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,
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Out of the Woodwork

Hello, friends!  How are you??

I incubated for a long time.

The sap FINALLY started moving, and here we are at last.  I’ve experienced some really potent personal spiritual growth over the last year thanks to a surprise work opportunity (this is possible??), I’m nearly done with school again, and I’m keen for a little sunshine.

I’ve been celebrating my re-emergence with some intense domestic nesting and cleaning, and the signs are finally telling me my timing is right.  I’d been having some problems with – house elves??? – expressing their displeasure at my neglect of my surroundings.  For example, the skeleton key that locks & opens several doors in my house, including main entrances and my bedroom, mysteriously disappeared off my key chain one day and was missing for months.  This last weekend, immediately after I finished sweeping the front stairs, I turned back around and there it suddenly was balanced on the banister.

I’ve missed this tremendous community that makes me feel like part of something even when I only practice on my own.  Looking forward to sharing with and hearing from folks beyond the borders!

Hoping the winter has passed quietly or with fanfare, and that the spring is welcoming you warmly in.

with love,
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cats in the kitchen with blue bottles

cats reward my clean kitchen by posing for a still life.

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!

xo,
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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.

buttercup

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!

Love,
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Splendors of June

One of the many pleasures of summer in my city is the antiquarian book fair.  I picked up a lovely volume this go-round with gorgeous illuminated poems, The Old Garden by Margaret Deland, “decorated” by Walter Crane.  First American edition, 1894.  Here’s a little snippet of “Summer” in honor of the season!

Plus some lovely flowers from the garden and my little “special corner” setup:

Love,
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Return From Hiatus

There are a few days of darkness left in which to curl up and rest.  The seeds are nestled deep in the earth.

They were lifeless, devoured, abandoned, dessicated, and buried.  But in the dark and in the quiet there is warmth.  And warmth thrums with things ready to be born.

Soon the moon will begin to wax fuller, our cups will swell with milk and whiskey, and the sprouts will burst from the soil to claim the sun.

Patience pays off.  The anxiety I always feel at springtime, that sensation of having missed the train, is finally starting to wear down, and the snow is at last retreating.  The other day, I swear it made all the lawns around me look like sugary funnel cake.

And so the spring is ushered in!  Hope you all are well, and I look forward to sharing this blossoming season with you all. ^-^

Love,
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Heavenly Beauty

 

Orion’s little brother is a looker!  Thanks, Hubble.

Love,
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Winter Wonders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From beneath the snowy drifts…

Yours,
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Happy Solstice!

Brightest blessings to everyone on this night when the sun begins its certain return!  Tonight for the first time since 1638, there was also a total lunar eclipse on the day of the solstice, casting the earth in a ruddy glow.  Although perhaps frightening at first, the red hue of the moon proves to be a result of a moment of utter romance.

As explained by NASA, “Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it’s not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.”

In this season we can in earnest deck the halls and light the dark with candles and ribbons, wrap gifts in brightly colored paper, and prepare sumptuous spreads of edible goodies for our loved ones.  Enjoy and share the warmth of kindness, and find pleasure in the promise of good things to come.

 

 

Love,
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Hunter’s Moon

Here are a couple of pictures from my Hunter’s Moon ritual.  I’ll be posting more about some of the items below in the near future!

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