I browsed some garage sales yesterday and just couldn’t pass up this adorable and very Druidic shirt. She won’t be able to wear it for several months, but for 50¢ you can’t go wrong! It’s already washed and ready for storage. Go me!
Posts Tagged ‘Nature Spirits’
Recently on Facebook, someone posted a story and the headline read that the black rhino was now extinct. The story must have been hyperbolized, because my reading revealed that the black rhino is extinct in certain regions but not entirely (thank the Gods!). They are critically endangered and some still exist in captivity or in sanctuaries. So there’s still time, but something needs to change fast. The frequency of news stories and environmental blog updates about illegal ivory poaching is absolutely alarming. It all goes back to greed, a desire for status, and traditional Asian medicine. The last is what is most troublesome to me in a spiritual sense.
To me, this is such a difficult topic to wade into because, despite my desire to do what is best for the environment and preserve our biodiversity, this is wrapped up in culture. Normally, I can maintain a sense of cultural relativism, but some things raise hackles because they no longer seem correct in the given context. And yet how do you stop a culture from wanting something that has been part of their traditional medicinal practices for centuries?
Vu Quoc Trung, a traditional medicine doctor who works out of a Buddhist pagoda in Hanoi, thinks [ivory] has some limited value.
“According to ancient medicine books, there are only three uses for rhino horn,” says Vu. “The first is to decrease temperature, the second is to detoxify and the third is to improve blood quality.”
Think of the many correspondences that exist within Western practices – whether for magic or traditional healing (and yes, I know there is a crossover). Once upon a time, it was customary to wall cats into buildings to protect the homes against evil spirits, for example. I doubt most modern Pagans would do that (perhaps some would if the cat were already dead…). Now that’s not the best analogy because cats aren’t endangered, but it suggests that people are able to change their practices despite what tradition tells us.
And yet we aren’t perfect here in the West. For example, we know how damaging mining for gems and metals can be, and yet we constantly buy them for our magical workings. Many vendors I speak to don’t actually know where their gems came from or, if they do, how they were mined. Who knows what ecosystem the mining is devastating? Who knows how the workers were treated as it was extracted from the Earth Mama? When you live in the US and import, you don’t really know the conditions unless you go there yourself. Perhaps access is the biggest problem – East and West. We feel that everyone who wants to practice magic (or traditional Chinese medicine) should have access to the materials. Therefore, they should be affordable. To keep things affordable, greedy people are willing to engage in unscrupulous practices to obtain and sell what we consumers demand. Often, the consumers ignorantly or willfully look the other way just so they can have their shiny crystals or ivory.
Unless our ancestors were wealthy, those who used natural resources in their magic and healing used what was readily available. Local herbs, local wood, local bones, river rocks, and the odd crystal or rough gem revealed beneath an upturned tree or boulder. Really rare and precious materials would be expensive. If an ancestor felt the need to utilize one in some sort of working, and if he or she could afford it, I bet it would have been purchased only for the most important workings or sacrifices. (I don’t have anything to cite for this, but if it was true for cloth and spice, I assume it was true for gems, ivory, and rare resins.)
So I don’t have any answer to the ivory problem. I’m hopeful the efforts to educate people in Asian countries about the plight of the elephants and rhinos will change their practices. Yet we also need to be more aware of where we get our own magical ingredients. We need to be conscious consumers and weigh our priorities. Personally, I find the best magical ingredients to be those grown and/or harvested by your own hands. It’s not always possible, but at least you know how they were obtained. When you work with the spirits of Nature and the Earth Mother, when you find them to be sacred, you simply must make these considerations.
Posted in Druidism, tagged amulets, ancestors, divination, Earth Mother, Gods and Goddesses, herbalism, motherhood, Nature Spirits, pregnancy, rituals, spellwork, tea, Three Kindreds, tribe on May 12, 2013 | 2 Comments »
First off, if you haven’t read the latest offering from The Wild Hunt on Mothers’ Day, you really ought to. It includes a concise history (which I was not aware of before) as well as possibly spiritual implications this secular holiday may have for Pagans.
This is the first time I’m officially celebrating Mothers’ Day now that I’m expecting. Despite her not having been born, the little one growing in me makes me a mother; an inexperienced mother, but a mother all the same! Weretoad has arranged for me to get a maternity massage in the near future and brought me to see “The Great Gatsby” last night (which I thoroughly enjoyed). Today we went to Foxy’s restaurant in Fisher’s Landing on the St. Lawrence River to celebrate with my parents. The view there is spectacular and they gave mothers a free dessert. Nom!
I wanted to include a special ritual on my first personal observation of Mothers’ Day. In particular, I wanted to give offerings to my spiritual mothers. I’d never thought of doing that before, but becoming a mother really makes one reflect on the sacrifice it takes to be one, and thus I reflected on how I should have been doing that all along! Originally, my intent was to share a cup of pregnancy tea with my Ancestral Mothers. The more I thought, I realized that I should also honor the Earth Mother, the Mother Nature Spirits, and the Mother Goddesses, especially my lady Brighid. They all play an important role in my concept of what it is to be a mother – whether biological or not. And so, I organized a bit of a tea party devotional!
I made a pot of pregnancy tea and brought two teacups and saucers to my altar – one to act as an offering bowl and the other for my portion of the tea during the return flow. I spoke words of praise and thanks to the Earth Mother and Mothers within the Three Kindreds. I poured tea and meditated. I drew omens to see what blessings or lessons they had for me on my new journey and they were very good and encouraging. The Nature Spirits gave me the raven for initiation and protection. The Ancestors sent me the dog for companionship and protection. The Goddesses sent me the boar which signifies the strength of a warrior. I directed those blessings into my cup of tea and drank them up. I also directed them into an amulet I intend to have with me at the birth.
My tea party devotional was a wonderful way to connect with the maternal energies on this day. I feel the rite was successful and I intend to do another next year.
Slowly but surely, things are coming together in the garden. We’re not being overly ambitious this year given the circumstances, so we’re making what we have work for us. We’ll probably need one or two more bags of compost and soil, but they’re not very expensive. I was very happy to get seed samples at the gardening event in Alexandria Bay this past weekend! That will help a lot.
One of my gardening goals this year is to learn to work with the cycles of the moon. According to local herbalist Sue-Ryn Burns, the last quarter of the lunar cycle is a perfect time for tilling soil, applying fertilizer, and pruning. Although I’m a couple days early, I wanted to take advantage of both that energy and the fertility of Bealtaine. I finally emptied my little compost bin onto a tarp to separate the good stuff from everything that’s still decomposing. This is probably my most successful year of composting yet! It’s a small operation given my inability to have a large compost heap, but definitely worth the effort!
Composting is a wonderful activity, and I definitely recommend it to gardeners, even if you rent like I do! There are many ways to go about it and it’s a great way to reduce food waste. It’s very magical and earthy, too. Truly a great way to teach children about decomposers and soil.
I mixed my compost with last year’s potting soil and half a large bag of compost and soil from the local garden center that wasn’t touched last year. My husband helped me to shovel it all back into various pots. We added some more soil to the moon garden and I reconfigured the stones. All the while, the sun set and an owl sang its song. It was a bit of work for this pregnant lady, but Weretoad did all the heavy lifting and I enjoy this sort of exercise. Like my late grandfather, I always have some project and am not entirely happy if I don’t! I can’t and won’t let my pregnancy keep me from one of my greatest joys – my garden! After all, it’s a huge part of my spirituality and I intend to introduce my child to this hobby ASAP!
Soon, the moon will start to wax and I will plant greens and flowers. Meanwhile, I have dandelion roots in the dehydrator and tender young dandelion leaves in the fridge for a Bealtaine dinner tomorrow. May your Bealtaine be filled with fertility – be it in the garden, your family, your artistic pursuits, your relationships, or finances!
Yesterday I joined my friend Miss Corinne to celebrate Arbor Day with her organization The Thousand Islands Land Trust. It was a really excellent event held at their Zenda Farm Preserve just outside of Clayton, NY. Admission was free and included information about planting and caring for trees, local wildlife, and local conservation efforts. Volunteers were able to help plant trees throughout the preserve. Children (and the young at heart) were able to see live animals from the local zoo and organic farm, participate in a community art project, and make seed bombs and peanut butter pinecone bird feeders! Those last activities were what I volunteered to help with! It was messy but a lot of fun. Not many people knew what seed bombs are (Miss Corinne shared some information about that on her blog if you don’t either) so it was really exciting to share that with adults while the little ones played with the clay. I think it’s a great activity to get children excited about gardening, and it can spiral up into a greater awareness of creating habitats for pollinators, urban renewal, and even permaculture! Several boy scouts in attendance made as many as they could! Kudos to Miss Corinne for putting together a great activity table!
If you live in the North Country, you should definitely bookmark The Thousand Islands Land Trust’s event calendar. There are hikes, kayak excursions, gardening, and wildlife viewing opportunities for young and old alike. They’re ways to connect to and even help with local conservation – something that I feel should be very important to Druids. Many are free to attend which is wonderful for people (like myself) who struggle with money over the summer but still want to have fun along the beautiful St. Lawrence River. I can’t wait to sign my little one up for some of their exciting kid treks!
While at the Arbor Day event, I saw many signs of spring. Nature called, as she frequently does to pregnant ladies, but the farm preserve’s toilet was out of order. I took a little hike into the forest to find a special tree, and along the way I noticed several trout lily leaves and even some trillium leaves! They’ll be blooming soon! Those are always a sure sign to me that winter is definitely over.
After returning home, I saw another sign of spring in the form of a stowaway. That’s right – I had a tick on me! I discovered it when I itched my expanding belly. The darn thing was hiding on the underside of my stomach where I can’t easily see! In all my years of running around forests, I’d never been bit by a tick before, and I naturally freaked out because I don’t want to get Lyme disease – especially while pregnant! Weretoad carefully removed it with tweezers but, because we were both new to this, he killed and removed it from the house. I guess it’s recommended you put it in a bag just in case you need to test or identify it. He thinks it was a dog tick rather than deer, and my father agrees based on the description. It was still flat, thus it hadn’t been on long enough to engorge itself – which, from what I read, is when you’re at risk of catching the disease. I hope and pray everything is ok! This pregnant lady doesn’t need that extra worry…
Yet there’s a sign of spring in Northern NY if there ever was one – the ticks are awake. Just a little reminder that, along with the beauty, there are those who we consider outsiders. They’re an essential part of creation but boy, they can be a pain!
It’s Earth Day once more, and many people, Pagan and non, are doing their best to honor the Mother. Whether it’s Earth Day, Earth Hour, Arbor Day, or what have you, one should definitely take these observances as reminders of what we should be doing every day. Honoring the Earth Mother, and attempting to live in better harmony with my brother and sister Nature Spirits, is a major part of my Druidic life. The key, I’ve found, is to take baby steps and do what I can. It’s so easy to fall into a guilty mindset, and while that can be a little motivating, it’s mostly discouraging. It’s better, or so it seems, to commit to small goals and set yourself up for success rather than the opposite!
Every Earth Day, I’ve made a point of going into the forest to pick up a bag of litter. I dedicate the action to the Earth Mother and local spirits. This year I’m just not feeling up to it. The bigger I get, the harder it is to bend over and navigate the uneven terrain in the forest. Rather than feel bad about what I can’t do, I decided to set myself a smaller goal. Armed with a little bag and garden gloves, I made a small circuit around my home. I picked up a ton of trash in just a small area. Was it casually thrown after an outdoor snack? Did it blow out of the garbage? Probably a combination. Shopping bags, old Halloween decor, plastic eggs, disposable utensils, candy wrappers… Rather than focusing on blame and disgust in my species, I tried to think about the difference one person can make. Now the land around my apartment is cleaner! To top it off, I got a little exercise and did something nice for the local spirits.
As I type this, it’s 54° F outside. It’s beautiful and feels amazing! The frogs in the nearby marsh are awake and singing their little hearts out! I was just puttering about my patio in a maternity t-shirt, emptying old pots of soil into bigger containers. My plan is to bring a tarp to the patio and dump all the soil together, amend it with my compost, and some new soil from the local gardening center. Hubby will help of course! I have several large pots to drag out of the garage after all… I’m just so excited for the new season!
A couple sad things to report. The garlic I planted before the first frost was not successful. I couldn’t find any growth and, when I dug deeper, only located one of the cloves. It was slimy and rotted. A bug was enjoying it. I’m not sure what I did wrong but I plan to do more research and try again. The beans we started indoors are not doing well. They don’t appear to be germinating and, instead, are producing a mold. The other seeds are fine, thank goodness, and are showing growth. There’s no mold on them, so I’m not convinced it’s too much moisture and not enough circulation. The beans are older seeds (I never wrote the date on the packet so I don’t really know how old) but I assume that has something to do with it. It’s a real shame that I’ll have to go out and buy more seeds, but thankfully they aren’t expensive. C’est la vie! They were bush beans and, while they do well in containers, I would like to get a pole variety. I had luck with pole peas last year in a container, so I know it’s very possible!
After clearing away some old growth, I found my chives and woad doing well. This will be that woad plant’s last year. I hope it produces flowers so that I can collect seeds for next year! The cranesbill geranium is also showing growth and the lily of the valley I planted last year might be growing. Fingers crossed!
There’s not a whole lot to photograph at the moment. Things are just starting to grow, and I’m still in the process of cleaning the area up. I put a few of my decorations out – a little welcome sign and a couple fairies. My goal is to add a fairy garden this year so expect some fun updates on that!
We woke up to any icy world. An Cailleach exhaled her frosty breath over Northern NY and made it glisten. The trees shimmered like glass and the grass looked sugar dusted. As I scraped the car, I noticed how the ice fell away, tinkling like marbles. Winter’s hold is weakening, but this reminder of its power also reminded me of its magic and beauty.