(Photo by T. Parrish, Parrish Photography via Wikimedia Commons)
By the solar calendar, autumn is still a few weeks away. But here in Maine, summer is already fading -- there is a soft golden light as afternoon turns to evening. Everywhere, Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) blooms.
Gail Faith Edwards notes that Goldenrod is the last of the bright yellow flowers left blossoming in New England fields. Warm and aromatic, it carries the energy of these last warm days of September, and the medicine we make from it can bring sunlight into the darkness of winter, lifting the spirit.
Just as it lifts waning spirits, Goldenrod brings wonderful relief to sore, tired muscles. A massage with Goldenrod oil or a Goldenrod bath will do wonders after a hard day of working outside or a tough workout at the gym. Kiva Rose has used Goldenrod successfully for more acute muscle injuries as well.
And its warmth and astringency make it a perfect remedy for allergies marked by red, irritated eyes and a running nose that make you look and feel like you haven't slept in days,
Restoring strength when energy is flagging indeed seems to be a keynote for Goldenrod's medicine. Matthew Wood writes that:
"All summer long, while other plants are flowering, Goldenrod is steadily raising its single stalk towards the sky. Finally, around the middle of August, the golden-yellow spires appear. Both a staff and a spire are included in the picture. It is like the tarot card showing a man walking along a road with a heavy burden on his back, a walking staff in his hand. His head is bent down, so that he does not see a church spire rising in the distance which shows that the distance is within his reach. The message of Goldenrod is to endure to reach the goal."
Wood makes an interesting connection here with Goldenrod's ability to restore the kidneys' ability to pour in blood -- a necessary function for the processing of both chemical and emotional burdens in the body. When Goldenrod is called for, the kidneys themselves are tired -- often manifesting as lower back pain right around the kidneys. Wood notes that:
"In some instances, the urine is light and copious, as fluids are drawn through the kidneys, but not minerals. There may be edema of the legs. In other instances the urine is dark and concentrated"
Indeed, my first use of Goldenrod was in response to the edema that accompanied a nasty case of Poison Ivy several years ago at a point when I was also under tremendous emotional stress. My leg had swollen up under the rash. Goldenrod, in combination with a small amount of Horsetail, helped the kidneys clear the fluids.
I think of Goldenrod as bringing the last summer sun to rekindle the kidneys' fire.
It will be enough to carry us through the dark time until the sun returns.