28. January 2013 · Comments Off on Thoughts on Authenticity · Categories: Health and Healing, Wellness

By Christina MacLeod

What does it mean to be authentic? Authenticity is being real with yourself, telling yourself the truth through the lens of neutrality. It comes from a deep awareness of patterns, triggers, and emotional reactions to stimuli outside of ourselves and our spontaneous inner responses. Authenticity is acceptance of myself as I am, deeply knowing that I am so much more than my appearance, my perceived limitations, my lack of confidence, or even my process.  Looking into my own eyes reflected back and saying Yes! there is a raw honesty that comes with facing and holding every flaw, every limitation, without the need for pretense or other forms of hiding. The result is genuineness. People don’t always like or feel comfortable around the truth of others. It’s not always pretty or happy. The choice is a conscious one, to be real, un-adapted, un-defended. “What you see is what you get”, if you are ready to look deeply into the Spirit behind those eyes. True authenticity is being in the moment, with the desire and ability to meet life with whole-hearted spontaneity. What others think and feel or how they choose to respond to my authentic nature is their reaction. It’s not that I don’t care how people respond; it is, more importantly, that my behavior is not pre-planned to evoke a certain response, be it admiration, praise or any other means of unhealthy manipulated attraction. This can be a life’s work for many of us, who come from co-dependent roots, shame based family systems, or fall to the expectations of others who do not grasp or respect the relevance or importance of healthy, un-adapted boundaries.

When walking the path of authenticity, I believe it important to be vigilant, especially at the early stages of embracing this journey.  As a life choice, its core feels like honesty with self, acceptance of what is, and being out in the world in that way; determined not to fall into old patterns of right and wrong, finding fault, pretense, or making oneself better than or less than.  So, authenticity also involves equanimity, a sense of fairness and justice. Perception can be a tricky and illusive phenomenon. No one can be in another’s shoes. No two people see the world in exactly the same way. Authenticity implies a respect for one’s uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. With an authentic presence, discernment of fairness and equality is possible. I can then let go of the instances when I don’t feel heard or recognized or met. A subtle shift takes place in our attachment to what transpires in the outside world. There is a freedom, a carefree spirit that can relax and release into the perfection of any given moment, in the knowing that all is as it should be. A quiet recognition that joy comes from living that freedom, a meaningful knowing that we control the quality of our experiences with self and other.

Authenticity requires that both sides of the brain, the linear and the imaginative, join together in alchemical union, and then once interwoven, allowing greater trust in our perceptions. Then choosing our actions from that place of harmonious balance. Without self-knowledge and practice, authentically healthy ways of being in the world can be sabotaged by unknown, unidentified, and unmet needs. The goal then becomes using situations and others to gratify the self. The opportunity for clean, truthful and respectful relationships then slips out of our grasp into the realm of possibility instead of reality.

What I have been describing up to now is active authenticity, that is, us reaching out into our interactive world with others. There is also a type of receptive authenticity. In receptive mode, authenticity involves paying close attention to the details and feeling tones of our sense impressions, both inwardly and outwardly, actively and receptively, linearly, intuitively and metaphorically. Whether we are in meditation, chatting over coffee, or in the board room, the call is to engage the wise Self on all levels in perceiving the real information that is being communicated by another person, circumstance or phenomenon; truly seeing, hearing, recognizing and meeting Other. It might also be experienced as “reading between [or through] the lines”. This type of perception requires a neutral, open state of being, without pre-judgment (prejudice), expectation, or personal agenda. Genuine interpersonal engagement, whether through active expression or active listening, can only happen when there is freedom to be one’s true self in any given situation. Can we look into our own reflection or into the eyes of another and say Yes?

Westcliffe, Colorado, January 28, 2013

14. January 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Mugwort · Categories: Flower Essences, Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Yarrow's Garden Blog

MUGWORT(Artemisia vulgaris)~

As I sit here sipping a cup of pleasantly sweet mugwort tea, I have begun to envision this century-old healing plant and its many uses throughout history. Its warm and comforting nature begins to pulse gently into my neck and shoulders, relaxing my solar plexus, and carrying me gently beyond the everyday doings of daily life. Slightly sweet, warming and stimulating, I can feel a gently energetic movement into my hands and feet and throughout my musculature. I notice also that my breathing has softened and relaxed.  The name Artemisia speaks in praise of the Moon Goddess, Artemis, ancient goddess of nature and patroness of women.  A restorative by nature, mugwort, is a soothing friend to today’s woman, caught up in the many roles of career, child rearing, managing home, a business or a family, with little time to spare for nurturing herself. Mugwort attends to those situations where women may have suffered abuse, been swallowed into poverty, or healing from a difficult pregnancy or abortion. Tending to withdraw, they suffer from depression or have otherwise insulated themselves from their own emotions. Mugwort helps to restore and soulfully heal the female nature.

artemisia-vulgaris-1Historically Artemisia has been used successfully for premenstrual symptoms, stimulating a sluggish menstruation, to speed labor, or to assist in expelling the placenta after birthing. It is typically the leaf and stem of the plant that are used as medicine, either fresh or dried.  In those cases it is taken as a tea or herbal bath. Mugwort oil can be used topically to massage the abdomen and uterus for alleviating stagnation and bloating typically associated with PMS, stimulating the movement of uterine release. An herbal compress may also be helpful. Topically in a salve, compress or wash mugwort can be used to treat rashes, itching, bruising and swelling, insect bites and boils. As a foot soak, it is both warming and soothing.

Mugwort has been used by the Chinese for centuries in tea formulations for prolonged menstrual bleeding, for a restless fetus, for threatened miscarriage, and any abdominal pain due to cold. These may seem contradictory; however, herbs can have different effects depending upon the dosage. The dry leaf can also be rolled by hand into a ball and placed and lighted atop acupuncture needles for warming and introducing “qi” into the body at specific acupuncture points. This technique is called moxibustion and is an excellent way to expel cold from the body..

Also called Cronewort, Artemesia is known to assist in regulating hormones and reducing hot flashes in menopausal women. It can be prepared as a tea or tincture for these purposes.  On a more esoteric level, an oil infusion of Cronewort can be used as a ceremonial anointment for scrying, visioning or active dreaming. As a tea or flower essence taken at bedtime, Mugwort can enhance vivid dreaming and dream recall. The plant is said to encourage and support intuition, creativity, and dream visioning.

Artemisia vulgaris is a member of the Sunflower family (Asteraceae). As shown in the photo, the leaf is deeply lobed, dark green on the upper surface and a silvery grey underneath. Stems are maroon, purple or brown. Plants can grow between 5-8 feet in height. Once established, mugwort requires little attention, average soil, and light to moderate water.

Originating in Asia and Mediterranean regions, Artemesia is not native to the Rocky Mountains, but is easy to cultivate here. A moderately organic sandy loam with no special soil amendment offers ample growth medium. Once established mugwort is a robust grower, seeds readily and can quickly become the center of attention if not managed. Its stems offer a colorful texture to the dormant winter garden.

Mugwort is available as a loose tea, tincture and infused oil through Three Sisters Apothecary.

NOTE: Photo compliments of PROTA4U.

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado, January 14, 2013

01. January 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden~A Blog · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog

Hello and welcome to Yarrow’s Garden~A Blog. The purpose of this blog is to acquaint you with a wide array of both native and naturalized introduced plants known globally for their medicinal value. My monthly contributions will focus on those plants that occur naturally in the Rocky Mountain regions of North America or those that, with knowledge and patience, can be cultivated in the Western garden and grown as medicine for personal and family use. In addition to both folklore and science-based information, suggestions for garden cultivation, harvesting, medicinal preparation and contemporary uses will be included. **I would like to emphasize that, while common names may be mentioned, botanical nomenclature will be used, in order to ensure accurate identification of each plant being discussed as well as to reduce confusion or other difficulties caused by the use of local, folk or common plant names.

And may it always be understood that self medication is never a substitute

for professional medical care when necessary.