April 26, 2018
I was on one of my favorite hikes in Sedona during springtime. It’s a hike that’s not very well known with tourists, so it’s quiet. It’s also full of green, from the piñon and juniper trees, making a beautiful contrast against the red rocks. There’s one huge rock that looks like the back of the Buddha’s head off in the distance as you’re walking up. When you reach the top, there’s a plateau, perfect for resting, walking around, looking out over the green and red valley or sitting down to meditate.
Last spring when I was on this hike, I saw the most fluorescent neon Indian Paintbrush flower I’d ever seen. I was inspired to go off trail and wandered around in the piñon trees where only Javelinas stroll. I ended up getting lost for a while, eventually finding my way.
If you are attracted to the Indian Paintbrush, you are most likely taking a new direction in a certain area of your life, creating a new plan of attack (so to speak) or forging a new path. Pioneering a new way can trigger doubts, over-analyzing or a sense of feeling lost. It can stimulate slight panic or fear about whether or not you’re capable of maneuvering through these new, uncharted waters. The process of finding your way—or finding a new way—can be a little unnerving.
Indian Paintbrush elixir magnifies clarity of our path. We are shown signs and indications of being on the right track. We are more able to listen and tune into benevolent supportive forces of nature, feeling confident and assured about the direction we’re going in. We’re more able to follow our hearts. We trust ourselves more deeply. We have more comfort in our abilities and we can feel or intuit our way through a situation (especially situations we’ve never been in before) and handle it like a pro. We feel the synchronicity of life; it seems magic is all around us. We’re more able to take breaks to sit quietly and really listen, tuning in so that we can pinpoint our next step.
Indian Paintbrush helps us embrace our own innate special qualities as well as our inner knowingness. We feel calmer and more comfortable within the uncomfortable sensations of forging a new path in our life. We feel supported and accompanied by our surroundings. We feel inspired to keep going.
Also, sometimes we forget that feeling lost can be a valuable part of learning. Just because we feel lost, doesn’t actually mean that we are lost. It can simply mean that we are rewriting an old/new story or disassembling to reassemble in a new way.
Getting "lost" provides just enough spaciousness and "not knowing" that it unravels preconceived notions or rigidity, along with old patterns and old ways of doing things. It shakes the rug out from under our feet so that we can restabilize ourselves in a new way. It enhances determination and conviction once we’re "back on track."
The Indian Paintbrush flower (Castilleja chromosa) is also known as Painted Lady, Prairie Fire and Butterfly Weed. Although the Crastilleja family has flowers in red, orange, yellow, pink, green, purple and white, the miniata variety is fluorescent red—literally an impossible neon color!
Indian Paintbrush is hemiparasitic, meaning that it survives symbiotically by using some of the nutrients and water from nearby roots of grasses and herbaceous plants.
Its flowers are edible and were eaten by some Native American tribes. In moderation + small amounts, the flower benefits are similar to eating garlic! The greens and roots of the plant were not eaten, however, because they absorb too much selenium from the environment.
Ojibwa tribes (where I grew up on the reservation in Wisconsin) have used the flowers for both rheumatism and for creating a hair wash for thick, shiny hair. Menominee used it as a love charm, and the Navajos used it as a contraceptive. Other tribes in Nevada historically used it to treat STDs and to boost the immune system. They were also used by several tribes to make a red dye.
Magnifies: Wayfinding; inner knowing; self-trust
Dissolves: Feeling lost or off track; doubts; fear
Inner Knowing allows you to hear and listen to your own inner compass with lucid clarity. You don’t need to intellectually ponder anything—you can trust your direct access to the inner knowing inside you. And you begin to realize that what’s best for you is actually what’s best for everyone else.
Love + flower petals,