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o shatavari, herbal empress

Shatavari’s blessing is not one of spiritual transcendence, or a blessing from high above, but a kind of embodiedness that brings us into the fat exuberance of being here; teaching us that heaven is neither below us or above us but found in the practical joys of everyday life; enjoying earths bounty in food and cloth, laughter and friends around a table, a freshly swept floor, full pots of soups, and a roaring fire.

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Thank goodness it’s more and more accepted knowledge amongst Herbalists that plants cannot be reduced to their individual phytochemicals– that their brilliance lies in the whole blissful singing together of these parts, to produce the energetic spirit of the plant.  In no way does this understanding of plants gain it’s full fleshed reality more than through the senses: sought through a soft gaze, explored between the fingers, sniffed, tasted, or felt through that quiet path of the heart– all information weaving together the felt depth, richness and flavor of a full-bodied being.  I not only use my senses in order to trace the clues of how to use a herb, (for example, a sweet taste tells me the herb is nutritive and building), but also as doorways to the characters of herbs.  Far from being frivolous and romantic, I know that in my own practice the more of a connection that is established with the character or spirit of a plant though these means, the more effective my medicine is.

And so we are greeted by Shatavari, also known as Asparagus Racemosus, a cousin of the common Asparagus. Shatavari is an Indian herb and so any experience of it growing here on Coastal Vancouver Island will be coloured by its positioning far from its noble and natural seat in the gravely, rocky plains of India, Sri Lanka and the Himalayas.  Standing one to two meters tall, Shatavari holds its space with delicate branches fanning outwards– breathy like so many feathers tickling the air. In September Shatavari forms small berries, plump and happy, and as the berries dry up into the seeds that they are, one can, with a dose of modesty and respect, uproot Shatavari to reveal an unlikely abundance of thick, voluptuous and moist roots.  When cleaned and dried they can occasionally have the faintest pale pink tone.

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