Guest Blog Post: Inviting Intimacy & Introspection with Herbs by Jamesa Hawthorne
I've been in major slow down, reflection, reevaluation, & hermit mode since the Winter Solstice. It is really nourishing my soul, & I am grateful for the space & resources to tap into & embrace this seasonal change. I'm taking a big breather from social media to read more, explore fashion, rest, & dream. I'm cooking more foods that warm and nourish my body on deep, foundational levels. Making bone broth, herbal stocks, & keeping ginger tea on the stove are some things that have been pretty steady so far. My winter greens (like collards, chard, beet greens) are getting cooked into delicious stocks with herb friends (like cayenne, thyme, rosemary). It's so important that we are warming our bodies from the inside as the weather gets chillier! Giving our bodies the energy & nutrients they need with food is one of the foundations of herbal medicine. Herbs can enhance our food & sometimes be cooked as food, but they aren't a replacement.
Another winter time consideration is our Vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is usually absorbed topically, by exposure to the sun. When it gets colder, we tend to be indoors more than out. Low Vitamin D also "contributes to serious illness from Covid-19 infections." Low levels of Vitamin D are even more concerning for Black people because “while higher levels of melanin may shield against harmful UV-B ray effects, those same rays are needed to make Vitamin D.” Among many things, Vitamin D helps keep our immune systems strong, bones healthy, hair joyful, & moods balanced. To make sure you're getting enough, you can try Vitamin D supplements, spend some time outdoors, & eat foods rich in Vitamin D. In aligning with all that the Winter season has to offer us, we can look to nature & tradition for wisdom & guidance. Here's a bit more for aligning with Winter time & what herbs, foods, & practices we can lean into this season. This is a non-exhaustive compilation that I had so much fun creating for y'all! Take what resonates & leave the rest.
💭 Winter is especially conducive for dream work, introspection, shadow work, & reflection. Activities that require our presence, a slower pace, & deeper look allow us to move through the cold & dark with discernment. It serves us to slow down & engage in restorative rest & nourishment. This type of rest is where integration & dreaming occurs.
🥀 Winter is opposite the season Summer & can trigger feelings of scarcity, fear of the unknown, & seasonal depression. Practicing radical generosity & choosing herbs that bring warmth, light, & nourish us on a soul level can be transformative. I love incorporating the fruits, citrus, & berries that persist in the "dead" of Winter. Vitamin D supplements are especially helpful for my melanated herb baes as well!
💀 According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Winter is connected to our bones & marrow, kidneys, & the bladder. These are all places where deep, soul nourishment happens! These are places where water content and balance are important. Diving into the ocean depths for sea veggies & mineral rich foods can help us flow with grace & support us on integral levels. I'm thinking of miso, seaweeds, bone broths, herbal stocks, & warm adaptogen milk teas!
🧣 Dressing for winter by making sure to cover our ears, head, feet, hands, & swaddling our lower back (kidneys) is key to conserving warmth. We can also build energy in the mornings with dry brushing, stretching, & cold shower therapy.
-:- A Ritual to Invite Intimacy -:-
Inviting in some personal intimacy & physical touch can be so comforting, especially as we continue to navigate social distancing and the inwardness of winter. Below is one of my favorite ways to work with herbs in a tactile/ body/ earth way. Feeding my skin with rich & nourishing oils & salves is always a favorite.
We can practice the love language of physical touch with ourselves
Using some herbal infused body oils or salves
Take some time to show your skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, & muscles some love
Choose your infused oil or salve
Herbs like plantain, St J's Wort, & CBD are comforting & deeply nurturing
Maybe you'll add some rose for sensuality
Massage liberally into your skin, location is up to you
Maybe you want to give your legs extra attention before bed
Or your neck & shoulders some relaxing energy
Take your time
Maybe you'll want to lay in bed or on a yoga mat
Listen to your body
Give it your energy & attention
Drink plenty of water afterwards
Take a few minutes to meditate or journal about what came up for you.
May your journey down & inwards bring clarity!
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