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When you imagine a witch, what do you see? A warty woman stirring a cauldron of toad legs, werewolf hair and human eyeballs?
We spoke to the self-proclaimed natural witch, Lisanna Wallance, and she’s neither warty nor a fan of eyeball gumbo. She’s trained in the art of French cooking and spent years acting as a private chef on the side, while her true focus was fashion. Wallance interned at Vogue in both New York City and in Paris and had plans to continue her career in the fashion industry.
But, six years ago, after a lifelong underlying condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome flared up, Wallance was forced to put fashion on pause. Ehlers-Danlos is a connective-tissue condition both painful and debilitating, so Wallance, desperate to heal herself, started cooking herbal remedies.
“It became an epic journey of experimenting with plants, medical mushrooms and diet to try and fix my life,” Wallance says. “After all those years of fighting for my health and finding solutions to this misery, I needed something to do with it. I was catapulted into this career.”
Wallance now has many titles: Chef, clinical herbalist, and our favorite, witch. She wrote The Natural Witch’s Cookbook to share her knowledge of healing the body with food, something she says is just as magical as any spell.
“It’s a way to view the heaviness of the medical world as something magical,” she says. “Brewing potions, teas and recipes to heal yourself. It goes back to the archetype of the witch, who was an ancient healer.”
The cookbook’s recipes are written for healing, with each one treating a different system in the body. Wallance sought out common ailments and showed how, by hacking certain ingredients, you could diminish the symptoms.
For example, each year 62 million Americans are diagnosed with digestive disorders, so Wallance concocted a recipe called the Digestive Repair Latte. Cardamom, ginger, star anise, fennel, cumin, and licorice root form an infusion that reinforces digestive balance. Wallance writes that this potion stimulates and assists the digestive system before and after a meal.
“The idea was to put the recipes under a fun guise of a spell,” she says. “The idea is that people will learn more about how these ingredients and nutrients interact with our bodies. Sort of changing our relationship with food through knowledge – which is very witchy, to me.”
So what did people think when she pitched the book’s magical title?
“People had such crazy reactions,” Wallance says, laughing. “They either loved it right away or they had this connotation of a witch as a Disney character – warts, evil and jealousy. I’m trying to invert that image.”
Wallance does not identify with the Wiccan religion but interprets the term ‘witch’ as a symbol of rebellion, knowledge, and empowerment. She explains that witches were originally misunderstood healers persecuted in witch hunts because of their connection to medicine and science.
“There’s a lot of ‘witch’ in everyone right now,” Wallance says. “We need it. We need magic.”
The Natural Witch’s Cookbook: Digestive Repair Latte
- Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat to a gentle boil. Then lower the heat and inuse for 15 minutes.
- Filter the liquid and drink this potion in the morning or before or after dinner to calm and repair the digestive system.
Witch’s secret: Add a pinch of black pepper. This spice will help the body better absorb the other nutrients and maintain gut microbiota equilibrium.