Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.


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Imbolc, Spiraling Along a Path of Peace and Beauty into Spring

 

Celebrating Imbolc on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State in the Pacific Northwest.

Rain-refreshed lichen covered knothole in old cedar fencepost.

Rain-refreshed lichen-covered knothole in old cedar fencepost in our neighborhood.

“Signs of Imbolc Found in our Neighborhood”

The upwelling tides of Imbolc
wash over the landscape as
black-capped chickadees sing of rain
in blossoming quince shrubs,
daffodils spring open
blaring their golden trumpets,
Lenton roses host sleeping bumblebees
in the warmth of their green blossoms;
calves drop and rise wobbly, instinctively
seeking their mother’s nourishment,
soft and downy blossom clusters shoot up
from stiff and thorny blackberry canes,
profuse flowering masses of pink and white
spring heathers perfume the roadside,
and the great mystery of regeneration
expresses living wonderment to curious eyes.

“Poking Around the Yard for Imbolc Signs”

Out in the yard today poking around for more evidence of Imbolc energy and discovered several varieties of peppermints planted in containers including one from Bob Marley’s compound in Kingston, Jamaica, and another from an old homestead in the Dungeness River Crossing area were poking up into the sunshine. Also Italian flat-leafed parsley, chives, French tarragon, parsley, thyme, purple bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) and raspberry red bee balm (Monarda didyma) were pushing up through the soft ground plus the Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica), chickweed, purple pansies, calendula, and a small red rose growing close to the house foundation were in blossom. The spiky rosemary bushes are flourishing and the lawn is bespeckled with English daisies.

“Imbolc Signs Found within the House”

Even in the house and cool storage areas of the store room, Imbolc energy and its subtle signs are hiding in the darker recesses waiting for the time of change. I notice them first, in of all places, my refrigerator crisper where beets and carrots from the garden’s harvest lie. Pale yellow leaves have sprouted on the veggies stored beside the recently-purchased vegetables and mushrooms destined for hearty soups and stews. The stored carrots and beets are responding, not to an impulse of light, but to the more ancient rhythms, one that can penetrate into a chilled metal box, surrounded by electrical currents.

In the cool spaces of the garage/storage area where I store potatoes, onions, garlic and a variety of winter squashes, I also note changes in form and texture. As I cut and dice, I notice pale green sprouts appearing inside at the base of the garlic and onions. Because we have a healthy harvest of alliums, indeed, many continue this natural sprouting process of the developing flower bud and eventually work their way up through the many leafy, outer layers. These bud sprouts historically find their way into a morning omelet as the first harvest greens of the season. This actually can occur earlier, surprisingly at the Yuletide season, depending on the warmth, and strength of the yearly impulse. Another sign of their growth is a gassing off, which if not noticed, have you looking all around for a source of the sour stink.

I remember one wintery day a number of years ago, I became aware of errant white tendrils of anemic alien creatures having escaped notice and making their way out of a brown paper sack stashed to the back of the storage area. Inside the small bag were untreated organic potatoes, their withered bodies now vestiges of their once plump selves. Fortunately, I tossed them in my worm bin and the activity and warmth kept them viable until such time as I could plant them outdoors. By then they had plumped up and upon planting, produced a healthy crop of spuds.

Even inside store-bought spaghetti squashes and winter squashes, the seeds may begin to sprout, helping to deteriorate the flesh upon which they are feasting. Like a spawning fish, these signs of passing along their body’s nutrients to future generations show up in the change of the outer skin, forming mold and rot which happen quickly if not inspected almost daily.

Clearly, once again, the Imbolic forces that stimulate growth in the northern hemisphere have taken charge.

“Imbolc Energies in the Natural World”

For me, Imbolc is a time of weaving the seasons together, an in-between time, poised to move forward into the warming, light-filled spring season or if necessary, languish in the dormancy of late winter. Our senses are also poised for a renewal of familiar and new smells, tastes, textures, sounds, and sights after the melancholic weariness of winter.

Bodies ready to break out of “cabin fever days” and catch “spring fever” cue on the sound of migratory fowl as perhaps one of the primary clues that a major transition is in the workings. Bird songs, whistles, cackling or the whispering of wings awaken inner prompts. Also the sensual clues of soft, furry pussy willows, of trickling springs and creeks lined with bright green mosses and ferns, warm sunshine break-throughs, fresh green fragrant shoots poking through where snow has melted away, the emergence and early harvesting of foraged plants like nettles and chickweed, these all carry the same potential message that winter is on the wane.

Plants that choose this time for ascendancy usually have adapted forms and coverings or mechanisms to survive frosts, snows, blizzards, ground heaving and yes, even sun. We think usually of tulips, jonquils, and nettles but my favorite plant of the season is a bog plant, with a weird odor. It initiates the season early, often in time for winter solstice. That plant is the skunk cabbage, aka the swamp lantern, swamp candle.

By some chemical wizardry, probably related to the calcium oxalate crystals it contains, the skunk cabbage (Lyschiton americanum) can melt its way through ice to become the earliest of sprouts on which bear and beaver feed. A thick, fleshy flower spike surrounded by a pale yellow spathe rises through last year’s dead growth and pond muck, adding a candle-like spot of brightness to the landscape of gray alders, wispy salmon berry canes, and dark green cedars. Inside this partly rolled flower covering are hundreds of minute flowers. Their exotic, skunky odor draws pollinating flies.

The large leaves (over three  feet long and a foot wide) emerge later and along with ferns, miner’s lettuce, and nettles, will fill a swamp with their lush foliage. Although the smell and name of the plant may strike some as offensive, it describes a truly unique plant of our wet-woods habitat. Its flesh provides food for the hungry, its leaves provide shade and nutrients for the ecosystem, and its exotic nature attracts poets, photographers, and painters.

At some inner level of knowing, I feel our living earth actuates her seasonal dance dressed as the skunk cabbage. Stimulated by the energies of winter solstice or Imbolc, she spirals upward through the snow and ice-covered pond muck to begin her dance of creation and color, setting the scene for spring. As the days lengthen and the temperatures warm, her verdant robes unfurl to shade the bog and keep her root zone moist from the summer’s heat. She’ll dance until the autumn urges rest and the fall rains rot her gown, then; safely asleep in the muck of the pond, the swamp candle will slumber until the renewal energies of late winter stir her once again to awaken and rise, beckoning the Earth Mother to dance once again.

“Imbolc, The Inner Rhythm’s Journey”

The awareness of the seasonal shift into Imbolc represents an awareness of spiraling into the warming season of spring and that winter is on the wane, approximately midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In lands still locked in the slumber of winter, it is a time for farmers to check the number of healthy animals against their stored grains and grasses to see if there is enough to feed them until the animals can freely graze. Below ground animals in hibernation are becoming restless, baby bears are being born while mothers are in a lighter sleep mode. Seeds and bulbs are feeling the impulses to send down shoots, connect to mycelia and begin the feeding processes which will help them to soon shoot upward.

Historically it was and still is a time for householders to check the condition of stored vegetables and other food stuffs and make plans accordingly. It’s a time of cleaning up the clutter and messiness of winter debris.

In lands that have already thawed, it is physically marked by calves and sheep being born because there is apt to be enough fresh green grasses to feed the mothers so they have a plentiful milk supply. Wild foods become available to supplement our daily diets.

Historically Imbolc is represented by Brigid, the Celtic goddess of healing, poetry, mysticism, and smithcraft. Now, however, climate and social changes have made the development of healing and crafting arts very important once again. Developing the skills of carpentry, leather work, gardening, house-holding, energy work, and herbal medicine making are becoming popular as is using nature as a primary teacher for children. Homeschooling is commonplace. Writing, art, and poetry are defining us as populations and souls bound to Gaia from whom all blessings flow.

But even more than that, it’s a time when we can re-acquaint ourselves with inner rhythms and invest in new opportunities to develop them. The universal rhythms will support the change once acknowledged. So clean out the closet both outer and inner, then take inventory and organize what’s left. If dissatisfied with what you find, develop new ways to bring that interest, that passion into your life, even if only in small ways in order to keep the candle spark alive.

There is so much available to us during Imbolc: as above, so below, and dwelling within, all three gestures happening at once and ready for attunement once we take time to acknowledge a desire to develop a path of peace and beauty within our lives co-creatively with Gaia.

Curiosity,
sparks the imagination,
feeds the soul’s journey.

May Imbolc spark your creativity, curiosity and imagination. Blessings to one and all.


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The Alchemical Magic of Vermiculture

Worm-composted herbal and floral gardens.

Worm-composted herbal and floral gardens.

To most people who use worms to breakdown household kitchen scraps and especially to experienced vermiculturalists, a seething mass of healthy red, squirming compost worms delights the eyes. It means our efforts to utilize  compostable vegetative waste has been successful, and there’s a rich treasure of soil to help raise healthy plants. To me it’s akin to alchemical magic, transforming waste into black gold.

Ideal for the gardener who has a small to medium-sized garden and no real access to bountiful plant waste to make a  regular compost heap, the worm compost provides even an apartment dweller with rich soil for containers and flower boxes. Worm composting is simple to set up although I find its maintenance requires more attention to assure minimum odors if done indoors. If done outdoors, it is still a good habit to keep odors under control so as not to attract raccoons and rats. There is a plethora of videos, books, and websites that show and explain their construction so I won’t be going over that. This article is to share my journey and what has worked for me.

I grew up on a rural farmstead in north Idaho in the 50’s and 60’s. My family raised a variety of animals over time, adding their manures in the fall and spring to enrich and enliven the garden and orchard soils. Most of our household scraps were tossed to the chickens who dutifully did their duty of turning them into manure which we added to the garden. There was also a compost pile surrounded by railroad ties stuck off to the side into which stalks, weeds, etc. were piled and occasionally turned. No thought at the time was given to the leaching of creosote out of the bin but only that the ties wouldn’t deteriorate. The material in this pile served as a source for earthworms as bait for fishing expeditions and when there was enough broken down to have produced soil, it was tossed around the trees in the orchard, under the raspberry bushes, or under the shrubs in the flower gardens.

When Michael and I moved to Alaska, I was told you couldn’t compost so being the person who likes to take on a gardening dare, I found you could if you used a shredder first and turned the pile often and sifted it before applying to the gardens. I also ordered worms from the “Outside” and added them to our greenhouse beds each year. The worms froze during the severe freezes of winter except for a few worms I found one spring. We had a garden down below at the old, ramshackle homestead for a couple of summers which was hand watered from a nearby pond, before building our own place by hand with new gardens and greenhouse along with house, sauna, dog lot, etc. above the road. Quite the endeavor!

Compost and hand watering made for a magnificent garden at the old place.

Compost and hand watering made for a magnificent garden at the old place.

Our food compostables were fed to a flock of chickens we raised each summer which had to be penned up because of the foxes, weasels, owls, wolves, bears, coyotes, etc., that would have done them in. We butchered each fall and the feathers, offal along with additional kitchen wastes were shredded, too. Of course, the bins were outside, well secured, turned often, and kept meticulously clean so as not to attract critters, especially the bears. With the long days of summer and with water hauled from the lake or gravel pit or collected during rainfalls, our gardens and greenhouse which incorporated drip irrigation were spectacular, if you don’t mind my saying so.

Compost, hand watering and love.

Compost, hand watering , drip irrigation, and love paid off.  We raised cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and flowers in our new greenhouse.

Moving back “Stateside,” I found living in town to require a different approach although we tried building regular layered composts which needed to heat up in order to kill the disease organisms and weed seeds. Eventually, worms started to invade from the bottom up as it cooled down and in order to save time and energy to pursue our gardening and herbal chores instead, we incorporated composting worms or red wrigglers with a large starter mass from a friend who owned a restaurant and was using worms to break down his compostables including copious amounts of coffee grounds.

We went through several incarnations of compost bins which Michael made including one in which a panel at the bottom of the bin allowed us to access the rich soil that eventually accumulated.

Glorious vermiculture gold!

Glorious vermiculture gold!

Over time we settled on stackable bins where we could add vegetative parts including household scraps, leaves, weeds, coffee grounds, etc., and the worms could do their duty. After the materials gained a certain height, they were turned and piled into another set of stackable bins, back and forth until they were almost totally broken down. I found the worms were most productive by this method if carefully turned and thus exposed to the new territorial food sources. To separate the worms at the end, I’d put in a rich wad of fresh kitchen wastes at the top and a good amount of worms migrated to begin “eating”  through the scraps. This was then taken out and stored until I sifted the finished compost and then the whole process was started again.

The Alchemy of Vermiculture

The Alchemy of Vermiculture

First we’d pile a layer of rough weed stalks, then some of the composted soil full of healthy organisms which I collected and set aside before sifting, the wad of worms and new scraps, etc., allowing the worms to work their way upwards as the wastes get tossed in and periodically turned.

Our gardens also received copious amounts of birch leaves collected in the fall which went through a leaf shredder and then turned into the beds by hand. Additional fish emulsion and some manures were added, as well, to enrich the soil but always side-dressed with compost.

Sifted compost ready to put into the garden and flower beds.

Sifted compost ready to put into the garden and flower beds.

Worm-composted basil and Italian parsley.

Worm compost side-dressed basil and Italian Parsley.

Our medicine wheel herbal and floral garden.

Our medicine wheel herbal and floral garden.

In Hawaii, I simply took my kitchen scraps across the street and threw them into the jungle where they magically disappeared overnight and seemed to keep the vermin away from our side.

The jungle across the street where I gifted my Hawaiian compostables.

The jungle across the street where I gifted my Hawaiian compostables.

Moving to Sequim, WA, because I didn’t want to waste the scraps from our lovely organic produce we are able to procure, I started a small wormery in a plastic storage bin which we had many of with our recent move from Hawaii. Michael drilled holes in the sides for ventilation because worms are living creatures who require food, air and space to grow.

Plastic bin worm compost operation. Excess moisture drips down into collection bin.

Plastic bin worm compost operation. Excess moisture drips down into collection bin.

The bin was stacked on top of two, upside down flower pots in another bin to collect the occasional moisture that dripped through due to the plastic nature of the bin and all the moist food the worms ate through. The bin has a secure top because we have a family of raccoons living close by and although they never have bothered it, there’s no reason not to think one night they might investigate.

I got a few starter worms from friends and it wasn’t long before I had a plethora of wrigglers which I started giving away to a friend who has an orchard, gardens, and much larger compost pile. I couldn’t use all the compost my worms produced for our container gardens so decided to harvest the worms often and she uses all the worms I breed to help breakdown their ever-growing garden wastes. She also takes my excess kitchen scraps and adds them to her pile.

For me it is a delight to open the bin and investigate what’s happening in the worms’ world. Having raised and lived with so many generations, I swear they know me and I get these messages of when to come visit, what to add, and when to add it. Sometimes they want something sweet such as fruit, other times I add protein-based fat such as beef fat off the bone broths. I especially find this request coming at a time when it turns cold. The sweeter contents are tossed in when the worms are actively breeding and producing eggs. All is covered with brown paper before topping with a secure lid to keep out raccoons.

Getting the bin ready for a fall rest after having harvested the latest crop of compost worms for a friend.

Getting the bin ready for a fall rest after having harvested the latest crop of compost worms for a friend.

So I do  hope you find worm composting to be an effective way to turn your kitchen scraps into gold and enjoy the process involved with their bountiful gifting efforts.

Solomon sea grown in a container is side-dressed with worm compost and worm compost tea.

Solomon seal grown in a container is side-dressed with worm compost and worm compost tea.


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Diving into the Mystery: A Mystical Journey

A Mystical Journey

A light rain was misting the tips of the yew, showering its green needles with a silvery hue, when I was stopped in my tracks in the woods near my home, where often it is that I’ve taken to roam and sort through the events of my day, letting its problems and stresses fall away. I find the woods comforting, quiet and cool, magically transforming my fears by the rule of entering into stillness, which allows me to hear, sense, see and feel into other realms which in their content seem just as real as where I now stood, close by a yew tree, deep in the wood.

The air was expectant, full, awaiting discovery when I chanced to look down amid all the rain-soaked shrubbery and saw fibers of light covering the vicinity like a million spider webs trailing off into infinity. I breathed a full breath and let it out slow, and another, for I wanted to know, what is this phenomena that I’d chanced on today, that seems in this forest to magically underlay all the living greenery that is part of the scenery.

In the blink of an eye, the fibers faded from view and I was left wondering why they all withdrew. But as I questioned what it was that I’d seen, the answers welled up from that place in-between and I knew I’d encountered yet another gateway, to the wondrous realm of the dragons and fae. “Water, roots and fungi,” the words popped into my head, looping round and round, that’s just what they said. I stood very quietly, making not a stir, trying to understand what the words did infer. “Water, roots and fungi,” I was left with little doubt, that’s what I heard this forest world silently shout.

Over the years I’d discovered magic in forest, rivers and sea…a journey spiraling through time and space giving me, opportunity to encounter realms all manner of size in places I never expected to see them materialize. Now today, in this rain-graced space, I heard the words of the forest folk but saw not their trace. I leaned against the trunk of an old medicine tree…a hemlock, taller than most, much thicker than me. The yew was close by, mist welling up and dripping, drop upon drop quietly slipping onto the ferns and mosses, lichens and grass lining the trail on which I was to pass if it were not for the pull of the gateway and another opportunity to enter the land of the fae.

Feathery branches hung down in front of my face, absorbing the drops that fell upon this place, helping create an image destined for me, deep in the forest close by to the sea. A bold, woodsy fragrance ushered from the wetted wood, a crisp odor of evergreens, wild gingers and one I should be able to name for it reminded me of something familiar but not, something on the edge of almost forgot.

Dungeness River

Dungeness River

I instinctively looked to the forest surrounding me and felt at my back the support of the wise old tree. To my left which was east were two moss-shrouded humps with the trail meandering between what was left of their stumps; directly in front or south across the trail, a clump of green yew, their trunks papered with red-brown scale; west, to the right, here the snow-swelled river crowded its mossy shore, filling the glade with a rich, thunderous roar; that left the north or what was behind where it was I was to find, the purpose of this visit today of having been called forward by the fae.

When I looked above and into the tree, thick branches, criss-crossing as far as my eye could see created angular panes of dim light, amid a blur of green extending the full height into the soft-crowned canopy of the hemlock tree. Fungal beards draped pendulously on the limbs’ roughened bark, their sodden filaments weeping moisture off the matriarch, splashing upon a pile of rodent bones bereft of meat, lying partially buried in the mosses at my feet, stained a dark algal green containing a story now seen as a fractured skull, curved teeth and a line of bead-shaped vertebrae lying underneath, slowly being reclaimed by the elements of earth, dismantling crystalline bone salts in a rebirth.

I leaned back, stilled my thinking, identified my space and let my body sink into the hemlock tree’s grace. I could feel the fibers of my being push out and slip into the forest floor, and like dogs sniffing out who had passed this way before, I found the hemlock’s root hair and slid myself along side, relaxing even more and got ready for an extended ride into images fueled by magic. Immediately a familiar dynamic journey began and . . . I found myself intertwining with the roots of trees and shrubs pulsing along with earthworms and slippery, slimy slugs amidst the clutter and debris carpeting the forest’s floor underneath the trees, helping to enrich and enliven the subterranean soil by passing gases, ferrying water, and minerals as my toil while sucking in the sugars that fueled my form until I encountered the extra moisture of an autumn rainstorm. My Being filled with water and I pushed up through the duff, under a fir tree standing along a golf course’s rough.

The Prince ~ Agaricus augustus

The Prince ~ Agaricus augustus

Now I’m the titled “Agaricus augustus: The Prince,” growing on the border of forest and grass, a most civilized mushroom that once identified is hard to pass without picking and enjoying its essence, a fine aromatic almond, the quintessence of the spring and autumn “shrooming” season which my now standing with a knife in hand the very reason I am at the cutting board letting sacromagical words roll off my tongue trying to relate their meaning and practices in a manner that rung a bell of clarity inside my head rather than just words that my mentors once said.

Although analogies abound, my sphere is my kitchen space where I practice daily with crucible and flame, the alchemy of transformation or cooking by its other name; bringing together the earth, air, fire and water elements, treating them as holy sacraments. And as I watched the Prince saute under the lid of glass, it began to express its reason for being popular: a distinctive, spicy, almondy juiciness. A moment of aha-ness, a signature action I could recognize is that cooking a mushroom is a very wise alchemical analogy, part of the Mystery, happening right in front of me.

Our one common ancestor, an algal cell, gave birth to plants and animals as well; but then nature took a break, sparked a compromise and voila: an alchemical surprise giving humans and fungi a genetic sterol not know in the plant realm at all. So as I stood watching the slices shrink into pools of liquid gold, I got further into thinking how the birth of each mushroom naturally enfolds; by their processing alchemical Mercury, Sulfur and Salt, then passing along to me through the gestalt of their water, essential oils and body, what the myriad of mycelial networks connecting to the fir and the other kingdoms of nature surrounding me were, in co-evolution with the faerie realm helping to transform, the perfection of my Being, a spirit in human form.

And how if I had not been magically chosen to eat these particular allies in the fungal world today, the process the ‘shrooms would undergo in nature as they started to decay, which a few had already begun once exposed to the elements and the over-world sun. They would pass along their Princely spores in the guts of worms and bears encased in feces, ready to produce more if the fermentation conditions are right once they tap back into the under-world’s light adding my working thoughts, magical feelings and carings into the collective of the fungal networks’ healings and sharings. But I’ve chosen to cook mine instead and as a reproductive body they are probably dead, yet inside my gut, by the digestive process they transmute their signature use into blood, muscles, bones and nerves capable of fueling all senses, emotions and curiosity which serves me to explore the depths of magic, myth and space, perceiving the realms beyond which brings me back to this place, of standing up against the hemlock tree, deep in the forest near to the sea.

And where perhaps one day, my ashes will lie, sprinkled upon the damp mosses near to where the trail I often traversed crosses, returning my body’s ashened minerals spagyrically-honed into the same soil as the rodent’s algal-stained bones, which lie at my feet, where the faerie worlds of over and under meet.


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Weaving of the Sacred

The Weaver picked up a thread from her basket of many colors, placing it on a rock next to her simple, upright loom. The thread was turquoise, reminding her of the dawning sky just at that moment when the sun rose above the mesa and pierced through the deep purple, adding light to Earthʼs stage.

The Weaver chose another thread from her basket of many and held it up against the backdrop of tan and red stones. This thread was green; she would string it on the loom where the great river cut through the rock layers and claimed the bottom land. The last she chose was black, the color of charred wood from the cooking fires of the spirit peoples passing through on their way to somewhere.

With her loom threaded, her colors chosen, the Weaver of the Sacred closed her eyes and imagined a scene, deciding on a modest, modern design. Sitting on the ground in the moving shade under her stone shelter, the Weaver placed the batten and heddle sticks; then began the laborious through, over and under strokes of forming pattern on the loom while the day passed into dusk.

Day after day, week after week rarely stopping even to stretch, she wove her songs, her night chants, and morning prayers into the threads until at last the weaving felt done in her bones. Her gnarled fingers aged, knuckles sore and stiff from placing and pulling the heavy threads, her back bent, her voice strained from the dry desert air and dust, the songs and chants.

The Weaverʼs skin dried and cracked for no moisture fell to soften the skin, to harmonize the land. Perhaps she had chosen the wrong pattern…perhaps a traditional one would have brought the rains, though the Weaver felt a new design was needed. She let her hands drop to her lap, still clutching the weaving comb, her turquoise and silver rings in striking contrast to the deeply oil-stained brown comb.

Discouraged, she sighed; a tear formed and fell from the corner of her left eye. The tear slowly made a streak along her wrinkled cheekbone before falling into her hands and splashing onto the sharp point of the weaving comb. She felt her skin sucking the moisture from the drop which left a salty residue of white crystals on her dry skin, on the weaving comb. Her heart knew the rugʼs pattern was right for it contained magic; the Weaverʼs salty tear was a sign to her the rains would soon draw near to ferry the salt into creation.

The still, quiet air grew expectant; a gentle breeze blew a wisp of ancient hair across her face. She smiled, for the breeze also carried the fragrance of rain her way across the soils while slender tendrils of clouds formed in the desert sky.

The rain arrived and splashed onto the sandy ground at her feet, creating a pattern of red and brown splotches. The Weaver held out her hand, the rains sought the crystalline residue from her tear, dissolving it, forming it back into a drop. She cupped her hands receiving more rains until her hands brimming over, became a living chalice.

Zion Canyon sunrise.

Zion Canyon sunrise in late autumn.

The Weaver shook her hands and the waters ran onto the parched soils and made mud. From the mud she molded life, lives to be found on the desert. She picked up the weaving fork, stood and walked the desert floor, poking the sharp end into the rain-refreshed soils.

As she crossed the land, at each hole a plant sprung up until the whole was planted with silvery-skinned herbs, cacti, juniper and leathery-barked mesquite. Next to the river, new life also sprang up replacing the drabness with a verdure of twining plants, tall cottonwood and aspen  trees hanging over the river, keeping it cool.

With a sense of completion and exhaustion she walked away from the desert, returning to the mountains as the pattern emerged from the loom, spreading down and out, interweaving with the land wherever the plants beckoned.

Behind her the wispy smoke of cooking fires, the sight of golden eagles soaring, and the sounds of morning prayers at the moment of sunrise, the laughter of children spilling out of the doorways, and ravens circling the restless corrals of goat and sheep herds filled the warming desert air.

*******

I am of this land; I speak for no one but through me voices speak. This work was inspired by a talk given by Sajah Popham regarding the Doctrine of Signatures & Correspondences in plants and the work of herbalist and plant spirit guide, Pam Montgomery. “The Weaving of the Sacred” is my attempt to explore the salt level, the morphological level of plants. I do hope you have enjoyed it. Thank you and see you on our next journey!

© by Patricia Mayana DeMarco


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Leaning to the Yang Side of Things

So that we feel somewhat balanced on the ying/yang side of things, I’m weaving more the yang side aka “the masculine principle” into this posting of Alpine Lady. Please invite your friends to join us!

First is a long poem I’ve formatted as a pdf called: “Where the Hell is Chitina? aka Fishin’ the Copper River for Reds” written 40 years ago chronicling two days of dip netting on the Copper River about 350 miles from our homestead. Other works include a poem entitled: “Cobblestones”; a prose piece also formatted as a pdf: “Gopher Mounds and Pissin’ Around” about local action at a tobacconist’s shop; and finally, two poems – one entitled: “A Treasure in the Closet” and another: “Hawthorn Fires.”

* * * *

pdf:

Where the hell is Chitina? aka Fishin’ the Copper River for Reds

* * * *

“Cobblestones”

Every pass of the plow blade in this rich river-bottom farmland turned a stone.

The cobbles broke the spikes on the harrow, the tines on the rake.

They bent the backs of the farmer, his wife and son.

All over the valley, cairns of cobbles dotted the fields; furrows swerving ’round.

Enough stones for fences, houses, barns, churches, schools, grave markers,

Hauled by horse and wagon, stacked by masons and sweat.

But the farmer’s heart was broke by then, cracked by grief, loss. 

Unmarked graves of cobblestones covered his wife and newborn child. 

Pressed into the silty earth of this river-bottom farmland by father and son.

But time could not erase the pain, conceal the loss, dry the tears.

The fields lie fallow, season after season until a third unmarked grave,

Covered with cobbles, pressed by the son’s hands who then left to grieve, alone.

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“Gopher Mounds and Pissin’ Around” pdf:

#4 Gopher Mounds and Pissin’ Around 03:14

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“A Treasure of Shirts”

A closet holds a treasure.

What wealth there be amidst the shirts and pants.

You think not?

I say,

A person’s essence is more often shed into his clothes,

Than worn in real life.

Now amidst clearing and cleansing in life,

I discard the clothing that no longer fits my essence.

My closet is near empty. I wear comfort at last.

* *  * *

“Hawthorn Fires”

Certain trees,

Draw up the flames

Embraced at Imbolc.

They anchor the energy

About to emerge

Pulsing with potential.

They don’t want your approach

Unless absolutely aware

Of the consequences.

Such is the hawthorn,

Steeped in Faery lore,

Bound to a world in-between.

We will be asked

To step forward

And feel its thorny grace.

Among those aware

The world remains

The same.

To those that scoff

The world remains

The same.

Become…

And from that perspective

The world can’t stay the same.

* *  * *

Let me know how you like Leanin’ on the Yang Side!

Until next time, Happy Weavings!


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Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter 21: The Magic of Spirit Flight

Raven by Canadian artist Sue Coleman

Raven by Canadian artist Sue Coleman

What happened? croaked Raven in a mixture of Birdspeak and Mystery.

Otter chuckled. You experienced the magic of spirit flight and now have more mastery over traveling within the between realms of the Forever Worlds–their past, present and future.

For Raven, this was a significant moment and he felt relieved yet a bit anxious. Experiencing the future as a human with his human sister served to  strengthen the admiration he had for Otter’s talents. Before this, he had doubts that he’d ever gain access to the dimensions of spirit flight except as taught by one of the elusive shape-shifters. Indeed, Otter had become an even stronger ally than he possibly could have imagined.

Otter continued: It is time I also answered your questions and share with you information about the Survivors, the Human Essence and the Aware Ones and their roles in the re-emergence of Humanity.

The humans you call Survivors are scattered in groups, some fairly large, some still very much intact as before the destruction, droughts and illnesses. During the time of great sorrow, they banded together and re-established skills long lost and needed for living in community. Although much of the technology suffered, there was enough to provide for their needs and they prospered. Your message to them has been delivered at an appropriate time for many are at that crossroads of having enough but wondering what it would be like to have even more…that point of dissatisfaction, a critical stage in their re-evolution when the steady and cumbersome pace seems slow when compared to earlier times. Their impatience is beginning to surface.

The Human Essence, which you were instrumental in attuning, acts like a network, a web of collaborative consciousness between humans and the realms to insure thoughtful action and creation. As the world’s population increases and humans look to expand their territories, instead of seeking land for domination and resource extraction, your message has prompted a genuine sharing of ideas based on the new communication skills I’ve mentioned before. All this will become more apparent to you, Raven, as you venture forth as an Aware One. 

The Aware Ones live a life in gratitude. We bear sacred witness to the Mother and to the Mystery of what we see happening in Her realms. We witness the change of the seasons, the growth of the plants, the fires of destruction and their evolutionary re-vegetation. We give sacred witness to the fish runs, the flights of birds on migration, the health of her tribes. We acknowledge the Ancestors of the Land and its many Peoples, the ones who have come before and their many evolutions throughout time. The contents of the box from your vision retains their collective first intentions and memories. 

We acknowledge when we walk into the forest that there are other Aware Ones paying attention to us…they know us by our footfall, our rate of breath, our body’s energetics, how we are treating each other. The fungal net at our feet feels how we walk the path, the birds hear our songs, the plants know our hearts. 

And we share with our minds and shape with our hands the resources of the Mother and She sees Beauty through our eyes, through our actions, through our caress. 

She already knows of the signs of struggle, has tasted the blood of war. She’s felt the toxic sickness of pollution, the burns of fire and radiation. When Humans struggle, the Mother struggles…

It is not up to the Aware Ones to judge or condemn, only to witness and release. Opinions are optional and only that, opinions. The Mother and the Mystery respond by bringing everything back towards Balance and this may involve hardships but it is in the name of compassion and awareness for All Beings.The energies in the Medicine Box in the old village aid in regaining and maintaining that balance.

“Ritual or prayer is no longer enough to satisfy the magic needed in the world. Co-creative action between all realms is necessary to create sustaining peace, health and abundance. The Mother and the Mystery need to witness this as happening.”  

Yes, you are an Aware One…the Mother listens to you, the Mystery listens to you. They always have. We all watched you regain Spirit and Magic. We held trust that it would. That’s why you’ve been entrusted with keeping the sacred memories.

Raven was quite relieved to hear he was back among favor. It had been a very lonely time during the Separation. He asked Otter: How will I be able to identify the Aware Ones?

First, they will be from all realms…you cannot discount any thing, any plant, any landform, any brook, any animal, any human. They all share the opportunity to serve a greater purpose as Witnesses to Beauty and Cooperation. Of course, it is up to Humans to use their free will in a co-creative way or to feel the Balancing of the natural forces once again…only time will tell. 

It will be apparent when you are near or with an Aware One for communication will come very easily; you will feel comfortable; there will be no reason to be other than who you truly are. In the presence of an Aware Forest, you will feel compelled to stop and spend extra time being at peace, wanting to share your gratitude for its gifts of breath, bird song, mushrooms, and breezes. It is the same when you are around an Aware Landform. You will suddenly feel at home and know your skills and talents are compatible with being or living there. Your health will be good because the water and the air are healthy for you and you will naturally strive to live a life in gratitude. The plants and animals necessary for your re-evolution will be drawn to you and give their energy to maintain your health. The gift of their lives will be honored and not taken for granted. 

And the Mother will be listening to your heart and the hearts of all the Aware Ones for the internal drum beat is another rhythm of Truth and Beauty. And there will always be a shifting as We seek Balance within the Darkness and the Light. And Raven, you may be called upon with the important task of assisting in the adjustment of the Balance by delivering the Initiatory Memory Patterns within the Box. How you access that box and its contents will be the shown to you when the need arises.

But for now Raven, you must be hungry.

Raven was hungry; however, he continued to stand quietly in front of Otter savoring her wisdom and appreciating her guidance. He was happy yet intrigued to learn more about shape-shifting and spirit flight. After Otter’s assistance in his initial journey with his human sister, he knew it was only a matter of time and practice before he could journey unassisted into her timeframe. He looked at Otter and started to form a question but she answered it for him: Yes, Raven, I will answer questions for you then, as well.

Raven clapped his beak together several times making a unique signature sound for displaying his pleasure. And now he was not only curious to find more Aware Ones but to fill his belly. Otter chuckled and quickly descended into the river’s riffles.

Raven took wing and made his way up the river thinking to seek a quiet place to feast and rest. But as he thought that thought, another raven flew up beside him and glanced his direction. It was a young female who had gone several years without finding a mate. Raven had briefly joined her earlier in the spring when many of the young, unpaired birds were engaging in skill practice and play. Raven had not given serious thought to finding a mate, until now. Maybe, he thought, it was time to share my magic with family…

Below him the river songs blended together with the trampling and territorial huffs of the bears, the screeching and sqawkings of the eagles, gulls and ravens in the ultimate celebratory feast of birth, death and rebirth as the Salmon People gave Potlatch to the Forest.

The End of Book One: Raven’s Journey


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Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter 20: Shifting Form

Young Bald Eagle

Young Bald Eagle

Otter stood squarely in front of him, shifted her form and looked deeply into his Being. They became One, their breathing and heart rhythms in harmony. Raven visioned himself flying over the beach stones, the air charged with electrical forces. Lines of energy radiated from everything…every stone, every grain of sand, the water, the grasses, his own body, everything. Each defined entity provided a measure of emanating energy which Raven could ride and manipulate.

He was mesmerized by the feeling of floating and intrigued that he was in control of his flight by simply focusing his intent. Raven flowed into the trees, their roots, their mycelial connections more rapidly then ever before. He was everywhere at once…his eyes witnessed as the bear, the fish, the eagle. He smelled the ocean waters, the cedar bark laying on the beach and heard the bubbling of the waters as they percolated into the river bottom. Raven was thrilled! And then he came to an abrupt halt.

Before him were the energies of the future…sounds he didn’t recognize, sights he had not yet witnessed, smells emanating but not part of his memory and flavors new to his tongue. It was if a barrier stood before him; yet laid out in front of him were his future potentials, his visions and his dreams. He stood behind the barrier and looked out towards the future that he knew now he could accept or change with his intentions. How will I gain access? he questioned.

And with that question, the barrier fell and he was a man, wearing a black leather hat, a black bandana at his throat. All around him the scene was one of pulsing energy lines although Raven could now interpret what they were, what they represented. Raven, the corvid as Man, controlled his breathing, quieting his questions, drawing upon his intuition to control the intent of the journey he now chose to accept and witness.

Raven lived in a community, a community of many people with shelters, animals and gardens.  People milled around him…he seemed important. A woman approached. Raven recognized her as his sister. She extended her right hand and gave him a bird the size of a gull but brown and tan in color, a type of game bird which, if Raven remembered correctly, was good eating.

Raven, experiencing the event as a human, reached out with both hands and removed its legs from her grasp. The bird he held was warm, its heart beating rapidly. He held the bird up and looked at it carefully. Its eyes never left his face, twisting its head to keep contact. Raven felt a sense of fear well up in his own belly. He blinked his eyes.

Raven held the bird while she reached down and lifted a young eagle onto the wide leather cuff and attached glove of her left wrist. A stiff leather hood blocking the eagle’s vision covered its head but a slit had been cut into it through which the young bird’s hooked beak protruded. The top of the hood was adorned with a single clay bead and an ochre stripe painted around it, topped with a knot and standing fringe.

The young falconer held one end of a leather tether attached to the eagle’s foot. She motioned for Raven to release the bird he was holding and waited until he tossed it high and the escaping fowl had flown into the distance. Then she removed the leather hood and the eagle launched from the cuffed-glove, spotted the fleeing bird and rapidly flew towards the target, its tether tailing behind. In what seemed to take only a few flaps of its enormous wings,  the eagle stuck the bird and followed it to the ground. A few feathers released by the impact of the kill fluttered off into the wind. Raven and his sister moved quickly to the kill site and gave the eagle a piece of raw meat which it gulped down voraciously. Raven’s sister removed the bird now limp in death from its talons and gave it to her companion. Then she placed the raptor onto her wrist perch, expertly replacing the hood as she stood up. It took a few moments for the young eagle to become situated, fluffing its feathers, stretching its wings and opening its bill as if savoring the morsel it had eaten.  Stroking the eagle’s neck with her free hand and making soft sounds with her lips like the soughing wind seemed to relax it.

The dead bird was warm to Raven’s touch. He could see where it had been seized in the eagle’s sharp talons, where the feathers had been ripped away and could detect the smell of fresh flesh from the impact wound in the bird’s breast. It was now his duty to dispose of it. Raven drew upon the man’s memory of how it would be done.

The hunting party walked back to the group of people who watched the eagle take down the bird. They were dressed similarly to Raven and his sister: form fitting skin clothing, laced boots, a few hats and although no one else had beads in their hair, a number had small, black facial tattoos. Several children stood wide-eyed as his sister shook her head making the beads strike together with the same sound of chattering water he’d heard them make on the river bank the night before. The eagle spread its wings and then lowered them. She held the bird out to the children who approached and gently stoked its body.

More people approached the group and Raven recognized Grandmother among them. She wore the same strip of otter fur in her hair and around her head, a turquoise bandana.  He’d not noticed her blue eyes before, matching quite well the color of her bandana. Otter, the woman, reached out her hand to the eagle and gently stroked its broad back. The eagle relaxed even more. Both Raven’s sister and Otter smiled at each other with genuine affection. Grandmother then moved in front of Raven and accepted the dead bird. She looked deeply into Raven’s eyes. He blinked.

Raven, the bird, sensed another shift happening as the barrier once again went up and he returned to the his world of primary energetic vibration, sensing the river flow, the breezes, the sounds of gulls squabbling over the salmon carcasses.

He blinked and looked about…he was standing in front of Otter who was looking carefully at him but with a more relaxed gaze.

(To be continued in the concluding chapter, Chapter 21: Mastering the Magic of Flight)