Most of my herbal medicines – honeys, vinegars, oils, and tinctures – are brewed for at least six weeks. I was taught to do it this way by Susun Weed, my first herbal teacher, but it took a while before I understood why. Other herbalists frequently suggest only a couple weeks brewing time. And I have even read many that recommend making infused oil by heating it with the herb for only a few hours before straining it and bottling it for use.
So why then, when there are other less time intensive ways that many use successfully, do I continue to use the six week method? Well, it’s about aligning the subtle energy of the earth’s and the moon’s cycles with my medicines, which I have come to believe makes them more potent.
The moon has a powerful effect on the cycles of Earth and her population. An obvious example is the moon’s influence on the ocean tides. It moves billions of gallons of water on the Earth’s surface by simply moving past — that seems pretty powerful to me!
There is also evidence that the ebb and flow of the female menstrual cycle is similarly influenced by the moon. Before the advent of all the modern technology, the moon was the primary menstrual regulator for women. Women generally ovulated and gave birth on the full moon, and bled on the new (dark) moon.
I’m sure there are many, many other biorhythms on the earth that are also affected. Brewing medicines for six weeks is believed by many to infuse them with the energetic power of the lunar cycle.
For medicine making you would ideally start your medicine on a new (dark) moon, and then let it brew through two full moons, straining and bottling it on the second. This whole process takes exactly six weeks to accomplish.
It is believed that as the moon moves into fullness over the first two weeks, then ebbs back into darkness over the second two weeks, then moves once again into fullness over the final two weeks, it is simultaneously harmonizing and drawing subtle energetic qualities from the plant into your alcohol, oil, vinegar, or honey. (Some medicines are better if brewed even longer)
Ever sat in front of the ocean and watched and listened as the waves ebb and flow and experienced the tremendously soothing and rejuvenating harmony of this rhythm? This is the same energy you want to capture in your medicines. Powerful healing energy.