Originally published in AmoRosa Vol. 1 organized by La Lunería. AmoRosa is a collective zine celebrating all things rose: beloved plant ancestor, grandmother medicine, the world’s favorite flower. Amo Rosa (I love rose), Amorosa (loving), Amor Rosa (pink love), is filled with offerings – recipes, stories, rituals, herbal medicine, and more containing rose’s magic. The below piece is one offering + recipe for making rose leaf ink featured in the zine.
I initially made this recipe as a tender gift to my partner, made from the leaves of a bouquet of baby pink roses they gave me for valentine’s day. It felt like a way to materially show how our love circulates between us in a never-ending spiral of gentle care and affection. The more I sit on this recipe, the more I realize how much it can offer by way of medicine but also remembering to honor the whole plant – we tend to hyper focus on the beautiful petals of the rose but what can the stem show us? What do their thorns teach us about boundaries? What can we learn from the leaves and their many veins about nourishment? Rose is an ancient ancestor filled with lifetimes worth of knowledge about the divinity of love, but also the liminality, the outer edges, of tending to the deep roots within our spirits. I personally find this knowledge deeply held in their leaves – what if we directed our focus away from the center, away from the focal point, and looked
towards what is on the outskirts of our being? What is held there and how can we tend to it? Our shadows tend to be held in these outskirts, but they are still very much apart of us. Sometimes rose leaves look like they are the shadows of the blossom. Their edges are serrated where the petals are smooth. Their deep color elicits the ether – if the void were a cave, it would be shrouded by rose leaves. I hope working with rose in this way can offer some deep nourishment for your spirit, for your shadow, and leaves you with some questions worth exploring on your journey to the outer edge.
Rose leaf ink ingredients:
Leaves from 12 roses, separated from the stems
1 tsp* gum Arabic (or any binding agent, corn starch also works fine)
Blender/food processor or molcajete
Cheesecloth or any fine-straining cloth or tool
Mason jar/any jar with a lid
Dark container for storing – amber glass is best
(*keep in mind that the amount of gum Arabic or corn starch you use will directly affect the
thickness and color of the ink since both are white. More gum Arabic = thicker liquid that is also lighter in color; less gum Arabic = thinner liquid that is darker in color. I start with a teaspoon and if I feel I need more, I go from there.)
Once you have separated your leaves from their stems, you can add them to your food processor or molcajete along with your water and begin processing them. I didn’t place a measurement on the water because it depends on how many leaves you are working with, plus this recipe is meant to be intuitive. You just want enough water to get the leaves into a nice clumpy soup-like texture, not too thick but not thin either.
Once you achieve the desired texture, cover the mouth of your jar with your cheesecloth (or whatever you decide to use) and empty the chunky leaf soup into the cheesecloth. Wrap the cheesecloth around the leaves and squeeze as much liquid out as you can into the jar. Once you have your liquid, add the gum Arabic and shake to combine (This is why I recommend using a jar so you can put a lid on it!). Gum Arabic incorporates slowly so don’t freak out if you see lots of clumps or think it isn’t mixing. You may need to let the mixture sit for 24 hours in a dark place before coming back to it and shaking it some more. Transfer the ink to your dark container and store in a cool, dark place. Shake well before using. It’s best to use this up as quickly as possible as natural pigments don’t last forever. You could likely store this for up to 3 months but try to use it up well before then! Remember that the Earth is very generous and will grant you plenty of opportunities to experiment with creating your own inks and paints.