Uncertainty can feel like many things: a sense of hopelessness or depression, overwhelming fear or panic, or a low-grade nervousness or trembling. There are many strategies that can help us to be present for these feelings, such as meditation, which allows us to ‘watch’ the uncertainty; journaling, which allows us to ‘track’ it; and dance or yoga, which allows us to ‘move through it.’
Plants can be a powerful form of healing for uncertain times. Their roots mean they are quite literally ‘grounded’ into the earth, and turning them to medicine puts us in touch with systems far outside ourselves.
Plants remind us we are always part of something bigger– a fact that is not uncertain.
Below, find four plants to help ground during moments of unpredictability.
As spring comes around, you might be getting your hands dirty and planting your garden! Sage is a wonderful herb for grounding during difficult times.
As Radical Vitalism’s Jane Kent reminds us, “Sage is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory [herbalist John Gerard wrote].
Sage, like many aromatic plants, brings us to our senses, into the moment. This action helps clarify thought, cuts through mental fog and helps us focus. Sage makes us more present and aware yet still manages to ease feelings of overwhelm and over stimulation.
Sage makes a delicious elixir. Fill a jar with leaves and flowers and cover with brandy or whiskey and honey. For a sweeter elixir, use equal parts alcohol and honey.”
You can also light sustainably harvested sage and use the smoke to clear the energy of your space. This is especially great for transitioning from work to social time, or social time to sleep. Since we’re at home almost all the time, we might not have the same rituals to demarcate these transitions (even things like walking through the door and putting down your keys).
Sage is an easy herb to cook with! You can sprinkle it in stews, on fish, or in pasta. Or, try frying the leaves and adding to pasta!
While you may know of damiana as an aphrodisiac, it’s one of our most grounding, warming herbs. As Janet Kent writes for Radical Vitalism,
“Damiana… calms and centers, bringing energy to the GI tract. Simultaneously, Damiana is uplifting to the spirit and stimulates circulation, specifically to the pelvic area. Damiana’s gift is embodiment, moving us out of our heads and into visceral experience. When overwhelmed with our own pain and the pain of the world, we can forget how to experience joy. After long enough, we may even become apathetic. Apathy is a powerful defense against despair. If we cease to care about anything, we feel less pain. However, this numbness serves the powers that seek to dominate us and our fellow residents of Earth. Damiana is the antidote to this absence of feeling. She helps us return to the world of embodied feeling.”
During a moment in time where we may be tempted to feel a bit dissociated (there is so mcuh to feel), damiana can help us return to our bodies.
Try damiana in a tincture or a cordial. Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for Damiana cordial is especially delicious, found in her book, Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal.
Holy Basil, or Tulsi
Tulsi or Holy Basil is an adaptogenic herb, part of the aromatic mint family that originates in India and is a gentle but powerful medicine. As Jane Kent writes, “Tulsi is uplifting to the spirit. I call it a brightener as it brightens our perspective, and who couldn’t use that right about now?
Tulsi is also a gentle but powerful remedy for both anxiety and depression, or the frequent combination of the two. Tulsi helps cut through mental fog bringing clarity when we need it, and we need our wits about us now more than ever.”
Tulsi is a wonderful choice to help improve mood while making decisions with clarity. During times of overall anxiety or uncertainty, many of us might find it hard to make even mundane choices, such as what to make for dinner, or what soap to buy!
Tulsi is wonderful as a tea, tincture, or powder!
When pondering about what else you might plant in your garden, consider lavender, our favorite “hardy perennial herb.” Its bluish-purple flowers are beautiful and widely used for making essential oils, cooking, and adding scent.
Lavender is many herbalists’ all-time favorite herb for difficult emotions, as it calms the nervous system and can help ground the body and senses during stressful times. You can add the essential oil to a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut, and rub on your temples or on your collar bone. You can also add a few drops to your bath!
Monk Oil makes a beautiful City Skin Potion. This delightful potion is conjured in New York City on New Moons, Full Moons, and other auspicious days. Essential Oils like Cedar and Lavender simultaneously ground, soothe, focus, and energize.
As Kent writes, “If you prefer whole plant medicine, carry dried lavender flowers in a reusable tea bag or fabric pouch. When under stress, pull out your sachet and inhale deeply. Sit still, close your eyes and count your breaths. See how they slow down. Feel your muscles relax. You feel calm and out of danger.”
Plants are powerful healers during strange times. They help ground us, anchor us to our bodies, and help us relax into the unknown. Have any of your ideas about plants that can help with periods of uncertainty? Comment below!