“Root medicine teaches us the value of remaining grounded, trusting in natural processes and learning from and integrating past experiences.” Kendall Quack
To live seasonally is to consciously surrender to the inevitable changes within and around us on a moment-by-moment basis. Seasonal living is about allowing for those different periods without being attached to any one of them and trusting that there will be a return of all phases in due course.
With seasonal changes in light, cooler temperatures are a primary cue for plants to enter dormancy. During this period, many plants lose their leaves and shift from growth mode to winter survival mode. And, as part of this process, plants shift the manner in which they store energy. This means that sugars and other forms of energy previously produced and stored in leaves and other plant tissues are sent further down the plant for use and storage over winter. In the case of most herbaceous perennials and root vegetables, this vital energy is stored primarily in the roots.
Root medicine can be simply consuming roots of plants, either in powder form added to drinks or meals or cooking in a stew. It could be plants like beets, carrots or potatoes. Or it could be more medicinal plants like burdock, ashwaganda, dandelion or marshmallow. More commonly known and used root medicine would be ginger and turmeric.
However, the benefits of root medicine can go way beyond ingestion. In the autumn months you might find you have a primal, instinctual urge to harvest to dig in the earth, move inward and even to eat more. The plants themselves start to focus their own energy deep into their roots, storing nutrients for the winter months ahead.
Root Medicine is grounding and corresponds with our sense of self, our identity and with our basic survival needs, giving us a sense of safety. If we are anxious,
insecure, frustrated or have low self worth or a confused sense of self, then root medicine can be very healing for these things.
Unlike flower medicine, which is more obvious and is considered to be more the gifts the plant offers, root medicine is hidden in the depths of the soil, in the dark
and so is often overlooked. It resonates more during the cooler months when we have a natural inclination to move inward. In times of stillness when we are turned inward, we assimilate and integrate.
It is when our brains are resting that they can shift to what I think of as the default mode, which involves, among other areas, the hippocampus where memories are stored. It is from this network and this place of stillness that random thoughts can spark new connections and enable creativity, artistic leaps and bright ideas.
Root medicine can be bitter (literally and figuratively) and hard to swallow as it forces us to look within at our own inner depths, shadows and darkness. It is also slow because we are building a foundation for wellbeing to sprout from. This foundation is not just emotional, where we are forced to look at our shadows but also practical, in that bitter flavours stimulate our gastrointestinal juices and bile therefore improving gut health. As we know gut health is pivotal and foundational to overall wellbeing.
Dandelion and burdock are both sought-after medicinal plants whose roots are ready for harvest in autumn and early winter Burdock is a plant with an incredibly expansive presence – it has huge green leaves and easily harvested roots.
When it comes to astroherbalism, Burdock is a classic example of a Jupiter-ruled herb. Burdock root physically and energetically grounds our sense of being, helping us to root ourselves in both the world around us and our own bodies. Through its relationship with Jupiter, Burdock ultimately provides the stability of generous nourishment, helping to restore the body, promoting health and vitality, and giving us the faith and trust to move forward on our paths with vigor and momentum.
Physically Burdock is a digestive plant, and has diuretic and bitter actions. It helps increase liver and gallbladder secretions which help to process toxins and make room for nutrients and aid in the absorption of oils and fats. When we are digesting properly. Burdock spirit teaches us to consider grounding ourselves and create meaning from experiences, reminding us to nurture our bodies and tend to our homes. It is at home that we feel safe and connected, here we easily relax, let go of fears and discomforts. Burdock wants us to feel at home in our bodies as well.
Go to our Podcast Old Ways for the New Age to listen to the whole episode.