Keeping The Light Shining

 

The Winter Solstice was one of my highlights of last year, 2020.  After a year of gloom, doom, despair and darkness for many,  the Solstice was an opportunity to really celebrate the Light.

 

 

Candle light and lamp light brightened the house during the holiday season and it is always lovely to have such soft lighting when relaxing.  Our Solstice celebration also included lights or torches made from Mullein stalks that I had saved from harvest time.

 

 

You can see how brightly they burned!  They lasted for a good time too – maybe an hour or more – so I was very pleased with them.  I felt it was more important than ever to celebrate the return of the Light after such a dark year.  The Solstice occurred on the night of the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn.  I had read a lot about this conjunction but I am not an astrologer so I won’t attempt to describe any of the forecasts.  You can read about this conjunction here and here  astrologyking.com/jupiter-conjunct-saturn-the-great-conjunction/  darkstarastrology.com/jupiter-conjunction-saturn/         

Suffice it to say, things are going to change but HOW is not known, it depends on us and how we think.  Throughout this last year I, like many, have felt anxious and fearful and I am sure there have been many dark nights of the soul for people. The lack of light during winter certainly did not help.  For me, I was not anxious about a virus or becoming ill because I am confident in my immune system and good health.  I have been anxious about what it all means.  There seem to be so many agendas, so much censorship and propaganda; so much fear generated and so many theories about what is actually going on.  Censorship and confusing information from governments and health experts have given me particular concern and I have felt a darkness spreading towards our future.  Consequently, at the Solstice I made a vow to myself, to not only welcome in the Light but to be the Light!  If we are to manifest a future that serves everyone, brings Peace and good will, a future of equal opportunity and mutual respect for the planet and for all people, then I think we must focus on the Light and not on negative possibilities that haven’t yet happened.

There are many plants throughout the year that will help us to shine our lights, not least St. John’s Wort and, coming very soon, Dandelion!  These plants are allies who will help us to shine the Light within us.

 

 

I do believe that we all have a Light within.  Some people might call it Divine Light others might call it Star Light or Love Light.  It has actually been scientifically proven that we do have a Light body made up of bio-photons. Here is an interesting article.  wakeup-world.com/2013/07/12/biophotons-the-human-body-emits-communicates-with-and-is-made-from-light/   

 

There are many definitions of Light but for me, the Light that is within us is a deep, deep Knowledge.  The Knowledge that we are part of this planet, that we are part of each other and that deep down we know that this is the Truth.  In ancient Ireland, the Truth was seen as a magical force that could bring forth healing.  One could argue that we all have our own truths and that truth may differ from person to person.  Perhaps, but I say, strip away all the conditioning, all of the religious dogma and political, social and cultural propaganda that we have all been subjected to and the deep Truth within all of us will shine like Light.  This Light or Truth, can heal us and heal our planet and heal our relationship with all our plant and animal relations.

So rather than continuing to worry, I am training myself to be in the now and more importantly to visualise and imagine, to really work to  manifest a bright, light filled future.  I want the best for my children, I want them to be free and happy.  I want all of us to be happy and free, free to be how we are meant to be.

If we keep our Light shining and resist the morbid temptation to worry and imagine the worst; if we remember  to call on our plant allies to support us then our Light will overcome any darkness and help us to manifest a better world.  Our energy and personal power will manifest the Light rather than feed the darkness.

Marianne Williamson’s poem has been with me for a long time and I would like to share it with you:

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

 

If we consciously shine our own Light then the Light will spread and all will be well.  The plants are already doing it even in January!

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.

 

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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:
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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

The Sun Stands Still

Solstice literally means “sun stands still” for about three days.  About ten days ago we had snow and sleet on the mountains.

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We had hope that we might get a “White Christmas” and a shining, sparkling Solstice but our hopes were dashed as temperatures rose again and we became engulfed in mist. The mist wrapped itself around and imposed a magical enchantment, reducing sound and only slightly revealing ghostly shapes.  Soft and velvety it protected us from the madness of current crazy consumerism. Then, on 20th December it seemed to be clearing.

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The mountains were becoming visible.  Perhaps we would be fortunate to see the sun the next day.

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On Thursday we were up to celebrate the solstice,  to greet the returning sun. Just before dawn, standing in our bare feet to connect with Mother Earth,  we sang and chanted and I drummed a welcome but unfortunately the mist was too heavy – it was a fog!!  We could not see the sun but we celebrated anyway.

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Celebrating the Solstice is celebrating the return of the Light, celebrating the strengthening sun.  We lit a candle and made our dedication for the coming year.  Thinking of the light with-out and the light within, we lit candles around the house.

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The house is dressed with the gifts of greenery from the forest, Holly, Ivy, Pine and Spruce, representing our hospitality to the Green Plant Spirits and our recognition of the sun’s vital role in generating life on this planet.

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As we lit the candles we thought of all the aspirations we had for ourselves for the coming year.  We thought of how we all carry Divine Light within and how can we best use it for the benefit of ourselves and for others. What do we want to illuminate and allow to shine?

 

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Eventually the day lightened – we still couldn’t see the sun for the mist but our house was well lit and we felt full of optimism for the coming year.  All will be well in 2018, all is well.  May the blessing of the light be with you.  As my yoga friends say, may the sun shine upon you.  Happy Yule.

Dandelion – A “Self-Contained Pharmacy”

Dandelion, Taraxacum Officinale, is a common spring flower that can be seen everywhere at the moment, on meadows and lawns, in hedgerows and fields and even growing through tarmac.  There are over 1000 species of Dandelion in Europe alone, with 250 different plants in the British Isles.  The Dandelion can also be found in the Americas as well as in Asia.

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The Irish name is Caisearbhan and it also has many folk names such as Dent de Lion, Cankerwort, Piss au Lit, Piss the Bed and in Ireland, “..the indented one of Brigid”.  It is regarded as a sacred flower of Brigid as it the first wild flower to bloom after her festival of Imbolc at the beginning of February.

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It is regarded by many herbalists as a “..self-contained pharmacy” because it is one of the most useful medicinal plants known to man alleviating many conditions in an incredibly holistic way.  Dandelion was first mentioned in a Chinese Materia Medica in the 7th century.  It was  highly regarded by the  Arabian herbalist,  Avicenna, in the 11th century.  In Wales, at an internationally renowned school of herbalism in the 13th century, it was used as a liver herb.

The whole plant, apart from the stem,  can be used – root, leaves, flowers and sap. It is high in minerals, (particularly Potassium) Vitamins A, B2, C, D and E, Inulin, saponins, essential fatty acids, bitter principle and phytosterols amongst other ingredients.  Dandelion benefits the whole body and it is a spring cleanser or spring tonic – the young leaves especially are detoxifiers.  Working particularly on the liver and kidneys it supports the body as it expels toxins and pollutants thus helping those organs as well as nourishing the body and helping the body to maintain homeostasis.

According to herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy, the Dandelion is the

“..most esteemed plant of the herbalist.”

She writes that it is a safe and gentle herb for all liver and gall bladder disorders.  It is a blood tonic, a blood and lymph cleanser. Dandelion relieves liver complaints such as jaundice, hepatitis, gallstones and other problems. It also helps with diabetes and obesity because of its action on the pancreas, increasing insulin production.  Probably due to its silica content and crystalline quality, it can improve the enamel of teeth.  Juliette recommends a half dozen or so leaves every day.

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The leaves can taste quite bitter, particularly as they get older or bigger so it is a good idea to mix them in with a variety of salad leaves.  The bitterness though, is what makes them so beneficial to the digestive system by stimulating the digestive juices including hydrochloric acid in the stomach, bile and the pancreatic juices which help to promote appetite as well as to break down food to extract the nutrients.

The nick name, Piss the Bed, tells us that the Dandelion is renowned as a diuretic, it enables the urine to flow freely.  Culpeppper says that “..it opens the passages of the urine in young and old..” and in Irish herbal lore it was used to treat diseases of the urinary tract, to wash out infection and was regarded as good for removing gravel from kidneys, ureter and bladder.

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Unlike pharmaceutical diuretics though, which leach Potassium from the body, (a deficiency which can lead to high blood pressure) Dandelion has a high Potassium content which reveals how holistic this herb is, how it can help all the systems of the body.  Working on the urinary system to increase urine output, (for problems such as fluid retention, swollen ankles and high blood pressure) at the same time it strengthens the entire urinary system and can be useful in helping children who are bed wetting as well the elderly person with incontinence.

 The milky sap of the stem has traditionally been used for warts and verrucas and for stys on eyelids.  People have also used it to remove age spots and freckles.  The flowers can be eaten in salads – they taste sweet – and can be made into fritters, beer and wine.  They benefit the pancreas. The flowers are also a beautiful golden yellow, brightening up our world.  Once it has worked on our livers and kidneys, we see improvement in our skin and energy levels too.

Julie Bruton-Seal, a contemporary herbalist, has this to say about Dandelion,

“As a medicine the whole plant is invaluable for liver and gall bladder problems, skin complaints such as eczema and acne. It’s action helps to reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol, the pain of artheriosclorosis and joints, digestive problems, chronic illness, viral infections and heart and lung irregularities”

In old Ireland, Dandelion was included in a folk remedy called Diancecht’s Porridge, (Diancecht was the Healer of the Tuatha de Danaan) which  was used as a cure for many ills including colds and sore throats and disorders of the stomach. It included hazel buds, chickweed, wood sorrel and Dandelion mixed with oatmeal.  Seems to me to be a recipe for spring time to restore well being after the long, dark, winter.

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You can make tea, decoctions and tinctures from Dandelion to address all the physical complaints mentioned so far. Infused in olive oil it makes an excellent rub for muscle tension and for old stiff joints and also does its bit as an anti-wrinkle moisuriser.  As a flower essence, Dandelion is a Spiritual Warrior plant, working tirelessly to bring in the Light and to overcome the darkness.  Dandelion Flower Essence helps us to increase and energise our own inner light and can be a great support in these topsy-turvy times.

Dandelion is a very interesting plant just for its own sake, regardless of its healing properties.  It is associated with the sun because of its disc of golden yellow, ray like petals which open and close with the sun.  Known as the Shepherd’s Clock in some places because the flowers open around 5am and do not close until about 8pm.

Dandelion is a perenniel plant, self-fertilising and pollinated by wind.  It does not rely on insects at all, yet it still provides sustenance for bees and other insects in the spring time which proves yet again the intelligence and generosity of Mother Nature – and the Dandelion as well of course. When an insect lands on the Dandelion it moves around the flower head from the outside to the inner centre in a clockwise spiral motion.  The spiral is a symbol often associated with the Earth and Mother Goddess and was used often by our ancestors. It is a tough plant, tenacious and undefeated.  You can try to poison it with herbicide, burn it, mow it or dig it out and it will return.  It is incredibly adaptable and grows anywhere and everywhere.

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According to ancient herbal lore it is ruled by Jupiter and also corresponds to the Sun and to the elements of Fire and Air. It has a long tap root which is associated with Earth energy.  The golden yellow flower is associated with Solar energy and its seed head, which is silvery is associated with Lunar energy.  The seeds themselves are like stars.  So in one plant we have all the heavens here on earth.

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The flufffy seed head is often used by children as a clock.  Blow three times and count the seeds that are left or blow, blow, blow – count the breaths or blows til all seeds are gone.  It can  be used as a barometer as both the flower heads and seed heads close if the day is to be wet.

All in all Dandelion is a wonderful plant to have for SO many reasons. It can help the body and the mind and spirit and because it keeps the body clean and toxin free it can also be used as part of a cancer treatment, particularly for breast cancer. This magnificent plant really deserves our appreciation and gratitude.

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