Welcoming the Vernal Equinox!

The sun is bright, -- the air is clear,

The darting swallows soar and sing.

And from the stately elms I hear

The bluebird prophesying Spring.

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

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Once again, the great wheel of the year turns and faster than you can say “March Hare!”  the Spring or Vernal equinox is upon us. True to the prose, March would appear to be coming in like a lion and out like a lamb, and none too soon for us Northerners! I don't know about you but I'm just so grateful to see the sun again! The first day of spring is a time to celebrate our rebirth and renewal, the soil is beginning to warm and the flowers are quietly emerging. When I still lived on our farm, I always knew when the Equinox was approaching because I had a beautiful pussy willow that would begin to bud out always around that day.  I’d bring in armfuls of the fuzzy catkins and put them in tall vases all around the house.

Everywhere I look there are the signs, even though it’s still chilly, buds are beginning to poke out on the trees, birds are busy building their nests and flowers are popping up everywhere. The earth is positively trembling with excitement and the maternal energies that always accompany the renewal of spring. Drive past any farm and you’ll begin to see baby goats and lambs skipping all around the fields. The rains are lush and the underground waters are once again springing towards the surface of the earth. The other day I turned over a spade of dirt and discovered very busy and very happy earthworms!

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There's a lot of spring-cleaning work to do, chicken coops to build, more bee hotels and a hive to put in, but I am just thrilled by what I see emerging. Tons of fresh comfrey shoots beginning to appear just in time for poultices to sooth aching muscles! Handfuls of fresh lovage, perfect for stuffing a chicken and lots of asparagus show the earliest signs of appearing. Garlic chives and lots of leeks for soups and healthy stems of licorice flavored anise hyssop, just waiting to become a soothing tea. Fresh Rhubarb for pie and the biggest surprise? Three ramps, sending up shoots from where I lovingly planted them last spring and I am so thrilled. My favorite wild spring greens, actually flourishing in my yard! I won't touch them this year, but by next spring I ought to be able to grab a handful for a wonderful wild onion pesto. I'm just so excited!

 

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Don't forget that Spring and especially the energies of the Spring Equinox when the day and night are equally balanced heralds a great time to begin a cleanse. It doesn't have to be anything too harsh, just a lightening up of sorts ... A movement towards lighter, fresher foods is what’s called for.  Wild greens like ramps, dandelions, violet leaves, chickweed, purslane and stinging nettles will soon be everywhere and they'll make a wonderfully cooling and tonic salad that you can dress simply with a bit of goat cheese, a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt, olive oil and lemon. Don’t forget to blanche your nettles quickly in boiling water to remove the sting, but don’t be afraid to try them, they are delicious and mineral rich! For a delicious springtime tonic why don't you try juicing these same greens, but be sure to add some parsley, swiss chard and for a touch of sweetness an apple or two. You can add honey and lemon and a couple of carrots if you’d like. This is a cooling and refreshing juice that you can start the morning with that will rev up your system and get it feeling fun and frolicsome for the warm days ahead.

Green teas, iced and sparkling with additions of fresh citrus fruits, berries, cucumber slices and herbs like basil, sage and mint are a wonderful aid for cleansing a system that's just a bit sluggish from the denser foods of winter. Adding a touch of raw honey during the cooling process will give you just enough sweetness and a lovely constant energy. I love to use maple syrup this time of the year in honor of the greening trees, and it is a flavor which is absolutely delicious blended into tea and very healthy on its own, providing huge quantities of polyphenols to calm inflammation and lots of antioxidants to boost the immune system!

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Although it may sound odd, I love to add a tablespoon of pure French green clay to my juice in the morning to help draw the impurities from my system. The French drink it in their juice routinely as a tonic to heal the gut and cleanse the skin. There are so many supposed benefits to this practice including a powerful boosting of the immune system, and French green clay is said to be incredibly helpful for improving digestion, food absorption and liver function.

This ancient secret, that of using edible clays as internal drawing salves is my favorite thing to suggest as support when one of my clients is suffering from chronic constipation or indigestion. It also helps to cleanse the skin, because it doesn’t matter how many expensive cremes you purchase,   you can’t create beautiful skin topically because beautiful skin begins from within. I've suggested this to many a client who was suffering from chronic acne, eczema and rosacea. The first time that I tried it, I broke out with acne but within a week it subsided and I noticed healing beginning to happen all over my skin. Last spring when a friend of mine was very ill and suffering from terrible lupus like symptoms, I started her on a course of French clay with her Doctor’s permission. She mixed with her juice and drank it for several weeks. When I next saw her the Rosacea was almost gone and she reported a substantial reduction in inflammation.

 French Green Clay is also said to have the ability to remove toxic metals and chemical residues, in fact after the Chernobyl meltdown, it was mixed into chocolate bars and given to Soviet citizens because it was considered to be very effective in helping to remove the associated radiation, bacteria and blood toxins. It has  virtually no side effects,  and I have never experienced constipation, diarrhea, or stomach cramping while using it.

 

For fun,  during the spring I always mix up my favorite face mask of French green clay, honey, rosewater and coconut oil. I pat it on my skin, sit back wrapped up in a soft blanket and relax for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off of my face with cool water. It leaves my skin clean and so very soft!

Of course, if you try this yourself and notice a new rash or any burning, itching or anything that would seem like an allergic reaction you should discontinue using it immediately.  Also, when it comes to French green clay there are several instances for which is contraindicated. If you are using a prescription medication, have high blood pressure or iron intolerance always ask your Doctor before proceeding with any remedy listed here and remember, if your Doctor doesn’t know, check in with your local pharmacist, because they have all of the latest and most up to date contraindication information.

 

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The most important bit of Spring-cleaning folklore that I swear by ? Always clean everything in your home in a clockwise direction so that your home is infused with a constant stream of positivity.  I love to put bunches of daffodils all around the house in antique blue mason jars and bright clusters of dandelions as soon as they begin to appear. They just make me so happy and they draw the powerful energies of the sun into my home!

As you begin your spring cleaning, you’ll want to infuse Rosemary essential oil into your environment for it’s amazing ability to bring clarity, lots of lemon oil and lemon juice for cleansing and stress relief. Of course, in any magical household there would always be plenty of Lavender strewn everywhere to bring all of the best luck!

 

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Tonight, with luck, we’ll all get to see the magnificent super moon, fittingly named the Earthworm moon! This is the time of year to write down your most closely held dreams and set some simple and intentional goals to work towards.

 

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Remember, that although Spring seems to Spring upon us overnight, that there’s lots of work to be done underneath the surface of the soil before we ever see the brightest bloom. The vernal equinox is one of the times of greatest energy all year. As the light increases and the warmth returns to the earth, your intentions will gain power and you dreams will be more easily achieved. Celebrate by starting the gardening season by planting some seeds right now, even if it’s just a pot or two on your sunniest windowsill. Write down a wish or two on some recycled paper and place it into your potting soil. As you nurture your seedlings, you are nurturing your dreams!

 

Right now, the whole world smells like daffodils and crocuses popping through the rich soil to say hello! Come shed your winter skins and dance with me in the garden!

 

 

Wishing  you the most delightful, joy-filled, creative and abundant spring!

 

Beth

 

 

 

 


Tending Brigids Flame - Happy Imbolc/ St. Brigids Day!

“Jamie’s face, rather tired and worn, broke into a grin.
“A son? The blessing of Bride and Michael be on him! A braw lad?”
“Very,” I assured him. “I think he must weigh almost nine pounds.”
“Poor lass,” he said, with a sympathetic grimace. “And her first, too. Wee Rachel’s all right, though?”
“Rather tired and sore, but quite all right,” I assured him. “Shall I bring you some beer, while you take care of the horse?”
“A good wife is prized above rubies,” he said, smiling. “Come to me, mo nighean donn.” He reached out a long arm and drew me in, holding me close against him. I put my arms around him and felt the quiver of his muscles, exhausted, and the sheer hard strength still in him, that would hold him up, no matter how tired he might be. We stood quite still for some time, my cheek against his chest and his face against my hair, drawing strength from each other for whatever might come. Being married."

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Written in My Own Heart's Blood.”  from the Outlander Series. 

  
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St. Brides Feast 
"I should like a great lake of finest ale for the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food For the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of Faith, And the food be forgiving love.
I should welcome the poor to my feast, For they are God's children. I should welcome the sick to my feast, For they are God's joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place, And the sick dance with the angels. God bless the poor, God bless the sick, And bless our human race. God bless our food, God bless our drink, All homes, O God, embrace."
An ancient song to St. Brigid from Celtic Fire ~ Robert Van de Weyer

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I love Jamie Fraser's devotion to St. Bride as he calls her and it's quite touching and personal for me as I have been called to the work in the service of Brigid for many years now.

I am a Reiki Master who works with the energy and symbols of Brigids Flame and it is work that I love and feel so honored to be able to do in this world.  

I am also a Flamekeeper of Ord Brighideach International and it is my great blessing to tend to Brigid's Flame every 20 days.

Since the December Solstice, the days having been getting longer in our northern hemisphere and the sun has been moving closer and closer.  Although the air is still absolutely frigid, there are signs that the earth is slowly beginning to ease out of its frozen state. Although we cannot yet feel the touch of the sun, she can. You may know the 1st of February as Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day or Candlemas. St. Brigid of Kildare and her twin sister, the Goddess Brigid of Eire are said to breathe the first signs of light and life into the earth after the long cold drought of winter and with their touch,  slowly the earth begins to awaken.  Imbolc is the feast that celebrates new beginnings, the emergence of buried energies and intense focus…all three of which are needed for a seed or shoot to break through the earths crust and emerge as a flower.

Tonight I set my table for St. Bride or Brigid ~ Triple Goddess of The Hearth, Temple & Forge. As Flamekeepers we all have chosen to be a part of a cill (or "church") that inspires us and there are many to choose from, all based upon the ancient Ogham tree Alphabet.  I and 18 others are part of the Cill of the Hawthorn, a beautiful tree that is sacred to the Goddess Brigid.

The Hawthorn is thought to inspire creativity, loyalty and fertility. It is a wonderful ally that strengthens the heart and is the tree sacred to love and happiness, whose flowers are often to used in Springtime handfastings and weddings.

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I spend much time tending the beautiful Hawthorns that grow in the herb garden that I am fortunate enough to work in. They teach me to handle all beings with great care and patience as they are incredibly thorny and will not hesitate to bless you with a lesson if you need it. A prick from a hawthorn is incredibly painful and not easily forgotten, but it usually means that you're traveling through life too quickly and working too quickly.  Simply slow down and take your time...no matter what it is that you're doing. 

 Brigids Flame is always tended from sundown until sundown ~ the span of time for the traditional Celtic day! The worship of Brigid pre-dates Christianity and goes way back into the Druidic mists of early Ireland and Scotland. Brigid's flame was burned continuously in pre~ Christian Ireland by her priestesses who would gather on the hills in Kildare and invoke the benevolent Goddess to protect their livestock and insure a plentiful harvest. Later, when St.Brigid built her monastery in Kildare she continued the custom of keeping the flame alive.  

The number 19 was sacred to Brigid as she had 19 female disciples who kept her sacred flame burning continuously in Ireland. Brigid's flame is still tended continuously in Kildare, Ireland by the Brigadine sisters at Solas Bhride, the hermitage that bears her name. 

I keep her flame alive always in honor of World Peace, Hospitality & Charity for all.... 

 

 

 

For more of my Outlander Love Affair on Facebook please click here! 

 

 

The beautiful photograph of the hawthorn was not taken by me.

It is courtesy of  https://www.best4hedging.co.uk

The flame I have chosen is from Photobucket

 


Tinctures , Tonics and Teas ~ Self Pampering for Body and Soul

 

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It’s that time of year! The merriment of the holiday season is over and winter has begun in earnest. As a way of winding down from all of the highs and lows of the season, so many of us seem to get sick on the 2nd of January! I’ve said for years that I truly believe that sometimes, catching a bug is our bodies way of trying to get us to relax for a bit! Periods of hibernation, or seasonal contemplation as I’ve taken to calling them are a must for keeping our bodies resilient in this world with all of its external interruptions and stressors. 

 

Over the years I’ve learned to use my trusted herbal allies for building up my immunity when I feel as if I could be perilously close to getting sick and when the flu or a cold actually hits me, I use many different herbs to help minimize my symptoms and overall discomfort. 

 

My mother taught me many years ago that the single most important thing that you can do when you are ill or trying to stave off an illness, is to pamper yourself completely. She would always bring our breakfast on a bed tray, served on a pretty cup, bowl and plate and always with a bud vase with flowers. I got strep throat frequently as a child so breakfast was usually something soft, like a bowl of her wonderful chicken, rice and mushroom soup with thyme, cream and an egg beaten into it. She also used to make me an old-fashioned milk pudding that she called Junket which I loved, that she flavored with sherry, cinnamon and nutmeg. It always helped.

 

I still have a bed tray for myself and one in my Airbnb. I have many guests who come to stay that are recovering from surgery or other illnesses.  They have told me that being able to just relax and have their meals in bed without concern really helps to support their healing process.   If you can’t find a bed tray, you can use an old carving board or tray and it will work just as well! 

 

The other thing my mother was absolutely insistent about was that if I was sick, it was especially the time for just a bit of lip gloss, some facial moisturizer, a touch of perfume and particularly lovely pajamas. She’d brush my hair out until it was shiny, touch up my lips and face (a big help because then your skin will resist chapping!) and put just a drop or two of one of her lovely perfumes on my wrists and neck. She’d take me into the library, seat me right by the window and wrap me up in a blanket with a hot cup of lavender, sage and lemon balm tea and hand me a book.  When I looked in the mirror I hardly ever looked as bad as I was feeling and you know what? I always started to feel better.  Simply taking the time for a bit of self-care is absolutely a necessity for supporting the healing process.

 

Although my mother used her lovely Shalimar bath oil for our convalescence, over the years I’ve learned to take my  baths with a tablespoon of sweet almond oil mixed with 3 drops each of essential oils of lavender (relaxing), rose oil (anti-inflammatory) and sweet birch (to promote sweating). This really seems to always help with congestion, aches and fevers. Please remember to never use essential oils in your baths without a carrier oil. Even in the smallest dosages, essential oils are strong and they need the emollient qualities of an oil like almond or olive to serve as a soothing delivery system on your skin. 

 

I’m truly hoping that we won’t ever need to use these recipes to protect ourselves from anything as serious as the bubonic plague and I hope that none of you catch any of these awful bugs that are going around this winter.  However, if you do, please remember to care for yourself and treat yourself to some soothing herbal self-care and pampering. I promise that you’ll feel better and if you can sooth yourself into feeling just little bit better, it always seems like the body will reach deep into its healing reservoirs and do the rest of the work for you. 

 

Somewhere as I’m typing, I hear my mother’s sweet laughter and the smell of her oniony, velvety chicken soup is suddenly wafting through my senses. It’s amazing how potent the memory is.  She would be pleased to know that I still own a bed tray and that I always use her lovely sick bed dishes with the raised purple violets. 

 

Yes mama…you always did know best. 

 

Thank you.

 

 


Memory of a Cosmic Heart, By Greg Spalenka and Rob Jacobs

 

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Memory of a Cosmic Heart By Greg Spalenka

“And still after all this time the Sun has never said to the Earth, “You owe me”
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky”
-Rumi


Memory of a Cosmic Heart

It is a wonderful time to be alive. I know that this may sound strange but I truly believe it. We are living through a time of unprecedented change and chaos. On our beautiful planet and possibly so many others yet unseen and unknown, life as we know it is shifting, evolving at an unprecedented pace. The natural elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water are no longer satisfied to be used as a pretty setting for a picnic or a painting…they’ve suddenly become as alive to us as the movies we watch for our entertainment.

We have consistently ignored the laws of quantum physics, preferring instead to deal with nature in a most ordinary way. The human suffering and natural catastrophes that seem to be unfolding around us every day can no longer be ignored by even the most insulated around us. We’re suddenly immersed in our natural world in a way that is demanding us to be peaceful, reflective and instantly responsive.

Our perceptions of what it means to be alive must shift and evolve as well. What does it mean to be alive in this moment…right now? What do we need to thrive in this moment right now? Many forgone conclusions and illusions about what it means to create a life well lived have been recently shattered.

There is one other natural element that is rarely spoken of and the Vedas called it Shunya…the fifth element, the space between… the known and the unknown. Shunya is all around us and yet we rarely enter it willingly, in fact if the simple truth be told, we get thrown into it kicking and screaming. It usually takes a moment of existential crisis or a physical moment that shatters our bodies, egos and forces us to our knees in supplication. The human ego generally doesn’t look past what it thinks that it can see, until we are suddenly, knowingly beyond all hope.

Shunya is the space between, where if we simply let go and move beyond the illusory limits of the known and our false perceptions of safety, that real magic can happen.

All around the world, right now in this moment of common people are witnessed doing the uncommon. It’s not an accident. We are being called to move into the void, the cauldron…we are literally being forced to create a new meaning for what it means to live an extraordinary life.

I say all of the time to my clients, ”Live with intention. Things are always going to happen, but living with intention allows them to be created, molded and accepted by you regardless of the outcome. If you live with intention instead of by default, you’ll create the end result that you desire, regardless of the twists and turns that it takes to get there. “

Enter into my life Greg Spalenka and Rob Jacobs nearly miraculous musical odyssey of human and planetary redemption, The Memory of a Cosmic Heart.

This is a musical and artistic collaboration that is stunning, sweeping, potent and ultimately so relevant for the moment that we find ourselves in right now that I wept openly as I listened to it even though I had no images to look at nor poetry to sway me. I waited to look at Greg’s glorious paintings until I had listened to it. I wanted my own perceptions of the music to move me and they definitely did.

The story is so simple, reverent and beautiful. A daughter of the Sun finds herself falling to Earth and discovers that her reason for being is to show all of humanity that we each carry the magic, mystery and delight of the sun within our hearts. Imagine for a moment how we would treat each other if this was so, if we chose to see each other as keepers of such a great light, radiance and individual mystery instead of separated by what we think that we know ourselves to be? How differently would we treat our mother Earth?

In today’s world of 24/7 news and endless political intrigue, environmental challenge and drama it is easily to feel as though you are being slowly sucked dry by that energy. It is easy to feel despair. It is easy to give in to the anger we see and more importantly feel all around us. It is easy to forget who we are, who we can be for ourselves and each other.

There is a primeval and indigenous heartbeat that runs through this music that is so real and soulful, that I felt grounded, truly enlivened and hopeful as I listened to it. Nestled within the beautiful melodies, voices and rhythms of this glorious Cosmic Heart is a deep, luscious and ever flowing well of a sacred violet flame that I can return to over and over again that truly slakes my thirst for kindness and compassion.

I think that’s one of the things that I love the most about this amazing piece of musical and multimedia magic. For me it was multi-purpose. Listening to it, meditating to it and dancing with it allowed me to turn inward to my own creative and mystical center for the first time in months. I shed my clothes and danced freely around my room, falling madly in love with the mystery of what it could mean for all of us to move forward with the light and power of the sun in our hearts. It was just like the first time that I ever heard Gabrielle Roth’s glorious “5 Rhythms of the Soul” so many decades ago. I had to get up and move and I had no choice in the matter. It was time to get naked and shed some skin.

I encourage any and all of you to support this magnificent project. To know Greg Spalenka is to know that he means every word, every musical note, every stroke he puts to canvas. The musicians and collaborations on this work are amazing and show his commitment to creating a masterpiece of fierce and unyielding beauty. It is his desire to truly create a space for us all to find radiance, peace and to remember what it means to love ourselves and each other, no matter our race, color or creed.

Memory of a Cosmic Heart is a love story of powerful intentional choices. It is a welcoming and homecoming for all of us who long to return to each other. Listen to it, be moved by it and please share it. Like a beautiful spiral dance, the mystical, magical daughter of the Sun cannot help but affect any and all she touches.

Dance with her and remember how to live. 

-Beth Schreibman Gehring is a writer and author of Stirring the Senses, Seasonal Celebrations of Love, Life & Food. She is also a lifestyle blogger, who uses an ever-changing seasonal palette of love, life and food to help her readers and clients fall madly in love with their lives.