We stopped for a break on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, near the Native Peoples Museum. The air and ground had mounds of cottonwood fluff…. Seeds drifting, released to the midday winds, falling……..caught in the wild roses below, falling in drifts against resistant structures on the ground…… I carefully plucked up small wads of cotton-engulfed seeds and felt “called” to pick emergent buds of the wild rose. I returned to the opened door on the passenger side of the truck, looking for a napkin to put my collectibles, hands full of Cottonwood and rose…..
I saw an animal emerge from the dappled shadows on the floor of the truck…… a cat, wild, smallish with black encircled gold spots. I stepped back with a gasp, confused, questioning what I was seeing. I shifted my gaze to clear my mind. It was there, real as life itself. I shifted my gaze again, and the image faded into the dappled shadows produced by the leaves of the cottonwood trees overhead. I was feeling a bit ill that day, and thought I must have been fevered and was seeing things. I told my friend that I think I was hallucinating, and that I saw a wild animal, a cat of some sort, in the truck……
I have been diving into my memory to scavenge any and all details of that visitation. I went online and looked at pictures of wild cat species from around the globe, and I came upon an exact image of what I saw……. a Margay. It is a small cat that is native to Central and South America, and LIVES IN TREES…..in primarily evergreen and deciduous forests. It is often referred to as a Tree Ocelot, and may spend its entire life in the trees. There is no literature on the Spiritual symbolism for such an animal. Other wild cat species are known to have a connection with both the physical and spiritual world. From the information I have been able to gather, these animals are seen both as a Guide and a fierce Protector. It differs from the Ocelot not only in size (It is smaller), but in agility. It has special ankle joints that are extremely flexible. It is remarkably agile; its ankles can turn up to 180 degrees. It can grasp branches equally well with its fore and hind paws, and it is able to jump up to 12 feet horizontally, and has been observed to hang from branches with only one foot.
Wisdom of this species may Include gifts or guidance offered by the Ocelot: regeneration through solitude; connection with physical and spiritual worlds; ability to be in two places at once; clear vision; and connection to the unseen.
With spring and summer seasons beginning to Rise, I become a totally different beast. I spend hours out of doors sniffing the air, eyes on the ground, rapidly identifying most of the plants that come within view. I admit it, I am a junky…..and have to feed my habit of wildcrafting culinary and medicinal herbs. Botany was my soft spot in academia, and has become a skill I simply adore. I spend hours upon hours simply looking for and harvesting delectable and healing plants.
Honeysuckle flowers are the sweet heralds to the coming of summer. I love their aromatic, sugary scent that fills the air. Last summer I made multiple batches of Honeysuckle Syrup and cough drops and thought you might like the recipe.
Honeysuckle flowers have a variety of medicinal qualities including anti-inflammatory relief for headaches, they reduce fever, are excellent for bronchial spasms and coughs, and protects against viral and bacterial infection. In addition to its medicinal uses, the syrup is mild, and can be used simply as a sweetener in your cup of tea or drizzled over pancakes.
Pick the blossoms in the early morning, preferably before the heat of the day begins. Lay the blossoms out and remove the green sepal end at the base of the flower. Rinse the blossoms gently and place in a small pan. Create an herbal decoction by pouring 2 cups of boiling water over 1 cup of packed honeysuckle blossoms. Let this steep for a minimum of one hour. When cool, place the pot over a low flame and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes to reduce the liquid volume to 1 cup. Watch carefully. When completed, strain the decoction and compost the flowers.
To 1 cup of decoction, add 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Bring to a low boil and cook until it begins to thicken. Pour immediately into hot sterilized jars, put on scalded canning lids and hand tighten. Place jars apart by a couple of inches to cool. Sealed syrup last up to a year when stored in a cool, dry place.
I make cough drops by boiling the decoction and sugar to a hard candy stage. I prepare a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with confectioners sugar. I spread the sugar evenly in the pan and make small depressions using the bottom of a small glass vial. I then pour the candied decoction into the depressions with a small Pyrex measuring cup. Let cool and wrap each drop in wax paper. Store drops in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
I found myself in a conumdrum this morning when working on a paper mache sculpture of a large bird. I want to put some fine feathers on it, but was not able to find what I was looking for as a tutorial online. Most of what I found on very excellent paper sculpure sites were recommendations that seemed just too heavy and thick than what I am looking to do.
So, I began to fiddle, ripping up small pieces of paper to curl them and place them on the head of the sculpture. I fiddle, wiggle, pinch, push with whatever I have on hand to make things work. I struggle, persist, initiate, and feel triumphant in the smallest of success. I moan, grind my teeth, get peeved and feel thwarted when the project does not unfold easily…….Easily? Why should I have a paradigm that process SHOULD BE easy? There is no guide to show me what to do, no booklet with instructions I can follow….this project is all on me to unfold. So I place a few shreds of paper on the bird. Lovely, I think….only to realize that they are too thin to withstand handling and time itself. A weak point. Resolving this weakness takes more brainstorming and digging through the tools I have in my studio. I have decided to use gesso and modge-podge to thicken the paper strips and toughen them up.
It’s kind of like Life in a nutshell. I have an inkling of how to make something happen in my life……..let’s say for example, learning how to self-love. There are lots of books, tutorials, video guidance out there about the subject. I can glean some preliminary ideas about how to approach the subject. Yet I still have to go through initiating changes in my paradigm, struggle to remember to be mindful of food, water and movement during the day. Much less learn by trial and error what works best for me. I have to address my weak points in order to be successful, and need to look around in my Life to find the ingredients to use to shore myself up. Meditation, prayer, timers, chalk boards for reminders, even my dog who reminds me to get out and walk. I am never sure about what will work best for strengthening my own fiber and resolve to change. I have to try things and ideas out, apply them and see what works.
“Life in Death”
Paper-mache Construction (2017)
I constructed a paper mache mask this past October in honor of All Souls Day (Nov 1st) and Dia de Muertos, celebrated on November 2nd. At first, I attempted to paint the mask in the tradition of Hispanic artisans, but found I could not. I am not Hispanic, and it made no sense to me to attempt to mimic one…..
I am however, a collage artist. I applied my skill to try and explain what death means to me….. I looked at lots of pictures in magazines and chose those images that had a symbolic resonance about death and dying. Death is as much about Life as being born. Everything on this planet is birthed into being, and everything passes away. Nothing and no one is free from this Transformation.
I need to explain that I “borrow” symbolic images from a variety Peoples. I mean no disrespect to anyone or any culture in doing this. I am of mixed heritage, with my genetic makeup comprised of Spanish, Mexican, French, English and Irish roots. I simply believe that symbols are part of the human subconscious and is a language we all can understand.
I began my collage layers at the top of the skull using pictures of the dark night sky with stars. We come from starburst. My next layer laid down over the forehead was of dawnlight, symbolic of Life awakening in us as well as in all living things. I chose the image of a hummingbird feeding on a flower on the forehead. Hummingbirds have many symbolic meanings, but the Taino tribes of South America saw the hummingbirds as a symbol of rebirth. In fact, the hummingbird was the symbol for the one who spread life across the world.
Pink roses grace multiple locations on the mask. Their symbolic meanings were first recorded in Greek mythology. It was believed that roses originated from Adonis, who was the deity of plants and rebirth. Pink roses symbolize gratitude, grace, admiration, and joy in life.
On the left side, you will find the Coyote and Deer. In Native American stories, the Coyote is an important messenger of personal transformation Not all Native American stories see the coyote as only good or only evil, but most believe he represents a balance. Balance cannot exist without both good and evil, life and death, beginnings and endings. In Celtic symbolism the Deer is both male and female – the Hind is the feminine aspect who can access the fairy world and teaches humans about spirituality. The butterfly is a symbol of change, joy and color. The exquisite blue butterfly was considered a miracle of transformation and resurrection. The Bluebird is a symbol of the angelic realm. It’s meaning is one of happiness grace and delight.
New art forms take time to unfold. I’ve been teaching myself to make photographic montages for the past month. It was a spontaneous expression, I never even thought about working with photographs before. I have been working in collage and montage for 2 years now. All hand made, cut out pictures from magazines, glued to sharkboard or cardboard mounted. The process takes days and are quite unique. For example, I finished a “Holy Card” series of 15 smaller pieces which depict teachings from my Catholic background as a child. The montage below is titled “The Garden of Gethsemane”. It symbolizes the story of Yesuah’s betrayal the night before he is killed. Red is an important color in Hebrew traditions and represents “life in the blood”. Mars at the top symbolizes agitation, strife, aggression. Each item used in this construction is cut out by hand and pieced together.
I have applied this concept to taking photographs and layering them using multiple photo editing programs. The current montage series relates to my love of Mother Earth, and reflects my interest in Nature as a biologist, botanist, ecologist and herbalist. A real different medium to work with, especially with taking photographs. This piece is comprised of 5 different pics: A selfie of me, trees in my back yard, a sunset over Ash Creek, a photo of clouds and another pic taken using crystal reflections.
This one is titled “Heart Song”. I have a few posters and cards to be added to my Etsy store for purchase. They will be available at the end of January…… enjoy!
I want to update my blog post to include the jewelry I have posted on my Etsy storefront named “FoxMtnFolkArt”. I know that folks have been trying to gain access to the site, but I am a little bit in arrears in catching up with my blog post and sharing sites.
I had a conversation yesterday with my older sister, and she recommended that I clarify who I am and what drives me to make the jewelry compositions I create. For example, I am currently in the process of creating a montage series called “Gaia” this year. I plan to have the series printed up as stationary cards and perhaps small posters. She did not understand what the word “Gaia” meant or the theory behind it…..
First and foremost, I am a biologist/ecologist at heart. My artistic expression is seated deeply in the science and physics that explain our world. Gaia is a concept formed in the 1980’s of the Earth functioning as a living organism, having a consciousness of its own. It’s natural systems work just like any other organism it has created on this planet. The earth breathes, digests, respires, has internal checks and balances to keep it healthy. I took my first class on “Global Ecology” as a graduate student at the University of Nevada Reno. I still have the book. My eyes were opened to the theory of Gaia as I studied the complexity of her chemical and nutrient cycles and delicate interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, geology and biota of this place. My respect for this planet became entrenched within my heart at that time.
My interest in rocks and geology came about from working in mineral exploration with an exceptional woman, Dr. Nancy Parduhn-Jackson. She (We) built a company named Cerus Exploration Technologies Inc. located in Sparks, NV back in the late 1980’s. She specialized in soil bacteria, more specifically Bacillus cersus, a microbe which has evolved with the capacity to survive and thrive in metalliferous soils. I was hired on as a laboratory assistant and to develop the use of plant tissue analysis through biogeochemical assay to locate buried ore deposits. Our combined exploration techniques were surprisingly successful. This work took us into the field where we laid out sampling grids for collection of soil and plant samples. We spent a lot of time looking at the ground, and rocks in particular. Nancy taught me so much about geology….jasperoids, jadeites, beryl, altered andesites etc. Rocks that had been changed under high temperatures, pressure and water in the mantle of the Earth crust.
My geologic learning was a natural influence in working with semiprecious stones. My own curiosity has lead me to expand and learn about the electromagnetic fields of the earth, the vibrational frequency of atoms, and the vibration within matter and all living things. Although the theory of chakras is introduced from India, the idea of energy centers within the human body makes sense. The new physics of string theory and the effect of planetary electromagnetism on the human body is being studied…..fasinating stuff to this nerd in sheep’s clothing. So, back to jewelry creation…..
I use semiprecious stones in my jewelry. I understand the resonance principal behind Crystal healing or stone healing. Although empirically it is difficult to prove that wearing a quartz crystal will enhance the vibration of the human electromagnetic field for balance and healing, I can understand the probability that it could. That is why I create jewelry with stones identified by various sources to resonate with various energy centers of the body…….
So now you know where I come from when creating my art pieces. Visit my storefront on Etsy…..FoxMtnFolkArt. Enjoy!
Every moment of my journey in Life is tethered as a note to an expanding cosmic overture, a universal Song. That is the best word I can bring forth to describe it. I exist within a Song.
Each moment, as it beads by, is concurrent with millions of other simultaneous events. Every one of them is bound to its own frequency, a rhythm generated by its placement and proportion within the cosmic tapestry of Balance. They occur not just in this reality and dimension, but in other dimensions yet unseen within the fabric of the universe. From the birth of a single atom to the dying of stars, there are layers of synchronistic forces and activities that occur during a simple intake of breath.
As I write in the comfort of my room, a photon of light pierces a chloroplast. Shifts of air pressure above my head carry the winds aloft. The chrysalis of a butterfly breaks open and the embryo of an acorn thrusts its newborn root into soil. Water molecules rise into the air as others travel downstream to the oceans. Tissues are healed, while other cells succumb to entropy or death. New leaves unfurl in plants as other meristems prepare for winter dormancy. Cicadas emerge from their underground nurseries as calcium deposits meld their molecules to the geologic matrix of soil. Heat waves rise off of sun drenched rocks. A star is born while another decimates as a nova. Everything. All things. Happening in this one moment… from the microcosm of an electron to the enormous macrocosm of movements of entire galaxies. Synchronicity in pursuit of its own purpose in a World that is beyond the capacity of words to carry.
Our moments are far more loaded than they appear, completely drenched in a Song that has existed since the beginning of all things. The music of rain, of sunlight, tempest storm, of tree roots stretched deep underground, stars winging overhead at night … of fish and life in the Oceans. It is a chorus of leaves unfurling, of crickets chirping, rock weathering and lava pooling. Loud and raucous … a rhapsody of atoms and matter conjoined in Sacred chorus … occupying the same period in Time.
The Song is comprised of billions of notes. Cadences of deep potential coupled with higher choruses of expression and longing. All Songs blending, melding toward an apex of Fullness that flows way beyond my own sense of Self. The Song is both within and without, validating my existence as part and Sacred to the Whole … not just to the One.
My Heart enters this Song with “So Be It”. Amen …
With the arrival of Spring here in the mountains of northeastern California, I eagerly look for the showy flowers of the simple dandelion. I have used parts of the whole plant for decades now. The fresh young leaves can be used as a wholesome addition to spring salads. It can be blanched or sauteed like spinach or endive. They are great in sandwiches, the tender leaves being laid between slices of bread and butter and sprinkled with salt. The addition of a little lemon-juice and pepper varies the flavor. The leaves should always be torn to pieces, rather than cut, in order to keep the flavor.
I use the fresh blossoms in tea cakes, muffins or wine/mead, even dyeing. I will dry them in Spring to add to other flower petals I collect throughout the summer to create aromatic teas for the cold winds of winter. I powder the dried leaves and root for a highly effective tea that quickly reduces excess fluid in the body. Our ancestors recognized the gifts of the dandelion to treat a wide variety of illnesses and brought it with them when they came to this country.
Collect the leaves, roots and flowers now while they are young and tender … and receive its many Blessings!
It is interesting to read in the news that over half of COVID-19 fatalities occur in folks who have gut problems. Learning how to improve one’s gut health may prove to be a useful tool in these times. I gave a workshop on fermented foods last year, and thought I would provide a copy of the handout I prepared for the class.
I found myself making up a couple of quarts of pickled asparagus, carrots, celery, peppers, onion and garlic this afternoon. Crunchy fermented veggies are so satisfying to munch on straight from the jar. Fermenting fresh vegetables also extends their shelf life…. So here you go …
Fermenting foods is an ancient practice which can increase the bioavailability of nutrients in food and can support optimal digestion. According to Ayurvedic Medicine, all disease begins and ends in the digestive system. Recent medical research has turned its interest toward microbes and their ecological relationships within the gut as key players in maintaining the health of the body.
It has been determined that toxins can accumulate in the body and circulate through the blood when digestion processes are not working properly. Incorporating naturally fermented foods into our diet may aid digestion and prevent toxic accumulation by returning the digestive tract to its homeostatic function.
Historically, fermentation has been used as a way of preserving foods and drinks long before the days of refrigeration. During the process of fermentation, microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or fungi convert sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. The beneficial effects of fermented foods on health were unknown at that time, so the process was used to preserve foods, enhance shelf life, and improve flavor.
Fermentation preserves raw vegetables without heat, so it retains their vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Natural fermentation has been found to preserve and enhance B and C vitamins in vegetables, make nutrients more readily available, can aid in digestion and may support the immune system…
Fermented foods became an important part of the diet in many cultures, and now has attracted scientific interest. Why? Because the microorganisms which contribute to the fermentation process have recently been associated with many health benefits. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been highly studied. During fermentation, these bacteria synthesize vitamins and minerals and produce biologically active peptides with enzymes are also well known for their health benefits. Some of these peptides are known to lower blood pressure, while others are being studied for their anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties.
Naturally fermented foods are what you want to create to give your body a dose of healthy probiotics. Eating foods packed with good bacteria may boost gut health. DIY fermentation is the best way to go…..
HOW TO FERMENT VEGETABLES
Fermenting vegetables is a simple, inexpensive process that has been used for thousands of years. It is simple, easy, and requires little preparation or work. Most of the time involved is spent waiting. Home fermentation takes about a half-hour of chopping or shredding to produce a jar full of delicious crunchies that can feed you for weeks.
RECIPES – These recipes use a quick fermentation method without sugar, and leave the vegetables crisp and crunchy….
I. Spicy pickled vegetables
2 cups water
1 to 1-1/4 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (organic with the “mother”)
1 jalapeño sliced, or red pepper flakes
1 large carrot cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds or diagonal slices
1 to 2 cups chopped cauliflower or small cauliflower florets
3 small stalks celery (use only small inner stalks from the heart), cut into 1-inch-long sticks
1 bay leaf
1 cabbage leaf.
Heat the water and stir in the sea salt until it dissolves completely. Set aside and add the vinegar when cool. You can be make this ahead of time and store in a sealed glass jar in a cool, place until ready to use.
Set a quart-size canning jar in the sink and fill it with boiling water to sterilize. Empty the jar and tightly pack the vegetables and bay leaf inside to within 1 to 2 inches from the top of the jar. Pour the brine over the vegetables to fill the jar to within 1 inch from the top. Wedge the cabbage leaf over the top of the vegetables and tuck it around the edges to hold the vegetables beneath the liquid.
Set jar on the counter and cover with a fermentation lid or use a standard lid which you loosen it a bit each day for the first few days, then every other day, to allow gasses to escape. Let the vegetables ferment for three to five days, depending on the indoor temperature. Vegetables will pickle faster in warmer climates. Make sure the vegetables stay packed beneath the liquid and add salted water (2 teaspoons sea salt dissolved in 1 cup warm water) as needed.
Check the taste after a couple of days using a clean fork. When the vegetables are fermented to your liking, seal the jar with a regular lid and refrigerate. Vegetables will continue to slowly pickle in the refrigerator. They will keep for about one month. Taste for saltiness before serving and, if desired, rinse gently to remove excess salt.
II. Fermented Cinnamon Apples (Yield: 2 quarts)
3 medium organic apples (chose apples on the sweeter side like Gala or Honey-crisp)
2-4 cinnamon sticks, crushed or 1 teaspoon powder.
1 lemon, juice & zest
4 T. sea salt
7-8 c. water
Combine the cinnamon, lemon juice, zest, sea salt, and filtered water in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat until barely simmering and salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and cover. Let steep and cool 30 minutes.
Wash apples well and slice the tops off 2 of the apples for packing the jars. Quarter the apples and slice very thinly. Pack them tightly into two sterilized quart jars. Press down gently.
Fill the jars with the salty water and cinnamon mixture. Place a reserved apple top in each other jars to submerge the slices in the liquid. Cover with a paper coffee filter or cheesecloth. Leave at room temperature for 5-7 days, testing around 4 days to gauge how sour it is. The longer it’s left at room temperature, the more sour (and less sweet) it will be. The fermented apples will keep for 3-6 months in the refrigerator.
III. Ginger Kombucha (Makes 1 gallon)
3 ½ quarts of water
½ to 1 cup white sugar
4 bags black tea (or 1 tablespoon loose tea)
4 bags green tea (or 1 tablespoon loose tea)
2 cups pre-made unflavored kombucha (from your last homemade batch or store-bought)
1 scoby per fermentation jar
2- to 3-inch piece fresh ginger (see Recipe Note)
Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep for ½ hour at least or until the water begins to cool. Add the remaining 1 ½ quarts of water to the batch and stir thoroughly. Remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the pre-made organic kombucha which inoculates the batch.
Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and if you have one, gently slide a SCOBY on top with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.
Keep the kombucha at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically. Do not disturb.
After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle. By now, a SCOBY should be floating in the fermented brew… With clean hands, gently lift it out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. Cover to keep it moist. Measure out 2 cups of the tea and set it aside for the next batch.
Peel and slice your ginger allowing for 1 teaspoon of ginger per bottle. Sterilize your jars by filling them with boiling water. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then empty them. Place your fresh ginger in the jars, and pour the fermented kombucha into the bottles using a small funnel. Fill them up to the “shoulder” of the jar leaving room for further carbonation and gas escape. Store at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. If you bottled in plastic bottles, the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles are rock-solid; if you bottled in glass, intermittently open one of the bottles to check the carbonation… listen for the “fizz” sound of gas escaping.
Once carbonated, refrigerate the kombucha for at least 4 hours to chill. The kombucha will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. If desired, strain the kombucha as you serve it to catch any bits of ginger pulp. Enjoy!
Funny thing … Fear showed herself to me in my dreams early this morning. It came in the form of a small girl, with the capacity of malevolent powers. Some of the time, she would appear normal in behavior … yet at other times would wield forces for the sole purpose to maime, injure and even kill through natural means. No manmade implements were needed.
She used animals to create havoc… I attempted to compromise with her, control or contain the extent to which she could directly hurt me or others. I even tried to kill her, right in her heart. It slowed her down, yet she rose again with the intent of getting back at me. The last time I saw the effects of her behavior, cats…hundreds of them appeared in my town, attacking the domesticated cats who were pets.
Somehow I knew that they were headed for my house and were going to occupy my home where she was staying with me…I did not want to return… My question regarding symbology: why the girl and what about those cats?
Dream interpretation ideas from the web show two things:
(1) The girl – Negatively, a little girl may reflect an aspect of yourself that is easy to control or push aside. A sign that you are not being assertive enough or feel that someone else is making your decisions for you. Your tendency to easily submit or be compliant. Getting told what to do.
(2) The cats – If a dream cat is aggressive then it suggests that you have difficulty accepting reality or being objective. Forcing yourself to believe that your goals are impossible without objectively questioning it. A fear of having to race reality….
Pretty trippy stuff…
It rained hard here last weekend, over one inch in less than 24 hours. I stayed home on Saturday, watching the water sheet off of the hill behind the house and exit the French drain down to the street. Rain continued intermittently on Sunday, when I ventured out across the valley to an early afternoon social engagement.
When it was time to return home, I decided to take the “long way”, sticking to small roads to check out the wildlife activity in our area. The snow geese are flocking in by the hundreds now. One can spot families of Canada geese, who are now pairing off in committed couples and settling on nesting territories to raise their broods. Last year was a bumper year for them, some had clutches with more than 12 chicks. When I see these geese pairing up, it reminds me of Spring…
I saw a large bird in the center of road, probably struck and killed by one of many large trucks that transect this lonely part of northeastern California. I pulled over to the side of the road, and went to remove the bird to place it in an adjoining field. It was a large Rough-legged Hawk and it appeared to have been lying on the road for some time. It was soaked through, feathers dripping with water. I lifted the bird off of the tarmac and walked to the nearby pasture, placing it just inside the fence line.
Walking back to my car, I noticed some of its feathers scattered along the roadside. I think they may have come off the bird upon impact. I walked along and gathered them up one by one. The feathers were in very poor shape … soaking wet and split apart. I went to place them with the hawk but as I bent down over the fence, I heard the words “Remember me”.
“Remember you?” I asked aloud as I looked at the ruined feathers in my hand. “I will try,” I spoke gently as I turned to go, laying the feathers carefully in the front seat of my car…..
How does one “Remember” an animal one has never met before? I kept turning that question over in my mind. I had no particular use for the feathers, but laid them out to dry in my bedroom. I looked at them at night when getting ready to retire, and would see them in the morning when I turned them over to assist the drying process. The edges of the feathers were shaggy, torn apart by the forces of the accident, the wind and rain. So, what did I need to learn and Remember about this creature?
Rough-legged hawks are a true arctic species …. Say what? They are from the North? Yes. They evolved under arctic conditions. They nest on cliffs, although pairs have been known to exploit other nesting areas like trees at the fringe of forests or on human-made structures. In winter, these hawks concentrate in open areas reminiscent of their tundra summer haunts, including pastures, marshy areas, and wet meadows … and that is exactly the habitat in which I found this bird.
Feather anatomy 101 (looking up info on the internet) validated that the feathers I collected were 6 secondary wing feathers (3 from each wing) and 1 tail feather and a few “downy” ones that were fluffy and soft. The purpose of the secondary feathers in a bird wing is to sustain the bird in the air by giving it “lift”. The tail feathers on a bird are analogous to the rudder of a ship or boat. They help them steer and maneuver while flying, as well as provide stability as they take-off and land. The downy feathers are usually located on the belly and provide thermal insulation, keeping the bird warm in winter months.
Last Wednesday, an impression came to mind to make a ritual fan for smudging sage with the feathers. Stranger ideas have come to me before … why not this project? To tell the truth, I really have not embraced spiritual rituals in my life. I may wave around a smoldering bundle of sage to freshen the house or leave tobacco or apples as a gift when walking in Nature. Yet I have not really introduced spiritual ritual in any form. I have set up an altar in my room, but only spend a cursory examination of it a couple of times during a day.
What I know about personal altars is that they are a place to hold prayers and intentions, as well as a focus for expressing and “Remembering” love and connection to Spirit… a place where non-ordinary reality is held within ordinary reality. Also a “Remembering” place of my ancestors, of my relationships within the Planetary Family, and what it means to Walk in Beauty as a true Human Being… “Remembering”….
This bird has truly given me profound lessons through its gift of feathers:
(1) It has validated my walk in the North of the Medicine Wheel, in Wisdom;
(2) I am encouraged to initiate a regular pattern of “Remembering” each day;
(3) Trust the rudder of Spirit as my guide, it will sustain and lift me in the flight of my remaining Journey;
(4) And to “Remember” my other Relations in Nature. To embrace them as guides and reflections of my own Heart….
These past 3 weeks walking with Talks with Relations, the first Clan Mother of the full moon, has been a Teaching. Just a little more illumination and understanding about how absolutely everything in Nature communicates through mirroring and direct teaching through example. I welcome the gifts of Wolf and Hawk. I now know to begin at the beginning … to seek and restore Harmony within myself and to “Remember” to honor the connection to my other kin with recognition and gratitude….
I was out walking in a place of quietness this New Years Day …. No people, no cars, no one but myself for miles around to take it all in. Just me and the merlins, or marsh hawks, out hunting for their supper. Open spaces clean out the pipes, so I say. The air strengthens me, pulling the dullness and dross from my Spirit created by an over dependence and indulgence in modern luxuries. The background hum from electricity, radio frequencies, and now 5G in our living environments rattles my central nervous system and can make my ears ring. As a respite, I take the time to get outside away from such concentrated frequency bombardment. I recommend you do too, everyday, come rain or come shine. Where else can one listen to the music of the bull rush and the cattail swaying surreptitiously in the afternoon wind? Bundle up, buckaroo ….
There is a global tension being felt in the undercurrent of Life in response to climate and environmental change. I am well aware of the large effects occurring in this Time of Turning to habitat, water, air and to other living Beings. The news is full of information every morning I open the page. I find my emotions ricocheted across this spectrum most days which is not sustainable or healthy for my body or soul. Change is a fact, one of the key Truths of this World. Some changes are quicker in their effects on short term and long term trajectories. Some are downright terrifying.
I am driven to Hope in the thick of everything that is going on. Emotionally responding to current news is exhausting. We do not know how things are going to right themselves in the long run as Mother Earth works her way to a new Balance and Equilibrium. We can imagine, throw pictures onto the screen of the minds eye, but those images are not Truth….they are only images fed by projection and Hollywood science fiction movies. The question I seek an answer to is “How do I Stand as a true human being in these times?”
What is easily lost in the cacophony of these portents is the reality that something is deeper at work here. Something which is in All and pierces All, a subtle force of Light which Holds everything within its grasp of the cosmos. Over 110 billion humans have walked on the face of this Planet, some now living but most have passed on. Just like cells in a body, human creatures are a catalyst of Change to the surface of the Earth. Mother made us, feeds us, has sustained the existence of the hominid species for a little over 1.6 million years. WE may feel that we are the key components of driving change in this World, but keep in mind that Gaea has a purpose of her own in all of this, far greater than we can ever imagine.
I am choosing to Shift my Gaze, to look for the Light, the Miracle which lies within the calyx of a flower, in the Blessed alchemy of Water, in the creative force of Fire, in the cycles of the atmosphere and the gigantic processes of Earth. I choose to Shift my Gaze, to embrace a deep trust in this Planet and its processes. It “knows” what It is doing, even though it may result in the demise of our species. Life begets Life, one form replaces another. Disturbance is one of the driving principles in the creation and maintenance of that Life force here….
When I embrace a deep Trust in Nature, I no longer feel Fear. When I work in collaboration with these forces, I feel a keen sense of Balance. When I stir my compost piles, I Trust in the microbes to replenish the soil, they simply know what to do. They work in accordance with bacterial processes and enzymes, with frost and heaving cycles, with the rainfall that falls to the Earth… bringing Change to the rhizosphere which then feeds other organisms including trees and plants.
It is my Trust that propels me into Action, but without the Fear. It is my Trust that silently welcomes Hope to my world-weary Heart, like the dew on a meadow at dawn. My Trust launches me into joining my Heart to the persistent Light which underscores all things. Something elusive, but clearly perceived in my peripheral vision. It’s constancy a refuge, a balm to my news-weary Soul….
Belly Button Musings on a Tuesday Night….
This process we call Life can never be “won”, only played from the authetic center of who I am, who You are. We stand in “this” moment … connected with all that has gone on before, all that is going on now, and with everything that is yet to come to this Planet. We are part of a colossal epic, whose story is measured in geologic time. Eons made up of star dust and processes that stretch back billions of years … which will continue on in its own fluid trajectory for billions more.
We are a conscious creation, hardwired to thousands of intricate layers of interdependent relationships which are essential for the creation and sustainability of Life in all its forms. Fungi depend upon bacteria, bacteria depend on enzymes, enzymes feed off of basic minerals and release their waste into their surroundings. We are Children of Gaea, awake in a realm of potential, possibility, creativity… of things being born, and of things dying. Delicate and perceptive, we travel a fragile journey with and in this Mystery of staggering Beauty.
It is the mind that creates separation, it severs the Soul from the rich soil of its Beginnings… It tricks us into “thinking” we are adrift, in disjunction with that which has both birthed and sustains us. Ask the Stone People, who are the Memory Keepers of this Place, about our story. Ask about the stories of all of the Children who have Risen in this place. They knew this World before even water was brought from the sky, before the oceans were born. Ask them about the intricacies of Balance, of the self-regulation of homeostasis that lies deep within the fabric of this World…. A World that creates consciousness in its many varied offspring…
I can only Stand mute before my Mother… squishing my toes into Her mud as my eyes and ears are filled with the cacophony of bird song winging overhead. I weep from the Fullness of a driving west wind against my back. And whisper a prayer of deep gratitude when listening to the heartbeat within my own chest….
Science Monday – Dyeing wool with Wolf lichen.
Today’s experiment was dyeing 4 large skeins of 2-ply handspun wool using Wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina). It is a common lichen found in pine forests. I collected some last week while out on Ash Creek fly fishing with some friends. I came upon some blown down limbs while gathering wild rose hips for winter tea. It took only a few moments to pull it loose from the bark and fill a medium sized bag of the green stuff.
I have used this lichen once before, and the yarn came out a bright green. To help tone the color down a bit, I put in 2 cups of ground coffee into the pot along with the lichen…. after boiling, straining and immersing the wool into the decoction, the result produced a nice burnished gold color. Kind of like the color of Autumn leaves, especially of the elm tree….
You do not need to “fix” this dye to retain it’s color. Wolf lichen has a chemical in it that makes it permanent on natural fibers …