Fire Cider

The nights are growing colder and the colours start to brighten; there is an almost imperceptible shift in the air that heralds the approach of Autumn. This is a very special time of year, particularly so for those of us who really live with Winter.

Somewhere, deep in our genes, there is a collective memory of times when we spent our lives intimately with the Earth; following the cycles of her seasons…her light and her dark. Our survival was linked to this shared rhythm of Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter, and our lives were built around them. We are still tied to this turning of the wheel and respond to the inner urgings of our ancient selves, whether we acknowledge them or not.

It is why, in the deepest depths of Winter’s barren months, we dream of seeds and soil and planting. It is why we impatiently wait, in fresh Spring, for the Earth to awaken to receive our seeds. It is why we grow and tend our crops, almost religiously, in the burning heat of July. It is also why we harvest and fill our pantries and our freezers and our cupboards with food to carry us through the cold. Even one jar of jam or jelly; colourful, sweet and delicious, is a reminder of where we have come from and where we are going. It is an acknowledgement of our labour and a promise that spring will return. It is a ritual that is far older than we are and a reminder of who we are; the legacy of our ancestors who lived with the Earth. Herbalists, by choice, have tried to realign our energies with this tradition.

Amongst myriad other duties and responsibilities held by herbalists, we make medicines.; for ourselves, for our clients and for our communities. We garble and we macerate, we tincture and we press.

We learn about and from our plant allies ( a teaching that never ends) and are constantly aware of what herb is growing, flowering, needing to be harvested. We learn where the energies need to be in the plant to make the most potent medicine and we plan, mark and execute our year by the plants we study and use; each species and variety has it’s own lifecycle and we need to be in tune with the plant to best understand and use the medicine it offers.

Summer is busy for herbalists. It is when we are working with plants…blissfully learning, building relationships and cultivating.

As Summer begins to fade, however, there comes an almost manic awareness of change and a tremendous call to create medicine. While the sun is still bright and there is warmth in the air, we know what is coming and feel the pull to prepare. Make medicine. Get ready for what is coming next.

The first medicine of Autumn that I am always drawn to make is Fire Cider. As a tonic, it is warming, nourishing, protective and bracing; it is like lighting the furnace for Winter and revving up the engines. It also feels a little bit ( or a lot) like old magic come back to guide us. There is something grounding and strengthening about the ritual of taking medicine made from Earth’s bounty…worked by hand…prepared with love and intention. This daily routine is medicine in and of itself. It is self care and attention that we often do not take the time to offer to ourselves.

Fire Cider is a modern medicine, brought into awareness by the inestimable Rosemary Gladstar ( Mother of modern western herbalisism); Fire Cider combines several traditional principles and actions.

There are as many versions of Fire Cider as there are stars in the sky (ok…maybe not QUITE that many!) but they all have a similar feeling and follow a loose formulation.

Fire Cider is prepared as an Acetum or an Oxymel. An Acetum is a tincture in which the biochemical constituents of a plant are extracted using vinegar instead of alcohol or water. This is a process which involves a little belief and a lot of patience. Once all of the ingredients are cleaned, prepped, chopped and diced they are added to a vessel, covered with vinegar and tucked away into a cool dark place with care and good intentions. Once a day, for a period of at least 4 weeks, the tincture is shaken vigorously and then put back to bed. After the 4 weeks has passed, the Acetum is pressed, separating the plant material from the vinegar and what is left is now a potent medicinal tonic full of antioxidants, immune modulators, anti-inflammatories, circulatory stimulants, antimicrobials, liver support, digestive support and many other beneficial properties and actions too numerous to list ( have I already mention the stars in the sky?!).

At this point, Fire Cider can be used. It can be taken by the spoonful, added to soups, salads, rice or whatever else sounds like a good idea. It is perfect on the cold days when the chill of Winter settles in the bones and you despair of ever being warm again. Fire Cider can be taken daily or used whenever the body is feeling run down or as though it is getting ready to do battle with some unseen virus or pathogen.

Fire Cider does pack a bit of a punch, and for those who are worried that is might be a bit much or who would like to add even more healing/protecting actions to the medicine, the Acetum can be made into an Oxymel; the vinegar extraction is added to honey. This provides another dimension of nourishment and protection to the medicine (it is also delicious!) and is the best way to engage children in taking the medicine.

Of course, it should be mentioned that all of the ingredients used in the formulation – from the herbs/vegetables/fruits to the vinegar and honey- should be organic, raw and non-gmo; medicine will not serve our bodies or the Earth if we make it with poison.

Sage Rosemary Wholistic, June 28th 2021

My name is Jana Brogan and I am speaking to you as a settler from the traditional hunting and gathering grounds of the Nbisiing Peoples and the Robinson-Huron Treaty. I am here today to introduce the launch of my new business, Sage Rosemary Wholistic.

Sage Rosemary Wholistic is the culmination of many years of personal investment and growth, and encompasses many modalities.

Primarily, Sage Rosemary Wholistic will serve as a platform for my practice as a Clinical Therapeutic Herbalist in the Western tradition and provide an alternative approach (as well as serving as an adjunct therapy) to allopathic medicine.

As a clinical herbalist, I will be offering virtual as well as in-person appointments. Eventually, I will be offering a brick and mortar space for both the clinic and the apothecary, but for now the apothecary will exist only online and appointments will take place either in a virtual space or in the comfort of a clients home.  I will come to you.

I will  be crafting and formulating teas, tinctures, topical applications, flower essences, and essential oil blends specific to my individual clients as well as offering some broader spectrum products for the public and community at large.

As the sole proprietor of Sage Rosemary Wholistic, I am resolutely committed to creating and offering  products and using materials that are sustainable and regenerative and packaging that is reusable or biodegradable.  Sourcing organic plants and ingredients will be a priority and organic ingredients will be used whenever possible. Full transparency is of the utmost importance and products not 100% organic will be labeled accordingly.

Herbalism is a beautiful healing art that focuses on discovering and treating the root cause of disease and disorder within the body. Symptom management is always a consideration for herbalists, but at the heart of the practice is the desire to help the body heal, and not apply band-aid solutions.

My formal training as an herbalist falls upon a lifetime of relationship and trust building experiences with the plants. I recently completed an intensive course of study in Therapeutic Herbalism at the Institute of Traditional Medicine (ITM) where I spent 2 years learning about and working in clinical practice, as well many other aspects of Herbal Medicine.  

The beauty of my training is that it serves as a bridge between science and tradition, and I embrace an extensive knowledge of both in my practice. 

The premise of herbalism is using plant medicine; the biochemical constituents, energetics, and traditions to identify, address and allow the body to heal on a deep level.

There is a vast and rich tradition of healing through botanicals. Plants offered the original medicine that most pharmaceuticals are copied from, and phytotherapy and the intricate synergies expressed through the plants are often still too complicated for science to explain. However, science now has the technology and data to validate what the tradition has always known … plants are powerful and potent healers, and plant medicine works.

Health is never as simple as taking a pill and involves time and commitment from the client … but healing that takes place through plant medicine is deep and often, overtime, permanent, altering the body on a cellular level through the intelligence of the plants.

Sage Rosemary Wholistics will also build and offer an apothecary where clients and the community at large can purchase plant based medicines and products which will serve in every day  while encouraging a kinder and more gentle  approach to life…walking softly on this sacred earth.

As a wholistic practice, Sage Rosemary offers clients meaningful and practical lifestyle and nutrition suggestions as well as resources for education and clarity and as a wholistic practitioner, I am also trained as a Death Doula and a Reiki Master and I weave these modalities into my treatments.

Over the year I  will be collaborating with other like minded individuals to offer creative and growth oriented retreats, public workshops, blog posts and a podcast.

I also act as an industry consultant and plant based lifestyle advocate dedicated to educating the public about the true cost of food choices and speaking to the reality that we are literally built by what we put on and into our bodies and that our choices are reflected in the health of our communities and the earth.

It is important to me that these services are accessible, and to that end will be offering a sliding scale for fees. If someone finds the prices a barrier to healing, please reach out to the clinic privately and I will work with you to create a plan that works.

Thank you.

I look forward to working with you.