As the song continues to profess, Lilac wine is sweet and heady. Oh my goodness, I LOVE lilacs! Their smell conjures up ancient memories and indescribable bliss. I watch with anticipation waiting for their blooms to unfurl for weeks. Right now a few blossoms are popping open on fronds of tight buds on my trees. It will be just a few more short days until my neighborhood will be awash with their magic scent and I am making preparations to enjoy them to the fullest. Beyond that first intoxicating sniff, which is something I truly wait for all year long, I want to preserve the essence of my lilacs and extend the enjoyment of them as long as I can. Fortunately there are few things that make that possible and I am going to share some techniques with you, too!
The magical properties of lilac are numerous and rely on it's jubilant fragrance to uplift the spirit. From protection to invoking joy the flowers of lilacs have the power to transform gloom into hope. Some even believe they have the ability to drive away ghosts which might be applicable if they're causing trouble, otherwise I think they attract all manner of benevolence, spirits included. I do know for certain they are quite strong and because they peak at Beltane they offer a portal into the world of the fey, who are just beyond the veil at this time of year. I can think of no other offering that is quite as suitable to Flora, the May Queen, herself.
First things first, a simple syrup infused with lilacs is a fantastic way to enjoy their sweet and heady virtue! I prepared some for Beltane celebrations last year and all who imbibed agree, there was something rather special about communing with the beautiful blossoms in this way. When harvesting any botanical for use there are a few important steps to follow. First of all, one wants to avoid anything sprayed with pesticides for obvious reasons. When in doubt, don't do it (generally good advice overall!) so it's best to take from trees you are familiar with. Spiritually speaking, in my tradition we honor the medicine of the plant by asking it's permission to harvest and then leaving an offering. This offering can be many things, a strand of your hair, a song, a pinch of cornmeal or tobacco, to name a few.
This simple syrup recipe is easy to remember as all ratios are one to one. You can adjust up or down depending on how many lilacs you are able or desirous of harvesting. To make this recipe you will need a glass jar, water, sugar and lilacs. To prepare the syrup bring the water to a boil and add sugar, stirring to dissolve it. Reduce the heat to low and add the lilac blossoms. Simmer slowly for 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the syrup into a glass jar through a sieve to separate the spent blossoms. Allow to cool and then enjoy as you would with any simple syrup. Add to tea, cocktails or a glass of sparkling water. Mmmm magical!
Following the same gathering advice outlined above a flower essence can be prepared by steeping the lilacs in filtered spring water. This is a very cursory overview of how to prepare a flower essence and if you are interested in learning more I encourage you to investigate further! Flower essence is made by using a solarization process so choose a sunny day to make your medicine. Much care and preparation can be put into the intention infused along with the lilacs. Some wise women I know like to infuse on the full moon, adding the lunar effects to the brew. Crystals can be situated around the charging vessel to bolster the intent of the essence, as well. I generally avoid adding stones to the water itself because many are not considered safe for consumption. Water is a chemical and it will leach minerals out of crystals so do be sure they are safe if you decide to add them to the water, itself. Back to flower essences though, if possible place your charging bowl amongst the botanicals in the place where they were harvested. A couple of hours in direct sunlight (and again in moonlight if you choose to) is really all that's needed to charge the water.
Certain schools of thought believe it best to minimize human contact with the flower essence as much as possible so from gathering through filtering remember to keep your vibration in alignment with the intent of the essence and handle the flowers themselves as little as possible. Once steeped, carefully strain again and decant this mother tincture into a large bottle filling it halfway with the essence, then fill the other half with your preferred 40% alcohol. To dispense use smaller vessels such as 20ml bottles and add about ten drops of mother tincture to each, again topping off the bottle with alcohol. Small doses are all that are required to enjoy any flower essence. Add a few drops to a glass of water or take directly under the tongue.
Lilac infused oil, sugared lilacs and the aforementioned lilac wine are other fantastic ideas to preserve the luscious scent of lilacs for future enjoyment. I haven't tried them yet, but when I do I will report back on the results. Lilac infused honey is next to try on my list! Have you made any of these lilac infusions? Let me know your methods in the comments! Happy gathering!