A Welcome Change of Pace : Meeting Merkaela
I am, like most folks that run their own businesses, a very busy person.
As someone who works from home it is very easy for me to be working all the time. And let's be honest, I struggle to sometimes take my own advice around slowing down and being sure to just be.
I'll just check one more email.
I'll write one more blog draft.
I'll check-in with my students one more time.
Those "one mores" add up way beyond the singular into a multitude and soon I've worked away the hours I had planned on taking time off. Now, I do feel fortunate that I've come a long way after burning out a few times in previous years and while other commitments might waver, my commitment to my daily devotional practice (which includes some simple breathing meditation time) has kept me aware of when my edges are feeling crispy. Now, that's not to say that my daily devotional practice prevents me from burning out (otherwise I would never have found myself in ashes), but it does help me to recognize my internal signals that I need to slow down and hopefully I choose to do just that.
Suffice to say, my "Caution: Fire Ahead" blinker has been going off recently.
After a particularly hectic few weeks and an emotionally rough summer, I knew I needed to re-examine my commitments and start taking the idea of time-off very, very seriously. Part of my "what-do-I-need-to-do-to-prevent-burn-out" evaluation involves thinking of activities that feel restorative. One of my go-to rejuvenate activities is sacred bathing (#PiscesLife), especially when it involves a luscious herbal salt soak. Another way that I feel super special and loved upon is when I receive mail in the post.
(Yup, the secret's out. I am ridiculously easy to please. Honestly, send me a postcard and I'll be happy for at least a week.)
Problem is, I don't always feel inspired to make remedies for myself when I've run myself ragged. I'll drop everything to send a care package to one of my community kindred or clients, but when I think of taking time to make something luxurious for myself, I often make excuses or put it off.
So when I saw that Merkaela was looking for folks to provide an honest review of their autumn box in exchange for a free one, I said, "HECK YEAH." Merkaela looked like they created interesting products and so I volunteered to receive their autumn box.
I am going to add a note here that after I volunteered to review their box and started to write this post they regrammed a photo of some dreamcatchers on their instagram feed which I feel disappointed and frustrated by - I was hoping that they weren't going to fall into such a common new age appropriation trope, but alas they have. I am still going to review the box based on the quality of the contents I received because they are great products and hopefully this will serve as a learning moment to an otherwise interesting brand.
When the Merkaela box arrived, I could already tell before I opened it that I was going to be pleased with its contents. Holy heck, this box is full of magickal intention. The theme for the Autumn box is Awaken and the color scheme falls amongst earthy browns, amethyst purples, and welcoming pinks. From the shipping box itself to the welcome message to the labels on each item, the theme is coherent and each item feels like a component in a beautiful ritual.
Opening the box, you're greeted by the company motto: "Heal the Body. Soothe the Mind. Sustainably." There is a letter from Ela Ferra, the founder of Merkaela, welcoming you to the box and setting the tone for the contents within and their purpose.
I do like the suggestion of using the wooden spoons as magickal wands since it is such a simple way to interact with your remedies beyond simply applying them to the body.
As with most subscription boxes, a menu of contents is provided and Merkaela's explains the theme of "Awaken" as well as the featured blend of Lemongrass, Frankincense, and Cinnamon which permeates all the remedies. The fragrance of the box is rich - you could easily re-use to infuse decks, rocks, or other sacred items with the scent.
The box is quite full and includes 10 remedies - which for USD$44 is quite a deal for handmade herbal body goods and additional items. You also get a business card sized card with the Awaken seasonal affirmation which is a sweet touch.
So let's start talking about the herbal contents of the box!
The Awaken Mineral Bath was a lovely item to use. It was a great pre-ritual bath for my Full Moon in Pisces workings. Frankincense is a temple incense and the energetic shift that occurred was quite welcome. As I found out with most of the remedies in the box, a little goes a long way which is something that I look for when creating my own remedies or using the remedies of others.
I haven't had much Pu-erh tea before, so I was excited to try the Awaken Tea Potion which featured Pu-erh and a variety of autumnal notes. The tea tin featured a quote by the psychotherapist (and, let's be real, the mystic) Carl Jung: Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes.
The brew was robust with sweet notes. It's a great blustery autumn morning sort of tea. I especially appreciate that instructions for brew time and temperature were provided on the label as green, black, red, and white teas all have their different preferences for optimal taste.
The Awaken Elixir is a deeply fragrant body and room spray featuring the Awaken scent profile of Frankincense, Lemongrass, and Cinnamon. The small bottle makes it an easy accessory to take with you or tuck into a corner of your altar or work space. I used it in my meditation space before my morning devotions and it was a beautiful addition to my routine.
The Awaken Face Mask was a surprise favorite for me. I've had mostly lousy experiences with clay-based face masks because they have been too harsh and full of two many additional ingredients for my sensitive skin. The Merkaela face mask has only two ingredients of Bentonite Clay and Spirulina. The softening Spirulina balances out the clay in such a way that my face felt hugged instead of pulled. Afterwards, there was none of the typical irritation my skin feels after a clay mask, only softness. And I had a lot of fun using the tiny spoon as a mini wand when mixing my mask into a paste.
The Elevate Soap certainly enlivens the senses, but in a gentle sort of way. It is silky soft and sort of like finding yourself in the embrace of a late summer / early autumn cloud. I'm not a super fan of bar soap - it often leaves my skin dry - but the shea butter was great at keeping everything hydrated.
The Awaken Exfoliator uses one of my favorite herbs for the skin : Tumeric (Curcuma longa). I liked the texture and consistency, but my only hesitancy with this product is the use of mineral oil which is not a favorite of mine since it is a petroleum byproduct. It does seem like an out-of-step addition on Merkaela's part to an otherwise well-curated mix of ingredients.
Ok, so I don't know what makes the Awaken Body Butter pink. It is that shade of strawberry-milk pink that reminds me of my Tokyo childhood which is why I find the tint so pleasing. I suspect a mica powder was used to color it - which I am fine with - but what creates the pink color is absent from the label. Again, this seems out-of-step with the rest of the informative labels. The butter itself is rather marvelous and if the coloring is truly natural this might be my favorite remedy in the box. EDIT: The folks at Merkaela got back to me and let me know that they use a very small amount of pink pigment powder to color their Awaken Body Butter. And after another week of using this stuff I still really, really love it.
The last couple of items in the box are accessories to your self-care magick including an Amethyst bracelet, a small bundle of Palo Santo, and a purple candle made by Crystal Journey Candles. I am, of course, most excited about the gemstone bracelet because rocks. (Am I too easy to please? Maybe.) They're a nice rounding out of the energy of the box and thoughtfully chosen.
One more thing. Each of the herbal remedies have a little love message on their labels which felt lovely to read. My favorite message is on the Awaken Body Butter:
Give your body love. It listens.
So would I recommend Merkaela? Overall, yes. I think you're getting great value for the cost and I like the seasonal component and strong theme. It is a great way to introduce herbal body care to friends and family or spoil someone who you know needs some extra care. I am happy to have such sweet little remedies in easy reach to keep me practicing self-care regularly and not just when I'm feeling like I've pushed myself to my limits again.
If you're interested in more recommendations and reviews (from herbal remedies to tarot decks to more) let me know in the comments!
I also recommend signing up for my free Magick Mail because I often link to herbalists and magick-makers I adore in the special P.S. section. However you choose to take care of yourself this autumn season, I hope it is with kindness and in great wonder of the brilliance that is you.