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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Category: Wheel of the Year

Harvest Time + the Magic of Lughnasa

Katie Gordon

Since the last Wild Medicine Bundle came out for Midsummer, we've moved houses, opened a little brick and mortar shop for the apothecary, got engaged, I joined some other truly amazing women in the Earth Keepers Council, and I finished my 500-hr therapeutic yoga teacher training. To say it's been a busy few months is a HUGE understatement. 

You know those moments when you think the craziness will never end?

Rationally, you know it will, but there's a primal part of you that thinks it'll feel like this forever. In those moments, small rituals keep me grounded. Sacred moments like brewing a cup of tea, taking my time in the shower to feel the warm water on my skin, getting ready for bed, even washing the dishes.

The dust is settling now, and just in perfect divine timing for Lughnasa.

Lughnasa (pronounced LOO-nuss-uh) is a Celtic harvest festival (the first of the season) celebrated on August 1 and named for the god Lugh, who has been likened to the Roman god Mercury. It's the first time when people could really slow down for a moment, gather together, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and celebrate making it through one of the busiest times of the farming year. 


For me, the medicine of the harvest is slow medicine.

It's a return to my natural pace where I can take a little extra time with my morning cup of tea. It's a reconnection with those rituals that remind me where I am in time and space. It's the medicine that comes from the St. John's Wort oil that's been infusing for over a year and strained out under the Dark Moon in Leo. It's the time spent lingering over a meal with close friends and family. It's the medicine of your freshly sun-dried clothes after spending an afternoon on the clothesline. And it's taking an evening to cook a meal, light your beeswax candles, and revel in all you've managed to create, move, finish, paint, unpack, and arrange.

Deep magic comes when we allow ourselves to not only slow down, but to move at our unique pace. This slowness allows our creativity, our wisdom, and our insight to bubble up from somewhere deep within our bones. We're able to plug back into our fuel source, our well of inspiration. 

This deep magic is where the Lughnasa Wild Medicine Bundle was born from and is sure to inspire.  Crafted from Oregon Blackberries, St. John's Wort, and old world botanicals like Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage, each item in the bundle is a small ritual to help you tap into the deep, slow burn of your inner source of Light, your inner Sun.

Join the Lughnasa Medicine Keepers and purchase your bundle by July 20 for a discount, an e-book, extra recipes for potions that didn't make it into the bundle, and an opportunity to win the next bundle for free! 

The Belfire burns hot...

Katie Gordon

Can you feel the fire building, dear Wild One? The Sun + Moon have both entered Aries, the first fire sign of the year, and it's revealing new aspects of our Selves we either haven't seen before, or have long since been forgotten. The element of Fire is that which burns away the "impurities', the old patterns, identities, and stories which no longer serve this new version of ourselves that was birthed at the Spring Equinox. 

image from Pinterest

image from Pinterest

In the last month I've been in transition. Not only in physical transition (I've now moved twice), but even more profoundly, transitions in relation to relating. Who I choose to be relating to and how. How I relate to myself. How I actively choose to speak and love. I've been choosing out of living and relating situations that aren't in alignment anymore. Yes, transition is scary. AND it's often where we discover our hidden power. We discover facets of ourselves, beautiful, mysterious + brilliant, that we'd never known before. And we learn to fall in love. We learn about the sacred marriage within each of us that joins our own masculine and feminine and reveals our wholeness. 

art by Susan Seddon Boulet

art by Susan Seddon Boulet

At it's core, Beltane is about unity and how fire, in its myriad manifestations, burns away (often not so gently) the stuff that keeps us from union/communion with our Selves. I've been sinking into my soft, powerful, vulnerable, open heart to more deeply honor the sacred inner marriage contained within her, and this Beltane Wild Medicine Bundle is an invitation for you to do the same. Hawthorn, Elder, and Vanilla teach us about the relationship between heart, our inner fire, and the process of stepping further into our own light.*

A friend sent me this poem the other day, and it seems appropriate for this time of fiery transformation.

Bones and Flowers

There is something
flowing inside of you,
growing, rooting from your bones.

I know you do not know what it is.
Neither do I,
but I know there is something there

It is fucking beautiful.
It does not leave you alone.
It follows you, trailing
behind you like a comet.

Burning and stretching.
Lighting the sky, haunting it.

I can see you in the darkness.
I can see it moving.

No matter how far you go.
It is there.

Do not fear the things inside you, my love.

It is beyond the dirt.

Bloom like the flower
you were born to be.
- Robert M. Drake

From my Wild Heart to Yours,

*While available to purchase until April 20, it will sell out, so I suggest getting it sooner rather than later.

Midsummer Magic

Katie Gordon

This Saturday, June 21, is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and while some say it's the first day of summer, it actually marks the peak of light, the peak of the element of fire in our Wheel of the Year.  In the old days, and among some groups nowadays, Midsummer is celebrated as a fire festival, honoring the Sun as it passes its highest point and begins to gradually decline into dark, marking the waning of the light.

So this is a turning point. All of the seeds we have sown for ourselves are reaching maturity and coming close to harvest time, when we can see and reap the fruits of our labor. It's a still point, before the pendulum swings the other way toward darkness, when we begin to turn inward and reflect on this past period of growth.

And as for this fire?  Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation.  It can burn, consume, shed light, or purify.  In order to transform though, there has to be a container, and that is why we have our spiritual practice.  To hold space for ourselves in love and trust.

I have been deeply listening to my soul, allowing myself to feel grounded, settled, and supported. More and more, I'm letting myself say "no" to things that don't resonate in order to allow space for things that call to my spirit.  Things that I know I'm meant to do.  I'm following the wisdom of my heart, my guides, my allies.  Old wounds have begun to heal, and I'm going back to pick up pieces of my soul that had been cut off and left behind.  This Summer Solstice I'm reflecting on the teachers I've had this past year, lessons I've learned (mostly the hard way), and how much I've grown to trust my Self.  

What this means for Wild Grace?  You can expect to see a lot more work in this space with plant medicine, moon magic, animal spirits, weaving words, and dancing with shadows.  Sharing more of my spiritual practice and my deep soul with you.  

And as for you...What is being transformed in you by this elemental fire that we've been in, that's been burning, transforming, and purifying?  What has this fire felt like for you?  And as this light is waning, what is waning in your life?  What is ready to be lovingly and graciously released?

Ascendance of the Earth

Katie Gordon

The first apples have appeared in the local farmers market, and even though the days are still warm, the nights have become cool and crisp.  Fall is fast approaching, but as summer wanes, time seems to hang suspended in the air, the pause just before Autumn serves up her harvest.  Indian summer.  It's a time of peace in which we can appreciate the fruits of our labor and that of the Earth.

In Chinese medicine, the time between Summer and Fall is the season of the Earth element.  According to the book Between Heaven and Earth, "Earth's density and mass sustain our momentum, keeping us aligned in the direction of our desired goal."  It is during this time that we can use this energy to generate change without losing our balance.  Earth and its energy represents our center of gravity, the place we always come back to when we need grounding.

Late summer, the time when Earth emerges, is associated with transformation.  Makes sense, right?  Days are getting shorter, weather is getting colder (in most places within the northern hemisphere), school is starting again, summer's time of fresh fruit and vegetable abundance is at it's climax, and soon we'll be heading into the wintery decay.  It's all part of our earthly cycle.

The organs related to Earth are the spleen (yin) and stomach (yang).  The spleen is one of the main organs of digestion, it helps to recycle red blood cells, and is where white blood cells trap organisms that cause infection.  Energetically, it incorporates whatever we take in, food, experience, etc. into the substance which makes us who we are.  According to Sarah Powers, it is the source of life for other organs because it takes the pure essences of ingested food and converts it into blood and chi.

We all know the stomach is primarily responsible for digestion, assimilation, and distribution.  From the stomach, immediately usable nutrients are sent to the spleen and things that need to be further broken down are sent  to the small intestine for more filtration.  Consider this: the stomach is the first thing to receive our food, other than our sense organs (mouth, nose, eyes, etc.).  It is responsible for nourishing our energy on all levels, physical, mental or emotional, which is why it is so important to take in unpolluted food and food that will nourish our individual constitutions.

Remember when I said our Earth energy is what grounds us?  So what happens when this energy, our spleen chi, is out of balance?  Our whole system can fall into a state of disharmony.  We end up feeling disjointed, uncertain, stressed out, and mentally and physically drained.  Our sleeping, thinking, eating, even breathing patterns can be thrown off.  We feel "ungrounded."  We may experience feelings of anxiety, worry, pensiveness, or off-centeredness.

This obsessive, anxious thinking depletes your spleen energy.  You may begin to feel mentally tired and dull.  Soon you might start to notice some digestive issues you've recently developed (or maybe you've always had them since you've always been an overthinker) ranging from indigestion, gas, and bloating to IBS.  When you deplete your spleen energy, it affects your stomach since they have an energetic relationship.

Likewise, it's possible to deplete your spleen energy.  Irregular eating habits, lots of cold or greasy food, and eating close to bedtime can all contribute to a decline in spleen energy.  When your stomach and spleen have to work harder to assimilate and digest the food you take in, it can lead to physical depletion of spleen chi, which eventually can cause mental weakness.  The mind affects the body just as the body affects the mind.  What you feed yourself contributes to your overall well-being on all levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I read a quote the other day that said "Don't think.  If you do think, act."  The next time you start to overanalyze or obsess over something, ask yourself if you can do anything about the situation.  If you can, take that first step.  If you can't, try to let it go.  This ability to "let go" in our lives is an important skill for our health as well as our sanity.

So in this time of Earthly abundance, take a moment to enjoy this brief pause between birth and death, growth and decay, and cultivate a sense of groundedness, of being at home inside yourself, at ease wherever you are, while still being able to connect with the world around you.  You'll notice if you take a moment to ground yourself in this time and place, you'll be able to think more clearly as well as be more adaptable when the unexpected arises.

Spring and Liver Health

Katie Gordon

Now that Spring is officially here (at least I hope there's no more snow), there are changes everywhere we look.  Flowers blooming, grass growing, birds singing, people walking around without huge coats and boots, even the Duck Tours have started again here in Boston.  And of course opening day at Fenway this past week.  Spring really hasn't arrived until baseball season starts again, so I don't feel bad that I didn't write this weeks ago :)

Spring is a season of renewal and regeneration.  A time to get things moving again and the energy of Spring is highly active.  We start new projects (i.e. spring cleaning), prepare our taxes, study for finals...there's a lot of change going on.  For some this transition is relatively easy, but for others, this high energy can result in stress, frustration, nervousness, and even anger.  Sound at all familiar?

In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a major organ.  Spring corresponds to the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder.  The liver is responsible for the overall healthy flow of energy, or qi, or chi.  It regulates the movement of chi everywhere else in our body.  Since it plays such a major role in our health, and Spring is a time of renewal, it is a great time to cleanse the liver and gallbladder.

Physically speaking, the liver controls the muslces and tendons, storing blood during periods of rest, and releasing it during activity.

Energetically, the liver is responsible for creating an easygoing disposition and internal environment, therefore it is also in charge of balancing the emotions.  When there is an imbalance, we might experience mood swings, impulsive behavior and emotions, and chronic anger.  The liver corresponds to the element of Wood, needing to be both flexible and stable.

As for the mental qualities of the liver, it controls the coordination of the mind, allowing us to make connections, creating a plan and putting it into action.  At the same time, liver health is reflected in an ability to be flexible, change, and adapt, which is what Spring is all about!  As we all know, when we experience frustration, there isn't much clarity.  It's hard to think through situations, make plans, or shift in order to adapt to new conditions.

The gallbladder is connected to our ability to follow our path in life, to avoid being put off by external influences.  When our chi is depleted, we experience hesitation and timidity.

For some of us, our Liver qi starts to flow more easily when Spring hits, and much of the problems we experienced during Winter, such as sluggishness, begin to ease.   However, for others, the transition from Winter to Spring can be rough because of problems associated with qi stagnation.  Some signs of Liver qi stagnation are:

- Stress or irritability - Low energy - Depression - Muscle tightness or pain - Digestive disorders - Headaches

Spring is a wonderful time to work with these issues if you notice them coming up in your body, because these patterns  will be most noticeable and responsive during this season.  It's important to take this time for your own spiritual, emotional, and physical renewal, to examine unhealthy patterns, and to create new ones that will serve you better.

Here are some ways to get your liver chi moving:

Stretch - Since the liver rules your muscles and tendons, beginning your day with some gentle yoga or tai qi will get that energy moving as well as maintaining the health of your tendons.

Green - Eat lots of it!  Green is the color representative of Spring and the liver.  Eating fresh leafy greens will help with moving the liver chi.

Get outside - Speaking of green, there's finally some of it outside!  The best part about Spring is that it's finally warm enough to enjoy being outside instead of staying holed up in the house.  As it warms up, try doing more outdoor activities like taking a hiking or just a morning stroll.  Ride your bike around town.  Take your yoga practice outside, doing some sun salutations with the sun.

Taste sour - Foods with sour tastes are believed to stimulate liver chi.  Try starting your day with hot water and a squeeze of lemon, or follow your mid-day meal with a lassi (recipe to follow), or add a pickle to your sandwich.

Drink Milk Thistle tea -  It protects the liver from toxins and aids the liver in cleansing itself of toxins already present.

Get creative - Spring is all about creation and growth.  Expressing yourself in cooking, writing, dancing, singing, drawing, or any other form of self-expression will nourish and channel that Wood energy (remember flexible and stable) in a healthy way.

Anyway, sorry for the late post (Spring technically started March 21), but better late than never right?  I hope some of these suggestions will help ease you into the season and prepare the way for Summer (ok, I may be getting a little ahead of myself, but can you blame me?).

Katie's Lassi Recipe:

1 Part plain yogurt (start with 1/3 c.) 2 Parts water 1 tsp. rosewater (optional) Cardamom, cinnamon, ginger to taste (optional) Sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.

Mix ingredients together and enjoy as a snack or 30 min. after a meal to aid with digestion.