Season One Replay continues with an interview with one of my favorite Denver herbalists, Monticue Connally. His approach to herbalism (and life) is inspiring to anyone that appreciates the spiritual side of the work.
Samhain, or Halloween is the perfect time to sit back with a steaming cup of tea to listen to this episode about working with herbs and spirits. Monticue gifts us with him rapping too!
Today we celebrate Samhain, a day between times, where the Celts celebrated the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. It is the feast of the dead, a time of the thin veil, where spirits, ghosts and beings of other worlds walk among us. To appease them, remember to leave food and drink offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead.”
Today is also known as witches day. An auspicious day where medicine made is very strong as it is infused with all the celestial energy of timeless space. Add herbs and spices of the season to honor the coming dark, cold time.
Some of my favorites herbs for Samhain are the warm carminative spices of ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I decoct the spices with freshly harvested roots of dandelion, yellowdock, and angelica for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and throw in a pinch of mugwort leaves to help with dreamspace and astral travel. Sip throughout the night as you celebrate the spirits around and within you.
We are getting close to the spirit times of Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos. I blend all of these traditions together and usually have an altar dedicated to those friends, families, and pets that have passed away. I will also dress up (usually concepts or themes, not something specific), eat dead bread, and drink hot apple cider.
I love this week because it’s also when I bust out my warm winter spices. I can finally indulge in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger without odd looks from those with a warm constitution. I begin to eat more butternut squash and pumpkin, and think of all the ways I can ingest the color orange.
One of my favorite recipes is to make orange sugar (thank you Greg & Elaine!). It’s super easy, just grate the peel of a few tangerines or oranges and mix evenly with coconut or raw sugar. The sugar becomes tinged with orange and it makes a delicious addition to any pie, latte, or hot tea. I love to add it to my hot spiced cider too!
Orange Sugar Cider
4 cups of Apple Cider
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cloves
Gently simmer all ingredients for 15 minutes. Take off heat and add 2 tsp of the orange peel sugar. Strain out herbs if you didn’t use powdered. Enjoy a mug of spiced cider by a warm fireplace or cuddled up with a loved one.
Halloween has deep roots in Celtic tradition as being Samhain (end of summer) and this day initiates the dark half of the year.
It is a time to communicate with the deceased as they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands. Hints of the tradition remain as we dress up in costume and have parties and bonfires and tell stories of the dead.
Around this time I like to set up altars for my loved ones that have passed. It is especially important for those that have passed in the last year, as their spirits may still be in between world. On these altar, I burn pine, frankincense, and copal and I send prayers of good will up with the smoke. I place water, flowers, fruit and other treats to give them strength to move past the land of the living and embrace the realm of the dead.
For fun, I do like to dress up, eat pumpkin pastries and drink strongly spiced apple cider (both strong with spices and with spirits).
How are you going to celebrate this haunting Halloween?