From healing

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Making a Mandrake Flying Ointment

This past winter solstice I made a mandrake flying ointment.

The magic I weaved with this ointment was to call in abundance.

Financial abundance.
Accepting loving touch.
Bravery to speak hard truths.

This was my solstice magic.

The magic and medicine seemed to resonate with folks. The ointments sold out in about one week. I’ve decided that this time around I will show you how I make a mandrake ointment. That way you can make one yourself, or know exactly what you’re getting when you order one from my witch’s cabinet.


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The first step is to find mandrake root. I bought the mandrake root for these salves from Self Heal an apothecary in Victoria. Mandrake grows in Southern Europe (though it made it’s way through trade all through-out europe). This means that the climate where I live (an inland canadian mountain valley on unceded sinixt territory) isn’t ideal for growing mandrake. Maybe once our greenhouse is constructed it’ll be a different story, but for now, this source feels good to me. Self Heal can deliver to you through the mail, if you want to source from them.

If you can’t harvest or grow mandrake yourself, look out for wild crafted, sustainably harvested sources. You can smell when a plant is healthy, it’s medicine strong. The colours will be more vibrant. Feel the plant in your hands and notice how it feels in your body.

Trust your intuition as you get to know the plant.

The other ingredient in this salve is cottonwood buds. I harvest cottonwood from a healthy patch near my house. Cottonwood helps soothe the skin and is used in many european witch craft practices to aid in astral travel. It’s a beautiful partner for this salve and can be harvested in many places.

I made the oil for this salve in a 1 liter widemouth mason jar. I added 1/2 cup of lightly dried cottonwood buds and 1 cup of thinly grated mandrake root. Then I covered the root and buds with olive oil (you can also use grapeseed, sunflower etc), put on the lid, labeled it with the date and ingredients and left it to sit for a month, in a cool dark shelf in my apothecary.

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I prefer to let the medicines I make to sit for 3 to 6 months, if possible. This means the medicine is strong and well infused. You can also play with astrological influences in your medicine. I try to bottle and make medicine on significant days. New and full moons. Solstices and equinoxes. I also prefer passive or lunar infusion over heat infusion because I feel it is more gentle and maintains more healing properties in the medicine. That being said, the best infusion method depends on what kind of medicine you’re making and how soon you need it.

Lately I’ve been playing with gentle heat infusion in my medicine making, because it helps me make medicine more quickly. For this mandrake salve I added half the jar’s contents into a double boiler (I left the rest to infuse in the jar) and gently heated the medicine til it became fragrant and the herbs looked spent. You want to avoid heating the oil til it bubbles, because that generally means the oil is too hot and that can kill off the nutrients needed for a strong medicine. Gentle heat is better, thats why double boilers are awesome for medicine making.

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Once the oil feels ready I strain the herbs out. You can see the cottonwood buds and mandrake root pretty clearly in this picture. For many medicines, especially those that are passively infused, you may want to strain the medicine with cheesecloth or even a press. There is much medicinal content that can come from pressing the last medicine out of the plant matter. I tent to avoid pressing with cottonwood buds because of how sticky they are. Heat infusion can work well for decocting roots, that’s another reason why I use gentle heat for mandrake root oil. Pressing, I have found, works best for petal, leaves and flowers. Or roots that soften a great deal upon being processed.

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Then I added the oil back to the double boiler and added beeswax to the mix. I used to make salves with a 1:5 beeswax to oil ratio, but this time I used a ratio of 1:4 because I want to make a slightly harder salve. I like using less beeswax so there is more plant matter in the medicine, but the downside is the salves are not as solid. More thick salves travel better, spread a bit more thick on the skin, and are less likely to melt in someone’s bag or back pocket. I definitely prefer beeswax of emulsifying wax because it is harder so you can use less of it. I also find beeswax feels better on my skin and I love the medicinal properties it carries.

Some other things I have used to thickeners are coconut oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and carnuba wax. I have also found that when I make salves using pig fat (which my ancestors would have done) they stand alone without thickener. I’m lucky cause I can source pig fat from my buddies who lived in the front yard, but you can also source it from a trusted local butcher and it is usually pretty inexpensive. It does take love and time to render fat though.

While I prefer to not make my medicine with vegan ingredients I can do it as a special order. If you’re interested in a vegan (no beeswax) version of this salve feel free to email me with your order at andi(@)andigracewrites(.)com

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Once the wax has melted I pour the salves into jars and leave them outside to cool. You can see from these two pictures how much the colour changes as the salve hardens.

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And there you have it. That’s how I make a mandrake salve.

Some folks have also asked how I use this salve. I use it on sore muscles primarily and have found it to create great pain relief. I also use it as a massage oil for me and my partner if we’re intending to have sexy times together. We find it makes us giddy, relaxed and more connected to each other. I also use the medicine almost like a solid perfume, particularly when I’m wanting to call something in like loving touch or money. The salve has an earthy smell that I really appreciate and I have found it be an amazing luck charm for abundance of all kinds. It has literally delivered what I’m looking for and often more, every time I use it.

You can order a mandrake salve here and learn more about the magic in this medicine here. The article about the magic of the salve will also direct you to resources to learn more about mandrake as a plant. Mandrake has a rich history and I highly recommend learning more about it.

Check out the product listing for contraindications. As a rule of thumb folks who are pregnant, nursing or allergic to aspirin will want to stay away from this medicine. That being said if you want to get pregnant, but you aren’t yet, this medicine may appeal to you.

If you have additional questions about this medicine, feel free to send me an email (andi(@)andigracwrites.com) or connect with me on facebook.

Best of luck in your medicine making <3

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Women and Femmes Assertiveness Workshop: Nelson

do you want to learn skills to speak your truth and be heard?

do you ever feel confused about the difference between being “needy” or “a bitch” and having necessary boundaries?

then i invite you to join us for the assertiveness workshop at the Nelson’s Women’s Center on Feb 6th from 12 – 3.

no pre-registration is required though you’re welcome to send me an email to andi[@]andigracewrites.com if you have questions or want to let me know that you’re coming. you can list yourself as attending on the facebook event as well. <3

setting boundaries is a challenging, life saving and drama-reducing skill set, especially for women and femme identified people of any gender – many of whom often struggle to simply and clearly say “no”. this workshop will take you through a series of exercises to help you better understand and articulate your boundaries, both with your loved ones and those who seek to violate you.

i’ve chosen the wild rose as the images for this workshop because i believe this plant carries a valuable medicine when it comes to boundaries and protection. roses can only be as soft, loving and gentle as they are because they have thorns to protect them. boundaries allow for vulnerability and can help facilitate connection and well being. in this learning space we will work with this medicine, as well as with yarrow flowers, as we move through the tenuous and powerful skill of gracefully, lovingly and fiercely setting boundaries. 

this workshop is open to all folks who identify as women or femmes.

the cost is $10 to $20 sliding scale with no-one turned away for lack of funds. folks with greater financial access are encouraged to donate generously, to facilitate the participation of those without financial access. i’m also very open to trades for food and medicine making supplies. ultimately it’s more important to me that folks take part in the work, than i get paid by each participant. that being said, i do need some cash to flow towards this work, in order to keep it sustainable. ♥

i come to this work after years of learning how to set boundaries. boundaries are a skillset i am always learning, adjusting and growing. i’m not an expert, but i have taught assertiveness workshop in hundreds of school across the lower mainland with Anita Robert’s Safeteen program. i also recently took part in Pavini Moray’s boundary class for queer and lesbian couples. this workshop is inspired by both of these teachers, various plant allies, as well as a unique mix of my own learnings and facilitation offerings.

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I Have Herpes and I Love Myself: stigma, symptom, management and unconditional self love

Hey..you. I have something to tell you.

I have herpes and I love myself!

I was diagnosed when I was 19, about 8 years ago. It has not always been easy or simple, but I can honestly say I am 100% ok with having this virus, and I think you could be too, if we all talked about it more.

Because, let’s be real here, the worst symptom of this virus is stigma.

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Because I am open about being HSV positive, and because I don’t actively hate myself as a result, I get loads of people messaging me about the virus. They ask me about tips for managing break outs, as well as herbal advice because I am a practicing herbalist and I make a great Herpes Heal Herbal Kit. The other thing that people talk to me about most frequently is how they feel their life is over because of the virus. They talk about keeping it a secret from friends, being broken up with, being scared to date people, feeling like they are un-lovable. Once, while supporting someone who reach out to me and was having a hard time, I told someone that I have had the virus for a long time and that I have a healthy and happy sex life with lots of partners and many romantic connections. She said to me , “well that’s great but, are any of these people.. you know.. people of quality?”

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me and my partner kori. having a relationship of quality. being in love and being ok with herpes.

I want to make a few things very clear:

Having herpes does not make you less lovable than if you didn’t have it.

Having herpes does not mean you are a slut, or that being a slut is a bad thing, or that you did something to deserve it.

Having herpes doesn’t mean you have lost your right to say no.

All having herpes means is that you have a virus that lives on either end of your spine and that that virus will come out when you are worn down emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually.

 

And there are a few thing I want you to remember about this virus: it’s not ok to lie to someone about having herpes, unless you think your safety or access to security would be in danger as a result of telling the truth aka you are working or in an abusive relationship. There are some exceptions to 100% total honesty, but they are few and far between in my opinion. Be honest with people. Telling the truth about your STI status is basic consent practice. And telling the truth helps break stigma. And if you tell someone in a way that demonstrates that you love yourself and you are ok with the virus (even if this is just a practice you are working on), it will show the other person that they can feel that way to.

I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok with HERPES! YAY!

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Also, take it from me: you should DEFINITELY dump someone if they shame you because of your diagnosis. Shaming someone because of their STI status is emotional abuse. Period. It’s one thing to have a real talk conversation about barriers and protection and being cautious. It’s another thing to make someone feel unsafe or unlovable because of a virus that 85% of the population carries.

Yes you heard me right. 85% of the population will test positive for herpes in a blood test.

See here’s the thing. Herpes Simplex Virus, or HSV comes in 2 strains. HSV 1 and HSV 2. HSV 1 is known primarily to bond with the upper part of the spine and exhibit symptoms or break-outs on the mouth and face. HSV 2 is known to bond with the lower part of the spine and exhibit symptoms in the genitals. The vast majority of people have one of these two viruses, HSV 1 is especially common. Recently doctors have been seeing HSV 1 on the genitals and HSV 2 on the mouth so frequently (yay for oral sex!!) that some doctors are suggesting that maybe the two viruses should just be combined into one, for diagnostic purposes. The point is that most people, including your shamey-asshole-hopefully-ex-partner, will test positive for some strain of the virus.

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What all this means is that the majority of people, even and especially those who have no symptoms, are commonly carrying the virus and infecting people and then judging people for having symptoms. It’s totally immature and unfair and in my opinion the worst symptom of this virus.

I’ll tell you a short story. Once I had a date with someone who had slept with 100 people. He was in his early 30’s. I was one of the youngest people he had ever dated, being in my early 20’s, and he told me I was the first person who had ever told him I had herpes. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE MATH HERE PEOPLE. Even if we can’t expect the 85% of the population who has the virus to be totally honest (because they probably just don’t know), at least %25 of people who are sexually active do have symptoms. This means that that 25% was lying: either to themselves by not getting tested, or to the people they were dating by not being honest about their status.

My friends – it does not need to be like this!!

We pretty much all have herpes and we can get real with that and love each other anyways, because really it’s easily manageable and not that big of a deal. <3

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I have many tools for managing symptoms – most of them involve keeping my stress down and my self love high, as well as staying grounded. One of the most useful tools I have found is leaning into support from plant allies. The Herpes Heal Blend that I make uses usnea for immune support, and lemonbalm for it’s anti-viral and calming properties. Both of these plants have been locally wildcrafted and I can tell you, it took me several years of experimentation to get this blend dialed, but now that I have, it’s the best herpes medicine I have ever found or used.

The blend is available in multiple sizes. Mini, which is really just enough to treat one break out, or just try it out. Medium, which for me is enough to last about 6 months, with semi-regular use. And Large, where you get the most bang for your buck and enough medicine to treat yourself daily for several months, or do acute care for break-outs for up to a couple of years.

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Whether you buy my medicine or not, know this:

if you have herpes. I love you.

No seriously I do. You and me are buds. And if you are sitting behind this computer crying and feeling like no one loves you, stop that! Cause I’m sitting right here. Loving you, just as you are. And trust me, there are people out there who love you too. If you haven’t found them yet, just keep looking. They exist. I promise. <3

You and me, maybe we share a virus. And while it effects our lives it doesn’t not need to change the quality of our character. And if it does, let’s make it for the better. ok?

<3

 


Hi lovely reader. Thanks for hanging out and taking in my thoughts. I really appreciate it. And if you appreciate me and want to support my work, here are some ways you can do so. You can buy herbal medicine, poetry books or a tarot card reading from my shop. You can also make a monthly donation to my site. Every one in a while I send gifts to my donors, and those gifts could do straight to you! You can also hire me to teach a workshop. And finally, you can share my work widely, on social media or otherwise. And if you choose to use this as your herpes coming out piece, great! <3

Also, I could write about herpes pretty endlessly and I probably will write more pieces after this one, on more specific topics. Which by the way, if you have topics you want me to write about send me an email and let me know at andigracewrites[@]gmail.com and I will happily answer them in another blog post. I’m pretty knowledgeable about this topic, so really send me any questions you go.

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Mandrake Flying Ointment: finding abundance in money, love, food, touch and truth telling.

This year I decided I wanted my winter solstice magic to call in abundance.

Financial abundance, food security, loving touch, self confidence, bravery to tell hard truths. This is what my winter solstice magic was all about.

I wanted to get specific and work with a plant ally to aid the magic.

Mandrake was the absolutely perfect fit.

mandragora mandrake root

Mandrake is perhaps one of the most well know witches’ herbs. Though it grows naturally in southern europe it was used widely through-out Europe because of robust trade relationships. This means that many people of European ancestry will have a connection to this medicine. Personally I find the smell earthy and comforting and I find the medicine very familiar, even though this is one of the first times I’ve worked with it, in this life anyways.

Mandrake has many medicinal and spiritual uses. Medicinally it is a powerful emetic (vomit inducing) and sedative, especially when taken internally. It was even used as an anesthetic by doctors for a brief period before other more predictable medicines became more popular. Many herbalist will caution against using it because of it’s powerful emetic qualities, however I find it quite calming when used as a salve.

Mandrake has properties that are similar to but distinctive from nightshades. This salve’s effects bare a very close resemblance to belladonna, another night shade that I absolutely love. The salve is very relaxing and can be used as a balm for aching muscles or as a sensual massage oil. I’ve also used it as a magical ally at parties where I want to get my flirt on.

I find mandrake makes me feel relaxed, giddy and hopeful.

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One of the other widely known qualities of mandrake is its power as an aphrodisiac. The plant was used widely as a fertility medicine and was often credited with assisting in conception. To me it’s pretty obvious how all of these qualities relate to calling in abundance. Plus mandrake was widely used as a good luck charm for calling in money, which I have personally found it to be very helpful with since I started using it.

My experience of using this medicine is that it has helped me to lean more deeply into trust. Trust that I am valid and worthy. Trust that my work will be well received and supported. Trust that I can say both yes and no to my partner and lovers and either will be heard and respected. Trust that the spring will come and with it will come flowers, fiddleheads, seedlings and goats milk.

All my medicines are small personalized batches which means I only have a small amount for sale. If you would like to purchase this salve you can do so here. And if you feel called to this medicine but would rather not exchange money, you can email me at andi[@]andigracewrites.com and purpose a trade of food or medicine making supplies in exchange for this salve.

To your abundance and mine.

<3


if you want to learn more about mandrake check out these resources:

The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

Witchcraft Medicine by Muller-Ebeling et al

A Druids Herbal by Hopman

A Modern Herbal

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witchy holiday gifts with a whole Lotta <3

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Are you looking for holiday gifts (for yourself or your loved ones) that are sweet, healing, practical, affordable and non-toxic? Would it be extra-special if these gifts supported the livelihood of a community-supported-witch? Then perhaps I have what you are looking for!

With a few exceptions, all of my medicine is wild crafted from the land I live on: a queer and trans land project called the homostead, located in the Kootenays on unceded sinixt territory.

All my prices are sliding scale, but I can give you a sweet and simple total if you send me an email to andi[@]andigracewrites.com with what you are looking to order. I accept payment through a wide range of means including paypal, interac etransfer, cheque, money order and some trades. Soon I will make the medicines available in my shop, but for now just send me an email and we can work out the price and availability and price of your order together. Ingredients lists for all of these gifts are available upon request.


 

Here’s some things I have on offer right now:

12333157_798457686950224_857473339_oGood morning sunshine glycerite: this tincture is sweet and nutritious and will help brighten your mood and calm upset digestive systems. 10 to 50 ml bottles available. $10 to $25 sliding scale depending on size.

Arthritis salve: this salve is a soothing and anti-inflammatory mix of catnip and calendula, with an optional mama mary jane addition. 1 oz and 2 oz availble. $15 to $35 sliding scale depending on size and ingredients.

Witches Flying Ointment: made with henbane, rose and cottonwood this salve is great for anyone seeking to learn more about western european magical plant traditions. Great for prayer, magic making, ritual and muscle pain. 1 oz available. $20.

Herbal deodorant: this deodorant is the best! It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used. Plus it is also gentle and healing to damaged and sensitive skin. I can add many different medicinal and essential oils depending on your needs. 1 or 2 oz available. $10 to $30 sliding scale depending on size.tumblr_nnpfg9JmKk1rlozhio6_1280

Toothpaste: simple, non-toxic, vegan and nourishing this toothpaste can include mint stevia or not, and it’s is easy to use. 1 or 2 oz available. $7 to $27 sliding scale depending on size.

Incense: this loose blend is packed with beautiful wildcrafted plants. It’s great for clearing spaces and calling in ancestors. 1 oz and 2 oz available. $10 to $20 depending on size.

Sweet Rose Kiss Balm: made with rose, plantain, calendula, beeswax and sweet almond oil. These salves also include fat from our sweet and very happy pigs. This balm works amazingly to heal chronically dry or damaged skin. 0.25, 1 and 2 oz available. $5 to $35 depending on size.

Photo on 2015-09-15 at 4.59 PM #6Single glycerites and salves: I have loads of medicines that are gentle and effective including usnea, fir, calendula and catnip salves and rosehip, ginger, burdock and oregon grape glycerites. Glycerites are sweet tinctures that are safe for folks who would rather not use alcohol and often gentle enough for kids to use as well. All of these medicines taste and smell amazing and I can offer advice on what you can use them for. If you think you could use a sweet and gentle herbal medicine, let me know and I’ll help you make a match. <3

Herbal consultations: are you curious about working with herbs but literally have no idea where to start? Or maybe you have been working with herbs but you need a bit more guidance or just a second opinion? You can book a consultation with me where I will walk you through a needs assessment and whip up a special blend of medicine, made just for you. You can also offer this gift to a loved one through a gift certificate.

DSCF4224Tarot card readings: Beyond herbalism I’m also a tarot card reader with very affordable rates. Plus I have a money back guarantee: if you don’t get something out of your 1 hour reading I will give you a refund no questions asked. You can purchase a reading for yourself or a loved one here.

And finally.. maybe poetry is more your thing? Great! I just released a poetry chapbook that is all about healing, magic and sweet queer love. You can purchase it here.


If you are interested in ordering any of the plant medicine listed above, send me an email at andi@andigracewrites.com with your order. Payments can be made through pay-pal, e-transfer, money order or cheque – or direct through the website for tarot readings and chapbooks. I will often offer discounts for larger orders so buying more will usually save you money.

All of this medicine is made lovingly in small batches so these offerings only stand as supplies last. That being said I am always making medicine and you can keep abreast of my offerings by joining my mailing list or following me on facebook. All salves are made with beeswax but many can be made with vegan wax, upon request.

I and very much looking forward to hearing from you. <3

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I QUIT! Naming toxicity in non-profit work environments.

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From Pinterest

Last week I quit my nonprofit job. I’ve decided to step away from nonprofit work in favour of focusing on homesteading, reading tarot cards online and writing. And I’ve decided this will be the last nonprofit I work for. Maybe I will take contract work here and there, but it won’t be my main income source anymore. In some ways this was an unexpected change. I was planning to stay with this job for another year or two – to gradually work my way out of the position and into self-employment.  But then I spent a week having panic attacks and received one of the most emotional harsh (dare I say abusive?) emails I’ve ever received in a work place and suddenly my limits showed up hard. I had been having a feeling of unsafety in my gut for about 2 weeks before this all happened. I couldn’t quite figure out where it was coming from.

Now I know. Read more