At dusk, on October 31st 2007, Samhain Birth Herbal Apothecary was born.
Pronounced “Sow-in”, Samhain is one of four holy pagan cross quarter days. It translates from Gaelic as “summer’s end”. Traditionally on this day the final harvests of fruit, nuts and seeds are gathered and shared. The livestock are brought in from the pasture or slaughtered. These and other important provisions are in put in place for the coming winter, also known as the “dark half of the year.”
On this day, the veil of reality is very thin. During Samhain it is believed that our ancestors who have passed away before us are again by our side. We leave an empty chair by the fire and a plate of food for them on the table. On this night they will bring the wisdom of winter as secret blessings whispered quietly to the living. We repay them with spirit food and remembering. Our medicine remembers.
On a quiet little mountain in Vermont, Samhain Herbs follows an old law. With respect and in awe of the earth, our traditional medicines carry the power of the plants and the true spirit of their healing.
My sons, apprentices and I gather the elderberries for syrup in the fall. We spend hours and hours processing them each year out on the porch. The stains grow faint in the summer, but find their purple juicy way back as soon as the elderberries get ripe again the following September. Some of the blue/black evidence is from the many bottles of wines shared with friends as we worked. The people who help come from all over the place, but the bushes that grow the medicine are from right here in Central Vermont.
Although we harvest as many plants as possible from the wild some of our herbs come from local farmers in the area. We contract out to small vegetable farmers and support local herb farms whenever possible. The honey is guaranteed raw and local, the resulting alchemy is pure magick. This complexity must be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated.
When we make tinctures, we use the percolation method of tincturing. Pharmacists of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s created the drugs of their day using raw plant material and the process of percolation. This time honored skill is passed on with hands on learning from teacher to student until it is mastered. Still today, big herb companies like Gaia Herbs and Herb Pharm make tincture using the percolation method. They use 500 gallon vats and engineers in lab coats… we use recycled glass water bottles, our own trained hands and common kitchen gadgets. Guerrilla medicine at its finest. The science is the same but Samhain Herbs brings small batch beauty back to the ritual of healing.
Samhain is a moment between the worlds of summer and winter. Here anything is possible. When occupied with gratitude and love our health is greatly benefited. Samhain Herbs is an understanding and a relationship with the plants. What grows here is the reflection of a dream, a realization of a truth and secrets of the green tongue.