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Mayday, also known as Beltane, is a time for gathering flowers and greenery, lighting and even leaping over Bel fires, bathing in the early morning dew and dancing around maypoles. However if this kind of shenanigans is not to your taste you could do no better than taking a stroll in a woodland and noticing what may be considered the true colour of May - blue.

This springtime icon of a British woodland, the bluebell, brings a swathe of lilac-blue colour and a gentle sweet scent that holds on the breeze particularly after a light shower of rain. It has many old folk names, Bell Bottle in Bucks, Blue Bonnets in Somerset and Wiltshire, Blue Rocket in parts of Ireland, Cuckoo flower in Cornwall, Gowk’s Hose in parts of Scotland (a Gowk is a cuckoo) and Pride of the Wood in Somerset being just a few examples.

Its roots were used as a glue or starch and helped ‘against the brings of a gelded spider’.

Associated with Fey folk the bluebell is said to chime at midnight to call fairies to their revels. They are said to symbolise love, gratitude, and communication and are associated with the Element Air.

Another lovely little blue flower of the month contender is the forget-me -not, with old folk names of Mammy-Flooer from Shetland , Bird’s Eye from Somerset, Robin’s Eye from Hant and Remember Me. It was believed if you wore forget-me-not you would not be forgotten by your lover. It was also believed that wearing it would protect against witches. This little flower is said to symbolise fidelity and true love and was said to be a remedy against a dog or snake bite, although this little flower is quite toxic and not recommended to be used in remedies. It is associated with the Element Water.

Bugle, has a dark blue to sky blue flower, and is a plant that often carpets damp and shady or sunny areas in woodlands. Known as Carpenter’s herb due to its supposed ability to stem bleeding, it has also been used to assist respiratory tract ailments.

Other folk names include Dead-Men’s Bellow’s (Bellows in this case mean male member!), Horse Peppermint, Thunderbirds and Lightening and Nelson’s Bugle in Somerset.

Keeping with the theme of blue, lovely little fairy like blue flutterings can be seen dancing on Maytime flowers and are most likely to be either a holly blue or common blue butterfly.

We can’t however keep only a blue theme going for the merry month of May as

Maytime also see’s the flowering of the Horse Chestnut Tree, whose long off white flowers with pink centre’s were known as Mary’s Candle’s. May is known as the month of Mary in Catholicism. These magnificent flowers become Autumn conkers. It was believed that Horse Chestnut brought into the home helped bring balance and some believe wealth.

The name Horse Chestnut may derive from the horseshoe shape of the base of the leaf when plucked or its use as a medicine for horses.

Finally the May flower itself, the name given to the flower of the Hawthorn. Often not in flower at the start of May it has long been associated as the plant of choice for gathering in Maytime garlands, acting as protectorate’s against all manner of mischievous spirits and witches. The ‘bringing in the May’ began on May Day Eve.

Mark the fair blooming of the Hawthorn Tree,

Who, finely clothed in a robe of white,

Fills the wanton eye with May’s delight.”

Chaucer.

Known as a symbol of fertility, youth and sexuality. Its healing properties have been associated with the heart and circulatory system, as an aid to balancing blood pressure and restful sleep.

At this time of springtime celebration led by Mother Nature’s abundance of fresh green leaves, carpeted woodland floors of wildflowers

and birds on the wing singing in the May, take a moment and let May’s blues bring joy.

Wishing you the happiest of Mayday’s and asking that you keep alive some of our old ways and celebrate the seasons of our year.

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The much awaited time of the first day of spring arrives with the vernal equinox, and is known by some as Ostara as part of the Wheel of the Year celebrations. This astronomical occasion should not go unnoticed as we now visibly have more daylight and good days interspersed with some still wintery days, having an overall feeling that we are ‘getting there’.

So what to do to welcome spring ? Well firstly say  ‘Phew, that’s a relief - I got through winter!’. For many the lingering of winter can be very difficult regardless of all the Hygge tips we are now privy to. Although this year’s winter hasn’t been as harsh the grey, cold wind and rain, days have felt too long making us long for colour.

Spring is a time to spot the unexpected like this lovely spoonbill on a breezy day and feeling chuffed to be there in it's presence.

So the second top tip to welcome spring is be in the moment and see what spring brings. Spring is all about joy.

Just look at this lovely little blackcap enjoying a snack.

The third thing you can do is listen to spring. Open up your windows or take a walk, as well as letting some fresh air into your home or lungs you will notice the increase in birdsong. Early morning or at dusk are the best times to hear the chorus of spring.

The chiff-chaff is one of the earliest of summer migrants to arrive and for many hearing the ‘chiff-chaff’ call, even though not the most tuneful and complex of bird calls, marks springtimes arrival.

Four, is to feel the difference. If you go outdoors there is a palpable different feeling happening throughout nature. Let it intoxicate you. The sun may be shining, even if briefly, feel its warmth and its light. There is a sense of expectation in the air, we are ‘under starters orders’ and nearly ready for ‘off’.

The fifth suggestion is to mark this time. A lovely thing to do is make a garland or wreath to adorn your front door, and bring a bit of joy for all who pass and see your creativity. Baking is also a top activity, using all the ingredients of this time of the year, and the last of the winter jams and curds for sweet tarts with custard or cream. You could make Homity pie or quiches, maybe even baking a hot cross bun as we near Easter. Perhaps start a springtime nature-noting journal to record the delights you share in as Mother Earth awakens.

Finally - if you are able the top tip is to go outdoors, look at the blossom, the lime coloured greening of the hawthorn, see the buds on trees just waiting to burst and unfurl leaves, witness the hedgerow coming to life, the host of yellow daffodils nodding their heads and if you are lucky see the hares positively bounding with life, the first glimpses of hibernators such as bats, bees and hedgehogs testing if spring really is here and our resident birds nest building and serenading their partners and us.

Spring’s arrival really is something to welcome, whether in a small or big way, make time to feel a little bit of the joy it brings and the promise of more to come.

And perhaps leave the spring cleaning to another day!

Wishing you the joy of springtime in your life  xx

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Imbolc is an awakening as winter eyes begin to open, and we can marvel at the magick of Mother Nature. It’s literally the small things that make the difference, the tiny that makes wonderment. It is true that winter is still enveloping each day, but it is bound less tightly, and light shines through the gaps of its grip.

The first of February is a day of possibilities and always brings a little bit of excitement to me. It takes only a stroll to see new growth, to hear the birds reacting to the imminent arrival of spring, which seems to be arriving earlier and earlier. Imbolc is the halfway point of winter and spring, but it is feeling more and more like an end to winter as we experience unseasonably warm temperatures.

The snowdrop is one of those tiny gems and for me one of the most magickal of all plants. Not just because of its now known properties to assist management of Alzheimer’s through its bulb containing alkaloid galantamine, or because of its ancient use as mind-altering and helping cerebral function but because of the sheer mood -lifting qualities it brings just when spotting its tiny white bowed head on such a fragile stem . Bursting through frozen ground, through rubble piles, tangled verges, lining the foot of hedgerows and creating en-masse in swathes across parklands and open woodlands this resilient plant brings with it hope, rebirth and new beginnings - it has a lot to live up to, but never fails to give a sense of positivity at a time of year when this can be lacking.

Positivity is literally ignited with the tradition of lighting candles & bonfires at this time of the year. Fire is the spark of life and there is a magickal power of having the ability to bring light and warmth into the dark days and nights which we take for granted. The Celtic tradition marks Imbolc as a fire festival meaning it uses fire as a central part of the celebration and marking of this time. Candlemas on the 2nd brings this idea into the Christian church as candles are blessed, lit, and taken into parishioners’ homes. Also crossing into the church from more ancient beliefs is the goddess Bridgid, who became known to the church as a saint. Her popularity has grown beyond Gaelic lands, as women particularly honour her and try to experience her magick as she is known amongst many other attributes, as a goddess of fire and hearth and candles and fires are lit in her honour. She is found throughout the Irish landscape and is now honoured as a matron- saint after a long campaign by women in Ireland. She belongs at heart to the Irish people, who make crosses from rushes and leave scraps of fabric out for her on Imbolc Eve for her to bless as she passes by, leaving on them healing properties.

The illumination fire brings is not only literal but also in terms of enlightenment. For me this is the magick and significance of fire at this time of the year, as I lose myself in the flame and wonder on those possibilities that the year ahead will bring and hope that I may be enlightened.

All around us we see new life emerging, from lambing, early nest builders, green shoots, and early bud formations. Regardless of where we are in our life, nature chivvies us into noticing and into being in the moment. If we search we can find magick, we don’t make the magick, it is provided for us if we take the time to notice and be present in it.

 Wishing you all a gentle transition towards spring and a kindly farewell to winter. May your intentions come true and the magick of nature inspire you. X

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