Seasons – Celebrating Lughnasad with children

Every year, as we cycle through the year and each Celtic festival comes around, I find myself learning a little bit more about each one’s meaning and about the many simple ways we can work with them to connect more deeply with the seasons.  I have two books that I reach for each time and I can’t think of a better way of summing up this festival – Lughnasad (also known as Lammas) the festival of the First Harvest – than sharing some words from each of them.


“Slowly the burgeoning energy of Summer has shifted and at Lughnasad we begin to see signs of the wheel’s turning.  The Earth ripens and grows mellow – we can smell the warm and heavy difference in the air.  All around us, plants once stiff with juice are softening, drying, going to seed.  Everywhere are the signs of early harvest, with roadside stands and farm markets overflowing with produce.”

Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura D Shaw


And this passage feels particularly relevant in this Summer-unlike-any-other, with it’s multitude of layers, stretching challenges and emotions:


“Lughnasad, or Lammas, is the holiday that celebrates the beginning of the harvest season.  Summer is at it’s height, but already the days are growing shorter and we know that autumn is on it’s way.  Some things in the garden are ripe; others are still not ready.  The grain is standing in the fields but not yet harvested.  Lammas is a time to think about our hopes and fears.  We hope that we’ll be able to pick and eat all the things we worked hard to grow – but a lot could still happen.  We could have storms or scorching sun or high winds…. To harvest we must cut down the plants we’ve tended so carefully… We feel sad that Summer must end for us to reap the harvest.  But we feel happy, too, thinking about all the good things we’ll have to eat.  Just as the Summer Solstice taught us that we can feel happy and sad at the same time, Lammas teaches us to feel sad and happy.”

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk


With many of us having occupied our children during the lockdown months with planting seeds and expanding veg and flower patches, the elements of this lovely festival are evident in the patches of earth we’ve been able to cultivate (even if that patch is in a pot).  My children have been so loving the sunflowers blooming, the strawberries producing, the bees all over the borage in the herb bed, our veg patch beginning to yield some things and they’re on daily tomato-ripening watch.


Some lovely things you can do with your children this week to celebrate Lughnasad:


  • A lovely harvest of your own – if you’ve grown veg or flowers this year, chances are you’re harvesting a little from it already.  This festival is a lovely opportunity to pause and appreciate yours and the Earth’s growing efforts.  Taking a basket to gather a few things in that your littles help you make into lunch, dinner or a snack is a lovely, simple celebration.  You can talk about the journey from little seed to the food on your plate.  A posy of flowers gathered from what you’ve grown or wildflowers found on a walk could dress your table in Summer.  Take some pictures of what you’ve grown together – is there anything lovelier than looking back on your small person beside a towering sunflower or with their hands full of something delicious you’ve grown?  You could have you own ‘village fete’ and give prizes for biggest, tastiest, prettiest or most funny-shaped things you’ve grown.
  • Visit a producer – my two boys love a pick your own farm and are well known amongst friends and family for being excellent fruit pickers.  We’ve been known to get calls to come and clear off people’s plum trees before the fruit goes to waste and there’s never a more welcome call as far as they’re concerned.  In our new surroundings there are less PYOs but plenty of farms and producers with drive-through or roadside stalls selling their bounties.  We visit as often as we can through the Summer to support local growers and keep ourselves in fresh goodness.
  • Make a corn dolly – traditionally people would have made a harvest figure out of stalks of wheat to bless the home and remind them of the Earth’s bounty.  There are lots of tutorials online for easy corn dollies and you could use other dried stalks from grasses or similar tall plants if you have no wheat around you.
  • Bake some bread – the alternative name for this festival, Lammas, comes from Loaf Mass and baking a harvest loaf would have been a way to celebrate the good harvest, which was a matter of life and death for our ancestors.  We’ve often made a simple loaf together or I’ve made dough and we’ve shaped it into our own little loaves.  One year somebody made a sweet mouse loaf which swelled in the oven and looked so cute that nobody wanted to eat it.
  • Herbal ice cubes – suggested in one of the books mentioned above and adapted to our own way, we made some pretty, Summery ice cubes last year.  You can keep it simple with a few flowering herbs such as borage, chamomile, lavender, caldendula and rose petals and leafy herbs such as mint, thyme rosemary frozen in water-filled ice cube trays.  Or if your children are interested you could make a tea from the herb and freeze into ice cubes with the flower or leaf inside – learning a little of the properties of that herb as you go.  We use ours in a summery drink of the elderflower cordial we made around the solstice, water and some local apple juice.
  • Go on a seed hunt – how many varieties of seeds can you find in your garden if you have one, or along your walks.  If there’s a meadow area nearby it’s amazing to see how many different types of grass there are, shown through the difference in their seeds.  My children love to play ‘hen or cockerel’ with them.  Asking your partner which it will be before running your thumb and index finger up the stalk to strip the seed – which does it most look like?  Another seed activity can be gathering seed from your spent flowers or veg that’s bolted to save for the next growing cycle.
  • Read some stories that speak to this time of year – there’s a lovely one in Circle Round called the Queen Bee (adapted from the Grimm’s tale by the same name).  The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle is lovely for littles, as is Bee by Britta Teckentrup.  As my two grew and became more interested in growing things they loved How does my garden grow? by Gerda Muller.  You’re sure to have others on your bookshelves as well.
  • Go in search of blackberries – it might be too soon in some areas but here in Herefordshire we’ve been picking blackberries from a few bramble bushes in particularly sunny spots all this week, while we wait for the big ripening to happen on all the others.  Nothing says first harvest more to me.


And for you dear Mama

I love honouring the Celtic festivals with my children.  They love hearing about them and it’s another lovely way to connect with the natural world around us.  As well as this, I always love to have something for myself to do that feels like cup-filling, nourishing, self care alongside honouring the seasons and the turn of the wheel.

This Lughnasad falls at a many-layered time for me.  Alongside Summering with my boys and all the lovely outdoor adventures that entails, I’m feeling a lot of feelings in relation to this intense year we’re having, I’m working on preparation for my Mother Wild retreat that I’m hosting in the woods in September and I’m looking ahead to plans for the rest of the year and into next.  It’s a lot to hold in one go, I find, and time to unravel my thoughts is really valuable.  So I’m keeping it simple.  I plan to sit in a favourite spot in our garden where we’ve let the grass and wildflowers grow wild around some baby fruit trees, with a cup of fresh-picked herbal tea (definitely there’ll be some Borage in there for courage) and I’m going to gift myself some time to unwind and appreciate the abundance around me.  I might journal it or I may just gaze into the distance and let it all be.


What could you do to nourish yourself or to connect with the abundance of this time of high Summer?

Mother, Nuture & Wild

For nature-inspired Mamas and their Children, a guide to celebrating Lughnasad (or Lammas) and the Celtic Wheel of the Year

Mother, Nurture & Wild

For nature-inspired Mamas and their Children, a guide to celebrating Lammas (or Lughnasad) and the Celtic Wheel of the Year

Summer Self-Care Check-in for Mums

Summer Self-Care Check-In for Mums

A gentle Summer Self-Care Check-In for Mums – follow along on this 5 day journey to help you feel better in yourself.

While tending to my own self care this past couple of weeks, talking with friends and my community on social media, I was reminded how it’s most definitely not just me who has been flagging.

I feel like our generation of Mothers will look back at our journey and this time will massively stand out.  The extra time with our loves has been wonderful for many and it has also been tough.  Homeschooling when we didn’t choose it as our path has asked us to dig deep.  Losing our childcare and support structures has planted it all firmly on our shoulders.  Goodness only knows how so many have also been working from home while juggling it all.  And that’s before you factor in the intensity of the big feelings flying around your home on any given day.

My children are now 10 and 7 (blink of an eye, honestly) and I’ve felt at times like I went straight back to the days when they were toddler and pre-schooler in terms of how needed I’ve been.  The needs are different and thankfully they throw themselves from heights much less than they used to but there have been many days where I could not finish a thought and have hidden in the loo just to have a breather.

I think for many of us the demands on our time and energy have been heightened significantly.  And in direct correlation the ease at which we could access our usual or desired self-care practices has diminished.


Is it suprising then that so many Mums on their knees with exhaustion?


If you have school age children, holidays are now beginning.  Hurray for slower days without home-learning perhaps but also hello expectation of curating a wonderful Summer when we already feel spent.  If your children are littler, perhaps your childcare and support structures have returned in some form but it often feels like a drop in the ocean when you’ve been juggling and plate-spinning for such a long time.  For some, nothing has changed at all yet.

I don’t have a magic wand.  I wish I did.  But with all this in mind and having been working on my own reset, I wanted to offer something that might help set some more Mums back on the path to nourishing self-care and feeling better in themselves.


So I’ve put together a Summer Self-Care Check-In which I’ll be posting on Instagram and on my facebook page next week.  Starting on Monday it’ll be 5 days of prompts to help you begin to work out where you are, what you need and how you could move towards tending to your needs and feeling better in yourself.  Plus there’ll be a wrap-up prompt on the Saturday.

It’s free and you can use it however you’d like to.  There are no rules or expectations and you don’t need to sign up to take part.  It’s just for you.

Here some ways you could use it:

  • Firstly, turn on post notifications for my account so you can be sure you’ll be shown each of the prompts.
  • Each day, read the prompt and if you’re able to take a quiet 5 minutes to sit with it. You could potentially read it in the morning and carry the prompt with you through the day – I do this sometimes – and see what it brings out.
  • You may want the simplicity of just mulling it over and doing nothing else – that is completely valid, particularly if you’re feeling time-poor.
  • You may want to find a trusted friend to do this with. Perhaps sharing which each other what the prompt brings up each day.
  • You may want to talk it over with another loved one who is good at listening without fixing.
  • You may find it helpful to journal your response to the prompts, either straight away or at the end of the day after you’ve carried it around with you. When I do this, I allow myself to free-write.  Writing all that comes to mind without editing or filtering before it reaches the page.
  • You may like to join in on social media with an insta post each day or some of the days capturing your response to the prompt. If you do, please tag #selfcarecheckinformums so I can follow along and see how you’re doing.
  • It need not take a lot of time, but if it’s useful you can expand on it as much as you want.

At the end of the week my hope is that you feel more grounded in where you are, how you’re feeling, know more about the kind of shift you’re needing and how you could begin to move towards that.

Summer Self-Care Check-In

A gentle Summer Self-Care Check-In for Mums – follow along on this 5 day journey to help you feel better in yourself.

Do share your experience with me if you’d like to by commenting or messaging; and please generously share with any Mum friends you feel might like to do it too.  See you next week!

Natural Craft: Circular Weaving


I was digging out a few pictures of the heavenly circular weavings we worked on at the very first Mother Wild retreat for a lovely mama so she could see what I meant by the foraged hazel loom/frame and I realised they might be useful inspiration for other mamas needing easy/cheap/natural/calm activities at this crazy time.

There’s something distinctly meditative about circular weaving. You find yourself falling into a quiet place inside while your hands do the rhythmic in : out of the weave. Seems to have the same effect on children as well as grown ups in my experience. We were all pretty zen’d out working on these in the sunshine together a few Summers ago.


A simple how-to:

  1. Forage a good length of nice bendy hazel.  You’ll find it in most native hedgerows or often around the edges of parks. Willow works well too if you have access to some. Or I’ve often used holly with all the leaves stripped off which is a gorgeous dark colour when dried out.
  2. Strip the leaves and wrap into a secure circle by wrapping it around itself until it holds firm
  3. Warp your loom using strong thread – crochet cotton or garden twine both work well– tie the last warp thread in the centre, drawing in the cross points of the other warp threads to secure your end
  4. Check. Ideally you’ll now have an odd number of warp threads on your loom which will result in a nice weave pattern as you go
  5. Attach any yarn to one of the warp threads close to the centre point (for the first rounds a thin yarn works well)
  6. Weave in whichever direction makes your heart happy – over one, under one, over one, under one…
  7. Change yarn and colour at will, tying the new piece to the old piece and hiding the ends behind your weave
  8. Laugh out loud when you realise you’ve chosen the colours you’re wearing as most of us did!
  9. Alternate between thick and thin yarns for a nice texture or build from thin yarn up to chunkier yarns as you weave from the centre out towards the edges.
  10. Add a couple of beaded tassles or a found feather from your foraging walk to the bottom edge if you’d like and hang on your wall to admire every time you pass.

Simple, meditative, natural crafts are always part of our Mother Wild Retreats. Sitting in the warmth of nature with a group of like-minded mamas making something beautiful with our own hands brings all kinds of happy-heart magic.

One Mum’s self-care reset

Mother Wild Retreat

It’s easy for our own needs to slip by the wayside as we navigate looking after our families needs – here’s one mother’s approach to rebalancing via a self-care reset.



As we slide towards the school holidays and I begin to feel the load lightening with homeschooling, I’m feeling a sense of emerging from something.  In lots of way, the gradual reducing of lockdown restrictions hasn’t made much difference to us with the boys still at home and our day to day not really changing.  So the end of term feels like the real shift and one we’re really welcoming.

I’ve been checking in with myself over the past few days, acknowledging the need for a bit of a reset on the self-care front.

After years of learning how to tend to my needs and make good choices that keep me well and in balance, I’m pretty good at knowing what I ought to be doing.  I’ve learnt many times over to tend to my own needs before something starts screaming at me (hello lower back, we’re old friends at this hey).  But there’s knowing and there’s doing and when we’re tired or the days feel overly dominated by other things, when I’m needed more than I’m not… it just feels really hard to get to it.

The thing that never fails to make me laugh at myself is that I know my own non-negotiables so well that I can somehow convince myself I’m doing them when I’m not?  That might sound mad, but take drinking water as an example.  I heard myself say the other day ‘I don’t know why I’m feeling like I’m dehydrated, I’m drinking loads of water’.  My husband bravely asked ‘but are you actually?’.  Hmm, maybe I wasn’t.  I guess when some things are such habits you don’t always notice them slide.

Bedtime is another one of those things that easily slides for me.  My own bedtime gets later in direct proportion to how busy and noisy our days are.  I use the quiet of the evening to rebalance and stretch it out way past the hour that I’m happy with.

So since I’m working on a reset for myself this week I thought I’d shared some of the self care rituals and routines I’m returning to and some I’m leaning a bit further into with the curiosity of ‘what if… how would this feel if I did this?’.


The basics

I almost typed ‘the non-negotiables’ and then laughed and got back in my box.  I negotiate them plenty, but I know they are the cornerstones of feeling good in myself and present in my days.


  • Drinking water – it’s such an obvious one, I know, but when I don’t (or when I rely more on herbal tea which ends up not being in the same quantity) I really notice the brainfog and tiredness creeping in.  This week I’m back to the 8 glasses of water minimum a day.


  • Nutrition – I could write a book on this one but I’m not qualified to so I’ll just say this – after years of learning I know what good looks like for me.  I never stray too far or I know about it, but the odd things do slip.  This week it’s out with refined sugar (once again) and curbing the wheat intake, plus I’ll be making good use of the spinach spilling out of our veg patch with daily green smoothies again.  If the idea doesn’t sound that appealing to you – trust me, my kids love them – I’ll share the recipe here in another post soon.


  • Sleep – there was a time when I had little control over this one since my littles were not great sleepers.  Even so, I was often my own worst enemy, staying up late into the evening if I could swing it to bank something of ‘an evening’ and going to bed just when they were beginning to hit the restless part of the night. So so basic.  Gone are the days when I thought I was achieving something in staying up late, riding the second wind and feeling like I was winning.  I am never winning if I’m not getting a decent sleep.  I never was.  I was just running on adrenalin so didn’t notice how rubbish I felt.  Or just really desperate for some alone time.  Something that sticks in my mind from a book I read is that hours of sleep before midnight are worth double in terms of quality compared to hours after midnight.  I don’t have a scientific source for that but it does seem to ring true for me.  This week I’m clawing my bedtime back from midnight (yes, the need for quiet rebalancing time got really bad) to ten o’clock, or even half 9, with a book.  Knowing it’ll do me so much good to get back there.  If you’re at a stage with your children where you can make good sleep decisions for yourself, it’s really worth looking at them.


And the other important things

I’ve separated these two lists out to give myself a base line to begin with.  I’m certain that having the basics above in place makes it a little bit easier to get nearer to what follows here, even when I’m feeling really time poor.  When the basic stuff isn’t happening all that well I can’t really see the woods for the trees.  But after those, comes this…


  • Time outside – between the boys, our dog and the garden / veg patch this one has been fairly constant but with the days freeing up in the holidays I’m holding out for a bit more.  Long, whole days outside from morning until bedtime are balm for my soul.  I might be more plant than human.  Natural light and good air are the best medicine I can think of.


  • Moving my body – this is feeling like an area of growth for the Summer.  I already walk a fair bit but I’m itching to move my body more and I’m open to what form that takes.  Some experimenting maybe.  The nearby mountains are calling especially.  I loved the wild swimming we did recently – more of that please.  Also, consistent yoga would be so good.  I’ve tried for years to build in a daily short yoga practice and it feels amazing when I do but it’s just not happening right now.  An intention for the holidays and perhaps daily is a high bar to reach for.  I’d actually be really happy with 3-4 times a week so that’s where I’m beginning.


  • Finding headspace – two things that do this and I have such a lot to say about the effect they can have on wellbeing that I’ll write a fuller post just on them soon.  I’ve started with eliminating noise and I’m finding that by dealing with some practical stuff I’ve been carrying around in my head for too long, it’s becoming quieter in there.  Also has an impact on anxiety – I think they go hand in hand.  With that happening, I had enough space in my mind to seek out even more space and so I’m a week into a Deepak Chopra 21 day guided meditation programme.  I wish I could just sit and meditate silently but I seem to really need the hand holding of a good guide to fully drop in and I’m really wanting to stick to it and do the whole 21 days this time.  Last time house guests arrived on day 19 and that was that, dammit.


  • Creating – Answering the call of inspiration is a form of self care for me and this is something I’m hoping to carve out more time for over the summer.  I have things on the go that I dip into in short lulls and snatched moments but I’m longing for a good chunk of time to just make for the joy of making.  The list is long and I’m going to have to narrow it down.  Maybe the entirely indulgent few hours at a sewing machine making myself a dress from the pattern I’ve had for 6 months will win.  It should win, yes?


Self care can sometimes be viewed as self indulgence.  As if it’s a negative thing.  What would be wrong with indulging ourselves anyway?  When I look down this list I see most of it is about meeting our simple human needs to be in a good place – physically, mentally and emotionally.  Just as we’d look to do for our children.

The thing is, for a family to be in a good place, every member of that family needs to be having their needs met.  Too often that can play out as ‘everybody except mum’.  Worse, side-stepping our own needs is often lauded as ‘being a good mum’ and I’m sorry but no.  As the centre of our little people’s world we need to be thriving rather than just surviving.  Firstly, it’s exactly because they need us so much that we need to take good care of ourselves.  We are not infallible and neither should we be.  And secondly, it’s because they are learning from us how to take care of all the parts of themselves.  Just as we take time over showing them how to brush their teeth well, we can positively instil in them what it means to be a well-nourished, whole and thriving human.

Side- note: If you’re reading this and you’re sleep deprived or in a difficult place, I’d urge you to catch yourself before you take what I’ve just said and make your lack of self-care another thing to feel crappy about.  It is so so hard sometimes to do all the things for all the people in your life and still take care of yourself.  Above all else, hold yourself in kindness and acceptance.  We are always doing the best that we can.  And another true statement is that we often back ourselves into corners where because we’re so depleted we can’t do anything to feel better.

When that feels true for me, I pare it all down to this:  what ONE thing could I do that would make a difference to how I feel today?  What would help me breathe a little more easily and allow me to soften?

A nap.  A walk in the fresh air. Ditching something I ‘should’ be doing to do something I know will fill me up a little bit.  Calling in some help.  Talking things out with a good listener. Drinking extra water.  Pulling out my yoga mat / craft project / dancing music despite having no child free time because it’s good to show my littles what makes mummy feel good, calm down or light up.  Or some other simple thing that would work for you. 

Starting with one thing that feels possible one day can lead to one thing each day – like a gift to yourself – which in time can add up to taking a whole lot better care of ourselves.  But today, if it helps, just focus on today.

Mother Wild Retreat