Online Orders are Still Being Processed
Restorative Aromatics is located in Philadelphia, PA and the "stay at home" order went effect on March 23rd. We will still be processing and fulfilling online orders that come in until at which point it becomes no longer feasible. I've been working from home for the past three weeks, so while I am a little stir crazy, my contact with the outside world has been minimal and I am still in good health. All of my products are handcrafted by me, in my home studio, so they are not coming from warehouses or retail locations.
My local post office has package drop off slots right by the main entrance and I am leaving the house wearing nitrile gloves and face masks while sanitizing everything in the process in order to keep myself safe. It literally takes me 30 seconds to drop off packages and I do not have to wait in line or interact with anyone. Please note that delivery times may vary once they are mailed out as the postal service is also overwhelmed at this point. There may be some additional delays with shipments of my supplies arriving on time. I am trying to anticipate my needs weeks in advance in order to keep things in stock.
Restorative Aromatics will soon be rebranding to Belladonna's Botanicals in next couple of months and will be launching a new website. I'm working hard to getting the content on the new website up and running.
I am still releasing new products on a weekly basis as my new product to do list is always about 100 items deep at any given time. My assistants: Corey (pictured right) the manager of sitting on my printer and Moon (pictured left) the VP of crinkling plastic things are hard at work assisting me in this process.
Coming Soon: Online Zoom Classes & Workshops
I am in the process of working on putting together a series of workshops and classes via Zoom, stay tuned for topics, announcements and scheduling. All classes will have a sliding scale payment fee since we are all struggling during this difficult time in human history. I've also been taking the time to enjoy several courses myself and to finish a few courses I started last year as well.
Taking Care of Ourselves
Magic and ritual have the power to help us and to heal the universal despair we are feeling as we face isolation and the disruption of our daily lives. I'd be lying if I said that I was doing great every day, because some days I am not at all doing well and its okay to feel grief for all that we are going through.
Stay home, do magic, and be well.
Hand Sanitizer recipes being circulated with regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19) are problematic. In this updated video, I am discussing what you need to know about making your own hand sanitizer for adults and safety concerns for children and pregnant adults if including essential oils. I am sharing the formulation recommendations from the World Health Organization plus recommendations regarding amount of essential oil drops per ounce, essential oils with antiviral properties and how they work, which essential oils to avoid for children and pregnant adults, and where to buy ingredients, and other alternatives.
Kayla Fioravanti further explains the importance of understanding the percentage of alcohol needed by volume, meaning that if you use 70% isopropyl alcohol and add aloe vera to it, the aloe vera then decreases the alcohol content. Read more in The Dirty Truth About DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipes The Tisserand Institute also talks about Effective Use of Alcohol for Aromatic Blending including the solubiity of essential oils in alcohol bases and using preservatives when needed if the alcohol content is too low and for water-based products.
Hand Sanitizer Ingredients
Some sources say if getting commercially available hand sanitizer that ones with 70% isopropyl alcohol are okay, but if you are making your own at home, it is best to use 99% Isopropyl alcohol if possible though if all you have access to is 91% which you can buy in stores, it is better than nothing.
*Most sources are suggesting using Aloe Vera Gel. I experimented with this since I have all varieties on hand as an aromatherapist and herbalist. The Gel does not blend well with the alcohol base and ends up in a slimy gelatinous blob. The Aloe Vera Gelly or Juice blend more consistently with the alcohol. The consistency will be more liquidy than the thicker gel type commercial hand sanitizers so a little will go a long way. Shake well before use and you will only need a few drops to cover both hands.
Essential Oils and Phytochemicals
All plants contain Phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) and they are a part of what endow essential oils with their therapeutic applications. Essential oils can contain hundreds of different phytochemicals that are classified into different families: Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Monoterpene Alcohols, Sesquiterpene Alcohols, Esters, Aldehydes, Ketones, Phenols, Phenylpropanoids, Ethers (Oxides), Sesquiterpene Lactones, and Furanocoumarins.
Essential oils high in Monoterpenes, Monoterpene Alcohols, Aldehydes, Phenols, and Ethers/Oxides all have antiviral properties as a result of their chemical composition. Essential Oils high in Aldehydes, Phenols, and Ethers will have additional safety concerns and some are not recommended for use on the skin in high amounts.
Antiviral Essential Oils (Just noting that while they have antiviral properties, there is yet to be clinical evidence that they work in preventing Coronavirus COVID-19)
Not recommended due to safety issues because they are skin sensitizers (not safe for children and most should be avoided during pregnancy)
Not recommended due to price or limited availability
Herb bath: add epsom salt or sea salt and herbs, though I would not bath in garlic as that would be rather pungent. Use a tea bag to prevent mess. If adding essential oils use a carrier or vegetable oil base and then add to the tub so they disperse properly.
Herbal tinctures: use grain alcohol or apple cider vinegar, add herbs to the alcohol and allow to sit for up to a month in a cool dark place, strain, bottle and you can use a dropper full by mouth or added to a beverage as needed to boost the immune system. Tinctures last for years and do not go bad.
Making You Own Soap
Melt and pour soap bases would be the best way to go about making your own soap at home. It is easy to use. You can simply melt it in a double boiler or even in the microwave in a pyrex container or glass bowl. You can add essential oils. I would recommend a 1% dilution ratio which would be about 10 drops per ounce. You can also add small amounts (1 teaspoon per pound) of Vitamin E Oil, other carrier oils like Jojoba, Sunflower Oil, or butters like shea and mango butter. Soap bases tend to be relatively colorless or white if they are goat's milk or oatmeal shea based. In the clearer bases mica works well or you can use any variety of soap dye. Mica tends to sink with goats milk and oatmeal shea. You can add herbs to soaps as well. I even add my own Florida Water which is alcohol based to my florida water soap.
Where to Buy your supplies
Lastly, if anyone local to Philadelphia needs supplies or advice, please feel free to reach out to me.
Stay safe, wash your hands, and most importantly Don't Panic.
Historically speaking, in the European Witchcraft tradition, flying ointments were made of hallucinogenic and often toxic herbs such as Belladonna, Aconite, Mandrake Root, Hemlock, Datura, Opium Poppy, and Henbane. These herbs were either infused in an oil base, strained, or added to lard. The witches then applied these ointments on their bodies for a hallucinogenic “flying” experience. The herbs used contain psychoactive chemical constituents including aconitum, atropine, hyoscyamine, or scopolamine. The lore around flying ointments also surround witches using them to fly to sabbaths, casting spells, shape-shifting, and for sexual pleasure.
Entheogens are psychoactive substances found in plants, animals, fungi, and chemicals. Entheogenic plants, fungi, and chemicals include: DMT, Fly Agaric Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, Cannabis, Henbane, Iboga, Datura, Psilocybin, and many other toxic plants. Typically, entheogens are used within the framework of spiritual development as they alter and expand the limits of consciousness and perception sometimes with hallucinogenic effects. Entheogens have been used by Indigenous people for thousands of years for spiritual purposes. Such as the case with Ayahuasca which is a botanical brew made with different entheogenic plants and is used by the Indigenous people of the Amazon region for spiritual purposes. It is important to note that the use of entheogens is sacred to many indigenous cultures and were a part of their spiritual practices. Using entheogens for spiritual exploration has become more mainstream since the 1950s with the use of LSD, psychoactive mushrooms, and other hallucinogenic substances. There are legal restrictions when it comes to entheogens such as the plants used in Ayahuasca, certain mushrooms, and of course drugs like LSD and ecstasy. However, other entheogenic plants are legal to grow, own, and use such as Belladonna, Datura, Henbane, and Mandrake Root.
The term entheogenic herbs is often used alongside ethnobotanical herbs and many of those listed above fall into both categories. Ethnobotany is just the scientific study of regional plants and their relationship and use by the inhabitants of the region for purposes of medicinal preparations, spiritual use, and culinary use. Many of our modern medicines are derived from plants. Atropine is inherent in Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) and is used during surgical procedures and is used as an antidote to certain types of poisoning. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) which is highly toxic to most people gives us the cardiac drug Digoxin that is used to treat atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
Flying Ointments have become popular as the return to witchcraft and pagan practices has grown in popularity in addition to the use of natural herbs, essential oils, and other plant-based materials, which have always been a staple in the witches practice. Flying ointments are typically categorized as “toxic” which contain ingredients like Belladonna, Mandrake Root, Datura, and Henbane and “non-toxic” ones which use Wormwood and Mugwort as their base herbs. It is important to note that the topical use of toxic herbs is much safer than ingesting them, which can often be fatal. Even though they are safer to use topically, the person preparing them, whether that be you as an individual or someone who makes and sells them needs to be keenly aware of using the correct amounts of the toxic herbs when they do the oil infusion as well as the genus and species they are using. There are several different types of Datura’s, but typically Datura innoxia is used in modern flying ointments though I have seen some Flower Essences that use Datura stramonium.
Botanical specification is extremely important to be aware of and I say that as an experienced aromatherapist and herbalist. Let’s talk about Mandrake Root, about 99% of the “Mandrake Root '' on the market is actually completely unrelated to Mandrake Root (Mandragora officinarum) which usually runs about $25.00 per ounce. The cheap American Mandrake Root (Podophyllum peltatum) does not have any of the entheogenic qualities of European Mandrake root is they are not even in the same botanical family or even genus. American Mandrake root aka Mayapple is much more toxic than European Mandrake Root. It can be used in witchcraft for protection spells, but it should not be used in flying ointments.
Flying ointments can be used in witchcraft practices for astral travel, lucid dreaming, spirit communication, divination, as aphrodisiacs, and for sex magick. They can also be used medicinally to treat chronic pain and inflammation, for mood elevation, and sleep issues. The Poison Path is an area of occult herbalism that focuses on using poisons as medicine and using entheogenic flying ointments for spiritual development. It combines different elements of witchcraft and spiritual practices into its own offshoot practice.
Astral travel, which is also called soul flight, astral projection, lucid dreaming, or out of the body experiences is the most common use for flying ointments. Astral travel is a form of deep meditation in which the brain waves slow down from the conscious waking state (Gamma and Beta waves) to the in between waking and sleep states (Alpha and Theta waves), which Delta waves are mostly associated with deep sleep. Here is a link to some more information on brain waves: https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-are-brainwaves There are numerous ways to invoke astral travel with or without flying ointments. I use guided astral travel induction meditations or astral travel music that keys into the lower brainwaves. You can find hundreds of videos on YouTube that vary in length from 30 minutes to 8 hours. Basically, you want to be in a half asleep state, but still have the mind active to explore your inner psyche or travel to astral realms.
Most of the herbs used in flying ointments are from the Solanaceae botanical family, more commonly known as the Nightshade family and the non-toxic varieties (Mugwort and Wormwood) are from the Asteraceae botanical family. Once you have made or purchased a flying ointment, there are specific actions of each herb, safety precautions, and effects. I will preface this by saying that I have not experienced hallucinations akin to those that would occur with LSD, mushrooms, or other hallucinogens. I’ve experienced minor shifts in perception. For example, Belladonna makes everything a little brighter and colors seem more intense and I just feel mellow and happy. I also love to write about my experiences and the things that come up for me when I use flying ointments.
How do you use a flying ointment? First, you will always want to perform a skin test if you have not previously used the particular ointment. This is done by using a pea sized amount of the ointment which you will rub onto the wrists. Usually, it takes about 30 minutes to start feeling the effects. At which point, you can reapply the ointment as comfortable. The effects can last between 4-6 hours. If any adverse reaction or skin irritation occurs, you should immediately wash the area with cold water and soap. Flying ointments are safe to use with alcohol, cannabis, and SSRI antidepressants, but they may increase drowsiness.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is a mild aphrodisiac, and is used for divination and prophecy. Medicinally, it can provide relief from pain and inflammation, elevate moods, and help with occasional sleep issues. Datura (Datura innoxia) is used for astral travel, spirit communication, and to induce psychic dreams. Medicinally, it has sedative properties, and can provide relief from pain and inflammation. Mandrake Root (Mandragora officinarum) is an aphrodisiac, and is also used for divination, protection, love magic, and is said to intensify magick, psychic abilities, and creative pursuits. Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) is used for astral travel and to communicate with the dead and other spirits. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) are both non-toxic and used for lucid dreaming, working with familiars, and astral travel. Medicinally, they can relieve tense muscles, pain, and inflammation.Belladonna, Datura, Henbane, and Mandrake Root all have tropane alkaloids: atropine, hyoscyamine, or scopolamine. These are the chemicals that produce their psychoactive, sedative, and pain relieving effects.
General Safety Precautions for Nightshades including Belladonna, Datura, Mandrake Root, and Henbane
General Safety Precautions for Wormwood and Mugwort
References and Resources
Let's talk about product labeling and presenting ingredients on your websites and online stores. The vast majority of witchcraft related products do not tell you whats in them or they only partially list the ingredients citing them as "propriety blends" of herbs and essential oils. I come from the professional aromatherapy, perfuming, and herbalism field where there are very specific FDA regulations in how you list the ingredients of the products. This is for two main reasons: safety and correct ingredient identification. Listing Eucalyptus is not specific enough as there are over 400 species of Eucalyptus. The botanical specification is very important and product labeling should adhere to International Nomenclature (INCI) which would make a listing for "Lavender" look like Lavandula aungustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil as opposed to Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) Flower Oil. While they are both types of lavender, they have different therapeutic properties and safety precautions.
I had an experience at an event last year with a fellow crafter that really frustrated me. They were very inconsistent with their product labeling and I asked a question about their use of a Sassafras, which comes in two varieties one of which is safe and is used in food flavoring and the other is toxic due to the saffrole content and it should not be used topically or ingested. They brushed off my question like of course it’s safe to use. I asked another question about some liquid potions that were meant to be ingested. They wouldn’t even tell me the base liquid and did the zipper lips gesture that it was secret, which really put me off. I’m not trying to steal your products, I just want to know if they are safe to consume. I loathe the taste and smell of apple cider vinegar so I would’ve been rather displeased to spend over $20 on something I couldn’t use or what if I was an alcoholic in recovery and it had a alcohol base? While I make a lot of my own products, I do buy things from other businesses or individuals from time to time.
I have formal training and education in proper product labeling, FDA regulations and the fine line between that defines something as a cosmetic or medication, and product safety when using essential oils, herbs, and other ingredients. I always put a complete list of ingredients for my products on my website, online stores, and on the product labels. Transparency is very important to me. In this day and age, there are very few "secret" recipes and formulations out there. If you Google "fast luck oil recipe" you are going to find various ingredient lists that will help you guide your way. So, yes, your particular blend might be proprietary for you, but hundreds of other people are making the same thing. I don't know how much of each herb is used in those blends and how much of each essential oil is used, but my version is my version based on my knowledge base and experience.
I've taken my study of aromatics, essential oils, herbs, botanicals, perfuming and have prepared my products with that knowledge. I am open about the ingredients that I use, so that my customers can be well-informed... Don't take a salt bath with rue, hyssop, wormwood, or mugwort if you are pregnant or nursing as they are abortifacient or fetotoxic. That is pertinent safety information to disseminate. Safety is extremely important when you make witchcraft oils and powders with toxic ingredients or when you make entheogenic flying ointments using plants like Belladonna and Datura. That information needs to be known as well as potential side effects. As a business owner and product designer, my customers safety has to come first. They need to be informed in case they are allergic to an ingredient. Even if you are just dressing a candle with a ritual oil, you still should be aware if you need to wear gloves for your own personal safety.
I often joke that I've been a witch since Halloween 1980. My grandmother made the costume for me sans those horrible plastic masks they had back then. This may have been because I loved the Wizard of Oz and always loved the duality of Good Witch and Bad Witch, though secretly still want an army of flying monkeys to this day. I still have the gown, but sadly the hat and cape did not make it through the remainder of the 1980s due to excessive wear. I was a weird kid and interested in weird things. I wasn't the pink dress princess, my little pony loving girl of the 1980s. I wore mostly black because I grew out of children's clothing by the time I was 9 years old and I loved horror movies and heavy metal music. My Barbie Dolls looked like rock stars instead of fancy debutantes. I probably drove my parents crazy cutting up all the ball gowns and making rock star outfits for them.
I wanted to write a little more in depth about my path into eclectic witchery and my experiences in life from early childhood that led me down this path. I draw from many practices and traditions that are part of my old ancestral history: European and specifically Slavic Witchcraft and Folk Magic, in addition to White Magic, Black Magic, Hoodoo, and other Occult traditions.
My heritage is Eastern European, predominantly Ukrainian with roots Slovakia, Poland, Hungry, and Romania. There is also Germanic, Irish, English, and Northern European ancestry as well. I was mostly raised within the Ukrainian tradition and Byzantine Catholic until my family converted to Roman Catholicism. Eastern European families tend to be matriarchal by nature. My Grammy and Grandma were both strong women, who while not the "breadwinners" of the family, wore the proverbial "pants" for the family. I inherited a lot of their strength, wit, and dominant personality from them and my flare for fashion and wearing all black from my paternal grandmother.
My father gave me my first crystals when I was about 4 years old, a rose quartz and a donkey carved out of polished quartz. I still remember exactly how that rose quartz felt in my hands as a child and can visualize every mark and ripple of the stone. I haven't seen them in decades at this point and my mother has been searching high and low to see if she can find them. She found many other things along the way including geodes, petrified wood, seashells, and other crystals and rocks. Some were my brothers as well and quite a few were from my grandfather. I remember the geode being from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, my brother has one half and I have the other now.
I've always been a dreamer and have excellent dream recall of details - even from dreams I had as a child from things like hiding inside my grandmother's sofa from the dinosaurs that were coming down the street (probably because I loved watching Land of the Lost), dreaming that I was a bat and flapping my arms with the sheets in bed, and stuff about nuclear power plants (I live in Pennsylvania, and was about 4 years old when Three Mile Island happened, also I used to build nuclear power plants with my blocks.) I've always been fascinated with dream worlds and dreams in general. As a side note, many years later my mother told me that I used to have dreams about animals biting my fingers and hands when I was very young and she said that she never told me that she used to have the same dreams when she was a child.
I was a creative and imaginative child and loved drawing and building things. My earliest artistic renderings were drawings of houses whose chimneys were struck by lightening. I think that was a common theme because the apartment complex we lived in was next to a bus depot with a tall chimney that may have been struck by lightening. I was also introduced to death at a very early age, my kindergarten teacher had a heart attack and died in front of us in class. We thought she was asleep. We tried to wake her up and eventually went to go find a grown up. I couldn't really communicate what happened to my parents, but kept saying something about her leg. Later they received a phone call informing them what happened.
In 1981, my family relocated from Pennsylvania to Rome, Georgia which is about an hour outside Atlanta because my father got a teaching job at a college there. Being a transplanted Northerner in Northwest Georgia was an eye opening experience, suddenly I was the "Dumb Yankee" because the Civil War nee "War of Northern Aggression" as they called it was still a sore spot in the early 1980s apparently. In retrospect, Civil Rights were somewhat nebulous because one day I came home and asked my mother "why the Black kids had to sit at the back of the bus?" A great question coming from a six year old. I'm not going to mince words, I grew up in a racist town where Black people were always referred to by the N-word. It wasn't even malicious, it was so commonplace that it was just normal. Might I add, in addition to being a "Dumb Yankee" because I was from the North, I was also a "N-word Lover" too, because calling a young child that is totally acceptable apparently. I guess us Northerners do things differently and that can cause quite a stir, my father was almost run off the road by the KKK for giving a Black colleague a ride home from work. Yah, that kind of different. Even though I was white, I was still "othered" because I was from the North and somehow that made me not quite white like the Southern born Whites. I still ruminate over my childhood experiences and never really come up with answers that make any sense.
We rented the first house we lived in Georgia for about a year and then bought a house across town. I liked the first house better as it was on a wooded property with lots of trees and stuff. The house we moved to across town was in a small development that was built on swampland. I grew up with lots of tornado drills at school and occasional warnings. I never saw one though, but my mother did. I still get anxiety during severe storms. Part of me loves storm energy and my inner child is like "we're all gonna die!!" One of the things I loved was making "witches brew" after storms, collecting the debris, plant material, and putting it in murky water. When I made my first batch of Florida Water, it took me back to that place as a child. I spent a lot of time outdoors traipsing through wooded areas collecting arrowheads that we would find making forts out of tree branches and limbs.
The second house we lived in was previously owned by a family whose daughter died in a tragic car accident, she was in a car on a foggy night with friends and they stopped at the train tracks because a train was coming, but didn't know the car was partially on the tracks and they were struck by the train and killed. My bedroom was her bedroom and I felt her spirit or ghost. Children can be more aware of these things than adults. I don't know if I ever told my parents about it. One of my earliest spiritual beliefs was in past lives and reincarnation. I don't know where I would have stumbled upon the concept as a child especially in the Catholic church, but it always made sense to me. I used to have waking visions and dreams of past lives throughout my childhood of a young girl named Camille Christiana Peacock and flashes of her life and death. I think she may have drowned. I have the details all written down somewhere in my vast archives of writing. I don't think I told my parents about that either though I remember telling some friends about them in grade school or junior high.
At some point in time, given the lack of Northerners of Eastern European descent, my family converted from Byzantine Catholicism to Roman Catholicism and I started going to Catholic school in the third grade. Given the lack of cultural diversity, there was a Jewish family in our parish because they probably were the only Jewish family in that part of Georgia. I was interested in the stories, but I was one of those kids with a lot of questions and I wanted concrete answers to them.
I always felt like I was a child that was born as an adult. I wasn't overly interested in childhood things and hated being a child. My favorite movies were Grease 2 and Rock N' Roll High School. I still stand by my stance on Grease 2 being vastly superior to the original. I watched MTV from its inception and that for me was when my whole world changed. We ended up moving back to Pennsylvania in the Summer of 1984 and that's where the story will pick up in the next installment.
I pride myself in being open about my struggles with mental health issues because suffering in silence benefits no one and further emboldens the stigma around mental illness. While my depression and anxiety issues are under control outside of occasional situational reactions, I do struggle with ADHD on a regular basis. I was twice misdiagnosed as bipolar because the ADHD symptoms mimic those of mania without the psychosis, mood swings, or delusions. I was on Adderall for seven years, but switched to a non stimulant medication called Straterra in June when I was dealing with chronic insomnia due to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Sadly, it seems that the Straterra is no longer working effectively because I have become more erratic, bouncing between hyperfocus and inertia, having several conversations at the same time, forgetting things, and having lapses in short and medium term memories. Oddly enough, my long term memory is pretty detailed and epic.
I've always been a creative person as a result I went to art school and pretty much took classes in every major (except interior design) over the years. Eventually, I graduated with a BFA in Studio Art (mostly photography) and Art History. I also did a year in grad school for photography as well. My adult life is pretty much a stream of endless ideas, to do lists, half finished things, random explorations into new shiny things, revisiting said half finished things, more new ideas, expanded to do lists and so on and so forth. I'm surprised that I get as much done as I do all things considered.
At the beginning of 2019 (or maybe later 2018) one of my said to-do lists was to great a pagan product line. I'm working on other blog posts chronically my own personal journey and how witchcraft fits into who I am and what I do. This may take months to do or I will write them all one afternoon. My focus and creativity spurts are hard to predict. I honestly can't make something or won't write if I am not in the mood to do it. This is also why my product releases are all over the place, one week its all ritual oils, the next its soaps, ritual powders, more oils, and random things that came about at the spur of the moment after that who knows? It really depends on the week. I spent most of April and May making shampoo bars and outside of the new ones I created for Halloween and the Winter Holidays. I haven't made any since then. Making soaps and shampoo bars are one of those things I have to be in the mood to do, so I tend to work on them for a few weeks and then don't make any for months. Again, I am hard to predict that way.
I realized that while I have extensive documentation that it is pure chaos. Most of it is in my Google Drive in various documents of ideas and formulations, some is in my book of shadows, and the rest is in multiple notebooks, scrap paper, and post it notes. It can sometimes take me months to do something after I have formulated it. I am always working on numerous products at the same time and often have a backlog to work through I currently have formulated over 20 new botanical blends (including an Imbolc and New Years Intention one I did today), 10+ ritual herb blends, a few more bath salts and bubble baths, more ritual oils, a years worth of monthly subscription box themes and corresponding products, 10+ new kits and collections, several more incense blends, a couple more soaps, flying ointments, candles, spell bottles (which I just decided to reclassify as witchy decor), perfumes, botanical perfume hair mists, two new herbal hair rinses, and a bunch of other stuff that I am forgetting.
I am inspired by my experiences, things I see, and people because that is the nature of creativity, but everything I do is based upon my own research, my own creativity, and extensive education and training in my field, which includes numerous Aromatherapy certifications and courses, Herbalism, Perfuming, Incense Crafting, Soap Making, and skin care formulation. These are the building blocks of my products. I have an extensive home apothecary of herbs, flowers, dried fruit, oddities, essential oils, perfuming aroma chemicals and fragrance oils, carrier oils, colorants, salts, soap making supplies, candle making supplies, jewelry supplies, and random things I buy for projects as I go. For instance, I have bags of those wooden coffin boxes they sell at craft stores around Halloween. I stocked up because I know that I will use them for something at some point.
I'm doing my best to function and get through each day without forgetting basic things like eating or brushing my teeth. I'm literally at the point of decorating my house with post it notes until my medications get adjusted again. It can take me up to two weeks after I've made something to design the product labels, label & package them, photograph new products, figure out the wholesale/retail pricing, and finally list them on my website, Etsy, and Amazon Handmade. I recently started using a social media scheduler to post new products to my social media because I kept forgetting to do it. Though, I occasionally post progress shots to my personal Facebook and Instagram.
As my best friend said to me 20 years ago with regards to my online writing: "a sentence ought not read like a car chase," but, that is how my brain works. At least, I have gotten better at writing and editing and often have to read what I wrote several times to make sure that it makes sense or that I am elucidating myself clearly and also I realize that I've missed crucial details or remembered something after the fact that I now have to work into what I wrote. That pretty much sums up my current state of being - its messy, erratic, forgetful, and there is candle wax everywhere.
Halloween is a tradition passed down from the Celtic pagan celebration of Samhain (pronounced Sowen) which marked the end of the harvest and transition into winter, which was often associated with death. It is said that on Halloween that the veil between the worlds thins allowing the dead to communicate with the living realm. This became a time of great celebration with ornate costumes and divination or fortune-telling. The traditions were mostly predominant in European countries (or those colonized by Europeans.) In the United States, Halloween didn't take foothold until the mid-to-late 1800s with the influx of Irish immigrants during the Potato Famine. Also, at this time trick or treating was incorporated into Halloween celebrations.
5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween/Samhain:
Halloween is a magical time for all who celebrate, whether it is a sacred day of group or solitary rituals and spellcasting, trick or treating with the kids, or going to a lavish party. Find the magic in the little things and celebrate!
I've been steeped in research on how plants, flowers, earth, resins, oils, and other materials are used in magickal practices throughout different traditions. Its a lot more esoteric than the standard therapeutic approach, but it has been a wonderful exploration into plant lore and folk magic.
Smudging has become a popular practice in recent years used to remove negative energies from the home and other personal spaces, but its origins come from the Indigenous people of North America. It is important to remember that smudging ceremonies were sacred rituals to the Indigenous people and furthermore that until 1978, they could be jailed or even killed because it was illegal for them to practice their religion. There are also issues of sustainability due to the over-harvesting of White Sage in particular due to the uptick in popularity. Is Burning Sage Cultural Appropriation? Here’s How To Smoke Cleanse In Sensitive Ways is an eye opening look at the practice of smudging and its origins and implications.
Many other plants and herbs have protective and purifying properties that can be used to spiritually cleanse the home and other personal spaces. These herbs can be burned as incense, carried in sachets or charms, their essential oils could be diffused or used to create an energy cleansing spray, or they could be placed in offering bowls.
Here are my Top 10 Choices for alternatives to sage for energy cleansing.
Other materials that are excellent for their protective and cleansing properties: activated charcoal, baking soda, sea salt, coconut milk, egg shell powder, and vinegar.
I use a fair amount of sage in my aromatic creations including incense, sachets, charms, and infused oils, but I am cognizant of its meaning, place, and origin in spiritual practices. There are numerous other plants, flowers, herbs, resins, and natural materials that provide the same level of protection as sage. As always be mindful of practices and traditions especially as they become more mainstream, as many have been impacted by the legacy of colonialism and oppression.
I starting writing this blog post back in May when I saw articles and blog posts referencing a new class action lawsuit against Young Living accusing them of operating an illegal pyramid scheme. I read through the entire class action lawsuit and wanted to write about my experience having attempted to sell essential oils through Young Living casually for a year before I moved on to become a certified aromatherapist and started my own independent aromatherapy business, which has been a far more lucrative endeavor.
What experience do you need to sell essential oils for Young Living or doTERRA? ZERO. Buying a starter kit is pretty much it and then you rely on the companies marketing to provide "education" on how to use the oils and how to get other people to buy them too. I cannot emphasize enough the danger of millions of uneducated people using essential oils unsafely. Wintergreen (99% methyl salicyate) is great for pain relief, but did you know if a small child ingests a teaspoon of Wintergreen essential oil, they could in fact die and that is not some aromatherapist scare tactic, there are reported cases of deaths due to methyl salicylate poisoning. This is why professional aromatherapists educate themselves through certification programs and continue to investigate new information as it becomes available.
Young Living and doTERRA are both cult-like organizations. I’m not going to lie, there are definite cult-like aspects to Young Living and doTERRA. It's not a 100% across the board blanket statement and varies dramatically depending on your upline groups. I’ve met many wonderful people through my former Young Living upline and crosslines. However, I find that their marketing is treated like doctrine ignoring actual scientific facts and claiming to be beyond reproach. They espouse many unsafe practices that are practiced without question even when evidence proving the contrary is provided, which I have written about on this blog previously.
It starts out as a fun community of essential oil enthusiasts espousing empowerment and the business opportunity of abundance and prosperity.... and then it just gets weird and icky. If you question anything or offer scientific perspectives on safety you get shunned or chided because the company is above the law, no questions asked. Just to clarify, doTERRA was formed out of Young Living so they espouse many of the same things. The founder of Young Living, Gary Young was a fraudulent scam artist with a dubious past, but he was also genius for creating a billion dollar MLM company. I get the feeling that Gary Young is the L. Ron Hubbard of essential oils.
How do essential oil distributors and wellness advocates make money? In my experience, selling premium starter kits is really the only way that you can make consistent commissions with a new member bonus plus 25% of their sales for the first three months. It then drops to like 3%. So 3% of a $100 order is $3.00. You need a hefty downline that also sells oils in addition to their monthly orders to make any money off that. My best month selling oils, I made $150.00. Which was a drop in the bucket compared to my essential rewards order that month. Personally, I found the starter kit oils to be a little underwhelming you get a few single oils and then a bunch of their proprietary blends. The vast majority of education comes from uplines educating their members on the starter kit oils.
In order to receive compensation, you have to be a member of the Essential Rewards program and order a minimum of $100 or 100PV of products every month. Now, if you are actively using the oils, this really isn’t a big deal especially given their cost. $100 could buy you a 15ml bottle of Frankincense and Lavender, not dozens of products or oils that would sit on a shelf. If you use the oils, then it's really not a waste of money outside of them being overpriced. I don’t fault anyone in my upline because all of this was made clear to me and I loved experimenting with new oils every month. I still do that on a regular basis with other essential oil companies, I buy new oils that I have never used to experiment with for my own personal enjoyment.
In addition to having people in your downline, you will also need to have a portion of them selling essential oils as well. Organizational Group Volume is the total value assigned to the products bought by your downline group that determines your rank. So for the first rank of Star, you need to have 500 OGV, so all the people under you need to order about $500 a month combined EVERY MONTH to hold that rank. If you miss it a month, you lose the rank. The OGV goes up exponentially with each additional rank. In order to reach the highest rank, you would need a downline of 15,000 people ordering a minimum of $100 every month. According to the class action lawsuit, there are 46 people who have made it to this rank. It is not to say that reaching the higher level ranks is impossible, I know quite a few people who have done so successfully.
By the way, If you make less than $25 in commission you do not get a check or direct deposit, you get an account credit to spend on more products.
Use more, sell more, make more money.... Young Living and doTERRA's oils and products are some of the most expensive on the market, mostly due to having to compensate upline and downline commissions combined with the cost of owning some of their own farms. I spent a lot of money on their oils and they do push overusing them. I used to go through a 15ml bottle of Lavender every month and now I have not purchased a single bottle of Lavender in over a year. I always wondered, if their oils were so pure, why you would have to use so much of them to get any benefits? Something doesn’t add up there. One would think if you made a Rum and Coke with 90% rum and 10% coke that you would not need to drink as many as if you had a 50/50 mix, but I digress. I don't feel like I lost money per se, but their oils are vastly overpriced and there is no governing body determining whether or not they are "the most pure", " the only this or that", or "therapeutic grade." Those claims are nothing more than clever marketing language.
The Allure of Abundance I had difficulty recruiting members because the vast majority of people I know are anti-MLM. These companies will tell you they are different and in some ways they are, but you really need to know what you are getting in to so you don't get in over your head. You might think, okay I’ll invest X amount of money into the business because once I reach Silver I’ll be making $3,000 a month, which is the high end of the Silver compensation plan estimated income. The allure of all the higher ranking perks like being flown to Ecuador or go on a cruise or visit their Lavender farm in Utah makes the pursuit of selling the oils seem highly appealing. If you never reach that rank, you may have spent thousands of dollars in the process without making that money back. But, if you are actively using the oils and products that would lessen the blow. They use the promise of abundance and prosperity to lure in more members.
Since I started writing this post back in May, I am in the process of canceling my Young Living membership and have completely extracted myself from all Young Living Facebook groups. The final nail in the coffin for me was the highest ranking leader in my direct upline started espousing a lot of radical anti-vaxxer opinions and countless other members lauded their courage and lock stepped right into that dangerous mode of thinking that essential oils are a cure all for everything. This here folks, is what a cult looks like... unquestioning mindless devotion that is beyond reproach and anyone who questions or offers alternatives is the enemy. Be informed, do your research, and get out before you get in over your head.
It's that time of year when faculty, administrative staff, and students of all ages from grade school to PhD candidates come back from summer break. I work at an Ivy League university by day and have relished the quiet days over the summer when most of the students and faculty are not around. I've worked in higher education since 2005 so I am keenly aware of the academic cycle and the challenges and stresses it brings each year. No matter where you are in your academic studies or carrier, you will surely encounter varying levels of stress.
Stress is one of the most popular reasons people turn to aromatherapy -- that's how I started using essential oils in 2011. Aromatherapy and stress management systems can help people identify their sources of stress and responses so that they can begin to peel back the layers in order to understand the physical manifestations of stress. Everyone reacts and responds to stress differently and it can be triggered by anything, but one you get to know your stress responses then you can learn how to navigate them.
Incorporating aromatic products as a basis of support helps to "click the reset button" on stress triggers and responses. It may be helpful for some to mindmap their stress to visually map out stress triggers, responses, and physical manifestations. When you creating a visual map to help you connect the dots between the stressors in your life, you will peel back the layers and decode your triggers, allowing you to redesign your body and mind’s responses to stress. This is an interactive approach to visualizing all of the stressors in your life and how they relate to each other. This can serve as a visual reminder to help you identify and become more self-aware of the stress in your life.
The goal of incorporating aromatherapy along with mindmapping your stress will help you to redesign your overall reactions and responses by rewiring our brains through the incorporation of aromatic products into as a mechanism to stave off stress and to overwrite responses and physical manifestations.
Aromatherapy Inhalers are a great way to target acute stress responses. They are discrete and easy to use, remove the cap and gently inhale into each nostril when feeling stressed, anxious, nervous or to feel more grounded and present throughout the day. Aromatherapy Inhalers work best when used regularly. Visit our Aromatherapy Inhalers shop.
Stress can manifest in different ways trouble sleeping, nervousness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, digestive issues, excessive thinking, comfort eating, and retail therapy. Using aromatherapy inhalers gives you a direct inhalation experience as opposed to passive diffusion through typical aromatherapy diffusers. We don't have to be held prisoner to stress anymore.
an eclectic witch, certified aromatherapist, herbalist, perfumer, skincare formulator, and incense crafter who specializes in unique creating handcrafted perfumes, bath products, skincare products, soaps, shampoo bars, aromatherapy products, incense blends, ritual oils, botanical charms, candles, and ritual and spell supplies.