Somewhere in blogland late one night I saw the suggestion to do entirely handmade Christmas gifts. I wouldn't be at all popular with my kids if I included them but for friends and family it would be do -able. Basil in the garden will be ready for pesto. Herbal ointment for others.On a dry day pick a loosely packed jar full of herb flowers, petals or leaves. Calendula is a great one to start with as it is a good all round skin healer and is very gentle. Comfrey leaves could also be chopped, but because they are quite moist can often promote mould. Lavender flowers are good, strip them off the stalk. Others I use are yarrow, chamomile, elderflower, rosemary, st john's wort, native manuka and kawa kawa. I'm not a qualified herbalist so will not recommend certain herbs for certain ailments but there are many books you can get from the library and make creams for eczema, dry skin, cuts, scrapes, bites, hemorrhoids,massage etc.
Here I'll show the method, it's called cold maceration. Once you've packed the dry petals cover them in oil of your choice (not nasty old salad and cooking oil made in china) I have used olive, almond and grape seed all of which have their own healing qualities and little odour. Avocado would probably be lovely too. Use a skewer to get all the air bubbles out by going down the side of the jar and squeezing the petals back a bit, you might see if you look closely in the picture. Do this until you can't see any more bubbles rising, it's really important as the air promotes mould. Fill the jar right to the top and put a lid on. Set aside in a dark place for four to six weeks. The oils or constituents in the plant that are soluble in oil will be absorbed into your carrier oil. Start with a wee jar first so if you do get some mould growth you don't have to chuck away heaps. My teacher would check hers weekly and just scrape off any mould growing, you could do that if any occurs but the perfectionist in me couldn't cope with that. Another thing to remember when gathering herbs for medicine is to be in a serene or appropriate state of mind. Don't do it when you're stressed or angry as these energy's may be imparted onto your medicine. Sing, smile, pray, visualise, meditate or whatever is appropriate to you.
Next step in six weeks you'll need some natural beeswax, try the beekeeper at the local farmers market or the health food shop. Alternatively you could use the oil as is for massage etc or in aqueous cream but I'll go into that further later.