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!
For any and all who have Irish roots….. just finished this little diddy. It is constructed from 16 layers of different kinds of paper.
Altar Bowl titled “Éire”. It’s name is taken from a LANDSAT photo of Ireland placed in the center bottom of the bowl. The dark purple/blue outer layer symbolizes the oceans surrounding the island, while the colors of the interior represent the green of the Island with her cities and landforms. Ibis feathers with vintage button and Swarovski crystal.
Not fishing? Then FORAGE! … Hawthorn berries for heart tincture, apples and crabapple from an ancient orchard, Hops for sleep, Choke cherries for wine, Mullein for coughs, Alfalfa for Vitamin K, and Amaranth for the birds…. a great afternoon!
I went to visit a very old orchard today, the same one I visited last Spring. These ancient fruit trees have not been tended to or even watered during summer for over 50 years. Their bark is split and portions of the trees are even dead… but the bucks snooze in the deep grass under their shade to escape the summer heat and to hide. I disturbed a 6-point buck when I wandered in to find some fruit. Look what I found!
Surreal day …. smoke from local wildland fires covered the sun. Glad we had a reprieve from such smothering smoke this summer. We had many bright days and starry nights to enjoy. Now comes the fire….fish were not biting today.
As early as the 1700’s, feverfew was used widely in Europe for headaches, as well as for tooth and stomach pains. Feverfew was also used for joint inflammation, especially in the early stages of arthritis. Feverfew was described as “surpassing anything previously used against headaches and as “the aspirin of the 18th century” back in the day….. It is well known to lower fevers and dilate blood vessels to induce sweating. That’s why I keep some in my cupboards for winter illnesses.
Feverfew is used today for the treatment of migraines and accompanying symptoms. It has been known to relieve cramps, relax nerves, and induce a soothing effect on the nervous system. In women’s health it is appreciated for its menstruation-promoting effects and is also used to regulate labor pains to ease the birthing process.
This fragrant herb has similar medicinal abilities like aspirin, and its’ anti-inflammatory properties can help ease the pain of sore muscles, joint pain, and/or arthritis. One of the best ways to use Feverfew for joints and muscles is in a homemade herbal salve in combination with other inflammation herbs. I make mine using feverfew with plantain (Plantago major or P. lanceolata) or lemon balm.
To make feverfew infused oil for salve, mix together four ounces of fresh chopped leaves with one pint of olive or vegetable oil. You can heat this over a medium heat but do not boil (this is probably best done in a double pot if you have one) for one hour. Let the mixture cool and strain, squeezing out as much of the oil as you can. This can be applied to inflamed areas. It can also be turned into a salve by adding between one and one and a half ounces of grated beeswax to warmed oil which should be stirred to blend thoroughly.
To use in tinctures or as a tea, all parts of the leaves or flowering tops can be used either fresh or dried. Fresh young leaves can be added to salads, but sparingly. A dosage of no more than 3 to 5 leaves a day is recommended for treating pain and headaches.
Feverfew has a cumulative effect so it works best when taken in small does over longer periods, especially in treating migraines. A decoction or infusion of the leaves can be used as a wash for skin lesions and sores.
To make a tincture, fill a pint sized canning jar with fresh or dried feverfew. Cover the plant material with vodka to cover. Put on a lid, shake gently and place in a cool, dark place for 6 to 8 weeks. Shake the jar gently each week. Strain through cheesecloth squeezing the material gently. Place tincture into a new jar. Take 20 drops twice daily for effective treatment.
I found myself in a very dangerous situation the past few days, created from my own ignorance and deep willingness to help. Last week, I attended a close friend who died. I simply wanted to be a support person for him and his wife and sat near or next to him during his transition. Emotionally and spiritually, I opened myself wide to be available for whatever was needed. It never occurred to me that it would have been better to have entered the situation shielded.
I need to explain something here…. I’m a woman who is familiar with the “current” of dying and have assisted other friends in their transformation. I have first-hand knowledge of the process, having experienced two near-death episodes of my own (NDE), and a spontaneous shared-death experience (SDE) with my grandmother. In each of these circumstances, I saw and felt my physical body attached to this world through a “silver cord” which is comprised of hundreds of fine thread-like energy filaments attached to “nadi” centers in the body. In death, one travels along these filaments and cord until distance itself causes them to disengage from ones physical form.
I am not, and never have been, a student of yoga. I simply know what I saw and experienced during my NDE’s. The only explanation I have found which describes these energy filaments comes from yoga theory. Nadis carry prana, or life force energy. In the physical body, the nadis are considered channels that carry the frequency and nature of air, water, nutrients, blood and other bodily fluids. They energetically work with and are similar to the arteries, veins, capillaries, , nerves, and lymph canals of the body. In the ethereal body (or subtle and causal body), they work a bit differently. The nadis are channels for so called cosmic, vital, seminal, mental, and intellectual energies and vibrations. Different yoga texts agree that the number of nadis contained in the human body are in the tens of thousands.
So much for the lesson on nadis….. now back to the process of the death experience.
After my friend died, I experienced a strange disconnect with my own body. I felt like I was dying myself, or that my own death would come soon. I felt cold….my feet, hands and core were icy to touch. I laid in my bed fully clothed, with a fleece jacket on and under a heavy sleeping bag. That is all I wanted, to lay under my heavy sleeping bag. I cared little about what was going on around me. I could not get centered and even felt tendrils of energy filaments floating freely in front of my chest….kind of like the tentacles of a jellyfish in ocean waters. This went on for a period of 5 days.
A friend called yesterday and invited me out to sit and visit on Ash Creek for a while. I told her what I was experiencing. She recommended that I create a grounding necklace for myself and then take off my shoes to ground with the earth. I did as she recommended, looking for anything that would help me feel better….. and it worked.
There was a deep lesson for me to learn in this experience. My own ethereal body or aura “knows” the transition of death, and I got “caught” in the currents and eddies of my friends dying process. I had to “call” my own prana or life force back to myself, using the grounding of the earth both directly and in her “stoned frequencies” of rocks and gems. I know that it is not yet my time to leave. I simply got pulled into my friends transformation through my love for him….
I will continue to walk barefoot on the earth and the necklace will remain around my neck for a while. I really do believe that rocks and stones have metaphysical properties that can assist in balancing our auric field. The semiprecious stones I used to assist me to “ground” include:
Red Jasper – A Supreme Nurturer.
Labradorite – Stone of the Northern Lights.
Snowflake Obsidian – Protection stone. Forms a Shield.
Sardonyx – Stone of Protection and Strength.
Agate – Stone of Inner Stability.
Smoky Quartz – Stone of Power and Grounding.
Hematite – Protection stone, Grounding.
Garnet – Stone of Health.
Mexican Fire Agate- Stone of Spiritual Perfection
Black Jade – Power of Stillness.
Yet another strange tale to tell…..
My friend, Russell, died early this morning before dawn. I have had the privilege to sit by his side for the past few days, keeping his wife company as we Stood Watch over his transformation. She had brought him from the city last Sunday so he could die at home. He had been hospitalized in a major city off and on since last May. About six months ago, they had decided to move from our rural community to be closer to the medical care he needed. In doing so, they left behind their small, integral group of friends and community they had grown with over the past 16 years.
Russell was dying…. And he asked his wife to move them back to their cabin home where he could pass on in peace. Heeding his wishes, she and his daughter had him transported by ambulance to their cabin this past Sunday. Only 4 days ago. When I learned that they had arrived, I took my place with others who came to Support, Hold and Witness his passing with his wife.
It is always an Honor to have the opportunity to tell a loved one goodbye before they die. To Speak words which lay unspoken in the Heart, to offer thanks for their presence and friendship in our lives. I met my friend and his wife in church when they first arrived. He was of “American Indian” ancestry, a title he preferred to be identified with over “Native American”. He was a Medicine Man in his own right, offering ceremonies for Blessing of people and places. He told me a few years ago that he no longer “felt the presence of” his Medicine in his hands….it was gone, and with it went his Song and ability to drum for periods of time. He had asked me to create a new drum, a shield, for him last year and I happily obliged.
Yesterday, it was obvious that he would be “putting down his robe” soon. A group of us, seven in all, had gathered to Watch and wish him Godspeed for his journey. We gathered on the veranda outside of his room in the evening, a little before sunset. We sat in a semi-circle facing north. We had a magnificent view of our valley which ends at the base of Fox Mountain, a sacred place for me. Light evening thundershowers were passing overhead, it was a beautiful sight to behold.
We were relaxing, some with drinks in our hands, voices low in laughter and conversation when a thick lightning bolt came and slammed into the Mountain directly in front of us. All of us saw it, together. Moments later we are reaching for our phones to notify the local sheriff office to report that open flame was visible from the lightning strike. We all sat and watched as a helicopter appeared to size up the situation, and as fire engines began to pick their way across the landscape to reach the fire. The fire spread to about 20 acres real quickly, glowing bright orange and yellow as darkness fell. I drove home late, watching the fire blaze bright into the early morning hours.
I received a phone call early this morning from his wife, telling me that Russell was gone. I jumped into the shower to quickly wash up, threw on some clothes and drove to their home immediately to be with her and his daughter. While driving there, I heard a small chuckle in my Heart….Russell had said his goodbye in a powerful way…..He left us his bon voyage gift…..”Fire on the Mountain” to those of us who Stood by him to send him off……His Medicine Renewed…
All Blessings my Friend and Love…..Godspeed.