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Article: Anja from Daisy & Sunshine makes nature happy

Anja Fischer von Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein spricht mit uns übers Räuchern und die Rauhnächte

Anja from Daisy & Sunshine makes nature happy

This conversation with Anja Fischer is part of a series of interviews with women who, like me, feel particularly connected to nature. I speak to a wide variety of women about their approach to and love of nature.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

Smoking with natural materials is a part of their daily life all year round.

Who are you and what are you doing?

I'm Anja from Gänseblümchen Sonnenschein, I'm sitting here in my kitchen in Altenmarkt im Pongau, but I was born in Graz. I work as a freelance editor, author and herbalist. My main job is herbs and writing about them is one of my favorite things to do. I work on lots of small projects that often complement each other or overlap well.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

I used to have a part-time job, but it was terminated one day and so I threw myself into self-employment with full force.

I also have 2 small children, my daughter is 7 years old and goes to first grade and my son is 4 and goes to kindergarten.

How did you get into herbs?

I don't have a romantic story about it, like many others. I never ran through the meadows with my grandmother to pick arnica. Quite the opposite, nature didn't play such a big role in my childhood and youth. I know the classics from my mother, like May bud juice or vinegar compresses, and my grandmother always had marigold ointment at home.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

But I didn't really get into herbs until later. I was on holiday with my husband in Grossarl and we went on a herbal hike. I was so fascinated by it and it was so much fun. But at the time I was a flight attendant and of course it wasn't possible to do this kind of training in my schedule. But when I was pregnant with my daughter, I took the chance and started a herbal training course.

I then did herbal training at TEH to become a traditional European medicine practitioner. I was able to do my course there in Lungau. We were a very small group of 10 or 12 women. The training lasted about 9 months and it was a really great experience. My whole pregnancy was about herbs. At first I only used the knowledge for myself and my family and didn't have any business plans yet.

But little by little, more and more friends and mothers came to me and wanted a cold balm or a marigold ointment from me. But that's not so easy, you can't produce and sell everything in Austria, there are regulations and rules for that.

So I invited those who were interested into my kitchen and offered to mix it all together. The whole thing then began with workshops. Moms from the playgroups came to me and we mixed things together and made products.

We have been living in Altenmarkt for 4 years and this is where I started holding these workshops.

How did smoking come about?

The TEH training is a good basic training and touches on all the topics that herbs bring with them, and smoking is also a part of that. I started smoking much earlier, although I read a lot about it, because smoking has a lot to do with experience and observation and it is also very individual in terms of perception. Smells are very individual and trigger different things in each person. In the smoking courses, it is always very nice to observe how differently people perceive smells and scents. Smoking has always fascinated me and making my own smoking mixtures is something very exciting and beautiful for me.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

When did you start celebrating the Rauhnacht?

It started for me in the last 5 years. Many things - such as smoking on Christmas Eve - are traditions for many people. It's not about the Rauhnacht itself, but about the custom. The Rauhnacht is celebrated very differently by many people. There are no set ceremonies for it, it's very open and individual. I grew up with very little tradition as a child and only got to know these customs 14 years ago when I moved to Salzburg.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

What do the Rauhnacht mean to you?

For me, the most important Rauhnacht is St. Thomas' Night, which is the winter solstice on December 21st. This night is the turning point and everything begins anew, the days get longer again, even if it will still be a long time before then, you can think about the new beginning and the start of a new time.

Three years ago, I started offering an online Rauhnacht course with Karin, more by chance. Karin is a mindfulness trainer and that's where I found my way into meditation and I showed her my way into incense burning.

Each day has a theme and you can plan your own course. You can also only celebrate one or two Rauhnachts, it's completely individual. I always try to look back and see with my family what was nice and what was good for us during the year.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

Where does the tradition of the Rauhnächte come from?

There are very different views on this. But it is believed that smoking is as old as fire itself and even in the Stone Age people sat around the fire and then sprinkled herbs into it. People used it to send wishes to heaven or to be grateful for the results of a hunt.

It is also said that the solar year with its 365 days was compared to the lunar year. The lunar cycle is shorter than the solar cycle and these 12 nights were called the Rauhnachte. Nights because at this time it is always dark longer than it is light.

Every culture has developed its own customs and rituals related to smoking, as smoking is practiced all over the world.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

You don't need to be afraid of smoking and it's something very nice that you can do yourself a lot of good with. You can do it all year round and it's not just limited to the Rauhächte. I smoke every day, especially with a warmer in my clay bowl. It's also important to me to use herbs and roots from my area. Because they suit us so well.

How do you handle the smoking ingredients?

In the morning, when I come into the kitchen, I take some incense from my drawer and put it on my teapot warmer. I have my own herbs from the garden, but also from the forest and from the surrounding nature, which I collect and dry and store for incense burning. I also have incense mixtures that I sell. I do this very intuitively for myself.

Where do you get all this knowledge about what plants do?

That is part of my training and I have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the last 8 years. In the last 2 years I also trained to become a FLN herbal expert, where we worked through 400 herbs. Talking to lots of great herbalists has also helped me a lot. I am also pretty much always up to date with the topic and read lots of books and magazines on the subject.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

Give us a tip for those who say, this is exciting but where should I start?

It's good to find a book to start with. The Handbook of Smoking by Daniela Dettling from Freya Verlag - that's a great place to start. It's great for getting started, it answers the most important questions: How do I smoke, what options are there, what do I need...

When it comes to smoking, you have to try out what you like or what suits you best. Do you prefer smoking with charcoal or on a stove? Or do you prefer to use incense sticks, which are great for beginners because you don't need much else.

You don't need any incense mixtures, you can start with individual herbs. Like sage, for example, which is cleansing and brings fresh energy into the room. You can also take a few spruce or pine needles from the Advent wreath and put them on your teapot warmer. You can also dry orange or apple peels and burn them in smoke.

If you are unsure, an online or offline course is also a great option for the topic. We always have the Rauhnächte course starting on December 21st.

Anja Fischer from Gänseblümchen & Sonnenschein talks to us about smoking and the Rauhächte

What are your 3 favorite incense herbs?

Juniper and elecampane are my two favorite herbs, as is rowanberries. They have such a refreshing smell. They are also great as "wish berries" when burning incense with children. You can throw them into the fire and make a wish, which has something magical about it.

I also really like spruce resin and spruce needles.

When do you smoke?

All year round, summer and winter. In the summer we spend more time outside, in the evenings with the family. I always smoke. My children really enjoy it too.

Herbal Wonder Time - Herbal Workshops & more

You also have the opportunity to attend herbal workshops with me and you can find the current topics and projects on my website or Instagram .

Photo credit: Barbara Pacejka

You can find more interviews about great women and their approach to nature here:

Karin from Naturspirit
Stephanie from Atempause
Susanne from Naturzauberwerke
Tina from the herbalist
Melanie from Mint
Anja from Daisy & Sunshine
Andrea from Fermentista
Andrea from Yoga Cuisine
Marlies von Quendelgrün
Christine from Textpoterie
Doris from Made with Love
Alex from Die Kräutermadame
Bianca from Naturespiritauraspray
Gerda from Green Power

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