Amongst the Chaparral
Larrea tridentata. Sugai. Creosote bush. Hediondilla. Oh the millions of names for this amazing plant. My personal favorite would have to be the Spanish name: La Gobernadora. This translates to “the governess” in English. I personally like this name the best and find it to be the most resonant name describing the energetics of the plant! Recently, during a lovely excursion to Winter Count in the Sonoran desert I had the opportunity to spend several days camped amongst the Chaparral.
Each morning rising before the sun, embracing the day and admiring the first rays of light touching the leathery leaves of the Chaparral and creating that glistening, shimmer on the fuzzy, silvery seeds while reflecting the sweet, yellow flowers. It even rained a tiny amount which released the aromatic oils creating the heavenly scent that represents the desert. La Gobernadora is a very old and long living plant (carbon dating has suggested finding some plants as old as 11, 700 years old). Often when looking at La Gobernadora, I wonder how many times the sun has risen and shone its rays upon that plant. As we treat our elders with a deep sense of reverence, this is how I approach my relationship to this wonderful plant.
It always amazes me how plants sometimes mimic their external environments inside of our own human bodies. For example, La Gobernadora grows in one of the sunniest places on this Earth and that is exactly her medicine. As Doug says, “Chaparral harmonizes your relationship with the sun”. We make oil from the chaparral leaves to rub on our bodies to add as an extra level of protection. Doug explains to his students, “Let’s say you get sunburned, you have an aversion to sun or you have difficulty having a good relationship with the sun, chaparral can harmonize that. Rub the oil on, drink a small amount as tea, or make it as a wash. A fantastic thing to experience is make a bottle of chaparral tea, a cold or hot infusion, put it in a bottle, take a shower, after the shower dump the whole bottle over yourself, don’t towel yourself off, just let it air dry then go about your day. It holds your chi right where you want it; you feel this extra level of protection. If you just put olive oil on it is like fry oil, but with the chaparral in it protects you, it acts as a sunscreen but it also heals sunburn.”
As we practice incorporating these plants into our lives, it is important to remember that we are training ourselves for awareness. There are thousands of ways to incorporate this plant into our lives. I have only mentioned one. Doug reminds us that, “there is no goal, for example, ‘I know this plant or I’ve got it’ because you don’t, nobody ever does but we have a beautiful relationship, you can say that.”