I have a deep reverence for Yarrow. It's one of those plants that has seen me through a lot of transition and transformation. The spirit of Yarrow feels especially ancient. You know that feeling of absolute stillness you get when you stand in a very old and very sacred place? That's the feeling I get from Yarrow AND the sense I get this time of year right before life bursts forth from the earth.
Yarrow has long been known as a wound remedy, and while this is without a doubt true of physical wounds, it's also a wonderful energetic medicine for healing emotional wounds. It is an excellent ally for those who are energetically sensitive and don't have strong boundaries.
Medicinally, Yarrow is used as a digestive bitter, a diaphoretic, a wound medicine, and a topical anti-inflammatory. It lowers blood pressure, relieves menstrual cramps, regulates heavy menstrual bleeding, and aids in all manner of urogenital issues (it is associated with Venus after all).
Yarrow's scientific name, Achillea millefolium, refers to Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War. His mother made him invincible to wounds by holding him in the fire all night and healing him again in the morning. Only at his heels, where she held him, was he vulnerable. After he was struck with a deadly arrow in this one unprotected spot, Aphrodite, the goddess associated with this plant, told him to place Yarrow on the wound, and it healed immediately.
Yarrow gives us the strength to look within ourselves to see our own “Achilles heel”, or where our sacred wound lies. Though it doesn’t just show us our weak points so we can dwell on them, it gives us the clarity and courage to integrate our shadows and heal our deepest traumas so that we can fully embody our light.
The ability of Yarrow to stop bleeding and heal wounds, as well as its affinity for moving blood to where it needs to go, is evident in many of its common names: soldier's woundwort, knight's milfoil, nose bleed, carpenter's weed, bloodwort, and staunchweed.
Though Yarrow, as a wound medicine, is under the rule of Mars, it has deep associations with Venus, as is suggested by some of its names - virgin's herb, herbe de Notre Dame, and Margaret's herb.
And, fun fact: Before the Benedictine monks began using hops, Yarrow and other bitter and aromatic herbs were used to flavor beer!
But what about for use in skin care?
Cooling and stimulating, Yarrow soothes inflammation and irritation while stimulating blood flow to encourage healing and repairing tissue. Some of my favorite plants to pair it with in skin care include: Chamomile, Plantain, Helichrysum, and, of course, Calendula. It works beautifully in formulas for acne and blemishes as well as dry or damaged skin as it calms inflammation, mends tissue, and, energetically, gives us strength. Or perhaps it simply reminds us of our own inner strength and resilience.