For those that are new to the concept of Holy Smokes, could you tell us more about what it is and how it transpired towards a creative business for the two of you?
HOLY.SMOKES is an herbal smoking blend that is an organic alternative to tobacco. The very first batch was a loose leaf version of the DREAM.TIME blend, created for a dear friend who wanted to wean himself off of tobacco. He shared it with a friend, who shared it with a friend, & so on & so forth, until it finally blossomed into what it is today. For the first year I simply gave away little cotton bags of blend to people in my community through word of mouth. I was honored to provide local plants to people, & then one day it became clear to me that in order to complete the cycle of giving, I had to start receiving. So I began to accept donations, which later transformed into a fixed cost. I found that every time I shared HOLY.SMOKES with someone, I was rolling one up on the spot in order for them to experience it. This led to the onset of ‘Holy Roller’ parties, where friends would come over for pizza & roll smokes with me.
Gabriel was by my side from the very beginning, encouraging me to pursue MOON MINDED MEDICINE // HOLY.SMOKES further & leave my day job at an acupuncture clinic. He officially joined soon after he completed a wood working course in Washington & was back in California. We still hand roll every smoke, & harvest locally on the new //full moon phase. We are dedicated to maintaining quality & intention in our products, & hope to keep our standards high as our business grows.
I love that this was a community project. I love how much time went into just allowing it to be where it was, and growing from there. From Holy Roller to beautiful displays in some of my favorite shops - your integrity shows through your experience. Could you tell us more about the reasoning behind your harvesting during the moon phases and what that means to you personally?
Harvesting during the moon phases began as a personal practice. The full/new moon was the sky’s way of reminding me to go outside & commune with nature. When I started finding plants on my walks that could be used as medicine, I would gather them & bring them home to share with friends & family.
The alignment of the moon, the earth & the sun every full/new moon pulls greatly on the waters of the planet, including the water that flows within the bodies of living beings, from leaves on plants to wombs in women. I feel that there are nuanced differences in the expression of the plants dependent upon the moon cycle on which it’s been harvested (hence ‘moon minded’). It has been my experience that blends with plants gathered on the full moon invoke a fuller expression of emotional & creative juices. The desire to share one's inner world with others is strong under the influence of our full moon smokes. Our new moon blends have a velvety effect, one of introspection & solitude.. a time for self-discovery & deep meditation. Personal rituals are encouraged with new moon smokes.
There are a number of ways to experience Holy Smokes, outside of smoking - What do some of these variations look like, and which one do you enjoy the most?
Yes, HOLY.SMOKES in loose leaf form can be had as a tea or put in the bath. We love the FOCUS.POCUS blend as an iced tea, the mint is so refreshing! The INKA.PINKA is a wonderful incense. We enjoy lighting one & smudging our studio to invite a sense of wonder & delight into our mind & heart space. The DREAM.TIME blend almost always gives us a colorful, vivid dream or two to tell each other about the next day. As a woman, I also use the DREAM.TIME’s emmenagogic properties to stimulate menstruation when I’m feeling crampy & achy in that area. I simply steep it in hot water for ten to fifteen minutes, add honey & feel my spasms melt away within half an hour or so.
Siena, with your background in herbalism in particular - was this something inherited generationally, or something you felt pulled to personally?
The practice of using plants in my family isn’t something immediately obvious, but still subtly there, as I find it is in almost every person’s life. As a child, I remember my mother making me chamomile & mint tea after dinner. She would make me take echinacea tincture in orange juice when I was starting to get sick. My mother was very influenced by Eastern philosophy (specifically zen Buddhism through Thich Nhat Hanh) for as long as I can remember & she raised my sister & me surrounded by community who abided by those belief systems. She introduced me to Ayurvedic recipes & principles, like making ghee or paying attention to how foods made my body feel after eating them. I loved making magic potions with my sister & making people try them. Experiences like these absolutely sparked my decision to pursue herbal medicine further.
Herbalism, or using plants as medicine, is a birthright given to all humans. As I delve deeper into the plant world each day, I see how nearly every person I know has a dynamic relationship with plants, whether they love to cook with a certain spice, or enjoy wearing a particular floral perfume, or just feel happy to see poppies growing on the side of the road. I have observed herbs pop up in people’s awareness through dreams, in conversations or books they’re engaged in, or growing wild in their garden. Almost always is that particular plant communicating to that person that it has medicine to give in some form or another. It’s beautiful to watch when one finally says yes & invites the medicine in so that healing can transpire.
Thats such a great approach to basic fundamentals of herbalism, to just acknowledging plant magic - and appreciating it around you. I find myself noticing things like nettle, or dandelion roots as a promising wildcrafting prospect on walks and whatnot - it makes me wonder about your wildcrafting experience - Is this something you seek out personally or through Moon Minded Medicine as an alternative approach to medicine or smokable herbs?
I find myself picking wild plants with a ‘thank you’ & nibbling on them on a regular basis. MMM has given me the capacity to harvest herbs more often, but foraging in the wild for food & medicine will always be a practice of mine. Chanterelle mushrooms grow in abundance in this area when the conditions are right..I am really looking forward to going out & looking for those golden babies.. It’s a real treasure hunt.
Siena, You and Gabriel have sought out on this adventure together - working as a team to create the over-all vision of Holy Smokes. What are some of the learning curves you’ve experienced as business partners?
Well well well… Where to begin! :) Gabriel & I are partners in nearly every aspect of our lives. We make meals together, share a bed together, travel the world together.. rolling smokes is just one of the many facets of our coexistence. We navigate MOON MINDED MEDICINE day by day. As we expand our reach & have more demand, we are finding that good communication is key. We have weekly meetings where we state our intentions specifically for the business & brainstorm how to best achieve those goals. Being together for four years has given us an innate understanding of what mood the other is in, which can be helpful to avoid certain snafus. We allow space for ourselves to experiment creatively, as well as space for self care.