3 Ways to Ring in Spring!

Happy Spring Equinox!

I’m 6 months into my Full Witch year, and it is going great. I’ve deepened my understanding and love of yoga and have discovered tantra and bhakti, gone wild for chanting, and finally found a translation of the Bhagavad Gita that I totally get. I’ve been learning more about astrology, which is also a huge part of the yogic tradition, and getting in touch with cycles, seasons, nature and the weather.

I’m learning more about rituals and celebrations in other pagan traditions, too, and while I’m still not into any organized religions, it is lovely to mark the changing of seasons knowing that across the world others are doing the same thing. Nature is something that unifies us all and reminds us that we are part of something greater and more powerful than all of the little moving pieces in our lives lead us to falsely believe.

So, to remind us of our inter-connectedness with each other and the world around and inside of us–call it the Universe, Goddess, God, Ostara, Nature, Spirit, whatever you feel–here are 3 simple things you can do to remember the end of Winter and beginning of SPRING!!!

Prepare Your Garden

It’s been unseasonably warm in North Carolina the past couple of weeks but with a hard frost this weekend, I’ve been holding off on starting my garden. Of course, this is about more than just prepping a garden bed. Spring Equinox holidays celebrate rebirth and renewal! As you prepare the soil, consider that you are making a bed in which seeds will sprout and grow, providing beauty, food, scent, color and joy for months to come. If you are ready to plant, say a little prayer to bless each seed. Garden with intention! Consider planting medicinal herbs and flowers such as lavender, calendula and chamomile.

PREPARE YOUR GARDEN, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

 

Make Pickles

All Winter long we roast and stew our vegetables until they are soft (and delicious). Are you ready for a little crunch? Try making refrigerator pickles! You can really pickle almost anything, with daring blends of herbs and spices. The color and bite will wake up your mouth, revitalizing your senses. Here are 4 recipes to try (links below the pictures):

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

  • Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles from The Kitchn

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

 

Dance Naked

Dance Naked, 3 Ways To Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

Right?!

 

**Fun Fact: Did you know that the Vernal (Spring) Equinox marks the time when the Earth’s equator is at a 90 degree angle to the Sun, not when day and night are equal? I didn’t! That event occurs a few days before the Equinox (The Equinox Isn’t What You Think It Is).  The 2016 Spring Equinox is on Sunday, March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere.**

Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone!

 

 

DIY Miracle Grains

Treat Yourself to this DIY for soft, radiant skin

Oh, December! I have never had holiday stress until this year, and it is hitting me HARD. This is the first holiday season I’ve had without my Dad. It’s a huge time for my close, loving family, with Thanksgiving (traditionally a feast at our homestead, prepared by Dad), and Dad’s and my littlest sister’s birthdays book-ending Christmas. This season has deepened my sense of loss and heartache even as I am grateful for my family, friends, and the long nights that provide time for the rest I so badly need. It’s also a time when I have spent loads of money on gifts for others and myself as well as on going out with visiting friends. This year, however, I am especially money-poor. I’ve decided to do a Spending Fast at least for December, meaning I spend money on absolutely nothing that isn’t a need (as defined by me–details in a later post).

What this all means is that I am desperate for rest and rejuvenation, preferably of the spa treatment type, and that I must use the resources I already have and be creative with gifts and everything else this month.

So it is a very good thing that I have a cabinet full of ingredients for DIY skincare! I recently had some ladies over to make our own bath products and tried making and using Miracle Grains for the first time. This weekend, treat yourself to an easy at-home facial using this wonderful DIY beauty product. Miracle Grains has only 6 ingredients, is simple to make, and keeps well. It smells wonderful and feels delightfully different. Whip up a big batch and package it in little jars as gifts for friends–or keep it all for yourself!

Miracle Grains DIY | Whisper & Howl #diybeauty #naturalbeauty #diy #spa #whisperandhowl

This recipe will create a batch of dry “grains” that can be mixed with water, honey and/or rosewater to create a facial scrub/cleanser, or left on for several minutes as a face mask. I’ve used it both ways and love it. I recommend mixing the paste in a small bowl, as it is hard to do it in your hands! For an extra luxurious treatment, paint the mixture on your face and leave it to dry. The brush on your face feels magical. As a mask, this would be lovely to use after a steam facial!

Miracle Grains 

(Recipe from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar)

Ingredients

• 1 cup oats, finely ground
• 2 cups white clay
• 1/4 cup almonds, finely ground
• 1/8 cup lavender flowers, finely ground
• 1/8 cup rose petals, finely ground

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. An electric spice or coffee grinder works well for the oats, lavender and rose petals. I had almond meal on hand from Trader Joe’s. For convenience, store a weeks’ worth of the grains in a container next to the sink, but keep the remainder in the refrigerator or other cool place to preserve their freshness.  A spice jar with a shaker top also works well as a storage container.

2. To use, mix 1–2 teaspoons of the cleansing grains with enough water to make a paste. Gently massage onto your face. Rinse off with warm water after washing, or leave on as a mask until dry and then rinse. Follow up with a toner and face cream or moisturizer for radiant, healthy skin.

I’m going on a mini-silent retreat this weekend while I undertake Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. What are your plans for this first weekend in December?

Have a Full Witch Weekend: 3 Things To Try

What makes a full witch weekend? How about a seasonal adventure, making glorious noise, and embracing your own natural beauty? Here are 3 suggestions to add some witch to your weekend.
Take a Mini Road Trip | Have a Full Witch Weekend: 3 Things to Try, from Whisper & Howl

take a Mini road trip

When I lived in Indiana, my friend and I decided to take a little seasonal drive out into the country. We found a small town that was having their annual autumnal Apple Butter Festival and headed off. The festival was really just some arts-and-crafts tents set up around the courthouse and a few trucks selling funnel cakes and soda, but it looked like the whole town was out there enjoying the warmish Fall day. We sampled a lot of apple butter, then stopped by the tiny historical museum in the old Carnegie library, grabbed free coffee in styrofoam cups and looked at old photos of local life.

On our drive home, we passed another festival and decided to stop. This one was in the evening, more of a county fair with the same low-end crafts and fried food, with the addition of a hot air balloon and some high school dudes playing covers of old rock songs. It was a little slice of Indiana life.

Every year, when I see signs popping up to advertise Fall Festivals and county fairs, I ache to get in the car and see what’s happening in all the little towns. This is a great time of year for mini road trips. Every corner of every county seems to have some type of local celebration. This weekend, do a little research, grab a friend and set off on a tiny adventure to see the leaves and ingest some local flavor. Chances are good that you’ll find an apple cider donut or two on your travels, and that makes everything worthwhile.

 

Lift Up Your Voice

Choose howl over whisper this weekend! Head into the woods and raise a ruckus with your instrument! Scream in the car, sing in the shower! Make some noise!

Sound is powerful. Feel your power.

Want to share your voice with others? There are so many ways to sing in a group. Check out a kirtan at your local yoga school or ashram, or gather friends for chanting. Go to church and hear your collective voices echoing through the nave. Check out a pop-up chorus. Have some friends over and jam. Visit an Irish pub and join in on the chorus.

 

Treat Your Skin

It’s hard work being a face. You get smothered with makeup, scrubbed with drying soaps, touched with greasy fingers and subjected to all of the many toxins of our modern world. This weekend, give your face a break! Try going make-up free for a few days and let your skin breathe. Give yourself a DIY Steam Facial or try double-cleansing. Brew up some tea, slather on a mask and stick some cucumber slices on your eyes. Be the decadent human you know you can be–all in the name of healthy, beautiful skin. Trust me, your face will thank you.

 

I hope you have a wonderfully witchy weekend!

Already have plans? Let me know what they are and perhaps I’ll include them on another full witch weekend!

 

Treat Yourself: DIY Steam Facial

You know when your vacation is over and you realize you need another vacation just to relax from the first one?  My recent trip to Asheville was supposed to be full of hiking, reading and getting in touch with my inner Goddess but…nope.  I crashed with my awesome friend Kara and it quickly became apparent that this would be more of a drinking, eating, shopping, non-sleeping kind of vacation.  Suffice it to say that my body is still recovering.

Fortunately, I have learned over the years to build in time post-vacation to gently ease back into regular life, and yesterday I took full advantage of this by performing one of my favorite, simple self-care rituals: the steam facial.

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

This easy practice is relaxing and great for your skin.  Facial steaming has several benefits:

  • Increases circulation in the face
  • Increases perspiration, which helps to release toxins from the skin
  • Softens debris in pores and lifts it to the surface of the skin, where it can be more easily removed
  • Feels really indulgent
  • Can also help loosen up gunk in your sinuses and lungs

Do-It-Yourself Steam Facial INSTRUCTIONS

The hardest part about this is gathering the ingredients.

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

Ingredients

3 parts comfrey

2 parts rose petals

2 parts chamomile 

2 parts calendula

1 part lavender

I have most of these things laying around the house or in my garden, but if you’re not a secret witch then you may need to buy them.  I collected mine from various health and/or whole foods stores and co-ops.  Mountain Rose Herbs is an amazing resource for all things natural.  I like to keep a jar of steam facial herbs on hand for emergency self-care sessions.

Water

Cooking Pot

Large Towel

Something to listen to

Comfortable place to sit with your face over a pot for 15 minutes

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

Instructions

  1. Set water to boil in a medium pot, something large enough to put your face over comfortably.
  2.  Mix steam facial ingredients.  You can mix a small amount for one batch, or a larger amount for future use. Store in an air tight glass jar.
  3. Find a good playlist, mantra or podcast.  I highly recommend Jordan, Jesse, Go!, a comedy podcast with which I am obsessed.
  4. Once the water has come to a boil, remove it from the heat, add herbs and cover for a few minutes so they can steep.
  5. Bring the pot over to your comfortable sitting place.  Sit.  Turn on music.  Place your head over the pot and a towel over your face and let that sweet, hot steam dissolve all your problems for the next 15 minutes.
  6. It can get really hot under there, so you may need to come up for some cool air or lift the towel every now and then.  That’s cool.  Don’t burn your face!
  7. When you’re finished, splash your face with cold water or apply a face mask of your choice.

DIY Steam Facial | Whisper & Howl

Feel great?  I hope so!  I know I do.

What is your favorite way to recharge when you need a vacation from your vacation?