Making my first salve and, later, my first tincture were empowering events in my life. Not that either was so astounding in and of itself, being more like everyday cooking than rocket science. I loved the alchemy involved: experiencing these beloved herbs from my garden mix with the proper solvents and turn into medicine. I loved the connection to my ancestors, like reaching out and grasping onto the hands of a long lineage of medicine men and women. I loved the deep satisfaction of self-sufficiency. And, yes, a part of me relished thumbing my nose at corporate America. I caught an idealistic glimpse of never having to buy medicines or body care products again. I wouldn’t need any drugstore again—I would provide for my family.
I felt gratified giving my friends and relatives these preparations. It warmed my heart and stirred me on to hear that my salve was helping Uncle Hank’s hemorrhoids and that another salve helped a friend’s draft horse to heal after a bad leg wound. Honestly, making the salves was easy, but they were received with a bit of awe. That a mere mortal could produce a healing medicine in her own kitchen! “Don’t you need to get approval from the doctor?” “What will the FDA say?” I was tasting blessed freedom and loving every minute of it.
The pleasure of growing echinacea and harvesting in accord with the moon was not what made preparing that first tincture so special to me. Nor was it taking flower, leaf, and root into the kitchen to make them into a highly effectiveimmune enhancer for my family. Nor would I say that the daily singing and offering of healing prayers when shaking the extraction jar did it. Certainly all this was deeply satisfying. Yet the very best thing, deep down in my soul, was the feeling that, yes, now I really am a medicine woman.