Botanicals

Introducing Smoulder Sticks

We have decided to rename our handcrafted herb bundles that we have so far been referring to as ‘smudge sticks’.

We have spent a lot of time thinking about this and wanted to give some background as to why we have come to this decision.

As we have discussed in previous posts, burning plants to release an aromatic, beneficial smoke has been carried out across cultures for thousands of years. It would have been the earliest form of aromatherapy with methods and motivations for use varying across the world.

The term ‘smudging’ refers to a specific Indigenous American tradition, where herbs particularly Sage and Cedar are used in sacred cleansing ceremonies. In recent decades, this term has been adopted in Western spirituality, and the burning of Sage in particular has gained popularity.

This increase in popularity, has also seen an increase in the trade of sacred herbs, such as White Sage and Palo Santo, both of which have become over harvested and are now considered to be endangered.

Offering people sustainable plant alternatives is extremely important to us, as is sharing the benefits of connecting with plants on a daily basis. We only ever use herbs that we have grown ourselves organically or gathered from the wild in a responsible way. With so much wildlife depending on our plants, we work seasonally, using plants readily abundant during that season and follow responsible foraging guidelines.

We have been inspired by what we have learned about Smudging ceremonies, as well as other ancient burning practices and when originally naming our bundles ‘smudge sticks’ did so in a respectful way, to honour this sacred practice. However the more we have learned about the specific nature of a smudging ceremony and the increase in the exploitation of these sacred herbs, the more we felt ready to create a new name for our own herb bundles.

We have loved finding out about the variety of ways people have been using our sticks in their own lives. Sometimes for cleansing, often during mindfulness and meditation practices to help calm the mind, and some people choosing not to burn them at all, enjoying the energy of the plants in a different way.

After some thought we settled with the name ‘smoulder’ stick, meaning ‘to burn slowly with smoke but no fire’. It feels as though this word describes its action so well. So in celebration of our new name, we will be listing some lovely limited edition smoulder sticks, and how you choose to work with them is completely up to you!

Botanicals

Yarrow and Rose bud Smudge Sticks

Yarrow feels especially abundant this year. This delicate yet mighty wildflower has been used extensively in herbal medicine due to its wealth of therapeutic properties. Ruled by Venus, Yarrow has also long been entwined with myth and magic. Perhaps most notably, the belief that if a handful of the plant was placed under a pillow, it would reveal a person’s future love mate within a dream.

Burning Yarrow is thought to bring courage, dispel fear and heal deep wounds. These qualities seemed to lend themselves to the creation on a Smudge Stick to encourage feelings of self love, connection and heart healing. Teamed with a whole rose bud to offer gentle nurturing and healing, Mallow flowers to protect and Lavender and wild Chamomile to ground, relax and help us to open our hearts.

This was a wonderful team of plants to work with. There are just two of these beauties now available in our Etsy shop.

*As of 20/08/20 we have changed the name of our sticks to ‘Smoulder sticks.’ You can read more about our decision regarding this here.

Botanicals

Why burn plants?

Before we had the technology to extract the essential oils from plants, burning leaves, flowers, roots and resins would have been the earliest and simplest forms of aromatherapy (the use of aromatic plant extracts for healing). The practice of burning dried plants has been carried out extensively across cultures, often but not always in connection with religious and spiritual practices.

When we burn herbs an aromatic smoke is released containing many of the beneficial compounds of the plant itself. Research suggests that burning is a fast and effective method for delivering the therapeutic properties to an individual, with different plants offering a rich variety of benefits. One study noted a 95% reduction of airborne bacteria in a room after burning a mixture of aromatic herbs with Mango or Pipal wood for an hour. A reduction of bacteria in the room was still noted up to 30 days after the burning.

As well as the therapeutic benefits that we obtain from the plant itself, the process of burning may well have its own healing benefits. Fire has long been associated with transforming energy from one state to another. Using fire imagery, or burning something can give us a sense of change, transformation or release.

Using a herb bundle combines the healing properties of the plants themselves with the transformative energy of fire. As with all forms of medicine, it is important to ensure it connects with you personally. Plants are powerful, and some people experience side effects to some plants. We always recommend doing your own research and introducing new plants gently.

We are excited to offer a new selection of smoulder sticks that will be available from our shop this week.

*As of 20/08/20 we have changed the name of our sticks to ‘Smoulder sticks.’ You can read more about our decision regarding this here.

Astrological

Harvesting with the Moon


The moon’s gravitational pull influences many things on our planet, but perhaps most notably the rise and fall of the ocean’s tides. It is less well known however, that the same gravitational pull affects groundwater levels. The concept of aligning gardening with the moon phase is as old as agriculture itself. It is believed that as the moon is waxing towards the full moon, groundwater rises up, providing good conditions for planting. No dig gardener Charles Dowding has conducted a number of small studies comparing the yield of crops planted under the waxing and waning moon. So far, he has shown that crop yield in a variety of veg has been higher when planting with the waxing moon.

As the moon wanes its gravitational pull weakens. Groundwater it thought to fall during this period making it a good time to harvest plants. The sap is drawn downwards so sap loss is minimised if cut during this time. This is thought to speed up healing in the plant but also means plants dry out more quickly once harvested.
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We commonly harvest our herbs during the waning moon cycle. This cycle, we have harvested Goldenrod, Meadowsweet and well as some lovely flowering Marjoram for upcoming smudge sticks.

Botanicals

The magic of Goldenrod

It is lovely to watch the flowers that you have planted grow, but it is extra special when they find their own way into your garden themselves, which is exactly what happened with some Goldenrod this year.

Goldenrod is known to be richer in antioxidants than green tea. Its Latin name, Solidago translates as ‘to make whole or heal’ and reflects its long use in herbal medicine. It has superb anti inflammatory action and pain relieving qualities thought to help arthritis, cold and flu symptoms and bladder & kidney problems.
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Its sunny colour produces a beautiful natural dye, and attracts much life to its nectar rich, sweet smelling flowers.
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In folklore, Goldenrod is thought to bring luck and prosperity, especially when planted near the front door (even luckier when it self seeds) so you can see the many reasons I am happy it has found it’s way into our garden this year!

We have so far enjoyed it fresh in an antioxidant rich tea, and are weaving it into some prosperity and abundance smudge sticks that will be listed in our shop once dried. As always we are leaving the majority to be enjoyed by our precious wildlife.

Foraging

Nutritious little Nettle Seeds

One of the very many things I love about foraging, is how there are always new plants (or new parts of a plant) to discover and enjoy. One of my favourite discoveries of last year were Nettle seeds! Despite having collected Nettles leaves often for cooking up like spinach or drying out for teas, I hadn’t thought about collecting the seeds, that are abundant on the plant at this time of year.

I first stumbled across an article written by the wonderful herbalist Brigit Anna McNeill highlighting the nutritional benefits of these tiny seeds and the strengthening affect they can have on our adrenal glands and other organs. These seeds hold a wealth of vitamins and minerals just like their leaves, and are very rich in essential fatty acids – nutrition for the skin, hair and brain.

The seeds are ready to harvest when their clusters hang downwards, heavy on their stems rather than sticking up or outright whilst they are still growing. Nettle seeds can be eaten fresh or dry and can be sprinkled on near enough anything, from smoothies, cereal, salads and soups.

Last week, we carefully foraged for some, collecting clumps of the seeds from different nettle plants only where they were in abundance. After leaving them to dry out for a few days, we pushed the clumps of seeds (removed from the main Nettle stem) through a sieve and into a glass jar. This process separates them from their stems, ready to be stored and enjoyed all year round.


Botanicals

Smudge Stick Crafting

I love this time of year. Our herbs are bursting with life, energy and aroma. We have a new addition to our herb garden this year – a beautiful purple Sage. Tonight, I have been crafting up some fresh smudge sticks ready to dry out for orders. They include fresh and dried Lavender that is scenting the whole house. Bay leaves, the divine purple Sage and wild Rose petals dried from last year. These Smudge Sticks are intended to offer peace of mind and clarity. You can find out more about purchasing them here.

*As of 20/08/20 we have changed the name of our sticks to ‘Smoulder sticks.’ You can read more about our decision regarding this here.



General

Welcome to Wild Fen

Welcome to our website. We are Nicola and Chris and we created Wild Fen to celebrate our love for the natural world and the abundance that she offers, both in terms of inspiration and resources. We have both been studying and enjoying nature for most of our lives. This has evolved in many ways including growing our own organic herbs and plants, foraging wild edibles, concocting natural products and capturing the beauty of nature through photography and artwork. You can read more about our journey here.

This site will be a space to record our recipes, sell our creations and share inspiration with others.