Late Summer Wildcrafting
Bitter Cherry resin & fruit
My apprentice came over to the house yesterday morning and after tea we headed out to the surrounding woods for a little late summer wildcrafting. We brought a shopping list for Mullein, St. John’s Wort, English Plantain, and Rowan berries, but along the way we serendipitously ran into wild Coltsfoot and a Bitter Cherry tree absolutely covered in golden resin. We also grabbed some of the bitter cherries and wrapped both up in leaves of Thimbleberry and Plantain to get them safely home. I might go back later with a ladder and collect more of the Bitter Cherry resin. We burned it once home and it smells like burning sugar – a familiar scent from my old days of working in pastry kitchens.
We found a good amount of early Rowan berries. They normally aren’t ripe until September-October, but our weather has been fast-tracked all year. Even the blackberries are early so I’ll hopefully be picking some of them for food and mead too of course. The wild St. John’s Wort and the wild Great Mullein were very plentiful this year. I hope they are next year too! If not, I harvested some seed pods to grow myself. The Mullein was hung up to dry after which I will portion the stalks and soak them in melted beeswax to make witch’s candles for seeing spirits of the dead known as “hag’s tapers” or “hedge tapers”. Poor early modern witches may not have had candles, but they had Mullein, animal fats, and many may have kept bees. I hung most of the St. John’s Wort up to dry and put the rest in a jar with grapeseed oil to make a very potent healing oil that can be used for burns, sunburn, cuts, scrapes, etc. It’s a good oil to have in the kitchen for cooking incidents. Mix it with a little lavender essential oil and not only will it keep for a few years, but lavender is also a topical pain killer.
The English Plantain was added to a jar of Nine Sacred Herbs oil which I will craft into a magical oil and salve for the Botanica. I also put some of each of the nine herbs aside to craft an incense. The last jar on the right is a Galangal root tincture. Galangal is an entheogen and was a favourite one of Aleister Crowley. He used it to aid in communion with his spirit familiars and that is exactly what this tincture can be used for. It needs to infuse for a couple more weeks before it’s ready to strain and bottle. Now I need to carve out some time in my busy life for woodwork!
Later on today…
I went back to collect more Bitter Cherry resin and I found three more trees weeping amber! While walking the path home through the woods a Raven with battle-scarred wings circled my head two times croaking at me before flying off to the mountain’s heights. Where I was standing I found wild Orange Honeysuckle which the Coast Salish called ghost or owl’s swing and Hedge-Nettle which is useful both medicinally and magically. This is the first year since moving here four years ago that I’ve seen or heard ravens.