Herbs to Illuminate the Darkness { Ervas para iluminar a Escuridão }

Nice Night for a Walk - Peter Vidani

This Autumn slope into Winter may have been the most moving one yet for me.  While the leaves fell, I too went softly down to the depths of my Soul.  Searching for the glow that keeps me shining.  It’s not that it went out entirely, but I was stifling it with thoughts and emotions that seemed to be natural – but were unnecessary.

The dark days of the year are for entering into hibernation, and crawling into your bear cave to find warmth, comfort and reflect upon your inner contents.  What do your chambers hold?  We are only half way through our deep descent to the feminine yin aspect of the year.  And the crawl out of hibernation to Summer seems to happen much slower.  It’s somewhat easy to glide down a mountain, but making your way back up takes strength and courage – and time.  So while you experience this climb to the top – here are a few herbs to help illuminate your path.

Dreams of Space - artist unknown

The list of herbs below were taken from the lecture by Guido Mase “Joyful Herbs for Darker Days” which I only heard bits and pieces of.  So I went ahead here and gave my own experiences and uses for the plants.  Quite cosmic to be revisiting the topic, seeing as I was über excited to hear the lecture – these are truly my favorite category of herbs!)



borrowed from sacredfrankincense.com

Frankincense – Boswellia sacra :

An ancient, sacred tree resin that has been used par fumer (perfume/incense) for cleansing and to dispel torpor.  Aromatherapy is my favorite way to enjoy the resin.  It was included in the gifts that the Wise Men brough to the baby Jesus, too …


Holy Basil aka Tulsi aka Tulasi aka the Divine Sacred Breath

Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum  :

As you may have read previously on the blog, Tulsi is an adaptogenic herb lending itself useful in times of stress.  I enjoy drinking Tulsi tea, and will use the oil extract in capsule when its available.  (for more info read my materia medica on Tulsi –  herbaloo.org/2010/09/18/holy-basil-its-tulsi/ )


borrowed from soenyun.com

White Sage – Salvia apiana  :

Another herb used par fumer, White Sage is held sacred as a cleansing herb by the Southwest natives and any Soul-searching Earth-lover in the neighborhood.  Eileen Nauman (medicinegarden.com) has a neat description of how it works, “Sage emits negative ions; just as a waterfall or running water, emits the same thing. This is why, when people are near running water, they always feel cleaner, cleaned off or just ‘better’ for seeming no reason at all. But there is a deeper reason. Our aura holds positive ions, much like a carpet when you walk across it, creates static electricity. Only, these positive ions are like dust in our aura and it simply makes us feel sluggish, tired, or just not our usual frisky, peppy self.”  Not sure of her source, or if that explanation is true, but it sure sounds like a great way to envision the cleansing action from the Sage.


borrowed from Deutschland...

Mimosa – Albizia julibrissin  :

I had never heard of this plant before Guido brought it up.  One website is calling it the “Collective Happiness Bark”.  Delightful!  I recall Guido giving high praise to this plant for instances of depression and sadness.  Looks like it’s a tree whose bark you harvest.  Guido was using the distilled Spirit.  You know what is so strange?!  I saw a plant growing in Asia which the folks there refered to as “Mimosa”.  When I returned back to the states I found the seeds for sale at a kid’s science shop.  The producer called it the “Tickle-Me Plant” because the leaves literally move before your eyes when you brush up against it.  The Asian woman who owned the shop had grown up calling it the “bow plant”, because its leaves come together like hands praying and bowing to you.  Now this Mimosa plant I speak of is a different genus and species (Mimosa pudica – Bashful Mimosa).  But it looks like Guido’s Mimosa – Albizia julibrissin, only on a much smaller scale: similar pink flowers and leaf structure. So about a week ago (yes 1 week ago it started getting cold) I was getting out my winter hats and gloves, etc, and I found a seed of the Bashful Mimosa clinging on to one of my hats like a prickly pea-pod.  I don’t have the original plant anymore, nor the seeds, so finding it was really a blessing.  And now it all comes back ….  Oh so ironic and coincidental … could it be any other way?


Sunny Jey Wort

St. John’s Wort – Hypericum perforatum  :

Sir Sunny.  Sunny J.  That which lets light shine through its perforated leaves.  I have a lot of love for St. John’s Wort.  I prefer to use the oil externally, wherever I feel like massaging.  The yellow flower petals, when crushed, produce a pink/red oil.  Quite magical!  And I wrote about the herb last year on the Solstice as well!  ( herbaloo.org/2010/12/21/yule-love-it/ )



Rhodiola – Rhodiola rosea  :

Living on the top of a cliff, in between two rocks.  Rhodiola is one of the toughest plants I know.  It can handle anything, and fatigue is no match for its succulent tendencies.  This plant can be used for adrenal support and stress relief.  Small doses help you stay awake, larger doses put you to sleep.  Or so I’ve read.  It advised me the other day to take it as soon as I open my eyes in the morning.  To jolt me out of bed on these cold & dark mornings ; )


borrowed from Otto Wilhelm Thomé

Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis  :

During a recent herbal consultation my Naturopath-in-training said Lemon Balm is itself like the Worker Bee – buzzing from plant to plant, completing one flower’s pollen collection at a time.  One task at a time.  Efficiency and motivation.  Buzz.  I like Lemon Balm, it grows well in my neck-of-the-Earth and makes a really yummy tea!  My mother also has a really cute way of harvesting it and knowing it could be used for something useful, then calling it Lemon Verbena.  So precious!  Lemon Balm speaks in soft tones and is always ready to lend a hand.  Very friendly herb.


Rosa Rugosa - borrowed from wildflowerhunter.net

Rose – the genus Rosa  :

I have been SO loving Rose lately.  I like to wear really strong true Rose essential oil and aromatize a whole room.  99% of the time people are very excited that it suddenly smells like a flower’s in bloom.  I will even start putting it on people unsuspectingly if I’m in a stinky crowd!  Rose is like that sweet soul lover you dream of.  Rose will be anyone’s Soul-Mate and speaks to the heart, skin, hair, oh everything.  Having it in drinking tea or bath tea is also quite delightful.  Everyone could use a little Rose in their life  : )  Even meditation can be beneficial with the Rose.  Experiment with different colors and varieties to see which you fall the most in love with.  And – try adding Rose Water while cooking. Yum!  The Rose Hips of Rosa Rugosa are edible and can be made into jam (add rose hips and apple juice to a jar and let sit over night).  This type of Rose grows wild down the by da beach.


borrowed from philadelphiagreen.wordpress.com

White Pine – Pinus strobus  :  I Pine for you.

White Pine boughs have been used in religious ceremonies during the darkest days since we began time.  Conifers in general are very popular this time of year, bringing them in the house to suggest eternal-life and the ability to stay green and full of life in the dead of winter.  Kind of ironic to chop it down.  We decorate a living tree…  But back to White Pine, the tea is very high in Vitamin C and I can imagine curling up on a bed of pine needles, or laying them across your floor, might be quite enjoyable!  Pam Montgomery has an affinity for White Pine and lots of information on the gentle giant.  Meditating under a White Pine during the winter can be unexplainably amazing.  Even unconsciously you can benefit from just being around Pine trees.  You can recognize it by its commonly straight-as-an-arrow trunk – and it’s needles grow in little pairs of 5 from the branch (like fingers!).


borrowed from foods-for-thought-list.blogspot.com

Oats – Avena sativa  :

I always end up with Oats in my nourishing formulas when other herbalists make them for me.  It’s a safe plant that can almost always be of benefit for a woman.  Milky Oats, the top immature seed-head, is nourishing to the reproductive system.  Oat Straw, I hear, can have a positive influence on your love life and stamina/regularity of such.  I like Oats in tea, but I’ve also used Oats in a tincture blend.  And I just LOVE hot Oatmeal on cold dark nights!  Or could dark mornings …  The shape of the seed head and the sound they make in the field when they are dried:  Mmmm music to my senses.  They are commonly used as a cover crop, and if you know a friendly Farmer who uses them you may just be able to harvest a bit before they hay.  Certainly reminds me of sunshine & summer.  : )



Well – !!!  My New Moon manifestation is to have more time to meditate and be creative, and connect with the Earth and with myself.  I am so pleased to be back experimencing as Herbaloo!  The blog’s birthday was December 9th and the Nettles experiment is coming to a close.  I am having a hard time letting go of Urtica as my experimence-tea! (pun intended)  But slowly I tinker away at a somewhat lengthy (but navigate-able) materia medica of the Stinging Nettle.  Then I will be moving on to this next year’s experiment…  Stay Tuned!


Here’s a little Solstice Shine & Love for you and yours.

Yuletide Blessings!





One thought on “Herbs to Illuminate the Darkness { Ervas para iluminar a Escuridão }

  1. Rhodiola Rosea, also known as Golden Root, is a native plant of arctic Siberia. For centuries it has been used by eastern European and Asian cultures for physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness, and to treat fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, gastrointestinal ailments, infections, and nervous system disorders. ”

    My personal blog

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