Questionably-Legal Park Adventures, Rue and Four Thieves Vinegar

by Liz

Yes, this post is about some questionably legal activities in a park, four thieves vinegar, and rue – but again not all in that order… It all started when I had this urge to make some Four Thieves Vinegar, and frankly I can’t even remember what sparked the desire to craft it in the first place; so last week (on Thursday, I believe) I gathered the ingredients to make some FTV using Cory’s recipe which he posted some time ago over at New World Witchery.

I had just about everything necessary to make the FTV, but I really wanted to include a sprig of rue as I’m fascinated with the story behind the vinegar (being used as a prophylactic against the plague and all…) and recognize that rue was one of the main herbs associated with protecting against the plague, not just in this recipe but more generally. I never really thought it would be difficult to find rue in the city of Kent, given that we have an excellent Natural Foods Co Op with a very large selection of dried herbs, but I suppose rue isn’t exactly a staple herb for most people, I couldn’t obtain it and thought I would have to do without. (This however, totally set me up for some questionably legal adventures!)

Later that night I recalled that last summer, when Ben (Iolair) and I went to a free herb workshop at a local park nature center they most definitely had a fresh sample of rue, and also a rather large plant growing in their herb garden. When we all went out during the workshop to look at said herb garden I remembered that she was up in the bed (which just so happened to be right next to the entrance of the center itself) looking at the rue plant.

This past weekend being a holiday weekend, Ben and I happened to both be in the same town – and I asked him if he wanted to covertly harvest some rue from the nature center, presuming we could identify the plant. We did, and sort of got caught in the act, but managed to smooth talk our way out of it without the park employee finding out that I had rue stuffed up in my sweatshirt. We added it to the vinegar in my car and it definitely felt more ‘complete’ afterwards. All in all a success.

Later that day I decided that I wanted to attempt to propagate the plant using one of the larger cuttings we took – so it’s currently sitting on my windowsill working on growing into my very own rue plant:

I’m pretty pleased at how everything turned out this weekend and past week. I’m definitely going to make a larger batch of protective FTV for myself and Ben (I plan on splitting the banishing one with him too, I just didn’t feel the need to make a quart of banishing FTV) with the remainder of our rue cuttings and some raw cider vinegar from the local co op.

If you’re interested, here’s what I used in my FTV:

  • Cider Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Brown Mustard Seeds (Toasted)
  • Sea Salt (Very Coarse Ground)
  • Black Peppercorns
  • A Sprig of Fresh Rue
  • Fresh Ginger Root (Peeled and Coarse Chopped)

Oh, and another last shout out to Benjamin, my co-witch and long-time working partner, for helping me appropriate the rue, and lending his own witchy-ness to the brew. And as a special treat, I found a picture of him from a while back on my camera, so here he is:


P.S. I’ve been collecting a bunch of old recipes for FTV from various sources on the interwebs… I’ll probably blog about making them eventually. If you want more info, comment or e-mail (I think the oldest english-language recipe I have is from 1851).

P.P.S. I think I’m a New World Witchery fangirl and/or groupie… I really admire Cory and Laine, though I don’t think I’ve mentioned Laine on the blog before – her name will probably come up in conjunction with me making some crafts (and I love the WitchCraft segment she does). I also love Cory’s scholarship, and how he researches things — JSTOR is my friend too. I’ll gush about their podcast in a review eventually, they’re both seem like really fantastic people, I would enjoy meeting them.

The End.