It is already the first week of June here in the great pacific northwest of WA state.
Here on the Olympic Peninsula we are in late springs most prolific wildflower blooming time.
Blessed in this part of the world by abundant hedge rows of our beloved briar feminine native wild Nootka rose (Rosa Nootkana) it sure does inspire creative imaginative concoctions for this rural herbalist.
There is much folklore and myth surrounding roses and wild rose in particular are important to indigenous peoples of the Americas.
There is a beautiful Ojibwe story about how the people had stopped noticing and caring for and giving thanks for the wild rose. And so the roses became weakened and rabbits began to eat them all until there were very few left. Hummingbirds went hungry as did the bees, bears grew thin and as honey grew scarce and a domino effect rang through the world.
One day there were no more roses and the people finally noticed the roses were gone and all the things that had gone wrong from their loss.
They prayed and a medicine person was shown in a dream that there was one last rose that was growing on the foothills of a mountain but it was very weak.
They set out to find the last rose and with the help of Great Spirit they found this rose. The peolple cared for this rose- they talked to it, loved it, and sang to it until one day it was strong and began to talk. The people told the rose that they had avenged the rose by making war upon the rabbits -who had eaten all the roses and that they would soon kill them all. The roses spoke out and said “do not do this- for the rabbits are not at fault- “It Is you who forgot us, the people stopped noticing us, stopped using us, stopped caring for us and this is why we grew weak.”
Then and there the people stopped killing the rabbits but the wounds the rabbits received in this war can still be seen by their long stretched out ears and there split lips. The people vowed to pay attention and to give thanks to the roses and use them, and the roses flourished again.
So much deep medicine for us in that story..
There are many things to make with this lovely sweet spicy heart pink rose.
I love to solar infuse the freshly picked blossoms in organic coconut oil placed in a big glass bowl on a warm sunny day. I bring the bowl in at night and pick fresh blossoms each day and repeat the process for many days. This rose infused oil can be used “as is” for a great face and body oil or with the blossoms strained through cheesecloth when warmed and still liquid. This oil can be whipped alone into a luscious body butter, or you could add in other oils like shea, vitamin e. Makes a great addition to cream and lotion recipes.
This stuff is edible! Yes you can also eat this yummy stuff straight or put it into recipes. I like to make homemade chocolate truffle balls made with raw fair trade cocoa, add the melted coconut rose oil, and a bit of honey for sweetness. This makes a delightful vegan snack.
There are so many uses for a rosy, spicy, and tasty flavoring, and remember roses both flowers and hips are naturally high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids and are great for making witch hazel infused toners for the skin, The rose herbal actions are both internally and externally drying, astringent and tonifying.
The roses can be used to make flower elixirs, tinctures, honey infusions, vinegars and essences, I also steam distill them for aromatic hydrosols and dry plenty of them for teas. Fresh petals and hips can make tasty jams and jellies. I don’t recommend eating the hip seeds of Nootka rose as the seeds can cause an itchy anus.
My rule for ethical wild harvesting is to only pick about 1/3rd of any wild plant. Remember the plants are not just a pretty background to our lives, they are not just here for human beings, plants are intelligent, wise, sentient beings with their own lives and there are many other beings dependent on them for food, shelter etc.
Ask permission from the land and plant spirit -if I hear No- I listen.
Say a gratitude prayer of thanks to the plant and open up sacred space (in whichever way you choose).
Always leave a small offering to the plant spirits and the land- (like a pinch of tobacco, a small crystal, or a strand of your hair if you have nothing else) I leave nothing harmful to critters. (No chocolate).
I ask the plants to make the medicine good and strong and that it helps those who receive it. Sometimes I do this days ahead of time and attune to the plants days ahead of time.
Remember to close sacred space when you are finished.
Enjoy the plants and be kind to our fellow beings