wheel of the year

Celebrate Samhain!

It’s only a few days until one of my favorite sabbats: Samhain, aka Halloween! I have been very connected to this special day since I was a child, and I now love sharing Halloween with my own little wildlings. It’s that time we invite the spooks and specters in. We celebrate the connection we all feel to the shadows in a way that is steeped in tradition, which makes it feel cozy and safe. It’s our metaphorical way of preparing for the approaching sleep and death in nature that winter brings.

All that said, I have a few simple and cozy ways I’m planning to celebrate the approach of Samhain this week, which I’m sharing here today!

Family Halloween

My family and I plan to celebrate Halloween together in kid-friendly fashion this weekend. We will watch some not-so-spooky Halloween movies, paint and carve pumpkins, and (safely and with precautions) trick-or-treat. I also plan to brew up some spiced apple cider on the stovetop for us to share, infused with those autumn spices we love and enjoy!


I learned about the Irish tradition of baking barmbrack for Samhain this year, and I am planning to bake some for my family! I want to see if it’s a tradition we’d like to incorporate in the years to come, as I have a strong connection to my Irish heritage.

Barmbrack is a sort of cross between bread and a cake, baked with dried fruits and grounding autumn spices and eaten with butter. It’s a harvest season favorite and is traditionally baked with a little surprise hidden inside—a coin or a ring wrapped in parchment paper as a good luck charm for the person who finds it in their slice! You can find various recipes online, but HERE is the one I’m planning to try.

Cleaning & Clearing

The approach of Samhain has me feeling the need for a bit of a cleaning and clearing, for both practical and psychological reasons. As winter and the holiday season approach, it’s a good time for me to tidy up and de-clutter. I also notice that I’m needing to sort of reset my perspective, or clear out some stale and stagnant energy, as autumn deepens toward winter.

The physical act of tidying up the house is straightforward enough. It’s not my favorite job, but I’ve come to enjoy it well enough when accompanied by audiobooks or podcasts. But each day this week while I work on the cleaning, I plan to choose a candle, incense, or simmer pot with intention and use it to sort of sweep away the proverbial cobwebs, paired with open windows when it’s not raining.

Samhain Teas

I am excited to brew a few tea blends this week with Samhain in mind. Traditions across many cultures relate this time to remembrance of ancestors passed and introspection or even divination. I plan to spend some quiet time with some steaming pots of tea brewed to those ends. My grandma passed away a year ago on October 27th, so she will be very much on my mind this week (and during this week for the years to come), which ties right in.

Here is a tea recipe from Apothecary At Home’s October Rituals & Romance box, which pairs nicely with moments of quiet introspection:

Third Eye Tea-

1 tsp chamomile

2 tsp black tea

1 tsp mugwort

What are your plans for Halloween or Samhain this year? I’d love to hear what you have planned!

Herbs and Herbalism

DIY Herbal Education

(Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I am not paid by any of the below mentioned herbal resources.)

I am a fledgling herbalist on a strict budget. I also want to make sure I am diversifying my educational sources. And, as someone whose goal is to practice home / folk herbalism on a personal level, I don’t need any specific certificate to legitimize my studies. (If you’re someone who does need those things and has funds to invest in your studies, I think that’s awesome! My point is just that it’s only one of many possible herbalist paths.)

Rather than spend what for me is a prohibitive amount of money on in-depth herbalist courses, I’ve taken a different approach. I have put together my own low-cost, piecemeal system for studying herbalism that moves at my chosen pace, prioritizes my values, and feels right to me. If this type of approach speaks to you, I encourage you to do the same! I am going to share a bit about my own journey here to perhaps give you a spark of inspiration and some possible starting points. But, I encourage you to try different methods and resources based on your own situation!


Books are kind of an obvious resource, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start! That can obviously be very personal and dependent on your goals, too. To that end, here is a brief list of a few of my favorite herbalism books—

Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Forêt

Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Forêt

Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr

• anything by Rosemary Gladstar

The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll

• DK Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine


I have recently begun following a couple herbalists on Patreon who share a wealth of monthly resources at reasonable prices (with varying tiers based on your needs and ability to give). There are many herbalists doing this on Patreon, and I think it is an amazing approach! I so appreciate these herbalists’ work and how they make herbalism affordable and approachable.
Definitely do your own searching and find the herbalists on Patreon whose offerings are right for you. I have chosen to give my patronage to BIPOC herbalists—here are the ones I follow, in case you’d like to check them out—

Medicine Mija, who is local to me, which is an added bonus in my case! You can also find her on Instagram at @medicinemija and she has a shop you can buy herbal goods, too.

Folk Herbalism for Everyone, who goes by @thehillbillyafrican on Instagram. I love that she includes videos and podcasts, too!


Building on that, Instagram is another great resource. There are too many herbalist accounts for me to even begin listing them here, but believe me when I say you can learn so much from them on insta. I’d recommend beginning by searching for the authors of your favorite herbalism books.

Actually…I can’t not share one particular Instagram account. Alexis Nikole, who goes by the handle blackforager, is a joy to watch. Her passion for educating others about foraging for wild and often overlooked foods is fascinating! Do yourself a favor and go follow and learn from her.

Apothecary At Home

I’ve blogged about it before, and I will continue to do so because it is such a great herbalism learning resource! Apothecary At Home is a monthly subscription study box that brings you herbs, supplies, educational materials, and more to help you further your studies at whatever your preferred pace is. It meets you where you are. And you have the option to select individual months based on your desired topics, if you need to be a bit choosy due to funds. The cost is fully worth it considering all the supplies and herbs you get for building your apothecary while you’re building your knowledge, though!

Herb Mentor

There are really good herbal schools that conduct online courses, but the cost can be a bit much for some (like me). However, I’ve found a unique and affordable resource in the platform Herb Mentor from It brings together a host of articles, monographs, videos, podcasts, herb walks, recipes, video courses, and more for herbalists of all levels and walks. The cost is really reasonable, the scope of information is useful, and the interface is easy to navigate. This is my go-to place to look things up and I love working through the courses at my own speed.

Whew! That was a lot. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg. If you are looking to further your herbal studies, there are so many paths to take, and not all of them have to cost a lot. What are some of your favorite ways to study herbalism?

Herbs and Herbalism

Tinctures for Home Herbalists

If you’re more of a hobby herbalist like me, or if you’re new to herbalism, tinctures may feel a little daunting. Herbal teas seem less intense, due to their simpler water-based preparation and short wait time. It feels like you can’t mess a tea up! But tinctures are a bit more intimidating to beginners, or at least they have been to me. So today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about tinctures including different types, methods, and uses.

Let’s start with demystifying the various types of tinctures with a little list—

Tincture: An herbal preparation made by macerating (soaking) herbs in menstruum (alcohol, usually vodka) for a period of weeks. The alcohol extracts helpful components from the herbs and creates a highly concentrated liquid that is typically ingested by the dropper full, alone or mixed with other liquids.

Bitters: You may hear this term specifically in regard to cocktails, culinary uses, or digestive aids. Well, guess what…bitters are the same thing as a tincture! It’s just a bit of a more specific term regarding use—the bitter component is the star and can be used to impart flavor and/or stimulate the liver and digestion.

Elixir: A tincture made with a sweetening agent, usually honey. Elixirs have a shorter shelf-life than tinctures without sugar.

Glycerite: A tincture made with vegetable glycerine instead of alcohol. Often used by kids and those who obstain from alcohol completely (though the alcohol in a tincture dose is minimal). Glycerine typically works better with fresh plant material than dried.

I started out by making elixirs, because honey seemed like a no-brainer to make tinctures more palatable. I also began with multi-herb combos and even different types of alcohol. I don’t recommend any of the above for beginners! My elixirs didn’t always keep fresh for long, sometimes tasting “off” far too soon after straining and bottling. Definitely consider an online class, YouTube video, herbalist’s Patreon, or recipe book’s guidance when making your first tinctures, and keep it simple: one herb and vodka.

Making a chamomile tincture with guidance from Apothecary At Home

I am not going to go into super depth about the process of making tinctures because I am not an expert herbalist by any means. As I mentioned, I recommend seeking expert guidance for tincture-making, which is what I always do. But here is a brief outline of the process:

Generally, you want to fill a small, sterilized glass jar 3/4 full with dried herb, fill with enough vodka to cover the herb completely, and cap tightly with waxed paper under the lid. Label it with the date made and the date it should be ready, as well as the contents. Keep in a cool dark place, and shake daily. After around 6 weeks, strain and bottle in small, dark glass bottles or jars.

Some great starter herbs for tinctures that are useful in both medicinal and culinary respects include lavender, lemon balm, dandelion root, tulsi, rose hip, hawthorn berry, or juniper berry. These all have various health-supportive uses, like vitamin and mineral supplementation, immune system boosting, and even anxiety, inflammation, and heart support. Plus they taste great!

Tinctures are super convenient once bottled! You can take doses straight if you prefer—a few drops to one dropper full, either straight on or held under the tongue for several seconds. You can also add the same amount to plain water, fizzy water, tea, or even cocktails. A refreshing combo I really love in the summer is lemon lime soda, frozen fruit, and a dropper of fresh lemon balm tincture (which I didn’t make; I bought it from Raven Energy Herbal Apothecary on Instagram).

So, do tinctures seem any less daunting to you now? Or are you already a tincture expert? I’d love to chat about this useful herbal potion in the comments!