Hello friends,
Thanks for being here. I am currently preparing to head north to Maine for the Rose harvest. This morning I made a list of things that I need to do before I leave town: weed the garden, do laundry, clean the kitchen, clean out the car, harvest the elderflower, yarrow and rue from the garden and begin the drying process, prepare my notes for class with Herbal Mystery School and Flowering Round cohorts, make client formulas, ship remaining online orders, organize medicine making supplies to bring up north, pick out poetry books to read, etc. Making the list is keeping me on task and it ensures that my to-do list in Maine will only have one thing on it: be with the Roses. 
I've been going north for the Rose harvest every summer solstice since I moved back home to upstate New York from California a few years ago. This yearly pilgrimage has become my anchoring solstice ritual. If you are familiar with my flower essence formulas, you will know that all of them are in a Rose and honey infused brandy that I make in the apothecary. Rose has been the base of all Sister Spinster formulas since day one of Sister Spinster. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from the medicine of Rose, which is why they are heavily used in my medicine making practice. 
In Slavic tradition, the herbs that are harvested in the solstice window are considered to be the most enchanted, the most benevolent and the most potent. The golden solstice days encourage the flowers to open in full color, in full expression, in full frequency, in full vibrancy. Can you feel it, too? In Maine, the cooler temperatures and sea breezes allow the rosa rugosa to bloom for much of the summer, but it feels important for me to harness the pinnacle of this medicine right now, when the sun is at its zenith. Spending time with the roses in this way, at this time of the year, ties me to the magic of this season. 
Image item
One of the things that I enjoy most about my work as a herbalist is paying close attention to the seasons and finding ways to mark and celebrate these transitions throughout the year. My calendar of yearly activity follows the plants: April is guided by Nettles, May opens to the Dandelion harvest, June is dedicated to Roses and Linden… the green-blooded ones inform my days and where to focus my attention and devotions. 
I also observe ancestral festivals. This is one way that I honor my ancestors and feed my spirit and the great web of life I am a part of. I know many Hellenic reconstructionists who attempt to repeat and re-enact these celebrations in the same exact way that these festivals were celebrated in Ancient Greece. I do not try for this exactness. It is impossible, those festivals were created from a very specific time, from a very particular place. It's clear to me that many of the agricultural festivals of ancient Greece do not line up with the climate of the Northeast, where I am rooted. Instead, when I move through the woods, the plants urge me to consider where I am, to locate myself along the forest floor. The meandering river down the road from my house asks me to pay attention when prayers need to be made for more rain. The great hum of the beehives tell me about the nectar flow and vitality of the land. The spirit of the mountain suggests deep presence. We must localize our rites. We are asked to consider and honor the cultural and climate differences as well. 
Here in New York, at the time of our last class Sap Rising class, the skies were still orange from the wildfire smoke in Canada and I was viscerally sickened at the idea of lighting any kind of fire for summer solstice, as is tradition. In class we wondered what our new solstice rites might look like, if toxic smoke was the current context for our summer celebrations. Perhaps it would be a festival of honoring the Mullein people, to offer prayers that they grow tall and robust, ensuring that we have plenty of lung medicine available for summers of smoke. Perhaps it would be visiting the local reservoir and singing songs of praise to the waters. Perhaps it is spending time with Rose, who teaches us how to balance water and fire, who teaches us how to keep the heart open despite fear, despite heartbreak, despite the horrors, who teaches us how to unfold into life, again and again and again…..
with Roses, with water, with honey, with kindness, with the gifts of Solstice,
xx Liz 
p.s. a poem:
by Christopher Page
On scent of rose
I am born
unto day
with wormwood sun
casting light
across motion
I come forth
in your senses
like a blade across skin
filling flesh
with longing
and devotion to itself
and through this
will you find 
your holy spirit
coaxed from a breeze
that carries
a flower's bloom
Image item
A note on summer classes: 
I was feeling a real urgency to offer some classes this summer and then I looked back and realized that I usually try to do less in Summer. The past three years I have taken at least a month off from teaching during this season… there is a lot to tend to right outside my door. There is so much physical work at this time of year in the garden, in harvesting, in preparing and making medicine. I have decided to leave spaciousness for the work of this season and I will announce fall classes in a few months. Thanks for your patience and I look forward to seeing you in a class this fall!