E-journal · Herbalism

Just Journaling … yarrow flowers & working on the land.

I collected a bouquet from the garden in the mountains, a place we have worked on collectively for a while now.

This place is a collaborative project and the work is on going. Here is one day, a family work day, with the help of my sister & dad collecting rocks, my mom using power tools, and myself enjoying the scent of these medicinal flowers.

In this tarot deck, Yarrow, which represents the Ace of Air also stands for affirming limits & boundaries.

From the Herbcrafter’s Tarot.
Herbalism

My Herbalism Practice – Libra Herbología 

I have been an herbalist for some years now. And recently I began selling herbs from my garden in the local health food store (where I also work).

and just so you know, Libra Herbologia is also a blog on tumblr …

Where I share posts of mine and other herbalist/brujas too, mostly en español. If you want to check out that tumblr page this link will take you there : https://libra-herbologia.tumblr.com/

E-journal

Garden Journal :: herbs of autumn + reading list

The autumn equinox has passed and was celebrated during many days along with my partner’s birthday on the 25th. In the garden the summer fruits like cucumber and tomato are in their last weeks while the leafy greens are being seeded for fall and winter to come.

Basil, lemon balm, and marigolds are all going strong and keeping the garden landscape beautiful during this transitional time. All around the garden in the surrounding hedge rows the trees are turning yellow and loosing their leaves. The sun has changed course and every day is at more of an angle which makes for interesting lighting and photography opportunities.

Reading List ::

As the morning sun is slowly making his way over the mountains, I am spending these chilly first hours each day with a cup of tea, often a cat (or two, or three) nearby, and a book as I continue on in my studies. I wanted to share my herbalist reading list with you all::

– Planetary Herbalism by Michael Tierra — my fav. herbal reference book ever! I go to this book again & again to check out remedies for symptoms as well as research new herbs. There are no pictures in this book, so it isnt for identifying. But what I do love about it is that this book ties western herbalism in with Traditional Chinese herbalism as well as Ayurveda. I found it via thrift books.

– del Cuerpos a las Raíces by Pabla Perez & others — this book is a bit eclectic and was originally published as a zine years ago. It contains stories, interviews, and herbal profiles about medicinal plants common all over & local to Chile. In some ways it is an ethnographical study of herbalism in rural Chile, in other ways it is quite a radical perspective of rural ladies using their herbs and their powers to heal themselves.

– Botànica Oculta : Las Plantas Mágicas — my honey gifted me this book for the New Year and it is quite fascinating. Both magical and medicinal properties are listed for each herb as well as a bit of theory about plant alchemy which is a subject I am just starting to dive into. This book is available in English & many other languages too!!

Gardening

Garden Journal :: Late Summer Bouquets

Zinnias for happiness, Dahlias for beauty & mystery, Goldenrod to bring inside the brightness or the sun and blue sage foliage for grounding & protection.

Call it a bouquet or a sculpture made of flowers, anytime one makes art there is the possibility to infuse life with meaning 💐🌻🌼

For drying, for salads, for indoor decoration 🌿🌼 these are just some of the gifts for the garden in the magical time when summer transforms into fall.

And speaking of fall which is quickly approaching, these past few days I have been spending time each morning harvest & processing. I am drying herbs, making tomatoe sauce, and medicinals jams – trying my best to save and savor the abundance.

These hours in the morning become my own little rituals. A way to connect with the place where I live and be in the now moment, while simultaneously preparing for colder months ahead when flowers and fruit will be scarce.

Vara de Oro – Golden Rod flowers
Gardening

New Horizons : Libra Gardener Seeds

This project has been several years in the making and started by a simple desire to produce something in my garden that can be shared with the world. Over the years I mulled over several business plans and even considered selling dried herbs which I grow. But that didnt really work and there doesn’t seem to actually be a need for more herbal products.

As the world changes, more and more folks are wondering how they can be positive influences on their local environments. Of course there are many, many ways to help Earth return to an ecological equilibrium. One such way is by planting a garden for pollinators & other beneficial insects – and this is a topic I am particularly passionate about, so it seemed like a good ideally on which to center my sustainable biz around.

Here in our garden we grow flowers of all kinds, perennial native plants alongside herbs and non-native animal flowers. Over the years I have been saving seed and planting successive generations and now I am at a point of wanting to share some of my favorite and easiest to grow from seed flowers: calendula, marigold, and culinary poppy.

On my Etsy page I posted a listing with those three seed packets and an accompanying zine with info about planting for pollinators and some articles about herbalism too.

A couple of pages from the zine featuring some of the most common butterflies of North & South America.

All together this is a perfect little starting point for growing a beautiful flower garden in almost any climate of the world and would be a great gift for yourself or some other aspiring gardener this spring.

In a future post I will go more in depth about each of these three flowers and in previous posts have talked about the butterflies in greater detail as well. So, expect more flower-goodness soon, until then I will leave you with the link to the listing if you are interested in supporting the world I do with this blog & in real life as well, thanks!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/1146665036/plant-your-pollinator-garden-kit-3?ref=shop_home_active_1

Crafts

Magical Days

When big changes occur it is easy to forget about our daily routines and the little things that make us happy.

Getting back into my routines means getting back into my magical practices: harvesting herbs, making herb sachets and  getting acquainted with my newest tools.

Handmade herbal bouquets to bring tranquility and self-love, made with plants growing in our garden.
Floral resin runes – a solstice gift to myself. I am excited to explore these ancestral symbols and have already recieved some insightful messages.

On my other blog Libra Herbolgía I share much more on the subject of botanical magic both in English las Español – check it out if that is your thing.

What activities are part of your magical practice? Let me know in the comments!

Gardening

In the Flowers

In a couple of weeks we will have to mow this field and transform this section into the lawn-landscape that the owner prefers. Mowing down these flowers isn’t something I am excited about but, I accept this as part of my duty as a landscaper and part of our trade for getting to live here.

So, before that time comes I wanted to appreciate and share this field of flowers as the wildlife refuge that it is 10 months out of the year:

If you want to see a bumble bee go to a standof thistles and wait.

For now this is just part of the job of a landscaper …

… that is until the permaculture revolution takes hold of this planet (once again).

Gardening

Tour of our Pollinator Garden

From the darkening days of northern California I have flown once again in the southern hemisphere where flowers abound. Don’t get me wrong, I love autumn with the falling leaves and plentiful composting supplies as well as the holidays of Halloween & Thanksgiving. But, it is pleasant to be able to run around the garden without shoes on and photograph the many flowers in bloom.

Echinacea, yarrow, and daisies (Equinacea, millenrama + margarita en español) are a few of the most photogenic flowers we have in bloom at the moment.

The first two are highly used in herbalism and although daisies do have their uses we mostly admire them for their abundance, beauty and benefit to the local pollinators.

As my trip from California to central Argentina lasted several days and I spent a few nights “sleeping” on buses & planes, I am in recovery and slowly getting back into my garden chores as well my work life too. Flora Libra #5 is in the works and will be quite different from the last few issues. Of course I will still be focusing on plants but instead of gardening, the theme will be a bit more witch-y … more on that soon!!

I know I am not alone in taking time to travel and see family/friends this season so, I wish you all safe adventures! Remember to give yourself plenty of time for rest and recovery, even if you don’t plan on traveling, as r & r are so important for maintaining a healthy body and strong immune system!

Crafts

Herbal Crafts :: spell bottles

I am all about drinking tea and eating veggies from the garden but, I also like to make art and magic with the harvest. Herbal bottles or bottle spells are a staple in the world of green magick, they are easy to make and very cute. In this article I am going to walk your through a simple floral bottle and some magical meanings of common flowers and herbs.

bottle one

The first step is collecting and processing your herbs and flowers. These bottles are not for consumption so you can use any herb or flower that feels right to you. Depending on the goal of your bottle spell you will use different herb / flower combinations. In this example I used rose & calendula petals and whole yarrow flowers to attract self-love and friendship.

To determine the meaning of each flower I used the book “the Green Witch” by Arin Murphy-Hisock and inspiration from one of my favorite podcasts called Herb Oracle which goes in depth into the medicinal and emotional meanings of one herb each week- I highly recommend it!

As well as the classical magical meanings of each herb, I also incorporate my own intuition and associations with each herb or flower.

magical books

All of the flowers were grown in my garden or collected in the fields of the farm were I live. This place was once a perfumery so there are a lot of roses growing all around. I personally prefer to use herbs I grow or collect myself but, you can certainly use herbs or flowers you bought or collected from a special place. Just make sure the material is thoroughly dried before inserting into the bottle.

Spell bottle combinations:

Protection bottle : yarrow, vervain, rosemary, and cedar or pine.

Friendship bottle : calendula flowers pink or white roses, zinnia flowers, sunflower petals and orange peel.

Self love bottle : vervain, lavender, pink or red roses, yarrow, lemon or orange peel.

These are combinations I came up with based on the spiritual meanings for the plants. I also only included herbs that I have access to. Think of these as suggestions or guidelines and feel free to replace or alter the ingredients based on your intention and what herbs and flowers you have access too. For this craft I like to use a very small bottle or tiny jar, so not much herbal material is needed. It is more important the quality and care you put into collecting and processing the materials for this jar than having large quantities or diversity of herbs.

Making your bottle:

Now that you have all the materials and the herby contents are totally dry, we can discuss when you will construct this bottle spell. Depending on the goal of your spell you will want to choose a specific day to do the spell. For example, if your bottle is about love, beauty or self-love you should work on Friday – Venus or Aphrodite’s day. A bottle for friendship or communication should be made on Wednesday – Mercury’s day. But, you can be flexible and creative with this for example if you want to do a self-love spell to help connect with and accept your emotional self, Monday or Moon’s day would be good too. If you want to make a bottle to encourage you to achieve your fullest protection, SunDay would also work.

bottle two

Next, write out the ingredients and/or your intentions on a beautiful piece of paper. In this example I made a spell bottle for my sister and only wrote the meaning of each ingredient, on the back she can write her personal intentions when she receives the bottle in a couple of weeks – she lives in California so I mailed her bottle from where I live in Argentina.

all the bottles

That day – last Friday – I made several bottles for my sister, a friend, my partner and myself so each person will do as they wish with their bottle and consecrate them in the manner of their choice. Even though I have no control over what day they will receive the bottle or how they are to use them. I made the bottles with love & care and that energy will surely aid whatever magic they are working in their lives

Herbalism

Backyard Herbalism : Growing Calendula

Beginner herbalists and gardeners just getting started with their herbal garden find no better plant than Calendula officinalis. This herb/flower is much loved by bees & butterflies, has many medicinal properties, and is a useful pest deterrent to plant alongside tomatoes & other crops.

calendulas drying

Calendula is an easy to grow herb that I have been planting for many years, so I have a few suggestions for plantings, caring for and using this magical herb:

Sew seed in a pot first:

calendula in pots

For a healthy and thriving calendula plant, planting first in a small pot and then transplanting into the garden is key. These are cold hardy plants that can be sewn during spring, summer, and fall though they do best when planted in humid & warm months. Calendula needs plenty of water which is easiest to provide if the young plants are all in one easy to water location. When the plants have several healthy leaves, they are ready to transplant into their permanent location.

Transplant in garden bed:

calendula transplanted

As mentioned previously, calendula need humid conditions to get established and the herb has aromatic properties that help deter pests. For both of these reasons I recommend planting calendula alongside tomatoes, kale, and other plants that are prone to insect infestation. Calendula plants need as much water as other vegetables so, planting in a well watered garden will ensure an abundant harvest of the prized calendula flowers.

Collecting and drying calendula flowers:

drying the calendula flowers

Two to three months after transplanting the calendulas should be producing plenty of flowers with new ones blooming daily. The best tile to harvest the blossoms is from mid morning to noon. It is important that the flowers are totally open as they dry much better that way. Calendula flowers are best dried flat in a warm but not sunny area. You can use a dehydrator if you have one but a shelf inside the house will also work. I myself have a covered outdoor shelf where I dry all my herbs and seeds in baskets or on cardboard lids – see photo below.

dried calendulas

In the world of herbalism. supplies and tools are endless but in reality you can make do with what you already have. When I was traveling I used to dry herbs in cloth bags in the sun, not ideal but the point is you do not need anything fancy to begin processing herbs and making herbali medicine. Drying calendula flowers in on a piece of (clean) cardboard on your kitchen counter will work just fine.

After 5 to 7 days the flowers should be dry, you will be able to test their dryness by touch. Store the dried flowers in a brown paper bag labeled “Calendula Flowers” and the month & year. Or, instead of storing, you can use them right away. Calendula has many medicinal properties and can help with menstrual cramps and stomach pain as a tea but my favorite way to use calendula is as an herbal oil.

Making herbal oil with Calendula:

calendula oil making

Herbal oils are simple to make and have many applications in day to daylife. An herbal oil is base oil, like olive oil, that has been infused with the medicinal properties of an herb. My favorite method is cold infusion. In the case of calendula this entails filling a jar half full with dried calendula flowers, then filling the jar entirely with your oil of choice. You can use olive oil, fractionated (liquid) coconut oil, jojoba oil, even sunflower oil! Each oil has different properties though all will soothe and moisturize the skin especially when infused with calendula. Once the oil & calendula floes have been soaking in a dark and cool cupboard for about a month it is time to separate the flowers from the oil. You can do this by using a tea strainer or a piece of cloth like muslin. Now that the oil has been separated it is ready to use as a massage oil or facial moisturizer.

You can use this oil on any part of your body, especially skin with sun damage or another form of irritation. Just be sure to start with a small drop rubbed between your hands before applying. You really don’t need to use much to receive the healing benefits and too much oil can stain clothing.

My personal use of Calendula oil:

Calendula oil is widely known to have healing effects on the skin, hair and nails and I can attest to this. I started using herbal oils about 4 years ago and my skin has made a huge transformation. Previously I suffered from a combination of dry and oily skin as well as adult acne – all of which have been immensely lessened by using calendula oil and salves. Typically I use the oil all over my body when feeling aches and on cuts or burns. Calendula oil made with my homegrown calendula flowers is practically my cure-all for skin related issues. I so hope that calendula can benefit you too!