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

 

 

Dear Little One, Summer is a coming in!

It may not feel quite like it at the moment, but summer really is a coming in. This is the end of the hardships of winter.

This is Beltane.

Beltane means “Bright Fire” and it is celebrated on 30th April into May 1st. At this time, spring is in full flow and we welcome the first days of Summer. Fire is central to this festival – maybe you and your family could light a bonfire and sit outside for the evening? There are lots of activities you can do together…

toa-heftiba-362196-unsplashTraditionally people would ‘jump the fire’, however this may not be suitable for you to do just yet, little one. They would do this for healing, transformation and to increase fertility in all its forms. The Earth is at its most fertile and so are our dreams and ideas. Whatever you give your focus to will grow. Move with boldness and clear intention. Stand next to the fire and imagine the side that you are on represents all that you wish to leave behind and the opposite side is all you wish to focus on – everything – even your wildest dreams – start now! If the fire is too big to jump over, you can write your thoughts down, burn them, walk around to the other side and do the same again. Find a way that works for you and most importantly be safe! You could even have a boogie to this song too..

“We jump the fire for kicks and for feelings” 

Have you noticed how the Earth is covered in lush green? The leaves, the grass, the hedgerows and woodlands. You can honour the Earth, the abundance and the growth by wearing green.

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This time of year is all about union, traditionally there would be greenwood marriages at Beltane. We can celebrate our partners but also our family and friends. Maybe you’d like to make a card or a little present for the special people in your life to show your gratitude. Or simply let them know how much they mean to you. Speak from your heart centre, filling yourself with love so that you may give openly and generously.

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In the celtic tree calendar the Willow is the tree for Beltane. Willow weaving is a great activity – you can make crowns, dreamcatchers or wands. Or you can simply sit with a nearby willow tree and think about its properties and the teachings it has for you. Willow can increase our intuitive powers and allow our dreams to be more vivid and open to interpretation. It is a feminine tree ruled by the Moon and has an affinity to water. How fitting there is full moon this Beltane! Our emotions are able to move more freely with Willow and we learn to surrender to them so that they may be released. From Willow we gain the power to move forwards, to be confident and to trust ourselves.

As I mentioned earlier this is a time when what we focus on grows abundantly. If you are unable to have a bonfire, you can find a tree – one that you can walk easily around. Or collect a branch and bring it into the home. As you walk, imagine your dreams and plans as if they are already so. As you do, tie a ribbon for each dream to the branches of the tree – when you have finished you have created your wishing tree.

This really is one of my favourite festivals and I have many traditions for this time of year. Growing up I remember reluctantly shuffling off to bed on May Eve, Mamma would be downstairs laughing with her friends, staying up all night, ready to go to dance the sun up and the summer in. Finally, around the age of 15, I was allowed to go with her. We didn’t stay up all night in those days but I did go and see the sunrise. I grew up around Morris Dancers and this was my favourite of our traditions. We would arrive in the dark and dance… until we saw a glimmer of sunlight on the horizon, then we would pause and stare in wonder. Once the sun had risen we would sing ‘Hal an Tow’ and the horn would be blown to all four corners of the horizon to wake everyone up. Summer is here! We’d go for breakfast in the local ‘greasy spoon’ and on returning home, I would wash my face in the may morning dew – why both me and my sister have been blessed with great skin!

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Years later, my cousin and I, found ourselves in the same county again for the first time since we were little. She was studying in Oxford and the students there have a great May tradition – albeit a little more ‘modern’ and maybe, little one, one that you should save until you’re 18 to partake in. They basically go out dancing and drinking all night and then congregate for 6am in the street outside Magdalen Tower and listen to the Magdalen College Choir sing the May in. I remember cycling in the cool May morning through the streets of Oxford and feeling once more like a total Witch.

Beltane is all about Life, Love and all things good. This year I have celebrated by seeing my dear friends and setting intentions for my future plans. Blessed be for all that I have….

And the Wheel Turns

Sarah

x

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…..