Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Tulsi

Hello, Herbology Faeries! It has been busy around these parts and I’ve had less time for the blog than I would have hoped this past month…but I am back today with another herb profile. Today we’re talking about an herb I lean on a LOT for support and grounding: tulsi!

Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is a pungent, aromatic, and somewhat warming herb. Though tulsi has reached herbal popularity heights in Western herbalism, it is a sacred plant in India and is native to subtropical climates. It thrives best grown in warm, sunny regions.

It’s easy to see why tulsi is so revered in India and beyond. Tulsi is an herb that does it ALL. It is a relaxing nervine and an adaptogen, meaning it addresses stress, anxiety, depression, and overall health and functioning. Tulsi is also incredibly helpful for pain, infections, viruses, heart health and blood pressure, allergies, high blood sugar, digestion, cognitive health, the immune system, and more. It is one of those herbs you can’t go wrong with as a daily tonic. (Some suggest caution if fertility is a priority for you, as tulsi may affect that.) Not only offering these health benefits, tulsi is also grounding and soothing to the spirit.

Tulsi represents spiritual and physical health, the well-being of the home and community, and mindfulness and the body-mind connection. Maia Toll says very aptly in her book The Illustrated Herbiary that tulsi reminds you to “come home” to your body and to honor your body and your spirit. If you ever feel like you need a reminder that you are enough, tulsi is definitely the ally to seek out.

You can use tulsi in teas, tinctures, oils, honey, and even as a culinary herb to flavor foods. Tulsi pairs excellently with spicy botanicals like ginger and cardamom, or with cooling herbs like mint and hibiscus. Honestly, though, I’ve rarely felt there was a combination of herbs that didn’t blend well with tulsi.

Instead of offering a recipe, I’m going to suggest a couple of simple options to help you get to know tulsi. The first is to purchase some tulsi and make a strong cup of hot tulsi tea. In my opinion, this herb stands so well on its own and is so incredibly grounding and nourishing, you will benefit from getting to know it on its own. I’m not kidding—sipping a strong mug of hot tulsi is like wrapping up in the softest blanket. It is pure comfort.

The other option I’m suggesting is this: if you need the simplest, cheapest, or most low-energy means of introduction to tulsi, you can find boxed tulsi tea without too much trouble. Traditional Medicinals sells a delicious Tulsi with Ginger tea, Numi makes a Tulsi blend, and Pukka has a Tulsi Clarity tea—you might even be able to find one of these at the grocery store, depending on your location. Trying a store bought variety of herbal tea is a super accessible, and no less legitimate approach!

So, are you a tulsi / holy basil lover already? If not, are you planning to give this amazing herb a try?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Herb Mentor’s Holy Basil monographs 

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Maia Toll, The Illustrated Herbiary

Categories
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!

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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?

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Nettle

Hey there, Herbology Faeries! Since spring is almost here, I thought I’d share a new herb profile today about the herb I most associate with early spring: nettle.

Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a sign of early spring because in many places it flourishes during this time. Nettle is also a beneficial spring ally in aiding with seasonal allergies, nourishing and toning body systems after the winter, fighting inflammation, and much more. Folk traditions see nettle as a protective ally, helping with not only healing but also courage and banishing, and it’s not hard to see why when you encounter its prickles!

I know there are many who forage fresh nettles in the spring. There are many benefits to consuming local, fresh nettles. That said, not everyone has local nettles available or are not able to get out there and brave the stings to collect them fresh. That’s okay—high quality dried nettle can be purchased from small online apothecaries or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Nettle is a salty, slightly bitter, cooling and drying herb. It is nutrient dense, full of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Not only is nettle used to support allergies and to nourish the body, but it’s said to aid menstrual issues, eczema, fatigue, arthritis, and more. It’s a wonderful herb to consume daily as a holistic health aid for maintaining energy and health. The main safety considerations with nettles are the stings if you are working with fresh nettles (use gloves and blanch the leaves before consumption), and the diuretic effect the herb has—you might need to adjust your intake based on how strongly this affects you. 

I do drink nettle in tea—it goes well combined with herbs like mint and rose. I am also intrigued with the idea of using nettle as food! You see many instances of this online: nettle pesto, nettle soup, even dried nettle used in baking. I am experimenting with using nettle in homemade ramen recipes for a salty, mineral-y kick and added nutrition!

Here is a simple springtime tea recipe featuring nettle, to get you started with this wonderful ally!

Daily Nettle Boost:

• 1 part nettle

• 1 part tulsi

• 1 part peppermint

• 1/2 part rosemary

This can be hot-brewed by the cup if you prefer it in small doses. You can also hot or cold brew it in a larger batch in a glass jar. If cold brewing, the longer you let it brew, the more helpful constituents will be infused into your tea. I’ve run across some sources that say you should hot brew nettle and let it infuse for 4+ hours to reap the full benefits, but I prefer my nettle a bit weaker and more palatable than that—to keep me coming back to it! 

Have you tried nettles? How do you like to prepare them, or how do you think you would like to if you’re new to them?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Herb Mentor’s Stinging Nettle monographs 

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

Categories
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.

Categories
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!

Chai

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?

Categories
wheel of the year

Celebrate Lughnasadh!

In the northern hemisphere, the wheel of the year has turned to Lughnasadh! This August 1st sabbat marks the midpoint between Litha (summer solstice) and Mabon (autumn equinox). Even though Lughnasadh sits squarely within summer, it is the first harvest festival of the year and the kickoff to the harvest season. Lughnasadh is associated with abundance, as well as the sun, the colors yellow and gold, wheat, sunflowers, corn, berries, peppers, tomatoes, squash, beer, and bread.

Since my little wildlings’ schools start right around Lughnasadh, it’s a busy-but-happy time for us. Just like with Litha, I have some low-energy plans to help mark this sabbat in cozy, grounding ways.

Harvest Treat: Herbed Beer Bread

Bread-baking and enjoying is an essential part of Lughnasadh / Lammas (the other name for the day, which means “bread mass”). My favorite type of bread to bake, which is also thematically on-point for this sabbat, is beer bread. It is SUPER quick and easy, yet delicious, hearty, and rustic. It takes very few ingredients and the beer does most of the work for you—no yeast, proofing, or kneading required!

I’ve put together a Lughnasadh bread recipe Pinterest board that you can peruse and come up with a recipe that speaks to you! My plan is to start with a beer bread base using lemon beer, with some seasonally-specific additions, like possibly orange, pumpkin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and / or calendula. (Depending on how ambitious I feel this weekend!) These flavors are bright and sweet, with the citrus and spices sort of bridging the gap between summer and autumn.

Check this link for the Pinterest board!

Harvest Sip: Lughnasadh Sun Tea

If you have fresh herbs growing in your garden or window sill, now is the perfect time to harvest some and make a sun tea. But if you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, or you’re just wanting to try a new recipe, here is the potion I’m brewing for Lughnasadh:

3 parts green rooibos (or green tea)

2 parts tulsi

2 parts lemon balm (fresh or dried)

1.5 parts cinnamon chips

1 part dried orange peel OR some fresh orange slices

Dried or fresh pears, peaches, and/or lemon

Harvest Fun: Sunflower Picking and Harvest Decorating

Mr. Herbology Faerie likes to tease me by fake-complaining when I decorate the house for fall before September 1st. Which I usually ignore! This year will be no exception, though I do plan to hold off on pumpkins and leaves until September. Instead, I’ll focus on sunflowers, wheat, gourds, and yellow in honor of Lughnasadh. Decorating for the sabbats can be a cozy and therapeutic way to ground yourself in the season!

A fun family activity I’m hoping we squeeze in on Lughnasadh weekend is sunflower picking at a local flower farm. We went last year a little too late in the season to get any sunflowers; this year the plan is to head there in time for a sunflower bouquet for Lughnasadh.

Those are some of my low-key plans for celebrating Lughnasadh and the start of the harvest season! How are you planning to celebrate?

Categories
wheel of the year

Celebrate Litha!

If you’re in the northern hemisphere like me, then the summer solstice, or Litha, is approaching! To me, there is nothing more hygge than aligning yourself with the seasons, the natural world around you, and traditions associated with each spoke on the wheel of the year.

To that end, this week I have a few super simple, low-energy activities planned to do with my kids. I am all for low-cost, low-prep ways to ground yourself in the season and reap what it has to offer. But I never seem to have time or energy to put a ton of effort into anything elaborate. That’s not really necessary, though! Do things up as big or as small as you like, but in my opinion, simplicity never goes amiss.

Summer Treats: Fruit Salad, Herbed Lemon Bars, Popsicles

The summer solstice revolves around the idea of transformation. The fruits of the season are ripe for the picking! So I’ve been making super simple fruit salads with local fruits, fresh herbs, raw honey, and squeezed citrus. This is an excellent way to experience the transformation of spring blossoms into summer bounty.

Watermelon, strawberry, peach, basil, lime, and honey fruit salad

Later this week, the kids and I plan to also incorporate some of those fresh fruits and herbs in simple homemade ice pops! We are going to add vanilla yogurt (you can use dairy or plant-based) to make it a creamy, satisfying treat.

Finally, lemon bars are a summer favorite of mine. Add summer rosemary or lavender, and you’ve got a festive, cottagecore-worthy baked treat! While you can find some excellent recipes on Pinterest, I am probably just going to make a boxed mix and add my own herbs in. (No shame in the boxed mix game!)

Summer Sips: Cooling Iced Sun Teas

You can’t beat the power of the sun to brew tea. It’s so simple, and you feel like you’re sipping on summer sunshine when you drink your brews! Just add about a tablespoon of herbs per cup of water in a tea strainer or eco-friendly paper teabag, place in a glass jar, fill with cold water and put the lid on tightly, and leave in full sun for 2-4 hours. I sometimes stir in a bit of sweetener (honey works great or your own choice of sweetener), place in the fridge for several hours, and then sip straight from the jar with a reusable straw.

I have been mixing up hibiscus-based teas for the kids and I lately. Hibiscus is a delightfully tart, cooling botanical that is perfect for hot summer weather. It tastes a lot like cranberry juice as an iced tea, so it’s great for kids! Hibiscus is also known to be beneficial for your heart, circulation, and blood pressure.

Little jars of hibiscus sun tea for the kids!

Here are my two favorite hibiscus blends:

Hibiscus, mint, lemon balm, chamomile, blueberries

Hibiscus, lemongrass, orange peel, rooibos, mint, calendula, gotu kola

Summer Moments: Fires and Flowers

Recently we took the kids for their first trip to a “beach,” at one of the largest lakes in our state. We had a blast swimming and playing in the sand! If you are lucky enough to live near a lake or ocean, it’s obviously a fun way to experience some nature in the summer sun.

Most of my plans for marking the solstice are much lower key, however. Taking evening walks when the heat of the day has just passed, burning citronella candles on the back porch (we don’t even have a fire pit, let alone a place for a bonfire!), and maybe making a craft from spent flower petals are all possibilities on the list.

So, those are some of my simple plans for celebrating Litha / the summer solstice this week! How are you planning to celebrate?

Categories
wheel of the year

Celebrate Beltane!

Beltane is coming! For those who don’t know, Beltane is sometimes known as May Day, which is observed on May 1st. It marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice on the wheel of the year. Beltane is associated with flowers, abundance, fertility, bonfires, maypoles, gardening, trees, honey cakes, fruit, feasting, love, and the approach of summer. Sounds fun, no?

There are all sorts of ways to celebrate Beltane from a hygge herbologist approach! Below are a few of my favorite ideas. I’m sharing them in a maximalist / minimalist format in case you’re like me and tend to talk yourself out of things that you were excited about, but that end up sounding energy-draining when the time nears. That way you won’t be bummed with yourself for mixing the idea altogether. (That’s my approach, anyway!)

Max: Light a Bonfire / Min: Just burn a candle or incense

Bonfires are a very traditional part on Beltane, going back to the Celts. Your backyard fire pit would make the perfect Beltane bonfire. Or, if you are an apartment dweller or just not feeling the fire pit thing, light a floral candle or few to brighten the occasion!

Max: Bake honey + floral cookies or cakes / Min: Just make honey + floral fruit salad

Lavender or rose and citrus zest make perfect compliments to a honey cake or shortbread. Try one of the recipes from my Pinterest board! Or, if fruit salad is more your speed, go with a combo like berries, apples, and peaches, with honey, citrus zest, and herbs (fresh mint or lemon balm are excellent choices).

Max: Plant something new / Min: Just plan out your soon-to-be garden

I am planning to plant a couple of hardy herbs in containers as part of Beltane weekend (it’s still within the frost window here so I’m not doing everything yet). Whether or not that actually happens, though, I am definitely going to take some time to sketch out plans for the rest of my container garden. Use that Beltane creative energy to your advantage!

Max OR Min: Make Beltane tea

Minimalist or maximalist, herbal tea can be a tradition and ritual that makes for a special and fun way to mark each sabbat. I am sharing my recipe for a Beltane herbal tea blend, or you can create your own!

Beltane Tea recipe:

1 part Elderflower || 2 parts Chamomile 2 parts Lemon balm || 1 part Mint 1 part Green Rooibos (optional; could also replace with loose leaf green tea)

Note—steep with just-boiled water up to 10-15 minutes unless you add green tea, in which case you’ll want a little cooler water and shorter steep time, probably about 3-4 minutes max.


How are you planning to celebrate Beltane? Or do you have another seasonal celebration to mark the halfway point between spring and summer?