Recipe: A Sensual Botanical Elixir
Masters of patience, natural beauty and the art of the reveal, plants have a thing or two to teach us about sex. Over many centuries folk healers have explored ways of capturing herbal essences to help us access the sensual wisdom of the plant world. This simple herbal recipe draws on this legacy, weaving together plants, spices, a flask of whiskey, and an offering of honey.
Plants can be our greatest teachers if we observe close enough. Resilience is their specialty, patience their virtue. Beauty is just as it is. They also have a thing or two to teach us about bringing those elements together when it comes to sex, illustrating that the cyclical and purposeful maturation of stigma, style and ovary cannot be rushed, contrasting with the sudden bursting of blossoms when the season arrives. All are essential for the final fleeting moment of pollination.
We know this for ourselves too. Without the right lead up and blooming things can become, shall we say, a little average. The fast pace of modern life too easily speeds past these nuances. French writer, Anais Nin, hailed as one of the finest writers in female erotica wrote exhortations on the slow unraveling of sensuality as the aphrodisiac supreme:
You do not know what you are missing by your microscopic examination of sexual activity to the exclusion of aspects which are fuel that ignites it. Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements.
Anais’s context of “aphrodisiac” is just what plants have the capacity to kindle within us. They not only possess qualities that rouse desire, oh no, they are far too wise to be one-dimensional like that! They also gently open the heart, clear the mind, stimulate the imagination and nourish the energy.
Knowing that a union of longevity and depth required far more than steamy nights alone, it was a tradition in ancient Persia for newlyweds to be gifted a specially crafted mead infused with herbs and spices that would ignite this manifold opening of body, mind and soul. They were to drink this every day for a month, which was known as the “honey month”, hence the word “honeymoon”.
This recipe is inspired by this tradition using plants that build, tone and balance the heart, mind and sexual centres. It’s useful not only for bringing an extra element into the bedroom, but also for nurturing the strength of a feeling, desire or creative idea into full bloom.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa): The core plant of the elixir is a sacred plant from Mexico that is warming and spicy. It has been used for eons to heighten states of arousal by calming and energizing the nervous system and balancing the hormones.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica): This plant is an absolute beauty to grow if you live in a temperate zone. The aromatic root is used in this elixir to ground the sexual energy roused by damiana. Angelica brings a light sensibility to complement the strength of the damiana.
Rose (Rosa spp.): Any fragrant garden variety is perfect (just ensure they haven’t been sprayed). Rose relaxes and opens the heart, and if taken over a period of time, can help us to heal and let go of past grief, sadness and hurt, and restores trust. Many healing traditions believe that a wounded or closed heart blocks energy to the creative centres below, physically and emotionally.
Cardamom (Elettaria spp.) and cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.): Never underestimate the provocative powers of the spices when used in a skilled way! Traditional Persian mead would always feature one or both of these spices. Whilst the damiana, angelica and rose all nourish the sensual and emotional centres, these spices help energy to be evenly distributed around the body. They bring flow.
- 750ml – 1L mason jar
- 375ml flask of whiskey
- 175g local, organic clear runny honey
- 20g damiana (loves to grow in temperate climates, but also easily found in health food stores)
- 20g rose dried (or if using fresh, 50g)
- 20g angelica root (if unable to find you can replace with: 1 grated nutmeg, 1 whole vanilla pod (split) and a pinch of saffron – all aphrodisiac spices in their own right)
- 15g whole cardamom
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Sterilise your jar by pouring in boiled water and swishing around, including the lid. Drain dry on a clean cloth.
- Pour in the whiskey and slowly drizzle the honey in, swirling the mixture around and imagining all the elements you want to capture. You may need to give the mix a shake to make sure the honey has fully dissolved. It should look like a golden nectar.
- In a mortar and pestle, add the angelica root, cardamom and cinnamon. Grind down to a coarse texture. You don’t want it too fine, or else it will form a sludge that will be difficult to press out. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths of all the aromas that have been released. Ooh la la!
- Spoonful by spoonful, add the mixture into the jar with the whiskey and honey mixture (if you’re using the other spice combination instead of angelica root, you can add it in now).
- Sprinkle in the rose petals and tell them what part of your heart needs soothing. Be specific and honest. A touch of vulnerability will make this elixir all the more effective.
- Allow your imagination to get a bit wild, picturing the part of your creativity or sensuality you’re wanting to harness….Whatever that means for you. With that in mind, add in the damiana and stir to mix in.
- Put the lid on and give a good shake to make sure the whole mixture is covered. You’ll have quite a dense mix.
- For a month, shake everyday to move that nectar around all the plant parts.
- At the months end, have a couple of clean bottles at the ready (enough to allow for 400ml), sterilise them as you did the jar. Fix a funnel into the mouth of the bottle, add a double layer of cheese cloth and spoon in a large portion of the mix. Squeeze out everything your can. Have a taste whilst you’re at it and you’ll be happy you waited the month. Repeat until you have very dry plant material on one side and a bottle full of elixir on the other.
- Cap, label, and consume.
Enjoy 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of this elixir at the end of the day. Have as is, add to a hot cacao, or mix with cream and enjoy with berries whilst telling stories to your lover. If they haven’t arrived yet, tell stories to yourself. The secret, creative, soulful kind.
Plant medicines work in subtle ways. You’re welcoming their energy into your body and allowing them to work through you. Don’t expect a lightening bolt surge of passion. Just nurture the opening and be delighted by what it brings. Just as the plants do.