Journeying with Elecampane
I wanted to share a journey that I had with Elecampane (Inula helenium) recently. Plants are conscious beings and there are many ways to get to know them. We have various materia medica that we can reference, and that's one way of learning about a plant. Another way, the traditional way that healers have gone about it since the dawn of time, is to interface with it directly. To sit with the plant that you're wanting to get to know and to invite it into your energy field. In this way, you're letting the plant teach you directly. You feel exactly what that plant does to your own physiology, your own mind, and psyche.
I didn't know much about elecampane except that it was good for coughs. It's not a plant that I used very frequently in practice so it felt like a good plant to work with. What I am always fascinated by is just how eager plants are to teach us, and how accurate the information provided by the plant is. In my plant practice I speak to the plant directly first, then once I feel that I've received all the information I'm going to get, I read about the plant in several different materia medica to verify and complete my knowledge of the plant.
So what did elecampane teach me?
On the physical plane: my initial impression of the plant based on taste was that it had a warming and stimulating quality. The taste lingered in my mouth and I felt my body begin to warm up. There was a bitterness to it. I felt that it caught my attention. Almost immediately a snake appeared in my mind's eye. I didn't quite know where to place that information so I just took note of it-- very interestingly, after reading about it in one of my materia medica, I learned that it was historically used to treat snake bites. Also of note is that it's a good plant to use in fever as it helps to open the pores and cool down the body naturally.
On the psychic plane: on the first and second night of consuming this plant I had significant dreams. The first night I dreamt that I was at a large, crystal clear, beautiful spring in California. Someone said to me that these springs help to clear sexual trauma and abuse. I got into the water and felt an immediate sense of lightness, and release. In the dream I began to laugh, which I realized I hadn't done in some time. It felt good to release through the water and through laughter. On the second night I dreamt that I was in an apartment building and someone warned me that there would be a fire. I ran outside and the whole apartment complex burned down. I watched it burn and felt a deep sense of grief at losing everything I owned in the fire. Both of these dreams have to do with purification, getting go, and cleansing. In one dream by water, in another, by fire. When you learn about this plant you learn that in fact it clears out old, lingering mucus from the lungs. It's used in lingering, stuck infections where the person produces yellow and green mucus (yellow and green mucus are signs of heat in the system). The lungs are associated with grief in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and I've since used this plant to help clear deep, suppressed, sometimes unacknowledged grief with several patients.
In the days following, I felt a lightness within my body and also psychologically. When I had taken the plant initially I noted that my mood was lower than usual in the preceding days and weeks. After elecampane I noted a marked change in my mood. I was far more cheerful, hopeful and generally upbeat than what has ever been typical for me. Reading the materia medica I learned that this plant is used to help lift the spirits and treat depression.
Plants are truly remarkable teachers. Elecampane is a plant that is excellent to think about this time of year when we may be dealing with stuck energy of any kind, particularly grief or sadness, or a lingering cough, cold or flu. This is a plant that can help bring warmth and healing on various levels of our being.
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