Lavande • Lavendre• Lavandula⠀
Honey bee, bumble bee, digger bee, carpenter bee, leafcutter bee⠀
Medicinal parts used: ⠀
Teas, tinctures, essential oil, spice for cooking/baking, hydrosols, lotions and ointments, ⠀
I will never forget the way it hit me. Like a physical bath of scent. We arrived in Sainte-Croix-à-Lauze just as dusk descended. The crickets were declaring the glories of summer, while fireflies emerged to secret the sun away into the night. It was heaven. I got high. Quite literally, the scent of lavender so engulfed me, that I sort of lost it for a bit. I was a mess of giggles and wonder. A friend and I have meandered our way through Provence to the tiniest town in the Hautes-Alpes. There wasn’t even a cafe. It was just an old, stoney town with one central spring, and on all sides, Lavender. Fields and fields and fields of the heaviest, sweetest scent I had ever experienced.
My mother grows lavender. Heaps of it. It lines the apiary and turns dry and grey-violet each summer. It’s absolutely lovely. I cut bunches of it for making oils, sachets and wall hangings. This was NOT that lavender. This was otherworldly. I thought I knew lavender. This was something else. This gave me superpowers. This was a soup of scent. This was the the loosening of my hair. This was barefoot crush. This was an intravenous anti-anxiety drip, except with breath. Imagine breathing a sort of liquid, giddy calm. How can you be giddy and calm? Go to Provence in July in the evening.
Our AirBnB host was a tall, linen-wearing woman with a long sliver braid looped over her shoulder. She was celebrating a birthday in the neighbor’s yard with a weaver and a beekeeper when we arrived. They invited me down because, well…beekeeper. By the next morning my doorstep was filled with Oak honey and homemade rosewater. I knew, in that moment that I was about to fall in love. Not with the beekeeper, but someone. (I did by the way, shortly after, although it swiftly ended in heartbreak). I still eat a bit of that Oak honey every day. I still believe it will lead me to love.
I had just finished teaching Apis Sophia Exstasis, a women’s retreat in Aquitaine, and I was exhausted. My friend Nani and I drove 10 hours across France to hide away in a stone cottage and inhale lavender. She made me salmon that first night, but the kitchen was lacking basics and the nearest grocery story was a hour away. We made do with butter, salmon and red wine. It turns our a red wine butter sauce of salmon is quite tasty, and to this day, whenever either of us is in a bit of a conundrum we tell each other to just “Pour some red wine on it.” Can’t figure out how to keep your houseplant alive? Pour some red wine on it. Feeling confused about some nasty paperwork? Pour some red wine on it. You get the gist.
On our last night, we shared a glass (we are big lightweights, so one was clearly enough) and went for a midnight stroll through lavender fields, picking a stalk here and a stalk there, absolutely certain all wrath and furry were about to descend on us for our shitty tourist trespassing. Then we did the unthinkable (and by unthinkable, I mean I literally didn’t even think about it - whoops), and brought those stalks home in our suitcases. I know, we are the worst. No that lavender is infused into an oil that I use on my skin daily for nourishment and anxiety relief.
Used by Egyptians in the mummification process and cultivated for its oil in ancient Arabia, lavender has been a sacred and beloved herb in healing, cosmetic and culinary arts for millennia.⠀
It is an herb used for calming the nervous system, treating wounds, easing headaches, improve sleep and offers a general feeling of wellbeing.⠀
It was spikenard, a form of lavender, that Mary Magdalene used to anoint Jesus’ feet. ⠀
Lavender honey is very light, herbaceous, floral and pairs well with soft cheeses, figs, and my favorite: biscuits and Devonshire cream.
Here are some of my favorite ways to love lavender:⠀
* I use drops of lavender essential oil in my humidifier at night. ⠀
* I gather it every midsummer for making lavender infused oils (not EO). Oiling the skin is of a daily ritual for me, as I have every sensitive skin and live in a dry place. Lavender oil soothes mind and body.⠀
* I make lavender infused chocolate truffles which I used to take to Burning Man to feed all my friends.⠀
* I put it in sachets for dreams when I am needing lightness⠀
* I sprinkle it into almond honey cakes, which make great ritual offerings.⠀
* I hang a bundle over my bed ⠀
* As a hydrosol, it never leaves my side⠀
* I mix it in a calming tea blend, often with nettles, chamomile, and rose. ⠀
* I watch the bees dance through it.