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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Putting Off Today

As you may already know, every morning I draw a tarot card for guidance. This morning I drew the V Swords. My brain first went to - what I consider to be - the conventional interpretations which perplexed me, and nothing was landing. Know what I mean? When I'm perplexed like this, I relax my brain, engage intuition to invite personal, and unconventional messages from the pure imagery.

I landed, in summary here: Chill, stay focused... and aware of the internal 'n' external discord. It's OK to give it a rest, and return to it tomorrow.

That resonated. So I put off some (exhausting) adulting planned for this morning, and will revisit it tomorrow. I also pressed the pause button on some of the The Work in which I’ve been swirling. In its stead, I harvested the ripe-n-ready garlic, even though it was damp from last evening's delicious downpour. It's drying in the greenhouse, and will make its way in a day 'r two to the curing tables in the garage. I took a shower (outdoors, ahhhh) and am chillin' in front of the fan as I type.

…today’s garlic harvest, and yesterday’s french grey shallot harvest…

I'm gonna make some Thai dipping sauce to can - outdoors - using some of the previously harvested garlic. I failed to make any last year, and I need this on my pantry shelves. And I’m thinking I need to plan making the Monarda fistulosa (bee balm) jelly now that blooms are delighting. 

The rest today, though, will be wondering and wandering toward the calming shorelines of my mind (‘n’ intuition)... where secrets yet unknown to me may be whispered.

🕊

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Meet & Dance with Melissa officinalis – Lemon Balm

 

Meet Melissa officinalis  – Lemon Balm 

Family: Lamiaceae

Melissa officinalis is a vigorous perennial of the “mint family,” native to Europe, Central Asia and Iran that’s been naturalized all over the globe. In our region her aerial parts die back in winter and return in spring. Its square stems offer opposite ovate-to-heart-shaped toothed and lightly downy leaves that grow 1-3 inches. The plant will grow 1-3 feet, depending on soil conditions. The buds appear yellow and bloom white.

Harvest: Aerial parts – typically before or at bud yet before bloom, summer to autumn. To prevent the plant from spreading, and it will, cut it back at flower, before seeds form, and add the plant matter to your compost, or use as green mulch. 

Taste: Sour, with subtle bitters.

Humors/ Energetics: Cool, dry, mildly stimulating

Actions: antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-microbial (with some recent emphasis on anti-viral), carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, relaxant, and more.

Constituents: bitters, flavonoids, tannins, volatile oils (citral, citronellal and others), and more.

Contraindications: Rare allergies. May interfere with the action of thyroid hormones. Avoid long-brewed nutritional type infusions of any duration.

Rosalee de la Foret writes, “It is often said that Lemon Balm is contraindicated for people with hypothyroidism. Prior to writing this I asked around the herbal community and several herbalists reported using lemon balm with people who had under-active thyroids and it did not change their thyroid blood tests. If you have an under-active thyroid you probably don’t want to consume this plant in excess.” We’ll revisit this topic and Rosalee’s perspective in the “Uses” section.

Uses

To open, I’m inspired to share that Hildegard von Bingen expressed this of lemon balm, “Lemon balm contains within it the virtues of a dozen other plants.” So, yeah: This botanical holds within it some interesting Medicine and offers many potential uses.

Melissa has proved helpful for anxiety and insomnia, and seems to blend nicely with other nervines for both enhancing flavor and desired action. It’s also a useful addition to formulas that address symptoms that are triggered or exacerbated by anxiety (and depression). I’ve been known to blend her with motherwort (Leonurous cardiaca), not just for the calming actions, but specifically when working through distasteful interpersonal challenges. This blend is very tasty to me, and it calms and soothes my heart and being, helping me to stay centered and grounded in grace and compassion, which I’ve been known to desperately need in certain intense instances. Lemon balm has been noted as useful in harmonizing heart palpations, and I imagine its antispasmodic actions may play a role here… and synergizes the same action on the heart that motherwort offers. Kiva Rose has said of lemon balm, “I personally use it for panic attacks with heart palpitations where the panic is very buzzy feeling.” I love the buzzy reference here, because bees love this plant (thus its name), as do their keepers.

David Hoffman writes that it “has a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory systems and causes mild vasodilatation peripheral vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.” 

Clients have found the relaxing nervine actions of this plant helpful alone and in formulas dealing with anxious insomnia, where thoughts flare (think fire) and jolt them to wakefulness, and keep them awake. A squirt of tincture quiets and cools their response enabling them to return to rest.

Henriette Kress suggests tucking a lemon balm bag under your pillow to help you fall asleep.

When adrenal stress is presented, a tincture blend with milky oats (or oat straw, if milky oats aren’t at hand) can be supportive for cooling and calming the nervous system and the feelings that often feed the stressful fight or flight reactions.

It’s been claimed that lemon balm has beneficial impacts for dealing with hyperactivity, though I’ve not witnessed this, either first or second hand, so if you do, please let me know about your experience.

Matthew Wood writes of lemon balm’s ability “to calm and relax conditions of mild nervousness and upset” adding that, “the sour lemon balm is cooling, in addition to relaxing, and therefore sedates through reducing the excitation of heat as well as nervousness.”

Some of the considerations stated thus far might inspire you to think of it as useful in working with stress headaches, shoulder/upper-back tension – internally and externally. And you’d be right. It blends nicely with betony (stachys officinalis)and/or blue vervain (verbena hastada) for these purposes.

Rosalee de la Foret writes, “Heart palpitations, nervous tension, insomnia, and hyperactivity are all classic indications for lemon balm and these combined describe what some people experience when their thyroid becomes overactive, such as in Grave’s disease. In fact, a blend of lemon balm, bugleweed (Lycopus spp.) and motherwort (Leonorus cardiacus) is a classic western formula for a hyperactive thyroid.” This symptom picture is not uncommon during menopause, when (from my way of thinking) the whole of the endocrine system is re-harmonizing, which includes thyroid involvement. So, that’s worth keeping in mind.

The anti-viral actions of lemon balm have been lab tested as well as clinically and experientially validated, especially in dealing with the herpes simplex virus. I had one client, several years back, who swore by it in managing genital outbreaks, externally as a sitz bath and wash, and internally as a tincture (as part of a formula). Lemon balm has been reported to lesson the severity and duration of outbreaks as well as serve to prevent them. Another client who experienced mouth sores used a diluted tincture as a mouth rinse (alongside other treatment), and now rarely experiences outbreaks, yet (last I heard) continued using the mouth rinse.

David Hoffman writes of its antiviral virtues, “hot water extracts have antiviral properties, possibly due in part to the presence of rosmarinic acid and other polyphenolics. A lotion-based extract may be applied to herpes simplex skin lesions, the antiviral activity having been confirmed in both laboratory and clinical trials.”

Its actions as an emmenagogue are considered mild and helpful in encouraging stalled menstruation, while its antispasmodic actions work to relieve menstrual cramping. Brilliant!

Lemon balm is also respected for its carminative actions to cool and soothe an upset tummy, bloat and digestive cramping. Especially as a tea, it's a great digestive tonic.

Maude Grieve writes of lemon balm’s history of use for wounds and venomous stings, "The juice of Balm glueth together greene wounds,” and adds the opinion of Pliny and Dioscorides that “Balm, being leaves steeped in wine, and the wine drunk, and the leaves applied externally, were considered to be a certain cure for the bites of venomous beasts and the stings of scorpions." So don’t discount its topical potential!

Deb Soule suggests that a tea of “Melissa helps reduce a mild fever and is safe for young children, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing mothers.”

With respect to children, lemon balm really is yummy and that makes it a great choice for kids. As David Winston says, “I am often asked by parents what herbs are safe and effective for children. Though children often deal with the same ailments as adults, the herbal protocol is restricted to what is safe, effective, and in my criteria, what tasted good. One of my favorite herbs for children is lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Lemon balm helps children with sleep, particularly those who have bad dreams or are scared before bed. It's also great for kids that get angry or anxious, thanks to its calming and mood-elevating properties. For children who have hyperacidity, lemon balm can offer relief from tummy aches, and when used with ginger, can offer great relief from indigestion. Finally, a strong tea of lemon balm can be applied to herpes sores on lips in order to dry out the herpes and make the outbreaks shorter. Melissa is gentle, safe, and effective, making it a great herb for children. Not to mention, it makes a delicious cup of tea!”

The scent of lemon balm is bright and uplifting, and simply having some around, be it fresh or dried, can improve a dark mood. I’ve used this botanical in this way for addressing the symptoms of SAD, as tea, tincture and talisman.

I often add its fresh leaves and flowers to spiritual healing waters, or carry some in a Spirit Bag, and have discovered some profound results with those dealing with anxiety and depression that is rooted in clinging grief.

This modest and ubiquitous plant has some Big Medicine to offer. Get to know her and hold her close.


Dance with Melissa officinalis  – Lemon Balm 

This fragrant and tasty botanical offers great creative potential for culinary and medicinal applications. Get buzzin’!

Carmelite Water
This alcohol extract dates back to the 14th century when the Carmelite sisters of the Abbey of Saint Just created what’s credited as the first formulation. It was used internally as a general tonic, and externally as a multi-purpose toilet water. I first learned about it years back in reading my first copy of Maude Grieve’s A Modern Herbal. This is one of those formulas that herbalists have been creating for years by this name, and with countless variations. I've made a formula using:

  • Fresh lemon balm (leaves, and a few budding and flowering tops)

  • Fresh mugwort leaves (because I love its bitters)

  • Fresh elder flowers (because it was available)

  • Fresh lemon zest (organic)

  • Dried coriander, finger crushed

  • Grated nutmeg

  • Clove

  • Cinnamon chips

Nothing was measured. Lightly packed a jar with the lemon balm, added the mugwort, elder flowers, lemon zest, coriander, nutmeg, cover with an ethanol of choice, and macerate 3-6 days. Add clove and cinnamon and macerate another 3-6days.

Candied Lemon Balm Leaves                                                                                                  

Beat an egg white with a tiny bit of water. Dip lemon balm leaves in the mixture, then dip in sugar. Lay the coated leaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven until the leaves look dry, but not browned. Check after 20 minutes and every 5 to 10 after that. – recipe from thenerdyfarmwife.com


And here’s some of the typical herbal ideas with some lemon balm specific twists:

  • tea / tisane – iced in summer: Oh yeah.

  • tincture for internal, external and culinary use

  • water infusion for baths, bathing, foot soaks, and topical washes

  • cold infused water, for sipping and enjoyment

  • syrup

  • jelly

  • hard candy

  • popsicles, sorbet, and the like

  • infused honey

  • infused vinegar

  • oxymel or shrub

  • elixir or cordial

  • herbal powder

  • added to homemade fermented beverages, soft and spirited

  • Ale, wine, mead.

  • in cooking, as a garnish, in sauces and pesto, in the cavity of roasted poultry, chopped into grain dishes, in salads, butters, puddings, gelatins, ice cream, cookies, scones, pancakes… you get the idea.

  • infused wine

  • infused oils, salves, balms, soaps

  • steams

  • baths and soaks

  • dried for stuffing pillows, poppets, and the like

  • blessing smoke

  • spiritual baths and healing ceremonies


resources:    

  • Maude Grieve, A Modern Herbal

  • Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs, herbalremediesadvice.org

  • David Hoffman, Medical Herbalism

  • David Winston, his Facebook page

  • Deb Soule, A Woman’s Book of Herbs

  • Henriette Kress, Practical Herbs

  • Matthew Woods, The Earthwise Herbal, woodherbs.com

  • Personal notes from multiple sources

  • Personal experience

🕊 Peace

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Fresh Air Anger

angry art Medicine

- - - - - - - Rant Begin - - - - - - -

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when I could open a window or step outside and smell fresh air, as in - you know - air.

Call me crazy (many people do), but our fossil fuel addictions have moved beyond ludicrous.

Do y'all think that fragrance shit actually smells good? Are you aware of the endocrine disrupting, immune disrupting (etc.) actions of these fragrant poisons? Do you imagine their creation, from people displacement, to extraction, to manufacturing, to packaging, shipping, use that expels its essence into the air, water, earth... your skin, et al... to the waste disposal of it all?

I don't hug most people anymore. Sure, I'm still COVID (and otherwise) cautious, but that's not the main reason. These days, if I hug folx, their Petrochemical stink gets on me and lingers... and lingers... and fucking lingers (making me - and all of us sick) until I can air out ‘n’ wash the contact ick off my clothing.

And supermarkets spray that ick on food. Not just packaged food, on exposed food. WTAF?

I fucking hate it on a personal level, on a earth level (I apologize every GDMF day to our once-beloved Gaia), and on a future level. And then some.

In short: Don't you miss fresh air?

- - - - - - - Rant End - - - - - - -


🕊️justice

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Hominy Harmony

 

Frolic is my current Moonshine focus, and given this world we share, it’s a mighty challenge. Yet, there it is. So tenacious me accepts it.

Yesterday I experienced an alignment of motivation, will, physical energy and opportunity, so I leveraged that uncanny blessing by frolicking with some hominy I’ve been meaning to can since the cold months; amazing, small batch, hardwood ash washed hominy from Dave Smoke-McCluskey. In the present tense, this is a practical activity of kitchen witchery, yet one that will, in a future tense, yield opportunity for frolic. How, you ask? Well, at some point in the future I’ll be able to pop open a can of ready-to-eat, heat-n-serve hominy, to add to soups, stews, salads, casseroles, pazole, and more - for us, and for others. But my point is, cooking hominy is a long, slow, simmer process, like cooking dried beans. So the magick - canned magick - is held in the freed-up time ‘n’ space in that future tense. Make sense?

I frolic in the present with my kitchen witchery. I’ll frolic in the future with the promise of freed-up time. And in these actions I acknowledge the ancestors with an honor of frolic in the food I create in the kitchen; food I know and understand, food that is unadulterated by a system that prefers to poison life for profit. And yes, I see and acknowledge the privilege in my capacity to frolic in this way, and I offer the gesture in prayer to Nona Gaia and all her kin… that we may all live and act in honorable, sustainable, healthful, and loving ways that may nourish all life - past present, future, and then some. And it's in this prayer that so much of the challenge resides; the challenge to frolic.

Challenge, or folic, or both, and more... we have twelve pints of Dave Smoke-McCluskey’s Becky Blanca Hominy, and four pints of Fat Red Hominy ready to go. Canned blessings, y'all. *nods*

Today it looks like the alignment is holding, so I’ll do the same with some cannellini beans that I likewise intended to can months ago. So today shall be filled with more honor ‘n’ frolic to all the times and beings that support us all - past, present, future, and then some.

🕊Justice.


Friday, May 24, 2024

my world


i embrace my world

feeling is such a challenge

my open heart weeps

Justice. 🕊

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Today I'll make Whatever Pesto... for tomorrow

"Whatever pesto" is whatever will ask to be harvested today, to be blended together with some salt and good olive oil.

It will likely be wild onion grass, chives, garlic chives, arugula, oregano trimmings, baby horseradish leaves, some young comfrey leaves, cleavers, dandelion leaves, perhaps a bit of lemon balm, and a maybe few spinach leaves. I’ll pound them with love ‘n’ appreciation in a mortar ‘n’ pestle, add some olive oil, and sea salt too taste.

I’ll be making this vernal tradition for tomorrow, because the flavors rest ‘n’ meld together under the olive oil to make an alchemy of flavor that doesn’t manifest on day one. It’s magick, and it’s delicioso!


Justice. 🕊


Monday, May 20, 2024

too few

 

the world is ablaze
my beloved gaia mourns 
too few seem to care

Justice. 🕊

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Meet and Dance with Violet

 

Meet Viola spp.  – Violet

Family: Violaceae

The Viola species is the largest genus in this family, with claims of 400 to 600 species worldwide.


Common species around my little acre seem to be Viola canadensis, Viola sororia, Viola labradorica – or so it seems, and others. Some local herbalists use Viola odorata to name the blue violets I have growing, but I’m uncertain if this European species is correct since I don’t find any of “my” violet flowers to be aromatic as V. odorata is described. I’m always exploring and learning, and perhaps one day I’ll know for sure. Nonetheless, I bless and leverage all the Viola species I have growing around me, by any name, as Food and as Medicine.


The flowers we observe in springtime are not reproductive, as they don’t produce seed. Rather, the “true” reproductive flowers of this plant show up later in summer, hidden by the protection of the leaves, and often go unnoticed by the uninitiated.

The flowers range from deep purple, lilac, pale rose and white, and there’s the multi-colors of Viola tricolor, the violet commonly called Johnny Jump up and heartsease, at least around these parts. 


The leaves of Viola are typically heart shaped (or lung, or breast shaped when turned around), and this descriptive detail speaks to the signature of the plant. The flowers have five petals, four reaching up and out, and one broad, lobed petal at the bottom. The details of the shape and placement of the petals is often used to define and differentiate the many species. 


Harvest: Flowers, leaves, roots. Spring to summer. 


Taste: Sweet, bitter.


Humors/Energetics: Cool, moist


Actions: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, astringent, bitter, demulcent, diuretic, emetic (roots) expectorant, lymphatic.


Constituents: Flavonoids, methylsalicylate, mucilage, phenolic glycocides, methylsalicylate, rutin, saponins. Various minerals, vitamins A and C, and more.


Contraindications: There’s always the possibility of an allergic reaction, but I’ve not yet met anyone having or claiming to have an allergy to this botanical, and there are no documented contraindications or drug interactions. 


Uses: Many of the violets have a long tradition of use for respiratory challenges, especially in treating bronchitis. Violets have also been leveraged for calming the symptoms of urinary tract infections, and as a long-term treatment for varieties of rheumatoid conditions. Also, they’ve been used, internally and externally, for addressing dry skin conditions, including eczema, and are honored for having an affinity with breast health. In my experience, as well as research/observation, it seems it’s the leaves that are most leveraged. 


Internal

From the perspective of using the herb internally, I suppose I consider violet first as Food, then as Medicine. I tend to harvest the blossoms in spring to add to salads, and to infuse in vinegar, and sometimes in honey, or in syrup-making. The infused honey can be stored away and used in winter as is, added to hot water or tea, or as a demulcent addition to syrups or tinctures formulated for dealing with a dry or sore throat, or dry cough. A spoonful of a lovely, infused honey has been declared pre-performance support by a singer and a couple speakers I've known. For what it’s worth, I find the leaves even more worthy in this regard.

And while I’ve honored its signature relationship with heart, lungs and breast that the leaves express, this is primarily how I’ve leveraged violet over the years – as nourishing and nurturing Food and beverage. So, it’s fun to revisit it, to see what I’ve been missing, consciously or otherwise.

Rosalee de la Forêt mentions that “Another name for violet is hearts-ease. It has been used for the physical and emotional heart for thousands of years. Violet is high in a constituent called rutin. Rutin strengthens capillaries, prevents platelet aggregation, and is anti-inflammatory.”

The constituent methylsalicylate speaks to the platelet aggregation, anti-inflammatory, and pain relieving qualities that it offers; actions which hold relationship with heart health, and holistically so. Consider that, the holistic bit, and then revisit the consideration when we get to the Spiritual uses. *nods*

Historical references make note of violet being useful in treating various cancers, or the symptoms we currently associate with such diagnoses. To me, these mentions offer added validation of its use as Food and beverage, as well as Medicine (and as an infused oil for topical use, which we’ll get to in a moment). 

In an article on violets, Jim McDonald quotes Paul Bergner as saying, "In medieval Baghdad, the “license” to practice medicine was given as permission to practice in the marketplace… One of the rules was that an individual would be disqualified from the practice of medicine if they were observed to 'use a strong herb when a mild herb would suffice, used an herb when a food would suffice, or use a food when simple advice about lifestyle would suffice.”

I feel like Viola reminds us of this Good Medicine advice. 


External/Topical

I harvest the leaves to dry and have on hand for tea blending throughout the year, and with my dry constitution (and dry skin) I tend to focus on collecting the leaves for infusing in oil. I use the oil for a loving breast massage, and for all-over body use, as is or blended into a soft balm. The infused oil is a favored base for my soaps, as its skin softening qualities shine through even after the alchemical magick of cold-process soap making. The oil often finds its way into many of my skincare creations, and I’ll often slather it over my entire body after bathing. I just love the feel of it on my skin.

Because of its skin softening actions, it’s a great for rough spots, like heals ‘n’ elbows, and why some folks love it for managing their psoriasis or eczema. I have found it to be helpful for reducing, and sometimes resolving stubborn keloids. I like it blended with an infused oil of comfrey leaf for my well-used (abused?) gardening hands and cuticles, especially – I find – in a balm with a touch of lanolin added.

A poultice of the fresh leaves has a reputation for dissolving hard tissue, lumps and cysts, with a special affinity for the breast. The poultice has a reputation for unclogging clogged milk ducts too. Also, David Hoffmann makes reference to its use in treating cradle cap in babies.

The fresh leaf poultice, infused oil, and the inclusion in teas and nutritional water 'n' vinegar infusions were – together – a comforting Medicine of mine during a mysterious breast issue many moons ago now. I credit the unassuming power of the plant (along with the fierce might of goddess Kali) with what I can only call a positive outcome. ::nods::

The fresh leaf poultice is also credited with addressing a number of skin challenges, including infected wounds, acne, keloids, eczema, psoriasis, etc. I’ve engaged the leaf many a time, rolled and smashed between my fingers to cool and soothe the irritations and bug bites ‘n’ stings that happen while in gardens. Also, I’ve seen positive results from direct use of the fresh plant on those previously mentioned stubborn keloids. 

Not only is a poultice of fresh leaf honored with supporting these skin issues, but also in cooling and soothing arthritic inflammations, and swollen glands.

It’s because of these external applications of the fresh plant matter that, when I remember, or am inspired, I make a pesto of the fresh leaf to keep in the freezer for the potential off-season need for a poultice. So, for the sake of clarity, we’re freezing it to thaw to use as a topical poultice Medicine, not to eat (though you certainly could).

I harvest the leaves, too, for dehydrating to use for making a nutritional herbal infusion in the Wise Woman Tradition, as well as adding it to tea blends. It’s a perfect match-up for me, what with my personal constitution that tends to wax hot ‘n’ dry.

I rarely use Viola in tincture form, though I keep some on hand for a gentle lymph support, alone or blended with calendula, or to temper and soothe the sharpness of poke berry or root tincture (which is HUGE Medicine that is used rarely, with specific reason, and with grande respect). Alone, like calendula, I often use it after core symptoms of an illness subside, but persist just under the surface. Know what I mean? To me, it’s when the body needs a little support in flushing out the waste after an illness, and I find this approach especially useful after a cold, flu, or other yuk leaves me (or others) with that feeling of not fully bouncing back to the familiar state of harmony. Dosing is personal, but I typically use a modest squirt from a dropper (like a ½-inch or so), direct in the mouth, or in a glass of water or cup of tea, 3-5 times a day for just a couple/few days. David Hoffmann suggests 1 to 2 ml three times a day. Trust your guidance.


Spiritual

I’ve witnessed this herb as a supportive ally for addressing deep, obsessive grief or trauma, the kind of that detaches one from the joys of everyday life. 

Sitting with the blossoming plants in spring – a grounding act in and of itself – can nurture and restore a connection with the present moment, with simple pleasures, with forgiveness, and with gratitude. Carrying a bit of dried herb, or a bead made from the botanical, in a pocket or pouch can nurture these healing offerings, as well as engaging the Medicine of a flower essence, or in spiritual bathing with blooms and/or leaves are all practices that carry special healing power. Maude Grieve shares this tidbit of validation, “violets, like Primroses, have been associated with death, especially with the death of the young. This feeling has been constantly expressed from early times. It is referred to by Shakespeare in Hamlet and Pericles and by Milton in Lycidas.” 


I have found such simple and classic use of this plant to be very supportive when I feel a need to reestablish or bolster a sense of safety and trust. 

Dance with the Viola species – Violets!

As with all of our botanical friends, invite violets to ignite your imagination, intuition, and inspiration to nurture and nourish a meaningful relationship with its Medicine.


Infused blossom vinegar – for a lovely, delightful tonic to use with salads, vegetables, as an addition to cooking cruciferous greens, to splash on bean soup before serving, in marinades, or added to water with a touch of sweetener (or salt) for a quenching beverage. And, of course, you can add honey to the infusion to create a violet oxymel (or cane sugar for a shrub).


Collect your blossoms, fill a jar loosely with them, cover with vinegar. A living apple cider, rice vinegar, and white wine vinegars tend to be my current preferences. Label your jar and and allow it to macerate 4-8 weeks. Strain, bottle, label and enJOY!

Infused honey – to use as a sweetener for beverages and foods, to use as a base for syrups, to add to your violet blossom vinegar to create a doubled-up violet oxymel.

As with the infused vinegar, collect your blossoms (and/or leaves, chopped), fill a jar with them, cover with honey (ideally, local and unprocessed), label and enJOY! You’ll notice the straining is missing here, as I leave the plant matter in my infused honey. Your mileage may vary.


Tincture

FPM (Fresh Plant Matter) – I fill a jar with fresh plant matter (flower, leaf, both, gently wilted or fresh), ideally chopped, and cover it with 50% by volume ethanol (I most often reach for vodka). Cap, label, and allow to macerate, out of direct sunlight, for 4 to 8 weeks. I give mine a loving/healing shake now and then throughout that time. Strain, filter if desired, bottle and label.


DPM (Dried Plant Matter) – I add one ounce of dried plant matter to a quart jar and fill it with 40% by volume (80 proof) vodka, which is easy to procure organic, which is always my preference. You may use any ethanol alcohol of your choice, diluted - iff needed - to that 40% range). Cap and label, and allow it to macerate, out of direct sunlight, for 4 to 8 weeks. Strain, filter if desired, bottle and label. 


DOSING is so personal, and to me dosing more about the person than the plant, which is why folks are often more confused after my class on dosing than they were before it… that is, until they have some experience with the Medicine. All the same, on those rare occasions when I use the tincture, I’ve used drop and dropper dosing, 3 to 5 times a day, always trusting that inner voice, and my experience.


Side note/Random thought: To me, Medicine making, like dosing, is so personal. As herbalists, we all follow certain shared protocols, yet we all have our own ways, and that’s as it should be. As The People’s Medicine, it belongs to us, individually and collectively. So we have choices to honor and leverage the resources around us, in the moment, in any way we’re inspired, when needed or desired. And those choices are Good Medicine too. Engage your free will, your familial traditions, your capacity for critical thinking, and make juicy choices that resonate deeply.


Homemade Violet Jelly adapted from TheNerdyFarmWife.com 

  • 2 to 3 cups loosely packed violet blooms, calyxes removed, or not (I leave them intact)

  • Juice of one large lemon

  • 2½ cups boiling water

  • 1 package of powdered pectin (I typically use Sure-Jell)

  • 3½ cups sugar 

Make a violet infusion pouring boiling water over your violet blossoms and let steep until cooled to room temperature. 

Strain the violet juice (compost the plant matter) and add the lemon juice.

Mix the pectin with your violet/lemon water and stir over high heat until it reaches a heavy boil.


Boil for one minute more and add the sugar all at once.

Keep stirring until it returns to a solid boil and continue stirring for one minute. 

Remove from heat, Skim off any foam, and ladle into hot, sterilized jelly jars, leaving about 1/8” head space, cap and process in a water bath for ten minutes. Remove from water and let sit for 24 hours to ensure the seals are set.


Violet Ice Cream – adapted from Rosalee de la Forêt - herbalremediesadvice.org/violet-recipes.html

  • pinch of dried butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea), or spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.) flowers - optional

  • 2 cups milk of choice, divided

  • 1 cup violet syrup

  • 2 eggs

Infuse the butterfly pea flowers in 1 cup of the milk over low heat for about 10 minutes or so, until the color comes through. Strain.

Pour the infused milk into a bowl and add the other cup of milk and the violet syrup.

In a separate bowl slightly beat two eggs. Add them to the milk, mix until well blended (I use a handheld electric blender for this).

Refrigerate for at least an hour and then follow the directions for your ice cream maker.

Some of the typical and atypical applications…

  • Tea/Infused water/ales and other fermented beverages

  • Use the flowers to decorate a spring cake, or embellish icing on any baked goodie

  • Tea sandwiches (or any sandwich)

  • In salads

  • Add flowers to ice cubes 

  • Infused vinegar

  • Infused liqueurs

  • Infused honey (flowers)

  • Sugars

  • Candied flowers

  • Infused oil (leaves)

  • Balms, ointments, lotions, soaps

  • Steams

  • Bathing/washing (leaves)

  • Bath and culinary salts

  • Medicinal pesto (for external application)

  • Poultices/compresses

  • Beads, pendants, talismans

  • Spiritual healing (especially for addressing deep, obsessive grief)

resources:

  • David Hoffman, Medical Herbalism

  • Henriette Kress, Practical Herbs

  • Jim McDonald, herbcraft.org

  • Maude Grieve, A Modern Herbal

  • Rosalee de la Forêt, herbalremediesadvice.org, Alchemy of Herbs

  • Susun Weed, Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way

  • Wikipedia for the botany bits

  • Personal notes from multiple sources

  • Personal experience 



  • Peace. 
    🕊