Walking into a tall field to harvest medicinal plants, I lose track of time and space, yet stay grounded. The honey bees come to visit friendly flowers. The birds fly above. An occasional breeze floats on top of the tall grasses creating whispers of music.
This field does not know time or the hurried human life of nowadays, yet it has the rhythm of life pulsing through. To be a part of this pulse is a dreamy experience worth my time. This field has been used for planting corn, wheat, and sorghum in the past. This field will soon be rolled up into round bales for winter feed. This Earth is forever giving.
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I spot Yarrow Achillea millefolium. The bloom is so white it is blue. The pungent smell will never be forgotten. Yarrow fought to save lives in the Civil War and had a place in ancient Greece and ancient China. Yarrow is one of the nine sacred herbs and you can find it growing in forgotten fields. Shouldn’t there be a day each year that we remember a plant that healed our warriors in spite of what side they were fighting?
This plant was also used to make dream pillows when someone was looking for answers in the dream world. What a compassionate living being! Yarrow is an antiseptic, anti- inflammatory and diaphoretic.
The wise folks of The Ozarks hills knew how to use Yarrow for helping a child through a fever and how to stop bleeding with this plant. The old woman of the woods knew how to ease arthritic pain by taking a bath in Yarrow and drinking tea made from the flowers. The bare foot six-year-old boy who went romping through the forest knew he could chew up Yarrow plant and apply it to an annoying bug bite. Native Americans used Yarrow tea for a cleanse before entering into ceremonial sweat lodge. Yarrow has a story in the hills and hearts of time.
Many herbalists are now using an herbal extract as a natural bug spray. Powdering the herb and keeping it on hand is nice to have in the first aid kit. This plant is also used as an antifungal for topical and internal use.
Yarrow is used as an astringent in herbal shampoo recipes for oily hair. The uses for Yarrow go on and on and so does the fields of time. What grows in your field of time? Learn how to identify plants and educate yourself before attempting to use them.
Dried Yarrow in the field can be harvested for seed now. Replant seed near your home so you know where to go out looking for this herb. Simply broadcast the seed in cultivated soil and wait until next year. The smell of Yarrow is unmistakable; look for fern-like leaves in late spring.
Pink flowering cottage Yarrow does not have the same quality for medicinal use, but I still use it! Dried flower heads from the pink cottage Yarrow are a wonderful addition to any dried flower arrangement. The butterflies and bees also come to visit this plant.
Always wear protective clothing when harvesting in a field.
To make homemade bug spray, infuse Yarrow in rubbing alcohol. Let it steep for three weeks, strain through cheesecloth and pour into a spray bottle. Some say this Yarrow infusion works better than the strongest commercial brands.
GET OUT THERE!
words by c. smith
pics by t. smugala
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