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.

 

Magical Seeds of Life – The Thrill of Seed Saving

IMG_2131Coriander Seed

One definition for seed is

” …the fertilised ripened ovule of a flowering plant containing an embryo capable of germination to create a new plant…”

 Seed saving is absolutely vital for a number of reasons and this age old tradition (and necessity) is under attack in our present world.  Only recently, the European government pondered on new legislation to prevent ordinary people like you and me from saving our seeds, from swapping, sharing and giving away seeds.  Having been lobbied by huge agri chemical businesses such as , yes, you’ve guessed it, Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta, the legislation was only stopped by people power.  The Irish Seed Savers Association and their compatriots in Europe, along with the public who signed petitions and wrote to our MEPs managed to stop this legislation.  We must all remain alert and vigilant that such crazy ideas are not to  be enshrined in law in the future.

IMG_2121Mullein, Nigella and Nasturtium

We started our garden about seven years ago, as we became more concerned about food security and sharing the belief that growing our own food is a revolutionary act.  We cannot trust governments to protect our food sovereignty because they are so exposed to powerful lobbyists . We are taking responsibility for our own well being  and we are growing nutritious fresh food.  Only yards from field to table.

IMG_1977A portion of our harvest

Now I am taking things one step further – I am saving seed.  At the moment I am only a beginner, saving seeds that are large enough and easy enough to access.

IMG_2124Poppy, Coriander, Marrow, Lunaria, Pea, Mullein, Pink Campion, Calendula, Nigella

I have also saved Kale, Perennial Cauliflower, Purple Sprouting Broccoli various lettuces and Columbine.  Some of these are flower seeds.  I once thought that growing flowers was self-indulgent but now I know that flowers are vital to attract the bees and other pollinators so that my vegetables are pollinated giving me the seed for next year. Saving seed brings us one step closer to Mother Earth and further realisation that we are indeed,  connected to everything – the bees, the insects, the plants, the food,  the planet.

IMG_2127Fennel seeds ready for drying

The thrill of opening a seed case and releasing the seeds into a bowl or container is just fantastic.  It is indeed a thrill to know that by collecting and saving seed I am part of the cycle of life – I am contributing to LIFE and to bio-diversity.  I am happy to know that I am doing something positive and beneficial for the planet.

IMG_2126Pink Campion Seeds (on plate) and Evening Primrose Seeds behind

Saving seed is a time consuming job but it is so worth it.

IMG_2130My box of seeds – a treasure chest!

Seeds can also be metaphorical and we can think about the “seeds” we want to plant in our lives; what do we want to harvest in our lives?

If you would like to purchase any of my seeds, they are 2euro per packet.  Let me know which seeds you are saving by using the comments box below.