Clarity tea: our visionary blend

Our Clarity Tea was on our tasting table last weekend at St. Andrews market, and it proved so popular that I thought I’d write a bit of a post about it. It’s a beautiful blend to look at – anything with calendula flowers in it is so pretty, don’t you think?

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When you drink it you will find it has a kind of earthy taste (I think that’s mostly the mugwort), a bit spicy from the calendula flowers and a bit aromatic from the fennel seeds. It’s grounding – that’s the mugwort and the fennel – yet opening, protective and clarifying thanks to the eyebright and the calendula (and the mugwort. Mugwort is good for lots of things, in case you hadn’t worked that out by now).

This blend is a tonic for the third eye; we particularly recommend it for when you’re working on meditation or feel a bit lost in a mental fog. If you suspect that there’s something going on around you – especially something negative – but you’re not quite sure what it is, Clarity Tea can help to open your eyes to what’s happening. It is also an excellent herbal blend to drink while you’re studying, helping you to identify and absorb the most relevant bits of information.

Obviously, based on the description above, our Clarity blend has been formulated to work primarily on an energetic level. It does, however, also work on a physical level; eyebright and calendula have a long history of use for inflammations of mucous membranes (with eyebright in particular acting on the upper respiratory system and eyes), and calendula is also a lymphatic herb – meaning that this blend may also be helpful for mild seasonal allergies such as hayfever.

As with anything containing mugwort (a uterine stimulant), please avoid this blend if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What will be available on the tasting table this Saturday at the market? Come along and find out! We’d love to see you!

Blessings on this sunny winter’s day

Verity )O(

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Part 1

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1.1 atha yoganusananam

With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.

One interpretation is to take this as a detailed explanation of how to practice the discipline of yoga. That following this ‘spiritual science’ man can transcend the Karmic Wheel of birth, death and rebirth. Another understanding  is f the concept of ‘now’. This view resonates with me, now is the only reality we exist in, this breath and being present in the moment. The practice of yoga moves us towards a state of balance, a balanced mind leads to yogic consciousness, allowing us to be present in the moment.

1.2 yoga-citta-vritti-nirodha

Yoga is the cessation of the movements in the consciousness.

First was Tao, the way, from which yin and yang sprung. Tao was the perfect balance of energy which allowed the expression of these perfect polarities. These interdependent opposites are in constant motion. This play between them creates everything, both within us and without us. Through the practice of yoga, we are able to cultivate a balanced yin and yang patterns, qi flows freely and properly within the body and according to the season. Following this pattern our consciousness which is housed within the heart is able to be nourished and held within its centre. The emperor Shen is ruling over the kingdom (temple of the body) and consciousness remains without fluctuations. We experience Joy, the emotion of the heart and unconditional love.

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1.3

Tada-drastu-svarupe-avasthanam

Then the seer abides in his/her own true nature.

Yoga means to yoke and bring together all our various parts. At times it can mean bringing together opposing forces, your yin and yang aspects, such as the shadow and the ego. Integration of the of opposite aspects grants us more qi. This surge of qi can lead to epiphanies, internal shifts and the possibility to transcend judgements. Dropping our judgements allows us to move through our internal labyrinth leading us to the greater whole. Through the practice of yoga the veil that separates us from our world view, falls away. We are the universe within, a macrocosmic orbit, circulating within the macrocosm. Yoga allows us to reconnect with the rhythms of the universe, making us one again.

1.4 Vrtt-sarupyam-itaratra

At other times the seer identifies with the fluctuation of the mind and forgets his/her true essence.

Yin and yang are in a constant state of dynamic balance. The transformational relationship is not a static one. One changes into the other. Such as day changes into night and the seasons shift, both within and without us, yang shifts into yin and yin into yang. This is the way. Disharmony of qi will result if we do not live in accordance to this shifting and that in turn leads to imbalance. This imbalance leads to disharmony and this will resonate within our minds. The veil rises,  again separating us from ‘Tao’.  We lose our connection with the whole,  becoming isolated mirco universes circulating within the cosmic soup.

Categories: Pathwork and Meditation, The Wheel | Leave a comment

A tried and true remedy for colds and flu: Healing Garden Tea

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Have you been having lots of illness lately? I really hope not (we have, including one of the most ghastly, lingering sinus infections I’ve ever suffered with. It was absolutely disgusting! But that’s all I’ll say about that!). Sickness at one time and another is pretty much inevitable, I think – no matter how much we try to avoid it, at some point our bodies’ defenses are just going to say ‘too hard!’ and we’ll come down with something. Poor diet, too little sleep, and above all stress of any kind (or every kind, I suppose) all wear us down eventually.

And that’s ok, you know? Because illness is a wake-up call as well as a pain in the arse. Illness makes us ask ourselves What do I need to change, how can I better support myself to maintain my health? But while we’re working on the answers to those questions, what do we do to relieve the discomfort?

Enter my very most favourite first line remedy for colds and flu, which we have called our Healing Garden Tea (I’m actually sipping some right now). It works really well to ease the pains of the early stages of a cold or flu, and it contains yarrow, peppermint, elderflower, catnip and echinacea.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic and mucous membrane tonic. It tones the tissues (eg of your sinuses), making it harder for the bugs to get in; heats the body, making it harder for the bugs to survive; and gets the blood flowing, which means that more defensive goodies can get to the infected site more quickly.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is, like yarrow, used as a diaphoretic to promote sweating and get things moving. The volatile oil components also help to break up mucus, and of course add a pleasant flavour.

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) is also a mucous membrane tonic, specific to the upper respiratory system (yarrow is more general), and helps to get mucus moving.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) has many similar actions to peppermint but is also very soothing for the nervous system, promoting relaxation and rest – which is after all really the BEST thing for recovery.

Echinacea (Echincea purpurea) stimulates the immune system and, equally if not more important, stimulates the lymphatic circulation, which is responsible for clearing all the nasties out of the bloodstream.

So you can see that this is actually a really potent, synergistic blend of herbs, deeply supporting the actions of the body as it tries to heal itself, which I think is just amazing. Healing Garden tea also tastes very pleasant (although depending on your symptoms you might not be able to taste it much) and is extremely soothing, especially when you’re feeling kind of shivery and miserable. It will help your throat feel better and you’ll be running to blow your nose as it gets all that infected mucus out of your body! I recommend at least three cups a day if you’re feeling poorly, or preferably six – but you can infuse the same leaves a second time after you’ve had the first cup.

Another tip I have is to drink it as hot as possible – this will improve the diaphoretic action – and even add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a pinch of chilli flakes to the pot while you’re brewing it to fire things up a little. Add some raw honey too if you like, and then wrap up as warm as possible and rest if you can.

Keep well!

Bright blessings
Verity )O(

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Dealing with what you’re dealt

I don’t know if it’s Mercury retrograde or some kind of karmic whirlwind or what it is that’s been going on lately, but wow, life has been incredibly, horribly difficult. I could go with the more positive sounding ‘challenging’ but that just really doesn’t cover it. Things in my famIly’s life have just been really, really plain bloody difficult – to the point where I’ve pulled out a number of entirely unhelpful, self-defeating coping behaviours to try and manage the stress – not something I’m proud of, and not something I want to keep doing, and I’m working on putting those behaviours back where they belong, which is far, far away from me. But sometimes, that’s just the way I have to do things.

And then on Sunday I was reading this post by Sarah Wilson, which was profound enough, but then the comments section led me to another post by Danielle LaPorte, with whose work I wasn’t familiar: Strike ‘overwhelmed’ from your vocabulary.

I have to say, that article really, really pulled me up slap bang against myself, because if there is one thing I have been feeling over the last couple of months – if I were to pick one single word to describe myself – it would be overwhelmed: with worries about my son, my business, my health, politics, the crappiness of the world in general. Absolutely overwhelmed. But here is someone telling me, quite seriously, that I need to remove this very concept from my thinking; that whatever the situation is, I have the sheer capacity to cope with it; that I can ride that wave more-or-less gracefully to shore no matter how rough it is.

I shed a lot of tears over this revelation, partly of shame, partly of amazement, partly of gratitude. I’m rearranging my thinking. It’s not easy. I don’t want to have to deal with more miserable crap – and in miserable crap terms I doubt we’re out of the woods yet – but if I have to, I can. And I don’t have to do it alone, because as I’ve also recently realised, dealing with the situation you’ve been dealt can mean asking for help. Which is good to know, isn’t it?

Categories: Whispers | Leave a comment

Feeling chilly? Make a mug of Fire Chai

If you’re in Melbourne it’s pretty certain that you’ve been feeling quite chilly lately… The sun might have been shining (mind you it’s started raining tonight) but there has been a ridiculously cold wind blowing… Right down from the snowy tops of mountains, it feels like… I do prefer cooler weather but it’s been bone-freezingly cold, especially in our house where we rely solely on passive heating (insulation, north facing windows…. You’re right, it’s not enough. I’m wearing thick socks, ugg boots, and four layers of clothing plus a hat as I type this).

But what will warm you up is a nice cup of tea, particularly if it’s a cup of our Fire Chai. This is one of our blends that I’ve been very excited to finally share with you, partly because it’s new – only popped in the shop this week – and partly because it is one of the best antidotes to this wintry weather.

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Fire Chai is a combination of stimulating spices – ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric, all organic – and Australian Daintree tea, which is grown without pesticides and is naturally low in caffeine. This blend is a bit different from your general chai masala blends because it packs quite a punch. The cayenne in particular comes to the fore in the first few sips, but after that the sweeter cinnamon and deeper notes of the turmeric and ginger come through. You will absolutely feel your fingers and toes come alive after a cup of Fire Chai.

Because of the stimulating nature of the spices, opening up the peripheral circulation, it’s also a really good tea option for when you’re coming down with a cold. Take a hot bath and drink some Fire Chai and then wrap up warm to sweat things out in bed… Repeat as needed! Ginger and turmeric have well-recognized anti-inflammatory actions – and turmeric is also high in antioxidants, as is the Daintree tea – so it’s a delicious way to incorporate a bit more of these healthful spices into your life.

We recommend brewing this one with milk – dairy or coconut – to temper the heat. Generally what I do is steep a level teaspoon in a half cup of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes, then strain it into a half cup of warm milk. If that seems a bit too strong, use the same amount of tea but in one cup of water and one of milk. You can of course add honey or another sweetener if you wish! It is quite spicy, so if you’re sensitive to chilli (for example, if you have a stomach ulcer) this is not the one for you. Try our Moon Chai instead!

Keep warm friends!

Bright blessings
Verity )O(

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Tuesday is Herb Day: NETTLES

This series is turning out to be a little bit like ‘Tuesday is Let’s Find Out What Verity is Excited to Have in Her Garden Day.’ Because, guess what I found in there the other day? Good ol’ stinging nettles (Urtica dioica).

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I didn’t plant them; I actually didn’t even recognise them at first. Well, I kind of did – I buy bunches of fresh nettles regularly from the farmers’ market to cook – but when I cautiously patted at them to the see if they’d sting, it didn’t hurt, so I assumed they were a component of some mixed ‘cottage garden’ type seeds I’d scattered around at the end of summer, and would eventually have nice flowers. Then, the other day while doing some other garden work I brushed my hand and arm past and came away with a whole bunch of little red welts. My first thought: ‘YES! They ARE stinging nettles!!'; My second thought: ‘Ow, how long is this going to take to stop hurting?’ Luckily either these ones weren’t particularly sting-y, or I’m not overly sensitive to nettle toxins, because the pain and redness didn’t actually last very long.

Where did they come from? I think it’s because a few months back I poured a bucketful of nettle tea around the garden. I had a couple of bunches of nettles I hadn’t got around to cooking, and not wanting them to go to waste I thought I’d use them to feed my plants (they’re very high in nutrients, as I’ll discuss below). I found a recipe here… You’ll notice it says ‘don’t use any bits with seeds’… Being a) probably short on time that day and b) kind of lazy anyway I blithely ignored that bit and just stuck the whole lot in a bucket of water with a lid on it. And left it for a looooooooooong time. Months and months. Eventually I got sick of the sight of the bucket sitting in its corner and decided to just pour it out around the place. I have no idea if it actually did anything much for the garden (which is generally pretty healthy anyway, thank goodness) but those seeds must have been pretty tough. There they are, springing up all over the place. You know, pretty soon my garden is going to be overrun with just about every invasive plant you can think of… Dandelions, nettles, horehound (I’ve got that too)… All I need is some cleavers and I’ll be set.

It was kind of ironic that the day I discovered the bona fide presence of nettles in my garden I had actually cooked up two whole bunches of them. I’d been inspired by this post from Nourished Kitchen, and had made up a nettle and cheese pie, kind of like spanikopita.

2 large bunches fresh nettles
1 small onion, finely chopped
450g feta cheese, drained and crumbled
4 eggs, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
Butter for greasing
20x30cm Pyrex dish

Bring several litres of water to the boil in a very large stockpot. Rinse the nettles (wear gloves while handling them) and then blanch them in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the cooked nettles (reserve the water to use in the garden when it’s cool, unless you’re super paranoid about having a garden full of nettles). When the nettles have cooled, remove the toughest stems and chop the remainder coarsely.

Grease the dish with butter and preheat the oven to 180C. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and then spread into the dish. Bake for about 45 minutes (but check from about 35) until golden brown and set. Serve hot or cold, with lemon wedges.

Nettles have an interesting taste; green, but not bitter. I can’t put quite the right word on it but think ‘earthy’ and you’ll be on the right track. Young (spring) nettles are best for eating as older ones can be a bit gritty in texture, which is apparently due to the development of silica crystals in the leaves. As you might expect from something that is high in silica and other minerals (calcium, magnesium and iron) nettles – as food or tea – are particularly good for maintaining the health of skin and hair. They also have a longstanding reputation as an alterative; they both cleanse and build the blood – this is the main thing I’m looking for when I drink them as a tea. There’s a lovely post about nettles as a spring tonic over at Red Root Mountain. Nettles are food and drink for what my herbal medicine teacher called ‘situations of increased demand': stress, leading to the need for deep nutrition.

Energetically nettles are, unsurprisingly, associated with the warlike planet Mars and the element of Fire; but their profoundly nourishing nature also speaks of their connection with nurturance and motherhood. They are a herb of the strong, powerful Mother, connecting us with her strength and supporting our own. It’s for this reason that nettles are a key ingredient in our Mothers’ Garden tea blend.

Bright blessings

Verity )O(

Categories: herb day | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Winter Wanderings

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Yule has passed and now we are held within the silence of winter.

Last Saturday we took the opportunity to walk amongst the fog and shadows and centre

within the cold, deep quiet of our landscape.

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I am Old Spider goddess of Micronesia.
I created the moon, the sea, the sky, the sun,
and the earth from a single clamshell.
All the vast and varied universe is present
in the smallest forms of life.
As above, so below.
As within, so without.

Excerpt taken from ‘Goddess Grace’

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Enchanted meadows

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Noble outstretching

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Decaying Underground

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As the shadows played against the fog, I looked upon the trees and was moved by their quiet wisdom.  How they have released everything that no longer serves them.  Back to the ground it goes for recycling and renewal.
How they have been left with the absolute necessary, and with that treasure recessed deep into their roots within our Mother Earth.
This season brings to mind the  “four powers of the sphinx”  To Know, To Will, To Dare and To Keep Silent.  In particular, the last of these, Silence.  The attribute of silence has been on my mind recently, especially after having the very unfortunate experience of being forced out of the broom closet by having  my mundane name  disclosed to 6000+  members of my facebook page.
Its not that I don’t like to tell people I’m a witch, most people who know me have probably figured that one out.  Its that I have work, a family, friends and other aspects of my life that  should not be judged by my personal practice.
Most importantly, it should be my choice whether I out myself and no one else has the right to do that.
This then got me to thinking about the lesson of silence, and how those relatively new to the Wheel and who have not done the proper Work and without the proper Guidance can cause great damage to those around them as well as themselves.
So as the Moon of Silence is upon us lets look a little deeper into this power and what it means.
TO KEEP SILENT
Like all the rules of the Sphinx this one has many layers to its meaning.   And ‘To Keep Silent’ has caused more discussions than the other three rules combined.   On an outer level there is the common sense of just keeping your mouth shut.  Such as in my case where someone tried to harm my reputation.   When you keep silence it protects reputations, teachings, intellectual property of your coven, it protects your from social judgements, repercussions and very importantly, protects the work you are doing from the interference of others.
Taking this lesson within, we recognize the need for actual silence within our practice, such as silent reflection, mediation and prayer.  All vital to our path and self knowing.
Silence in its simplicity will affect you in deep and shifting ways.   Like a murky lake that is filled with muddy water during agitation, silence and stillness helps the mud sink to the bottom revealing a clear and luminous nature.
M La Fura )O(

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Categories: The Wheel | 5 Comments

How to wash the dishes like your grandmother | Old-Fashioned Living

I am really interested in doing things the old fashioned way. Herbal medicines. Growing my own vegies, making my own jams and pickles – and now ferments too. What I want to do is connect more with my life and to produce, as much as possible, the things that I then consume. At the moment, I am constantly learning new skills and experimenting, trying to get back to my roots – in the good ways. (Just because our great great grandparents might have been prescribing mercury for syphilis doesn’t mean we should do it.)

But there are some old-fashioned things that I think have some real use, especially in our over complicated society. Walk down an aisle at the supermarket and there are literally walls upon walls of different cleaning products – for the floor, for each different surface, for the dishes, for the dishwasher, for the fridge, for the oven. Look, we don’t need all this stuff, the chemicals, the packaging, the sheer overwhelming multitude.

You want to get back to basics? Here’s a challenge for you. Try washing the dishes as your grandmother and great grandmother would have done. Or like Daisy in Downton Abbey, if that floats your boat. Go to the supermarket and find the most basic bar of household or laundry soap that you can. Not the antibacterial kind, not the fancy fragranced kind, just the plainest, simplest one. It’ll probably be made with tallow. This is ok. Try and avoid ones with palm oil if you can. Velvet soap is a good option if you live in Australia.

To hand wash your dishes, scrape them to get rid of as much grease as possible. Then, place your bar of soap in your sink and start filling it with hot water. The soap will bubble a bit but it’s not like detergent. This is ok too. Take the bar of soap out. As you wash up the water will just turn soapy and grey. Don’t be alarmed – your dishes will still be clean. I was actually surprised at how radical and challenging it was for me to let go of my preconceived notion that if there weren’t masses of detergent bubbles then nothing would get clean… But I persisted and now I’m totally used to it.

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If you have a double sink for rinsing your dishes (I wish I did) put a slosh of white vinegar in there when you’ve filled it up, just to help things sparkle. It’s not necessary though. I only add the vinegar for rinsing when I’m using the dishwasher.

What? Dishwasher? Ok, yes, I know my great grandma didn’t have a dishwasher because I don’t think they were even invented. (My parents have a dishwasher, but they’ve never used it, go figure). To me, acquiring a dishwasher for the first time a few months ago has been a huge boon, because I cook – A LOT – and am often the only person actually doing the dishes, because if I don’t there’s just no bench space to work on. This becomes truly dispiriting after a while, so to me the dishwasher is an amazing blessing – and guess what I use in it? Finely grated soap – about a tablespoon per load – and vinegar in the rinse compartment. I have never seen dishes so clean – I’m not kidding.

And what’s more – using a single, minimally packaged product for multiple things creates a big, positive follow-on impact for the environment, as well as simplifying my daily life.

Give it a try, even just for one day? Are you a radical non-detergent dishwasher already and you’re just surprised it took me this long to see the light? Do you have any grandmotherly household hints to share that can help us all get back to our roots?

Blessings
Verity )O(

Categories: the hearth | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Tuesday is Herb Day – Tansy

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Here’s a herb you might not think about too often: tansy, Tanacetum vulgare. No, I don’t think about it terribly often, either. I have some in the garden, of course, but I don’t use it much. Mainly it’s there to be decorative with its lovely ferny leaves, and the promise of bright buttony yellow flowers – although it didn’t produce any of those last summer, possibly because it was in too small a pot and didn’t have enough room to do its full thing. Also, caterpillars kept eating it. I transplanted it to a larger pot in a sunnier spot and it’s thriving now. See, here it is:

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The cutting I took at the time is also doing well, it seems to be one of those plants that is eager to grow just about anywhere. ‘Just put one root into the most difficult spot in your garden, the spot where nothing will grow, and watch it thrive’ says Dorothy Hall in The Book of Herbs.

Tansy used to be eaten in the spring, the leaves being a bitter tonic; made into cakes called ‘tansies’ which according to Mrs Grieve were absolutely chock full of eggs and sugar, so I’m not 100% sure how therapeutic those would have been, but I bet they tasted interesting. The scent of tansy is camphoraceous and strong and the smell will reputedly repel many varieties of insect and pest; crush the leaves to release the volatile oils. The flowers and leaves can also be used to produce yellow (and sis boy also green) dye.

It’s not a herb to be used internally in quantity, although I’m sure the taste alone would ensure that anyway; in small doses it is a useful emmenagogue to help with painful periods. In less cautious, more heroic days tansy was often given to help expel worms, and it is still a useful treatment, but should not be used for more than a couple of weeks. Mrs Grieve reports that it is useful for ‘hysteria’, that interesting and loaded term: to me, it seems that it would be the bitterness that makes tansy suitable for calming down someone in hysterics, the bitter flavour being the herbal equivalent of a slap in the face, putting the sympathetic nervous system back in its place and giving the parasympathetic the opportunity to take charge.

I have also read somewhere (of course, now I can’t find the reference) that tansy has a strong connection to the Divine Feminine, embodied in Christian times as the Virgin Mary, but dating from much earlier: this ties in with the concept of tansy as a remedy for hysteria, and its use as an emmenagogue – some kind of deep connection with the womb, which I think it would worthwhile to explore further.

Do you have tansy in your garden, have you ever crafted with it or explored its uses? I’d love to hear!

Bright blessings
)O(
Verity

Categories: herb day | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Changes and transformations

Just a little note to let you know that we are in the process of making some changes to the way Lilith’s Herb Garden looks and works… At the moment our shop is in maintenance mode while we tinker away behind the scenes… We’re going to try splitting the Garden into two distinct sides – the Herb Garden, where you will find all the delicious teas and healing ointments, and the Shadow Garden, where we will stock our pathworking balms, incenses, energetic medicines and suchlike.

Here’s a sneak peek at our new look/s:

large banner - herb garden shadow garden label master TAKE 2

We’re excited to feel things coming together a little more cohesively – it’s been a bit of a tricky time, trying to sort out the best approach to the business, not to mention the steep learning curve of using GIMP to design our new logos… (one of my personal headaches!!) But that’s the time of year too, time to dig in deeper and get the foundations and roots sorted during these darkest days, and then once Yule has come and gone, to start to ascend again!

Of course, nothing is final and we will always be ready to change and transform further as we go. However it’s nice to feel that we’re getting over the first run of hurdles, which means we can get back to doing what we are really passionate about – working with beautiful herbs! There are several new teas in the works, including a couple of really delciious chai blends that I’ll be posting about once the shop is open again.

In the meantime, do chat to us on Twitter, check out our photos on Instagram, or email us: lilithsherbgarden (at) gmail (dot) com

 

Bright blessings on this super chilly Melbourne day ~

Verity

Categories: Brewings, Whispers | Leave a comment

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