The intention behind this lotion bar is not to "get rid of" rage more quickly. Read my own story below--I can no longer believe that rage within us is the terrible thing I once thought it was. So, this lotion bar is to support you in supporting yourself in staying present with your rage long enough to be able to really see it, name it, and grow curious about why it exists within you at this particular moment. Could this monster be a teacher? A friend? A call to make a move? The needed element missing to create the space you need to breathe? An ancestral ask of you? Or at least something you are strong enough right now to begin to look at more closely?
This bar exists to support you as you make more ample space and room for your true self in this lifetime. And through you, I believe, more ample space and room for those you love, too. In my culture at least, rage is part of this journey, and it surfaces many, many times. This bar was made in partnership with beloved forests, Western Red Cedar trees, usnea lichen, stinging nettles, and wild roses here on Whidbey Island and with our dear burdock root, cultivated roses, and lemon balm that grow here at Silly Dog Studios. These trees, plants, flowers, herbs, "weeds," and lichen have our backs when we're feeling rage here.
Your experience of these plants may be different than ours: that's the nature of relationships with the living. So don't skip the medical disclaimer below. That said, I find that:
- Rose opens my heart, connects me to ancestor wisdom, and calms my nerves a bit.
- Just a touch of lemon balm steadies my agitated self.
- Western Red Cedar reminds me of my connection to ancient wisdom, helping me remember and return to my true nature and self.
- Burdock supports me in releasing intense frustration and anger. Not getting rid of it: just lowering the intensity a little bit so I have the ability to breathe, listen, and eventually to learn again.
- Usnea helps me with personal boundaries. Where are mine now? Have they changed? Did someone cross them? Can I talk to myself, and then them, about it? Did I cross someone else's boundaries? Usnea also connects me to Kid Me, the curious one who finds wonder and magic beneath every rock. The one who believes in love, life, and in humanity.
- Nettle helps me overcome irritability. And during menopause, friends, I'm also drinking nettle tea and eating nettles, too. All. The. Dang. Time! ;-)
These friends never fail to support me when I'm feeling rage. Sometimes they shore me up when I don't believe I can take this reality anymore. They often slow me down a bit and remind me that I need to return to--or make more room for--simple things like getting enough rest, talking to trusted others more regularly, going for daily walks again, drinking great herbal teas and infusions, asking for the help I need, and/or spending time with things I love and doing things I love. And these days, they often remind me to cut back on the amount of time I'm online and deep diving into seeing the worst of the worst humanity has to offer, on a planet-wide scale, and to return to the place that I physically am right now. Plants are so wise.
To use: 1. Hold the bar between your palms to warm it. In winter or when your hands are unusually cold, this may take a few more seconds that normal. 2. Rub it into your skin like regular body lotion, focusing on places that get tense and tight when you're holding rage. For example, in me that would be my hands, wrists, and fists, my jaw, neck, and along the tops of my shoulders.
My story. Hello Rage, my old friend...
This bar exists because I had little experience with rage in my early years beyond being told it was a very bad thing, to be avoided or hidden, by my schools, my religion (well, by those who stayed at the often damaging surface of religion), and by movies, TV, and most adult responses to rage that I witnessed. Rage scares adults, my young self learned. Rage can cause harm. Rage must be bad, right?
Then, I found myself holding rage--many, many times--across my 30s and 40s. My own rage. Other's rage. Hello cancer coming for loved ones, Alzheimer's disease coming for yet another family member, pointless and too-early deaths, being front and center to witness racial injustice and cruelty, witnessing violence, watching family members turn on family members when they're at their lowest, people imagining other people into monsters, watching loved ones reimagining our own history to remove the love, not being able to stop liars and con men and racists and rapists from winning elections, neighbors building well-lit shrines to con men, children and elders being cast aside for greed, feeling unable to breathe or move when nearby beloved forests were clear cut without care or warning, narcissistic leaders who delight in chaos and call forth destruction, not to mention regularly being ignored because I'm a woman or being harassed, trolled, and threatened because I'm a woman speaking my mind or standing up for others. In the past five years, I've been ridiculed and laughed at daily for saying the words "Thank you for your work." and "Thank you for your voice." and "Thank you for your perspective." to women in Congress and to women of color everywhere, because I know they have it WAY worse than me. So, I've had some practice holding hands with rage.
Then came menopause, and suddenly, rage is a perfectly natural, normal symptom of this phase of life. It made me laugh out loud the first time I read it. Symptoms of menopause may include... "Bouts of relationship-endangering rage." Finally! A time when rage is both named out loud and accepted as a normal part of human experience! Good thing I've had so much practice and so many wise women and plants around me as teachers. Woo hoo!
So, to survive this beautiful and painful open-eyed life, and my own rage--which shows up whenever I feel both helpless and afraid--by my early 40s I'd begun making friends with my rage. I had to go outside my own upbringing, culture, and age group to do so--mostly watching and learning with/from African American women, friends in the LGBTQ+ community, Palestinian friends, Jewish friends, other families trying to hold and being drowned by Alzheimer's disease (learning that my culture's fear-filled, individualistic, and callous response is way worse than the disease itself). Also learning with people much older than me, and with musicians, poets, and other artists.
Here's the part I wish my family had known or had been able to teach me when I was younger: to be okay with, even at peace with, other people's rage that you will encounter in your life, you have to learn to be okay with, and make friends with--or at least make some peace with--your own rage. We learn by practicing. We learn by having ample opportunities to see our rage, notice it, name it, and a lot of just sitting with it and reflecting on what it means. Feeling it. Wondering about it. Growing curious to the point the curiosity triumphs over fear. And also learning to release rage in ways that don't make things worse. I'm a big fan of weeping, wrapping myself in a blanket, and talking to trees as I walk in the woods. I've learned to write poetry and essays to release rage. I also enjoy hugging others to infuse love/touch/connectedness into the mix (although this is much tougher during a global pandemic). Lots of ways to release rage when you're ready to release it. I've known women who wander into the woods to scream and release the unfairness and horror into the sky. At 50 I have many creator and maker and artist and crafter and baker friends who create to release rage. At 20, I had hardly any. Or, more accurately, friends were there, and I just couldn't see in them everything that I can see now.
Every human, every tree, every plant, every experience has brought me to the place where I can be grateful for what my rage teaches me and even thankful for my rage. Without it, I'd never have become a poet or an herbalist. I'd never have survived as an Alzheimer's care partner for several decades, because I'd never have demanded to receive what we needed and I'd have never let go of places and people who could not help us when we desperately needed help. Rage was with me when I noticed that I'm strong enough to walk away from work I don't love, from people hurting me and my family, and from hopeless situations (aka, those I don't have a chance in hell of making right right now). Rage taught me that I'm strong enough to speak entirely from the heart--without cautiously picking out each, perfect, word. Because when I'm filled with rage, I don't have time for people's bullshit. That includes my own.
I'm still learning to be grateful for the presence of other people's rage. Some days, now, I can be. So these days, I often use this Rage Support lotion bar to help me with sit with and wonder about the rage showing up in others and the multitude of responses to rage that we have within us. I feel others' rage in my neck, jaw, and shoulders, too. Fear isn't the only option that adults have when they encounter rage. Not well-practiced adults: people who know that they deeply need--and have--community, trust, love, faith, and safety. People who lean on many others, including generous trees and plants and flowers and earth and sky to help. Adult Me has so many different options and responses when coming face to face with someone else's rage. Kid Me thinks that's just so very cool.
Ingredients: Windfall Western Red Cedar branches and usnea lichen (gathered on Whidbey after winter storms), ethically wild gathered stinging nettle and rose petals (from Whidbey woods and fields), and grown-on-Whidbey (at Silly Dog Studios and from trusted neighbors) rose petals, burdock root, and lemon balm infused into organic extra virgin olive oil, plus coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and just a couple of drops of rose absolute essential oil (rose essential oil in jojoba oil).
Size: The bars are 2 ounces.
Packaging: We're being as environmentally conscious as we can think to be. At the moment, we use a piece of food-safe parchment paper and a paper label to wrap the lotion bars. You may find that this is enough packaging for you, or you may want to transfer it to a small reusable jar or tin at home. We've begun looking into a paper tub with a lid as an option this year for those who want it. It will add ~$1 to the cost of the product. If that interests you, let me know and we'll continue to pursue it.
Why this bar costs a little more than some of the other bars: These bars cost a little more several reasons. First, because creating the infused oils within them takes considerable time. It takes more time to wander and gather cedar branches and Usnea the way we do, after storms, instead of cutting branches from trees. More time to wander in search of nettles and to find, pull and process wild burdock from the ground. Also, these bars contain a few drops of rose essential oil. This is a precious and expensive thing, because it takes a lot of roses to make, and I don't ever use it frivolously. When I use it, I do so because the roses I listen to have ok'd this use. Because supporting you, and your rage, and humanity at this moment in time, are well worth it, according to the roses here.
Notice for people who live in warmer climates: These bars were made for locals and formulated for the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. They begin to melt at body temperature. If you live in a place substantially warmer than here (where summer temps are usually around 70-75 degrees F), you may find them too melt-y for your taste. Also, if we ship them to you during warm months, watch for them and get them out of your warm mailbox or out of the box on your warm porch ASAP!
Medical disclaimer: Please don't use this bar if you are allergic to the ingredients, and always stop using a product if your body doesn't like it. These plants are our trusted friends, and yet we all respond to plants differently: that is the nature of relationships with the living. I recently read that cedar can have a stimulating effect on the gastrointestinal tract, and possibly the uterus, so your doctor may advise against using it during pregnancy (JJ Purcell, The Herbal Apothecary). To make well-informed decisions for yourself, seek the guidance of your qualified health professional, such your medical doctor, nurse practitioner, naturopathic physician, and/or clinical herbalist with questions regarding your medical conditions, dosage information, and possible interactions with prescription drugs. This is especially important if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking prescription drugs, have a chronic disease or any chronic concern, and/or you have allergies.
The information on this page is for general reference for further exploration and study. It is not intended as a replacement for professional medical advice. I'm an herbalist who leans on ever-deepening relationships with local forests and plants and herbs and flowers and lichen, local wise women, ancestors (my own and others), other herbalists, and learning traditional folk ways from people who love to share them, every chance I get. I intentionally study forests and plants directly, plus community wellness and connectedness, resilience, self-organizing groups, playfulness and deep fun, and life as lived by regular folks--because I believe these are what humanity (at least my part of humanity) needs to learn more about and become better at right now. I don't study illness or disease, I'm not a doctor or a scientist, and I've never been pregnant or had children.