The Blessed Summer Solstice is nearly upon us! I love this holiday 1) because it's super close to my birthday and 2) because, well, summer. Our little family practices our own brand of neo-pagan spirituality, so esbats have become important milestones in our year. Since I am obsessed with my plants, I thought I would share some ideas for celebrating in your garden/yard/nature surroundings.
Leave offerings for the fae, as they are especially active when the weather is warm. We leave milk, bread and berries for the fairies, gnomes, elves and of course the lizards.
Nourish your plants with plant food or fertilizer. The days are hot, long and sometimes dry, so make sure your garden is being watered daily and given food partway through the growing season.
Set up a nature-friendly altar outdoors. Include things like rocks, sticks, flowers, leaves and herbs. As long as it came from nature in that form, it should be fine. If it's close enough to your home to leave up overnight feel free to add some other altar items.
Enjoy a bonfire with your family or friends (or both if you can!!) This is definitely a favorite of mine! My kids (and husband TBH) are addicted to making fires and cooking over them. If the solstice coincides with the weekend, we go camping. Since this year it is on a Monday, we will grill and have a fire in our yard.
Talk about the holiday. My Druid husband and I are making a point to teach our children the traditional holidays, so we have been telling stories and doing activities at each turn of the wheel. Since Litha is the Summer Solstice, you can talk about the growth since Beltane, which was a time of fertility and planting seeds. Many seeds planted back in March are sprouting (metaphorically and physically).
Eat fresh fruits and veggies (local if possible) outside or at a park. Enjoy nature, get some sun on your face and thanks the gods for another day of life. Then clean up after yourself, recycle the stuff you can and leave nothing but a footprint.
Do you have special traditions for Litha? Let us know how you plan to celebrate (or already celebrated) in the comments!
Ariella Upton of Silfren Circle
Our society has been indoctrinated to see “medicine” in pill and syrup forms, taken or injected to treat illnesses, infections and all manner of ailments. But what did people do BEFORE big pharma?! Our ancestors, from every walk of life, were learned in using what nature provided to treat their maladies. There was no hospital, just a handful of people who were a bit weird and seemed to always be touching and talking to plants; they were the people who looked up at sunny skies and proclaimed rian was on the way before a downpour only hours later. If you have ever wanted to tap into your inner herbalist, then treating minor injuries and illnesses is a great way to start! Here are a few quick tips for deciding HOW to treat yourself using herbal
1. Determine the source. No matter if you are dealing with a bruise or a sore throat, first and foremost you should follow the discomfort as far back as you can. Say for example you have a headache. Maybe a day ago you started feeling your shoulders or lower back tense and spasm. As you acknowledge the pain you feel in your head, you can also relate the preceding symptoms and treat beyond the headache to the TRUE source.
2. Choose your medicine. I have quite a few books about which herbs are appropriate for different cases. I will list a few for your reference, but feel free to research any and all herbs you have within reach to find out their healing properties!
● Mint: soothes upset stomach, repels insects, relieves headache and muscle
● Lavender: use on skin conditions; to alleviate symptoms of depression
● Lemongrass: speed acne healing, repel insects, boost mood.
● Rosemary: anti-bacterial, antiseptic oil can be used to treat many topical ailments. I like to use rosemary in salves because of its multipurpose uses.
● Lemon Balm: digestive problems, pain, headache, toothache and boosts mood.
● Sage: for toothache, make a mouthwash by making a sage and clove infusion,
then use to reduce pain and infection.
● Ginger: soothes upset stomach and aids smooth digestion.
● Garlic: relieves toothache by cutting a chunk to fit on painful tooth. For yeast infections, insert one bulb each night for 5 nights; remove in the morning.
3. Application of your herbal medicine. There are many ways to use herbs in medicine, but not all work for each situation. If you tried to use a compress of peppermint on a sore throat, rather than an infusion, there might be a delay in the effectiveness of the treatment.
● Infusion: pretty much this is the same process as making tea - heat water, pour over herbs and allow to steep for about 5 minutes
● Compress: add herbs to washcloth, then wrap it so they don’t fall out. Soak the washcloth in warm water for a minute, wring out and apply topically.
● Slave: this one is a bit more complicated, and involves using essential oils or infused oils, then mixed with some beeswax and used when needed. Add vitamin E oil to preserve longer and add nourishing quality to skin.
Personally, I live in a fusion of holistic and modern medicine. For anything I KNOW I can treat, I definitely do, but if there is even a seed of doubt, I seek out the professionals (typically, whatever they find can then be treated holistically, but better safe than sorry!) If you have pre-existing conditions, consult your doctor or healthcare provider before treating yourself with herbal medicine, as some herbs have adverse reaction to medications, etc.
Do you use holistic healing methods? What are some you would like to try?
Author: Ariella Upton of Silfren Circle
Growing up, one of my chores was to take our compost bin from under the sink to the back of our property and throw it in a pile next to my mom’s veggie garden. To me, composting seemed stupid… why not just throw it all in the trash? Didn’t it end up all the same anyway?
Turns out it is NOT the same. When produce scraps and egg shells are given back to the soil directly, the soil becomes richer and more potent with nutrients. If you have a garden, or plan to flesh one out, compost is a great addition to your soil before planting and after the harvest season to keep soil from becoming acidic and depleted.
What should go into your pile?
Compost requires a balance of “browns” and “greens”. “Browns” are materials like sticks, leaves, wood chips or other dry, airy material. “Greens” are the more wet components, and these come from your kitchen scraps. Make sure there are equal parts of browns and greens, and that the pile gets some water to help with breaking down into rich dirt. Also, avoid meat, dairy and bread in your pile, as these will rot and attract pests.
Eggshells have always seemed magickal to me. How amazing that a creature can grow outside of its mother, in a small replication of a womb. Each time I add eggshells to my pile, I imagine the life energy entering back into the dirt, spreading and boosting everything it touches.
Produce scraps are a great example of “greens”, which should comprise half your compost pile anyway. Another one would be lawn clippings and green waste. It will keep it out of the landfill AND help build your compost pile.
If you have lots of leaves from seasons changing, those are excellent “browns”, along with chopped up trees from Christmas, sticks, dried out branches and straw or wood chips from animal enclosures.
Coffee grounds provide plenty of nitrogen, and are considered a “greens” addition. They always feel like a powerful ally to the compost system, so I imagine energy of strength entering the dirt when I add them.
I always feel more connected to the spirits in my yard and garden when composting. I see the lizards and worms crawling among the bounty of my produce scraps as my plants wave happily in the wind, knowing nutrients are being returned to their soil. The act of composting is to be part of the life cycle. It is a sacred offering to our Mother Earth that whispers our thanks for her energy sources. Nothing blesses your crops quite like receiving nature’s acknowledgement. Scientifically, matter can neither be created nor destroyed, so to give these unused parts makes a world of difference to your yard and our whole planet.
Do you compost? If you do not have a yard, are there special ways you compost or reduce waste?
Author: Ariella Upton of Silfren Circle