Bilberry Sunday

The Organic Kitchen Garden 2017 wall calendar

Image from The Organic Kitchen Garden 2017 wall calendar. Colander of blackberries © Sonja Dahlgren. Click image for more info.

In Ireland, the last Sunday in July (July 31 this year) is known as Bilberry Sunday, although it seems the custom of going to the mountains to look for bilberries has somewhat died out. I found one reference online to a festival in Ardagh, Ireland, in 2015 where the participants climbed Bri Leith (also known as Ardagh Hill) to collect bilberries.

I read of one old custom where the girls would bring home bilberries and bake them into a cake to present to the one they loved. But Máire MacNeill, in her book on the festival of Lughnasa (August 1), says the boys make the girls bilberry bracelets, which are left behind when it’s time to return home. Either way, this is a courting festival like May Day, three months earlier.

The bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a relative of the blueberry that is smaller (about half the size), darker in color, and more sour. Bilberries grow best in acidic soil, usually on mountains or moors. The shrubs are low-lying and have dark-green, myrtle-like leaves. Because they are so hard to harvest, bilberries are almost never cultivated, but they are prized as a seasonal food that can be turned into jam or juice, baked into a pie or tart, or used as the base of a liqueur.

Since bilberries aren’t common where I live, I choose to harvest a different wild berry: the Himalayan blackberry, which grows wild (in fact, is a noxious weed) all over Seattle. Bilberry Sunday seems like a good opportunity to survey the wild berries that grow where you live. If you can pick enough of them to bring home, you can try making one of the treats above. I also like serving blackberries tossed with lavender simple syrup or lavender ice cream (after all, July is ice cream month).


Waverly FitzgeraldWaverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”

 

 


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Midweek Mindfulness with the Dalai Lama — July 27, 2016

Dalai Lama 2017 wall calendar

Image from our Dalai Lama 2017 wall calendar. Photograph by Olivier Adam. Click image for more info.

Inner development comes step by step. You may think, “Today my inner calmness, my mental peace, is very small,” but still, if you compare, if you look five, ten, or fifteen years back, and think, “What was my way of thinking then? How much inner peace did I have then and what is it today?”– comparing it with what it was then, you can realize that there is some progress, there is some value…. Progress comes by maintaining constant effort in daily practice.
H. H. the Dalai Lama, from Kindness, Clarity, and Insight


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Kuan Yin’s Feast Day

Kuan Yin journal featuring the beautiful artwork of Duirwaigh Studios. Click image for more info.

Kuan Yin journal featuring the beautiful artwork of Duirwaigh Studios. Click image for more info.

The 19th day of the 6th lunar month is one of the feast days for Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. This holiday, which falls on Friday, July 22 in 2016, celebrates her vow to renounce going to live in heaven and instead remain in this world as long as there are living beings who suffer here.

Here are some simple ways to honor the day:

Great Compassion Water
Grandmaster Lin Yun taught us to take a cup of drinking water and chant “Om Mani Padme Hum,” one of the mantras of compassion, 9 or 108 times over the water. Drink nine mouthfuls first thing in the morning and another nine mouthfuls before going to bed while visualizing that any negative energy, bad luck or illness is eliminated. Continue reading

Midweek Mindfulness with Marianne Williamson — July 20, 2016

Image from A Return to Love 2017 wall calendar featuring images by Misja Smits. Click image fro more info.

Image from the A Return to Love 2017 wall calendar featuring images by Misja Smits. Click image fro more info.

Our real self is the love within us. It’s the “child of God.” The fearful self is an imposter. The return to love is the great cosmic drama, the personal journey from pretense to self, from pain to inner peace.
Marianne Williamson


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Midweek Mindfulness with Mark Nepo — July 13, 2016

The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar

Image from The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar. Tree on rock in the fog © joseluis.

To be accepting of the life that comes our way does not mean denying its difficulties and disappointments. Rather, it means joy can be found even in hardship, not by demanding that we be treated as special at every turn, but through accepting the demand of the sacred that we treat everything that comes our way as special.
Mark Nepo


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New Coloring Book from Amber Lotus Publishing — Hebrew Illuminations: A Coloring Journey Through the Jewish Holy Days by Adam Rhine

HE-cover-blogDownload a sample page and share your work with us on Facebook!

Explore the ancient and enduring spirit of the Jewish tradition with this exquisite coloring book for adults. Jewish artist Adam Rhine has created intricate Judaic motifs such as Magen Davids, menorahs, and Hebrew calligraphy for you to bring to vivid life with the colors of your choice. Each illustration is paired with verses from the Torah, Psalms, and the Prophets that enlighten the reader and encourage further study into the meanings of the carefully selected themes.

  • Original artwork by Adam Rhine, author of the best-selling Hebrew Illuminations wall calendar.
  • Intricate Jewish motifs to embellish with color.
  • 38 unique full-page illustrations.
  • 38 wisdom quotes and words of prayer to contemplate while coloring.
  • A wonderful creative tool for Hebrew schools and scripture study groups.
  • One-sided printing on heavy paper designed specifically for coloring.
  • Perfect bound with a heavy durable coated cover.
  • Printed in the USA on FSC® Certified Mixed Source Paper.
  • 80 pages

Download a sample coloring page and share your work with us on Facebook!
Click image to download PDF to print at home and color.

HE-sample-blog


Desktop Wallpaper Calendar — July 2016 — Free to Download

Whole new month! Whole new month! Welcome July! We hope you enjoy this desktop calendar image for the month of July.

AmberLotus-wallpaper-July-2016-comp

Click thumbnail image above to see a preview of the downloadable graphic. See download tips and system instructions below.

Mac Users: Ctrl+click the image and select the command “Save Image As” in the pop-up menu to save the image to your computer. Some browsers allow you to click and drag the image to your desktop. Then use your System Preferences to change the desktop.

Windows Users: Right-click the image and select the command “Save Image As” in the pop-up menu to save the image to your computer. Some browsers allow you to click and drag the image to your desktop. Then use your Personalization Settings to change the desktop.

Note: Desktop wallpaper calendars are free for personal use only.


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Midsummer Purification Ritual

Image from our Gardens of the Spirit 2017 wall calendar featuring photographs by John Lander. Click image for more.

Image from our Gardens of the Spirit 2017 wall calendar featuring photographs by John Lander. Click image for more.

Thanks to my niece, who found a mention of this festival through her favorite Japanese seasonal treat shop, I recently attended a midsummer purification ritual at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine, a Shinto shrine in Granite Falls, Washington. The purpose of the ritual is to get rid of any negative energy from the first half of the year in order to begin the second half of the year with a fresh start. In Japan at the Tsubaki Shrine, the purification ritual takes place each year on June 30. Continue reading