Learn About Yerba Santa Also Known As Bear Weed
About the Yerba Santa Bear Weed Plant
Yerba Santa smudge is available in my shop. Part of the same family as Borage called Hydrophyllaceae. Growing 3’ to 9’ tall Yerba Santa has 2 toned lanceolate to oblong shaped leaves. Between the leaf veins under the leaf is very densely hairy with small white hairs, on the top is a smoother green and oily surface. At the end of the branches Yerba Santa's flowers clusters form white to blue to mainly purple.
It grows in the arid hilly areas of northern New Mexico, California, and Oregon
Teachings of the Yerba Santa Plant
It is this purple colour that tells us about Yerba Santa and its energies, particularly associated with the 3rd eye chakra. (See my blog articles about colour therapy for more insights in to use of colours). The flowers form a funnel or trumpet shape that is slightly hairy. The shape is like an ascension or a cone of energy. Able to cope with hot environments thanks to its strong relationship with the water element. It can seem rather opposite than what we would think about a relationship with water but of course living in a very dry climate this plant has had to develop a very close relationship with and management of water to survive. This plant has tough resinous leaves that conserve water, making them slightly sticky when growing. It is a butterfly friendly plant with its nectar filled flowers.
History and Folklore of Yerba Santa, the Bear Weed Plant
Yerba Santa leaves are considered sacred in Native American and Spanish cultures. This ‘holy herb’ gives off a pleasant and uplifting scent.
Yerba Santa has been used in Magic and Ceremony for beauty, healing, psychic powers and protection. Carried on the body or in a bath. Added to healing incenses and worn around the neck to ward off illness and injury. Not only has it been used in history for its physical protection but its spiritual. It has been burned in incense and worn to increase psychic powers and protect the bears aura.
Though the plant carries a Spanish name it was taught to the Spanish that arrived in America by the Native Americans. Yerba Santa, is called “Sacred Herb” by the Chumash Indians in California. The Maidu, Konkow and Nisenan all were tribes that used this herb. Once learning the uses the Spanish named it Yerba Santa or Holy Weed. The Native Americans made the tea or created a steam to treat many illnesses. They chewed the leaves as a cure for asthma, they also used it externally as a poultice for many types of pains.
The Essence of Yerba Santa
A picture of the soul qualities of the Yerba Santa essence emerges from what we have explored so far. If you are holding in the water element, in particular manifesting emotions of grief, melancholy, depression or despair then this is a plant for you.
These emotions are stored in the deeper cavities of the body, particularly in the heart/ lung/respiratory region. The free flowing, or "breathing out" of soul expression is often impeded. Think abut crying for example. We can end up taking short quick gulps of air and hyperventilating so we are not getting good long deep breaths. People can often get 'stuck' in their grief, holding it in and not really taking in new life as a result. We literally forget to breathe deeply. Think of depression, everything seems flat with no peaks and troughs of experience. For this reason respiratory illnesses, addiction to tobacco, and various allergies are common physical manifestations of this soul imbalance.
Yerba Santa can help free the lungs and heart to acknowledge and release stored emotional experience.
Of course, if you are asthmatic or have any other health issues then as with any incense being burned, you should take your normal and sensible precautions.
Bear is my ally and it is no coincidence this herb should also be known as Bear Weed. When bears emerge out of hibernation they cleanse themselves by eating various herbal plants. In hotter climes where they may not hibernate they still use plants as medicine to keep themselves health and clear of parasites. Bears will also roll in substances such as resinous plants to maintain their fur and rid themselves of parasites.
All through the Americas and in remote parts of Europe still, the bear is still considered by Indigenous peoples to be the greatest healer of all animals with the black bear believed to be the greater “root” healer while the grizzly is invoked as the greatest source of spiritual protection.
How To Work With and Use, Yerba Santa the Bear Weed Plant
This Herb is here to teach us the path to where our highest most Divine self is. It holds this space and protects it till we get there. Yerba Santa is one that comes to us when we are ready to make that change from our misdirection to our Divine self. You can also burn this plant in a blend of Yerba Santa, White Sage, Frankincense and Myrrh for motivation, encouragement, courage in a situation, cleansing both physically and spiritually and especially while meditating.
Yerba Santa makes a great spring cleaning herb when moving from one season to the next, from one situation to the next. It cleanses the body in such an energising way that can clear out the 'dust' and ‘cobwebs’ out of the corners of your soul you may have over looked or forgotten about.
Yerba Santa smoke is said to relieve a dry cough by turning it into a 'wet' cough by getting the junk out of lungs. Yerba Santa’s water element gets the juices flowing in many areas. This herb can increase urine production and intestinal mucus to help move the bowels better. In all ways it’s a great herb to get toxins out of the system thanks to its water affinity and creation of bodily flow.
Opening Up To The Sacred and Wild Within
Burn Yerba Santa to nurture and protect that which is ancient, sacred and wild within yourself. Use it when you need encouragement or courage. This is the way she opens up our path to be seen and saves a space for us in our own Divine Temple.
It draws us to do the same, to create our own flow, like the water she manages so effectively in such a dry climate, through our lives to get to that Temple. The energy it carries will draw your body to flow more with the energies around you. She cleanses the space as she clears the path both within and without. Sage and Yerba Santa make great companions especially in incense.
A Quick Summary of How To Use Yerba Santa
These sticks are used in traditional smudging practice for protection, purification, healing, spiritual strength, courage, psychic abilities, and finding your innermost self. It is good for setting boundaries. Yerba Santa has also been used for love, purification, growth, empowerment and beauty.
Burn the leaves as smudge to purify spaces and to clear heavy or dark energies from people. Crush the leaves and add them to herbal smoking mixes to help clear mucus from the lungs.
Connecting with your divine self, accessing your inner temple while providing protection and boundaries for you to do so is enabled by the Yerba Santa and if you want to explore this further you may like my linked articles seen below on answering your soul call.
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I live with a disability and I'm passionate about enabling people to 'Live With Art And Soul.'
I'm the founder of Ancient and Sacred Trees, an MA Archaeology student, artist, teacher, healer and land guide. I love trees, history and the healing power of Mother Nature and sacred connection.
PS. Every purchase plants trees with www.ancientandsacredtrees.org planting and protecting trees in the UK and the Tropics.