It’s another snow day around here. Big fluffy snowflakes slowly make their way to the ground, twirling in the wind, covering the earth with their white blanket. It’s February. St. Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Whether you acknowledge this day or not, we can always have a little more self-love. This is my intent, anyways. As I am writing this post, something magical is simmering away on the stove, filling the space with the aroma of rose, cinnamon, star anise, clove. It’s Rose Hawthorn Elixir in the making. It’s a feast for the senses from breathing in the soft, aromatic steam of the decoction to the spicy warmth and relaxation circulating through the body when you finally taste the potion a few weeks later. It gets better with the passage of time.
Roses, just like the matters of the heart, can be both intoxicating and thorny. Roses enchant, but also guard their beauty. Medicinally, they have anti-hypertensive, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory actions. They calm the nerves. Energetically, roses enchant the heart and help cope with stress, grief, negative emotions and heartbreak.
”In hawthorn-time the heart grows light.” ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne, Tale of Balen.
Hawthorn has a rich history as a protector of the heart. It is known for its ability to strengthen the heart, sooth it, and ease a heartbreak. Hawthorn is rich in flavonoids, which are beneficial to the cardiovascular system. Numerous studies show that hawthorn supports general cardiac performance to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, fatigue, and palpitations. In addition to heart benefits, hawthorn also helps digestion. People taking heart medications such as digitalis and beta blockers should consult with a doctor before taking hawthorn medicinally due to its blood-thinning action.
While your decoction is simmering away, it may be a fun idea to take this time to journal or meditate on the notion of self-love. What does self-love mean to you? What actions and habits encourage self-love? What takes away from it? What would you like to affirm when you take a sip of your elixir?
The elixir uses Brandy, but you can turn it into a syrup without any alcohol by using a full cup of honey. Store it in the refrigerator. It should last around 6 months (although it is consumed much faster around here). Add it to desserts or sparkling water to create a non-alcoholic mocktail.
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried rose petals
1 tablespoon hibiscus flowers (they add beautiful red color in addition to the medicinal benefits)
1 tablespoon of dried hawthorn berries
½ tablespoon of dried rose hips
½ teaspoon of dried ginger root
½ teaspoon of cinnamon chips (I prefer chips to powder, which is hard to strain away). A piece of cinnamon stick will work too.
1 star anise
1 allspice berry
1 vanilla bean cut lengthwise (I make my own vanilla bean extract so I just add a teaspoon of it along with the brandy and honey)
½ cup of raw honey
1 cup of Brandy
Combine hawthorn berries, rose hips, ginger, vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, allspice berry and star anise in 2 cups of water, bring to boil and gently simmer for about 45 minutes to reduce in half.
Add dried rose petals and hibiscus flowers after you remove the liquid from heat and let them steep for 10-15 minutes while the liquid is cooling.
Strain the liquid through cheesecloth.
Add honey and Brandy to 1 cup of the decocted and strained liquid.
Shake well and put away for at least 24 hours, but better 2-4 weeks. The flavors will blend and develop overtime.
Mix well before each use as the elixir may separate. Take a teaspoon for the heart benefit, add it to desserts or mix with sparkling water for an herbal cocktail. Enjoy!