In the images above is my harvest of Artemesia Californica, or Western Sage, gathered on my recent foraging workshop in Romero Canyon. A group of nine ladies and one gentleman, including a 9 and 11 year old and three generations of women from one family, hiked through the canyon and communed with the medicine plants and the creek and birds and spring turning to summer landscape. We meditated around an altar which we created next to the creek as our offering of gratitude to the canyon for its offerings to us, sort of like a hostess gift to the spirit of the canyon and all the plants we encountered there. We used the tantric practice of tattwa shuddhi, a meditation with mudra and mantra to focus on the five elements within ourselves and the world around us before we gathered our herbs. It was a wonderful opportunity to share in the healing power of wild crafting and plant spirit medicine with an amazing group of folks.
We focused on artemesia californica, artemesia douglasiana (mugwort), salvia apiana (white sage), and sambucus nigra (blue elder). In the shade just down the way from an elder tree, I shared the recipe for Chumash liniment with my fellow foragers as taught to me by Cecilia Garcia out at Quail Springs a number of years ago.
The recipe and preparation instructions are as follows;
In a large Ball jar, pack it quite full with freshly harvested Artemesia californica. Include 7 avocado pits, halved, along with one Salvia apiana leaf (white sage). Completely submerge the entire contents in 80+ proof vodka. Put a lid tightly on your jar and clearly label with date and contents. Put the jar in a dark cupboard for 3-5 weeks. Each day whenever possible, touch and shake the jar and bless it with prayer or mantra. I like to use a mantra taught to me by my teacher Nita Rubio as well as through Dr. David Frawley in The Yoga of Herbs and Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses. It is as follows; Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundaye Vicche Svaha.
You can use any prayer or song/blessing that is meaningful to you.
After mindfully harvesting and preparing the liniment and blessing it with energy and mantra over a number of weeks, pour it off through fine cheesecloth. Pour the clear liniment into smaller bottles and keep some for yourself and give some to a friend or elder.
The high proof alcohol extracts the alcohol soluble constituents, and the avocado pits extract the lipophilic, or fat soluble medicines locked within the herbs, substituting for bear fat from the traditional formula (this is how Celilia taught it, with avocado pits). The liniment will store well for a year or more. Be sure to label it with date and contents and clearly label that it is for external use only. This extract should not be consumed internally due to its high thujone content.
Artemesia californica has been used traditionally to treat pain, rheumatism, menstrual cramps and menopause, as well as coughs and colds. The liniment can be rubbed on the chest for coughs and colds, or added to hot water and inhaled as a steam for the same, or rubbed directly on rheumatic or arthritic joints, followed by applying a hot water bottle to deepen the assimilation of the herbal remedies and bring warmth to the joints and connective tissues. The liniment can also be rubbed on the abdomen for menstrual cramps and again followed with a warm water bottle to deepen the absorption and relaxation.
Dried Artemesia californica can also be made into a tea and drunk for menstrual complaints.
Salvia apiana has been used traditionally as a mind opening herb that improves mental function and clarity. It is used for sacred rituals, meditation, and prayer to clear energetic space, in a subtle reflection of its action on the gross level as an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent.
White sage is also lovely dried and used one leaf at a time in your daily water bottle to impart the gentle, clarifying and uplifting qualities of the herb to you throughout the day.
Enjoy! Blessings on your summer as it begins to take flight.