Wednesday, August 14, 2013

la curandera 1.0: el baño de flores

Here is a recipe unlike others. This one is not meant to satisfy your hunger, but it is equally important. This recipe for a fragrant herb and flower baño (bath), is meant to nurture that most fragile of trifecta: mind, body, and spirit! 

I gathered the ingredients for this flower and herb baño from my garden, but you can just as easily buy a bouquet of flowers and some herbs to make yours. I learned this practice from my mother, who in turn, learned it from her ancestors. Baño rituals are the practice of wise women and men. Curanderismo itself is a legacy (and in some places, a practice that is alive and well) of the indigenous cultures of the Americas. In Puerto Rico, where my family is from, the flower baño is used for many purposes including: to “cleanse a person,” to offer good luck, as an aid in opening his/her caminos (roads), to affect positive change in aural health, to make the person more attractive to a lover/partner/spouse, and to promote wellbeing, to name a few reasons for its use. In general, the fragrant and gentle flower bath is meant to “sweeten” a person’s body, mind and spirit. 

My mother learned a great deal about the plant world from kin and friends in the community where she grew up. Her syncretic knowledge spanning (however, incompletely) curanderismo (to cure), espiritismo (the practice of working with the spirits/ancestors), and Catholicism come together in how she interprets and manages daily life. For many people, rituals and beliefs stemming from these varied spiritual systems of knowledge, work similarly to a life vest by helping maintain people's buoyancy as they navigate the turbulent waters of migration, heartbreak, poverty, death, and many of the small and big traumas of daily life. Rituals have a place in our modern lives, and I think the flower baño with its power to bring joy to the otherwise mundane task of bathing, should be practiced often. It is specially recommended for those times when you begin to feel like as if the pace and events of daily life may conspire to take you “under;” this is the time when a flower bath will rescue you and bring you back to the surface. 

I used:
-yellow flowers (i.e. daisies, cosmos, sunflowers, others)
-pink flowers (i.e. roses)
-1 tablespoon honey

What to do?

I placed water in a large pot then added the plants and the honey. I set it on low for about 40 minutes (the added bonus is that it scents the house as it “cooks”). I strained the plants, and placed the baño water in several containers and put them away in the fridge. When you are ready to use your baño warm it up. You can take a baño anytime. However, for best results it is recommended you take your baño on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the same week.

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