A few weeks after COVID-19 entered Peru, where I am currently living, the borders were closed and the whole country was declared a state of emergency. Meaning we would be on mandatory quarantine for weeks or months. A few days later I was sitting at my computer attending a zoom call for a live despacho ceremony that Maestro Luis Quispe from the Q'ero nation was offering. My friend helped him download the application on his cell phone while he continues to be in quarantine with his family in Cusco. During the online ceremony he shared potent wisdom: " There is a heavy wind or bad wind "mal viento" this heavy wind is the virus. We must make offerings to the wind and feed the wind element, we must feed our own life force, (Kausay) an energy that animates from the universe and feeds our physical and luminous body. Worry and fear drain kausay from our bodies, which depletes our immune system and our spiritual strength. Luis says when your mind wanders choose a focal point to come back too, speak and feed mother earth (Pachamama) feed the good winds of the four directions. Work with the plants and stones to speak to Pachamama. This will build trust"
Are we being asked by nature to grieve? to grieve the weight we have been carrying, our ancestral pain? all the loss we have endured and will continue to endure? In all illnesses there is a physical and emotional aspect that needs to be addressed for the body to be in balance. And as a collective, mother earth is showing us the imbalances in our bodies, because nature lives within us all. As a collective we will continue to grieve the loss of our elders, the ancient wisdom keepers and all those who are loosing their lives from this wind. New light beings are being asked to be born in these times to carry the ancient wisdom of the elders of our ancestors. Now more then ever we must look inward and grieve how we used to live, reshape the lives we want to start living.
One day I took a walk through the corn fields to offer prayers to the waters and mountains, it was the first time I truly felt my energetic cord deeply connected to the earth, the first time I felt the stillness of mother earth, I could feel the lungs of our cosmic mother crying in deep gratitude, breathing deeper and deeper into the roots of the collective. Her nervous system relaxing and healing into the medicine of grief. Her voice whispered "this will take time child but keep connecting to me and hold the fire of the community close"
Why is this wind attacking the lungs? diseases and viruses go to the weak areas in our bodies yet this wind is a collective wind that is going to the same area in everyones body. The lungs and heart are the seat of grief, sadness and depression. The lungs are responsible for letting in the new and letting go of the old, the constant cycle of life. Humanity cannot be separated from nature, we are nature, manifest as people. Are we being asked to release our grief and strengthen our ability to accept? There are herbs and western remedies that can help to some degree but if we cant let go and release the unresolved grief that binds us then how will we move forward as a collective species. Waters from sacred springs, mountains, rivers, lakes and streams will be our medicine in these times, to facilitate the release of tears, she will gladly drink from our nectar of tears. To wash over us and cleanse our hearts, minds and spirits.
As someone who practices Herbalism and being in right relationship with the plants and the elements. I wanted to share from my heart and what has been coming through for many years now as I have lived in diverse areas and studied with elders. This wisdom is not mine, its yours, its in your bones, I am just reminding you to find it again however that looks for you, where ever you find it remember to keep the fire next to you. Last year I spent my time living in Guatemala, when I broke my wrist there it was the most potent medicine I could have ever asked for, the dam of grief was released. Sometimes we need a physical break to release an energy that is no longer serving us. I spent six months crying everyday, walking to the waters edge of Lago Atitlán and asking for help to release layers upon layers of grief. I would immerse my wrist in herbal baths daily, take plant baths, burn incense, attend Mayan fire ceremonies, walk my prayer out and build trust in myself. I was learning to build a relationship with the water and fire simultaneously. The deeper preparation was to learn to share and speak from my heart and my own personal experiences. I spent everyday talking to the waters and waiting for her permission to court me into her salty tears. I was courted into the waters during a water ceremony, with both hands full of white rose petals. I merged with her waters and allowed every tear to be transformed into gratitude. Gratitude for the reciprocity to swim in my own tears that became nourishment and healing energy to the waters of Atitlán.
The journey to face my ancestry, to forgive and let go of old grief that lived in the lungs and heart of my family lineage continues to reveal so much beauty and grace in my own life. My lungs also have been an area in my body I have had to take extra care of. In order to look at it deeper I observed my Mother from a young age, times when she was gasping for air, in complete panic, constant phlegm that lived in her lungs and a heart condition that was acquired in her thirties. I became curious following the patterns and threads of my Mothers weaknesses so I could start my healing process around unresolved grief, grief of the women and men who have come before me. Shedding light on my Mothers lungs, the lungs that breathed me into being, the lungs that gave me oxygen for nine months. By owning my own process and releasing old grief my Mothers grief is healed alongside mine. The great mother who brings us to the light, who washes our tears, who gives us life. She hears us calling and is here to wash us with her sacred waters. In these times of the collective shift I offer you some self care tips and resources that can be used not just in these times we are in but as a daily practice to connect to the elements within your beautiful sacred vessel of existence.
BANOS: (PLANT BATHS)
These baths were introduced to me from a teacher Estela Román who helped birth me into my light. This specific bath and plants are used for releasing grief and sadness. If you don't have access to a bath tub fill a big pot with water and steep the below plants for 20 minutes. Then pour over your body starting from the head down. You can choose to go outside and face the direction of the North, ask to let go of fear, sadness and anger. Repeating the whole time: away negativity, away obstacles, away negativity, away obstacles. The north direction of the wind is were the Aztec lord of rest and gentleness sits, the place of transformation. You can make a bath with: Hibiscus (jamaica), Tulips (tulipanes), Linden (tilo) and Red Roses (rosa). In Peru the flowers of two plants called Roq'ue and Lupine can be used for bad winds "mal viento" or negative energies that have entered the body.
"Crying is an art form, we can't cry when we are disconnected from the mother" -Estela Román-
LOOSE INCENSE: (Incienso)
Fragrant smoke offerings can be used for clearing homes and spaces energetically and remove physical pathogens from the environment. Repair negative relations with elemental spirits and bring the warmth of love into the home. Plants that can be used are: Palma Dulce, Rue, Roses, Wiraqoya, Lavender, Neem, Eucalyptus, Copal, Frankincense, Myrrh, White Sage, Cedar, Pine Resin, Elecampane root, Osha root, Angelica root, Guggul Gum, Mugwort (moxa).
There are lots of Herbalist who have written about plants you can use for viruses and respiratory imbalances. I will give my top ten plants with a brief description of how to use them. If you have access to five of these plants then you can start building your home apothecary, then you will be in good hands.
Cleavers/Rata Rata/Galium aparine/above part plant used
Dandelion/Diente de Lion/ Taraxacum officinale/ root, flower, leaf
These two plants support the livers efficient processing of toxins. In change of seasons is when the lymph can get stagnant and congestion of the liver can occur, causing toxins to back up in the body and the immune system will become low. Encouraging lymph flow is very important. Calendula can also be used as a Lymph tonic. "Calendula brings light to the dark places in the body."
Mullein/Gordolobo/Verbascum thapsus/use leaf for respiratory
Elecampane/Helenio/ Inula helenium/ use root
Osha/Oshala/ Chuchupate/Ligusticum porteri/use root
Panti Panti/Cosmos peucedanifolius/ use flower
Mullein: acts as an expectorant to expel mucus from the lungs, the dried leaves can be smoked to relax the lungs when respiratory coughing is uncontrollable or breathing becomes difficult.
Elecampane root: will ease inflammation and expel excess heat, the essential oils in the root support and sooth the respiratory tract it also helps support normal mucous secretions. Can tonify the mucous tissues of the respiratory, G.I. tract and Urinary tract.
Osha: Osha is a power plant and should not be used everyday, power plants are specific for when really needed and Osha is one of those powerful forces that can heal if used properly. If you have a dry cough and are internally dry you have to mix the root with Licorice root or Marshmallow (a demulcent) or it will make your cough worse as it is more heating and drying to the system. If your cough is productive and damp then osha can be taken alone to break up stagnation in the lungs. Osha root is also antimicrobial!
Panti Panti: In Peru they use the flowers in a tea for a cough and bronchitis. Treats bronchial congestion, calms asthma, acts as an expectorant to the lungs.
Calendula/Caléndula/ Calendula officinalis/ use flower
Licorice/Glycyrrhiza glabra/ use root
Elderberry/ Saúco/ Sambucus nigra/ flower and fruit
Triphala/3 fruits from 3 plants/ use fruit
Calendula: this flower of sunshine is antimicrobial which deters pathogenic bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans. Calendula brings light to the lymph where dark heavy energies can be stored. Calendula is an immune tonic and is an antimicrobial herb, appropriate for the common cold, flu and mild to moderate infections. Can be used longterm as an immune tonic.
Licorice: used for the respiratory tract and antiviral properties. If the cough or lungs are dry, the root of this plant has been used to treat the virus and prevent the spread of virus. Herbal immunomodulators can be taken daily to prevent viral infections during change of seasons.
Elderberry: the flowers and fruit are used as an immune tonic, I make a syrup from both parts to have on hand over the winter. Incredibly rich in vitamins and antioxidants, lessens the severity of cold and flu symptoms. Taking 2tsp. three times a day can provide adequate protection during cold and flu season. Elder is also antimicrobial!
Triphala: a combination of three plants from India that are called Amalaki, Terminalia, Bellerica. Help purify the blood and reduce inflammation. Can help cleanse the system of pathogens and purify the blood. It can also boost immune function.
Here you will find resources for supporting us through the turbulent "winds" (virus). I hope this finds you in an empowered state of awareness and take the time to nourish your vessel. This too shall pass.
Art: The Three Sisters by Jackie Traverse
My travels to Peru have always left me with a deep yearning to share more of the Andean wisdom with others, connecting even deeper with all the elements. The seed of envisioning a intimate journey to Peru has been incubating for a while when I was first introduced to Q'ero Andean wisdom. I was drawn to the deep connection the Q'ero have with nature, how they maintain reciprocity and balanced relationships with the cosmic (mother) universe and all the elements. How the simple act of giving offerings to the earth can bring harmony to the mystical and spiritual body.
The 1st seed that awakened in me after my first visit to Peru over 7 years ago was the connection I felt with the medicinal plant world, how every plant was connected to the stones, to the earth, the cosmos and the living energy of the universe. The 2nd seed that awakened after I studied herbalism was 3 years ago when I found a Yoga and Ayurveda training where I lived and went through a very deep spiritual rewiring and shift in consciousness. I was led there at a time when I was abandoning my body and physically exhausted. The program was very much focused on getting in your body through yoga, breathwork and meditation. By using Ayurvedic principles I slowly was able to come into balance and become more earthed in the soil and centered in my spirit. The 3rd seed that awakened in me was when I went to India this summer in 2018. I immersed myself in a 26 day panchakarma in a Ayurvedic hospital away from chatter, internet, responsibilities etc. During this time it was the most nourished I had ever felt, allowing to receive was the hardest lesson. Everyday felt like a profound spiritual and physical ceremony. I could see and feel emotional toxins becoming dislodged from the darkest areas. As a result a force of will power arose from deep within, it took weeks for me to become accustomed to a strong force of creative energy that was flowing through me. It felt as if all the seeds were screaming to be watered and nourished.
I left India with a willpower that took over my whole being, I came back to the states and knew I had to really follow all the dreams I had shot down or told myself I could not do in previous times. Here I am sharing this dream with you and inviting you to sit in sacred space among the mountain spirits of Peru. A place where you can fully earth into the energies in a grounded and supported container, by remembering what seeds may be dormant inside you. Are you walking your soul purpose out? Are you yearning to develop the seeds of wisdom you have planted? Reawaken your seeds for embodiment in a 6 day culture immersion with Q'ero elders or choose to do the full 13 day journey where we will visit two sacred mountains that can create movement and alignment in your life.
Together we will birth a vision.
Birth a dream into fruition.
"Lets make the earth our church and protecting it our religion"
I wanted to welcome the new year with a question to ponder, what element do you need to invite deeper into your body for healing or balance?
We have all five elements within us: earth (prithvi), water (apas), air (vayu), fire (tejas), ether (akasha). The elements present in our parents are encoded into our being at the time of conception, creating our unique constitution. There are usually one or two dominant elements that reside in us and play out in different ways that either create harmony or imbalance in our mind and body.
The last five years I have been on a journey balancing all of these elements within my mental and physical body. Ironically I did not see the pattern until a few years ago when I was with a teacher in Mexico and I had this strong pull to learn how to start the fires for the Temazcal ceremonies.....I chuckle now when I retell the story! My teacher looked at me one day with a stern voice and said " You can not build a fire for the Temazcal with all that anger inside of you, the wind of anger will come and blow the fire out." Two months later I went to Hawaii for a Ayurveda and Yoga training where I was fully immersed in the Vedic fire ceremonies and mantra. The first month I observed the fire and imagined all the anger being transformed, at the time I did not know where the anger was coming from, but the fire stirred it up in me to a point where I felt my blood boil in my veins. By the second month they asked me to perform the Tryambakam fire ceremony for fifteen minutes every morning as part of my seva, my heart raced when they asked me to take on such a scary task of connecting with the fire. Trying to manage the fire and keep the mantra repeating aloud seemed so daunting at times and other times I felt completely tuned in with a higher source. I would re-lite the fire numerous times as it would continue to be extinguished no matter how many drops of ghee I would offer or how many fans I would put up to block the ocean breeze. Until one day I surrendered with complete union with the fire and the flame stayed alive, all the nervousness and anxiety I would get around the flame transmuted before my eyes.
The year 2017 was a deep initiation with the water element, when I saw a photo of Apu Ausangate, I knew at that distinct moment I had to go connect with the sacred waters. Days before my birthday I was looking into the eyes of Ausangate, with my body fully immersed under the healing springs having a complete rebirth back into my body. The following months I was lead to more bodies of water and imagined bringing the healing element into my body, hydrating my tissues and ligaments. The earth element will be the focus for 2018, the most solid structure for life to exist in, along with anchoring the energy. It will be a year of allowing my body and mind to be earthed in the hands of the majestic Mother. I am trusting that the Ancestors will guide me to the Lakes, Rivers, Oceans, Mountains and Plants to continue the journey of being earthed. All of these elements will ebb and flow inside me at different rates, but the key is to know how to keep them balanced within our being. The process will get easier as you start to attune your energy.
A starting point would be to observe the picture above of Mullein, what elements do you think reside in each part of the plant? What part of the plant do you need to ingest more of this season? The root contains the earth element, providing nourishment, minerals and carbs. The stem stores water to hydrate the tissues. Air contains the spirit of the plant, the subtle body energy, the invisible. Fire transmutes the energy into a flower and the ether element resides in the seed, existing before and after the material form. If Mullein was lacking in any of these elements there would not be a proper state of balance or attunement in order to produce the healing medicine that is stored in the flowers and leaf. I invite you to go into the woods and explore the elements within nature!
May the plants guide your way home,