• Elizabeth Golden

Your Herbal Horoscope for Libra Season

As the temperatures fall and the leaves turn shades of yellow, red, and brown, the flowers that continue to bloom through the frosts can feel like miracles all around us. Libra season gives us a rosy dose of lessons about justice, compassion, balance, harmony, beauty, and love, and along those lines, plants in the rose family (which includes a surprisingly large swath including everything from roses, hawthorns and rowans, to almonds, to edible fruits like apples, cherries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries) are calling out to help us open our hearts while maintaining a balance of effective boundaries.

At the same time, fall is a time when we watch the plants around us die as we prepare for holidays when the veil will be thin and we may be in touch with our ancestors and other spirits. Grief is often felt most powerfully in our lungs, and we may find it hard to breathe as we adjust to cooler air, darker nights, and heavier emotions. Many of the plants blooming now have lung-supporting qualities to help us weather this darkening season. Before we transition into the lean season, though, we can appreciate the abundance of the fall harvest and begin to incorporate warming and balancing herbs into our lives. Libra is a cardinal sign, leading the way into the heart of a season—and in Libra’s signature way, we’re led their with compassion, equanimity, and love. May we all embrace the heart of this season, balanced so between life and death.

Remember to read for your rising sign as well as your sun, and as always, credit to Chani Nicholas for her readings, which are a huge source as I learn how to interpret the stars.


Plant: Hosta

Sweet Libra, your vision of justice and compassion restores our aching world. For your birthday, give these gifts back to your much deserving self: in how you care for and talk to yourself, in the fabric and finesse of your relationships, and in the structures of your daily life. Set yourself up to feel good and you will sparkle like a beacon for the world to follow.

Hosta, or Plantain Lily (hosta) is a flowering vegetable (yes, vegetable!) in the asparagus family that is ubiquitous in the fall with its wide leaves that cover the earth and skyward pale purple flowers, speaking to the balance you cultivate with such grace.

Both the leaves and flowers of all varieties of Hosta can be eaten raw, or cooked as you would any vegetable. Try the young shoots in a stir fry or the flowers in a tea to inspire a childlike joy and freedom from fear that will lift you like bubbles on air.


Plant: Fuschia

You have been busy weaving your web, Scorpio; now is a time to be still. Your gift is in facing the dark and unknown, but ground for the transformation you seek there is laid through periods of receptivity and rest. Spend the time with yourself that you need to hear the call of what will come next.

Fuschia (fuschia) can be a powerful ally for you as you sit with your subconscious and allow what has been submerged and suppressed to rise to the surface. This plant that thrives in the margins and clearings of forests is both arresting and deep, like this time is for you—a dark middle emerges from a colorful bloom, with blood red stamens reaching long and down. Fuschia makes an inky purple dye, and both the fruit and flower of most varieties are edible; try the peppery-citrus berry in baked goods, with a crystallized flower on top, and let both its dark juice and sparkling bloom color your night.


Plant: Japanese Knotweed

What would it look like to find a home in others, Sagittarius? What would it mean to trust in their purpose in your world? Can you imagine you have a purpose in theirs? Spend time with these questions and spend time with your people, and you might find weights suddenly lifting from the shoulders that have carried oh so much.

Japanese Knotweed (reynoutria or fallopia japonica) is a plant that is misunderstood in ways that right now, you might understand: considered by many to be distressingly invasive, its breathy white sprigs and lush green leaves blanket toxic roadsides, neglected gardens, and abandoned lots. It defies control because each node of its roots, up to as small as a millimeter, holds the capacity to lie dormant for over 20 years before it sprouts again—it can even break building foundations. And yet, it carries incredibly powerful medicines in its roots and leaves that penetrate deep in our bodies to fight tenacious infections like Lyme, provide an astonishingly high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, support our immune systems and hearts, and eases pain and inflammation; in Japanese, it is known simply as “itadori,” or removes pain.

With care to the toxicity of the growing environments in which you may find it (don’t harvest from roadsides, near industrial sites, or where you suspect heavy metal deposits like lead), the young shoots can be prepared as you would asparagus (or hosta!) or similarly to rhubarb in jams and compotes like rhubarb, and the roots can be tinctured or decocted into a tea. Chef Ghana Oliveira of Daniel in New York City describes it as tasting “like rain”!


Plant: Red Raspberry

Aligning with our life’s work can be difficult, Capricorn, but the toughness you know so well isn’t the only way to get there. Libra’s lessons of harmony, beauty, pleasure, and grace are wells you can draw from in building the life you crave. This work is too important to lead you to burned bridges and burn out; let a rosey light illuminate the path that leads you home.

In Greek mythic stories, Zeus’ nursemaid Ida went looking for then-snow-white raspberries to soothe the crying infant, and pricked her finger on a thorn, staining them for eternity blood red—thus, Red Rasberry’s Latin name rubus idaeus, or Ida’s bramble, was given. The elements in the story of birth, blood, soothing, and care are all indications of the powers of Red Raspberry—and especially Red Raspberry Leaf.

Drink it as a tea, make a syrup, or infuse it in apple cider vinegar and honey (known as an oxymel) to access essential minerals like magnesium, provide cooling, relaxing support and tone to the generative organs (especially uteruses and wombs), and inspire empathy, forgiveness, and compassion.


Plant: New England Aster

You are on a journey toward a future rich with possibility and freedom, Aquarius, and the truth about voyages is that as much as we traverse them, they transform us. You will not emerge the same as the one who set forth. In moments of doubt, when you are tired out and worn thin, it will be tempting to return to the comforts of home—keep traveling, water bearer, for the treasures of growth will find you on your way.

New England Aster (asteraceae or symphyotrichum novae-angliae) will help draw you into your path without fear through its clarity-inspiring and tonic qualities. A tonic herb is one that restores and invigorates systems to create a well-working foundation for our bodies to regulate themselves; New England Aster works cumulatively (strengthening these systems over a period of use) on the respiratory and nervous systems as a head-clearer, headache soother, ally for depression and mental illness, relaxant, expectorant (expelling mucous), and respiratory aid (though take care to work with a healthcare practitioner and have emergency protocols in place appropriate to any serious respiratory conditions). The flowers are edible and can be tinctured or infused in a tea to help settle the mind and strengthen the breath for long journeys.


Plant: Chrysanthemum

Libra’s rosy hue is illuminating your often intense house of death, rebirth, and transformation, Pisces, so take this opportunity to send some sweetness to your hard working inner self, love on those who support your soul, and appreciate the beauty in your process. The more you can bring your days into a balance of seeking and embracing what’s already here, the greater joy you’ll find in coming into who you’re meant to be.

Chrysanthemum (chrysanthemum morifolium or indicum) is just what you need right now to bring sweetness and gentle support to your spiritual development. Known as the queen of fall flowers, it is one of our ushers from the plant world into the coming season of darkness, turning inward, and decay before new life can spring forth once again—and this embrace of death as a part of life can ease any fears you might hold as you encounter your own deep and grief-tinged transformations. Prepare the flowers as a tea, steam, or soak, to ease inflammation and digestive issues, combat infections, soothe your nervous system, and open your heart.


Plant: Beach Rose

What you are facing now in relationships, Aries, is challenging but vital. The discomfort you’re coming up against may feel harsh, but you need these lessons in communicating your truth to unlock what your partnerships, your friendships--what your loves--truly have to offer. Hold onto those who will hold your heart, too, as you forge a path through this tangled forest of mutuality together.

Beach Rose (rosa rugosa) can help you maintain both tenderness and boundaries (hello thorns!) in this time of recalibrating your relationships. As you navigate conflicts and process grief and loss, this plants affinity for salty seasides can help calm your inner turbulence as you ride the rough waters that are not a comfortable home for your fiery nature.

Like other rose family plants, Beach Rose tones our physical and emotional hearts, supports the generative organs (especially wombs and uteri), and acts as a powerful astringent. Rose hips, which ripen in the fall, are particularly high in vitamin C and antioxidants (they were once used to treat scurvy in seafarers), and on their own or with rose petals, can be made into delicious syrups, vinegars with honey (oxymels), honey infusions, meads, and teas to support your aching, tender heart.


Plant: American Mountain Ash

After a summer of restoration and joyous celebration, it’s time to get down to business, Taurus, and take this practice of pleasure into your daily work. Some of this will mean making the structural changes you need to sustain and nourish yourself for the long haul, but these adjustments are just as ripe with opportunities for feeling good as any of the yummy self care rituals you cook up. Making your days a landscape of small pleasures will keep the connection open between the creative source and your work.

Try the strikingly red, clustered berries of the American Mountain Ash, also known as Rowan (sorbus americana), for their symbols of tenacity, protection, and dreamy imagination. It thrives in difficult spaces of high elevation and its berries are high in vitamins, iron, and tannins, giving it nutritive, astringent, and antispasmodic qualities; on the other hand, Rowan is of the twelve trees of Celtic astrology, “the enchanter,” corresponding to imagination, intuition, dreams, and artistry. As a member of the Rose, not actually the Ash, family, it has emotionally protective qualities; along these lines, the pentacle on each berry is said to protect against curses. Try a mead, cider, syrup, or jam from the berries to infuse some fierce sweetness into your days.


Plant: Ginger

After a time that may have felt cold, Gemini, this month is going to crackle—with desire, perhaps joy, and the romance of being alive and active in this world. You may feel emptied out after the last few months, but maybe you needed that space for your creativity and passion to speak its name once again. Let whatever shows up be what fills you for the long months ahead.

Ginger (zingiber officinalis) is your fiery guide this month as you reconnect with pleasure, sensuality, and safety and comfort after trauma. Spicy and warming, Ginger can be an explosion or a hearth, depending on the concentration (dried is stronger than fresh)—either might be what you need. Excellent for digestion, inflammation, and respiratory and cold-feeling illnesses, the roots can be powdered and rolled with honey as an electuary (a fancy word for something you want to take) for sore throats, or decocted and taken as a tea or a compress placed directly on the stomach or chest.


Plant: Anise Hyssop

I know that the waters are choppy right now, Cancer, and that old wounds are being cut open to bleed once again. You are learning to make space for yourself that feels safe, that takes care--you are learning to make a home. There is grief here and also incredible hope; in giving up what doesn’t protect you and choosing what loves, you are attending to yourself in a way that’s bone-deep.

Anise Hyssop (agastache foeniculum) is a sweet, licorice-flavored plant in the mint family that both attracts pollinators and repels pests, speaking to its dual abilities to regenerate and protect. It is an excellent remedy to soothe soreness, expel mucous, and suppress coughs during colds, and is uplifting and calming for nerves and digestion (which are often deeply linked, as many of our nerves are located in our digestive organs). Anise Hyssop can aid in healing from deep, cellular trauma, finding freedom from guilt and shame, and bringing sweetness into our lives. Add the edible leaves and flowers into tea blends as a gentle sweetener, incorporate them into baked goods and dairy confections, infuse in honey, or use as an aromatic steam to open airways and fill your home with sweetness and warmth.


Plant: Cosmos

Let yourself sparkle with truth, Leo, as you practice manifesting the relationships and world you desire through just and compassionate communication. Be honest with yourself about what will feed you this month, and with others about the state of your soul. If you can hold on through the more difficult moments with those you love, you will strengthen your sense of beloved community and nourish your deepest needs.

Like you, Leo, Cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus) are exalted in the sun, but different than one of your more well known allies, Sunflower, their light and feathery structure makes them flexible to the wind. Growing in roadsides and waste places (spaces of encounter in many traditions), Cosmos are ruled by the truth speaking, self-expressing Gemini and Mercury, and as a composite flower (made up of one ring of petals around many tiny flowers), they are all about wholeness and integration—one of the meanings of the Greek Kosmos is harmony. The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach, but a flower essence might be just what you need to take this lesson of speaking truth from your whole self out into the world.


Plant: Cranberry

Your season reminded us all of how wisely you can use your energy, Virgo, and it’s time to put that knowledge into practice by giving some attention to your resources and sense of worth. What would it look like for abundance to grow around you like a garden? What honeyed adjustments can you make to aid that growth? And what might already exist, worthy and waiting before your very eyes?

Picture a Cranberry (vaccinium macrocarpon) bog, Virgo, and see the vast expanses of watery, blood red berries. Archaeologists have found high concentrations of ancient ritual objects in bogs that indicate their use as suppositories of sacrifices for protection and fertility—the passion, generativity, sheer abundance and even protection (held by both roots and water) in this image and history can be a symbol for you as you seek to embrace your own worthiness and ability to grow your life in the ways you seek.

Cranberry is a classic plant for the kidney and bladder as it prevents bacteria from attaching to the organ walls, and it is also high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, and a vasodilator that lowers blood pressure and opens airways to ease breathing. Well used in jams and baked goods, try the berries as a wine or mead, or the leaves as a tea to get in touch with your abundance and generative power.


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