Whispers from the Willows
Our Fall 2013 edition
Welcome to our seasonal newsletter!
The northeast is decidedly breathing a sigh of relief that another massive storm did not visit our region yet again this year at the end of October. In the weeks before October 29, we wanted to support the elemental realms - including the trees and shrubs - so at the suggestion of Ilona Hress of Growing Consciousness, we created a stone medicine wheel outside one of the gardens to lend an air of calm. At the request of the crystal realm, we included tree agates at the cardinal points of the four directions, and placed a heart-shaped agate at the center. 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 Samhain:
Autumn has arrived, and with it comes the advent of Samhain, a Gaelic holiday celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans, which is the year's third and final harvest festival. Unfamiliar with Samhain? Brush up with these common facts:
1. Samhain is celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1, halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.
2. Samhain is pronounced "sah-win" or "sow-in."
3. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals along with Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh.
4. Rituals surrounding Samhain include bonfires, healing, dancing, thanksgiving, and honoring of the dead.
5. It's considered a liminal time, when the veil between life and death grows thin. Food is set aside for ancestors and protective spirits, and rituals honoring the dead take place.
6. Some celebrate Samhain with a ritual to guide the dead home by opening a western-facing door or window and placing a candle by the opening.
7. Samhain is one of the original festivals behind the holiday we know as Halloween.
8. Some of Halloween's most common traditions are rooted in Samhain's harvest festival roots, such as the carving of pumpkins and bobbing for apples. Later on, people began dressing up as these creatures and claiming the goodies for themselves, sometimes performing antics or tricks in exchange for food and drink. This practice evolved into trick-or-treating.
9. As it was believed that faeries, witches, and demons roamed the earth on Samhain, food and drink were customarily set out to placate them.
10. According to Kelley Harrell, author of Gift of the Dreamtime, some modern Pagans consider it the "witch's new year," though other traditions simply recognize Samhain as the end of the (Celtic) year.
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:
In addition to the Samhain basics listed above, in the agricultural cycles, this festival or time of year was the time when people gave a long hard look at what they had to last them through theh ocld days of winter. They would slaughter and salt down any animals that they felt either wouldn't make it through the winter or which they couldn't afford to suort on the stocks from the harvest. So Samhain was a major feast and often the last time some fresh foods, especially meat, would be eaten until new life started again in spring.
The themes of this festival are: the end of the old year, and the start of the new; ;a ime when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest and spirits can roam; a time of remembering those who have gone before by setting a lace for them at our feast; a time of looking forward and trying to see what will come.
In traditional earth-based lore, the Goddess takes on her robes of Crone and the God becomes the Hunter who will lead the Wild Hunt throughout the Winter.
As Samhain has become more commercial through its modern counterpart of Halloween, we find newer ideas which also give us themes for the festival: jack o'lanterns - which were traditionally carved from turnips - are now carved from pumpkins, and food is prepared to mimic all things ghoulish, ghostly or just plain scary. The old colors of this festival were dark red, purple and black for the Crone and dark green and black for the Hunter, to which the orange of autumn and pumpkins has been added more recently.
Baked Harmony Apples (from Silver RavenWolf's book, listed below)
8 McIntosh apples (for love and passion)
1 cup brown sugar (for love)
10 TABS chopped raisins (for fertility and abundance)
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
Ground cinnamon (for success and love)
Ground nutmeg (for health and fidelity)
2 cups water
2 cups dry white wine (for fertility and passion)
Wash apples. Core the apples on one end. Mix together thr brown sugar, raisins, and butter. Place the apples in a baking dish, cored end up, fill them with the brown sugar mixture, and then sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and nutmeg. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a separate bowl, add theh water to the dry wine. Hold your hands over theh water and with heart-felt intention, say: "From the autumn sun to the vine, From the vine to the wine, I bless and empower this mixture, In the name of harmony." Pour around the apples. Bake for 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon. Serves 8.
(Sources: "Herbal Rituals" by Judith Berger; "Halloween" by Silver RavenWolf)
Willow Moon Herbals is taking a much needed sabbatical and following the cycles of the seasons. While our beautiful blue-green Mother Earth drops into dormancy in the northern hemisphere, we too are 'letting the land lie fallow' over the winter months to recharge, expand our offerings, and bring our classes and educational programs to new venues in 2014. As always, please check our website for interim class updates between newsletters by using the link at the bottom of this newsletter.
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-screening in an upcoming class - 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
Other Classes by Date:
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Location: The Country Garden Club
Class: "Your Medicinal Backyard"
This class is presented in a powerpoint format, and introduces folks to the medicinal side of common weeds that can and do grow in almost everyone's yard. Students will learn the latin binomial name, the common name, common growing conditions, medicinal actions, and common illnesses that can benefit from each herb.
About 40 common herbs/weeds are covered in the core class. Additional classes cover trees, spices and even Italian herbs/weeds. This class can be tailored to include any or all of the above listed herbs/weeds.
Note: This class is tailored to the requests of The Country Garden Club. We can customize a class to fit your group, garden club, classroom, scout troop, church group, senior center, arboretum or other organization. Contact us today!
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.