I first moved to Taos, New Mexico, in 1998 out on the mesa, B007 Road, on the brim of the gorge.
I lived in suburbia most of my life and taking in the vastness of the view, as far as the eye can see, was an expansion I had to get used to. It took my breath away.
My address was “house by the windmill” off the grid. A crash course in chop wood carry water lifestyle. No TV. What does a girl do out on the mesa? I walk. I follow the trail. The coyote trail. Looking through the lens as a Western and Ayurveda Herbalist, I am aware that the desert is alive! The desert flora is lush with tiny flowers of yellow and purple in May, pre-summer, struggling to claim space among the thick sagebrush. The smell of the sage is both bewitching and enchanting! I notice too, how the pine and the pinon trees grow in plats, mostly in the arroyos (small canyons), surviving from what little catchment of rainfall in the high desert.
The sage, pinon, and pine on the mesa are hardy and tough, exposed to the elements, high wind, cold and arid conditions. You can’t deny the camphorous scent. It is pungent, sharp, a disinfecting type smell that is also invigorating and uplifting. The medicinal qualities from my years of herbal studies, I recalled, is also purifying, cleansing and boosts energy; antiseptic and anti-viral. Plants take on the constituents of their environment. I remember that in Northern California where I’m from, manzanita (also hardy and highly medicinal) grows in once devastated lands. Could the sage also grow in devastated lands? I was told that the mesa was covered in prairie grass in the Anasazi era. Mother Nature has its intelligence and typically, will grow plants that protect the land that has been disrupted in some way. These plants have healing powers.
If you stay long enough in the land of enchantment you hear stories. A Native American friend said the spirit of the sage offers healing for modern times. Certainly now, with the viral epidemic, it is useful with its anti-viral properties. And what of the virus itself? Is Mother Nature protecting herself? Whatever the cause, the remedy is in nature and her plants.
I continue to walk the land in and around Taos; the mountains, the alfalfa fields with running acequias, the age-old orange groves bordering latia fencing. Every nook and cranny of this magnificent land. I have come to understand that plants with a symbiotic relationship are the most powerful. They have a higher life force that offer immune building properties. I use these plants in my formulations; I infuse the sage, pinon and juniper and the gentler flowering plants of rosehip, primrose, licorice root and burdock that grow in a matrix along the riparian – high in vitamin C, also a powerful healing agent. I purpose all of these antiviral botanicals of the high desert and nourishing seed oils to make up the proprietary blend for my skincare lines, Desert Blends, db Taos body and Oshara face products. I use the whole plant, no compound, fillers or synthetics. I believe that you must maintain the symbiosis and potency of the plant in its wholeness to offer its healing properties.
As the world looks for answers, look to Mother Nature and her intelligence. Take a walk. Become aware of your surroundings. Notice the plants, the texture, the taste, the smell. What are they telling you? Plants are adapters. What are they adapting to? What is your environment? Often the remedy is within a ten foot reach.
Humans have used plants as medicine for as long as we’ve existed. Restoring balance to our world, we need only look to our sacred Mother Earth for healing. Follow the coyote. She knows.
Written for TaoStyle – April 2020