Calling all New York Numis! This coming Wednesday March 26, Victoria Keen will host green witch Robin Rose Bennett in a special Urban Wellness Workshop on herbs to lift your spirit and enhance your natural beauty. And why not let vanity be your gateway into the magical world of healing herbs?
Ahead of the event, we caught up with Robin for a crash course in herbal enhancements…
WHAT WAS YOUR INTRODUCTION TO WORKING WITH HERBS?
I was looking for answers to my own health challenges that no doctor or dentist could solve for me and thus my deepest, most frustrating and painful physical challenges led me to my path and purpose and greatest joy. I always think it’s worth pointing that out. It can help us to focus on the expansions that naturally follow contractions when we’re going through difficult times, and help us to trust life more. And in fact, this is the best beauty treatment there is!
WHICH ARE THE HARDEST WORKING HERBS IN NATURE’S BEAUTY CABINET?
Roses. Both the flowers and the berries are rich in skin-healing compounds that increase the circulation in our skin and also smooth out wrinkles. The same is true of elder blossoms. The bio-flavanoids in these flowers are beautifying as they nourish the skin, just as you nourish your body when you are hungry. I believe we should think of our skin as another mouth – and only put onto the skin things we would put in our mouths.
Oats are another favorite, both used externally as smoothing scrubs and internally to build the health and vitality of our skin, hair, nails and bones, not to mention our nervous systems through an abundant array of vital minerals and vitamins. Calmness shows up as glowing vitality, a natural beauty, and so your constitution, whether you run hot or cold, lethargic or have too much energy, will influence the herbs, both internal and external, that will be the best ones for you.
WHY DO OUR EMOTIONAL AILMENTS WREAK SUCH HAVOC ON OUR SKIN?
Well, this is a great question that we’ll explore more deeply in the workshop, but one way I look at it is that our skin is the natural “boundary” between us and everything outside of us. When stressed, that boundary often feels violated which will show up on the skin through inflammation that occurs as rashes, pimples and the like.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER ROOT CAUSES OF MOST WOMEN’S SKIN PROBLEMS?
Challenges in the body’s other natural filtration systems are the root causes of most skin problems. When the kidneys, liver, or lungs are in need of more support to work optimally, our skin will often do its best to filter out what our body can’t use. So skin challenges are a call to investigate what other systems deeper inside the body and psyche are in need of more nourishment.
Of course, when you put the right substances into the body, you don’t need to be so worried about what to remove. Having said that, sometimes certain foods trigger skin reactions. Also, hormonal system nourishment, particularly through aiding the liver which performs over 500 known tasks for us on a regular basis, will often help clear up and beautify skin and hair.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OWN HERBAL BEAUTY REGIME?
Well, I’d like to quote musician-artist Joni Mitchell. When she was getting older and her mother was challenging her lifestyle choices, she replied; “Mom, happiness is the best face-lift!”
So, it starts with attending to my happiness, which means getting enough physical movement and time outdoors with my feet on the earth, barefoot as often as possible, taking in the plants through my skin, and when that’s not possible, taking in the plants through putting my hands on the trunks of trees. Making time for myself and what feeds me is something I’m learning how to do more than ever before.
I also love oil baths with homemade oils such as pine needle oil, herbal infusion baths with oatstraw and facial masks with homemade herbal honeys infused with roses and violets (see recipe below).
A fresh clay masks is another one of my favorites. I harvest clay from a natural clay bed upstate once every couple of years and keep it covered in a jar with fresh water and it keeps wonderfully well. When you don’t have fresh, mixing dried green clay with water or aloe gel is a good second choice.
Finally, I use olive oil and coconut oil on both my hair and skin.
An herbal beauty regime is another form of nourishment. And nourishing ourselves translates to healing ourselves and healing ourselves translates to owning our gifts and our power, so that we then have vitality and energy to use in service of our Earth family, including all of nature, which, as we all know, is imperative.
The below recipe is from Robin Rose Bennett’s newest book, The Gift of Healing Herbs. With its aphrodisiac zing, she suggests it as the perfect “remedy” for spring fever!
ROSE VANILLA BEAN HONEY
Fresh rose blossoms or buds of any fragrant species – unsprayed
1 dried vanilla bean, as fresh as possible
1 jar wildflower, linden or clover honey
Cut off the ends of the vanilla bean, open it up lengthwise and scrape out the insides. Then cut the pod into small pieces and place every part of thr bean into a pint jar. Fill the rest of the jar with the fresh rose blossoms or buds. (If you are using dried roses use about 1 cup to fill the jar half full). Cover the herbs with honey and stir gently, poking here and there with a chopstick to make sure the honey saturates the herbs completely, and continue filling the jar to the top. Cap it, and wait six weeks or more before decanting. When you’re ready, decant the herbs by gently heating the honey until it pours like water, through a strainer into a fresh bottle.
Meet Robin Rose Bennett in person and get a lesson in creating your own herbal infusions for the skin and the spirit on Wednesday March 26 as part of Victoria Keen’s Urban Wellness Lecture Series. Tickets are $40 and available thought this link.