For many, the summer solstice is about celebrating the sun and everything that it so graciously beams upon us: fully ripe strawberries, darkening freckles, St. John's wort oil (which is best to make right around the summer solstice when the plant is in bud and at its peak - see our blog on Bottled Sunshine: St. John's Wort) and a renewed spirit energy that almost makes it seem as if we are solar powered.

At Red Moon Herbs and Southeast Wise Women, our primary focus is on women’s health. We offer classes and events that are dedicated to this focus, offering a women-only space.

However, this sunny time of year draws our attention toward honoring the yang, solar, male aspects as well. As I watch my son in his adolescence, I find myself endeared and humbled to witness the tender stages of development boys go through to embody that truly yang, enlightened masculine force.

Solar energy is active, dynamic, and expansive. It is embodied by both women and men, yet most traditions associate it primarily with the masculine. Not the wounded masculine of the patriarchy, but rather the sacred masculine – that pure force we see coming through our sons, partners, inner selves.

Our solstice is full of fire, cider, fireflies and brightly blooming fire pinks! On this Solstice, let us remember that the sun is balanced by the moon, lightness is balance by darkness, and yang is balanced by yin. Take a moment to honor the pure masculine in its many forms, knowing that both polarities are needed to dance into dynamic balance. 

On the other hand, many people find themselves performing another solstice ritual (though they might not quite see it that way)…by scratching their poison ivy! If you’ve been enjoying the summer so much that you’re now dealing with some poison ivy – or sister ivy as she is sometimes respectfully referred to in the plant community – never fear… 

Luckily, two of the plants that ease and cool poison ivy rashes more than anything else grow abundantly in Appalachia and many other parts of the US. Jewelweed and plantain are the two components of our Poison Ivy Spray, and together they work to support the rash before and after exposure as well as to soothe and ease suffering skin.

Harvest tip: many of us might be friends with plantain (Plantago spp.) who is always underfoot, but jewelweed tends to keep her feet wet near creeksides and streambeds. If you have a patch of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), a fast-growing member of the impatiens family, you can nibble on those nutty-tasting seeds as a mini trail snack – just don’t let those springy seed pods escape your fingers!

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