by Eric Toennis
What was the inspiration for starting your herbalism business? Also, what was the inspiration behind the name?
Since I was a little girl I’ve always been in love with plants, fascinated by their colors, shapes, growth patterns, and types of fruiting bodies. I couldn’t get enough. My mother taught me to care for plants and how to grow food when I was a child. She was always incorporating natural methods of healing wherever she could. This way of life carried on into adulthood where I delved deeper into natural healing methods. I’ve been a proponent of making my own remedies for years, researching and reading, tinkering and tweaking, handing out creations to those I love and helping them heal.
I decided to go back to school to further study plants, the natural world, and how we can interact with them in a holistic manner. During my time at Oregon State University I honed in my field of study, coming closer to realizing how I wanted to utilize my passion to help others. A month before graduating I had a vision of my life in the future. I was standing behind an antique apothecary countertop, a wall of herbs behind me, and teas, balms and tinctures surrounding me. Plants hung from the tops of display cases, skulls nestled amongst them, books filling every nook and cranny. My future had become clear.
Since that time the vision has never faded and I’ve worked every day to someday find myself there in reality.
The apothecary as it is today is just the beginning of my dreams. The little moments throughout the past few years when people would tell me how my creations have changed their lives has only driven me to work harder, to continue to create so that I may help those that I love and do my part to be a steward to this land.
During this journey the name was one of the hardest things for me to settle on. Months of brainstorming, workshopping, meditating and envisioning finally led me to the name. Rogue has been a name I’ve identified with since I was young, referring to myself with this title when I’d meet new people or go out to sing karaoke. I’ve always practiced my witchcraft as a mainly solitary witch, finding my own way in all my practices. The Rogue Witch was my alias on many platforms and finally, one day while workshopping names with a good friend, he asked why I didn’t just call my business Rogue Witch Apothecary. Honestly, it had occurred to me but quickly left my field of vision for some reason. In that moment, when he said it out loud, it made perfect sense to me. When I’d thought of it before I didn’t want to exclude any particular group within my market by labeling my business with the word “Witch”. At the time he suggested it I had recently started being more comfortable being publicly open about my beliefs and practices and it made more sense to me to not hide it anymore, to not feel like I owed anyone anything except to be authentically me. I started using the name immediately and it was perfect.
What are your favorite herbs and scents to work with when making your array of soaps, oils, and other products?
One of my favorite scents of all-time is lavender. I try not to overuse it, or use it in every single item that I make because I know that not everyone loves it like I do, but I do use it a lot. I really love to blend lavender with grounding earth and tree scents like cedarwood, sandalwood, pine, oakmoss, fir, and other scents like those. I find the balance between uplifting florals and grounding earth tones to be very pleasing. I love to work with fresh and dried plant material when I can. I make oil infusions with things like St. John’s wort, calendula, willow bark, rose petals, borage and so many more for the salves, oils, and soaps I make. I also make tinctures, extracts, teas, and tonics. Those types of items haven’t hit my shop yet but be on the lookout in the future for those healing remedies.
What kind of products can festivalgoers expect to be available to purchase at this year’s Dreyfest?
I’ll be bringing with me an array of goodies such as soap, oil, serum, chapstick and some of my newer specialty items such as sunscreen, and toothpowder! My best selling soaps are my lavender, rosemary, and horsetail shampoo bar Halo, my tea tree charcoal facial cleanser, Gold Dust Woman, and my orange, cedarwood, and castor oil shave soap Kashmir. I’ll be bringing beard oil, hair serum, hair oil, facial oil, and facial serum, all of which are shop favorites.
You recently moved up to and are working on a small organic farm in Tillamook, OR with your good friend and fellow Dreyfest artist Sinister Sister Sara. What types of crops and plants are you two growing? Where can people in your local area find them?
We grow a variety of large crop vegetables such as delicata squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini as well as a plethora of greens! Two types of spinach, New Zealand and Olympia, two types of lettuce, Red Sail and Buttercrunch, collard greens, arugula, and kale. We also grow beans and peas, radishes and beets. Growing wild on the property you can find a multitude of medicinal and edible plants such as mint, nettles, clover, raspberries, salmonberries, and oregon blackberry. We are in the process of starting to cultivate more medicinal herbs on the farm such as yarrow, tulsi, chamomile, calendula, lavender, rosemary, sage, borage, chicory and so many more!
The Norwood Family Farm on the Trask River is one of two Norwood Farms. The other is located closer to Tillamook off the Netarts Highway. At that location we recently opened a farm stand where we sell our produce, plant starts, succulents, antiques, Sara’s art, my products, and other local artisans creations. We also harvest and sell our produce weekly to a prominent local restaurant called The Schooner, located on Netarts Bay.
If you could choose to be one animal, what would it be and what would your name be?
If I could be one animal I would choose to be a beaver. The beaver is one of my spirit animals and one that has been guiding me for many years. They are ingenuitive, persistent, hardworking, family oriented while being independent, need to make their home near water and trees, all things that I highly identify with. My name would be Ursula, in any animal form, as it is the most ancient of my witch names and travels with me whatever form I take.
What famous witch or magical being do you identify with most?
The magical creature I identify with the most is the spirit of the forest from Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke. As he walks through the forest, plants grow in his footprints, he is a healer and protector of all that dwells in the forest. I identify with this creature so much, I’ve always had a very strong connection to the forest and all that lives there. I wish so much that I could heal with just my touch.
What famous farmer do you identify with most?
You come across an old witch in the woods, and help rescue her black cat from a tree. She offers you as a reward either the power of telekinesis or astral projection. What do you choose?
Telekinesis, definitely. The power to move substances without having to touch them intrigues me endlessly. Someday… someday...
You are teleported to another time in human history. You get to take one personal item with you from your time. When and where would that be, and what would you take with you?
I would choose to be teleported back to pioneer, wild-west days. The expansion to the west is something I would have loved to have seen. The uncharted lands, minimal technology, Native American tribes living free on the lands. Oh to be able to view that untouched beauty from the top of a grass covered hill, buffalo roaming below.
I would take with me a really good camera. While cameras were around back then they could only capture so much because of how primitive they were. To be able to capture the landscape with today's technology would be something truly magical.
I’ve been told that you are a pizza connoisseur. What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of pizza? What is the worst slice of pizza you’ve ever had?
Love pizza! Love, love, love pizza! Pizza is arguably the most perfect, complete meal; the original open faced sandwich. First of all, let’s just get this out of the way before we go any further. Pig & fruit is sacrilege and shouldn’t be considered pizza. Now that we’ve got that nasty business out of the way, let's move on to what the best kind of pizza is. The best pizza will have a thin, yet substantial, crust. Crust that won’t flop over at the tip when held upright, and yet is still thin enough to be folded in half properly. When bit into it should have an initial crisp, crunch, but the inner part of the crust should be slightly chewy and full of gluten. Now let’s talk sauce. Sauce can range from a tomato base to an oil base. The perfect tomato sauce is not too acidic and not too sweet, a delicious balancing act. Too much sauce and the rest of the pizza gets drowned out and overpowered. Too little sauce and you’re left wishing you had something to tie your toppings and your crust together. My favorite kinds of pizza would be a simple, classic pepperoni or a margherita pizza if I’m going to a really good pizza place for the first time. I want to go classic and simple at first to really see how good the ingredients and the dough are. If I know I love a place my favorite kind of pizza is usually a combination of sorts. I love bell peppers, different types of meats and cheeses, so some type of combination pizza. The worst kind of pizza I’ve ever had is the kind I haven’t eaten yet.
Do you consider Pluto a planet? Defend yourself.
Dwarf planet, yes. Planet, no. In 2003 scientists discovered an object that was more massive than Pluto and that it too had satellites. This discovery moved scientists to now pose the question, just what was the definition of a planet. In 2006 the International Astronomers Union (IAU) voted on three new classifications of bodies that orbit the sun, one category being a dwarf planet. A dwarf planet is much smaller than a regular planet, actually they’re smaller than Earth’s moon! A dwarf planet is basically round but has not yet cleared the area around its orbit of debris, thus separating it from a planet. So scientifically speaking Pluto is not a planet. Just how plants and animals get reclassified as we learn more about our earth’s history, it’s important to reclassify celestial beings as well so that we can better communicate about them, to better understand them.
Have you ever been to Montana before? If so, what’s your favorite memory? If not, what are you most excited about?
I’ve been to Montana a only a few times when I was younger. My cousins moved to Whitefish when I was about 12 years old. I remember driving up there with my dad, looking out the window going 90 mph through rolling hills as far as the eye can see, a sparse tree here and there. Seeing the enormous mountains in the distance, tops covered in snow, wondering what the world looked like from up there. I also traveled through Montana on a family road trip when I was in high school. I don’t remember too much about these trips though because they were so long ago. But I am so excited to see the big mountains again, to see the wild beauty that Montana retains while my home in Oregon is becoming more and more crowded. I have a feeling I’m going to fall in love.