It is Saturday morning. The sun has begins to warm the day. Into the garden I saunter, barefoot, wearing my old straw hat, carrying a basket. Skullcap is in flower. I admire Skullcaps steady square stem. Her stem identifies her family, the mints. I reflect on the fact that squares are considered the most stable geometric shape. Perhaps her stem reflects the gifts Skullcap offers to others. She brings a quiet peaceful mind, or in other words mental stability.
I ask Scullcap if she would like to become medicine today. Perhaps she will, perhaps she will not. In either case, I proceed as she requests. Leaving the largest plants for next year’s seed, I gently harvest her stems, leaves and flowers and place them in my basket. I leave behind small shiny stone.
Inside, I take Skullcap to my apothecary, garble (which means discarding brown leaves) and mix her up in a water and alcohol solution. This is beginnings of a potent fresh herb tincture. All the while, I ask Skullcap to quiet our busy minds and express gratitude for her gifts. In two weeks, I will strain the liquid and bottle it as a tincture. Then Scullcap’s medicine will bring calmness to many.
I once read a story about an anthropologist who was studying medicine making with a Native Herbalist. Once the herbs had been boiled, the anthropologist said, “Now it is medicine.” The herbalist said, “No, it is not yet medicine, we have to put the healing spirit in it.”
In our modern world, medicine making takes place mostly in laboratories, far from our homes, gardens, woods and meadows. This is a new relatively new phenomenon. Less than a hundred years ago, recipes for healing salves, cough syrups, tinctures and teas were past down from generation to generation. These recipes were relied on and worked. Medicine for a child with a burn, a grandma with a cough or a sister who had suffered a shock was made with love for the one who was ill. Hippocrates, who is considered the father of modern medicine said, “Those who love medicine, love humanity.” Love along with a profound respect for the interconnection of life is the healing spirit of medicine making.
Making medicine opens one to the perpetual abundance of nature and renews one’s connection with earth’s natural beauty. Medicine making is a path to our ancestors and is a profound exploration of the interconnection of life. The plants are out there, waiting for you to see them and honour them for all they have to give. Open your eyes, open your heart and you will be amazed at the gifts you receive.