Cedar is by far one of the most challenging herbs to capture for me. I’m so detailed oriented that I quickly become lost. I reminded myself that when working with highly-detailed things, sometimes suggestion or negative space or light is the best way to convey something.
Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have come to know this tree. Thuja Plicata, or Western Redcedar, is not actually a true Cedar, but a member of the Cypress family. I have a grand friend in one in my backyard, and from my plant identification book, I couldn’t tell whether it was Western Redcedar or a massively overgrown Alaskan Juniper. I use it most often as a clearing smudge. When used this way, I am aware of its ability to move grief through the body or environment. Its strong aromatic quality indicates an additional use as an antimicrobial, an anti-fungal, anti-viral, and its affinity for the respiratory system. It is one of the ingredients in the recipe for “Soothing Salve” I made while working for Mickelberry Gardens.
Yarrow is one of my personal favourite herbs to work with. I love its relationship with boundaries and protection. Because I use the leaf and flower, the protective aspects seem gentle and almost like more of an aura than a shield. I relate with the word “warrior” very much, and Yarrow is the plant of the woman warrior. Because of my history of erratically absent or heavy menstrual bleeding, Yarrow’s effect of regulating blood makes me crush on this plant EVEN HARDER!
Wild Rose… the wild an un-tumbled are traditionally my favourite versions of things. I associate this rose with the ocean and thus have a sweet relationship with it. For the past few months I have been OBSESSED WITH PINK! Not since I was 7 have I felt this strongly about the colour pink. Everything around me seems to be calling to my heart chakra. The composition of this one bothered Laurie, but I kinda liked that it was rebellious and natural. Maybe you think that it would look better as a horizontal piece, too?
St. John’s Wort is magical. I love its blatant sunniness and that its appearance is such a perfect reflection of its actions. This herb is perfect for those who are affected by gray skies. In or as a salve, it works with the nerves. It’s also got a thing for detoxifying the liver, so any of you who drink because of anxiety or depression… might counteract St. John’s Wort if you continue as you have been doing, but could look into having a more profitable relationship with it if you’d like to alter your lifestyle. It’s potent FRESH and the coolest thing is when tinctured fresh, the tiny red dots on the petals dye the menstruum blood red.
Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris, and I have been interacting in varying levels of intimacy for quite some time now. As one of the Artemisia family plants, it is a plant of Artemis, of the moon and nature goddess. Taken internally because of its bitter quality, it stimulates digestion. I know it more for its spiritual personality. Becoming in touch with the moon phases over the last couple years has softly unfurled my own brand of femininity. Getting to know its unique shapes and textures within me is one of the greatest gifts of my life. I have utilized Mugwort often in this journey. I have used Mugwort and other Artemisias to call upon the moon and her aspects: intuition, art, creativity, dream, and liminal space. Get to know Mugwort by petting her soft silvery leaves, by wearing her tops in your hair, or burning her as a smudge. If you need to reawaken your dreams, Mugwort is the most commonly associated plant to consider welcoming into your dreamtime. For those with overly-active dreaming lives, Mugwort may be too stimulating.
One of my favourite herbalists is Sean Donahue. Devil’s Club has been his plant crush of the few years I have been following his work. I have not worked with Devil’s Club as an individual. It is a strong plant. It is a demanding teacher. It gives the kind of protection needed for those working in with medicine in spiritual ways. I suspect it will show up in my hallway if it is time for me to know it.
Laurie owns Clary Sage Herbarium in Portland, OR. It’s the best herb shop in town. When I first moved here I committed to walking the path of herbs and researched all the local apothecaries. I narrowed down my choices by reading about the shops online and then visiting a few in person to see how they felt. Walking into Clary Sage felt good. The space was compact and warm and fresh and personable. I asked if I could intern, fighting through my shyness the best I could. Laurie gave me a chance, and we opened up to each other over time. She began calling me her “rock star intern,” and recommended me to my first job in Portland with Mickelberry Gardens. We’ve remained friends over the years and last Autumn she commissioned me to do this series of paintings for prayer candles. These herbal meditation candles, with energetically-corresponding (soy) wax colours and affirmations, would be released with the opening of her new store front, then unknown. Now Clary Sage’s new storefront is open, only 2 doors away from the shop at the end of the secret garden path!
Quality, on all levels, comes first with Clary Sage. Check out the series in person and treat yourself to a new relationship with an herb.