Herbal Medicine: What is an Electuary?
An Electuary is a medicinal paste created with something sweet, such as honey or jam. Thick electuaries can be rolled into little balls for children to take with some juice, and thinner electuaries can be mixed with beverages such as hot tea. At its essence, an electuary is an herb infused honey.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the first known use of an Electuary dates back to the 14th century. ‘Electuarie’ is a Middle English word derived most likely from the Greek ‘Ekleikton’ or ‘Ekleichein’ meaning to lick up. After all, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, am I right? ;-)
The common kitchen witch (and herbalist) will already be familiar with the process of herbal infusions, such as making tea blends, but making and storing electuaries can really kick your magic crafting up a notch. The primary use is medicinal but you can expand this into everyday spellcraft as well. Below are just a few examples of both medicinal and magical electuaries and how to create them.
Chamomile – Mildly sedative and soothing for stress relief.
Mint – Soothes digestive track to help with heartburn, nausea, and indigestion.
Raspberry Leaf – Especially beneficial for women by balancing hormones and helping with painful menses.
Elderberry, Echinacea, Licorice Root – This blend is a good immune supporter and very helpful for viral respiratory infections and treating the symptoms accompanied by the flu.
Magical (individual ingredients or blend to your tastes)
Love – Rose Petals, Lavender Flowers, Lemon Verbena, Apple, Cardamom
Money – Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Almond, Orange
Protection – Anise, Elder Flower, Fennel, Basil, Blackberry
Purification – Rosemary, Bay, Lemon, Chamomile, Nettle, Turmeric
How to make an Electuary
The best results come from using dried herbs or flowers and local raw honey. The dried plant material allows you to store your electuary longer because it has little to no water in it, where fresh plant material will thin the honey and require refrigeration to prevent mold. Raw honey from your local area is also best because it will contain traces of pollen from the trees and flowers in your area which assist with preventing seasonal allergies.
The process is to create a double-boiler system by putting a pot with some water on to boil, then placing a slightly larger metal bowl in it so that it sits snuggly (but not too tight) without touching the water. The gentle steam will warm the metal bowl enough to melt your honey without boiling it directly. Once your double-boiler is assembled put in your desired amount of honey and dried plant material. You can use herbs from your kitchen, ground spices, dried flowers, etc. I would recommend finding food grade if you’re buying online or at a local shop. Organic would be the best of course (pesticides don’t make good electuaries!). The amount of honey to plant material is up to you depending on how strong you want the infusion to be. Let your plant material simmer for an hour in the honey over your double-boiler.
*Alternative* You could infuse your honey and herbs using a small crock pot if you wanted to so you could simmer for 2-3 hours.
If you want your electuary to be a thick paste, finely grind your herbs prior to infusing using a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle if you have that kind of patience). Alternatively you could just use store bought ground herbs/spices. You will want to use more of an equal ratio of plant material to honey to make sure it stays thick. Please note that this will make the honey taste strongly of the herbs you use so be mindful of taste when you’re choosing herbs to blend, or just plan to roll into more of a “plant pill” to be swallowed. After infusing, store in a clean dry jar with a lid.
If you prefer a thinner electuary that can be mixed by the spoonful with a cup of hot water or tea, then you can use any kind of plant material in any amount you’d like with your honey to control strength and flavor. After infusing, strain it into a clean dry jar with lid for storage. Straining a combination of leaves, roots, bark, and ground spices will allow the smaller particles to stay within the electuary while removing the larger more undesirable pieces. This seems to be the most popular method.
You can now use your electuary however you’d like! Medicinal, Magical, with tea, in your cooking, the possibilities are endless so experiment!
Originally posted on my druid page, DruidDaydreams.