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.
And about time too, I hear you say.
But first - let me explain what I'm giving away and why...
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!Nicola McCutcheon - see comment below - posted this picture of orange blossom on Writing from the Edge's facebook page.
Margaret Roddy - see comment below - also posted this flower picture on Writing from the Edge's facebook page
Thanks, Margaret! Lovely photo.
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!