Rose Moon: Imbibing Summer
The full moon of June 9th 2017 will occur at around 6am (PST) and you may see her rise in the night sky around 8:30 pm. This moon falls on a Friday, a day which has a long association with the Saxon goddess Frigg, and the Roman goddess Venus, or Aphrodite. Venus is the goddess of beauty and desire, and her energy empowers sensuality in the most delightful way. What a fitting day to end the traditional work week on! The full moon of June is also known as the Honey Moon, the Strawberry Moon, the Mead Moon or the Rose Moon. Where I live the wild roses have sprung into bloom over the last week and their bright pink faces are adorning every roadside. I have been gathering their flowers all week so that I can create delicious foods and medicines with them, capturing their essence for the winter months to come.
Gathering wild rose is a beautiful full moon ritual and there are many things you can do with the flowers, such as making a flower essence, drying the petals for tea, creating a rose cordial, or making a rose infused honey. In this post, I will share my recipes for making rose cordial as rose honey here so that you can enjoy the sweetness of these practices for yourself.
The first step is to gather your roses. Get a basket or plastic container that will allow you to hold the flowers without bruising their petals, and head out to an area where you have seen wild rose blooming. Ideally, choose an area that has not been sprayed and is a good distance from road traffic. There are many varieties of wild rose and it is a good idea to find out which ones grow in your area so you can identify them. Here in BC the Nootka Rose, the Baldhip Rose, the Prickly Wild Rose and the Prairie Rose are most common. Look for the distinctive five petals, five sepals, multiple stamens & styles, and serrated leaves common the Rosacea family. If you do not have a good plant identification book this is a good online resource.
Once you have properly identified your wild roses you can begin to mindfully gather them. The first step of this practice is to take a moment to simply connect with the plant. This attunement can be done in any way that feels right. I often take a few moments to simply gaze at the plant, acknowledging its beauty and presence, then I may close my eyes and ask that the plant bless me with its medicine before I begin to pick. I like to let the plant know what I hope to do with the gift it is offering me. This reminds me of my own intention and supports me in extending my gratitude to the plant. Once you have taken this moment to tune in, begin to slowly and mindfully gather your petals.
A good general rule of thumb when gathering is to pick 1, leave 5. In other words, do not overharvest. When gathering roses I take just the petals and leave the inner part of the flower to progress into fruit, or rose hips as we call them. Choose bright and vibrant flowers that are in their prime- but remember to leave some for the pollinators.
To make rose cordial you will need a large jar ( I like to use a 64 oz mason jar), 2-3 cups of fresh rose petals, 2 organic lemons, and some good quality local honey. While you can probably find some more exacting recipes online I will share with you my “kitchen witch” recipe, which does not include perfect measurements but tastes good every time.
Put water on to boil while you fill your jar half full of fresh rose petals. Finely grate the peel of both lemons, and use a citrus juicer to get their juice. Add both to the jar with the roses. Pour 8-12 oz of honey over the lemon and the flower petals. If you have a rose infused honey even better! Once your water has boiled allow it to cool slightly before pouring it over the tender roses. Give it a nice stir and let steep until room temperature, about 3 hours or so. I often cover mine and let it sit in the sunshine while it steeps.
Once your cordial has finished steeping give it another good stir and strain off solids using a muslin bag or double layered cheesecloth. Pour your cordial into a bottle. If you like you can also add a splash of Turkish rose water for extra rose flavour. Your cordial will be a delightful pink colour and will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. I like to add it to sparkling water to drink throughout the day, and of course it is delicious when added to sparkling wine or in your favourite summer cocktails.
Rose Infused Honey
Infused honeys are really fun to make and make great gifts. They can be used topically, for instance rose honey is a beautiful addition to a homemade facial mask (mix with yogurt or oatmeal) and is a traditional beauty remedy. They also taste delicious. This week I made a Wild Rose & Vanilla Bean honey and I have loved adding it to my teas- or eating it straight off the spoon!
To make an infused honey you will need a clean 8 oz jar, some high quality local honey, and some dried rose petals. I prefer to work with dried flowers as the water content in fresh petals can lead to honey that spoils faster, however I want the petals as fresh as possible so I generally only dry them for about 48 hours or so before using them in honey. They should feel dry to the touch but still have all their vibrant colour intact. If you like you can chop the petals up before mixing them into your honey, but I often leave them whole and layer them into the jar with the honey until the jar is full.
Prepare a double boiler on your stove top and place the jar in the water bath ensuring the bottom of the jar is not directly on the bottom of your pot. Simmer in warm water for 4-6 hours, or until the petals have begun to lose their colour and been absorbed into the honey. Do not overheat. Be patient with this phase of the medicine making and stir regularly while keeping your water levels regular. (your jar should be uncovered while in the hot water bath) I like this method as the heat helps to draw the flavour of the flowers into the honey as well as liquify the honey enough to make straining easy once it is done. However, if you prefer not to use heat then simply let the honey steep for 4-6 weeks before straining. Or leave the petals in and eat them! If you have used dried flowers and strained the flowers off your honey will keep indefinitely.
Rituals of Pleasure
I consider this type of mindful kitchen sadhana to be a ritual of pleasure that feeds me on mutliple levels. Allow your senses to be delighted by each step of this process, from the gathering of the rose petals in the early summer sunshine, to the preparation of your medicines, to the imbibing of your conscious creations. The full moon period is considered a potent time in which to engage in rituals of celebration, and how better to celebrate the abundance of this season than to gather wild roses. I hope that this Rose Moon offers you simple ease and joy, may your days be filled with magic.