Friday, December 11, 2009

Plant People and Root Medicine

Roasted Root VegetablesImage by protoflux via Flickr

"I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization."
~Luther Standing Bear, Lakota

The energies of the Plant People come to us through Mother Earth, and in this way, they infuse us with their energies, when we work with them. The same is true of any creature being, of course. When we realize that the creature-beings are equal to us, and use them with respect, they will teach us about themselves, and how to use them properly. Connecting to Mother Earth means connecting to all of the creature beings, and to their energies. We can use this energy in our lives to help us to heal and to grow.

Each creature being has it's own lessons to teach us, and it's own gifts it can bring to our lives. Working with Plant People, we learn of their many uses, and how they can help us to heal ourselves, or others. Each of them is different, just as each of us are different. Each part of the plant is used for different purposes. We have the leaves, the stems, the flowers, the seeds, and the roots. Grandmother Moon's phase assists us in gathering the part of the plant that currently holds its medicine. During the waxing or growing phase of the moon, we gather the leaves and flowers, and during the waning phase of the moon, we gather the roots, as all the energy of the plant is pulled inward, or downward, into the roots, as the moon wanes.

Just talking about when to gather from the Plant People is not all of the story, however. We must also be aware of how to gather properly from them, if we wish them to work with us, to the best advantage. Native people have been known to pass by seven plants, before gathering from one. This preserves the plants for the next seven generations. We also know that when it becomes tough to pull leaves from a particular plant, it means that we've taken enough from that plant already, and it is time to move on. If a plant won't allow you to harvest from it at all, don't take it personally. It could be that the plant is not fully developed, or that it is sick in some way, and it is trying to prevent you from gathering an inferior product. Wait, or find another plant to gather from.

It is also a custom to ask the plant if one might gather from it. This can be done by offering tobacco to the plant, before asking. Even if the answer is no, you have shown respect for the plant by offering the tobacco, and by asking, instead of just taking. If the answer is yes, you will feel it. Then you may take what you need. Also, the intent behind the offering of the tobacco, shows the Plant People of your willingness to work with them. This will encourage them to assist you. Make sure you tell the plant the reason you need to harvest from it, what it will be used for. If the plant is harvested, and it is not used, this is considered to be disrespectful of the gifts that Mother Earth provides for us all. So make sure anything harvested, is used.

The current waning phase of the moon, is the last waning phase before Winter Solstice, or the end of the Dark Half of the Year. Grandmother Moon waxes and wanes, and so, too, does Grandfather Sun. We are quickly approaching His waxing phase, which begins at Winter Solstice. Currently, He is waning. This is the best time of the year to gather Root Medicine. All of the energy of the Plant People is right now in their roots. If you work with roots, in any form, I encourage you to get out there and harvest what you can, for your use in the coming year. Of course you can harvest roots during any waning moon phase, but this is the best time of the year to be gathering them.

Just as the Plant People will teach you how to work with them, so will the Roots. Roots live in the Inner Earth, and, as such, soak up much of Mother Earth's energy. Mother Earth provides a firm foundation for us, grounding us, and so too, do roots. Just eating a bowl of Root Vegetable soup, can help one to heal. This is a very good remedy to use if you are working with your own roots, healing your roots. And this is the perfect time of year to be doing that, as well. Chop or dice any and all root vegetables you can find into a pot of water and boil until tender. You can eat it just like that, or you can puree it. Adding herbs to it only increases it's healing potential. How about some Basil for protection or prosperity? Garlic, another Root, is good for purifying the blood, and cleansing the sinuses, as is onion, another root veggie. Leeks are good for protection and blood purification, carrots for their anti-oxidants and fertility, beets for your immune system, turnips are good for protection, endings, and banishing negativity from one's life, and potatoes for healing. Add some Thyme for courage, Bay Leaf for health and healing, Oregano is loaded with anti-oxidants, and Sage will help you to purify yourself, both inside and out. Other Roots include daikon, parsnips, rutabaga, radishes, horseradish, jicama, and yams. You could always try some Ginger tea, that's another Root, one that is excellent for digestion or stomach problems.

We don't always think about the Roots of the Plant Kingdom, or realize how much we use them. This is an excellent time of year to do so. During these last days of the waning half of the year, it is important that we cleanse ourselves, to make way for new energies that are just around the corner. Roots can help us to do this, in many ways. Once you begin working with them, they will teach you what you need to know in order to work with them properly, if you treat them with respect.

Happy Hunting and Gathering... May your Roots be as healthy as those you gather!

May you Walk in Beauty,

Here's a link to a related article about root vegetables, that includes a recipe:
Healing Benefits of Root Vegetables

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  1. What a beautiful post, Michelle! Great information!

    PS - I am a great fan of roasted root vegetables in the cold months!

  2. The information on root vegetables is fantastic. I was planning on starting a vegetable garden this spring, and you've inspired me to put root veggies in the mix!