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New Visions….

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.
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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.

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Stories of an Herb-wife – Honeysuckle Syrup

 

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.
Enjoy!

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Creating Art is so much like Life…

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 20180204_114342no 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.

 

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Life in Death – an Artistic perspective…

“Life in Death”
Paper-mache Construction (2017)
B. Donohue

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.inCollage_20180125_191828649.jpg

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New Montage Series: GAIA (2018)

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.20170523_152524

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. IMG_20180104_065015

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!

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New postings for a New Year

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!

Upcoming workshops I am offering at the Living in Wellness Center in Adin, CA this Spring

Saturday, March 16th 10-12 noon “Herbal teas, decoctions, oxymels and tinctures”. Workshop will cover information and techniques for creating healing elixir’s and tonics for Spring and Summer.

Saturday, March 30th 10-1pm “Fermentation 101” covering yoghurt, keifer, kombucha, fermented fruits and vegetables, and homemade sourdough starter….

Saturday, April 13th 10-1pm “Cooking with the Sun” a solar cooker workshop introducing box, parabolic, reflector and vacuum tube solar ovens and their use. Full instructions for making a homemade solar over will be included. Film and handouts….

May 27th and 28th (Saturday and Sunday) 10-2pm “The Wildcrafted Basket”. Saturday will be spent in identification and preparation of Wildcrafted Basket materials. Sunday will be spent in creation of the baskets with various weaving techniques…

A Prayer Feather

A Prayer Feather

I am not Native American by any measure of the imagination. I do not use indigenous peoples rituals or symbolism in my spiritual sojourn here, nor in my rituals…. It simply is not “me”. My ancestry is of mixed bloodlines, similar to most of us that have been created out of the great diaspora of humans migrating across the globe over the past 500 years.

I come from pretty much northern European peoples: English, Irish, Spanish and French. My paternal grandmother’s people come from New Spain, before California was explored by the Spaniards. Some of the people in my ancestral line were born in the Mexican landscape, part of the ancient lands of Mesoamerica. My paternal grandfather’s lineage is a mix of English and French. My maiden name of “Rowley” is a locational name that came from a variety of places in England including Devon, County Durham, Staffordshire, and Yorkshire. It means a “overgrown wood or clearing” in Old English. The lineage on my mother’s side of the family is predominately Irish and English.

Now… onto the subject of feathers…. Feathers come to me on a regular basis. They are easily found where I live. Il often find them whenever I am out camping and fishing. Often beneath old growth pine trees that serve as perches for eagle, osprey and hawks. I have never delved into the symbolic meaning of feathers until recently….
My ancestors carried ideas and beliefs about feathers that were entrenched within their cultures. Celtic lore holds the perspective that feathers were related to the realm of the sky gods where one could gain knowledge of the celestial realm. In Britannia, the raven symbolized death, while the robin heralded the Christian season of Christmas and the promise of Spring. The eagle represented power, whereas the dove symbolized the virtue of peace and the red kite represents “wildness” of both landscape and its creatures. My Hispanic ancestors lived in a world where feather-working was a common craft and the wide use of feathers was embedded in an intricate cultural and economic milieu.

Who knows where my connection with birds and feathers come from? I simply know that feathers come to me through discovery or gift. Needless to say, it is “in my blood” somewhere in my combined lineages that I feel I am given permission for right “use” of a feather to carry my prayers and intention in the winds of this world…. separate from the beliefs and practices of any indigenous people.

The idea of a Prayer Feather came to me just the other day. I have a friend, once a lover of mine, who is near death. His sojourn is a quiet, private affair, and I wanted to offer something of support his transition. He has Cherokee ancestors which lie in his blood, and I wanted to offer something symbolic which meant something deeper than a simple farewell from my Heart to his….

When contemplating this, my eyes fell upon a large jar of feathers sitting in the work space of my art studio. I gently pulled out feathers of the Golden eagle, Redtail hawk, Marsh hawk, Great blue heron, Whistling Swan and of the Snow goose. These birds are common here, found in the nearby forests and open wetland systems of Big Valley. As I bound the feathers, I picked up on the sound of a Song…..vibrations of tone and pitch. As if my friend’s ancestors had begun to Sing him Home….I certainly hope so….

My prayer is for the Eagle to give him Strength and Courage in this Time of Transition and to carry his Spirit to the next realm with ease…. For the Hawk to guard him on his Journey, and for the Whistling Swan to embrace him Grace and Beauty….. all of them bundled to carry his Spirit…. Home.

It has been a long winter with many musings…

Wow! I put this good site on “ignore” for a few months now. It is not that Life has been boring or nondescript. Winter has a tendency to shove me deep into my own belly button, when my efforts of expression and writing lie close to my fingertips…. Distribution of those thoughts remain short sighted and on a short leash…

I converse primarily online with women who are involved with TreeSisters.org, an international organization of women who pool their finances to plant millions of trees as a remedial force in the face of global climate change.These women have a passion, yes indeed. They rise in feelings toward Mother Earth, and seek ways to stop the mindless destruction of her ecosystems for “economic” growth and consumeristic patterns of one species… Us. Many feelings, writing, poetry and creative efforts have expressed a mix of emotions toward global climate change and out restoration efforts in planting trees….

  1. Grief over the general disregard most people have for other living Beings and their equal right to coexist;
  2. Dismay over the relative ignorance of most people when it comes to the impacts of their daily choices on global warming;
  3. Shock and surprise at the woundedness within their bodies, psyche and spirituality from simply surviving in a patriarchal-dominated world where the Feminine aspect of life has been distorted, pushed down, and outright killed in history as well as current times;
  4. Anger toward the insufferable stupidity of modern governments to continue support of industries that have a huge impact on global climate;
  5. Hope… in themselves and in other women. That we have the capacity as both individuals and in community, to co-create a New Vision of interconnected relationship between the natural world and ourselves… As well as define a new way of Being through gratitude, respect and love toward the earth and humanity;
  6. Faith that this world is a personal one. That it hears our Intent and Prayers offered through ritual and creative expressions;
  7. Strength in ourselves and in Mother Earth that we can change the trajectory of the impeding environmental collapse fortold by modern scientists.

Strong feelings for such a resilient group…. are you willing to dive in and help?

https://www.treesisters.org

Of Timeless Motion …

Simple reflections on a Rocking Chair…

The time has arrived in this household to recycle the over stuffed recliners in the living area. They are no longer comfortable due to their lack of proper spine support … a requirement now with these aging bodies. I have one hardwood rocking chair acquired from my next door neighbor some years ago, but needed another chair to replace my own marshmallow recliner. I remembered an old friend, a rocking chair I purchased when I was expecting my second child. It has been stationed in the screened in porch for decades now.

I went out to look at it and realized that the wood looked parched and dry, in need of a coat of lacquer or something. I softly pulled it onto the front porch to get a better look at it and to clean it with a damp cloth. My oh my, ….

The rocker is now close to 40 years old. I purchased it as an unfinished piece from a Sears and Roebuck catalogue. I remember it arriving in pieces in a box. I had to sand each piece of the rocker by hand, glue the pieces together and put on only one coat of stain to treat the wood and give it a bit of color. I was alone at the time, with a 4-year old daughter in tow and 8 months pregnant. Bearing a child from a failed marriage where neither of us were wanted.

This rocker symbolizes my motherhood, and now my aging. It is one of only a few items I have held in possession for this long length of Life and living…. It has Witnessed the quietness and care of my children, provided comfort and remedy to our tears. Solace in loneliness and playful observance to laughter and tickle fights.

It is a rich metaphor in that it Rocks my World in the form of perpetual motion…rhythmical in the face of Change and the Turning of age and awareness of Self under the stars of a night sky.

It will hold a place of Honor in my home because the rocking motion quiets my soul. It holds the power to provide me with moments of “This-ness”, making me aware of simply Being while I rock. Periods of Time that embrace the resonance of All That Is. Time becomes suspended and all things are held in Balance. A powerful tool with powerful Medicine and provides Blessings, many Blessings…

Of Seahorses and Diving Deep…

I recently learned that the Seahorse is one of my ruling signs, having been born in the beginning of the month of March . A welcomed seasonal time of rain and of warming soils after the frigid hold of winter. It is the first month of the Roman Calendar due to the arrival of Spring, of Worm moons, and the movement of migrating birds to their northern breeding grounds.

I never had a thought about seahorses. Never. I live deep inland, in a landscape formed by volcanoes, at the edge of the high desert of the Intermountain West. A friend of mine had surprised me with a mailer from the United Kingdom that held a small exoskeleton of a seahorse. A small creature she had found somewhere in a trinket shop, and had given it a safe place in her home for decades.

I had mixed feelings upon opening the package and pulling this small, dried seahorse from its wrapping. It lay small and light in the palm of my hand, and I pondered the meaning of the arrival of this small creature in my Life … after all, it had just traveled across an ocean and thousands of miles over land to reach my opened palm. Sacred Geometry, Holy Synchronicity.

The exoskeleton is exquisite to look at. They are considered a species of fish strictly due to the fact that they breathe through a set of gills, and have an air bladder for ballast in the water. They are found in shallow coastal waters, and due to their limited mobility, lead lives within a small home range. I have learned that they are voracious feeders, mate for the life of the one, have excellent eyesight and are masters of the art of camouflage… intriguing features of such a small creature. It is the male of the species that is impregnated by the female and carries the offspring to term .. they birth thousands of young each year. How crazy is THAT? The seahorse I received is a male.

The symbolic meanings of the seahorse are both intricate and diverse with mystical significance among the Ancient Greeks, Celts, other European seafaring folk and Asians. Their attributes include: Patience, Friendliness, Protection, Inflexibility, Perspective, Generosity/Sharing, High-Perception, Persistence, and Contentment. Wow, what a mix of qualities! They are considered to be a relatively calm, and mild-mannered creature that amble about to roam the seas with patience and contentment.

So what does this little creature offer me? It offers ALL of its attributes to my Journey at this time. A good ally to have nearby while I dive into the depths of Self, of Possibility, of Vision, and the release of my own Medicine in this fragile time of Turning to Heal not just myself, but also our World…..Namaste.

The Healer of Woundedness…..Willow

I was visiting with some dear friends this past weekend and came upon a massive willow tree in their yard. The tree was huge, a native species that had stood in the floodplain of the creek all of its long life. I took special notice of a gaping wound located at the base of its thick trunk. Her Wound was located just above Her roots, and I reflected on all of the wounds inflicted on Women….from the past to the present. What I saw within the wounds of this magnificent tree, was the greatest potential for healing I have ever observed as an herb-wife in the plant kingdom.

The Willow tree is a potent, potent ally to women. Has been since ancient times. It is associated with the moon, water, the Goddess and all that is feminine. It is a tree of dreaming, intuition and deep emotions. Symbolically it belongs to the beginning of spring, and is directly related to the celebration of “Imbolc” in early springtime. The essential power of the Willow is to teach us about the Feminine, connect us to our feelings and enhances our capacity to dream. She does this to bring our emotions to the surface for healing. My favorite ancient herbalist, Culpeper, says in his Complete Herbal “The moon owns the willow” and it was known as the witches’ tree and the tree of enchantment. The Internet has volumes of information on this subject under “Willow folklore”….

I created this montage to Honor Her Spirit and great capacity for Healing our wounds as Women in this World…..