Once again we reach the great turning point as our Sun has reached its full power and will begin to dwindle soon. But for a few days we stay in a limbo of solstice which is derived from the Latin sol ("sun") and sistere ("to stand still"). It seems synonymous with how we have all been living these last few months. However we know that things will change both in the daylight hours we have and in our lives. These changes may come slowly but gradually the accumulative affect is seen and felt and in the case of the sun we suddenly realise we are back into the realms of shorter daylight and the darkness of winter . For many knowing this creates a feeling of sadness and longing and this is a feeling many have been experiencing for sometime now due to these unprecedented times. But we know that we are yet to reach midsummer (24th June) and we still have many good days of summer and autumn to come. And so today let us mark the summer solstice with hope and positive energy and try to banish sadness. We know that change is happening so let us make it a good change in our lives. It is also a time to celebrate what we have become and how we have grown.

Over the next few days we can, like our ancestors, light bonfires in honour of our sun and dance around them, create sun wheels, make rose and honeysuckle garlands to wear and adorn our homes, feast and sing or even quietly observe the day by contemplating on what has past and what is to come. After midsummer the daylight time changes, only by a minute, but the change has begun. So even though we are all probably sick and tired of being still let us celebrate the stillness of our sun at its peak.

The plant of the moment is St John's wort, associated with midsummer because it is in flower and named after St John who was supposedly born at this time. Culpeper thought this herb a 'cure-all' and is now commonly associated with alleviating depression. Ironically even though it is associated with the summer and the sun too much usage of St John's wort can make you have an allergy to sunshine itself.

In folklore the days leading up to midsummer are the last days to hear the cuckoo call and to hear a cuckoo on midsummer's day was considered very unlucky.

To pick a fern at midsummer was to render yourself invisible- could be useful !

If you see a white butterfly at midsummer you will eat white bread for the rest of your life. This was written at a time when white bread was a luxury and brown bread was the norm and lowly. How times have changed.

Decorate your house with birch twigs and roses to mark the time of year.

It is a time of fairies and is the best time of the year to see them. Look for and oak, an ash & a thorn growing together, very often a noted place for fey folk. Look too for fairy rings marked by fungi or by a darker circle on the ground. Dedicate a toast of mead to Puck, the old one.

This year why not tie ribbons & fabric strips to twigs and trees in your garden and place an intention of hope, healing and love as you as you fix them. Let the breeze carry your intentions around our earth and into the universe for the benefit of all.

#summersolstice #folklore #bonfire #traditions #oldways #fairies #sun #midsummer #cuckoo #blessings

Today is Mayday or Beltane - a day that has been celebrated for so long. Beltane’s origins lie in Gaelic/Celtic cultures and in Ireland,Scotland , Isle of Man and Cornwall it has been a long held tradition to mark the day with bonfires, gatherings, blessings and fairs. Today marks the latter part of springtime and the coming of summer. The Greenman has once more walked amongst us and brought with him the greening of our earth. Here at Talking Trees we have honoured our ‘greenman’ by placing a circlet if hawthorn and decorated with seasonal flowers. Even though we are isolated and unable to celebrate the seasonal changes as we may wish it is important to mark the day in some way.

Beltane a Gaelic word translates as ‘bright or good fire’ and it is thought that these fires were lit so that the smoke would pass over the cattle and sheep to purify and protect them as they were moved from winter’s low fields to the higher pastures for summer grazing. They would next return to the villages at Samhain (end of October). The bonfires also purified and protected the villages and their inhabitants too and were a gathering point for people to join together to mark the point in the year. If you are unable to have a bonfire today you can simply light a candle in to honour the greenman and give thanks for the coming of summertime.

Even though the path ahead may seem empty today we can gain comfort in knowing that small actions such as watching the sun rise or set, lighting a candle, making a mayday circlet from greenery collected from our garden or just thinking about the importance of today for our ancestors and the importance it holds for us now can be part of a collective action. That many of us are all doing the same things and that the path is not as empty as it appears to us currently.

Just looking at our beautiful wild hedgerows is a joy. Knowing nature is flourishing at this time is such a positive. The little things, the unnoticed, the forgotten now being so much more important. Villages took on this day as a day to celebrate with maypoles, May Queens, fairs. Traditions and customs came in place; to be the first to draw water from the well or to be first to drink the cream from the milk, to get up at dawn and bathe in the early morning dew were all considered lucky and enhancing. It was known as a time for young couples and even though by many as an unlucky month to handfast or marry many made this the day of binding their love.

In parts of Cornwall we are told that those who had been out ‘maying’ all the previous night or since early morning were greeted with refreshments consisting of Junket, rum and milk, tea ands heavy country cake made of flour, cream, sugar and currants. This was followed by a dance, feasting and setting out to gather May ( hawthorn) The May was brought to deck the houses and porches. It was also known as ‘dipping day’ as anyone not wearing a sprig of May in their hat or as a buttonhole was likely to have water thrown on them particularly by children. Picnics, music and merriment carried on throughout the day.

So however you choose to mark the day do so knowing you are not alone and that many of us are with you continuing the traditions, customs and old ways. Brightest of blessings on this brightest of days x #beltane #mayday #traditions #oldways #maypole #folklore #socialisolation #celebrate #marktheday

The vernal equinox -the first day of spring.

How do we mark such a significant day of the year? A few years ago I spent the day with a lovely group at Boundary Way Allotments in Penn. It was a day of late snowfall, known as ‘Daffodil or Onion’ snow (depending on your preferred plant) but despite the weather we stoically celebrated the coming of spring. We made a wreath/mobile to hang in our gardens using a circlet of hazel as our base. We hung things to protect our gardens over the coming growing months including an old iron fork to protect from witches and evil spirits, a shiny foil ball to attract the fairies to it rather than them causing mischief in our garden, we hung an eggshell as a reminder to deter slugs that they were not welcome during the growing season, feathers to celebrate the birds that we share our garden space with and we put moss around the circlet to give the birds a lining for their nests, we also included a sprig of rosemary in remembrance of those who had gardened where we do now and shells and bones to represent the nutrients from past living things that feed our earth. Finally we decorated it with seasonal plants & flowers such as catkins and forsythia flowers. The positive intentions we put into the making of our wreaths soon made us forget about our numb fingers as we looked forward to the growing season ahead and felt the ‘quickening’ experienced by all living things at springtime. We also acknowledged the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth & Spirit by the objects we had used in our wreath and what these elements meant to us in our lives as well as their value to our gardens.

It may seem inappropriate to be talking about celebrating this time of year when so many of us are facing the threat of Coronavirus. It is a sobering reminder of how fragile the human race is. But I would argue that now is exactly the time we need to bring nature and how we live alongside her to the forefront and in celebrating the seasons we remind ourselves of the beginnings and endings that we face in each passing year and that spring always brings hope.

Some call this day Ostara after the Saxon goddess, who was often depicted as a woman with the head of a hare.

‘All things that love the sun are out of doors, The sky rejoices at the morning’s birth, The grass is bright and raindrops on the moors, The hare is running, racing in her mirth’ Wordsworth

Our lovely old boy Pasha loves springtime because he can potter in the garden.

Nature has begun buzzing again and is busy and we should follow her lead. We can use our time to plant those seeds and begin to watch them grow as we nurture them throughout the growing season.

The saying; ‘One for the rook, one for the crow, one to die & one to grow’ is good advice both for our gardening and in our lives. We know that not everything can reach fruition; we may need several ideas, or several attempts at something to gain the success we hope for. So plant many seeds in the hope that some of them will grow!

There are many garden sayings about this time of the year regarding when it’s the right time to sow and plant. Here are just a few.

‘Sow beans or peas on David (1st March) and Chad (2nd), Be the weather good or bad, then comes Benedict (21st), If you ain’t sown your beans, Keep ‘em in the rick.’

‘At the cuckoo’s first spring plant French beans’.

‘Look to the Lilac and the Honeysuckle to guide your planting – When they show their leaves plant lettuce, spinach and peas. When it opens its blooms plant tomatoes, corn and peppers’.

It was believed you should sow seeds naked! I’m guessing that was a good indicator of if it’s warm enough. Definitely too chilly here yet!

The first 3 days of April are called ‘blind days’ when no planting should be done.

Springtime - when the fairies wake up and mischief begins !

It’s time to do some work, clear the ground, dig in/burn or compost unwanted things and plant the new on the ground you have prepared. I think it is amazing how we seem to have annual amnesia that lets us have a real sense of surprise and joy as we see bulbs pushing through, the frothy white blackthorn flowers, the brightness of yellows in drifts of daffodils, hearing birdsong amplified as they seek their mate, the gentle greens of springtime the list goes on. Try to appreciate the small miracles each day and celebrate the seasonal changes in a year when we all feel very vulnerable and fragile. Place yourself in the hands of Mother Nature. Her gift of Spring-time brings light, warmth and hope into out lives.

Wishing you all well and that the hope of springtime gives us all a much needed lift in our lives x

#spring #firstdayofspring #ostara #springequinox #vernalequinox #hope #wishingyouwell