I often get asked how I go about creating a new product for Archeus. It is a really good question, so I thought I'd share with you how I set about creating products for you.
I’ve been studying herbs, essential oils and plant essences for years. This lays a foundation to the work I do. Even as a child I felt drawn to plants and healing and these days I love that I have returned to that first passion. As a teenager and in my early twenties my deepest wish was to train in herbal medicine but I felt a pressure to do something more ‘mainstream’. So it was not until 1992 when I finally did my first course and it was with the London School of Aromatherapy. From there I have continued to study and research the ways in which we use plants for beauty, for healing, for medicine and ritual. This included research while I worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew In England.
I have been fascinated with healing traditions from around the world and I think they all have some basic things in common: deep ancient wisdom comes from taking the time to really get to know each plant, to listen to nature, to observe it. The same goes for the person, place or thing that is being worked with – observation is key to understanding what may be going on physically, mentally and spiritually. True and unbiased observation brings connection; and with that comes an awareness of the energy that flows through everything. Chi, prana, archeus, mauri, even quantum physics, these are all words for this energy. Observation of and connection to this energy reminds us of the oneness of things. With connection comes respect. Respect for the natural world, for this planet that we all depend upon and respect for all beings regardless of whether they are flora or fauna.
It is one thing to learn about something from a text book but that knowledge never really comes to life until you work, and work, and work with it. For me, that work is joyous, sacred and ongoing.
Years back, I started out making products by mixing a few oils and butters and essential oils together and thinking that was pretty good. It was pretty good, but it was just another very nice natural and organic skin care product.
As my confidence grew I started focusing a lot more on herbs with therapeutic benefits that could be macerated into oils, or made into tinctures to be used in products. Things were definitely starting to get more interesting, and effective.
If I had to draw a picture of the way I work, it would be represented in pyramids and spheres. Not Egyptian pyramids, I think in pyramids of care. My pyramids are a bit like Maslow’s pyramid of need, but three-dimensional like a sphere. Spherical thinking also acknowledges seasonal rhythms, ebbs and flows, lunar patterns.
I couldn’t do this without keenly, carefully and lovingly observing Nature, without connecting to it, tapping into its energy.
When I start formulating, the first thing I think about is what I want a product to do. This is often guided by requests from customers. Then I think about how I want it to feel. I spend a lot of time working out the selection and balance of herbs chosen for their therapeutic benefits and checking for contraindications. I think about what form these plant benefits should be delivered in - oil, butter, maceration, essential oil, essence and so on. From here, I head up from the physical towards the mind and spirit aspects of care. What plants should I be select to help provide some mental aspect to the product and what plant energies do I want to chime with our own energetic ebbs and flows? My way of working flows from the physical to the spiritual, from the earth to the sky. It embraces the elements. It helps me work with subtle balances of beneficial properties, of scent, or texture, of energy and is governed by the lunar and seasonal calendars.
Here are the keystones for each part of the pyramid, starting from the base and working up:
- Texture - is it a balm, cream, powder, lotion, mist?
- Benefit - what do I want the dream to do or support?
- Harmony & Balance - what herbs do I select that work in a synergistic way with each other?
- Mind & Body - how have ingredients such as essential oils been used for the body, but also for the mind?
- Energy - aura, spirit, being, however you may wish to call it, this is where I look at the energetic attributes of ingredients, in particular the hydrosols and plant remedy essences I make from plants and trees growing in the Archeus gardens.
This way of working has developed to the point that I will chose particular plants or trees on my property to work with depending on the energetic outcome I am seeking to create. Like people and animals, plants may be the same species but their individual character can be quite different depending on the conditions and location they grow in. I also gather different aspects of their qualities at different times of year: the energy retreating back into the earth with winter, the pure energy and pleasure of buds in spring, the summer and autumn harvest.
I couldn’t work in this way without all those accumulated hours and years of pouring over texts, books and research papers. But on a deeper level, I couldn’t do this without keenly, carefully and lovingly observing Nature, without connecting to it, tapping into its energy.
And lastly, every product I make gives back to Nature, which completes the circle, honours the sphere. When you buy an Archeus product or book a place at one of my workshops, you are contributing to plant conservation activity in Hawke’s Bay. It helps create some funds for plant conservation work here in Hawke’s Bay, the region I am located in. And also I hope each product goes a little way towards connecting its user more closely with nature through the stories its ingredients can tell.
If this way of working and this connection to nature appeals to you I invite you to take a look at the Archeus range, try some of the products. I have put maker’s notes on each product page so you can learn more about why I made that particular product.
I’d also love to hear about the ways you work with this beautiful natural planet so leave your thoughts in the comments section below.