Why Lilith? The reason for the name behind the Apothecary.

February 9, 2012
Ishtar in her marital aspect

Ishtar in her marital aspect

My name is not Lilith. As many of you know, dear readers and customers of my Apothecary, my name is Sarah. Though many people name their businesses after themselves, the reason for using the name Lilith is a bit convoluted, and I often get questions about it, so I will try to be articulate about my reasoning here.

Lilith first appeared in ancient Hebrew texts as a demon or a monster, but I am not concerned about those earliest references which are controversial in their authenticity at best. More interestingly,  Lilith appears in the 8th–10th centuries in Jewish folklore as Adam’s first wife, created at the same time as Adam, and considered his equal, unlike Eve who was created from Adam’s rib.  In the 13th Century mythology, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with the archangel, Samuel. Though Lilith is a name often used in reference to a feminine stance, I wanted to think deeper about this mythological figure and what she represents. The fact that she was Adam’s equal from the start rather than made to serve him, that she was fiercely independent, and strong in character certainly stand apart from the story of Eve. She took control of her own sexuality and copulated with an archangel, thereafter refusing to return to the Garden, which despite it’s earthly delights, was not quite up to par with sex with an archangel, I’m guessing. Call it a hunch.

Burney ReliefThis is an Babylonian image that is often associated with Lilith and in my earliest labeling, I used this image on all of my products. Called the Burney Relief, Babylon (1800-1750 BCE), this figure is apparently based on a misreading of an outdated translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and modern research has identified the figure as either Ishtar or Ereshkigal. How perfect! The pairing of those two goddesses lends even more interest to the Lilith story, though the linkages may be only the red threads between them that exist in my mind. While  they may not be related to Lilith, the Assyrian Ishtar (or Sumerian, Inanna) is the goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex. Even as the goddess of fertility, she was not as kind and benevolent as you might think, and she was above all the goddess of sexuality and could be brutal to her consorts and lovers. That said, she had many faces, just as we humans do, and in a famous legend about her decent to the Underworld. There, Ereshkigal, the goddess of the Underworld, allows her to enter but only according to the rules. She must shed her clothing as she passes through each of the seven gates. When she finally arrives, she is naked and in a rage! Ereshkigal puts her in prison and sends 60 diseases upon her, but eventually Ereshkigal is commanded by the gods to revive her by sprinkling her with the waters of life.

And why am I telling you all of this? Because this descent and revival is so intrinsic to our life on earth as human beings. First of all, we need to nurture the many sides of our characters, and those may include facets we are not encouraged to present to the world, at least as dictated by our modern societies. We are not ‘encouraged’, for women especially, to present our anger, frustration, our deepest sexuality, our moods if they are not sunny and bright. We are told to be Superhuman in our ability to stay bright and lively and committed to everything, even when we are burdened with difficulties, with family troubles, with work, or even with the fatigue of our intense, modern lifestyles. Ishtar’s story reminds us of the need to feel our rage, to allow that descent to the Underworld and our darkest places, even if that means a temporary, quiet withdrawal from social obligations. We need to be able to confront our own demons, to even be assaulted by the emotions we feel, and then to have the space to seek respite, to nurture ourselves back to life again, thus the ‘sprinkling of the waters of life’ for revival. But it is important to note that these darker aspects of our nature are not necessarily needing to be expunged — they are part of who we are, and these dark places also need to be accepted as part of our whole being. There is a fantastic Jungian analysis of this mythology that was quite formative in my thoughts about this mythology, and also in my own journey,  allowing myself to feel and be respectful of the complexities of my inner world and deepest nature.

Bravery accompanies Her:
Ishtar the bold
Her festivals are the Warriors´ festivals,
The stimulation of the warriors at combat,
The rousing of officers
The liberation of armies
Her rage at combat,
Her enthusiasm in battle
Reveal Her true Nature
And demonstrate what Ishtar knows how to do!

So how does this all connect to me naming my business Lilith’s Apothecary? Well, quite simply it is a reminder to us all that we have every right to a firm footing in the world, that we have the ability to not only be equals with our peers, lovers, and mates, but that we can also allow the many parts of ourselves (those deep, hidden, or even dark places included) to exist in harmony and balance.  Using herbs, our plant allies, to nurture our deeper selves is just one piece of this need to attend to ourselves more fully.  In my small way, and despite more limited means than the large corporations we have come to know so well, I want to help provide men and women with the ability fulfill this important function with natural,  raw ingredients — minerals such as clay and mica; gifts from the animal kingdom like milk, yoghurt and honey; and oils, essential oils, and raw herb matter to nourish ourselves both inside and out. With these materials from the earth, we are able to nudge our bodies into balance, hopefully. Above all, the herbalist is concerned with helping a person achieve holistic balance, and thus it is also my primary motivation. By looking at the full person, we can help try to ascertain what needs should be met, and hopefully what we can suggest as helpful assistance, ideas, and suggestions for achieving that equilibrium that we all seek.

I do hope all of that makes sense. You’ll be happy to know that my new website, complete with herb consulting details, is only now waiting for me to tweak a few things and then it will be live very soon. If you have any comments, stories, or feedback, I would love to hear from you. xo ~ Sarah

Incidentally, you may be interested in my Ishtar blend, named for this very story and with the achievement of hormonal and emotional balance in mind. I just ordered some organic shatavari root so I can make you a custom blend if you would like to try it.

Ishtar root tea


Musings for Change

May 12, 2011
Facial Cleansing Grains

Facial Cleansing Grains

Hello my dear readers. Oh, I wish I could blog more often. The intensity of my full-time day job combined with a busy craft season (actually, every season feels really busy) makes it tough. I am so looking forward to what amounts to an “herbal retreat” for me this June, the Medicines of the Earth Herb Symposium , Black Mountain, North Carolina. Check out the cool PDF brochure if you’re interested. Not only can immerse myself in the world of herbs for a nice, long weekend, but I also get to learn from some of the greatest herbal teachers of our time.

When I begin to shift into a new paradigm or even have some ideas for changes to be implemented, it seems that it takes me a very long time to migrate into a new place. I muse about changes for what seems like months, even years, before I make a move.  A true taurus! I confess. This slow drifting towards change can extend from new curtains to new Lilith’s Apothecary products, to new life practices. Why is this? I’m not sure, but I’ve come to accept that it is just my process. On the flip side, I’m also impressionable. When I read about great ideas, hear convincing arguments about ideas, growing practices, food, and so forth, I can internalize them with a passion. But I don’t flit from one thing to another; rather, I deeply internalize things that make sense to me until they become part of my own personal tapestry. And I’m finding that unlike Athena, who sprang from Zeus’s head fully formed in all her philosophical, conceptual, and ideological glory, it’s taken me 34 years to get me to where I am now. Maybe that’s just how it is for we mortals. Given my nature, I fully anticipate changes ahead to be a gradual, growing process. This is why I fully believe in the power of the third phase of life, the Crone’s stage, as one’s potential arrival at wisdom. Before that, it’s not really possible (as I see it anyway), though we try. We do.

I have some goals for the future of Lilith’s Apothecary. I will begin to slowly move towards the accomplishment of these goals over the next year, following my last craft shows of the Spring, The Art Star Craft Bazaar and the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival Last summer was a time of rest. This summer will be a time of careful implementation of new practices in my business.

1. I am going to move away from the use of Plastic. Yes, the plastics I use are all recyclable, but it just doesn’t make sense. I will probably keep certain components, such as pumps, caps, or mister tops, because at the moment, I don’t really see a way around it.

2. I am going to be focusing my product line much more exclusively on Facial Care. This is my area of expertise, and in an effort to keep my customers happily contented, I have often created products that are not really in this sphere. As they are lovely products, too, it’s hard to part with them! I have far too much diversity in my offerings, however, and I am spread too thin in production, which means that people often need to wait for staples such as facial creams and serums. What I may do is offer certain body creams, lotions, etc on a limited basis from time to time, but they may not be as regularly available. An exception to this is my Chamomile & Calendula lotion, as far too many people depend on this lotion to treat various dry skin conditions.

3. I’m going to have to eliminate my Tea line, which I have been pairing down for the last few years. I am still available as an herbal consultant to make specialized blends for pregnancy, post-partum, breast feeding, insomnia, anxiety, etc, however. Feel free to contact me directly, but realize that custom orders can sometimes take up to 4 weeks.

4. By paring down my offerings, I will be able to put more time into the development of new products that fit into my Facial Care line, such as creams that address skin discoloration (in development), products specific to acne issues, and others that have been bouncing around in my head for months!

5. I’m going to invest the necessary time in the development of my website, www.lilithsapothecary.com which was started over 2 and a half years ago, but for which I have rarely felt the ability to devote the necessary attention and time.

So, there are exciting changes ahead! And as I progress along my learning curve as a business owner and developer of natural bath and body products, I hope all my learning shows!

The main thing is that I love my business and I want to continue working on it in a way that is sustainable for myself, for my customers, and for the earth itself. I always welcome a dialogue with my readers and customers and would love to hear about your own personal experiences as well as favorite products. Thank you, as ever!


Listening to your body when it tells you to Slow Down

July 15, 2010
Sarah powell and daughter, Maeve

Me with my daughter, Maeve, in the Bahamas

Where have I been since my last post…about two months ago? As a blogger, I get a big FAIL in the regular posting department, I guess, but for as much as I get frustrated about the difficulty in finding time to blog about the very many things I would like to share with my readers, I also realize that we all (even me!) need to take time for a little respite.

Sometimes the task of living through a regular work week seems more daunting than climbing Mt. Fuji, and yet, week after week, we make it through. But to what expense? I am a full time employee of Temple University’s Department of Public Health and still manage to work on a business at night — usually from 8pm until about 2am. That means i rarely get the much needed 7 or 8 hours rest critical to long-term health. It’s incredibly difficult to juggle blogging, social media, esty sales, shipping orders, and everything else that goes along with having a small business in the wee small hours of the morning. Did I mention that I’m married with a three year old too? 

I would say that just about 100% of the time I feel I’m neglecting someone or something, if not my own health – and certainly not doing everything that I believe I should be doing to “make it”. I look at the business owners of the Indie Beauty Business Network and think, “wow – how awesome would it be to be able to work on growing my business during the daylight hours?” But on the flip side, I have a full time job salary to lean back on when retail sales are low.

This Spring I’ve made some choices that have also meant neglecting some things — such as blogging — a little bit, including taking a two week vacation to the Bahamas. But I have also been able to allow my body to rest, regain energy, and to hopefully provoke new gustos of invigorated creativity in future months.  I have had to cut back on some of the hours I devote to my business, but I am also able to enjoy some local networking in the herbal community, including starting a facebook page devoted to the herby activities, workshops, events, and retail offerings in Philadelphia. Just spending a little more time in the evening with my feet up can also go a long way and during these very hot, very humid summer days, I’m able to allow new ideas to germinate, as well as plans for the future of Lilith’s Apothecary.

Tell me how you handle those times in your life when your body (and mind!) just say “Slow Down!” Do you listen or do you have to be made to stop?


Winter Spirit…The Gift Guide

November 13, 2009
GrassHopper from Grazim's Shop on etsy

"Grasshopper" by Grazim

 

The autumn already seems to be ebbing away, though there are still a few wee tomatoes on my urban-dwelling vines. Still, many of autumn’s bright and colored leaves have fallen. Though I don’t usually create a treasury of beloved handcrafteds for this most herby of blogs, I was perusing through etsy favorites and felt inspired to share these lovelies with my dear readers. You may not want to spend that much on a chandelier, but you must admit….it is amazing! And if that is out of your price range, you might invest in a wee felted grasshopper, such as this one created by Grazim, and etsy shop located somewhere in Europe, and also the home of the sweetest felted slippers you’ve ever seen. 

Peaceful afternoon dress by SarahSeven on etsy

"Peaceful Afternoon" by SarahSeven

 

The Peaceful Afternoon dress, and other poetic creations, can be found in sarahseven‘s etsy shop. One must pay for luminous handmade creations, but would we artisans have it any other way? 

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree on etsy

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree

 

There are many beguiling images by The Haunted Hollow Tree etsy endeavor, but this one demands a frame and prized wall space at my humble abode. 

"mutant bunny" mask by Alma Pottery

"Mutant Bunny" by Alma Pottery

 

Alma Pottery claims to have art + attitude in the shop’s clever creations. I think this absolutely bizarre-fairytale-meets-the-surreal Mutant Bunny mask certainly fulfills the claim. I love it! 

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

 

Well, this is that (albeit *slightly pricy*) chandelier by Fiko Art I was talking about. I wish I lived in a house that could handle it! Maybe a converted one-room schoolhouse? Well, you’d need some lofty ceilings for this magical centerpiece. Take note of the absolutely amazing details, including the carving. This is an absolute work of art, and probably museum quality as well. 

Raven Terrarium by Doodlebirdie on etsy

"Raven Terrarium" by Doodlebirdie

 

I find terrariums absolutely enchanting, I have to say. I recently made a few without reading any directions as to the actual process (duh) and needless to say they didn’t work out that well. The keys are 1) not letting the moss touch the glass (fog), and 2) using charcoal to absorb moisture and also making sure there is some rocks at the bottom for a bit better ‘drainage’. Next time I’ll get it right! But in the meantime, check out Doodle Birdie for some lovely creations. 

Branch necklace by After Winter on etsy

"Branch" by After Winter

 

Ok, so let me send a subtle message into the ether. *I want this necklace for Christmas* Too bad my husband doesn’t read my blog! Alas. But still, this has been a favorite since it first appeared on the scene, at least a year ago. After Winter’s proprietress makes these absolutely amazing molded pieces using nature + pure sterling silver to create the most gorgeous pieces of adornment. These are heirlooms. 

"Tire Swings" baby booties by Wooly Baby on etsy

"Tire Swings" by Wooly Baby

 

I absolutely adore the vintage look to these handmade wool baby boots, complete with leather sole for those new walkers. I mean, I either have to buy these for some random baby I come across, or I need to have a new baby so I can shod its feet in these grey woolies. Either way – these booties must be worn by a baby that I know. Thank you Wooly Baby. Thank you for subtley pressuring me to have another baby so I can pay another $12,000 a year in child care costs. 

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren on etsy

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren

 

Is this a save the best for last moment? I’m not sure, but I can say, from one Sarah to another, Sarah Ogren is one of my absolute favorite etsy sellers. I do often wear a necklace creation, not unlike this amazing image, but I adore all of her animal headed Victorian creations equally, and someday soon, I want one for my walls (or at least my three year old daughter’s bedroom, where it would be most precious). Hint, Hint. 

You know, most etsy officianados like the lovely Scoutie Girl blog (thank you, Tara Gentile) create things called ‘Gift Guides’. Even etsy has its own Gift Guides to help overwhelmed and confused shoppers. I create Give-me-this Guides, apparently. I’m laughing out loud here because I’m not serious (but kinda am). I will say this. Nobody needs to buy me the Chandelier or the $500 frock, but…my three year old, Maeve, could try her hand at making a terrarium perhaps? Daddy? What’dya say?


Immune Boosting Herbs talk @ Holistic Moms Network meeting

October 7, 2009

 

herbs

herbs

Tonight I had the pleasure of presenting about the use of herbs to fight colds and flus, particularly with regard to the treatment of small children. The presentation was delivered to a local chapter of the Holistic Moms Network. It’s fun presenting to the choir, more or less, as this group is made up of parents who are interested in holistic health & living in all respects. And such a lovely group of people, dads and moms alike!

We were able to talk about the energetics of foods and herbs, the use of preventative versus acute herbal remedies, and dosages for small children & infants. I am again reminded of how wonderful it is to share knowledge and information about our botanical allies, and of course giving such talks only reinforces that for me. I was reading a bog post on ProBlogger this morning about weighing the cost-benefit of speaking at events for free. In other words, what’s in it for the business? For some people, attending a far away conference to speak without compensation means that they have to figure out why the trip would be worthwhile, whether through contacts, networking, or business sales. I definitely identify with that when I think about my ‘day job’ in Public Health. I also make decisions like that when it comes to my business, Lilith’s Apothecary. But when it comes to herbal medicine, if I can afford it, I am more than happy to participate in any way I can. It’s true that I do indeed have an herbal bath and body business of sorts, but I don’t educate about herbs because I want to sell products. In fact, I hardly even indicated that I have a business tonight. Instead, I want others to learn how to make the products for themselves! Sure, I can make it for you if you don’t have the time or desire (i.e. I can’t sew, so someone has to sew things for me!), but if you want to make your own herbal syrup, by all means! Let’s do it. And doing it together is so much fun.

Holistic Moms Network
NJ/Philadelphia Chapter
Collingswood, NJ 
Thanks for having me!

Other posts that may be of interest:
What to do about H1N1: 5 Tips
Nervous About Swine Flu? Look to Herbal Medicine for Immune Boosting
DIY Remedies for the Cold Season Part I
DIY Remedies for the Cold Season Part II
Herbal Facial Steams for the Cold and Flu Season


Educational Partnership: Lilith & Blossoming Bellies

August 4, 2009
Post-Partum herbal sitz bath

Post-Partum herbal sitz bath

First of all, dear readers, I must thank you for your generous response to my “restructuring” post and for all of your wonderful support for your favorite products!

One of the reason for making more room in the Lilith landscape is so that I can move forward with my herbal study, a path that has been certainly aided but also hindered by an ever-expanding herbal bath & body business. I spend so much time processing orders and preparing products that I can’t properly focus on my true love: herbal medicine.

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to reach out to some local services supporting natural childbirth and mothering–to let them know that Lilith’s Apothecary products for pregnancy, post-partum, and new baby exist, but also just to perhaps engage more with a community of services very much in line with my own interests in herbal medicine. I was incredibly fortunate to have made contact with an amazing woman, Brittany Sharpe McCollum CCE(BWI), CD(DONA), the trained and experienced doula behind Blossoming Bellies birth services.

Far beyond a mere introductory exchange, Brittany and I enjoyed an enthusiastic conversation that progressed into plans to create curricula around the use of herbs during pregnancy, labor, delivery, post-partum, and childcare, with intended audiences of doulas, midwives, and possibly new women. Just in the same way that Brittany advocates the empowering of women to take control of their own bodies in the natural birthing process, I am an advocate of empowering women to use herbal allies at these critical times. Along similar lines, I believe, the hegemonic medical ‘establishment’ has created fear about and certainly a medicalization of birth that takes women away from the control of this very natural process, and certainly has created fear around the use of even the safest of herbs during pregnancy and childbirth. It is important that, through education, we advocate the use of safe, empowering, and natural approaches toward natural pregnancy, child birth, and mothering. In this, Brittany and I are brilliantly in alignment.

B.S.McCollum_HeadShot2As for Brittany and Blossoming Bellies, her story is a wonderful one. After the birth of her son in 2006, Brittany discovered a passion for women’s health, informed decision making through the process of labor and birth, and the need for support in the postpartum period. Moving away from her roots in journalism and creative writing, Brittany began devoting much of her energy to the study of natural pregnancy and childbirth. Her fascination with the body’s amazing abilities and her desire to aid women in rediscovering these abilities inspired her to enter the world of the birth professional.

Brittany completed childbirth educator certification with Birth Works International and completed birth doula certification with DONA. She now teaches several different formats of the Birth Works childbirth education preparation class series and supports women and their partners in labor through emotional, physical, and informational support. Brittany is also trained by Birth Arts International, a program based on the midwifery model of care, which includes basic information about the ancient wisdom of herbs. As a breastfeeding advocate, she has also completed breastfeeding counselor certification with Nursing Mothers Alliance. Her services also include postpartum doula support, in which she fills the traditional role of assisting the new mother transition into parenthood through breastfeeding support, discussion of infant care, and help with household necessities such as laundry and pet care.

Through regular attendance at workshops and conferences and through hands-on support, Brittany continues to embrace her passion for informed decision making and the power of the female body in birth. In supporting families through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, Brittany helps ease the transition into parenting and build confidence in childrearing in both the mother and her partner. Information about all of the services Brittany offers can be found on her website at http://www.blossomingbelliesbirth.com. Her services and workshops are supportive of the Philadelphia region, but if you are trying to find a doula in another region of the country, Brittany would no doubt be of assistance in directing you to a good resource.


Lilith Restructuring: Do I get a bail out?

July 20, 2009

09.07.09_orchard_maeve&momThis is an important post because first and foremost, Lilith’s Apothecary is here to serve my customers. For those of you who are loyal to my products, contact me for custom products, facial consultations, herbal tea and tincture blends, and just rely on natural body and facial care, I am here for you! The upside of this business is that it is growing and growing! In fact, I can’t possibly keep up with the growth curve, though I wish I could. It’s unfortunate that I am not in the financial position to quit my 40 hr a week ‘day job’ and that, combined with parenting a toddler and trying to be a good partner to my archaeologist husband, makes it almost impossible to keep up with the diversity of offerings, increasing numbers of wholesale requests, and local retail opportunities here in Philadelphia.

I love what I do with Lilith’s Apothecary and I am not willing to let the business diminish, but I am going to need to ‘restructure’ a bit to ensure that I can keep up. All these 3 am work nights are just not sustainable! Though there’s no financial bail out for me (sadly), despite my passion and love for what I do, I still need to find ways to refine my product offerings, perhaps limiting some lines that are currently available.

So the very important request for YOU, my fans, is to comment below on what you personally can’t live without or had hoped to try in the future. What are the vital Lilith products that stand out? Not only will this feedback help me hear the voice of my customers, but it will ensure that I don’t cut out a product that you personally love. I don’t want to let anyone down as a restructure the Apothecary.


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