Friday, April 17, 2009

Of Rumi, Heartbreak, and Elecampane

Rumi wrote:
Heartbreak pulls up the roots of old happinesses
So a new ecstasy can stroll in from Beyond.
Heartbreak pulls up all withered, crooked roots
So no root can stay hidden.
Heartbreak may pull many things from the heart
But in return it will lavish kingdoms.

(translated by Andrew Harvey)
Such is the work of Elecampane -- a plant which was used widely in Persian medicine. Maude Grieve wrote in A Modern Herbal that Elecampane "grows well in moist, shady positions." Not surprisingly, Elecampane's roots are excellent medicine for deep, cold, moist, congestive lung conditions -- helping to break up the congestion and draw it up and out as well as soothing damaged lung tissue.

The Malecite's use of Elecampane to cure heartache (cited by Gail Faith Edwards in Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs) points us to the fact that Elecampane can work in the same way on old grief stored deeply in the chest.

Elecampane's roots reach deep to pull grief up and out.

But the plant herself reaches from the cold, wet soil up straight and very tall to blossom in wildhaired yellow glory -- reminding us that the cold, wet grief within us can also be transmuted into something radiantly beautiful.

Rumi writes too that
Until a mother feels the pain of childbirth,
The child can find no way to be born.
Deep enough grief breaks us open, allowing who we are at the core to begin to emerge. Every initiation begins in the breakdown of the old in order to allow the new to be born.

And Elecampane's flower essence is a medicine of this last stage of initiation, helping us claim newfound strength and power and wisdom as our own and bring it out into the world.

And so she brings us out of heartbreak and into the lavish kingdoms we create when we remember our repsonsibility to claim our sovereignty and flower fully.