Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is in the Zingiberaceae family like tumeric and ginger. I have always liked cardamom. I remember making my first curries as a young student and crushing open the seed pods to release the tiny, deep black, aromatic seeds held within. Drinking endless cups of ground coffee with fresh cardamom seeds in with my herbalist friend in Ireland who was going through a life crisis. Detoxing from the coffee on my return was something else. I love the smell of cardamom. Its sweet spiciness with woody undertones is both calming and enlivening. And yet it wasn’t until recently that I realized how gently powerful and healing cardamom actually is–Cardamom helps digest trauma.
I love the way plants and oils ‘turn up’ at exactly the moment they are needed and that is what happened with cardamom oil recently. Several things came together in my life that pulled me into an old, forgotten part of myself that desperately needed healing – a part of me that I have resisted looking at forever. When I most needed a teacher and an ally, cardamom arrived.
One of my ancient survival strategies has been a difficulty in slowing down, taking my time and enjoying the moment. I find I can only really do that when I am writing or sometimes cooking, hiking or skiing. Otherwise an annoying part of me is constantly pushing me to ‘get things done’ and do them fast. I hate it and yet, I think it prevents me from feeling certain things that I have buried since I was a child. Cardamom really helps to me to take time and allow what wants to arise on the moment to arise, it helps me release the panic I feel if I am not ‘doing’ something ‘constructive’ and enjoy taking my time. Cardamom brings us back into our lives by nudging us out of the survival strategies that keep us from feeling and being authentically who we are in each moment so we can feel what is really going on.
My recent healing crisis centered around my stomach and digestive system, something had been metaphorically ‘sitting’ on my stomach for decades and I had been unable to digest it. Cardamom is helping me do this by reigniting the inner fire, getting the digestive energy circulating again so I can calmly (and slowly) digest and integrate these deeply buried, stagnant, emotional traumas. When we hold onto old, outdated beliefs, attitudes and ways of being they can cause internal conflict in the digestive system. We are designed to get rid of waste, of elements that do not nourish us, when we hang on to these things emotionally, mentally and physically our digestions suffer. Cardamom helps us calm the stress that accumulates in the stomach and digestive organs and helps us to take on board and integrate new pathways without fear.
Simultaneously, cardamom acts as a calming balm to the heart, helping, encouraging and holding space for us to heal the wounds of the past that are heavy on the heart – its gentleness in this area is very welcome. Instead of looking for sweetness and love through eating sugar, its loving warmth has helped me to control my sugar cravings and rigidity and become more spontaneous.
A very feminine oil governed by Venus, Cardamom’s heart softening action doesn’t just help us with inner healing, it softens the edges between ourselves and those we love, the heart energy can be felt connecting us to others through love. This is maybe why cardamom is an extremely useful teacher and ally when there are conflicts with the mother, or a mother wound that is asking for healing. Its gentleness is very strong and it manages to get to the deepest recesses of our beings when needed. It helps us find balance by strengthening the feminine, even if this means looking honestly at the original relationship with the feminine, our mothers. Here is a video I recorded about cardamom.
If cardamom speaks to you, I advise carrying it around with you and smelling it regularly throughout the day. I have also been taking a micro-drop (a quarter of a drop) on my tongue from time to time so that it enters my being through taste and not just smell.
Precautions: Due to the 1,8-cineole in cardamom, do not use near the face of young children as it could cause breathing issues (Tisserand). Do not put undiluted on the skin.