The Bare Bones of November
It was sunny and unseasonably warm today, so I took a break from writing (I’m participating in NaNoWriMo in the hopes of completing a novel good enough to publish) and went to soak up what might be the last of the warm sunshine until next May.
I love noticing the small things that when woven together form a whole. October was all sapphire skies and warm, flame colors. It was vibrant and energetic. A storm blew in on Halloween, causing the trees to shed their leaves until next year. I awoke on the 1st of November to discover a dramatic change in the landscape I view from my window. The cathedral of gold leaves is gone, replaced by bare skeletal bones. The few remaining leaves have turned from bright gold to more muted earth colors. It’s the start of a new season—the time of year to plan and dream. It’s the time of year when the world sleeps and I awaken.
I view Samhain as the start of a new year. It certainly feels that way this year. I went to sleep on Samhain Eve, still enveloped in a cocoon, and awoke to find everything has changed. There’s a deep sense of longing for something I can’t quite explain. I feel it most as I dream, or when I walk in nature. I feel a shift has happened. Others may not see it in me, but I know I’ve been through a death and a rebirth.
When I returned to my cozy house after my walk, I was inspired not to write but to play with color. I created a palette I named “Misty, Milky, Foggy, Moody” after one of my favorite Instagram hashtags. I think this palette conveys the mood of November, as well as being a fairly accurate visual representation of the current landscape where I live. There are rosehips, lichens, silvery tree branches, spruce and hemlock evergreens, dried grasses and wheat, some lingering chicory and asters. It’s the palette I feel most at home with.
It’s also the palette/mood I envision when I think of my current work in progress. I plan on glancing at this mood board as I write the enchanted forest scenes in my book.
If you had to create a palette that feels like home, or the visual expression of your soul, what colors would you include and what would you name your palette?
I hope you are having a beautiful beginning of November. Happy belated Samhain.
The Ghost in the Mirror. An original short story for Halloween.
There’s an exciting collaboration between myself and a childhood friend in the works. More on that to come, but let’s just say it prompted me to revisit some old stories I’d written. This one seemed appropriate for Halloween, so I decided to share it. Please note it’s still quite rough. I hope to rewrite it soon, but for now...here it is!
THE GHOST IN THE MIRROR
It was a misty, chilled to the bones day in October and Ivy was searching the shelves of Raven’s Nest Antiques for a miracle. Each object she picked up told a story, but so far not one told the story she was looking for. She opened a silver locket engraved with initials inside a broken heart, and found a lock of hair inside. It looked like it had been flame-red at one time, but had faded to dirty penny over time. She closed her eyes and focused on feeling vibrations from the locket and lock of hair. The scent of malt whiskey and vanilla tobacco, the tinkling of a crystal chandelier dancing in the breeze from an open window, and the faint brush of a kiss against a cheek. The woman was exquisite. Her hair was red and her silk gown elegant and understated in a “I am rolling in money, but attempting to look middle class” kind of way. She was lovely, but unfortunately, the red-haired woman wasn’t her ghost.
Her friend Chloe referred to her ghost as “your clingy roommate,” so that people tended to think she had a roommate she couldn’t get rid of. It was true that she couldn’t seem to get rid of her ghost, but she was nothing like a roommate. For one, she only ever appeared in mirrors. And secondly, she really didn’t take up any space, eat the last of the ice cream, steal her favorite earrings, or possess any of the other annoying habits her last roommate had maintained. She did, however, make Ivy feel cold and despondent anytime she happened to catch a glimpse of her in any reflective surface.
“How about this one.” Ivy held out her hand to touch the object Chloe had discovered. It was from around the right time period, the early 1900s, and was an ornate brass jewelry box. After sighting the ghost countless times, Ivy had begun sketching the details she could remember: The ghost was willowy and pale with a cloud of dark hair, and was dressed in a crisp shirtwaist and blue rose damask skirt. Chloe, who was studying fashion design, considered herself an expert on period clothing. She had determined the style of clothing had been popular in the early 1900s.
A few weeks ago, Ivy had visited a psychic in the hopes of getting rid of her ghost once and for all, and was told that a ghost might need a physical connection with an item that had some meaning for them. This connection might help them to complete any unfinished business so they could move on. Fortunately, Ivy’s gift for psychometry would make a seemingly insurmountable task somewhat doable. So, Chloe with her lion’s mane of waist-length golden hair and her whimsical, hand-sewn clothing, had loyally accompanied Ivy to every single antique shop in town, searching for any object that may have been touched by the ghost. Raven’s Nest Antiques was their last hope.
Ivy took the brass box from Chloe. It felt cold and heavy in her bird-bone hands. She focused on the texture of the box. It was bumpy in places and smooth in others. She opened the lid and smelled a strange fragrance, musty like the pages of an ancient book. There was the faintest trace of the scent of opium left clinging to the blue velvet lining of the box. As she inhaled the fragrance and felt the box against her skin, wisps of smoke images appeared and then solidified into almost tangible memories. The box had belonged to a philosophy student. He had once been warmhearted, if rather serious, but was left broken and unfeeling due to a tragedy Ivy couldn’t quite see. It was so deeply buried. He lost himself in drugs and dreams. She sighed.
“This is hopeless,” she said as she glanced at Chloe, who was nervously picking at her fingernails. She wanted the search to be over as much as Ivy did.
Ivy replaced the box on the dusty shelf with a bit more force than necessary. If it had been glass, it would have shattered. Her shoulders sagged and she felt lightheaded. She couldn’t handle any more dead peoples’ memories today.
Chloe seemed to sense her friend had reached her limit, for she draped her arm around Ivy’s shoulder and said, “Come on, I’ll treat us to some hot chocolates from Cookie’s Coffee and then we’ll come up with Plan B, C, D, and Z if we have to.” Her bouncy optimism was one of the most endearing traits Chloe possessed. It was one of the reasons she was Ivy’s best friend, as they were polar opposites.
Ivy gave her a weak smile and said with a shrug, “It was a longshot anyway. A hot cocoa sounds amazing right about now.” She started to follow Chloe through the narrow maze that would lead them back to the front counter of the shop and out the door, when a shadow from a doorway caught her eye. There was a door leading to another room. How had they missed it?
“Wait a minute, Chloe. There’s another room.” Without waiting to see if Chloe had heard, Ivy walked through the doorway. There was nothing obviously wrong with the room. It was much cleaner than the rest of the shop, with lots of light streaming in through the many widows that lined the entire wall opposite the door. Yet somehow, the jam-packed maze of antiques, although full of the energy of the people who had once owned them, gave Ivy a feeling of comfort whereas this room felt prickly and oppressive. She had the sudden urge to run from the room and never return. Where was Chloe anyway?
Ivy swallowed her fears and began taking in details. There was another smaller room, or a closet perhaps, leading away from this one. It was separated by a beaded curtain. The beads jangled. Ivy watched, mesmerized and yet frozen in sudden inexplicable fear. Cold shivers creeped down her spine. Her mouth flew open, but no sound came out. She gave an audible sigh of relief when a woman emerged through the curtain. Her presence broke whatever spell had been cast over the room, which Ivy now realized was a photography studio.
“Oh, you gave me a fright,” said the woman, clutching onehand to her heart in an exaggerated, overly dramatic gesture.There was a roll of film in her other hand, which she proceeded to clip to a string that hung across the wall over the counter. She was short and dressed all in black, her long black hair in a braidtrailing down her back. She spoke with a trace of an accent. Ivy couldn’t tell where she was from, but it was obvious she wasn’t a local.
“I didn’t hear you come in. Are you wanting to book a session? I’m not available today. I’m actually off to do a shoot at the Botanical Gardens. I could be free tomorrow, or (she glanced at her phone) next Sunday?”
Chloe poked her head around the door at this moment, “I thought I lost you. How did you disappear into thin air like that?”
“Oh, there are two of you. I’d be happy to fit the both of you in on Sunday. How does that sound?” The woman in black looked up from her phone, her black, cat-eye glasses sliding down her nose. She hastily pushed them up again, wrinkled her forehead, and looked at them hopefully.
“Oh, no,” said Ivy, “We didn’t realize this was a photography studio. We were just browsing for antiques and happened upon you by chance.”
The photographer sighed, “Yes, I thought as much. That happens all the time. It’s the one drawback to sharing a space with another shop. I’m way in the back of the building and easily overlooked, but this space has the best light, and I have an unlimited supply of props to borrow any time I want.” She made a vague gesture toward the antiques piled up in the next room and pulled a couple business cards from her pocket. She handed them to Ivy. “Well, if you change your mind.”
Chloe had wandered into the room now too and was paging through a book on the counter. “Wow,” she said in obvious admiration. Her blue eyes were round, and her cheeks flushed in the way they did when she was really excited or had discovered a new passion. Ivy looked over her shoulder.
“Your work is incredible,” agreed Ivy. It really was. The photographs in the sample book were mostly portraits of people and animals. There was the occasional photo of everyday items that somehow seemed extraordinary due to the camera angle and quality of light. The portrait photography was Ivy’s favorite, though. There was a timeless quality to the photos. They managed to look both contemporary and like old-fashioned daguerreotypes at the same time. Ivy thought they belonged on the walls of a gallery or museum.
“Thank you,” said the woman. “I really must dash. Feel free to keep looking through my book, and do give me a ring if you change your mind and want to book a session.”
“Okay, will do,” said Ivy. She glanced at the card the photographer had giver her. It was simple and elegant, with the photographer’s name listed as Damiana. Ivy wasn’t sure if this was her first name or surname, or some kind of invented professional name.
“These really are fabulous,” said Chloe. “Hey, isn’t Jaxon’s birthday next month? I know he’d love professional portraits of you.”
“There’s an idea,” said Ivy. It really was a good idea. It could be an engagement and birthday gift in one.
She found herself seated in the photographer’s studio the following Sunday, looking through a book of photographs, and feeling thoroughly creeped out by the energy of the studio. It wasn’t anything she could put her finger on though, so she tried to settle her nerves by concentrating on admiring the images in the book. Damiana wanted her to choose her favorites so she could get a better sense of what kind of portrait she was after. There were lots of gorgeous images, but one in particular caught her eye and made her heart stop. The woman in the photograph was wearing the same blouse and skirt as her ghost.
Damiana returned from the back room and wandered over to her client. “Ooh, that’s a good one. She was one of my favorites. Just look at her bone structure and how the light highlights the beauty of her collarbone.”
“It’s a beautiful photo, but I’m curious about her outfit more than anything,” said Ivy in barely more than a whisper. Her voice didn’t seem to be working properly.
“Ah, yes. That was going to be my next question. We have a whole trunk of costumes and props to use. I’m pretty sure that outfit is still with the rest. You can sort through it in a moment and choose what you want to wear. We can choose a chair or other props from Raven’s Nest too.
Several minutes later, Ivy was wearing the cream-colored shirtwaist and blue damask skirt, which fit like a glove. She had pinned her auburn hair into a close approximation of a Gibson Girl pompadour. She was seated in an ornate Art Nouveau stylechair she had chosen from the many items of furniture next door. The upholstery was an elegant ebony and ivory silk. She tried to relax, but her heart was pounding, and she was having trouble catching her breath.
“You are so pale, almost ghostly. How about we play on that. Here, hold these,” said Damiana as she strode in the room clutching a bouquet of dead roses. She arranged them in Ivy’s arms and then stood back to scrutinize her subject. “Yes, that will do nicely.”
Ivy’s heart wouldn’t stop racing. Her hands felt cold and clammy. Why was she suddenly petrified of having her photograph taken? She was being silly. She took a deep breath and forced a smile.
“No, no. Act naturally.” Damiana had her clunky black camera, an actual film SLR, in her hands now and was peering through the viewfinder and examining her subject from different angles.
“Oh, I didn’t give you payment yet,” said Ivy nervously. She would love an excuse to get up, if only for a moment. Maybe she just needed to get some fresh air before returning to the studio. She started to get out of the chair, so as to grab her purse, but Damiana gestured for her to remain seated.
“Payment is always given afterwards,” said Damiana firmly. There was a hard edge to her voice now. Was Ivy imagining things or did her eyes gleam greedily? She smiled in a friendly manner, and Ivy felt calm once more. She relaxed her shoulders slightly.
“Think of a faraway place. Have you ever felt so much a part of a place, like your blood and bones were married to the landscape? Or, perhaps you feel most connected to a particular street-corner of a city. Wherever feels like home, think of that.”
Ivy thought of several places before settling on one place in particular. A small, serene smile spread across her face just as Damiana clicked the shutter of her camera. An instant later there was an odd cloud hovering around her. She was completely enveloped in a charcoal fog, so that her body looked insubstantial. Prickly, clawing tentacles sank into her body, pulling her essence through the tiny pores of her skin. Damiana was grinning wickedly, her mouth was a cavernous gaping hole greedy for something pure and light. In one horrible moment, Ivy saw the photographer’s true form. She was all rattling bones and razor teeth: a creature desperate for flesh and substance. Ivy shrieked in agony, and then her mind went blank.
“I’ll develop the film tonight and should have a few images ready for you next week. Call back then, okay? It’s been a pleasure doing business with you,” said Damiana, stretching out her hand for Ivy to shake.
Ivy heard her voice saying “thank you. I look forward to receiving them,” but it sounded so distant and oddly hollow.
“Can I help you, dear,” said a kind, gentle voice. There was an elderly woman placing glass baubles containing air plants on a shelf in the hallway just past Damiana’s photography studio. Ivy recognized her as the woman who stood behind the counter of Raven’s Nest Antiques the last time she was there.
“Oh, I just had my portrait taken,” said Ivy in a voice that wasn’t quite her own.
The woman furrowed her brow in a quizzical way, and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you properly. Did you say you are looking for a portrait?”
Ivy pointed towards the door of Damiana’s photography studio to indicate she had come from there, but then realized in horror that the entrance was no longer there. Where the door to the studio should have been was now covered in dusty shelves and mirrors stacked rather haphazardly. She felt sick to her stomach. Her hand flew to her mouth.
“Are you alright, dear?” but she was already fleeing the shop, desperate to be far, far away from it.
When she arrived home, she placed her bag on the table and went into the bathroom to splash cool water on her face. Her hands were shaking, and she felt floaty, as if she didn’t take up any space at all.
She was hesitant to look at herself in the mirror, as she was in no mood to see the ghost appear in front of her, but couldn’t stop her eyes darting up to the mirror regardless. Her heart dropped into her stomach. She was standing right in front of the mirror and there was no longer any ghost reflected in it, but also, most surprisingly, she no longer seemed to have a reflection. The towel hanging from the back of the door was reflected in the mirror, so was the shower curtain and the painting of the vase of roses, but where she should be was just empty space.
A Poem From “spinning hair into gold.”
In gratitude for you lovely beings (some of whom I’ve never even met) who actually bought my book , I decided to share one poem from my book in a blog post each month. I hope you enjoy.
MORGAN LE FEY
We journey in the sunlight hours
when songbirds speak riddles.
She peeks from behind the veil,
a creature comfortable with darkness,
moth-like tendency to seek lightness
causing her disappearance
when she lingers in our sight
in the in-between places,
out of the corner of my eye places,
the realm where humans and faeries
are allowed to meet
I caught a flash of dark,
not of this world
before a wisp of smoke,
the scent of rose,
a vague on the tip of my tongue...
then you spoke and it was gone
Morgan Le Fey,
Faery, Witch, Enchantress
as I dreamed.
She offered me a ring
so I could return
to the land of enchanted things
I need to sing
my soul back home.
✨Thank you for reading. ✨
Autumn Reading List and Creative Challenge.
It’s here! Autumn is my favorite time of year, when my soul awakens after being held prisoner by Summer’s scorching heat. When the world turns gold and begins to quieten, my creative muse bursts forth with a cry of glee!
I plan on reading, writing, baking, knitting, gathering wild foods, communing with nature, and more.
Here is my Autumn 2019 Reading List to inspire you to pick up a book and join me in creating a colsie home environment. I’ve also included a creative challenge to begin at mid-September. I hope you will join me.
Autumn 2019 Reading List
I hope my Autumn 2019 Reading List is a source of inspiration to you and will help you feel that perfect, colsie, bookish hygge vibe even if autumn hasn’t quite arrived in your corner of the world.
1. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
I just re-read this charming, third book in the Anne of Green Gables series. It’s perfect for those back-to-school vibes, and Anne and Gilbert are pretty much my favorite couple of all time, so it’s a must for me when I need to feel hopeful and comforted.
2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This is another comfort read for me. The narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, transports me to my favorite English countryside landscape. Every time I read this book, I feel I am returning home.
3. Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison. I’ve read bits and pieces of this book, and I’m determined to read it cover to cover this autumn. If you enjoy nature and travel writing, love the rain, and like to feel colsie, this book might be perfect for you.
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. This is another book I cherish, and that I’ve been wanting to re-read. I’m planning on reading it aloud to my son. Lyra is such a charming, spunky, relatable character. This book is full of magic and vivid descriptions. I can’t wait to revisit Lyra’s Oxford. **as a side note: if you’ve read this, were you obsessed with discovering your daemon too? I’m pretty sure mine is either a crow, or a ginger cat (like my familiar—Ginevra). What is yours? I want to know!
5. A mystery book! I’m currently reading Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. It’s a book in a series about Inspector Gamache. I love small town settings with colorful, eccentric characters, so this series is perfect for me. If you can recommend another colsie (I love this word!) mystery, or a whodunnit similar to an Agatha Christie, or a gothic novel in a similar vein to Daphne du Maurier’s books, I’d love it!
I’ve learned from experience that if I add too many books to my TBR, I get overwhelmed, so I’m limiting myself to five books for now. I tend to be a mood reader, so this list will most likely change! I think these books are perfect for the comforting gloom that is autumn. Do you agree? Have you read any of these? Which books do you want to read this autumn?
Here is my Mid-September creative challenge. If you participate in this challenge, feel free to tag your Instagram posts with #enchantedsimplicity so I can see them. I might have a special surprise for those of you who do participate!
This challenge is meant for any creator—be it writer, photographer, musician, visual artist, etc. See the above image for the prompts.
It begins on September 16 and ends on September 29. Take the prompts as a starting point and use your imagination to create whatever you want. My little book “Spinning Hair Into Gold” releases on the autumn equinox (September 22). Those of you who choose to help me promote it that day, by reposting one of my poems, tagging my account with a mention of my book, or creating a post inspired by my book will automatically be entered into a surprise Giveaway. Make sure to tag all of your posts with #enchantedsimplicity and/or tag me @enchantedsimplicity in your photos. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning the surprise/international giveaway. Have fun!
Why I Wrote “Spinning Hair into Gold.”
Spinning Hair into Gold came about almost by accident. It wasn’t a planned project.
I teach a course, Re-weaving Enchantment, which helps women to rewild and awaken their creativity. As I was teaching this course, I was also participating in the course activities. My final, creative project merged with another project I had put aside, and became this little book of poems and stories.
I’m working on a novel that features a Weaver of Fate. I named her Oriana. This character kept haunting my dreams, until I finally listened to her and began piecing together some of the poems and short stories I had written.
I wrote this book from a place of joy, a burst of creative energy. The process was different from that of my usual planned projects. I had no idea where I was going with this book, but just trusted in the process. My muse was quite solidly present as I worked on this project.
It was a beautiful experience—writing a book spontaneously and with no clear direction. As I wrote, the puzzle pieces began to fit together. I now know that this book is about Oriana, but also contains stories of the people whose story-tapestries she weaves into being. It’s about fate versus free will, and about learning to collaborate with the Fates to create our own stories according to our visions.
This book is for those who appreciate fairy tales, mythology, magic, and nature.
Spinning Hair Into Gold is available for pre-order here and the paperback version will be available to purchase on Mabon (September 22).
Review of the DARE app: a tool for being present.
Recently, I accepted a collaboration involving reviewing the DARE app. Although I only needed to share my thoughts in an Instagram story, I was so impressed with this app that I had to share it on my blog too.
The DARE app is based on the book “DARE” by Bary McDonagh. The full name of the app is DARE: Break Free From Anxiety and Panic Attacks. As I do not have severe anxiety and have never had a major panic attack, I can’t vouch for the efficacy of the app in helping with this. I do have mild anxiety, am prone to worry, and sometimes deal with insomnia. After using this app for just a few short weeks, I can already notice a marked improvement in my mental state and sleep patterns.
Some features on this app can be downloaded for free, and there is also a paid option. The paid option just contains way more tools, such as nature sounds to help with insomnia, and audio files. As my main issue is worry, I mostly utilized the resources under the Overcome Worry section. There was a fantastic audio file about learning to engage your senses to remain present. This, more than anything else, has helped me immensely.
Here’s what the app looks like when you first log in.
As you can see, it’s really easy to navigate. There’s even some tools to help if you find yourself in the midst of a panic attack. Again, I cannot express my opinion as to how helpful those features are, as I haven’t needed to use them, but based on the rest of the app I assume it would be an excellent tool.
I highly recommend this app for helping one to remain present and find peace of mind.
*although my Instagram video review was a paid collaboration, all opinions expressed are my own.
Here is a link to to download the app.
30 Ways to Make August an Enchanting Month.
"When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and like a dream of beauty glides away."
- Sarah Helen Power Whitman
(This post may contain affiliate links, which means I might receive a tiny bit of money if you decide to click through and make a purchase.)
August marks the end of summer. This last golden month of summer is often bittersweet. It’s typically a beautiful month for me, as 1st of August is one of my favorite holidays and my birthday falls in the middle of the month. It can also be a wonderfully autumnal month at times. It is also the last month of summer holiday before the school year begins in September.
I see August as an in-between time. The height of summer has passed, yet my favorite season (autumn) hasn’t quite arrived. It’s a time to plant seeds and make plans. It can also be a less magical time of year for me, but this year I’m determined to make August an enchanting month. Here are my 30 ways to make August an Enchanting Month.
1. Celebrate the ancient first harvest festival, Lughnasadh. I have some suggestions for making this celebration special in my blog post here.
2. Make it a priority to slow down and appreciate these last dog days of summer. Try to be present and enjoy all the things you personally love about summer. If you aren’t a big summer person, try to find things you do like about this season.
3. Watch as many sunsets as possible. See how many you can watch. Keep a visual or written diary of all of these sunsets, perhaps one entry for every day this month. It could be a series of photographs, a written description, a colored pencil sketch.
4. Get outside somewhere in nature at night to catch fireflies. Then let them go. Say farewell until next year.
5. Make an August playlist. Choose songs that seem to express the mood of August. Listen to it every day.
6. Go to a U-pick farm to harvest seasonal fruits and veggies.
7. Dress up in your fanciest summer outfit and add a big sunhat. Enjoy the feel of the sun against your (sunscreen protected) skin.
8. Make some special ice lollies (popsicles) using fancy ingredients, such as adding fresh herbs and edible flowers.
9. August is Leo season, so follow in the big hearted lion’s footsteps and do something from a place of love. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, knit scarves and hats to be donated for those in need over the winter, surprise a friend by treating them to a special lunch, or anything else that comes to mind.
10. Don’t forget to treat yourself. Dye your hair that outrageous color, go on that holiday you’ve been saving for, have that solitary time you desperately need.
11. Read a magical book! My two recent favorites are The Festival of Vision and Fire by my friend Logan Miehl and The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris. The first book is full of faeries, magic and Celtic folklore. The second is more magical realism and is the fourth book in the Chocolat series. The main character, Vianne Rocher is one of my favorite characters ever!
12. Cook a delicious meal using in season, local foods. Set the table in a special way, light candles, and make it a magical mealtime.
13. Pick a huge bouquet of wildflowers, or treat yourself to a store bought bouquet. Breathe in the heavenly scent, feast your eyes on the gorgeous colors and shapes.
14. Seek some local activity to attend. Perhaps there’s a Shakespeare in the park performance where you live, or a local festival, outdoor music event, or a tour of the local art galleries. Choose something that delights you, and make sure you make it to the event.
15. Go swimming! If you can’t swim, try to at least get in the water, preferably out in nature somewhere. Perhaps there’s a beach nearby, or a lake, stream, pond, etc.
16. Enjoy a summer thunderstorm if you get the chance. Go play in the rain. Splash in puddles, run, laugh, be grateful for rain.
17. Get some fresh grapes and freeze some. This is a delightful, fancy summertime treat. Grapes are perfect mini popsicles.
18. Make a flower crown and wear it!
19. To get in the mood for autumn and back-to-school, throw a Harry Potter themed party! You could have a HP movie marathon too!
20. Create a nature mandala using little nature treasures you gather on a walk.
21. Keep a nature journal. Record sketches, observations, stories.
22. Write a story or poem dedicated to August. If you don’t like to write, you could create a collage about August.
23. Engage in shin rin yoku, or forest bathing. Spend time walking slowly in a woodland or somewhere else in nature.
24. Forage for wild foods. Blackberries are just starting to ripen where I live. Wild blueberries can be found too.
25. Make sun tea using fresh herbs.
26. Even if you aren’t typically an early riser, plan ahead so you can wake up to see the sunrise and hear the birds’ dawn chorus. Make a flask of tea, and sit on a hillside or on the hood of your car if you have to drive to a nature spot.
27. Journal about all the things you want to create in the autumn.
28. Meet a friend for brunch with champagne. Don’t wait for a special occasion, create one!
29. Tend to your garden, or indoor plants. Start planning for autumn.
30. Spend some time gazing at the moon and dreaming.
Celebrating Lughnasadh. Tips for making Lughnasadh an Enchanting celebration.
Many of us who live in harmony with nature and the seasons choose to celebrate festivals from the Old Ways. August 1st is the first harvest festival of the year, and is still celebrated in many places around the world. Many farmers still acknowledge this festival in some small way, even if they do not remember its roots.
In Pagan communities, this festival is generally called Lughnasadh. Some people prefer to call it by the name it was given when Christianity began to overtake Paganism, Lammas. Whatever your religious/spiritual views, it’s really lovely to acknowledge the changing of the seasons and express gratitude for Mother Earth and all the food she provides for us.
Here are some ways in which you can connect with nature and celebrate this first harvest festival of the year and begin to welcome the coming autumn season.
1. Throw a zero waste picnic. Ask each guest to bring their own plate, cup, bowl, and flatware. Share food made from seasonal, local produce. Ideas: Roasted corn on the cob, baby pumpkins, courgettes, watermelon, blackberries.
2. Light a bonfire and burn bay leaf wishes. Take a moment to express your gratitude for all this delicious food, for summer warmth, to think about all the wonderful things you did over the long summer days.
3. Create a nature table/altar with all of the food you harvested. If you don’t have access to a garden, try to get locally grown produce to put on your altar.
4. Create a nature mandala with lots of orange and yellow flowers to represent the sun.
5. Invite friends round for a midnight celebration to say farewell to summer and welcome the darker days. Place candles in jars and decorate your outdoor space for an added bit of magic. If you are lucky, you might even spot the last fireflies of the season.
6. Take a ritual bath with golden flowers and anoint yourself with essential oils of your choice.
7. Sit in a quiet place and meditate to meet the being that embodies the height of summer and warmth for you (The sun God Lugh, a solar deity, etc).
8. Plan an outing to a U-pick farm to gather any seasonal produce you desire. Then have a party and share this food with your loved ones.
9. Journal to describe what you are ready to release as you say farewell to summer and what you wish to accomplish during the autumn months.
I hope these ideas have sparked a plan for celebrating Lughnasadh! Your celebration can be simple or elaborate. Do what feels right for you. Happy harvest!
It wasn’t a typical day for Moira Grey. Indeed, it was anything but usual. A silver fog hung over the hills, shrouding them in a veil of silence. The mysterious and moody atmosphere seemed to affect even Elderberry, who was keeping a watchful eye on things from her perch on Jez’s comfortable shoulder.
Moira, grown impatient with waiting, bent down to trace spirals in the dirt. Jez gave her a “thank you for trying to be patient” kind of smile. His green eyes twinkled with good humor. He crouched down on the ground beside her, reached into his pack for a jar of raisins, and began feeding them to Elderberry.
Moira blew the dust from her fingers and reached out to grab ahold of Jez’s hand. The fog was thick now. She was afraid of disappearing. Although, she reminded herself, that was kind of what they were trying to do. Waiting for a portal to open was different than losing oneself in the dense fog though.
What I Learned From Spring Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that it is almost April. Earlier this month, I started a 14 day capsule wardrobe challenge. The purpose of this challenge was for me to figure out which pieces of clothing I might need to replace, or add to my spring capsule wardrobe, and to see how my style has evolved.
I plunged right in on March 14th, fully intent on dressing in 14 pieces of clothing for this early spring capsule wardrobe challenge. Around day 4 or 5, I could already tell I made some poor choices, and by day 6 I caught my son's cold I'd been fighting off for well over three weeks. Let's just say, this challenge was a major fail on my part!
I promised I would do a wrap-up post to share what I learned from my spring capsule wardrobe challenge, so even though I wasn't able to complete it, here are my thoughts about it anyway.
It's okay to fail!
Sometimes we aren't able to complete what we set out to do, or we end up with unexpected results. This is OKAY. Don't beat yourself up if you don't excel at something. I could have kept going with this challenge, even after I got sick, but I decided it was more important to just rest and listen to my body.
Take time to play!
I learned that too much structure stifles me. I need room for play! It was an interesting experience, limiting myself to such a small number of clothing, and while I will most definitely continue to curate my version of a capsule wardrobe, I need to have more variety. I love to dress up! Ever since I was a small child, I have enjoyed dressing up. When I limit myself to just a few pieces of clothing (and accessories) I lose that sense of childlike wonder and fun!
Don't stray from your personal style!
I kept seeing these gorgeous, cohesive capsule wardrobes on Pinterest and Instagram, and I think I let this influence how I decided to go about curating this spring capsule wardrobe for the challenge. Obviously, I didn't buy anything for the challenge. The point was to use what I already had in my wardrobe, so that I could determine what I still needed and what I might be ready to let go of. Also, I should mention that I have purchased more tailored clothing over the past few years, partly because I was in grad school at the time and wanted to look more "professional." Some of these items will remain in my capsule wardrobe, but I learned that many of them just aren't my style. I didn't include any of these items in my 14 day spring capsule wardrobe challenge, so that I could determine how I really felt about them. I did not miss them one little bit!
Embrace your femininity!
I used to love wearing skirts and dresses. I stopped wearing them when I was in grad school, and I kind of got our of the habit of wearing them. I didn't think to include any in my 14 day challenge, and I wish I had. The weather began to warm up during my spring capsule wardrobe challenge, and I found myself wishing I could twirl in a long skirt. When I curate my spring capsule wardrobe next week, I will add plenty of dresses and skirts. You may not be a skirts and dresses kind of gal, but I sincerely believe that every woman should wear feminine clothing from time to time. There's just something so magical, empowering, and freeing about skirts and dresses. I even believe boys and men need to wear skirts and dresses too, but that's a whole other story for another time.
I'm glad I participated in this challenge, even though I didn't complete it. In the end, it helped me accomplish what I was hoping. I feel confident about curating my spring capsule wardrobe, but I know I won't feel guilty about adding in more items than usual. After a long, dreary winter, I am ready to play. How do I play? By dressing up, of course!
Did you participate in this spring capsule wardrobe challenge too? Share what you learned in the comments, or connect with me on Instagram.
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