Hawthorne for the Herbalist’s Heart

The Hawthorne

Today I was called out to the fields in search of my Hawthorne tree. It’s a tree of the faeries, a tree that in folklore in linked with the spiritual heart, fertility and death.

Even approaching this tree in a windy field, I felt a calm come over me. The winds — both those swirling about me and within me — calmed. Her branches spiked with 3″ thorns warned for me to hone my senses and to pay attention to the placement of my person, lest I desire to lose an eyeball. Each step, as I came into her fray, was taken carefully as I was on a rocky hillside and it wasn’t in my interest to fall into her spiny clutches. 

A profound, deep sense of peace comes over me when I sit at the base of this tree. Last year at this time, I collected the fruits from the ground as they had fallen before I arrived to gather them from the tree. I sat in the soft grass, collecting the newly- fallen fruits and found my senses sharpened, my ability to focus and attention increase. The wisdom offered to me that day was to Occupy nature. Occupy myself. Quiet down and find peace and softness.

Sitting there, colors became more vibrant. It’s almost as if I have those colors burned into memory the day was so clear. Much like the colors today. 

Hawthorne as both food and plant medicine is cooling in nature. The berries, high in flavonoids are an excellent food and can help dispel heat and inflammation in the body, having a particular affinity to the heart muscle.

And while there is an abundance of literature on the use of the leaves, flowers, berries and thorns of the Hawthorne for support of the heart, this post focuses on how I find myself drawn to the tree and her herbal abundance for her affect on me and my internal rhythm.

What I’ve learned by sitting with the Hawthorne.  It’s cooling nature helps bring that sense of peace to the one who’s agitated. Good for one who has a limited ability to settle down and pay attention. It can help bring the attention inward.

For the aches of broken-heartedness, it can soften the ache a bit. And for those who have a hard time being playful, the Hawthorne can help bring a bit of softness to a hardened heart. It teaches one how to be open and willing to receive soft, loving, nourishing kindness in a way that is respectful of space and boundaries.

I like to prepare the berries- harvested at peak ripeness- with leaves, flowers (both gathered earlier in the spring) into a brandy-based elixir, sweetened with raw honey (though it can stand on its own without the honey as well). It’s divine to take a drop here, there whenever there’s an achy, melancholic anxiety in my spiritual heart.

I am grateful for this lovely tree. She grows in a large field with hedgerows to either side of her that are lined with other Crategeous species that aren’t nearly as majestic or prolific — many of the trees in our area suffer from a rust blight. In addition to the blight, the frost patterns we had earlier in the year squelched what little we would have had in terms of fruit in the hedgerows.

I enjoyed my visit with my Hawthorne today. Alas, I didn’t bring an offerings to her as I should have, though I did find myself singing softly while gathering her berries. I will return on the New Moon with a proper offering in tow as a showing of my thanks and gratitude for her gifts of food and healing medicines and presence.


A few herbal musings on Hawthorne:

Sean Donahue

Darcey Blue

Henriette Kress on Hawthorne

Rosalee de la Foret 

Encouraged by the GoldenRod

About two years ago, I began documenting my forays in life — mostly edible and mostly of plants — on Tumblr.

It was easy. It’s been easy.

I’ve gotten great feedback for offering my aesthic and perspective on family, life, plants, cooking, and gardening in this way — short, simple, easy, visual. Tumblr has been a perfect platform for the immediate sharing of things I am contemplating and for sharing my point of view on a subject and hopefully my musings and ramblings have offered inspiration.

But now I am seeking more than an insta-platform to communicate what I see and am understanding. As my herbalism practice deepens and I make more connections to the plants and between the plants and to my community as a practitioner, I feel compelled to continue observing and also writing a bit more as means to share these insights. And housing it in a way that is accessible and archived. And hopefully this becomes a contribution to the resurgence of herbalism in this country — the medicine of the people.

Alas, I’ve resisted for a number of reasons — 1) I have no idea how to use WordPress. 2) I have no idea how to use WordPress. 3) I have a pretty irregular writing habit. I’d hate for people to get all expectant on my writing and musings — some of which take days, months even years (yes, this is true) for me to even synthesize and distill into something someone else can make sense of and appreciate.

I am doing this because I believe ~this~ is the next step in my calling.

So, irregardless of my anticipated sporadic contribution to this body of work, I do hope that you and others find my writings useful. If you are so inspired and inclined by my writings, please feel free to share your insights and experiences. I hope to learn along this path as well as share.

And if you were wondering as to the role of GoldenRod in this title, it was she who has encouraged me along the way to align with what lights my heart on fire.


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