A requirement for involvement in the FES Certification Program is the in-depth study of a plant from the point of view of the “Twelve Windows of Perception”—an insightfull matrix within which to undertake a journey into the plant world. This exercise in observation and research utilizes physical observation, sensation and perception, and encourages the elicitation of artistic expression in relation to the plant observed. This total immersion exercise helps to facilitate the understanding of the soul gestures and qualities that can be experienced from the plant, and also the vibrant healing energies that are present in the flower essence.
We are pleased to present here, a study of White Yarrow Achillea Millefolium, undertaken by Jane Ellen, a participant in the 2003 Practitioner Training program.
I. THE OBJECTIVE PERCEPTION EXERCISE
On July 25th, at 11:00 am, it is already 85 degrees, the air is dry, and I note a familiar warm breeze. I head up Artist Road toward the Santa Fe ski basin where I hope to find, among other precious Beings, White Yarrow. Following the soft curves of the mountain road, I begin to soften more deeply into my surroundings.
It pleases me to recall our recent and much needed rain of two days ago. In an area often plagued by drought, one afternoon of rain changes the environment dramatically, and it is noticeable. Approaching an elevation of approximately 8,500 feet, the first signs of familiar plant friends appear. On the sides of the road lay stacks of dry, dead, cut trees removed by the Forest Service to lesson the risk of spreading wild fires that are common in this area due to frequent lightening strikes.
Gazing ahead at the hillsides, I begin to notice dapples of white, and I greet the White Yarrow and its accompanying friends commonly named Purple Aster, Mullein, Daisy, Penstemon, and a lovely yellow flower I do not recognize, along with Indian Paintbrush.
Pulling over to take notes, the song of the Aspen Trees surrounds me, and I give thanks. My vision sharpens and I open further to these Blessed Beings. Majesty, peace, and the feeling of abundance are present now. Native Grasses in colors of carnelian red, amber yellow, and various shades of green and gold reach toward the Sun.
Moving on to 9,000 feet or more in altitude, I am inspired once again to pull over. Queen Anne’s Lace, Grasses in shades ranging from sage to emerald green, Wild Raspberries, and Fire Weed grace this area along a stream of running water. Soon, I arrive at the trailhead for the Winsor Trail heading into the Pecos Wilderness. A sign announces that portions of the park have been closed due to dry conditions. The mountain stream blesses the beginning of the trail in addition to a welcomed cool mountain breeze. The area rocks glisten with Mica, and crushed bits blend with the loose dirt of the path, bringing a sense of magic. I heighten my awareness of my feet upon our splendid Earth, and gently and consciously walk on.
Time passes and I arrive at the site of a small meadow
filled with a vast array of beautiful wild flowers, including White
[Note: You can read more about the qualities of Yarrow in Part 1 of the online Flower Essence Repertory as one of the benefits for being a member of the Flower Essence Society. If you are not a member, it's easy to join.]
Upon first glance, I notice White Yarrow appears to be scattered throughout the meadow; sometimes appearing as a single stem standing on its own, while at other times showing up in family clusters of many stems, and occasionally joining in with neighboring families. I continue to view its placement among the other varieties of flowers and observe an occasional stem of White Yarrow shooting up from the middle of the Aster or Wild Geranium plants.
In this particular meadow, the plant height ranges from 4—20 inches. Its stem is covered with light brown tiny hairs, making the overall color of the stem appear brownish-green compared with the more solid green of the leaves. The stem gently tapers in size as it moves upward and is firm to the touch with a slightly woody feel; sometimes appearing quite erect, while other times having a sudden curve or arch to it. Nearing the bloom, the stem divides into several directions, and again, each of those splitting again.
At the base of the plants there is typically found a mass of soft, delicately shaped leaves appearing almost fern-like and feathery.
The leaves alternate as they ascend the stem from the base of the plant leaving a space between leaves of 2 inches and decreasing in distance to ¼ inch toward the bloom. Each leaf simultaneously decreases in size as it climbs the stem. The plants in this meadow have leaves ranging from 1/8 inch to 6 inches in length. Each individual leaf tapers as it moves out and away from the stem, often displaying a soft and gentle downward curve or arch. There appear to be hundreds of tiny leaflets within each leaf, giving it an exquisite feathery quality.
2. How various
parts of the plant relate to one another and to the whole plant:
The mountain meadow I am visiting is at approximately
9,500 feet in altitude and is embraced by a circle of two varieties
of Pine trees. There are no Aspens here. The ground is sparkling with
bits of Mica, the soil is light brown in color, dry to the touch, and
rather hard and compact. These plants are located in full and direct
Sun throughout the day. The White Yarrow in this meadow is accompanied
by a variety of other wild flowers including Potentilla, Wild Geranium,
Rudebecia, Aster, Wild Parsley, and Bell Flower, along with Wild Strawberries.
There is an abundance of Horse Flies; the Monarch Butterflies are dancing
from flower to flower drinking sweet nectar; chipmunks scurry by; and
an unknown bird offers its melodic song.
Earth – The roots of the White Yarrow plant are, to my understanding, fairly shallow and complex in their runner-type system. While it may not be ‘deeply’ rooted, it is ‘spread out’ in its root system. It appears to have strength in its ability to move underground from one area to another through its root system, covering a lot of territory. The root system seems to focus on ‘spreading out’ and joining together, rather than moving downward. I feel it has an unusual strength in the Earth element and rate it as carrying a medium Earth element.
Water – I observed the White Yarrow plant growing both in partial shade on the fairly moist hillsides along a stream, in addition to this dryer meadow in full Sun. The roots are shallow which seem to imply that it does not mind dryer soil conditions. I give this plant a low to medium Water element.
Air – The leaves of this plant, with their feathery quality, along with the variety of open environments I’ve observed it growing in, imply a high Air element. The white color of its bloom reminds me of the white of the clouds in the sky above. I rate it as carrying a high Air element.
Fire – The rapid spread of the root system
and the overall fast growth of the White Yarrow cause me to give it
a medium to high Fire element rating.
White Yarrow appears in both individual stems and
in group clusters; sometimes appearing to stand on its own, while other
times being a part of a larger family of Yarrow, and still other times
blending in with flowers of a completely different family. It stands
tall yet appears delicate, with wispy, fine leaves and umbrella-like,
compact clusters of refined, intricate white blooms with tiny yellow
centers. Its vivid white blooms make it stand out from a distance amongst
the other wild flowers, while it simultaneously appears delicate in
its nature. The many leaflets of each leaf serve as ‘feelers’ keeping
track of the surrounding environment, while also serving as ‘filters’ for
the entire plant. Circular clusters of intricate blooms burst with
refined white light that is often shared in areas in which the land
has been disturbed.
White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a member of the Compositae [Asteracae] family. Other members of this family include, but are not limited to, daisies, dandelions, marigolds, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and camomile. Many of the plants in the Compositae family are involved in the daily lives of human beings in an extremely diverse number of ways. White Yarrow and Chamomile, for example, are both used as herbal remedies; Dahlias, Zinnias, Cosmos and Marigolds are often prized garden flowers; the seeds of the Sunflower are a wonderful source of nutrition; Safflower provides dyes and oil; while many produce latex and several including a species of dandelion provide rubber.
Two outstanding qualities of the Compositae family
are their efficiency in seed dispersal, and their production of a vast
array of oils. Unlike the structure of more typical flowers, the ‘flower’ of
a composite is made up of a compact cluster of flowers acting as one.
Each of the individual flowers is called a floret, while the whole
cluster of florets is known botanically as a capitulum, which
means ‘little head.’
The White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) bloom
is of the purest white with soft yellow centers, and red/orange stamens,
and its leaf is of a sage green shade.
When I took in the fragrance of the White Yarrow bloom,
I experienced it as mildly sweet, while the leaves have a pungent and
There are two chemicals, achilletin and achilleine,
found in Yarrow that both prompt blood coagulation. Yarrow also contains
small amounts of a hypnotic chemical, thujone, whose effects are similar
to those of marijuana, therefore having a sedative quality. There are
eight chemicals, azulene, camphor, chamazulene, eugenol, menthol, quercetin,
rutin, and salicylic acid, which all have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving
action. The chemicals tannin, terpeniol, and cineol have antiseptic
White Yarrow is used medicinally in a number of ways. As a digestive aid, it is said that Yarrow assists in relaxing the smooth muscle tissue of the digestive tract, making it an antispasmodic. These same antispasmodic qualities are also found to be effective in smoothing the muscles of the uterus, thus helpful in the treatment of menstrual cramps. In addition, Yarrow has traditionally been used as a sedative.
One of the most common uses of this plant is in the use of wound treatment as it contains two chemicals that promote blood coagulation. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory, a pain-reliever, and an antiseptic.
The Navajo use Yarrow for both fever and headaches, in addition to healing sores on people and animals, and especially for healing saddle sores on horses.
When Yarrow is used as a flower essence, it relates, in part, to the crown chakra center, assisting in the process of developing strength of aura, and also directing the light of the higher centers into the earthly body and the lower centers. It is often used with those who are particularly affected by their surroundings and who also have an exceptional capacity for teaching, counseling and healing.
Note: A scientifically conducted trial in India has
shown Yarrow to help treat hepatitis.
First I would like to note several beautiful names given historically to White Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium L.) by the Aztec’s and the Navajo’s. Tlaquequetzal, pluma de la tierra was the name given by the Aztecs which means, “feather of the land.” The Navajos used the name hazeiyiltsee’I , translating as “chipmunk-like tail.” After the time I have spent studying the lovely White Yarrow plant, I thoroughly enjoyed these descriptive names!
The first bit of herbal lore and folk wisdom I was introduced to in my study is that this herb was thought to be a witches’ herb, and was brought to weddings to ensure seven years' love!
A more common legend is that, during the Trojan War, Achilles stopping the bleeding of his fellow soldiers' wounds with the application of the fern-like leaves of Yarrow.
While coins are typically used today, the traditional
way of the Chinese to cast the I Ching involved the use of dried
I feel this plant carries a low to medium water element,
a medium earth element, a medium to high fire element and a high air
element. If my perceptions do not match those who are more experienced
than me, I would very much enjoy hearing a more accurate rating.
Flower Essence Society research and studies have shown
Yarrow flower essence to blend and harmonize the spiritual and psychic
aspects of one’s nature with the physical world and practical
responsibilities. This is further demonstrated in the structure of
the plant when viewing the harmonious relationship between the clustered
white bloom at the top of the plant and the light and feathery leaves
clustered at the base of the plant.
shallow, horizontal rootstock of the Yarrow plant spreads rapidly.
Yarrow is a perennial herb that sends up from its roots a rosette of
feathery leaves in early spring, and blooms from May through September.
The flowers produce seeds in the fall, and the dry flower stalks and
seed heads remain standing throughout winter. It is not uncommon for
the basal leaves to persist through winter, and can often be found
green when the first snow melts in spring.
Achillea millefolium is native to Europe and
North America, and can be found as low as 2,500 feet in California,
and as high as 11,000 feet in Colorado, while most commonly found flourishing
in elevations above 5,000 feet. It is frequently found in dry pine
forests, the mildly disturbed soil of grasslands, and open forest areas,
growing in full sun and well-drained soil.
May be viewed under earlier heading of “Plant
I experience the fragrance of the blooms of the White Yarrow as pleasantly sweet and reminding me of the smell of honey, while the leaves have a much more pungent and spicy aroma. I notice that when I repeatedly take in the fragrance of the leaves, there is a ‘clearing’ effect in my sinuses. Upon tasting the leaves I immediately notice a strong menthol flavor. I do not feel drawn to tasting the blooms. When connecting with White Yarrow through touch I am most struck by the firmness of the stem, contrasted by the soft and fuzzy texture of the leaves, and the slightly firm yet delicate qualities of the precious white blooms.
II. THE ARTISTIC
Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things. 1972
Artschwager Kay, Margarita. Healing with Plants. 1996
Castelman, Michael. The Healing Herbs…The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature’s Medicines. 1991
Tudge, Colin. The Variety of Life…A survey and a celebration of all the creatures that have ever lived. 2000
Jane Ellen’s private practice of “Transitional Integration” invites clients to Explore, Discover and Create. Her practice is built upon her background as a Registered Polarity Practitioner, Intuitive Coach, Flower Essence Consultant, and Retreat and Workshop Facilitator. She has also been trained in Hakomi Somatics Trauma work, Non-Violent Communications, Basic Mediation, and Psychic Development, in addition to completing the FES Practitioner Training and a Hakomi Exploring Boundaries Workshop. Jane is also currently involved in the FES Certification Program.
Jane describes her healing work: “for
those of you who are in the midst of a transition and are seeking
integration; who resonate with gentle strength and are drawn to exploration,
discovery, and the creative process; for those of you who invite
simplicity, and learn from experiential exercises; who welcome the
voice of your own innate Wisdom, and wish to enhance your use of
Breath and your ability to soften; or who want to invoke Presence
and inner Stillness.”
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