"The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anaïs Nin
Every time I ponder this quote I picture rose.
It could be any flower: an apple blossom, lily, crocus, or blue flag iris. But it's always a rose in my mind's eye ~medicine of the heart.
The simple five-petaled rose bush grows wild along the Vermont countryside, in gardens, sometimes long forgotten, but still blooming on edges of yards from long ago. When we harvest the bloom of the Rugosa Rose, this introduced-gone-wild variety, we snip the flower head from the stem with a whisper of gratitude and place it into the basket, often to the hum of bees.
As long as we continue to snip the flower heads off, the plant, as any healthy flowering plant will do, continues to produce buds and flowers reaching for its final stage of seed.
I'm old enough to not be amazed by this, but why bother with NOT being amazed if given the choice!
The rose wants to reproduce. It is simple science. And it is also completely amazing. This means that there are roses to harvest for pretty much three months of the summer, even if I intend to stop harvesting in time for the final flowers to produce seed within the rose hips.
The sheer biology of the plant to continue to produce bud, flower and ultimately seed first depends on the health of the root. In this deep winter time, perennial plant roots are thought to spend the winter in a condition of dormancy. This means they are not dead but rather they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break.
We have just passed the Celtic holiday of Imbolc (Feb 2, or Groundhog Day). Imbolc literally means "in the belly", referring to the time of year when ewes are pregnant.
"In the belly" also points to the plant roots deep in the belly of the earth. In Ireland, where Imbolc originated, winter is now turning to springtime. As I don multiple layers of wool and feather, it is clear that in Vermont, signs of spring are but April's dream.
Awakening of Spring by Michael Hiep
This gives me pause to ask myself and you, dear reader:
What are my "roots" or the daily practices that ground me?
What happens if I disregard slowing down in the embrace of winter at this time of year? What happens if I value winter's slow embrace?
How does the culture around me attend to or deny this natural rhythm of slowing down and attending to a resting phase?
The bud, flower, seed cycle further mimics the physical and emotional capacity of the heart to blossom again and again - opening from tight bud with belief in the seed of the open heart - if we allow it ample time and benevolent conditions.
Heart toner: Rose petals and rose hips are cardiotonic. Rose tones the heart, veins, arteries and blood vessels, resulting in more flexibility of the heart to open and close, as it does with every beat. An inflexible heart muscle results in a decrease in blood flow, and therefore in high blood pressure. This indicates that it takes more force for the blood to move through the heart cavity - with less force from the muscle, itself, to assist flow. Continued use of rose opens the heart muscle, resulting in lower blood pressure, and is famed as an effective aphrodisiac. Rose relaxes the heart and a relaxed heart is an open heart. In herbalism, a strong relationship us acknowledged between the heart and anxiety. Relax the heart and decrease the anxiety that is the mind-body manifestation of a tight or inflexible heart muscle.
Lifting sadness: I use rose petals in nearly every tea blend I create that is indicated to lift sadness or depression. Rose has an uplifting energy that helps us feel loved, joyful and grateful. It, ahem, opens the heart.
Tea Blend Recipe for Grief:
Hawthorn leaf and flower
Blend equal parts and steep 1 teaspoon in 6-8 oz of water, covered. Add honey if desired.
Unstuck Gut: Rose helps relieve stuck feelings in the gut and lower abdomen - especially in women. Rose petals are classified as carminative, helping to relieve indigestion, bloating, congestion in the chest and even to balance menstrual patterns. Inflammation causes mucus, clogging up the pipes, of which there are many miles in the digestive system. Rose astringes the cells, decreasing inflammation and through its diuretic quality, detoxifying the stomach and intestines of inflammatory byproducts, like mucus.
Colds & Mucus: Rose petals help to move fluids through the body by astringing, or tightening the cell walls. They can help gently dry out excess mucus - especially when it runs clear (a sign of coldness in the body). Add rose petals to your tea when you need to heal from, or avoid, a cold. Rose petal tea or preserves can boost the immune system to fight respiratory infections and prevent colds.
Feeling inspired to share a pot of tea with your sweetie, grandmother, young child at bedtime or with your favorite novel by the woodstove? One very simple way is my current favorite rose tea, produced by a company with humane and organic practices:
Ingredients: Tulsi (Holy Basil), East Indian Basil, Chamomile, Rose petal, Lemon Myrtle, Stevia
May your heart find the most benevolent conditions in which to blossom, again and again.