Danu’s Irish Herb Garden – Healing for Mother Earth

The weather is growing colder and the nights become darker earlier.  With the fall of leaves, the landscape changes and the trees appear skeletal.  Their nakedness reveals other things within the landscape, things that are usually hidden, such as tussocks and hillocks and animal dens as well as the rocks and stones that are the bones of the land.

At this time of year I think of the Cailleach – the Old Hag, as she takes hold of the dying year and brings the seasonal changes of winter.  She is in charge now until Imbolc, when Brigid, as a maiden goddess, will herald the return of Spring.  The Cailleach’s mode of healing is rest and the deep sleep of winter.

Irish Goddesses are notoriously difficult to make sense of when they are compared to the Greek or Roman pantheons.  They are very rebellious, not really fitting into any of the usual “Goddess boxes” and when we think of the virtue of healing, several Goddesses  have responsibility in this area.  For example,  Brigid is the Goddess of Healing and Airmid is the Goddess of Herbs; and healing in the past always included herbal remedies, salves and medicines.  Healing though, is so much more than oral medicine or topical applications and when we talk about our health and well being, I think we should also include the state of the land/Land as a component of our own health.

In ancient times, the health of the land depended upon the integrity of the king, his wisdom, truth and justice and his care of the land as his bride.  When such a man was king the Land flourished.  At the moment our Land is sick – the Land of Ireland and land elsewhere.  A study has just announced that the fertility of Irish soil has fallen by 40% during this last decade and no-one knows why.  No-one knows why? One expert suggested it may be because we do not use enough fertiliser!!  But surely it is obvious!  When the land is unloved and is only seen as a commodity instead of as our nurturing Mother; when the land is repeatedly poisoned instead of fed and appreciated; when humans neglect to care for the land, is it really any surprise that the Land is sick??

 

Our Land needs healing.  To do this we must actively interact with and communicate with the Land and show love and appreciation.  In the past we left offerings of gratitude, at Lughnasa for example when we gave thanks for the harvest; we allowed our old Mother to rest by leaving some fields fallow – to recover from their hard work.  Trees and shrubs were planted around fields so that leaf fall could rejuvenate the soil.  Birds and wild life were encouraged and tolerated as all life is connected and all beings have their place in the wonderful web of life.  We knew that there were seasons for work, rest and for healing. We are learning now – possibly too late –  that we must rely on all the other life forms to maintain balance and harmony and yet we allow badger culls and hare coursing.  We remove ancient hedgerows and clear fields of bushes and shrubs…..It is a monstrous madness of destruction.

 

The Goddess The Morrigan is associated with death, war and destruction, was seen to incite blood lust and battle frenzy and her motif is the carrion crow.  The crow however, does not create destruction, rather it cleans up after Death has visited.  For me, The Morrigan is also a Goddess of healing who brings peace and calm after the battle, harmony and balance after chaos.  She is also a territorial ancestress of the Land, a sovereign Goddess and she made a rather alarming prophesy. She foretold of a time when there would be “…no flowers in summertime, no milk from the cows, no fruit from trees and no fish from the sea. … the women would be shameless, the men without strengths, old men would tell lies and the politicians would make unjust laws……men would become thieves and there would be no virtue in the world.” 

Will she be right? Is she right?  What can we do?  There is no point relying on politicians to heal our Land, this Earth, we must do it ourselves, one step at a time.  Be a careful consumer and plant something – anything, just keep at it.  Commune with the Land and with plants, become an ally.  Do some healing.  Anyone can heal anything, just go into your heart space and set an intention to heal. Make amends.

I believe that everyone does care and does want justice for the Land and the planet but it is so difficult to change the conditioning of a lifetime.  Change is necessary though.  Call on one of our healing Goddesses or to the Warrior aspect of the Morrigan for help and guidance and you will find a way to do something.

Let me know if you have any good ideas by using the comment box below. For each comment I will send a FREE packet of seeds to you.  (Postage is 1.50e)  These seeds will go someway to healing and beautifying our Mother Earth.

 

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.

     


 

“Plant Wisdom and The Goddess – Wise Woman Training”

One of my missions in life is to spread the word about the wisdom and healing power of plants.  I want everyone to know how beneficial plants are when we are feeling unwell or out of sorts; if we have the ‘flu or we are feeling anxious.  There is a plant remedy for every ailment and upset.

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As 80% of humanity uses plant medicine as their primary source of health care and as more Westerners return to herbal medicine, the healing power of plants is well known.  Not so many people know about the wisdom of plants.  Few know how the plants can be our allies in life and how they help us to connect on a deeply spiritual level with the Goddess, our Mother.

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The plants were Her first children and as our elders they are ready to bring us on a magical journey to remind us that we too are part of nature.

So, back to my mission….to share other aspects of plant healing.  I now feel that it is time for me to offer a course of Wise Woman training.

“Plant Wisdom and The Goddess – Wise Woman Training”

is a one year course from Samhain to Samhain during which time we will travel the Celtic Wheel of the Year meeting with our plant allies and with the Goddess in her various forms.  We will celebrate the eight fire festivals, weaving myth and reality in this world and in other worlds, rekindling a love for and a relationship with our land and with the Earth.

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We will recall our Celtic heritage through folklore, story and music, remembering how our ancestors respected the Goddess and we will come to understand that everything is alive and filled with spirit.  We will spend time in Nature here in Connemara, walking the land, wandering the sea shore and observing the plants. The land in Connemara is imbued with an unseen presence that can be felt when walking with gratitude for the Beauty of Nature.

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We will craft our various magical tools, (beginning with our Crane Bag), at each of the fire  festivals and you will learn how to journey with the Drum and with Dance.   We will practise ritual and ceremony and you will learn how to make an altar, how to work with gifts from Nature as you prepare for a Vision Quest that will take place at the end of the course.

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At every step, the plants will be with us, forging our reconnection to Mother Earth.  As we journey with the plants to the Goddess we will undergo personal transformation, remembering that Love is all there is.

If you feel that this training is calling to you, please feel free to contact me for any further information or to ask any questions that you may have.  If you know this course is for you, go to the Workshops Page where you can sign up for it.