Hi Siena! I have been admiring your company for awhile now and we recently were able to trade. I am so happy to be connecting with other herbal sisters in California! Thank you for doing this interview with me.
Where did you come up with the concept for Holy Smokes? Were you making these for yourself before you launched Moon Minded Medicine?
The very first batch of HOLY.SMOKES was the DREAM.TIME blend, made for a friend who wanted something besides tobacco to put in his wooden pipe. It came loose in a small tin with a handwritten label ‘holy smokes’ & the ingredients: mugwort, damiana, & catnip. The mugwort was from a recent harvest in the hills where we live. Then he had a friend who wanted a batch, who told her friend, & on & on until it became what it is today
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What got you started on this path? Did you study herbalism?
MOON MINDED MEDICINE was created by herbalist, Siena Perez del Campo & her partner & creative entrepreneur, Gabriel Vicente. Driven by her lifelong love of plants & people & the stories that connect them, Siena founded this small herbal product business with the hope that her products would do just that. She is a graduate of the Roots of Herbalism program with her studies highlighting Herbal Therapeutics, Medicine Making, & Growing Plant Medicine.
Gabriel spent many years as a freelance app developer in southern California. Last year he spent 3 months in Washington state learning pre-industrial woodworking. He is a problem-solver at heart with a knack for artisan bread-baking.
Both Siena & Gabriel were raised in Santa Barbara, CA, with roots in Argentina.
What is your zodiac sign? Moon and Rising?
+ Virgo sun sign
+ Scorpio moon
+ Capricorn rising
+ Pisces sun sign
+ Scorpio moon
+ Libra rising
What is the purpose of smoking these herbs and flowers? I love the idea of, quoting off your site, “sending flowered breath on the wind…” sounds beautiful. What are the different ways you can use holy smokes?
HOLY.SMOKES are for those who wish to smoke something other than tobacco or cannabis. It is an alternative blend to help smokers wean off tobacco. There is a subtler, more nuanced effect that comes from smoking HOLY.SMOKES, which is connected to ritual. We find that people are drawn towards the smell of INKA.PINKA, for example, & that the conversation almost inevitably turns to one about the plants that are being burned.
You can burn HOLY.SMOKES as incense, mix the loose-leaf with other smokeables, or use it as a bath soak or tea.
Do you take part in any other healing practices besides herbalism? How did these inspire or play a part of your business?
We love to have group medicine nights. Whether it’s making a communal fire cider & burying it in the ground for a full lunar cycle, or making couple love syrups, we are all about empowering our friends & families with ‘kitchen witchin’ techniques & recipes.
We would like to eventually offer these gatherings as classes for the greater community.
How do you feel smoking the herbs/flowers affects you differently that drinking it in a tea or taking a tincture? Are there herbs that soothe the lungs?
There is something so beautifully satisfying about using fire to ingest plants. It strikes the primal chord of first man + fire. We also enjoy the INKA.PINKA loose-leaf as a rosy hot tea & the FOCUS.POCUS as a refreshing iced tea. While tinctures can be great, easy to take medicine, we really enjoy the ritual behind lighting up a smoke or heating up water for tea & letting it infuse for ten minutes. In the hustle & bustle of our modern culture, part of the medicine of a cup of tea is the pure act of making it. We encourage others to take the time to experience the plants beyond the quick fix of a tincture.
Yes, there are herbs that act on the throat & lungs. The herbs in our blends all have an affinity for the respiratory system in different capacities. Mullein is a great example of what is known as an expectorant, meaning it aids with bringing stubborn mucus up & out of the lungs. Linden is a go-to herb for coughs or asthmatic symptoms (especially in tea form).
Can you tell us about some of the herbs that go into Holy smokes? I am very curious about INCAYUYO as I have never heard of it before. Where does this herb come from?
Incayuyo is a popular herb in parts of South America, especially in the hills of Córdoba, Argentina where we source this plant. A cousin to lemon verbena, this herb was named after the Inca (incayuyo translates to ‘herb of the Inca’) due to their daily use of the plant as a digestive tea, or herbal smoke. We are making a trip to gather more of this wonderful plant in February
What are some local herbs that grow near you? I know we are both in Southern CA so there must be many similar herbs that grow near your studio. Do you use these in your blends? Do you pick them yourself?
The first plant that I wildcrafted & used was a local species of mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), & it’s still one of my favorites. When we go hiking in the California hills & spot mugwort, I feel like I’m reconnecting with a friend. We use mugwort harvested on the full/new moon phase in our DREAM.TIME blend (currently out of stock). There are so many exquisite plants that grow around us that have a multitude of uses. We would love to include more of our local flora in our medicine offerings. We are also creating an herb garden next to our new studio.
What do you do to help local plant conservation? Are there any endangered or protected plants that you use/wont use in your blends or your personal medicine making? I know white sage is pretty scarce and I always carry a big jug of water and a pack of quartz crystals with me anytime I pick them. I leave a crystal at its base and give it a nice healthy dousing of water; and I only do it during certain times of year to allow for these plants to flourish all year long and for generations to come. What do you feel about people misusing these sacred herbs and plants?
What a beautiful practice you have with white sage! We certainly bring our attention to how the community of plants is doing around us & won’t harvest if the population is scarce. We create products with ethically sourced, organically grown plants in order to raise our customer’s awareness & standards when consuming plant medicine.
We see a lot of misuse of plants & of the earth in general. It saddens me to see such disregard for the planet’s health… there is a definite connection between the state of the outer world & the inner world within each being on the earth. We hope to create more abundant beauty within & let that be reflected in what we create.
One of our main resources for staying up to date with endangered plant species is the United Plant Savers (UPS), a wonderful community of plant protectors founded by Rosemary Gladstar & others.
For those who have never used holy smokes, what makes these different from smoking tobacco? Do they have any healing effects or is it more for ritual use. Can they be used as a tobacco replacement?
HOLY.SMOKES have been used as a tobacco replacement for many. We are always getting new reports on people quitting tobacco for good & H.S being their transitional ally. In our experience, smoking a HOLY.SMOKE doesn’t give us the same feeling a cigarette does, due to the lack of nicotine, but it does give us a shift of mindstate, depending on the blend.
Do you have a favorite blend you make? Which one would you recommend for a first time smoker of anything?
The INKA.PINKA blend is the loveliest & smoothest for new smokers, although we don’t recommend this as a gateway to smoking. It is important to respect plants & yourself. It can be a great addition to a moon ritual with friends, to seal the circle with shared breath, or used as fragrant incense, too.
Lastly, I always ask, do you have any upcoming projects in the works? Do you plan on launching any new products this year?
Yes! We have so many ideas percolating all the time… we make potions here & there to give to friends & family, but HOLY SMOKES is our priority at the moment. There may be care kits on the horizon…
We are hoping to create a special mountain smoke blend featuring hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) in the coming year.
Photos by: Winter Creative Co.