Lammas Musings and Tarot Spread

It’s harvest time! Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will be celebrating Lammas, or Lughnasadh, on August 1 or 2, depending on your preference.

Lammas is a holiday that tends to get overlooked a lot of the time, although it is one of my favorites. Like its sister holiday, Candlemas (or Imbolc), on the opposite side of the wheel, it is the beginning of a major seasonal transition. While August is often one of the hottest months here in Oregon (in fact, we are supposed to be over 100 all this week, possibly even up to 113, setting a record for the hottest temperature ever recorded here), the gradual shift to autumn is apparent in the shortening days and the autumnal slant of the light as we move toward September.

This is also a time of abundant harvest. In my area melons, peaches, blackberries, cucumbers, corn and tomatoes are ripening quickly, and I’m enjoying fresh local fruits and veggies with every meal. I am, however, a little worried about what this week’s excessive heat might do to the harvest, and will be keeping my little tomato plants well-watered this week. Thank Goddess that we had a wet winter with a lot of snow in the mountains, so we still have plenty of water available for irrigation for our farmers right now.

In our personal lives, this is a good time to take stock of our year so far and see where we are. What have we harvested so far this year? What can we be grateful for? And what might need to be sacrificed in order to keep ourselves on track towards our goals and dreams?

Sacrifice can be a scary word, and it can come with a lot of baggage in a culture that often tells women that they should sacrifice their own health, dreams, time, and comfort for the sake of others. But Lammas is the season of sacrifice, when plants are harvested and die to feed us and other animals, continuing the circle of life.

Sadly, it is true that we can’t have it all. To make positive changes in our lives, we will have to sacrifice something to make room for it, whether that is a limiting belief, a way of interacting with others, an attitude, an activity that we may enjoy, or perhaps one that we simply use to procrastinate. I’ve been learning this lesson lately as I work to limit the time I spend watching Netflix so that I have time to read, paint, journal, and do other activities that really fill me up instead of just zoning out in front of the TV (I still get to do that occasionally though—balance!). I can’t watch a lot of TV and read lots of books and create lots of art, there just isn’t enough time in the day. I had to decide which of these things I was willing to sacrifice. But giving up our habits is never easy or comfortable.

This Lammas tarot spread explores these themes of harvest and sacrifice as we move through this transitional season toward Autumn Equinox.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Lammas until Autumn Equinox)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What is my most important harvest at this time?
  5. What might I need to sacrifice in order to ensure a full harvest?
  6. What action(s) can I take to share my abundance with others?

It has not been the easiest year, and I am feeling that, too. If you feel like you haven’t harvested anything, that none of your hopes and dreams for the year seem to be manifesting, try not to give in to a sense of despair. The cards you draw will show you that something is being harvested right now. It may not be something huge, it may be simply that you have made a small change, like drinking more water, that is benefiting your health. Or perhaps you’ve taken up journaling again, and as a result are starting to listen to your inner voice.

I feel like the Wheel of the Year often gets associated with working on big, lofty goals and dreams, and that is wonderful, but that isn’t appropriate for all of us at all times. Some of us may be making small, but important, changes to improve our lives. Celebrate those little harvests, too. I got just as excited about the first tiny tomato that ripened on my plants as I will about the large tomatoes that I will soon be harvesting. In fact, when they all start ripening at once it can actually get a little overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do with them all! So celebrate your small victories and your tiny tomato harvests, because they matter, too.

Also, if you are looking for something delicious to make to celebrate Lammas, I made this Cheese, Herb & Garlic Quick Bread last year, and it was so delicious. I highly recommend it!

Blessed Lammas to you all!

Tea Time! Soothing Recipes for the Holidays

teablend

Blending teas.

I love blending and drinking herbal teas. There is something about sipping a hot cup of fragrant herbal tea, sweetened with a touch of local honey, that just makes everything feel right with the world for a moment. As we enter the holiday season, I wanted to share a couple of tea blends I created that I use to soothe holiday stress and the digestive upsets that can occur from over-indulging in pumpkin pie or one too many holiday cookies.

I created these two tea blends several years ago mainly to help with the stress and bloating of PMS, but they’ve become my two favorite teas at any time of the month. The Evening Tea is light and soothing and helps me relax before bed, and it is also somewhat calming to my digestive system. However, if I am really bloated or have an acid tummy, Digestive Delight is the one I turn to. It is both relaxing and really great for helping ease digestive complaints.***

Evening Tea

1 part Lemon Balm
1 part Oatstraw
1 part Chamomile
1 1/2 parts Red Clover
1/2 part Spearmint

Digestive Delight Tea

3 parts Chamomile
2 parts Lemon Balm
1 part Lemon Verbena
1 part Lemongrass
1 part Peppermint
1/4 part Lavender

(Note: These recipes use dried herbs.)

To blend the teas, just choose a measuring device to act as your “part” for the recipe. This could be anything from a tablespoon to a cup. I usually use a quarter cup as my “part.” Combine the herbs in a bowl and then transfer to a jar for storage, or just add them to the jar you will store them in and shake it to mix the herbs.

To brew the teas, add a couple of spoonfuls of tea to a mesh tea ball or other tea steeping device, put it in your mug, and pour on boiling water. Steep the Digestive Delight tea about 5-10 minutes (it can get pretty strong, so start on the low end, and add extra hot water if it tastes too strong after steeping). Steep the Evening Tea 10-20 minutes. Digestive Delight is also really wonderful iced—I make a big pot of it and keep it in the fridge to drink in the evenings during the summer.

Now, light a candle, sit back, relax, and indulge in a few moments of peace and quiet as you sip your tea. Ahhhh…doesn’t that feel better?

Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating tomorrow!

Resources:

Mountain Rose Herbs — a great source for high-quality bulk herbs if you don’t have access to a local herb shop.

Herbal Teas: 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health & Vitality — my favorite book of herbal tea blend recipes. It also has a great section in the back listing many herbs and their uses.

Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health — a great herbal reference book!

***I am not a trained herbalist and share these recipes simply as teas that I personally use and the results I have experienced, but I make no claims regarding their safety or efficacy. Please consult your doctor before using if you are taking any medications, or are pregnant or nursing, or if you may be allergic to any of the ingredients.