“If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.” –James Terry White (1907), Not by Bread Alone
According to ancient Roman mythology, Hyacinth was a beautiful young man. This mortal was the faithful lover of the god Apollo. As usual, the pantheon of gods was rife with jealously. No one was more envious of their relationship than the West Wind, Zephyr. Enjoying the company of one another, Apollo and Hyacinth started a game of discus. Hyacinth ran to catch the discus, as any fool-hearty lover might to impress their significant other. Zephyr blew Apollo’s discus off course, which mortally wounded the young man. Apollo rushed to his love, denying Pluto claim to the boy’s soul. Instead, Apollo crafted a flower, the hyacinth, from the spilled blood. His tears stained the flower’s petals as sign of his grief. Despite this tragic origin, the hyacinth has often been associated with playfulness, games, and recreation: a reminder of Hyacinth’s impish nature.
Today, I thought it appropriate to write a blog post about a Hyacinth tincture I made a few weeks ago and completed today. A tincture is a concentrated liquid form of an herb or flower (similar to a cooking extract). Tinctures preserve the properties of the herb, while also making them last longer! In fact, alcohol based tinctures have a shelf life of several years. Most tinctures can be used both externally and orally. Always keep in mind, however, to fully research a flower or herb’s toxicity prior to use. I encourage you to try making your own tinctures, as they are very inexpensive (compared to store bought)! They are great for medicinal or ritual purposes. For example, the pink hyacinth flowers I used for my tincture will help in any spells pertaining to recreation or playfulness. Who doesn’t need a little fun in their lives every once in a while?
Below, I have outline the method I find most useful for the process!
-A clean glass jar with a lid
-Consumable 80 proof alcohol (I use vodka)
-Herb/flower of choice (dried or fresh)
Most tinctures have an alcohol base, as it makes them last longer. You can use vodka, rum: really any alcohol except isopropyl! Tinctures can also be made with a glycerine, vinegar, or honey base, but we can leave that for another instructional post.
Fill the jar 3/4 full with the herbs. Do not pack down, movement is necessary!
Fill the jar with alcohol and stir with a clean spoon.
Put the lid on the jar (I use a pickling jar to seal in freshness!). Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily for at least three weeks. Optimally, store for six weeks.
Strain through a cheesecloth. Store the tincture in a clean glass jar.
NOTE: Alcohol evaporates, so check regularly to make sure the herbs are always completely submerged. Similarly, try not to open the jar often—this could increase the risk of introducing bacteria which can result in mold or fermentation.
If you replicate this recipe with the hyacinth, I would not recommend taking this tincture orally. This flower is sometimes confused with hibiscus which is edible. Many parts of the hyacinth, on the other hand, are poisonous. Although I have not found any warnings against the consumption of the flowers, I would not suggest it. Instead, use this tincture as a perfume.
Pax et Bonum,