Happy Imbolc!

Today is the day that marks the winter cross quarter, the half way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, it is a celebration of the life-force, also known as Candlemas, Brigids day or festival of earth awakening.

Nature brings about this opportunity to give way to winter, and all the inner wisdom we have gained through the winter months and to move forward into spring time energy- planting your visions, ideas, and hearts desires and leaving them to germinate.

This can be seen as a time of initiation and healing, for reclaiming what has been forgotten, and to bring understanding of yourself- this is the special energy of Imbolc, which will help you find your way forward.

You can light a fire or lots of candles to cleanse and transform what you wish to leave behind, or simply lighting candles for our brothers and sisters all around the world.

We will be lighting candles this evening, in honour of this new cycle!

Coming Home

Our family recently embarked on a trip “back home” to San Diego, California and then a road trip to Tucson Arizona to end the year. Our trip started off with our plane having a small engine fire. As we were taking off, the smell of smoke filled the air, I can’t say I have ever been more terrified. There is one thing to smell fire where you know you can escape, or at least get help, but to be lifting off of the ground, knowing there is nowhere to go brought me to a place I hope to never return. Knowing my small children were there with us, looking to us for comfort, pushed me beyond my comfort level. Needless to say, we made an emergency landing back into the airport, and got off safe and sound.

What was really interesting, was that I was seated next to a woman, whom throughout the duration of the short take off and landing, talked about how blessed she was to do her life’s work, how many miracles she had witnessed as she brought victims of the holocaust to the “Holy Land” and how she trusted that when it is her time, she will know. I felt as though I was seated next to an angel, talking me through the chaos, and reminding me to trust.

Still shaken after that episode, it can only really sink in now that I am home safe and sound. WE COULD HAVE DIED, what I have feared for so many years about flying ACTUALLY HAPPENED, and WE CAME OUT ALRIGHT. I cannot agree more, that it wasn’t our time, that despite my biggest fears, it ended well, and now it is time to step into 2017 with trust, devotion and gratitude, to let go of old fears, worries and doubts- for we have this life to live, that the present moment is where we can find joy, and all the small stuff can be put to rest. That it is time to come home, to self, to walk this path of healing, to allow myself to be guided through the work I know I am meant to do. I’m ready 2017 and I hope you are too!

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Prior to about 500 years ago, a flavorful beer known as “Gruitbier” was the most common style of beer in the world. The word ‘Gruit’ referred to a combination of herbs, plants, and spices used by local brewers to craft a beer that was flavoured with the naturally occurring plants that grew around the brewer’s home. This meant that a traveler crossing many regions could sample the signature flavours and aromas local to each district, which were literally reflected in the beer the area had to offer. But around the year 1500, something changed. The flavoring agent we call ‘Hops’ became the universal flavoring agent for beer, and the uniquely flavoured, individualized Gruitbiers faded into memory.

They didn’t fade for everybody, however. This summer, in celebration of the 4th Annual Summer Solstice Festival being held at Wildflowers Farm on June 26th, St. Thomas Herbalist Jane Magri is partnering with Railway City Brewery to bring a local Gruitbier back, and this one bears the distinctive tastes and properties of local St. Thomas herbs. A medieval – inspired Gruitbier created from the unique combinations of plants, roots and spices that populate our region, brought to life in beer again for the second year of this distinctive partnership.

If you didn’t get a chance to sample Railway City’s ‘Summer Solstice Gruit’ last year, you’re in luck, because this flavourful, refreshing beer is back! The Summer Solstice Festival, held on June 26th at Wildflowers Farm from 3-7pm, is a grassroots, community supported family festival that features live bands, drumming workshops, yoga, local art and artisans. The Railway City Gruit will be featured at a licensed outdoor beer garden. It will also be available while supplies last at the Railway City store at 130 Edward Street.

This year’s Gruit features the bitter taste and healing properties of Yarrow – a plant used throughout history to treat a soldier’s wounds on the battlefield, and the spicy undertones of Juniper Berry. These strong tastes are softened by the mellow, aromatic notes of soothing Lavender, a combination which when put to use by the talented brew masters at Railway City has resulted in a light, refreshing brew that’s sourced and bottled right here in St. Thomas, Ontario.

How will lovers of traditional beer respond to a throwback Gruit that’s flavoured without the benefit of Hops? If last year’s sales performances are any indication, the Gruit sold out in record time, leaving those that hadn’t tried it out of luck while those that had the chance were clamoring for more!

So if you’re in the mood to try a uniquely local brew that resurrects the proud tradition of using herbs and spices from the place you live to flavor beer brewed where you live, don’t miss out! Get your Summer Solstice tickets in advance at wildflowerstea.com/events and try some of Railway City’s Summer Solstice Gruit this year.

 

Jane Magri

Registered Herbalist, Certified Yoga and Ayurveda Instructor + Health Coach

Spring is all about new beginnings, the beginning of a new season, a new cycle, a time of re-birth and awakening. What a way to start a new beginning than to call in the element of FIRE to burn away the old, to create space for anew. This is a perfect example of the healing and transformational power of FIRE.

We have been busy working alongside Kettle Creek Conservation Authority over the past 6 months, and on Easter Sunday, the first stage of our new wildflower meadow, began. KCCA have been incredibly supportive in our dream to turn our hay field into a vibrant wildflower meadow (we are after all called Wildflowers Farm!), by awarding us funding through their Clean Water Stewardship program. Click here for more information

A wildflower meadow is a complete ecosystem all on its own providing food for a wide range of wildlife, including one of our faves, the HONEYBEE ! As you know, bees are vital to mankind, yet these beautiful insects are under considerable pressure from habitat loss and disease. So, we want to do what we kind to give back to our sweet pollinators, along with a whole host of wildlife, birds and insects.

Why BURN? Common practice these days is to use ROUND UP, to kill off the grasses, weeds and many woody plants to be able to start the restoration project, but if you know us at all, you will know that R.U. is kind of a bad word around here! We want to restore our land, whilst maintaining our rich organic soil. So, with much discussion, we came to the agreement that the safest way to protect our soil ecology whilst ridding of those pesky invasive grasses is to do a PRESCRIBED BURN, which was done by a wildfire specialist.

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For thousands of years, tall grass prairies and open meadows were kept free of trees by the occasional wildfires that cleared the landscape every 2-50 years. These fires were caused by lightening, or set intentionally by Native Americans. They had discovered that fire killed woody plants, but encouraged fruit bearing shrubs and forage producing grasslands. IMG_0029

Prescribed burns today are used most frequently to maintain and restore native grasslands. Prescribed burning can recycle nutrients tied up in old plant growth, improve poor quality forage, increase plant growth and improve certain wildlife habitat.

Check out our time lapse video of the prescribed burn here!

We are incredibly grateful to be able to follow our dreams with the support of KCCA, helping us to create the world we wish to see- full of flowers and bees!

Next up: the planting!

Spring is a time of re-birth, this re-awakening. Just take a look at some of the first spring ephemerals- their delicate nature, and childlike glow, which always happens to stir up feeling of excitement and wonder for the spring season. Seeing my girls get giddy over snowdrops and aconites, warms my heart to no end, and reminds me too how taking a moment to admire each new beginning with innocent curiosity, brings us directly into the present moment.

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Winter brings it own blessings of inertia and inward movements, a time to recoup, rest and go within. Spring, on the other hand, begins to call us to begin to move outward, and give us hope (especially for us Canadian folk!) that we will feel the sunlight on our faces once more, and begin to peel back the layers, one by one.

Ayurveda speaks of this particular time of year as KAPHA season, made up of Earth and Water, and imbalance occurs when these elements are in excess. Imbalance can occur simply because the elements are high in our natural environment (think cool and wet) but can also be aggravated by our diets and lifestyles. We can end up feeling heavy, sluggish, congested, lethargic and depressed. Balance can be achieved by cultivating the missing elements at this time through practices such as yoga; daily routines and rituals rooted in Ayurveda; along with our local herbal allies, bringing us into a place of ease and harmony.

The philosophies of Ayurveda, Yoga & Herbalism have created such an impact on my life, deepening my connection with nature, and understanding myself more as I move through each season with awareness and understanding, bringing me towards a more vibrant, balanced and healthy life. This is why I am so passionate to share these teachings with you! If you are interested in learning more about my blend of yoga, Ayurveda and herbalism, check out my events for further details.

 

 

Wildflowers Farm Video