“How the f£@& can I love myself?”
Don’t skip to love.
Start by hating yourself.
Hate yourself completely.
Hate yourself so much that everything false and second-hand in your being gets illuminated, brought into full awareness.
Turn towards the hate.
Breathe into it. Listen to it.
Be present with it. Hold it like a newborn.
Give it the love it always longed for.
I know it sounds crazy, but:
Love the part of you that hates.
Make room for your shadow.
And you will know great, inescapable light.
- Jeff Foster
Notes on creosote bush, aka chapparal
Somehow, I’ve found myself in the desert twice this summer. To say it’s hot is an understatement.
But also, the dry desert air is filled with the sweet, fragrant perfume of the creosote bush, aka chapparal. The only other time I’ve noticed this scent this strongly is when it rains. The heat must somehow be stimulating the scent to be released.
Chaparral is an evergreen bush or shrub. She’s one of the most abundant plants in this part of the Mojave Desert. You can see her all across the landscape from Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms and in many other places in the southwest and down into Mexico
In fact, one of the oldest living plants on earth is a Chaparral clone bush in the Mojave Desert near Twenty-nine Palms. They call it King Clone. I call it Queen Clone :) Queen Clone is a chaparral “ring” - most people would look at her and think they were several bushes. But she actually shares a root system underground, creating a ring of Chaparral, which is why they call her a clone. She’s estimated to be 11,700 years old!
Chaparral, or creosote was used by Native Americans in the desert as something like a ‘cure-all” for illness, pain, snake bites, and more.
My first experience with her was a big lesson in how powerful these plants can be. In school, at The NM School of Natural Therapeutics, my herbology teacher made tinctures and we would always experiment with them. On one particular day, I decided to experiment with chaparral. The instructions on the bottle said to take one or two dropper fulls - I took two.
Within a day, I had a fever of 103. I was sick for 3 days.
This is because chaparral is a powerful detoxifier. I learned the hard way that one should never dive into a detox without preparing their body first. This is one thing I teach a lot about in my course - The Cleanse Experience.
Creosote or chaparral shrubs can grow anywhere from 2-9 feet tall. They have waxy green leaves that are coated with a resin to keep predators from eating them and to prevent water loss. Plants bloom with bright yellow flowers that turn into fluffy, white seed heads.
The creosote bush is thought to produce a substance from its roots that discourages other plants from growing too close. This protects its water supply and decreases competition for nutrients. Chaparral leaves are also very bitter, which makes them rarely eaten by animals.
She’s extremely hardy and can survive drought conditions.
The bitter compounds in chaparral have certain health benefits, but one compound called NDG acid has been the most studied. It's a very powerful antioxidant that has shown potential for shrinking tumors
Like many plants, Chaparral is antimicrobial, anti fungal, anti-cancer, and as I mentioned, a powerful detoxifier. She’s also helpful for skin issues like fungus and eczema, and she’s also known to help relieve pain topically as an oil. You can make a massage oil more easily by infusing the dried leaves into oil for about 4 weeks.
Because chaparral is so powerful, she should be used with caution. There have been a few reports of liver failure while using chaparral. These people likely already had liver issues, and likely used her in strong / higher than normal doses.
Ultimately, the decision about how to use an herb is up to you. For those who want to work with chaparral for a specific reason and on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to work with an herbalist’s supervision.
There have been no reports of toxicity or side effects with the topical use of chaparral leaf, although, each body is different and it is possible to have an allergic reaction, just like with anything else.
If you live where chaparral grows and want to work with her, you can make an infusion by steeping the leaves in hot water for at least 15-20 minutes. This infusion can be used as a skin wash, bath tea, hair rinse, or mouth wash.
You can also make an oil infusion by steeping the dried leaves in an oil like olive, almond, or grapeseed. This oil can then be used to make a lotion, cream, or salve.