We are living in fiery times in more ways than one.
The chaos of cultural, climate, and interpersonal change has left many of us breathless and burnt out. Fire can be a source of life-sustaining life, the heat of transformation, the spark of poetry. And it can be a hungry beast which destroys with terrifying swiftness. So what can we do as herbalists, healers, and magickal folk during fire season and beyond?
In practical ways we can donate time and resources (check out the CA Wildfire Relief Fund and Frontline Medics). Make sure that our communities affected by fire or any other natural, sociopolitical or interpersonal disaster know that there are free resources for their mental and emotional health that they can access at any time such as Crisis Text Line, The Trevor Project, RAINN, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and many more. Check in with those we love. Check in with ourselves.
I created the following recipe for my family during this particularly challenging wildfire season. In addition to herbal support, staying indoors, and air purifiers (which can be super pricey - but you can search for diy versions), face masks are essential and you can get ones that will last longer than single use such as these. Herbal steams are useful, too, for helping to fill the airways with moistening and healing plant medicine.
The foundation of my Smoke Relief blend is Plantain (Plantago major) which is helpful in healing tissue and restoring the lungs after inhalation of the particulate matter carried in smoke. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) are the main respiratory system tonics and Elder (Sambucus nigra) helps aids with antihistamine magick and nervous system tenderness. Nervines are important for fire season, too - our bodies are stressed out for many reasons which is why Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is in my blend. I also see Lemon Balm as an herb of the collective and the community mind with its relationship to the magick of bees and their hive consciousness. I usually like to use Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum) for smoke relief but did not this time simply because I was out - but it’s a powerful ally during fire season that you should take time to learn more about.
You can endlessly adjust this recipe and if you want it to be less about smoke relief and more about general respiratory wellness during winter, check out this post for some inspiration.
Smoke Relief Tincture
Either mix the following individual tinctures or blend dried herbs together to create your tincture from scratch.
4 parts Plantain (Plantago major)
2 parts Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
2 parts Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
1 part Elder (Sambucus nigra)
1 part Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Recommended dosage: 5 - 10 drops up to three times daily.