Beautiful , Mystical and Flavorful Sage

" Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.

 

 Scarborough Fair/Canticle  - Simon and Garfunkel


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Today I’ve decided to take a fragrant and flavorful journey with the genus Salvia....more commonly known to us as Sage. Sage is the herb that I love the most passionately and if I ever  (God, perish the thought!) had to choose just one culinary herb, besides my beloved roses to spend the rest of my days with, it would be the Salvia Officinalis or the Common or Culinary  Sage. 

 

Immortalized in songs and sonnets , sage is still planted in romantic cloisters and medieval knot gardens that have been hidden for centuries behind castle walls.  Sage with  its lovely leaves and flowers are embroidered into some of the most famous tapestries ever created, tapestries that set passionate fire to the imagination. Indeed , the lovely little sage plant is no stranger to the secret languages of passion and romance.

    

It comes in so many different varieties and I try to plant as many as I can, adoring them for their flowers which my hummingbirds love and the velvety scented leaves that flavor my soups and stews all throughout the year. 

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There are sacred Sages, culinary Sages and even a psychoactive Sage, the gorgeous yet very dangerous Salvia Divinorum.  I have found Sages growing wild in Colorado and Arizona and have picked big bouquets of long stemmed Sacred White Sage in Wyoming where it grows abundantly along the Snake River, taking it home and turning it into smudge sticks. 

 

 Indigenous  Americans have always considered sage one of the most sacred of herbs and  burned smudge sticks made of the leaves to banish any feelings of negativity or the lingering feelings of fear  and sorrow left in a space once a being has passed on or suffered through a long sickness or trauma. They also used the wet leaves in their sweat lodges to produce copious amounts of smoke that would help open the nasal passages and the lungs.  

       

Sage is an ancient herb, beloved for centuries in Europe and on this continent for its medicinal and antibacterial qualities and of course for the musky, earthy flavor that blends so beautifully with so many things.  Indeed the associations that we have in America with the aroma of sage are of hearth and home.  Indeed, the scent of a turkey roasting with a sage, sausage, apple and chestnut dressing takes me back into my mothers kitchen faster than almost any other thing else that I can cook.  

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Sage Derby, that remarkable English cheese has its origins in the 17th century when sage leaves were added to fresh derby curds to produce a delicious cheese enjoyed at harvest and holiday feasts that was almost minty in flavor and absolutely wonderful for the digestion.  

 

These days, fresh sage is still added at the beginning of the process and chlorophyll too, so that the cheese has a beautiful marbling of green throughout.  Sage Derby is my favorite cheese to melt over sprouted grain bread for a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich and one of the most beautiful cheeses to use on a cheese board. Make sure that you have a wonderful ale to go with that and some sweet fresh apples too!

 

 

I’ve also made my own farmers cheese flavored with sage using  a gallon of organic milk (cream on top!), a pinch of salt and the juice of one lemon. It's a very simple recipe, just bring the milk to a boil, stir for a minute and add the salt . Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and the curds will begin to form. 

 

Take a yard of cheese cloth and line a strainer with it, (I've found that a pasta pot with a strainer works very well for this) and pour in the milk and curds. Let it drain for a bit, scoop out the cheese and put it into a bowl. Add some salt, pepper and chopped fresh sage. Refrigerate and serve with whole grain crackers for a light treat that’s absolutely delicious and has the added bonus of being easily digestible. 

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I love to drink sage tea when I've got a touch of the flu as I find that it relaxes me and cools me down if I'm feverish. Just steep a handful of fresh sage (or a tablespoon or two of dried) in a  cup of hot water, add a bit of raw honey and enjoy. This same tonic makes an exceptional gargle for a sore throat and really soothes the parched dry tissues of aching tonsils. 

 

One tablespoon of powdered sage, mixed into a paste with 2 tablespoons of baking soda, ½ a teaspoon of water and one drop of peppermint essential oil is one of the best remedies that I know of to help sooth inflamed gums naturally. 

 

Women who experience a heavier flow during their monthly periods have historically drunk sage tea to help bring a bit of balance to their cycle and lighten up heavier bleeding.  An important note for women who are breastfeeding - avoid sage as it will dry up your milk production very quickly.

 

I love to take 2 cups of fresh sage and 1 cup of Crystallized ginger and simmer them with a cup of brown sugar and 3 cups of water until they boil down into a delightful syrup that makes a very relaxing and restorative digestive when stirred into a glass of white wine.  Try infusing the same syrup into a pitcher of iced green tea! You'll love it!

 

So this year I hope that you’ve planted a few different types of sage to enjoy! Don't forget the beautifully fragrant clary sage and in my book you can never have too much pineapple sage! That's the one that the hummingbirds really adore and you'll spend many a summer afternoon watching them dart from bud to bud while sipping a cool glass of that delicious iced tea. 

 

One last thing! The compound found in sage called thujone can be dangerous to anyone with high blood pressure or high blood sugar that is already taking medications for these conditions. 

 

Always talk to your Doctor or pharmacist before using sage or any other herb for wellness to make sure that it doesn’t contraindicate in any way with any medical conditions that you may have.   


Glamoury: The True Magick of Living Luxuriously, Happily and Beautifully at any age!

"Glamoury is an ability Witches have to transform themselves into something else. This is where our word “glamour” originated. Glamoury is more than beauty though—it is the projection of allure and charisma. Glamoury demands attention, reverence, and awe."


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'The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth'
by Daniel Gardner, 1775

"Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Elizabeth Lamb,
Viscountess Melbourne – the most famous political
hostesses and society beauties of their day – are shown
gathered around the witches’ cauldron alongside their
friend, the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer"

 

It was Coco Chanel who once said “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” I’m very sure that she was right.

I was recently looking at some old pictures of myself and was truly amazed. It was a composite of images of myself at 17, 25, 32, 45 and  one taken just recently at the age of 59.  I looked in the mirror and realized that I quite enjoy what the passage of time has done to my face.  I now have plenty of wrinkles and I absolutely love my collections of lipstick and perfume.  After a brief flirtation with letting myself go gray, I've begun to color my hair again and I love it and appreciate it as much as I do my Lancome lipsticks.

I also refuse to lie about my age which gives me an extraordinary amount of pleasure.  Besides, painting my lips when I'm going out gives me a chuckle as I remember my mother and how she was never without her lipstick.  She knew what she was doing. She had a twinkle in her eyes that came from having lived life well. She never stopped learning and she never stopped leading the way.   She was an example for me early on that you could be your self and look pretty fabulous at any age. Up until the day she died my father was absolutely bewitched by her.  More importantly she had all kinds of fun continually becoming that woman!

 I consider myself very fortunate to still be surrounded by some pretty fabulous older women; all of them still physically beautiful  ,  dynamic and brilliant.   One will be turning 82 next month and one has just turned 87. Neither of them look  a day over 70. They possess the adventurous spirits of the 30 something’s without all of the drama. They love high fashion and glorious cosmetics, thankfully using them without trying to hang on to any sort of dewy youthful glow. When I‘m hanging out with them I’m aware of a constant flood of images and stories that come only from having lived an exciting life and I’m acutely aware that only with new experiences do we continue to live that fully.  One is writing a book and the other has a calendar of volunteer work that would exhaust most of us. I’ve only mentioned a couple of them but I am lucky to  know many more. I am grateful for these friends as they give me a way to escape the constant flurry of advertising that tells all of us over 50’s that it’s time to roll over and die.  These women don’t play dress-up; they are (as my niece says) “ All That!” I want to be all of them when I grow up.  In the absence of my own mother they are teaching me to step up confidently and lead the way.

 I don’t know about you but I’m fairly stubborn and I don’t intend to age gracefully.  I intend to age fiercely and fearlessly, sliding into my grave feet first and with a smile on my face born with the joy of having been alive! When I think about all of the older women who have inspired me, I realize that they all have this trait in common.   They crave new experiences. They are not afraid to have reinvented themselves, some of them many times in their life.  They are not afraid to speak their minds and they have never stopped learning. They have ceased to worry about being beautiful because they know exactly what they look like and love to make the most of it.  They know how to love and allow themselves to be loved, even when it hurts.  Their elegant  faces are lined with their smiles, tears and gorgeous shades of Chanel lipstick.  They practice yoga, go for long walks with their dogs, go to college and spend their free time painting or in meditation. They entertain with ease.  They hang out with lovely men and women , not because they have to but because they want to. Most importantly they have stopped wasting their time being afraid to die.

I think that this one aspect is the reason that my friends always seem lit from within every time I’m with them.  Having faced the fear of old age from a very early age, they stopped worrying about what the future would bring and concentrated on creating a completely vital and totally interesting present while laying the groundwork for a fabulous future. They are all wise enough to have learned that physical beauty is just one small part of the package and that who they are inside is what shows up on their faces.  If you’re going to get wrinkles anyhow, it pays to let them be created from living, not resisting the long path towards the inevitable. To be sure, living can be challenging at times, but would you really want it any other way? I’m of the opinion that we should absolutely demand of  our lives what we really hunger for and then ruthlessly chase it  down.   

As  one of my dear friends says,  “ I love growing older because I’m finally learning how I really like to live!”  proving to me once again that youth and sex  are indeed totally wasted on the young! So seize the day, your favorite lipstick and dance into your 50's and beyond like you've never danced before. Stop worrying about what has been. Live and love well and never leave home without planning for a bit of mischief to brighten your day.

 

My mother liked to say "Always remember to stay interesting dear because if YOU bore yourself to tears  can you imagine how  anyone around you will feel?" Brava Bellissima!

 

Glamoury Quote courtesy of Llewellyn Press


Herban Farmgirl ~ Relaxing with Roses!

 

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“Love, which, in concert with Abstinence, established Faith, and which, along with Patience, builds up Chastity, is like the columns that sustain the four corners of a house. For it was that same Love which planted a glorious garden redolent with precious herbs and noble flowers–roses and lilies–which breathed forth a wondrous fragrance, that garden on which the true Solomon was accustomed to feast his eyes.“ – Hildegard of Bingen

 

My husband says I seem to wake up craving roses and sleep dreaming of them. Maybe it’s because the scent and flavor of the beautiful historic and fragrant roses in my gardens bring back so many of my best memories. They remind me of my father and the happy times that I spent with him in his rose gardens. Or maybe it’s because the magic spell of the roses helps my skin stay happy and smooth and my heart stay open and gentle.

When it comes to roses, we all have our favorites. Mine is the beautiful and ancient Rosa Gallica Officinalis, more commonly known as Apothecary’s Rose.

 

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The Apothecary’s Rose is just a joy, a rose older than the Renaissance and used for medicinal purposes during Medieval times. It is extraordinarily beautiful to see and smell when blooming. Its intense, deep pink to light red coloring and luscious old rose fragrance make it a must in any herbalist’s garden.

I have always found it easy to grow, which may be the source of its longevity and popularity. It only blooms once in a season, but it’s a generous rose. Mine has been blooming for more than a month. I return to it time and again to make rosewaters, jams and jellies.

Rose milk is my absolute favorite afternoon drink...so delicious and just so very pretty. (All roses are edible, but please use unsprayed rose petals in any recipe whether you consume it or smooth it onto your skin.) 

 

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This recipe is easy and delicious and is an old Ayurvedic recipe from India that has been used for centuries to cool down the body.   While I use coconut milk, you can easily substitute regular whole milk and some heavy cream if you like.

To start, you’ll need a pot of rose tea. Steep 2 cups of dried rose petals until strong, but not bitter and strain. Put a two cups of hot coconut milk infused with 1 cup of rose tea , 1 teaspoon of MCT (highly fractionated coconut oil), some raw honey to taste and a handful of fresh unsprayed rose petals into a blender. Blend on high for a minute until frothy then chill. Pour into a lovely glass, find your porch swing and just relax.  

Roses are said to be wonderful for the nervous system, soothing and nourishing for the skin and the MCT oil is so good for supporting relaxation and focus.

I generally look to my favorite flower when I’m feeling a bit tense and I’ve discovered over the years  (and this is backed by historic herbalist Hildegard of Bingen) that drinking rose water definitely has the ability to enhance my mood and relieve feelings of anxiety and stress. 

For example, I drink a simple tea of rose water, spearmint and almond milk if my stomach is upset or if I’m feeling bloated from too many of the wrong foods. I simply throw a handful of fresh or dried rose petals into my teapot with another handful of fresh spearmint. Steep for about ten minute and add some raw honey and almond milk. Sipping this tea, I’ll generally begin to feel better quickly, as the anti-inflammatory effects of the rose tea begin to take effect. One thing that I have noticed is that rose waters, milks and tea always seem to provide relief from bloating and fluid retention,  and my research into their properties does back this up. 

I also find rose-infused honey to be ever so helpful when I have a sore or scratchy throat and although you can buy it, it is just so easy to make. Stirred into a cup of hot water, or simply taken by the spoonful, the anti-inflammatory properties of the rose petals and the antibacterial properties of the honey seem to relieve any irritation quickly.

Rose Petal Honey

6 cups fresh rose petals (4 cups dried)

2 cups honey, room temperature

1-quart glass jar with lid

 

Add petals to the jar until half full and firmly packed. Pour honey over rose petals and stir to remove air pockets. Cap the jar tightly. After several hours stir petals and honey.  (I use chopsticks for this.) Add more rose petals and stir. Leave the jar in a warm place for about two weeks, stirring from time to time.

 

After two to four weeks, warm the jar in a pot of hot water (do not boil). Strain the warmed honey through a cheesecloth into a clean jar. Press the rose petals to remove all honey. Cap the jar and enjoy on toast, over yogurt, with ice cream and in cocktails.

I use rose water in my drinks consistently because I believe that it is so helpful for hydrating the skin from the inside out.  I also spray rose hydrosol (a fancy name for rosewater!)  on my skin every morning after my shower to help my aging skin.  I spent way too much time in the sun without sunscreen as a teenager and I have noticed that this daily spritzing with rosewater seems to have softened some of my wrinkles and it tightens my pores.

I’d love to know some of your favorite uses for your favorite roses, so please feel free to share them with me in the comments.  

May everything be coming up roses for you all summer long!

#Rose #Roses #Healing #BethSchreibmanGehring #Rosewitch #Herbalist #herbalism #Herbs #flowers #gardens #Rosegardens #apothecarysrose #DamaskRose #hildegardofbingen #rosewater #rosehoney #honey #tea #rosetea #Spearmint

 


Wise Woman Traditions - Why Herbal Medicine?

 

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“My belief is that it’s the caring of the healer that’s most important, but no one’s going to be able to test for that.”

—Stephen Buhner, Herbalist

 

“I would never choose a healer according to whether or not they had credentials. I’d find someone through word of mouth.”  Rosemary Gladstar- Herbalist

 

Medicine plants heal more than the physical body.

They help open our hearts, reconnect us with spirit and guide us in developing joyful relationships with the natural world. Deb Soule- Herbalist

 

“The plants have enough spirit to transform our limited vision.” Rosemary Gladstar - Herbalist

 

“Shamanic healers don't claim to have the answer or know the answer or be the answer; they remind us that the answer lies within ourselves.” Susan Weed- Herbalist

 

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As I type this, I am sitting in my garden in the warm sunshine looking out over my new flowery mead.  This is a place that I love, a place where the healing herbs that I use every day grow as wild as weeds.   A simple walk around the garden this morning produced armfuls of rosemary, lavender , sage and thyme, nasturtiums and aloe. A glorious linden tree and the deep pink Apothecary rose and several others have produced so many fragrant petals to create  teas for a winters chill and my rugosa roses are heavy with the sweet vitamin C filled rose hips just  waiting for the first frost to ripen and be eaten fresh or turned into luscious jars of jam and chutney.  The abundance is extraordinary.

 

Over the last 37 years (OMG)  I have known and been fortunate enough to have been trained by many incredible healers; men and women who walked their talk and encouraged me to always use my instincts to learn everything that I could about the healing plants that can be found in the world around us. I am so  grateful for the teachers that I have been given. As a young herbalist I drank in the teachings of Hildegard of Bingen, Culpepper and Juliette de Bairacli Levy and I wandered over and over again through herb gardens with my sketchbooks and journals learning, listening and deep in wonder.  

 

The overwhelming lesson from  all of my teachers?

 

Take responsibility and learn everything that you can to become your own healer. Use your instincts and take control of your healing journey because you are accountable and responsible for your health in a way that no one else can be. Don’t rely upon titles, rely upon your instincts to tell you what feels right. If it doesn't FEEL right, don't do it.

I don't care who says so. 

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I find this to be a really empowering message because I have watched in absolute horror over the years as friends and family members have given over all of their power to a dominant system of allopathic medicine and  dangerous and untested pharmaceutical drugs, all too often to their detriment. I’ve got plenty of Doctors in my family and I’m grateful for the expertise of that community when I need it, but always as a last resort, not the first. The best Doctors I've ever worked with ( And I insist that my clients and I work in concert with their physicians) know what they do well. They are brilliant diagnosticians and they allow their patients to be completely responsible for their health choices, guiding and not condemning, allowing their patients to experiment and being there to simply help. 

Prevention is key and I think that it’s important to  work to promote the creation of health in an organic and sustainable way.

 

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My overwhelming thoughts are always this and they’re definitely not original at all; You are what you eat and your food is your best medicine; this includes the wonderful healing herbs that are growing plentifully all around us. Food DOES matter and so does movement, emotion, relationship, career, spirituality and environment. These are all of the primary food groups that create balance in your life. When one is out of balance, they all begun to topple like dominoes.

It’s a whole new world for alternative healing in 2019 than it was back when I was first learning so very long ago. Reiki and massage are mainstream practices that are universally accepted and the herbs that I used to have to harvest myself are readily available on the shelves of most grocery stores. I think this is a wonderful thing, because it places the responsibility directly on the shoulders of the consumer to learn to take care of themselves.

Please make sure to educate yourselves because that's how you keep this amazing tradition alive, safe and thriving.

It used to be that there was a Community Herbalist in every village and  an Herbalist in every home. Every wife and grandmother knew how to make the tinctures and tonics that they needed and the recipes and formulas were passed down through the generations. The herbalists and healers were charged with the prevention of disease and the simple knowledge to help keep the body in a healthy state of balance.

 

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Always use your instincts when choosing someone to work with. Many don't realize this but the titles Herbalist, Certified herbalist or Master herbalist are not regulated by any governing body in the US. We are allowed to educate and give you the information or lifestyle changes that you can then use to make a decision for yourself, but we are not allowed to diagnose nor are we allowed to prescribe. I actually like these constraints a lot. It means that if you are my client that I am charged with empowering and inspiring you to create and become responsible for your health. If I do my job right, in 3 months when our work together is done,  you won't need me!

I don’t ever want to see herbalism go the way of the big pharmaceuticals, synthesized and harnessed with regulations, restrictions and fear such that this gentle and effective system for healing becomes a pawn simply to be exploited financially and eventually compromised so that it is no longer recognizable.

Stop giving the responsibility for your health away to a system that has ceased to be a system for healing. Many of my own family members and other doctors I know have stopped practicing medicine because they no longer wanted to be controlled by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. They have told me almost brokenheartedly that they went to medical school to become healers and that now as the system has begun to fail us,  that they felt that they were failing their patients. 

The sweet thing is that they all have begun learning about traditional herbalism. This cannot help but benefit all of us!

It is my dream to see Traditional Herbalism accepted and promoted once again in a way that teaches everyone to be responsible for their health and well being by learning about directly and using the best quality herbals that they can grow, wild-craft or buy.

To maintain personal standards and relay the degree of learning obtained, herbalists in America typically use the title their schools or teachers gave them, however to be an Herbalist is to realize that you will always be learning, that you will never know everything because we are dealing with a biological science that is constantly shifting and evolving.

Climate change alone has begun to change the way that many of us can grow and harvest our herbs. It requires us to be in complete touch with ourselves and the health of this planet to insure our very survival. It places the onus on real life experience and actual results.

Most of the pioneering herbalists who are responsible for forwarding this movement in the United States do not carry a title and are busy ensuring that this form of the peoples medicine always stays free and accessible to the communities that need it. Always consult your Doctor or pharmacist before using any herbs to make sure that there are no contraindications with any medicines you might be taking, even something as simple as aspirin or Tylenol.

If your Doctor can't advise you,  I have discovered over the years that Pharmacists  are generally the most well versed in what will be problematic chemical relationships.I have found most of them to be very open-minded and eager to be helpful so don’t be afraid to ask for their advice. Herbs are not risk free and they are powerful natural medicines. Any herb can react differently in any body..the same as any medicine can. Getting this simple and easy to obtain information allows herbal medicine to maintain its credibility and integrity in a way that licensing and over regulation never will.

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The good news is that there are many wonderful online courses that are available where you can learn the art of healing and herbalism for yourself from some really great teachers.  I would really encourage you to take one of them and learn as much as you can.  Practice, open yourself up to the world around you and enjoy yourself. Write your own book of recipes, use them, pass them down, You will be embarking on a healing journey and sharing a tradition that is totally organic and ages old and a life long exploration into being responsible for your own health and wellness that you will truly enjoy.

 

Here are some of  my favorites:

http://www.herbsandearthawareness.com/

https://chestnutherbs.com/

 

https://avivaromm.com/

 

https://theherbalacademy.com/

 

http://www.blessedmaineherbs.com/apclas20.html

http://www.snh.cc/

 


Tinctures , Tonics and Teas ~ Elderflower Cordial

 

 

Elderflower cordial

Today I'm making the elderflower cordial that was taught to me by my dear friend Jane Toth, our dedicated Western Reserve Herb Society Garden Chair. Beautiful snowy Elderflowers have been traditionally used for centuries in German medicine. They are thought to have antioxidant properties as well as anti inflammatory and antiviral effects, which is why they're probably still  used in this century  as a popular remedy to help fight off colds and flu. Elderflowers can be brewed as an herbal tea as well, but Jane’s recipe is one of the best I’ve ever tried, and it produces a delicious sweet cordial that she freezes and uses all year long simply to enjoy or when she feels just a wee bit under the weather!

I've added ginger root and turmeric to mine for extra anti -inflammatory and immune support and simply because it gives it a lovely spicy taste!  Just boil 7 cups of spring water and melt in 2 pounds of sugar and a cup of honey. Add the sliced lemon( about 4 of them), 2 ounces of citric acid and a sliced ginger root and turmeric root. Then stir in about thirty elderflower heads that you’ve shaken the bugs off of and clipped all but the teensiest stems from  the stems from.

Don’t forget this important step. Many don’t realize that  the elderberry plant contains a cyanide-inducing glycoside. Eating a enough  of these  can cause a  buildup of cyanide in the body and make you quite ill, so only use the tiniest stems! I take a flower, pinch the stems up to the top and clip it there. This insures that I get only the smallest amount of stem. 

Once you’ve stirred the elderflowers in , let the mixture sit covered with a clean linen towel for the next 48 hours, stirring occasionally. Then bottle it and freeze or put it into mason jars and can it in a nice hot water bath. Serve this cordial stirred into sparkling water , over lemon sorbet or mixed into a classic vodka and soda! If you prefer, do as my friend Jane does and pour it into a cordial glass to simply sip! However you choose to enjoy it, having a few bottles of this cordial around will insure that you have the experience of summer all year round!


Lighting the Beltane Fires

“Tra la, it's May, it’s May, the lusty Month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it's here, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

 

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don't you know, it's that dear forbidden fruit,

 

Because….

 

It's May! It's May!
The month of "yes you may,"
The time for ev'ry frivolous whim,
Proper or "im."
It's wild! It's gay!
A blot in ev'ry way.
The birds and bees with all of their vast
Amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast,
The lusty month of May. “

 

From Camelot ~ Lerner & Loewe

 

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I first became aware of the importance of the Beltane fires  in my life through a dream. I awoke one morning,  in the arms of my husband and he looked at me in surprise and asked me about the fires. “What fires “ I said… and then I remembered. I guess that I’d been talking in my sleep. In my dream we had been standing together in a place that seemed to be a castle of sorts.  I was wearing some sort of night dress and he had come up behind me. I knew that it was him in the way that time and place meld together in the dream state, but he was blond with longer hair that was flowing back in the wind.  He looked at me with the same deep blue eyes that he has now with a gaze that at that moment transcended lifetimes and said “they are lighting the fires and are in the fields…he wants the fires to be gone, he is sending them”.  All I remember is the night falling and hearing the sighs of  passion  from the plowed fields beyond. I remember saying “Tell him that I said that he WILL allow the fires to burn” and shortly after that I remember falling into his arms and wandering hand in hand out towards the fields.  I woke up naked and in a cold sweat.  I knew that the mysterious “he” was someone of the church, who was trying to destroy my beloved “old ways”.  I knew then that I’d known my husband in some other time or place where we’d been bound together by a spirituality that had its roots planted deep within the earth.  I promised myself at that moment that for as long as it was in my power, the fires would never be allowed to go out.  

 

Beltane or Beltaine as the Irish speak of it is a lusty and passionate holiday full of surprises and all kinds of wonderful. None of us know what the Goddess has in store for us today, but I can promise you that if you are open to her magic you will enjoy every minute of it. Do be careful though…lots of sweet little babies are conceived today.  That’s my only warning, but you'd be wise to heed it....not that you'll really be able to control the outcome.  Trust me she will always have her way!

 

Beltane is  the time that marks the beginning of the most fertile season of the year.  Cattle were driven up to higher, greener grounds and passions burned on May the 1st like the ancient ritual fires that were lit to celebrate the sowing of seed, both physically in the newly plowed fields and during the times of the old religions through an ecstatic sexual union  of the sacred feminine and her masculine counterpart,  the great horned God.  Every year on this day, the great wheel of the year would turn once more towards summer and bonfires would be built.

 

 Men and women lay together in the fields cloaked only in the smoke, exhausting their passions over and over again with the intention of creating a potent ritual that would ensure an abundant harvest.  There would be feasting as well as dancing around a beautifully beribboned May Pole (no imagery there!) and it was a time of celebrating all forms of fertility, love and lust.  Babies conceived during the sacred Beltane union were considered blessed by the goddess herself.

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 Centuries later we really haven't changed all that much.  Bonfires, gardens and woodsmoke can still stoke our passions as well as insure our very survival. We still plant our vegetables every spring and wish for enough rain and sun to help our gardens grow.  Although we have long since harnessed the power of the flame and made it manageable, I've yet to find any oven that stirs my food lust like the warmth of an open flame. I long for a wood burning clay oven in my kitchen where I can bake fresh crusty bread, clafoutis aux cerises and fresh pizza!

 

This is the time of year when all the trees are blooming, flowers and wild potherbs are appearing all over the fields and forests as if by magic. The honeybees have reappeared and are busy making love to the fragrant blossoms and with luck we will find our trees filled with ripe fruits come fall. We till our gardens and plant the seed that we’ve saved from last year’s harvest and we take long walks outside, grateful that the sun has finally come again and brought with it a deep rich warmth.

 

You needn’t go too far back into your imagination to see that centuries ago, these simple things would have seemed deeply magical to our ancestors. Sometimes, I think that it would serve us well to embrace the same simple wonder that they did, an excitement that comes from enjoying a life of following the seasons simply and passionately. For me, springtime is marked by so many things that I look forward to, knowing that they will not pass through my life until the wheel comes full circle again. The beautiful fragrant violets, the precious lilacs and viburnums…wild ramps with their deep oniony flavor and fiddlehead ferns! Fresh pea tendrils, daffodils and the very first dandelion greens that I love to harvest for salads.  

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In a class by itself comes the freshest spring asparagus.  I can’t think of anything more wonderful than a meal of steamed asparagus and a silky tarragon laced béarnaise sauce. Living as locally as possible and respecting the seasons and the presents that each one brings is not only a healthy way to eat, but a holistic way to live. 

The first thing I did when we bought our home in Cleveland Heights was put in an asparagus bed. An asparagus bed is one of natures most useful clocks. When my first thick shoots of asparagus come up, I know that spring is truly and finally here. Several years ago all of my asparagus came up in March and I knew that we were in for a very interesting year. This year, it’s right on time. Nature has a magic all her own and for the ancients Beltane was a reminder to stop and pay attention to those thundering  rhythms.

 

For me one of the greatest joys of the merry month of May were always the flowers that would bloom in my parents’ gardens. They grew many beautiful flowers but none were more precious to me than the beautiful patch of lilies of the valley that grew behind the terrace in a secret place that only a few knew about. I’d wait and wait and then every year on the 1st of May I would run into the back and there they would be, pure little bells of white with strong green leaves just begging me to bury my face into their flowers and inhale their sweet green scent. I learned much later that May  Day in France is  known as Fete du Muguet day and these sweetly scented little flowers are gifted by lovers to each other all day long. I still wear my favorite Lily of the Valley perfume , Christian Diors Diorissimo,  all day long in honor of this glorious French tradition. 

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All of these beautiful greens and flowers come but once a year in a fashion that is fleeting and beautiful. I think that if I could have them all year round it would be a disappointment to me, because the yearning for them is every bit as delightful.  Besides, every season has its pleasures and treasures. Crabapple trees and their fragrant blooms can only come in May, but their fruits are late August’s treasures. The old-fashioned roses in my gardens that bloom so abundantly will produce generous rosehips for my tea in September. To everything there is a season, and to every time a purpose. The joy that May Day brings is the abundant renewal of life and passion. Make love and give love generously on this day. Gifts of flowers and bright May Baskets are traditional gifts of love that are perfect. Make paper cones with your children, fill them with flowers, put them on your neighbor’s front door and let them guess! If it’s a beautiful evening spread a blanket outside, light lots of candles and have a picnic!  

 

Then put the children to bed and go back outside if you dare….

 
 
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Today is the day that we light the ritual fires once again with the intent to create life, celebrate our passion and ensure the fertile harvest not only of our fields, but of our souls.  Feed each other juicy fruits, other luscious things and make love with abandon, spend time in the fields, wander into the wilderness of your hearts and get lost there for more than a little while.  Keep a little magic with you always and more than a touch of mystery.  Remember that it’s the very things that we don’t really know that can bring us the most joy and above all remember to be glad...very glad to be alive. Life is juicy, fragrant and sometimes bittersweet. Life is also all about taking risks with your passions. Be a little naughty, enjoy your wildness, but remember what I said, because the Goddess WILL always have her way……..

 

 

 

 

Blessed Be.

 

 

 

#herbanfarmgirl 

#France #Paris #Muguet #Lilyofthevalley #fetedumuguet

 

Green Man print - Artist unknown

 

 


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. 

  
S-stone-brigid
 
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