This glossary is an ever-evolving network of our working definitions/poems/journals on the terms + concepts that form the language of this practice. Entries are added and re-shaped each month. These writings began in 2013 as personal notes, and will now take shape + expand candidly among community. (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)
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A common name for drinkable liquids containing ethanol.
A time traveling vessel for ᕼEᖇᗷᗩᒪ bodies.
Pure ethanol is a clear, odorless, ᐯOᒪᗩTIᒪE liquid.
Drinkable alcohol isn't pure ethanol, so it comes in many colors + forms + flavors, depending on the natural source + the creation process.
It's created through
fermentation: Yeasts digest natural sugars, converting them into alcohol.
grapes, grains, honey >> wine, beer, mead
and may be concentrated through
distillation: Heating + evaporating + condensing a fermented liquid leaves behind whichever molecules are too big + heavy to evaporate. The result is a simpler, purer substance with a higher concentration of alcohol + other delicate compounds, if desired, like aromatics—spirits.
We use organic small-batch spirits, mostly distilled from sugar cane,
or sometimes grapes + other fruits for special formulas.
Alcohol can make a potent liquid ᗰEᑎᔕTᖇᑌᑌᗰ for internal + topical herbal preparations.
Some people can't or don't want to ingest it, even in very low doses.
There are many ways to work with herbs without ingesting alcohol!
We make some non-alcoholic formulas and will be adding more soon :~)
Some of the power + magic of alcohol lies in its ᗷOᗪIᒪY structure.
Ethanol easily dissolves + opens herbal cell structures to draw a broad range of ᑕOᑎᔕTITᑌEᑎTᔕ from the source.
Essential oils + resins + alkaloids + acids + bitters + a host of others generally lend themselves best to alcohol.
On its own, alcohol isn't good at extracting minerals, polysaccharides, tannins, gums or mucilage, so we use a mixed menstruum for TIᑎᑕTᑌᖇEᔕ (water + sometimes a little GᒪYᑕEᖇIᑎE) or make a ᗪOᑌᗷᒪE or TᖇIᑭᒪE E᙭TᖇᗩᑕT when a broader-spectrum extract is best, depending on the herb.
Alcohol extracts are quickly + potently state-changing. Their delicate molecules permeate our bodies with ease, slipping through pores in our biological membranes + dispersing throughout to convey herbal messages.
This includes topical application through the skin! (like liniments)
We love the chemistry of alcohol— not from a reductionist perspective, but as an EᗰᗷOᗪIEᗪ image of its power to dissolve, permeate + unite beings.
For us, it's a both a practical + ceremonial substance.
As a vessel for preservation, alcohol stops time + allows us to create temporal loops.
The shelf life of alcohol extracts is pretty much indefinite when stored well. This has been crucial for our practice, as we navigate the complicated relationship with time that comes with fluctuating health + abilities. We move slowly, and we do when we can. Preservation creates space to rest, and a way back.
I have a body
I AM BODY
What happens if I study my body as
a person at home in it
rather than remotely
as if I were standing
Sometimes bodies feel singular
Sometimes they dissolve
(Often subconscious) it is integral to each gesture in our everyday movement...
It is a constant conversation among our tissues + nervous systems (also tissues)...
The self-experiencing of all the mutually generative systems of our being...
Body awareness helps us move + build supportive strength more safely for our unique bodies.
It helps us identify how sensation is signalling our needs, so that we can self-regulate and create from instinct.
It doesn't seem possible (or desirable) to be aware of my whole body at once.
What does it feel like to imagine a fully EᗰᗷOᗪIEᗪ awareness, unfolding in time?
Body awareness is not always comfortable, and can be tricky to navigate...
Pain, trauma or stress can create:
blind spots in our body maps— areas we may struggle to sense because we're absorbed in other experiences, or because it doesn't feel safe to bring awareness there
hyperawareness of restricted areas of the body... an uncomfortable feeling of being "too" aware of specific areas or sensations.
Sensations can be loaded.
Personal + systemic obstacles to feelings of bodily awareness, comfort, safety and agency are real and take many forms.
If you are not feeling at home in your body, it isn't your fault.
It's ok to have complicated body experiences— we are not alone :~):~):~)
This term doesn't have a solid definition.
There is no official organization that certifies or licenses herbalists.
Clinical herbalists ≠ doctors, unless by coincidence.
Sometimes it indicates that an herbalist works in a clinical setting, or otherwise performs individual consultations.
Either way, a "clinical" herbalist takes, at least in part, a technical + scientific approach to formulation + treatment.
What constitutes as ᔕᑕIEᑎTIᖴIᑕ is different for different people.
Traditional "Western" Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine + Ayurveda are examples of different cultural practices with their own rigorous yet unique approaches to care.
In clinical practice, what these hold in common is a ᑕOᑎᔕTITᑌTIOᑎᗩᒪ approach to care that acknowledges that herbs are not one-size-fits-all. Detailed analysis of an individual's current mindbody state + longterm tendencies comes first. Herbs, who are just as unique + complex as we are, are then selected (at least in part) for their specific physiological (+ perhaps spiritual) effects.
It's possible to have a holistic physiological + spiritual approach to working with herbs. :~)
A "clinical" approach is somehow in conversation with biomedical science.
This relationship can be complex. (Ours is)
Many people have experienced harm within the biomedical industry, and the built-in assumption of mind/body duality doesn't sit right for everybody.
The term implies some sort of formal training around how herbs interact with specific body tissues, health conditions + medications.
A person with this background may be more equipt to design formulas that are broadly safe + balanced + helpful for a wide variety of people, so a studied eye behind a product line can be a good thing.
Not everyone with this kind of training self-identifies as a clinical herbalist.
Sometimes this term is used to give off an air of authority, but nobody is in charge of your care but you.
A clinical herbalist isn't necessarily better than another sort of herbalist!
If you take medications or have complex medical issues, it may be safer to approach herbs with the guidance of someone with clinical training, rather than buying herbs on a whim or after a quick google search.
The important thing is to work with people you trust, whose work resonates with your own visions + body experiences.
It is still vital to take responsibility for your own health. :~)
The work of a community herbalist is rooted in relationships
— often local or Indigenous ones, but their work may also be centered around digital communities. :~)
Our practice centers our queer + creative communities,
those living with chronic pain or disability,
+ anyone else who experiences complicated embodiment.
Their background may include different degrees of self-study, apprenticeship or formal training.
Ours is a mix of all 3,
with heavy emphasis on rigorous self-study
+ peer-to-peer knowledge shares!
Every herbalist has their own experience + skills + approach.
Community practices can take form creatively outside a ᑕᒪIᑎIᑕᗩᒪ structure,
and often include sharing knowledge with community members.
This Glossary + our Patreon are digital spaces where we are working to expand the notion of community practice, and connect beyond the formulas we offer in the webshop.
Art is another core element of our practice, mostly through collaboration!
One's "constitution" is the nature of their mindbody temperament—
a combination of longterm (maybe even lifelong) tendencies + current states of balance or imbalance.
This picture takes shape as we assess general + local body tissue states in terms of EᑎEᖇGETIᑕ qualities:
These terms are shared among various healing lineages (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, TᖇᗩᗪITIOᑎᗩᒪ "ᗯEᔕTEᖇᑎ" ᕼEᖇᗷᗩᒪIᔕᗰ...) who have been in conversation with one another for thousands of years.
A ᑕOᑎᔕTITᑌTIOᑎᗩᒪ approach to herbalism acknowledges that ᕼEᖇᗷᔕ are not one-size-fits-all.
Herbs, who are just as unique + complex as we are, are matched with an individual based on their specific physiological (+ perhaps spiritual) EᑎEᖇGETIᑕ effects.
Some herbalists also take a constitutional approach when creating formulas for the general public,
including various herbs with different energetics to create a more balanced blend— less likely to aggravate folks who tend heavily toward one side of the spectrum
formulating more directional blends, intended to offer balance for specific groups of folks who share common recognizable patterns.
We do :~)
A water extraction that uses a continuous heat supply, simmering over time.
This technique is typically used for denser herb parts, such as roots, bark, seeds, nuts, berries and mushrooms—when an IᑎᖴᑌᔕIOᑎ wouldn't be strong enough to burst open the tissues + cells holding the medicine.
This isn't a hard and fast rule— it's helpful + respectful to research how to engage each ᕼEᖇᗷ on its own terms.
Roots + barks who are high in mucilage (Marshmallow + Slippery Elm), or ᐯOᒪᗩTIᒪE aromatic oils (Valerian + Wild Cherry) actually communicate more as infusions— their gifts are lost to us in the heat.
Calendula + Curlycup Gumweed seem atypical forms for decoction, but the dense + resinous + hardy nature of their blossoms requires extended heat to lend its medicine to the water.
A standard ratio is about:
1/2-1 oz herb (double this amount if working with fresh herbs)
32oz water (1 quart)
Chop or grind the herbs to increase surface area and add them to a pot of COLD water.
Slowly bring them to a boil, then turn heat down to the lowest simmer (covered, or uncovered to reduce + concentrate the liquid), continuing for 10-45 minutes
Cool until warm, and strain.
Use within 24 hours!
Depending on the herb(s), next you might...
Drink some :~)
Apply it as a compress
Simmer uncovered until the liquid has reached half or less of its original volume to concentrate it
Add an IᑎᖴᑌᔕIOᑎ of more delicate herbs to the brew, by dropping them in the pot once you have removed it from the heat; or allow the decoction to cool to room temperature before pouring it over herbs requiring a ᑕOᒪᗪ IᑎᖴᑌᔕIOᑎ
A broad categorical term for an ᕼEᖇᗷ that promotes urine production.
These herbs are considered to have a drying action, as they purge fluid from body tissues.
Increasing fluid flow, they can help (especially when paired with various specifying herbs) to flush out a variety of molecules from the kidneys + other organs, often described as a "cleansing" effect.
Used longterm without checks + balances, they can really dry you out!
In very large doses, they decrease the fluid content of the blood, and can lower blood pressure, which is another caution to keep in mind.
As we tincture each individual herb in our workshop, certain roots, barks, seeds, mushrooms, berries + gummy flowers that would remain unreached by cold water IᑎᖴᑌᔕIOᑎ are treated to an extra ᗪEᑕOᑕTIOᑎ process— to honor their full power and create the most vibrant + potent extract possible.
ᗷOᗪY as subject (not object)
Body talking to oneself, about oneself
An infinite reflection
of our sense of self (a concept)
to our sense of self (the sensory experience of oneself as a body)
A constant + simultaneous sensing, becoming, expressing
circular like the breath
Moving in the world through felt experience
pleasure, knowing, being
among the communities that constitute
transcending language that separates us from ourselves
Is it really possible to not be "in my body"?
Body as its own language
Some call essences "energetic" medicines as a way to distinguish them from "physical" extracts (like TIᑎᑕTᑌᖇEᔕ) where a direct chemical conversation is sought among human + herb.
While we can't fully escape these terms, they imply a separation of ᗷOᗪY/spirit that we don't believe in.
It is true that "physical" herbal ᑕOᑎᔕTITᑌEᑎTᔕ are negligible or nonexistent in an essence.
Essences ≠ essential oils, and they do not have a scent.
We envision essences as ᑭOETIᑕ extracts.
We place a bowl of water beside the being at the center of the ritual, in direct Sun or Moon light.
Sometimes the gem, object, or a few flowers (if abundant) are selected to float in the bowl. Sometimes not.
With meditation, sound + movement we bring our EᗰᗷOᗪIEᗪ selves into the present moment and offer gratitude for however this being speaks to us, listening.
Our personal impressions mix with traditional interpretations of Earth language.
We ask that the water become a vessel so we can carry this experience forward in time. The Sun or Moon bears witness, radiating a unique temporal seal upon our new ritual substance.
We strain the liquid if need be, preserve it— usually with a small amount of ᗩᒪᑕOᕼOᒪ, bottle, and label it.
In this ceremony, we weave together with another being in a moment in time to create an essence. Experience is distilled into a representational "object."
Later, we ingest a drop of the liquid as an embodied practice— a reversed ritual, where from substance we metabolize meaning.
Physical bodies and bodies of meaning dance together.
As Earth-integrated mindfulness tools, essences deepen conversation within our own consciousness, and among ourselves + other Earth beings.
We take them on their own, or blend them into ᑭOTIOᑎᔕ, TIᑎᑕTᑌᖇEᔕ and other formulas to create dimension.
Essences are a beautiful + accessible way to work with herbs you can't ingest due to health conditions, contraindications with medications, because they are poisonous, or because they are at-risk and harvesting for an extract would not be ethical.
In any form, essences make powerful sensory prompts for ritual, meditation or self-work, and can be grounding catalysts as we invoke plasticity— navigating transitions, shifting into new patterns...
Sometimes they're "just" for fun :~)
There are many different ways of making + thinking about essences :~)
A folk herbalist's practice is based on traditional methods + the ᔕᑕIEᑎᑕE of experience.
This sort of herbalism is usually associated with a specific cultural or ancestral lineage, where knowledge is passed down from one generation to the next.
Folk herbalists are often ᑕOᗰᗰᑌᑎITY ᕼEᖇᗷᗩᒪIᔕTᔕ, whose work is rooted in enduring (often Indigenous or local) relationships.
Digital communities can be centered in folk practices too. :~)
ᕼEᖇᗷᔕ are members of these communities, supporting us as remedies + as participants in the ceremony of daily life.
Folk medicine is the source of all medicine + thrives today, increasingly driving scientific research but often operating fully outside of "ᔕᑕIEᑎTIᖴIᑕ" perspectives.
Distinctions between medicine + spirituality + magic are often absent.
What some people call "alternative medicine" is primary care for most people in the world.
Folk practices are just as valid as ᑕᒪIᑎIᑕᗩᒪ practices!
Any herbalist who is practicing their art ethically knows + transparently communicates the scope of their knowledge + skills + experience, and knows when to refer you to someone else when they can't meet your needs.
A folk herbalist can be anybody formulating for themselves or their loved ones.
The role of "healer" exists in some cultural lineages, but folk medicine is essentially non-hierarchal.
Folk medicine is the People's medicine. :~)
Created as a co-product of soap making, or made by breaking down fats and oils.
Ours comes from organic coconut oil.
While it appears in some "alcohol-free" formulas because it does not contain ethanol, chemically, glycerine (glycerol) is actually an alcohol— one that is non-intoxicating at typical medicinal doses (just a couple mL at a time) and doesn't have narcotic or euphoric effects.
Unlike ethanol, glycerine is stable when heated. It has an affinity for a far narrower (but valuable!) range of herbal ᑕOᑎᔕTITᑌEᑎTᔕ, and a unique ability to encapsulate + suspend them.
Tannins, delicate aromatics, enzymes, vitamins + polysaccharides lend themselves well to glycerine. Oils, resins, most alkaloids + many other alcohol and water soluble medicinal compounds do not.
We work with it with all this in mind.
As the sole base of an extract, we reserve glycerine for the handful of herbs it extracts well, preferring other preparations, or a blended approach when an alcohol-free formula is needed.
Our favorite way to work with glycerine is as part of a menstruum, to help maintain ingredient suspension. For example, alkaloids + tannins neutralize each other when they make contact. When extracting alkaloid + tannin-rich herbs in alcohol, a little glycerin added to the menstruum encapsulates the tannins within its molecular structure, creating a buffer to prevent that from happening— resulting in a more potent, broader spectrum tincture.
This encapsulating action of glycerine also makes it a unique vessel for conveying delicate herbal flavors that could be lost in other processes. :~)
Viscous and sweet, without containing sugar.
Shorter shelf-life (6-12 months) than tinctures (nearly eternal when stored well).
For these reasons, and because we find the taste cloying (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵) we prefer to use glycerine for internal formulas only when working with specific herbs— usually not as a full glycerite, but with a lesser amount blended into a traditional tincture or other preparation.
Some people really like working with 100% glycerites! :~)
Plants, funghi, animal and mineral lifeforms we converse with in a mutual relationship of healing. May refer to entire organisms or aspects and special preparations of an herbal ᗷOᗪY.
Sometimes prepared for drinking, or topical application—a compress, or an herbal bath.
A simple example is a casual cup of "tea". About a teaspoon of herbs (sometimes tea leaves) for every cup of hot water is infused for just a few minutes before drinking.
The duration + temperature of an infusion may be informed by the herb's qualities, and which constituents we want to make contact with.
HOT INFUSIONS swell tissues + burst cells. If present in the herb, hot water dissolves starches, sugars, plant acids, some alkaloids, and pigment—and then with a bit more time, tannins, lactones, iridoids and minerals. Delicate aromatic oils (including aromatic bitter compounds), and polysaccharides are altered or lost to us in the heat.
Nutritive herbs laden with mineral content (oatstraw, horsetail, alfalfa...) need more time to release their gifts and benefit from a longer soak— a long or overnight infusion.
A standard ratio is:
1 part herb (by weight - oz)
32 parts of water (by volume - oz)
Pour just boiled water over the herb and let it steep 4-8 hours, or overnight before straining.
We like to fill a 64oz mason jar, close the lid and set it on a sunlit windowsill for at least 4 hours (for Sun tea), or for an overnight infusion to place an evening brew in the fridge til the next morning, pouring throughout the following day over a little hand strainer into a tall glass, letting the herbs continue to swirl around in the jar til there's no liquid left. Some people like using a french press.
Drink by the end of the day! Water solutions don't keep :~)
COLD INFUSIONS are beautifully refreshing (especially in summer months) and are ideal when the herb's medicines are readily soluble in cool water or would be deteriorated by heat, and when we want to avoid extracting bitter + astringent tannins.
Cold water slowly releases mucilage and polysaccharides without damaging them, along with sugars, proteins, plant acids, vitamins, minerals, some alkaloids, and a hint of volatile essential oils. The scent and taste of the living herb passes into the water, unchanged by heat.
Slippery Elm or psyllium husk fiber (from Plantain seed) might be best quickly stirred into cool water before their mucilage expands + sets in your cup.
Some more subtly mucilaginous herbs (like Marshmallow) and those laden with mineral content (or delicate aromatics (Rose, Lemon Balm, Mint, Chamomile...) are well suited to a longer cold soak— a long or overnight cold infusion.
Long Cold Infusion
A standard ratio is:
1 part herb (by weight - oz)
32 parts of water (by volume - oz)
Pour cool water over the herb and let it steep 4-12 hours, or overnight before straining.
*We like to fill *a 64oz mason jar, close the cap and set it in the fridge (or on a moonlit windowsill for Moon tea) til the next morning, pouring throughout the following day over a little hand strainer into a tall glass, letting the herbs continue to swirl around in the jar til there's no liquid left. (Some people like using a french press.)
Drink by the end of the day! Water doesn't keep :~)
An ancient form whose name comes to us from the Greeks (ὀξύς 'acid' + μέλι 'honey').
This mixture has long been considered medicinal in itself as a decongestant + digestive, or as the base of an herbal formulation. †
Roman physician, Cato the Elder's recipe called for "ten pounds of honey with five heminas [ancient Roman unit of measurement = 273mL] of vinegar."
Any ratio you like is fine :~)
We like ours a bit more on the sour side, infusing raw cider vinegar + raw local honey with the herbs for several weeks before straining.
Oxymels remind us that pleasure is medicine. While less chemically "potent" than a tincture, their sour sweetness penetrates our emotional center, while offering gentle nutritive support.
We've developed our own techniques for going deep with vinegar + honey extraction when an active concentrated remedy is needed, preparing a sort of alcohol-free ᗪOᑌᗷᒪE E᙭TᖇᗩᑕTIOᑎ.
Our ᒪᑌᑎG ᕼOᑎEY is an example of this method.
Without alcohol added to preserve them, oxymels should be finished within about 6 months.
They may be mixed into dressings, drinks, mixed into other herbal preparations or squeezed right on the tongue.
Our favorite :~)
† As notions of medicine shift from antiquity through Medieval + Renaissance + Victorian pharmacopea, oxymels remain popular:
Persian physician Sabur Ibn Sahl included oxymels ( سکنجبین sekanjabin) in his 9th Century compendium of antidotes (القراباذين Aqrabadhin), and they are still imbibed as medicine + as food, for pleasure + wellbeing.
12th Century physician Moses Maimonides recommended oxymels of Rose, Lemon or Violets as gentle overall health tonics + remedies that can be administered at home without a doctor— like bloodletting of the arms + legs.
We do not recommend bloodletting :~)
In A Dictionary of Practical Medicine (1855), physician James Copland calls for a prescription of formula 206:
"℞: Lead acetate, one grain. Dissolve in rose water, three fluidounces, and add undiluted oxymel, 3 fluidrams; tincture of opium, five minims [drops]; tincture of digitalis, 10 minims. To be taken every four to six hours."
Please don't try making this + opium is a narcotic + digitalis is dangerously poisonous + so is lead :~)
the study + structured organization of experience
an intuitive + poetic process
not always consciously so
Science is a way we create + share stories with our communities.
"Experiments are not about discovering,
but about listening + translating
the knowledge of other beings."
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, scientist + member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation
What would a holistic science look like—
one that expands beyond the reductionist view
that the only way to understand something is to break it up
into tiny, still mechanical parts?
What would it feel like?*
"Ceremony leads my science.
Indigenous people are scientific.
We make observations + predictions.
We have medicines that are safe
because we're applying observations
+ research to our medicines...
Indigenous people are very scientific—
it's just that our science includes the heart."
"There have been some helpful things from Western science.
One of the popular terms for blending the two—
Indigenous + Western sciences—is called etuaptmumk.
That’s a Mi’kmaw word for 'two-eyed seeing.'
It’s using the best of both worlds for the benefit of everyone."
- Jonathan Ferrier, Anishinaabe ethnobotanist
Goethe* said giving "living expression to living thought" requires that we move between many modes of seeing.
*German poet + scientist
Shifting fluidly among "metaphysical" + "mathematical" + "mechanical" + other perspectives generates a dynamic, "multifold language."
"How difficult it is, though, to refrain from replacing the thing with its sign,
to keep the object alive before us instead of killing it with the word."
- Theory of Color, 1810
A living, EᗰᗷOᗪIEᗪ, holistic science
might look + feel a lot like poetry.
A metabolic conversation of mutual unbecoming + becoming among us + the source organism.
There are many methods for tincture making, according to different traditions + personal preferences.
For a minimum of 8 weeks, we soak each herb in unique ratios of herb:menstruum, and water:organic cane ᗩᒪᑕOᕼOᒪ (sometimes with honey or GᒪYᑕEᖇIᑎE added) depending on the qualities + constituents with which we're seeking contact.
Engaging the ᕼEᖇᗷᔕ on their own biochemical terms, we honor the individuality of each lifeform. Optimizing the vitality + potency of an extract, we deepen the exchange among us— amplifying the herb's messages + gifts, while taking less. With a deliberate process we learn from each extraction and make adjustments when needed, creating consistent dosage and reducing waste.
How we take tinctures!
In a couple ounces of water, thrown back
In fizzy water, tea (not too hot), or a cocktail :~)
In a water bottle to sip throughout the day
Right on the tongue, depending on the formula + the taste!
(personal preference = often for EᒪI᙭Iᖇᔕ, always for digestive bitters)
Most herbal compounds pass through our bodies within 4 hours, so we like to dose 2-5 times a day rather than taking one large dose a day, especially for TOᑎIᑕ formulas.
In acute situations, we may take several squeezes over a short period of time.
The amount of liquid pulled into the glass tube with one firm squeeze + release of the rubber bulb is a full dropper.
One squeeze = one dropper = about 30-40 drops = about 1mL
Six droppers will fill a teaspoon.
Never tip the dropper up and let the tincture run back into the rubber bulb! It will shorten the life of your tinc.
ᕼEᖇᗷᔕ or formulas we work with daily or otherwise regularly, over a long period of time.
Gentle + nourishing + balancing support for overall wellbeing, or specific ᗷOᗪY systems.
Herbs called nutritive + "adaptogenic" fall into this category.
When formulating, we tend to combine herbs offering in-the-moment support with tonic herbs that help condition body systems over time with regular contact.
Describes a substance that easily evaporates at room temperature.
Higher volatility = lower boiling point :~)