Unexpected yet incredibly well timed - was called to prepare a flower essence around noon today. Above shows the bowl shortly after settling it in perfect suspended balance between two of the repurposed field rocks. It contains three vibrant blooms from the largest surviving Montana Blue Centaurea. This flower essence is all about vision that's both crystalline and comprehensive. Can think of no quality more relevant to these times.
one of the fleece flower's stalks topped by an exploding baseball-sized sphere of still tightly budded flower panicles. the Fair Maiden lives! holding breath a bit waiting to see if she blooms as well.
Discovered the echinacea that's appeared utterly eclipsed by the foxglove has managed to thrive enough to produce a side-shoot clump of itself. This was completely concealed and utterly unknown to me before the staking. Have spent some high octane quality time in this general portion of the evolving sanctuary bed today. The energetics feel good. See below the rough facsimile of an isosceles triangle formed by the three vibrant blooms that offered themselves for the essence bowl.
Posted at 06:38 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, alchemical rituals, cohesion amidst chaos, flower medicine, flower portraits, gardening with purpose, how to make a flower essence, medicine making from scratch, place/keeping, plant geek eyes, quantum healing, shift resiliency, trees are the answer, viriditas, visual autobiography | Permalink | Comments (2)
on Sunday I spent an entirely pleasant few hours sitting in a camp chair with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. spent a bit of time looking around and breathing deeply. Snapping pictures from time to time but mostly I was spotting for J while he did this:
With no prior experience and only a variety of you-tube videos for guidance an early learning mistake was the best of all way-showers. J had to dig the augur out manually. That gave me time to take pictures of places I love to document as they flow towards full leafing.
earlier in the day (at 7:30 a.m.) I set-out a bowl with three Iris flowers.
Here's the bowl at its alchemical mid-point. This is one of the most radiant and light soaked mother stocks I've had the honor of shaking to life. It's astounding to me what's been unfolding bowl by bowl. The summer season hasn't started and I've already harvested 11 essences.
On Monday we were meant to finish getting the fence post holes augured. Instead I spiked a fever and then had a most un-pretty meltdown due to a debilitating fibromyalgia flare-up that refused to let me push through it to the other side is how I think of it. I've had three flare-ups in the past two weeks. Feels like an entirely lateral shift from fleeting but mercilessly potent anxiety attacks of the previous few weeks.
J was okay about the tool going back with having only used it one day of the two he'd planned. Said using the powerful machine the day before 'took a toll' and as a result he was fine with the zen of digging all the rest of the holes - save one that will be difficult. There may be more problem-soiving needed between us as a result.
Look how she's growing! I will try to get a better shot of the branch canes which are hugely attractive to me. Kind of like bamboo at this stage. Spent yesterday doing nothing but read The Year of the Flood, plan what I hoped to be able to accomplish today in the outside world (I did), and watering the host of seedlings pictured below. Fall asleep about 6:30 in the evening. Slept through until 5:30. Got up and walked around just to see how my joints felt once in motion. I felt at 60% capacity and trusted I would renew even more energy and cellular nurturing over the coming days.
Right now I am accepting that part of what's involved in getting back into physical balance will involve re-setting my weird classic-teenage biorhythms. My physical/mechanical body had an ongoing conversation with both my soul and critical thinking brain. By day's end I'd replaced grim what if this means that and then that and that and that with a sense of optimism. Because:
Everything from my basement greenhouse is happy and we are in the throes of planting a little here and there. This evening J and I transplanted three clumps of red bee balm from the very edge of the transplant bed. It's being pushed out of the garden by a ground-cover(ing) veronica that ran wild at the old place. I did not bring any here on purpose! Took five years to appear and since then everything else is being pushed farther and farther into the grass. I worried the three bee balm colonies we ultimately relocated would be destroyed or seriously maimed by the fence process.
Just before twilight J dug troughs roughly a third deeper than necessary. I added lobster compost and J chopped it in the soil below the trough then remixed after adding the dug-up soil. We planted the first two with equal measure of care and firmness. As we worked J made ongoing note of the soil's superb condition. How free of root pieces and little stones it was. When we got to the last chosen planting site the soil was so impeccable he said
you weren't fucking around.
allowing myself a shy quiet moment of pride I then felt it was important to provide context. I pointed down at the soil and said
this was the day we found out T needed a biopsy.
We planted that clump extra tenderly.
The waxing crescent moon of this evening was fantabulous
Posted at 01:36 AM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, alchemical rituals, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, hickory, how to make a flower essence, la luna, making something new, medicine making from scratch, providence willing, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, trees are the answer, viriditas | Permalink | Comments (11)
Clearly the biggest news of late is the reappearance of Snappy. My first sighting occurred on this same date last year. Recall my grandmother's Way of driving me to contemplate snapping turtles to help myself drop down into a quieter center of personal gravity. Knew instinctively what I was looking at there on a rock ringing the frog pond and yet hoped to be wrong about the species. Snappy was fairly tiny at this time last year and s/he's still pretty small. Between 5 and 6 inches. In the interim everything about the creature has grown into its cellular etching, natural form, and patterning. Like all turtles this is a very well designed creature. Plus, of course, it bites to devastating degree. J and I were both hoping s/he'd moved on at nature's urging. But. Realistically that was two people hoping there'd be no need to deal with yet another problematic Thing just now. Why on earth would s/he move on when s/he has a pond stuffed to its gills with plump tadpoles. there's a lot to Snappy's story and the amount of time/thought/reluctant turning to heart space I've put into the situation.
Saw Snappy for the first time yesterday when I was on my way out to the firepit to process two essence bowls. one joins my flower & stone roster: aquamarine and celandine. that was planned. Once I'd set down the bowl I looked at the self-resurrecting (deer systematically eat it down to bare earth later in the season when they take to bedding down in that corner of the field) strawberry patch. Collecting flowers in the bowl brought open-crown hyper-realism to my awareness of the individual blooms. I'd never fully noticed the perfect green pentacles formed by the sepals' frame of sparkling white flowers!
Strawberry's flower medicine spirit was an enveloping mantle of good cheer. Simmering just below the walking-around crust of what the day contained. I felt it rise and caught a few breaths to comprehend what the experience was teaching me. Any plant or other form of sentience can do this. Our particular species is probably the slowest learner to be found - but still. I was enveloped by Strawberry's healing signature and the organic nature of its medicine spirit. I have no prior experience with something so spontaneous, complete, and fluid. Strawberry entered my senses and enveloped every part of me with ease and confident optimism.
I was invited to linger within my collection process - to treat this specific experience like a spiritual cleanse and soulful picnic. And so I jumped into a whole other way of being. Instead of monomaniacal focus on The Process and its undeviating Procedure I took off my shoes and socks. Used a set of the filters from the aqua/celandine bowl to saturate the soles of my feet until I felt a tingling gratitude for the nourishment. took the next filter and moved into the urge to swipe it from my forehead to belly. It was the most relaxed and organically meaningful experience of my week so far.
Later in the evening my much anticipated order of Blue Vervain/Verbena hasta arrived via Fed Ex. The plants were in transit for two days and are still un-kinking themselves on the back deck. Had originally planned to get nine then dropped back on both expectations and plans in the wake of T needing the biopsy followed almost immediately by J's layoff. Will plant in two groups of three or three groups of two. Probably the first. Hope for enough seedlings to take hold so I can raise them as the third group I originally envisioned.
Here's a lovely( 4:13 minutes) blue vervain primer from radiant bee loving Deb Soule.
Read through the company's unpacking/further acclimation info. I've only ordered live plants once before - from this same company in the wake of their annual seasonal clearance sale. I remember being impressed and grateful for the careful packaging - as I was this time. But based on the size of the plants I received previously I'd imagined the six above would be roughly half the size and age they are. These are very well established plants. I know where I'm planting them but first they need some days to acclimate and harden off. They're joined on the top deck by the basement seedlings.
The picture above documents my 2020 'nurture babies' having their third day on the deck. It's their first experience with dappled morning sun. Am leaving them outside for progressively longer periods of time. They still need protection from wind and rain in addition to the shock of NE night temps.
This morning I got up early. Motivated myself in roughly a tenth of the time that's become my hunkered-down slow poke mode-of-choice. Was determined to get the shallot sets in the ground - plus do some other field-based chores - before the sun lost its cooling slant from the east. Planted ten rows of 5 sets. Have a means to safely and effectively share the overage that thrills me in its simplicity and the organic way the opportunity/connection came together. Once I'd hustled myself out I took my mindful-mode time getting things in the ground. Was deeply appreciative of J's level of care in the removal of thickly matted grass clumps and stones of all shapes. And the careful way he'd mixed in topsoil so all I had to do was add rows of lobster compost and be equally careful mixing everything together. Enjoyed rattling over this year's shallot site so much that I walked through the whole garden in various configurations while rattling. Figuring out where the tramped-down pathways will be once the fence is up.
You are asserting yourself. We welcome you as one.
Same acknowledgement and encouragement as the other day.
My first layer of clearing effort has now reached a point I wasn't sure I'd be able to achieve. Now I need to put muscle into eradicating some of the wild pea vines that are a story unto themselves. My plan is to get as much clear soil as I can - in patches here and there if need be - in order to broadcast amaranth with deliberately placed clusters of sunflowers. A sunflower house is too much fussy work for all the other Things. But I'll raise just as much joy as possible growing bird food for the many different species who live here ringing the field with their songs and activities.
Posted at 04:24 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, herbalism, how to make a flower essence, medicine making from scratch, plant geek eyes, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, stand still with me, viriditas, visual autobiography, water Ways | Permalink | Comments (6)
Posted at 10:22 AM in 2020 growing season, alchemical rituals, ceremony, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, gardening with purpose, making something new, medicine making from scratch, quantum healing, shift resiliency, sit and think with me, speaking of stones | Permalink | Comments (1)
pics taken at four different times over the course of two days.
Yesterday I weeded, re-topsoiled, and thoroughly amended a whiskey barrel in which I'll grow beets. I got a mixed variety packet because mixing varieties has led to family favorite side dishes. Today I did the same with two whiskey barrels in which I'll grow carrots and finocchio. J's been in the field a lot doing a second round of rototilling. Tomorrow I'll seed two of the whiskey barrels and plant shallots in a bed he amended with the lobster casting soil conditioner and two bags of top soil. It's late to put them in but I've been as late as the first week in June and still managed to reap a full year's harvest. I find they do pretty well provided the soil's still cold enough to hold the night temperature for at least half the day.
Today I had a responsibly quick visit with a favorite local friend. Haven't seen her in person for upwards of a two and a half months. The garden-oriented place where she works has set up online shopping and I timed my pick-up around when she was there and free to take five minutes. We spoke of what was good and whole for both of us but also spoke of exhaustion and its many derivations. We laughed. Behind our masks we were both smiling. I brought home thyme, rosemary and the last sage plant in stock. And If I'm honest - this is the first time I've been out in the larger world that I wasn't incredibly saddened by all the many things there are to be saddened about/over in these ever-shifting days. It's pretty much the only time in a bit over two months that I've done something containing a social component as opposed to staying rigorously task-oriented and steeped in the nobody must linger vibe. Lingering for laughter and traded confidences is the part of my former experience I've missed the most and the thing about my personal i-me-mine aspects that leaves me feeling most out of whack.
And so I didn't think/contextualize about anything much - I was just in that moment socializing. The masks didn't matter or in any way infringe on a single one of our combined Liberties & Freedoms. It was sunny and warm enough if we stuck to the sun and the wind wasn't blowing. Also had a chance to suss out the shape of this year's garden there in a different yet utterly familiar garden world. The person who fulfilled my order was worried I didn't know much about plants or I never would have ordered three thymes. My friend was asked to make sure I understood it spread farther and wider the happiest it was. Nobody else could conceive it was true I knew quite a lot about plants and yet ordered 3 Thymes. We laughed and laughed about that (I told you THREE THYMES now she isn't kidding when she says she was raised in a garden) and then pivoted back to our evolving days.
J also socially distance socialized today and arrived home with four generous bags of well rotted horse manure. His friend has a connection. They had it in the works for a week or so but J didn't want to raise my excitement level before the transaction was complete. This is an invaluable development given all the newly tilled space we have to amend.
Some of the pictures above were taken yesterday evening. The sun came out just in time to cast that magical glow that steps everything out of time and space itself. The last two pictures were taken yesterday morning about half an hour after it stopped raining. Other pictures are from today in both morning and afternoon.
Tomorrow I'm turning off the heat mats under the plants in the basement. Some, that have had two weeks without under-heating, will be moved upstairs to begin their hardening off process on the top deck. This transition involves getting them situated in their transplant pots tonight and/or tomorrow morning. There's a very beautiful co-creative wind at my back and I'm eternally grateful for that in these unsettled and unsettling times.
Posted at 07:58 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, direct retrospect, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, free association, gardening with purpose, making something new, medicine making from scratch, place/keeping, plant geek eyes, providence willing, quantum healing, seasonal shifts, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, visual autobiography, walk with me, water Ways | Permalink | Comments (4)
Violet flowers and leaves serve a variety of human needs quite well. They're rich in vitamin C and loaded with salicylic acid. I especially love working with the flowers because it's such a beautifully gentle process and, for me, deeply rooting as well. They figure prominently in a great many of my childhood memories. They're also my original home state's official flower and that pleased me a great deal.
[am including this link for a far more comprehensive overview of Violet's healing and nutritional versatility. Today I'd much rather spend most of my time outside rather than re-inventing any word-based wheels on this or any other subject. Additionally here's a video of some herbalists (including Matt Wood) discussing violet medicine. Plus here's the irrepressable Susun Weed demonstrating how to make violet infused honey ]
The picture above was taken a few years back following a friend's request for "a healing agent of some kind". As someone with very little breast mass she suffered a great deal from what's euphemistically called discomfort associated with mammograms. We spoke of this while sitting by the frog pond. Its northern side has a very large colony of violets. I pointed them out and shared the fact that I sometimes used an oil infusion of these flowers to make a cream I incorporated into breast self-exams. I praised the plant's lymphagogue properties and offered to prepare them in a very light easily absorbed carrier oil. Had automatically assumed that would be grapeseed oil but she'd read an article that spoke of apricot oil's affinity for the thinner skin that aging brings.
I didn't have any but she'd bought some at the health food store in the next town where she'd picked up some sandwiches and fruit salad for our lunch.
"I saw it and bought it just because it felt very important to have it - right now, today." She said as much in the lightly ponderous tone of somebody who follows intuitive cues even when they don't know why. Because she did she was able to gather flowers and make the oil herself right there in my kitchen. She now makes it on the regular for herself and her two younger sisters who share her tender breast situation enough to actively wince at the mere of thought of having The Girls squeezed with imperious finality between the two plexiglass plates.
Together we sat at the table preparing two separate infusion endeavors while talking about a lot of other things we might not have discussed as a continuous stream of femalecentric herbal wisdom. I worked on a white vinegar infusion to be used in sitz baths. We also spoke of flower essences which she considered 'weird and possibly hokum'. I laughed and said something along the lines of wow I've never heard that before - not even once let alone fifty million times. She laughed as well.
And so we spoke of flower essences in some degree of detail. I hadn't been planning any such thing and neither had she. We both laughed a lot more about that fact with a very gentle lilt to it. She asked hesitantly if all the violet flowers we'd worked with might have something to do with our ability to break new ground together. I shared my belief that all flowers have the ability to facilitate formerly 'impossible' conversations whether or not the topic of essence work was included. We're still talking about that back and forth as we both discover more about flowers' capabilities as well as our own shared affinity for growing OUT of who we already are into that which we're actively becoming.
The basket above shows flowers and leaves that I gathered this morning. On this occasion I wanted both for the purpose of co-creating an oil I can turn into a cream that I use in place of Aspercreme. Its roll-on form came into my life about five months ago when my single arthritic knuckle became bothersome enough to eclipse my awareness of all the other knuckles that don't bother me at all. I ate a few flowers as I did my gathering - moving from one colony of violets to the next so I was also moving from the evolving sanctuary garden to the frog pond and out into the field for a total of seven gathering locations.
Surface area is a key factor in making successful herbal remedies. Ongoing wisdom makes clear that the potency and longevity of a remedy is directly relational to the degree of surface area. This is why most remedies are macerated old school with a mortar and pestle or zip-zapped in a blender along with the oil or alcohol carrier. I continue to do a fair amount of both but, when it comes to violets, I simply collect more flowers so I don't have to cut them apart. In keeping with this ally's gentle and sensitive nature I chiffonade the leaves - sometimes cutting the results at perpendicular angles to create more surface areas. Today I let it go with simply creating the ribbons with a serrated blade.
I have a dedicated enamelware double boiler I use for herbal infusions. Unless I've planned ahead enough to have a particular carrier on hand I work with one of those large tins of olive oil you find in the grocery store. During our last week of formerly normal behavior J picked up two of those tins for me. Because I wanted enough to last me until the next violet harvesting season I wound up with roughly twice as much plant matter as I'd normally include. Adding oil enough to cover the botanicals brought the infusion's contents about an inch short of overflowing.
Upon my most recent check-in the brew was morphing into its intended iteration. The flowers are drained of color and their stems are also white and roughly half their original size. The leaves currently look like the canned soup version of leafy greens. I removed the lid and will soon place the top/oil-filled pan on a trivet to cool a bit before I commence straining.
note: I don't personally use violet tincture any more because I've found it's a little rough on my upper digestive tract - yielding heartburn and a stomach ache. If I've time and the weather holds (snow is predicted. sigh...) I'll put up a half pint of white vinegar infusion. It's really nice to have on hand for anyone suffering from hemorrhoids - especially those whose bodies don't respond well to epsom salts. just add a teaspoon or so of the infusion to the sitz bath water and swirl it around to insure it's well integrated.
The year J contracted Lyme (and struggled with ongoing very active symptoms for the better part of two years) I put up a few half pints of the oil as a cold infusion due to the delicacy of the flowers. I thought he'd like it for his joints but instead he used it close to constantly for headaches - which had rarely troubled him previously. Once we were obliged to replace our stove I embraced the warming burner as the best combination of both options.
Also - you did realize I wasn't gonna not mention this other application of the flower medicine - violet flower essence is really awesome for quiet reclusive types who also need to learn how to get up and out and shake their tail feathers from time to time in order to feel truly complete. As an example, Molly Sheehan used to tell a wonderful story about a customer who worked with the essence and 'suddenly' began to attend and participate in poetry slams with cumulatively life changing results.
Today was a downright magical Outside day. J. took a floating vacation day once he saw his work-load could handle the time away from it. Spent the morning composing and then headed outside with intent to rid the back of the field of several dozen Russian Olive trees. It took him three hours using his bow saw. We'd discussed Bea's recently texted all-caps reminder: NO UNNECESSARY ACCIDENTS and agreed there would be no chain saw activities until further notice. Just to be safer than sorry.
When we were heading back from our on-site review in the field we both noticed the beautiful flowers on one of the two maple trees that stand as guardians of the little path made shadowy by the hemlocks that line its southern side.
Today's essence bowl was filled with flowers from the tree on the left. Had to pull down the branch used to take flower portraits in the first image because I'd taken most of the reachable flowers for the bowl a few hours earlier. I set the bowl on a wooden folding tray relatively near the tree but closer to the center of a steady four hour light-connection in that part of the yard. As I settled the bowl into place I realized the tray was made of maple wood.
Going back to the early learning days of getting to know flower essence healing & illumination properties via simple keywords - the Maple medicine spirit is all about balance. The mid-day's sun lit these beautiful red flowers so they glowed in a beckoning way. I realized at once this was a perfect essence for this time and also a perfect choice to create a practical application addendum to the part one and part two of the flower essence Nuts & Bolts posts.
***after the mother stock was safely delivered into the house I sat down to see what Molly Sheehan had to say about this essence. Saw she'd created a wonderful blog post about it back in '06. Reading through it - I remembered seeing it soon after it was published. Also reflected we'd lived with a completely different kind of maple tree then. ***
Here's a picture to match the written description of my full working tray for essence bowl collection:
When the bowl was in place I came into the studio. Could see the tray perfectly from the back window. Hadn't been up here more than two minutes when I was felt drawn to look. Saw the little woven cloth I placed on the tray for photographic aesthetic reasons had flipped up into the bowl. So I got an opportunity to follow my own advise about hustling things along while apologizing to the flowers. Couldn't hardly say I was new at this but am definitely new to working with that cloth in this way. I put short wooden framing pieces on either end of the cloth because they were at the bottom of the studio stairs and quick to grab as I rushed to the tray.
from here on, if I stick with the cloth which I rather liked as a nestling cocoon for the bowl, I'll put sticks or small-medium stones on either end.
As I was settling everything with my back to the east I felt a sudden awareness of benevolent attention. Creeping along behind me - powerful but kind of muted in the earth. Maple trees have extraordinarily long roots that travel just below the ground and often partially above it. I became aware the roots of the tree were right there beneath my feet. It seemed they were inviting me to sit against the trunk after I'd returned the bowl flowers. To be there together as three energies: tree, mother stock and co-creative human. I silently accepted and was further invited/instructed to shake the first 5 reps of the awakening process right there with my back against the trunk of the tree. And the returned flowers nestled within a slight hollow in the adjoining section of the trunk.
And so it was.
Maple trees are blooming all over the property and well beyond...
Posted at 07:19 PM in abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, flower medicine, flower portraits, how to make a flower essence, making something new, maple, medicine making from scratch, plant geek eyes, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, trees are the answer | Permalink | Comments (9)
Bronze Fennel bowl from '06 just prior to straining. Notice the water is filmy with a layer of flower pollen. This illustrates why I advise triple straining prior to adding this liquid to its brandy stabilizer. Any trace of pollen or other organic matter will hasten spoilage - sometimes within a matter of just a few months.
I left out an important detail in part one of this mini-series:
after you've filled the bowl with flowers and adjusted the water level set it in a place where you know it will get four hours of uninterrupted sunlight. If you're taking your best guess - make time to check your hunch every 45 minutes to an hour and adjust the bowl's placement if necessary. If you need to do this keep the bowl in sunlight as you move it if you possibly can. If you can't then just hustle the bowl right along to its next resting spot. Explain you're new at this. Flowers are endlessly compassionate and capable of adjustments we can barely fathom. Add to which you're doing this for you and those in your circle - not to mass produce the most assiduously pristine essence in order to keep the product radiant and maximize each drop of every mother stock. So far as I know there are no free-range flower essence police who make surprise inspections in the average person's dooryard.
do your best and let nature intelligence do the rest!
AND NOW IT'S THREE HOURS LATER
Harvesting & Stabilizing Mother Stocks
I advise beginning to organize yourself at the hour 3 mark especially if you've never done this before. The more organically you connect to the flower medicine spirit(s) involved, solar energy in a lesser-explored dimension, or the simple beauty of dropping out of NOW in order to go deeper into timelessness - the more spaced out you are in the linear sense. This is true, objectively, even though you're also quite likely feeling as grounded as you ever have. You may have powered through your time of doing whatever you've been doing with electrified focus and heightened consideration. Even if you perceive nothing at all happening you will still embody your own elastic potential to be both totally present and totally cosmic right at the same time. That's why you need some lead time to keep your body and brain in strong linear balance with your heightened experiential awareness.
Ground & Stabilize - specifically by eating something. Innumerable energetic healers and flower alchemists advise choosing solid nutrient dense food that is literally OF the ground. During parts of the summer when weather forecasts suggest I'll be preparing multiple essences for a few days running - I prepare a platter of chilled steamed carrots dressed very simply with tarragon, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These are easy to grab as finger food right before I head out the door with my collection materials. If I've allotted more than 15 minutes to eat something I'll heat up and mash part of a yam with some freshly grated ginger root.
important: don't have any honey, fruit, or fruit juice!! This will lead to your central and sympathetic nervous system vibrating extra fast due to the higher frequency range it's accessing via your part in the alchemy process. Super-quick response time is wonderful to watch in a hummingbird but not so kind to your jacked-up neurology.
I advise assembling everything you'll need on an easy to carry tray or within a small cardboard box. I usually do this about halfway into the fusing process just in case I misjudged available supplies and have to make creative adjustments. Once you've assembled the material supplies listed in Part 1:
Prepare a label for the container that will hold the stabilized mother stock. Include the name of the flower. Indicate it's a mother stock and when you've prepared it. I also include solar and lunar astrological information:
Attach your label(s) to the jar. I use standard issue Avery labels which often resist strong adherence to the glass jar so I also use washi tape to keep the label in place without being time-consuming to remove when need be.
After you label your mother stock jar add your stabilizer of choice. I like a 30-60 ratio : stabilizer to mother stock. For my smaller bowls that works out to roughly a finger's worth of stabilizer in the bottom of a half-pint canning jar. Large bowls need two fingers. My six inch bowls settle nicely with one and a half.
Some people bring a jar of their chosen stabilizer into the field with them. That way they aren't ball parking. They can see exactly how much mother stock liquid is in the first straining bottle and add a precise proportional amount of stabilizer to the mother stock bottle.
I don't do this simply because it would be one more physical object for me to keep track of, potentially drop multiple times, and just generally serve to lessen the buzz of co-creative thrall I feel when I prep as much as I possibly can in advance.
Note: If you get outside and find a bowl's evaporation rate is greater than expected - pour the surplus brandy into the ground or distribute it among other mother stock bottles-in-waiting.
Your bowl's remaining liquid will be strained 3 times. That's why you have 3 containers and 3 sets of double layered coffee filters per essence. The same funnel will be used for all three strainings.
This part of the process will be a different kind of mindful work from what you experienced in the preparation phase. You're excited and involved in something you couldn't have done by yourself. And on the other extreme - the more you've done this and progressively learned how to self-calibrate the more you're also testing your edges each and every time just as you would with yoga, lucid dreaming, or any other mind-body-earth-cosmos activity. Your consciousness is expanding and WANTS to grow farther and farther. This ephemeral imperative is under-storied with internalized experiences that quite often defy words or even inner categories you can recognize.
practical insight: If they've been well-strained and are lovingly maintained mother stocks that are stabilized with unflavored oak barrel aged brandy can last for years. Vinegar and red shiso stabilized mother stocks will need replacing on a very regular basis.
Everyone finds their own way with this part of it but let me spare you one particular intuitively based heartbreak: I began my alchemy adventures stabilizing everything with Grand Marnier. I thought it would be a lovely experience for the flowers' vibrations and also human recipients of the essences. Each and every one of those mother stocks spoiled in record time. In a few unwelcome cases - in just a matter of weeks!
As you head outside make sure you bring with you:
*a hat to protect both your crown chakra and your central nervous system - especially if you weren't wearing a hat when you prepared your bowl. Your crown center needs protection because it's open and actively receiving light-filled energetic information of a very powerful wattage. The sheer quantum mechanics can be too much for your subtle bodies' electrical circuitry in many of the same ways that time spent hat-less in full sun may overload your cardio-vascular system.
*Water for yourself to drink as you work unless you're very well hydrated in advance.
If you have the luxury of time prior to collection - plan to sit with your essence bowl for just a little while. Leave your imprint on the landscape which is leaving its imprint within your collection bottle. be as one with all. center in that oneness.
when you're ready to break that perceptual flow
sit on the ground or a low stool with back facing a north or east orientation from the bowl. This insures your shadow won't fall on it during the straining process. I pick it up in both hands unless it's very small. Hold it up towards the sun and say Thank You before beginning the straining process. This is what feels right to me although prior to moving here I didn't have the privacy to always feel comfortable doing it. Do what feels right to YOU within the process of disconnecting the bowl from the path of the sun's light
Work slowly and carefully. Place a pair of coffee filters in the funnel and slowly pour the bowl liquid into the funnel. Try to get as much of the liquid into the funnel and fully strained into the first designated container before tipping-in the flowers and remaining liquid. Let all of the plant matter strain for a moment. As you watch the remaining drips of liquid fall in the glass shift your eyes to the general landscape. Notice tiny sparkling ways you may feel a part of it more completely.
Once I feel confident most of the liquid has strained into the container I gently place the first set of filters into the emptied bowl. I then strain the liquid two more times. At the point of the third straining I'm moving liquid into my labeled mother stock.
I hold the bottle up towards the sun and say a second thanks. Then I shake the bottle with a vigorous yet respectful motion for a count of 77. Once I'm back in the house and better grounded I will continue to shake the bottle for another ten reps of 77 shakes - plus 7 additional shakes. This means the mother stock has been blended and called into activation by YOU with a total of 777 shakes.
This is the point, out in the field, where people want it to be a joke or something they can bargain past. Some protest with a lot of conviction and swear they could never. Nonetheless. It's how I learned, it's what I swear by, and it's also why I think hypersensitive alchemists pick up a bottle of Sparkling Lotus essences, widen their eyes and exclaim WOW. It's exquisite numerology and is worth the repetitive motion unless your shoulder/something else is damaged in ways that would prohibit it.
that said ...
If the mere idea is just too much of too much for you - consider using a rule of thumb I've been seeing online within newer alchemist's tip sheets. Shake the bottle until it begins to feel heavier and more substantial. Put the mother stock in a safe and special place out of direct light. Make sure the bottle isn't making direct contact with other bottles and won't be handled vicariously. I usually wait about 72 hours before preparing a greatly diluted stock bottle from the mother stock. So I'll cover those instructions in a separate post sometime next week.
a crucial part of this entire process is the final action of reciprocity. Return the flowers from the bowl to the base of the plant(s) where you collected them. Take all the coffee filters and squeeze their remaining liquid directly onto the plant. I sing at this point. Usually in spontaneous sustained tones but once in a memorable highlight of deviation I was returning California Poppy flowers to their patch at SL2 when I suddenly heard myself chanting we're going going / back to Cali Cali.
That was a very fun day and now I chant at length to each season's Cali Pops as they love to be called. I have re-worded a lot of the GBTC verse lyrics so they apply and actually want to come out of my mouth. Flower medicine spirits and attendant nature devas are inherently very playful. When they get a bead on who you are they may entice you to come out of yourself and be joyous with them in all sorts of unexpected ways.
*I love to take what remains of the wet coffee filters and wipe them on the back of my neck, pulse points, the palms of my hands, or soles of my feet. Then I like to go back to the house and paint with watercolor for an hour or so. To record my initial impressions of flower wisdom and personal insight in this form without words. They come later. First comes drippy and ever-eloquent color in its most flower-like form.
*Because you've spent a chunk of time actively or passively moving energy in a way that involves several forms of Other intelligence and multiple vibrational frequencies you may ping pong between feeling like you're mainlining coffee to feeling like you could remain motionless forever. Both extremes will temper themselves within a few hours of grounded activity.
pro-tip: sometimes your physical reaction will depend on the specific flower medicine and its strongest range of influence on the human form.
*I've observed at a strictly anecdotal level that those of us with muscular pain often hurt a lot more prior to sleeping. After that there's often a blessed dip in pain level that lasts for a number of days. Sometimes far longer for those with a diligent yoga/body-working routine.
*Keep a small jotter notebook or a few folded scraps of paper and a writing/drawing implement close at hand. You may have sudden flashes that you want to record before they flash right out of your memory's reach.
Posted at 11:11 AM in abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, how to make a flower essence, making something new, medicine making from scratch, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, visual autobiography | Permalink | Comments (6)
The picture above shows an essence bowl set upon a battered wooden TV tray. It's sitting within the midst of our evolving sanctuary garden and the bowl is full of Bottle Gentian flowers. Took the pic just before harvesting and processing the mother stock there in the later summer of '18.
To successfully make a flower essence you need the following atmospheric elements:
* A sunny day with no/virtually no clouds.
* Temps somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees. You can push it to 85 degrees if you have to but setting out bowls in downright HOT weather insures your flowers will fry rather than fuse. Remember the sun heated glass will in turn heat the water. It's always going to be significantly warmer for the flowers in the bowl than the air temperature feels against your skin.
* Time in which to keep track of time: 4 hours worth. You don't have to stay right there, obviously, but you do have to remain aware of the ongoing project (I set both my stove and phone timers) - keeping special track of any sudden/cloudy shifts in weather.
on the material plane you need:
*A pair of small sewing or herb-cutting scissors/snips that remains dedicated solely for harvesting essence preparation flowers.
*Unflavored brandy* to stabilize the harvested mother stock. I use E&J specifically because Matthew Wood favors it. Equally specific: he does as much due to the brandy being aged in oak barrels.
* you can also use brown rice vinegar or a red shiso decoction
*THREE size-proportionate glass containers (I use half pint canning jars) per essence preparation.
*SIX coffee filters - unbleached preferred but we're all pinch-hitting these days - per essence bowl. You can use paper towels in a pinch although many shed pulp that defeats the purpose of straining. I've had better luck layering two or three pieces of white tissue paper.
*ONE funnel (large enough to accommodate a coffee filter containing liquid and soaking wet flowers) per essence.
* simple CLEAR glass bowls dedicated to essence preparation and nothing else*. no pyrex. I have fairly shallow bowls that are 3, 4, and 6 inches in diameter. I also have the 12 inch diameter version of the same bowl. All were purchased at a dollar store 18 years ago after an essence making friend grasped how perfect they'd be for our purposes and tried out the smallest bowl size by preparing an amethyst elixir. We had the type of friendship that involved excited phone calls when great bargains of vast consequence were discovered. In short order she'd picked me up and we were on the way to the store so I could purchase a set of my own.
*if you don't immediately know that you have a bowl or bowls that might work - consider what you're currently unable to recycle due to the pandemic. Look for short glass jars with wide mouths such as small spice/herb jars or clear glass containers from non-toxic beauty products. Wash and clean these jars thoroughly. I like to leave them to dry in the sun.
[I removed the ant drawn to the meadowsweet in the bowl - and swiftly transported it to a shaded recuperation site - after noticing it through the camera lens]
Additionally - many no-pick flower alchemists work with taller wide mouthed jars that allow for submerging full-peak flowers still attached to the plant or bush. Have done it sporadically with larger plants bearing flexible flower stalks - mints, bergamots, comfrey, a white lilac flower branch, a spray of flowering quince, etc.
re-imagining tip - I have made an emergency-status essence with just two key lime flowers* and spring water placed in the hole of a plain glass candle holder.
*lime flowers have a special affinity for cleansing the auras and emotional/psychic bodies of healers/teachers/leaders/activists. At the time of my emergency improvisation I was working between 5 and 10 hours a week with a group of self-described 'disaffected yet enraged' teenagers. Although I could say tons more I don't think I really have to ...
3 inch verbascum essence. Two 4 inch blend bowls in the southern bed of my former garden '07. Note that rather than removing each motherwort and yarrow flower individually, I plunged the flower heads upside down into the bowl's water. Never did it that way before but I'd observed a friend embrace the method to great success and was glad to try.
and of course you also need
appropriate water. Avoid tap water that is highly -inated with much of anything. Some people boil such water if it's their only option then set it in the sun for an hour or so to regain vibrancy. I don't use our well water because it's very hard and overly endowed with mineral deposits. This messes with the fusion process and tends to produce mother stocks that spoil in relatively short order or simply feel heavy rather than sparkle-bright. I collect water especially for this work from a friend's wellspring and when that's gone I break out my yearly purchase of two 12 ounce water bottle six packs from a local source. Each bottle is enough to fill a few essence bowls at one time.
for Phase One of this process you'll need your bowl, an easy-pour container of appropriate water, your designated scissors/snips and a well-balanced softly focused mind.
Your intention and practical goals will be centered on preparing the bowl for its four hour sun and water fusion process. This involves filling the bowl with enough water to hold the flowers you'll collect and then gently adding enough water to allow turning some flowers upside down.
[note: if you select a large tree flower or something huge like a peony, artichoke, lotus, or dahlia you may need to raid your pantry for a relatively shallow clear glass prep bowl. If you don't have one - or something else that feels like a strong choice - you'll have to deconstruct the bloom a bit in order to get all of it submerged in the watery bowl.]
GROUND AND CENTER
breathe deeply a few times.
If everything within your experience falls into place super easily you may get very spaced out and not realize it until you move back into more normalized and familiar activities.
Approach your chosen plant. Ideally you'll already have some type of personal alliance with your first few choices for essence preparation. This intuitive self/flower guided selection method will make the experience more meaningful in ways that are both universally profound and intimately unique to any given individual. The experiential commonality is one of cosmic union and coalescence. It's a lofty plane to seek on any given sunny day in today's world but it starts very simply with cellular connection.
Notice where the sun is in relation to your chosen plant. How is the light falling, specifically, on the flowers you'll harvest for your essence bowl? Make sure that you approach the plant and position your body so that you're not blocking the sunlight's passage. Throughout the rest of the harvesting and setting in place process you want to keep from blocking the sunlight's path to the bowl and flowers within it.
Above I'm harvesting blueberry flowers so they fall into a six inch bowl. My left/receptive hand cradles the bottom of the bowl and I'm careful to keep my fingers free of casting shadows on the water's surface. what's not completely clear in this picture is that I've pivoted my entire right/dominant arm from the shoulder through to finger tips in order to avoid casting any shadows. But look directly below this sentence:
You'll most likely be standing up to harvest tree and bush blossoms. For lower plants or ground creepers you'll be crouched/squatting, on a gardening stool, or sitting on ground. You aren't 'supposed' to touch the flowers. Snip the blooms with just a bit of stem left attached to the throat/base of the petals.
Old schoolers such as myself will recommend making any necessary adjustments or retrieving flowers that miss the bowl by using a leaf pinched between thumb and forefinger to shield the petals from touching your fingers.
If the flowers are large enough to consciously manipulate in a timely way make sure some blooms are face down in the bowl while others face upwards. I push things around with the tips of the scissors - really saturating the flowers so they'll settle into the water for the 4 hour fusion process.
tip: It can be surprisingly hard not to reflexively 'arrange' the bowl as if it were a flower vase. In my teaching and mentoring experience there's nearly always relatively adamant in-person resistance to turning flowers upside down at first because the results aren't as visually pleasing. What the bowl looks like is immaterial to how it feels vibrationally once the entire process is complete. To that end it's worth the time and suspended judgement to patiently saturate each flower enough to make them heavier and harder to disturb.
note: sometimes flowers will not cooperate with being saturated to the point of heaviness. They sometimes won't seem to stay right side down, either - as was my experience with the cherry blossoms below. Do the best you can to inter-mix their orientation. speak to them if you sense it might help.
If the flowers are small, like blueberries, you either want a proportionally smaller bowl OR the time and patience to fill a larger bowl's surface. I went with the latter choice because my inner sense was that I might not have another opportunity to work with blueberry flowers in this way. So far that instinct has proven itself correct.
If you have a very large flower such as a Lily you can cut it apart right there at the bowl while it's submerged in water. This structural mangling is hard to do - at least for me. But I did put that aside last summer in order to work with a Mona Lisa Lily. The medicine spirit urged me forward and as I did what needed doing I reflected on several well-known flower alchemists who routinely shred all the flowers before placing them in sunlit water.
note: according to Richard Katz & Patricia Kaminsky's remarkably gifted updating of the Doctrine of Signatures applied to flower reading rules of thumb - bell shaped/nodding flowers speak to the mind and soul needs of those who tend to be introverted in life and work practice. People who are not selfish or socially unskilled but almost supernaturally wise in honoring their need for isolated space and distance in which to do their intentional/healing/creative work. Blueberry flower essence relates specifically to the needs of those who are undergoing a sense of internal transformation that demands Cathedrals of One's Own even if that sense of inviolate sanctuary is largely metaphorical given our collective experiences of the moment.
[eta: since publishing this post I've come to realize that I conflated the Twelve Windows of Plant Perception with snippets of several Blueberry flower essence profiles as well as my own Blueberry reading notes. I left it stand rather than editing in order to avoid confusion for anyone revisiting these posts over time. The paragraph as I wrote it 'from memory' also illustrates the way combined knowledge follows a memory river of sorts.]
This seems like a good place to push the pause button on an info dump point of view. If you've already co-created essences and would like to talk about it please comment or email if you're so inclined.
Consider your options for making a flower essence. What plants/trees/bushes do you live with that have flowers which evoke something soothing or cleansing for you? What is coming into flower (looking at jude...) that calls to your soul and heart in an overwhelming sort of way?
You might also consider what plants/trees/bushes you live with that consistently evoke a sense of balance, unique familiarity, comfort or insight. Read something about their flowers even/especially if you believe you're too familiar to need this step.
as you think about this endeavor and look around your landscape's options for working with specific plants - remember that sometimes it's the in-person flowers that are magnetizing and sometimes it's the energetic vibration of the overall plant that leads to exploration/examination of the flowers it makes.
~~alternatively you can research flower essences more generally here online and match your intentions to the healing and illumination properties of a particular flower~~
I'll write the concluding portion of this how-to post on Wednesday or Thursday and schedule post it for Friday. Part two of the flowers' transformation process covers the nuts & bolts of how to turn the alchemized bowl's contents into a mother stock.
If such an inspirational self-care endeavor is viable for the place where you live consider preparing a bowl of whatever's freshly bloomed and feels beckoning on your solar return day. I've been doing this off and on (it often rains that day) during the decade we've lived here. I find it a wonderful way of celebrating both my life force and the landscape's floral bounty just south of mid-summer. These gifts often serve as constitutional remedies that last all year and well beyond. The birthday bowl essences nourish and soothe me as time passes in a way that always prompts deeply layered gratitude and respect for the healing properties - and extraordinary sentient intelligence - of flowers and all they hold.
Posted at 11:16 AM in abundance of care, alchemical rituals, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, how to make a flower essence, making something new, medicine making from scratch, providence willing, quantum healing, shift resiliency, visual autobiography | Permalink | Comments (10)