I apologise for the quality of most of the photos in this post -- I took them using my ipod which is more convenient to carry around, but the camera isn't very good. (Yet another reason to upgrade my phone!)
The workshop was held at her house (in her garage, to be exact!) which was happily not that far from my house. Melbourne is such a large city that it can take 2 hours to drive from one end to the other, so it's always pleasing when there's something near me.
After some fresh mint tea and a discussion on herbal medicine, we got started making the balms. Each of the 6 participants was asked to think of a specific purpose we would like our balms to serve, whether it be physical, medicinal, emotional or magical. She then suggested herbs for each, explaining why they would be appropriate. Some were fresh from the garden, and others already dried in a forest of jars on a side table.
I asked for a balm to help with anxiety, and also separating my own feelings from others'. Something I've noticed a lot more in the last year or so is that I tend to pick up on the feelings of others and it's hard to tell what's mine and what's not. Raheli chose Lemon Balm (aka Melissa) for its calming effect and ability to enact change, and Valerian for its earthy, grounding properties.
While the herbs were steeping in the oil, Raheli took us on a tour of her garden. Raheli's garden was wonderful, a magical fairyland of herbs and cool, shadowy corners. Even though it was no larger than a standard block, there were hundreds of different herbs and other plants. I was so impressed by her knowledge of all the plants.
Once the balms were finished, we went back out into the garden and talked more about how they can be used for magical purposes, and about how to connect with plants and ask them to help us.
I learned so much from the workshop, and am grateful to Raheli for opening up her home and sharing her knowledge. I'm also going the second workshop in the series, on making tinctures and potions, and I can't wait! I purchased two plant friends: a skullcap (left) and yarrow (right). I don't know much about these herbs, but they wanted to come home with me, and I've been doing some research on how to look after them.
Here is the finished balm on my special shelf at home.
Belladonna and Bones website
Youtube Channel -- Raheli posts seasonal garden tour videos so you can see her garden for yourself!