Love Your Soul Tea

There's something magickal about a cup of tea. Maybe it's because we seek comfort in it's warmth. Or maybe it's the peace it brings on a rainy day. Or is it the moment of solitude we allow ourselves while sipping a cup of tea that has us enchanted with this wonderfully fragrant drink?

Whatever it is, tea makes me happy. I have at least one caffeinated cup in the morning and an herbal tea before bed. Medicinal teas are a whole other topic, but just know that they are so supremely awesome in their healing properties that I get pretty darn excited just mentioning them! Love, love, love me some herbal medicine.

*Clears throat. Straightens skirt.* As I was saying, there's something soothing in a warm cup of tea, a blissful concoction made all the more pleasurable by a little honey and cream. So when I was looking for something that was both relaxing and enriching, I knew it had to involve tea.

Love Your Soul Tea is a magickal blend of black tea and fruit that gives us the magickal properties necessary for self-love and self-awareness. Too often we are caught in a maze of self-deprecating thoughts, which is helpful to no one. We have enough negativity to brave in this world. Why contribute to it in your own mind? Buddha said if our compassion does not include ourselves then our compassion is incomplete. Love yourself, people! For goodness sake, recognize the incredible person you are and show yourself some respect. Life is too beautiful to be at war with yourself. And we cannot reach higher levels of spiritual consciousness until we find harmony within ourselves.

So what makes Love Your Soul Tea so fantastic? You mean beside the fact that it's super duper tasty? Let me show you!

Black Tea
In terms of magickal properties, tea is used for awareness and courage. It takes courage to love yourself in this crazy world! Somewhere self-care became synonymous with selfish, which is total horse turds in case you didn't know. Having respect for ourselves not only gives us the resources to have respect for others, but it teaches our children through example. You wouldn't want your kid berating themselves over failing a test or having an extra cookie. But that's what they witness every time we complain about being "lazy" for not getting twelve loads of laundry done in thirty minutes, or for grabbing a slice of pizza instead of making a salad. Remember, how you speak to yourself is how your children will speak to themselves. Be nice to yourself!

Orange Peel
Orange is a symbol of love and purification. Love for, well, yourself. Purification for those mean thoughts tumbling around your head. Self-directed negativity weakens our souls as well as our bodies. Nourish yourself with considerate thoughts. Speak to yourself as you would your best friend. If you wouldn't tell your best friend she looks like shit after a night of restless sleep, don't think it while looking in a mirror. (And if you do speak to your friends like that, you may want to buy them some apology chocolates because that's pretty rude!)

Lemon Peel
Much like oranges, lemons are great for love and purity. But they also encourage happiness! Which makes sense given their beautiful color and bright aroma. 

Cranberry (dried)
Cranberries are used in spells for safety and protection. Your mind should be a place of safety. (If you haven't caught on yet, I'd really, really like you to be nice to yourself. Pretty please?)

How to Brew:

1 bag of black tea (about 1 Tablespoon if you're using loose)
1 Tablespoon each: lemon peel (fresh or dried), orange peel (fresh or dried), dried cranberries

Combine in a mug and cover with boiling water. Steep for ten minutes then strain. Add cream and honey if desired.

Now, and this is the important part, take a few minutes to yourself while you sip this tea. Think about the wonderful things you contribute to your family and the world. If a negative thought pops up, you tell that bitch to quiet down. Focus on what makes you special. "But Michaela, that sounds egotistical." If you had a huge ego, you wouldn't be thinking self-deprecating thoughts. Thinking you're a good person isn't conceited. Thinking you're 100% without flaws and that everyone else around you is a stupid moron is narcissistic. Total difference. Recognizing your strengths is self-esteem, not self-importance. 

If you're in a place of anxiety and unable to focus, try anxiety journaling. We cannot be at peace with life until we are at peace with ourselves. Give yourself a break. You're doing the best you can. 

Enjoy, my beautiful friends!

What's your go-to when you're feeling frazzled? 

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Litha Altar

Happy Litha! Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The sun's power is at its peak and summer is in full swing (which means triple digits and a lot of air conditioning for yours truly). 

If you're looking for more information on Litha and how to celebrate without spending a dime, check out last week's post!

Today, I'd like to give you a look at my natural Litha altar. If you haven't planned ahead, don't fret! Eat an orange in the sunshine. Make a pitcher of lemonade. Or grab some flowers from your yard, a candle from your closet, and pay your respects to the Summer Sun God. Simple as that! Isn't worshipping nature just spectacular? 

For my altar, I choose lemons and oranges to represent the sun/ God (being that they are sun-colored and spherical). The tulips represent the Goddess with their cupped bulbs symbolizing...well, lady bits. The blooms can also represent the womb, each delicate petal protecting the fertile stamen of the flower just as the uterus protects and nourishes the fetus. It just so happened they were also deep orange and yellow, which fit the colors of Litha perfectly. Just don't forget to thank any flowers and greenery you pick for your altar. After all, they are making a sacrifice. ...I know— it felt a little odd to me at first too. But when you take a moment to think about it, they're lending their energy to your purpose. It's appropriate to show some gratitude. You don't need to incite a neighborhood debate regarding your grasp on reality by conversing with a bush. You can express your gratitude internally, taking a moment to appreciate their beauty before you severe them from their life source. You know, respect for nature and whatnot. 

I chose to have my altar outside, but inside is just as easy! If you're looking to represent the five elements, the flowers and fruit are appropriate for earth. The candle is clearly fire. A small bowl of water is, well, water (I wet the soil before I set up my altar, so water was very present. =D) Air is easily represented by incense, or, you know, the air in the room. ;) And spirit is YOU! See how easy?! It's so common to feel overwhelmed when setting up an altar, but it really doesn't have to be that complicated. Magick is all about what feels right to you. Trust your instinct. If you like a serious altar, then party on with your austere self. But if you're like me and prefer a laid back approach to just about everything, all you need to do is step outside to honor the Divine. After all, the best place to worship nature is in nature!

Happy Litha, Everyone!

How do you honor Litha? What's your favorite cost-free way to celebrate the Summer Solstice?

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5 Ways to Celebrate Litha Without Spending a Dime!

(Notice wonky grammar? I capitalize seasons and natural entities when speaking of them in a spiritual manner. Rhyme unintended...)

Ahhhh Litha. The Summer Solstice (for us Northern Hemisphere folks). The turning point of sunlight. This year Litha is celebrated on June 20th. Come the 21st, the days will already begin to shorten, the nighttime hours overcoming the sunlight by just a tiny interval every evening, gaining momentum for the fall. 

When I was living in New England, Litha was always tinged with a morsel of sadness. New Englanders spend all winter craving sunshine (at least when the weather wasn't so wacky. Much has changed in over a decade). It is ironic that the first day of summer is the same day the sunlight begins to lose its battle for dominance, beginning its descent into darkness. It's beautiful in a way, once again reaffirming that nothing in life is permanent. But as a teenager who spent her summer nights on the beach or at a bonfire (I basically grew up in an episode of The Gilmore Girls, familial strife and parental disappointment included) I dreaded that first summer night when the darkness gained footing and you began to notice the daylight hours wane.

But as I said, much has changed in over a decade. I now find myself in the desert, a harsh landscape known for its brutal summers. And I mean B-R-U-T-A-L! Litha in New Mexico means the summer heat is amping up, devouring small children and unicorn wishes all in the name of blazing temperatures. 

...At least that's what it feels like. Maybe no children are harmed. It's really hard to tell with the empty streets and blasting air conditioning and all. (Oh sweet Universe, thank you for air conditioning!)

Michaela in her thirties (Early thirties. Early!!) now welcomes Litha, seeing it as a milestone. A small one, but a marker nonetheless. Litha means one step closer to fall, one step closer to reprieve from the blistering sun. (Well, sort of. It's still the Southwest.)

There will come a time when I relish those summer days again, this I promise you. I long for the humid days, the sultry nights, the pleasure found in a refreshing ocean breeze, the excitement felt in a cooling afternoon thunderstorm. When I lived in New England, I adored summer time and it's carefree nature. In the Southwest, summer is our winter. And a nuclear one at that. (New Mexico joke! Ahhhh radiation posioning...what a barrel of laughs).

Anywho, I'll put aside my slight resentment of summer to honor the Sun. After all, we'd be sort of dead without it. (Of course, you can be very dead in the desert sun as well. Okay, okay! I'll stop!!)

This year Litha is pretty special! Litha is the height of the Sun's power, yet it falls on the night of a full moon. How magickal is that?! The peak of sunlight is accompanied by the apex of the moon's cycle. I find that so wonderfully beautiful and poetic. Goddess and God in perfect harmony. This will be a fantastic time to cast spells for balance or to reflect on your life. Are YOU keeping balance? Is there an area of your life that isn't getting as much love as it needs? Now would be the perfect opportunity to address that.

Being that this is a celebration of the Sun (we're celebrating the Sun's strength whereas Yule is celebrating the return of the Sun), yellow and gold are very appropriate. Whether you decorate your table in yellow or choose golden foods (like carrots, oranges, or lemonade) anything sun colored is perfect to honor the God! Keep foods fresh and in season. This Sabbat is particularly easy to cook for because gardens are thriving.

How else can you celebrate Litha without spending a dime? Let me show you!

Make Sun Tea
I didn't know about sun tea until I lived in the Southwest. It's very common for people to leave a sun tea jar in their window pretty much all the time. Admittedly, I don't make sun tea often, but I DO make sure to brew a batch on Litha! It's super easy, super quick (hands-on time, at least), and mighty tasty! Simply take a few bags of your favorite tea (herbal or otherwise) and toss them into a large jar. Cover with water and place in the sun for several hours. When you return—voila!—tea! You can purchase beautiful containers with spigots specifically made for sun tea, but I personally use a clean jar. Free and environmentally friendly! ;)

Have a Picnic
It seems like most Pagan Sabbats come back to eating a meal outside. But that's because there's nothing more basic and innate than eating a meal in nature. Plan a meal based around the sun—fresh fruits and vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, a favorite spicy dish (hot like the sun!) and hit your favorite picnic spot. Watch nature. Take in the butterflies. Smell the fresh blooms. Enjoy the bare grass beneath your feet and the warm sun on your shoulders. Take a nap in the shade of a willow tree. Rinse. Repeat. I never regret an afternoon spent in the grass. Never! [she yelled, shaking her fist at the nearest cactus.]

Make a Sun Dial
Sun dials are pretty cool. As a person with no children, I'd totally make one for my garden. But if you have kids, what a cool way to teach them about the sun! In a world of smartphones, I'm betting most children don't realize time used to be kept by that wonderful sphere in the sky. It's a really neat way to teach children about our innate connection with nature. And it can be done with supplies from your craft closet! (Or from a pizza stone for adults! How creative!)

Get Out in the Sun!
Yours truly is routinely heard during the blistering desert months of May-October whining saying, "I have Celtic blood! I don't belong in the sun!" If you've never experienced the infamous sear of the Southern sun, you can't fully understand when I say that I can maybe manage two minutes of midday June sun before my skin begins to burn. Literally two minutes. So Miss Michaela may be watching the sunset, but you won't find me frolicking around in a flower crown and white sundress soaking up the rays come noon. (Am I the only person who desperately wants a flower crown???) Take a walk. Sit outside and sip lemonade. Read a book. Or best of all—do nothing but watch the nature around you! Enjoying the sunshine is an easy, free, and pleasant way to celebrate Litha!

Have a Fire-Cooked Meal
Fire is always a perfect way to honor the God. And cooking a meal over a fire means you'll probably start before sundown, thus putting you under the Litha sunlight. Cooking with fire also means you'll be imbuing your food with all that lovely God energy (and tasty campfire smoke!). Roasting food over a fire connects us to our native roots of living in nature. It's a time for us to slow down and relish the experience of preparing a meal, something we don't often do in a microwave, fast-food world. Just make sure you're stocked up on wood. You'll want to continue the party under the Litha full moon!

Blessed Litha, Everyone! And Happy Full Moon!

What do you do to celebrate Litha? Do you have any special plans for the Litha Full Moon?

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5 Natural Products to Help You Cope with Grief

Recently, my husband and I suffered a great loss to our family. I talk about it a little more here.

I wanted to share with you some of the natural, herbal, and homeopathic products I used to help combat the suffocating feelings of grief. If you're undergoing the pain of mourning, I hope these may help you process those emotions just a little easier. 

Rescue Remedy This homeopathic supplement can be taken under the tongue or in water several times a day. Like all homeopathic supplements, they have a very, very low risk of allergic reactions due to the nature in which they are derived. Homeopathic medicines are great because they are gentle. You're not going to take this and feel like you're on drugs. But you will notice after a few days that it gently helps you cope with day-to-day tasks (which seems impossible after the death of a loved one).

Peace and Harmony Essential Oil I totally love this essential oil. It's very calming and has a centering, earthy smell. It's great for any type of stress, but I found it particularly helpful on those nights when you can't sleep and feel haunted by the woulda-couldas (because your mind is awesome like that and always gives you regrets after a loved one dies). The peppermint helps center the mind while the lavender helps soothe and calm. It's a great oil to keep handy. I actually wear it every day. If you're struggling with insomnia, try some of these remedies I've used successfully. 

Ignatia Amara I credit these little pellets for keeping me off the highway overpass after my loved one transcended. When the grief was overwhelming and looming on destructive, I popped five of these and watched some TV in order to distract myself. Sometimes you need to grant yourself a moment of reprieve from mourning in order to keep your sanity and not go into hyperventilation-dry heaves. Grieving blows. Do what you gotta do to keep your sanity and not give yourself a blinding migraine.  

Stress Releaf I love Herbs Etc. They make good products, and they use liquid-gels so the herb is more readily available. Stress Releaf will help support your body long-term to keep your system balanced while you're dealing with emotional trauma. I recommend taking it for at least a month after your loss. Longer won't hurt. This is a great supplement to support your adrenals and immune system—all of which suffers when we're grieving and eating Ho-hos by the boxful. 

Numi Chocolate Mint Tea This has not a damn thing to do with health but is wholly a comfort food. Remember those Ho-hos I just mentioned? You're doing yourself a disservice by eating junk when grieving (or stressed). Granted, sometimes junk soothes the soul, and I'm NOT going to judge! But bear in mind your body will function better if you're eating as healthy as possible during a time of stress, especially because processed and sugary foods tend to lower our emotional threshold to begin with. No, I'm not guilting you for a chocolate binge. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But please recognize that you need nutrition when grieving too, especially since most people completely lose their appetites when mourning.

Numi Chocolate Mint Tea is my perfect compromise! Albeit a touch pricey, it's unbelievably tasty and the perfect balance between indulgence and avoiding a gut ache. I add a little sugar and milk to mine (personally, honey doesn't work for me in this tea), and it's like a cup of hot cocoa. Yum! Just make sure you give it ten minutes to steep. Makes it all the more better. As I said, when you're mourning you need every bit of comfort you can find. Mine always comes in a tea cup. If yours comes in the form of Hostess, you have yourself a Twinkie, my darling. 

If you've recently lost a loved one, I hope you can find peace in the coming days. Remember to be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, and don't judge the process. Be patient with yourself. Let yourself grieve without the burden of self-criticism. (Or any outside criticism for that matter!) 

Blessed Be.

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Note: As with any recommendation on this site, consult with your doctor or naturopath before use.