Once upon a time, there was a fierce young girl whose strong heart burned as bright as newly burnished steel. She was one of Freyja’s own, a Valkyrie spirit of ancient times, returned. She had the power to heal through touch alone and yet her brightness and power sometimes grew very dim, and dark, indeed. For the world she had returned to was not one where her individualism, inner strength, and sense of self was celebrated. Instead, those very qualities which had secured honors, prestige, and notoriety for her in the golden age of warriors, and epic battles, brought only hostile words, misunderstanding and sometimes even punishment this time around.
Yet, her mother understood that she was an old soul who came back to earth with knowledge and skills, and so she believed her daughter when the young one told her there were shadow beings lurking, hungry for the energy of the innocent and the light of those who shone too bright. The mother, who was a witch herself, had some skill in shielding the family from these forces, and yet, something went missing in her formulas.
One day, right after the summer solstice, as mother and daughter walked a familiar path in the countryside they were overwhelmed by the beauty of a meadow filled with bright yellow flowers in the shape of stars. It was as if the night sky had superimposed itself into day. The pair had walked these fields many times before but never had the yellow flowers been so prolific. They bent down to look at them closer, and as they touched the blazing blooms, a heaviness lifted from their chests and hearts, and wisps of gray smoke dispersed from around them. The little Valkyrie began to cry. She told her mother that she remembered in a dream, that once she had a shield in a great battle, and this flower was the emblem upon it, golden as Fólkvangr, the hall of her lady Freyja. For they had been the warriors of light, pushing out the shadows. She remembered healing her sisters in arms with the flower, driving out the dark and soul-sucking energies that wracked their bodies, turning them to wraiths.
It was Solstice Wort*, and it was the missing piece. So they gathered fistfuls of it, and what could fill the upturned skirts of their dresses. They thanked the plants for their healing gifts and returned home already feeling lighter in spirit. The mother prepared a dark, blood-red oil from the flowers and used it to anoint her precious daughter’s body whenever she needed to dispel the shadows of the world, and to remember her brightness, so her powerful light could shine through. Her mother lovingly used the flower to shield and protect her daughter’s power, just as it had done in the girl’s epic past.
In the crumbling pages of ancient texts on healing, hidden amongst the dusty basement shelves of a neglected Old World library, there are stories of a flower whose tears are magical.”Dr. Jonathan Zuess
Saint John’s Wort (SJW) Folklore
The herb’s common name is after Saint John the Baptist. According to the Flower Essence Society, despite the great spiritual power of St. John the Baptist, he pointed to Christ as the source of the Sun. The alchemical significance of the Christ mystery is reflected in the making of St. John’s Wort oil, which is also called the “Blood of Christ”. St. John’s Wort oil is made from a sun-infusion of bright yellow blossoms which then creates a deep red oil, the blood of the sun.
However, the use of the herb goes back much farther into ancient times, before Christianity, and the folklore surrounding this incredible herb is that it was traditionally used to ward off evil and shield one from harmful, unseen forces. We’ve seen in the story how it does that so beautifully.
SJW still “lifts spirits” today in modern medicine, and so it is a common herb prescribed to those who suffer from depression, especially Seasonal Affective Disorder. For this reason, I like to call the plant, Solstice Wort* because the summer sun and heat burn off the melancholy quality of SAD** similarly to the work of the Wort.
For me, SJW has always had a fiery, bright quality to it, seeming to break through the murkiness and burn away the gray clouds which can sometimes keep our own inner light from shining through. Working with SJW, or Solstice Wort, clears this gloom away, like the bright sun breaking through the fog and clouds of a gray day. This plant is usually flowering around the time of the summer solstice. The summer solstice is generally recognized as a celebration of the dark giving way to the fullness of light; the triumph of light over darkness and life over death.
Why Saint John’s Wort Is All The Rage
If you run in herbalist circles SJW oil is nothing new. In fact, making oil from SJW is as old as the hills these sunny flowers grow on. It’s why I almost didn’t write this post or create the videos on how I make it. Yet my friend Chase, founder of Kyrpis Beauty encouraged me to share how I make this remedy which is so close to my heart, and which I believe so strongly can help many of you out there as we navigate this somewhat dark time in our history. In the video, I talk a little about my recent battle with Imposter Syndrome, and how SJW helped me deal with the darkness that threatened my inner light, once again.
This powerful plant is being called on to aid us in our current times of rapid change, and conflict; where shadows seem to lurk, and when it is sometimes hard to let our unique light shine bright. Especially for those of us who are more sensitive to the unseen forces at work, both in ourselves and outside of us. SJW encourages us to dig up and dispel the shadows in ourselves, and then the ones in the world which try to keep us dim. SJW asks us to let our powerful light burst through the shadows so we can be the best versions of ourselves, which is what this world needs. We all come to this earth to do our own great work, and SJW can help us to better attune to our own inner light of power.
So in case you aren’t familiar with this super simple, yet super powerful elixir, I want to share my experience with it so you can see for yourself how something so simple can be so powerful, and hopefully, it will help you and your family to sleep a little better at night***
How to Identify Saint John’s Wort
You must use fresh Saint John’s Wort to make this remedy. You can find Saint John’s wort during early summer in sunny fields. Around the summer solstice Saint John’s Wort is usually in full bloom in warmer climates, and budding in the colder, and you can find it into the middle of July in most places. The yellow flowers look like stars with 5 petals and have many stamens protruding from the center of the bloom.
There are many different species of St. John’s Wort. If you crush the buds or flowers with your fingers and your fingers turn red, then you know you’ve found a good species for the purpose of oil making. The red color is the active compound in the plant called hypericin, which comes from the Greek “hyper” (meaning over) and “eikon” (meaning image or apparition), which refers to the plant’s ability to protect and ward off evil spirits.
If you hold the leaves up to the sun, you can literally see light shining through what look like small holes in the leaves. If that doesn’t give you a clue about the inner workings of SJW, I don’t know what will.
How to Make SJW Oil
I prefer to make the special oil for my children that we call “monster repellent” by using only the reddish buds before they have opened. However, in the video I show you how to use the flowers themselves to make the oil.
What You Need to Make Saint John’s Wort Oil
- About 1 1⁄2 cups of Saint John’s Wort buds/ and or flowers
- Half-pint canning jar with lid
- Coconut oil (or olive oil)
However in the video you see me make the oil using just a large glass, olive oil, and plastic wrap to illustrate you don’t need any special equipment, which makes this remedy accessible to all who can access fresh SJW.
How to Make the Oil
Pick the buds and/or flowers from the plant and place them in a half-pint canning jar. Pack the buds in the jar, filling it almost to the top. Then fill the jar with oil, put the lid on, and lightly shake it.
I prefer to use coconut oil because it hardens in colder weather and is, therefore, easier to use as a salve, but olive oil works just as well even though it will remain liquid. Usually, at this time of year my coconut oil is mostly liquid, so it is easy to work with. But even if yours is still hard, once you put the jar in the sun, it will melt, and you can add more oil as needed to cover the plant material.
Then place the jar in a spot that gets some sun every day. This is the traditional way to make it and I like adding the energy of the sun to my oil to impart even more fiery energy to the finished product.
Check the oil every day for several weeks to make sure all plant parts are below the surface of the oil. Add more oil as needed. In a day or two, you will see the oil start to take on a reddish hue that becomes darker with time. After several weeks when the oil has turned to a brilliant dark red, strain off the flowers. The resulting oil can be used as-is. Keep the oil in a dark, cool location. Keeps at least a year…mine has never lasted longer than that because we use it up so fast!.
How to Use SJW Oil
The oil works as a nervine. When you take nervine plants, it makes you feel like you’ve taken lots of deep breaths, or like you are walking in the forest, or mountainside, or by the sea, or maybe drinking a soothing cup of tea, which is one of my other preferred ways to use SJW for healing***
You can also rub this ointment on your child’s forehead and feet at night before they go to sleep if they experience night terrors or are afraid of the dark. I also always put some of the oil in their bathwater so that the oil can cover their whole body, like invisible armor.
Other traditional uses for SJW oil is to treat minor burns, cuts or scratches, and as a balm for sore muscles and joints.
I hope this information is useful and dispels some of the intimidation around making herbal products at home. It doesn’t get easier than making Solstice Wort Oil, and its extremely powerful, a must-have remedy for sensitive souls.
*I first heard this term used by herbalist Anna Booth Cohen of Herbalist Uprising
**As with any new herb, please consult an herbalist or medical provider before using Saint John’s Wort, especially if you are on any medications.
***DISCLAIMER: I am not a health care provider. I am just a person who has used and researched integrated therapies for over 20 years and I use my knowledge and experience to help myself and my family and have had excellent results.