Tag Archives: hawthorn

the menstrual cycle and mabon

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Outside on this bright and warm day the robin is chirping loudly in the apple tree, the grasshoppers are still singing away in the sunlit grass, and I can hear a frog croaking in the undergrowth beneath the bramble patch. The hawthorn berries are plentiful and our affectionately named ‘crone tree’ shines bright red with her burgeoning crop.

The last of the blackberries have been gathered and made into jelly for warm toast and chillier times. The path of the sun has been changing over recent days; shadows lengthening, and the point at which the sun sets is moving Southwards across the horizon. Sunsets at this time of year are spectacular with molten bronzes golds and peaches lighting up the sky, and at dusk the land goes quiet and chilly.

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Sunday 21st September was the festival of Mabon – the part of the Celtic year that signifies the exact mid-point of Autumn. It’s also known as the Autumn Equinox because the length of day and night are equal.

This year my menstrual cycle fell on Mabon almost to the day, and it got me thinking about the similarities between the significant points of the menstrual cycle, and this important point in the Celtic Year – a time where the harvests are over, the fruits have been gathered and darkness starts to descend over the Northern Hemisphere. Mabon can be likened to the part of the menstrual cycle where the ovulatory fertile phase has finished and the woman enters fully into the pre-menstruum.

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This is a powerful time for reflection; and how you relate to this season personally will influence your experience of it greatly. Fighting the change will only make it harder, whereas acceptance, letting go, allowing yourself to sink into it and celebrating the occasion can make it a lot easier. Take my friend who loves this time of year, she is positively relieved that the busy-ness of Summer has ended. She and her son can now snuggle and retreat and play and decorate the house with conkers, leaves, and beech nuts found on nature walks… That sounds gorgeous to me, but I on the other hand still really love Summer for it’s warmth and light nights, flowers and growth, sitting outside in the fresh air, swimming in the sea, eating fresh salads and juices and not having to light the fire every morning…. I find Summer so hard to let go of!

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Because Mabon falls on the equinox where there is the physical balance of night and day, druid practice encourages us to examine the metaphorical aspect of balance, and encourage us to ask questions like ‘What do I need to let go of in order to find more balance in my life?’ ‘What sacrifices do I need to make to find balance’. There is also the parallel between the harvest of the Mother Earth with her bounty of fruits nuts crops and berries, and the inner harvest, asking questions like ‘What was your own personal harvest?’ and ‘Are you happy with that?’ In the menstrual cycle we are also coming back around into a place of balance at this point, because we are entering the ‘yin’ energy of the cycle after a prolonged period of ‘yang’. A useful practice here could be to hang out in the more introspective energy and notice what comes up for you.

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Learn what you need to learn, change what you need to change, and make some decisions about what you would like to ‘harvest’ in your next cycle. Often the changes that need to be made rear their heads in the form of frustrations, annoyances, anger flare-ups, sensitivity and strong emotions. These kinds of feelings are often a good sign that something is trying to reveal itself to you. Take note of any of these emotions, and use a cycle chart to note down what comes up for you! There can be real gems hiding in dark places, and this time of year with Mabon, and the dark moon in a couple of days is a perfect time to uncover them.

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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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