A Heart in Winter
Friday, February 1, 2013

When someone is sick, when they are in pain, lost to even a memory of health, a simple anti-this or surgical-that might not be all they need to heal. There are other essentials in the body, which if neglected, will prevent a person from uplifting through trauma or disease to find their way back to vitality. Our instinctual reaching towards life and health is generated by the heart and by the love that resides there. Love comes in many forms—as connection, as comforting protection, as desire, and as purpose. Quite simply, love is life.

Now, in the depth of winter, when the light is weak, the days frosted and cold, our spirits can fade. While we may not always admit that our existence is dependent upon such notions as love, our customs will remind us of these necessary truths. Traditions were cultivated just as the crops were, to help us to survive. It is no accident that in the bleak month of February, we choose to celebrate Love. And we give the aromatic gift of crimson petaled roses not only to symbolize that love, but also to heal the heart quite literally, quickening it towards spring and rebirth. The Persian poet Rumi tells us “every rose that is sweet scented within, that rose is telling the secrets of the universe.” The rose is a powerful medicine—a medicine for the heart.

Rose heals the heart from grief and loss and kindles our capacity to love again. Her sensuous scent helps us be open to love while her astringing qualities provide a protective boundary. Even her form demonstrates this interplay between vulnerability and power, defending her blushing blossoms with a sharp embattlement of thorns. Love is gentle strength.

As an herbalist, I often work with patients whose sufferings stem from a trauma of the heart. Sometimes it is an obvious wound, inflicted by the death of a loved one or a relationship betrayed. Sometimes, we might not understand the traumatic origin, but can see the effects, such as a child’s lack of interest or a teenager’s aggression. But while the spectrum of human emotion can be complex, working with rose medicine is quite simple. Spritz your face with rose water and take a deep breath to relax and restore emotional balance. Blend a splash of rose water with pomegranate juice to refresh and awaken the heart’s curiosity. Infuse honey with fresh rose petals and drizzle it over a dessert or your lover to remind us of the sweetness of life. Coat the body with rose oil and then soak in a hot bath to release from grief. Just sitting and enjoying the beauty of a single petal will heal.

This Valentine’s Day remember to share rose’s gift with your friends, your family, your lovers, and yourself.
Lorna Mauney-Brodek
First appeared in Sevananda Co-Options Newspaper February 2013