Language Please!

When I was younger, if someone cursed or swore in conversation in a pub, the landlord would call out “Language please!” prompting the person to be circumspect in what they were saying.  Actually, anyone who was offended might say the same thing.

I have always enjoyed language.  I have been reading since I was four or five and you could call me a book worm.  I easily get lost in the words and I really enjoy rich, descriptive language as well as informative and factual reading.  I also enjoy tracing the etymology of words.  Enchantress for example – a word that might be used in stories to suggest a witch or the sort of woman who might lead a man astray, actually means one who chants and traditionally women would chant when they were working together.  They might be working with textiles, weaving or washing clothes;  or in a garden; perhaps they were all spinning together (spinster!!).  Unfortunately, the early Church did not like women to be chanting together in case they were calling up demons or exercising their power and so the word enchantress now has negative connotations.

The etymology of a shanty or song, such as a sea shanty is interesting.  You could expect ‘shanty’ to come from the French verb chanter – to sing but it is thought to come from chantier – a naval work camp or lumberjack’s hut.  You see how interesting etymology or the study of the history of words is!

Language is both an art and a science.  When I studied Literature in college, our lecturer gave us a facsimile of the original copy of a poet laureate’s work.  There were scribbles and crossings out where he had alternated between different words as he must have thought one word carried more weight than another or perhaps conveyed more meaning. I found this very interesting because I had assumed Poet Laureates just wrote poems – just like that!  Of course not…they craft their poems. I also remember writing an essay on the language of Thomas Hardy and ended up lost in a very boring text book about the scientific structure of grammar.

I am writing about language today for a number of reasons, reasons which mainly make me angry.  Let’s start with the word “weeds“.  Weed is derived from the old English weod – meaning grass, herb, weed. You could say it was one of those catch-all words, meaning anything that grew that was smaller than a shrub or tree.  Nowadays the word has only negative connotations which means many people inadvertently destroy the natural medicine that is growing outside their door.

Other words that make me really angry are words like “factory” when someone means abattoir .  Phrases like “Agri-Industry”  are just oxymorons and make morons out of the people who use them. “Stock” is a word that used to mean goods that were held in stock, i.e in a shop or warehouse.  Now the word is also used to describe animals going to the “factory”.  Those animals are not things and nor are they commodities in my mind, they are living beings!! Our beautiful trees, that used to cover so much of Ireland and were so important to the people that they created an alphabet, Ogham, are now regarded as yet another industry.  Our beautiful trees which were once regarded as living elders and wise ones are now just lumber, timber or cubic metres of logs.  Of course we need wood for heating and furniture, building and paper; but our woodlands and forests, our beautiful trees have been reduced to just being a component of industry and have been dragged to the factory floor.

Worst of all, of course, are those words that trick and deceive people; words such as “cases” or sentences like “..due to the increase in cases“.  Such sentences are deliberately mis-using a word and are re-defining it to obtain a specific reaction.  It is important, when we are bombarded with media at every turn, to be discerning and to really listen.  Don’t just hear the word, listen to what is actually being said. Listen to the tone of the speaker, are they making sense? Are they being logical and truthful?  Are they tripping and stuttering over their words?  Are they using fancy, obfuscating words that people do not understand? Are they twisting their words so that they cannot be held accountable?  Words can become propaganda and unless we really listen to what is being said and make discerning judgement we can be hoodwinked.  We can be tricked into thinking that a “factory” is not a slaughter house.  We can be tricked into thinking that agriculture, which is defined as – the practice of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising animals has become an industry (which is defined  as the process of making products using machinery and factories).  How did we end up with and accept, an oxymoron such as agri-industry?  We didn’t listen!!! We didn’t question! Remember those little “w” words – who, what, why, when, where?

Words create everything don’t they? “In the beginning there was The Word”.  Once something is named, we all know it.  If a plant is called Hawthorn, then we all know it by that naming word. If it is called Fuchsia, then we know it as Fuchsia.

Words have power so we must be careful what we wish for.  We must guard our tongue in case we say something we might regret, because words carry energy.  To spell a word is to make a spell.  We must look at meanings behind words to know if the language is helping or hindering us.

Language can be beautiful as well of course and beautiful language is poetry.  Nature poetry particularly uses language to describe our amazing, diverse, incredible world.  There is also the “Language of Flowers” and there are words and phrases which evoke feelings of belonging and connection,  Mother Nature, Mother Earth. We all belong to Mother Earth, we are all relations so therefore we are all connected and if we are all connected, surely we are all one.  If we are all one, then let us use language please, to tell the truth and to spread only love.

Plant Allies to the Rescue!

My spiritual believe is that everything on this planet is sentient and has a spirit.  I suppose you could say I am an animist or a pagan or even a fool if you like; but it is my belief and it seems self evident to me that it is a belief based on fact.  I spend a lot of my time working with plants – growing them, caring for them, observing them and appreciating them.  I  believe that plants are very intelligent and have a lot of guidance and advice for  we humans if we interact with them in a respectful way.  By that I mean, treat them as you would any being with spirit.

 

Our Celtic forefathers believed that trees were the ancestors of man and had a connection to the Other World.  Oak was considered to be the most sacred of trees but all trees offered us healing and guidance and still do.

I grow plants and herbs to give something back to Mother Earth, to create more diversity as Connemara is quite a barren place although very beautiful.  Thankfully the herbs or plants that I grow or forage from the wild are healing and I make medicine for myself and family and friends.  A couple of weeks ago I took some kind of bite to my leg – I think it must have been a spider that I disturbed on an outside chair because I was bitten on the back of my calf.  It was itchy to begin with and then my leg swelled and became very hard and hot to the touch.  It began to feel painful when I first walked after sitting down. and my leg looked bruised and black.  Then came  PLANTAIN to the rescue.

Plantain – Plantagus lanceolata or Slánlus in Irish is THE herb to go for if you need to “draw” something out; a sting, venom, dirt, poison, pus or whatever.  He works like a dream and it is so simple to make a dressing.  I grabbed a handle of Plantain leaves from the garden, chopped them and pulverised them to a mush with the pestle and mortar, placed them on a dressing I made from cheesecloth and fixed that to the site of the bite.  I changed the dressing a couple of times a day and after two days my leg was back to normal.  Without the Plantain I have no doubt that I would have had to visit the doctor and he would have prescribed anti-biotics.    Plantain saved my leg, saved me money and saved me time.

Whenever I harvest a plant for medicine I speak or sing to the plant, telling him or her how grateful I am that they have been growing so close to me.  I say that I know what they can do and who the medicine is for and thank the plant for working so well.  This communication is, I think, particularly  important when using plants for emotional issues.

I was very busy recently campaigning against mining happening here in Connemara – a very beautiful and unspoiled area of Ireland.  Within the committee, something sour happened and the group dynamics changed.  I began to feel undermined and bullied and in the end I resigned.  I think I was in a state of shock that such a thing had happened and I turned to some other plant allies, the nervines, to help me get over this.

Borage was included in my tonic because I felt so exhausted from the stress and Borage works to support tired adrenals and to bring courage and joy.

 

Passiflora is a nervine – a herb that supports and tones the nervous system and helps the mind and body to relax.  She is very helpful if a person finds it difficult to sleep.

 

Nettle is always a friend to a woman, at any time in life and at any experience because Nettle is so full of minerals and vitamins and energy and offers the body everything it needs for stamina and energy.  Nettle is very much a supportive and toning herb, a real pick me up.  I felt drained by my experience which is why I included Nettle in my formula.

 

 

St. John’s Wort is rightly renowned for his use as an anti-depressant.  I was not depressed but I was feeling a bit down in the dumps and as St. John’s Wort is one of my personal plant allies I decided to include him in the forumula too.

 

 

Lemon Balm is  a member of the mint family and is ruled by the Moon – which suggests it will be helpful where emotions are involved.   It tastes very lemony – like sherbert  and  is soothing and comforting.  Lemon Balm was the very first herb I ever grew, years ago and I have never forgotten the revelation of the delicious flavour.  Paracelsus suggested it was “the elixir of life” as Lemon Balm has the reputation of aiding longevity.  She certainly helps to reduce the effects of stress for people of all ages; helping children with colic and nightmares and helping adults who are  dealing with stress in their lives.  We know today that stress is a killer and that it compounds other health issues so using Lemon Balm might well prolong life.

Thanks to my plant allies I am feeling hale and hearty and I have had the opportunity to take stock of my life and make a decision to choose to be serene instead of reacting to events.

The Universe conspires with herbs sometimes.  I had just processed my dried Meadowsweet into tea when I heard from a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy.  She did not feel well and wished the treatment was over.  To make matters more difficult, she said,  she had just been informed that not only did she have gastritis, she also had a hiatal hernia.  Meadowsweet began calling to me, “…here I am, here I am!!. ” Meadowsweet is a specific for hiatal hernia and very soothing for the digestive system.  This is because she reduces acidity, tones the stomach and improves the action of the stomach.  She soothes the mucous membranes and relieves irritation and inflammation in the stomach.  There could not be a better herb for my friend’s complaints.

We as a species are only beginning to realise (or remember) that everything is connected and that everything on this planet is one and the same thing.  Once we can accept that idea, it is not at all difficult to accept that plants are wise and want to help humankind and will be the best of allies if we only open our minds to their healing abilities.  Of course, herbal medicine is very good at healing our ailments, such as my spider bite, but they work on so many other levels to bring us back to harmony and well being.  When we consciously engage with them, healing is different…more thorough, deeper – an altogether more spiritual experience.  Tell me about your healing experiences with plants, I would love to hear from you.

 

A Springtime Walk in Connemara

Walking the dog this morning, I was enjoying the soft spring day and feeling optimistic, fresh and energised.  The Spring Equinox is almost upon us and we should be feeling balanced and in harmony and ready for anything, as there are so many spring tonic herbs available at the moment.   I decided on my walk to stalk Nature, to creep up on Her and see what She was up to.  She was up to quite a lot – it is amazing just how many opportunities there are for health and well being along the boreen that I walk.  Some of the wild herbs are in my book The Weed Handbook Volume 1 and others are in my new book, The Weed Handbook Volume 2. (Both available from this web site – just a hint!!)

As I walked along I came across lots of Dandelion, shining very brightly despite the grey, overcast day.

Thanks to so many people getting the word out, I suspect almost everyone now knows that the Dandelion is a vital food source for the bees recently out of hibernation, not to mention how good it is for people.

 

Look at how bright and juicy these Blackberry or Bramble shoots are!  Just brimming with life and very tasty in salads and juices, a real spring tonic.

 

Another spring tonic,  the lovely Nettle.  Full of chlorophyll and lots of nutrients.  A perfect plant for building the blood after winter.

 

This is Honeysuckle or Woodbine.  Honeysuckle is a powerful anti-viral so if you have a cold or ‘flu, collect some leaves and make yourself a cup of medicinal tea.  You can find out more about her in  The Weed Handbook Volume 2. I think last year she was in bud earlier so I am wondering if we can expect different weather this summer.

 

This little flower is known as Day’s Eye or Daisy and she is closing up as the day is so overcast.  You can see the edges of the petals are tinged pink.  My lovely aunt used to tell me, when I was a small child, that the pink was the remains of the flower’s lipstick after she had been to the Flower Ball.  What other explanation could there be?

 

Usnea is a lichen that grows on trees here in Connemara thanks to the lovely fresh, clean air we enjoy and is a very powerful herbal medicine, treating all manner of infections as he is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial.  There is really no need for anti-biotics if you get hold of some Usnea tincture.  You can find out more about it here:-

www.herbalremediesadvice.org/usnea-herb.html

 

This is Cleavers, one of my favourite herbs.  Another spring tonic, Cleavers removes metabolic waste from the lymph system and from the blood.  She is also making her appearance a little later than last year, in my neck of the woods. It pays to keep an eye on things I think , if we want to make any sense of the weather we are having these days.

When I arrived home I decided to have a look around the garden to see how things were coming along.  Trees are in different stages of budding and it is so exciting looking at them.  The cherries seem to be the earliest in my garden.  I have Sour Cherry,

 

and Weeping Cherry,

 

and Wild Cherry, which is already in leaf!

 

This tree also has a fully opened flower.

 

I am in such a state of anticipation!  I took lots more photographs – of Forsythia and Lilac, of Rowan buds and Guelder Rose.  All the buds are so sweet and innocent, so vulnerable but SO full of potential too.  It is no wonder we use the term “budding” when we refer to someone who is on the verge of becoming something wonderful.  Nature is wonderful.  It is hard at the moment to envisage the garden being colourful and vibrant again, but the tree buds and the stirring hedgerow greens bestow optimism and hope and that thrill of excitement that something is going to happen!!

Any trees in your garden in bud or flower yet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danu’s Irish Herb Garden – A Leap of Faith

Recently, on You Tube, I added a post about evergreens and how we bring them into our homes at the winter solstice as they represent life and rebirth during the deepest, darkest depths of winter. (https:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4iMBMJz2Sg)  Evergreens remind us that life is eternal, that there is no death really, only some change.  This was  brought home to me on Christmas Eve when my uncle died.  He was the last of his generation in our family and although I am so glad that he had a peaceful, easy passing, I feel somewhat cast adrift, that my connection to old Ireland and to my ancestors has been severed with his passing.

When I returned to live in Ireland back in 1994, I went walking one evening in late Autumn and had not reached home when dusk descended.  In the twilight, that in-between time when the veil between this realm and others thins, I sensed my ancestors everywhere.  The miles of stone walls lining the roads looked, in the half light, like rows and rows of skulls.

Our ancestors lie in the land – they are the land. The stones are the bones of Mother Earth and she is our original ancestor.  As for evergreens, with their message of continual life and rebirth,  I find myself turning to them for comfort.

The Celts viewed all trees as our ancestors.  The trees are the Standing Ones, the Holders of Wisdom, the Wise Elders;  they are our connection to the world.  Modern science has revealed how the roots of trees in a forest create a “neural” pathway throughout the forest floor via mycelia, with trees communicating with each other and with other beings through chemical and electrical signals, which work in much the same way as the human brain.  If we remember the language, which is deep in our primitive brains, we too could communicate with the trees and the world at large.

 

Mickey has gone and I feel adrift and out of balance but when I look again at the stone walls lining the road I see life growing and clinging, confident in itself.

Lichens, Fungi and Moss are large as life on this stone;

and on this one too.

 

On this Hawthorn tree there are more Lichens and Moss, all of which could also be said to be evergreen.  So, even though I am feeling bereaved and a bit sad, there is evidence of hope all around me.  Life goes on.  It is always going on.  Such signs offer hope for our future, for 2019 and I am able to take a leap of faith that all will be well, I am connected to my ancestors and to the earth and I always will be. The cycle of life, death and rebirth is continuous and so there is much adventure ahead.

Blessings of Peace and Goodwill to everyone, may your year be filled with many occasions for Joy and Hope.

 

 

 

 

Springtime Simplicity

Today is La Feile Brigid – Brigid’s Day, a day that always feel special and exciting to me as it is also Imbolc, the first day of Spring.  There is a sense of anticipation in the air which is exciting because it feels like a renewal, a fresh start, a change.  I was at my horticulture class today and when I returned home the sun was out and I was inspired to walk around my garden and have a check on it.  I had left the garden alone since the end of autumn, apart from a little winter pruning here and there, because I had learned that it is better to leave old plants in place as insects and other creatures use them for shelter.  Consequently, my garden looks a bit neglected and a bit bedraggled.

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As you can see here, there is not a lot growing and the storms have knocked down the fence.

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All the trees and bushes are bare but there is some colour from the Dogwood

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It is difficult to see with all the bushes being bare, but this is a corner of my dedicated Brigid’s Garden.

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And here is one of the first Dandelions, not yet in flower.

Dandelion is a flower associated with Brigid so it was lovely to see it today on my little meander.  Thinking about Nature,  you come to the conclusion that it is something immense and complicated and really we, humanity,  have no idea how it all works.  Then, just by quietly observing, you realise that is all quite simple really.   Just allow Mother Nature to do her work and help out whenever you can.  Do simple things like leaving plant material for the hibernating insects, leaving dandelions alone so that the bees can feed when they awake after winter hibernation.  The goddess Brigid is renowned for bringing magical bees from her orchard in the Other Realm so that we would have sweetness in this realm.  Perhaps that is why she is so fond of the Dandelion.

Imbolc – the beginning of Spring, that sense of anticipation in the air, a sense of good things coming and Brigid is, in popular folklore, regarded as being the bringer of plenty, helping things to grow and overseeing new beginnings and fresh starts.  Every spring we make a fresh start in the garden, helping things to grow.  We “spring clean” our homes ready for all the good things that are coming; these are simple and age old activities that enable us to feel renewed.  Spring greens such as Cleavers are appearing and they can be cleansing and nutritional after the heavy winter fare.

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Cleavers can be included in a simple green juice or eaten fresh like spinach.  It spring cleans the system.

For me it is important to trust that All Is Well – I use the phrase as a mantra sometimes.  I hadn’t been in the poly tunnel for ages and when I went in today I got something of a surprise.. .

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Lots of lemons on the lemon tree!  Despite a miserable and grey winter!  I had been worried about the tree but it was fine. What a gift on such a day.  Just simplicity at work.

Life can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it.  Why not make it simple and avoid the stress?  Life is too short, as a friend of mine recently found out, so simplify things.  We can only find space in the house for so many things, so stop worrying about wanting to buy more.  We can only wear so many clothes at one time.  We can only be in one place at a time.  Our children are only here and then they’ve grown and gone.  As Springtime begins, we have a great opportunity to make a fresh, and hopefully, simple start to the rest of the year.  Be happy and enjoy all the blessings of Brigid on this special day.  Use the comments box below to let me know how you celebrate La Feile Brid.

Samhain – Summer’s End, Seed Fall

 

Happy Samhain Greetings! 

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It is Summer’s End, the leaves have fallen from some of the trees and they are looking stark and bare.  Other trees are changing their colours and brightening up the bleak landscape, adding yellows and oranges to the palette.

 

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One of the many Hawthorn trees on my road reveals its beautiful feminine wind-shaped glory after leaf fall.

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All around me, here in Connemara, is evidence of Summer’s End.  The bracken has turned brown and the heather has lost all colour.

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Fruit has come and gone.  The Rowan berries were the first to arrive and depart but a Cotoneaster has lots of berries to offer the birds as does a Guelder Rose.

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Our apples are long since eaten but there are still blackberries in the hedgerows.  According to legend they cannot be eaten now because the devil would have spat on them on Samhain Eve.  Small animals will make use of them I hope.

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I love the way the blackberry leaves turn pink adding another colour to the Autumn palette here in Connemara.  It is welcome as we do not have many trees.

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At Samhain we are in the north west of the wheel, a place or time of patterns and spirals. It is the Celtic New Year so it is a good time to meditate on what we have harvested in the past year.  What are the results of our actions?  What negative patterns have we repeated or become trapped in?

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Can we spiral into a better place for the coming year?  Samhain is also known as seed fall and so, metaphorically, we can think about which “seeds” we want to fall and grow for ourselves in the coming year.  Do we want to harvest peace and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness?  Do we want things to continue as they are, a world gone crazy and people totally disconnected from  our Mother Earth?

Here in Connemara I can see the turning of the Wheel of the Year by observing the changes in the hedgerows, in the plant life; from watching the birds prepare for migration, by enjoying the colours and fruits of Autumn. There is an atmosphere of change, a shifting. The sea and sky seem to merge in a different way emphasising that change is coming.  All of these observations and feelings give a sense of peace, a knowing that life continues to spiral on and so there is an opportunity to reconnect.

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According to Celtic belief, a place or time on the cusp of another is a potent and powerful opportunity for change.  The veil between worlds is thin and we can cross to meet with our ancestors and they can come to meet with us.  In times gone by it was traditional to set an extra place at the table to welcome to the Samhain feast, the loved ones who had passed over.  It is also a time of magic because at this cusp we can meet with the spirits of plants and of the Earth.  It is my belief that these spirits are there, like angels, waiting for us to sense them and ask for their guidance.

For me, the goddess who resides in the north west on the Wheel of the Year, is The Morrigan.  She is thought to be a goddess of death and we can see life dying or hibernating, ( a temporary death), in preparation for the winter cold.  She is also a goddess of fertility and the land which to me, is synonomous with the seeds lying in the ground during the cold winter, ready to germinate in spring.

As a goddess of the battlefield, she did not fight but cleared the battlefield of the dead. Her song after a battle was,

“Peace mounts to the heavens, The heavens descend to earth,                                                          Earth lies under the heavens, Everyone is strong…..”

Above all, she is about change and clearing up the “battlefield” of life.  She can clear away our mess and our fear, our mistakes and foolishness and make all fresh and clean again.  The Morrigan is not to be feared, she is to be welcomed with much respect.

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Call on The Morrigan to clear your life of whatever no longer serves you and look forward, with bright blessings to a New Year with the changes you want to see.

Leave a comment about how you connect to Mother Earth at Samhain.

 

If you would like to know more about our Celtic Goddesses and the Wheel of the Year, sign up for the Wise Woman Training.

Wild and Free – Elemental Energy

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MOTHER EARTH

Thanks to the early moon missions we were able to see what our planet looked like from space.  Our home, the extraordinarily beautiful planet, Earth.  The impression this made on people at the time and since has been profound and certainly added energy to the then burgeoning environmental movement.  Looking at this image today, I feel a deep love for Earth as well as a yearning to become more wild, more earth-like, more of the Earth. The constraints and pressures of modern life on myself, my family and on my friends makes me want to just run away and be free in the wilderness. I think many people feel this same urgency which is why the notion of living off-grid is so appealing.

There are many ways to nurture a more intimate relationship with the Earth in order to feel wild and free once more.  One can go into the wilderness, walk barefoot, hug trees, sleep outdoors … and there are many books which encourage just that.  Jay Griffiths’ “Wild”, George Monbiot’s “Feral” and Rachel Corby’s  “Rewild Yourself – Becoming Nature” to name a few.  It is also possible to enter the “wilderness” through the garden, through the window box, through a plant pot,

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…or even an old paint tin.

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Once you put your hands into soil or compost and intend to grow something, something magical happens.  The spirits of place, the spirits of the land and the spirits of the plant all work with you to co-create.

Once the call is made (by humans) nature responds accordingly to support that defined call.” 

Machaelle Small Wright (author of “Perelandra Garden Workbook – Co-Creative Energy Processes for Gardening, Agriculture and Life”)

Once we start co creating with Nature we are back into the wilderness.  (It is really not very far away – note the Dandelion that springs up through tarmac!)  The energy of the wilderness simply wants to encourage and enable all things to thrive.  Some people describe that wild energy as elemental; and some people go further and describe that energy as being caused by an elemental being.

Elemental beings are the spirits of place, the spirits of the land, the spirits of trees and streams and pebbles and all that we identify as Nature.  One writer, Pam Montgomery describes a water droplet creating a rainbow as light passed through it, as an individual elemental being. (“Plant Spirit Healing”and “Partner Earth”)  As we now know, everything is made of energy, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me that there are energies out there, in the plants, in the garden, in the wilderness.IMG_2148

This, by the way, is not wilderness – this is neglect and the co- creativity has stopped. The wilderness has not returned, with a diversity of plant and animal life; this is a stagnant field, in suspended animation, waiting for love.

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A little patch of our wilderness that flowered this year for the first time!

It is possible to return to wilderness by co creating a garden with helping elemental spirits.  They are also regarded as Divas or architects.  I have been trying to communicate with the Elementals here and I think it is starting to pay off.  The furze above has never flowered in the twenty years I have been here until now.

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Hawthorn with about three foot of growth on lower branches

The Hawthorn has been here for who knows how long without any change until this year.

The trees that we planted over the last three to four years are already ten to twelve foot high.IMG_2028

Our garden is being co-created, I call for help with every task.  I ask for help to grow our trees because they prevent erosion and provide homes for birds and animals. I ask for help when growing flowers and herbs because they feed the insects and birds and provide medicine.  I remember to give thanks for the wild gifts – the medicinal plants, the food plants.

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Hawthorn Berries – Food and Medicine

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Blackberries in profusion

I’ve been working in this garden with intent for about five or six years now and it is still a wilderness.  I do not use pesticides, I do not use fertilizers.  I make compost and call for help from the Elementals and I believe it is working.  Many gardeners would look at my garden and despair because there are no neat rows, it is not tidy and there are lots of “weeds” everywhere. It is definitely NOT a neat suburban garden with no leaf out of place.  It is a garden and it is a wilderness.

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A suburban garden here on the left is a fine example of what my garden is not.

Mary Reynolds, a former award winning landscape gardener, has decided she can no longer design gardens because ultimately they need to be controlled to keep the wildernesss out.  She writes,

 “Nature had her own ideas about design…..garden maintenance is fighting the  intentions Mother Nature has for herself.”

Machaella Small Wright argues that

Humans tend to look at gardens as an expression of nature. Nature looks at gardens as an expression of humans”

If we call to the Elementals and work as co-creators we can have wilderness gardens that express both Nature and human. If we call to the wild and free energy of the Elementals we will find ourselves connecting with the wilderness where ever we are.  In connecting with the wilderness we are communing with Mother Earth the Goddess.  For me, I think I’m getting results.    Leave a comment below and let me know how you connect to the wilderness or if you call to the Elementals.

     


 

Hawthorn, Magical Faery Tree at Bealtaine

One of the most iconic images of the west of Ireland is that of the Hawthorn tree, bent over due to the prevailing winds, looking almost like a graceful woman dancing.

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The Hawthorn tree is also known as Whitethorn and as the May tree.  It is just coming in to blossom here in my garden and during May will be full of white blooms  with their distinctive perfume. Once Hawthorn is in bloom you know that summer has arrived.  Bealtaine, Irish for the month of May, also marks the beginning of summer in the Celtic calendar.

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Medicinally, Hawthorn is taken as a tonic for the heart.  The flowering tops can be picked from May onwards – these include twiglets, flowers, buds and leaves. The berries are available from mid September. As a heart tonic it nourishes and strengthens the cardio vascular system, relaxes peripheral blood vessels, balances blood pressure, tones the circulatory system and acts as a diuretic thus reducing blood pressure.. It helps to open up the arteries as it dissolves cholesterol, it reduces palpitations, and can also be used to treat angina. It is an incredibly safe herb with no side effects or contra-indications.  However, if one is using allopathic cardio drugs one should see a medical herbalist.

Hawthorn can also be used as a tonic for “emotional” heart problems during menopause and in cases of anxiety, restlessness and other emotional pain.

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The flowering buds can be eaten in a salad and the berries can be eaten or fermented into wine.  The leaves and fruit have strong drawing powers and can be made into a poultice to draw splinters and thorns.

Metaphysically the Hawthorn helps to ‘open’ the heart to love and compassion and bestows courage on those who feel vulnerable.

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A lone or single Hawthorn is regarded as a Faery Tree and in Ireland no-one in their right mind would cause any harm or damage to it because they would risk the wrath of the Faeries. Indeed, during Bealtaine, (when the Faeries are especially active), the trees are decorated with bright ribbons, red cloths, shells and garlands.  These are offered to honour the tree and the Faery within and to invoke the blessings of fertility for land, livestock and human folk.

Bealtaine celebrates fertility and abundance, new life, the land awakening.  It is thought to go back to the time when the Celts were nomadic herdsmen, driving their cattle out to the summer pastures.  The Bealtaine bonfire represents the blessings of Bel (a sun god) and the return of the strength of the  sun.  Cattle were passed between two bonfires to ensure health and vitality.  This fire was very much a sacred fire of health and protection and in Connemara and elsewhere, the ashes were sprinkled on cattle, over crops and around dwellings.  Every hearth fire would be doused, put out and relit the following morning with a burning brand from the bonfire to ensure good luck for the coming year.

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Young men jumped over the bonfire to impress the girls, demonstrating their strength and virility. Hand fastings or wedding ceremonies often took place at this time of year, as the sap is rising and burgeoning life is obvious everywhere.  Hawthorn flowers were included in the wedding bouquet to ensure fertility for the happy couple.

Bealtaine and the Hawthorn are unquestionably linked, both representing the beginning of summer, love, light and fertility. During the Bealtaine celebrations offerings of milk, oats and honey would be made to the goddess of summer for the continuing abundance of life and good fortune.

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We are holding a Bealtaine celebration here.  See details on the home page and get in touch if you would like to come along and join in.

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