We are truly honored to feature Sophia Rose of La Abeja Herbs in our Kitchen Rituals interview series. Sophia has bundled us in the warmth of her stories and given us all nourishing words to live by.
Everything we do can be done in the spirit of ceremony. It is easy to forget this amidst the daily physical and emotional toll capitalism exacts on us. But these stories call to something far more ancient and sacred. our relationship with the Land itself. Our daily rituals can keep us connected to that sacred space. Please do visit her web shop and explore her luscious love filled potions for everyday self care (personally we have our eyes on the Damiana elixir, Ocotillo elixir, and Mimosa tincture).
We encourage you to tuck some of these medicine words away, for offerings and prayers; keep them close. Use this magic everyday. "Apologize to no one for being sick, for being tired. Apologize to no one for taking care of yourself."
Read on and enjoy.
1. Will you tell us your name, your gender pronoun, and the name of your project/ practice?
My name is Sophia Rose and my preferred pronouns are she/her/herself. I run an apothecary called La Abeja Herbs . We have a brick + mortar space in Austin TX where I offer classes + consultations , but much of the action has been on the road this Summer, as I've been traveling cross country wildcrafting, teaching, holding ceremony, and practicing Land healing.
2. What are your kitchen rituals?
When your kitchen moves many hundreds of miles a week, your rituals change shape. When I am stationary, I love to have lots of different fermentations ripening in tandem -- gingerbeer, water kefir, herbal wines and meads, preserved lemons, and so forth. On the road however, my fermentation has been limited to a couple of small jars of kraut. My rituals on the road are simple, and perhaps don't even deserve to be called such, due to their inconsistency. However, the most nourishing thing I have made a practice of offering myself is a french press full of mineral rich wild herbs steeped overnight and waiting for me when I hit the road early the next morning. I also acquired a very beautiful white enamel stock pot when I was passing through Santa Rosa CA and I have made a practice of arriving at each new friend's house with the ingredients for a totally sumptous pot of whatever soup makes the most sense in their bioregion. I have been collecting some of the better recipes from this ritual and will be including them in my booklet, Visions Of Cascadia which will be released this Autumn along with The Cascadia Medicine Collection.
3. If you were a plant, who would you be and why?
I have many allies, many teachers. Right now, however, I feel deeply aligned with Datura. She has been a teacher for me for many years and a symbol of something I am to blossom into. She scares many people, and it is right to respect her, but as with all potent forces in this world, relationship is everything.
4. What are some important health events in your life?
I feel so blessed to have been mostly very healthy in this lifetime. Just a few days ago, however I got more sick than ever before. It was very scary and deeply transformative. I was at an herbal conference surrounded by all of my most beloved teachers and colleagues, who all held me so sweetly that night and wove their magic about me in a powerful way. I grieved so much during that time, and learned so much. Illness a teacher like no other. Nothing else matters when you are in the space between life and death. Illness is the gift that helps you to remember what is truly important. It forces you to pray when you might not pray. It forces you to nourish yourself when you might not nourish yourself. It forces you to make medicine and ask permission and chant and meditate and move slow and be present to the pain that is sometimes being alive. Illness brings you home to yourself if you let it. Apologize to no one for being sick, for being tired. Apologize to no one for taking care of yourself.
5. What are some of your favorite memories in the kitchen?
I am happiest when I am in a familiar kitchen, tenderly preparing a meal made with wild plants, for wild people. It is better if there is music, and much better if there is wine, and it is best of all if I am in love with whomever I am cooking for. For me, there is nothing that inspires the culinary imagination like the romantic imagination.
6. What is your ancestral background? Does this influence your work?
This is a big question and something that I think about a lot. I was not raised with very much tradition or ritual around food (in kindergarten I brought pilsbury slice n bake cookies to school when we were asked to showcase our favorite family recipe).
I identify primarily, and increasingly, with the Russian + Polish roots of my matrilineal ancestry. I come from a family of writers and storytellers and for this I count myself lucky. In recent years I have become particularly fascinated with learning more about the personal history of my Great Grandmother Malka who came to America from Russia as a young teenager and lived to be 96. I knew her growing up, but am getting to know her again through, through direct connection with her Spirit as well as through the stories my relatives wrote about her after her passing and those tales which they dictated for her while she was still alive. I recognize a lot of myself in these stories. It is not that we were similar people, although I do see that I have inherited much of my internal landscape from her, but I feel as though I can make sense of my world in small ways when I learn, for example, that my ancestors cultivated Tobacco. Tobacco is a big Medicine that I use for ceremony and when harvesting other plants. I use it for healing and grounding and prayer and offering. I had often wondered at why this powerful plant, wanted to align itself with me, and to understand that it is something that people in my lineage have been in relationship with for such a long time, deepens my sense of connection with it as an ally.
7. What books are you reading now? Favorite cookbooks?
8. What is your zodiac sign?
Sun // Aquarious
Moon // Taurus
Rising // Taurus
9. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
After reading Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy Of Luna at eight eight, I knew I wanted to be an environmental activist – and in my own way, I suppose I am.
10. What is your focus in food/ nutrition/ healing and how do you work that into your practice/ living your life?
I believe in gentle medicine. What this means is that I do not give strong herbs when nourishing herbs would do. I do not give nourishing herbs when simple foods would do. I do not give simple foods, when movement would do. I do not suggest movement, when it is rest is what is needed.
Herbs do not work alone, and though I do weave plant medicine into everything that I do both personally and professionally, it is so crucial to remind people that no herb will ever "fix" them unless they are engaging with it in a sincere and meaningful way. Herbs do not work like drugs. Many practitioners use them like drugs, to treat symptoms, and while in the short term people will likely experience relief, in the longterm this approach will often further injure the body. I believe in the limitations of the human body as a good thing and as a mechanism for healing. When you are tired, rest for as long as you need to. When you are hungry, eat until you feel nourished. When you crave comfort, draw yourself a hot bath or snuggle up with someone you love. When you feel vital, run through the forest or sing loudly in your kitchen. The foundations of lasting health are often that simple. Capitalism, however demands more of our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves than is sustainable for anyone that I know. My friend and teacher, Sean Donahue , often remarks that his ultimate therapeutic goal for each of his patients is the total dismantling of capitalism and patriarchy. And I agree, but short of that, I believe that being kind to oneself -- truly kind -- is the best medicine and the north star by which to guide all real healing. Everyday take time to be curious about how you can offer yourself greater kindness.
11. Why did you create your project/ business? What is your mission?
Everything I do through La Abeja Herbs comes straight from the guidance of Spirit. Whether it's a class offering, a new medicine, or a formula for an individual client, I listen closely and wait patiently until something shimmers just so, and then I offer it up. There is a crystalline nature to everything I try to share. I can't quite put it into words but everything I do, I do as prayer and as ceremony. My highest wish is that through my work I will inspire others to connect more deeply to the Land and to themselves. To remember to and to honor a good way of walking on this Earth once more.
12. Where are you based? Where can we find you and your work? (online, published, events etc)
I am currently nomadic but our brick and mortar apothecary is located in my hometown, Austin TX.
Folks can sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Instagram to learn about new offerings and can visit the website to shop the Apothecary.
13. What are your favorite foods?
Purple Mustard Greens
Perfectly Ripe Figs
Very Dark Chocolate
Eggs, with the yolks cooked just so
Sauerkraut that feels like rubber in your mouth
Oatmeal with Coconut Milk + Vanilla + Cardamom + Honey + Smoked Salt
Broccolini with Shallots and Garlic and Lemon peel