August 12, 2012

rattlesnake flower

Rattlesnake Euphorbia is one of those flowers that’s easy to miss. Most people would consider it a ‘weed’, but weeds are simply plants that whose special qualities have not yet been recognized. Subsequently, weeds are oftentimes the most-needed remedies – that’s why they persistently spring up in backyards, alleys, outside our windows and in our lawns.

Several years ago I discovered Rattlesnake Euphorbia growing all ovder the ground at our office. It’s a ground cover that looks like a vine and spreads out, hugging the earth with its green and red stems and tiny red and white flowers.

Worldwide there are 2100 different varieties of Euphorbia flowers, one of the most diverse groups of flowers. Euphorbias are sometimes called called ‘spurge’, which means ‘to purge’.

Rattlesnake Euphorbia is a special type of euphorbia native to only one place on the planet: the Santa Monica Mountains, a range of mountains created by the Raymond Fault line in Los Angeles, California. The Tongva and Chumash indigenous people lived in this particular area for 8000 years before the Spanish arrived. Since then, Rattlesnake Euphorbia has spread to all of the Southwestern states of the U.S., along with northern Mexico. It grows in fields, roadsides, yards or disturbed land.


In terms of its physical appearance, Rattlesnake Euphorbia has the typical shape that you see with other Euphorbias – in this case, the four petal-like bracts are white with a red center and pronounced red stamen. Ironically, the white and dark red petal-like bracts are actually not the flower – the actual flowers are extremely tiny, emerging from the center like little jewels on miniature pedestals.

Most people would consider this plant as a ‘weed’ or ‘urban weed’, which in this case means that the understanding of the plant’s special qualities has been lost over time.

Traditionally, Rattlesnake Euphorbia was commonly used as a tea or poultice by Native American tribes to cure rattlesnake bites. Also known as Yerba de la Vibora, or Viper Grass, this plant is known to be poisonous, secreting a milky sap which is an irritant to the skin, which protects it from getting eaten by animals. This plant is a perfect demonstration of the theory that sometimes ‘poison cures poison’ – that poisonous plants can be of great benefit when when used properly.

Rattlesnake Euphorbia is also known as a carthartic, a substance that expels toxins.

rattlesnake euphorbia

Diagram from euphorbiaceae.org

Just as Rattlesnake Euphorbia is a plant known for purging the body of toxins and poisons, it’s quality as a flower essence is to purge the mind.

A valuable remedy for our modern daily life, this flower’s specialty is to dissolve chronic stress and constant low-level tension that you’ve experienced over a long period of time that you may not even be aware of because it is ‘normal’. It shows up as pressure, deadlines and an unhealthy urgency. This kind of stress can is also evident as low-level worry, overwhelm and unknowingly overthinking the little stuff.

It’s the antidote for being in constant overdrive, trying to do too much and worrying about what other people think or need. It cuts through the ‘what if’-type thought forms, the tension around having to be ‘nice’ or politically correct and a perceived lack of the ability to be oneself – direct and truthful. Different from acute stress, it is kind of like a background noise that you’re not aware of until it ceases.

This kind of tension is especially amplified for certain professions like entrepreneurs, teachers, police, ER, doctors, magazine writers or anyone stressed about timing and deadlines. This also applies to anyone under constant pressure to perform.

Rattlesnake Euphorbia purges chronic, low-level tension, allowing for an experience of equanimity, which allows for more enjoyment and peacefulness. You can be more adaptable and ready for what life presents you. There is a seemingly effortless and joyous flow to what you do vs. being motivated by stress or pressure.

Rattlesnake Euphorbia

Instead of being amped up, you feel non-attached to any outcomes, which allow you to see more clearly. Without the low-level tension, you experience strength and self-assuredness. Instead of constantly feeling behind, you are more able to celebrate accomplishments and successes and feel happy about your contribution in life.

This is the perfect flower elixir for jumpstarting your retreat or vacation, or for incorporating in to massage, as it cuts through the low-level stress and tension, discharging energetic toxins and sinking you into deep relaxation.

Now might be a great time to do a cleanse or detox, or take some quiet time or a much needed retreat in nature. If you look at your life and your daily habits, what do you need to purge?

What are the little things that may be causing you more stress or sucking more energy from you than you realize? For example, when you wake up in the morning, are you reading every email and checking every social media message in the morning instead of doing your meditation practice? Are you saying yes to too many little things, causing you overall tension that bleeds over into your high priorities?

Look at the different areas of your life and see if you can identify areas where pressure is creeping into your experiences and see if there’s a way to strip that away or shift your routines, so you can allow for more enjoyment.

Take a vacation or pretend – and live your life as if you’re on vacation – and work like you’re playing hooky. Notice how that changes the energy around your daily activities.

Find ways to celebrate your accomplishments and give yourself credit for all the efforts you put in. Instead of constantly looking at your to-do list and feeling behind, make a time each week to acknowledge your progress and forward movement.

Experience the magic of Rattlesnake!

Rattlesnake Euphoriba Elixir

{Magnifies} strength, self-assuredness, foundation, total relaxation and letting go, meditative mind, totally free of worries; enjoyment, peacefulness, ability to rest, mini- vacation-in-a-bottle; feeling fresh, awake; flexibility, adaptability, handling things naturally as they arise vs. worrying or over-thinking; it’s not even that you feel deeply relaxed, it’s that you notice a profound level of background noise and tension completely disappear and now you can see things more clearly; being more open to what comes your way and what presents itself in the moment; enhances recognition of how far you’ve come and rejoicing in that; celebration of life, like “wow! We made it! I did it! We did it!; feeling happy about your contribution to life, your accomplishments, hard work, and rejoicing in that … and this catalyzes more progress and forward movement.

{Dissolves} chronic stress and constant low level tension that you’ve experienced over a long period of time that you may not even be aware of it because it is ‘normal’ for you; sense of pressure, deadlines, urgency (to unhealthy point); worries; anxiety; overwhelm; worrying about little things; feeling a lack or that you’re falling behind or ‘I’m not there yet’; being on overdrive; trying to do too much; ‘what ifs’ that lead to ‘what ifs’ that lead to ‘what ifs’ (if you’re constantly in the worry mode and ‘what if’ then you cannot appropriately be present for and take advantage of opportunities when they arise); feeling that there’s never enough and always too much to do; worries about what other people think or need; worry about having to be ‘nice’ or politically correct; constant background mental noise or tension–this flower essence removes the thorn from your side (the thorn of something that subtly bugs you over time).

Love + flower petals,





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