Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Herbal Preparations: Salves

The simplest of salves can be made by gently warming sesame or olive oil along with your herbs of choice. Use a very low heat in the stove and simmer for at least one hour if using fresh herbs. Dried herbs or seeds should simmer for two hours. Hard materials such as barks and roots should simmer for three hours or more.

And what about using a combination of hard, fresh, and dried material? This is quite easy, actually. Simmer the oil, add the hard materials, and let simmer for an hour. Add the dried materials and let simmer for another hour. Finally add the fresh materials and let the salve simmer for a final hour. The trick is timing, so pay attention and perhaps use a timer.

The product at this stage is not a salve yet. Strain the material through a good quality cheesecloth, making sure to get all the plant material out. You want no plant material in your salve. When this is done, you'll need to add melted beeswax. A mix of no more than 2 ounces of beeswax per pint of oil mixture is typically ideal. Stir thoroughly and consider adding a teaspoon of benzoin tincture as a preservative. If you're going to refrigerate the salve and use it often, a preservative isn't necessary.

Pour the mixture into a container of your choice, one that seals well, and store in the fridge if you haven't added a preservative. If you have, you can store the salve in a cool, dry place. If you've made a salve for your lips (such as a chap stick), consider pouring it into an empty chap stick container. You'll still need to refrigerate if you haven't added a preservative, but your chap stick will survive a few hours at room temperature. You can refrigerate overnight and carry the stick with you during the day.

Your salve can be applied directly to the area you need to treat. The exact ingredients in the salve will determine what it can be used for.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Herbal Preparations: Poultices

A poultice of red clover on a rash on my own leg.
You might think poultices aren't used very often in the modern world, perhaps because you haven't heard the word used in common conversation, but you'd be wrong. If you've ever put a little bit of ointment, perhaps some Polysporin, on a bandage and applied it to a wound, you yourself have used a poultice. They're also used frequently in hospitals for a variety of purposes, though they are more likely to call them applications.

Simply put, a poultice is just a sterile cloth (such as a bandage or even a sterile piece of cheesecloth) that is used to keep some for of medicine in place. This medicine might be a paste, it might be an ointment, or it might even be actual loose herbs. In general, if you do use loose herbs, you'd place a single layer of bandage or cheesecloth on the wound first, then place the loose herbs, then bandage the wound. This practice is sometimes used with pastes and ointments as well, depending on the ingredients. The poultice is often heated, but be careful of applying an overheated poultice to bare flesh. Burns can and have resulted.

Back before we knew much about infections and such, a piece of bread or other similar food product might have been used instead of the sterile cloth. I distinctly remember my grandmother applying a poultice of mustard and a few other ingredient to a piece of bread and strapping it to my spider bite. It worked and I didn't get an infection, but today it would be better to use sterile cloth. We don't always have to be stuck in the past, after all.