also supports a sense of peace and cheerfulness in the body through its nervine qualities. Chamomile flowers are miniature suns and can be used in bath, steams, teas or made into an herbal oil to uplift the spirit, calm the cranky, and center wayward energy. I think a jar full of Chamomile flowers is a pleasant sun-honoring addition to the home altar.
I also find Flower + Gem Essences to be beneficial at any time of the year! The following are excellent deep winter wonders:
SAGE Flower Essence The Winter Solstice is the cusp between the signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn - Sage is a plant of Sagittarius and its ruling planet Jupiter. As a flower essence, Sage has an initiatory quality to it, helping us to ease through life transitions. It is an excellent rite of passage herb and provides release to stagnating emotions. For the season of the Winter Solstice, Sage helps us to express our deepest kept secrets in ways that bring us joy.
OAK Flower Essence As the Wheel of the Year turns from the Holly to the powers of the Oak, the energies of Capricorn begin to shine. A tree of Saturn (which rules Capricorn), Oak is a great flower essence for those folks who struggle on even though they are exhausted - they put on a happy and courageous face, hiding their feelings, and never complaining in hopes of not being seen as weak. While they appear tireless, they have only become rigid in a state of constant stress brought on by a need to achieve the next thing on their list. An excellent remedy for Capricorns who tend to burn the candle from both ends (you know who you are). Oak helps us know our limits and be kinder to ourselves by realizing that taking time to rest is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligent strength.
HEMATITE Gem Essence A reflective mirror of night, Hematite is grounding and centering during the hustle of winter holidays. Hematite is also a very protective Essence and helps folks feel shielded from fears, especially those of the "lurking in the dark" sort of insecurities, teaching us that it is not the dark we fear, for darkness is beautiful and necessary, but what we perceive to dwell within the shadows.
Be well and drink deep the darkness for after the Winter Solstice the days begin to grow longer as we prepare for the burst of spring!
Create your own delicious + fully enchanted recipes for the winter with The Winter Apothecary!
Hematite Gem Essence is available in our Apothecary along with other fully enchanted herbal remedies for the wintertide.