Festival Artwork and Writing Archive

Diary 2022 Festival Writing - Nicola Smalley

Imbolc

With the change in bird song and the first spring flowers blooming, nature is slowly emerging from the depths of winter. New shoots are pushing through, and the snowdrops are showing their faces through the darkness of the soil. We are reminded that the light is returning once again. Yet below the frozen ground, there is much work being undertaken as life once again stirs into being.

Imbolc is the festival of awakening and marks the first day of spring. It’s time to take early steps towards your upcoming plans, breathe some life into them and bring them into being. Remember though, there is no rush. Go with nature’s pace and take your time to emerge. Allow the stirrings of excitement as you think of what seeds you want to plant. What projects can you breathe life into as the sun continues to march across the sky?

~ As the birds and animals are building their nests, look towards laying a good foundation from which to launch yourself into spring. It is time to start planning.

~ Gather nature finds that symbolise new growth. Create a mandala from these and place a white candle in the centre to welcome new beginnings into your world and hope for the coming months.

Imbolc © Nicola Smalley

Spring Equinox

Here at the Equinox, we are at a point of balance: from this moment onwards everything is going to ramp up. Spring is already well underway, with the daffodils proudly trumpeting their arrival and the first chicks having already hatched into the world.

It is time to start creating. Throw yourself into your carefully nurtured plans. What do you want to hatch this spring? What is the egg of your potential? You have three months until the height of summer and another three months until harvest is complete: six glorious months of longer days and creative energy to draw on. It’s time to tip the balance and move from planning into action. Begin to sow those seeds and seize the day, making the most of the growing hours of warmth and light.

~ Connect to your inner potential by meditating or journeying whilst holding an egg in your hands. Within this egg, there is everything that is needed for life, just as within you there is everything you need to achieve your goals. Ask for help in achieving them.

~ Observe the alchemy of nature by going on regular walks, following the same route, and observe the subtle changes day by day. Record this by taking pictures and journaling your experience.

Spring Equinox © Nicola Smalley

Beltane

Having arrived here at the festival of fertility, nature is going full pelt. The birds are singing their loudest, and many of the trees have shown their leaves. The hawthorn has blossomed, an aroma of bluebell perfume fills the woods, and the ferns are beginning to unfurl. In just a few weeks a green canopy will cloak the landscape.

Right now, the earth energies are at their strongest and most active. Nature has erupted, and it is time to create, to throw yourself into all that you need to do to achieve your goals. Don’t hold back. Instead, go for it and ride the wave of the spring energies through to the Summer Solstice and beyond. It is a perfect time of year to bring ideas, hope and dreams into action.

~ Rise before dawn, wrap up warm and go hunt down a bluebell wood, taking a cushion and blanket to lie on. Listen to the dawn chorus through the morning as you stare up at the emerging tree canopy.

~ Write in your journal what your creative venture is, what completion looks like and what it feels like. Ask for support from your spirit guides and the universe to help you bring this to fruition over the coming six months to Samhain.

Beltane © Nicola Smalley

Summer Solstice

The literal translation of the Latin word solstice is ‘sun stands still’. This festival marks the point when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. The days are long, and the earth energies high. Nature is at its fullest: all the leaves on the trees are fully grown, and the animals are busy feeding their young. It is a powerful time.

As the sun rests on the horizon, make the most of the long days, soak up the sun and take time out to play. Empower yourself, recognise your strength, and draw courage from the high energies of this festival to pursue your goals.

~ Meditate or go on a shamanic journey to an animal that has great strength, such as a carnivore that sits at the top of the food chain. Feel its power within you and draw on this energy to move you forward in the coming weeks with courage and assurance.

~ Gather your friends and family around a Solstice fire or visit a sacred site such as a stone circle together. Celebrate life. Spend time drumming and singing. Consider staying up all night to welcome in the sun as the wheel turns once again towards the dark nights.

Summer Solstice © Nicola Smalley

Lammas (Lughnasadh)

Summer has now reached its peak, with the days at their hottest and the land often parched and dry. The first berries are ready to pick, the corn is ripening ready for harvest, and many of the flowers have been and gone leaving behind seed heads and fruit. There is a smell of autumn in the air and subtle changes in the light as the evenings draw in.

This is the festival of the first harvest and a time to take stock of where you are up to with your goals. Can you begin to see the results of your planting and cultivating? How are you progressing against the dreams you set yourself this year, and what is left to do? Celebrate your first fruits now, and then map out what you are going to do over the next three months.

~ Follow the ancient tradition of going on a pilgrimage at this time of year to a special place: either a local power spot, river, tree, wood or high point, or travel further afield to visit a stone circle or sacred well. Take time out to enjoy the experience and soak up the energies there.

~ Reflect on what you are grateful for that has happened this year and what you are proud of achieving so far, taking time to celebrate this.

Lammas (Lughnasadh) © Nicola Smalley

Autumn Equinox

Once again, the day and night are of equal length and preparations for surviving the cold winter months are underway. The trees are starting to draw in, fledglings are fully grown and fending for themselves, and the swallows have left our shores. The berries are ripe, and fruit is in abundance. Nuts are falling to the floor. The harvest is being gathered.

The Equinox is a time of balance, reflection and preparation. At this moment, we sit poised ready to tip towards the long nights. It is an opportunity to take stock and celebrate what has already been achieved, with awareness that there is still much to do before the long nights draw in. This is a good time to address balance in your life, to clear out the old, reassert your boundaries and consider what actions you need to take in the coming weeks. What steps can you take to create more space for the things you value in life? What tasks do you need to complete before winter?

~ Hold a harvest party and celebrate the abundance in nature and in your life with friends: share what you are proud of achieving this year.

~ Take a walk in a woodland to see what wisdom the trees have to share about preparing for winter.

Autumn Equinox © Nicola Smalley

Samhain

Samhain is translated from old Irish as ‘summer’s end’ and is the festival that marks the transition from summer to winter, the end of one year and the beginning of the next. As the trees are shedding their leaves and the last of the harvest has been brought in, this is a time of death and rebirth and clearing and cleansing to make way for the new. It is a time to choose those seeds that you are going to take through into the darkness to gestate.

In this transitional space, the veil between the worlds is thin, and the connection with the Otherworld is at its strongest. It’s the time to connect with and honour our ancestors to thank them for the gifts they have given us and acknowledge the positive attributes that have been passed down the family line.

~ Work with the energy of endings and beginnings. Reflect on the past year and all you have achieved. Decide on what your goals are going to be for the coming year.

~ Create an altar for your ancestors, decorated with yew sprigs, the tree of death and rebirth, and items that belonged to your ancestors. Light a candle in their memory and express your thanks.

Samhain © Nicola Smalley

Winter Solstice

Today the sun rests on the horizon for three days until it begins the journey back across the sky. Nature has well and truly hunkered down: the ground can be frozen, the trees are bare, and there is a stillness that spreads across the land.

This is a gentle time of rest, so make the most of this pause and find your peace here in the stillness of nature. As soon as the days get longer once again, it will be time to focus your energy once more on what you want to bring through into your life. But right now, drop into the darkness of the earth and the wisdom that is held there, creating space for the inner work to unfold its magic.

~ Turn to holly as the tree that defines winter. It’s in its full glory right now. Decorate your home with bright red and green holly sprigs and draw on this tree’s inner qualities of sanctuary and resilience during the long nights.

~ Find a spot to go and watch the Winter Solstice sunrise. As the sun first appears on the horizon, speak out something which you wish for with the return of the new growth cycle. What is your dream for the coming year now the light returns?

Winter Solstice © Nicola Smalley

Diary 2021 Festival Writing - Liz Proctor

Imbolc

The Wisdom of the Season

Even the tallest tree begins life with the tiniest shoot: “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” Beginning can be scary, and first shoots can be delicate, but what beauty and strength can grow from even a hesitant and fragile beginning.

Everyday ritual

Challenge yourself to find a flower. Bright yellow winter aconite perhaps, or a snowdrop – everyone’s favourite. (Here’s a tip: look at the trees. Catkins are flowers too.) If not a flower, then a leaf-bud, a shoot, a tuft of grass springing from a crack in the pavement. Celebrate: the wheel of the year is turning again.

Acceptance

Fragility and frailty are within all of us. Fragile can be beautiful: think of the thin, patterned ice crust on a winter puddle. A snowdrop may be delicate, but she withstands the snow and ice and opens the door to spring. Remembering this, accept your own fragility, and accept the hidden strength within it.

Dreaming

Spring is the season of possibility, the home of “what if?”. What if anything were possible? What if you knew that dreams come true? What would you dare to imagine then? Will you allow yourself to believe that what you imagine might be possible – even if you can’t see how? Give your dream a chance to grow a new, green shoot.

Imbolc © Liz Proctor 2019

Spring Equinox/Oestre

The Wisdom of the Season

The gleam of the moon, the gentle morning light, the start of spring. All these speak of promises kept, (winter is ending, dawn is breaking) and promises for the future: good things will grow. As winter ends and spring begins, there is always, always room for hope.

Everyday ritual

Now is the time to begin. Without thinking too hard about it, make a start on something. Large or small, it doesn’t matter; the magic is in taking the first step. Begin the thing you’ve been putting off, the thing that scares you, the thing that you desperately want to do but don’t know how to complete. Don’t think, don’t plan, don’t worry about the next step – just start. There will be magic and momentum and the next steps will become clearer.

Acceptance

Spring is Nature’s busy time. It seems she never stops growing, changing, reproducing. She knows her time of rest will come. It will be easier to accept your own busyness if you know that rest will follow. Accept today’s reality, and accept your responsibility to ensure that you can rest and be renewed tomorrow.

Dreaming

Light and dark are in balance at the Equinox: day and night are equal length. What would balance look and feel like to you? What might need to change to take you there? Dare to dream – and take – a tiny step 34 towards feeling balanced in your own life.

Spring Equinox/Oestre © Liz Proctor 2019

Beltane

The Wisdom of the Season

Beltane is raw physical power, rising in sap and root and shoot. At Beltane, go deep into your body, for there lies truth and wisdom. Feel.

Everyday ritual

Seek out the delight of physical tiredness. Walk, work in the garden, dance, run – whatever makes you feel your body working. Whatever your physical limits – even if standing or raising your hands is as much as you can do – move your body. Feel it stretch and sweat. Feel how amazing it is.

Acceptance

Change is everywhere. All is growing, moving, becoming. Leaves unfurl, flowers open, bare soil is covered with green. Change is constant throughout the seasons and never more so than at the fertile festival of Beltane. Accept that change can be beautiful, embrace the possibilities it brings.

Dreaming

If you could harness the glowing power of the Beltane fire, what would you do with that limitless energy? What might burst forth? How will you find and make positive use of this season’s strength and warmth?

Beltane © Liz Proctor 2019

Summer Solstice

The Wisdom of the Season

Solstice is pause. Solstice is breathing. Solstice is the sun standing still. As the sun stops, so can we.

Everyday ritual

Today, step outside and stand barefoot in the grass. Breathe. Feel your feet, your connection to Earth. Barefoot in the grass, we pause and breathe. Barefoot in the grass, soaking in warmth, rooting in Earth. Barefoot on the grass, we are a bridge between Earth and Sky.

Acceptance

If you find – as surely you must in this season – that the Outside finds its way inside in the form of soil, grass clippings, sand, insects and the sound of a lawnmower, welcome it as you welcome the blue sky and sunshine. Let the Outside in and take yourself outside.

Dreaming

Turn inward. Remember, the sun stops. We can stop. The sun shines, and so can we. What, in this season of the sun, is shining in the silence of your heart? Allow yourself to wonder: what does your heart need? How might you find it in this pause?

Summer Solstice © Liz Proctor 2019

Lammas (Lughnasadh)

The Wisdom of the Season

Every ending is also a beginning. This is traditionally the start of the harvest season: grains are ripening, fruits are forming. This harvest is the culmination – the end – that nature has been working towards, and yet every fruit and every grain contains the potential for new life and new beginnings.

Everyday ritual

The Celtic god Lugh, who gives his name to this festival, is a sun god. His day is a time of feasting and celebration. In our time, it’s also holiday season for many. Whether you’re on home soil or in foreign lands, take a few minutes to stand and absorb the sun’s rays on your skin. (Morning and evening are safest, and a few minutes is plenty.) Feel its warmth and strength. Recognise that all life – including yours – depends on its heat and light, all year round.

Acceptance

Today contains the fruits of your yesterdays and the seeds of your tomorrows. Accepting that, what harvest might you begin to work towards?

Dreaming

What if there were no plans to be made, no list of jobs to complete? What if, like the birds, your busy time was over and your responsibilities had fledged and flown? Even if just for a moment, can you step into the slow, sleepy sunshine and sink into this moment? Can you carry that feeling through your day? Can you imagine doing the same tomorrow?

Lammas (Lughnasadh) © Liz Proctor 2019

Autumn Equinox

The Wisdom of the Season

Poised and perfect. Ripe and ready. Balanced at the peak. The haze of golden, slanted light says it all: take what is readily and freely given. Enjoy the fruits of the year so far. Celebrate! Make the most of every drop of sunlight and every juicy morsel. Earth is generous.

Everyday ritual

Your hands were made to gather. So gather something. An edible harvest if you can: rosehips or the last of the blackberries; apples from an orchard or crab apples from the hedgerow; pull a carrot from a garden if you’re lucky. Savour the embodied sunshine as you eat. And if you live far from an edible harvest, gather pebbles to paint, twigs to use as decoration, or better yet – harvest litter and recycle or bin it. Your landscape will thank you and your hands will remember their purpose: gathering and generous giving.

Acceptance

You are worthy of life’s gifts. Accept goodness, sweetness and possibility with gratitude for what is freely given. Don’t reject positivity because you feel you don’t deserve it. Accept your own worth, accept your gifts. (And if you still doubt your own worth, pretend you don’t. Act as if you’re worthy. You may just start to believe it.)

Dreaming

Autumn is magical, wild and alive with glowing light and roaring energy. What if you, too, are magical, wild and alive? What spells will you cast, what magic will you weave? What power will you unleash? Dare to dream your own magic.

Autumn Equinox © Liz Proctor 2019

Samhain

The Wisdom of the Season

Less, stripping away, laying bare. Less, less, always less, so we see the clear reality beneath. Not always comfortable, but always necessary and freeing. Leaves fall, but branches stay strong and clear.

Everyday ritual

Tidy, sort, give away. Strip out the broken, the “might need it someday”, the “don’t know why I still have this”, the “never liked it anyway”. Purge, lighten the load. Pare back and you may catch a glimpse of those few things that really are essential.

Acceptance

Emptiness. How unnerving emptiness can be when we see it as a lack. Empty time, empty space: our instinct is to fill them. Accepting emptiness, resting in it, we can see that emptiness is just another word for potential. In an empty place, there is room for growth. The first step is to accept the emptiness, just as it is.

Dreaming

As leaves fall and flowers finally fade, trunks and branches stay firm and strong, and roots hold fast. What keeps you strong and true? What will you hold on to even as you let go of what’s no longer needed?

Samhain © Liz Proctor 2019

Winter Solstice

The Wisdom of the Season

Drawing in. Drawing to a close. Resting and retreating. Slumber. All these things are as necessary as breathing. As the Earth sleeps, she dreams. As you rest, dreams may find you too.

Everyday ritual

Go to the window. As you open the curtains in the morning, welcome the daylight, however faint and grey. In the evening, as the light outside fades, draw the curtains closed and honour the nurturing darkness, for darkness brings rest and renewal. Live with the rhythm of the season.

Acceptance

Darkness. Fallow times. Even sadness. We cannot live always in the glare of the sun. Accept even the dark, and you will find its beauty and magic.

Dreaming

Even now, deep in the soil and within seemingly dead twigs, life pulses. What secrets pulse within you? Do you need to let them go, decompose to fertilise new dreams, or is there a spark of life in your buried secret that’s gathering its energy, preparing for its time to come?

Winter Solstice © Liz Proctor 2019

Diary 2020 Festival Writing - Rachel Corby

Imbolc

The days are still short, nights long and dark, and yet Earth is awakening after its winter slumber; the first signs of life are apparent. The land stirs with its promise of renewal, with potential. It is time to let go of the past and look to the future. Make plans so that you too can blossom this spring.

Wild Medicine: As the first wild edibles (such as chickweed) appear, sprinkle the fresh leaves over your food and they will act as a mild detox, giving your body a gentle spring clean, letting go of that which no longer serves you, making way for the new. Get outside and walk; notice everything that is returning, thank it for showing up again this year, express your love.

Celebrate: Spring clean your home to complement your personal cleansing. Light a candle and say prayers. Set your intentions for that which you wish to birth this year and the changes you wish to see in the wider world. Setting intentions is weaving magic. Weave well, as intentions well set are the first steps on the path to actualising them. Work towards your dreams, make small changes every day to draw them into reality. This is shape shifting, changing from one thing into another; bring your dreams alive.

Imbolc/Candlemass © Rachel Corby 2018

Spring Equinox

At this time of year, light and dark are in perfect balance. From this brief moment of balance comes growth, expansion and inspiration. The future is fresh, clear and bright. Days begin to out-lengthen nights; the sun is truly returning. Fresh green shoots are poking up all around. As sap is rising, so are energy levels.

Wild Medicine: Create balance internally with wild food. Take a handful of cleavers each evening and infuse overnight in cold water, drink on waking to cleanse and refresh your lymphatic system. Feel their energy work through you as your commitment to making your dreams reality builds and your tenacity grows. Eat primrose flowers, scatter them over every meal, invite in the joy and excitement of this time of year.

Celebrate: Nurture and encourage new growth around you in your garden, allotment or lo cal park by planting seed. Water and feed those seeds so that they grow strong and true. Remember to do the same internally; nurture and feed the seed you planted internally at Imbolc. Take time to think about what you are seeding into the wilder world. If you are not sure, go and ask. Wait for a sunny day and sit outside, face raised to the sun’s warming rays and ask for help to direct you in what you can do to help our Earth.

Spring Equinox © Rachel Corby 2018

Beltane

Finally we have arrived at the beginning of summer. This is a time to celebrate sensuality, passion, joy, vitality and fertility. It is the time to bring the ideas, hopes and dreams seeded earlier in the year into reality.

Wild Medicine: Stand outside barefoot at dawn, close your eyes and listen to the dawn chorus. Then proceed, walking barefoot, as you gather the abundant wild foods of this season: wild garlic, dandelion, hedge garlic, tricorn leek, beech leaves, hawthorn leaves; the list is almost endless. Communicate as you gather, ask before picking and take only the amount you need. Plants are your relatives; never forget to tell them how much you love them and to thank them for sacrificing their bodies that you may eat. Collect spring water. Talk directly to the water as you imagine the thousands of shape-shifts it has made to reach you – through cloud and snow, rain and river, sea and glacier, tears and dew. Submerge fresh nettle tops in cold water overnight and drink first thing, to give you energy and strength, to feed your wood element which allows for clear vision and growth.

Celebrate: Renew promises made to self, friends, your partner and Earth that you will be faithful and passionate. Leap a blazing bonfire, naked if you dare, for fertility in all things and to purify and cleanse yourself.

Beltane © Rachel Corby 2018

Summer Solstice

The longest day, the shortest night. A time for manifestation, for flowering. A time characterised by strength and empowerment. A time to express gratitude. This is such a positive and abundant time of year, with so many daylight hours in which to achieve your potential.

Wild Medicine: Add a sprig of elderflower to a glass or bottle of water and drink throughout the day. The delicate flowery flavour will rapidly infuse into your drink, while the medicine of elder will aid transformation, change and renewal: perfect at this time, as the long days will soon start to shorten once more. Let your naked flesh be fed by the warmth of the sun and the cool waters of sea and river. Find a spot for a night of tent-free wild camping and immerse yourself in the richness of summer. This is a true celebration of life.

Celebrate: Wear flower garlands in your hair, a simple daisy chain is perfect, not forgetting to ask the flowers before you gather them. Stay up all night watching the sky. As you do so, sit by a fire with friends, laugh and joke, tell stories, make music. Greet the dawn by facing the sun while standing barefoot. As the sun appears over the horizon offer your gratitude for the sun and everything that it brings.

Summer Solstice © Rachel Corby 2018

Lammas / Lughnasagh

The days are noticeably shortening and the nights are responding by stretching out to take their place. Harvest season is beginning; this is a time of true abundance. Fruits in the hedgerows, vegetables in your garden, and your own personal projects are ripening. Results are beginning to be seen and felt as you begin to reap the rewards of all the hard work you have put in so far this year.

Wild Medicine: Go for a wild walk and find some blackberries; introduce yourself and ask if you may gather a few. Nibble as you go. Eating wild foods is eating the land you are standing on – the soil and all its minerals, the rain and the sun; it is eating in the world around you, helping you become more part of the landscape and less separate from it.

Celebrate: Take some time alone to find a flower meadow, lie in the long grass and drink in the late summer sunshine. Take a moment to reflect on all that is good in the world and send love and gratitude. Review the intentions you planted earlier in the year: notice how they are coming along, how they are ripening. Gather with friends for a bring-and- share meal to celebrate the seasonal harvest and abundance. Watch the sunset together and warm yourself with stories of summer.

Lammas / Lughnasagh © Rachel Corby 2018

Autumm Equinox

Another fleeting moment of perfect balance, before we shift once more into a time of greater darkness than light, longer night than day. Harvest begins to slow. Fruits ripen and fall, their sweetness exploding while they are pecked, plucked and nibbled. The fruits let go of their flesh to release the secret they hold inside, the seeds of the next generation, all the potential and possibilities that lie therein.

Wild Medicine: Gather hawthorn berries (haws) and make a tea by simmering them gently for 20 minutes. Drink to nurture your heart and keep the circulation going as you slow down into autumn.

Celebrate: Take a walk and gather the hedgerow harvest of berries and nuts as you go. Notice the changing colours of the leaves and enjoy them; see how easily the trees release them. Take stock of your personal harvest, the garden harvest and the planetary harvest. Consider what worked and bore fruit, what seeds you will take forth ready to sow next year, what lessons you learned, and what perhaps will require a different approach. If you are having trouble letting go, ask a tree to share its wisdom; sit under it and ask how you can let go more easily. Feast once more with friends in gratitude for the abundance that this life brings, and warm yourself at the fireside as you celebrate through the evening.

Autumn Equinox © Rachel Corby 2018

Samhain

Dark cold days are closing in. Breath becomes visible. Frost and mist decorate our landscapes and highlight the presence and beauty of intricately woven spider webs. This is a time to rest, to reflect, to remember. As darkness descends and expands, the veil between worlds thins. This is a traditional time to honour our ancestors.

Wild Medicine: Gather fallen leaves from paths, leaving those that lie beneath trees as they become food for those trees as they mulch down. Store the leaves you have gathered in big black bags for two years, while the leaves decay. When two years are up, your bag will be full of rich dark composted leaf mould, heavily populated with worms; scatter it well around the roots of hungry plants.

Celebrate: Go for a walk by the light of the full moon. Don’t use a torch: instead give your eyes time to adjust and bathe in the moon light, enjoying the rich darkness and the moon shadows. Go alone or with friends, but ensure that you take time to be quiet, to feel the night-time stillness, feel it flowing through you, settling you, calming you. Assemble a collection of photos of your ancestors and those you have lost: light a candle for them. Honour those that have gone before by speaking their name out loud and saying something that you loved about them; remember your love for them.

Samhain © Rachel Corby 2018

Winter Solstice

The shortest day, the longest night, the darkest point of the year. Within this moment of stillness, of time between time, is embedded the promise that the sun will return. This is a time for renewal. Time to dream a new dream. Time to breathe deep and trust as the days begin to lengthen once more.

Wild Medicine: Eat any nuts left over from your autumn foraging walks. The healthy fats will give you energy at this time of near hibernation, while giving your brain food with which to dream up what comes next.

Celebrate: Find a spot to watch sunset on the shortest day and take some quiet time for final deep reflections on the year that was, so that you can start to birth new ideas, new dreams, new seeds to love, feed and nurture in the year to come. And not just for yourself, for your garden and for the Earth too, remembering that all the change you wish to see in the world must begin with you. You are your own medicine, you are Earth medicine, you are sacred, you are nature. Watch sunrise with friends as the light returns, then take a walk and gather greenery; holly, ivy, mistletoe and yew, as the hedgerows provide. Decorate your home with it: bring the outside and its winter magic into your home as well as into your heart.

Winter Solstice © Rachel Corby 2018

Diary 2019 Festival Writing - Rosemary Blenkinsop

Imbolc

The lengthening days are obvious now, and hazel catkins shake their golden pollen in the wind, while snowdrops peep through the chilly soil. Traditionally, Imbolc was celebrated when the first sheep and cows gave birth and milk could be drawn off to supplement meagre winter rations. Yet spring is still very precarious, and winter can quickly sweep back again. Imbolc is a good time to plan, to sketch out those changes we want to make, to allow stirrings of excitement as we create new possibilities in our lives. It’s a good time to plant bushes and trees.

Personally: What seeds do you want to sow this year? What projects do you want to breathe life into as the sun warms and strengthens?

Spiritually: This time is associated with Bridget, the ancient goddess of springs and wells, poetry, healing and craft. Is there a well or bubbling spring nearby you might visit to honour the source, giving thanks to Mother Earth for her endless generosity? Might you also seek from Bridget guidance and blessing on your own new projects and seeds?

Community Celebration: You could bring along some plant pots, compost and grit, packets of sweet pea seeds, and share them out. As people mix compost, hold the seeds, sow and water, they can speak out their plans for the coming year, then take their pots home to grow on as a reminder of the commitments they made.

Imbolc: Light Returning © Rosemary Blenkinsop 2018

Spring Equinox

The hours of daylight are much longer now ~ as long as the hours of night. Early flowers cover the woodland floor, seizing their chance to flower before the leafy canopy closes over them. Our ancestors would have scoured the hedgerows for welcome nutrients in the form of herbs and young fresh leaves at this time. It’s a good time to forage for tasty green leaves like wild garlic, and to plant seeds and perennials.

Personally: Take time to go for a walk in the woods and celebrate the beauties of early spring. Make a conscious effort to listen to the birds singing, whether in the city or the countryside.

Spiritually: Eostre was the Saxon goddess of fertility, associated with hares, rabbits and birds’ eggs. What ideas or projects do you want to fertilise with the power of your life force?

Community Celebration: Make a cake and decorate it with little chocolate or marzipan eggs. You could put more chocolate eggs in a nest woven from the supple twigs of willow. Share the cake with your community and speak out your thanks for the renewal of life, or your hopes for the summer ahead.

Spring Equinox: Time of Balance © Rosemary Blenkinsop

Beltane

Hawthorn is beginning to blossom along the roadsides and in the hedgerows. Birdsong can be heard throughout the day. Most wild creatures are busy reproducing, and you are likely to see the first ducklings paddling fast in ponds or rivers, following their parents. The summer visiting birds will be arriving or have arrived, so swallows will be making their nests of mud and darting after the insects. Almost all the trees are now leafing up. Our ancestors would have been very busy at this time, up early to drive their cattle up to the high summer pastures, making cheese with the plentiful spring milk, and weeding the fast-growing crops.

Personally: Will you let yourself connect with the power of Nature at this time? Do you dare to go out into the woods, to rattle, drum or sing under the unfurling leaves? Sit by a stream and let the sound of the water wash through you.

Spiritually: This is the time of the Green Man, of Pan, the god of raw nature. However you express your own sexual desires, honour the gifts of the body. Dance to some wild music.

Community Celebration: Each take three pieces of ribbon, or make some garlands out of twigs and string, and hang them on a special tree. As you tie them on speak out your blessings and hopes for yourself, your community and the world.

Beltane: Time of May Blossom © Rosemary Blenkinsop 2018

Summer Solstice

The trees are at their most green and leafy, the roadsides and hedgerows bursting with wildflowers ~ a wonderful time for walking. The long hours of daylight gave our ancestors more time to get on with their tasks, so that they also had more time for play and travel further afield. For us too it can be a time to soak up the sun, to visit friends and to attend festivals.

Personally: We feel the sun, our nearest star, to be at the very height of its power. How comfortable do you feel with your own power? Try standing strong under the Midsummer sun and embracing the notion of your personal power. Do you need to retrieve your power?

Spiritually: This can be a good time to visit stone circles or long barrows, those marvelously enduring creations of our ancient ancestors, so carefully aligned to the sun’s rising and setting at particular times of the year.

Community Celebration: Pick scented roses from the garden, and strawberries, and put them in the nicest glass jug you can find. Cover them with fizzy water, lemonade or elderflower champagne. Pour each person a glass and as you each enjoy the bubbles, and the fruit, speak out your gratitude for Earth’s abundance.

Midsummer Solstice: The Longest Day and Shortest Night © Rosemary Blenkinsop

Lammas

Many flowers have now set seed or fruit. Young animals or birds born or hatched in spring are now nearly adult. The arable fields will be golden and farmers will be gathering in the grain. Our ancestors would also have started to gather in the harvest. Without fossil fuel it would have been a gigantic labour, which needed to be done as speedily as possible so everyone had to take part. It would have been a time when family members, old friends and neighbours met up to work, drink and socialise. It can be a good time for us to go and meet friends old and new.

Personally: Gather some golden grasses from the fields and put them in a vase, or weave a plait with three strands of them. What are you harvesting in your life at this time? What are you leaving behind as chaff?

Spiritually: This is a time associated with the ancient grain goddess, Ceres, Demeter, Ker or Kernel. It is a time to celebrate the great generosity of Mother Earth, who year after year produces such abundance in this great alchemy of sun, rain and soil, and to remember we are her children.

Community Celebration: Make some bread and craft a pattern on the top of the loaf before baking. Once cooked, pass around the loaf in your group; each person tears off a piece to eat, then as they pass it on, says to the next person, “May you never hunger.”

Lammas/ Lughnasagh: First Harvest © Rosemary Blenkinsop

Autumn Equinox

This is a time when bright berries shine in the hedgerows; crab apples, conkers and hazelnuts start to fall from the trees, and apples ripen in the gardens and orchards. Our ancestors would have been busy working to get in the rest of the harvest such as root crops, drying herbs, making cider, and preserving seeds for next year.

Personally: A good time to take stock in order to prepare for winter and bring your life back into balance. What do you need to do more of, and what do you need to do less of?

Spiritually: This is a time associated with Pomona, goddess of apples and of plenty. Pick a delicious ripe apple from the tree and cut it in half crossways. You will see the pips inside as a five pointed star. As you eat the apple cherish your summer harvest ~ then extract the pips from the core and plant them in a pot or in your garden; they could represent your hopes and intentions for the winter months.

Community Celebration: Visit or organise an Apple Day, discover and taste many different varieties of apples and pears. Make a big apple pie, or crush some apples for juice, and share it. Honour the Apple, the Pear and the Blackberry; they are all the fruits of both the Earth and countless fruit breeders carefully working over many years to select the best qualities.

Autumn Equinox: Time of Balance © Rosemary Blenkinsop

Samhain

This is a time when the trees are losing or have lost their leaves: there is still much bright autumn colour in the woodlands, but most grasses and flowers have ‘gone over’ and look dead. Our ancestors would have stored away the harvest and would be slaughtering excess livestock that they could not keep over winter, salting and smoking the meat, boiling hams in the cauldron. This is a time to remember our dead.

Personally: Get out a picture or photo of one of your ancestors, or make a shrine to your ancestors, with mementos. Light a candle by it. What would those ancestors that love you be saying to you?

Spiritually: This is a time associated with Hecate, the ancient Crone who lives in the dark Cave, and can give advice and guidance. What deep inner wisdom do you need to seek?

Community Celebration: This is a great time to plant bulbs. Bring along a large pack of bulbs and a bag of compost and find some containers. The act of planting bulbs is a great act of faith. The green shoots of spring will emerge but they need a time of darkness first.

Samhain: Endings and Beginnings © Rosemary Blenkinsop

Winter Solstice

This dark time is when the evergreens come into their own; see how the holly shines in the pale winter sun. Our ancestors celebrated this time of the shortest days with feasts and gatherings by the hearth fire. The lengthening of the days first visible after December the twenty fifth, which meant new life would return, musthave seemed so infinitely precious in a world without electric lights. Despite the rush, glitz and stress that often accompanies the modern commercially-driven versions of Yule, we can also benefit by resting by the hearth fire, slowing down, taking more rest and having simple gatherings with friends and family where we share food together.

Personally: This is a time of year that can be very hard for many people, so it can be good to donate any spare money or time to charities of your choice. It is a good time to pay attention to our own self-care. Am I having enough quiet space? Enough nourishment and exercise? Have I enough true friends?

Spiritually: This can be a time to go within, by meditating, doing craftwork or spending quiet time alone, yet also to make space for those supportive relationships that help get us through the hard times of winter.

Community Celebration: Making winter garlands together can be enjoyable. Bind hay or straw into circles with thin wire, then insert stems of holly, pine, ivy, pine cones, and bundles of cinnamon sticks, and decorate them with coloured ribbon.

Midwinter Solstice: The Sun is Reborn © Rosemary Blenkinsop

Diary 2018 Festival Writing - Glennie Kindred

Imbolc

Imbolc is a celebration of the awakening Earth, of the light returning and new life stirring. At this time, nurture a gentle pace that keeps you connected to the deep roots of your inner power and all the possibilities that are rising within you. Make space to listen to your intuition and your heart by walking in nature whatever the weather. It will help keep you connected to the Earth and lift your spirits. Breathe deeply whenever you remember. What do you hold dear as you emerge back into the world? Strengthen your intentions with positive acts of clarity and Love. This will create the seeds of what will happen next. Your creative juices are rising... Make good use of them! Plant seeds of Love.

It is time to cleanse, clear out the old and revitalise your sense of direction. Choose to act with Love, integrity, beauty, co-operation, right relationship and all things that bring out the best in you and in others. At your Imbolc ceremony, make declarations and dedications for your way forward. Pledge your allegiance to the Earth. Her need is great and we are rising...

Wren calls you to be aware when it is best to keep silent and stay hidden, and when to speak out your message clearly and loudly so all can hear. Celebrate all that makes your heart sing! Defending the Earth can take many forms and can be achieved on many different levels, both inner and outer. Find your own strengths and ways to serve her. Great healing begins with positive affirmations and clear intentions.

Imbolc © Glennie Kindred 2017

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox is a celebration of the spring: of days lengthening, of unions, fertility, new life and new growth. It is time to gather a clear sense of direction for the year ahead. Whatever you give your energy to now will grow. Draw towards yourself all the threads of your Love for the Earth and celebrate her beauty and life force every day. Union is the goal this year, so look for positive partnerships, acts of co-creation and community.

Do not tolerate injustice to the Earth. Become a defender and protector of the land, the waters, the trees, the melting icecaps, the ozone layer and endangered species. Focus on the things that you CAN do in defence of the Earth. Share your thoughts with others. Build bridges not walls. Spread benevolence to increase benevolence. Support the efforts of others, and remember that you are part of a big and beautiful movement of Earth- Protectors, and never give up! For your Spring Equinox ceremony make a list of all the things that you bless and appreciate about yourself and read them out loud to each other in sacred space. Look at how you can use these gifts to help the Earth.

Hare calls you to know when to move swiftly and when to stay hidden and watch. Invoke Hare’s gifts of poise, balance and alertness and be ready to run with the potential genius of inspired solutions. Out and about at night, and at the edge times of dawn and dusk, Hare reminds us to step between the worlds and work with subliminal energy and intuition.

Spring Equinox © Glennie Kindred 2017

Beltane

Beltane celebrates the beginning of summer, nature’s rampant growth and the abundant fertility of the Earth. We too are part of this Earth energy, so at this fertile time dare to be your wildest and most expansive self, and manifest what you truly want to happen next. Live your life in a different way, one that respects and cares for the Earth and all her inhabitants. Be an inspiration to others. Everyone has their part to play. Each person makes a difference and adds to the whole, and from our collective actions an Earth- centred future will evolve.

Extend your Love to reach out and experience the expanding life force and the wild edges of infinite possibilities. All of life is in communication at this time. Learn to join in the dance! Love unites the worlds and transcends the boundaries of separation. Fear and doubt block the flow of the life force. Keep connected and earthed by putting your bare feet on the ground often. This time of high energy can make us feel unstable and scattered, so at your Beltane celebration seek clarity of direction, remembering the power of simplicity, and the necessity of protecting yourself. Hold in your heart your sense of our co-existence with all life and your fierce Love for the Earth. Your positive thoughts will bear good fruit.

Adder calls you to shed your old skin and begin something new: heal old separations; take up a new direction; change your lifestyle to consciously minimise the harm you do to the Earth.

Beltane © Glennie Kindred 2017

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice celebrates the high point of summer and the height of nature’s active power. Everything is happening fast now, so make your every thought, word, emotional response and choice make a difference. Be guided in all things by your desire to live in right relationship with the Earth. Change begins with you and me. Share positive solutions for change with others. Seek friendships and like-hearted community, for they will sustain you, and creative partnerships will grow from here. Live outdoors as much as you can, walk the land, and explore your authentic connection to each of the Elements of life, experiencing them as part of yourself.

Solstice is a moment of pause, a still point of reflection in the midst of great movement. Gather your power and strengths, both outer and inner and celebrate all that you have achieved this year, especially in your quest to be of service to the Earth. Use this moment to affirm new directions, new thinking patterns and new strategies for change. Stand at the threshold, between the worlds, and celebrate your inner path, the power of Love, generosity and kindness.

Fox calls you to hone your survival skills and to learn when to come out into the open and when to stay in the shadows and be watchful. Being cunning is being astute, as long as you hold your integrity and honesty close. Find ways to connect to the wild edges of yourself and the land; learn how to adapt quickly to new situations with diplomacy, clear vision, wisdom and a deep inner knowing.

Summer Solstice © Glennie Kindred 2017

Lammas

Lammas is a celebration of the first seeds forming, especially the grasses and grains that sustain life and feed the world. Through listening to our feelings and inner wisdom, our own new seeds of awareness begin to form. This is holiday time, a time of fairs, festivals and community gatherings. Strengthen your friendships and alliances, and never miss an opportunity to speak about your fierce Love for the Earth. Let go of old beliefs and separatist thinking. Transform the ‘us and them’ mentality into ‘unite and heal’. Be receptive to other people’s ideas and practise reconciliation, but not at the expense of your integrity. Take time out to be alone. Traditionally this is the time for a vision quest to seek your own deep wisdom. Reach out to connect to the spirits of the land, the trees and the native plants, and pledge them your help and allegiance.

At Lammas time, celebrate and give thanks for the abundance of the land. Celebrate your generosity of spirit and deep joys, the things that make your heart sing and spirit fly. These are the seeds of your future, to use in defence of the Earth. The more we give from our hearts, the more returns to us and the more we experience ourselves as intrinsically part of the power and flow of the life force.

Heron calls you to embrace your inner wisdom and medicine song. Learn to watch silently, with patience and perseverance, but know when to act swiftly to achieve your goals. Set your intentions to transform through Love.

Lammas © Glennie Kindred 2017

Autumn Equinox

At Autumn Equinox day and night are equal again, reminding us to maintain balance and equilibrium, to listen to our intuition, our heart’s response and our inner wisdom. The time for outer action is shifting: it is time now to remember the power of inner work, the deep magic of intention and protection, and the power of Love to transform and heal. Integration, and seeing ourselves as part of the interconnected web of life, anchors us firmly in the knowledge that everything we do, think and say adds to the whole. So make it all count.

At your Equinox celebration affirm your allegiance to the Earth. Give thanks for all the food the Earth gives us and for all the Earth’s resources we use. Count your blessings, and through your appreciation and gratitude, your relationship with the Earth is transformed. Our tribal ancestors did not take from the Earth without offering something of themselves back... What do you give back? Celebrate your personal harvest and intuit the seeds within your harvest. What will you take with you into the dark of the year? What do you leave behind? Make positive changes that affirm your chosen direction. Your calm insights will be an anchor for your own life and your steady actions will help others who need trailblazers to show the way.

Mare calls us to look for solutions and directions within ourselves and the inner realms. She brings us deep connection to the land and reminds us to keep moving forwards and never give up.

Autumn Equinox © Glennie Kindred 2017

Samhain

Samhain is a celebration of the ending of the Earth’s year, and marks the beginning of shorter, darker days. The Earth teaches us that everything in nature is cyclic, and death will inevitably lead to rebirth. Welcome these dark days as an opportunity to shift your focus from achieving and doing, into reflecting and assimilating all that comes to rest in you now. A daily walk, whatever the weather, keeps you healthy and connected to the Earth.

At your Samhain celebration, let go of the old year, old beliefs and old attitudes that dampen your life force and the life force of the Earth. Honour what has finished and the lessons you have learnt. Seek the blessings hidden within them and plant the seeds of your future in your heart. Where we put our energy influences what happens next. Light candles for the Earth and pledge to give something back by being part of her human support system. Pledge to stop doing the things that are not helping her eco systems to repair. Name these in sacred space. All your actions, whether outer or inner, make a difference. Acknowledge the ancestors, those who have walked before you and ask them for help and guidance.

Crow calls you to take time out to gain perspective and insight, to keep alert and watchful and to push beyond the boundaries of what you think you know. As a spirit guide, Crow is connected to the deep mysteries. Metaphysics, guided by Love, aids our shift into a holistic interconnectedness and deep unity with all of life.

Samhain © Glennie Kindred 2017

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night. It is a celebration of the beginning of a new outer growth cycle and the light that will return. The time for dreaming is not yet done. Strengthen your deepening awareness that all life on Earth is interconnected and follow where this leads you. Use your power as an ethical consumer to only buy products that support fair trade and responsible agriculture. Spend your money wisely, and only support good people who are producing good products. Give thanks for the Earth’s resources that make our present lives possible. Count your blessings. Aim to plant some trees this winter.

At your Solstice celebration take a moment to stand in stillness and ask what you want to grow in this new cycle. What do you take forward? What seeds of new beginnings are you nurturing in the dark? Look for the changes you can make in your life that will help the Earth to regenerate. Embrace the certainty that all your positive loving actions are helping to change your life and the world. Envision the changes already in motion. Let parts of your old self die and draw the new towards yourself. Dream a new dream and walk towards it. The future begins now.

Owl calls us to be patient and to temper impulsive actions at this time. Tap into your inner wisdom. Be clear what you choose and where your choices lead you. Select the attributes you want to live by, and live by them. Embrace simplicity

Winter Solstice © Glennie Kindred 2017

Diary 2017 Festival Writing - Lynn Shore

Imbolc – Rising Sap

Sunlight grows stronger. Spring’s first stirrings can be felt as rising sap, throbbing through the land. Blackthorn blooms, ramsons emerge, lambing season begins, trees bud and birch blood begins to flow. Life quietly builds in the cold fresh light. Now is the perfect time to refresh our internal and external environments. Dust off the cobwebs, take stock of your chattels, diet and health. Gracefully shed what no longer serves and clear space for nourishing growth. The steady, building energy of Imbolc helps new projects and good intentions to manifest. Tidy up potted herbs. Dead leaves and seed heads are valued by birds and bugs, but make some space for fresh green foliage to emerge. Welcome green life back to your world.

At Imbolc, try to walk barefoot in nature. Visit local water sources: babbling brooks, wells, springs, ponds. Light fires and welcome the return of heat.

Spring greens – Aim to eat nourishing local greens daily. Cook them or enjoy raw in smoothies, juices and salads. Nettles, cleavers, chickweed, bramble leaf, birch, hairy bittercress and ramsons are wonderful spring tonics. Enrich your soups with bittercress and chickweed leaves. Float fresh, organic pansies or violets atop. Bathe your cells in spring green nourishment. Taste your land!

Imbolc – Rising Sap © Lynn Shore 2016

Spring Equinox - Balance

Daylight balances darkness. Nature appears youthful, verdant, bright and light. Now is the time to quietly nurture growing life. Keep your energy in balance. Nourish yourself, enjoy bright spring days and prepare for the coming active months. This is a good time to crystalise personal goals and plant seeds of intention, in your soul and in the soil. Germinating seeds reflect our ambitions, emerging, rooting, growing, adapting. Start a necklace from found natural objects, threading intentions with each.

Foraging – As edible wild plants become more obvious, the urge to forage builds. Get acquainted with local regulations, rare and poisonous plants and the cleanest places to harvest. Hone your ID skills and start a map of your foraging finds. You may notice tasty treats such as lemonbalm, dandelion, garlic mustard, ramsons, winter purslane, deadnettles, ground elder, stinging nettle, and young leaves of hawthorn and lime trees.

Spring Herb Mojo – Try this runny, spicy Mojo dip and make foraged leaves last for several meals. Blend a small handful of fresh edible leaves with 250ml of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and the juice of half a lemon. Store in clean glassware and use to spice up grilled cheese, meat, tofu etc.

Spring Equinox - Balance © Lynn Shore 2016

Beltane – Green Abundance

Cold weather is past and summer scents tease the air. Walk barefoot at dawn to a hawthorn or oak tree. Give thanks for its beauty, strength and gifts whilst caressing your skin with its leaf dew. Beltane energy invigorates and empowers. Make merriment with friends. Weave willow garlands and then thread with edible flowers such as dandelion and daisy. Either toss them into flowing water with a wish, or dry the blooms and brew in teas. Adopt a tree as your Maypole. Braid paper ribbons around it whilst picturing dreams becoming reality.

Foraging – Enliven the tastes of salads and sandwiches with lime and hawthorn leaves. Many plants are in their prime, ready to pick and use, such as ground ivy, sage, chickweed, garlic mustard, dandelion, nettles, wild geraniums and cleavers.

A ‘May Bowl’ is the fragrant result of infusing sweet woodruff, lemon zest and white wine, overnight. It is perfect for Beltane gatherings, tasting of hay and summer flowers. Rumtopf, another gift from Germany, is made as berries progressively ripen. Toss leftover fruit, a splash of rum and honey into a clean jar or crock. Cap loosely and add extra berries when available. By Yule, a rich fruity ferment will result, delicious with winter desserts.

Beltane – Green Abundance © Lynn Shore 2016

Midsummer – The Pinnacle of the Year

Flowers are laden with nectar and bees buzz around town. Sup on fragrant air, bathe your skin in sunbeams, and infuse your cells with this heady Midsummer energy. Run your hands through tall herbs, laze in flower meadows and gaze up at the sky. Relax beside glistening streams. Drink teas of lime blossom and vervain. Let the sun warm your heart and the moon cool your mind. The year will now start to wane.

Honeydew Harvest – Many herbs reach their peak at Midsummer. Mugwort, motherwort, St John’s wort, vervain, horehound and yarrow can all be picked, before their energies spiral from leaf to seed and soil. Elderflower bursts into bloom, roses hang heavy and lime trees drip with honeydew. Spend a day harvesting, drying herbs on willow racks and making vinegars and tinctures. Start collecting early seed from garlic mustard and ramsons. Add some to your food and the rest to your seed tin.

Preserved Sunshine – Steep fresh elderflowers in honey to make an exquisitely fragrant syrup. Simply fill a jar with flower heads, fill again with runny honey and poke with a chopstick to release trapped air. Bitter-sweet Dandelion and Burdock can also be made in this way. Add honey to 20-30 clean dandelion heads and a small vibrant burdock leaf. Allow to mellow for at least two days before enjoying in drinks and on toast.

Midsummer – The Pinnacle of the Year © Lynn Shore 2016

Lughnasadh/Lammas – Green to Gold

This is a time of bounty and fading beauty, when plants grow heavy and gilded with fruit and seed. Take time to reflect on how your inner projects have developed since the spring as you weave dollies from tall herb stems. Fresh plantain spikes weave beautifully. Their nutty seeds can be added to porridge and rice during cooking or planted in sheltered spots. To help ensure new life next spring, save seed from favourite plants and store in labeled paper bags. Stock your herbal larder with necessities, ready for the quiet times ahead.

Bounty – Some herbs are over by this time but many are resplendent in the late summer sun. Selfheal, mint, nasturtium, wild geranium and deadnettle make wonderful Lughnasadh salads. Elderberries, blackberries, apples and rowanberries offer themselves up for syrups, Rumtopf, pies and jellies. Preserve your harvest well.

Acid extracts – Herb vinegars can be mixed with oils to make nourishing salad dressings. They can also be added whilst cooking, to help draw minerals from deep green vegetables. Make them by adding chopped fresh herbs to organic vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar. Leave for up to 6 weeks before straining. Mugwort, chickweed and nettle make delicious herb vinegars as do familiar aromatics such as rosemary, tarragon and lavender.

Lughnasadh/Lammas – Green to Gold © Lynne Shore 2016

Autumn Equinox – Harvest

Ripe fruit, flowers and leaves grow beside seed spikes and decaying plants. Day and night are equal. Bid summer farewell and welcome glorious autumn crispness and creeping darkness. Life looks in on itself, seeds bide their time and tap roots thicken. Notice how your plans are developing. Which ones need to brew until spring? Which have already fruited? Walk mindfully outdoors, allowing yourself to merge with nature and autumn to infuse within you. Grow new elder trees by taking forearm-length cuttings from established trees. Drive them half way into pots of earth or directly into hedgerow gaps. Come spring they should burst into leaf. Many wild seeds fall and germinate in autumn. Try sowing half your seed stocks now and plant the rest mid-spring.

Wild food – Brambles, hips, haws and nuts abound. Search for local edible street trees, such as Turkish hazel. Harvest only what you need and save some for the wildlife. There are plenty of wild greens to be gathered, such as chickweed, gallant soldiers, hops, fat hen, dandelion, mugwort, chives, calendula and rocket.

Sweet and Sour Balance – Oxymels are an interesting way to make bitter or pungent herbs more palatable. Simply mix the herbs with honey and apple cider vinegar, or mix honey with herb-infused vinegars. I prefer 5 parts honey to 1 part vinegar. Store in clean glass jars with non-metallic lids.

Autumn Equinox – Harvest © Lynn Shore 2016

Samhain – Death and Life

We stand at the twilight between summer and winter when the worlds of the living and the spirits easily intertwine. Storms often tear through city streets; majestic trees fall, buildings are damaged and change arrives. What may seem irreparable allows new beginnings to emerge. This is a good time to honour ancestors and seek their guidance. Planting spring flower bulbs whilst visiting graves helps us reflect on the good qualities of the dead and express thanks for their gifts. Increasing darkness seduces nature towards sleep. Our attention instinctively turns within. Many plants die back and many animals prepare to hibernate. Help wildlife to fatten up and build warm nests by offering refuges of sticks and leaves in quiet corners; allow access through garden fences and grow diverse winter nectar plants such as Ivy and Mahonia.

Forage Lightly – as wildlife depends on autumn’s gifts. Apples, rosehips and berries remain in hedgerows. Mushrooms abound. Nuts from hazel and gingko tumble from street trees. Haws are ready for the pot. Leaves of feverfew, chickweed, burdock, dandelion and ground ivy remain verdant in parks, gardens and containers. Dry plantain seed spikes in paper bags, ready to enrich winter soups and porridge.

Sweet Treats – Bread of the Dead provides food for thought. Enrich simple bread dough with a handful of grated apple, soaked raisins or chopped rosehip flesh. Shape, bake and share memories with family and friends.

Samhain – Death and Life © Lynn Shore 2016

Winter Solstice – Regeneration

Cold, brittle darkness envelops us. Trust in the regenerative powers of night. Invoke nature spirits and the returning sun by bedecking your home with evergreen boughs, candles and crystals. Nourish your soul with rest and make time for quiet reflection. Try to connect directly with the earth at midwinter. Stand with bare feet on the ground, your roots descending through the soil, intertwining with those of the trees. Can you feel transformation taking place? Leaves decay, worms digest, seeds stratify and ideas brighten within darkness. Wild birds may need extra food and water. Pinecones dipped in melted lard, seed and chickweed can be strung from trees and fences, serving as food and outdoor decoration. Offer shallow water bowls when natural sources freeze. Wildlife shelters, such as leaf piles and dense ivy-clad walls remain undisturbed.

Midwinter Foraging – Rest and regeneration is essential for many plants so tread softly through nature. Enjoy dried, pickled, tinctured and honeyed preserves. Ground ivy, chickweed, rocket, rosemary, parsley and bittercress are available to harvest, if you must. Trickle cider or wine around cherished fruit trees. Wassailing awakens their spirits and encourages rich harvests next year.

Wild Salads – Assemble small nourishing salads when you find herbs growing plentifully in clean locations. Chickweed and rocket are especially tasty, dressed with apple cider vinegar and olive oil. The Rumtopf has transformed foraged summer fruits. They are now fermented and deliciously boozy. Pour over festive desserts and add to sparkling wine to warm winter hearts.

Winter Solstice – Regeneration © Lynn Shore 2016