The homestead is abuzz, quite literally, as I’ve released some three thousand ladybugs in to feast on the gray aphids. Calendula heads are clipped and their vine-dried seeds harvested. Bunches of oregano, thyme and rosemary are hanging to dry. Lavender and fennel are deflowered, hibiscus blossoms in their natural wrappers are almost ready for the teapot and honeysuckle flowers are twining their golden arms around each other on the rack. The drying room is filled with intoxicating odors and I have already begun to blend them for next year’s ritual incense. My favorite season of all is just about here – Autumn.
I’m reflecting once again on the year that is almost passed. As my hands perform each mundane chore, I quickly find myself contemplating the new learning the year has brought me in those countless hours nurturing, cajoling and whispering each plant from the dark Mother’s womb into fullness. The moon is full, shimmering on the wheat that stands tall in the fields. Bats are breaking my concentration as they dive through the mosquito swarms, and I am keenly aware that the River’s tide has turned because the breeze has picked up across the island.
The first batch of Helichrysum (aka Immortelle) is in. These petite, sun-shaped flowers nestle against a silvery mist of leaves and stalks, and true to their nature, they’ve improved my disposition by scent alone as I hang them on the line to dry. This herb is well-known for its medicinal value and it is said by some that it stimulates the right side of the brain. It also is reported to ease exhaustion and lethargy as well as treating pain and depression. I harvest the flowers for tea, a tasty and potent treat. It makes a great addition to my soaps and bathwater, and it is a “must have” in my medicine bag. The herb being burned for cleansing the house is powerful. Extracts are also added to sunscreens to block UV rays.
I planted this seedling on August 16, 2010 according to my diary. It’s now a mature bush providing enough for my household’s use. Each year I put the first of its harvest on the altar as an offering of my thanks and a prayer that next year will be just as blessed. This year, the first of the harvest has been dried and blended with freshly dried bergamot and laid on the altar beneath the pear tree now surrounded by small tufts of dill. The garden fae appear pleased at its presence, peace and joy are amplified through the power of the bergamot.
Carrying a bunch of the dried helichrysum blooms with some bergamot leaves in my pocket, I cross the hedge. I visit the Spirits that I am forging relationship with; I’ve attempted to build relationships with the moody, grouchy ones by leaving handfuls for them as well. Sometimes I get ignored or maybe a disinterested stare from those Ones who have no desire to be my ally. But more often than not, this handcrafted offering has proved to be well-received and beneficial. I rarely ‘leave home’ without it as I travel along the Witch’s path.
 herbal Soaps & Detergents Hand Book, H. Pand