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Take a moment for yourself this Imbolc, Mama. Imbolc is a cross-quarter festival, marking the midpoint between the Solstice and the Equinox.  It’s a threshold time.  A time between time.  And in this way Imbolc can remind us...
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Imbolc is a cross-quarter festival, marking the midpoint between the Solstice and the Equinox.  It’s a threshold time.  A time between time.  Where we feel the Earth stirring, the pull of Spring but we are still in the hands of Winter for a while longer.

In this way Imbolc can remind us of other times in our life when we are no longer fully in one place but not quite in the next.  Still wintering but gathering for the emergence to come.  Feeling done with the current season of your life and awaiting the birth of the next.

It can be a good time to explore our relationship with those liminal in-between times.  To what extent can we let ourselves be in the metaphorical Winter? Gathering what there is to gather here, in preparation for the Spring that will come in time, if only we can hold on and trust. 

Imbolc seems to bring with it hope.  With it’s snowdrops and shoots, it’s growing light and birdsong.  It can feel like we’re waking up from a good sleep.  Something for sure to be celebrated.

Some sources have the name Imbolc derived from ‘ewe’s milk’.  Acknowledging this turning point for our ancestors when flocks would began to lamb and milk became available to sustain through this hungry gap.  An exhale in those times perhaps.

Other sources suggest it’s named for the Old Irish ‘i mbolc’ meaning ‘in the belly’ referring to this pregnant time of the year.  We might say we're in the belly of the year waiting for rebirth in the spring.

Imbolc is a fire festival, celebrated with the lighting of flames and watched over by the flame-haired Goddess Brigid.  A busy deity who is said to be Goddess of Spring, of Fire (both the hearth fire and creative fire), of Fertility and Midwifery and therefore Mothers, of Poets and Inspiration, of Healing, of sacred waterways and wells, of Blacksmiths and the Forge.

A folktale sees the Goddess Brigid take on each of these roles, believing she has more to give and doing a wonderful job of honouring them all>. But then she speaks with a wise bear who finds her looking exhausted whilst still looking for more places she can give of herself.  Wise Bear reminds her that whilst she is Goddess of fire and burns brightly her fire will burn out if she doesn’t feed and stoke her own fire.  He asks her to find what sustains her and that’s when she turns to creativity which helps her to continue burning.

What a metaphor for us as Mothers!

We explored these themes in my Imbolc workshop – part journaling workshop, part mama-circle – last weekend and it felt so nourishing to ground our very human experience in this very relevant time.

My next workshop has just quietly opened for booking if you want to join me for some Ostara magic – you can grab your place here before I start telling everyone about it

How I celebrate

I’ll be heading off for an early walk with two friends this morning for Imbolc.  It’s a lovely to time to think about what else we need in the way of wintry rest and replenishment while turning our thoughts to the seeds we want to plant for the year ahead – both metaphorical and actual seeds.  No doubt we’ll cover all of that as we walk.

3 invitations

If you’ve followed these posts for a while you’ll know I love to use these festivals as a way to take a moment for ourselves.  To connect in with where we are, how we’re feeling and what we need.

With that in mind I have my usual three invitations for you.  See what speaks to you and mould them into something nourishing and supportive for you…

1. Fireside-dreaming

Goddess of fire, Brigid, is associated with Imbolc and fire is used at this time both to honour her & celebrate the returning light.

Try this:

Imbolc is great time for dreaming into the year from your cosy hibernation cave. Indulge in some fireside dreaming - what will you invite in as the Earth stirs?

2. Stirring the seeds

Nature begins to waken. Deep within the Earth seeds put out first shoots, just as we begin to look ahead to what we’ll bring forth this year.

Try this:

Literally or metaphorically, what do you want to sow? You could sow some 'seeds' today. On slips of paper write your intentions, roll them into ‘seeds’ which you can plant in the soil too.

3. Let go the old

Traditionally, Imbolc is a time for visiting the water to clear away the old and make way for what’s new to sprout & grow.

Try this:

Take yourself on a walk to a nearby river, stream, holy well or the sea. Consider offering to the water anything you want to be free of in the year ahead.

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Allow whatever you do with these invitations to feel easeful. Kids and life don’t pay any attention to these festivals and you might not read this until days after the event.  These invitations are still available to you. No urgency or expiry dates.

Imbolc blessings, dear one x

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If you’re in a threshold time and have been considering working with a coach to support you to move through, you might like to know I've opened up 2 more coaches places this month.

I work with women who want to bring their hopes and dreams for themselves to life, whilst navigating inevitable trip hazards like self-doubt, confusion, mum guilt and feeling lost. Take a look at my coaching packages here and if this support might be just what you need, I’d love you to book in for a (free) chat here.

These long nights and short days are not for everyone.  I used to find the lack of daylight almost suffocating.  But over the past handful of years I’ve found a deep love for the darkest days of the year.

I wonder now how I got there.  An appreciation for cycles and the somewhat revelatory realisation that we’re always in motion has been part of it.  And layered on top, an understanding that the darkness encourages us to travel into our inner world to tend to what’s waiting for us.

If this is what the darkness helps us to do I can get behind it, but I used to be a bit scared of the dark truth be told.  Then a few years back a friend organised a gathering on the Solstice and it changed something. 

A group of wonderful women I knew and loved gathered together in her home in the darkness.  She lived in the countryside with no street lamps for miles so it really was dark.  Her home was lit by a few candles only.  We had a solstice-y women’s circle, exploring our feelings about the darkness and this time of year.  So many of us felt discomfort in the darkness and the solidarity of the moment prompted us to blow the candles out and sit in the pitch dark together for a while. 

It was profound.  Sitting in safety and warmth in the darkness a deep peace settled in me, the kind I hadn’t really felt before. The darkness felt nourishing.  Like I needed it.  And my relationship with the dark shifted.

Since then it’s not about getting through what I used to see as the dark, depressing shortest day.  It feels more like an invitation to be still and listen to what treasures lie within the darkness.

No surprise then that this is one of my favourite Celtic festivals to celebrate by taking a moment for myself.

There are three invitations below of ways we can do this.

Join me in taking a moment for yourself this Winter Solstice?

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice – the shortest day – falls on 21st or 22nd December each year.  In 2023 it lands on Wednesday 21st December and some celebrate it as the festival Yule.

We know this day has been significant to humans for millennia.  Placement of stones to line up with the Winter Solstice sunrise at sacred sites around the UK and Ireland (and around the world) tell us this and it’s clear to see why.  Imagine when the only light was sunlight, how these shorter and shorter days must’ve felt.  The turning point of the Solstice and the return of the sun was a time to rejoice, even though there is much of Winter left to endure.

Old traditions speak of the sun dying at this time of year and of being reborn by the Goddess at the Solstice.  The Goddess of the Solstice is the Dark Mother (also known as Mother Night or Mother Winter) and she is the giver of gifts and the teacher of lessons.

And so the Solstice brings with it themes of going within, honouring our lessons and our gifts, finding the light in the darkness, rest, renewal and rebirth.

It’s a beautiful time to be still in the quiet of the dark night, listening and tending to what’s here for us right now.  To rest in this pause.  To gather.  To wonder about the ways we’d love to be reborn with the increasing light.

May the longest night and the shortest day,

Bring rest to your mind and your soul, I pray.

May you find guidance and may you find peace,

As the cycle of light will slowly increase.

Embrace the magic that the darkness bears,

Breath deep in the chill and shift in the air.

May you always be blessed with the light from within,

And may wellbeing be yours as the new cycle begins.

*

a Winter Solstice Blessing by Stephanie Laird
How we celebrate

These few days before Christmas can be so full, but since our kids were small we've tried to carve out time on the Solstice to pause together. It's a lovely antidote to the bustle. When they were small and woke at ungodly hours we'd keep the house dark and make it exciting to watch out the window waiting for the sun to rise on the shortest day. As they grew and mercifully slept in I'd take that peaceful hour to myself.

For the past few years, as a family we've enjoyed lighting a small fire in our firepit in the low light of the afternoon and reading Solstice stories around it, usually with obligatory marshmallow toasting or chestnut roasting. My youngest's favourite is the Solstice Badger and there are some lovely stories in Circle Round by Starhawk.

3 invitations

If the wheel of the year festivals fascinate you as they do me, they can be a lovely reminder to pause and take a moment for yourself.

I’ve made some of the ways I love to connect with the Winter Solstice into three simple invitations for you.  See if there’s one that speaks to you…

1. Winter wander

Wrap up warm and take yourself on a grounding Winter walk in nature.  With no agenda other than to feel the earth beneath your feet and the natural world sinking into it’s winter slumber.

Notice what you see, hear, smell and feel. Then enjoy the ritual of cosying up when you get home and allowing your own winter pause

2. Nourishing dark

Light a candle in the darkness and watch the flame as you sink into a place of rest. If it feels ok, blow it out and allow the darkness to hold you awhile.

Try to let your thoughts and feelings be what they are without judging. Take some long, slow belly breaths as you sit in the stillness, elongating the out breath. Sit for as long as feels good then light the candle again when you’re ready and notice what it brings.

3. Return of the light

It’s a beautiful time to watch the sunrise and the dreamy winter skies that go with it. If you naturally wake (or are woken by small people) while it's still dark it can be lovely to open the curtains and keep the lights off in your home while you wait for the sun. As the sun rises and the light filters in, take a moment in that gentle wintry half-light to ponder:

What is bringing you light in your life right now? And where would you love to be inviting more light into your days? What would bring you lightness right now? Your journal might come in handy.

*

Allow whatever you do with these invitations to feel easeful. Kids and life don’t pay any attention to these festivals and you might not read this until days after the event.  These invitations are still available to you. No urgency or expiry dates.

I love to hear what you do with these invitations.  Feel free to let me know over on Insta how they panned out for you.

Winter Solstice blessings, dear one x

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Before you go, two offerings:

If, like me, you love using the festivals to take a moment for yourself, you might like to know about my (virtual) Imbolc Workshop in January - part mother's circle, part journaling session, steeped in the energy of this beautiful festival and season. There are 3 price points to maximise accessibility and the group size will be limited so reserve your place now.

If Winter has you feeling reflective just now, you might like to download my Self Care Journal for Mums. Subscribers to my free email community can download this for free. You're so welcome to sign up here if you'd like to and you'll get instant access.

December.  Ah, season of twinkly lights, mince pies, massive long lists and over-giving.

I approach it with both a glowy warmth in my chest and an anticipatory tightening somewhere in my gut.  And I know lots of you do too.

From mid-November I started seeing a ripple running through many of my client sessions.  Or perhaps a clench would be more accurate.  One by one the wonderful women I work with were looking at the horizon and anticipating what December and the festive season were going to mean for them.

For those working on their relationship with rest and advocating for their needs there was the very real worry of ‘how do I keep tending to myself when Christmas expectations threaten consume me?’.

We've all gathered plenty of experience around what this season can feel like as a Mama and if we’ve been in the pattern of giving more than we have year after year it makes complete sense that we feel the need to brace for what’s coming.

Christmases past

The conversations I’ve been having got me thinking about Christmases past when (more than once) I ran myself into the ground doing all the things, making all the things, ticking the endless ‘magic-making’ tasks off my list.

I look back on that version of me who was unstoppable in her dogged determination of creating the Perfect Christmas and I feel a lot of feelings.

I’m not sure which was more to blame… capitalist patriarchal ideas of what a ‘good mother’ does at Christmas (you can almost picture the manual, can’t you?)... curated images of perfect Christmases on Pinterest boards and insta accounts... or my old over-working / over-giving tendencies which behind the scenes were being fed by not-enoughness.

A heady combination of all of it, I imagine, meaning my magic-making expectations of myself were way too high.

I knew this at the time on some level because, though there was beauty and joy and I’ve got some great insta-worthy pictures of it all somewhere, I was so tired that I was almost watching from a distance whilst being right there.

Everyone else was for sure enjoying it more than I was.

(If there’s a part of you that read that sentence and thought ‘well everyone else should be enjoying it more’… know that I imagined that to be true once too and now know it isn’t)

At the time I was sure it was coming from pure love for my family.  So much of it was.  But I now see how easy it is to get in the habit of over-giving – giving more than you truly have whilst side-lining your need to resource – and confuse it for piling on all the love.

Christmas present

These days I’m here for a slower and simpler December.  I edit both the list and my expectations of myself down to fewer things and find fewer means more special.

I hit easy buttons, noticing it makes little to no difference to anyone else and a huge difference to me.

I go gently with myself knowing I’m more present - my love more available somehow - when I’m taking care of me too.

I find the more I say no to, the more energy and capacity I have for what I say yes to.

If I could, I’d go back and give myself this knowing sooner.  But knowing it now is all kinds of good.

Finding slow

If in your heart you want simple and slow - giving within your capacity - but your list for the next week or so is saying anything but, here’s a place you can begin:

On your mammoth list or within your internal expectations of yourself for Christmas, find the thing that makes you heavy sigh at the thought of having to do it.  Or the thing for which each year the tiny spark of resentment you have for it grows. 

Imagine what it would feel like to just not do it this year. 

To take back the time/energy/money you put into it and re-direct those precious resources of yours to something you’d really full-body-feels love.

You get to make that choice if you want to. And you get to make it for all the other things that make you feel similarly.

Alternative lists

And let's make a different kind of list.  One that has a balancing effect. One that’s supportive, kind and reminds you that how you feel is important.  One full of self acceptance and self compassion.

Some ideas:

~ A list of all the slow, nourishing moments you’re looking forward to.

~ The ways you’ll take care of yourself over Christmas.

~ 3 ways you can settle your nervous system when you need to.

~ Ways to honour your capacity and say no.

~ 5 promises you’ll keep to yourself.

What would that kind of list do for you?

Wishing you all that you crave in these last weeks of the year, lovely x

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Coach with me

I have openings in January for 1:1 coaching and I’m loving welcoming in women who want to… transform their relationship with rest, learn to advocate for their needs, invite in more of what they want in their life and see what lies on the other side of their self-doubt.

If you’re curious about how a coaching journey with me would support you, you’re so welcome to book in for a free call so we can have a cup of tea together and chat about it.  I’d so love to meet you.

A year ago I began writing a series of insta posts around the Celtic Festivals. In recent years I've loved learning about the eight festivals that form the wheel of the year and had on occasion joined gatherings and workshops associated with each of them. But I was curious with these posts how they could become a way of connecting with myself.

So I began to look at: what are the themes of each of the festivals, what are the traditions... and how could I make the connection between celebrating this moment in the year while doing something supportive or nourishing for myself.

I wasn't sure if I'd have enough ideas for a year of festivals or whether they would all lend themselves to a relationship with self care, but I've found that I easily did and they definitely do. Embodying and celebrating the seasons as they do, there's so much within them that reminds us to slow down, re-establish our contact with the ground, reflect and give thanks, metaphorically plant seeds and harvest. And coming around every 6 weeks or so there's a beautiful rhythm available in these regular pauses.

Samhain is the Celtic festival that falls on the 31st October each year and traditionally this was seen as the beginning of a new turn of the wheel, a new cycle. I wasn't sure whether a year of these posts was enough and it was complete. An insta poll told me otherwise!

It seems lots of you love the regular invitation to connect with yourself and the season through these festival-centered posts and I love making them for you, so here we are beginning again.

Join me in taking a moment for yourself this Samhain?

Samhain

Samhain (pronounced 'sow-een') is the Celtic Festival in which modern day Halloween has its roots, though our ancestors celebrations were very different. While in the UK Halloween is all ghouls, witches and scary stuff, Samhain was traditionally represented by the Crone goddess - symbolising deep feminine power and wisdom - and was celebrated when the veil between ours and the spirit world was said to be thin. A time for remembering who and what has passed, connecting with the mystery and magic felt all around at this special time of year and tuning in to the grounded wisdom within us. 

In the Celtic wheel of the year, Samhain is the new year when the wheel begins a new turn. The Crone reminds us that just as we let the old year die so a new one may be born, we too sometimes need to let go in order to make space for what’s to come. 

How we celebrate

As a family, we're rather partial to bringing Autumn inside so there are always mini pumpkins and gourds scattered around. My children cottoned on to the upsides of Halloween traditions a while ago and as the only children in this corner of our sleepy village our neighbours love filling their halloween buckets with treats, so I have to admit this is the main kind of celebrating that goes on in our house on 31st October.

Samhain then has become something I get to have for myself. I mark quietly in that hour after they're in bed and at this liminal time it feels like a really special thing to do for myself. Some ways I connect with Samhain are below:

3 invitations

If the cycle of these festivals call to you, it can be a lovely thing to use them as regular reminders to pause and do something lovely with or for yourself.

I’ve drawn on the themes of Samhain to make three simple invitations for you.  See if there’s one that speaks to you…

1. Begin again

Samhain brings in delicious new year energy as the wheel begins a new turn. A perfect time then for fresh starts and new intentions. For remembering that it's always ok to begin again.

Try this:

~ Turn to a fresh page in your journal and fill it with imaginings of what 'beginning again' would mean to you just now.

~ You might want to choose a new goal or intention to begin working on, or bring to life one you've been carrying but not acting on.

~ You could make a new daily promise to yourself - 'I will do this thing for myself each day' - and begin keeping it from today.

2. Honour what's been

For our Celtic ancestors, Samhain was a time to remember, honour and celebrate beloved souls who had passed. We might use it for our own reflections.

Try this:

Take a moment to sit with your heart, honouring who or what you need to. Acknowledge what has passed for you this year. Notice what you're grateful for - the gifts and all you have learnt.

3. Sit with a flame

Samhain is one of the Celtic fire festivals, often celebrated with the lighting of fire or flame. Inviting the light to travel with us as we head into the darker months

Try this:

With a fire or candle, find solitude in the darkness of the evening to sit with yourself. In the quiet, can you drop into you? I wonder what you need to hear today and can you tell it to yourself?

*

Whenever I share these posts I always say – please allow whatever you do with these invitations to feel easeful.

Kids and life don’t pay any attention to these festivals and you might not read this until days after the event.  These invitations still available to you.

There are no expiry dates with this stuff.  No ticking clock or urgency.  The perfect time to take a moment for yourself and do something that feels nourishing is the very next window you can find, regardless of the date.

Go gently, make it easeful and bring all the self compassion.

I love to hear what you do with these invitations.  Feel free to let me know over on Insta how they panned out for you.

Blessed Samhain, dear one x

*

If you're feeling called to self-inquiry and reflection right now, you might like to download my Self Care Journal for Mums. Subscribers to my free email community can download this for free. You're so welcome to sign up here if you'd like to.

I remember in my school days absolutely loving this time of year. Perhaps because it's just been my birthday and it feels firmly like my month. I feel at home here in September and wish it could last a bit longer.

It was, I'm pretty sure, also something to do with Harvest Festival. I bloody loved it. From the last-minute rifling through cupboards for a contribution to take in, the big bountiful display in the school hall, the harvesty songs we sang and the knowledge that all this stuff was going to people who needed it. To be shared out.

I had no idea of course that all of this had it's roots in Mabon, but if I had I'd have been a big fan.

Mabon and the Autumn Equinox fall at a time when perhaps we still have one foot in the Summer that has been whilst noticing daily the shifts in temperature, changes in the trees and hedgerows and the mounting urge to get re-acquainted with all our knitwear. As I embrace this seasonal shift, I'm looking forward to carving out a moment to myself this Mabon.

Join me?

Mabon

Mabon is the Celtic festival of the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are once again briefly in balance before we head into the darker part of the year.  Traditionally, a time when the changing season was honoured and the harvest celebrated.

Mabon altars would be adorned with produce from the harvest and, as with many of the Celtic festivals, a feast prepared.

How we celebrate

When my children were younger our nature table would have been filling up by the day, creating a natural (messy!) altar which sang out Mabon. These days I tend to find acorns in pockets or rattling around the washing machine more than anywhere else, but I still love to gather some late flowers and signs of Autumn for our mantle.

At school (a Steiner school) my boys are used to celebrating Michaelmas which usually falls a few days after the equinox with a similar theme to Mabon but with the exciting added element of slaying dragons. There's also usually some bulb-planting.

So our celebration is a mish-mash of all of these elements and comes down to how we're feeling at the time. This year we have a huge haul of damsons gifted by a neighbour so I forsee jam-making as our marking of the harvest. Crumble too, no doubt, as part of a Mabon meal over the weekend. And definitely bulb-planting because i'm gradually expanding the daffodil population of our garden each year.

As you'll know if you've read these posts or my insta ones before, I love making the Celtic festivals a reminder to take some time out for me. They hold such wonderful themes to draw upon for self reflection and nature connection. Ingredients that make taking a moment for myself feel really nourishing.

Take a look…

3 invitations

If the cycle of these festivals call to you, it can be a lovely thing to use them as regular reminders to pause and do something lovely with or for yourself.

I’ve drawn on the themes of Mabon to make three simple invitations for you.  See if there’s one that speaks to you…

Rest

A favourite seasonal book - Circle Round by Starhawk - reads:

“At Mabon, the Mother of the Harvest becomes the Old One, the wise grandmother who teaches us to rest after our labours”. 

I adore this.  What if we tapped into our own inner wise grandmother and listened to what she had to tell us about rest? I wonder what she'd share.

Try this:

Tune into your inner wise grandmother and celebrate Mabon with a pause to rest.  Decide what restful thing you could do this weekend or in the next few days and honour it.  Even if that means something else doesn’t get done, you need to say no to something or somebody or you need to call in support.

Making a commitment to rest and keeping a promise to ourselves is a way we can give thanks to this awesome body that houses us and for all that we are in the world.

Re-balance

At this time of balance between day and night, light and dark, it can be a good time to reflect upon your own sense of balance.  Nobody is in balance all of the time, it would be impossible to achieve. But sometimes we can become so used to being out of balance that we almost stop seeking it. So this time of the equinox can be helpful reminder to check in with yourself.

I'm offering some reflection questions here which you could either just ponder on or journal on...

Reflection / Journal prompts:

~ How am I feeling in myself just now?

~ Where am I needing to bring myself back into balance?

~ What would do that for me?

~ What would really nourish me?

Self-kindness

After Mabon, as we move into the darker months, many of us find we naturally go within ourselves, experiencing a time of more introspection.  Just like we might cosy up our home ready for the colder season, I love the idea of softening to ourselves around this time. So that when we go within we take with us our most gentle words.

I wonder if this year you’d benefit from taking more self-kindness in with you as you go?

Try this:

Experiment with self-kindness by spending a whole day talking to yourself with the level of kindness you reserve for a beloved person or pet.  Whenever you notice any judgy or critical thoughts or less-than-gentle inner self-talk, all you need to do is acknowledge it and guide yourself back to ‘what would the kindest part of my offer to myself here?’.

It may be harder than it sounds but don't be discouraged. You're experimenting and nothing has gone wrong. Just keep noticing and re-phrasing your internal messages so they're kind and compassionate. It's such a great practice to play with and I wonder how it makes you feel after a day of self-kindness? Could you maybe try it again the next day?

*

Whenever I share these posts I always say – allow whatever you do with these invitations to feel easeful.

Kids and life don’t pay any attention to these festivals and you might not read this until days after the event.  They’re still available to you.

There are no expiry dates with this stuff.  No ticking clock or urgency.  The perfect time to take a moment for yourself and do something that feels nourishing is the very next window you can find, regardless of the date.

Go gently, make it easeful and bring all the self compassion.

I love to hear what you do with these invitations.  Feel free to let me know over on Insta how they panned out for you.

Mabon blessings, dear one x

*

If rest, re-balancing and self-kindness are resonating with you right now, you might like to download my Self Care Journal for Mums. Subscribers to my free email community can download this for free. You're so welcome to sign up here if you'd like to.

I reeaaally love the shift that arrives with Lammas (pronounced LAH-mus). There’s a mellowing that hints of September (my birth month) in the distance but still plenty of Summer days to be had. Calmer than earlier Summer and more grounded. 

So with this mellow and more settled energy abounding, I’m looking forward to carving out a moment for myself this Lammas.

Join me?

How we celebrate

When my children were littler we might have gone with tradition (see below) and baked a Lammas loaf or some other kind of baked goods. Old me had more appetite for organised activities and I guess I was working on establishing things like cooking and baking together as a norm when they were younger. Current me finds the kids are happier to bake spontaneously as the mood takes them and I'm happy to go with that. So our family Lammas will be more of a going with the flow low key celebration.

When we discovered one of our favourite woods-to-fields walks featured a beautiful golden wheat field yesterday and I pointed out it's Lammas today the kids asked if we can go back with a Lammas picnic. To be honest, any excuse for a picnic!

And as you'll know if you've read these posts or my insta ones before, I love making the Celtic festivals a reminder to take some time out for me. They hold such wonderful themes to draw upon for self reflection and nature connection. Ingredients that make taking a moment for myself feel properly nourishing.

Take a look…

Lammas

Lammas (also know as Lughnasadh), on 1st August, is the Celtic festival of the first harvest. Historically it would have been a time of celebration for the early harvested goodness and of hope for waves of greater abundance to come. 

Celebrated traditionally with the baking of symbolic loaves as offerings to the Gods & Goddesses who might bless them with even more abundant later harvests in return. With gathering in, sharing and feasting. It would have been a time of hard work alongside huge gratitude for the bounty this work yielded. 

3 invitations

If the cycle of these festivals call to you, it can be a lovely thing to use them as regular reminders to pause and do something lovely with or for yourself.

I’ve drawn on the themes of Lammas to make three simple invitations for you.  See if there’s one that speaks to you…

Lammas journaling

This is a lovely time to draw upon the themes and energy of the early harvest to inspire your journaling.  Gratitude, abundance, nourishment, hope and celebration make for lovely focal points to explore.

I wonder which of these themes speaks to you. 

Journal prompts, if you need some:

~  What do you need to gather in or harvest?

~  What are all the things you feel grateful for?

~  How are you nourishing yourself?

~  How could you celebrate all that you are? 

Abundance tea

The early harvest abundance was often celebrated with baking and producing feasts, but in all honesty that sounds a bit too close to a normal day for us Mamas! I like the idea of celebrating the abundant and verdant time of Lammas more simply with a cup of garden tea and a quiet sit once the kids are in bed. 

Try this

Brew up a cup of foraged tea and take a quiet moment for yourself. If you grow culinary herbs like mint, sage or rosemary or have some in the fridge, they will work. Or maybe you have things like lemon balm, fennel or chamomile growing near you. There are lots of flowers that can be steeped as a tea - rose petals, calendula (marigold), borage, lavender to name a few. If all else fails, you can always find some nourishing nettle tips somewhere around - just remember to wear some gardening gloves to protect against stings. Plus, always make sure you know exactly what you're picking and that it's safe.

Golden time

Lammas is a time of golden fields and golden light. A beautiful time to soak up what you love about late Summer whilst carving out a window of time for yourself, if you can swing it.

Try this:

Make a date with yourself (or perhaps with a friend if you'd relish the company) for a Lammas walk. Find a lush and beautiful place. Watch the sun dance, rise or set. Or take some golden time out for whatever you want to do.

*

Whenever I share these posts I always say – allow whatever you do with these invitations to feel easeful.

Kids and life don’t pay any attention to these festivals and you might not read this until days after the event.  They’re still available to you.

There’s no expiry dates with this stuff.  No ticking clock or urgency.  The perfect time to take a moment for yourself and do something that feels nourishing is the very next window you can find, regardless of the date.

Go gently, make it easeful and bring all the self compassion.

I love to hear what you do with these invitations.  Feel free to let me know over on Insta how they panned out for you.

Lammas / Lughnasadh blessings, dear one x

I wonder if you ever find yourself searching for your sense of self.  Feeling around for where your edges are. As mothers we are often the centre of our family's universe, needed for so much, integral to all of it. But when you go to look for your Self in the midst of it all, it's hard to discern the essence of you from everything else. It's as though you've been swallowed up by your role.

Loss of sense of self in motherhood is something that’s so often present for women I coach with.

It's no wonder...

~ When the process of matrescence – a word that describes the multi-layered journey of becoming a mother – sees so much change take place within us.  Not only in our body, our hormones, our emotions, our home, our day-to-day lives.  But also, along the way, becoming a mother literally re-wires our brain.

~ When it’s generally still the case (in heteronormative relationships) that women carry the heavier load and are expected to do the most adapting around their family.

~ When societal conditioning would have us mothers running to keep up, second guessing ourselves, self doubting and forever over-giving.

~ When there’s barely a moment to go to the loo let alone tend to the things that make you feel you.

If you don’t have the sense of self that you used to, here’s what I want you to know…

(and what many of my clients have found)

You're still in there

You are. Maybe under some layers and the edges of where you end and they begin are blurred but you ARE in there and you are WONDROUS even if you don’t feel it.

It's ok to grieve

It’s ok to grieve what you’re missing in yourself. Sometimes the grieving opens up space to reconnect with buried parts of you.  Sometimes experiencing the emotions around that give rise to a tiny shift that makes a difference.

It's a process

Re-connecting with your Self is a process.  Begin with noticing your needs that are met or are going un-met.  Notice your emotions.  Notice the daily promises to yourself you keep and those you find harder to keep.

It can be bumpy

Not everyone benefits from you regaining your sense of self if you’ve been over-giving for some time, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong for needing to.  You are never wrong for needing to feel like you.

You're not alone

You are not alone in this. If I could show you all the mamas who’ve shared with me, in different ways, the sense that they’ve lost their edges you would see just how NOT ALONE you are.

(I won’t show you of course because confidentiality is everything in my work, but if I could... you’d see a big and beautiful group of women who also never thought they’d lose their sense of self and yet still somehow did).

It's not bad or wrong

It’s not. Changing, evolving, losing and re-finding are all part of being a growing human.  Matrescence and the ever-changing seasons of motherhood are ripe with growth periods in which we re-form who we are.  It makes complete sense that at various points we need to go on a journey to meet ourselves again.

It's not impossible

It may feel hard but it isn’t impossible – overwhelm, self doubt, mum guilt, shame might have you believing you’re a lost cause but you are absolutely not.

You're in there

You are.  Even if under a few layers. I know you don’t know how to unearth yourself yet, but there will be a way. And those layers you’re under make for rich compost.

You are worth unearthing, lovely one x

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If you’d like to come on a supportive journey with me to find what’s been missing, I’d love to chat with you. I have 1:1 spaces available to begin in July and Sept and we can reserve one of those for you.

Contact me here or book in a virtual cuppa here to find out more.

The Summer Solstice falls on Tuesday 21st June this year and marks the Celtic festival of Litha.  It’s the longest day and shortest night of the year – and us parents know all about that!

In my head, the Summer Solstice is a day for embracing the light, inviting a few friends over for a feast – maybe even donning flower crowns and holding a circle together.  That’s the Pinterest-board-in-my-head version.

In reality, I find this pinnacle of the light energetically a bit intense – and my kids do too.  For a week we’ve all be waking earlier than we like to and not managing to fall back asleep.  Finding it harder to drop off in the evenings because it’s not dark enough (yep, in spite of black-out lined curtains), feeling tired and restless.  Headaches don’t really happen around here but we’ve all had them this past week, plus less patience and bandwidth to boot.

I so want to love the energy of this apex but every year it rolls around and I kind of don’t. I’d just love the energy of it all to calm down a bit. Compassionately eye-rolling myself here as I type this because it's my balance-loving introvert showing up loud and clear.

Needless to say, when it comes to celebrating Litha I’ll be keeping it low key.

How we celebrate

My sons are at a Steiner school and there, instead of marking the Solstice on Tuesday, they’ll be celebrating Midsummer’s Day / St John’s on Friday.  Essentially a version of the same thing.  So as a family we’ll likely tag onto that with an outside dinner around the firepit on Friday night.  No doubt there’ll be ‘Smores (which won't help the getting to sleep thing one bit!).

The Celtic festivals, for me, are a beautiful reminder to invite moment of self care, self love and self connection so I often use them for that – and Litha has some particularly nourishing themes to draw upon.

Take a look…

Litha

The obvious anchor for this festival is the celebration of the Sun at it’s apex.  Thanks to the warmth of the Sun the earth is in bloom and we don’t need to look far to find the beauty of it.

Traditionally, Litha is one of the fire festivals.  Celebrated with the lighting of fires mirroring the heat of the Sun.  In northern countries where it barely gets dark at this time of year it was common for people to stay up all night with the fire.

As well as a celebration of the Sun at it’s peak, Litha arrives with the reminder that nothing stays the same.  After a few days pause at this apex we’ll begin the slow and gradual slide of shortening days as we continue our journey around the Wheel towards the shortest day.  The only constant is change.

And as we accept that we must begin to let the light go, it can be a good time to think about what else we want to let go.  What do we need to mark as finished or complete so we can move forward.

3 invitations

If the cycle of these festivals call to you, it can be a lovely thing to use them as regular reminders to pause and do something lovely with or for yourself.

I’ve drawn on the themes of Litha to make three simple invitations for you.  See if there’s one that speaks to you…

Sun

Let’s use the sun as a mirror to reflect a light on the ways you see yourself.  Take a quiet moment - perhaps with a journal - to think about how you shine.  Hold yourself in gratitiude with your hand over your heart for all those ways.  Notice the wonder of your light.

Wonder for a moment… are there other ways I’d like to be shining?  And ask – what would make me feel lighter and brighter in my days?

Bloom

When was the last time you gave yourself flowers?  I wonder if you could pick or buy yourself a posy of blooms and put them somewhere you’ll see them often during the day.  If you could use them as an anchor, to remind yourself how much you matter.  If you could let them gently ask you to wonder what would help you to bloom this Summer.

Small gestures of honouring yourself when you’re feeling less than wonderful can bring such a welcome lift.

Fire

I’m always a big fan of a Phoenix Ceremony and Litha is a wonderful time for one.  Drawing on the themes of fire and of letting go, a Phoenix Ceremony is a beautiful way to draw a line under something you need to.  Here’s how:

- Light yourself a small contained fire (safety first, of course!). 

- As you watch the flames, consider what it is you want to let go.  What you are done with and what no longer serves you.  A habit, a fear, a perspective, your attachment to a situation, something that doesn’t feel you anymore or that you want to feel free of.

- You may not know how you’ll let it go at this point.  Let go of the how for now.  It’s the intention that we’re working with here.

- Write it down on a scrap of paper.  Allow it to be whatever it is from one thing to a long list.

- Give it over to the flames and imagine what you’re letting go being burnt away, leaving room for life, transformation and growth to move into the space you’ve created by letting it go.

Whenever I share these posts I always say – allow whatever you do with these invitations to feel easeful.

Kids and life don’t pay any attention to these festivals and you might not read this until days after the event.  They’re still available to you.

There’s no expiry dates with this stuff.  No ticking clock or urgency.  The perfect time to take a moment for yourself and do something that feels nourishing is the very next window you can find, regardless of the date.

Go gently, make it easeful and bring all the self compassion.

I love to hear what you do with these invitations.  Feel free to let me know over on Insta how they panned out for you.

Solstice / Litha blessings, dear one x

This is an article I wrote for the Winter 2020 magazine produced by Robin and Rose as part of their nature subscription box. This thread of inspiration continues to enchant me and I have a lot more I could add to this now so maybe there's a part two in the offing.

When I sit in the woods, dwarfed by towering giants, I’m reminded we have a lot to learn from our tree-friends.  We’ve long known the benefits of a mood-lifting leaf canopy, of arms snaked round a trunk for a restoring tree-hug, but what goes on underground - where the human eye can’t see – is where the real learning for us lies.

When I moved the Mother Wild Retreat from a meadow in Kent, where I used to live, to a beautiful Herefordshire woodland, I knew instinctively there was a lot we could take from our surroundings.  The wood itself has magic in the air, but it was when I was researching that I learned about the magic below ground.

Diving into an earthy rabbit hole of new information, I learned that trees within a woodland are all connected by a thread-like fungus called mycelium.  A mycorrhizal network used to pass nutrients and information between themselves, to nourish and support each other.

Professor Suzanna Simard from the University of British Columbia identified that woodlands have ‘mother trees’.  These larger, older trees – like the elders of the tribe – act as central hubs for these vast mycorrhizal networks.  Trees of all species will be connected to the mother trees and to each other on this way and this network will reach across the entire woodland.  Trees use it to pass water, carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients and minerals to those who need it.  Nourishment on demand.

We know from recent studies that trees actually communicate their needs with each other.  Sending out distress signals through the network and asking for what they need.  The trees around them, along with the larger mother trees who have access to deeper water and greater stores of nutrients, respond; sending over exactly what’s needed.

To a woman who runs retreats for Mothers to come rest their tired bones, re-fill themselves and seek out what they need to feel more whole, this new information about the awesomeness of a community of trees was like poetry.  That we were to gather under the branches of trees who have all of this self-nurture stuff nailed, learning how to tend to and nourish ourselves a little better while underneath our feet this process naturally unfolded – well, suddenly retreating to the woods took on a whole new level of beauty.

We live in a culture where rest and self-nurture are not valued.  Where nourishing our minds, bodies and souls is often labelled indulgent or selfish.  Whether we’re parents or not, we’re often over-stretched, overwhelmed and depleted.  Our bodies and minds send out distress signals that we don’t hear or recognise, above the noise all around us.  We have tons of networks but not one with the express purpose of hearing our needs and fulfilling them before we miss a beat.

When my groups of tired Mums arrive for our weekend retreat, I invite them to live like the trees that surround us for the few days they’re here in the woods.  To imagine their roots could spread deep into the earth and intertwine with the miles and miles of mycorrhizal network beneath us.  What would their body ask for?  Their heart?  If they could plug in and ask for all they needed and have it delivered by the surrounding tribe without hesitance, judgement or it meaning anything, what would they ask for?  What are all the things that would nourish, strengthen and support them right now?

Some of this – rest, sunlight, time, space, quiet, movement, wonder, support, nourishing food – they will find here at the retreat.  In my experience, nobody gets into a hammock underneath the tree canopy and comes out quite the same.  Some of the whispers of the body and heart are taken away as intentions.  Promises to themselves.  To seek what they need, more of the time.  And like the trees, to never question their right to do that.

Lisa Mabberley runs Mother, Nurture & Wild and hosts retreats in the wild, in and around beautiful Herefordshire.  Lisa is coach who works with Mums on themes of self-nurture, carving out space and finding our lost parts - find out more here

Photo credit: Hannah at Pip & Wolf Photography

The festivals from the Celtic wheel of the year are beautiful markers within the year through which you can connect to nature and ground into the present moment. Becoming aware of this moment, this very point of the season - and what it symbolises - and soaking it up.

I love also using them as a way to connect to myself. And the fact they're spaced so evenly throughout the year means that if you follow them, you're never too far from that moment of reconnection.

Beltane

Beltane - falling on May 1st - is a rich Celtic festival with many themes. A celebration of the fertility of the Earth and of life in all it’s forms - plants, animals and humans. Mothers were especially celebrated at Beltane as the bringers of life.

A favourite book I reach for at each turn of the wheel - Circle Round by Starhawk, Baker & Hill - talks of raising up motherhood during this festival, in all it's forms - adoptive, biological, step, foster, guardianship and fathers fulfilling the traditional role of mothering. They write "When mothering is truly valued as the most priceless gift we can give to a child, and when women are truly honoured and supported for all the work they do in raising children, we may see a great shifting of priorities in the world."

The book also offers this prayer for Beltane:

"Mother of all, hear our prayer this day for the protection and blessing of all the mothers! You who hold seed in warmth and darkness till it knows to seek the sunlight; You whose winds carry the rain across the vast, arching sky, spilling it down on the thirsting soil;

You in whose arms we rest at the end of the day, in comfort and peace; we call you!

Hear our words of praise for the mothers of the world!

We call you blessings down tot he women in our circle who are raising children. Speak through their hearts and hands as they guide the growth of their children. Help them feel your love, help them replenish their stores from your endless well of strength and energy. Help remind them even when they don't think they need it, that we are all grateful for their work in raising the next generation.

For all these children are our children, and they bring great joy into the world. We know that what happens to the smallest of us also affects the largest. What befalls one child soon befalls the nation. And so, Mother of Creation, while we bless the mothers here, let us also bless ourselves with open hearts and open hands so that no child in this circle shall go wanting. By our love and by our efforts, may we be known as a people who honour mothers; as a people who give their children what they need to thrive; as a people thrice blessed by happy children, healthy families, and the boundless outpouring of your love into our lives. Mother of the World, with your blessing may we all grown in our capacity to love unconditionally, to nurture where there is need, and to tend well the fruits of our creation. Blessed be the mothers! So mote it be."

Circle Round - Starhawk, Baker & Hill

One of the fire festivals, Beltane is also a magical time when it’s said the veil between our world and the fairy realm is thin. So many threads within Beltane to draw upon to create your own moment of connection to yourself, the Earth and this festival. Choose something that calls to you. 

Soak up the morning

Beltane is a very feminine festival and a celebration of life. As the bringers of life women and mothers were particularly honoured. A Celtic ritual saw women gather together at daybreak to wash their faces in the morning dew - a ritual said to connect them together, to the Earth and thought to preserve their beauty for the year ahead. 

Take a moment for yourself amongst the morning dew, alone or with a friend. A walk, a sit with a cuppa, earth yourself barefoot on the grass, try out the dewy face-wash - whatever calls to you

Invite pleasure

Beltane is a time for celebrating the joy of being alive and giving thanks for all the different kinds of pleasure our bodies give us. A wholly easier thing to access than happiness or joy, pleasure is a felt sense in the body and there are lots of ways to invite it in. 

Have a pleasure-seeking day and seek out some simple pleasures that feel good for you. All the things that delight the senses and make it feel good to be alive - from fire to food to dancing and from wildflowers to orgasms, anything goes. 

Self Care rituals

Since Beltane celebrates mothers and coincides this weekend with the Taurus new moon whose theme is deep self care and tending, do we need any more reason to pile on the self love?

Carve out a moment for the self care you need. Take some time, tune in and listen. Get curious about what will nourish you and if it’s not immediately possible to do that make a plan for when you will and be sure to honour it. You are important.

Hold it lightly

I hope something within these invitations speaks to you and you feel inspired to carve out a moment for yourself around Beltane.

As with anything like this, keep it light. Zero pressure, bring self compassion, choose nourishing over perfect. And do it on any day you have the space, time or energy. There are no expiry dates and the wheel turns very slowly so there's time to seek out that moment.

Beltane blessings, love x

© 2022 Lisa Mabberley
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