Archives for category: Witchy

I like to think that pretty much everybody can identify a dandelion.  If not, ask somebody around this time of year, and they can probably show you.  Usually when you gather from nature, you have to be careful not to overharvest.  This is not a problem with dandelions.  They’re basically impossible to kill, which leads to the only thing you really have to be careful of with them – make sure you’re harvesting from a place that hasn’t been sprayed with weed killer!

Oh, and watch out for your friendly neighbourhood honey-bees.  They like dandelions too!  image

Anyways, I wanted to make some dandelion-infused oil.  It’s a nice massage oil for sore muscles, but more than that, it’s packed full of Vitamin D and is great for cooking with in the deepest dark of winter when you can barely remember what it felt like to be warm.

The actual gathering portion of this is quick and easy.  You probably need less than you think you do, because the garbling portion of the show is pretty tedious.  You don’t want the green bits, just the yellow petals.  The best technique I’ve found is to split the flower head in half and then sort of scoop out the petals with my thumb.  This project will appeal to the same sort of people who like knitting.image

imageI’m infusing mine in sunflower oil, because if we’re going for solar energy, let’s go all the way!  To that end, I’m also letting it infuse in sunlight for the afternoon.

At this point I’m not sure if I’ll even strain out the petals.  They’re totally edible and good for you, after all.  Probably only if I notice the oil starting to get cloudy, at which point straining out the plant matter can save it.

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I’ll definitely be saving some of this for Longest Night!

Now that my poplar buds have been infusing in olive oil for a month, (see Part 1) it’s time to move on and actually make the balm.  In her Boreal Herbal, Beverley Gray calls this Boreal Balm, and also Balm of Gilead, and simply Poplar Bud Balm.  (I will never stop recommending that book. Go! Buy it!)

No matter the name, this balm is good for dry/itchy/cracked skin, burn treatment, minor cuts & scrapes, soothing inflammation & rashes, and generally preventing infection and speeding up healing.

Ingredients:

1 cup poplar-bud-infused olive oil

2 Tablespoons grated beeswax

contents of 2 vitamin E capsules image I’m sure pros either buy little beeswax granules, or have a much better grater set-up, but in a pinch, my kitchen cheese grater works fine.

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If you have a double boiler, great!  If not you can probably rig something up like I what I did with a sauce-pan and a Pyrex glass bowl.  Just be sure the upper portion can handle the heat. Strain out the buds from the oil (top up with more olive oil if you have to in order to get a whole cup), and SANITIZE whatever you’re going to put the finished balm in.  I had sort of an odd collection of little containers.  SANITIZE!  Just like for brewing – no sense wasting all your time and effort through laziness at the end.image

Fill the saucepan about halfway with water, and put your bowl or glass measuring cup or whatever you’re using on top.  Heck, a Mason jar would work fine.  Put the burner on about medium heat and melt the wax.image
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Then add the oil.  The temperature difference will make the wax go all lumpy, which is fine.  Let the wax & oil melt together, stirring periodically.image

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When the wax and oil are nicely melted together, add your vitamin E oil.  From what I understand it helps the balm last longer.  Then carefully pour your hot melted mixture into your sanitized jars.image Let them cool completely before you put on lids and label them.
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Easy-peasy, simple balm!  image

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First attempt at spinning with a drop spindle went surprisingly well. Yarn lumpy as tapioca, but I was pleasantly surprised to get any yarn at all on a first go. I’m sure it will just take practice.

It’s amazing what you can learn off of YouTube.

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This evening I finished up a batch of meditation incense that I’d ground up a couple days ago and then left to sit. The scents blend like flavours in stew if you let it sit overnight.

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I won’t actually buy Dragon’s Blood anymore, much as I love it, since I’ve learned about how badly overharvested it’s become, but I have a bit left from before that I figure I might as well use up. I’ve also made this blend with no Dragon’s Blood but double the cinnamon, and was still happy with it.

We are blessed with an abundance of poplar trees on our land. Poplar buds have been used for centuries to make medicine, sometimes called Balm of Gilead. Powerful for many different topical ailments, my primary motivation in making this is for its treatment of burns.  It was brought home to me the other day that we’re lacking a good burn cream in our medicine cabinet. Time to fix that! Poplar buds are best harvested in the spring when they’re just starting to swell with luscious juices. That is, right now. image You don’t get much when you’re determined not to strip more than one branch per tree, but luckily I only needed about half a cup. image They’re super sticky – gloves highly recommended. image I’m working mostly from Beverley Gray’s Boreal Herbal. Cannot say enough good things about this book!!! If you live in the boreal ecosystem and are at all interested in wildharvesting, go forth and purchase it ASAP. image I don’t own a double boiler so I’m heating my infusion in a mason jar in a pot of hot water. image 1 part poplar buds to 2 parts olive oil. Once the water starts to simmer I remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature with a coffee filter over the top to let any excess water evaporate. (If I had cheesecloth I would have used that instead but I don’t, so we make do) image Then I put the lid & label on (label very important, always label your concoctions!!) shake it and put it in the cupboard to infuse over the next month. I’ll shake it again periodically as I remember. image A month from now I’ll strain it and use the infused oil to make my salve.

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See Part 2 for the actual making of the balm.