Come to think of it, I don't even know her botanical name. "Russian Sage" say the nursery labels. Bah - no matter. She shines with green-silver glory as perfect as a summer full moon. When I pet her she coats my hands with her sticky sage resin, delighting my senses. Her feathered leaves remind me a little of Yarrow, and the ability to heal wounds. Her resin along with a woody lower stem is signature of the woody mints; Rosemary, Sage, Lavender. I am guessing she is a true Salvia; mint (those common names can be deceiving so I never make assumptions - but her traits claim that of the mints which are quite unmistakable). There is something, too, perhaps in the almost bitter nature, that reminds me of Wormwood even though that is an Artemisia. And I think of Juliette Levy's passion for Southernwood and feel akin. But similarities aside, her unique energy is that of a strong female, of long lineage, and of retaining tribal pride.....the blood of the Medicine Woman.
In a quest for some light on my rumored Russian lineage, I sent a quick email to my Dad, who promptly responded. Here is the account: (for your reading clarity I will tell you that "Jim" is my paternal Grandfather):
"Hi Dad, I know this is a strange question, but I am curious if you know any information about our lineage, specifically, that you once told me included a small amount of Russian blood?
"never really confirmed past rumours and I wish I HAD....but I heard that on Jim's (side), a couple or so generations back Jim's grandfather changed name from COHEN to CLARK and married a non-jewish girl. and I am fuzzy, but somebody was the chief gardener for the last Czar, a russian jew. that's all I know. -dad"
"Thanks - very interesting! Always wondered about that. I feel a strong connection to Russian Gypsies :). I'm feeling a need to uncover my lineage with more clarity, in hopes of gaining a stronger sense of self, roots, and belonging. I might go use the genealogy contraption at Borders. LoveA"
"your roots are in the Cosmic Mother and Divine Father"
(Aw! Love you Dad!)
And so it goes with my own self as an unidentified being......
The Russian Sage grows here (CT) better than the Rosemary, Sage, or Lavender; more hearty and larger, flowering more abundantly and both heat and drought tolerant, although she likes good rich soil even if it's rocky. I've taken my first small harvest, and in return will fortify her soil with good organic soil food. My instincts tell me to take care if using her internally, she is strong and somewhat bitter. But for external use she is a powerful effective healer, mending skin and healing rapidly. And so I decide to make a salve.
Into the little pot of warm olive oil she went, yesterday, and has been bathing in it all night. It's turning a gorgeous cloudy light green, just like my Salvia apiana does, indicating the good resins coming forth. The fragrance is sharp and full. Later, I will strain out the plant matter, and melt in some good wads of Pine pitch, making a dense and fragrant healing salve for all sorts of forest annoyances like mosquito bites, slivers, rashes, etc.
If she grows big enough next year, I will bind some stalks together with Lavender to make a special smudge wand. Or maybe I will buy a couple more plants. For now, I will just worship the ground she grows in.