As the days grow warmer, many of us want to get out for hiking through local wild lands. For some, this seemingly spacious activity is mixed with anxiety and trepidation–there is poison oak in bloom all over California. In other parts of the United States, poison Ivy is rapidly growing new shoots with reddish green leafy leaves. If you are one of those unlikely individuals that experience a hike with an itch that just grows worse, or you have learned to wear long pants in the park no matter what perhaps it’s a time to reconsider this relationship.
This relationship? Why would anyone call rashes all over my body a relationship? Poison oak and poison ivy are plants we typically coexist with few problems. If you do experience a problematic relationship with the plants, perhaps there is something to consider about the way you and these plants interact. Let’s look at this with more detail. For the record, I don’t enter into the woods and immediately begin to rub this plant on my body. Rather, I respectfully consider the plant and my boundaries. I notice where it lives and how it lives, giving it necessary respect. Taking a look at something we consider an enemy or dangerous can give us insight on how we orient to our world. Perhaps there is something about boundaries that we can learn from this plant teacher?
Boundaries are necessary at times. Consider for a moment, if someone is invading your territory, you naturally put up some kind of boundary for protection. Could poison oak or ivy be trying to protect something? Healers and ecologists notes that that poison oak often grows well in soils that have been disturbed by humans. The idea being that the earth has the ability to put a scab on an area that has been disturbed. This scab has the ability to irritate human skin, the most likely candidate for causing earthly wounding. Sound like an interesting strategy? Why or why not?
Rhus toxicodendron, the remedy made from poison ivy, one of the Seven Universal Archetypes of Inspiring Homeopathy, is the remedy that releases fears that freeze us in place. It heals trauma of the past as a way of preventing violence in the future. This is the archetype of the victim and the healing quality is mercy.
Rhus diversiloba, the remedy prepared from poison oak, has similar patterns. Most easily considered through the flower essence, it is useful for fear of intimate contact. For those who carry around protective personal boundaries, reacting and rejecting relationships. It’s brings about a positive vulnerability and ability to make contact with others, particularly through touch. Yes touch! Indeed the plant ally asks one to consider the skin and our natural boundaries and find a healthy relation between the two.
Rather than then wait for the next rash to keep you up at night, consider making friends with these two common plants. Spend some time together listening to the messages offered by these two powerful voices. For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, this Friday evening, April 25, I’ll be working with the plant ally at the Ohlone Center for Herbal Studies. We’ll take time to learn about how the plant works, how it lives and it’s life cycle and morphology. We’ll spend some time doing shamanic work with the homeopathic remedy to fully connect with the healer in poison oak. Currently, poison oak is in bloom. The small white flower clusters are delicately splendid, take a look at the top photo of this blog. We will learn about our physical boundaries as well as our healing vulnerability.
Please do come and join us, bridge that gap that might be preventing you from enjoying nature. You may just heal that wound once and for all!
- Class info: Ohlone Herbal Center (510) 540-8010
- 1250 Addison St., Suite 113 Berkeley, CA 94702
- Hours 7 pm to 8:30