You can feel it: the earth’s pent up energy just waiting to burst forth. Now is the time to put the introspection and new ideas of Winter into action. When we shift from survival mode to truly living we also tend to take stock of our surroundings with a clearer vision, so it is apropos that this time of year is also a time of cleaning, or getting rid of the old to make way for the new. There’s often a deep desire to nest, simplify and purge that which no longer serves.
I did some research online and found that this is indeed a centuries-old tradition in folk medicine. She also made a delicious dandelion salad to help purify the liver. She combined bite-sized dandelion greens, thinly sliced raw onion, freshly chopped garlic, two hard-boiled eggs, salt, pepper, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. This was a staple of my childhood and is something I look forward to each Spring.
Dandelions are a wonderful source of vitamins and nutrients and a great hepatic. Hepatics are liver herbs which help detox and strengthen this vital organ. Some great herbs for liver tea are the roots: burdock, dandelion and yellow dock. Madelon Hope of the Boston School of Herbal Studies has a wonderful liver cleansing tea which includes these roots plus licorice, sarsparilla, ginger and cinnamon. I’ve put my own spin on this by adding some milk thistle and chaga mushroom. Taken in a decoction over a two week period, this is a wonderful way to cleanse a sluggish liver.
The traditions of May Day and Beltane (May 1 and April 30th respectively), midway between the Equinox and Summer Solstice, traditionally are celebrations of renewal where blessings are sought for the coming year’s harvest and relationships. Either date is a good time to initiate new action. To help cultivate a clear mind for planning such action there are the nervines, plants which restore and gently heal the nervous system. Many, such as skullcap and wood betony, are particularly suited to strengthening the mind/body connection as they both de-stress the body while focusing the mind. Gotu kola is also the premier herb for sharpening the memory and great for metaphorically blowing out the cobwebs.
Essences of early Spring flowers are lovely to incorporate now, since their energy is in tune with the season. Forsythia flower essence (pictured left) helps with discernment and to rely on gut instinct. Both are important to cultivate when moving into new or uncharted territory. Siberian Squill (pictured above) is a fabulous essence whose quiet, gentle energy helps with new beginnings or endeavors, lending courage when afraid to start or continue something new. Crocus (below) helps restore faith and optimism so that we can move into our new adventures with lighter hearts.
Cypress, Vetiver, Basil and Rosemary essential oils are great for strengthening memory and clarity of thought. Bergamot, Lime, Orange and Grapefruit are all very uplifting and optimistic. Sandalwood helps cleanse and aids in meditation. Yarrow’s opening energy is symbolic for Spring.
I hope you try some of these tools as you do your own “Spring Cleaning.” Go forth and be energized!