General

A small business and van living

I’ve had a few questions and conversations recently about what it is like to run Wild Fen from our van and so I wanted to talk a bit more about it today.

We set up Wild Fen from our rented home in our beloved Fens a few years ago. Our intention first and foremost was to share and celebrate our love for the natural world. Since then we left our home and our full time jobs, sold our belongings, bought a van and converted it into a home for us to live a slower life, closer to nature, creating natural incense, jewellery and prints.

We moved into our van in March this year and since then have been transitioning our life, possessions and business into it as we explore the UK.

It’s been an ongoing process of learning and adjustment. From a work perspective we set up our printer, laptops and tools to run on our solar electricity (being savvy with when we charge things especially with sunlight hours decreasing now), battling with limited Internet and finding space for our packaging and supplies has required selectivity, patience and flexibility on a daily basis! More generally adjusting to a completely new way of living has taken its toll on us emotionally and energetically at times too.

And yet for us, this option allows us to work full time on a business that we love. It means we can spend most of our days in nature, exploring, learning and creating which we do remind ourselves of often, like the times we can’t move without standing on a packaging box.

Being closer to nature each day has inspired us to form even deeper connections with trees which led to the creation of our Wild Jewellery in the Summer. It is not a straight forward or particularly convenient life in many ways. Living in a van requires creativity and patience, jobs take longer, water needs to be topped up and heated on the stove, space is extremely limited, airflow is a constant consideration, and vans break down often at the worst times.

It has taken the best part of the year to feel as though we have found more flow working this way, but as Winter approaches, there is no doubt we will be met with more challenges to adjust to. And yet as I sign off this blog, sat in the doorway overlooking the Wye valley, a Buzzard is calling over head and I have a calm feeling inside that tells me, it will be worth it.

Wheel of the Year

The energy of Samhain

Samhain (pronouced sow-ein) is one of the eight seasonal festivals that make up the wheel of the year, an ancient way of observing the yearly cycle, and the transition of the sun and the seasons. Samhain is celebrated at the end of October/beginning of November (the origins of modern day Halloween) and marks the final harvest period of the year and the birth of the Winter. At this time of year we can observe the natural world preparing for the Winter months that stretch ahead. Trees lose their leaves, plants die back, and animals stock up and may begin to migrate or hibernate.

Samhain was considered both the end and the beginning of the Celtic New Year, honouring the understanding that all new life and beginnings, emerge from endings.

For me, acknowledging the 8 festivals throughout the yearly cycle provides points at which I stop and observe what is going on in the outer world as well as my inner world. A moment to reflect on how things currently are, how they have been over the last season and how I would like to move ahead into the new one.

My most precious insight from observing the wheel of the year is the element of change within it. Light and dark, growth and decay, beginnings and endings. In the modern world we are often expected to be as productive and efficient no matter the season. A striving towards a fixed state of happiness, vibrancy and certainty that isn’t present in the natural world, certainly not all year round.

At Samhain, the hours of darkness outweigh the hours of light as the Sun’s strength and energy wanes. It marks the end of the growth part of the year’s cycle. The seeds of the harvest have now fallen and lay dormant deep within the dark earth before they emerge in Spring.

Observing the energy of each season can guide us to reflect on those themes in our own lives. At Samhain these may include endings, letting go, losses and the lessons we have learned from adversity. We may feel called to embrace rest, wind down and nourish ourselves whilst dreaming of what the seeds of next year’s growth may hold.

Some seasons may feel easier to connect with than others, depending where we are at. Some may pass us by without much significance while we feel much more aligned to others.

We have felt especially connected to Samhain energy this year, crafting jewellery from Yew and Elder wood, gathering apples, cooking hearty meals and exploring damp and mossy woodlands.

You can find out more about our Samhain offerings on Instagram or our Etsy Store now.

Botanicals

Reintroducing our Incense blends

We have recently expanded our collection of loose incense blends, so it felt like a good time to reintroduce you to the whole collection. All blends are combinations of leaves, petals, buds, bark and resin we have lovingly grown and foraged locally. We gather our plants at their most abundant and dry carefully to preserve their potency all with great care and respect to nature.


Botanical Incense Blend

Our signature blend was created to celebrate the beauty and magic of the complete seasonal cycle. This blend evolves throughout the seasons to include plants at their most vibrant and abundant.

Combining the refreshing woodland evergreens of Autumn and Winter with Spring’s exquisite blossoms and the warming aromas of Summer’s herbs and flowers.

This blend can be especially helpful when we are feeling disconnected, ungrounded or uninspired. Ideal to accompany any self care practice.


Forest Incense Blend

This blend celebrates the warming and magical aroma of Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and the energies of the deep forest.

Cedar encourages connection to our inner vision, and we recommend burning this blend whilst journaling, creating vision boards, intention setting, new moon ceremonies or when needing support with new beginnings or projects.

A blend of Cedar leaf, bark and cones gathered from local wind fallen branches and beautifully golden resin gathered respectfully.


Sun Incense Blend

A warming blend of plants associated with the sun and the fire element, crafted during Summer’s peak at Lammas.

Use when you want to feel energised, uplifted, abundant, confident and connected. Ideal for mornings, intention setting, new beginnings and solar festivals.


Moon Incense Blend

A dreamy blend of plants associated with the moon and the water element, crafted under the light of the full moon.

Use when you want to unwind, soothe frayed emotions, encourage flow and connect with your intuition. Ideal for evenings, moon rituals, dream work, meditation and reflection practices.

Botanicals

Sun and Moon Incense Blends

We have recently crafted two brand new loose incense blends that I wanted to introduce you to!

Our Sun incense blend is a warming mix crafted during the Summer’s peak with plants associated with the Sun and fire element. This blend is ideal for use in the mornings, when intention setting, for new beginnings and solar festivals and when we want to feel energised, uplifted, abundant, confident and connected.

Our Moon incense blend is a dreamy mix crafted under the light of the full moon with plants associated with the moon and water element. This blend is ideal for use in the evenings, during moon rituals, dream work, meditation and reflection practices and when we want to unwind, soothe frayed emotions, encourage flow and connect with our intuition.

They will be available in our store sold individual and together from 08/08/21 with the new moon!

You can find some more information about our loose incense blends and how we recommend using them in our previous blog post.

Wellbeing

Lessons from a Primrose

After a shaky few days, taking my morning cup of tea out in the garden this morning felt like an act of restoration. Walking barefoot across the lawn, moving from the shade into the sun I came to sit down in front of a small patch of Primroses. I noticed that the petals of most of the flowers were wilting now, nibbled (not by me) and turning brown in patches as they were reaching the end of their blooming period here in the UK.

Their name translates from the Latin meaning ‘first’ and these little pioneers led the way, opening their delicate yellow petals to a cold and tired world just a few months before. To the earliest of Spring days they brought a reminder of renewal and hope from the woodland floors.

They hold such an important role in our ecosystem – as an indicator of ancient woodland they offer an important early nectar source for insects, most notably brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies.

As I spent time observing these precious little gems this morning, I became aware of their niche. Flowering early, they bring joy and valuable nectar sources before they become overshadowed by larger plants on the woodland floor. They don’t bloom all year round, or attempt to be like another flower. They just bloom when conditions are good for them and then retreat when they are not.

As a human being, I often find myself trying to fulfil so many roles. An array of options are always available to us that it can be easy to stray from our true nature, or feel less than in comparison with others. Do you sometimes feel as though you should always be blooming, or be more like someone else? If so, perhaps spend a few moments just observing a plant in nature and be reminded of her lessons of embracing our individuality and niche. Just another little dose of nature’s medicine, always available to us.

With love and plant magick,

Nicola

Wellbeing, Wheel of the Year

Beltane

The next festival in our Wheel of the Year journey is Beltane or May day, celebrated From the evening of April 30th to May 1st in the Northern hemisphere. Beltane is the peak of Spring, a celebration of fertility and the height of the earth’s growing energy. At this time of year we begin to see the very first signs of Summer emerging.

This is a time of abundance, union and life force. Flowers are blooming, new life is being born and the Sun’s strength is increasing. This is a fertile time in the natural world, and can help us to ignite projects, cultivate new actions and reflect on what we need to bloom. This increase in active energy, can leave us feeling a little worn out at times, so it is good time to ensure rest, self care and nourishment is established to balance this busy time.

Our Beltane Seasonal Wellbeing guide is available now with journal prompts and guided practices to help you connect with the energy of the season.

Beltane blessings!

Botanicals

How we Burn our Loose Incense Blends

Burning incense is an ancient art that has been practiced across the world for many thousands of years. Long before our ability to extract the essential oils from plants, burning the whole dried plant would have been the earliest form of aromatherapy.

Incense burning was common place in hospitals, places of worship and the home to promote health, clean the air, enhance meditation and spiritual practices, in celebration or remembrance or to cultivate a sense of protection and grounding.

Incense comes in many forms and our loose incense blends combine a mixture of resin, bark, leaves, flowers and cones that we have grown or sustainably foraged from around Cambridgeshire.

We have had many questions about how to use our incense blends so we wanted to provide some more information in this post.


Our favourite way to burn our loose incense blends is using a mesh burner like this one for everyday use. Ours is from Ayurveda 101

You can also add a pinch of loose incense to a charcoal disk in a burner for ceremonial use outdoors or in a well ventilated area


There are other ways to enjoy loose incense too. For a very gentle fragrance, the dry blend can be added to a standard incense burner (non mesh, above a tealight candle) which will release the oils from the plants and emit a gentle calming scent.

Alternatively, you do not need to burn the blend at all to enjoy the plant energies. You can carry your tin with you for a grounding tool that can be breathed in to calm and relax you throughout the day.

Now available in our Etsy store

Trees

Birch

Within a life span similar to our own (which is relatively short in the tree world), Birch trees can completely transform their environments. A pioneer species, they have the ability to move into a piece of open ground, and transform it into woodland. Their deep roots can draw a vast amount of nutrients up through the earth which they return to the soil in the Autumn when they lose their leaves. This creates favourable conditions for other tree species to move in. For this reason, Birch trees symbolise new beginnings, growth and rebirth.

They are sometimes referred to as ‘nurse trees’ due to the amount of other species that they support and create habitats for, from other trees, to fungi and wildlife.

Their beautiful, easily recognisable white trunks light up any Winter’s day and they are associated with the Winter Solstice and the return of the light after the shortest day. As we enter Spring, Birch are also celebrated as one of the first trees to Spring into life and have many reasons to be celebrated throughout the seasonal cycle.

At this time of year, I love to gather their nutritious young leaves to enjoy fresh in teas and salads as well as dry them for future teas. They are rather bitter in taste and have a wealth of Spring properties – celebrated for detoxing the body and removing the stagnancy of Winter. They are used in the treatment of rheumatism, kidney stones and UTI’s and their cleansing properties can also benefit the skin. As with any plant remedy, is it important to ensure it is right for you individually, researching especially if you have any health conditions and introducing it gently to see how it works for you.

We would love to hear about your experiences or connections with the beautiful Birch tree so feel free to leave us a comment.



Trees

Yew

The second tree that I have been journeying with recently is the Yew tree, Taxus baccata. Typically associated with the Samhain season, I have found myself really connecting and learning about this tree this Spring season with my wonderful book ‘Walking with trees’ by Glennie Kindred as my companion.

Like Willows, Yews are dioecious meaning that trees are either male or female. In the Spring the male trees produce an array of flowers covered with golden pollen. This pollen is carried by the wind to the smaller flowers of the female trees that will go on to produce the red berries in the Autumn.

Yew trees were deeply revered by our ancestors as the ‘tree of immortality’ due to their longevity and ability to regenerate. After the last ice age, around 80% of Europe’s forests were comprised of Yew. Fossil records provide evidence of Yew trees growing around 250 million years ago. With human evolution stretching back just 6 million years ago, there is no doubt humans evolved and lived around these fascinating trees from the very beginning. Known to live for thousands of years, a Yew tree only becomes classed as ‘ancient’ at around 900 years, compared with 400 years for an oak tree. Many of our ancient Yews have been lost in Britain. However those that remain often guard sacred sites, burial mounds and some were probably planted as markers for navigating by.

Yew trees are able to grow in the harshest, most barren and polluted lands and have survived many changes in the climate. They have some fascinating survival strategies including being able to slow down their growth and remain dormant for longer than a human lifespan. They are known to become hollow, to increase their strength, and the foliage that drops down inside the trunk provides a rich compost from which an aerial root can regenerate and grow a new tree inside the old one.

All parts of the Yew tree are poisonous (bark, leaf, sap and seed) other than the red flesh of the fruit that is wrapped around a poisonous seed. This is probably what earned the tree it’s more recent name of the ‘tree of death.’ Whilst it is important to be aware and respect their poisonous qualities, their ability for regeneration and survival under almost all conditions means for me, it is a tree to be celebrated too in this Spring season of rebirth.

Yews are a tree I cannot wait to spend more time exploring this year. Whilst I will not be using any parts of the physical tree for incense or medicine, I will certainly work with its energy and qualities in my own life when I feel in need of some perspective, inner strength and ingenuity.

Wellbeing, Wheel of the Year

Spring Equinox

In astronomical terms, the Spring Equinox marks the beginning of the Spring season in the Northern hemisphere. This year; in 2021 the Spring Equinox falls on Sunday March 21st.

The word ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin word meaning ‘equal night’ and twice a year, on both the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, night and day length are in balance. The light has slowly but surely been increasing from it’s lowest point at the Winter Solstice in December. It will now continue to expand, overtaking the hours of darkness, until it reaches its peak on our longest day at the Summer Solstice on June 20th.

In the natural world the Spring Equinox heralds a time of birth, renewal, new beginnings and an increased energy. As the light increases, the days warmer conditions become more favourable for life to return with vigour. The time of year can be symbolic for us too as a time to shake off the Winter and welcome new ideas and energy.

Being aware of what is going on in our outer world can help us to connect to and learn more about our inner worlds. In this article I will discuss where we are currently in the seasonal cycle and suggest ways in which we can use this to cultivate inner reflection and growth.

Element: Air

This time of the year is associated with the element of air. The energy of air can encourage movement, change, new beginnings and a freshness in ideas or perspective. It can bring lightness into our mind and bodies and dissolve the stagnation that may have gathered over the winter months.

As with all the elements, air can possess more and less helpful qualities. When in balance this energy can feel like a ‘breath of fresh air’ in our lives. It may feel cleansing, stimulating and renewing. When out of balance this energy may leave us feeling rushed, unsettled, overwhelmed and with racing thoughts.

Outer observations

The word that resonates with this season for me is growth. This time of year is a feast for the eyes, ears, heart and soul. It is impossible to spend time outdoors and not witness signs of colour and life bursting out. Green rushes back into the colour palette, filtering its way through the ground and out through unravelling leaf buds. The energy of birdsong alerts us to a new season and as the first flowers open, their delicate yet vibrant petals uplift and expand.

Other words associated with this time of year include: birth, renewal, life force, opening, expansion, growth, new beginnings.

Inner reflections

The time of year can be a guide for inner reflection. It may help to spend some time in nature, and just notice and observe the season that we are in. What words would you use to describe it? Be aware of what feelings it brings up for you. This will be different for us all, depending on where we are in our journey.

Our Spring Equinox Wellbeing Guide is now available to download for free. It contains journal prompts, and a guided mindfulness practice to help you to connect with the energy of the season.