Even though we might all still be sweltering at the feet of the Sun gods during these burgeoning dog days of summer, there are actually harvest festivals that are starting to take place on other parts of the Earth. One of these is the Celtic harvest festival that happens on August 1, which takes its name from the Irish god, Lugh, one of the early and ancient chief gods petitioned not only during this same time of Lughnasadh in Ireland but also in Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man (among other lucky locales).
Now, Lugh was also considered the solar deity of the Tuatha de Danann, or the Fairie People of Ireland, and, so, his feast (traditionally held all during the entire first week of August) was also thought to be a most excellent time to foster communications with these mystical and magical wee beings. One of the easiest ways to share your hopes and dreams with the fairy realm -- and to have them help make all same come true -- is to leave a small bouquet of primroses on your doorstep or threshold overnight (on any of the nights that anchor this first week; But it’s considered most especially effective on August 1). This single act invites the fairies to come and bless your home with happiness, luck, fortune, abundance and prosperity.
And now we are nearing the end of another summer which prompts me to ask, what’s the one accessory that you're absolutely sure to carry with you at all times? Why, it’s your skin, of course. Albeit not the traditional fashion appendage when discussing accessories, let’s FACE it: your skin is something you should treat like you paid through the nose for it at Bergdorfs or Bendels. And after a summer filled with Sun as well as (hopefully) some outdoor frolic and fun, well, it might be time to let it shine -- literally. Using almond oil as a daily moisturizer before sweater weather sets in will soften the scales and restore the rough spots. Massage this oil into your skin two times a day. Remember though that no moisturizer ever really moisturizes. What skin softeners do is cover the skin with a thin layer of film that holds the skin’s own emollients and moisturizers in.
So as August continues to unfold and you find yourself trying to squeeze every ounce out of the last summer days, you might also want to squeeze a vitamin E capsule on at night and massage a thin layer of that into all affected areas too. If you want to make yourself a homemade remedy that some big name beauty experts swear by, then you might want to go ahead and try the following:
Grab a big bunch of Thompson seedless green grapes at your local grocer and cut each grape in half. Gently crush the mixture over your arms, shoulders and even on your freshly washed face. Be sure to allow the grape juice to penetrate the tiny lines at the corners of your mouth as well as any that have formed around your eyes. Leave this grape extract on for at least 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water and then patting dry. If you want to stay with this whole grape escape, you can then splash a bit of champagne on your skin to close your pores and tighten loose and/or slightly sagging skin. You can use the rest of the bottle to toast the end of another outstanding August!
So many ancient cultures ascribed to the idea and even embraced ritualistic celebrations that say that the Sun is the center of all life. Some schools of yoga adhere to this same philosophy as well and will even offer that this same life, or Prana, can only reach the earth through one of the 12 divisions of the Sun’s aura or what might be referred to as the 12 astrological time frames that shape our calendar year. In this same yogic theory, the Sun’s aura can reach our own and even color it with health and success if the student knows how. One of the ways of accessing that auspicious energy is through a very specific astrological and auric form of breathing called “The Vital Breath”.
The Fifth Vital Breath governs the astrological Sun sign of Leo and can be successfully practiced during the energetic influence of that same sign, July 22 to August 22. This Vital Breath supports the health of the heart while also bringing cleansing, cooling and calming to every cell in the body. The treatment associated with accessing the excellent energies of this breath goes like this: Stand straight with you arms hanging down and your chest slightly forward while your feet are firmly on the ground about a hip’s width apart. Your hands should be clasped with your palms to body. Using the hips as a pivot, bend the body the right and then to the left alternatively. When bending toward the right side, lift the left hand until the fingers come close up to your armpits and vice versa. You can keep your muscles relaxed throughout this breathing exercise. Inhale through the nose when the body is standing erect and breathe out through the mouth as you bend it one side and, then, to the other.
An alternative breathing exercise advises that you can lie flat on your back with your hands under your head but, in this exercise, the muscles in the whole body should be intentionally tight and rigid. Take a deep breath so that the abdomen and the lungs both expand to utmost and then deeply exhale until they are entirely and completely empty. Relax and repeat again three more times for a total of four deep breaths.
During this entire exercise, you should be totally focused on the health of your heart and your spine. See both the heart and the spine in perfect working order and condition. You can even accompany with a special affirmation offered for this same breathing exercise by L. W. de Laurence that says: “My heart’s action is strong, every deep breath stimulates my heart and in this way assures better nutrition (and healing) to every cell in my body.” (You can insert the word “spine” for “heart” if applicable.)
Doing this breathing exercise during these dog days of Leo promises to make you feel like a calico cat sitting in the Sun while also making you healthy as a horse no matter what animal sign you may have been born under!
It has long been believed that baking and shaping bread into various forms -- most particularly that of the solar deity and Celtic Sun god, Lugh, who is honored and celebrated during the waning days of summer -- is an ancient cultural custom that fetes two of the main elements of late summer: wheat and the Sun.
Many cultures begin to harvest their wheat at this time of year while showing gratitude for the abundance, nurturing and nourishment that come from those same crops. As well, this Lammas time of year also celebrates the Sun god who will be leaving as we descend once again into the darkness of the year, perceived to be the loving and protective womb of the goddess. With this bread made in the form of the Sun, we remember basking in the glory of same as we have had the great gift to do for the last six months as the wheel of the year continued to turn. We now celebrate the warmth and glory of this Sun god by actually shaping bread harvested from his light.
6 cups of All-Purpose bread flour
1 package rapid rise dry yeast
1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds
2 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 vegetables vegetable oil
2 cups warm water
For the glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
4-6 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Mix together in a large bowl the sunflower seeds and the flour. Combine the yeast and flour mixture with the salt, sugar and the oil. Pour in the water while mixing all very well.
Turn this dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes all the while thinking of, and embracing an attitude of, gratitude. After kneading for 15 minutes, return the dough to the bowl and cover with a cloth. Let stand for another 10 to 15 minutes. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with cornmeal.
Preheat the oven to 350 and turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat down into a circular shape and flatten to about an inch thickness and about 12-inches wide. Cut a dozen triangles around the perimeter of the circle and then set aside any excess dough. Arrange the “rays” around the circle of the sun and transfer to a baking sheet. With remaining dough, roll out eight thin breadsticks and with kitchen scissors, snip small slashes at the top of these sticks so that they resemble stalks of wheat. Place these at least an inch apart on another greased baking sheet.
Bake the bread Sun and the breadsticks for 15 minutes. In another small mixing bowl add the egg yolk, water and food coloring and paint the Sun face with this mix. Return the break to the oven and cook both Sun bread and wheat sticks for another 15 minutes or until done. .
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According to emails, texts and social networking fans, this month of August comes close to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as being one of the most desired times of year to gather together and vacation as one big happy family. Well, that’s the hope anyway. Apparently in August, road trips rule, pitching tents takes over and rented houses at the Jersey Shore (with or without the fist pumping attached) are only some of the ways we intend to relax while spending some quality downtime with the spouse and kids before school bells and buses sneak up and announce the start of another September.
Be sure to bring along incense or sage sticks for space clearing when sleeping where others have done same (just send some sage or incense smoke into each corner of the place, starting at the front door and walking main floor in a clockwise direction until you end up back at that same space). I have some other really critical advice: Bring along your new iPad. That’s right, travel guru Carolyn Paddock reminds that it’s also hugely important to remember to “take care of business” while you’re on vacation. She says it’s absolutely imperative that the family has a meeting spot/plan of action in place in case that it’s called for: “For example, say there is a fire drill at the hotel and the kids are upstairs in the bedroom while he parents are enjoying a quiet moment by the pool for a minute or two; based on that model, the family should have some sort of pre-arranged meeting place” in order to be able to meet and find each other without confusion. Paddock shares that “As parents, you are teaching your children to think ahead and be prepared while as a family unit you are connected and operating as a team.”
I can’t think of any other way I’d like to spend my summer vacation than by having plans in place that will replace the unknown with a shot of confidence … alongside the shot of spirits, too!
Often times the end of August (and the end of our yearly vacations as well) allows us a new and improved energetic commitment to our careers, our jobs, our workplaces. I thought that this year, instead of waiting until all that impetus and energy that arises when the dog days are done and the kids are all climbing aboard big yellow buses, well, I thought I would give you a jump start on getting your job energies hopping again.
Now, if you do have an actual office and you can dictate the direction of your desk, by all means employ what’s called in Feng Shui the “command position.” This means that you should sit facing the door into the office on a diagonal to that same door. You should however avoid having either a corner or a spate of windows behind you as the former points a “poison arrow” at you while the latter leaves your with little support. You can actually resolve this by hanging an image, picture or painting of a mountain in the space behind you. You should also cover any exposed bookshelves either in front of or behind you with sliding doors or even a piece of material.
An image or small statue of a rooster positioned on your desk helps guard against anyone trying to use office politics to preen and push their personal agenda while also intending to ruffle your feathers. Also, an image of a phoenix flying high placed at the entrance to your office will invite beneficial business opportunities. And don’t forget to keep a small clear glass or crystal on the upper right hand side of your desk (for women) or upper left (for men) in order to always have access to creativity, clarity and a direct line to abundance as well. Enjoy what you employ from this Feng Shui pantheon, and rest assured that these cures will all now be working for you!
Sherene Schostak is a Jungian psychotherapist, author and metaphysician who specializes in helping creative artists transform their addictions and blocks. She has been in private practice in New York City for the past 13 years consulting, writing and... read more