Most of early spring, before the threat of frost has passed, I watch the garden to see who will pop up first. Usually, it's dandelion. The second plant to pop up in our magical garden this season is lovely violet. Violet, when it shows its pretty face mid April, makes me feel like all is right with the world and Spring's promise is coming even though the temps are still dipping instead of rising!
Violet is profuse and easily propagates itself around the yard wherever it may. We always leave it in the garden to keep the cultivars company and to help remind them of their own wild ways. You can recognize it before the flowers bloom by its heart shaped leaves and its rhizome root balls that look a bit like turmeric root, but white.
Here in the North East the violet we use in medicine making is the sweet violet violet odorata. Perhaps some of you, dear readers, have popped the flower head off its stem and eaten the succulent gland underneath to get a "bit of honey" on a hot summers day? These violets are prolific and easy to find. They are cool and moist and support the relief of hot and aggravated symptoms in the body.
Violets are steeped in folklore.This is an excerpt from The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl, referencing voilet's use for those grieving the loss of a loved one.
"violets will bring comfort to the hearts of those left behind. This virtue is not limited to these times of sorrow, but may be gained by either tending a bed of violets, or by collecting the fresh blossoms and using them, such as sprinkling them on a salad."
Violets are especially auspicious for women. How serendipitous that they appear so close to Mother's Day!
"Violets carry also the virtues of modesty, simplicity, serenity, peace and are particularly a source of inspiration and good fortune for women.
One of my favorite stories was passed onto me from another herbalist about how she uses violets to release grief and much needed tears after a difficult event or time.
She told me about her daughter who was struggling with some personal issues and hadn't yet cried about it. She told her, "I need to make violet honey, please come and help me harvest." When the daughter arrived they started clipping the flowers and before long, her daughter started to weep quite uncontrollably. The mother kept harvesting and allowed her daughter the space she needed to release. After they finished their harvest, her daughter told her, "This was just want I needed. I'm not sure why I was crying, but i feel much better."
I didn't quite believe this was possible, but decided I would give it a try. So one difficult Spring, a few years back, I harvested violets in the large field outside my house. Either through the power of suggestion, or the magic of the violet medicine, I started crying. The more I harvested, the more I cried, until I was all cried out . It felt like a 2 ton weight had been lifted from my heart and mind. I've never looked at violets the same since. I hold reverence for the emotional and spiritual healing properties violet brings, as well as all the other healing gifts they posses.
Violet leaves infused in olive oil can be used for all sorts of inflammatory skin conditions, and the flowers make a lovely purple tea which can also be turned into syrup, while the leaves can be used for tea to clear out the lymphatic system after a long winter, or support the prevention of upper respiratory issues.Violet is the color of the crown chakra and violet flower essence can help one to connect more fully to their spiritual center.
In China and Europe, violet is utilized as treatment in cancer patients and has been studied specifically in relationship to breast cancer. It is high in antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C which have extensive healing properties. It is used as an expectorant, in skin and eye disorders and to lower blood pressure.
The violets are blooming so this is the perfect time to sit with this lovely plant and get to know her better for yourself. Who knows what secrets she has to teach you.
If you are harvesting violets, consider making this syrup with the wild flower heads.