Samhain 1st November- 19th December
'These early November hours that crimson the creeper's leaf across.
Like a splash of blood, intense, abrupt, o'er a shield; else gold from rim to boss
And lay it for show on the fairy-cupped elf-needled mat of moss.'
Robert Browning ( 1812-1889)
The time of Samhain is when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. A time for deep meditation and thought. The harvest of this time is of the inner worlds, the stage of old age where we touch the depths of true knowledge and have the opportunity to embody the soul.
Once at this time, the winter stores were topped up and the cattle slaughtered for winter food. Great fires for the burning of the livestock’s bones were made called Bonfires (Bone-fires) which may be the origin of Bonfire night. This was known as the Festival of Tongues where all could speak freely.
Samhain simply means end of summer and is a time for inner reflection and the remembrance of our ancestors.
The guardian of Samhain is the Apple tree whose fruit can transport us to the Bright Realms.
Light a candle and immerse yourself in deep meditation:
States of Deep meditation
True meditation is a deep connection to the soul, the eternal self. Relief of stress, clarity of vision and mind and improved focus are but symptoms of meditation rather than its essence. Its essence is beyond the mind, body and material world, a state untouched by the fore-mentioned symptoms. Through spiritual practice and soul nourishment it can be made into a permanent state of being.
When a seeker starts to meditate energy is awakened in the base of the spine or a fire in the belly which flows upwards releasing sublime nectar, an exquisite feeling of joy and love for all life. It is like the joy of love-making for the first time and a feeling of being complete, sated.
This state can be experienced when the body is in a focused flow such as when you skydive, abseil, rock climb or drive at top speeds. In meditation this feeling is prolonged and if you learn to sustain it, it will rise up within you awakening the inner senses, literally enabling you to experience the most divine touch, sound, taste and sight, saving you from the need to search for them in the external world. Imagine the time, money and resources this could save us!
The next awakening is in the heart, though this process need not be linear as each centre can awaken at different times.
The secret of unlocking the mysteries of the heart may be implemented in the very human act of heartache, and if one can fully experience a broken heart this centre is pierced.
A divine love beyond human suffering may only be possible through the feeling of this intense pain. Entering this heart ache can erupt into an intense joy, a painful yet blissful longing to be complete.
I believe that your partner, if you can love them with a pure heart, can take you to this state as a teacher, master or Guru traditionally would have.
Through spiritual practice or mastering of an art form such as poetry, this exquisite pain can reach up to the next energy centre between the eyes.
The sensation felt in this centre can also be very intense as it opens, piercing the brow and allowing bliss to enter the head, lifting the spirits and awakening a sensuous flow throughout the entire body. This moving energy is what the poets call inspiration, the fire in the head.
In Gaelic, inspiration is called 'Imbas' and its source flows from the sacred water ways, the river Boyne (which could be likened to the river Ganges in India). The seeker becomes the salmon flowing against the current of ordinary life to the source of the Boyne, the Well of Segais where they obtain knowledge by the eating of hazelnuts, and are reborn in the well of inspiration.
The understanding and assimilation of pain brings great knowledge and/or mastery of the arts.
It is this time of Samhain that takes us deep within.
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Broad-leaved dock ( Rumex obtusifolius) Curled dock ( R.crispus)
Wood dock (R.sanguineus) Clustered dock (R.conglomeratus)
Common Name: Dock Latin : Rumex obtusifolius Family: Polygonaceae (buckwheat family)
History and/or use:. Juice of plant excellent for bites and stings and root rich in iron.
Wildlife Value: Key butterfly food plant especially for the small copper.
Qualities of Dock
'No landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what is called in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. '
Dock is a survivor it produces thousands of seeds and can grow from the tinniest root left in the ground. Plants such as this always come back despite the world trying to destroy them! However as you shall see below it has many uses and if it were not common would be a plant admired for its foliage and rust coloured flowers standing amongst the green sward. Dock therefore to paraphrase from the quote above despite being common is still 'full of divine lessons' providing foliage and sustenance for wildlife including humans.
There are many species of dock but one often thinks of the broad-leaved when referring to it. The curled dock is the most commonly used for medicine today and the wood dock is the only species preferring the shade although will still grow in the open.
Most of us have grown up with the idea of docks growing with nettles and it is indeed true that both these plants can grow together and often where humans have been for both plants crop up in cultivated and disturbed soils. The dock especially grows on soil which has been compacted by feet or machinery.
Dock is known as the cure for the nettle sting and this extends to any burn, scald or blister as the juice of this plant has many healing properties. Ironstone quarry workers are said to have rubbed freshly cut dock on their forearm sores. Science is now implying dock is a placebo but Science is far behind Indigenous traditions when it comes to a knowledge of nature, I find dock incredibly effective especially when treating insect bites!
If you have any medical conditions please check with a medical herbalist first before taking any plant and only harvest it if you are 100% sure what it is!
Naturalists who have a love of the common species have been heard to dismiss this plant in a derogatory fashion but history has not done so. It is one of the four most commonly used herbs; elder, nettle and dandelion being the others.
Its root is rich in iron and can be used to purify the blood and as a laxative.
The bitter leaves are edible and traditionally used to wrap butter in.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.