An Elixir means two things to me, how it is made and how it is drunk. The how it’s made is about using good ingredients chosen for a health purpose. Elixirs are especially healing and meaningful by their nature because they are help our body and mind for the better, and so we like to make an occasion of it with mindfulness and solemnly.
The word Elixir is rooted in Alchemy. So if you are making an Elixir then you can consider yourself an Alchemist! This definition of “Alchemist” speaks to me, ‘Someone who transforms things for the Better”. So the Alchemist creates Elixirs as a means to improve health and well-being.
My Mum brought me up with Spices and Herbs, many were used in both our drinks and food for culinary purposes but some were reserved purely for a healing purpose. Her knowledge was passed down to her from her Mum and so on. Mum would use her Spices and Herbs as a matter of course to see us through winters by building up immune systems and then helping us to relax during the Summer. Spice and Herbs had a place for every time and occasion.
Choosing ingredients is a lot of fun. At first call, make sure that the ingredients are of good quality and use organic whenever possible.
My Elixirs usually have between 1-4 ingredients. When more than one then they will be selected for their synergistic effects: Either for health, or for taste or to achieve a happy balance between taste and health.
My preference is to select ingredients primarily for their benefits to mind/body. I am usually more than happy to sacrifice the taste providing the benefits are worthwhile. For example, I use a very potent herb called Ashwaganda, it really does not taste nice at all but my nervous system is so much better off it’s really worth the sacrifice. It has notably improved my performance in Martial arts practice and Meditation. I could take it with sweetener but mostly I just accept the taste as it is, I feel that it helps me to better connect with the plant.
In most cases it’s not difficult to find a healthy Elixir to brew without having to sacrifice taste. Rose, Fennel seeds, Cinnamon and Cumin is a wonderful and aromatic tea that I would make regularly in the Summer because of it’s cooling effects, and it tastes divine.
Some ingredients are better assimilated with a carrier, some fat to bind with like ghee/butter or milk.
Types of Elixirs
There are many types of Elixirs, In it’s mildest form a ‘Tea’ can be considered an Elixir. A ‘Herbal infusion’ by comparison requires more herbal content and is brewed for longer. Decoctions again require even more time brew to extract the medicinal propoerties from the bark/roots of a plant. Elixirs can also be cold, Juices, Teas, and Smoothies.
Drinking Elixirs in Ceremony
I believe our state of mind during the making of the Elixir and when drinking it will enhance its effects. To do this optimally we can conduct a ceremony.
There are many types of ceremonies from simple to extravagant. They can vary greatly in how they are conducted but there are common elements to every ceremony:
- It is a special time
- There is something to be grateful for
- It is marked by a beginning and end
- Their is a positive intention that can be stated
- One or persons will be holding their attention: Sometimes on the intention and other times the proceedings of the ceremony.
An example of a simple Ceremony
- Set some time aside for the ceremony
- Begin the ceremony with a few deep breaths.
- Put yourself into a positive state of mind as you express gratitude for something, it may or may not be directly related to the ceremony
- Declare an intention, it may be directly related to the effects of the Elixir you have made, something like “I welcome this healing Elixir into my body so that it may have the affect of balancing my hormonal system.”
- Enjoy your Elixir mindfully
- Close the ceremony by expressing gratitude for what has taken place.