How I Celebrate The Harvest Season

At the very beginning of August, I'll be celebrating Lughnasadh. Otherwise known as Lammas, or the First Harvest, Lughnasadh marks the golden days of high summer, and the beginning of the reaping festivals. The first fruit is ripe and ready to be picked, and we move on to another stage in our journey through the year. This day has much to do with fertility (all witch's festivals are about fertility in some form, as the wheel of the year mimics the natural cycle of all life and death) but it also revolves around the home and kitchen, nourishment, growth, fire and plenty.

On a personal level, it always feels to me like a time to honour everything the universe has given us, and welcome in the rewards we are about to receive for our hard work, struggle, and lessons over the year so far. If you've been blessed, now's the time to give thanks and open up for more. If you've been wronged or had it rough, remember that we all reap what we sow, and nobody truly escapes that fact. Moving forward in our own lane, and tending our lives with love and kindness - even when we can't yet see any results - pays dividends in the end. This day is also a reminder that the dark months are inevitably coming (sob) and we should make the most of the sunshine we have left. Here are some simple ways I like to mark the beginning of harvest season. 

Go Blackberry Picking: I still get just as excited as I did when I was a little kid to head out foraging in my neighbourhood for ripe blackberries. I remember going with my parents when I was young, and the smell of my mother's jam and my father's blackberry crumble. The other day I went with my boyfriend and it was one of the loveliest days we've ever spent together, filling up some Tupparware and empty water bottles with berries, getting really excited every time we spotted a bunch hidden in the undergrowth. Make sure you leave lots for wildlife and be careful to watch out for nettles - they always grow around blackberries!

Bake My Own Bread, Pies, Or Cakes: I bake all year round, but especially at this time, when so many ingredients are at their best and I start to crave the hearty kind of food that is best made from scratch. Use up any summer fruits and all those blackberries you gathered in cakes and crumbles, and mix up a bread mix with some seeds or nuts. It doesn't have to be hard or complicated if you don't want it to be.

Decorate A Harvest Altar: My altar changes seasonally and with whatever spells I've been doing. When harvest time comes around, you might find corn figures or dolls, food offerings like fruit, nuts, and seeds, and symbols of fire and the sun on it, as well as lots of yellow and orange. Sometimes I create an altar for a specific harvest goddess like Danu, Hestia, or Demeter. You could even make an altar to all the things you've learned and taken from the year so far or over the summer, and make a section for all the blessings you wish to manifest in the autumn. Get as creative as you want and bring together anything that feels sacred and beautiful to you.

Start An Autumn Crop Or Garden: I don't have an outdoor garden or lawn in my apartment building, but as we get lots of natural light, we've managed to grow many happy plants in our small space. It might not have ever crossed your mind to sow seeds at this time of year, but anything you plant now should arrive in time for your autumn cooking. Onions, parsnips, and pumpkins are very traditional, but if you don't have the space, do as I've done and grow edible plants on a windowsill. Chilli, parsley, and wild rocket saplings are currently filling up our mini glass greenhouse - a steal in IKEA for £12. 

Do A Tarot Spread Relating To The Home: All Sabbats (Pagan holy days) are good days to practise Tarot, but if you have any questions or need guidance in areas relating to your home, health, family, personal growth, and what lessons to take with you into autumn, Lughnasadh is an especially potent day to do so. 

Have A Barbecue: Festivals are ultimately all about gathering people together, feasting, and celebrating life, and what better way to do that while the weather is beautiful than a cookout in the outdoors? Your garden or a public park will do just fine to roast some corn, BBQ veggies, burgers (I love the No Bull ones from Iceland, their texture is amazing!) and put out some lemonade. If you want to, you can even say a simple blessing over any shared food or drink, and then make sure everyone present has a bit. Celts did this at Lughnasadh to bring luck to all their friends and family. Blessing a bottle of wine, and then sharing it with your lover, is also a very fitting way to celebrate August's lush abundance.

Growing My Hair Out After Years Of Bleach

There's so much writing online about how to grow long hair. Some of us can get almost fanatical about it, obsessed with achieving "Disney princess lengths". This is not that kind of post. I'm not interested in growing my hair as long as it can possibly go, no matter what; I started growing it because I wanted to be free of the discolouration years of bleaching and colouring had caused, leaving me with frazzled, khaki ends. It took a little time, but all of that is now gone, and I have my own natural colour and texture reaching my bra-straps. I last bleached my roots in March 2017, which means I've developed around 14 inches of fresh growth in 16 months. 

I haven't been taking any hair vitamins or wacky Instagram supplements. I eat a vegan diet and tend to mix up my wild medicine; I often take iron, kelp, Forage Goddess Drops, and soya protein powder. Getting enough protein in your diet helps all your hair grow, including your lashes and eyebrows, so I make sure I pack it in there.

In the shower, while I'm waiting for my conditioner to do it's work, I give myself a little scalp massage using this brush by Tropic. Massaging your scalp while you're washing your hair is beneficial for a few reasons; it helps stimulate blood flow and lymph, which is vital for hair growth. It also helps to work in all your product so that you get that thorough, a-proper-hairdresser-did-this kind of rinse. I've been using their Hair Feast and a couple of pumps of Hair Smooth Radiance Oil afterwards.

I let my hair air dry as often as possible, and use as few tools as you can. I only curl my hair with an iron once a week maximum, if I'm going out somewhere special. Use heat protection when you do use any heat, even a hairdryer. I also like my hair to sit in it's natural oils a bit - I don't wash it every day. It goes quite dry and frizzy if I do. As I have a fringe, I tend to pin some hair out of my face once my hair needs washing, so that I don't spread grease to my face. Using a deep conditioner once a week really helps keep it soft and manageable, no matter how long it's getting. If you can do an overnight mask, even better. I really loved the 7th Heaven Papaya Deep Conditioner that I used recently (vegan, cruelty-free, and only 79p) but try out different ones and see what your favourites are.

Getting regular trims is one of the most important steps to growing out your hair. You don't want split ends working their way up your length and causing slow progress. Getting just a little bit off every six to eight weeks will make your hair feel so much bouncier and looked-after. No point having length if it's damaged, unhealthy length.

The last thing I try to keep in mind is to just not worry too much about it all. It's only hair. For me the goal is to feel good naturally, all the time, no matter whether I'm naked or dressed, wearing makeup or not. I don't like to rely on anything for my self-confidence, and I don't want to get preoccupied with any particular facet of my appearance - which can happen to people when they're intentionally trying to grow their hair. Much like skincare routines or healthy eating plans, it can become an unhealthy obsession with perfecting an inherently transient and imperfect thing. Take all these tips with a pinch of salt and do what makes you feel good.

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