Driftless Indigenous Herblore- Motherwort

Finding myself swinging between rage and despair for the umpeenth morning in a row, I was gifted by a sudden offer of large rocks to use in the medicine garden. When we are angry and afraid, our bodies ready us for fight or fight. In modern, colonialist culture, we regularly handle this by numbing ourselves with electronic devices or pharmaceuticals. We never burn off the energy that was preparing our muscles and brain for the fight or flight. That isn’t good. We need to physically work off that energy and momentum. So, what better way than to lug large chunks rock around the Driftless?

I lugged. I threw. I pushed and pulled 2 heavy loads. My bangs were plastered to my face, sweat in my eyes, but I kept noticing Motherwort, subtle in bloom. How appropriate.


You see, Motherwort, or, Leonurus cardiaca, it’s exactly what we all needed today, if not in plant form, most definitely in spirit.

When you see Motherwort, you notice her soft grace. She rises tall, her leaves drooping softly over the column of flowers in rows around the stem. Soft pink flowers are protected by prickly sepals around the square stem of her mint family lineage. Where she grows, she fully exists, spreading to a voluptuous size on the edges of the woods or in the sun spreckly shade. Rumor has it, if she isn’t growing in your yard and you invite her, she’ll move in. I haven’t had the need to invite her because one of my favorite neighbors has a patch growing on the side of her yard. Thanks, Lily.


Traditionally, Motherwort has been used for regulating menstrual cycles, reducing painful periods, but, also, to calm heart palpitations and reduce high blood pressure caused by anxiety, among other uses. Spiritually, and physically, she is said to give you the heart of a lion. Thus, Leonurus cardiaca, lion hearted. Not only that, but, her calming effect is described as “like getting a hug from your mother.” Motherwort can help you feel safer, more capable of holding yourself together: appropriate under the circumstances.

So, there she was, wanting to be noticed today. I told her about my worries and fears for these children, separated from their mothers, held in tent camps, in industrial spaces, wailing in anguish for mami and papi. I asked her spirit to please give her comforting hug to their spirits to help them feel more safe. I cried as I harvested, and thanked her, made tincture and cried some more. Thank goodness we have our plant allies to help us cope in these trying times. Stay strong. Resist.

The information in this article is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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