Category Archives: nature

celebrating lammas and the early phase of the pre-menstruum

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The skies are bright blue this sunny evening with only faint wispy clouds at the horizon. The golden sun will soon set over a perfectly calm and flat sea. The rise and fall of distant landscapes cast their shadows shapes and colours giving the impression of a comforting crumpled blanket.

The breeze this night brings with it a faint chill. I turn to notice that some of the foliage, once green and vibrant with fresh sap is browning, and that the garden is now lit by a different array of flowers. The cool sensation on my skin is a fleeting reminder of darker nights and crisp winds, as the earth shifts and turns on its yearly wheel.

As I slowly walk up through the rough grass to the stone circle and turn take a seat in the sun, my eyes are drawn to the sea. The lazy sounds of late Summer fill the air; the humming of bees, the rustling of tiny animals beneath the hay, birds calling on the wing and gathering together on the wires. A bright model aeroplane buzzes and swings and dives against the backdrop of blue. It is Summer still yet it is not. Something intangible has changed.

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Traditionally the time for the first harvest, and the first of three Autumn celebrations the celebration of Lammas gives thanks to Mother Earth, the giver of life, for her bounty of crops. It is also time to start the journey inwards; giving gratitude for all that has been harvested by the soul; all that has been learned during the intense activity of Summer. The days still feel long but they are getting shorter, lazier, and slower.

For women this can be likened to the phase of the menstrual cycle after ovulation, where the high and creative natural energies of the inner Summer are starting to turn; much like a tide, or when a ball is thrown in the air when it’s not going up, and not yet falling. It is a natural stasis; a point to reflect and to understand that soon we will come face to face with our own shadow side as we descend within ourselves and move towards the pre-menstruum once more. Towards the place of inward reflection and contemplation, where we can review and discern, prune and crop our metaphorical harvest. As with the seasons of the year, this is natural, just the way it is meant to be.

Even though menstruating women have monthly reminders of this feeling it does not necessarily mean it is easy for us! What comes up for us as the ‘party ends’ can be difficult, as we are so heavily influenced pressure for perpetual growth in our culture, a physical outward state where women are so accepted by society. It can feel hard to let Summer go for many, and welcome the slow transition to Winter because it involves shedding off this shiny bright exterior and becoming more like a wild woman once more.

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In spirit of focusing on the gratitude, and thanking the Earth Mother (and my body) my friends over on the Llyn Peninsula held a wonderful celebration to welcome Lammas at their land, Cae Non. The ceremonial ritual (which was beautiful) started by creating a bower made of stems of Willow representing the Feminine, Ash representing the Masculine, and Hazel representing Divine Wisdom. The bower was decorated with flowers, gifts to the Earth Mother from our garden, and items that represented our own personal harvest from this Summer. Then there was a big feast, and lots of tea, singing and laughter!

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Personally I am at this stage in both my own inner cycle and in the seasonal cycle – believe me, this year I am feeling the transition powerfully. It has been such an affirming practice to spend a moment in ritual to thank the Summer and welcome the new, even if it is difficult to embrace a ‘darker’ phase. With different phases come different gifts too, keeping life in balance and celebrating all the parts of our inner selves and our outer earth seasons.

For more supportive stories and feminine sharing head over to woman’s wheel.

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the joy of gathering nourishing weeds

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It has been a pleasure and delight to wear my thick gloves and walk along the local lanes hedgerows and our garden to pick nettles. Dark green vibrant beauties, tall, strong, fibrous and tough. Or to gather edible primrose flowers from the back garden in spring. Or elderflowers with their scented heads and beautiful tiny snowy flowers, that cover my fingers in yellow pollen and give me the gift of the joyous smell of early Summer. The dandelions are out in flower too. From the bathroom window I can see their bright heads, along with the golden buttercups dancing in the breeze in amongst the lush grass. One day out walking I discovered a huge clump of wild apple mint, with it’s furry soft leaves and fresh homely smell.

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Hawthorn too is just starting to lose it’s pure white blossom petals to the wind (it has been a very late start for lots of plants here in Wales). This was the tree that was planted in olden days to protect the household from all ill and bad fortune. Said to be inhabited by faeries, the mystical Hawthorn tree (nicknamed by me as our ‘Crone Tree’) is a wise and very welcome member of our back garden. Ancient British folklore connects it with the fertile festival of Beltane, May day, and Goddess-centred worship practices by priestesses in sacred groves of Hawthorn planted in the round. Drinking an infusion of the blossoms and leaves of this tree, or an infusion of the berries, come Autumn, are good for the heart and circulation. The heart is a central theme of this tree of wondrous natural beauty, strong wood, and herbal medicine.

“The etheric signature of the Hawthorn appears to have a pulsation which is similar to that of the human heartbeat. Before taking Hawthorn, herbally or as a flower essence, it is a good idea to tune into your heartbeat for a few minutes, to help you consciously align with the energy of the Hawthorn. The Hawthorn will help release blocked energy, not only releasing stress, but creating an ability to trust and let go of fear. The energy of love is opened. For this reason, the Hawthorn is particularly potent as a tool for healing affairs of the heart and can be given as a token of friendship and love.” Glennie Kindred.

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I have been cackling with joy and skipping down the lanes at every opportunity since discovering all the uses and healing properties of all these incredible plants… and we call them weeds – how terrible! Susun Weed, a wonderful author and herbalist has been excellent help and a huge source of inspiration to me as I have sat for hours reading her quirky books with delight and wonder, with the excited feeling that I am entering into a whole new secret world of vital ancient knowledge. Viva nourishing herbal infusions, herbal vinegars, and elderflower champagne!

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The act of foraging, picking, de-insecting, rinsing, drying, labelling, and storing all bring out such a sense of child-like joy in me! I feel like it is something I was born to do; earthy and freeing, and a huge step towards the increasingly natural life I want to lead. It is even stirring old memories from my childhood, of picking up rose petals from the ground and making rose-water ‘perfume’ with my sister, the sweet smell of mum’s apple mint plant that used to dominate the garden and spread like wild fire every year, the intriguing mystical dark and shaded place at the bottom of the garden, where fairies were felt and stories of magic were told beneath the crab apple and plum tree.

Foraging, gathering, tending to, blessing and caring for the plants, fresh and natural, local and chemical free, is like some kind of living dream!! For more recipes like the primrose dandelion and sorrel salad, visit the beach house kitchen.

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