Late Summer's Golden Harvest

At Midsummer, St. John's Wort bloomed bright as the sun. Now there are cobwebs on its last dying flowers, and Goldenrod blossoms with summer's dying glory.

In the calendar of my ancestors, Lúnasa marked the first harvest -- the harvest of grains -- and the turning of the wheel of the year toward the time of darkness.   Bonfires on the hilltop brought to the night what the burning sun brought to noon -- the bright, dry, hot blaze that precedes the ashen embers of autumn.

We are creatures of heat and light. Our cells are driven by chemical furnaces, our blood is the red of oxidizing iron, the color of fire and of rust. Heat radiates from our bodies and light blazes from our eyes. Filaments in our nervous systems and fascia, akin to the mycellia of the fungal world, carry information in the form of electrons and photons -- electricity and light. The light of the sun, the moon, and the stars travel through our watery bodies.

So too does a light of our own. Wilhelm Reich, psychologist of liberation and researcher of energy flows, working in a laboratory in the mountains of Western Maine, documented the existence blue particles called bions that carried a force he called orgone which moved through all living (and dying and decaying things). His description of it was akin to the description of mana, the life force, given by a near contemporary of his, the great American shaman, Victor Anderson.

Reich was vilified and his ideas dismissed in his time -- he escaped the Nazi's in Europe only to have his books burned by the U.S. government and die in prison, but that is a story for another time. But biology is coming around to a similar understanding of the physics of life and consciousness -- without acknowledging Reich's contribution. Researchers have documented the existence of biophotons, ultra-weak light particles that originate in our DNA and carry information through (and beyond) our bodies. (I spent much of this week contemplating the relationship between bions and biophotons and was surprised and gratified last night to come across a social media post where Andrew Collins makes the same connection -- clearly an emergent concept.)

We have also learned in recent years that the collagen bundles within our fascia conduct light, and that their structure is altered by habitual tension and by trauma. It is the fascia that hold the memory of how we move through the world. Tension leads to them holding patterns of constriction that block the flow of information through the body. This makes sense for a body to do when overwhelmed with pain or grief or fear. But it can cut us off from ourselves and our worlds.

Reich saw this. He believed that we developed patterns of "body armoring" based on the ways we had suffered and the habits of consciousness and being that we learned from the culture around us. He wrote:

The character structure of modern man, who reproduces a six-thousand-year-old patriarchal authoritarian culture is typified by characterological armoring against his inner nature and against the social misery which surrounds him. This characterological armoring of the character is the basis of isolation, indigence, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystic longing, sexual misery, and neurotically impotent rebelliousness. "

He saw Fascism, which he warned about and railed against long before almost anyone else did, as the ultimate expression of authoritarian culture. Without having the word, he essentially located Fascism in the fascia. He also saw the way in which armoring blocked the flow or orgone as a primary source of disease.

The release of constriction can re-open the way for life and awareness to flow, allowing us to feel the life of our bodies and of the world again. In late summer, in the fields I wander, not far from where Reich lived, two yellow-flowered plants offer help in releasing that constriction and restoring flow: Goldenrod and Mullein.

Goldenrod is warming and sweetly aromatic. I harvest the flowers and leaves and infuse them in oil. Massaged into cold, stiff muscles, Goldenrod oil restores the flow of blood, awareness, and light. One of my favorite rituals is to lovingly anoint my body with Goldenrod oil and take a hot bath. The heat drives the medicine deeper into my muscles. A few drops of Arnica tincture are a wonderful addition on days when I feel especially sore.

Mullein grows tall and straight in sun-baked soil and places where fire has burned through. Margi Flint told me that in folk medicine throughout western Europe, it is a medicine of alignment, hung over the bed to help re-align the spine. I've noticed that I always sit up straighter when I sit beneath the Mullein stalk that hangs from the rafters of the ceiling in the room where she hosts classes! Our mutual friend, Matthew Wood theorizes that Mullein lubricates the synovial membranes, bringing mobility to the joints, the spine, and the fascia. With the spine properly aligned, light can flow properly through the fascia, biophotons can move unobstructed along the filaments of the fascia, bringing clearer communication through the body.

In the cool, dark forest nearby, other plants are beginning to send their energy down into their roots -- True and False Solomon's Seal and Black Cohosh. They are medicines for the watery aspects of the fascia, the darkness that is the medium through which the light flow, the spaces in between things in the body. Their medicines will be ready to harvest when autumn draws nearer. We will explore them in another post then . . .

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