The fire that quickens —

The Sign

The wheel of the year begins with Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. It is also the first of four cardinal signs during the year, which means that it is one of the signs that initiate a season (in this case, spring). Aries is dominated by the element of fire, and like all who are born under a cardinal sign, Aries individuals are thought to possess visionary leadership skills, to be self-starters, and are often identifiable by their determinedness and dynamism.

Aries is represented by the symbol of the ram, and if we consider the disposition of rams, it reveals a great deal about the unique energy of the season. Rams are fearless trailblazers with rock-hard skulls and long horns they use to eliminate obstacles and intimidate any creature who dares to annoy them. They scale precipitous cliff ledges, leaping from one tiny foothold to the next in their single-minded pursuit of conquest, or an appealing patch of grass. They are headstrong, indomitable, and possess seemingly limitless energy and vitality.

In terms of its role in the astrological wheel of the year, astrologer Kerry Kershaw describes Aries season as the place where ego begins, or where we learn to “assert our individuality,” “carve out [our] personality,” and learn to “set ourselves apart from others” (Magic of i, “Sun Enters Aries”). The planet Mars rules the sign of Aries, and like the Roman god of war it is named after, it bestows a fierce, action-oriented determination to those under its influence, as well as mental agility, exceptional physical strength, and unequalled ambition. It is a sign of leadership and trailblazing entrepreneurship.

As a fire sign, Aries is associated with bright reds and oranges, and rules over basic survival instincts, the vestiges of our animality, the forces of bodily magnetism, as well as the emotions of passion, aggression, anger, and impatience. It vibes with our root and sacral chakras, which are associated with the foundation of our physical strength and vitality, as well as with the regulation of our emotions, desires, and fertility.

However, with so much emphasis upon fire, heat, and excitability, it may seem odd that Aries’ role is to usher in the greenness of spring, because air temperatures in mid-March are still quite chilly in North America, and heavy grey skies could just as likely deliver a blizzard as they could a rain shower. In the Midwest, the volatility of March is legend: “in like a lion, out like a lamb,” or vice versa. There is a very powerful dynamic at play that often gets lost in a gentler narrative of Easter bunnies, lambkins, and slow, spring rains that obscures the richer truth about spring and Aries season—that they embody a passionate, albeit sometimes quiet, ferocity. The figure of Persephone is far more appropriate and instructive—she, rising up from her dark throne in the Underworld to wake the vegetal world from its winter stupor. She personifies an impassioned vehemence and longing for the light which aligns beautifully with the raw, creative energy Aries season channels; a focused energy intent upon activating the drive of plants, animals, and people alike to (pro)create, and grow.

The Season

Most of us are aware of the way spring energy compels animals to build dens and nests, and to seek out mates; however, the plant world provides an equally powerful exhibition of this fervent creative energy come March in the northern hemisphere, where the transition into Aries season is palpable. For those who take the time to pause, feel, and listen, it is nearly impossible to resist entraining with the great vegetal awakening. As the earth begins to lean towards the sun again, the sleepy green world starts to wake up and hum with anticipation. Root vibrations intensify, and the ground begins to thrum with the plants’ memory of the sun—as if it were a longed-for lover or life-giving god. The strength of these vibrations build and build until the sun’s face has drawn so close that its heat stabilizes, and sets off a crescendo of vegetal bliss—an ecstatic joy of letting g(r)o(w)—of giving over to the supreme, fiery, green force of life. Hildegarde Von Bingen, an 11th century German mystic, writer, composer, philosopher and Benedictine abbess, coined the word veriditas in an attempt to define and express this vital "greening power" —or, creative force that is inherent in all life. This green vitality drives plants to erupt from the soil, hungry for light and heat; a greenness that feasts upon the sun, transforming light into plant flesh—into stems, leaves, buds, expanding root systems—all of which become, in turn, an offering to the world of tender spring leaves and nectar-laden flowers.

Veriditas is an indomitable, limitless, green exuberance; and, it is 100% contagious. Many of us feel it vibing in the ground and air, but simply misinterpret the experience. Veriditas is both an invitation and a compulsion to participate in fruitful, vibrant co-creativity with Nature and the divine.

As I understand and experience it, “spring fever” is a “symptom” of the experience of veriditas. It is a manifestation of our experience (consciously or unconsciously) of the deep, trilling, thrumming vibration in our cells and organs as our bodies also wake up; of blood, lymph, and liver qi beginning to move and circulate with increased vigor; of consciousness shifting from a passive to active state; of a crescendoing desire to move, make, grow, embrace, and reproduce; of the thrill of the sun’s heat on our skin and the feeling of impatience that swells our chest; as well as what we call that vast, unnamable desire for everything that crams the throat sometimes, or grips the gut unexpectedly.

Unsurprisingly, if unchecked, this feverish drive can easily tip into excess, and lead to physical and mental depletion, exhaustion, and burn out. Our vitality, longevity, and well-being are fundamentally tied to the stabilization, balance, and strength of these energies.

The Tea

Our Aries: Cherry + Red Poppy Passion Tonic both celebrates the passion of Aries while also tending to the all-important foundations of blood, nutritive assimilation, and emotional stability; because, these foundations are the groundwork for our overall health and vitality. In tending to these foundations, we increase our strength to grow, create, and climb higher, and to adventure further.

The plants in this magical formula help assuage and disperse excess heat and excitation in the blood and heart center, move stagnant liver qi, and help reduce mental and physical tension. They promote healthy blood circulation, help balance the root and sacral chakras, and gently soothe and ground Aries’ mental and physical restlessness.

Hibiscus is an important spring medicine—particularly due to its sourness. Sour is the flavor of spring and nourishes the liver channel. Along with safflower, hibiscus also helps to draw out excess heat from the blood and reduce inflammation in our tissues. Honeybush and cherry are both rich in polyphenols that boost immune function and help reduce systemic inflammation, help regulate blood pressure and reduce blood sugars, and help to prevent, manage and treat type 2 diabetes. Red rose petals gently tonify the heart and help cool and balance its excesses, while red poppy helps calm an overactive nervous system, as well as support confidence, wisdom, and boundless creativity. Both poppy and hibiscus’ energies speak to the root and sacral chakras—to the blood and reproductive organs: they are powerful, grounded, strong, and inexorably sexual. Marjoram is a special plant ally for persons who are high-strung, driven, unable to relax, and who push themselves beyond reasonable limits. Anise hyssop is used to improve overall metabolism and vitality, and resonates well with the fertility and magnetism of Aries: bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are irresistibly compelled by anise hyssop’s sweet abundance of lavender flowers. Anise hyssop is also known for its resilience, vigor, and assertiveness, and like lavender, is helpful for moving stagnant liver qi, raising the spirit, and strengthening the heart.

However, the most potent magic of our Aries blend lies in its sensuous cherry fragrance, and the dynamic symbolism the cherry tree bears. Cherry blossoms announce the arrival of spring, reminding us of nature’s abundance and vitality while also demonstrating the transience of both life and beauty. Since ancient times, the Japanese have have celebrated the blossoming of the cherry trees each spring in a ritual called “hanami,” which translates approximately as, “watching blossoms,” or “the art of contemplating flowers.” People gather under blooming cherry trees, sitting on blankets and chairs to picnic and simply witness and enjoy the profuse but fleeting blossoms. This custom was originally adopted from China, and is a ritualized means of marking nature’s awakening after the long sleep of winter.

The fruit of the cherry tree is a near universal symbol of fertility, desire, lust, and uninhibitedness—something Chilean poet Pablo Neruda manages to convey in a single, tantalizing line*: “I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.” There is something truly mesmerizing and enigmatic about the way the cherry plant can make us feel in the spring time, and I can think of few other plants that so perfectly embody the passion, allure, and vitality of Aries.

Aries brews deep red with notes of sour apple, cherry blossom, sweet anise flower, and wild poppy.

* “Every Day You Play,” Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

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