Now it is early November, that transitional time that carries us into deep winter and into darker days. It is a time of descending. And also a time of releasing - we must let go of what is old and no longer needed, just as the trees do with their leaves. I love this time of year for that very reason - because even though it is essentially a time of decay, darkness and of slowing down, it also brings with it a paradoxical freshness. We can either feel weighed down by the shorter days and increased darkness, by the snow and cold, by the onward rush of the holidays.... or, we can feel ourselves gently releasing as we breathe in the new crisp air of the season, prepare our home nests with winter essentials, and trade the outward energy of the summer for the inward energy of the winter.
What herbs can support us during the cold months and this transitional time?
When the dark days roll around I turn to herbs that offer nourishment and that can be incorporated into foods, especially soups. Often this means root medicine: burdock, astragalus, dandelion, ashwaghanda and codonopsis roots start making a regular appearance in my kitchen. Autumn is the time of year to harvest roots from the earth, and so now is also the time to start incorporating them into our daily routines. Any of the above herbs can be thrown by the handful into soups and long-simmered broths, where they will impart their grounding strength and immune-supporting energies. Ashwaghanda you may want to try as a powdered herb, to be mixed in with milk (of any kind) or honey and used as a long-term tonic that will feed the adrenals, support restful sleep and build an overall vitality and strength throughout the body.
In future posts I'll write more about each of these roots and offer recipes to experiment with and make your own...