Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Herbal Ally Challenge #12: Make a Salve

The next challenge is to use some of your oil to make a salve. Salves are great for applying your ally where you need him without a huge mess. They are compact and can be traveled with easily and ready to use when the fresh herb isn’t around. 
Assignment 1:
Read a few different perspectives on salve making:
Healing Wise by Susun Weed pages 273. Similar excerpt can be found at this online article: Be Your Own Herbal Expert part 6 by Susun Weed 
Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech pages 87 - 88 (Second part of Chapter 10)
The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook by James Green Chapter 18: Ointments, Salves & Balms pages 201 - 208 (click to see online...5 pages are missing from this version)
Assignment 2:
Make a salve using any oil(s) you have previously infused with your ally. If you have an oil for each part of the plant, make a salve out of each.
To make a salve, you will need your infused oils, beeswax and vitamin E. You can purchase vitamin E capsules at your local drugstore. You’ll only need a few drops. 
Measure your oil and place it in the top of a double burner. For every 4 parts oil, add 1 part beeswax. For instance if you have 4 oz. of oil, you’ll add 1 oz. of beeswax. 
Gently heat until the beeswax is melted. Dip a teaspoon into the salve and bring out, shake off. Let it set up either at room temperature or in the freezer for quicker results. When it has hardened, you can tell how thick the salve is. If you think it’s going to be too hard, add a bit more oil. If you’d like it harder, add a bit more beeswax. It will become a bit harder than it is on the spoon so keep that in mind when you make any adjustments. 
When it is the consistency you want it, use the tip of a sharp knife to poke a hole in the vitamin E capsule and squeeze it into the salve. Stir and pour your salve into a wide mouthed jar or metal container. 
Assignment 3:
Journal any thoughts you have on salve making. Write about why you think salves will be a good mix with your herbal ally (or why not).

Take a moment to write down any uses you might have for a salve with your herb. Does he have an affinity for muscles? If so, he may be useful for rubbing on sore muscles after a long day in the garden. Does he stop bleeding? Then his salve is a great addition to the first aid kit to staunch bleeding. Salves can be used for healing sore or damaged muscles, nerves, bones, cuts, stings, insect bites, animal bites, diaper rash, mild burns and much more. 
After making a list of the obvious uses for your salve, make a second list of possible uses for the salve, whether or not you have ever read about the oil being used for these ailments. Part of exploring your ally is to learn new things, so trial and error will help you discover new uses.
Assignment 4:
Continue meditating with your plant and journal your experiences. Note any changes to your plant in size, color, bloom cycle, etc. Pay attention to your ally’s journey of life. You’ll want to continue doing this throughout the lifecycle of your ally.
Assignment 5:
Catch up on any other Challenges you’ve fallen behind in. It’s always good to go back and review what you’ve been doing just to refresh your memory. 

Herbal Ally Updates and Survey

I apologize for the lack of Herbal Ally updates. Spring is catching up with me!

I promise to continue offering them and I will have the next one posted shortly. In the meantime, I wanted to take a survey for those participating in the Challenges. If you could answer the questions in comments, that would be helpful for me.

1. How often do you feel you can manage to get a new challenge? once a week, once every 2 weeks, once a month? What pace works best for you?

2. Do you feel you are benefitting from the amount of challenge that is offered each time? Is it too much? Not enough? Anything I could improve upon?

3. Are there any specific challenges you'd like to see offered/covered in the future? Do the challenges seem balanced enough between the emotional/creative side and the practical/knowledge side?

4. Would you be interested in creating a challenge and offering it on your blog as sort of a herbal ally challenge blog post party, similar to past herbal blog posting parties? This is an idea Ananda suggested as a way to help me out when I get to bogged down to do the challenges myself: different people would volunteer to post upcoming challenges, either those they made up or from a list I'd provide.

5. How would you feel if the challenge took that direction and was co-hosted?

6. Anything else you'd like to add, suggest or say?

I truly appreciate your feedback on this! I want this challenge to continue and I have enjoyed doing what I've offered so far, I just feel I am letting everyone down by not being able to post them in a timely manner at the moment. Please be honest, you won't hurt my feelings! This is exactly why I started the challenge because I knew if I didn't host it publicly, I'd personally not follow through. :) I am thrilled so many have joined in and I don't want to let you down!
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