Hey, lovelies. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been “absent” for a few days dealing with some … stuff. I’m back and at it as of today, but right now we’re lucky enough to receive the treat Sarah O’Leary of Wellness the Natural Way crafted in my absence. This is steamy treat here, so get your fans out. You’re going to love her. She’s funny, entertaining … and a folk herbalist to boot!
The best of all worlds. Prepare to swoon.
Guest Post by Sarah O’Leary, Wellness The Natural Way
Ah, romance. It’s everywhere – from the inane romantic comedies that Hollywood subjects us to each year, to entire publishing companies devoted to churning out formulaic novels, to royal weddings that demand to be viewed live during the wee hours of the morning.
Wherever and whenever romance strikes – there’s one inevitable, and inescapable, theme.
The magic wears off.
ALERT: You might not be able to tell from those first few paragraphs, but I am now venturing into territory that you may not want your 7-year-old reading over your shoulder. Although far from X-rated, this story now becomes at least PG-13. Read on at your own discretion.
You’ve been there. It all starts out with firecrackers. And sizzle. And spontaneous pulling over by the side of the road to find a private spot under the trees.
You can’t keep your hands off each other.
But then as the months roll on and even slip into years, there’s the alarm clock ringing, the piles of bills, maybe kids to chauffeur around, homework to do or supervise, meals to cook and clean up after, leaves to rake, toenails to clip…whatever.
You get the idea.
Suddenly you notice how your lover or spouse never remembers to flush the toilet. That sloppy way he or she folds the towels makes you grit your teeth. And let’s not get started on those toenail clippings.
The last thing you feel like doing is snuggling up – much less taking off your clothes.
That book on the nightstand starts to look more appealing than the person lying beside you.
I’m not talking about falling out of love. That’s a whole different ball of wax – one that even an herbal lover’s cordial may not be able to remedy.
What I’m getting at is how we fall out of lust. How life as a couple can get more and more boring.
That’s what was going on in my own marriage way back when we were still counting our time together in years and not decades.
I needed to spice things up. But nothing too kinky, you know? I just wanted some pizzazz, something luscious to add to the loving.
Specifically – I needed to spice up my own psyche. As far as my hubs was concerned, he was good to go, like, whenever. No herbs or spice needed.
But my libido needed some lifting.
Enter Diana De Luca. Herbalist and Love Goddess extraordinaire, and author of Botanica Erotica.
I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that I have Diana to thank for the longevity of my marriage. We just celebrated our 21st anniversary.
It all started a bunch of years ago. We were just slogging along – him huffy at hearing “I’m really tired tonight,” yet again – when I returned home from the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium (one of my absolute favorite herbal retreats!) with a special glint in my eyes.
I’d rediscovered not just how to spice up our sex life – but how to ‘herb’ it up as well.
I’d spend a couple of afternoons in Diana’s workshops, apprenticing in the fine art of Herbal Erotica. With swishing skirts and colorful scarves aglow, this belly-dancing herbalist schooled us on turning everyday foods and herbs into accoutrements of love.
Like, did you know that honey can do a lot more than sweeten your dessert and clear your complexion?
The elixir of the bees has been savored by people from various cultures over countless centuries – as a sweet way to get your lovin’ on.
There’s the story of the ancient aphrodisiac made by mixing powdered anise seeds with honey. The aromatic goo was then applied to the genitals to increase fertility and virility. Sure, go ahead and try this at home – if you dare. After all, many of you are already honeying up your face.
You could get even more colorful and make up some Diana-inspired edible body paints. Just mix your favorite fruit jam with honey. Use your fingers as a paintbrush, and guess what’s for dessert sweetie?
And you thought food on your face was fun.
But maybe you want to spice up your love life with some recipes that are a little less, well, sticky. Keep reading.
That glint in my eye that evening was nothing compared to the sparkle in hubbie’s eyes when we climbed the stairs and he saw fresh and fragrant rose petals strewn around our bed. A flickering candle, a bottle of massage oil and two cordial glasses stood on the nightstand.
“What happened at that herb conference?” he exclaimed.
I picked up the bottle. “Have you ever tried damiana cordial?” I asked. “Maybe you want to sip it out of my belly button…”
What’s a cordial? And why damiana?
Cordials are basically a liqueur, best sipped from an attractive small goblet or cordial glass. These potent libations are sipped slowly, or used as a flavoring. They’re quite tasty when mixed with sparkling water.
The idea here is that a little alcohol goes a long way in loosening up for a night of love – but a lot of the same might just put the fire out completely.
After Diana’s series of Herbal Erotica workshops, we all got a little cordial-crazy. Now, when I attend the Women’s Herbal Symposium, there’s a cordial being sold, traded or sipped to suit every taste bud: chocolate, cherry, raspberry, rose, licorice – you name the flavor and someone’s got a cordial to please that palate. They’re so easy and fun to make.
And even more fun to taste. Have you ever been to a cordial-tasting party?
But damiana cordial is the original lover’s elixir.
That’s because the herb is well known for its aphrodisiac qualities. Okay, chocolate might be #1, but it’s not usually thought of as an “herb.” Both plants originate from Central America (yes, chocolate is actually a plant – cacao), and the Aztecs used them as a sexual tonic and stimulant (when they weren’t busy killing their enemies.)
So – are you all excited to try some damiana cordial? Well, the bad news is that to make a really potent one you have to wait months for it to steep and then age. However – there are a couple of quick work-arounds for those of you that want to get going, like, tonight.
Okay, well if you’re really thinking tonight, you might have to content yourself with some damiana tea sweetened with honey. Use about an ounce of herbs per quart of water. Try adding smaller proportions of libido-enhancing herbs such as prickly ash or Siberian ginseng, or even a split vanilla bean. And maybe mix in a little brandy for that extra cordial-like buzz.
A night of passion awaits.
But if you’re looking ahead to maybe the weekend, whip up this quick version of damiana cordial today:
Quickie Damiana Cordial
Take a cup of regular vanilla extract and pour into a jar. Mix in about two tablespoons of dried damiana leaves and a tablespoon of honey. Stir it all up and let the mixture rest for at least two days. Shake it up every day or so. Strain it through a cheesecloth draped over a mesh strainer. (The cheesecloth really is essential unless you want little bits of herbs floating in your cordial.) Store in a glass bottle or jar. It’s extra special if you can find a fancy, cute bottle.
Get out the cordial glasses and light the candles.
But don’t stop there. Buy enough damiana to make a big batch of the ‘real’ thing. It’s a little more complicated but totally worth it. This just gets better with age so you can stash away some extra bottles for future good times. They also make fabulous gifts – especially for bachelorette parties.
1 ounce damiana leaves
2 cups vodka or brandy
1 ½ cups spring water
1 cup honey
Place damiana leaves in a quart jar and pour vodka or brandy over them. Cover tightly and soak for five days. Strain through a cheesecloth, but save the leaves.
Soak the alcohol infused damiana leaves in the spring water for three more days. Strain once again, and this time throw out the leaves (preferably in the compost!)
Warm the water extract over low heat and stir in the honey till it dissolves.
Mix the resulting water/honey with the alcohol extract and shake or stir well. If you want you could add a little vanilla extract, or even some rose water for scent and flavor.
Pour off into clean bottles and let age for at least a month. Again, if you find a beautiful bottle to store this in it adds to the fun!
The above recipe was adapted from an old folk recipe shared by Diana De Luca in Botanica Erotica. If this stuff intrigues you – or even thrills you – I recommend scoring a copy of this artful book. So much more than recipes, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the brain. Not to mention the libido!
But wait, what about chocolate?
It’s one of the greatest aphrodisiacs of all time – all you really need is a few squares of high quality dark chocolate to enhance a night of cordials and roses. Yet, you really haven’t fully lived until you’ve sipped a chocolate cordial – and it’s even easier to make than damiana. (And it’s another one that could be ready by this weekend!)
Talk about gift-giving opportunities! Your friends will be stalking you for more!
Chocolate Lover’s Cordial
1 cup brandy
2 cups chocolate syrup (Lot of people use Hershey’s, but I like to find a groovy organic one)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or try a few drops of almond or orange extract)
Mix it all together in a bottle or jar and shake well. Let it sit for a couple of days up to one week. You can drink the stuff straight (from you lover’s belly button?) or pour over your favorite ice cream.
And don’t stop with these recipes. Experiment on your own. You could infuse damiana in the brandy and then mix with chocolate for a double-dipping cordial experience. You can add roses, or raspberries, or…?
No need let your libido languish any longer. Dig into your closet for the silky lingerie and shake up those cordial bottles. Don’t forget the massage oil or body butter!
Oh – and don’t think you have to be settled into in a long-term relationship to experiment with these lover’s teas and cordials. Perhaps you’re cultivating a new romance? Get all Cleopatra-like with the cordials and your sweetie will be as smitten as Julius Ceasar.
Cordials are calling! Sensuous taste sensations await.
Sarah O’Leary is a folk herbalist and former herb shop owner. She recently began blogging at Wellness The Natural Way.
PS – Wondering where to get damiana now? Try your local natural foods store or Mountain Rose Herbs. (Though it looks like their damiana leaf is OOS right now, but they DO have some premade “love tonics” that contain it. Handy, right? Rrrowr.)