Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lesson 1 Assignment

Practical Task: Recognising winter trees and harvesting bark.
Year 1: Find and map all the hawthorn, elder trees and wild rose bushes in a one mile radius from where you live. Notice the shape of the tree/bush and any different colorations/lichen growth on different sides of the tree/bush. Identify whether the rose bush is a dog rose, briar rose or rosa rugosa. Cut some elder twigs and peel off the bark. Use this bark to make a double infused bruise salve.
If you have time and inclination, sandpaper the white elder twigs until smooth, then cut into 1cm/1/2” sections, remove the pith and thread on ribbon, string or elastic to make a necklace or bracelet. You could also make a hawthorn wand/meditation stick if you have time. (See for instructions)

Elder Tree Branches in January. I have visited this tree many times but this is the first time in winter. The Elder is honoring me tonight with offering me one of her branches so that I can make plant medicine.

At the base of the Elder tree it pushes through the ground in a bush like feature. I took a branch that was approximatly 2 foot in length. As part of Lesson 1 we are to take the branch and remove the bark to make a double infused decoction.

My husband is holding the branch while I am taking a picture of the inner view of the branch. You can see the inner pith there in the center. Next to remove the bark in preparation to make the decoction.
I removed the bark from the Elder branch. I divided it into two equal piles and placed half the bark into a pot and covered it with olive oil so that the bark was completly sumersed.
Since I do not have a double boiler, I improvised and placed the pot with the bark and oil inside another pot that was half filled with water. I made sure to have a lid on the bark and oil, and brought the water to a soft boil. Set the timer for 2 hrs. and make sure that the water does not boil off............

I forgot to take a picture of the next step. Actually once it has boiled for 2 hrs you strain the oil from the first half of the  bark and place the the 2nd pile of bark into the pan and pour the strained oil over the bark. I had to add just a tad more olive oil to make sure the bark was completely covered. Now you do the same process  all over and bring the water to a boil and set the timer for 2 more hrs. ( It pays to be a good multi- tasker during this process otherwise 4 hrs will feel like forever!- Just don't let the pot got dry!) The picture above shows the straining of the oil after the second infusion. The first straining I did not use  a coffee filter, but with the second straining I did. This helped with trapping the more minute particles.
Once strained I had approximately 12 oz. of double infused Elderbark oil. It has a pleasant smell. At this point I have not decided how I want to use this oil- as a massage oil, or if I want to make a salve. So for now....
The oil was placed in a jar and I labled the jar "Elderbark w/ olive oil, double infused with todays date.
I did save the debarked branch and while I am thinking how I want to use this, I think I am going to work on sanding that branch......

Later....After thinking about Elder bark salve being good for bruises, I wanted to experiment with different essential oils that would enhance the salves effectiveness to treat bruises, so I decided to make a few differnt salves with the oil to see which I might like best.

First I measured out 8 oz. of the Elder bark oil and 1 oz of grated beeswax.

Again I improvised on the double boiler, and places a pyrex glass  inside a pan of water and brought it to a slow boil.  I then combined the Elder oil and the beeswax. The next time I make salve I will make sure to use a slightly bigger pyrex glass, as I needed to be very carful not to get it boiling to hard and get water into the mixture of oil and wax.

Once the beeswax was completely melted I took a spoon and dropped a few drops onto my glass cutting board to see if the salve would be the consistency that I wanted.

If it would not have been hard enough I could  have added a little more beeswax, if too hard, just add a little bit more oil. I find that with most salves I have made that the combination of 8 oz of oil to 1 oz of beeswax works well to get the salve to the consistency that I like. But you decide what works best for you.

At this point I poured the mixture into my containers. The two containers to the left of the picture I made Elder salve plain. To the right starting at the top, I added Lavender essential oil, as Lavender is antisceptic and has an analgesic effect. The middle one I added Lemongrass essential oil. Lemongrass is a good pain reliever and I have to admit that I just love the smell. The bottom right I added Geranium essential oil. I had not worked with geranium essential oil before when making salve. However when I looked in my reference guide for essential oils, geranium oil was listed as being beneficial for bruises. So the combination felt right. I let the salve set up and cool completely and then placed the lid on it and labeled each kind. Now to find someone with a bruise. With all of the house renovation we have been doing here at Three Moons I am sure a bump or bruise will be coming along soon. But for the moment my house smells heavenly...........


  1. :) I got my elder cut today, but will peel it and infuse it tomorrow! I am pooped out from trying to detox the house from Gerald being sick. Days like this make me wish my washer and dryer were upstairs instead of the basement!! xxx
    Hubby just smiled with that certain smile when he offered to cut up my branches, and I said no thank you I need to make a wand out of one of them so will do it myself:) lol!!

  2. Sounds like a successful exercise, Pat! I'll be interested to hear how you use your infused oil and what effects it has.

  3. Nice article, Pat! I'm going to try this with my Elder. Thanks! Marci

  4. Pat, your emails are being returned to me. Can you check if you've got a problem please.

  5. A nice blogpost about the elder Pat!

  6. Absolutely love the way you've done the step by step. Thank you. Such a great help. Also through your photographs Yaaaaay, I think I have Elder in the bottom of our garden after all!! Def have Hawthorn so Spring will bring many answers to many questions this year :)