Distilling Lemon Balm

It was my first distillation for months, and the most welcome return to heart. The day started early with our journey to Phytology, a magical nature reserve in the heart of urban London. The plan was to meet face to face with the Wisdom in Nature team, who I have been working alongside remotely for the past few months. After a reluctant start, as if I were waking up my herbalist bones after a long sleep, I tingled with excitement as I carried my smallest alembic across central London on a clear, cold spring morning.

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Spring Equinox Practices

When in doubt, I try to learn from my toddler. He manages to live and breath a kind of freedom and embodiment that I spend more time thinking about than really being. Today, we walked to a local old growth forest we visit most weekends. It is a place that is slowly becoming very special to us. I knew today was different though, with the spring turning in the air and the sense that a portal was open for us because of it, but also that something in me was opening too. Coming back to life – setting intentions.

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On Winter, The Crone and The Dark Moon

In the latter part of winter, I start to emerge from a period of stillness within myself that this year – above all else – has been mostly unsettling. An eerie stillness of things not being “right” – an imbalance. Grief, is the word that comes to me most often. It comes as I grieve the death of friends. Of mothers. Of women all over this planet and of the sons, and daughters. Of it all. I find it all too heavy with sadness. I grieve for the forests, and the waters, and for the creatures whose patterns are intricately and infinitely intertwined with ours. This year, more than any other year, I have been consumed with grief. And I believe that this is OK.

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On the Sacred Loci of the Henna Souq, Fes.

A Homecoming

The Henna Souq has a determinable atmosphere, defined by the wind in the leaves of its two plane trees and the towering building of the 13th Century Maristan at its heart. Lining the small square are little shops, some of them no bigger than three metre square, of which around half are cosmetic herbalists. There is also the old weighing scales, which are still used today when large quantities of herbs are brought here by merchants. It is the home to Simohammed, a friend to many in the city, who operates one of the shops alongside his brother. Always inviting visitors to sit and drink tea with him, it easily becomes a rest-stop on a day of earnest wanderings up and down the hills of the medina. The chance you get to sit in the presence of the square is often enough to reveal just a hint of its magic. 

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Cannabis Sativa: A Translation from the Garden of Blossoms

Essential Description: Belonging to the Kfūf family of plants, its leaf resembles that of potentilla reptins, grown in gardens and near water, and is divided into two types: masculine and feminine. 

The masculine does not produce fruit, but the feminine does. They are known by the names Shahdānij and Shahdānī respectively (meaning Sultan of Love). It is soaked and macerated much like flax, to produce ropes and cloth. Known to the general population of the Maghreb as Qinab. It is grown in great quantities in the region of Meknes. 

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The Red Cauldron

The thick red copper cauldron (sṭal – سطل) is rounded perfectly to the base, mottled with spots, it shows years of work, even though to me it is new. Its handles are also perfectly rotund, nailed to the sides with two handmade splints. An arm’s length in diameter, it sits plump on the stove. I fire it up. 

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On Andalusian Gardening: The Hidden Link in the Chain of Horticultural History

Did you know, that at Cordoba, in the 9th century, the gardeners of Abd el-Rahman I built the first botanical garden on European soil?

Did you know, that it wasn’t until over 600 years later, that the same was attempted in Christian Europe?

Did you know, that the first tulip came to Europe via Turkey to Spain, 500 years before it was taken to Holland?

What if all the horticultural history of Europe you’ve read, was wrong?

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