The Wondersmith
Rewarding curiosity and gifting magic all over the Pacific Northwest


This blog is an exploration of daily magic, featuring wild plants, creative recipes, meaningful ceremonies, and writings about our shared humanity. 

Welcome to the Wondersmith's Writings! Here you can find magical recipes featuring foraged ingredients, musings on food and ceremony, and meaningful rituals to explore your own everyday magic. Don't forgot to subscribe if you'd like to get a notification anytime I post a bit more magic! And if you'd like to support my goal to spread magic far and wide, consider contributing to my patreon program!

Magic Potion (with elderberry, mullein, horehound, and star anise)

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Has the Halloween season left you feeling a little witchy? Have you ever wanted to make your own magic potion? Then read on, my friends! Not only is this elixir chock-full of healing herbs and berries (mostly foraged), it also looks like liquid gold. A spoonful of shimmer makes the medicine go down ;) (Not that it’s needed- this medicine is pretty tasty!) It’s an almost-alchemical concoction of plant medicine, kitchen witchery, and a little bit of changing elderberry juice into gold. This is about as valuable *as* gold to have around during cold/flu season, and would also make an excellent gift when topped with a snazzy bottle topper. 

Here’s what’s in it:

Elderberries: as a general strong immune booster, plus delicious wild flavor!

Honey: because it is soothing, anti bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and acts as a cough suppressant*

Mullein: for chest congestion and other respiratory complaints

Horehound: to soothe sore throats and aid digestion

Star anise: for a delicious licorice flavor to balance the brew, and also because it is frequently used to treat coughs and flus, alleviate cramps, and reduce nausea

The secret ingredient for magical shimmer: edible luster dust (which you can buy here)

And that’s it! Well, and some bourbon if you’re like me and prefer to gently spike your cold medicine. ;) 

When crafting this special recipe, I didn’t just think about the medicinal aspects of the plants that are in it, I also thought of the flavor and how they would balance each other out. Elderberries are tart, fruity, with a subtle delicious aroma that is unlike anything else. Horehound is distinctly bitter, but not in an unpleasant way when it is balanced by the other ingredients. Mullein has a very subtle flavor and is mostly in the mix for its powerful medicinal benefits. Star anise is a delightful warming spice whose sweet spiciness balances out the tartness and the bitterness of the other ingredients wonderfully. This stuff is so good I could eat it by the spoonful. And have. Hey, I’m fighting a cold, okay? 

If you want to infuse your elixir with a little extra magic, you can hold your intentions in your mind or speak them aloud as you add each ingredient. I love using this as a meditative process - I picture the parts of my body that each plant will affect and imagine them warming up as I hold the herb in my hands. For example, as I hold the mullein I picture warm healing energy flowing into my lungs and making them glow gold. (That is actually where the inspiration to add shimmering gold came from - a half-asleep vision/meditation of golden energy entering my body and healing me, one area at a time.) Perhaps this is a visualization that you’ll find helpful. If not, the potion is still delightful…

And without further ado, here’s the recipe: 


1 c. elderberry juice (see below)

1 c. honey

2 star anise pieces

2 mullein leaves

2 fresh horehound sprigs

A few pinches of edible luster dust

1-2c bourbon, optional 

A note on this recipe: I included measurements for those that want to follow the recipe exactly, but it’s written in such a way that you can adapt it to however much elderberry juice you make!


  1. To make the elderberry juice: Just barely cover your fresh elderberries with water, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Allow to cook until the berries start popping, about 25 minutes. Let cool a bit, then strain through a sieve, pressing on the berries with a wooden spoon to help them release their juice. Discard the skins and seeds left in the strainer. (Note: if you’re making this out of dried elderberries, just use 1 part berries to 4 parts water and let it cook for an hour before straining it. You can buy elderberries and the other herbs in this recipe at Mountain Rose Herbs if you aren’t able to forage your own!)
  2. Measure your elderberry juice and add it to a small saucepan. Add an equal amount of honey. Stir, over medium heat, until well incorporated. Add the star anise and mullein leaves and cook for 5 minutes. Add the horehound sprigs and turn it down to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add a few pinches of edible luster dust (I used ‘antique gold’) and stir well. Strain the mixture through a kitchen strainer to remove the plant material. 
  4. By now your liquid should be pretty thick. You can use it as is, or water it down a little with a bit of water. You can also add up to an equal part of bourbon to make the viscosity runnier as well (keep in mind that if you do this, this recipe is no longer appropriate for children.) 
  5. Take 1/2 tsp. every few hours when you have a cold, or mix it into a delicious drink. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this magic potion is to simply add about 2 tsp syrup to a glass and top with ginger beer or sparkling water and stir. The shimmery luster looks lovely when suspended in a drink! And when combined with ginger, you get the added benefits of it; ginger is wonderful for both colds and stomach aches. It helps your body digest and warms you as well. 
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Though this brew is made out of gentle ingredients, it is not appropriate for children under 1 year or pregnant women. Always take care when taking herbal medicine and talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. 

*according to the Mayo Clinic

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