A Fairy Tale (1985), by Arthur Wardle
“All seemed to sleep, the timid hare on form.” —Sir Walter Scott
Sleep. That most fickle of good fairies. She tries to be helpful, she really does. But her timing is a bit off: She’s ever-present, it seems, when your alarm wails on a work day, lulling you to hit the snooze button, but nowhere to be found when it’s two a.m., your mind is racing, and you need rest for that aforementioned pesky alarm in a few hours. The trouble really is that we rely upon her to show up—and this, mes amis, is where we make our hapless human error.
We know how important beauty sleep is, and yet we let her slip by in an elusive lilac cloud of stardust, just out of our reach. Sleep is essential to beauty. This period of rest allows the body to repair itself by releasing regenerative hormones. When she avoids us, a domino effect of decidedly unappealing events unfold. Lack of sleep literally accelerates the aging process, and not just from the standpoint of what is obvious. We have all met the foes that appear visibly after a restless night, like puffy eyes, dark circles, and dull skin—but what about the damage we can’t see immediately? Sleepy heads reach unconsciously for too much caffeine and simple sugars for a boost, resulting in even more fatigue, along with a side of uncomfortable, unflattering bloat. Over time, this leads to dehydration and weight gain. Even worse, sleep deprivation actually speeds aging on all levels by actually advancing the process, resulting in brain fog, loss of memory, and depletion of cells.
So how do we get sleep to appear when we need her most? Instead of chasing her around like a lovelorn would-be consort, we must harness our sorcery, Beauty Witch style, by quietly, subtly, and expertly seducing her. You can capture her attention by establishing a nightly ritual that draws her in and invites her to stay a while.
The Ritual of Sleep
Your little cave must be thoughtfully prepared for the ritual of rest. Though it is also your boudoir, adorned for l’amour, it must provide the dual function of inviting sleep just as graciously as it does sex. For real REM, we need darkness, we need cool, and we need quiet. Invest in heavy draperies, lined in fleece if needed, for optimum blackout. Crack a window, even in winter, whenever possible to circulate fresh air. Use a fan when the air is heavy and stagnant, and treat yourself to a fine mist humidifier when it gets too dry—your skin, hair, and sinuses will thank you. If you have noisy neighbors, try ambient waterfall sounds in the background—it really does work—or conjure a more trancelike temple vibe with sitar music. Set the lights low as you get ready to slip beneath sheets that beckon. Whether you adore crisp cottons or silken petals, keep the quality high and the pillows fluffy. Fairy lights, flameless candles, and salt lamps are a few necessities that will help set the stage for slumber. Aromatherapy in the air and on your linens add another layer of softly pleasurable ambience.
The body truly readies for rest when tensions are released within the muscles. Make a nightly ritual of stretching your limbs and getting the kinks out, then slipping into a soothing bath. Soaking away aches while clearing your mind works wonders for letting go of what can prevent sleep from showing up. Even a quick shower is helpful, acting as both a body soother and spirit-cleansing waterfall.
Part of your evening ritual may need to include a petite brew designed for relaxation and sleep. It’s best to drink a potion at least an hour or two before you wish to drift off, so pesky powder-room visits don’t wake you later on. With each sip, warm, restful brews signal the brain and body to still, allowing the benefits of plant power to really work while you go about your evening ritual.
And, at last, as you sink into this heavenly down of comfort, you must clear the mind of any lingering chattiness. Meditations for sleep are so potent here—if you haven’t tried them, do. If something is troubling you, journal it out of the brain and onto the page, then close the book. Slow your breathing to a rhythmic calm, close your eyes, and feel yourself reclining in your ultimate nest: upon a wave of stars, in a bed of flowers, or nestled close to your power animal atop velvety moss. Play a little, and find what gives you that final “ahhh” before drifting off.
Beauty Witch Secret: The three nights of the full moon are notorious for disrupting beauty sleep. But don’t get upset—this is a witch’s power time. If you are kept awake, use the silent hours to bask in the silver light, either through a window or outdoors. Be open to the information coming in. Listen. Feel. Use it.
You Are Getting Sleepy
Intention: Relax, induce restful sleep, protect
Lunar Phase: Dark
Conjures: 1 serving
Truly a witches’ brew, this contains the strongly scented and slightly bitter valerian root, a powerful magic herb for inducing sleep. As you sip it, you feel immensely relaxed, almost as if entered into an altered and elevated state. But not to worry, you are watched over. Your bliss becomes beauty rest that will leave you feeling refreshed and clear when you wake.
*Take caution not to drive after sipping, and do not mix with alcohol or other sedatives. 1 cup dark moon water, or pure spring water
1 teaspoon valerian root, dried
½ teaspoon lavender, dried
1 teaspoon stevia, or to taste Heat the water to steaming, taking care not to boil.
Sprinkle in the valerian, then the lavender, focusing your beauty-sleep desires as you connect with the vibrations of each. Steep for ten minutes. Strain (if you like) and add stevia to taste. Sip slowly, and with intention, as you breathe deeply.
Lunar-ruled lavender soothes, calms anxiety, and brings peace. It also protects hair from thinning and loss while simultaneously aiding in new growth, and makes a fantastic skin treatment thanks to its antibacterial powers. Known as elf leaf, it holds powers of love, peacefulness, protection, and longevity—not surprising given its namesake!
Watery, feminine valerian root is ruled by Venus, carrying not only her love magic but also that of sleep, cleansing, and protection. Indeed, it is known for all these properties as a staple of practical magic. Use valerian to reduce anxiety, calm nerves, promote restful sleep, and protect.
Want to add a little cosmic kick to your potions? Set a glass jar of pure spring water outside the night before the full moon. In the morning, take it inside, after it has absorbed all the celestial light of the moon, the stars, and the first rays of dawn. Use it wherever water is called for in your potions. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can get a little cheeky and charge your water during different phases, like here, during a dark moon.
The ritual, recipes, and photo above are from The Beauty Witch’s Secrets by Alise Marie. ©2022 by Alise Marie. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., llewellyn.com.