Friday, 15 July 2016

The Cailleach’s Cloak

Outside the temperature is dropping, winter is definitely here and She is drawing her cloak over my part of the world. The Oak’s leaves are slowly falling to the ground, their colour a gorgeous shade of umber drifting to the ground creating a carpet of ready to protect and mulch the tender ground. But even has the Oak joins the Maple, Elm, Blackthorn and Ash in losing leaves and slowly descending into their winter slumber, a great time of fertility and greening is abounds. The lilies have begun to rise, as has the jonquils and dutch irises. The nettles reach for the sky, seeking light. The grass begins to grow anew as the weather brings dew, frost and rain. Nature is coming to life even as some of her begins to disappear.

Winter is the time we look forward to here. Tanks get refilled, gardens get a much needed soaking and the vast pastoral tract I live in begins to parade the various shades of green as crops begin to grow. For a time often spoken of in hushed tones, winter here is celebrated. It gets cold here, don’t mistake me on that, sometimes even to below 0, but there is so much to see, to revel in, to experience. The sun provides some warmth so greenhouses become hives of activity as tender seedlings slowly unfurl and greet the day. It is a time to organise the garden, to begin building new ones and work on the old ones. It is a time for quiet and contemplation, for the days are shorter, the nights longer. As the dark begins to close in earlier and earlier, you appreciate the daylight hours and realise the nights are for books, hot tea and warmth. 

As I curl up with a good book, hearing the howling outside, I am reminded of the wholeness of the world outside, the vastness of what lies before us. As the wind tears leaves from trees and wrests away wayward branches, I am reminded of the sheer awesome power that flows and ebbs, of my place as Keeper and Steward of my land and the Spirits who inhabit it. I hear the horses whinny outside, the fox call during the night, the sheep who bleat, the owls reminding us that they own the night and the small creatures who scurry about, little nails on the roof, and those that dig to hide beneath the surface. They all seek to hide, thrive or survive the coming winter. As I sit I can feel the great Cailleach drawing her cloak over me, embracing me within her earthen mass. I hear her most often now, although she is never truly quiet at any time of the year. Old Woman wants her offerings and thanks for the season ahead and I oblige her for I am grateful that winter has come.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Lazy Sunday Wildcrafting

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Albert Einstein

I had been dreaming of wildcrafted blackthorn and hawthorn for the longest time, I wanted to find them and bring them home with me, invite them in, experience them, meet them in person and see the majesty of who they are. I know Oak, I know Yew but I was only acquainted with the dry materials of the hedges of my ancestors. My small blackthorn trees are yet to mature, they grow slowly but comfortably in my garden but I did not know their wildness. So one Sunday I grabbed my fellow enthusiast gardener (also known as Mum) and we headed to a plant show about an hour away. To my delight, after the plant show (yes I came home with a boot load of plants), with careful exploration, I discover the fruit-laden, wild growing hawthorn and blackthorn, interspersed with wild plum and rosehip and a great discovery of the bright orange firethorn. My heart beat, and as I ask for permission, I could feel them reach out to me, curious yet open 

There is a sense of quiet as I walk among the trees, these ancient-minded hedges carrying the DNA of their ancestors from across the pond. I can feel their energy, they whisper quietly in the late afternoon sun and I wonder at their majesty, the secrets they must hold; and then I sadly wonder at the knowledge, the lost medicine the hedges hold. We are no longer in touch with nature, we no longer hear her cry or understand that we are nature, we are part of the whole; I see the hedges laden with hips, berries and haws and see that we no longer understand the ancient language of the trees. We no longer know the medicine and the knowledge that kept our ancestors alive, kept them healthy, is lost to so many. I see it as I wildcraft, that if we remembered what the hawthorn, the rosehip and the blackthorn could do, the hedges before me wouldn’t be laden, they would be almost bare because we would be embracing the medicine and magic and healing ourselves once again in the way of our ancestors.

So I bring home my afternoon harvest and begin to divide it, sloes in brandy – some dried for magical use, hawthorns to be dried for medicinal use, plums set aside for a small jam and as I process my efforts I thank the land for the bounty it provides. It is almost the secret that only a few share, we know the land, we know what can be found and what can be shared. Somehow, in amongst the craziness of life, there is still the beating heart of the land, waiting for us to once again beat with Her.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Moonflower Bounty

The Moonflowers are blooming, their perfumery filling the air, their beauty abounds, showing grace and power. I love Datura, it is my spirit plant, my wise ally and powerful friend.

The beautiful, mystical Datura metel var fastuosa
(I love this photo, I couldn't believe how it turned out)

The lovely Datura stramonium

One gorgeous Datura inoxia

Another beautiful Datura inoxia

And the stunningly magical Datura metel var fastuosa continues to bloom