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Posts Tagged ‘2016’

As Lughnasadh starts to turn us towards the Autumn Equinox, and as it is the beginning of the major harvests, I find myself reflecting on the successes and failures of our little container garden. Each year, we learn more about our plant allies. Each year, through a mixture of experience and research, we recognize opportunities for growth and improvement.

I harvested several red potatoes this year. This is a better yield compared to last year! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I also picked our onions and hung them to dry out a little. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

We gave offerings to the local spirits in gratitude for our bounty. Photo by Grey Catsidhe 2016.

Not pictured is the basket of tomatoes we gathered, mostly from my husband’s hydroponic buckets. In addition, I also gathered some basil and sage which I hung to dry. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our own cupboards. 

I’m also thinking on my metaphorical harvest. I’ve had a fairly productive and joyful summer. My family hasn’t faced as many struggles this season. I have had more opportunities to do things that make my soul sing. I have room to improve, but the harvest is stil good. As we move toward Autumn, I’m already preparing a fall garden. I’m also making new goals – things to sew, books to finish, essays to write… May my next harvest be just as, or more, successful! 

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016


This year, I’ve started to notice how many Nature Spirits interact with my garden. I’ve always observed frogs, toads, birds, sometimes snakes, and a variety of invertebrates in and around my garden pots, but this year there’s greater significance to their presence.  Upstate NY is experiencing a drought watch, and our family garden, watered once or twice a day depending on the heat, has become a refuge for several, such as the frog pictured above.  This guy has been in our garden for a couple weeks, hiding in the shade, and enjoying the moisture.  I suppose he would rather hang out in a very sheltered environment with plenty of food and water rather than risk crossing the very dry, very scratchy, very open yard that separates my garden and the marsh.  Honestly, that’s looking awfully dry this year as well…
Someone at work gave my husband a bird feeder as a gift a couple years ago.  Last year, I didn’t notice any birds using it.  I continued to add water and clean it as best as I could.  I’ve kept that up this year, and I have noticed so many birds taking advantage of the water.  There’s a robin family who lives in a cherry tree near our garage.  The mother and father frequently visit.  We also have a hummingbird feeder, a gift my husband gave me, and there’s a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds who often stop for a drink.  There’s even a sap-sucker woodpecker who likes to have a sip every so often!   It makes me happy to see animals benefiting from our garden, especially when there’s been so little rain.

My garden is also a shrine to the local spirits.  Our fairy garden grows as a representation of this.  My sister introduced me to Fairy Garden Chest, and we decided to try it out for something fun.  My daughter was so excited to get the box.  I usually don’t go in for mass-produced things for my fairy garden, but my sister was really excited about it.  I like to make houses and buy handmade, most of the time.  Those factory-made-things we have are often given to us, although I have a soft spot for gnomes and sometimes can’t help myself…   Creating this little pot was a project for me and Bee.  We transplanted some chicks and hens, and added some blue aquarium rocks.  A neighbor got rid of a fish tank months ago, and he spilled some of the stones in the driveway.  They sat there forever, so we decided to repurpose them.  Bee added some pretty stones she liked, and then the fairy moved in with her gazebo and watering can.  While making it, Bee was very concerned about making the garden fairies happy.  This brings about a lot of age-appropriate discussion on The Good Folk, respect, and safety.  I don’t actually see the tiny winged statues as accurate representations of them, but I like the whimsy it adds to my garden.  I suppose, if anything, I see them as more representative of the plant spirits.  It provides a nice focal point, something that I see as valuable for toddlers who may struggle with abstract concepts.  And, again, pretty.  We make offerings in the fairy garden.  We only put things out that are safe for Nature Spirits – a bit of something we baked, some milk, bird seed, herbs…  Each time, Bee either gives a hug to the trees, or waves to the statues.  It’s adorable.  I can’t help but think of how I interacted with statues of Mary and St. Francis at my old Catholic church…

As I witness more corporeal Nature Spirits in and around the garden, and as the plants are productive and happy seeming, I get the feeling that the Good Folk and other local spirits are happy with us, or at least we haven’t offended them much.  There have been a couple times where I saw what looked like a person standing in the garden. Each time, they vanished when I fully turned to see.  There weren’t any neighborhood children around, no sound of their coming or going, and Bee was either inside or with me.  Both times it happened, I was very shocked and felt my body buzz.  Neither time did I feel threatened. Since this doesn’t happen often, and I am able to complete everyday tasks, I don’t think I’m losing my mind. There have been occasions in the wood where similar happened, and I instantly felt that I needed to leave.  This has been very different… more positive.  I hope I can continue to please or, at least, not upset the local spirits.

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Another year, another lovely garden. Each year I learn more about and from the Nature Spirits. This year, my husband joined me in the adventure as he experiments with hydroponics. Once more, we are renters who largely rely on containers for our gardening. It has pros and cons, and I definitely look forward to having our own land one day, but for now, I’m happy that our garden improves each year! 

We have many representationns of Nature Spirits around the garden.

Veggies in-progress.

Herbs and small trees.



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Instead of fireworks, we had a bonfire in the backyard. We did use a few sparklers which delighted my daughter. Plenty of sparkles without all the noise. She made an offering of birdseed to the Nature Spirits. I made offerings of drink to the Ancestors and Gods. I sprinkled juniper berries into the fire for Brighid. It was a simple but lovely night.

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Basil leaves 
and rose petals drying on my homemade drying rack. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

The warm weather is here, and I’m working to improve my relationships with plants. I’m always learning about herbal properties, plant identification, methods of preservation, and various magical uses. My paternal grandmother started to teach me when I was little.  She had a beautiful herb garden and apple trees at her home.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are of our time exploring the garden together.

Presently, I have various plants drying from my drying racks.  Some will season food, others will become tea, some offerings, and many will serve multiple purposes!

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A basketful of freshly picked strawberries from a local farm.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Today we went strawberry picking.  It’s alway a lot of work but great fun!  My daughter certainly enjoys it.  We picked three big baskets.  As soon as I got home, I started to process them.  I have several in the freezer and made some jam.  I’m going to throw some on the dehydrator later.  A friend suggested I make strawberry shrub syrup which I hadn’t ever heard of before, but I’m intrigued!  Perhaps tomorrow.  I may even have enough to make more jam!

While picking, I found several patches of wild chamomile and red clover.  I brought some home to dry.  Both are great in tisanes.  My hands smell delicious…

A few days ago, we had our first bonfire of the year at our home.  We decided that we would  toast some vegan marshmallows we had leftover from Bee’s birthday party.  I taught Bee that we need young wood on which to place the marshmallows while we toast them.  We brought an offering of water to the nearby apple tree.  Bee reached up and asked permission without any prompting!  She then held the cup of water up, presenting it to the tree.  She poured the water and then I found suitable branches to cut.  We gave the tree our thanks.  I explained to Bee that I normally don’t harm trees, but sometimes young wood is necessary.  I was really impressed with her respect and how easily the words came to her.  I’m definitely a proud Druid mama!  Hopefully the tradition of working with plants will continue in my family for another generation.

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My Summer Solstice celebration started on Saturday. We woke early and headed to Alexandria Bay for Family Day at Boldt Castle. We had to stand in a long line to purchase boat tickets first as the castle is on an island. It was a bright, sunny day… Standing and waiting was exhausting and uncomfortable, but once we boarded the boat, things started to cool down.

We enjoyed our visit but we couldn’t stay very long. I usually take my time to admire the views and architecture of the castle, but we had to run to the Yoga Center for Northern Rivers’ celebration. Still, we had a lovely time in the shade. Bee loved hugging various PBS characters, crafts, and garden activities.

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I did take a moment to admire the new garden with statues depicting the four seasons as maidens.  How very Pagan.  😉  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Riding on the boats and spending time along the St. Lawrence was a perfect beginning to our summer festivities. The cool air in my hair, the motion of the water, flying terns, and several swimming ducks… Although our section of the St. Lawrence is fresh water, it reaches into the Atlantic up in Canada. I felt the spirit of Manannan, and carried that joy with me to the ritual later.

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Mama
 and baby ducks on the St. Lawrence River.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Ritual with the protogrove went well. We had our ritual closer to the Yoga Center’s main building in the shade of several maple trees. Many of us missed the stone circle, but it was such a hot day, especially for our youngest guests. We honored Manannan mac Lir with offerings of song, whiskey, and a wreath (wheel) of yellow flowers to pay our “rent.” For our magical working, we made small paper doors with our goals for the season. We verbalized those goals, putting our intentions out there, and prayed that Manannan will help clear the mist and doors that may block our way. It was a new working for us, but many people expressed approval. Some were quite moved by the experience.

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Our 
altar to Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Last night’s full moon called my little family outside. We followed fireflies and giggled as some crawled on our hands and feet. We pranced in the cool evening air…

Today, the day of the Solstice, I went outside in the morning to greet the sun and harvest some herbs – lemon balm, sage, and mugwort. After work, I took a small side trip to the local river near my home. I walked to the edge and took a deep breath. Calling to the local river spirit and Manannan, I spoke of my gratitude for their many blessings. I dropped three yellow leaves into the river. I found them along the bank and assigned love, gratitude, and reverence to each. I left with a bit of litter in my hands. When dealing with local spirits, I’ve found the best offerings are care and respect. For dinner tonight – a cooling salad so I don’t have to cook in the heat!

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice if you’re south of the equator)! I hope you get outside and truly experience the season.

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I just want to take a moment and share how proud I am of my protogrove, Northern Rivers, of ADF. We are small, but we have grown into a strong group giving service to the Kindreds, each other, and our community. We’ve offered public rituals, welcoming many people in the wider community to join in our seasonal celebrations. Our rituals continue to improve in that we are growing in our skills, making them more family-friendly, and most people leave feeling satisfied and at peace. We’ve helped with the local Pagan Pride event – the FAE Fest. At our last Winter Solstice gathering, we raised money for a local wildlife rehab center. Most recently, we raised over $200 American for one of our Canadian members who has fallen on some difficult times. I am so proud of Northern Rivers, and I’m proud to be part of ADF.
 
There’s always room for improvement, both for Northern Rivers and ADF the org, but I hope that other ADFers will join me in sharing their pride. The positives will keep us working together to grow and improve in service to the Kindred and each other.
 
So be it!

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