Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Wild Roses are blooming!!
The wild roses are blooming! It's Wednesday and I'm out of school for a week, so I've been sitting around all afternoon relaxing at home, when I remembered that three days ago I saw the beginnings of the buds on the Wild Roses out in the meadows behind the development. It was nearly 8pm, but still light enough to go outside and go see how the roses were doing. I raced out the door with my camera and keys in hand. Oh and were they blooming! Of course, not in full swing yet. I'd give it a week and they will be popping and overflowing with flowers and buds, but the buds are swelling showing pink sweet roses clasped in green and a few open flowers with a delicious delicate smell, better than any rose found in the flower shop, by far. I wandered over to the biggest mama rose bushes of the bunch and relished in the wonderfulness of roses, thorns and all. I studied rose last week as my herb of the week, and think maybe I should extend that study to this week as the buds are opening.
I've used garden roses, I used to have some growing near the house in arizona, but never had the oppurtunity to commune with the wild sister of the species. Oh I felt so happy to see those beautiful tender flowers. They are like little hearts full of love and sweetness, yet protected with a fierce thorn. i have much to learn from wild rose about being tender and open, yet still being protective of my tender heart. I trust so easily, and sometimes it ends up hurting me.
But for now just seeing her and spending time with her fills me with a joy, familiar, and yet unfamiliar. Seeing a beloved plant always fills me with a joy, but each plant has its own energy and mystery, and the feeling of joy is different with each plant I know. I feel differently about sunny dandelion flowers than I do about tender sweet roses...though both have soothed and eased heartache in the last few weeks, they have different ways of working with your energy, spirit and body.
I'm hoping to make some wonderful medicines with roses this year; a rose tincture with vodka, which will be beautiful and fragrant, perhaps some fresh rose flower oil, cold steeped to preserve the deliciate aroma in something light like almond or apricot oil. I might also do a rose leaf oil for salve, in olive oil. Rose flower essence is most definately on the list this coming week as I'll be out of school for the first half of the week with lots of time to wander the hillside and talk to the wild roses.
I'll have to wait some months before the new hips are ripe, though the abundance of last years hips on the bushes attest to a future abundance of that fruit. The old ones are pretty bland now, i've tasted a few in passing, and will have to harvest them before winter makes them soggy and bland, but a frost turns them sweet.
So how do you use roses, other than to stop and smell and remind us of the good things in life?
Rose is gentle, cooling ,astringent and tonic for all sorts of hot, red and inflammed tissues. I think of burns, irritated scratches and wounds, sore throats and angry purple bruises. A cooling linament with vinegar or a fomentation compress of the cooled infusion is a perfect way to use roses externally. The infusion is also wonderful for use internally to soothe inflammation and heat within the body, especially in the digestive tract and reproductive system. Rose flowers and leaves are a gentle remedy for diarrhea, gastritis and ulcers, especially as an infusion. Rose also has an affinity for the women's reproductive system and can work beautifully for congested, flaccid and inflammed uterus, ovaries or vagina, especially when accompanied by heavy bleeding, cramping and even prolapse. I like to use it with Raspberry leaves, and Shatavari, an ayurvedic herb known as "she who has a hundred husbands." A rose sitz bath is a beautiful way to treat the reproductive system with roses, perfect for vaginitis, cystitis, cervicitis or as a post partum healing bath. Some of my classmates who have studied with Rosita Arvigo like to use a steam bath for this, by setting a pot of steaming water ( with roses floating in it is even better) under a chair with the center cut out, so the female organs are exposed to the steam. Not too close though, please dont burn that tender area so akin to a budding rose.
Rose hips, sour and astringent are full of Vitamin C and bioflavanoids and antioxidants and are a wonderful addition to soups, winter teas, chutneys or as a syrup. A simple low sugar way to make rosehip jam would be to fill a jar with the chopped hips, and then pour black cherry concentrate over the hips to cover. Lid the jar and let sit 24 hrs, until the hips soak up the juice. This is delicious on toast, crackers, or turkey, or as an addition to a fruit bowl in the morning.
Roses are one of my favorite nervines for women, especially in the sensitive and often emotional time around their moon/menses. One of my favorite nervine formulas with roses for women included rose flowers, lavender flowers, melissa and a touch of peppermint or spearmint. This is soothing, calming and most nourishing for the woman's spirit and body. I use roses often to soothe and uplift a sagging spirit or a frowning face, and lately especially for easing the hurt of a broken heart and broken dreams. Most herbalists I know like to use hawthorn for heartache, and I like hawthorn too, but if hawthorn is not available, turn to the rose, because she is just as wonderful. I know. I was very depressed until I picked rose as the herb of the week. An infusion of the fragrant flowers, fruity hips and a touch of honey was a much needed ally in helping me move through the depression and begin to see the brighter side of life again. rose helped me to turn a corner in my healing from this latest heartbrake.
But hawthorn and rose are similar plants, with tender, sweet flowers, nourishing fruits and very insistent thorns! I'd use either one, and even both. A combination of rose flower syrup, hawthorn tincture and chocolate is a delicious and sensuous love potion for increasing one's own self love, or given to a special someone for the purpose of expressing and amplifying the love between two people. Plus it tastes divine!
One of my favorite ways to incorporate rose medicine into my life is the rose bath. A warm bath with fragrant rose petals floating about, a strong rose infusion added to the bath water, an infused rose bath oil, or even rose essential oil can make the bathing experience a sacred space for self care and nurturing, and helpful for insomnia, definately for when you go to bed alone with a broken heart and cry. Try a rose bath before bed instead!
And dont forget rose petal honey!! YUMMY!
My herbalist and wild wise woman friend kiva recently blogged on her experiences with wild roses, so I suggest heading on over to Medicine Womans Roots blog to read up on roses there as well.