Lammas Bread

bread

Fresh homemade white braided bread loaves in honor of Lammas, 2015.

Lammas or Lughnasadh, it it’s a time of harvest. The end of summer. When grains, apples, grapes are ready for harvest. When poppies bloom and we can see the tangible fruits of our labors. It is also time to honor the Celtic god Lugh, for some. For me, it’s a welcome change in the weather.  It is a shift in the energy of the seasons. It marks a turn of the wheel.

It’s been very hot this summer, (in the high seventies/low eighties) in Alaska and summer tends to wear me out. Our summer is so brief and anticipated that much energy is depleted in an effort to do as much as possible. Swim, hike, plant, BBQ, picnic, take bike rides, work, socialize – it can be exhausting. Today, there was a chill in our second story apartment. For the past two months we’ve had four fans running non-stop. Baking for the most part, has been out of the question.

Despite the heat, I have done some baking. Cookies, and an apple pie made from scratch. Today, in honor of Lammas – I baked two loaves of braided white bread from scratch. A very simple recipe. The crust was crusty, and the insides were soft and hot – perfect with butter. Mayonnaise was used as a wash while baking, for the glossy look on the top as I was out of eggs.

I hope to post some rituals in honor of the season, and perhaps a photo of an altar later this month. It’s time to reap what we have sown this year, and I expect I will be reflecting on what I harvest for quite some time!

Yarrow Harvest

I am very new to harvesting herbs. The weed known as Yarrow has been a childhood favorite flower of mine. It seems to thrive everywhere and the little white flowers accompanied by the fern like leaves have always been hard to resist. I never knew that the weed I had always adored was actually Yarrow until I identified it this year. During my Internet researching I found a very interesting blog post on the medicinal use of Yarrow (link.)

Yarrow grows right along the sidewalks of my neighborhood but I’ve been saving a day to find clean places to harvest. The weather was perfect for it today. I  was very picky while harvesting because much of the flower heads of the Yarrow I came across had the eggs from what’s known as the “spit bug” underneath. I also took photographs of many of the flowers and plants I came across. My harvest walk was fairly long and somewhat unproductive.

When I got home with my crop, I used some of the info found on another blog (link) to get the herb ready for drying and use. The whole process has been fun and rather relaxing.

Yarrow flower heads and leaves.

Yarrow flower heads and leaves.

I had a small bowl when I was done. I tasted one of the fern like leaves while processing, it was very bitter and slightly sour. A few tiny bugs escaped while I was cleaning the heads and leaves from the stalks.

Yarrow ready to dry.

Yarrow ready to dry.

I don’t have a food dehydrator (note to self: I really need/want one) so I put a bit of foil on my old cookie sheet and spread the flower heads and leaves out to dry in the oven. It’s really hot outside today so I wasn’t looking forward to that but the oven is on its lowest setting, “warm.” I am looking forward to the finished product and use in teas and baths primarily. Technically my second attempt at herbal magick, I have a post to do on dandelion roots coming (hopefully.)

**Update 7-9-14** I jarred the dried yarrow yesterday. It was brittle and I didn’t want the flowers/leaves to crumble so I had to use a larger jar than I anticipated and wasn’t prepared (aka the label is still on the jar.)

The dried yarrow in clean re-purposed jar.

The dried yarrow in clean re-purposed jar.

**Update – July 14, 2014
I was feeling rather poorly and realized yarrow to be a terrific detoxifier of the blood and organs. Water was boiled and I crushed the dried herb into a mug with a cone filter inside and I steeped the tea and added a dropper of milk thistle extract. I sipped it, my tea didn’t have much flavor outside of warm water but that’s OK. While sleeping I did notice my body temperature rise and my skin was warm to touch, I felt hot. I feel the dried yarrow was doing what it was supposed to by increasing my body temperature/circulation of blood and opening my pores.

Next time, I think I will boil the herb in the pot of water for about 10 minutes and strain the tea into my mug.

Wishes All Year Long

I decided to go wish hunting! The jar is re-purposed, it had pickles in it.

Re-purposed jar

Re-purposed jar

 

When I first closed the jar it fogged up. Three little bugs came to the top of the jar!

Fogged up jar of wishes

I opened the jar and the three little bugs flew away!

I had to open the jar to let three little bugs out.

I had to open the jar to let three little bugs out.

Top view of the jar of wishes, when I opened the jar to let the bugs out a single wish flew out. It was pretty special.

Top view of jar of wishes

Hey look, it’s my left hand!

 

**Update 7-2-14** Since I let those first three little bugs out I have had to do the same thing several times now. I currently have two little spiders of a sort living inside the jar.  I expect they might live out there entire lives inside as they refuse to leave! The wish puffs have also condensed down, most likely as the green parts of the heads wither away I expect this to happen more.

***Update 7-16-14*** Many small spiders have made their presence visible inside my jar of wishes. I continually open the jar’s lid in an effort to help the small insects move on but none seem interested in leaving and that’s OK with me too.