Finally, my book has been completed, and is turned over to the editing team at Peacock Publishing! It’s been several years in the making, put off mostly due to my own neglect. But, as my book details the process of making an herbal tincture, I thought I’d go into a bit about what is an Herbal Tincture or Spaygyric. My book is designed to be used as a true workbook, complete with pages for journaling, containing a step by step process with nearly 100 color illustrations and photos, detailing the process. So, let’s dig into it…what is an Alchemical Tincture?
An alchemical tincture, also called a ‘Spagyric’, is an herbal medicine which is created or produced by utilizing alchemical procedures. These procedures involve dissolution, separation, purification, distillation and the extraction of the oils of the herb out of the physical part of the plant (termed ‘Salts’ in Alchemy, no matter what the original substance). In traditional medieval alchemy, these processes were generally for the separation and purification of metals from ores and salts from brines and other aqueous solutions.
An alchemical tincture or spagyric most commonly refers to a plant tincture to which has also been added the purified ash of the calcined plant. The original rationale behind these special herbal tinctures is that an extract using alcohol cannot be expected to contain all the medicinal properties from a living plant, and so the ash or mineral component (as a result of the calcination process) of the plant was prepared separately and then added back to ‘augment’ (increase) the potency and efficacy of the alcoholic tincture.
The roots of the word therefore refer first to the extraction or separation process and then to the recombining process. These herbal tinctures are alleged to have superior medicinal properties to simple alcohol tinctures, perhaps due the formation of soap-like compounds from the essential oils and the basic salts contained within the ash. In theory these spagyrics can also optionally include material from fermentation of the plant material and also any aromatic component such as might be obtained through distillation. The final spagyric should be a re-blending of all such extracts into one single ‘essence.’
So, why is it important to recombine the ash of the plant back into the essence of the tincture? In traditional Alchemy, from which the art of Spagyrics comes from, there are always three principal elements: Salt, Sulphur and Mercury. The Salt is related to the physical structure of the herb, its appearance and feel, that ‘physical’ part of the herb, and thus also to the body of the person taking the tincture. The Sulphur is related to the internal structure of the herb, its internal essential oils or that ‘mental’ part of the herb, and thus also to the mind of the person taking the tincture. The Mercury is related to the essence or the life force of the herb (represented by the alcohol, as all living plants produce ethyl alcohol upon decomposition, or ‘giving up the spirit’), and thus also to the spirit of the person taking the tincture.
Most conventional herbal tinctures, particularly those purchased commercially at retail, grocery and even natural food stores, will contain only the Sulfur components of a plant, typically extracted with alcohol, water, glycerin or a combination. The herb will be macerated in this liquid menstruum (or solvent) for a period of time, after which the liquid part will be filtered out and sold as a tincture, while the remaining solid plant material will be used for some other purpose or discarded. Thus, a majority of tinctures are missing the Salts or Minerals of the tincture, or 1/3 of a plant’s constituents, the mineral or Salt body through which the other principles work.
As nearly everything in our world is ‘manifested’ through a physical means, the same is true of herbal medicines, whether the healing is for body, mind or spirit. Take for example, a business. If someone wants to start a business, they can think about it all they want (the mental component), they can even have the purpose, drive and desire to get it done (the spirit component), but without investing any time and effort into looking for a location, obtaining product, hiring employee’s, etc., the store will never open. The same could be said of a tincture and herbal medicine. Just as our desired manifest though the physical nature of our bodies, so does the plant manifest it’s healing through the physical part of its body. By adding in the alchemically purified nature of the plant, we give the tincture back the physical part of its nature, thus giving it a means by which to manifest its essence within us. If the Salts are not added back into the tincture, the true ability to manifest is lost, and thus the tincture’s potency is lessened.
When holistically treating the body, its systems and those diseases and other things which afflict it, the traditional belief is that in order to treat body, mind and spirit, that the body, mind and spirit of the medicines must be present as well. For this reason, is the Salt/Mineral/Body of the plant transformed into a grater substance and is then added back into the Spagyric tincture. We truly believe that this process gives the greatest healing possible from any given herb, and thus all of our tinctures that we sell are made by using these ancient alchemical practices.
Additionally, alchemists also believe that each plant is connected to one of the 7 ancient planets, and by association one of the twelve astrological signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc). As such, each herb has an affinity with one of the signs of the Zodiac. In order to extract these herbs during the time period of their greatest potency, I typically only extract Spagyric Tinctures during the appropriate sign for that herb, thus adding an element of Astrological Timing to the process. This means that each tincture is only created once each year, when it is most potent.
All of these reasons add up to a powerful, potent and energetic Alchemical/Spagyric Tinctures that are unmatched by those created by a factory or a machine and containing only 1/3 or 2/3 of the essential plant essences. My tinctures are amazing in their potency and after taking them, you will notice a definite difference in their effects! I have been making tinctures, elixirs, potions and tonics in this way in the Denver area for more than 10 years. Experience the difference and try a true Spagyric Tincture from The Herbalist and the Alchemist Apothecary!