Dear Little One, the Earth is waking up, can you feel it?

We have arrived here, at Imbolc, also known as Candlemas. The Goddess Brigid pronounced “Breed” governs this time of year. She is a triple goddess, so we honour her in all 3 of her phases: Maiden, Mother and Crone. We celebrate each archetype’s qualities present within ourselves. It is the first day of spring, it may not feel like it, what with all the snow we’ve had. Did you get out in it and play? It’s enough to make adults embrace their inner child once more. This is what this festival is all about – feeling young at heart! We celebrate the Life Force, it’s a powerful thing. Have you noticed some plants are flowering at the moment? Snow drops are beautiful and delicate and always bring me such joy at this time of year, they remind me of pure starlight. Other flowers to look for are crocus’ and my personal favourite – Winter Jasmin. A beautiful reminder that the days are getting longer. We are now halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Soon light will equal dark, we will get there. For now let’s focus on Imbolc….

 

IMG_2924There’s a tendency after Yule and the new year for people to push forwards, to introduce new routines, plans, projects. The craving for the spring often makes us push forwards harder than we should at this time of year. Yes, its a time for action but not in a frantic way, all in good time, little one.  Let’s rest some more, patiently wait for the energy of the year to build. Use it to fuel us. We can start using all the wisdom we gained during the winter and begin to bring it into the more active part of the year. Instead of pushing outwards, it is best to prepare inwards first. Write down your aspirations, your ideas, your dreams. Some of these you may have planted seeds for at Yule, are they germinating? Pushing upwards? Water them, nurture them, help them grow. You can start to plant more seeds for your next set of ideas and dreams. Begin to think about how you might achieve them. Lay the groundwork, prepare the soil, water the seedlings. I’m speaking in metaphors of course, but sometimes it is lovely to plant actual seeds whilst thinking of your plans, setting your intentions. I went to visit Tamsin the other morning at Bosley Patch, it had snowed the night before and it was quite cold in the polytunnels, we had a lovely coffee break in front of the fire, in the barn before venturing out again. It got quite warm in there once the sun had risen higher in the sky. I planted some sweet peas. I look forward to seeing how they grow in the coming months!

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For me this year so far, I am really trying to leave behind habits and thought processes that no longer serve me. It’s tricky sometimes, but I find taking a deep breath and pausing helps a lot. Instead of reacting, I am trying to act. I am finding that if I feel anxious or worried, I need to sieve through all the surface emotion I tend to create, down to the root of it all. That’s where the truth is. From here you can really begin to understand yourself more, which helps others understand you too. Now you can articulate your emotions in a clear way. To gather myself and nurture myself like a little seed through this process I often:

  • Put the kettle on – most things can be thought through with a hot drink in your hand
  • Run a bath (and get in) – soaking away the tension and meditating helps too.
  • Long hot showers – they wash the thoughts that get caught up in your hair away. This is especially important for people with long hair. Washing your hair in wild water is best – but its a bit cold for that right now!
  • Writing – my creative outlet is to write, I write it all down, clearing it from my mind  – seeing it all on paper often helps you sieve through it all and make more sense.
  • Nurturing myself with organic wholefoods – I love cooking from scratch and I feel like I am loving my body in the highest way.

And like many people across the nation, I have also been watching Marie Kondo, following the KonMari method I have reaffirmed everything I wish to keep and said thank you to the things I no longer need. They are parcelled up ready for someone else to enjoy them.

What kind of things will you do to help yourself grow?

 

I often find when we are leaving the old us behind and stepping into the new, there’s a tendency for us to sometimes get a bit ill. Ever had a growth spurt and then got a cold or needed to sleep loads? Or seen a baby with a cold and their parents say “oh they’re teething” – it’s because they are pushing out of themselves and growing. See if your mamma has any Echinacea in the house, I find it is perfect for growth. The reasoning is explained beautifully here, better than I could ever articulate it!

So little one, whilst we have locked ourselves away for winter, now is the time to emerge like a little shoot pushing out of a seed, ready to grow and change with the turn of the year…. let it breathe. 

“There’s a room inside my heart that no-one ever goes. It’s been boarded up and locked for years and everything is gone. Then you come along and cut yourself a key. Swept the floors and opened a window, said ‘baby let it breathe”

Imbolc Blessings

Sarah

 

 

Autonomy and My Edges

I and those closest to me would probably say I am fiercely independent – sometimes and certainly less often now, to my detriment. As a baby, I apparently toilet trained myself, taking off my cloth nappy as if to say “I don’t need this anymore”. My parents had to put a gate on our garden fence when I learnt to walk because I’d always try and leave. Off on another adventure! I’m quite good at that – leaving. Although the last few years I have planted my feet firmly and stayed. Prompted as I often am by a song – this time it was this one.

“You might make it further if you learnt to stay”

This independence has run alongside a struggle to accept help, I am getting better at this and indeed, for asking for it when I need it.

The recent and quite sudden end of a relationship and the newly ‘single’ life forced me back to my autonomy – I don’t feel it ever really left, but it is certainly more vibrant now. The other day I was walking home and I became very aware of my edges. The place where I end and the outer world begins. When in a long term relationship you grow towards each other, expanding, your edges soften and you begin to meet your partner’s edges. So you can live alongside each other in harmony. Of course, this naturally means some of your autonomy and your edges will slip away.

The returning home to myself has been a lot easier this time than in the past, I spent a long time before this relationship and after the one before, strengthening and tuning into my edges, my integrity, my autonomy, that I never really lost them completely this time.

The lesson here, I feel, is to not lose them, to find a different way of being next time.

My Father and I have been on a journey to understanding one another for a while now. When once we may have clashed like symbols being brought rapidly together creating a deafening crescendo of sound, now, we can slyly smile at each other’s irregularities of personality and occasionally poke fun at each other. We are vastly similar and different in many ways. My equal and my opposite. Our temperament jumps quickly in the same direction when confronted – defence! What a mechanism! I guess at that time, we never really understood one another and indeed ourselves at times.

“And to be loved deep into the soul, till it matters not the shape of a person’s body or the irregularities of their personality.” – Stephen Harrod Buhner.

There is one profound moment I remember vividly, the moment I knew that Pappi saw me and I mean really saw me. We were in the car listening to Bat for Lashes, he’d just ‘rescued’ me from university following a break up, so I could come home and only return to do exams and hand in my dissertation. Her song “Travelling Woman” came on and he said “This always reminds me of you.” Surprised, I asked why and he simply said that I had always had such a strong will, direction and focus and that he wanted me to know that I shouldn’t let that go for any man – to never give up my dreams to please or pursue another.

“Hang on travelling woman, don’t sacrifice your plan, cause it will come back to you, before you lose it on a man…never fall in love with potential…Got to listen to the vision…” – Bat For Lashes

Well Pappi, there have been many times that this has almost happened, I like to think that this conversation has stuck somewhere in my subconscious and it pulls me back to myself, to my autonomy and to my edges. Even if, when I mentioned this piece of writing and my memory to you – it took you a while to locate it in yours. I’ll remember for the both of us.

“And remembering is like coming home, every time” – Brian Boothby

Home.

I often find the most direct route to healing is to return to my Creators. Regroup. Pull myself together. Gather in.

“On the darkest days, when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy. I remember whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown.”

Onwards with this song on repeat with all my autonomy and a vibrant awareness of my edges.

“And I hope my daughters grow to be just like my mother, with the strength and the intention of living each day….I want to teach my sons to be just like my father, and to hold their hearts higher than their heads…” – Lizzy LeBleu

Sarah

x

When all you can do is ‘Sit With It’

Ever felt something and not known why you’re feeling it? I often get this with negative emotions. For a long time, I wasn’t comfortable with my own negativity. We’re taught to be okay and happy all the time.

Ever been asked “how are you?”? and you’ve replied “yeh good thanks”, but inside you’re screaming “WELL, actually, pretty shit. Work is stressing me out, things aren’t smooth at home at all, I feel like I’m constantly arguing with myself and everything feels like its falling down around me.” So many times, I’ve been asked this in the supermarket and I have wanted to tell the truth but I haven’t. I convince myself no-one wants to hear it and I should just buckle up and carry on.

Now, I constantly remind myself that its okay to not be okay, and that all I really need to do is just sit with it. You can go round and round in circles trying to work out why it is you feel the way you do, you end up feeling more hopeless and more helpless because you cant find the answers. Well maybe you don’t need to! Maybe all you need to do is sit with your emotions, acknowledge them, make peace with them, know that it will all be alright in the end and if it’s not alright it’s not the end. There’s still time. You’ll be back up there eventually but there’s no rush. Sometimes if you rush to pick yourself up again, you’re more likely to come crashing down again, harder and for longer. So take your sweet time and in the meantime, have a day.

So often we are also told to “have a good day” but what if we cant see any conceivable way of this happening? Sometimes, someone encouraging you to have a good day can just make you feel worse. Their intentions come from a good place, of course, but its not what you want to hear. So ‘have a day’ – eat nice food, wear comfy clothes and just be good to yourself in whichever way you can. Try not to be hard on yourself and try speak kindly to yourself. After all we have to live with ourselves for the rest of our lives, we might as well be friends with ourselves! You got this!

The dusk sky is my best reminder of my innate courage. It arrives just in time, at the end of the day, when night begins to draw in. The sky is blue, the colour of Borage flowers. Borage is for courage. The courage you showed in order to get through today, you did it! And the sun sets, it will rise once more and with it you will find the courage to see another day through. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. Onwards, to the horizon.

 

Love, Light and Space to Just Be

Sarah

On a Journey with Rose

It’s been a rollercoaster of love and hate.

Growing up I couldn’t stand the smell of it, the colour of it.

My favourite colours used to be pink and purple, then society taught that being a girl makes you weak, liking pink makes you weak. So I was a tomboy, stronger…. Favourite colour? “Purple. I hate pink, it makes me feel sick.”

Now, of course I know differently and although, I wouldn’t naturally choose to wear or own pink things, I don’t want to vomit at the sight of it anymore!

Funny, the stories we tell ourselves.

Whilst at University, I would have to leave the room if anyone was dispensing it. If anyone suggested I put it in my prescriptions, my lip would curl in disgust. It made me feel incredibly nauseous.

Self care.

It is so important!

Self Love and Acceptance – equally important.

It was only when I started focussing on myself and my opinion of myself that my true journey with rose began.

Now I have a little bottle of rose syrup on my desk. I will happily wear rose scented cream and dispense it for my patients in their prescriptions. I welcome being enveloped by it. I love love love it!

So, if you don’t like the taste of your medicine, maybe it has something to teach you and you’ll only like the taste once you’ve learnt it!

Just a thought….

I will keep journeying on with Rose and indeed, all the other plants out there! Just promise me you’ll keep journeying towards loving yourself and carving out time for self care!

It’s SO important!

With Love

Sarah

x

 

Learning from Jasmine

Plant Allies

Plants have a wonderful way of showing up in your life when you least expect it and if you sink down into the deeper meaning of their existence and character, you will find they have much to offer you.

Human Allies

Whilst in Lincoln about to embark on my third and final year of University, studying a BSc in Herbal Medicine, I went for a beer in a pub, named the Green Dragon, (serving the only brew for the brave and true) with a lovely herbalist called Kate, who now runs Elemental Arts. She had just transferred to Lincoln from the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine. I had had quite a turbulent end to my summer break and with much uncertainty I had moved back to Lincoln. Sitting across from Kate, in this wonky, but cosy old pub, our mere presence halving the average age in there, we began to share our stories of who we were. It would appear that we had much in common and lots of plans and experiences we would be able to share over the coming year. We both said to each other, after our evening how much better we felt about the year ahead, I’m sure this had something to do with our new kindled friendship.

Over the course of the year we drank a lot of tea in the Angel Cafe, went on night rambles and day time stomps, howled at the moon on steep hill, danced furiously, joined the local border morris side, put the world to rights and shared many emotions.

Message to the Universe

I recall one evening, we were wandering our way up the hill to morris practice, chatting about the things we were struggling with and the things we were really enjoying about the course. When we both, sub-consciously sent messages to the Universe.

Me: “I’d really like to get to know Jasmine a little better, I don’t feel like I know it and its sort of calling to me. I’m also super nervous about the physical examinations of bodily systems, I’d like to practice that too.”

Kate: “I’d just like to have a new patient, I haven’t had one in a long time and I’m feeling like everyone else has, it must be my turn by now!”

With an afternoon in clinic on the schedule for the next day, we didn’t really say much to each other on the topic after that and carried on, on our way. I remember that evening we had a very ‘energy raising’ practice, the room felt far too small for all the energy and power we were creating and it felt good to step out into the crisp air to make our way back home.

From the Universe with Love

Arriving in clinic after an endless morning of lectures, full from the salad bar, earl grey tea and a cheeky but fair-trade milk chocolate with orange, we plonked ourselves down in the dispensary ready to hear about the schedule for the afternoon. Our teacher Andrew:

“So, we have two new patients booked in today”, Mine and Kate’s eyes met and flashed at each other. “One is a young woman, called Jasmine”

Another wild stare, a smile and then an eruption of giggles. We explained our conversation the night before to Andrew’s bewildered stares and Kate insisted I take this new patient as it was ‘a sign’. I agreed but there was one condition…

“Kate hasn’t had a new patient in a while” I said “I think she should see the other one”

It turned out that my patient also needed a digestive system check – which involves gently palpating, percussing and auscultating the abdominal area and so I was able to practise my examination skills too.

So our message the night before had been heard and we were brought what we needed from the Universe With Love.

Peripheral Awareness

Jasmine, the plant, that is, has lingered in my periphery over the years, I haven’t worked with the plant physically with myself or with any patients. I still don’t feel like I know it all that well. I suppose I have never been called to use it, until….

Jasmine is calling you again….

NIMH conference 2017 took place a few weeks ago and I will be talking about it for a long while as I learned so much in such a small space of time and I am still sieving through it all. Sat in a seminar by Keith Roberts, whose presence it is to be in, is SUCH a treat and a delight, we were passed a few essential oils and a vine of leaves. I was sat quite near the back of the room and as the bottles were passed from front to back, the room gradually filled with sweet, lifting aromas. Energy raising indeed!

One was Rose, my journey with Rose is a completely different story all together and one I will save for another day. Rose has been with me since the conference and I am using it in my daily practise. There was a time, I would not be in the same room as this plant, but as I said, another story, another day. The second, I did not recognise, the smell was so delicious I cannot even begin to describe it…..

I’ll give it a go.

It’s like the moment you arrive at a party, excited for the night ahead and a little nervous with anticipation…..ooooohhh the possibilities! You look, smell and feel amazing, you got it right tonight, on point and looking fiiiiine!

Anyway, as I became enveloped in this scent, I glanced at the bottle…….Jasmine! And I wrote in the open page of my Bullet Journal – ‘Jasmine is calling you again’

So, on my return I looked it up, finally!

You can use the essential oil, or the flowers as a tea, it is also used in the form of a tincture. I have asked a few of my fellow herbalists about their experience of the plant and with their permission, I will share with you.

Firstly, the amazing image at the top of this post was taken by a herbalist called Amy Dadachanji of The Wild Apothecary. Ames was my roommate at the conference and it would appear that Jasmine is also calling to her at the moment too! She recently posted it on her Instagram (definitely one to follow, such beauty consistently captured), mentioning she’d like to make a flower remedy out of it soon.

Jonathan Woodall of Jonnys’s Apothecary said:
“I always associated it with feminine/womb related issues, particularly if its related to a woman hurt by male actions or influences. I’ve suggested it to numerous patients as an essential oil …… Everyone so far has loved it for the bath, a womb massage or just wearing it during their period.”
Sometimes when herbalists describe herbs, we like to picture them as a person, what would they look like? Who would they be?
Natasha said: “It tastes like sexy women” – which is spot on! It really does! Natasha Richardson of Forage Botanicals also said “It’s a liver herb, very feminine, comforting, uplifting and an aphrodisiac.”
So physiologically I will use this plant for patients experiencing, among other things:
– menstrual cramps
– mild depression
– lowered libido
or simply for those that need a little lift and their energy raised.
Emotionally, I will use it in the same way it has helped me over the years….

There are times in my life, when I sometimes feel things aren’t moving in the direction or at the speed they should be. In reality, these are my expectations, my ‘wants’, but not necessarily ‘needs’. I really feel that Jasmine is a conduit to commune with the universe. Or at least, she turns up to remind you, its all good and that the universe has it covered.

Everything you need, presents itself to you in the moment you need it.

Every time I open my Bullet Journal now, to plan my week, book patients in or even write my next blog, the scent of Jasmine lifts off the page and envelops me in her energy. What a treat! After having an emotionally challenging week recently, I jumped in my car and headed to the north Oxfordshire countryside for the rest of the afternoon and evening. My mum had journeyed south and was staying with a friend, helping her prune apple trees in the orchard and having a general autumn tidy up on her land. I parked in the village hall car park and as I emerged back onto the path, there she was. My Mamma, my creator, a source of strength, love and relentless support. All was well again, I had made the right decision to leave town for a bit.

As we walked along the path, I saw a plant growing up the side of the house….

“What’s that?” I said, pointing to it. And before my Mamma responded, a little voice deep inside me replied to my own question “Jasmine”

“It’s Winter Jasmine” Mamma said.

Of course it is!

So there she is, Jasmine, leading the way in my life at the moment, I wonder what else I will learn from her…..