Gatekeepers: Hawthorn & Tourmaline

When it comes to the language of the heart, we often speak about ‘opening up’ to love and experiences. Meanwhile, we recognize how some may ‘close off’ their hearts in the wake of trauma. Indeed, with this in mind, we may do best to envision the heart as a Gate. Although we are the keepers of our Gate, some of us may face difficulty in knowing when to open it up, and others may not know when is best to swing it shut.

This Gate is a primary receptor of information from the world around us. As our physical hearts are made up of sixty-percent neurons, they function largely as a sensory organs, with the heart sending more signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart. In fact, the electromagnetic field of the heart has been measured to be five-thousand times larger than the field emitted by our brains (See: HeartMath Institute). This gives credence to other languages, such as Chinese, which use the same word for heart and mind, as it seems that after all, the heart-gate plays a pivotal role in how we receive information from the world and make sense of it.

Though how is it that we may come to embody the wisdom of sensing with the heart; of tending to its hinges? In a society that tends to rationalize its way through everything, we often are not sensitive to the nuances of heart-level information. So to develop this intelligence, we may turn to two Earth Allies who assist us in tending to the gates of our hearts: Hawthorn and Tourmaline. As we learn to balance our heart-gates with these allies, we will also see-- in the spirit of the season and the thinning veil-- how this is the doorway through which we may open to the Otherworld- inhabited by faeries, elves, ancestors, etc.- that’s thought to coexist, hidden alongside our own.

First, have you ever seen a Hawthorn tree in Spring? When it’s in flower, it becomes covered with delicate, five-petalled blooms. However, what sets this tree apart is that amidst its many flowers, one will notice large thorns at least an inch in length protruding from its branches. This seeming paradox holds within it the magic of boundaries-- that to fully unfurl the vulnerable beauty of one’s blossoms, it is often important to feel protected by one’s thorns. Note that the heart-gate itself, as an organ of perception, functions as a boundary which mitigates what remains outside of ourselves and what we let inside. Especially as we empathize, we want to open our hearts so that we may comfort the other; however, it is essential that we maintain some sense of boundary, guarding our heart-gate slightly, so that we do not internalize the other’s energy and pain in a way that leaves us feeling imbalanced and unable to help.

Hawthorn assists us in working with this wisdom of boundaries, being especially helpful for those who are highly sensitive, empathic, and who take on the energy of their environments in ways that leave them feeling drained. Interestingly, in a medical sense, Hawthorn is a renown herb for healing the heart and treating issues with blood pressure. It is gentle and safe for practically everyone, as it is has a stabilizing, amphoteric action that helps raise blood pressure that’s too low and lower blood pressure that’s too high. On an emotional level, Hawthorn works in a similar way, helping us to open up our heart-gates if they’re too closed and gently close them if they’re too wide open-- enabling us to reach a state of balance where we may fully open up our flowers alongside the strength of our thorns.

When we turn to the mineral kingdom, a particular stone oft comes to mind when we’re looking for assistance in strengthening the boundaries between self and other. Black Tourmaline is widely used as a protective stone as it shields us from disharmonious energies-- even from the negative effects of Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMFs). Because of this, it’s often recommended to those who are highly sensitive so that they may strengthen their heart-gates and not take on any energies that do not serve them. However, we can consider Black Tourmaline as solely embodying the ‘thorns’ of the tourmaline spectrum; since its density does such a great job at protecting, it doesn’t necessarily aid us in opening up our heart-gates. For this reason, one may choose to refrain from wearing black tourmaline on their heart and instead opt for a green, pink, or watermelon tourmaline.

Interestingly, while the other six chakras- the energy centers of our bodies- correspond to a singular color, the heart chakra corresponds to two: green and pink. When we turn to tourmaline, the green helps us balance our interpersonal relationships and how we love and relate to our bodies and our Earth. The pink, on the other hand, works more in encouraging a deep sense of self-love and connection to divine, universal support. Watermelon Tourmaline is a combination of the two that so beautifully illustrates the heart and its gate, with the inner pink, like a flower, surrounded by the green, like a thorn-- which does indeed resemble a watermelon! This is one of the most helpful stones in balancing our heart-gates, as its energy is nourishing and supportive for ourselves while offering a strong, clear, yet gentle presence when it comes to boundaries between oneself and loving another.

As both Hawthorn and Tourmaline assist us in the realm of the heart, we can come to think of both this plant and stone as Gatekeepers. Indeed, in Ireland, Hawthorns are a native tree which tend to mark the literal boundaries of field and road, and in Celtic lore, are considered gateways between our realm and the Otherworld-- inhabited by wee people or faeries, often referred to as Sidhe (pronounced Shee). There are numerous stories which recount that a person who falls asleep beneath a Hawthorn tree will wake to find themself in the Otherworld, amidst the Spirits inhabiting this hidden realm. Remarkably, this elicits a connection between the boundaries of the heart-gate and the boundary between our world and the Other. The medicine of Hawthorn seems to strengthen the wisdom of our heart-gate in such a way that we may tune into and better perceive the energies of Spirits and Elementals if we so wish, whilst feeling safe and protected from any Spirit that may feel discordant. If wanting to connect to the Spirit Realm, tourmaline can also work as a great ally-- black for protection; pink for sensitivity, openness; and green for connection to the Earth where wee people dwell.

After all, it is this time of the year-- the boundary season between Summer & Winter-- when the wheel turns and the veil between this world and the Otherworld thins. Spend time in liminal spaces-- forest edges; shorelines of rivers and seas; beneath a weeping tree-- any place where there is a boundary between one space and the next. This is often known as a dwelling place of those who inhabit the realm beyond the boundary of our world, and even if you’re not keen on the idea of meeting a faery friend, these liminal places hold medicine to contemplate the threshold between here and there; dream and reality; this life and what’s next.

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