• Elizabeth Golden

Your Herbal Horoscope for Leo Season

We are deep in the fierce heart of Leo season, and what a better time to bring Golden Hour into the world than in the season of courage and change. Leo is all about bravery, the heart, sovereignty, and the sun. As we bask (and sweat!) in the glory of high summer, you may notice the bright yellows and brilliant purples that surround us as many flowers come to head and signal to us that their plants are ready for harvest (and to bees and pollinators that their nectar is the sweetest of them all!). As we move through a season of swelling and abundance (even to bursting), of cross pollination, and of caring for ourselves in all the different ways that our physical, spiritual, and collective political climates demand (think heat, humidity, and heartache), here are some herbal horoscopes to help us make it through the season, and to make it shine, baby, shine!

If you are on medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to use herbs with children or elders, consult a healthcare professional before use. Herbal magic can still be experienced without using ingesting plants or using them topically—just looking at and sitting with plants can be the medicine our hearts need.


Plant: Purple Loosestrife

As the monarch of the season, you know more than anyone the powers that the season’s swelling hearts and sweltering sun possess. You are in a time of building, of coming to direct your own life, and of returning to your self and your worth. As a fiery being of the sun, it may seem counterintuitive in your month, of all times, to turn to a plant ruled by water and the moon, but a connection to your own intuition is exactly what you need right now. Purple Loosestrife is a water seeking plant, but don’t mistake its proximity to water for shallow growth—it puts its roots down deep, building a foundation that propels its tall stalks of bright purple flowers up to the sun, growing to be as tall as eight feet high! If you’ve ever passed a field of Loosestrife, you may been have left jaw dropped at the fierce majesty of its complex purples. Loosestrife is often labeled “invasive”, as its roots soak up water sources needed by surrounding plants, but many are coming to appreciate it for its gifts as a pollution purifier and crucial pollen source for bees and wasps, both sorely needed remedies in our modern world. I recently heard a Leo who is struggling with their external circumstances declare, “but I love everything about myself!”, and this is the energy I get from Loosestrife: even when its maligned or misunderstood, its intentions are not selfish or destructive; it knows its purpose, and executes it with a brilliant shock of pure purple joy. Follow its lead and nourish your intuitive powers, grow your roots deep, and use this foundation to rise tall, bring your gifts into the world, and show off your purple crown for all to see!

Preparation: Skin Toner

Purple Loosestrife is an excellent astringent that cools hot skin conditions and clears up spots, scars and blemishes. As a lover of looking good and all things luxury, a cooling and toning spray is a great way to bring the herbal magic of Loosestrife into your oh so vital skin care and cosmetic routine (and any time you need to take a cooling breath!). Add a few drops of Purple Loosestrife flower essence to your toner to bring even more of its energies of aligning internal power with external manifestation into your life.


Plant: Violet

You are on the threshold of rebirth, Virgo, and it is time to rest, receive, and prepare for a time of renewal. Embracing cycles of life and death is no easy task, but it can be done with a tremendous amount of pleasure and joy. Violet is your teacher this month, as it shows us time and again how to grow and recede, and grow again with panache. Violet is cooling, moistening, and anti-inflammatory, and is high in vitamin C and soluble fiber, making it an excellent ally to nourish our bodies and remain restful in the summer heat. Violets are often thought of as a spring plant, sharing their heart-shaped leaves, sweet fragrance, and joy of purple with us from early spring—but some of their most profound lessons in growth come later in the summer. In warmer areas, they are known to return in fall with tender new growth. But even more fantastical is the flowers they grow underground, preparing another crop of seeds throughout the summer that they will deposit directly into the dirt. These flowers, which grow to size but will never reach the sun (and thus remain colorless), are called cleistogamous, or closed marriage, because they are in a closed relationship with themselves. These are called “plan B” flowers, in case what the violet puts into the world doesn’t flourish (they are tempting to pluck, after all), and they need an alternative source for seeds. A time after their above-ground blooms flower purple, emit their sweet smell, offer themselves for human and animal food, and ultimately die back, these underground growths continue to develop and seed at their own pace, before the violet might grow above ground once more before winter. This external and internal cycle of life and death speaks to a complexity we might not have imagined from violet, and the ability to let go and rebuild in a multiplicity of ways. This mythic rhythm, the love embedded in the very shape of its leaves, and the joy it brings with its color, taste, and smell, are all crucial components of your current journey, Virgo, so take Violet into your heart in all of its forms.

Preparation: Edible Joy

If you are still able to find violet blooms, consider using them in baked goods (in batter and as a garnish) or in ice cubes to add to iced teas for some floral beauty in your routine. If not, find a violet liqueur or syrup to add to cocktails and ice cream. Let the beauty of violet nourish your body and heart as you embark on a new phase of growth.


Plant: Goldenrod

This month, Libra, is all about finding purpose-driven community and embracing what the moment hands you as the sacred path to your future. Life is unpredictable and brings us to unexpected people and places, but as long as you keep the search for meaning at the heart of your quest, this season will be bursting with abundance and love. Goldenrod, as golden and bright as its name suggests, is a lovely companion for a month filled with connections and mutual generosity. Cooling and slightly drying, it offers relief in August’s intense heat. It can help water, blood, and oxygen move through the body more freely, helping to keep those who take it into their bodies in a sense of flow. It offers many gifts to its community, acting as an incredible source for pollinators and a natural plant dye, leaving textiles a warm, sunny yellow. It is renowned for wound healing, and this is where goldenrod gets its Latin name Solidago, or one that makes whole. Goldenrod teaches us to make whole, to join hearts, to take each moments gifts and exalt them into something even more beautiful, to join in solidarity with who and what need mending and stitch up what is broken and wounded in our world. With Goldenrod, we are fortified by purpose, fed by mutual community, and nourished by the sun. Together, we shine!

Preparation: Tea for your tummy and your textiles!

Brew some goldenrod tea (ice it after brewing for a cooling high summer beverage) and and invite loved ones over to dye fabric or yarn together! Look up the process of mordanting the fabric with an alum to make sure your fabric will hold the dye, and then get to simmering! The large-potted nature of dyeing makes it easy and fun to do in groups, and you will be bound by your shared experience and textiles, which will hold reminders of summer and its fun even in the less sunnier months.


Plant: Mugwort

Scorpio, this month is all about showing up for opportunity and approaching your place in a world so calling out for your gifts. A dear teacher of mine talks about stepping into our crown of sovereignty, and what better plant than Mugwort, currently bursting into a gold flower crown of its own, to teach us to take our place with ownership and vision? Mugwort, also called Cronewort, is a wise mentor. Beloved by many as an aid in visioning and dreaming, this mystical plant, with its moon-silver-undersided leaves, has a way of integrating our many planes of being, allowing us to see deeply without abandoning our bodies and worldly work. Mugwort is a marrow-deep herb that is often added to formulas of teas and topical oils to bring other herbs and their medicinal qualities deep into the systems of the body. Named for Artemis (Artemisia Vulgaris), goddess of the moon and the hunt, the language of Mugwort speaks of its dual gifts of intuition and intense focus—qualities you are more than familiar with, Scorpio, and that feed your soul now as you take on a more external, visible role in this world. Allow Mugwort to quiet the concerns, expectations, and noise that are not important right now and bring to the surface what calls from the deep.

Preparation: Anointing Oil

Use a Mugwort-infused oil to anoint your crown before you do your work. Blend Mugwort with Rose to bring in love, with Mint for uplifted focus, or with Frankincense and Myrrh for even deeper consecration. Carry your connection with your intuition into your worldly affairs, and lead from a place of deep knowing. If guidance from your ancestors or a spiritual dimension is a part of your practice, Mugwort oil will call them to walk with you. You are ready to stand in your gifts, and Mugwort is here to keep the channels open.


Plant: Nasturtium

This month is all about freedom, exploration, and expansion, Sagittarius, and what plant better embodies this than fiery Nasturtium, the favorite flower of famed pleasure-seeker Isabella Stewart Gardner herself? If you visit her museum in April (her birth month, not when the flower naturally blooms), you will find 20-foot Nasturtium vines trailing, seemingly endlessly, from courtyard windows. Their bright orange-red blooms radiate against the emerald green of their leaves and seem to concentrate the most vibrant energies of the plant world. Both the leaves and flowers of Nasturtium can be eaten and used medicinally. The strong antibacterial qualities and high content of Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals make it a protective and nourishing ally as you roam and breathe free (it also has an affinity for the respiratory system). It moves stagnant energy in the body, allowing us to release old patterns and wake up to a bright new day. Nasturtium is the sunrise; Nasturtium is a spark. With this herb at your side, you can explore, get creative, and say with confidence, as Isabella Stewart Gardner did, C’est Mon Plaisir.

Preparation: Edible Flowers

Use Nasturtium in salads and pestos for a nutritive and spicy kick to the meals that fuel you on your adventures. If you blend the plant into your pesto itself, make sure to use some flowers for a garnish; the vibrant color of the plants is a vital part of its medicine.


Plant: Motherwort

This season is all about surrounding yourself with the mutual support of community. It isn’t always easy for you, Capricorn, to let down your walls, but as you find and embrace your people, you can celebrate the comfort and fullness of family. Maybe it is because I myself have a fiercely protective and courageous Capricorn mother, but Motherwort’s Latin name Leonurus Cardiaca, or Lion Heart, seems a fitting plant for you, Capricorn, as you celebrate your place among those you love and with whom you collaborate. Motherwort is deeply loving, supportive, and protective, with spiky calyxes guarding the delicate pink flowers that look like tiny, open lips. Know that you are valued for your strength and love, and give that love back to yourself by trusting in those who you value. Helpful for strengthening the heart, stimulating digestion and the liver to regulate hormones, and soothing the nervous system, Motherwort an excellent herb for releasing tension and anxiety and moving us into a state of balance and ease, which is exactly the gift you can give yourself as you celebrate with the people who have shown themselves worthy of your lion heart.

Preparation: Tincture

Motherwort is a bitter herb, and like many herbs of a similar taste, the bitter qualities are well suited to a tincture, taken under the tongue, in water, or even as a cocktail bitter daily. While this preparation won’t mask the taste, tasting the bitterness is actually an essential part of stimulating digestion and liver function. Motherwort is especially helpful for people who menstruate or are experiencing menopause, as it balances hormones and relieves hot flashes and cramps. As the bitter herb touches your tongue, however you take it, think of the way bitter times have strengthened you, how that strength has fortified those around you, and how, now, perhaps you can lean into the love of your loved ones to find a new kind of strength in ease.


Plant: Tiger Lily

Aquarius, you are worthy of love, of care, of human touch. Feel this in your bones as you infuse and surround yourself with self and community care. My prescription for the ache of not being sure you deserve love, Aquarius, is Tiger Lily, the queen of many August gardens with her fierce orange, wide open petals and her “precious gold dust” (to quote Mary Oliver). While Tiger Lily’s do have medicinal uses, they do not grow abundantly (or wildly in the same variety that we find in gardens), so I recommend using them as energetic medicine and plant teachers rather than internal medicine. Tiger lily is all about femme power. Many people misunderstand femme identity, seeing it as centered around total sweetness and a feminine outward appearance. While sweetness and sweet looks are often a part of femme identity, I see it as prioritizing tenderness and love in the face of what could close you off and make you hard, valuing qualities that are traditionally denigrated as feminine, like emotionality and a desire to care, as valuable experiences intrinsic to being human, and injecting it all with a fierce sense of justice and protection—fierce like a tiger, close cousin of the lion of our season. Tiger Lily is a femme ally, teaching us to give and receive love because we are all inherently deserving, and protecting our self worth as fact. In times when you begin to question this, turn to Tiger Lily, and let its fierce tiger energy, the luxury of its gold dust, and its wide open heart be your guide.

Preparation: Flower Essence

Because Tiger Lily is best harvested in extreme moderation and used as energetic medicine, taking its flower essence is an excellent preparation. Subtle but powerful formulas, flower essences can use anywhere from a few to as little as no blooms (if made next to the plant). Flower essences are all about ritual, both in their creation and in their use, so when you feel called to take it either under your tongue, in a drink, or as a spray, let yourself have the luxury of speaking your intentions, to accept loving care and believe in your self worth. You deserve it.


Plant: Calendula

You have been working hard this year to heal and integrate your traumas and heartaches, Pisces. It is time to honor that hard earned wisdom and your very existence with self-celebration and opportunities for joy. Calendula, whose tea is often referred to as liquid sunshine, will bring the bright happiness of the sun into your body, offering the warm sense of safety and peace we so crave after darker times of difficult internal work. Calendula moves liquids in the body, circulating any last bits of what is stagnant and stuck. Allow the toxins of the past to move through you fully, let the light reach the dark, deep crevices it hasn’t yet touched, and build as much sunny joy into your system as you can as we look toward coming seasons of dark.

Preparation: Infused Oil

Nourish your nervous system and build a sustained sense of peace with a topical infused oil. Oiling your body delivers all the blood-and-lymph-moving benefits of Calendula within the kind of sensuous care practice that this time of self-attending for Pisces indicates. Love on yourself by coating your body wherever and whenever you desire. Watch as the oil absorbs into your skin, teaching us about the healing and nourishing powers of integration, and about the ways in which that nourishment turns our senses into pleasure centers instead of a barrage of stimulation. For an extra kick, add something like cayenne or arnica to warm you and get your blood moving with even more vim and vigor! Even better, have a loved one give you a massage, and revel in the warmth of your relationship too.


Plant: Sunflower

Aries, this month is all about joy, about taking up space, and about letting yourself desire more. It’s about turning whatever comes to you into a precious gift. A dear Aries friend of mine is reading SARK’s book Glad No Matter What, and that is the vibe here: loss, grief, trauma, and heartbreak are undoubtedly painful, and they are also great opportunities for transformation. Sunflower is a great teacher in making joy out of what it’s got. Sunflowers grow almost anywhere—in sand, in low quality soil, even out of the sidewalk—and some varieties grow to be ten, fifteen, eighteen feet tall! Talk about taking up space! Sunflowers show us how to use what resources and nutrients are at hand. They remind us that we can always turn toward the sun. And they stand tallest above gardens, showing us just how effective this embracing of all life has to offer really is.

Preparation: Edible seeds and oil

Like your neighbor Pisces, it’s time for you to nourish those nerves and benefit from Sunflower’s rich heart strengthening vitamins and minerals. Roast some sunflower seeds, eat sunflower butter, or add the oil to a vinaigrette—just take caution when heating the oil, as there is thought that this changes the chemical compounds to a more carcinogenic state. Allow yourself to luxuriate in Sunflower’s heart and nerve healing magic and the pleasures of rich food! Also, if you have access to any Sunflower stands, spending time in their presence (perhaps while eating a Sunflower snack?) will nourish your spirit on a whole different level.


Plant: Marshmallow Root

Taurus, this month you are wrapped in a cocoon of silk and velvet as you spend time at home, cultivating your inner world and releasing old patterns and inheritances that are not yours to carry. This need not be painstaking work when you surround yourself with sensuous pleasure and remind yourself of the soft, tender being that you are. Sweet and oh so soft, Marshmallow Root is an excellent ally for this softening, as it is highly mucilaginous and hydrating. It acts as a powerful expectorant and diuretic, clearing out toxins from the lungs and urinary system without drying the body by allowing it to continue to retain moisture. It’s affinity for the lungs, the seat of grief in our bodies, is particularly fitting, sweet Taurus, as you let grief move through you in any way it asks.

Preparation: Herbal Bath

Steep yourself in a marshmallow root tea (mix marshmallow root into your bath or make an infusion from the root and pour it in) and let this tender herb’s softening qualities seep into your skin and penetrate deep into your body and soul. Play around with adding other elements like oat milk (the milky water left over when oats are steeped), powdered coconut milk, salts, chamomile, lavender...whatever makes you feel sensuous and held. After soaking in this velvety herb, wrap yourself in your snuggliest robe, and have a lie about in your softest sheets. Your skin is the barrier between your body and the world, and as a bonus, by nourishing your skin so deeply and fully, you will strengthen your ability to draw the boundaries you need right now to protect this sacred time with yourself.


Plant: White Clover

Gemini, your task right now is to jumpstart your circulation and get unstuck. Unblock the words you haven’t been able to say. Unhinge your routine. Unsettle your current every day. Look to the bunnies who quickly hop from flower to flower, nibbling a bit here and a bit there, not staying still for too long. And look to their snack of choice, White Clover, for an herb that will help you carry this circulatory energy throughout the month. Most know of Red Clover for its blood-moving and reproductive-regulatory properties, but White Clover, often thought of as a weed, is incredibly abundant, an important source of food for pollinators and wild animals, and has similar medicinal properties to its red cousin—plus a sweeter, vanilla-like taste. It’s traditional uses as a curse breaker and evil dispeller, as well as its indications for purifying blood, as an expectorant, and for relieving stagnant arthritic conditions like gout all speak to its properties of unbinding and clearing out, which is exactly what you need as you unstick yourself, Gemini, from what is holding you back.

Preparation: Foot Bath & Body Anointment

Treat yourself to a foot bath using a white clover tea (this could even be iced to bring yourself some cooling energy in this high summer heat). Bless your feet to move freely and carry you where they may. You could even add a few drops of oil that is sacred to you, and while you’re at it, anoint your throat and heart (as a tribute to the courage Leo season imbues in us all). Allow the agility and abundance of Clover to rise up through your body as you consecrate this ritual to your sacred freedom and peace.


Plant: Milkweed

Cancer, this month is about the inextricable relationship between generosity and abundance. This lesson may seem moot for a sign so hardwired, at every turn, to give, and give, and give. But it is precisely this tendency to give without discrimination that can leave you depleted and unwell. It is easy to grab for and hoard resources when we are moving from a sense of lack—and by resources I mean money but also care, attention, love. Learning to serve with care, nourishing yourself, and discerning what is yours to do will allow you to truly give of yourself generously and not from a sense of obligation or force. Milkweed, an ecologically threatened plant that is necessary for pollinators and in particular, Monarch butterflies (hello, Leo royalty!) helps teach us how to give of ourselves in sustainable ways that foster abundance and joy. Even its name and the milky substance within its body have a resonance with your motherly Cancerian nature. While its roots acts as a diuretic and expectorant, helping to restore flow in our bodies, it’s endangered status makes it better as energetic medicine than physical, which is okay, as our spirit is just another channel through which we give and receive.

Preparation: Planting Flowers

You know better than anyone that giving of ourselves can be beautiful medicine, so lean into this message of abundance through service (as well as nourishing yourself) by planting a regional-appropriate variety in your area. Working with the earth and cycles of life through gardening is a healing practice, and you will be growing a population of plants that are desperately needed by Monarchs and pollinators, enriching your local ecosystem and the beauty of your surroundings—ultimately more gifts back to yourself! If you are itching for a way to take Milkweed’s magic into your body, try a flower essence. Flower essences do not put endangered plants at risk because they require just one or two blooms. They can even be prepared near the plant, without cutting any flowers at all, for a truly non-extractive method. Milkweed flower essence aids us in finding balance in serving others and our self, helping us to be selfless without losing ourselves—a necessary lesson for seeking abundance through giving.

I would like to thank Chani Nicholas and Bess Matassa for their superior astrological wisdom. I turn to them as trusted sources to consider what each sign might need for this season; they read the stars, I consider the plants. Read their Leo season horoscopes here and here.