Body & Soul: Prenuptial Shampoo

| April/May 2001

Makes 2 3/4 cups

Yucca is used in ceremonies that prepare young Hopi brides for marriage. Shampooing and bathing naturally lend themselves to meditation and relaxation. This recipe is a blend of ingredients used for cleansing and conditioning by various Native American peoples, along with instructions for creating a personal ritual of your own. The optional addition of sunflower oil adds extra moisturizing qualities for those with dry hair.

• A sweetgrass braid, sage smudge stick, or frankincense to burn (or use an incense stick in your favorite scent)
• 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried yucca root and/or leaves
• 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried corn silk
• 1 tablespoon dried slippery elm bark
• 2 tablespoons dried elder flowers
• Handful of fresh columbine flowers, if desired
• 4 cups of rainwater gathered during a thundershower (or bottled spring water)
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon white pine needle essential oil
• 1/2 teaspoon cedar essential oil
• 1/2 teaspoon juniper berry essential oil
• 1 teaspoon sunflower oil, if desired
• 1/4 cup stinging nettle tincture (available at health-food stores)

1. Set a large stockpot on the stove or (unlit) outdoor fire. To begin the ritual, light the sweetgrass braid, smudge stick, frankincense, or incense stick. Wet your fingers and use them to snuff out the flame. Wave the smoking braid over your head and breathe in the sweet smell of the smoke. Concentrate on positive thoughts as you slowly breathe in through your mouth and exhale through your nose. Next, move the braid or stick in circles around the pot. Focus on the image of positive thoughts filling the pot. Place the yucca in a cloth bag. Pound it fifty times (or until pulverized) with a mallet. Pour the pulverized yucca root into the stockpot; add the corn silk, slippery elm bark, elder flowers, and columbine flowers, if desired. Add the water. Heat the herbs over medium heat until they near the boiling point. Add the maple syrup, stirring briskly to disperse. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Run a bath and set your favorite candles (unlit) around the bathtub. Bless the bath water and the bathroom with your smoking sweetgrass, smudge stick, frankincense, or incense stick.

3. Strain out the herbs in the stockpot. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the essential oils and sunflower oil in the nettle tincture. Drizzle this mixture into the infusion in the stockpot.

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