Consulting an elder

Consulting an elder

I crossed state lines to head “home” to my parents’ house for the weekend.  We went for a glorious walk in those old deciduous woods that just don’t exist further north where I live now, and I reveled in the familiar sights and smells.  The knotty giant oaks, the creaking and groaning of the trees stretching in the wind, the cries of a trio of red-tailed hawks circling overhead.  I spotted this intimate conversation on a fallen branch near the ravine.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting in touch with the elements and spirits around me, and I get the sense that a lot of other folks are reflecting on questions of ancestry, place, and connection.  Autumn seems to do that – drawing our attention to the changing seasons, the passing of time, the aging of the world, and that palpable presence of those that went before.

Part of my tuning into this has to do with some professional work I’m doing on a collection of books from the 15th-18th centuries, full of texts and etchings that also closely contemplate death and spirit.  I also am trying to sort out some visual experiences that have been insistently drawing my attention this week, and a spiritually sensitive friend of mine strongly believes them to be past life memories resurfacing.

Are you also listening to the past in the present this October?  Who, or what, is calling to you?

Wishing you successful communication and an openness to lessons this fall.  There is much more magical goodness to come!

Much love,

Mabon Post Preview

I know it was several weeks ago now, but I do still want to add a post about my lovely Mabon activities!  Since it is not quite there, I wanted to at least post a few photos of the affair.  Hope everyone is well and enjoying the beautiful fall!


Magic in the Ditches

I’ll admit it — I love most of the plants that reasonable people consider weeds.  I especially love the fluffy floaty kinds that generate horrendous allergies in most of my friends.  I can’t help it!  I root for the underdog.

I never really learned what most of the common plants around my neighborhood were except for those I could eat, like blueberries, black raspberries, nasturtium, marigold, and Queen Anne’s Lace – whose roots are wild carrot (sooo delicious, unless you accidentally confuse it with hemlock).

I found out in my teens that my grandmother Alma used to know the common and Latin names for every plant in the state (or so it seemed).  She made a point to learn them all when she was 14 and left home to be a domestic and a schoolteacher in a one-room school house, a few miles horseback ride from the house where she boarded.  (*grin* It sounds so romantic put like that, but I can only imagine the difficulty of the winters.)  When she passed away, I was only just beginning to get to know her — the real Alma behind the plump and airy Grandma persona — so I made a resolution to try and learn about the plants around me in her honor.

I have another confession.  I didn’t do very well on that resolution.  But in plucky midwestern fashion, against the odds, I decided to give it another go.  I started on a good foot when I took some courses in essential oil therapies, learning the important differences between species of plants that may share common names but produce vastly different oils.  Then baby steps… I bought a tree and wildflower identification guide for my state, fell madly in love with the catalpa trees in the city, then trekked off with my guide under my arm into the woods.  I didn’t go until fall was already creeping in, but I was still able to spot and identify over 20 different species of wildflowers on my walk in one afternoon.  Not only did it boost my confidence in the possibility that I can still learn these things, it felt so rewarding to walk the same paths but suddenly feel like I was surrounded by dear friends because I recognized their faces and knew them by name.  Somehow that experience, and the awe of knowing whoever or whatever created all of them also created me reaffirmed my devotion to the beauty, mystery and connection of the natural world.

Okay, I’m done being misty… probably.  But I can’t promise I won’t still wax poetic. :)

Here are a few of the common faces of my neighborhood of which I am now especially fond:

common yarrowachillea millefolium – named for the legend that Achilles used this herb to treat bleeding wounds during the Trojan war.  I read a rather lovely albeit frightening love spell with yarrow that tells you whether he loves you – by making your nose bleed endlessly.  According to Cunningham, an infusion of yarrow flowers if drunk will improve psychic powers.  This one is easy to spot because of its feathery, fern-like leaves.

new england aster & pearly everlasting

indian pipemonotropa uniflora – a waxy, bell-shaped single flower on a thick stalk, looking rather like an alien fungus

canada goldenrod
solidago cnadensis – a staple of the fields and prairies.

new england asteraster novae-angliae – charming purple stars with yellow centers

pearly everlasting
anaphalis margaritacea – white pearl-shaped buds with yellow centers, like clusters of tiny lotuses

common tansytanacetium vulgare – heavy clumps of bright yellow button flowers. the leaves of the tansy are often used as a substitute for sage in sachets, prompting me to wonder if they could be used as a sage substitute in magical workings.  be wary, however, as this flower contains a toxic oil.

field & bull thistlecirsium discolor & vulgare – gorgeous, purple and spiny, but the field thistle is slightly less prickly. In Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, he gives this spell to call the spirits: place some thistle in boiling water.  remove from the heat and lie or sit beside the pot.  As the steam rises, call the spirits and listen carefully – they may answer your questions.

orange hawkweed

evening primroseoenothera biennis – bright yellow with four petals, has a rather intriguing x-shaped center (sigma) which I’m sure could be used symbolically somehow, eh? also pollinated by the sphinx moths at night, a rather romantic and mysterious notion. this plant was one of three named for me in a dream once years ago.

prairie cloverdalea candida – a slim and unassuming flower but it can send roots over five feet deep into the prairie soil in search of water.  a great emblem for hidden strength and determination if I ever saw one.

orange hawkweed – hieracium aurantiacum  – colorfully also called “devil’s paintbrush” or “king-devil,” this flower was named hawkweed after a folk belief that hawks ate the flowers to improve their vision.  perhaps a nice flower for your altar when you wish to see beyond the veil?

swamp buttercupranunculus hispidus – delicate and cheerful, with five cupped petals.  I was excited to find three of these on my walk.


Speaking of plants that give out fluffy drifting sneeze-inducing seeds, I thought it would be fun sometime to use them for a spell – focusing your intentions on the blossom as a whole, then plucking and releasing them in the wind or blowing on them to watch them fly off carrying a million little seeds to grow and manifest your desires.  Then, of course, I realized everyone and their mother does that all the time, wishing on dandelions.  I am more in love with that practice now than I ever was before, and now I find myself driven to make wishes on every aster, thistle and milkweed I pass as well!

In all, it was a lovely afternoon, I hugged some trees, spun around in some circles and enjoyed seeing, truly, the wealth of magical and wild resources sprouting up all around in those beautiful weedy ditches.

There was also this giant fungus that felt like the chin of a beluga whale, or so I imagined (I’ve never met a beluga – I’m landlocked).

baby beluga

I realize I’m still learning, so if you see anything here I’ve incorrectly identified, please let me know.  :)

Hope all is well for you!


Celebrating a Summer of Fire

What a beautiful weekend!  Yesterday there were so many summer events on the docket that it was hard to know what to do with oneself.  I felt a little useless in the morning, still full after our sushi overdose date Friday night.  After the boy went to work at the studio, my friend Bex and I went out for a stroll about town and visited the closest block party.  The crowd was a bit overwhelming, but the bands were good, and we indulged in some brightly colored snow cones that dyed our tongues and made us feel childlike and giddy.  We walked home arm-in-arm as the afternoon sun was growing in intensity.

After Bex headed for home, the boy and I biked down to the full moon puppet show across the bridge, led by a spectacularly wide rainbow that generously appeared despite the lack of any rain.  This month’s festivities were being held outside in the middle of the street, with a stage in front of one of the houses, chairs, blankets and strings of lights draped over the facing lawns, a truck with screen printers parked down the line next to the blacksmith’s anvil, the band on the corner, and the sheep roasting over giant flames signaling the entrance with flare.  There was a bit of theatrics as some industrious young gents worked to lasso a rope over the nearest utility pole so they could string up a giant fabric and metal framework moon over the street lamp.  Their efforts were only partially successful, but unimpressive anyway next to the true full moon that rose just beside its makeshift impersonator.

The children were frolicking about with water balloons, bubbles, ice pops and face paint, all gleefully rolling on the ground in harmony despite the fact that many of them did not speak any shared languages.  It was quite adorable.  We stood around and chatted with friends while Rambo spun northern soul records, waiting for the sheep to be done and the show to begin.  Once the meat was juicy and crispy, everyone queued up for tacos and the entertainment got fully underway.  As the darkness fell further, the hoots and howls from the audience grew rowdier, fireworks were catapulted into the sky, and we all delighted in the bewildered expressions of passing motorists as they slowed and stared at the tattooed, pierced and barefooted congregation, the hunks of glistening meat, and scores of mounted skulls flickering under the carefully orchestrated fireballs shooting from the gas line rigging above the spit.

Eventually the show concluded (on a very optimistic and poignant note!) and we went on our way enjoying the dusk clouds and a bike ride in the moonlight.  We stopped for bubble tea, then spent a few sweat-soaked hours dancing in Dinkytown before grabbing some local pizza with preposterous toppings and finally dozing off around 4 am.

After all the excitement of Saturday, today was a relatively quiet, contemplative sort of day, with contented enjoyment of corn, portabellas, tomatoes and eggplant to celebrate the first fruits of our garden, grilled apricots with ginger syrup and angelfood cake, more bubble tea, and a lot of Griffin & Sabine.  (If you haven’t already read this series by Nick Bantock, I highly recommend it.  It has everything: art, Jung, alchemy, parallel universes, world travel, cryptozoology, timeless expressions of desire, and the thrill of reading other people’s mail.)

Now it’s time to curl up with a book and the boy until the next bout of dreaming carries us to tomorrow, when the boy starts his new job, and I (hopefully) return to mine with a bit more pluck, calm, optimism and courage.

I hope everyone is doing well, and I encourage you all to look for some rowdy independent entertainment in your hometown this week.  Ideally some that includes a lot of fire.

All the best,

Lakefront Visit, and some Campy Tips

Hi all!  I’ve recently returned from my annual pilgrimage north, and I have to say the transition back into city life is going fairly well, considering what a spectacular week I had to leave behind.  There were a number of beautiful and memorable moments: a gigantic setting crescent moon sliding down the most vivid crimson sunset sky just minutes behind the sun, glorious weather and captivating clouds, remarkably not-frigid lake water ideal for sauna-ing, the spirits of the bluff shooing us away with absurdly brief and localized thunder and rain (two warning claps and a 15-second sprinkle), mesmerizing sky-wide northern lights swelling and flickering for hours on the night of our sixth anniversary, and – miracle of miracles – our Polish-Swedish and Danish-German skin *not* getting sunburned despite eight straight days under the sun!  That last feat was accomplished only with much credit to some Cataplex-F capsules, gallons of water and diligent/obscene re-lathering of sunscreen.  We even got to have a shivaree* for my cousin and his new bride on her first visit to our little wooded Mecca.

*shivaree or charivari (Fr.): a medieval French custom involving lots of raucous noise-making and satiric songs traditionally used as social pressure to mock and scorn sinners and fornicators, which somehow migrated to the American prairie and my family now uses it to serenade those on honeymoon.  We still begin by parading around and banging lots of pots and pans, however.

On Wednesday my partner and I got up before dawn and trekked out to our secret spot near the border, arriving before 7 am when the mist was still laying heavy over the water and the mossy groves.  (Yes, the very same sacred spot where, six years ago, we first got that twinkle in our eyes and discovered the more flirtatious aspects of blueberry picking.)

Though we have been blessed with unfathomable bounty these last many visits, the northwoods finally made us work for our harvest this year.  Four labor-intensive hours to get anywhere near our usual quantities, with scant and scrawny (though perfectly delicious!) berries to choose from.  I also could have done without the slug patch I wandered into right off the bat.  I should have left some kind of marker for myself in the cattails so as not to repeat the experience… it was not a pretty sight!  At first they were tiny and harmless, but they got progressively larger as I ventured back, transfiguring into grotesquely swollen wood-grain-patterned cashews slurping all over the choicest bushes in oozing piles.  Yum.

Anywho!  What was I trying to get at?  Oh yes, lovely sunny breezy romantic wooded fruitful outing with a loved one.  The birds were flitting and calling, the squirrels scolding adorably, the insects keeping a respectful distance, and the plant life as diverse and impressive as ever.  It amazes me how much certain northern fungi and mosses look like deep sea creatures building soft coral empires under the birches and pines, luring you in your pre-dawn stupor to sink down onto them and relax a moment before you remember the dampness just waiting to seep through umpteen layers of pants…  (It is always worth it, however.)

After several hours of back breaking, I finally stumbled through a bramble onto a perfectly lovely and gluttonously ripe cluster of blueberry bushes.  I inhaled deeply and tumbled down, relishing the thought that I might at last stay in one location for a few minutes without having to desperately hunt for more than a handful.  Only a few branches gleaned, I heard a short call.  It had been a while since our last “Marco!”-“Polo!” exchange that we volley back and forth periodically to keep tabs on each other through the thicket, and I was just about to respond when a chilling chorus broke out behind me.  It was a louder performance than any the wilderness had put on for me yet, and I quickly gathered that this was because the source of the fanfare was only a few short yards away.  And that short call I had heard had *not* been human.

The rally was breathtaking.  I couldn’t find a perfect example, since recordings can’t do justice to the sheer harrowing volume in that early morning forest silence, but to give you an idea, check out this video, around the 2:37 mark.

I love wolves, and I love being around them, but with that love comes a respect for their territory and a healthy dose of awareness of my rank in their food chain.  Granted, I was probably in no kind of danger, since I have encountered them here many times before; this pack has plenty to eat and no interest in snuggling up with humans.  (Many more people are killed each year by pet dogs than by wolves.)  Their playfully carefree howling was perhaps the best indicator that they had no concerns about our presence, since they undoubtedly already detected our scent.  Even so, I couldn’t help but recall that the last time I had heard a cry of this complexity at this time of day had directly preceded a very noisy pack kill, and I was overcome with the need to have a visual confirmation of my partner’s whereabouts.

I (prudently) snatched up my pail of berries and darted off away from the sound towards the last “Marco!” I could remember hearing.  Bumbling through the branches with all the stealth and grace of a careening fruit cart, I found him within a few gasping breaths, calmly standing with his head cocked, listening silently and appreciatively to the cascade of howls still echoing behind me.  I felt foolish, and I never was able to find my way back to that prime berry patch.  Maybe to ease my embarrassment, the boy suggested that we stay a bit closer to the path.

Despite my undignified behavior, it was a truly magnificent thrill, and I look forward to sharing air, earth, woods, lake, sun and berries with the pack again next year.

Brandenburg Wolves

And now for your Witch Outdoors tip of the day:  To repel insects the easy-but-powerful, natural, and better-smelling way:

Pour about a teaspoon of carrier oil of your choice into the palm of your non-dominant hand.  (I recommend Fractionated Coconut Oil because it’s light and absorbs quickly, but you can choose whatever you like: jojoba, sweet almond, sesame, olive oil…)  Add to the carrier two-to-four drops of citronella essential oil and one-to-three drops of geranium essential oil.  Blend with a fingertip, then simply dab on any exposed skin and rub in like a lotion (but try to avoid getting it in your eyes, please).  Any excess can also be patted on clothing or swiped over your hair.  And no need to wash your hands — these oils are naturally antiseptic and bactericidal!  If desired, you can make the blend in larger quantities in advance to store or bring with you on group outings.

An additional tip:  A study conducted at Iowa State University revealed that the principle active ingredient in catnip essential oil is actually more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.  Note, however, that the pure oil is so potent it should be used only in very low dilution (one drop to at least one teaspoon of carrier) if applied directly to the skin, or better yet simply spray/diffuse the oil if you’re going to be in one area for an extended time.  Be forewarned, however, that this can be a risky oil to use extensively if you’re in an area with any kind of wildcat population!  (They don’t call it catnip for nothing!)  Your best bet is to blend with other oils to take down the feline-summoning odor a notch.

That’s all for today, then.  Perhaps I’ll post some pictures once I wrestle them out of my camera?  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and staying cool and safe.


Venturing Out, and a Shadow Moon Meditation

This evening I attended my first open group meditation at my local metaphysical shop, and I am so happy to report that it went extremely well!  Any of you familiar with Project Pagan Enough will likely understand my concerns about being accepted by my local pagan community, and since I don’t follow a prescribed traditional path, I have been hesitant about reaching out to the groups around me.  But tonight the local shop was holding an hour open meditation on the new moon in Cancer, and I finally decided to stick my neck out of the shell a bit.

I decided to bike there, and the weather was absolutely lovely.  It has been horrifically hot lately, but it was breezy and cooling down by the time I left.  What a relief!  I arrived a bit earlier than necessary, so I spent some time just wandering around the shop perusing the wares.  Luckily for my pocketbook, I did not find any “must haves.”  Gradually a small group of six or seven gathered in the back room, seated in chairs in a circle.

The High Priestess who was leading the meditation came in, dressed casually without intimidating ritual garb and welcomed us all warmly.  We all gave our names briefly, and Tracy started the exercise.  There were drums playing throughout, and rather than finding them distracting, I felt them draw me into my mind and they drowned out some of the mental distractions I tend to struggle with during meditation.

At first we simply focused on breathing, then visualized a column of light stretching infinitely upward, channeling down our spines and down deep through the earth.  This was our axis, and Tracy pointed out that we are each the center of our own universe.  This felt very empowering for me.

Next we visualized everything around us having a single color – first vibrant red, and all of our senses were engaged in that color, until gradually we moved into the next color, working our way through the rainbow.  Red tasted and smelled metallic like blood but felt lively and familiar; orange had a sound like a deep brass bell; yellow was joyful and textured like eyelet lace; green was smooth and calm and cool; blue was sparkling and clean and musical; indigo tasted like dust from the desert and coated my skin in bruise-colored beauty.  At last we came to violet, and I found myself in a shallow hollow carpeted with purple blossoms, surrounded by dense foliage but with a deep, open sky above studded with low-lying stars.  I remember seeing a candle lit, and a narrow waterfall.  “This is the place from which you dream, from which you journey, and to which you return.  This is a place that knows you as well as you know it.”

From this place we found a gateway — mine was a door in a frame standing alone in the field of blossoms with no walls connected to it.  You could walk around it without leaving the violet hollow, but going through it would bring you to a different place entirely, and not always the same place.  On this visit Tracy invited us to open the gate, and step through to meet Cancer.  I had no idea what to expect, and to be honest, I didn’t really expect to find anything else after her guidance had stopped.  I was in for a pleasant surprise!

Through the door it was very dark, without dimension, and unusually warm.  At first I just experienced the warmth and the darkness.  Then I see myself huddled in a black blanket, wrapped close about me by my loved ones, and I am tearfully overwhelmed by the loneliness I feel when surrounded by people who love me.  It seems that this is the loneliest I ever feel.  I realize in the darkness that the loneliness of being loved is eased when you open the blanket and wrap in it the people who love you, with yourself still included in the center.  The heat becomes less oppressive, the anxiety dissipates, but the warmth and the comfort remain.

I find myself repeating the phrase, “I am casting out my net, I am drawing it in.”  And with each breath out I am opening my blanket to surround more and more people, and with every inhalation I am pulling it in and all those within to be closer and connected to me.  The more people I gather in my blanket, the more comfortable and confident I feel.  I practice casting my net wider and farther, I surround the store, the city, the state, the region…  I cast my net all around, in every direction, up and down my axis like the graph of a hyperbolic function, then in a bubble-sphere, expanding and contracting.

Within my net I can draw people, energies, deities and aspirations.  My casting and drawing of my net goes on enduringly like my breath.  Gradually the expansions stretch smaller distances, and I ease into a healthy swell and relax, a tidal pouch, a marine plant.  Tracy guides us back to our chairs.

I returned to the circle relaxed, confident and thrilled with my new potential.  We parted warmly, and I went out to my bike with a strong sense of stability and strength, standing tall as though I could taste the dense evening clouds towering all around.  The Thunder Moon waxes, and a torrential rainfall begins just a few blocks from my house, drenching me in cool relief and playfulness.

I hope you all feel a little of the spirit of this brave new moon, and know that I have wrapped you all in my blanket!


Daydreams and Dryads

On Midsummer I had a rather lousy day at work, but it was a beautiful rainy evening by the time I left the office, and I decided to blow off some steam by biking down to the lakes.  I was sprinkled by a sunshower as I left the house, that dreamy rarity of rain falling from seemingly clear blue skies paired with bright sunshine, and by the time I reached the first lake, the rain had stopped and there was a glorious rainbow right over the water.

Just off the bike trail I spotted a phenomenally radiant tree with broad fan sized leaves of the brightest apple green and bursting with white trumpety flowers.  I think perhaps it was a basswood of some kind.  The bark was soft and carved with tangled grooves, and its branches twisted about in spiraling asymmetry.

I pulled over off the trail, leaned my bike against the trunk, and settled down in the crook of the tree’s meandering roots.  Above me sprawled the whispering canopy of green and white, all dappled and translucent with evening sunlight, and if I looked ahead I had a perfect view of the rainbow over the blue waves.

My limbs were mighty tired, and I cuddled into my niche in the tree with grateful comfort.  I imagined myself stretching roots deep into the earth, sinking my body into the soft damp and warmth, and I realized I felt myself protected and curled up in the trunk just like All-kinds-of-fur.  (Only instead of hiding from the incestuous proposals of a king, I was simply trying to escape a stressful workday.)

Drowsy, I began chatting amiably to the tree, and I found myself saying, on observing the abundance of flowers she had produced, “My, you’ve been a busy girl, haven’t we?”  I chuckled at the diminishing distinction between myself and my bower.  I asked if she had any advice; she said, “Bend with the wind, and don’t be afraid to lose a few leaves even when you’re growing.”

We had a lovely little conversation, and eventually the evening grew cool and dim, and I determined I ought to be returning home.  I rode past the cemetery and the band shell towards the public gardens, stopped briefly to dip a leaf in the fountain to fan myself, and (in a passionate whim) walked backwards among the roses per the old superstition of Midsummer loves.

I soon made my way back home, and settled in late in the evening, having reflected on my little communion with the tree, I felt it would be a perfect time for a bit of bibliomancy.  So I pulled my beloved Orlando down from the shelf, closed my eyes, flipped to a page and placed my finger.  When I looked, I saw one word: Daphne.

My mythology is a bit rusty, but I knew the name had significance, so I looked it up, and you can imagine my delighted surprise when I was reminded that Daphne was a nymph who, to escape the lustful pursuit of Apollo, transformed herself into a tree.

As Ovid described it (translated by A.S. Kline):

“…A heavy numbness seized her limbs, thin bark closed over her breast, her hair turned into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet so swift a moment ago stuck fast in slow-growing roots, her face was lost in the canopy. Only her shining beauty was left.”

May we all run headlong into our moment of transformation this summer.


Ice Moon

Last Friday was the night of the Ice Moon.

It seemed like the drive was endless.  The snow was still deep in the city, and past the highway the moon was rising — swollen and glowing orange behind the trees.  It was hard to take my eyes off of it, but I had to watch the road.

Hours passed with quiet music and pleasant conversation.  The roads were clear, even along the icy shores of the great lake, churning under the moonlight.

About four hours after dusk we made our turn into the woods.  The road was suddenly invisible under the packed snow, and traction was more of a hope than a certainty.  We were lucky — the bridge was still in place over the rushing creek even after the heavy melt of the past week.

We crossed the bridge, and as we eased onto the right fork back towards our lot, we discovered that the road, in this neck of the woods, had turned to solid ice.  We made it over one slight hill only to stall on the next and slide back down.  As we contemplated our best plan of action, a visiting neighbor drove past on the left fork, didn’t quite make it, lost control, slid out into a spin and planted firmly in a snow bank.

It was time to seek some help.

Luckily, my partner and his friend had arrived safely at the cabin just ahead of us, since they were driving a four-wheel vehicle that tackled these frozen slopes with ease.  With no reliable cell phone service this far north, we had few options.  The cabin was about a mile deeper into the woods.  I set out on foot.  Alone.

I was grateful for the full Ice Moon — without her I would have been lost in the darkness.  Instead, my path was bright and blue and sparkling with cold.  The ice barely made a sound under my pounding feet.  But in the woods to my right, the pack was howling its welcome.  Their eerie song echoed in the hollow air, widening the empty space around me.  Despite my frozen legs, aching lungs, and the prospect of the labor waiting for my return, I couldn’t help but look toward the wild and mournful sounds, toward the moon, and smile.


Autumn Love


A wedding, and the search for something once lost

This weekend after celebration of my loving one’s birthday, which included him working all day at the studio while I cleaned the house, but then a late, light Thai dinner and drinks, hot dice and dancing, in the morning we trucked a couple of hours east for one of the most singularly gorgeous weddings I have ever attended.

The event was held on eight acres of land belonging to the bride’s family, and at this time of year the hills were rolling green, the grasses golden, the crimson sumac turning, and the milkweed bursting in white puffs between the trees.  There was a giant tent for eating and dancing, dripping with lights under enormous sheer red drapes and sky-high cascades of paper globe lamps, a trampoline and Lego loggia for the little ones, and camping areas for the guests on either side.  All those in attendance were wearing black and white, with the exception of the godfather, who presided over the service sporting a red scarf.  The gray clouds which had been rumbling overhead all morning respectfully swept away leaving nothing but blue skies and warm sunshine behind.

At the ring of a bell, we all processed down a trail through the woods to a clearing in the meadow set with chairs on either side of a red carpet.  The bell rang again, and we spotted the groom – in a fire engine red suit, mind you – making his way through the woods to the front of the congregation… on a bicycle!  (He rode in a few supplemental circles to the cheers and hollers of the crowd before coming to a stop at the altar.)  And after the twin daughter flower girls, up the aisle appeared the bride – in a jaw-dropping hot red gown with a giant red flower and feathers in her hair, the blazing glory of the end of summer and the height of a fruitful harvest.

It was visually almost overwhelmingly beautiful, and such a sincere, generous, loving, and joyful service that there was not a dry eye or a solemn expression to be found by the end.  I was so proud when they asked my LO to bring up the rings he had made to present them to the bride and groom as part of the ceremony.  At the sign of the kiss, the festivities began in full.

As darkness fell, the cold rushed in.  My LO approached me with a panicked expression.  He had lost his keys somewhere among the now shadowy trees.  But, not to be daunted on such a lovely day, I quickly pulled from my crafty arsenal the little charm to St. Anthony I learned thanks to the folks at NWW.  I recited it for him, then we slowly wandered into the wood, whispering the words under our breath all the way:

Tony, Tony, look around
Help us find what can’t be found

Trying to make my voice as soothing as possible to ease the anxiety welling up in my LO, I confidently escorted him through the trees until at last the keys were found.  I silently thanked loyal Tony and the Powers That Be, and enjoyed the relatively new feeling of unwavering belief and a record of success.

Being an occasionally absentminded arrow, I have had a tendency to misplace.  In the two months I have known this charm, it has never failed to impress me with its quick efficacy.  On the first go, I recovered a lost camera battery that had been sought in vain for months.  The charm compelled me to look in a completely illogical location, and I found the fool thing hidden under a dusty jewelry box, wedged in by a discarded paintbrush, hidden behind a stack of books.

So, if you’re ever in need of a little help in finding something lost, I encourage you to make use of this little rune, and hope you enjoy the subtle nudges that lead you in the right direction.