An Upsurge of Light and My Adventures with St. John’s Wort (EHV-2)
Dang! I should have posted this on the Summer Solstice, but here it is now, just some Summer Reading.
Many years ago—I was in my early twenties—I had a vision that gave me an insight into what I was experiencing in my inner world and seeing in the world around me. It was simply this: Despite appearances to the contrary, Heaven and Earth are in the process of coming together. It was a vision, as opposed to a theological formulation, and it has stayed with me and helped me to understand the spiritual processes of healing and energywork.
This vision blended perfectly with one of the first spiritual/energetic teachings I ever received: the Earth and everything in it and on it is rising in vibrational frequency, becoming less dense, more infused with light. Here, I mean light not as a metaphor, but as the living, intelligent, ever-present power and source behind, in and through all that is, the Light (with a capital “L”) referred to in every religious and mystical tradition.
About the time of my vision of Heaven and Earth, I had begun having conscious experiences of Light—low-grade mystical experiences that didn’t leave me raving in the streets (close enough), but nonetheless served to radically change my perception of life. This made a great impact on me, and it explained something about the intense pace of life and world events all around me, the chaos and anarchy as well as the great discoveries and breakthroughs, matched by the accelerating rate at which things were changing in my own life and outlook. Even in those early experiences, it was apparent to me that this on-going upsurge of Light has vast implications for all of us, though at the time I could only guess at how far-reaching those implications were for us physically, psycho-spiritually, sociologically, environmentally, globally. Fortunately for me, I was also running into teachers who were familiar enough with the phenomenon of raising vibration to guide me, and who have given me tools for working with the Light.
It hasn’t stopped. If anything, my ability to appreciate the coming together of Heaven and Earth and what I’m calling the upsurge of Light has increased over the years. Energetic work and energy healing and the teaching and writing about it have become my main tools for working with Light and meeting the changes that are coming about in this world. And when I am able to look back and see the longish, but unbroken trail of threads and crumbs in my life, from the time of my first earliest Light experiences, through my years as a brother in Christian mystic order, through my time as a student of a clairvoyant healer in Europe and my firstling attempts at energy healing work, through to becoming a teacher and writer, I’m humbled and grateful.
Totem Plant: St. John's Wort
In this project of appreciating the upsurge of Light, I think I have found a new, benevolent totem from the natural world: St. John’s Wort. We go back many years, St. John’s Wort and I. At least I knew of it as hypericum perforatum in homeopathy, good for the tiny nerves in sensitive places on your body, like your fingertips. As I said, I think there is something going on lately between St. John’s Wort and me. If it were a dog, it would be following me around, but since it is a plant, it has found other ways to stalk me.
Years ago, my former wife and I were in counseling together. The therapist we were seeing was obviously well-schooled in psychopathology and as a result, she was able to see it everywhere. She was also a great believer in psycho-pharmaceutical wonders like Prozac and the like—“Better Living Through Chemistry”—and all but insisted that I go for a psychiatric evaluation.
So I did, and found myself sitting in the office of a doctor from Argentina. On the walls were various photos of both Freud and Jung and, interestingly, one of both Freud and Jung sitting together.
After a round of questions: Did I think about killing myself? No. Did I sleep more than normal? No. Did I eat regularly? Yes. Did I use drugs? No. , etc.—the doctor shook his head and said, “With your marriage on the rocks and the many things changing in your life, it is natural for you to feel depressed from time to time, but nothing you are showing me makes me think you need medication . . . Here is what I want you to do, Mr. Gilkeson . . . Go to Walmart and buy a bottle of St. John’s Wort. Take it when you feel the need.”
I have to admit it: it was kind of an anti-depressant to think of going back to the therapist and watching her blanch when I told her that the psychiatrist had prescribed St. John’s Wort from Walmart. I did take it a time or two—it was a depressing time—and it helped, though I didn’t know why at the time.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. Hot summer, Northern California. Neighbors harvested the flowers of St. John’s Wort and soaked them for six weeks in jars of olive oil, which they left outside in the sun. The result was a potent ruby-red oil, which they used for massage, diluted with massage oil. Using it stimulated the nerves in my fingers and bought on a mild euphoria. Remembering my Walmart anti-depressant, it made me curious once again about what this plant was about.
The Light Distribution Network
The key came to me when I listened to a lecture by Canadian homeopath Asa Herschoff, who explained that St. John’s Wort treats what he called the “light distribution network” in the body. Aha! This was his way of referring to the nervous system, but when he said it, it pointed to more than the physical nervous system. My mind went to the subtle counterpart of our nerves, referred to as the nadis in yoga, that serve the distribution of energy and consciousness around our systems. From that standpoint, it is easy to understand why St. John’s Wort is a natural anti-depressant; it gets light (Light), energy and consciousness moving again by healing the subtle network through which it travels.
St. John's Wort is a plant with solar connections. It derives its name from the fact that it blooms on the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, Mid-Summer’s Day, June 21st, when the sun is at its zenith. It turns out that St. John’s Day celebrates the day he was beheaded (the ruby-red tincture it produces are the blood of St. John). The early Christians, trying to edge out Baldur, the god of Light, celebrated his decapitation at Summer Solstice. Pagans and Christians aside, every bit of lore about this plant goes to its solar qualities.
This summer, I came to realize that St. John’s Wort grows abundantly where we live in Northern California, in scratchy, dry places, near roadsides and depleted fields. I started seeing it literally everywhere. After a trip, I returned to find a terracotta bowl of brambly twiggy things on the kitchen counter, left behind by an anonymous visitor: St. John’s Wort seeds, harvested, then inadvertently left behind. Diane had started a new batch of oil, but it wasn’t ready yet. So I dug out a batch we had made two years before and it was still potent, still up to the task of stimulating the light distribution network.
Making your Own St. John’s Wort Oil
If you want to make a tincture like I described, try this:
Put the flowers in a jar soaked in olive or some other pure oil;
Use twice the volume of oil as the volume of flowers you have harvested;
Let the jar sit in the sun for six weeks,;
You can mix it, about 50/50 with massage oil.
PLEASE NOTE: All my sources say to not take St. John’s Wort internally and then go immediately into direct sunlight and I assume the same applies to external use.
Illustration by Aimee Eldridge. Used with permission.
Copyright © 2017 by Jim Gilkeson. All rights reserved.