The beeswax candle that stands beside the old bathtub is carved all the way around with leaves and flowers, its gentle, soulstirring fragrance wafting through the open window to the sky and birds beyond. Around it, she has arranged small but potent emblems of her connection to the Divine Feminine, the Source of her magic and mysticism. Every room in the house features some corner of this presence, from the vibrant yellow and amber of the bedroom’s central shrine to the downstairs hallway table that seemed to decide it was an altar to the seasons, all on its own; to the small sacred items tucked into the large bookcase filled with cookbooks in the kitchen.. The bathroom, a sanctuary of rare quietude and sweet relaxation, has the candle, and a little pot of amber salve made by a Sister; a tiny fluorite pyramid; many carefully selected crystals, an incense burner with the finest rose stick available; a pouch of pine and juniper for incense. A few inches away sits a glass bottle with a well loved oil blend; pomegranate, rosehip, macadamia nut and a little blue chamomile for its extra healing power. A crystal dish holds sugars mixed with tamanu and apricot oils, to slough away the tired world and dry tired skin along with it.. In individual bottles, lavender, rose, neroli, clary sage and bergamot line the edge of the tub. An antique bowl holds fine French clay mixed with arrowroot, ground calendula and lavender, and rose. A faint but stimulating scent of patchouli and vanilla from bars of exquisitely made soap fill one corner of the room. Dried hyssop in a bundle with rosemary,tied with white silk thread and consecrated to Matrona, hang from above the small corner of indulgence. Rose and white birch hand creme graces the windowledge along with a broken, but cherished antique brass mirror.
Another antique, beloved amethyst glass, holds a few sprigs of rosemary, juniper and one perfect jonquil from the first blossomings of spring.
Tired and yet filled with the satisfaction of purpose and meaningful work, the Healer climbs the stairs , leaving behind clients and courses and questions and needy little fur-beings – to curl into herself, into warmth and beauty and the soft glow of candles reflecting an owl’s call not far away.
Attention to both self and detail build the Beauty element of the herbalist’s way, bring its sweet essence alive and into the lived, day by day moments of her world. Downstairs, two long sideboards serve as cupboards for home made tinctures of all description – yarrow, elder, Solomon’s Seal, elecampane and burdock, echinacea and ground ivy and plantain and goldenrod, vervain and St. John’s Wort and aspen, hawthorn and rose, rose, rose…elixirs of pine needle and rose petal and cardamom and elderberry – dried leaves roots and flowers, lined up with care and love and an eye for the aesthetic. Bottles of infusing oil promise sweet massages, eased soreness, future salves, balms and perfumes. Brand new dropper bottles, scales, beeswax and mango butter, vinegars and lozenges – downstairs is the healing she gives mostly to others…the partner with aching feet and skin rashes, the wheezing asthmatic cat, the sensitive dog who runs a little too hot for his best state of being, the old one with a fragile heartbeat, the blind horse who follows her and stops/starts at her least whisper of guidance. Downstairs are the stacks of texts and papers and binders and class notes and case studies and fresh plants, seedlings, twigs and branches and first aid kits and FOOD. It is work – a lot of work! but work lovingly and heart-fully undertaken with all her heart. Still, it can deplete and diminish if she is not mindful and willing to give back to her self. The bathroom, the southfacing private bedroom with it’s long days of sun and magnificent view of the heavens each night, the consecrated temple with the scent of sandalwood, cedar and rose seemingly woven into every blessed and purposeful item – these are the places of nourishment and love she cultivates for herself alone.
But is it every really for us alone? The time and care I give to the small bits of beauty around me – to plumping of pillows and polishing kettles – is time that heals my Soul, restores my peace of mind and strengthens me – so I can continue my work, passing on healing love and care to others. The cup I carry my steaming herbal tea up to bed in is special and used only for that purpose. If beauty is harmony, then the inner state I achieve with each quiet corner of space and time brings harmony to my very core and balances my world. As much as the herbs I infuse and partake of daily, the half hour of stretching or the insistence on regular sleep, Beauty in my environment nourishes my being on every level. Words, song, food, space and quietude, gentle fragrance – plus a few small sprigs of jonquil in bloom – balm for the soul and spirit.