I am always ecstatic when I get to meet a new plant – an energetic signature that I’ve never felt growing in-between my hands before, new opportunities to crouch down and disappear in fields of golden hypericum blossoms and listen to the humming bees and the song of Wundkraut (among her many, many other names!)
St. Joan’s Wort (or St. John’s as it is more commonly called in the US) is found in herbal formulas for depression and anxiety, hormonal imbalance, and immune support (like these) and is a powerful pain reliever when applied topically in salves and ointments.
How did I meet this wonder plant? A fellow herbalist took me to a secret and magical hillside in the mountains that was literally a blanket of golden flowers shimmering in the morning sun. We tiptoed through the meadow, hypericum up to our knees, and made silent offerings of oil, and prayers of gratitude. Then, with freshly sharpened shears, we approached healthy-looking and unoccupied (meaning no spiders, ladybugs, caterpillars or bees were using this particular plant for food or shelter) plants and asked for her permission to harvest. My 5 year old son is in the habit of asking the plants, “May I pick you?” I quietly ask, “Are you good medicine?” Sometimes she says yes, other times no. At all times we honor the voices of the plants and the spirit of the earth.
To harvest, I hold gently 6 to 8 inches from the flowering tops and cut at a 45 degree angle just below the closest node. This does not completely destroy the plant (unless you are harvesting roots) and allows the plant to regenerate where it has been cut. The harvested top immediately goes into the paper bag, and of course, we always say thank you.
When Spirit whispers in your ear that you are done harvesting (or when the bag is full) it’s time to stop. We sat for several minutes warming in the morning sun, and smiling softly with deep gratitude for the powerful medicines that nature offers us freely.
Since I’ve never worked directly with freshly harvested St. Joan’s Wort, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it. My herbalist friend recommended allowing it to sit in the paper bag for a couple of days to let the moisture of the plant evaporate. Now that I’ve read up a bit and consulted fellow herbalists Kate Miller of Alpine Botanicals and Astrid Grove of Red Earth Herbal Gathering I’ve decided to dry some, put some up in organic olive oil, and the rest goes into a tincture with organic, gluten-free vodka.
Stay tuned to learn how and when to use hypericum perforatum for greater health and well-being!
Do you use St. Joan’s Wort for yourself or your family? Let us know your favorite herbal formula or use!