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sprigs and flowers to get me through

Monday, 6 February 2012

All my life I’ve depended on plants. Discounting the fact that I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t eat them three times a day, they also give themselves to me get me through bad times. When I move house, a family addiction every few years, some new medicinal herbs just arrive in the street, or in my garden, within a few months. They come to help me feel better in a million different ways.

The Eastern suburbs are exploding with medicinal herbs – all through the parks, gardens, and along the beachfronts. Free medicine. And we just walk on it or pay people to rip it out and take it away.

I grew up on a Greek island and in the English countryside. I learned from my female line how to manage bodies and enhance emotional wellbeing with plants. And it seems the plants I need call me. Sometimes I sit with them and mingle in with their energy field when I want to relax.

At exam time, on my way to school in the north of England, my legs shaking from the fear of being judged, I looked out for that plant support, my father’s voice hanging in my head:

 “You show them what you’re made of.”

As I passed the Rosemary bushes hanging over the fences, I pocketed sprigs to chew and sniff. That cleared my head, got the circulation to the brain going, and my grandma’s voice:“Rosemary for remembering.”

With the Rosemary inside me I remembered what my teachers force fed me all year, and felt warmed inside by that plant while I wrote it all down. I stopped to squeeze the lavender flowers, with my nose up against my fingers to catch the full bliss of the aroma.  Breathing in deeply I felt the tightness around my brain ease up and the muscles through my body release their tension  – right down to where my stomach had seized up during breakfast.

Popping a flower in my mouth
to chew, my cares lifted
and everything got lighter.

All the way to those exams I dawdled and chewed and sniffed and filled my pockets with sprigs and flowers to get me through the day.

A day with Rosemary and Lavender was anxiety free. Exams were easy, overwhelm and depression floated away. Both these herbs kill off bacteria and have been used for thousands of years in cold and cough mixes. At the same time they tone up and strengthen life force through their restoring   effect on liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, digestive and nervous system functions.

Both of them will help heal
a broken heart.

Today I still walk around unable to resist them. They grow all over the eastern suburbs on the median strips, in street patches and hanging out of front gardens – offering themselves to us. And what do we do? We go to the doctor and get a prescription for anti-depressants.

How do I use them?  I make my medicinal tinctures for my patients with fresh plants straight from the garden. Then I use one or both of them in almost every tincture mix.

Also I recommend collecting lavender flowers, which you can dry or use fresh. I always have a bunch in a vase with no water and when they are good and dry I pop them into a glass jar in the tea cupboard.  Then at least once a day have a mug of tea with lavender or rosemary or both – fresh or dried.

So my kind of alchemy is to help the plants bring us all into a state of love and respect for all life. I believe that in the heart of every soul the purity of gold can be found. Gold is the seed that is pure love. It exists inside us all. And my experience in my life bonding with the plant world is that plants can help us find and expand that seed of love until it washes over our world.  My great grandmothers voice again:

“She brought that knowledge with her through many lifetimes…”

Check out these recipes for getting support from these beautiful plants.

Lavender or Rosemary tea

Take 6 lavender flowers broken up into the mug, pour on the boiling water, leave to brew for at least 20 minutes to get the most benefit from the herb into the hot water. Do not remove the flowers. I add honey. Good honey is a medicine. Then sip it warm through your teeth while sniffing the aroma. It’s gorgeous and it will give your gums an anti-bacterial treatment. You can chop up some rosemary leaves to add to the tea or you can have rosemary tea by itself. Just follow the same method.

To stop a respiratory infection or to help recover from one

Make a medium sized teapot of herb tea with 10g Lavender flowers, 10g Rosemary leaves, 3 chamomile tea bags, 3 peppermint tea bags, add boiling water. Stir in honey to taste and leave for half an hour. Into a mug add approx. 5cm long and 3cm thick stick of ginger, grated, and juice of half a lemon. Fill up the mug with the herb tea when it’s ready and drink. Make sure you swallow ALL the ginger. Have a mug of this every 2 hours till better.

Alchemy: Linda Bates

Photography: Andy Cowen

Typography: Thomas Jackson

Linda has been practicing as a traditional herbalist and teacher for nearly 30 years, after a childhood of learning with the women of the family line. Her intention is to prove that the herbs are the fastest, most effective physical healers for any condition not requiring surgery. She teaches groups, in her own garden, how to look after themselves with the medicinal herbs growing around them. 


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