Botanical Anthology Folklore Hygge Recipes

Juniper Folklore

“The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it.”

—Edward Abbey

Happy (belated) New Year!

Today, my wildlings are back at school, and I am celebrating the beginning of the new year with a simmer pot containing dried juniper berries, pine needles, orange slices, cinnamon, rosemary, and cloves. (You can read more about it on my Instagram post HERE.)

Did you know I wrote an article all about juniper folklore for the recent Winter Botanical Anthology? I’m case you missed it, and because juniper is such a lovely botanical for this time of year, I thought I’d share that article with you here today!

Though it’s perhaps not the first evergreen one thinks of in connection to winter, juniper has a long and storied history that often ties it to the colder parts of the year. 

Juniper represents hope and warmth, thriving in overwrought soil where other trees can’t. It is symbolically, elementally, and astrologically associated with fire, ruled by the Sun and closely tied to Mars. Juniper also symbolizes eternal life.

The juniper tree’s berry-like cones and twigs provide food for animals, often the only available winter sustenance. They offer culinary and medicinal uses for humans, and there are many ritualistic applications for juniper’s wood and berries, as well. It is quite interesting how juniper’s folk associations mirror its medicinal uses.

The age-old use of juniper medicinally for healing, relieving stagnation, and protection from diseases probably stems in large part from the berries’ diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most pleasant ways to administer these medicinal benefits came in the form of gin, the juniper berry liquor that dates back as far as the 11th century, as well as medicinal juniper twig beer. 

In accord with these historical medical practices, juniper was—and still is—used in folk practice for protection. For disease, poison, plague, spirits, demons, and especially thievery, juniper has been a potent ward. 

Often, smoke and charms are the vehicle by which juniper performs this protective service. Many cultures, including ancient Greeks and Egyptians, used juniper incense in this manner. Various types of protective amulets and charms were made from juniper berries, as well. The trees have even been long used in some places as Yule or Christmas trees or greenery for some added protection.

The Scottish have a long-standing winter tradition. The day after Hogmanay, the celebration of New Year’s eve, women would perform a saining, a smoke cleansing of the entire house with smoldering juniper branches. The aromatic smoke was carried and dispersed throughout the house for blessings, purification, and protection for the coming year; the same was performed through barns and to purify livestock. 

Several species of juniper are also native to the Americas, as reflected by juniper’s presence in many indigenous Americans’ traditions and tales. Among those, the Hopi, Navajo, Blackfoot, and Seneca tell legends surrounding the tree or its berries. A Seneca tale involves junipers and other evergreens standing up to old man winter so spring may return. 

While winter persists, perhaps juniper is a plant to explore a deeper relationship with. Whether it’s branches in greenery that decorates the home, fragrant incense, or even a sip of gin, inviting juniper in is a way to connect to this plant’s long history.

Herbs and Herbalism Hygge wheel of the year

The Winter Solstice: Yule Forest Candle

To celebrate the winter solstice and Yule, I have made some special candles to help mark the occasion as my family and I make (and eat!) cookies and read books about the solstice. Although it is the official beginning of winter, it is also the darkest night—and the light of our candles reminds us that the warmth of the sun shines through and will strengthen with each coming day. It is how people have long gathered their courage to face the winter’s cold: the returning of the light offers hope.

For my Yule Forest candles, I combined beeswax, a bit of coconut oil, and essential oils for a natural scent option. (Make sure you do your due diligence in choosing ethical essential oil companies to buy from 💚). Here are the scents I chose, along with their symbolic attributes:

Here are the directions for making the candles if you’d like to make some, too!

Making 6 candles:

We will enjoy the gentle light and wintry woods scent of one of these candles (I made 6 so I could gift the others to loved ones) while munching on chai snickerdoodles and reading. The pictured books (Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter and the winter story from Little Witch Hazel) are a couple of our favorites to welcome the solstice.

How will you mark the winter solstice / Yule?

Herbs and Herbalism Hygge Recipes

Hygge Hearth Tincture

Inspiration struck this morning and I decided to start a tincture that will be ready just in time for Yule! It has all the happy, cozy, hygge vibes with digestion support, stress relief, balancing, and immune boosting to boot.

Mint is the star of the show here, paired with “really good Ceylon cinnamon” (please tell me you read that in Ina Garten’s voice 😂). I adore the sweet combo of cooling mint and warming cinnamon! With these I combined fennel seed, rosemary, and ashwagandha root. 

Then I topped it off with not the usual vodka, but GIN for more cozy, botanical, wintry vibes.

Here is the full recipe! For once, I actually loosely measured instead of doing it in parts!

Add herbs to a 16 oz glass jar. Cap and shake the jar thoroughly to mix herbs. Top with gin, filling to near the brim. Cap with a plastic canning jar lid or parchment paper and canning lid. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily, and strain after 6-8 weeks. Store in dark glass jars or dropper bottles if you can. 

You can take this tincture in tea, coffee, still or sparkling water, ginger ale, juice, or even cocktails! Ginger ale is my favorite vehicle for tinctures—if you prefer, use your favorite homemade or natural ginger ale.

Herbs and Herbalism Hygge

Hygge Herbal Simpling

Today’s blog post is all about my unique take on a method of herbalism study called “herbal simpling.” I am including a related resource at the end of this post, so please read on to learn more and see if you want to check it out!

I often call myself a “hygge herbalist.” The concept of hygge resonates with me deeply, and though I have an ancestral connection to it, I don’t think that’s necessary at all to feel hygge in your bones. Hygge has a strong link to rustic, folk DIY endeavors that you derive a deep sense of fulfillment from, and this is definitely the angle I approach herbalism from. It’s something that soothes my soul.

I also love learning and growing as an herbalist, in my self-paced, cobbled together type of self-education. In this vein, I really gravitate to the approach called “herbal simpling,” which is as simple as it sounds. Basically, you develop a relationship and deeper understanding of each herb by studying them one at a time. You take a deep dive with each herb by reading, tasting, meditating, and creating with it.

This approach can be very cerebral and academic, or it can be very cozy and grounding. I do prefer the latter. I like making friends with each herb as I get to know it. Not only does it help build a foundation in herbal knowledge you can be proud of, but it helps you feel so very familiarly comfortable and, yes, friendly, with the herbs as you learn about them. You come to know who to lean on when you’re feeling down, who to rely on when stress has worn you thin, who peps you up when you have a cold or soothes you best when you’re in pain. Each person is unique, and so different herbs work best with one’s unique needs and states.

Herbal simpling can even be a welcoming methodology for the hobby, casual, intimidated, time-constrained, or resource-lacking herbalist. (Because yes, even in any of these circumstances, you can still be an herbalist if you want to be!) You can choose your particular study methods based on your constraints, interests, and needs. You can choose herbs you have easy access to as the subjects of your study (think the grocery store tea and spice aisles). You can choose the aspects of herbs to study that interest or pertain to you.

So, if you’d like to give herbal simpling a try, I am including a link to a useful Pinterest board below this post that you can use for that very purpose! It’s a collection of free and low-cost simpling and materia medica pages or journals, so you can choose which one/s meet your needs to use as you begin your herbal simpling journey. Or, you can use these examples as a starting point to develop your own worksheet that meets your specific needs.

So, which herb are you going to get to know first?


Herbal Simpling Pinterest Board

Hygge wheel of the year

Celebrate Ostara!

Spring is finally upon us, Herbologists! In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal (spring) equinox and the sabbat of Ostara fall on March 20th (while it’s Mabon in the Southern Hemisphere). This is a time traditionally associated with rebirth, creativity, growth, renewal, planting seeds, new beginnings, and balance. Many of us feel a renewal of our creative energy (follow-through is another story in my case, though!) and we are inspired to begin gardens, clean the house, or begin new projects and routines.

Ostara / the spring equinox feels much more like the beginning of the new year than January 1st to me, and I know some traditions view it as such. As the earth begins to warm and come alive, our energy tends to rise and rhythms return to more activity and excitement. It’s certainly a busy time of year!

In honor of the changing of the season, I am going to share a few low energy Ostara / equinox activities I am planning, as well as some spring herbal tea recipes I’ve developed. Hopefully this helps spark a few cozy, simple ideas for you, too!


Spring Simmer Pot

My kids enjoy a good seasonal simmer pot, so I am planning a spring-y one to mark the occasion. We’ll use ingredients like dried lavender, rose, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon to fill the house with a floral, herbal scent to welcome in spring. 

If you haven’t made a simmer pot before, it’s pretty simple: choose your ingredients (plants, flowers, fruits, spices, etc.), add to a pan on the stovetop and cover the ingredients with water, simmer as long as you like, and add more water as needed so it doesn’t dry out and burn. This will fill the house with a clean, sweet scent (in the case of these floral and spring-y herbs) and all the cozy spring vibes to put everyone in the spirit of the occasion.

Garden Planning

It is too soon where I live to begin planting this year’s garden yet, but my wildlings and I are all chomping at the bit to begin. So instead, I’m planning for us to discuss and begin planning our little container garden together. This will inevitably turn into an art project with my kiddos as they will want to illustrate their ideas! And perhaps we will start some seeds in the kitchen window sill, too. 

Spring Teas

Drinking seasonal teas is a wonderful way to literally welcome a new season in! On that note, I’m going to share a few of my favorite tea blend recipes in honor of the energies of Ostara and the spring equinox. Herbs can support us through this big transition in a big way!


The first recipe I’m sharing is one I simply call Ostara Tea. It contains herbal allies for gentle warming, grounding, immune support, and a sense of peace and calm. 

Ostara Tea

1 part Chamomile

1 part Elderflower

1/2 part Ginger

1 part Green Rooibos

Citrus (peel / slices) – optional


Next up is the Inspired Spring tea blend for calm creative energy. It combines herbs that help with stress, boost your brain function, and provide calm balance. In this season of new directions and new leaves, this can be a great ally!

Inspired Spring

1 part Tulsi

1 part Linden

1/2 part Fennel

1-2 parts Spearmint

1 part Ginkgo


Finally, we have Springtime Sleepies, to help you wind down after a busy spring day so you can rebuild your energy reserves for the next day of springtime activities.

Springtime Sleepies

1 part Passionflower

2 parts Chamomile

1 part Rose

1/2 part Lavender

1/4 part Cardamom


So, those are a few of the simple ways my family will be ushering in Ostara and spring! Do you mark the spring equinox? How do you like to celebrate this season?

Hygge wheel of the year

Been Wintering.

*Is this thing on?*

It’s been awhile, but I am back! I unintentionally took a break from this blog as well as theherbologyfaerie Instagram account during the seasons of Yule and Imbolc, as other life things came to the forefront. It appears that my waning here coincided very appropriately with winter.

I am the type of person who hops from hyper-focus to hyper-focus, with extreme tunnel vision on the thing I’m in the midst of. (Hello, neurodiversity. I’m sure if you’re reading this, there is a good chance you relate!) I am working on not exactly breaking that pattern, because I recognize it is part of who I am, but on loosening the tightness of its grip on my psyche, if that makes sense. I am trying to breathe more, to strike a better balance, and to let go of holding onto things so tightly.

Right now that means coming back to this space and allowing this creative outlet to be just that once more—a place to express myself and share what I have to share without pressure or expectations. A hobby can be a hobby. I think many of us lose sight of that in this influencer, Instagram, Etsy age.

Waxing and waning and wintering periods are all a natural part of life. I’m so glad I’m cycling back to this space! I have many things I want to share here, so stay tuned if you’d like to walk this path with me.

Hygge wheel of the year

Celebrate Mabon!

This is one of my favorite parts of the year! I’ve always loved it and felt like it was MY time: my birthday on the 21st, the autumnal equinox / Mabon (falling on the 22nd this year), and “Hobbit Day” aka Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ shared birthday on the 22nd—which to me counts as a holiday itself! But this post is about Mabon, the sabbat marking the beginning of fall and the autumnal equinox on the wheel of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere).

Mabon begins the wind down of the harvest season as autumn starts in earnest and winter approaches. It is an age-old tradition to celebrate this time, which is associated with giving thanks to the Earth for her life-sustaining abundance, the balance of light and dark, and preparing for the colder and darker winter months ahead.

This is such a busy time of year! It can be difficult to pause and reflect with a slower perspective on this seasonal turning. But I have a couple of simple, cozy plans for enjoying and marking this week with my family.

Simmer Pot

My kids actually have a “virtual learning” school day on Wednesday, and it’s supposed to rain all day, too! So it seems the perfect time for a simmer pot. This simple-yet-magical act will set a cozy autumn mood for the equinox.

It’s pretty simple: choose aromatic autumn ingredients (I’m using apple slices, a bit of lemon peel, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, anise, and allspice), add to a pan on the stovetop and cover the ingredients with water, simmer as long as you like, and add more water as needed so it doesn’t dry out and burn. This will fill the house with a delicious scent and all the cozy autumn vibes to put everyone in the spirit of the occasion.

The dry ingredients for my simmer pot!

Pumpkin and Apple Treats

This is such an obvious one, but of course baking favorite apple and/or pumpkin treats is a simple and almost necessary part of a cozy Mabon. (If you are able and if you like apple or pumpkin!) And of course you can totally buy them and skip the diy portion, if you need to or prefer to. The point is, apple and pumpkin are quintessential to the autumn season!

I will likely bake pumpkin muffins for my birthday treat and the autumnal occasion. I have been using the same tried-and-true recipe for something like 13 years now! It’s simple and delicious. (Check it out here!)

I have yet to decide if I’ll bake any apple treats, too, but I’ll at least be making hot spiced cider and apple spiced tea quite a lot this week and through the season ahead! My birthday gift from my parents was a collection of new autumn mugs, which I plan to put to good use!


Speaking of those mugs, my hobbit-herbalist heart is ready to start brewing up some grounding, earthy, spicy, immunity-boosting chai. I am in the middle of writing a blog post all about this, so I won’t share too much about it now. But, whether you like to make chai from scratch or order a piping hot cup from a coffee shop, this is a great time to think about warming up with chai!

Okayyy…actually, I can’t help sharing one chai tidbit. I was turned onto adding astragalus to chai for an immune boost by Rosalie de la Fôret in her book Alchemy of Herbs and now I rarely make chai without it. Many of the botanicals in chai help boost immunity already, but astragalus adds a sweet and simple way to kick that boost up! I highly recommend trying it (and checking out Rosalie’s book).

Apple Orchard

We are lucky to have a nice apple orchard not too far from us. Due to Covid, we have yet to take our boys there, and our older daughter hasn’t been in a few years. So, we are very excited to hopefully take them over the weekend to enjoy the woods, the animals (it’s a pretty amazing little orchard), and the apples! I can’t wait to restart this autumn tradition.

So, those are a few of the simple ways my family will be celebrating Mabon! Do you mark the autumn equinox? How do you like to celebrate this season?


This Hygge Business

What is all this “hygge” business about?

You may already be familiar with the popular term, which gained recognition due to the publication of the book The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (and many other books on the topic by others since). “Hygge” is a Danish concept (from a Norwegian word) that refers to a particular type of cultivated coziness and comfort. Things like slow living, hand-made and baked goods, candlelight, quality time in nature, comfortable simplicity, and companionship during such activities.

As you might gather, herbalism and hygge go well together! Creating traditional recipes with natural herbal ingredients and taking slow, quiet moments to enjoy them are all about as hygge as it gets. Sharing one’s love of this with others? Even more so. And gardening, herbal baking, gifting handmade items, using herbal bath products, learning about the botanical world…it all conjures those hygge vibes.

The hygge concept has other points of appeal for me, personally, too. For starters, I learned a few years ago through a DNA test that much of my cultural heritage stems from the very region hygge comes from. Suddenly, my intense, innate need to seek out and cultivate coziness makes more sense! Bring on the pastries, hikes, and scented candles.

My life situation, even before the pandemic, involves being very much rooted (aka stuck) at home. I am a stay-at-home-mom to three kids currently six and under, one of which is being temporarily homeschooled due to the pandemic. Even after they begin attending school in the fall (the twins are four and will be doing half-day pre-k in the fall and big sister will be in first grade), I will still be spending almost all my time at home. My life is fairly solitary and a bit lonely. Focusing on cultivating hygge coziness helps me feel more present, grounded, content, and fulfilled. And it helps take the edge off when loneliness or anxiety get overwhelming.

Connecting with hygge makes me feel connected to something traditional, visceral, and both elementary yet kind of complicated at the same time. In today’s world it is difficult to give yourself permission to slow down and drink in every moment. But this cultivates peace of mind and connection with the small and slow things, the natural world around you, and the quiet contentment you can find within yourself if you pause and listen.

Herbs and Herbalism Hygge

Welcome, Plant People!

Welcome, plant people! (As in plant lovers, herbalism enthusiasts, and tea connoisseurs; not so much the Little Shop of Horrors imagery that I am now afraid I’ve invoked. What a way to start a blog!)

Anywho. I am so glad you’ve found yourself here on this blog! The purpose is pretty simple, really. Here you will find my happy place, my mind palace, my little virtual garden-greenhouse-apothecary. It’s a place where I will share useful information, recipes, and ideas about all things herbalism, gardening, and experiencing nature.

Over the course of the last year, I have nurtured a deep love of herbalism, hygge, and nature reverence I have found within myself. The past year has been a doozy for everyone, and this seems to be one of the ways I am personally coping. It’s not a new endeavor; it’s a homecoming. And because so many others share my love for these things, I thought I would throw my hat in the ring and put my views out there.

What I feel is unique about what I bring to the tea table is my approach. Primarily, herbalism is a source of mental health support, a fulfilling hobby, a source of spiritual sustenance, and a creative outlet for me. I have found myself stuck at home for the majority of my time (and this has more to do with motherhood than the pandemic), so I am creating a fulfilling little cottagecore oasis for myself and my family with herbs and plants. I am also connecting to family traditions from the past, exercising my creative muscles, and fostering contentment in small and quiet ways.

As you might guess, I won’t share many peer-reviewed studies on how to balance your hormones or heal medical conditions with herbs here! That is not my intent or my focus at all. I am always conscious and in awe of the holistic benefits plants and plant-based diets can provide for our nutrition and health, and that definitely overlaps with what I will be discussing here. But I am not a medical practitioner, and I am not offering medical advice.

What you will see here might touch on such topics as:

  • Specific herbs, their tastes, and general health benefits
  • Ways to seek out herbal education yourself
  • Parenting and nature
  • Nature-based self-care
  • Herbalist traditions
  • Recipes
  • Apothecary supplies I use and love
  • Herbalism book reviews
  • Featured herbalists, artists, and makers I admire
  • Herbalism in fiction
  • And more!

Again, I am so glad you are here. I hope you continue to follow along and enjoy taking this journey with me!

-Anna, The Herbology Faerie