Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flower crafts

Flowers are a wonderful way to not only appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature, but to bring that little bit of the outside in to our homes and our sacred spaces.  Many people love having fresh flowers for their table, and flowers have been used throughout time as offerings.  They are a lovely way to honor the deities we work with, to bring a bit of the season into our Sabbat altars or to call upon the energy of the flower in our work.

There are many different ways of understanding the magic of flowers, from looking at flower essences to the herbal qualities of the plants.  Flower language was used as a code of sorts, where you could deliver a complex message by making a floral bouquet, and the flowers included would indicate what you wanted to say to the person receiving it.  Some flowers have very strong associations, so much that they are almost dedicated to a particular purpose:  red roses for love or chrysanthemums for funerals.

Many common flowers are often seen as weeds, even though they delight children everywhere.  The simple dandelion, with it's bright yellow flowers and delightful seed puffs are beloved by many, as they blow the fluff and make wishes.  These are often found in lawns, and while many people bemoan them, they have some really interesting properties!

Every part of the dandelion is edible, and in fact is quite nutritious!  They are perennial, meaning as long as the taproot is undisturbed, they will grow back every year.  The leaves can be eaten in raw in salads or cooked like spinach.  The flowers can be made into wine and the roots into a coffee-like drink.  Dandelion root is one of the ingredients in root beer!

While the fluff is safe to eat, they have little taste and are generally found to be an unpleasant texture in the mouth.

Medicinally, dandelion flowers help restore skin and soothe pain.  They can be turned into a healing oil or salve.  While I haven't made the salve, the oil is actually really easy to make!  First, you will want to gather as many dandelions as you can....seriously, you will need a TON, I made two small canning jars of oil and probably had gathered a bucket full of the blossoms!

Once you have gathered them, you will want to wash them.  Not only will this remove any dirt, it helps clear out any remaining ants or other critters that were on the flowers.  I found it helpful to dump my bucket out first (outside!) after I had gathered up all that I wanted, because it let a bunch of the creepy crawlies wander off on their own (they had been crawling around my bucket!), but I still washed them afterwards.  Then you will want to lay them out and let them wilt.  It's really astonishing how much they compact when wilted!

Once they have dried for about a day, put them in your container.  I used a simple glass canning jar, that had been thoroughly washed and dried.  I packed them in fairly tightly (by shaking my jars, not by smooshing them down), and then topped each off with olive oil (or any other carrier oil).  You will want to use a knife or stick to poke the flowers down, and try to remove as many air bubbles as you can (I used a chopstick!).  Let them steep for two weeks (I poked them down every day, to help ensure no bubbles), and then strain.  I found that a clean handkerchief worked great to strain out the flowers.  Then you can put it in a bottle to store (away from light), though you will want to use it within a year, so it doesn't go rancid!

Here's a pic of one of my jars of dandelion oil, while it was steeping...and some chive blossoms I was washing for another flower craft:  chive blossom vinegar!  I have a group of chives I've been growing for years.  They are the absolute hardiest plant ever (thank goodness!), and have lived through snows, me not watering them, the soil getting ever lower in their pot...just about anything you can imagine.  They were the only herb in my starter kit that actually grew, and every year they give me a crop of blossoms.

Once the flowers are fully opened up (like you can see in the bunch over my coffee cup), I clip them off and bring them inside.  They get a thorough wash as well (again, to help remove any critters), and once they are clean, I clip them right at the base of the flower, put them in a bottle or jar, and fill it with vinegar.

The chive blossoms give a light chive flavor to the vinegar, and they turn it a beautiful purple color!  I keep mine in the fridge, and take the flowers out after a couple of weeks.  Some of the color might bleach out if it gets too much light.
I have been drying and saving flower petals since I was a child.  Pretty much anytime I get flowers, I'll probably dry them.  I have some old jars of flower petals I've had since high school!  Many flowers retain their color well when dried, and some hold up as whole blossoms, while others tend to loose their petals.  Last year, while my mother-in-law was on a trip, I was taking care of her rosebushes, so I dried a whole lot of rose petals!

As there was a decent chance of spiders in the roses (I think I found at least one in every bag of roses I brought home), I took them outside, and pulled all the nice petals off (discarding the ones that were brown or eaten by bugs), and then brought them inside in a large bowl to dry.  Every day, I'd fluff them up, flipping them around so they dried evenly.  They smelled lovely as they were drying!  I did put a lid over them at night, or our cats thought they were fun toys to get into...

One craft I haven't done yet with my rose petals (but plan on...) is making rose beads.  You take your dried rose petals, add a tiny bit of water and grind them into a paste, and then form them into beads.  This is a very traditional craft, and many historic rose beads still exist.

I love having flower petals to add to mojo bags. 
This is actually the start of a sachet I made, with the dried leavings of some Florida water (which used some of the dried rose petals among other things).  I also add flower petals and dried herbs to spell bags or bundles that I am going to leave outdoors.

One beautiful thing to do with dried (or fresh..) flower petals is to sprinkle them over your altar.  You can also draw symbols with them, or use them to mark the boundaries of your circle!

Florida Water is a wonderful thing to make, and can be used to cleanse (like burning sage).  I have made my own the past two years, and I love how it smells!  I start with the peel of one orange, along with bits of cinnamon, whole cloves, lavender, star anise, and this year I added rose petals.  I make mine with Vodka (and I don't water down my base) so it all goes into a bottle, and steeps in the vodka until it smells potent and lovely.  Every day, I give it a bit of a shake, to mix things up inside.

Then I strain it all out, this time reserving the bits and drying them to make a blessing sachet for my clothing drawers.  I store my Florida Water in a lovely glass bottle, ready for use whenever!  You can also dilute it, and put it in a spray bottle, for asperging the air in your home.

One final bit of flower magic:  dandelion fluff wishes!
Once the dandelions have gone to seed, you can gather up the fluff and keep it on hand for your wish magic!  I keep mine in a caning jar, but without the full lid, using a piece of cloth to help make sure it doesn't get moisture trapped inside.

You can also make small wish jars, using small glass bottles, filled with dandelion fluff.  These can be kept as altar pieces or worn as jewelry!

When you need to add a bit of wish magic, take a pinch of seeds and either add them to your working, or take them outside, and blow your wishes into them, releasing them so they can carry your wishes out to the world!

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