By: Molly Helfend
In the Northern Hemisphere, on Wednesday June 21, a celestial, almost astral experience will coexist between the sun and the earth, transforming mother Gaia from a spring to summer season. This event is called the Summer Solstice, known as the day with the most hours of sunlight, when the sun is at the Tropic of Cancer, its most northern point in the sky. This celebrated midsummer occurrence has been honored for thousands of years, with cultural rituals dating back to 3000-1500 BC by ancient Romans and Celtic tribal societies. The Stonehenge is renowned as a solstice ritual site. As earth’s gradual movement around the sun allows us to postulate the complexities of time, “people attune themselves to the rhythms of the natural world and invite the seasons of waxing and waning, of birth, growth, death and renewal to reverberate more consciously in their lives” (Harris, 2010).
The Summer Solstice presents us with gratitude for the consciousness and habitat that earth provides for us, as we appreciate the interconnected web of beauty around us. We may use this time to heal, re-align and redress environmental and social transgressions that have occurred, or perhaps participate in a religious ceremony to honor sacred higher powers. Many herbalists use this time to reconnect with the seasonal flora and fauna. This is done by creating a tonic medicinal herb infusion. Whatever you chose, this metaphysical and atmospheric phenomenon signifies turning the page to a new chapter of the calendar year.
The various herbs chosen in this recipe have spirited yang energies. As stated in my Full Moon Lunar Infusion article,
“just like the yin and yang rhythms of life, plants also as have yin-yang qualities. The leaves, flowers and aerial parts are considered to have yin tendencies, while the sturdier parts like seeds, roots and barks, have yang tendencies.”
Yang represents the masculine, active, independent, direct, separation, intellectual, logical, information seeking, autonomy and individuality. They tend to have a sweet or pungent taste and are essential for warming up the internal body, expelling coldness and promoting physiological positivity. A yang infusion is beneficial for those who are overly nervous, agitated and angry. Yang herbs will pacify overactive nervine stresses, promoting a healthy physical and emotional response to the bumps and bruises of life. These plants are also heavier summer herbs that will taste great iced or warm!
Represented with the fire elements, Anise Hyssop, packs a minty fresh zeal that is wonderful for healing chronic respiratory congestion and conditions. It is expectorant and diaphoretic and also an excellent nervine tonic.
Lovely, aromatic rose hips, represented with the water elements, are high in vitamin c and antioxidants, which support the heart, both physically and emotionally.
Hawthorn berry, represented with the fire elements, is a classic remedy that promotes gentle circulation throughout the body. Cardio-tonic and hypotensive, it should be used with tenderness for blood pressure disorders, poor circulation, heart issues and even for mild depression.
One of the most widely used and oldest folklore herbs, Chamomile, is a very gentle tonic herb that abates stomach aches and promotes relaxation. Represented with the water elements, it is also achic, anodyne and antispasmodic.
Beyond being utilized in our toothpastes and gum, just a few fragrant sprigs of Mint are highly medicinal. Represented with the air elements, Mint grows with rapid force and is superb for treating conditions of digestion, weight loss, relief from nausea, depression, fatigue, headache, asthma, memory loss, and skin care problems.
Lastly, Lemon Balm is a happy-go-lucky leaf with light and gladdening properties. Represented with the water elements, it is supportive for anxiety, nervous tension, and stress, as well as digestive upset and gassiness. Some of its herbal actions include carminative, anti-spasmodic, and anti-viral as well.
Summer Solstice Solar Infusion
- 1 part Anise Hyssop
- 1/2 part Rose Hips
- 1/2 part Hawthorn Berry
- 1/2 part Chamomile
- 1/4 part Mint
- 1/4 part Lemon Balm
Fill a large glass jar about halfway full of herbs. Fill the jar to the top with fresh spring water. Leave out in full sun from sunrise to sundown. Once dark, strain and enjoy whenever you wish to consume the solar magic. This tastes great iced with raw honey!
IMPORTANT: This infusion works best on the warmest and/or sunniest day of the year, where the weather must be over 75 degrees.
Molly Helfend is part of the HOC team and is an herbalist and environmental activist. She graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Holistic Health. She will be attending University of Kent in Canterbury, England to receive her Masters Degree in Ethnobotany in 2017. She has worked for Urban Moonshine, Greenpeace and received her training with Spoonful Herbals. Her goal is to receive her PHD and become a professor at University of California Santa Cruz. Molly resides in Monte Nido, California.