Have you ever considered that 300 years ago, the healing practices that I do, such distillation, blending essential oils and herbs, pulling inspirational cards, as well as massage and energy work would have been reason enough to call me out of my home while the whole community was forced to watch as I was either hung or burned??
Harsh and disturbing, but true. This wounding is something that sits in my Being and in my energy field, and now science has proven it is coded in my DNA.
The European Witch Hunt, also known as the Burning Times (1450-1750) is not readily taught in schools, nor is it really talked about at all, but it is a complex piece of our history that needs to be talked about because of the collective wound it has created. The science of epi-genetics explains how the traumatic experiences of our ancestors leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA. They become a part of us like a residue holding fast to our genetic makeup. In the healing work that I practice, we are always praying for the healing of 7 generations before us and 7 generations to come. It is the work to help to heal blood lineages and ancestors, which in turn, ripples forward to heal our children’s children.
Patriarchy was prevalent in those times however the scales were tipped radically following the release of the book Malleus Maleficarum. (Hammer of Witches) This book caused widespread madness and real fear of persecution, as it was essentially an instruction guide to identify a witch and describes methods of torture and extraction of confessions and many horrifying ways to eradicate witches. This molecular scarring coded in our DNA, shows up today and is sometimes referred to as the Witch Wound.
The Witch Wound may have us feeling massively misguided around power and right use of power, resulting in keeping us small because we are perhaps fearful of our power.
This fear is rooted in the persecution that was experienced during those times.
A deeply imbedded imprint from the Burning Times is a fear of getting older, many older women were targeted, a Witch was often viewed as an older woman, ugly, gray and evil. This damaging portrayal has deeply wounded women’s belief around getting older and around beauty, hence the work to embrace our crone-ship, our wrinkles and the experience of menopause, which I feel, is actually a coming into our power, and hot flashes are a means of burning away what no longer serves us.
Another way the Witch Wound may show up is around feeling disconnected from our intuition. We doubt ourselves. We all have the ability to be deeply intuitive, but it wasn’t safe to talk about feelings or intuitive knowing due to being labelled as a witch. We question our abilities and feelings, perhaps even questioning whether or not we are crazy for having feelings and intuitions around certain things.
In those times, there was no drug store on the corner. Every woman had knowledge of the medicinal plants in the forest and woodlands that would help her family when they got sick. Women took care of the land and the land took care of them and their families. This ancient wisdom of the healing of medicinal plants sits in our bones and all we need to do is remember. During those years it was considered heresy to have knowledge of the plants, herbs and their benefits, and so to keep safe we rejected this knowing and therefore have become disconnected from it.
Perhaps the deepest wound of all, is the separation of our sisterhood. In the Burning Times, women were forced to betray one another to keep themselves safe. This division between women, this departure from trusting our sister, manifests now in us competing and comparing instead of collaborating. To survive within the community it was safer to say, I don't know her, or worse, caving in with an admission to stay alive. The fear of annihilation was a reality. These terrifying times and experiences have created a chasm so deep that we may not even realize our judgements and criticisms of each other. We have been betrayed AND we have been the betrayer, and we ALL need to own our shadow in order to heal ourselves from these times.
There is NO separation. What happens to you, happens to me. We. Are. All. Connected.
The repercussions from this shadow time in our history are massive. Those times of persecution, oppression and discrimination continue today, as a result of current patriarchal attitudes. Despite progress being made over the years, objectification, sexualization and violence against women continue in examples such as, the crimes disclosed in the #metoo movement, increasing exposures of sexual assaults committed by men in power, and over 1000 missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada, tells us we are still wounded and wounding.
As a webweaver and a woman, I feel compelled to call the circle in order to come Full Circle. I feel deeply when we work in collaboration with one another healing happens. Every time we sit in circle and share our truth and our wounds we support each other to do the same and the hope is that by doing this we shed some of the residue holding fast to our field. I have the honour to be connected with a woman in the UK named Cali White who is currently travelling around the UK holding Women's Circles on the Full Moon to honour the ancestors and offer a safe space for sharing. She is an Ancestral Healing Practitioner, and I resonate very deeply with the work she is doing as well as the reasons why she is doing it. She is working to repair the disconnectedness and heal for those past generations and the future generations to come.
I have been in conversation for a quite a few months with likeminded women to call the circle, to hold sacred space, to gather and create a safe container to connect and converse, to laugh, cry, shout, and allow all the feelings from what we experience today in the world we live in, to come up in order to heal. If you are interested in participating in a Full Circle Gathering, please join my newsletter to be connected and to come Full Circle.
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) is considered a very Holy wood and is native to South America with most oil production happening in Ecuador. The Bursera graveolens tree has a short trunk, long branches and superficial roots. Palo Santo Essential Oil is a sacred and aromatic oil obtained by steam/hydro distillation of the dead wood from a tree, root or branch, specifically wood that has been dormant on the forest floor for a minimum of 10-20 years. The wood is gathered and prepared for distillation by stripping down and bringing the wood to a powdered form. This oil has been used for millennia by indigenous people to remove negativity and obstacles. It has anti-depressant and anti-microbial benefits as well as supporting people struggling with anxiety and fear. It invites helping spirits, encouraging us to accept, allow and surrender. Palo Santo invites us to do deep shadow work. It works between the worlds, allowing us to go to deeper places of wounding within ourselves to heal, while feeling supported, protected and grounded. It is an oil which has the ability to hold dichotomy, bringing light out of darkness. "Palo Santo is a tree for healers, holding the opposites of the dark decay, to life giving light, from the pain of the wound to the joy of healing" - Cathy Skipper.
Palo Santo is one of the essential oils in Otorongo, a Synergy from my Mountain Line, created in honour of Andean Shamanism, Medicine Wheel and Mesa work. We study and embody each of the 4 archetypes, Serpent, Jaguar, Hummingbird and Eagle. Otorongo is a Quechua word for Puma/Jaguar and she protects us in our work. She walks the rainbow bridge between worlds, having no enemies in this lifetime or the next. She tracks "hucha" the dark, dense energy that stalks us. She helps us face our deepest fears and transmutes them to unconditional love. Palo Santo and Otorongo are sweetly aligned. Both Palo Santo and Otorongo move between worlds helping us to face our deepest fears. Essential oils and plant medicine can so richly support us on our journey. Not only to encourage us to continue to shed layers of fear that are holding us back or even beliefs that are no longer serving our true selves, but also to protect and nurture us, perhaps allowing us to go deeper, because we feel held and strengthened by their presence. The invitation is there to shed our outmoded selves and face our fears, allowing us to step into our power and see ourselves in our highest healed state, visioning our sweetest and most divine destiny, which is truly our birthright.
The wound is the place where the light enters you. - Rumi.
Frankincense, (Boswellia thurifera) also known as Olibanum, is a small desert shrub with thorny branches, white or pale pink flowers and grows in mountainous, dry conditions. The harvesting of frankincense is quite laborious, the best quality frankincense is taken from the third harvest of the tree. The gum resin is obtained by making small incisions into the bark. All parts of the plant especially the bark contain resin. The name Olibanum comes from the Arab word “al Luban” which means milk, referring to the milky sap, which leaks from the incision. After three months, the hardened resin is scraped off the trunk of the tree and sorted into different qualities, the resin to be distilled for essential oil is still sticky inside, containing a higher concentration of oil. This sap/resin is then steam distilled to obtain the essential oil of frankincense.
In ancient times, every part of the tree was used. The bark could be infused to make a cleansing tea, and powdered bark was stored as a “ready to prepare” ointment or paste, made by adding water, for dressing a wound or burn. Frankincense bark was also used as an antiseptic wash to clean dirty wounds and infections of the skin. Frankincense is a healing emollient for dry skin and is very effective in soothing dry coughs or congestion, due to its moistening and balsamic properties.
Burning Frankincense as an incense has been a sacred practice used for centuries in religious ceremonies and for meditation because of its grounding and sedative properties. It is well known for calming the nerves, and is very useful for states of nervousness and tension, easing shortness of breath especially in response to anxiety.
Religious history tells the story of the Three Wise Men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh as a gift to baby Jesus. At one time, frankincense was actually more valuable than gold. Frankincense, being an ancient and traditional scent is also known for healing past wounds and traumas with its rich, clean and balsamic fragrance.
Some of the ways I love to utilize Frankincense is by applying it to the soles of my client’s feet during a treatment. I have found this to be quite effective to help ground people if they are nervous or anxious during a massage.
To make a Frankincense salve for the body:
Prep your 100ml glass jar with 25 drops of frankincense.
Melt 10 grams /10ml of grated bees wax into ¼ C. Jojoba oil in a double boiler.
Pour the melted liquid into a 100ml glass jar over the Frankincense (no need to stir)
Allow your salve to cool and solidify before dipping in! (within the hour)
This simple and lovely salve is an all-purpose healing ointment and is useful for
minor skin irritations, as a meditation anointment on the third eye, and to soothe a dry cough when applied directly to the chest. It can also be used as a moisturizer for dry skin.
For more information on Essential Oils and Aromatherapy go to: www.fromnaturetonurture.com
Two and a half years ago, my good friend Allie and I were called to Mt. Shasta. It was for me a very clear and direct need to be in her presence. Since that experience, I feel quite changed. Making that decision and saying yes to something so spontaneous like a road trip to California in a 10 day stretch, was a brave and crazy thing to do. Not only did we have the most beautiful bluebird day/breathtaking weather for our hike to Panther Meadow, we also camped in the Redwood Forest among the giants. We were not sure how it all would play out, but the entire experience was magical and filled with many moments of knowing we were in the right place at the right time. We visited the ocean as well, it was a full elemental experience with Water, Air, Earth and Fire Ceremony in the Redwood Forest honouring the Giants holding space around us.
I am sharing my love of the majestic Mt. Shasta, one of my source mountains, because I feel so certain that life presents us with opportunities and we have choices to take them or not. These opportunities are often full of magical experiences and moments that remain with us forever. I am truly grateful for my road trip with Allie and I look back on those 10 days in a wistful almost surreal way. To have stood at the base of Mt Shasta was very much like a dream realized, and a reminder for me to follow my intuition, to take chances, to step out of my comfort zone because in my experience, this is when magic truly happens. When opportunities present themselves, having faith and trusting your intuition when spirit nudges you, can be quite incredible and life changing.
I'm pretty excited to be hatching another plan for this summer, which will take me (and Likely Allie and another girlfriend Amanda) to many places to offer workshops in distillation, blending, wildcrafting and medicine making in general. We will likely visit a Festival or two in the AromaBoler and generally soak up the summer doing what I love most, which is connecting, sharing, teaching, growing, relaxing, swimming, wild crafting, creating, blending, distilling, laughing, crying, loving, caring, stretching, breathing and most importantly living! Following my intuition to take a break from my day job for a couple of months to really immerse in what brings me joy. We will spend a lot of time on Denman Island with our sister Heather who has a gorgeous plot of land, chickens and medicine gardens. We will also go to the Cariboo, to 100 Mile House and Horsefly BC with another sister who has a Ranch, a huge teepee and horses. I am bursting with excitement to hitch up the AromaBoler and travel to these communities, immerse in their culture and receive the gift to wild-craft their local plants. I will be taking my two stills with us; my 20L Alembic and my 10L Alquitar for distilling. An important part of wild-crafting for me is about being in reciprocity and gratitude by giving offerings abundantly back to the land and to the plants. We will have Sage, Sweet grass, Cedar, Tobacco, Lavender and Rose to offer at every spot we harvest from, as a thank you to Pachamama. (Mother Earth)
For the moment, I am studying Herbalism with Rosemary Gladstar and soaking up my lessons and reading material in my forest home with the wood stove and a cup of tea while these seeds are under a blanket of snow and cold, awaiting germination until they can burst forth and break through the soil, and become realized dreams that began as tiny seeds residing in my mind, body and spirit.
For more information on my upcoming workshops in the Spring, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bright Blessings, Warm Fire, Cozy Blankets, Sweet Slippers, Hot Tea, Lots of Love
I attended an incredible 3 day Ancient Alchemy Workshop in Spokane Washington at the end of the summer with great thanks to my teacher and friend Jade Shutes. Founder of The School for Aromatic Studies. She offered me her registration and helped me with acccomodation and plane fare. :) We studied with a wonderful and unique group of Artisan Distillers, Master Herbalists, Botanical Perfumers, Clinical Aromatherapists, Scientists and Chemists. Many thanks to my teachers
Ann Harman, Cathy Skipper, Jessica Ring, Marco Valussi, Christa Obuchowski and Jack Chaitman. There were many highlights for me throughout the course of the three days. Learning experientially with 20L and 30L Alembic Stills and a couple of 10L Alquitar Stills and seeing the differences in the two units as well as the many different methods of distillation was fascinating! Alquitars are designed differently than an Alembic. The Alembic has three parts, the pot, the swan neck lid and the condensing unit. The Alquitar has two main parts, the pot and the lid. The inside has a vapour chamber with the condensation area at the top. It is more compact and takes up less space. A sweet bowl at the top holds ice. I quite enjoyed working with the Alquitar, the unit really resonated with me. What resonated even more was learning many unique methods of distillation, I was inspired by the freedom to 'throw it all in the pot!'
What a concept to have an essential oil or an herbal infusion in the receiving vessel to capture and mingle with an emerging distillate of many different plants! Imagine placing Sandalwood in the receiving vessel while distilling rose petals and lavender. This incredible perfume would be referred to as an Attar (Ittar). Imagine the aroma.....
Interestingly in London in 1527, Still Rooms were the place where country-women would distill medicinal plants in a room that was usually adjacent to the kitchen, and use those aromatic waters as well as decoctions, infusions and teas as her families pharmacopeia. This was how she kept her family healthy. In 1527 aromatic waters were in use! Huzzah!
We distilled ourselves over the course of two days. The multi-distillation we did was incredible. Frankincense in the pot, black poplar infused in fractionated coconut oil in the receiving vessel, and an array of garden herbs including Rosemary, Lavender, Sage and Marjoram, which were placed in the pot, with the Frankincense. The same garden herbs were also placed in the tower. (steaming vessel) We waited approximately 45 minutes for our distillate to present. Oh, so aromatic and very medicinal. Such a transformative and ethereal process to witness. It feels as though you are stepping out of time and space with the aroma lingering in the air, while watching the aromatics fuse together in the receiving glass vial. As you may have guessed, I am excited to share that I will obtain a 10L Alquitar Still this month, perfect for distilling resins, gums and flowers. I'm going to create Attars!!!!! I will be able to distill all winter long on my stove top. Stay Tuned!
Sweet Botanical Perfuming here I come!