Making a Tincture



Generally the ratio used is 1:5, which means 1 gr. of herb to 5 ml. of menstrum (liquid they are in, usually alcohol). Vodka is good for most tinctures. We then macerate the herb in the menstrum for 10 to 14 days. I strongly recommend leaving them longer. A good time to start it is on the new moon & complete on the full moon. Some people like to use a blender to grind the herbs. I prefer to cut the herb as fine as possible and not blend. Shake the tincture 2 to 3 x a day. When the tincture is ready, strain it through fine cotton or strong cheese cloth and press it by hand. Label it with name, date, quality and batch number.

Do This!

Exercise 2 Making a Tincture: Alcohol Extraction

Dried Herb 1:5 Ratio 40% Menstruum

Purchase yourself a bottle of Vodka.

Get six ounces of an herb that you use regularly.

Measure out 30 fluid ounces of Vodka and pour into a large mouth jar.

Powder, grind or cut up fine the six ounces of herb.

Now add the herb to the alcohol.

Put on a tight leak prove lid and seal.

Label the tincture.

Leave in a convenient place where you can shake it twice a day.

Make sure that all the herb is submerged in the alcohol. Depending on the herb you choose you may need to add a little more Vodka if it all gets absorbed. You want some fluidity and washing motion when you shake it.

After two weeks minimum (some can be left for months) strain through silk or fine cheese cloth.

Bottle and label. You now have your own tincture.

Keep a file card on your procedure and make notes on what you might do differently next time. Experiment with leaving the herbs in different lengths of time for varying strengths.

Make small batches of as many herbs as you can to gain experience (the best teacher). Use small jars. Practice makes good medicine. Keep clear notes.


determine by weighing amount of fresh herb that fits into jar finely chopped measure amount of alcohol needed to cover the herb with 1 inch over top of herb divide weight into volume to establish ratio many books suggest

a 1:2 Ratio which we find unrealistic for most herbs

MENSTRUUM: % depends on herb

SATURATION TINCTURE: amount of herb that will fit into established amount of menstruum

GLYCERINE TINCTURE: 6 parts vegetable glycerine\4 parts water 6 parts vegetable glycerine\3 parts water\1 part alcohol Use glycerine mix in place of Alcohol

VINEGAR: (Tincture)

Use same instructions as fresh tincture but use apple cider vinegar as menstruum. Buy a high quality organic vinegar. For nutritive herbs like Nettles, Horsetail, Alfalfa or Red Clover you can make a saturation vinegar. Don’t worry about proportions, just add as much herb as will fit and still allow the liquid to move around. Make small batches of a lot of different herbs. Experiment!


We make these the same way as tinctures.

Fall Exercise


Fall is the season of the harvest. We gather our strength together before winter. It is a time of rich abundance, full of ripe fruits and vegetables. During the Fall we prepare for the long cold dark months of winter. The time has come for turning inward. The nights become longer than the days and we naturally begin to spend more time indoors. Fall is a good time to clear unfinished business as we prepare internally for the change ahead of us.

Do This!

Exercise 74 • Exploring the First Day of Fall

Plan to spend part of your day on or close to September 21st outside. Walk around and observe your environment. Check out the plants, animals, birds and people. Sense the play of the elements at this time. 

  • How do you experience the decrease of fire in your environment and body?

  • How is the shortening of the day affecting your mood and sleep patterns?

  • Do you feel more or less energetic?

  • What kind of thoughts or fantasies fill your mind during these early days of fall? 

    Record Fall experiences:

from Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism by Don Ollsin

Book Review: Stalking Your Inner Critic by Sonja Straub

Excerpts from Stalking Your Inner Critic
A Process–Oriented Approach to Self-Criticism
by Sonja Straub


The inner critic is a dream figure which carries a negative and judgmental self- construct.  The critic is the part or figure which is practicing "critique" or "criticism" on the individual.  Critique and criticism have specific meanings here, which will be defined below.

Critique is a term which is normally applied to a rather negative, pessimistic, or even destructive comment about something or somebody.  The critic has a position or attitude which just does not accept a certain fact or achievement, but measures and compares it with other standards or rules and comes to a negative and disapproving conclusion. Critique, in everyday language, is a negative judgment and the critic is the condemning judge.

Now "criticize" originates etymologically from Greek, in which it means, "I differentiate", and also, "I decided", "separate", and "judge".  These terms give the impression, in contrast to our everyday use, that criticizing is a fair act, a purely factual procedure in which both sides receive the same chances and the critic is a competent judge.  In this sense the inner critic would be the one who has access to some objective, unbiased and perhaps absolute knowledge, and is capable of comparing conclusions on a neutral ground.


1. The inner critic has changed from the one who is confident to judge to a tyrant or dictator who gives orders at his/her own discretion.


A. "The theory one applies to view and understand the world determines what one will see.  The person who applies a causal and reductive approach and philosophy to humans is bound to see mostly sick and disturbed behavior and people."  Einstein

B. One has to appreciate these critics. If we approach the critic in this respectful manner, it may become an important messenger and ally on our path to individualization

C. Inner experiences are very individual, and we as healers should not assume we know what our clients are talking about when they use words like depression, pain, sadness, love or inner critic.  These are all blank accesses which need to be filled in, in exact detail by the individual

D. "Seeing" means knowing all of your parts and having the attitude of flexibility which allows you to switch back and forth and live your total potential

E. When talking to friends and colleagues, it is much easier and socially more acceptable to complain about headaches or relationship problems than about the inner atmosphere and drama with the inner critic.

F. Sometimes our attitude is from its very foundation, critical of people and their behavior


A. Another effective way of drawing the figure out is to interact with it either by stepping into the complementary role, having personal reactions to it, challenging it or resisting it.

B. By amplifying secondary material and following the overall positive feedback, we are unraveling hidden pieces of nature, giving it a chance to come to life and organize itself in new and exciting ways.

C. The critical figure needs a chance to express itself fully


A. People around us become parts of our own inner dream field.  When others enter our field they take the position of the most unconscious and least represented part.


A. Channels are pathways of perception and expression; ways people can send or receive information.

B. Auditory channel consists of verbal content and sound or noises.

C. Visual channel: imaginary critical onlookers.

D. Proprioceptive Channel: may appear as a general body feeling, like being heavy are feeling pushed down.

E. Movement Channel: an impatient tapping of the foot or other unconscious movement.

F. Relationship Channel: interpreting each frown or any kind of signal as proof of the critical attitude of my partner.

1. It is much harder to forget the relationship problem than an unpleasant dream and in contrast to symptoms; there are no drugs which alleviate painful relationship troubles.

G. World channel: we fear and imagine that there will be some critic out in the public. 

H. Most of us have some channels or pathways that we prefer, that is, we feel more at home in and we can more readily control and structure the incoming and out going messages.


A. A signal is a communication between two parts

B. Communication has two aspects: the content aspect and the relationship aspect.  The relationship aspect is expressed in the meta-communication of behavior, that is, the way I do or say something.

C. The monster will be pushed into the background by the primary process and therefore only leak through in small signals like a sharper tone of voice than wanted, a facial expression, body symptoms, etc.


A. The edge is responsible for excluding secondary factors.  It keeps us from identifying with secondary patterns and does not let them flow naturally in our being and behavior.

B. It is important not to get lost in an endless cycle but to recognize the edges when they come up.  Learning to follow the sometimes rocky curved road of the dream body, and having a sense of good timing to catch the edge once it appears requires a lot of patience.

C. The edge is where the most energy often lies, were critics are able to transform and where they will ask for integration.


A. Often these outer critics are related to the inner critics, behaving like internal figures.

B. Even after we have left the outer situation, the criticism goes on as an internal dialogue.

C. A large part of the pain of outer criticism comes from its ability to amplify internal criticism.


1.  What kind of dream figure is it?  What are its structural components and meaning?

2.  Are you identifying with it? I am like that.

3.  Is it a secondary figure? You do not identify with it. Oh no, I am not like that.

4.  Is it an edge figure? Does it discourage you from doing things?

5.  In which channel does it appear?

6.  What are the exact criticisms and beliefs of this dream figure?

7.  What are its ideas and opinions?

8.  What are its weak and strong points?

9.  What is its style, habits and routines?

The Inner Critic Exercise

THE CRITIC: that part of us or others, that criticizes us.

Common critics we have discovered: the productivity critic that criticizes us for not accomplishing enough. The innovative critic that speak up when we try something new. Now we suffer from the new age critic. It tells us we are eating an impure diet, focusing on the wrong goals, following the wrong spiritual path, or wearing the wrong crystals, etc. This can be a complex critic to deal with. It is well meaning but may come across in an overbearing, rigid manner. 

We have all been criticized at some point in our lives. Since the critic often appears when we want to change and grow, we need to get to know this dreamfigure. Dreamfigures form parts of ourselves that we develop through our personal or collective histories. We can be identified or unidentified with these personalities, for example, the critic dreamfigure. Many of us suffer through the workings of this figure. We often experience being a victim of criticism. 

In dreambody theory, the victim is often our primary process. Our secondary process (that which happens to us) is the criticism. When we learn to engage the critic, we can learn more about the critic process. 

The ordinary world critic is the inner voice that tells you,  "You can't do this or that. This idea is dumb; it will never work. Studying dreambody is a waste; what possible use could it be?" 

The dream world critic manifests body symptoms like a headache or a sudden mood such as depression or anger. E.g. You are excited about a change or new development in your life and suddenly you have a headache, asthma attack or slip into a counter productive mood.

Do This! 

Exercise 43 • Transforming the Inner Critic

Create a six panel cartoon strip using a grid with six equal squares (three in the top row, three in the bottom row) and number them. Is your critic already telling you that you can't draw? Use stick figures if you need to, so you can get around the inner voice that says you have no artistic talent (the drawing critic). 

In the first panel, draw yourself doing something you really want to do. In the next panel draw what might stop you. It may be a face, a voice, a big hand etc. The more you clarify the appearance of the critic the more you will learn about the critical part of your nature. In the third panel, draw the critic in complete control. In the fourth and fifth panel create some form of resolution with the critic. You may want to strike a deal. You may want to banish or kill the critic. It's up to you. Experiment and do whatever works for you now. 

In the last panel illustrate your desired resolution of the situation. Perhaps you and the critic are friends. Perhaps the critic has shrunk to an insignificant size. This is a good exercise for getting in touch with and working with, the parts of us that resist change.

from Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism by Don Ollsin

Do This!

Exercise 44 • Your critic exercise

Review the cartoon you did in Exercise 43.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of limits are you imposing on yourself?

  • Remember, argue for your limits and they are yours!

  • Record your critic experience:

Mentoring with an Herbal Elder

“Information is cheap, true education comes at a premium”.

I am an herbal elder. I have been studying, teaching, wild crafting, medicine making, healing, consulting, herbal politicking, running clinic, dispensary and retail outlets for 45 years, since 1970.

I recently completed a Masters degree in Environmental Education and Communication to help serve my students and the planet better. I have also trained with Indian mystics and Native elders. I teach modern and traditional system of healing. I no longer see a fragmented disassociated body or world. Physiologically, I no longer see the body as separate systems. I see it as a matrix, the extracellular matrix. I see the earth, water, sun and sky as sentient beings and all the other forms such as rocks, plants, animals and humans as sentient. I teach and practice “sentient openness”. At the sentient level, deep transformative healing is possible and probable.

I see herbs as my friends and companions, not as biochemical factories here to serve me. Herbs can heal you just by being in their presence alone, without ingesting them. I teach my students to find their allies. When we visit the ginkgo tree, I remind my students that six ginkgo trees survived the epicenter of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and they are still alive today. I teach and show my students the beauty of nature. Herbs are light eaters and heal through the transmission of light.

Herbal Elder Certificate.jpeg


I wish to share my teachings, traditional, like grassroots herbalism, shamanism and Ayurveda as well as modern, like the extracellular matrix, the zero point field and the biology of perception. I will provide a training blueprint based on my text book Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism by Don Ollsin. I can speed your journey of learning by guiding you to the right sources for each level of learning. I will also mentor those students who wish to become “professional herbalists” through the educational guidelines of the American Herbalist Guild (AHG).

Being an elder I can provide and or/guide you to the knowledge that you need to become a proficient healer. I want to train as many young herbalists as I can and get those that want to be recognized as professional herbalists accepted by the AHG. I support and believe in the AHG and I was part of the original crew of herbalists who dreamed up an organization like the AHG at Breitenbush Hot springs so many years ago.

I am a professional member of The American Herbalists Guild and one of fewer than 250 of such practitioners nationwide whose education and clinical skills have been peer reviewed by the American Herbalists Guild so as to be granted the status of a "registered herbalist" (R.H.). 

It takes a lot more than information to empower someone to do something they don't already know how to do, even if they understand the concepts, that doesn’t mean they have the ability to apply them or to achieve the outcomes they care about. This is education not just information. I accept the responsibility to do everything I can to support my students. If you do the work, you will become a professional herbalist. Information is cheap, true education comes at a premium. When you make an investment it signals to yourself that you are serious and most people need help to learn and succeed.

We will focus on learning goals you care about achieving.  “The average tutored (mentored) student was above 98% of students who are not tutored.” Bloom

Mentoring provides the magic of individual support and guidance that distinguishes information from education in the first place. Together we will establish checkpoints to measure how you are reaching your goals through regular check-ins both in our group and individual check-ins.




Create your own Probiotic Coconut Milk Yogurt

Don's Probiotic Coconut Milk Yogurt Starter

In this video, Don shows us how to create coconut milk using Dr. Ohhira's probiotic formula.  
This probiotic formula is grown on fruits, vegetables and fungi, meaning it works on most of the food we consume. None of us live on milk which is what most probiotics are grown on.
It is also vegan-friendly and ideal for those allergic to cow's milk. 


In a bowl, add contents of two probiotic capsules to one can of coconut milk and mix well. Place bowl, covered with a paper towel or cheesecloth, on top of the refrigerator. Allow to sit for three or four days. When ready stir it, cover and refrigerate. As soon as it is cool you can eat it. Yummy.

This is now your starter. When you need more coconut yogurt add two to three tablespoons to one can of coconut milk and repeat the above procedure. I like to start my next batch fairly soon so I do not run out.

Don considers probiotic coconut milk yogurt one of if not the most powerful probiotics available. It is also a wonderful alternative for those who do not take dairy. 

Learn more about how Dr. Ohhira's formula is made in this video
Don shares a recipe for adding herbs to your yogurt blend in Harmony, Balance and a Bit of Yogurt. 


Harmony, Balance and a Bit of Yogurt

One of the many ways herbs can nourish, heal and protect our bodies is through food. Creating a simple meal or snack for yourself, including your favorite herbs, can bring about much change in how you feel in your body, emotionally and physically. 

Probiotics for the gut, hawthorn for the heart, kelp for the thyroid, cayenne for the circulation and reishi for the stresses of life all sing a song of harmony and balance. Try this recipe to support your body: 

1/2 Cup Yogurt Blend
-2/3 Kefir
-1/3 Dr. Ohirra Coconut Yogurt (see post)

1/4 TSP Reishi Extract
1/4 TSP Kelp Powder
Dash of Cayenne
1 TSP Hawthorn Tincture (Optional) 

Whisk together all ingredients and enjoy as a breakfast meal or midday snack. You can apply this recipe to many of the herbs you take as part of your daily regimen. Feel free to experiment and explore the herbs that work best for your body. 

The Black Sun, The Alchemy and Art of Darkness

 Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemist and Their Royal Art. Johannes Fabricius

Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemist and Their Royal Art. Johannes Fabricius

Many years ago I was talking to a freind, Holger Bush about some deep astrological transits and dark shadowy experiences I was going through that involved Pluto and Saturn.

I had recently had an awesome numinous dream about a black sun. He said that the black sun was related to Saturn (The alchemist Jean Dubuis, in a lecture before the Philosophers of Nature stated that "this black sun of Saturn is the one that emits all the mystical influences of Saturn).

He also recommended the book, The Black Sun, The Alchemy and Art of Darkness by Stanton Martin.

"The black sun, an ages-old image of the darkness in individual lives and in life itself, has not been treated hospitably in the modern world. Modern psychology has seen darkness primarily as a negative force, something to move through and beyond, but it actually has an intrinsic importance to the human psyche. In this book, Jungian analyst Stanton Marlan reexamines the paradoxical image of the black sun and the meaning of darkness in Western culture.

In the image of the black sun, Marlan finds the hint of a darkness that shines. He draws upon his clinical experiences—and on a wide range of literature and art, including Goethe’s Faust, Dante’s Inferno, the black art of Rothko and Reinhardt—to explore the influence of light and shadow on the fundamental structures of modern thought as well as the contemporary practice of analysis. He shows that the black sun accompanies not only the most negative of psychic experiences but also the most sublime, resonating with the mystical experience of negative theology, the Kabbalah, the Buddhist notions of the void, and the black light of the Sufi Mystics.

An important contribution to the understanding of alchemical psychology, this book draws on a postmodern sensibility to develop an original understanding of the black sun. It offers insight into modernity, the act of imagination, and the work of analysis in understanding depression, trauma, and transformation of the soul. Marlan’s original reflections help us to explore the unknown darkness conventionally called the Self."       Amazon Review

"Since Jung first opened the obscurities of alchemy to psychological insight, no one has done a book as thorough, as rich, and as significant as this astounding work by Stanton Marlan. More: it reaches beyond Western alchemy into Eastern knowledge and arcane systems of inspiration and yet it is directly relevant to the darkness eclipsing the consciousness of our time. " James Hillman (One of my favorite authors)

Needless to say, I bought the book. It is one of my go to books when the darkness descends and I take to the bath or the bedroom. The darkness is challenging, dangerous and infinitely rewarding.

The darkness swallowed my father.

Part of my journey is to face the darkness and open into it. That is where I met the "Black Sun", a darkness that is luminous and I do not mean only metaphorically, also called the "Sol Nigra".

We feel it important to include that shadow side to our healing work as most everyone I know and I have worked with faces the shadow at some point in their journey. We need tools and support to dive into these realms. I want to acknowledge that I had and still have a lot of support that I count on when i get pulled in. This provides me the necessary safety to descend deeply to where the "Sol Nigra" shines.

Find your support. You could begin with this book.

Herbs for my Day

These are the herbs that I use in my daily practice. I use different herbs to help me feel awake and in touch with my emotions, nourished from the inside out, and finally, I use specific herbs to help me get to sleep. I like to make herbs a part of my daily ritual. Which herbs do you use in your daily practice?