I purchased my first Tarot deck when I was a junior in high school and casually conducted readings for myself and close friends. We would light candles, burn incense and ask for answers to our sometimes superficial questions. Although it was fun to employ the Tarot cards as an oracle for the future I felt there was a deeper meaning behind their existence. I had a hunch the cards held ancient and sacred knowledge beyond my initial comprehension. When I later began to study herbalism I sensed that plants, much like the Tarot, harness an age-old wisdom that assists us in understanding ourselves and some of life's greatest mysteries. In my opinion plants, magic, and spirituality are undoubtably connected and work in tandem with one another. Herbalist Laurie Lava-Books understands the sacred connection between herbs and magic. She gracefully fuses the two at her quaint apothecary Clary Sage Herbarium located in the hip Alberta Arts district in Portland Oregon.
Laurie's relationship with herbalism began at the tender age of 18 when she purchased her first herbal book, Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Inspired by magic she became enthralled with the connection between plants and the spiritual world. Trips to the annual renaissance fair in Black Hills California motivated her to make herb stuffed amulets and herbal potions. From there she began to craft salves for spiritual healing. In 1992 as her curiosity grew, Laurie slowly became more interested in the use of herbs for physical healing. With her new interest she began to make after care salves for the first all women owned tattoo shop in San Francisco, Black and Blue Tattoo. She naturally progressed toward making tinctures when she received a generous gift of Cannabis leaf from a friend. She then started an herb garden at her home which propelled her further into the study of herbalism. It was a trip to a metaphysical herb shop in Oakland California called Ancient Ways that ignited the drive in Laurie to one day open an herb shop of her own. Laurie opened Clary Sage Herbarium in June of 2012 as a tiny kiosk in a small art space. Since it's humble beginnings the shop has has evolved into a brick and mortar apothecary.
Offerings of organic and ethically wild crafted herbs, teas, high quality herbal remedies, and ritual supplies fill the tidy and cozy space. Glass jars of high quality, organic whole and powdered herbs line one entire wall of the shop. Resins, cosmetic clays, culinary spices, tea blends and dried medicinal mushrooms are nestled among the herbs and all are available by the ounce. Locally made single plant extracts and tincture blends are displayed in a medicine chest near the register. The shops most popular tincture is their Serenity Now blend. Made in house and formulated for symptoms of acute anxiety, "Serenity Now is a powerful herbal formula. It has helped some people get off of their anti-anxiety meds" said Laurie. In addition to Clary Sage Herbarium formulations, herbal extracts from Oregon based companies like Portland Ashwaganda Farm, Eclectic Institute and Herb Pharm are also available. A thoughtful selection of CBD hemp extracts and edibles have become one of the shops most popular items. Natural skin care products, handmade soaps and lotions share space with hand rolled herbal cigarettes, herbal books and ceremonial smudge sticks. The shop also carries an extensive collection of food grade essential oils, aromatherapy offerings and carefully blended natural perfumes.
A few of my favorite offerings at the shop are the crystals, Tarot decks and other ritual supplies. Crystal and stone pendulums gently hang in a window of the shop above palm sized pieces of Jasper, Labadorite and Amethyst. Large and medium sized crystal spheres absorb the suns light and are complimented by wooden bowls filled with small pocket sized stones. Multiple decks of Tarot cards are showcased with intention and care. Classics like the Rider Waite Smith deck are shelved amongst modern decks like the locally produced Wild Unknown Tarot. Samples of each deck are available for shoppers to view in order to find a deck they resonate with. Candles of many colors and sizes light up the shelves amongst a wide selection of stick, cone and loose incense. To maintain neutral yet positive energy within the shop a smudging station is located next to the door. Laurie also calls upon the protective energy of her ancestors, plant, and spirt guides to help create a welcoming atmosphere. "Herbs and intention can make a space magical" said Laurie.
Herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar, Margi Flint, 7 Song, Jim McDonald, and Cascade Anderson Geller are among a handful of herbal teachers Laurie holds in high regard. Among these teachers are the trees of Hawthorn and Poplar. With the recent loss of her Mother Hawthorn has been a powerful heart healing ally for Laurie. Poplar with it's protective and uplifting effects continuously offers Laurie valuable insights, healing medicine and inspiration for future herbal endeavors. Set to launch later this year, Laurie has begun to focus her efforts on her latest project Two Spirit Medicinals, a line of herbal tinctures for spiritual healing. "The Two Spirits have always been the medicine keepers, healers, and shamans in the native community" said Laurie. "The name is my way to honor that." Some of the tinctures that Laurie has created over the years for Clary Sage Herbarium have been reformulated and will become part of the Two Spirit line.
Plants and their connection to the etheric realms have the capacity to inspire and heal deeply. Clary Sage Herbarium is a testament to this very inspiration and is one of my favorite apothecaries in Portland. A valuable source of high quality organic, wildcrafted herbs and herbal preparations, ritual supplies and more, Clary Sage Herbarium is a destination for anyone with an interest in herbalism, healing, and magic. For a full listing of their offerings and access to their blog head to www.clarysageherbarium.com.
Clary Sage Herbarium
2841 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR 97211
Current Hours: Mon-Sun: 10am-6pm
By Public Transportation:
MAX Light Rail - Yellow Line
Bus Line - 72
www.trimet.org for schedules and stop locations
Main Ways by Bike:
Waterfront Bike Path
www.traillink.com for trail maps and descriptions
To read the Shop Review No. 1 of this series, click here!
To read the Shop Review No. 2 of this series, click here!