Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Goddess of Plenty

Friday 30 November:
There is still time to take part in the Great Giveaway! Just leave a comment to be in with a chance of winning the wonderful prize.

It's here - the day has arrived - the Great Giveaway is upon us!
And about time too, I hear you say.
Fair comment.
But first - let me explain what I'm giving away and why...

A few years ago, a beautiful young friend of mine, a musician, found she had cancer.
It came out of the blue, as these things generally do.
Sadly, since then many people I know have been hit by different forms of this same disease. The majority of them are women, and, like my friend, have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The prayer tree

At the Dip in the Nip, back in June (a sponsored skinny-dip to raise money to fight cancer) I helped to put up a prayer tree on the beach. Prayer tree, wishing tree, call it what you will, the tags that fluttered in the breeze that day all bore - ultimately - the same message. They were filled with sadness, many with loss, some with hope, all with love. I left a message on the tree myself  for an old friend, fighting his own battle, and came away realising that everyone, everywhere is touched by cancer.

My beautiful friend went through all the treatment. Operations, chemo, radiotherapy - she lost all her hair, and suffered all the ups and downs that are inevitable when your life is suddenly no longer under your control, is tipping in a balance that seems more fragile than a water droplet.

She was one of the lucky ones, the girl-friend who sings like an angel. She was - happily - not bidden to some celestial choir, but came through it all, looking impossibly gorgeous with her new short, feathery urchin hair.
And I'm sure she would say that the whole, gruesome experience has changed many things for her - least of which is that she has become vegetarian. I don't know what lies beneath the surface for her, we don't talk about it. Why would we? I'm sure it's something you want to forget, and part of getting better must be moving on, but she did say one thing that made a huge impression on me.
It wasn't some profundity about the meaning of life, it was something that could seem almost trivial.

'Since becoming ill,' she said, 'I refuse to put anything on my skin that I couldn't put in my mouth.'

Fennel against the sky

I've thought about that a lot since then.
After all, we are so totally absorbent - not just our minds and our hearts, but our skins - our skins.

I've seen pictures of animals that are used as the 'guinea pigs' for our beauty products. Not good.
May we be forgiven for abusing them so.
And I saw one of those facebook posters awhile ago. It itemised the chemicals to be found in various up-market, but high street face creams. The list was long.

I also saw this just a few days ago - facebook again.

Credit to whoever it belongs to. Thank you facebook

What an upside down world we live in, but we don't have to passively accept it.

Cancer - skincare - lemons?
The thing is, all these different strands seem to have lodged in the same pigeon-hole in my brain and started their own little train of thought, which I will try to unravel here.

Once upon a time face creams were made from real plants, and plant oils. Some old woman in the village, who had learned everything she knew from her mother, or grandmother, made lotions and potions, infusions, balms and salves. Looking at the fields around her cottage she saw not land ripe for development, or capable of producing more grain per acre, but land rich with the blessings of mother earth, full of plants that healed and soothed, wildflowers that induced sleep, or cure, some that brought love - even death.

Sleep - and oblivion

Needless to say, we burned her as a witch or, if she was lucky, drowned her on the ducking stool in the village pond, before moving relentlessly onwards and upwards in our quest to conquer the planet with technology and science. And let's face it, the land is far too valuable to waste on plants and animals. Anyway, we can simulate the beneficial effects of most plants now, so why bother to remember that herbalists would use foxgloves to treat heart disease, marigolds to heal wounds, willow for pain relief, rue for high blood pressure and epilepsy, rosemary as an antiseptic, heliotrope for reducing fevers, heather and valerian as sedatives, larkspur as an insecticide, evening primrose for coughs, mullein for chilblains, nasturtium for urinary infections, wild passion flowers for IBS, horsetail to strengthen hair and nails...
The list is as endless as the plants themselves.
But with our forgetfulness, somehow mother earth, the original goddess of plenty, has slipped into the crack of our bilateral vision.
So here we are today with furniture polish made of lemons and face creams made of equations.
Isn't it wonderful?

And for all our technology and science, disease and mental instability are only ever a whisper away.

Now and again, when some programme comes on with gems like: 'Recent studies have shown that cayenne pepper/turmeric/the-plant-of-the-moment might significantly reduce tumours/free radicals/the latest disease', I find myself wondering if maybe we were a bit hasty in burning the witches of yesteryear. It strikes me that they might have been able to point us towards some of these wondrous truths a good while ago.
Still, better late than never, and anything that rekindles our relationship with the earth, anything that makes us actually see what grows around us can only be good.

The Fabulous Parrot Tulip

My friend HW in Bermuda flung a friendly contest at me a month or two ago. He liked a tulip I had photographed, and zapped a gloriosa lily back through cyberspace to stand against my brave, striped parrot.
And his challenge became one more strand tangling in that pigeon hole in my brain. I looked around my own small patch of earth, my generous share of the goddess of plenty's gifts, with all its plants - flowers - beauty - healing and power.
It is all given to us, I thought, in infinite variety - to see, to hold, to use, to pleasure our senses, to heal our bodies, to quiet our minds, and - as is the way with the earth - everything links into everything else, but it is up to us how we use it, how we see those connections.
So - I pondered - let's do it - let's look at the bounty around us, admire it, celebrate it, share it and spread it around.

The Glorious Gloriosa

And then I thought of another friend of mine, and the last piece of the jigsaw slipped into place.
Having spent years working in restaurant and event management - and becoming quite ill in the process - she has now moved to the west coast and started her own company making organic skincare products.
Where possible, all her ingredients are organic, Irish and as locally sourced as she can achieve. She uses beeswax and oils alongside herbs and flowers from her own organic garden, and the products she makes are not just cosmetic, they are specially designed to help the body's natural healing process and promote a feeling of well-being. She doesn't use any artificial preservatives, synthetic fragrances or parabens and nothing is tested on animals. (That in itself would be good enough for me.) In addition, all her packaging, including the gift boxes, are made from recycled and recyclable materials. As she herself says, these are products that make you feel good, and that you can feel good about.

My friend's new company is called Talentui Organics.
So, like my friend who has recovered from breast cancer, I can now put everything that goes on my skin in my mouth.
It's a good feeling.

And it's one you can share.

I'm giving away a Gift Box of Talentui skincare products worth €35, which includes Rose Face Oil, Soo-Sleepy Body Oil, Feel Soo Good Morning Shower Oil, and Salvation Balm.

And what do you have to do to win this fabulous treat?
Well - it's easy peasy, lemon squeezy (made with real lemons).

Just leave a comment below or go onto Writing from the Edge's facebook page, click 'Like' and then post your comment there - or even just send me an email.
Include a photo of your favourite flower OR
An interesting fact about a plant you like OR
Post a prayer tree message for someone you know and love OR
Just say hello

Or you can do all of those!
And you can leave as many comments as you like.
(Don't forget to leave a link so I can find you if you're the winner!)

As far as I can make out, life is never under our control, and is constantly tipping in a balance that is more fragile than a water droplet, but it is what we do with it that matters - and what we do with it is often tied in with how we see the world around us, so let's start by celebrating the bountiful earth. And the winner will be chosen when I get the feeling that everyone out there is celebrating - so join in, and tell your friends!

Oh - and by the way, Talentui is the name of the ancient goddess of Plenty.

The Talentui Organic garden, overlooking the sea

Happy first birthday, blog!

Additional comments:-

Margaret Roddy - see comment below - also posted this flower picture on Writing from the Edge's facebook page
Thanks, Margaret! Lovely photo.


Nicola McCutcheon - see comment below - posted this  picture of orange blossom on Writing from the Edge's facebook page.
Thanks, Nicola - it's lovely to see these pictures coming in. Another cracker! I can smell it from here!

Denise sent this photo in to the facebook page. Isn't it wonderful? Her comment is also below.

Thanks Carol for posting your favourite flower on facebook. Here it is:

And here are some sweetpeas for Lazonya. They first appeared on my blog in Oh, September...
but as they are her favourite, I think they ought to appear again...

Beautiful margeurites from Isobel. Thanks Isobel.

Rowan Berries from Edinburgh, received with thanks!


  1. Congratulations, have loved reading them all!! Keep it up. XX

  2. Well done! Congratulations on a year of blogging. A thoughtful post as always.
    I used to use the Body Shop products, liked the fact that they weren't tested on animals & didn't cost the earth (literally & figuratively) but have slipped into using mass-produced chemical laden products. Will have to have a re-think. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Thanks Lorely. You are a wonderful writer!

  4. Well said, well written, well thought! Being viewed as cranky by a few doesn't stop me preaching the importance of organic food, natural products, clean water. I nursed a dear friend and my mother through cancer and lost them both. It stopped me in my tracks. It made me question, read, investigate, learn. I firmly believe we should remove as many chemicals from home, toiletries and food and give our bodies the chance to do what it can do so well, heal itself.

  5. Lovely idea and post, and gorgeous tulip. Can we put photos into comment boxes?
    For those in London, and you may have frequented this in your past life, Baldwin's SE17 is the place to buy, also available online
    If I were to post a flower I am not sure what it would be. I don't have a single favourite. After Christmas I watch for the snowdrops, then the crocus, the narcissii, the daffs, the gorgeous tulips, primroses in the hedges, bluebell woods, apple and cherry blossom, all leading the march to summer., roses and hollyhocks and peonies and dahlias. Too much choice to select a single one.

  6. Ok - I'll give you a flower. Had to think hard about this. I like primroses as they herald spring, roses as they signify the height of summer, and sunflowers as they brighten my kitchen during the dreary Irish summer and remind me of holidays. But the cheery pansy is my favourite with its smiling face.
    And I'm keeping two people people battling cancer close to my heart

  7. Really interesting read and it has re-awakened that niggling voice that tries to convince me not to buy the special offer cheap creams from Boots, Aldi or Lidl... thanks Lorely for sharing this story and really glad for your friend that she has come out the other side of cancer. We've had four close friends/family develop cancer in the past 2 years and are currently fighting cancer at the moment, and I hadn't considered that these products may contribute to their problems. We're very picky about what we eat and drink in our house, and course the largest organ on our body will absorb all that is bad for you as well as good! It's all food for thought :)

  8. I enjoyed reading this piece Lorely. Our skin is the largest organ our body has which we tend to forget. It is just like a sponge and absorbs every chemical we put on it, then our lymphatic works extremely hard to cleanse our bodies of these dreadful toxins and sometimes can not and thats why some of us unfortunately go through Cancer. We all crave to smell like a beautiful bouquet of flowers but maybe we should stop and think, and enjoy the natural aroma of roses in the environment that they were intended to be in!

  9. Love this. I feel honoured to be included and with a most honourable mention. From your eloquent introductory remarks the new line of natural products sounds very good and economically speaking a most promising enterprise ,I hope. I wish you all fair winds in the sails of the venture! I shall forward a plant or flower pic in due course. Very best from Bermuda,Hartley oxo

  10. Nice one, Lorely. If you go to you can click (for free) - each click helps to provide mammograms for women in need.

  11. A very enjoyable read and very touching. I have lost both my auntie and Grandad to cancer and it gives me comfort to think that they are now together after their lives were cut short.Hopefully they are both surrounded by flowers and laughing and joking as they always did.
    My favourite flower would probably be the iris, a breath of fresh air and colour that emerges from sometimes the bleakest of places.

  12. The products sound and look beautiful - I like that they are not burdened with the usual heap of words - and your manifesto for using such natural toiletries is compelling. I use this sort of thing whenever I can, for the simplicity of dealing with a small company or a known person rather than an global brand as much as for their undoubted superiority over the mass-produced versions.

    Your list of flowers to treat various conditions is almost itself a prayer.

  13. Lorely, I just want to say that you have already given each reader a the sheer value you put on life, the very obvious love you show for your friends' lives...and for each gentle and exuberant blossom that popped up to say its unique 'hello' at me as i scrolled down through the wisdom and msg of ur words. what a joy to read and observe ur blog. thank you.( Can't say anything special bout flowers other than i love it when Lidl have Iris for cost-effective, humble and gorgeous. I have come to believe that each of us need to gift our own selves with flowers more often, so that's the kinda treat i give myself from time to time, we need to stop every now and again to thank God or SOMEONE for the preciousness of the gift of our own unique life) and v best of luck to your friend with her delightfully natural products - hope her new enterprise'll reward her well for her journey to this point. xClare

  14. Thank you for your lovely post on herbs and flowers and the spectacular picture of the fennel against a blue sky. It is a very beautiful world and an unimaginably great God who created it.
    This is for your Prayer Tree, said to have been written by St. Columba: "Be a bright Flame before me; be a guiding Star above me; be a smooth path beneath me; be a kind Shepherd behind me - today, tonight and forever, Amen


  15. A beautiful collaboration of thought, thank you for posting. I share the sentiments of how important it is to return to nature as the primary source for all our needs. In respecting and understanding her cycles, we are then in more balance with our own.
    To me there is such beauty and peace in the scent of a rose, I feel my heart open to that eternal memory. Blessings x

  16. Thank you, what a lovely written tekst. And what a great idea to do this and get people together to think and write about this, life, living, sharing, caring for the earth,each other and ourselves. I enjoy reading the comments as well. I try to look more for the treasures mother earth gives us, but it requires slowing down and taking time. That i find sometimes hard in our speedy society. It is inspiring to read, and in this way having contact with, many caring persons. So many people get ill from cancer,i too have lost two very dear persons to it. I feel the disease must have something to do with the way we live, the toxins (and stress) we get into our bodies and souls. I only have biodegradable cleaning/washing/soap products in the house, but there are so many more things i wish to change!
    I like flowers. I like the plant elecampane for the great cough medicine you can make from the roots, but i absolutely love the delicate, sweet smelling sweet peas. Smelling them, and looking at their butterfly flowers, i feel sunny, warm, loved and happy.

  17. Orange blossom. Beautiful fragrance and they are the promise of delicious fruit.....

  18. Not sure I have a favourite flower....but here is a photograph I took of a painting by artist Richard Wall of a summer in Glenree, Co. Mayo. The plants in it bring back some memories of putting the petals of the flower on each finger (Fox Glove flower I think is the nickname) and eating the sweet bit from the red flower (Honeysuckle?) Wow I really need to learn about the flowers in the area haha

    Memories of being a kid I mean....not last week ...ahem *cough!

    1. Yes, that's a foxglove, and the red ones are fuchsia. They do have nectar in the middle - usually the bees get to it first!

  19. Thanks Lorely. Beautifully written, as always. Thank you for sharing this... I'll definitely check out Talentui Organics too :) xo

  20. Great article Lorely, so much truth in it. We have to be so careful what we put on our skins, in our mouths, in our homes, cars, gardens. Chemicals are everywhere. Gonna share this. Well done.

  21. Just this morning I was preparing a post about making my own toothpaste. I'd like to re-blog your post .... Your words may give just one person a pause, then a thought, and then they will pass it along.... and on it will go.

  22. The primrose is my favourite flower, it brings the spring, and so many memories of childhood flooding back... Who are these like stars appearing...?

  23. What a beautiful blog post. Its a heartening story when someone makes a good recovery. I agree about the junk we eat these days. I try to avoid it.
    Thank you for the invitation. Have I asked you where abouts in Ireland you are? I'm, sure I have but can't remember.

  24. Wow, I feel like I'm blown away with this post. It was THAT good.

    lahgitana got me here, good she did!

  25. Ah Lorely, again a great piece of 'food for thought'. I do agree with all of your conclusions ... .
    Living on the bog, people look around and often have pitty with me, as they see only rushes surrounded by a few hungry sallys. But if I walk our marshy fields any time throughout the year there is an abundance of herbs stuck between this obvious vegetation. When I go for my daily stroll with the three dogs and Kitty, the cat I never come back without one of nature's goodies, which I use either in salads or soups or eat it straight on the spot (blackberries, strawberries, watercress, dandelions) or I use twigs, moss and sallys in floral arrangements.
    Herbs always facinated me and thinking back it must have been my granny who used to gather chamomille, whitethorn, peppermint or rosehip and most of all yarrow. In late summer I cant resist squeezing yarrow between my fingers, whereever it grows and the smell initializes some braincells which help me remambering 'Oma', who passed away some 35 years ago... .

    1. Hiya, i just noticed the word "oma", which is Dutch. Was your granny Dutch? I live in a very boggy area, and love it. Sun on dewy rushes is beautiful!

    2. Its also German ... :). I agree sun on dewy rushes covered with cobwebs is like fairy-world. I really love living on the bog too - its so peacefull and colours seem to be more intense ... like the goarse in early spring, the heather in summer and the '40 shades of brown' ( sounds like a new book title..) this time of the year.

    3. Now, now - control yourselves! No dubious inuendo on my blog, please ladies! 40 Shades of Brown, indeed... (Although - great title, Tina! Go for it!)

  26. I don't know that these are my favourite flowers, but I love their exuberance and the happy look of them, so this is the photo I should like to add to your blog post please.

    (Margeurite daisies)

  27. Beautiful post. A testimony to the wisdom of the Goddess. My mother found she had breast cancer in 2010. She lost a breast and was faced with radiation and chemo treatments. At age 74 and only a 60/40 success ratio, she decided to go with healthy eating and no traditional treatments. A year and a half later, she is cancer free and healthier than I've seen her in over 30 yars. She lost over 70 lbs, her skin is clear and beautiful, her varicose veins are disappearing, the doctors took her off her heart meds, and get this, her eyesight has improved! To top it off, she loves the food she eats. She was scared to go against conventional wisdom, and the medical community urged her to reconsider. I'm glad she listened to her heart. BTW, she is following Dr. Fuhrman's program--Eat to Live.

  28. Helen Clifford Wild garlic may not be the most beautiful of flowers but the plant has many health benefits, is so useful in cooking and in the spring carpets the floors of the woods for anyone who cares to pull it and make use of one of nature's gifts.

  29. What a lovely, vibrant post!

  30. Your blog post was excellent!

    Pam O'B

  31. I came to say hi after reading your very kind comment on my blog, but please don't put me in the drawing. I think the gift box sounds wonderful but would be totally wrong to pack up such items made with such care from local products and then ship it across the ocean!

    One of my favorite flowers are daffodils, so easy to grow, so cheerful in the spring! Here is a link to a sunny daffodil that was cheering up the inside of my house:

  32. Lorely I love your photographs - Ben Bulben covered in snow, and love the Lavender & Rose Soap I got on my last trip to Sligo. It's the beautiful simple things that make life easier.

  33. Good Morning Lorely. Beautiful post. My favorite flower without a doubt is the peony! Iris a close second.


  34. Lorely I so enjoyed reading your piece.I am at the moment trying to educate my daughter on using natural products on her skin but sadly she doesn't see the point as yet and is attracted by all the brand names but I am hopeful it will come round if i continue to use the natural products myself. Also lovely to find out the meaning of Talentui! And just gorgeous photos, flowers give so much to us.
    THanks, Mary

  35. Hello. Too many favourite flowers to chose between. I'd love to smell the scent of frangipani and wear one in my hair. Maybe it would waft me away to paradise for a brief respite from all this cold and wet. :)

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