Marsh Mallow - Althaea officinalis

Marsh Mallow - Althaea officinalis

Separating Magic, Reunion Magic

Everything is magic. Our very existence is magic, it’s magical, mysterious, marvelous, a slight of hand, a trick of energy, and a play of light. We aren’t permitted to see how the trick is done, but we do get to experience the magic. Magic is movement, and this movement tends to embody a separating movement or a movement of reunion.

"Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream, and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed."

It is an easy thing to only see one side as right and the other as wrong, one magic is good, while another magic is bad. Stinging nettle is bad, while strawberry plants are good. And yet, because it is all magic, it is all sacred, and we get to play within this field of sacred movement. But when playing, there is always a choice and what we choose will produce action that moves us further into separation, or that moves us further into reunion.

"Magic is all in your head, you simpoly have no idea how big your head really is."

These choices can look something like this:

  • We can dedicate in our drinking water, or we can compost it.
  • We can record songs, or we can sing together.
  • We can live in isolation out of fear of spreading disease, or we can hug, dance together, sing in close proximity, hold hands, and accept what comes our way.
  • We can produce moncultures, or we can produce polycultures.
  • We can get our food from factory plants, or we can get our food from biological plants.
  • We can send young children to daycare, or we can raise them at home and in community.
  • We can create manicured lawns, or we can create Perma Farms.
  • We can drive around in cars, or we can walk around in person.
  • We can send our elderly to nursing homes, or we can care for them in our homes till the end.
  • We can work towards a quantitative life, or we can work towards a qualitative life.
  • We can produce more honey in Langstroth hives, or we can let the bees do what they want in a top bar hive.
  • We can gather food from a grocery store, or we can gather food from a food forest.
  • We can live a life we are paid to live, or we can do something that makes us come alive.
  • We can work towards receiving money, or we can work towards being a gift.

This list could be endless, because our choices are endless. Separating magic is the story of our culture. System designed to compel us towards the choice of moving further into separation. It is almost always the easier choice. But may we never forget the lesson of Faust, seeing only what the devil will give us and being blind to what he will take away.

"The uniformity and ugliness of landscapes resulting from the agro-industrial mode of productiona re the symptoms of a one-dimensional and unbalanced relationship between human beings and a land where they no longer dwell, but which they simply exploit."

Take something as simple as a shoe, the process to make that shoe is dark and separates us from the other; landscapes full of caged animals used to produce mass leather that must be tanned with harsh chemicals. Oil rigs and pumpjacks to make polyester and polyurethane, factories full of machines and machine slaves, shipping containers, cargo trucks, roads, stores, money, and desire. But it is magic, and the trick of how the shoes are made, is always hidden from us. What you see is a veneer, the end product, showcased on a clean shelf. Oh the ease of separating magic, always hiding its heavy footprint, taking far more than it will ever give back.

"“Less possessing – less possessed. More possessing – more possessed. More possessed – less accessed. Less possessed – more accessed. Let us be off my child. The truly high is ever low. The truly swift is ever slow. The highly sensitive is numb. The highly eloquent is dumb. The ebb and flow are but one tide. The guileless has the surest guide. The very great is very small, And he has all who gives his all.”"

But there are other kinds of magic based on reunion, ways to tread lightly and Marshmallow is a plant that brings ideas to the mind of a world that begins waking up to new ways of becoming. For here is a perennial plant that grows each year on its own, with no tilling and no toil, and yet it shows itself to be useful for food, medicine, and clothing.

"Althea, Althea, how your name rings to me. Of days of old when your name meant to heal. Have we forgotten your magical powers? Your healing potential for all our ills? As I gaze at your beauty…. Ahh! I remember now, You’ll sooth my ailing parts and bring health to this poor old body. If only I remember to listen!"

And so, imagine a world that honored plants like Marshmallow, using the leaves, flowers, and roots to heal and to bring happiness. Imagine a world where the long plentiful stalks are harvested after the plant has completed its yearly cycle, using these to make cordage, shoes, paper, and clothes for their family. No mass production of cows, no chemicals, no petroleum, no factories, no slaves, containers, trucks, stores, or money; just time, knowledge, and purposeful art and creativity. And all this, by awakening to the amazing benefits of just one plant.

"There are laws in the village against weeds. The law says a weed is wrong and shall be killed. The weeds say life is a white and lovely thing."

Marshmallow Shoes

Cut the stalks after they have completed their cycle.
Bend and pull apart to reveal Marshmallow strands.
Repeat till you can fill a bucket with these strands.
Grab a couple of these strands.
And start braiding them together.
Take these braided strands and braid them again with two other braided strands.
Take a board and draw out your footprint, and put in three nails.
Start wrapping the triple braided strands around nails.
Use a sewing needle and thread to tie it all together.
Use your imagination to create the uppers or straps...

We know what you’re thinking; shoes from a plant? Yes, and this is really a very similar process to how espadrilles and aparagatos are made. The only difference being mainly the use of different fibers (this can also be done with cordage from Milkweed, Dogbane, Stinging Nettle, Velvet Leaf, Evening Primrose, Basswood, Weeping Willow and even some brambles).

Note to those who have made it this far: light magic is not efficient, and it’s not meant to be. It takes time, a lot of time, and manual labor. You can’t really defend light magic through the reasoning of a materialistic world, because to the modern mind, this kind of thinking is unreasonable. To understand light magic, it must be experienced, it must be felt.

We imagine light magic to be something similar to a baker who would say that he has to knead the dough with his hands, or like the mother who takes no thought in spending weeks crocheting a blanket, or like an artist who takes the time to make their own paint, or like the musician that refuses to be constrained by sheet music, or like the traveler who insists on taking the road less travelled, even if it does take him out of the way, no... better yet, because it take him out of the way.

There no easy answer when it comes to light magic, but as we continue on this spiraling process, we are starting to wake up to what is beautiful and what works. we know that life lives on life, everything takes, however, in observing balanced system at work, we find that everything gives back much more than is taken. And so what feels right is trying to fill our life with as much light magic as we can. And also being aware that when we take, when we use black magic, when we drive our car, build a home, or wear shoes…, that we are conscious of what we are taking, and that we work to bring balance by giving more, planting more trees, letting more land escape, finding better and more balanced ways to live.


Althaea officinalis, commonly known as Marsh Mallow is a lesser known cousin of the common Mallow, and like the common Mallow it has many similar properties. Its very name is from the Greek ‘althein’ which means to cure or to heal, and has been reportedly used throughout history for its many medicinal properties.

As with most plants there are too many reported medicinal uses to keep track of, which is why we prefer to simply find ways to include as much of the plant as we can into our diet, letting the plant do what it wants to do. We eat the leaves and the root, and will sometimes include the flowers in tea.

We pick the leaves up until the plant starts to flower. The leaves like the common Mallow are mucilaginous, with a pleasant flavor that goes well when chopped up and mixed with other greens. They also make a great addition to any smoothie as they naturally cause it to thicken.

The roots are also acceptable when chopped up and fried, then added to a dish like stir-fry. And best of all the root is also used when making true marshmallows.


Our modern marshmallows weren’t always the product of corn syrup and corn starch. They used to be made from the boiled root of the Marsh Mallow plant. And unlike the modern marshmallows that will likely decrease your health, the Marsh Mallow plant in whatever form it takes, will likely increase your health.


The recipe for marshmallows are a bit involved, and so we have added two of our favorites: