Tagged herbal medicine

out with the old

rebirth of the witch cabinet: closing my public apothecary

friends and community,

i’m writing you with a particularly heavy heart. the moons rising in the season of dwindling light have worked me hard. since i last wrote to you all i have left my home, the homostead, as well as my life-team-mate who i shared a home and baby with. this transition has been challenging for me. it’s set me deep into a cocooning, transforming time – much like the plants and forest that surround me.

i am not yet ready to emerge back out of the cocoon, but as i sit here, i am visioning. i am breathing and healing and crying my way through it. basking in the warmth and support you all have been offering me in this tender time.

i have ideas for the future and announcements about pieces i am laying to rest. read on to discover the shifts i’m envisioning.

you can purchase this salve on my etsy.

the big news is: i am closing the public side of my apothecary

as many of you know, this summer my apothecary was reported to the government. in response i removed many products from my shop and decided to shift towards a consultation based model, still planning to make and share physical remedies. then chaos ensued and i found my apothecary packed into boxes. this physical instability showed me how much my practice was tied to housing stability¬† and to the land i gathered from, unceded sinixt territory. i have no idea what my future holds right now, but i do know i can’t commit to making, packaging and providing remedies on a consistent basis without a stable home base.

the other reason i am choosing to close the public side of my apothecary is due to the balance of financial security as compared to magical and emotional labour my practice requires. i spend hours and hours gathering medicine, as well as writing about how i gathered it, sharing and packaging it, consulting with people, answering their questions, sharing ideas and offering emotional labour. while some of this work is paid, much of it is not. i love engaging with community in this way, and i also need to have financial security so that in times of chaos and trauma my work allows me to meet my basic needs like feeding and housing myself.

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you can purchase this salve on my etsy.

so what will come in the place of my beloved apothecary?

the other part of my work that i love deeply is creating learning spaces with and for witches, herbalists and femmes. weaving heart-centered anti-oppression through magic making. my plan is to focus on these aspects of my business and create downloadable education resources, as well as host in-person and online workshop spaces.

this means you all will have more and more chances to increase your own relationship to the plant world as well as to communities of like minded witches and femmes who wish to lift up your dreams and affirm your wisdom.

i may still make and share some herbal products, but they will be far less of my focus in the coming year. at this point i also plan to keep writing, reading tarot and providing herbal consultation care. that being said writing and community education will become my main focus.

you can purchase my poetry book on my etsy
you can purchase my poetry book on my etsy.

how can you get your hands on what is left of the witch cabinet’s medicines and remedies?

good question. one way is to make an order through my etsy.

you can email me at andi@andigracewrites.com to make an order if there is something specific you are interested in that is not on my etsy – such as mandrake salves, mugwort and pennyroyal tinctures, sunscreen and bugspray. i am open to offers around price, because i want to sell and trade as much of the remaining products as i can, so i can use the money to launch my new endeavours. and i want these remedies in community because that is where they belong.

at this point my plan is to attend 2 solstice markets in east van, un-ceded coast salish territory. the radical spirits market and the homesteaders emporium market. you can join me at both these markets as a chance to connect and purchase remedies on a pay-what-its-worth scale.

in the coming months i plan to close my etsy and re-open the shop on my site with loads of educational resources, poetry, consultations services and anything else i’m selling. this is no simple undertaking, and i hope this consultation will serve me AND the community i serve as well.

speaking of which, i’m on the look-out for a savvy and witchy web and graphic designer who would like to work with me through this transition. you can email me at andi@andigracewrites.com if you are interested in working with me.

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you can purchase this salve on my etsy.

i really can’t say enough how much your support and kindness means to me and the continual existence of my work. it would be literally impossible for me to be a community supported witch without you, my community.

from my fierce and tender heart to yours,

a

ps: if you love my work and want to see it continuing, in ways where i can consistently meet my basic needs, even through trauma and chaos, you can support my work by committing to make a monthly donation. every amount counts, and while money is not the main reason i do this, it does make the work possible in the long term.

<3 <3 <3

and here is a sweet picture of me and my pup dolly..

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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