Labdanum Absolute ~ Cistus ladaniferus

Posted by Candice Covington on


Photo Credit: Felip Alcon 

The cistus flower also known as rock rose--has a luminous yellow center, with five blazing white petals, at their base a fiery red dot. Although labdanum, is harvested from the long stems of the cistus shrub, a scented gum resin. Cistus is a sun-loving plant that thrives in arid conditions, this special relationship with the sun, provides the circumstances that produces labdanum. To use labdanum, is to awaken to and understand, your inner essences of the sun.  

 To have the whole air! —
The light, the full sun
Coming down on the flowerheads,
The tendrils turning
A slow snail-lifting, liquescent

 - Theodore Roethke

Sun —light—spirt and matter, the transparency of consciousness and the crystallization of light as form.

The Vedas teach us, that we each have a personal sun, that resides in our navel, it is called manipura or the abode of glittering gems and from here personal awareness arises. From this energy center we start to look at the unified whole as parts and pieces and give each a name and assign a value. From here we gain a sense of self, I-consciousness, and explore the world through a very personal lens: I like this, I do not like this, a very subjective view of environment and people.

Ayurveda teaches inner-fire rules physical sight. HH The 14th Dalai Lama likened spirit to the Sun and soul to the Moon. The sun is an animating force, that coaxes dormant yin forces into being. It purifies and desires to transcend.

Most traditions teach that the sun is an archetypal masculine energy and as all things in duality has two sides and is often depicted with the ability to protect or destroy. It can be a consuming, devouring force that can be unstable and destructive. In the tale of King Midas, we are reminded all the glitters is not gold, and not to allow ourselves to be consumed by worldly ambitions to the point our inner-lives are destroyed. The familiar Greek myth of Icarus and Phaethon is instructive: to fly too near the sun is to be consumed in one’s own hubris. The Vedas teach the solar plexus chakra (our inner-sun) is where personal ego is housed, if one is not vigilant, it is easy to be scorched by this energy.

This energy center teaches the earthly lessons of:

A balanced inner-sun

. Personal power, the intellect, opinion, logic, will, direction, joy, leadership, action, authority, integrity, radiance, courage, self-worth, consciousness, refinement, that consumes to renew.  

A distorted inner-sun

. Anger, pettiness, rage, hatred, ego issues (inflated or deflated), abuse of power (i.e., domination, misguided force, using fear to control), feeling superior, ‘my way is the only way’, perfectionism, rigidity, violence, feeling weak, having no expression of personal choice.  

It can also be understood as a catalyst for change, growth, evolution and increase. Attachment rises from here – what do you want to graft onto? Caretake? Foster into fruition?  We only caretake and foster where our attention flows. From here also arises the ability to be in a committed long-term relationships. 

The quintessential protector for those who cannot help themselves. As the heavenly warrior, the sun blazing light turns back the darkness of primeval chaos, as the hunter, his arrow like rays unerringly hit the target. The majestic solar vitality embodied in ram, dragon, lion, eagle and phoenix. The omniscient all-seeing eye, the exacting guardian of universal order.

 J. R. R. Tolkien’s character Gandalf the White, “his hair was white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; the eyes under his deep brows were bright, piercing as the rays of the sun”; 1 radiated out the protective light of the sun, pushing back the threats that loomed in the darkness, to keep the travelers under his protection safe, until the true dawn came.

Eastern philosophy teaches, this is the energy center, that produces what we call the mind and intellect, how we process and synthesis. The alchemists taught the sun is the act of becoming conscious. Generally speaking, we can only know that which already exists within our realm of awareness, and we must use this small opening of awareness to scan the vast ocean of knowledge and information to begin the process of becoming more aware. I believe most creation stories are metaphors for this very process of becoming awake or aware—that is enlightened.

The ability to form the rich information from the fertile darkness, break it into usable bits and synthesize, until it is a fully formed concept that moves civilization forward. You see this in all great discoveries that require structure and repeatable process. Art, music, literature, philosophy, spirituality, are all to a degree lunar in the fact they are not subject to hard fast rules. Whereas engineering, architecture, biology, chemistry, aeronautics, surgery, dentistry, etcetera, all benefit from a structured body of information. The sun gives rise to being analytical, organized, and methodical.           


1. Tolkien , J. R. R. The Two Towers. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982; 1st Edition, 5th Printing.  Page 98


(c) Candice Covington 2023 



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