There are many times in the year when one might plan to get a fresh start, set new intentions, or call in new energy. The new year is traditionally one of those times, but from the perspective of nature, that doesn’t really make much sense. When one (Western/Gregorian) year ends and the next begins, at least in New England, it’s still the dead of winter. In fact, the new year is celebrated only a week and a half after the winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year. At this time, most flora and fauna are hibernating in the cold. Everything has turned inward to rest until the light returns to initiate rebirth. To manifest a physical or mental emergence at this time is difficult, as we are fighting against nature.
The spring/vernal equinox marks the time of the year when the warmth and the light return. Creatures wake up, the browns turn to greens, and plant life begins to emerge from the ground in search of the sun. This is the time when our biological and emotional systems also want to emerge from winter’s rest. This seasonal shift is the kickstart we need to re-energize and start anew. It is the perfect time to clean house — inside and out!
A similar “awakening” occurs on a cellular level. As our metabolism speeds up with increased solar energy and movement, our bodies begin to shift internally. We intrinsically crave lighter foods and beverages that cleanse the system, and make us feel more energized. For example, we tend to be less interested in heavy soups and stews, and more interested in fresh seasonal salads. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and energy work, the spring season is associated with the element of wood. Wood draws water up through its roots and, in its young form, is pliable and mutable. Spring enables us to bend around obstacles as we increase our internal and external levels of energy and begin to expand outward again after many months of working through internal matters, resting, and digesting.
Speaking of digesting, what better time to detoxify and give the old metabolism a little extra boost? In TCM, the two body meridians associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder. These organs work to cleanse and detoxify the digestive system and the entire body. Bitter and sour herbs are very beneficial during this time to move stagnation out of the digestive system. There are many useful herbal concoctions and remedies used by our ancestors that we can explore. Our plant allies can aid our awakening and ready our bodies for the upcoming seasonal shift.
Our Spring Rejuvenation Tonic contains four herbs that are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are highly cleansing, purifying, and stimulating. Nettle and Dandelion are thought to be invasive weeds, and are sometimes pulled or otherwise destroyed, but we like to refer to them as “opportunistic” and are happy to be able to find them locally abundant. Tulsi and Mint are in the same hearty family (Lamiaceae) and are typically planted and grown in a garden. Now, let’s break down this magickal and healthy concoction in more detail.
- Nettle (Urtica dioica): In herbalism, Nettle is the mother of all early spring herbs and has been traditionally used for thousands of years. High in vitamin A, C, and iron, this nutritive plant is a diuretic and antioxidant. It has a lovely green, earthy flavor that is symbolic of its health benefits and the general vibe of the spring season.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Another classic “food as medicine” spring herb, the root is more commonly used for the liver, but the leaves are a potent diuretic great for internal cleansing and purifying. Like Nettle, Dandelion leaves are highly nutritive with many similar vitamins and minerals. These two herbs balance each other out very well for daily use, and are both highly abundant for wild harvesting in our region.
- Spearmint (Mentha spicata): There are many varieties of mint, but Spearmint (or common mint/garden mint) is beautifully fragrant with a delightful taste, so we love to add this to our herbal blends to add brightness and flavor. It is a rejuvenating and stimulating herb commonly used for digestion. Mint has been cultivated and traded since ancient Greek times, where it was likely used in ancient funerary rites to mask the smell of the dead. It is also regarded as a sacred plant of Hades.
- Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum): Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil or Elixir of Life) is a sacred plant from India used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for more than 5,000 years and is infused with restorative power. There are three different varietals (krishna, rama, and vana), and we like to use a blend of all three for perfectly balanced health benefits and an amazing flavor. Tulsi is primarily considered an adaptogen, which helps the body adapt to environmental stressors and restore balance — a classic ally for getting your body and mind through the seasonal shift.
The wheel of the year keeps turning, and as the new seeds of life burst through the soil and emerge into the glory of the sun, expansion occurs all around us. Soon, the birds and pollinators will be flitting and buzzing around the fragrant blooms burgeoning forth on the trees and from the earth below. The sweet hay-scent of mown grass sprinkled with violets and plantain (two additional plant allies we recommend exploring in late spring) wafts around as the earth continues to warm and awaken.
As above, so below. As within, so without. In light and shadow. Seek the balance and trust that mother earth will always have your back.
Find more information on them and their magickal journey at thechaosfactorsalem.com and sign up for their upcoming event Vernal Awakening: Restorative Yoga, Meditation, & Herbal Tonic at Hive & Forge in Salem, MA on March 18th.