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Posts Tagged ‘Nature Spirits’

Autumn Sunshine. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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Early September harvest featuring hot peppers, a tomato, a cucumber, an eggplant, and apples from the backyard. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I might not be able to fill my cupboards with food for the winter, but what I am able to grow and wildharvest really helps connect me to the land and the changing seasons. Thanks Nature Spirits! Thanks Mother Earth!

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The waterfall behind the Burrville cider mill. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

On Sunday, we took part in our yearly September ritual – visiting the Burrville Cider Mill for apples, cider, and apple cider donuts.  As always, we had to visit the beautiful waterfall in back.  The smell of the cider press and donuts was intoxicating!  And yes… we shared some of our donuts with Bee.  That either makes us the best parents or the worst…  I haven’t decided…

After that, since it was such a gorgeous day, we went to Sackets Harbor for a picnic near Lake Ontario. It was relaxing just to be there next to such a lovely body of water.  Another ADFer recently blogged about making pilgrimages to various Great Lakes; she refereed to them as “ladies of the lakes.” There’s certainly a lot of divine energy there.  Bee had fun visiting the different trees in the park.  We said hello to the ancestors at the battlefield monument.  We also met a lovely butterfly.  Summer lingers, but autumn is definitely coming into power.

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Lake Ontario as seen from he Sackets Harbor battlefield. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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Cherry tomatoes from a past garden. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

 

My toddler daughter is mastering walking (and running), and loves going outside to walk around my garden.  She’s also mastering her fine motor skills, which has made for some mildly stressful walks.  She’s seen me harvest enough food from the garden to understand that you can pick things and eat them.  Thankfully, she doesn’t put just anything in her mouth these days, but she knows that tomatoes are a good thing to pick and pop in your mouth.  As a result, several little green tomatoes have left the mother vine before their time.  It’s taken a lot of patience and modeling, but I think Bee is starting to understand that we want to pick the red tomatoes.  Any red tomatoes in her sight are hers – at least that’s what she thinks.  I try to pick as many as I can for our salads, but I make sure she can find one or two.  The pride on her face when she finds one is so heartwarming, and the grin that forms when she sucks in that delicious, fresh tomato juice …  I’ve always felt that it was a summer elixir, and it shows on her face.  It feels wonderful to know that she is developing an appreciation for homegrown food.  Seasonal foods play an important role in our holiday rituals, so this is a simple but important step to understanding and celebrating our relationship with the natural world.

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The view from Wellesley Island, NY. Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

Like most people in America, I spent some time outdoors with my family this Labor Day weekend. We decided to explore one of the larger islands in the 1000 Islands – Wellesley Island. We chose to take a late afternoon hike on one of the shorter trails at the Minna Anthony Nature Center. We arrived shortly before the building closed, but we were able to take a quick peek at the butterfly house. There weren’t many butterflies in there, but we did enjoy what we saw. Honestly, the highlight for me was finally seeing a positively identified nettle in person. There’s a world of a difference between looking at field guides and live specimens. Now I have a better sense of what to look for when I go foraging again!

Since we had toddlers with us and none of us were dressed for a longer hike, we decided to take a short trail. You can lengthen your hike by continuing on to a lookout over Eel Bay, but we turned towards a dock*. All the while, the St. Lawrence River was just visible through the still green trees, it’s gentle waves hushing the chattering squirrels. There were several large oak trees near the path. We stopped to admire them – even hug them. I’ve been teaching Bee that trees are important Nature Spirits. We say hello to them, and I teach her their names as we do this. “Hello oak!” She always waves.

We were delighted at how quiet the dock was. Perhaps it was the time of day, or perhaps most people were busy swimming or having picnics. Had it only been myself, my husband, and daughter, I would have asked for some quiet time to meditate. It’s a great spot for just that. We put our feet in and caught some sun on our faces. Land, sea, and sky – an island is a great place to connect with the Three Realms.

Weretoad and I intend to return on our own in the future. We want to hike the longer trail to Eel Bay, and I would like to do some meditation. It’s a large state park, and there seem to be plenty of quiet areas where a Druid or even a very small group could go to meditate.

*We discovered afterwards that the dock is also accessible via an even shorter trail right behind the center itself.

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I’m not sure if Sarah Lawless knows just how much she inspires and influences so many of us on our various spiritual paths. When she posted this amazing photograph of her kitchen, I was struck by how beautifully natural it all was.  I’ve been living in my new apartment for a little over a year and struggling with finding a good place to dry my herbs.  In my old apartment, I used to tie everything into bundles and hang them on curtain rods in the windows.  It was just too much sun, too much dust, and it looked dreadful…  I’ve looked at various drying racks for sale but money is not something I give away easily these days.  So when Sarah shared that window into her world, I thought, “Of course!  A branch hung on a wall!”  How natural, how sensible, how affordable, and how witchy and Druidic.  What’s more, I had a dried branch in the garage.  I found it a few years ago and something about it said, “Take me home!  You’ll need me one day!”  Today was the day.

I lovingly removed as much bark as I could and made an offering to Airmed.  Bee helped me harvest some of the herbs in our garden today, as well as some chili peppers.  While she napped, I wrapped some wire at different sections on the branch so that attaching herbs would be easier.  I decided to hang the branch in my bedroom near my altar.  Not only is near near my ritual space, but it will be one of the last things I see when I go to sleep, and one of the first I see upon waking.  I’ll (hopefully) be less inclined to let herbs sit and accumulate dust like I used to when they hung in a seldom used room.

I know I still have much to learn about herbalism.  The drying branch may not be the most ideal in the long run, or I may need to just suck up and put paper bags on my herbs.  I would also like to make a drying screen for individual leaves and blossoms one day.  In the meantime, I think this is a big improvement! 

 

My new herb-drying branch, inspired by Sarah Lawless. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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A black and yellow garden spider.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

A black and yellow garden spider. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

This weekend, I took some time to explore the hedge and get to know it a little more. As a Druid in the Northeastern part of the US, I think I spend a lot of time focused on forests, especially the trees. We are blessed with them here, after all! The hedge is the boundary I cross to get there. Occasionally I stop and check the blackberry patch there, or harvest some jewelweed to tend to the mosquito bites I got in the forest… but it so often takes a backseat to the forest itself.

I’ve noticed myself spending more time there this summer.  I like to stick closer to home than I used to, whether Bee is with me or not, so the hedge is a nice place to go.  There are so many potential plant allies there such as burdock, thistle, chicory, red clover, and curly dock. There are also some facinating animals hanging out in this transitional zone, like the black and yellow garden spider I spotted on Saturday right before the sky opened up. I returned to the spot today, Sunday, not expecting to see it again since we had quite a heavy downfall accompanied but a lot of wind. However, there the web and spider remained! Nature Spirits can be incredibly persistent and strong!  

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