Monday, May 30, 2011


Last night I dreamed that I was working in a bookstore, and a customer came in looking for a book called How to Find Mugwort. Subtle title, yes? There was a large, wooden circular display in front of my register where I went to look for the book, but all the copies of that title had been sold. Still available, however, was How to Harvest Mugwort. I tried to sell the customer on this, but I woke before he made his decision. The cover illustration on the mugwort book was a wood etching done in dark blue on cream-colored paper and showed a man with a broad-brimmed hat wielding a sickle. A tiny spider darted diagonally across the cover as I lifted the book to show the customer, a man of inderterminate features. I woke with Fiona Apple's "The First Taste" in my head, a song I had played during my Anthesteria celebration to provoke Dionysos (he didn't bite).

Today, with The Husband still home over the long weekend, I'm off to my favorite haunt to woo mugwort. Will she let me find her?

P.S.--Mugwort was one of the plants that came up in my Winter Solstice divination.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Message

With the three older kids off to see a movie with The Husband today, I took my littlest for a quick stop at the library to pick up some books I'd put on hold. I received an e-mail that morning stating that my requested books were ready, but when I got to the front of the line the librarian told me that no books had been pulled for me yet. He told me that they were checked in, so I could go get them from the shelves myself if I would like to. Off I went.

No books. They weren't on the shelves. I checked the reshelving cart. No books. I grabbed some others in their stead to tide me over for the long weekend. (Memorial Day means that the library is closed on Monday. Sad face.) I walk back to the counter and pull out my driver's license, since I'd managed to leave my library card at home. The librarian does his thing, then, as I'm grabbing my books to shove off, he casually delivers a message.

"Just don't grind your flour too fine. It has explosive properties." Wink. Nudge.

What the...? I look down at my books, wondering if I've somehow inadvertently grabbed a book by mistake. No, my hands hold a guide to mushrooms and a medicinal plants field guide. What am I missing?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Songs of the Green

When I was first beginning my forays into the world of plants, attempting to learn the magics and medicines contained within them, I was told that these secrets could be gleaned from the plant IF you knew its song. And if you've ever spent your time plucking delicate blossoms from stems or gathering miniscule seeds or snipping nutritious leaves, then you know that these activities allow for the mind to easily slip into light trance and welcome things unbidden into consciousness. Many of the "songs" that come to me in these moments are new to me, trails of notes that I don't recall encountering before. But sometimes there is no helping the fact that the song which seems to fit the job was one that I learned at my grandmother's knee while helping her in the garden. For example, I absolutely cannot see lilies of the valley without singing "White Coral Bells." Do you know it?

White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk

Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
That will only happen when the fairies sing.

This song is a particular oddity for me because, though I've been singing it annually since childhood, I can never remember the damn lyrics unless I'm not trying to remember them. I had to google them for this post even after singing the song this morning with my children! The origins of this little ditty are pretty obscure as far as I've been able to gather, but it is lovely.

A bit more idiosyncratic perhaps, and almost definitely more modern, is the song I can't avoid when we are harvesting violets, as we did today:

Dinah Shore was a witch. ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In the Absence of Anything of Substance...

My second daughter sporting her Beltane whites and a wreath of English ivy (the real stuff, from our garden).

Asking the blessing of Dionysos on May Day for an apple tree planted atop a departed sparrow nestling.

Carpenter bee enjoying the flowering kale.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Full Moon Gardening

Indulge me, will you? I have to say it once. Will it EVER fucking stop raining? Our town has had repeated flooding and in such quantities that the Red Cross has had shelters set up for months now. You'd think this would make things green up like crazy around here, but it has also been unseasonably cold. Not the best of combinations. Two of my lavenders have bitten the dust, so I'm really pissed at myself for not having potted them up. Usually I've put all our warm weather crops in the ground by Beltane. It's the 16th today, and we were wearing pants and sweaters. My paprika peppers will have to wait for their permanent home a bit longer, I'm afraid.

Still, there is plenty to do in our homestead garden. I've been wanting to get a couple cuttings from my mom's raspberry bushes, which have been passed down from generation to generation in our family, but considering that it's been almost ten years (!) since she died I don't think that's going to happen. So today I bit the bullet and bought a couple raspberries on clearance to fill in the spaces I've been saving next to the Red Lathams. I bought an everbearing red variety called 'Heritage' and a yellow variety known as 'Fall Gold'. I've actually never had yellow raspberries before, so I'm curious to try them. There was also a variety of black raspberries, but I'm holding out until I can find some 'Brandywine' bushes. I have a thing for any plant bearing the name Brandywine.

I also picked up a couple blackberry bushes, a task I've been resisting for years because blackberries are widely available in the wild. If I can forage it in good quantity, why should I waste the garden space? The location reserved for the blackberries is in front of a basement window, though, and the husband really wanted something that would provide a bit of security in the form of painful thorns to deter thieves. When we moved here the ground in front of each of the basement windows was covered in prickly pear, and while I love the taste of prickly pear, I did not love picking the tiny, brittle spines from the various body parts of my children. So, blackberries it is. 'Ebony King' and 'Darrow' are the varieties I brought home, both of which had thorns on the plants I chose.

Tomorrow I'll be mulching in the rain and trying to tame the Latham raspberries which I've been very lazy about trellising. 'Tis time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Cunt Tree Blooms

My garden altar is planted (har-har) beneath a white mulberry tree that occupies a far corner of our backyard, and today (acutally, yesterday, thank you very much Blogger) the tree is blooming for the very first time since we moved here five years ago. Five years of piss, blood, and tears offerings. Five years of celebrations, meditation, and Journeying beneath its branches. Each year something more of the nature of this specific mulberry is revealed. It wasn't until two years ago that I even knew it was a cunt tree. That same year, just a few days before the dawning of the vernal equinox, I gave birth to my third daughter and named her after a mythological flaunter of the cunt. This year it blooms.

Courting is so often a long practice and a test of one's patience--be it human, plant, animal, spirit, or deity that one is trying to woo. Nothing is guaranteed, and there are no entitlements.

The altar covered in mulberry pollen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When God is Convenient

First: My apologies and many thank you's to each and every person who has inquired about the grain-free life change going on over here. I am still working up to talking about it in this public space, as small a thing as it may seem. It has been a strangely revealing and emotional ride for me. There are no pressing health issues that made us change, but thanks for all your concern!

I have always been drawn to other deeply spiritual or religious people, regardless of the particulars and peculiarities. It seems a simple thing to me to say that my calling to Hera or the Stag King or the Cailleach is not so far from the stirring within those called to Yahweh, Allah, or any other deity. Perhaps this is because one of the most moving spiritual experiences of my life happened in a church at the altar of that most terrifying of Old Testament supernaturals. Sure, the specifics may not resemble each other at all, and the various Forces working through us humans may drive us to do very different things and lead very different lives. But in the end, I recognize that devotion in others.

I also seem to know when the devotion is being faked. Happens to pagans and Abrahamics alike, I assure you.

In the past couple years, I have grown somewhat close to one of my neighbors down the road. She is of the fundamentalist Christian persuasion, but we both homeschool and lead lonely lives at home with our children. This past year we went from exchanging thoughts on the weather and making sure our kids weren't being inconveniences to each other to more intimate conversations about motherhood and marriage. And I finally got to meet her husband when I was invited to their son's birthday party. I'd never caught more than a glimpse of him in the five years we've lived here, despite the fact that he was unemployed for over a year. Apparently, according to his wife, he was embarassed to meet me because he feels that I dress inappropriately. (giant, huge, gaffawing LOLZ) He specifically cited my constant bare feet as an example.

But that's neither here nor there. The real issue is how he uses God to force his will on others, especially his wife and step-son. When he and his wife were first married, she had a car. He convinced her to sell that car by telling her that he intended to buy her a van because of all the carting around of church supplies she is often required to do. Five years later? She was still without a vehicle. "God" had told him that he wasn't to purchase her a car until they had bought the house they currently rent, and that hadn't happened. He didn't tell her this until after he'd sold her car. Okay, I thought. Who am I to question what his deity tells him or why. It's none of my business anyway, right?

His mother, knowing that my neighbor was stuck at home all day with her son without a vehicle in a town that is not walking-friendly, offered to give them her van free of charge AND to pay the first year's insurance premiums so that they wouldn't have to take on any debt. She was promptly turned down by the husband much to the wife's upset.

Then one day my neighbor invited me over to see her brand new SUV. Whaaaat? It was explained to me, by the husband nonetheless, that the reason this purchase was okay was because they hadn't BOUGHT the vehicle--they had only leased it for FIVE years. The wife was thrilled of course, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

You see, I truly believe that we are (almost) always given a choice with the gods and spirits. They tell us what they wish us to do, and we follow their instructions or we don't. That's free will, people. Exercise it frequently. But don't you dare use your connection to a higher power to fuel your ego trip and force your will on those around you who love and support you. And LYING about the depth of your connection to that higher power in order to get what you want? This is deplorable on all levels. It doesn't matter to me whether it's the Christian god or the Stag King, I will lose all respect for you.

Obviously, I don't believe for one second that God told my neighbor's husband not to purchase a car for his wife. I believe that this particular man uses his false devotion to God as a way of controlling his wife, his child, and other family members and friends. Makes me wish his wife were a witch.