Feature Image:
Luxurious moss draped outdoor bathtub and natural bath products created by Boreal Folk @borealfolk and enjoyed by @wind.andwillow

We have entered the season of sweat beading on fire-hot skin. Sticky sweet ice cream cones melt as quickly as they can down your wrists as you lick trails of sugar cream. Summer may start as softly as a rose in full bloom, but her furious days of scorching heat can be just as intense as a midwinter snowstorm. In the frigid cold of February, we tend to contract into tight balls, huddled under blankets on soft couches. In the dog days of summer, we instead expand, not wanting a single limb layered over another limb, collapsed on the floor in front of a fan. It is the opposite response but every bit as intense. Summer is most certainly not always gentle, which means that we have to be all the more soft with ourselves during her fiercest months. Here are some ideas for self-care.

Remember what it felt like as a child to stand at the edge of summer vacation? Perhaps you could borrow a child for a day, if you don’t already have one at hand in your home. Approach the day as one of mutual sharing and learning. You can teach them some of the basics of magical practice. They can teach you to remember wonder, what it was like when everything was brand new.

Spend some of the day with your young friend making a fairy house or a fairy door (from biodegradable materials). Bring a marker or a pencil to write messages to the fairies on fallen strips of bark and toss them into hollow trees you might find. Give to them out of love and gratitude, with no expectations in return. They do love a good offering.

Another idea: Pack a picnic and take it to the wood’s edge. Dress for the occasion. Make or buy your favorite treats and share some freely with the ants that crawl onto your blanket, those brave tiny explorers. Even if you’re alone, nature is all around you, joining in your banquet. Leave an offering for her and for her animal children.

While you’re in the forest, bask in the shade of the trees. Celebrate komorebi, the beautiful Japanese word for the dappled light that falls through the leafy canopy to the floor below. If you sit for a while and stare at the shifting patterns made by the layers of leaves above you—the blending and contrasting shades of green as the sun filters down—you may find yourself starting to breathe more deeply, slipping into an awareness of your place in the ecosystem of the natural world, both a humbling and honorable experience.

A strong witch is still permitted to have struggles with confidence. If you don’t love all the parts of your body, at least try to begin with your skin. It is truly such a wonder to think that our vessels are covered with this layer of incredibly sensitive, easily bruised or broken epidermis that can cause intense emotional reactions from the smallest of brushes: the touch of a hand, the tickle of a cat’s fur, a breath of wind. Focus on this part of you that is hidden away in armor against the cold all winter long. Wait until night, then open a window and take off your clothes in the safe embrace of the dark. Stand for a while, letting the air drift against you. Don’t you dare focus on what might wiggle or droop. Your skin is your emotions made raw and vulnerable on the outside of you. Let yourself be raw and vulnerable back. Show some gratitude and bask in what it is to be alive in this moment.

Let your body meet a rainstorm. Don’t just go out wearing rain boots and splash in puddles. Take your shoes off and run around the driveway. Focus on the slap of your feet against the pavement. Lie on your patio or deck or in your yard and let the raindrops hit your skin one by one. Jump a little bit each time one strikes you in a place you didn’t or couldn’t expect. And laugh, deep from your lower belly—laugh at this ridiculous world and this ridiculous moment and how everything can be heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time.

Speaking of water, be sure to drink some as well. Hydrate, and feel free to make it a luxury. It’s incredible how many things you can infuse into water: Lilac, rose, cucumber, strawberry, mint, watermelon, orange, and so many more delicious flavors are waiting for you as you take care of your body. Pour some of your infused water into an ice-cube tray and see how it can interact with the taste of your coffee or other favorite drinks. Host a garden party and charm the guests with ice cubes dotted with fresh (edible) flowers.

Fully immerse yourself in water. Long and luxurious baths seem to be on every list of self-care suggestions but with good reason. In the summer, however, you are not limited to your bathroom. If you’re blessed with an outdoor bath, by all means, use it! Sprinkle more of those petals in the water, maybe even one or two of those ice cubes, and let the sweat of the hot and sticky day slip off your skin as you close your eyes and lean your head back, relaxing every tense muscle in your body. If, however, you have no clawfoot vessel installed on your patio, you can also go a simpler route: Haul out the hose and fill an inflatable or hard plastic pool with cold water that shimmers in the sunlight and remember what it felt like as a child to put on your bathing suit and jump into the water with neighborhood friends. Finally, if you have no outdoor space, or none of these suggestions are an option, turn on a fan in your bathroom and play the sounds of summer nature as you fill your tub to the brim and dip down into the cool, clean water.

If you happen to live somewhere with fireflies, aren’t you so incredibly lucky! I didn’t even realize until I was sixteen that there were parts of the U.S. where they didn’t twinkle through the night for just a few short weeks beginning in June. It is so easy to take them for granted or to forget how magical they can be, but they are so wondrous. And their numbers are dwindling. Perhaps you could make yourself a promise that when you see your first flashing light in the twilight, you will spend the rest of your evening (or the whole evening of the next day) technology free and electric-light-free. Light a new candle, set aside your devices, and stand outside for a little while, trying to follow the meandering paths of the fireflies around your yard.

Plant enough flowers to be able to take some into the house for yourself. I’m guilty of struggling with this. The blooms look so beautiful in the garden that I feel bad shortening their lives for my own pleasure. But one of nature’s miracles is how it keeps giving. The cut flower will often regrow, sometimes healthier than before. Gently shake out your bouquet before you bring it inside to avoid traumatizing any intrepid travelers who are hitchhiking on the petals. Press some of your flowers as well, and dry some of them to use for (witch)crafting later. They’ll bring reminders of your languid summer days to the gray winter months. If you have no garden, this is a perfect excuse to visit that fairy bazaar that appears only in warm-enough weather: a farmer’s market. As you purchase your bouquet wrapped in butcher paper and tied with twine, ask the seller what sorts of flowers are included. And make note of what a wide and wonderful variety of blooms can grow where you live.

Finally, give yourself permission to retreat. We wouldn’t judge someone in winter for staying indoors during a blizzard, but there seems to be an expectation of participation even on the hottest days of summer. If you need to close your blinds and stand by your air vents thanking the goddess for air conditioning on a day that exceeds ninety degrees, then, dear one, you are no less of a nature witch for needing this self-care. Summer is a wicked beauty. Love her, but know when to take your leave for a while and let her blaze fire-bright on her own.


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Grace Nuth is a writer, artist, and model living in central Ohio with her husband, black cat, and a garden full of fairies. She also co-wrote The Faerie Handbook, out in November 2017 from Harper Design. To follow her projects, please visit gracenuth.com.