Herbal remedies for your star sign: part 3
In our previous two articles we explored the mythology and folklore surrounding plants and herbs and how they healed each star sign according to the influence of the governing planets. This system of healing was practised by herbalists and folk healers right up until the 19th century but, with the discovery of antibiotics, was gradually replaced by the use of synthetic drugs in medical treatment.
It’s interesting to note that the previous eight signs of the zodiac were all ruled by the inner planets of our solar system (including the moon and the sun itself), whereas the following four signs are ruled by the slow-moving outer planets of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. At present, Sagittarius and Capricorn fall under the rulership of Jupiter and Saturn, but Aquarius and Pisces are jointly ruled by both the old planets of the zodiac and the more recently discovered ones. Since Uranus and Neptune were unknown to the early herbalists, the herbs relating to Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces all come under the influence of Jupiter and Saturn.
It’s surely no coincidence that the giant leaps forward in medical and scientific knowledge were all made since the discovery of Uranus in 1781 and Neptune in 1846. Pluto, discovered in 1930 (whether planet or not) has yet to be allocated a sign, although its influence is noted by astrologers.
Astrology has long heralded the Age of Aquarius as being the advent of a New Age — a time of cosmic change — and certainly the world has seen incredible amounts of change during the past hundred years, some beneficial, some very destructive. There are signs, however, that as we enter further into the Aquarian Age a global shift in attitude is occurring. The previous preoccupation with scientific technology that resulted in the exploitation of the environment, regardless of the harmful effects on the planet, is altering. Public concern over climate change/global warming is forcing industry to pursue more eco-friendly solutions for our energy needs, while, as individuals, we are seeking less harmful and more natural ways of healing our bodies.
There is a beating pulse resonating in the universe, governing life. This life force, or universal energy field variously named qi, chi, prana and élan vital, extends in a field around all forms of matter, whether animate or inanimate and, according to the Nutritional Science Research Institute of England, “each individual food, or material, or disease” radiates energy in a unique pattern or wave field.
Long before the “string theory” postulated that every particle in the universe resonates in harmony, the early astrologer herbalists were correctly observing that stars and planets emit their own individual signal and that plants respond to these vibrations, or force fields. Current research into nutrition confirms the potent healing properties of plant phytonutrients, so give thanks each time you absorb their “good vibrations”!
We’ve moved down the astrological body to Sagittarius — sign of the Archer — to the area relating to the liver, sciatic nerve, hips and thighs. Ruled by Jupiter, the fiery Archer enjoys the outdoor life and benefits greatly from energetic sports, but must take care to warm up before physical activity or suffer injuries to hips and thighs, and rheumatism in the leg joints. Always on the move, Sagittarians are normally good-natured and philosophical but can at times be restless and short-tempered and need to keep their blood in good order for the sake of the liver and arteries. Excellent herbs for the Sagittarian system are sage, leeks, and chervil.
SAGE (ruled by Jupiter) This grey-green herb is familiar to all in sage and onion stuffing, traditionally with roast goose, rabbit and venison as it complements the strong flavours and makes game easier to digest. It’s also good added to batter in sage fritters.
Well known since ancient times as a medicinal herb (the botanical name Salvia is derived from the Latin salvare — to heal or save) — a 13th century text says, “How can a man die who has sage in his garden?” Sage contains magnesium, vital for normalising insulin receptors, regulation of the nervous system and blood pressure. Romany gypsies rubbed sage leaves on teeth and gums to keep the mouth healthy, and a decoction was used to darken grey hair. Gargling with a decoction of sage is good for infected throats, while a few leaves steeped in warm milk and honey are very comforting to small children with dry, hacking coughs.
LEEKS (ruled by Jupiter) The French love leeks and eat them hot or cold as a vegetable, or in their famous potato and leek soups, potage bonne femme and vichyssoise. The botanical name sempervivum means “always alive” in Latin (a good name for a health-giving plant) but the origin of the English name “leek” is an Anglo-Saxon word leac, which simply means “plant”.
Not many folk tales are told about leeks, apart from the fact that they were said to be a charm against fire, lightning and witchcraft, but leeks have long been part of the herb lore of the Romanies. Petulengro says a decoction of leeks was used to cure fevers and chest colds, and the effects on even serious cases of shingles was said to be almost miraculous! In cases of severe headache, the Romanies laid ribbons of leeks on the brow to alleviate pain, and the juice squeezed on a corn or wart was said to quickly remove the offending growth.
CHERVIL (ruled by Jupiter) Considered by some a gourmet parsley but with a slight aniseed flavour, chervil is excellent in soups and egg and fish dishes.
Chervil roots were eaten during plagues in the Middle Ages, while the leaves were used as a compress on bruises. Known in gypsy lore as the rheumatism herb, chervil is a diuretic, blood-cleansing herb with a stimulating effect on the glands. Said to spring-clean the system, chervil is good for skin disorders and the treatment of haemorrhoids. In cases of fever, an infusion of chervil increases perspiration, thereby lowering the temperature.
The Sign of the Goat governs teeth, bones and joints, especially the knees. The Saturn-ruled Capricornian is hard-working and conscientious but inclined to overtax their energy, leaving them vulnerable to colds and flu. They should wrap up warmly in winter or suffer from chills, aching knees and teeth. Normally shy and modest by nature, the Goat can at times be stubborn and rather bossy. Capricornians tend to be pessimistic when not achieving their goals and this often leads to fits of depression, but their wellbeing improves with cheerful company and spontaneous laughter. Herbs and plants that help the Capricorn constitution are comfrey, red beets and sorrel.
COMFREY (ruled by Saturn) Comfrey is a powerful medicinal herb. Irish country people eat the leaves when young and tender to cleanse the blood and improve circulation, and the Romanies simmered the roots in milk to cure chesty colds. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, fresh comfrey should be taken with caution internally as in large amounts or taking it over long periods could damage the liver.
Known as “knitbone” in herb lore because of its ability to rapidly mend fractures, comfrey has a soothing and healing effect on the body, and a poultice of powdered root or bruised leaves applied to burns or ulcerous wounds increases the healing process and reduces inflammation. In ointment form, available from health shops, it has been claimed to help some forms of skin cancer.
The reason this truly remarkable herb speeds up healing is due to a cell proliferant substance called allantoin contained in the roots and foliage. Perhaps this rapid cell proliferation is why comfrey baths were once recommended for young “maidens” before marriage — to repair the hymen!
RED BEETS (ruled by Saturn) Beetroot is a very versatile vegetable that deserves better than being served out of a tin onto a salad plate. Both the roots and young leaves are eaten in a variety of ways all over Europe, from the Flemish julienne beets served cold with sour cream and chives to the rich Russian borscht soup. My Slovenian mother-in-law steamed the fresh leaves (you don’t end up with much) and served them as a side dish, warm with butter or cold with oil and lemon juice — delicious as an accompaniment to a French omelette or soufflé or with sliced roast beef.
Rich red beetroot juice is recommended daily for anyone suffering from anaemia as it increases haemoglobin in the blood and bears out the belief in the Law of Similars: “Like cures Like!” Surprisingly pleasant on its own, or mixed with orange or carrot juice, its juice was prescribed by herbalists of old to soothe earache and toothache, all of benefit to the sign of the Goat. The root is also a gentle laxative.
SORREL (ruled by Venus in Capricorn) No longer a popular culinary herb, sorrel was once greatly enjoyed in sorrel soup or added to spinach and cabbage to impart a unique sour flavour. Rich in vitamin C, a sorrel sauce was often served with fish before lemons became available in quantity. As with rhubarb, it is oxalic acid that gives the sour taste, so only small amounts should be eaten.
Vulnerable areas of the sign of the Water Bearer include the calves, ankles and circulatory and nervous systems. Ruled jointly by Saturn and Uranus, the highly original and idealistic Aquarian often challenges the status quo just for the buzz, but thanks to the Saturn influence, they can put abstract concepts to practical use. The Water Bearer often appears cold and distant, but their mind is just somewhere else. They are really quite sociable if you grab their attention.
Aquarians are prone to spasms and cramps in the calves, and to varicose veins. They tend to intellectualise their emotions and therefore suffer nervous tension. Herbs to help the Aquarian disposition are elderberry, mullein and barley.
ELDERBERRY (ruled by Venus in Aquarius) Most people have heard of the English elderberry wine and the botanical name Sambucus nigra gives its name to the popular Italian liqueur sambucca. Herbalists down the centuries, such as Abbess Hildegarde von Bingen, knew the health benefits of herb-based wines and liqueurs as alcohol fixes the active principle of a substance in solution. Do as the Greek poet Eubulus advised: One for health, two for pleasure and three for sleep (more than three glasses becomes harmful to health).
Elderberries contain antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage, and bioflavonoids that help strengthen capillary walls. The gypsies claim an infusion of elderberry flowers soothes the spirit, calms the nerves and induces restful sleep, all very beneficial to the highly strung Aquarian. Elderflower water is an ingredient in cosmetic creams and eye lotions, and elderflower cordial is available in supermarkets.
MULLEIN (ruled by Saturn) Not one you see a lot, this old-world herb is a “specific” still found in healthfood stores for treating inflammation of the mucous membranes. Rich in magnesium and iron, it is an expectorant and mild sedative and the oil extracted from the flowers is soothing for haemorrhoids and nappy rash. The magnesium content relaxes muscular spasms as it regulates muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Culpeper wrote that the decoction “is profitable for those that are bursten, and for cramps, convulsions, and old coughs”. BARLEY (ruled by Saturn)
OK, a cereal rather than a herb, but we are concerned here with any plant that assists in healing. An essential ingredient in the hearty Scotch broth, barley is both nourishing to the body and cleansing to the system. Barley water is a pleasant drink to ease the discomfort of bladder complaints, and coffee made from roasted barley is a healthy substitute. Rich in the mineral magnesium, so effective for nervous disorders, barley also contains silica — necessary for the production of collagen, the formation of connective tissue and the prevention of brittle hair and nails. Silica helps the body eliminate accumulated waste matter — very helpful for arthritic conditions.
The Piscean’s delicate areas are the feet and lymphatic system and they have an extreme sensitivity to poisons and toxins. Ruled jointly by Jupiter and Neptune, the highly imaginative sign of the Fish often creates illness through worry, but can just as easily “imagine” ways to heal themselves through using their powerful Neptunian intuition. Prone to rheumatic complaints, Pisceans should always keep their feet warm and dry.
Of great benefit to Pisceans are foot reflexology massage and warm salt foot baths to draw toxins from the system. They must avoid negative thinking and all toxic substances, including pharmaceutical drugs, where possible. Luckily, the Jupiter influence gives the Fish sign a positive and optimistic outlook on life, which aids in their wellbeing. Healing plants that help keep the Piscean system in balance are rosehips, meadowsweet and blueberries.
ROSEHIPS (ruled by Jupiter) Ask for chai (tea) in Slovenia and you’re served a cup of hot, ruby-red, rosehip tea and there’s nothing more comforting on a chilly Northern European winter’s night, especially with the onset of a cold. Rosehip tea also suits the Australian climate. It’s very refreshing served iced with a slice of lemon, and rosehip syrup, available from pharmacies, is a good base for a healthy drink for children. Rosehips contain the minerals iron, phosphorus and calcium, and are a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, and E, together with vitamin P (citrin, hesperedin and rutin), the bioflavonoids that act as synergists for vitamin C in the maintenance of healthy connective tissue.
MEADOWSWEET (ruled by Jupiter) This is another old-world herb recommended for Pisceans by the gypsy herbalist Petulengro, but possibly available in Australia only in dried form. Culpeper says the water distilled from the flowers is soothing for inflammation of the eyes, to which Pisces is prone. The water element Fish sign should always care for the eyes by keeping them moistened.
Meadowsweet contains both iron and magnesium and was called “the honey herb” because of its sweet fragrance. Magnesium is of particular benefit to Pisceans as a deficiency could lead to a susceptibility to some poisons.
BLUEBERRIES (ruled by Jupiter) High on the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scale, blueberries contain the antioxidant anthocyanidin, and the flavonoid quercetin, which reduces the risk of macular degeneration. Blueberries also contain the phenolic compound resveratrol, much in the news lately because of the so-called French paradox, although the benefits of red wine might be due more to the OPCs (oligomeric procyanidins), the pigment found in red-, blue-, and black-skinned fruits. For resveratrol to be absorbed into the system, wine should be held in the mouth before swallowing, so sip slowly.
This completes our tour of the astrological body, so we’ll finish with this friendly advice: Eat well, give thanks, and smile — truly nature’s best medicine! Saluti and good health.