Whispers from the Willows
Our Winter 2014 edition
Welcome to our seasonal newsletter!
The northeast is again experiencing a rather snowy winter: we are digging out from winter storm Maximus and the next one, Nika, is expected to arrive within 24 hours potentially adding an additional 6-8" to the 8.5" that we received Monday. (I don't even want to mention the 24-30"+ that is forecast for this coming Sunday/Monday...) As I put the finishing touches on this issue, the gorgeous new crescent moon is hovering in the western sky after a truly beautiful snowy day!
Since October, we have been regularly visiting with our stone medicine wheel which is nestled at the entrance to one of the teaching gardens. Our winter goal is to build a stronger relationship with the elemental realms. At the end of October, it was the suggestion of Ilona Hress of Growing Consciousness that earth stewards created a stone medicine wheel outside in our yards to lend an air of calm since the last two October's each brought a severe, violent storm to the northeast. At the request of the crystal realm, we left it in place for the winter months and now understand the needed support having just come through two of the most bitter cold spells in recent memory. When we remember that we are all connected, and that what effects one aspect of nature impacts the whole fabric of our collective Oneness, we begin to see and understand our interrelatedness with new eyes.
In this issue, we re-introduce the earth holiday of Imbolc/Candlemas: (pronounced im-bolk) or Candlemas, Imbolg, Bride's day, Oimelc, and Brid's day is the second holiday on the wheel of the year occurring around February 1st or 2nd -- in the deepest, coldest heart of the winter. It is not a coincidence that Groundhog Day is placed over the top of this ancient Celtic feast, which is also known in the modern christian world at St. Brigid's Day.
The Feast of Brigid, a goddess associated with the fruit of the earth and the fire of the hearth. A shrine to her was located in Kildare, where a holy well and eternal healing fire was kept by priestesses of this goddess. Because country folk were slow to change their customs of worship, the Celtic Brigid was slowly subsumed into the church's canon of saints as Christianity spread throughout Europe. Additionally, the life of a human Bridget was entwined with the mythos of the mother goddess, Brigit. The mortal Bridget lived in the 5th century and consecrated her life to religion. Bridget's emphasis on education, teaching, charity, creativity, poetry, smithcraft and healing were also the hallmarks of the mother goddess worshipped by the earlier Celts, thereby making the local country peasants more receptive to Christianity.
However you choose to celebrate this holiday remember to be gentle with the earth and mindful of her limited resources.
Donna at Willow Moon Herbals
In this issue:
(Sources: "Candlemas" by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K; "Herbal Rituals" by Judith Berger)
Enjoy these oatcakes with a warming cup of cinnamon or ginger tea. Both are great for moving the blood and warming the extremities. A soothing cup of chamomile would be lovely as well!
"In a season of dark and cold, let the Imbolg candles glow
Spark our hopes and warm the hearth,
and welcome light's return to Earth.
Beyond the darkness of winter, there is an oasis of light and warmth on the journey from solstice to spring. Known as Candlemas, Imbolg, Brigantia, or Lupercalia, it is a hope-filled celebration held in early February to welcome the returning light and the promise of spring. Candlemas sheds light on the origins, lore, and customs of this ancient holy day." (from the back cover)
This is a wonderful book that can introduce you to the Feast of Flames. By February 1st, the daylight has increased noticeably from the Winter Solstice which was only six weeks prior. No matter what the groundhog says, Spring is only a mere six weeks from now. Even though the festivities, lights and pagentry of the Yule Holidays is past, the winter doesn't have to look so bleak because the sun is strengthening, the days are lengthening and it is even a little easier to withstand the snowy-ness of February knowing that fairer weather IS only six weeks away.
For these cold snowy days, try one of the recipes from this book. The history of this recipe is post-Columbus' visit to the Americas, so while it is not necessarily an ancient recipe that Brigit might have enjoyed, it certainly is warming and will fill one's belly on a cold winter morning:
Oatcakes (from Candlemas, above)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a blender, pulverize 1 cup regular oatmeal and place it in a bowl.
Add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon melted butter.
Stir and add 2-3 tablespoons hot water slowly to make a smooth, firm paste.
On a board, sprinkle 1/4 cup of oatmeal flakes.
Roll the paste ball on the oatmeal flakes until it is a circle about 8 " wide and 1/8" thick. Cut it into 8 wedges.
On a baking sheet, sprinkle 1/4 cup of oatmeal flakes.
Place the wedges on the oatmeal flakes and bake for about 15 minutes, until light brown. Open the oven door, but leave the wedges in the oven until firm and crisp.
Serve with cheese, honey or jam.
Caution: Avoid both the cinnamon and ginger, if pregnant.
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Note: Any remedies or information listed on this newsletter are from historical references and used for teaching/educational purposes only. The contents are not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe, cure or substitute consultation with a licensed health-care professional. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
"The Red Tent Movie: Things We Don't Talk About" There's a deep recognition among us as women about how the Red Tent Movement can meet a hunger we have to connect with our sisters in sacred space. The Red Tent Movie DVD's are now available and can be ordered online, so you can curl up at home and learn all about the Red Tent Movement~ Click here to use our referral link and order yours!
"Numen: The Healing Power of Plants" An updated documentary by Terrence Youk and Ann Armbrecht. Here is what esteemed herbalist Rosemary Gladstar has to say about the film regarding Spirit, Nature & Healing: "I think one of the most unique places about herbalism and modern herbal healers is that we still maintain that deep connection with the plants. ... There's still a deep prayerful relationship, whether you go to the plants and consciously pray or you have awareness with them, or just the way you are with them when you're harvesting them or making your medicine or even giving the medicine. There's a deep connection with the spirit of the plants. ... it is the relationship that the plant has to us and how those plants have served as our healers for literally thousands of years." Visit their website for more information: www.numenfilm.com
(Note: We are coordinating with two local holistic centers to organize a mini-class and screening - check our website and FB page for more details coming soon!)
Holistic Consciousness of One!
Our local Holistic Practitioners support and Community networking group in Chester, NJ!
Finding a home within the historic business district of Chester enables the Holistic Consciousness of One to reach out to and provide a central meeting place for holistic practitioners and folks interested in learning more about holistic modalities within the surrounding communities. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month from 7:00PM - 8:45 PM.
So spread the word! Come and join us as we support each other and work collectively to promote all holistic healing modalities and build our Holistic Community. Visit their website for updates, community events and speaker schedules: www.hcoo.org
RSVP to Sue at The Art of the Heart, 908/879-3937 or email@example.com.
Currently Scheduled Classes
The Art of the Heart, 15 Perry Street, Chester, NJ 07930
Sue Freeman, Owner
Growing With the Seasons, 811 Main Street, Boonton, NJ 07005
Madeline Thompson, Director
Schiff Nature Preserve, 339 Pleasant Valley Road, Mendham, NJ 07945
Phone: 973-543-6004 (click here for directions)
Be sure to check out the other wonderful holistic services and educational classes offered at these locations!
Classes by Date:
Growing With the Seasons, 811 Main Street, Boonton, NJ
**Register with Madeline at Growing With the Seasons: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Class: "Herbs for Healing Baths"
Time: 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Madeline Thompson and Herbalist Donna Reynolds will Co- Create a workshop that offers an ancient practice of self care in which you will develop your own awareness of your needs and build your intuition as you choose the best herbs for your foot bath.
The class will include a foot bath and some foot massage techniques to insure a soothing relaxed outcome and help you create practices for regular baths for both feet and whole body wellness. You will leave with an herbal pack for home and we will all indulge in some healing tea.
Save the Dates for the rest of the Herbal Series on Saturdays from 12:00 - 2:30PM
April 12 (Note: 2nd Saturday)
June 21 (Summer Solstice)
Please RSVP if you plan to attend: email@example.com or 973-222-6762
Schiff Nature Preserve, 339 Pleasant Valley Road, Mendham, NJ
**Register directly with Schiff! See info below** Directions: (map)
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Class: "Your Medicinal Backyard"
Time: 7:00 - 8:30PM
Fee: $10 pp members; $15 pp nonmembers.
In this class, we'll use a combination of pictures and (hopefully!) live specimens to take us on a visual journey of beneficial "weeds" that grow in our back yards. After this program, you'll think twice about eliminating that chickweed, purslane, ivy, sorrel, burdock and dandelion because of their healing properties. Learn the Latin binomial names, common names, growing conditions, medicinal actions and illnesses that can be addressed using these prolific "weeds". Approximately 40 herbs will be covered in the program.
Program is limited to 20 participants. Advance registration is required. Please send a check to Schiff at 339 Pleasant Valley Road, Mendham, NJ by 2/17.
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Saturday, April 25, 2014 (for Arbor Day)
Class: Tree Medicine and Folklore
Details to Follow
More classes are pending, so be sure to check our website for updates:
Our seasonal newsletter, Whispers from the Willows, is published eight times a year near the earth holidays: the Solstices, the Equinoxes and the four Cross-Quarter Days.