Natures Treasure Chest: Herbal Remedies.
I wish to offer you a basket of natural delight and the skills to fill your own.
I harvest herbs and flowers from our local forests and gardens to dry, infuse and blend into traditional recipes and remedies. I gather local herb-lore, observe the seasonal changes and seek to re-establish the vital connections we have to our natural environment.
There are enless ways to use herbs: herbal teas, salts, sugars, incense, perfume, soaps, pomades and oils and fresh greens in soups and salads. I use natural, local ingredients to ensure the herbs and flowers are well preserved.
Gathering fresh plant material is a key to successful preparations, especially if it's the indefinable you are after. In oil, beeswax, sugar or alcohol, the ripe fruits, fresh flowers and freshly-dug roots are allowed to infuse, to record and to store their green messages. In some cases, like elder, all they need is a bit of sweetness & they make "champagne".
Being able to make your own natural remedies and harvest your own herbs is a simple, easy way to empower yourself and support the local economy, in turn boosting the health of people and ecosystems.
You can find a touch of Naturale Magick in everything. Collecting wild herbs, flowers, seeds & fruits, in their natural setting lets the plant tell its whole story; a story of a valley, a home, a place "in between". The plant trail is easy to follow, a friend at a time. My home, the" high green valley", (in French, "Le Haute Vallespir"), forms part of the watershed border between France and Spain. It is a winding backroad; tree-lined, sunny. It nestles at the feet of Mount Canigou, where the great Pyrenees sink into the Mediterranean sea.
How to make herbal preparations
Many wild plants grow here, seasonally coming into their own and allowing any one to harvest them. Home grown herbs work just as well. It is always a good idea to thank the plants before picking and leave more than you take. Harvest after the dew has dried but well before the plants loose their essential oils to the mid morning sun. To make any preparation use sterilised equipment to avoid mould and bacteria forming. To infuse an oil, fill a clean glass container with fresh, chopped plants and then fill again with good quality oil (I use olive oil). Leave to infuse for 6 weeks, moving the container from time to time but always ensuring all plant matter is covered. Filter the plant material out of the oil with a muslin cloth and bottle the oil and store out of direct sunlight. To make a tincture follow the same procedure but use alcohol instead of oil (vodka or eau de vie are good options). To collect herbs for tisanes, pick the herbs and dry them in a cool, dark place (I use baskets covered with newspaper) and move the plant material around from time to time to ensure they all dry. Drying takes up to 3 to 5 days, with the plants still green but crumbly. Store in sealed glass jars or brown paper packets without crumbling them. They are best kept whole. To make herbal salts, grind dried herbs into course sea salt with a mortar and pestle or an electric hand mixer. Store out of direct light. Making perfume, soap, incense and pomade (salve) require further instruction which I will include in other hubs.
Mount Canigou (Eastern Pyrenees)
A touch of Naturale Magick in everything
Naturale Magick's compilation of herblore, "Recipes & Remedies", is an archive of plant-based preparations, gathered from our grandparents, our neighbours and our local sources of nourishment. Family recipes feature too, and the stories that brought them here.