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How to Make a Love Potion

By Malia Wollan

  • Aug. 25, 2020

“Make heart medicine on Fridays,” says Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, 33, an herbalist and community organizer in Brooklyn. In several ancient societies, Friday was associated with a goddess of love, like Venus. In pop culture today, love potions often drug people into a kind of aphrodisiac-fueled craze, subverting individual freewill. A love potion shouldn’t be about trickery, Bautista-Carolina believes; it should be about self-realization. “The first step in being able to love someone else requires you to activate your self-love,” she says. A potion, which she defines as “a practical recipe plus magic,” might help you get there.

The three plants Bautista-Carolina uses most often in heart medicines are rose, violet and hawthorn. A simple potion you can make at home is honey infused with dried rose buds. Where possible, use local honey and organic, fair-trade plant material. Fill a glass jar one third with rose and the remaining two thirds with honey. Say your intentions aloud. How you articulate your aims will vary by individual. “You might say, ‘I welcome love; I welcome self-love; I’m open to romance, kindness, compassion; I pull that energy forth into this medicine,’” Bautista-Carolina says.

Label your jar with the date. Let it sit in a cool, dark place. Shake it every day. After four to six weeks, start to take the honey at least once a day, straight in a spoon, in tea or on toast. Even if you’re skeptical of magic, let yourself enjoy the sweetness. You don’t need to be seeking love to use a heart potion. For brokenhearted clients, Bautista-Carolina might suggest an alcohol-based tincture made from the flowers and leaves of the hawthorn tree. “You can be trying to rid yourself of a love that no longer serves you; trying to preserve your love; increase your love; amplify the love that you have; discard an unwanted lover,” says Bautista-Carolina, who was born and raised in New York City, the daughter of Afro-Dominican parents. Her affinity for plants started in city parks. During this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, she has provided herbal remedies to fortify and protect protesters. “We need all the heart medicine we can get right now,” she says.

Fill a glass jar one third with rose buds and the rest with honey. Even if you’re skeptical of magic, let yourself enjoy the sweetness.

A Love Potion available for sale at the annual Healing Festival during Holy Week on Siquijor Island,Philippines

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