Health

Mars, Aries and the Solar Plexus Chakra

Having now entered into the Tropical sign of Aries with the Spring Equinox on 21 March, the focus shifts to our Manipura or Solar Plexus (3rd) chakra located just above the navel area. This is the natural New Year where we can finally grow a little further above the surface of the earth, but it is still a vulnerable time (especially this year astrologically as you will see below). Aries is a cardinal sign - all cardinal signs mark the big seasonal changes during the year and this one is represented by the element of Fire which ignites new life and the solar force beginning to strengthen in the natural year. Mars is the ruling planet of this sign and chakra and also rules Scorpio associated with the fixed Water element. Fire and Water go hand in hand in the early stages of creation (remember that the previous Sacral chakra is also associated with these two elements). I see the Sacral chakra at Pisces time as the more gentle, feminine creative and intuitive force (mutable Water) in which ideas are nurtured in the womb before being realised out into the world at the masculine driven Solar Plexus during Aries (cardinal Fire). 

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The Solar Plexus is all about willpower and in the case of Aries we can see this very clearly in the   representation of the Ram's head (headstrong), Aries does actually rule the head in medical astrology and sticking one's head above the parapet and coming out of hibernation are resonate with Spring. So essentially this is finally when we can begin to take practical worldly action towards manifesting our dreams and goals conceived during Aquarius and Pisces, by making use of the action based driven qualities of Mars to support us. I would say this with a caveat this Spring however, as Mars is actually currently in conjunction with Saturn in Tropical Capricorn (ruled by Saturn) and this can cause some delays as Saturn constricts and slows everything right down. He is also approaching his retrograde period (April 17) so is even more potent in energy as he comes to a standstill. We also have a retrograde Jupiter and invisible and retrograde Mercury to contend with at this time, so please don't be surprised if things don't take start to take solid shape just yet. Delays are all part of God's plan it seems at this time and we are being tested to find that extra Fire within to nourish and flourish this year! There will likely be a revisiting of the earlier part of the year as Saturn retraces his steps, so it is literally a question of going over old ground and revising or redefining plans etc at the Root chakra level. Patience is key but with extra hard work Saturn always rewards so don't give up! As an aside, I sense that the repeated and sudden cold snaps in the UK are also to do with Saturn exerting his power over Mars (remember that he rules Cold / Dry Earth element).

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On a physical level the Solar Plexus is associated with digestion and so here the Fire element really comes into play. If natally your Mars or Aries is strong and emphasised then you might find you have a strong Fire constitution and tendency towards heartburn, indigestion, anger, frustration, stress and inflammation in general, but especially at this time of the year. Again as with the Sacral chakra, balancing this out with some Water element qualities, adding alkaline nutrition and avoiding/limiting stimulants from your diet can help to cool and aid with natural flow and of course vice versa if you have a Fire deficiency. As with all constitutional work, best to find out your type to get a better understanding of the nutrition, herbs and exercises that you can work with to best suit you as an individual. Please note, as I mentioned before in my previous blog on Pisces, there are many systems of working with the elements such as medical astrology, TCM and Ayurveda and different bodily rulerships are looked at - here I am simply focussing on the chakra / zodiac perspective! Ideally we need a good balance of all the elements, but it is good to work with the seasons as the prevalent elements at those given times become triggered and more active in our consciousness and natural environment. 

In general there are some easy things one can do to support the Solar Plexus including exposure to sunshine (Vit D) and warmth - essential in early Spring when we are coming out of the Winter darkness. The more physical yang/Sun based Western yoga is also very much a Solar Plexus / masculine orientated practice (as opposed to Yin or Moon Yoga). Although it is Mars that rules the Solar Plexus, as its name gives away, the Sun is also of importance - both share heat as properties and Fire. Moderate according to your constitution, but this practice would help someone with underactive Fire especially, not those who are heavily yang in constitution - then you are best suited to Yin or Moon practice to bring out the feminine flow. If you find you have surges of energy at this time as is natural during Spring then try to channel these into exercise, creative pursuits, gardening and helping others so that the energy flows (Water element) up and out of the body and doesn't remain stuck - this is the time for more external activity (increased daylight hours) and being proactive (Martian qualities).

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In terms of the Tarot, Temperance and the Strength cards relate to Mars - the former being the feminine qualities (notice the Water in the image - keeping the Ego in check) and the latter the masculine (Courage to face fears and challenges). So again one can exercise Temperance with an excessive Mars / Aries / Fire bringing in more of the feminine Scorpio / Water side of things and vice versa. The two go hand in hand and are essential for maintaining health and building dreams throughout the natural year. In Cardology (reading the Playing Cards) the suit of Hearts comes into play at Spring Equinox and represents Water and the Fruits in nature - it is preceded by the Spades, which represent Fire and the Life Force in nature - so again we can see obvious synergies and interchanges with these two elements moving from Winter to Spring and encouraging new sparks (Fire) and shoots / fruit buds (Water) of life.

Keep an eye out during Aries for more on the Solar Plexus including herbs, recipes, crystal info and aromatherapy! Do also check out my Spring sale with 30% off selected items in honour of the 3rd chakra!

Crystals for Sacral Chakra Support

Here are a few suggestions of crystals to work with for Sacral chakra support. These are usually best placed on the lower abdomen or lower spinal area during healing or meditation. You should ideally take the time to tune into the stones yourself before purchasing as each will vibrate differently even if they are the same kind! Once purchased cleansing by using incense smoke, running water (if non porous) or burying in brown rice then charging under the full moon, over your heart chakra by sending in light from this area, or in direct sunlight; followed by verbal dedication to the course are recommended before use.

Crystals for this area are generally orange in colour, sometimes with white or grey bands. This I feel echoes the planet Jupiter who governs this chakra. The stones listed below are not under his rulership but they work well to balance this area which should ideally be warm and moist in constitution as Jupiter rules the elements water and fire (see my previous blog on Pisces Season and the Sacral Chakra). This way menstrual health in particular can be maintained and supported as these are optimal conditions for the womb.

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Orange Calcite -  This stone balances emotions along with the masculine and feminine energies. It grounds excessive enthusiasm and inspires joy and happiness whilst supporting the kidneys and lower digestive function. A useful stone for IBS sufferers. It lies under the planetary rulership of the Sun and relates to the Fire element so does well to warm the area, useful if you are prone to low Fire and or excessive Water or Earth in particular.

Carnelian - A friendly and healing stone and my all time favourite for the Sacral chakra. Carnelian is ruled by the Sun, brings the element of Fire and is a good balancing stone and energiser. It can boost creativity, sexuality and self-esteem along with reinforcing connection to the inner self. Again like calcite it can bring equilibrium between the masculine and feminine aspects of your being. It supports the gallbladder, kidneys and pancreas and can aid with tissue regeneration. I work with carnelian in my healing sessions and when blending my Chakra Teas and also include it in both Chakra Body Scrubs and in the Creativity Chakra Aroma Roller

Crocoite - Ruled by Mars, this stone brings the Fire element (stronger than the Sun ruled stones) and stimulates sexual energy and passion. It provides stamina in life-changing situations and promotes new creative ideas. Crocoite can bring about self confidence, particularly in relationships and is known to support people through divorce. 

Halite - This stone relates to the Water element and is governed by the Moon. It is useful for cases of water retention in the body and can reduce swelling. Halite being mutable energetically like the moon, has a balancing effect on the emotions, helping to even out mood swings and hormone levels. Its general settling effect can also be useful for easing digestive discomforts. If you have an excess of Water (Phlegmatic or Kapha) then this stone can help to balance your constitution.

Copper - A metal traditionally associated with Venus and the Earth element, copper can also be used to support sacral health as in medical astrology Venus rules the ovaries and Libra (the sign it governs) rules the fallopian tubes, lumbar spinal region, kidneys and hormonal balancing. Copper revitalises as it conducts energy very effectively (think electrical wiring) so great for boosting chi and also eliminating toxins. It is warmer in nature than other metals and will amplify the effects of any stone it is placed with, especially those ruled by Venus such as diamonds and clear quartz.

Bean Feast Chilli

Fire up your chakras

A traditional chilli is one of those all time classics that works very well as a wholesome vegan dish. I decided to use adzuki alongside the black beans as they are low in fat, full of protein, soluble fibre and help to lower harmful LDL cholesterol.

The dish works with all the chakras, primarily to warm up and stimulate the root and brow chakras so great to boost a sluggish / cold system during the winter months. 

 Photography by Adrian Lawrence, 2015

Photography by Adrian Lawrence, 2015

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup / 185g Dried Adzuki Beans (soaked overnight in cold water and drained)

1 Cup / 180g Dried Black Turtle Beans (soaked overnight in cold water and drained)

2 tbsp Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

1 Red Onion, sliced

2 Garlic Clove, sliced

1 Red Chilli, finely chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper

1 Yellow Bell Pepper

1 ¾ cup / 100g Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Cayenne

2 x 14 oz / 400g Canned chopped tomatoes

Bunch of Fresh Coriander, chopped

2 Cups / 320g Brown Basmati Rice

Sea Salt and Pepper

Garnish:

1 Lime cut into wedges

4 tsp Chia Seeds

2 Avocados, chopped

METHOD

Rinse the soaked adzuki and black beans separately in fresh cold water. Place in separate pans of water and boil for 15 minutes, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and set the beans aside.  

Warm the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the chilli to the pan, stir through, and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add the peppers and mushrooms to the pan with the spices and stir thoroughly for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes, beans, and coriander. Simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, rinse the rice. Place it in a medium-sized pan with 4 cups / 950ml water and a pinch of salt and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes until all the water has absorbed. Serve the rice and chilli on warmed plates. Add lime wedges, scatter with the chia seeds, and serve with the chopped avocado on the side, if using.

Recipe from The Chakra Kitchen: Feed your Body to Nourish your Spirit, CICO Books, 2015

Crystals for Root Chakra Support

As promised in my previous post Capricorn, Saturn and the Root Chakra here are some crystals that can be used to support the Root chakra. These are usually best placed at the base of the spine and/or between the thighs, knees and at the base of the feet during meditation or healing sessions, but feel free to experiment. You should ideally take the time to tune into the stones yourself before purchasing as each will vibrate differently even if they are the same kind! Once purchased cleansing by using incense smoke, running water (if non porous) or burying in brown rice then charging under the full moon, over your heart chakra by sending in light from this area, or in direct sunlight; followed by verbal dedication to the course are recommended before use.

In general the stones listed below for the Root chakra fall into two main categories 1) warming, stimulating and engaging or 2) cooling, distancing and protective. The former work well to counteract constriction, stagnation and the cooler and constricting aspects of the Saturnian influence in this chakra. For instance one who suffers from constipation or poor circulation to the extremities, general melancholy or a "stuck in the mud" attitude might do well to work with a warming red toned stone or hematite to lift the mood and get things going. The latter black stones work more to calm down an overactive, hyper or "angry" system/temperament and earth the excess energy. They also physically protect, acting as good shields often deflecting negative forces or earthing them. This is especially useful when ill or recovering from anything traumatic where the defences might be down. 

Hematite I feel sits somewhere between the two categories mentioned above, both in its colour and temperament. Even though it is stimulating it also seems to ground energy really well in a stabilising way and is also a good protector. Black Tourmaline follows somewhere between Hematite and Onyx in the spectrum of coolness.   

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Garnet - A warming stone that energises and can evoke fortitude and courage (inner strength). It is able to cleanse at a deep level by removing toxins. Garnet is a powerful stone that stimulates and helps to get ideas and projects off the ground so to speak! In other words long lasting foundations can be laid in all areas of life (including relationships) working with this stone as it helps get one into the right state of mind. Garnet is one of those humbling stones that can bring you more into your authenticity with confidence and help you to platform yourself out in the world, bringing both stable material, physical and emotional achievements in its wake. The SWILK Strength Chakra Aroma Roller contains this stone. Like Ruby below the Sun is the associated planet with this stone, but I would say it is the more stimulating of the two.

Red Jasper - This stone grounds both spiritually and emotionally and is a tonic for the whole body thus working well with the immune system. It eases the path to change so very useful for people who are stuck in the mud and fixed in their ways and find it hard to move forward in new directions. When conducting spiritual/psychic work, Red Jasper can act as a safe anchor to Earth and also supports stamina by encouraging the slow release of energy. It is a very practical stone, helping one to reach solutions in a grounded way and a good stone to aid with physical repairs of the body. 

Ruby - Ruby is a gentler and more steadying stone associated with the Sun. It can bring vitality, charisma, and success to those who work with it. The polarity of warmth (Sun ruling the uppermost 6th or 7th chakra depending on the system being used) works particularly well in balancing out a stagnant and cold Root chakra. It is a fantastic stone for providing a sense of security and self-esteem and has the ability ground and steady a person helping them with everyday life. Ruby can help to attract wealth and also eases menstrual cycle issues. I generally work with Ruby in Chakra Sessions for the Root and it forms part of the SWILK set of luxury Chakra Crystals.

Hematite - A very good tonic for the blood and circulatory system, Hematite has an energising yet stabilising effect. It grounds and anchors electrical currents and energy so is very useful to have around when feeling spaced out. Hematite supports all aspects of the mind and body and can help to realise dreams and spiritual concepts on the earth plane. A stone that can help with increasing self-esteem and brings about a general sense of strength and security - very empowering. This stone is high in iron content, which is the metal associated with firey Mars the other so called hotter "malefic" planet or brother to Saturn. In this way they can be used similarly to the stones above ruled by the Sun to counteract elemental imbalances in the Root i.e. excess cold and constriction.  

Black Tourmaline - This stone protects the user from negative forces by deflection, it also grounds and provides a sense of security with its very strong affiliation to the element Earth. It is a powerful healer of mental disorders with the ability to stabilise the emotions. It brings realignment and structure to ones life, strengthening the will to meet change and new challenges. Black Tourmaline can help with elimination as it has a detoxifying effect and supports healthy weight loss. It is also a soothing stone for the skeletal and muscular systems. Black Tourmaline contains some iron, so it isn't as cooling in effect as Onyx, but not quite as energising as Hematite. 

Onyx - An excellent stone to use when trying to let go of the past and releasing karma from the Root chakra. It has a calming effect and can balance out hot tempers, irritability and excitability in people. It grounds and concentrates energy and encourages stillness and introspection. Onyx can have the effect of making one appear invisible to others and become more of a recluse (reflecting the more melancholic, detached and impersonal side of Saturn). So unless you are incredibly "Martian" (excess fire) in constitution and attitude and really need to tone things down and take a step back, then best to work with a second more stimulating stone such as Ruby so that you remain interactive with other people and not completely cool and aloof. 

If you would like to delve into your chakras further and receive more in-depth support and guidance then consider one-to-one Chakra Sessions with me, where I work with crystals alongside other healing methods to suit you. 

 

The REAL New Year and How to Prepare

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It's that time of the year again when most of us are in a slight blur from overindulgence of food, family, people in general, shopping and tv. This natural rise in energy that peaks in the days running up to Christmas has been a long standing part of modern day life. It is really no wonder that as we hit January it often brings dissolution and lackluster feelings, especially once we get into weeks 2-3 after the initial excitement and good intentions wear thin.

I believe that if we tune into the natural cycles of the seasons then really the true "New Year" is is marked by the Spring Equinox (the time when the plane of the equator passes over the centre of the sun), landing on Tuesday 20 March in 2018 - just 81 days from now. Just because the Gregorian calendar marks 1st January as a starting point doesn't mean that it naturally is or always has been. The Spring Equinox date marks the start of the astrological calendar in the sign of Pisces (Sidereal Zodiac) and Aries (Tropical Zodiac). With this in mind, I would recommend giving yourself a break here with the hasty resolutions and instead first release the old and take your time throughout January, February and early March to let your dreams unfold and sew the seeds as they come. Here are some tips to get you prepared for the REAL New Year:

  • Use the remainder of this week to give thanks for all the experiences of 2017 post Spring Equinox, (which was also 20th March this year as it happens), be they perceivedly negative or positive to you - remember we and our personal journeys are part of a much bigger and incomprehensible picture. To take this a step further, list these experiences on paper and then on the night of 1st January (note the Full Moon energy will already be in effect as it reaches 100% at around 2:25am GMT on 2nd January) take a quiet moment, light some candles and release your list of memories from the year by burning them and giving prayers of thanks. You can in fact repeat this for the next 2 Full Moons that occur before the Spring Equinox (Wednesday 31st January and Friday 2nd March) and add anything else that occurs during those moon cycles that you wish to release. Remember 3 is the magic number! The full moon is all about culmination and release so this is an ideal time to let go whatever no longer serves you. It really is not the best time however to start anything new e.g. good old resolutions, unless you set intentions for it/them at the last Black and New Moon and have actually taken solid action as the moon has been waxing, a moment after the moon is 100% full you are working with waning energy so it won't support you so well in any new endeavours. The following step will guide you on working with the Black and New Moon for intention setting.
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  • January is an excellent time to start considering your wants and needs for the true year ahead so start planning your goals and dreams and make a list. When you hit the Black Moon on Wednesday 15th January set the intentions you have via ritual and prayer, no burning involved this time! Follow your instincts, but I would recommend leaving your list somewhere sacred to you or even start creating a vision board for the year with images to back up your ideas. This can be added to as you come up with new things throughout the first half of the year (I would suggest adding at the Black Moon each month for extra power). Once the moon becomes visible it is the New Moon (3 days after the invisibility of the Black Moon) e.g 18th January you can start to take baby steps of action towards your goals and intentions, but the real call to action for major steps forward and exposure would be on the Spring Equinox itself as the New Moon lands only a couple of days before on Sunday 18th March so will be visible at this time. You can of course keep sewing seeds of intention after this point whilst the ground is fertile so to speak, but as a cut-off time for 2018 additions I would use the longest day of the year - Summer Solstice on Thursday 21st June. This still allows time for seeds to germinate and create a rich harvest in the Autumn. Anything after this point may not come to fruition as quickly as you may like, BUT do go with your own instincts on this if you feel differently. 
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  • Remember to keep well nurtured and rested until the Spring Equinox, this is still hibernation time for recharging the batteries and really not ideal for excessively hitting the gym or doing anything of great physical exertion! You can't go far wrong expanding your mind by delving into good books and educational videos, alongside spiritual practice, nutritious foods, warm teas and the odd bit of period drama! Just remember to keep some gentle exercise in, walking out in nature, and/or a swim and then hit the sauna if you can (health permitting) to keep some dryer warmth in the body during this cold and damp time. This can be particularly good for those with poor circulation who get cold at the extremities, but do read the safety notices before entering a sauna, or check with a medic if you have a diagnosed condition and are unsure.
  • On the nutritional side I would really make an extra effort to eat the chakra rainbow! This will keep you sustained and immunity boosted to get you through the rest of the year. Some of my staple favourites to include are: jerusalem artichokes (full of prebiotic inulin that feeds probiotic organisms to help boost immunity and prevent "bad" bacteria from growing), beetroot, ginger (antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic), turmeric, steamed leafy greens, cinnamon, pears and elderberries (truly the best for Vitamin C and can be found in my winter warming Chaka Tea Flame). For more organic, plant-based recipe ideas for the winter months and nutritional information check out my cookbook The Chakra Kitchen.
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  • Invest in Eucalyptus essential oil to diffuse in the house, this will keep germs at bay and create a lovely fresh and energising atmosphere. Combine with Rosemary for clarity and a brain boosting combo to aid in stimulating new ideas for your vision board or try my new Creativity and Insight Chakra Aroma Rollers to help you on your way.

Whatever it brings, I wish you all a very Happy 2018 and hope that it is filled with lots of good health, adventure, courage and love and that you start to reap the benefits of working with the moon and the natural cycle of the seasons. 

Sarah x