Sun Medicine / Moon Medicine: An Alchemical Approach to Balance

by Dave Meesters.

Summer solstice, when the sun’s powers are at their height, is a good occasion to recognize and give thanks for the gifts bestowed by the sun and the light that it brings into our lives, as well as to be thankful for the night, and the dark that gives us reprieve from the sun’s relentless rays.

Every year at solstice time I’ve presented a class to my apprentices on Sun Medicine and Moon Medicine, exploring the many ways that solar and lunar, light and dark forces show up in our lives, and how we can strike a balance between the two, including through the use of herbs. 

Last year I presented the class to the 2016 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference.  This is the essay that I wrote to accompany that class.

Sun Medicine / Moon Medicine: An Alchemical Approach to Balance

Dale Pendell’s seminal 1995 book Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft contains a very short chapter, barely three pages, titled “Sun Medicine / Moon Medicine” which describes two complementary approaches—and two corresponding personality types—for navigating what the author calls “the poison path.”  Pendell poetically suggests the nature of these two poles rather than rigorously defining them:

“The sun doctor moves easily through the world, unperturbed, seemingly able to open doors anywhere she wishes.  A life filled with routines and good health, with attendance to detail and reliability, the sun doctor knows where she stands.”

“The moon doctor has no need for ground. … The moon doctor rides dragons and knows the way through hell.  The sun doctor knows how to stay out of hell, and does.  To the sun doctor every day is unique, every day happens for the first time.  To the moon doctor there are no days.  He lives in one instant only, eternally preparing the lunar medicine.”

These brief pages, really just a sketch, point towards a deep truth about life, and about an underappreciated kind of balance necessary for wholeness in life, that instantly resonated with me when I read it almost twenty years ago.  What began then as a moment of fascination and connection has developed into an important lens through which I interpret the world around me, my life, and the lives of the clients I see in my herbal practice, and has influenced the way I read some of the challenges that people face, and my recommendations for meeting those challenges.

This deep truth begins with an awareness of the fundamental oscillation between day and night, between light and dark, symbolized by the sun and the moon, respectively.  The light/dark polarity is one of the most natural polarities that exists in consciousness, life on earth being circumscribed as it is by the alternation of day and night everywhere on the planet, even at the north pole.

All sorts of primal associations correspond to these poles.  In the light, the world is relatively visible, discernible, clear. As humans, we do most of our productive work in the day. Thus the light, the solar, signifies that which is productive, clear, orderly, rational, safe.  In the dark, on the other hand, the demands of the day are set aside, so we rest. Our visual perception is limited and easily fooled. In bed, we lie close with other bodies. Asleep, we dream. The dark and the moon is thus associated with mystery, imagination, danger, sensuality, intuition, dissipation, and even destruction. A natural balance arises from the oscillation and interpenetration of these two poles.

Pursuing these associations further, we can speak of “sun medicine” and “moon medicine,” both of which are valuable and necessary in a general sense, and are called for differently in different situations.

Sun medicine is conscious and intentional, legible, and rational.  One expresses and requires sun medicine in order to move consciously towards goals, to keep one’s word, to be on time, to maintain a health regimen, to make eye contact with other humans, to set boundaries, to be accountable.

Moon medicine is more subtle.  It is ambiguous, unpredictable, and thwarts rationality.  It comes from a place of dark fecundity.  One requires moon medicine to embrace chaos and ultimate lack of control, to dream, to fully explore one’s sexuality, to waste time, to evade repressive definition, to go slack, to say “fuck it.”  To go into one’s fears.  If sun medicine constructs boundaries, moon medicine dissolves them.  It’s riskier, scarier work, and no less important than the solar.

Going further still into light/dark associations, we can even talk about constitutional types, what Pendell calls the “Sun doctor” and “Moon doctor.”  The sun doctor is reliable; the moon doctor might be called a flake.  The sun doctor “shows up” (they are illuminated by bright solar light), in all senses of the expression, while the moon doctor could disappear at any moment—maybe right before your eyes.  The sun doctor does what it takes to stay healthy and productive.  The moon doctor courts disaster:  she may look ragged from the strains of wrestling jewels from the demons of the night.

The sun doctor might take an unbeaten path but he is always carrying out a plan.  The moon doctor demands, in every moment, freedom to adjust to the ever-changing texture of calling & possibility.  They are both fully present, but in very different ways.  The sun doctor is present for and to others.  He has attention to spare and is ready to join the circle of humanity, to be counted, pitch in, and work.  The moon doctor is ever-present with the ambivalent and invisible deep reality that lies beneath what can be organized and named.  Her accountability is to the whole unknowable maddening amoral creative/entropic fabric of the Real.  The presence practiced by the sun doctor is of obvious value, but can easily become routine:  enacted daily and automatically, without complicating revision and questioning.  The moon doctor does not allow herself such efficiencies.  Every moment must freshly engage with the all.

Just like in every constitutional system, the sun doctor and moon doctor are concepts, used more for illustration than to exactly describe real people.  Life always expresses a combination of Sun and Moon energies, and every person likewise mixes the two.  However, many people, once they’re familiar with these concepts, clearly identify as one type or the other.  And it is possible, again like other constitutional systems, for a person to present as an extreme of one type—unbalanced, pathological.

An extreme sun doctor can be exhausting to have around.  Like sunstroke, the light they shine is too bright and sustained.  They risk burning themselves out by not knowing how to let go.  Unsurprisingly, they are also at risk for all the hot, fiery, inflammatory pathologies.  On a more subtle level, unbalanced solar folks can seem to lack depth and interiority.  They can also be inflexible, forever bracing against any threat to their carefully constructed plans, goals, and worldviews.

Moon medicine in extremis is flexible to the point of spinelessness.  Some moon doctors never manage to construct much of anything, so accustomed are they to dissolution and starting from scratch.  “Lurkers on the threshold of life,” as Pendell puts it.  Unreliable, dissolute, prone to melancholy and sloth.  Can’t get out of their own shadow.  They tend toward secrecy, and are occasionally actually shady, untrustworthy, dishonest.

The above examples imply that we should seek balance between sun medicine and moon medicine.  It’s an aspect of balance not usually acknowledged in holistic healing, but it is important.  It is wise for us to be conscious of the amount and quality of solar and lunar influence in our lives, and to cultivate both.  Moon medicine tempers the solar fire, lending it complexity, suppleness, allowing it to encompass more of the Great Work of life.  Moon medicine makes the sun doctor more resilient, better able to integrate life’s dips and twists.  Likewise, sun medicine lends form and purpose to lunar raw materials.  Sun medicine actually enables lunar experience:  with good sun medicine you can go further into the night, and are able to integrate lunar lessons & make something out of them.

To be a fully-integrated, healthy, well-rounded person, one should attend to both.  Naturally, if your constitution leans strongly in one direction, it makes good sense to put energy into cultivating the other pole.  What is perhaps less obvious is that cultivating your native constitution is also important.  If you don’t bring intention and nurturance to your native constitution, then you are liable to use its gifts badly and lazily.  You take them for granted and overuse them, as a crutch.  Your inherent talents then become a trap, a limitation rather than an open-ended tool.  Inattention here sets the stage for unrealized potential at best, destructive imbalance at worst.

At a more limited scale, we can seek to balance times of intense solar activity with lunar, and vice-versa.  For example, sometimes life demands sustained periods of solar effort and responsibility (strenuous episodes of school or career work come to mind).  These periods can easily throw us out of balance if not complemented with some moon medicine to help us walk closer to equilibrium.  If we don’t consciously seek such balancing acts, we might fall prey to destructive or addictive balancing schemes, like using too much drugs or alcohol (typically strong lunar medicines), to oppose solar demands.  More on this later.

It’s relatively easy to speak of pursuing Sun/Moon balance in a theoretical way, but, as you may have already intuited, the world we live in is not neutral on the subject, and persistently skews the balance in ways that can’t be ignored.  To be specific, we live in a world that values the solar over the lunar.  Some degree of this bias might be understandable:  we are for the most part diurnal mammals after all.  Beyond that, sun medicine is clearly valuable.  Productivity is necessary to gather the resources to survive.  Clarity of purpose and intention keep one from becoming lost.  Clear communication and accountability are always appreciated when navigating one’s social life.  And it’s hard to argue against the benefits of healthy routines.  Moon medicine is, by definition, harder to quantify.  In comparison, its value may seem superfluous, inessential, intangible, vague.

This bias could be accounted for, and compensated for, in the quest for healthy balance in life if that’s all there was to it.  In fact, cultures around the world and throughout history have customarily incorporated practices that are designed to offset the solar demands of productivity and accountability with “irrational” and “wasteful” expenditure in the form of festival, potlatch, or ceremonial warfare, to name just a few examples.  (See Georges Bataille’s The Accursed Share for a voluminous and fascinating treatment of that topic.  Much of Bataille’s work can be usefully read through the lens of Sun/Moon tension, I think.)

But then there is capitalism, the political/economic system that increasingly dominates the world.  Even before capitalism, actually, the rise of exploitative hierarchies began, under which your productivity is stolen by those positioned above you in the hierarchy, a theft mandated by societal norms and enforced through violence.  Under such a system, solar productivity becomes the highest value, because excess productivity is precisely what enriches the ruling classes and enables them to rise above the masses, command the armies and the police, and preach the gospel of work to the people below.  Needless to say, your ability to exercise sun medicine to keep yourself healthy, arrive at work on time, perform a quantifiably valuable task, and be accountable to your boss and landlord is much more important under such a system than your dreamtime, your ordeals, your ambiguity, or any other aspect of moon medicine.

Modern capitalism drives this process even further, seeing every part of Nature and the Earth, and all of humanity, as resources that can be quantified and fed into the global production machine.  Solar productivity and accumulation have become the gods of this order, which has become powerful enough to hijack the practices that had once acted as big doses of cultural moon medicine (festival, war) and make them serve the needs of solar economic accumulation.

We therefore have a worldwide political situation where solar productivity is destructively overvalued, and moon medicine is neglected or even suppressed.  Major portals into lunar experience, such as sex, magic, and mind-altering substances, have to varying degrees been discouraged, prohibited, pathologized, declared sinful, etc. by the power-holders of these cultures obsessed with excess productivity.  The cultural context in which most of us are raised, and the culture we as adults must navigate, has an overwhelming solar bias.

We may be tempted to conclude from this that moon medicine is more necessary at the moment, and that those conscious of the need for balance should promote it preferentially.  Of course it’s a bit more complicated than that.  For one thing, capitalism’s solar drive is so sick and distorted that the sun medicine most of us are taught is itself twisted and could use some nourishing care in order to use solar gifts abundantly and sustainably.  Also, we should be aware that since we are taught so few tools for practicing healthy moon medicine, seeking lunar experience, which often entails an element of risk, can be riskier still.  Drug addiction is a prime example.  Sun energy so strongly dominates the world that it drives many towards powerful dark/lunar medicines, often used to excess, as a desperate effort at compensation.  Combine that with the fact that most of us are not taught how to handle these volatile materials (because their use is devalued/shameful/illegal anyway), and an activity with a real but feasible level risk becomes downright perilous.

Another caution around seeking moon medicine is that certain moon doctors, in reaction to the real cultural suppression of the dark/lunar side of life, will decide that moon medicine is superior, “cooler”, smarter, more powerful, etc., and thereafter mock and denigrate anything or anyone of a solar nature.  The “forbidden” aspect of moon medicine can transform what should be a natural and regular part of life into a fetish.  Some moon doctors go so far as to embrace the moralistic denouncements that are designed to suppress moon medicine, and make “evil”, destruction, selfishness, harm, deceit, and power-over-others parts of their path.  The long-standing sun/moon imbalance in our culture, and the distortion and denigration of moon medicine, make it difficult even for those who are attracted to lunar material to have a healthy engagement with it.

Before I go any further, I need to say a few things in praise of sun medicine.  My assessment of the current state of sun/moon balance definitely has moon medicine looking like the underdog, and everyone likes to root for the underdog.  In addition to that, it’s been remarked that in my descriptions of the nature of sun medicine and moon medicine, of sun doctors and moon doctors, moon medicine looks far more interesting, exciting, and sexy.  Like maybe I have a bias myself, an imbalance in favor of moon medicine.  Well yes, in a way.  For one thing, I do think that sun medicine is more oppressively dominant, and I want to stick up for the lunar.  Also, I am lunar by nature (though more balanced these days), and that probably shows in my writing.  But there is something else unavoidable here:  Moon medicine simply is sexier, more mysterious, & more seductive than solar—it’s part of the definition.  The moon has mystique painted all over it.

But that doesn’t make it better, or more important.  There’s nothing particularly sexy or exciting about getting up every morning and feeding the animals, taking out the trash, washing the dishes, fixing what’s broken, and other boring tasks of solar necessity, but if they weren’t done life would fall apart.  The value of all of life’s simple routines is incalculable.  Like the existence of the sun itself, these practices are what make life possible (even at the cellular level), creating security, sufficiency, function, and hopefully even comfort against the forces of entropy that would, and ultimately will, tear everything to pieces.  The security built up by solar diligence is what the moon doctor comes home to, hungry and exhausted, after her intoxications and ordeals.  Sometimes moon doctors take no interest in the boring tasks of everyday necessity, and the burden of performing them falls onto others.  My point here is that solar work is an undeniable necessity, and if you don’t take part in it, it just means that someone else is doing your share.  All the work has value, solar and lunar.  We must attend to it all.  What’s even sexier than a wise witch who wrestles demons is a wise witch who wrestles demons, cleans the kitchen, and takes out the trash.

And let’s not forget that the solar work entails not only the everyday rituals that keep life going, but also the ability to dream big, make plans, and put those plans into action.  Sun medicine allows us to make progress (another concept much abused by capitalism) towards dreams and goals.  Sun medicine bears fruit—real fruit, the kind you can eat.  What could be sexier than that?

You might be wondering at this point what any of this has to do with herbalism. Awareness of the possibility for balance or imbalance in sun/moon medicine actually has a number of important implications in herbal practice.  For one thing, it fruitfully, if perhaps frustratingly, complicates our idea of health.  I argue that sun medicine and moon medicine are both aspects of a healthy life, but only sun medicine stands for the radiant bodily health that most holistic therapies set as their promise and their goal.  [Note the language: abundant health is “radiant” i.e. solar.  Next time you go to a health food store, browse the supplements watching for explicitly solar iconography and language on the product packaging.  It is ubiquitous and, I think, rather creepy.]  Conscious attention to one’s physical health is a solar practice, and it takes solar medicine to follow most of the conventional recommendations that an herbalist would make to a client:  to take your herbs three times a day, to make a change in your life and stick to it, with discipline.

Does this mean that herbalism must exist in an exclusively solar universe?  Must we fall in line with capitalism by only valuing a client’s solar health, and only seeing what supports or impedes it?  Can we not notice and attend to the state of a person’s lunar health as well?  Can we help our clients pursue a broader notion of balance?

I think we can.  It begins by being aware of the forces at work, and of the constitutional types and how to recognize them.  That awareness helps to understand what a person does with their energy, and to understand what kinds of stresses they are under.  Lunar stresses are quite different from solar (and adaptogens are not necessarily helpful!).  It’s an important part of understanding the whole person, and works alongside a more conventional tri-dosha, four-humors, or five-element energetic schema.

Also similar to the other energetic schemes, it’s not necessary to speak the language of sun/moon balance with a client in order to make it a factor in how you approach and work with them.  Some folks take to it quickly, and find it extremely helpful to be able to name, notice, and work intentionally with these ever-present forces.  Others would find it confusingly esoteric and extraneous.  Still, it is possible to discuss the tolls taken by excessive solar productivity and visibility when you notice them.  Likewise, it’s possible to talk about integration, focus, and setting goals with a moon doctor.  And I’ve asked at least one client about where in their life they had room for chaos.

Another important skill is to notice when and how someone is navigating light/dark balance already.  It’s instinctive to want to balance the two, and folks have myriad ways of doing it.  One common way that people bring moon medicine into their ordinarily solar-dominated lives is to use intoxicating substances:  Cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, opiates, and countless others.  Seeing the use of such “dark medicines” as a way to bring balancing lunar energy into life allows the herbalist to see their use as a strategy for achieving the broader kind of health that sun/moon balance aims for.  Without this perspective these drugs might be seen as mere obstacles to the client’s health.  Recognizing them as moon medicines encourages the herbalist to acknowledge that they have a place, even though they might simultaneously complicate the task of improving other aspects of health.  My Fall 2013 article for Plant Healer Magazine, “Dark Medicines: On Seeing Patients with ‘Bad Habits’” addresses this topic extensively, from the explicit perspective of light/dark balance.

How about other herbs?  People reach for Cannabis or Tobacco (Nicotiana tobaccum) as moon medicines, or Coffee (Caffea arabica) to enhance solar productivity, because 1) they are widely available, cultivated and aggressively marketed, and 2) they are potent, nearly guaranteed to produce the desired effect in an obvious way.  But we herbalists  have a bigger materia medica to choose from, and we know that the strongest medicine is not necessarily the best, and often not sustainable in the long run.  How can we bring our intimate knowledge of the herbal allies into the conversation between light and dark, and the path of life that treads through both?  What follows are some observations about the value of various herbs in navigating the balance between the solar and the lunar.  They begin from what I think are rather obvious associations.  It’s a start, and woefully incomplete.  I hope that this paper, and these suggestions, will entice others to add a solar/lunar lens to the way we think about our herbs and to the effects we hope to achieve on our herbal path.


The Sol/Luna Materia Medica:  A Work in Progress

There are many ways that herbs can fit into a sun/moon paradigm.  One way is to think of herbs that possess a strong solar or lunar energy of their own.  We can then work with these herbs in order to bring that energy into our lives.  Sometimes the dose need not be large to have this energetic effect.  In fact we would be wise to include as possibilities the use of herbs in ritual, as talismans, incense, and other applications not usually considered medicinal.  But often enough, the energy I associate with the herbs is strongly linked to their conventional medicinal actions in herbal usage, and standard preparations & doses work just fine.

Herbs of a Solar Nature

Hypericum perforatum or punctatum, St. John’s WortHypericum is famous for blooming and making the strongest medicine at the summer solstice, when the days are longest and solar radiation is most intense.  It thrives right out in the open, often at high elevation where the atmosphere thins out and the sunrays descend unobscured.  Hypericum soaks up extra solar energy thanks to the copious purple/red pigment in all of its tissues that gives Hypericum extracts their amazing color, and that we associate so strongly with the medicine of the herb.

Hypericum is useful for the mild melancholic depression that can almost be the norm for those with a lunar constitution.  It brings the sun’s rays into the darker regions.  Many have found it useful for depression associated with the dark days of winter for this very reason.  It’s also indicated, especially for solar folks, when solar routines and structure have fallen into disarray.  Something, usually unexpected, has broken the orderly functioning and safe predictability of life and you must adapt, accept change, and remake your life, or some aspect of it, to go on.  The process often includes a challenge to your sense of self, and a chance to grow.  Hypericum in this situation is like a solar lifeline thrown into a dark moment, and it can protect a person from slipping into a depressive episode, supporting their ability to constructively respond to change.  Hypericum’s reputation as a protection herb speaks to its ability to protect us from being damaged too much by the inevitable tides of lunar disarray.  I find it interesting that Hypericum is carried to protect from lightning strikes.  Janet Kent, fellow herbalist and tarot card reader, taught me to connect this bit of herb lore to the image on the Tower card in the tarot deck, in which lightning destroys the tower, imperiling the people within.  The card is usually associated with cataclysmic, unexpected change.  Hypericum helps prevent such events from getting the best of us.

One nice thing about Hypericum is that it has a lot of solar energy without tasting especially “bright,” in contrast to the Lamiaciae herbs that I’ll talk about next.  Hypericum has a moon side of its own.  This makes it palatable to moon doctors who are not drawn to the summery feeling of so many of our minty aromatics.

Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm.  Lemon balm has quite a bright energy, and feels uncomplicatedly solar.  A gentle ray of sunshine is our Lemon balm.  It has been found with Hypericum in formulas for winter blues.

Ocimum sanctum, et. al., Tulsi, Holy Basil.  All of the basils are summer plants that capture a lot of solar radiation, literally and metaphorically.  Tulsi in particular offers abundant solar clarity and energy without being pushy about it.  Moon doctors can come into the light a little easier with Tulsi to lead to the way.  Its aromatic opening stimulating nature helps clear out the cobwebs and the phlegmatic torpor that sometimes build up during lunar spells.  It moves and clarifies energy in the body, which is useful for staving off depression, and Tulsi is excellent for dispelling the brain fog that can result from indulgence in strong moon medicines.  It’s a good tonic medicine for folks of a lunar nature who are trying to cultivate their sun side.  It pushes us gently but firmly in a solar direction at the same time as it helps us be more capable of going there.

Though primarily solar in nature, Tulsi can support sun doctors too, and is unlikely to exacerbate their constitution.  The stimulation from Tulsi is actually so diffuse and balanced that it can be distinctly relieving to folks suffering from anxiety, and its adaptogenic stress-modulating effects are helpful for those who are feeling the strains of solar excess.

Herbs of a Lunar Nature

Even though they lie outside of most herbalists’ materia medica, we must acknowledge the most reliable and well-known herbs of a lunar nature:  the poisons, in the sense that Dale Pendell meant when he wrote of using plant powers on “the poison path.”  These are herbs that produce intoxication and/or ordeal, and whose use does not align well with solar productivity in the ordinary sense.  Some, like Cannabis, are fairly benign as far as toxicity but induce potent lunar states of consciousness.  Others, like Tobacco, are subtle in their effects in normal doses but are clearly poisonous, working against the body’s orderly self-preservation.

We might include dreamy euphorics like Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) and psychoactives such as Psilocybe sp. mushrooms loosely among the poisons.  Certainly some of the purest moon medicines known must be the Solanaceous Belladona (Atropa belladonna), Henbane (Hyoscyamus sp.), Mandake (Mandragora officinalis), Datura sp., and Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia sp.), all highly poisonous deliriants.  Although the history and lore around human use of such powerful materials is extensive, it remains unclear how best to use the poisons in the way that concerns us here:  to find a healthy way to incorporate dark and light energies into life.

Some poisons lend themselves to occasional, more-or-less ceremonial use:  Set aside some time to properly go into a deeply lunar state.  Do your research.  Prepare yourself.  Try to create a safe and comfortable container for the experience.  Take precautions.  Plan ahead for a smooth return and be ready to do some work to integrate whatever dark materials you come back with.  The entheogens are commonly approached this way, but so can Opium, the visionary Solanaceae, even Tobacco.  The method has much to recommend it:  a person can invite a potent dose of moon medicine into a life that is mostly organized around “healthy” solar principles.  The lunar material is sure to get your attention, so it’s unlikely to be wasted, unlike habitual Tobacco or Cannabis smokers, for instance, whose tolerance makes us wonder how much of the medicine they’re really getting.  Occasional powerful doses are less likely to be a pathway to addiction, and the body has plenty of time to process whatever toxicity accompanies the medicine.

I have also experimented with minute doses of strong lunar materials as an energetic push in the lunar direction.  Psilocybe tincture dosed below the threshold of awareness, for instance, or even a very dilute tincture of Belladonna berries could be used similarly.  This is a promising area for exploration, I think.  The energetic effect is definite without being so consciousness-altering that you can’t go about your normal routines—in theory, at least.  In practice, results can vary.  This method definitely supplies the lunar medicine, but I think it is not likely to be embraced widely by solar-dominated folks who are simply seeking energetic balancing.  And as a practitioner, I would definitely not slip a little Psilocybe or Belladonna tincture into a client’s formula to balance their energetics!  The most likely candidates for this form of medicine are actually dedicated (or obsessive) moon doctors who never want to go anywhere without one foot always in the lunar laboratory.

Aside from the overt poisons, quite a few herbs in general use have moon medicine to offer.  Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), an herb of great power and complexity, has a noted relationship to the moon and to lunar forces.  It is famous for facilitating dreams during sleep.  Mugwort is greatly supportive to edgewalkers, people who are on the borderlands between the well-defined categories of solar organization.  Herbalist Dori Midnight calls on Mugwort specifically for those who have been damaged and oppressed by gender norms.  Mugwort, like its cousin Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is also a powerful visionary aid, enhancing the capacity to see the dark terrain that is so often overpowered by solar illumination.  It works well as an energetic tonic in small doses:  a small amount of Mugwort tincture will reliably lunarize a tonic formula.

The moon loves water, possibly because her visage is so handsome when reflected there.  Plants that are attracted to and associated with water usually have something of the moon in them:

Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) has a softening and relaxing lunar balancing effect.  It acts as a balm and a restraint on the kind of solar excess that pushes too hard against obstacles, is never satisfied, and needs solar progress towards goals to be highly linear, organized, and controlled.  It can also relieve muscular tension from solar stress.  Blue Vervain can be a good ally for the anxiety-prone driven worker who smokes pot all day to stay calm, and wants to smoke less pot.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is a calming nervine that is especially useful for moon doctors who are frazzled from having to deal with the solar world.  Most moon doctors carve out and maintain a safe space (not necessarily physical) to be themselves in the world, and rely on this space for their sanity.  But life sometimes forces them out to accomplish solar tasks like applying for jobs, dealing with bureaucracy, or even just running errands.  The moon medicine in Skullcap gives the moon doctor a taste of home, lessening the stress of traveling in solar territory.

Water Lily (Nymphaea) or Pond Lily (Nuphar).  Water lilies are among the most primitive of flowering plants, connecting us to our murky pre-human origins just as they connect us to the dark & murky pondbottoms and the underworld below.  The rhizomes are cool and moist, helpful when the solar fires (anxiety, overwork, overthinking) have scorched the body; they relieve the heat and irritation in the tissues.  There is also a nutritive aspect here (they are used for food), nourishing lunar dreamtime or sexuality that has atrophied because of solar dominance.  They help us to reconnect with the lunar prima materia, in body and in mind.

Aside from these specific herbs, and others that you are drawn to personally, remember that all of our herbal tools and strategies can be used in the context of solar/lunar awareness:  adaptogens can help a person endure solar hardships for a time, while Rosemary might help a spacey moon doctor focus on the here & now, and so on.  Almost any herb can be applied to the solar/lunar framework if you try hard enough.  The specific herbs I’ve mentioned above have captured my attention as speaking eloquently in some way to the essential play of light and dark in our lives.  Please add to the list!


2 thoughts on “Sun Medicine / Moon Medicine: An Alchemical Approach to Balance

  1. Maypop / Passion flower is a great calming flower..color healer..just by floating the bloom in hot water made for tea.
    Mimosa blossoms mixed with actual Rose hip seeds in a tea of one’s choice I intuit would both restore nerves..& illuminate the inner moon anxieties via energetic waves.
    I do them both..
    Love this path of teaching..investigation of Solar Lunar holistic Nature Allies!
    Very Exciting!!!
    Visionary / Astrologer


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