Herbs for Shadow Work
Last week, there was an anon who inspired me to put together a post about herbs I’ve used alongside shadow work. So here it is. Admittedly, I don’t work with herbs as much as I’d like, but I thought I’d offer the bit of the experience I do have with the handful of herbs I’m familiar with.
Sage is a go-to for many practices. I consider it a jack-of-all-trades type, though the one thing it definitely masters is cleansing. That being said, I use it predominantly to cleanse both myself and my environment by burning it, usually before and after I engage in “sit-down” shadow work (i.e. journaling, tarot, premeditated rituals).
Chamomile is soothing and meditative for me. For the relaxation effect, I burn it or make tea with it.
Analyzing dreams is an enlightening exercise to use for shadow work and chamomile tea is a great way to induce them. Steep 2 tbs. of dried chamomile flowers in 1 cup of nearly boiling water for 5 minutes or so, then add some honey and a squeeze of lemon, and voila! You’ve got a delicious bedtime beverage that has the potential to aid you in shadow work.
Similar to chamomile, lavender is great for relaxation and sleep. Burn it or use some of the dried flowers for tea (it goes well with chamomile).
Where sage cleanses, lavender uplifts and comforts. I burn it during and/or shadow work sessions or just anytime I’m feeling down. The smell of it offers instant encouragement for me.
Another herb that serves to induce dreams is calea zacatechichi (aka calea z). This stuff can be a little more abrupt than chamomile, but I’ve found its mild effects interesting.
Cleansing, Protection, Healing
Rosemary is a promoter of general well-being. I typically use it in baths and body scrubs. I sometimes take ritual baths for shadow work– water is a great element to work with in this arena and I find that it’s refreshing to physically cleanse afterwards using a rosemary-lemon salt scrub.
Self-heal, scientific name being prunella vulgaris, is a wonderful little herb I discovered growing in my yard this past spring. It is said to cure a myriad of ailments. I’ve only really used it in homemade incense so far, which I found to be very earthy and grounding. I can see it having the potential to facilitate assimilating and healing from past traumas.
Though I’ve only dabbled, I feel confident in saying aromatherapy is a helpful practice to incorporate into shadow work. I’ve found lemongrass oil to be uplifting and revitalizing, great for the recovery process.
There is something so empowering about the smell of eucalyptus. I use it in my baths or I dab a bit of oil on my forehead while introspecting or meditating.
For me, tea time is introspection time more often than not. Something about sipping on warm tea just makes me want to think. Coffee does this, too actually, but my thoughts are inclined to become a little more exacerbated when I drink coffee, so I recommend tea.
Relaxation, Introspection, Preservation of Sanity
Now, this is where this post may be a wee bit controversial, but marijuana has been a huge help for me. It’s served as a natural antidepressant and I respect and appreciate it tremendously for that. But there is a downside, you can become dependent, and it can start playing with your shadow– it can cause you to become complacent, agitated, depressed, over-analytical, paranoid, etc. Moderation and discretion are key.
Overall, I’ve found that marijuana teaches patience, appreciation, and acceptance, all things that are of tremendous value to the process of shadow work. But you must be careful not to let it become a distraction or a crutch, because it can very easily.
*For the record, I am not recommending the illicit use of marijuana. This information has been provided as a means of sharing my experience, not directing others’.
Other herbs that I believe may be useful for shadow work include mugwort and valerian. Mugwort would do well for dream induction/recall and perhaps even memory recall. Valerian would be useful for relaxation and countering anxiety, as well as for sleep and dreaming.