Herbal Ally Love

Where We Begin

gaudete pink
This post is dedicated to my teacher and herbal midwife, Tonja Reichley.

Rose was my first herbal ally.

Rose is my first love.

Rose healed my heart, helped me be softer, and fiercer.

Rose. I go back to her, over and over again, every day.  Imbibing her, anointing with her, inhaling her, wrapping her splendid thorny fierceness around me.

My first love.

Imagine.  Winter 2011, the sun has spiraled closer to the dark time, and again I find myself huddled in the aftermath of a then 4-year old trauma and a spiritual desertedness that has left me desiccated and shattered, my heart broken, my imagination stagnant.  I do not know how to live.

Winter 2011, and I drop everything, come to stillness disarmed, surrendered (the depth of the meaning of “be still” in Psalm 46:10).

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.
“East Coker III,” Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

Here is where we begin.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
“East Coker III,” Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

This end is where I begin.  In the stillness I sought healers.  Massage, therapy, friends, beloved, and for the first time, herbs. I had my first consult with my herbal teacher. We knew each other but never like this.  After I had poured out all my pain, all my efforts to *do and be everything for everyone* and never stop (because production=worth because capitalism), all my efforts to do it all perfectly and secretly fearing I was failing (because perfectionism is the demon of whiteness), and confessed that no, no I have no energetic boundaries at all…


My remedy tea blend had *lots* of rose (among other herbs which have become my allies too).  And an anointing oil of rose and angelica.

Rose, to heal the heart. To support grieving. To soften the heart. To release (“Carry a rose bud in an amulet when you go to actions, to protect and hold the energy and then give it to the earth, release it.  You don’t have to carry everything”). To call on the Divine Feminine. To unfurl, free, into Her love.  To feel those thorns protecting me, boundarying me.

Rose, teaching me how to be open, and protected.  Teaching me how to be fierce without being hardened.

St. Hildegard says, every remedy is made better with rose, and I know this is true for me.

That was almost 5 years ago now.  I have returned to my teacher, my midwife, over and over for new remedy blends, and almost always, as we begin to discern the recipe, we start with “well rose, obviously.”  My end was my beginning.  Rose.

I’ve been drinking herbal  infusion teas almost every day since then, and have felt the herbs’ slow, deep, transformational work in my being.  But Rose was the first, the first to teach me that the herbs so want to help us heal, help us be fierce for the work of liberation, help us love on this earth and its creatures and each other.  Rose was the first who made me feel I might be a healer, along with being a pastor and an activist.

Almost 5 years on, and I’ve fallen in love with other herbs, and immersed in studies with my teacher to become an herbal healer myself.  More love stories of the herbs and what I learned in my studies are posts for other days, more stories of the journey that brought me to this claiming day, more stories of how the herbs have helped me be brave, how they beckoned me out of hiding, how they helped me become the FierceRev and immerse even more deeply into the work of collective liberation.

For now, I wanted to offer this introduction, as it were, to how this herbal journey began for me.  For now, I wanted to open this new space with words of love for my first love.  For now, I wanted begin where I ended, and a new me was midwifed into being.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from…
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
“Little Gidding,” Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot



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