Today, the Sun enters the sign of Scorpio. In early times, Scorpio was ruled by the planet Mars; now, it is considered to be ruled by Pluto. (If you're worried that Pluto's recent demotion from planet status to "dwarf planet" will change your astrological signature, read this explanation of why it won't.)
In China's Book of Days, you'll find an interesting entry for October 23, about Scorpio herbs. (Don't tell anybody, but China didn't write that entry--I did! In fact, I wrote all the pieces about herbs and astrology that appear in China's book. It's one of my special interests, along with Tarot and the I Ching, things like that. If you've ever visited my shop, The Crystal Cave, you'll understand.)
Until a few hundred years ago, the idea of writing about astrology and herbs together would have seemed perfectly natural. In earlier times, people saw all things as parts of one coherent whole. They applied their understanding of one aspect of the cosmos—the planets, say—to all other parts: the plants and animals, as well as the human body. In this scheme of things, certain herbs were classified as “belonging” to certain planets. So if you were born under that planet’s influence, or if you had some sort of ailment related to that planet, you would have a special interest in those herbs.
Scorpio is said to rule the process of catabolism and anabolism, the continuous death and regeneration of body cells, and cleansing and the elimination of toxins. Pluto’s regenerative and transforming influence also manifests itself in the sexual union (Mars rules sexual desire). So Scorpio herbs are those that help to cleanse, rejuvenate, and restore. They include (among others):
- Ginseng. The Chinese value ginseng above most other herbal remedies, using it as a general tonic, restorative, and aphrodisiac. Research suggests that ginseng combats stress and fatigue and may counteract the effects of toxins.
- Wormwood, southernwood, and other artemisias have been used to cleanse the body of intestinal parasites.
- Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) are traditional remedies for regularizing the menstrual cycles.
- Aloe vera has a laxative effect, cleaning the liver and kidneys. Used externally, the gel (which contains allantoin) helps to heal and regenerate tissue.
- Dong Quai root is a general tonic for menstrual cramps, irregular cycles, and menopause. It is also used as a blood purifier.
Even if you don't believe in a connection between the planets and plants and think this is all silly superstition, perhaps you'll find the history of this belief interesting.
Wonderful tales had our fathers of old--
Wonderful tales of the herbs and stars--
The Sun was Lord of the Marigolds,
Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars.
Put as a sum in division it goes--
(Every planet had a star bespoke)--
Who but Venus should govern the Rose?
Who but Jupiter own the Oak?
--Rudyard Kipling, "Our Fathers of Old"