In Five Element traditions, wintertime holds the energy of Water. Just as water always flows to the lowest point, it is during this season that we are invited to settle into our own depths. To trickle our consciousness into the cracks that long to be carved and widened. To recharge the hidden chambers of our hearts and then kneel at those pools in quiet reflection.
Plants and mushrooms contain both the waters of life and the oils of life. For better or worse, essential oils have become a widely popular way of interacting with the aromatic oils of plants. But what about the waters in plants? And even more intriguing, what about the waters in mushrooms?
These waters, when extracted, are known as hydrosols. A hydrosol is the water content of a plant or mushroom with its essential oils and water-soluble components held in suspension. It is a more complete and safer aromatic distillation than essential oils alone. As herbalists, we use beautiful copper stills, called alembics, to coax this precious water and its medicine into sterilized glass.
Many of the medicinal mushrooms that we work with are the Great Tree Polypores. They are woody, dense, and grow primarily on the trunks of trees. One observation is that it is both beautiful and potency-promoting to combine the medicine of the mushroom with the medicine of its host tree. The species of tree that a mushrooms grows on greatly influences the physical properties of the mushroom itself. And because mushroom mycelium and trees are intimately interdependent, so too is their medicine.
With all of this in mind, we have created a limited Wintertime Water offering. A hydrosol of Hemlock Reishi mushroom and its host tree Eastern Hemlock.
Hemlock offers its own medicine and story, both tragic and resilient. The Eastern Hemlock is a dominant tree in Appalachian cove forests and does the very important work of shading mountain waterways, keeping them cool and clean. But due to an infestation of an invasive insect, we are losing the Hemlocks. I’ve sat and wept in high elevation spots in the Great Smoky Mountains, overlooking great swaths of the dying trees and overwhelmed with the enormous loss. It is a deep grief.
But as the hemlocks die, the reishi mushrooms bloom. Here, our native reishi species is called Ganoderma tsugae, and it grows almost exclusively on the dying hemlock trees.
We respectfully gathered hemlock branches brought down by the wind and distilled them, along with reishi, into this aromatic offering.
Energetically, reishi and hemlock help us hold space for death processes and for letting go. All so that new growth may emerge. Most herbal mists make good boundary medicine, and this combination feels particularly protective. I’ll keep it on my altar or in my bag this season as I navigate the holidays and work to stay true to my unfolding heart.
I also like it as a facial mist and find it particularly helpful for autoimmune skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
2 oz mist bottle.