by Ana Cecilia Flores
Back in March, when the pandemic started, we decided to comply with the mandates to stay at home. We never imagined that, six months later, we would still be stuck at home! The world as we know it has radically changed, and we face an uncertain future. We have been in a state of loss, grief, and mourning. Each of us is facing and coping in the best way possible. I have always been a ratón de mi agujero, as we say in Mexico, meaning, I love being at home! But one thing is staying at home because I want to and quite different from being mandated to do so.. It is like being grounded, stranded!
Thanks to the Internet, I found innumerable alternatives to ease the time at home. I have attended online workshops of bookbinding, Japanese gardening techniques, cooking, knitting, Mexican embroidery, and herbal bundles. Herbs are very important in Hispanic cultures, but they are not exclusive, of course. Every civilization has had a close relationship with plants and herbs, and our elderly have deep knowledge of their therapeutic and medicinal uses. Burning plants and incenses have been an important element in well-being since ages ago.
There are plants or herbs that grow exclusively in specific places or climates. But, again, thanks to the Internet, we can get Peruvian palo santo via Amazon. Amazing, right? Some others I found in my garden, like rosemary, sage, basil or lavender. Or in my pantry, like cinnamon or alum. (I have used alum as a mordant when I dabbled in dyeing wool with cochineal).
Just google herbal bundles and you will find a myriad of articles, DIYs, and even Etsy shops who sell them. Making them is also a lot of fun, and you don't need fancy ingredients! Just a bunch of herbs and organic cotton cord (we do not want to burn a twine with plastic or toxic chemicals!) is all you will need.
For example, rosemary is used as a main component. It is a healer, cleanses negative energy, attracts positive energies and good luck. Lavender has a soothing aroma; it has therapeutic uses against insomnia, sadness, and anxiety. Cinnamon has a fresh fragrance which attracts love and success. The use of alum has been very popular since the Romans; they used it to absorb negativity and as a protective talisman. The possibilities are endless. When you tie them together, just smell and follow your instincts.. Think about what you want to achieve with each bundle, and then give it a go!
Once you have tied your herbs together, let them dry in a ventilated place for two weeks. You need them to be dry for burning them! When I feel a certain restlessness in my family, and when everybody is in bed, I burn a bundle… and believe me, next morning, we all wake up in a better mood. The energy in my house is more peaceful and soothing!