Our newest Spagyric is an Alchymical Initiatic of Jatamansi, Nardostachys jatamansi, also known as Spikenard. This Himalayan relative of Valerian has a calming, quieting energy, but acts in a more balanced and less dulling way than its European cousin.
Another of its names, muskroot, describes the intense earthy scent of its root oil, revered for millennia as a perfume. Spikenard is the “very costly” oil that Mary Magdalene used to anoint the feet of Jesus, perhaps because of the root’s traditional uses to calm and clear the mind, still the heart, and dispel doubt.
Interestingly, Spikenard oil is used in Tantric ritual to anoint the feet and hair, which echoes in Mary Magdalene’s use, and connects to the more sensual references to the plant found in the Song of Solomon:
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits,
Fragrant henna with spikenard,
spikenard and saffron
The Ayurvedic name, Jatamansi, refers to the jata, or mats of hair, that the root resembles, also considered a signature of the root’s use by Sadhus, India’s holy men who wear their hair in dreadlocks. Jatamansi’s calm yet clear energy is very supportive to a meditative state of mind, whether in formal sitting or for the constant practice of mindfulness throughout the day.
Unlike European Valerian, Jatamansi is considered cooling to the mind, and so does not have the initial stimulant effect that many people experience with Valerian. This indicates its traditional use for “hot” agitated states of mind, from anxiety and headaches to OCD, ADHD, and even schizophrenia and manias.
In our experiments, we find our Spagyric of Jatamansi to be uplifting yet calming at low doses, and very calming at higher amounts. A great intelligence in the calmative properties is found in Jatamansi, with the calming effects seeming to be stronger the more you need them. Taking Jatamansi at home, on an easy day after good rest, I felt ease and peacefulness; whereas taking it at the end of a long day in our booth, I was almost knocked out by sleepiness, just what I needed at the time!
This balancing energy is brought out by combining Jatamansi with Ashwagandha, which also regulates sleep and waking in the best direction for the moment.
For meditation, Jatamansi combines well with Saffron, Shankhpushpi, Sandalwood, Sugandi, and Gotu Kola, each bringing a different shade to the inner practice.