By Ashley Litecky Elenbaas, MS, RH(AHG)
Today, the sun moves into the summery sign of Leo and the planet Venus ruling beauty and skin, turns retrograde and joins the sun. Both of these signatures point toward a tendency toward heat and dryness especially when it comes to the skin and beauty. If we are planning on spending time outdoors it is likely that our skin will be exposed to the sun’s rays. Lucky for us there are ancient signatures from the planets and plants that can help us understand and negate the harmful effects of the sun.
Ancient astrologers viewed the sun as having mixed qualities, both benefic and malefic. Considering the health promoting effects of the sun and the potentially harmful effects of overexposure we can see the mixed-bag that the sun presents. It is well known that our bodies require and flourish from regular sun exposure. The production of mood boosting and cancer protecting Vitamin D is dependent on direct exposure to sunlight on our skin and in our eyes (so be sure to take off your sunglasses for at least 15 min each day while sun basking!). However, our favorite gas combusting star also can cause dehydration, sunburn, skin cancers, and in some cultures what is termed “premature aging”.
Ptolemy in his book On Generation and Corruption, spoke of the sun as having governance over all of the elements and its primary action as heating and drying while the moon was responsible for humidifying. Plutarch says that we receive our soul from the moon and our mind from the sun. Servius, a fourth-century commentator on Virgil states that we receive “pneuma from the Sun, body from the moon, blood from Mars, inventiveness from Mercury, desire for honors from Jupiter, passion from Venus, and tears from Saturn. With the Sun and Venus together in the sign of Leo, a sign that is sun ruled and governs the heart and passions we are setting ourselves up for a steamy summer and one where hydration and cooling down periodically is a must.
According to Nicholas Culpepper, an astrologer, herbalist, botanist, and physician from the 16th century, we can incorporate plants that are ruled by the sun into our diets to negate the harmful heating and drying effects that the planet brings.
Here is a list of plants for healthy summer skin and their bodily and planetary signatures:
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – This plant, also called marigold, merry-gold, mary’s gold is noted by 16th century medical astrologer Cornelius Agrippa as being ruled by the sun. When taken internally as a tea, Calendula is depurative and mildly detoxifies the system through the stimulation of lymph fluids. This can help the skin become more radiant and clear. As an external remedy, Calendula is a wonderful skin and eye remedy. Soak the flowers in water overnight and place in the refrigerator. Strain and soak a rag in the filtered tea and apply as a beauty soak for the face especially if your skin tends toward redness or rosacea. Medicinally you can apply a cool compress of the tea to hot rashes or sunburn. Calendula is also antimicrobial and if you get a hiking or gardening wound during your summer adventures use a cool tea compress or salve to help the wound to heal and to reduce scarring. For more ideas and recipes visit Wellness Mama’s site.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – While chamomile is well known for its relaxant properties it is little known for its many benefits for the liver and for the skin. 16th century astrologer, Nicholas Culpepper speaks of this plant and its many virtues including its ability to take away all pains, stitches, weariness and melancholy. As a bitter plant Chamomile supports detoxification of the blood by the liver which can help with clearing the skin especially from hormone related acne. Topically, chamomile is moistening and anti-inflammatory making it a great face wash for dry or inflamed skin. Apply a cooled cup of chamomile tea with a wash cloth or in a spray bottle to the skin. Or use cooled tea bags on the face or eyes as a simple way to reduce summer redness. Chamomile also contains a compound called alpha-bisabolol which is said to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by accelerating the healing process of the skin.
Yellow Honey – While honey isn’t technically a plant it is an important golden remedy and food revered throughout human history. Honey is made through the alchemy of the sun’s light, flower pollen, nectar, resin, and the hard work of honey bees. Medical astrologer Cornelius Agrippa places yellow honey under the rulership of the sun and mentions its use for afflictions of the sun. Raw yellow honey is full of active enzymes and is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, and antioxidant. Use raw honey directly on the skin as a face mask to help exfoliate dead dry layers of skin and to reduce redness. Honey is also a humectant and will draw moisture from the air into your mask leaving you skin moisturized and clear. Leave this healing and sweet mask on your for 15 – 20 minutes and be sure to lick your lips at least once. Use a cool soft washcloth to remove making small circular clockwise movements. Use honey on sunburned areas as it restores hydration to the deepest layers of sun-exposed skin. Try mixing one part raw honey with two parts pure aloe vera gel as a topical full body sunburn treatment.
In addition to caring for your summer skin with topical plants and internal teas, be sure to increase your intake of water and add cooling fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, and salads to keep your skin looking vibrant and healthy!