An Bhean Feasa – Exhibition, Equinox, Excitement…

 

Well, I am a very happy woman as I write this evening.  I really didn’t expect to get such a positive response to my exhibition held during Clifden Art’s Festival.  I had been prompted to do it by the plants and having done it, taken the photos and written the book, what happened next was in the lap of the goddesses.  It was such a thrill to get positive feedback from people and I sold out the book!!! (I had secretly hoped to sell about half but never expected to SELL OUT!!!)

The best part of it all was that people really looked at the photographs and recognised some of the plants.  Finally, they had a name for those weeds that were all over their gardens.  Other people were fascinated and quite shocked  to find out that the weeds were medicinal and could be used for their health; still more people could remember the plants being used by their grannies when they were small children but they couldn’t remember how or why.  Hopefully this will be the start of their return to connecting with Mother Nature.

My birthday coincided with the end of the festival, on the Autumn Equinox, a time of equal night and equal day; a time  of balance.  My birthday always feel like a fresh beginning -perhaps everyone feels like that – I think it was because the school year always started just before my birthday and everything was new and just beginning again.  Then I worked as a teacher so I had the same feelings.  The change of season and the equinox always make me feel that I am about to head off into some new adventure, that new opportunities are waiting and life feels refreshed.

Light balanced with the dark.

The sun rising on the morning of my birthday, spreading beautiful rays of light towards me.

This year has been no different.  The weather has improved, there is that expectation of change in the air and mornings and evenings are getting cooler. My friend Colette, of Bealtaine Cottage, was visiting and gave me lots of motivational and inspirational ideas and suggestions and advised me to spend my birthday evening thinking about what I want this next year to be about. She had made a video about me for her You Tube channel which led to even more sales of the book.  I have had to have it reprinted!! You can watch her video here

 

After reflection, I have made a decision about what I am going to do with the rest of my life.  I am going to believe in myself, I am not going to take NO for an answer anymore, I am ready for action, I am going to strike while the iron is hot and I am devoting myself to plants, the herbs, which are a gift from the Goddess.

With all this excitement about the coming year, all the plans and ideas about how to get the world to recognise the wonder of plants, I am busy, busy busy.  My husband has to finish building my “herb shed” and I am planning to produce a digital course about herbs which will include their metaphysical qualities.  I have been asked to guide a Herb Walk for a local Green festival and I will be planting lots more herbs in my herb garden – and not to mention I will be writing The Weed Handbook Volume 2. It’s great to have so much to look forward to.

The sun is setting after a lovely Autumn day spent working in the garden.  I am so grateful for having had a very fulfilling week, selling books, meeting lovely people and talking about herbs.  The Libran full moon is in Aries which is possibly giving me the balance, drive and energy to make the decisions I have mentioned.  This moon is a great time to put head and heart together to move in the same direction and so I am putting energy into what I really want to do, what my inner soul really wants to do.  I am making a wish on the Full Moon tonight, that my inner power, strength and energy will lead head and heart to follow my soul’s destiny.

What will you wish for?  Let me know in the comment box below.  Happy Full Moon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Bhean Feasa’s Mission ….An Exhibition

Have you ever felt compelled to do something?  Felt nudged and pushed?  Have you ever had that feeling deep down in your gut that there is something you must do?  I have for some time now and finally, that feeling has culminated in a photographic exhibition “Weeds on the Wall”.

For the last number of years my mission has been to tell the world about the wonder of herbs.  The plant spirits have been nudging me, urging me, whispering to me to get the message out there and I have tried, offering workshops in herbal medicine and more.

The prompts continued and I began to think more consciously of what else I could do.  Talking to friends, about health issues and the state of the health service, I understood that there was something else I could do.  I became aware that many people were unable to recognise which plants growing wild in Ireland (and elsewhere) could be used in herbal medicine.  I felt that if people knew the plants, they would be empowered to take responsibility for their own health.  Once a person uses herbs – that is, any plant that benefits our health – then they become more conscious of their environment.  Once a person has a vested interest in their environment, they will take more care of it and be protective of it.

I decided to photograph some of these wild herbs and have an exhibition so that people could see the plants and learn their names and discover how beneficial they are.  This decision was made a couple of years ago but unfortunately I could not afford to have an exhibition, the cost of framing made it impossible for me.  Then,  in January this year, as providence would have it, I found some frames in a shop in Galway – just the type I wanted and VERY affordable.  Strange that there were only just enough for my purposes??!!

I have spent the summer photographing wild plants  – medicinal herbs – that grow in my garden and in the surrounding meadows, verges and fields.  Most of them are instantly recognisable but are nevertheless unknown.  By that I mean that the majority of people have lost their connection to them, have forgotten their names and their benefits.

For example, one of the photographs in the exhibition is of a plant from which aspirin is derived.  People take aspirin for a number of reasons, to reduce aches and pains, to get rid of headaches, to thin their blood, to reduce inflammation and to reduce fever.  Those people are (hopefully) aware that the benefits of aspirin have to be balanced with the side effects – bleeding in the stomach, gastrointestinal ulcerations, heartburn, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, rash, drowsiness, bloody stools, vomiting……. the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can get relief for your headaches and fever, aches and pains and inflammation without the side effects and for no financial cost?  Wouldn’t you prefer to use a natural, herbal medicine which is safe, tried and tested?  The only investment you have to make is to care for the land and observe when the plants are ready to harvest.

As for my plan – to have an exhibition – the frames had materialised and I had taken the photographs but who would come?  I am not a photographer and I am unknown.  Then….. Beth to the rescue! (www.bethtrepper.com) My friend Beth is a professional photographer of international repute and has a great love for Nature and for plants.  She decided to exhibit during the Clifden Arts Week and agreed that I could share her space.  How sweet is that?

Our exhibitions have Irish flora in common as Beth is including Irish dried flowers around her mixed-media, fine-art photographs. Her exhibition, entitled “Amid the Green Wood” reveals beautiful maidens and mysterious forests which resonate with our ancestral memories of a magical past time.

Another friend, Patricia Wallace, is a writer and a poet and when she heard what I was doing, she responded by writing an incredible story, “Willow”, that she will read at the opening of the exhibition.  It is a story for today, haunting and captivating and will, I believe, inspire people to think differently about the plants that we share our environment with.

All was coming together and then the plants suggested more.  How will people remember us after the exhibition they asked?  I thought at first that I would put up as much information about each plant as I could, but discovered that there would be more writing on the wall than photograph so I decided to jump in at the deep end and write a book, “The Weed Handbook Volume 1 – The Medicinal and Magical Uses of Connemara “Weeds””.

It is a small book, 60 pages long and it describes each of the thirteen plants in the exhibition.  I also include information about where the plants can be found, what ailments they can be used for and the methods of how to use them. Thanks to The Digital Office for the printing.

Mission completed – at least it will be next week.  The exhibitions will be open from Friday 14th September until Sunday 23rd and the book will be launched on Monday 17th September at 6.30p.m which is when Patricia will read her story.  If you are in Clifden for Arts Week, (www.clifdenartsfestival.ie) please feel very welcome to pop in to see us at The Hair Gallery on Bridge Street. (Thanks Joanna). The book is for sale at 5euros and can also be purchased through this website – go to the Workshops bar in the menu and scroll down to Shop.  Looking forward to meeting you.

An Bhean Feasa – A Capricious Spring!

It is said that if  Brigid’s Day is cold, wet and stormy, then the Goddess of Winter, An Cailleach, stays in bed and sleeps on not noticing Spring creeping up on her.  However, if the day is fine on 1st February, the Cailleach gets up to collect more firewood as she means the winter to go on.  This year, here in Connemara, the weather was mixed and we are finding that Spring is very capricious.

 

IMG_2553

Rainbow and rain clouds
During the first part of February we had “never ending” rain which seemed to go on forever and people were questioning how much more the land could take.  Then we had a day of sunshine and I was working in the garden enjoying the warmth of the sun when I noticed the dog was very busy with something under a Hydrangea.  I went to investigate and found this:
IMG_20180220_165127
Can you see the Bumble Bee in the Crocus?

 

She must have been one of the first bees out of hibernation but our Ribes haven’t flowered yet, nor has the Blackthorn and there are few Dandelions. I hope she was able to feed from the Crocus before it closed for the evening and wrapped her in purple silk.
The light in Connemara is very special – even magical and you can always tell the season from the effect of the light on the landscape.

 

IMG_20180227_125635_1CS

 On our walk we saw Daffodils standing proud, golden trumpets wrongly foretelling that warmer weather was coming.

 

IMG_20180224_120150

Vinca Minor – a beautiful and medicinal plant is already in flower.

 

IMG_20180224_120632

The other signs of Spring were the Monbretia coming up through the grass in a truly bright shade of green.

 

IMG_20180227_125730

One of my favourite things to see on a walk, and can be seen all year round, is Moss.  So velvety and soft and so varied.

 

IMG_20180227_125910

It makes me feel as if I am looking into a magical otherworldly realm.

IMG_20180227_125839

After the brief sunshine, the ominous clouds returned and plunged us back into that miserable greyness.

 

IMG_20180228_094431

The wind began to rise and it was bitterly cold, more so than previously.  The Crocuses closed up and the poor Daffodils were beaten down. One of the benefits of the wind is that it dries up the land – but also my face when I’m outside!! Not so pleasant.

 

IMG_20180228_094445

 

The rain returned.  There was talk of snow and storms.  We poo-pooed the warnings here because we rarely get snow and we are on the west coast, far away from “The Beast“!!  But the snow did come.  Certainly not as badly as elsewhere but enough to engender a frisson of excitement.

 

IMG_20180228_095256

IMG_20180302_123235

I hope the Daffodils will spring back when the snow melts.  Strange to think of this happening outside when inside the polytunnel lemons are growing!

 

IMG_2613

Is this because the polytunnel is very effective at creating a micro climate or is such variation due to climate change?  Perhaps it’s the end of the world as we know it, in reference to St. Malachy’s predictions.  It’s a sensitive subject and creates a great deal of debate.  What do you think?  Use the comments box below to let me know.

Welcome to An Bhean Feasa – My Life in Connemara

Welcome to my blog!  I am very excited to be starting off on this adventure and I would like to explain what my objectives are and where I started from.

north-eastGrowing up in an industrial town in the north east of England made me yearn for Connemara.  Every time we visited my dad’s home place something deep inside of me was calmed and satisfied and at peace.  Looking out one way, there was a ruined castle, (which to my child’s imagination was just magic) and looking out the other way was the view of the majestic Twelve Bens. Playing out from dawn to dusk, running through green fields and along golden beaches was paradise for a child from a dirty old town.  As a young adult I became aware of environmental issues – to be concerned was the right thing to be but I was naive and didn’t really know what to do and of course, this was long before social media.  When I bought a little house, two up and two down with a back yard, I tried to created a beautiful garden in that cramped space.  I even planted a tree.  It seemed to be important and only natural to encourage plants to grow. Our visits to Connemara continued and moving back was always on my mind.  Finally, in 1994 I sold up and came to live here in Connemara.

My dad very generously gave me a site for a house and planning permission was applied for.  Our little cottage was built in 1998.  Once we settled in I wanted to start growing a garden, growing vegetables and being self sufficient as my ancestors had been.   I thought my two little girls would love to have their own garden patch to grow what they wanted.  One daughter was not interested in gardening then and the other one developed hay fever so found it difficult to be outside in the summer months.  It was just me, and only occasionally because real life kept getting in the way. The “garden” was pretty neglected.

Eventually after various jobs and a long spell at teaching and after meeting my new husband, I was inspired to open a health shop.  Something prompted me, whispered in my ear, pestered me until one day I jumped out of bed and said to my husband, “I’m going to open a health shop and call it An Bhean Feasa”.  That is Irish for the wise woman and  that was the start of a new chapter in my life. today-3-035