Medicine for Uncertain Times

Photo by Elisa Soto

Today we find ourselves in much uncertainty. This may be uncomfortable, this may be familiar, but for all, this flavor of unknown is new. 

I write to you on election day in the so-called US without power from my home in Oakland, CA, unceded Ohlone Territory. This power outage was scheduled for today, but still the irony radiates. Four years ago,  during the last election, I was working in a refugee camp in Greece distributing water and food. As we got the news that it was undeniably clear 45 had been elected, we ran out of our last bottled water. The message is coming in strong from my ancestors and guides that nothing is certain. There are no guarantees. That it is more important that we untangle ourselves from our dependency of the settler colonial state and lean into a healthy relationship with the earth. I trust that these messages are sent for us to prepare for what’s to come, not to fear it. 

I turn to my ancestors and guides for support in times of uncertainty because I know they have survived and THRIVED through shifting times before. I turn to my plant siblings because I know that we’ve walked towards justice and resilience together for centuries. Our relationship to the earth, the moon, and the plants is a continuous thread through time. We must break the spell that convinced us we were separate from the elements. We are made of fire, earth, air, and water. We have the power to transmute, heal, mobilize, and flow. 

Here are some of the ways that I connect with the earth, rhythms, and plants that I offer to you as a prayer that we all be well resourced in these uncertain times:

1) Prioritize Rest– Choosing to rest is a resistance against capitalism and white supremacy. When we rest, we make space for ourselves to dream. To dream into existence all that we need and deserve. I work with California Poppy, Skullcap, and Chamomile to support my rest and restoration. 

2) Create and Feed an Ancestor Altar- I have a couple spaces in my home dedicated as altar space and one that is specific for my ancestors. I place pictures and items that represent different family members that have left the earth realm. It is important to not just make an ancestor altar to honor the ancestors, but to make sure it’s maintained by feeding it fresh water and by making sure it isn’t collecting dust. When I notice something is feeling cluttered in my life, it almost always correlates to dust collecting on my altar. Sitting with my altar and honoring my ancestors is a practice of reciprocity for all the wisdom that laid the path before me.

3) Grow Medicine- Growing medicine has been an incredibly empowering process for me. Watching plants grow and seeing them move through their process of life and death reminds me of the cyclical nature of the earth. I love growing Rosemary, Pericon, Jalapenos, Cayenne, Thyme, and Oregano. These plants can shape shift to support our immune systems, our respiratory health, and our spirits. 

4) Nervous System Support with Plants– I am currently drying ashwagandha in the room I am in and the spicy smell radiates throughout the room. Ashwagandha is one of the handful of plants that are categorized as adaptogens. Adaptogens are a category of plants that help our bodies build resilience to stress and nourish the nervous system. Some other adaptogens that I love working with are Tulsi, Schizandra, and Shatavari. I also love to work with Chamomile, Wood betony, and Pulsatilla to help me regulate my nervous system. They help remind me that it’s safe to be in my body and call my spirit back. 

5) Don’t forget to play– Giving myself permission to be goofy and laugh during the most serious moments makes more space for my spirit to expand. Sometimes this looks like talking to plants. Sometimes this looks like getting dirty in the mud. Sometimes this looks like playing pretend. A couple plants that help me connect with my inner child are Lemon Balm and Chamomile. 

I hope these tools I’ve collected serve you, your family, and your community. May we all experience rest. May we all realize our deepest, most passionate dreams. May we all feel safe in our bodies and homes.

Written with care and gratitude,

Cera Merrick

Instagram @ceramerrick

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