Monday, March 8, 2010

a plant for peaceful warrior women and wise men

This week's Moonday Post...

These last few days have felt like spring in Manhattan with brilliant blue skies and a carnival atmosphere on the streets of the East Village.

Yesterday I walked by children carrying bunches of cut daffodils and people dancing to jazz music in Tompkins Square Park.

I was on my way to a friend's house with my dogs, weighed down by bags of produce from the green market, when a man passed me a little too closely and shouted some rape-y comments.  Really violent things.

That almost never happens to me.  I have a pretty good force field, but it was down.  I wasn't prepared after a winter of automatic shielding by the cold and layers of warm clothes.

What popped into my head was the chant we all learned in elementary school, 'I'm rubber and your glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks onto you', which I muttered as I passed.

I'm blessed to know lots of men who actively discourage cat calling.  I'm grateful too to all of the parents and teachers who work had to bring up boys with respect for women (such as my mother in law).  But the most instantaneous way I've found to discourage cat calling is to change my posture, my attitude, my vibe.  I don't allow it into my space.

Today I'm off to the park to restrengthen that force field.    I want to see if artemisia vulgaris, mugwort, is popping her head up yet.  Artemisia has the namesake of Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, the moon, protector of animals, the young, and the wilderness.   Like the goddess Artemis, Artemisia vulgaris is a moon plant.  The backside of the leaves are silver, like moonlight.

The plant artemisia is very subtly psychotropic (mind-altering) when ingested or burned as smudge.  It can enhance the vividness and recall of dreams, strengthen intuition, and deepen a person's relationship to nature.  It grows all over the world in various forms.

This plant has helped me to gain a sense of independence and inner strength.  I've enlisted its (her) wisdom to help others also come to trust their own intuitions, their 'gut' feelings.  

Its a plant par excellence for wild, fearless women and men, and I'd go so far as to say that its a remedy for cat calling.  Artemisia brings out the peaceful warrior in women and the wise woman in men.

There is a fierceness about the plant that has nothing to do with aggression. Artemisia helps us to stand tall with our shoulders back while moving with precision, grace, and a steady gaze, effortlessly discerning when we can relax, and when we need to be alert.

Right now I'm imagining Mr. Rapey-Comments sitting in the park somewhere with a large clump of mugwort.  He finds himself drifting off.  He starts to dream.

In the dream he comes across Artemis.  He was watching her bathe. She looks at him.  He thinks, 'oh shit',  his brain tunes into the collective unconscious and he remembers the part of the myth where Artemis turns a dude into a stag who is torn apart by dogs.  Only this time she transforms him into a woman in Manhattan in the spring.

There are lots of men out whistling, shouting, and hooting at women on the street.   He, now a woman, comes across himself as a man.  He hears his male self speak violating, ugly words.  They reverberate inside his female body.

He opens his eyes, changed.  He has heard his words as a form of self-hatred, and with this knowledge he begins, slowly, to heal.

Do you have a good cat calling story?  Some time when you were able to shift the energy? 

Wishing you a wild, happy Moonday.

Herbal footnotes:

There's lots of fantastic info on the medicinal uses of artemesia vulgaris.  Here are some links to great sources:  Susan Weed,

When its very young, artemisia is a light mint green and tastes pleasantly bitter.  Its used a lot in cooking and medicine in Asia.  In acupuncture its burned as moxa.  Like all bitters, its excellent for the liver and digestion, and so is a potent addition to the diet this time of year when our livers are all craving some t.l.c. after the winter.

Pregnant women should avoid it internally, though they can still benefit from its dream and intuition powers by sleeping with it in dream pillow or hanging out with the plant in the park.  

Artemisia is everywhere, so once you know what it looks like, you'll always have a friend around.


Sandi Longhurst said...

Great post Kate - it seems part of a woman's human experience is some kind of obscene unwanted sexual attention. What a lovely herb to share. I loved the imagery of your healing dream with understanding as the key. Since I am blond and grew up in Mexico I learned very young to tune out cat calls, whistles and honking. Dealing with other unwanted sexual attention has been a trickier issue. Often what I have considered a friendly conversation about a topic that interests me with someone without a chance in hell has been read as sexual interest which I later had to nix, sometimes unsuccessfully as obsession is a strange creature. I wish I had a more warrior like story of cutting through the bull-shit to reveal shiny powerful truth... maybe some time with Artemisia will have a better story for next year.

Kayt said...

Lovely post. I believe this kind of focus on energy transformation is desperately needed in the world. Thank you for your energy and for writing about it here. What an inspiration!

Sara Grace said...

When men cat call, I have a special "go fuck yourself" song that I sing under my breath. It amuses me, so I forget the offender almost immediately.

Kate T.W. said...

Aremisia does bring good stories Sandi..

Thanks so much Kayt. Its what helps me most with this sort of thing.

Sara-- humor does help greatly. I need to learn some forgetting techniques.

rutherv said...

LOVED your post today! I've always aspired to be an Artemis when men say shit like that to me, and have never felt like I have been. Maybe it's time to go out and seek artemesia....
Your post made me wonder - how would I want to react in these kinds of situations (instead of beating myself up for all the times in the past where I didn't like how I reacted). I'm not even sure how I'd want to react - would I want to speak up and confront the guy, would I want to just keep walking with head held high....?

ACey said...

never thought of artemisia in relation to "rapey guys" and their unwanted attention. That's a valuable addition to the associations - thanks for putting the two together in this post!

Kate T.W. said...

Ruth-- I think how I react would depend on my mood. How I want to feel, no matter how I choose to react in the moment, is unflapped :-) ---impervious.

Acey, you're welcome. I adore mugwort for this... It just comes up a lot livin in the city, as I do.

wholly jeanne said...

well, let me tell you: not much makes me madder than the objectification and trivialization of women. what i want to know about is using Artemisia in a dream pillow. this is all new to me - do i just snap a bit off and tuck it in my pillowcase?

Kate T.W. said...

wholly jeanne-- for dream pillows-- you pick the artemisia and let it dry. Then you could simply put it under your pillowcase, but as it dries it will break and flake. Most people prefer to sew a small flat-ish pillow filled with artemisia (and sometimes lavender too) and then put that in their pillow case. Often I'll take out the center rib of the tall summer stalks, or cut it finely, as it becomes like a hard stick when it dries. These dream pillows can be a fun creative project...