I run my finger down the edge of the vanilla bean, holding the end and slicing down the middle. Carefully I chop it into tiny rectangles spilling just a bit of the precious contents out on to the cutting board.
I pick up the pieces and hold them up to my nose taking in the ever so subtle scent. I drop them into a mason jar filled with sunflower and coconut oil as the water below bubbles like a cauldron. It isn't instant, in fact depending on the material this process can take days or even up to 2 months to fully infuse into the oil. Herbalism has taught me patience.
While my oil brews I grate fresh ginger and blend it with a bit of local honey. This will eventually be added to red Moroccan clay to from a warming mud, I will massage it across someone's back. I, let soak in and then remove with hot wet towels. Winters here are cold, and ginger has been known to warm up the muscles and get the circulation going. What a perfect treat for a blustery NY day. Herbalism has taught me to listen to what my body is asking for.
When i get to the studio, I reach for the big green mason jar. It's full of kava kava, hibiscus and coconut oil. It smells faintly of what I imagine the earth just beyond a Hawaiian beach smells like. I place it on the warmer and add some essential oils. My client is here to relieve her menstrual pain; this hand crafted blend has been designed into the session. She has a standing monthly appointment. Herbalism has taught me the beauty in softening someone else's pain. Our spa menu isn't decided upon based on the latest trends or what I can get a good price for online. I don't just sit down and write one out. It's an intricate process filled with so many factors, so much passion. I muss about last year's choices. Remembering crinkled noses and elated closed eyed smile in reaction. I settle in and listen to what my own body is calling for. Am i craving warmth, am I craving energy? I look over the calendar of appointments and look back for patterns, or requests.
I smell essential oils and run my fingers through bowls of dried herbs. I listen to nature and open up my notebooks, remembering the tastes and smells from 2 years studying herbs in Vermont. I can still feel the depth of care from my favorite plant ally, rose, as a fellow student dipped her hands into the hot rose tea and then placed them down my back. I remind myself i can't put rose in everything I make. Herbalism has taught me bliss.
When it's time to create, I do not use a recipe. The last batch of peppermint is not the same as this one and the temperature determines how whipped my oil can be. Instead I craft in the wise woman tradition in which I have trained. Leaning into the energy of an ingredient, measuring by the weight within my hands and depth of the scent or feel when it all starts to come together. Two blends are never exactly the same and I may add or adjust the day of an appointment based a myriad of factors including who is on my table. Herbalism had taught me to trust myself. .
The evergreens have been calling me for quite some time now. I stand with feet pressed firmly against the edge of the dryest rock I can find. The wind blows sending my curls flying and shaking the branches all around me.
I breath in the freshness of the forest and the brook running around me. My basket is full of freshly harvest greens, and I can't wait to blend them into an oil. I stay in silence and in awe of this amazing world around. Magic, Peace, Medicine, Comfort all right here just for us. I try to bring this feeling with me to my home, to my studio, to my clients. Herbalism has taught me Gratitude.
Thank you for joining me on this amazing herbal adventure at Sanctuary Massage. I hope you feel the love in every thing we bring to the studio.