Hawthorn Medicine

The hedgerows are suddenly alive!  Just as the blackthorn trees go from flower to leaf their cousin the hawthorn (both are rose family members) takes the cue from sun and Earth and explodes into blossom.  In the west of Ireland, the hedges and the fairy trees are illuminated with the creamy white and rarer pink blossoms of Crataegeus oxyacantha, known commonly as whitethorn or hawthorn.  The vanilla scent wafts across the land and our eyes take in the welcome beauty, the harbinger of the season of Bealtaine, summertime in Ireland. 

Hawthorn is one of the thirteen trees of the lunar Ogham calendar and generally represents the time from mid-April to mid- May.  In Irish hawthorn is known as huath and is the letter H in the ancient Irish Ogham alphabet.  Hawthorn holds significance for the fire festival of Bealtaine which begins the season on 1 May.  Traditionally the blossoms would be gathered for May altars and it was believed you could be whisked away to the fairy realm if you sat beneath a hawthorn on this day. 

Hawthorn has an esteemed place in our folk medicine: all parts of the tree have healing properties including the leaves, flowers, stems, thorns and berries.  Hawthorn nourishes the heart, physically regulates the beat and strengthens the cardiovascular response.  With regular use hawthorn strengthens the heart tissue, eases angina and palpitations due to anxiety or hormonal response.  Hawthorn berry tincture warms the heart and softens anger.  In tea or tincture, hawthorn lowers blood pressure, brings vitality and efficiency to the circulatory system.  The berries, stems and thorns are high in antioxidants.   

The flower and leaf tea is incredibly delicious!   Harvest a handful of vibrant blossoms with a few leaves and cover with water off the boil.  Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes, strain out the herb and enjoy the comforting and sensual taste of honey and vanilla.   For a decadent summertime treat, infuse a stem of hawthorn blossoms in your bottle of crisp white wine (sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio) or in fresh-squeezed lemonade.  Allow to steep in either for a few hours, remove the stem/ blossoms and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh flowers over the top.  Hawthorn leaves and flowers can be harvested and dried to be used all year long.

 

Full Moon Ritual

Full Moon Ritual

The full moon is this Thursday March 1st and is the first of two full moons this calendar month with the second occurring on the last day of the month, March 31st.  Full moons are a time to celebrate all the abundance in our lives and to offer gratitude for all that we have.  It is a time to sit in the glow of her radiant light and to feel whole and to feel blessed.

I have created a simple and lovely full moon ritual for you.

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Elderflower Rose Beauty

Elderflower Rose Beauty

I have been creating my own herbal skincare products for almost 20 years and I honestly never ceased to be amazed and delighted by the wonders of the herbs and how our skin responds.  Our skin is our largest organ and yearns to be nourished and fed from the outside just like our internal appetites crave delicious wholesome foods (and sometimes whiskey and chocolate!).    

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Brighid Was A Herbalist

Brighid Was A Herbalist

Brighid was a herbalist and engaged with the wild weeds to nourish and heal body and spirit.  We are hearing evidence everyday where these herbs are offering vital components to overall vitality and wellbeing.  These herbs grow in our own backyards, along the hedgerows and in meadows and fields.  These herbs are wild and free medicine that we have used for thousands of years and are beckoning us to use once more.

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Sacred Ogham Tree of Ireland: Birch

Sacred Ogham Tree of Ireland: Birch

In forest and in gardens, the silver-barked birch trees stand sentinel during these waning days of Winter.  It won’t be long now before the buds will be apparent, especially in Ireland, as birch is one of the first trees to burst forth with the gift of new life and spring awakenings.  Birch, known as Beith in Irish, is a tree of the transition of the season of Samhain (winter) to Imbolc (spring).  It is the third tree of the ancient lunar Ogham Tree Calendar and represents the Ogham alphabet letter B.

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Scorpio New Moon

Scorpio New Moon

Sitting in circle, a candle flame dancing bright, mugwort and rose smudge incense spiraling: this is the community we yearn for, in our deepest places, this ancient primal connection.  We gathered to celebrate our wild roots, the roots of our ancestors, our spiritual lineage.  We mingled with the wild roots of the herbs and the trees, as we danced with the elements of air, fire, water and earth.   We felt the hands of the cailleach, the crone encircling our own as we blended a Root Tea and stirred honey into our Scorpio New Moon syrup.  We practiced spellcraft and created spell jars with citrine and seaweed and lichen and yarrow.  We held intention and created intention.  We wrote words that rhymed and words of transformation.

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Samhain Traditions

Samhain Traditions

Samhain, beginning at dusk on 31 October, spirals us into the winter season of the ancient Irish calendar.   Our Celtic ancestors believed that beginnings began at sunset, or at the end of the day, heralding going into the dark before celebrating the rebirth into the light.   With these same intentions, Samhain is also known as the Celtic New Year, inviting us to slow down, move inward, to nest and rest and dream what we hope to give birth to in the spring.  In the Samhain garden at Brigit’s Garden, the serene Leaf Woman sculpture epitomizes this stillness.

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Healing Ogham Tree: Elder

Healing Ogham Tree: Elder

Elder trees line hedgerows, grow in ancient monastic infirmaries and protect sacred sites here in the West of Ireland.  .  Elderberries, a favorite herbal medicine of the winter season for body and spirit, give of their healing nourishment and align with the energies of the crone, the ancient wise woman who guards the door to the Underworld, to shadow and to the dark inner mysteries.  As we spiral into the season of Samhain and begin to move inward, to reflect and rest, to dream and nest, elder is an ally to help us to connect to the ancient rhythms of the season.

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