Friday, March 6, 2015

MAKERS + MOVERS: SISTER SPINSTER

makers + movers is a series that feature makers of clean products of integrity, thought, + passion which then move the world towards a higher consciousness . . . 
 have been feeling so incredibly supported + elevated in the past two weeks. I have also been doing deep emotional work to release energies that I have been holding onto from the past as well as any negativities that I allow into my energetic field [which then impact my future]. It seems paradoxic in nature that I have been feeling so grounded as such healing work usually drains me of my energy. The shift has occurred for me because I have been supported by the magical gem essence formula Saturn Return so lovingly crafted by Liz Migliorelli of Sister Spinster. This formula has expanded my energetic field into forms like Saturn's rings. Meet the magic-maker behind Sister Spinster who spins so much love + light into this world . . .

LIZ MIGLIORELLI, HERBALIST AT SISTER SPINSTER | hand-crafted in oakland, ca
Q: Tell us a little about you + how you entered into the magical world of herbalism.
I entered the herb world when I had a serious healing crisis seven years ago when I was living in Olympia, Washington. I was living in the attic of a powerful healer witch-woman who grew up on a commune on an island in Alaska. She knew a lot about herbs and healing work because her mother had been the island midwife. She carried these powerful traditions. I grew up in New York and didn’t know much about healing plants, but she encouraged me to enter into relationship with nettles and it totally changed my entire life. It felt like my spirit was truly coming home and ever since then the plants have been my life’s work and love.

Q: What inspired you to start Sister Spinster + what does it stand for?
The name Spinster originally was given to women who spun wool thread. There is a lot of magic in the ancient traditions of spinning and weaving; it is a powerful way to cast a spell, to tell a story, to remember ancestors. Later, Spinsterhood became associated with unmarried women who are generally seen as cranky, childless and repressed. It is often used as a negative term for one who could never find a husband. The second week of herb school I was on a trip in the Anza Borrego desert and I had a dream about three women spinning beautiful golden thread to be made into intricate lace. The name Sister Spinster came to me before the formulas did. I’ve never been able to make something without naming it first. The name sets the intention. My intention is to honor the so-called Spinsters; I see them as women who are unwilling to compromise their life’s work and heart’s desires. I want to honor women and ancestors who keep these ancestral traditions alive and well in their work.

Q: Whom have you worked with + who are your inspirations?
I feel really lucky to have found a super inspiring community in the Bay Area. For example, I worked for Trinity Cross of Field Day Wearables for a year and she was a huge inspiration for me to realize that I could own my own business doing the work I love in the world. I also have become close friends with Nic Weinstein of Homestead Apothecary; he’s been an amazing support and friend to me and we recently came out with a line of scents rooted in the major arcana of the Tarot. Working with him is a huge joy and I’m so grateful for his friendship. My friend Mary Evans published a beautiful tarot deck called Spirit Speak. Her art inspires me; she balances authentic innocence and deep wisdom in work. She and I are currently working on a fun project together to be released later in the year. My students are also huge inspirations. So are my clients. So are the plants. There is nothing more inspiring than bougainvillea in full sun, or the sweet scent of the night blooming jasmine. I am also inspired by Sappho, Mahalia Jackson, the Eel River, lace, my grandmothers, Baba Yaga and apples. I could go on . . .

Q: Where do you source your ingredients from?
I make all of the flower essences I use myself on different astrological events. I travel all over to make them; the high sierras, to the southern California deserts, to the Maine coast. I also like to make my essences in Oakland, using the flowers that thrive here in the Bay. I think these plants have a lot to teach us about living in relationship with what is around us. When I make my tinctures I harvest my herbs myself, buy them from a local apothecary or get them from the Sonoma County Herb Exchange. The Herb Exchange is an amazing organization that sources fresh, organically grown medicinal herbs from local farmers and sells them to the local herbal medicine community. They do such good work!


Q: Do you have a ritual for making + applying your products?
Yes, always. I always smudge my space by burning pine resin, angelica root or juniper. They are my favorite plants to burn. I then smudge myself and ground myself in the space, in the moment. I then always offer a prayer and gratitude. It’s simple, but very powerful! 


Q: What are your current favourite herbs to use?
Well, I could probably list about twenty plants but I’ll try to narrow it down. I’m pretty obsessed with Angelica in this moment; I can feel it enhancing the vital force of my blood! I also have been deepening my relationship with Red Root for many reasons; one being that red root pulls interstitial fluid from the deep tissue, especially the pelvic floor. It’s powerful. For the past six months I’ve been madly in love with Pine medicine, it’s been a huge ancestral connector plant for me.



Q: What keeps you going? Do you have a daily ritual or mantra?
I light a candle on my altar every morning when I wake up as a way to connect with spirit and my intention for the day. It’s extremely grounding. I take herbs every day, but the herbs in which I take change. At the moment I’m taking a few different formulas for different things. As a teacher of mine says, I’m non-monogamous with herbs but I am also committed to being in deep relationship with each one. I’m also trying to incorporate getting off the computer into my daily routine. When you own a business, it just feels like your attention is needed somewhere at all times. By establishing set hours that I check my email each day, it ensures that I am not cooking my dinner with one hand and answering a stockist with the other hand. I want to be fully present for myself, so sticking to a schedule has been extremely rewarding.

Q: What are some of your favourite snacks or foods that fuel your creative process?
I love dates dipped in tahini. My friend Ella just turned me on to eating dates filled with ghee, which is quite a luxurious treat. I’m also a big fan of bone broth. My roommate made bone broth the other day that had been lightly infused with fir tips; it was divine!

Q: What are your three staples for glowing health?
Singing, because it doesn’t leave room for fear in my body // Saying hello to my plant friends (going outside) // Eating chocolate

Q: What is your philosophy on healing?
The body has it’s own natural healing force. Once we enter into relationship with our healing potential, we are empowered. While I believe that healing can be a huge cathartic experience, I also believe healing can be found in the simple daily practices that we lay as a foundation for self-care. A cup of tea is a very powerful tool. Also, healing is non-linear. As Earth-dwellers, we walk a spiral path; just as the moon orbits the earth, the earth circles the sun and as the sun travels within this galaxy. I always remind myself of this when I get frustrated with an issue flares up that I thought I had away from. I take a moment to notice that yes, the issue has returned but that this time it is within a new circumstance, a new pattern. There is a new perspective that is offered. Our own healing contains this cyclical nature, just as the cycles in the cosmos return again and again with new patterns.


Q: What would be an ideal day for you?
I’m a Scorpio, so days spent by water are ideal for me. My vision of a perfect day in this moment is driving to the river and swimming, maybe harvesting and peeling willow bark by the water and if any berry picking were involved I would be in heaven. 

Q: What are some of your go-to products in your holistic medicine cabinet?
Since holistic medicine comes in many forms, my medicine cabinet contains an array of objects and medicine. Pictures of ancestors are good medicine. I try to keep myself stocked with pine resin, it’s my favorite clearing incense to burn. I also like to suck on it when I have a sore throat. I also have an array of remedies: bitters formulas, sleep potions, flying ointments, calming nervines, space sprays, etc. I make most of my own remedies because I love crafting medicines that work well for me.


Q: What is your next big vision for Sister Spinster?
I’m working on developing more long-term, in-depth classes because I have a vision to open an herbal healing and magical arts school. I’m hoping there will be some big progress with this in the next few months. My other clear vision is to go to my ancestral homelands and study the folk healing modalities and plants of those places.