Solar Blessings: Handcrafted St. John's Wort Oil, Deeply Penetrating Herbal Healing

These 4oz bottles of organic St. John's Wort body oil are now available in the shop!

As you can see, I rocked the shit out of my little river photo shoot the other night. Not that I can take credit for this gorgeous image. It's all the oil, the river, and especially the sunshine. I can't help but feel that the red sunlight fairies that showed up in these photos are little blessings on this whole endeavor, some sort of magical infusion gifted from the sun at this final step of the months-long medicine making process.

You can read a full description of this medicine's many beneficial properties within the Etsy listing, but I will include a short list of them here:

❤ carries the properties of the full summer sun with it into the body's tissues

❤ deeply relaxing to sore and stressed muscles

❤ quickly penetrates, strengthens, and nourishes the nerves to alleviate short or long-term nerve damage and pain

❤ warms and calms the entire body

❤ soothes and heals bumps, bruises, sprains, burns, etc.

I've been promising a post on the whole process for a while now, so here it is. To be sure, it's the same process as the homemade lavender oil I posted about a while back, but it bears repeating. Homemade herbal medicine is so simple and beneficial, I'll do whatever I can to teach others how to do it :-)

It all started on the Summer Solstice back in June, when Mycelia and I set out to harvest more St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) than we have in years past, while being sure to leave enough for it to re-seed and continue to flourish here. My sister Lacey also helped with the gathering.

You know you've got the right plant when bruising it leaves deep red marks on your fingers. This is from the hypericin, the active medicinal compound that turns the tincture and the oil made from the plant the incredible red color that it's famous for..

 

On a mission.

When we got home I quickly got to work chopping up the herb into as many small pieces as possible; the more surface area of the plant material that comes into contact with the medium extracting its medicinal properties (in this case, the organic olive oil), the stronger the medicine will be.

Next the oil is poured over the top of the herb, which has already been placed into the steeping container. Herbalists differ in the herb-to-oil ratio they use. I tend to be pretty free form with it and just put as much plant material as I've got into the jar, then add the oil. You want to fill the jar to the very, very top, leaving zero room for air once the lid has been put on. So the top of the oil is touching the bottom of the lid. No air = no mold. Slowly stirring a chopstick through before you top it off will bring any air bubbles up to the surface, and you also want to remove the lid every few days to see if more oil needs to be added (it has a sneaky way of lowering once the steeping process begins).

When all was said and done, I had 5 gallons! I like to steep my herbs for one full moon cycle. This year the Solstice coincided with the new moon, so the oil brewed between the June and July new moons.

The infusing process with St. John's Wort is more visually rewarding to behold than with any other herbal medicine, due to the ruby red hue that the hypericin imparts to the liquid medium over time. It is truly satisfying to watch the liquid redden more day by day. (This is true for making it into a tincture for internal use as well, see my Etsy listing for more on what it is about this herb that makes it good for depression when taken internally and warming and relaxing when used externally).

When it was time to strain out the oil, Lacey and my friend Sarah were here to help. I gathered all the kitchen funnels I've got, along with some cheesecloth (though I learned from this experience that I prefer cotton muslin), and we got to work.

After the straining out (putting a large beach towel under the whole scene turned out to be a very good idea), I poured all five gallons into an eight gallon container to ensure that it was all evened out and each bottle would yield the exact same medicine.

The differences in color are due to the thickness of the oil. A gallon is deep red, a half gallon is jewel-hued and less opaque, and the 4oz bottles look more orange than red in some light.

I ordered the labels on Etsy and am very happy with how they turned out. The text reads: Gathered on the Summer Solstice at peak potency, this ruby-hued body oil is pure liquid sunshine. Deeply relaxing and warming to the musculature and nervous system, use it for isolated aches and pains or for total body realignment after a bustling day.

Here's the current scene in my kitchen window. It brings me much joy to look at every day.

Once again, you can read more about the healing properties of this oil and perhaps purchase a bottle (at a very reasonable price) here ❤ 

 

LOCALS: Message me if you'd like to meet up in person to get your bottle. You can either pay me in person then or pay via Etsy by using coupon code SUNSHINE at checkout, which will remove the shipping cost for your order.

Eggs, Ears, Blossoms, Boots, and Li'l Fairies

On Monday I am going to have a really neat historical musical post full of ghosts and strings and old woodwork to share with you. For now, more dresses and trees and daily life...

Yesterday was the Easter celebration and egg hunt at Garden Fairies Preschool. Teacher Jacquie sprouts wheatgrass in their baskets (okay she was a little late this year and it hadn't sprouted yet, but it will by the time the actual Easter day rolls around!) and the parents all bring naturally dyed eggs. My friends Jen's were so awesome- she wrapped tulle and netting around them and dyed them in turmeric water (beets and cabbage are also great plant based dyes).

On a mission!

God bless Graham. Who got Mycelia up and ready for school that morning and remembered this dress that I thrifted for Easter back in the fall. (Look how well her cuts have healed. They're practically non-existent today. Kids' bodies are so amazing!)

Nesha knows that sharing is caring.

In fact all the kids did a great job of filling the baskets of those who hadn't found a lot.

Sweet baby Sriya! And Jacquie's fantastical and extensive garden taking shape back there.

Goody bags, balloons, and a potluck. Happy, silly kids.

I continued with the Wildflower Hills/Lisbon girls theme. Also perfect for Easter. I wore the pink dress again, with my killer little gray crochet sweater vest, vintage white lacy granny cardigan from "the bins", and ever-present burgundy riding boots. (The Lisbon girls reference is to The Virgin Suicides, Milla pointed out in her comment on my last post how reminiscent my outfit was of that film. She and I are also big fans of the novel. It is one of my favorite ever. Read it. And watch the movie. Again).

(Okay I know you can see my black tights through the dress, but they just don't make  slips this short! And then sell them at the thrift stores I frequent. Which brings up a good question- does it even matter? Like when people are like "I can see through your skirt", it's like "Oh shit! So you found out my secret- I have legs" What do you think? Are you careful about that?).

These photos may be sunny and bright, but by the end of this little event I was feeling horrible. I had had a sore throat for a few nights, and during this potluck my right ear started to hurt. My ears are my Achilles Heel. I had lots of ear infections as a kid, and that has had two major effects on my life. One is that I now have lots of scar tissue in there and my ears don't drain properly. I have to put alcohol drops in after swimming or showering to dry the water out, or else it builds up and I get a headache. The second is that, since I was always put on antibiotics right away, my body never built up immunity to that kind of infection, so I am still very susceptible to them. (I swear I learn how to spell a new word every time I blog! Words I use in speech commonly but never write. Suseptable? Nope.)

The last time I had an ear infection was right after the car accident last year, while I was still dealing with my head injury. Then I had a high pitched ringing in my ear (which also seemed to electronicize sounds while simultaneously creating an echo effect) for weeks afterward that an acupuncture treatment finally cured. And the time before that was right after my miscarriage the year before, while I was still bleeding and grieving. No fun.

And you guys, I become a TOTAL BABY when I have an earache. I revert to my most pained child self. I throw fits, I cry every half hour, I snuggle up with my beloved old Bunny, and I want my mama (all things I did last night as the pain worsened). I just hate it more than anything. Ever. So as soon as I started to feel the pain yesterday I began to brainstorm what to do, that very day, to get it gone before it became a full-blown infection. I took lots of echinacea tincture all day (infection fighting AND immune boosting), put garlic/mullein drops in my ears, I cut an onion in half and warmed it in the oven and held it to my ear (Snopes.com says that onions do not draw out infection, but I swear by this remedy), I took oregano oil, I massaged my ear and neck and lymph areas with St. John's Wort oil, I took two hot baths in Epsom salts, I did the Neti pot, and a eucalyptus steam. I also used the St. John's Wort oil (which is my most used herbal remedy ever, we make it every summer) to massage my belly in a counter clockwise direction. This is an old folk remedy from many traditions that gets the digestion going. My herb teacher Kami McBride talked about the importance of keeping digestion moving whenever illness is present, and I always pay attention to that now. Which is why I also had some hot peppermint tea! And I stretched out my neck and spine a lot too.

I feel a whole lot better today. I am soooooo relieved. Graham made some delicious chicken soup and very spicy green salsa. Feeling loved and taken care of are such important aspects of healing :-)

*Thanks to Jen for not only making those beautiful eggs, but also for taking these last six photos! She is Nesha's mama and also the gorgeous woman in my latest Etsy listings*