Room on a Broom

An instant classic in our home. Myself, my daughter and little Miss Vivian watched this the other day and it has become a daily movie to watch.

I hope you enjoy this as well. Happy Autumn!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/192151597″>Room on a Broom</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user59264148″>Lilli🌸 Rose🌹</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Letting Go: Using Falling Leaf Essences to Ease Into Autumn

Somehow, we again find ourselves in Autumn. October, to be specific.  And although these past few weeks have felt more like the deep heat of Summer, signs of fall are appending to Summer’s coattails like burs.  The wind now has a rattle to its voice, moving through the dry leaves still clinging to their branches. The clamour of insects has begun to wane, dueting now with crow caws and the overhead honking of Canada geese. Bright yellow buses lead morning traffic through a jolted flow. The sunsets creep in just a bit earlier each passing day…

Summers here can be maddeningly busy. Chlorophyll seems to be the color of movement–when the world is awash in green, we’re in perpetual motion. Now as the daylight decreases and this chlorophyll begins to break down, the verdance gives way to rusts and reds, and the pace of life begins to ease off the throttle. I think that this is something inherently valuable about living in a place with seasons.  We are gently ushered through the creation and death cycles found in the interplay of the elements, through seed, shoot, bloom and decay.

When I walk through the woods in October, I feel a gentle restructuring of my energy body. The sun filtering through feels less urgent, more nurturing. The animals rustling through the understory make me aware that the abundance will soon be gone, and the time of stillness is approaching. I find myself less distracted by my mental projections, more aware of my breath and bones. As above, so below. As the deciduous trees move through their seasonal cycles, so too do we.  We can follow them from the Spring formation of a leaf drawing nutrients through its roots, to Summer’s ravenous grab for sunlight through photosynthesis, into the Autumn, where the tree stops feeding these leaves vital energy and they break down and expose other pigments, and finally into Winter’s partial dormancy. We remember that Autumn is the time to release.

In his book, Falling Leaf Essences: Vibrational Remedies Using Autumn Leaves, Grant R. Lambert, Ph.D., details how creating essences with the leaves falling from the trees during these months can provide nourishing energetic support as we move into the Winter months. He notes that these essences can be used to help us release and let go of blocks physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

Below are a few of his recommendations for these falling leaf essences, made from some of the most common leaves found in Vermont.

SELECTED FALLING LEAF ESSENCES (Text drawn from Falling Leaf Essences: Vibrational Remedies Using Autumn Leaves, Grant R. Lambert, PhD):

Silver Birch, Release Struggle. This is a wonderful essence for those who truly believe that life wasn’t meant to be easy.  Wherever there exists an [attachment] to a pattern of struggle in life, with an accompanying belief in scarcity and difficulty, this essence is called for.  It releases these preconceived notions of difficulty and unblocks emotional barriers to abundance.

Aspen, Release Loneliness. Feelings of loneliness are very common.  Aspen deals with intense feelings of loneliness that are disabling in some aspect of life.  It enables one to face the world alone and without fear.  In that sense, it confers full maturity and independence.

Crab Apple, Elixir of Youth.  Crab Apple lessens a person’s emotional and mental difficulties that may have worn him or her down, opens the mind and emotions to new possibilities, and gives a new zest for life.  It restores one’s vigor for life on every level.  It is appropriate for those who are experiencing a stagnation in life that constantly inhibits them from extending themselves into new areas.

Sugar Maple, Veins/Capillaries. This essence promotes better circulation through surface (varicose) veins and capillaries… in the mental realm, Sugar Maple assists with bringing to a person’s awareness the mental and/or emotional restrictions that have possibly allowed this circulatory imbalance to develop.

HOW TO MAKE THE FALLING LEAF ESSENCE: (Adapted from How to Make Personal Flower Essences, by Katherine Turcotte)

You’ll need: a clear glass bowl, a pint of spring water or good well water, ~4 oz. brandy

Step 1 – Choose and Gather Your leaves
Explain to the tree(s) what you plan to do and ask for permission to gather leaves. You won’t need many leaves. You can choose leaves from a single tree or make a blended essence with a combination. Gathering leaves in freefall is the ideal and takes good timing! (Alternately, leaves from the tree or clean ground beneath could be used.) Touch the leaves as little as possible from tree to bowl (step 2). Spend some time communing with your chosen tree/leaves. Remember that your energy goes into each essence, along with the trees.

Step 2 – Add Your Leaves to Water
Pour your spring water into your bowl and then add leaves to the surface of the water, face up so that they cover the surface of the water, but don’t overlap. Rock the bowl gently several times to recreate the experience of freefall, if you like. Place the bowl near the trees you gathered from and leave it undisturbed in the sun for approximately three to four hours.

Step 3 – Remove Your Leaves
Using another leaf, remove the leaves from the water, avoiding contact with the essence. Place them under the plant you have gathered them from and offer some of the essence back to the plant, along with thanks.

Pour the essence (called the Mother) into a bottle (1 or 2 oz is plenty), diluting it by half with brandy to preserve it. Label with tree, date and any other details that inspire you (e.g. moon sign, animals nearby).

Step 4 – Prepare Your Stock Bottle
Add half brandy and half spring water to a one-ounce bottle. Add four to seven drops of the Mother Essence to this bottle, called the Stock. Activate the essence by vigorously shaking the bottle and tapping it against your palm, dispersing the molecules into the water. Be sure to shake the essences each time before using. Store away from light and heat.

Step 5 – Use Your Falling Leaf Essence
To make a dosage bottle, repeat the same dilution process into a third 1-ounce dropper bottle filled with half brandy, half spring water. Alternately, you can use 3-9 drops of Stock essence in your daily water bottle or in other tinctures or teas you are taking regularly.

Start by working with a single essence. As you gain experience, you can then combine three to six essences focusing on key concerns. If needed, increase the frequency of the essence, not the dose size.  Engage in activities that work synergistically with the essences, such as journaling and time in nature.

Spiders as Spiritual Guides

I know many are saying “Ewww”. Autumn is a great time to learn about spiders as many are attempting to come inside before the weather becomes too cold for them to survive.

Last night my daughter and I had flashlight’s in hand searching around our house and the apartment complex we manage looking for the many types of arachnid that dwell among our corners, eaves and under a rock. To say the least our neighbors and tenants think we are beyond crazy! My favorite as long as I can remember is the cat spiders.

Orb WeaverHere is a unique aspect of our eight-legged friends.

Spiders in Druidry:

As we all know, Druidry is a spiritual path based on Nature. The knowledge we have can be found everywhere. In Druidry, the Spider represents The Bard, the Ovate and the Druid. As a Bard it produces works of art as depicted in the many kinds of webs it can produce; as an Ovate seer, to determine the best spot for the web or hideout for the hunt, and the lessons the animal teaches us shows us the Druid side of Spider lore, or as some call it, Spider Medicine.

The Spider is the guardian of the ancient languages and alphabets. Every society has had myths about how the different languages and alphabets were formed. One example is the Ogham. The Ogham can be found in the Web of a Spider. This is why the Spider is considered the teacher of language and the magic of writing. Those who weave magic with the written word probably have a Spider as a guide.

I have found that we can learn much more from the webs and their makers, the Spider. According to Scottish Legend, King Robert the Bruce of Scotland hid in a cave where he saw a persistent Spider weaving her web.The story about Robert the Bruce, the cave and the Spider is well known to all English or Scottish school pupils. However, outside the Isles it may not be this well known, so here is the story.

King Robert the Bruce I was born at Lochmaben Castle in 1274. He was Knight and Overlord of Annandale. In 1306 he was crowned King of Scotland and henceforth tried to free Scotland from the English enemy.

After being defeated at a battle, Bruce escaped and found a hideout in a cave. Hiding in a cave for three months, Bruce was at the lowest point of his life. He thought about leaving the country and never coming back. While waiting, he watched a Spider building a web in the cave’s entrance. The Spider fell down time after time, but finally he succeeded with his web. So Bruce decided also to retry his fight and told his men: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again’.

Old legend as told

The lesson the spider is teaching here is persistence. King Robert the Bruce of Scotland and his army had this strong persistence and determination until they finally beat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. And this is an important yet simple thing a Spider can teach us.

The Spider as an animal is a spiritual teacher in its own right. For example, the Spider’s web is a constant reminder of the eight festivals. This is easily seen in the wheel webs some Spiders weave. The strands of the web, like the spokes of a wheel, are straight from the edge to the middle and do form the eight fold wheel. That same web also shows the pentagram and the levels of spirituality known in Druidry as Annwn, Abred, Gwynvyd, and Keugant.

The Spider is The Bard, the Ovate and the Druid rolled into one. Let’s take a look at the lessons from the Druid Spider by contemplating its web.

Seeing the Spider weaving the web, it signals to us that we must weave our own lives. The Spider as a guide (or totem, familiar, etc…) serves as a reminder that our choices construct our lives. When the Spider appears to us, it is a message to be mindful of the choices we are making. Then ask yourself:

How are my choices affecting my life?

How can my choices improve my life?

How are my choices affecting others in my life?

Spiders and their webs draw attention to our life choices, but that is not all. They also show us how we can manipulate our thinking so we can construct the life we want to live.

Spiders make us aware of the amazing construction of their webs. They are fully functional, practical, and perfect in design. Spider webs serve as homes, food storage, egg incubators and are almost limitless in their functionality. When we take a good look at this diversity, we can also look at the web-like construct of our own lives. How do we get the most effective life?

We can derive even more Spider symbol meaning when we consider certain subtle characteristics that represent ancient symbols of infinity. When we take a look at the Spider itself and consider most Spiders have eight eyes and all have eight legs, we can see that the Spider also shows the meaning of the number eight, which involves cycles, the passage of time, evolution and, as mentioned before, the eight fold path of the year.

Spiders are also found to be connected to Halloween or Samhain. This is because Spiders are related to death because of the venom they carry. This venom is of course also used as a basis for the antidote, connecting the Spider both to death and rebirth and thus she stands for the completion of the circle.

The Spider teaches us to maintain a balance – between past and future, physical and spiritual, male and female. The Spider also teaches us that everything we now do is weaving what we will encounter in the future. In the tarot deck is a card – The Wheel of Fortune. This is a card that has to do with rhythms – the rise and fall, the flow and flux. It is linked to the energies of honor and fame, and the sensitivities necessary to place ourselves within the rhythm of Nature. Meditation upon this card would be beneficial for anyone with the Spider as a guide.

The Spider, because of its characteristics, has come to be associated with magic and the energy of creation. It is a symbol of creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web. It is also associated with keeping the feminine energies of creation alive and strong. This has ties to the characteristics of some Spiders, i.e. the female black widow, which will kill and eat the male after mating has exhausted it.

The Spider is also associated with its spiral energy, the links with the past and the future. The spiral of the web, converging at a central point, is something to be meditated upon by those with Spiders as a guide. Are you moving toward a central goal or are you scattered and going in multiple directions? Is everything staying focused? Are you becoming too involved and/or self-absorbed? Are you focusing on others’ accomplishments and not on your own? Are you developing resentment because of it – for yourself or them?

If a Spider is a guide in your life, ask yourself some important questions. Are you weaving your dreams and imaginings into reality? Are you using your creative opportunities? Are you feeling closed in or stuck, as if in a web? Do you need to pay attention to your balance and where you are walking in life? Are others out of balance around you? Do you need to write? Are you inspired to write or draw and not following through? Remember that the Spider is the keeper of knowledge and of the primordial alphabet. The Spider can teach how to use the written language with power and creativity so that your words weave the web around those who would read them.

Spiders in Druidry are linked with the Goddess, some Gods, the wheel of the year, spinning, weaving, each individual human, the world, creations, and creation.

Spider Totem

Spiders in other cultures:

Spiders are very delicate creatures that play an important role in the myths and lore of many peoples as the teacher of balance between the past and future, the physical and spiritual. To the Native Americans, Spider is Grandmother, the link to the past and future. In India, it’s associated with Maya, the weaver of illusions. With its gentle strength, Spider spins together the threads of life with intricate webs. Spider knows the past affects the future and visa versa. It calls us to make use of our creativity and weave our dreams into our destiny. If you want to make a deeper connection with your Animal Totem, fill your environment with images of the animal to let the animal know it is welcome in your space.

Among the various Native American traditions, spider medicine has been known to represent creativity. Her eight legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions on the medicine wheel, while her body is in the shape of the infinity symbol, which represents infinite possibilities. Spider was said to have woven the alphabet, creating the means for people to communicate and record their history through language. Just like the Greek myth of the Fates, three women who weave the tapestry of life, spiders are said to weave the creative forces that bring forth the intricately symmetrical patterns of our lives.

Of course, I must not forget the Greek myth of the maiden Arachne and the Goddess Athena. In the myth, Arachne claimed that she was a better weaver than the Goddess Athena. After winning from Athena, she was turned into a Spider and she and her offspring became the best weavers in existence. Nor must I forget to mention the West African and Caribbean trickster spirit Anansi, also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy whose story is like the tricksters Coyote, Raven or Iktomi found in many Native American cultures and Loki found in Norse mythology. Anansi literally means spider. These tales show spider teaching skill and wisdom in speech, slave resistance, and survival as well as teaching mankind the techniques of agriculture and so we see again a kinship in spider’s lessons reaching many cultures in a profound way.

Practicum

This practicum is designed to get to know the spider a little better.

Perform this while in your Sacred Grove after performing your Light Body exercise or in a state of meditation or visualization.

In your mind, you see an open place with one exit. From that exit, you see a small garden Spider approaching. You follow the Spider and you see that she walks to a tree. In that tree, she starts to weave a web blocking the exit. The spider weaves her web so steadily that fascinates you and soon you realize that the weaving itself is a meditation. With that weaving, you imagine her as a creator weaving the whole universe and you also imagine her as a dream catcher weaving the net to manifest our deepest desires. When the Spider is finished weaving, she sits in the middle of the web and she starts her teaching to you. She ends her teachings by telling you that she weaves a new web every day. She tells you that she takes down the web when it is ruined and begins again every day and she never has to think about it, she just spins her web with great care.

After giving her lessons to you, she takes down her web blocking the exit and leaves. By doing so she is signaling that it is time to end your meditation or visualization.

Eisteddfod

Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire. A Mississippi Choctaw Legend

The Choctaw People say that when the People first came up out of the ground, People were encased in cocoons, their eyes closed, their limbs folded tightly to their bodies. And this was true of all People, the Bird People, the Animal People, the Insect People, and the Human People. The Great Spirit took pity on them and sent down someone to unfold their limbs, dry them off, and open their eyes. But the opened eyes saw nothing because the world was dark, no sun, no moon, not even any stars. All the People moved around by touch, and if they found something that didn’t eat them first, they ate it raw, for they had no fire to cook it.

All the People met in a great powwow, with the Animal and Bird People taking the lead, and the Human People hanging back. The Animal and Bird People decided that life was not good, but cold and miserable. A solution must be found! Someone spoke from the dark,

‘I have heard that the people in the East have the fire.’ This caused a stir of wonder, ‘What could fire be?’ There was a general discussion, and it was decided that if, as rumor had it, the fire was warm and gave light, they should have it too. Another voice said, ‘But the people of the East are too greedy to share with us.’ So it was decided that the Bird and Animal People should steal what they needed, the fire!

But, who should have the honor? Grandmother Spider volunteered, ‘I can do it! Let me try!’ But at the same time, Opossum began to speak. ‘I, Opossum, am a great chief of the animals. I will go to the East and since I am a great hunter, I will take the fire and hide it in the bushy hair on my tail.’ It was well known that Opossum had the furriest tail of all the animals, so he was selected.

When Opossum came to the East, he soon found the beautiful, red fire, jealously guarded by the people of the East. But Opossum got closer and closer until he picked up a small piece of burning wood, and stuck it in the hair of his tail, which promptly began to smoke, then flame. The people of the East said, ‘Look, that Opossum has stolen our fire!’ They took it and put it back where it came from and drove Opossum away. Poor Opossum! Every bit of hair had burned from his tail, and to this day, opossums have no hair at all on their tails.

Once again, the powwow had to find a volunteer chief. Grandmother Spider again said, ‘Let em go! I can do it!’ But this time a bird was elected, Buzzard. Buzzard was very proud. ‘I can succeed where Opossum has failed. I will fly to the East on my great wings, then hide the stolen fire in the beautiful long feathers on my head.’ The birds and animals still did not understand the nature of fire. So Buzzard flew to the East on his powerful wings, swooped past those defending the fire, picked up a small piece of burning ember, and hid it in his head feathers. Buzzard’s head began to smoke and flame even faster! The people of the East said, ‘Look! Buzzard has stolen the fire!’ And they took it and put it back where it came from.

Poor Buzzard! His head was now bare of feathers, red and blistered looking. And to this day, buzzards have naked heads that are bright red and blistered.

The powwow now sent Crow to look the situation over, for Crow was very clever. Crow at that time was pure white and had the sweetest singing voice of all the birds. But he took so long standing over the fire, trying to find the perfect piece to steal that his white feathers were smoked black. And he breathed so much smoke that when he tried to sing, out came to a harsh, ‘Caw! Caw!’

The Council said, ‘Opossum has failed. Buzzard and Crow have failed. Who shall we send?’

Tiny Grandmother Spider shouted with all her might, ‘LET ME TRY IT PLEASE!’ Though the council members thought Grandmother Spider had little chance of success, it was agreed that she should have her turn. Grandmother Spider looked then like she looks now, she had a small torso suspended by two sets of legs that turned the other way. She walked on all of her wonderful legs toward a stream where she had found clay. With those legs, she made a tiny clay container and a lid that fit perfectly with a tiny notch for air in the corner of the lid. Then she put the container on her back, spun a web all the way to the East, and walked tiptoe until she came to the fire. She was so small, the people from the East took no notice. She took a tiny piece of fire, put it in the container, and covered it with the lid. Then she walked back on tiptoe along the web until she came to the People. Since they couldn’t see any fire, they said, ‘Grandmother Spider has failed.’

‘Oh no,’ she said, ‘I have the fire!’ She lifted the pot from her back, and the lid from the pot and the fire flamed up into its friend, the air. All the Birds and Animal People began to decide who would get this wonderful warmth. Bear said, ‘I’ll take it!’ but then he burned his paws on it and decided fire was not for animals, for look what happened to Opossum!

The Birds wanted no part of it, as Buzzard and Crow were still nursing their wounds. The insects thought it was pretty, but they, too, stayed far away from the fire.

Then a small voice said, ‘We will take it if Grandmother Spider will help.’ The timid humans, whom none of the animals or birds thought much of, were volunteering!

So Grandmother Spider taught the Human People how to feed the fire sticks and wood to keep it from dying, how to keep the fire safe in a circle of stone so it couldn’t escape and hurt them or their homes. While she was at it, she taught the humans about pottery made of clay and fire, and about weaving and spinning, at which Grandmother Spider was an expert.

The Choctaw remember. They made a beautiful design to decorate their homes, a picture of Grandmother Spider, two sets of legs up, two down, with a fire symbol on her back. This is so their children never forget to honor Grandmother Spider, Fire bringer!

As Autumn Approaches…

As autumn approaches, it brings with it shorter days and cooler nights. This makes it the perfect time to experiment with warming essential oils, such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, and black pepper.  One of my favorite combinations contains cassia (cinnamon), clove, and sweet orange essential oils.  It just smells like autumn to me!  You can diffuse this blend or add a few drops of each oil to an oil burner and let the scent fill your home. You can also mix these oils into a water-based spray.  When doing this, I like to add some Moss Agate chips or small tumbled stones to the bottle.  Moss Agate is a stone of rebirth and is great to use during seasonal changes.

Autumn also means the start of the school year for those with school-aged children, or for those who recently returned to school as students or teachers. This can usher in seemingly endless rounds of colds and sniffles.  Lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender essential oils are naturally antibacterial and anti-viral, so stock up on these oils!  An added bonus of keeping lavender oil on hand is that it is very calming and can help homework time go much more smoothly, especially when paired with Blue Calcite or Yellow Calcite. Try keeping your bottle of lavender oil in a dish of Amethyst chips or tumbled stones to keep it charged with extra healing energy.

Autumn is also a great time to work on grounding your energy.  The energy of summer is very relaxed, but that can sometimes lead to a feeling of disorganization.  Autumn is a great time to rein things back in and get projects underway.  Try using a blend of lavender, Atlas cedarwood, and frankincense essential oils to bring in focus and motivation. I like to combine this blend with the energy of Fluorite since it is great for helping to stay organized and mentally sharp.

I, for one, am looking forward to the promise of cooler weather and the calmer, more organized days…autumn is my favorite season!

Autumn Reflections

Autumn is a time of harvest, of reaping what was sown, of preparing for the long nights of winter.  The changing of the seasons reminds us all that nothing in this earthly realm is permanent. Even the mountains yield to the wind and water over time.

As our children come home to share in the Thanksgiving feast, I realize that there is so much that is beautiful in my life and in my world. That I have been deeply blessed and that it serves no one for me to despair. Let my actions be my resolve. Let each breath be a silent prayer for the weak, the old, the ill and injured, and for those who are suffering. I pray for wisdom, for myself and for those who lead. I pray to be a light in the world and to spend my days in gratitude. If I can do this more days than not… then maybe I will truly understand what it means to be human.

terrain-fall-table-series

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” Johannes A. Gaertner

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Thanksgiving! 

November, Autumn, Fall

“The name ‘November’ is believed to derive from ‘novem’ which is the Latin for the number ‘nine’.  In the ancient
Roman calendar November was the ninth month after March.  As part of the seasonal calendar November is the
time of the ‘Snow Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Falling Leaves’
by Black Elk.”

Samhain:

“This association of death with fertility provided the theological background for a great number of end-of-harvest festivals celebrated by many cultures across Eurasia.  Like Samhain, these festivals (which, for example, included the rituals of the Dyedy (“Ancestors”) in the Slavic countries and the Vetrarkvöld festival in Scandinavia) linked the successful resumption of the agricultural cycle (after a period of apparent winter “death”) to the propitiation of the human community’s dead.  The dead have passed away from the social concerns of
this world to the primordial chaos of the Otherworld where all fertility has its roots, but they are still bound to the living by ties of kinship.  It was hoped that, by strengthening these ties precisely when the natural cycle seemed to be passing through its own moment of death, the community of the living would be better able to profit from the energies of increase that lead out of death back to life.  Dead kin were the Tribe’s allies in the Otherworld, making it certain that the creative forces deep within the Land were being directed to serve the needs of the human community.  They were, in Celtic terms, a “humanising” factor within the Fomorian realm.

Whatever the specific elements had been that determined the proper date of the end-of-harvest honouring of the dead in various places, by the ninth and tenth centuries the unifying influence of the Church had led to concentrating the rituals on November 1st and November 2nd.  The first date was All Hallows, when the most spiritually powerful of the Christian community’s dead (the Saints) were invoked to strengthen the living community, in a way quite consistent with pre-Christian thought.  The second date, All Souls, was added on (first as a Benedictine practice, beginning ca.  988) as an extension of this concept, enlarging it to include the dead of families and local communities.  Under the mantle of the specifically Christian observances, however, older patterns of ancestor veneration were preserved.”

autumn22

“first snow
house sparrows
darken the hedgerow”
–   Ellen Compton

 

“I am the ancient Apple Queen,
As once I was so am I now.
For evermore a hope unseen,
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.

Ah, where’s the river’s hidden Gold!
And where the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as i came of old,
From out the heart of summer’s joy.”
–   William Morris, Pomona

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, declared the last Thursday of November to be
a National Day of Thanksgiving.

autumn-witchAutumn Abundance

What a magical time is autumn. A time of transitions, of change, of gain and of loss, we celebrate the culmination of the years work and we grieve the inevitable endings that follow.

The dark months are coming and the wind howls around our cottage as I write this but now is still a time of abundance and celebration and, most of all, a time for giving thanks to the Goddess of the Harvest for all this Earth has given us.

At this time of year we are spoiled for choice with the hedges dripping with all sorts of goodies, but by preserving, freezing and making lovely medicines we can make sure we have something to keep us going all through the winter too.

Eating local wild foods is not only great for our health, as they are often fresher, more vital and richer in nutrients than anything we can buy, but also connects us to a sense of place and belonging and encourages a deeper relationship with our natural environment. Even if it’s just a few berries whilst out walking or a handful of leaves added to a salad or soup, the plants around us are experiencing the same environmental conditions that we are and have adapted well and therefore are able to help us do the same.

At the moment I’m enjoying most of my wild foods in the form of elderberry and rosehip syrups, blackberry crumbles, nettle seeds, hawthorn teas and the young ground elder leaves that are poking up through my newly weeded vegetable beds and taste lovely in carrot and apple soup.

My mornings are starting at the moment with a lovely big glass of ‘hedgerow milk’ which consists of freshly made almond milk, a little local honey, some hawthorn berry powder, rosehip syrup and nettle seeds. Delicious and nourishing it helps me start the day feeling energised, connected to the land and full of gratitude.

Eating local wild foods helps ensure we are getting the right nutrients for our seasonal needs. The berries that are in abundance here at this time of year are filled with anti-oxidants including flavonoids and other polyphenols as well as lots of Vitamin C to help protect our bodies and support our immune systems as the weather gets colder. Many also have an anti-inflammatory action which helps soothe the aches and pains that can accompany colds and flus.

Foraged nuts and seeds such as walnuts, cobnuts or hazels, chestnuts and nettle seeds are nourishing and contain proteins, healthy fats, vitamins such as B’s and E and are a good source of well sustained energy.

And soon it will be time for harvesting roots which help us to draw our energy in and down (just like the plants do at this time of year) and give us much sustenance and grounding ready for the more inward focus of the winter months.

Scarecrows Historically Speaking

For thousands of years, scarecrows have helped humans save their crops from crows and other hungry mouths and provided an outlet for human creativity. Scarecrows are as old and as mysterious as human nature and have been useful friends to humans since the mists of early time.

A Brief History of Scarecrows

Scarecrow genealogy is rooted in a rural lifestyle. The Egyptians used the first scarecrows in recorded history to use to protect wheat fields along the Nile River from flocks of quail. Egyptian farmers installed wooden frames in their fields and covered them with nets. Then they hid in the fields, scared the quail into the nets and took them home to eat for dinner.

Greek farmers in 2,500 B.C. carved wooden scarecrows to look like Priapus, the son of the god Dionysus and the goddess Aphrodite, who supposedly was ugly enough to scare birds away from the vineyards and ensure good harvests. They painted their wooden scarecrows purple and put a club in one hand to scare away the birds and a sickle in the other for a good harvest.

The Romans copied the Greek scarecrow custom and when Roman armies marched through the Europe they introduced Priapus scarecrows to the people there. Almost simultaneously with the Greeks and Romans, Japanese farmers made scarecrows protect their rice fields. They made scarecrows called kakashis, shaped like people. They dressed the kakashis in a raincoat and a round straw hat and often added bows and arrows to make them look more threatening. Kojiki, the oldest surviving Japanese book compiled in the year 712, features a scarecrow known as Kuebiko who appears as a deity who can’t walk yet knows everything about the world.

In Germany, scarecrows were wooden and shaped to look like witches. Witch scarecrows were supposed to hasten the coming of spring. In medieval Britain, young boys and girls were used as live scarecrows or “bird scarers.” They would patrol the fields of crops and scare away birds by waving their arms or throwing stones. In later times, farmers stuffed sacks of straw, made faces of gourds, and leaned the straw man against the pole to scare away birds.

New World Scarecrows

In the United States, immigrant German farmers made human looking scarecrows called “bootzamon,” which later changed to the bogeyman. They were dressed in old clothes with a large red handkerchief around their necks.

Native American tribes across North America used scarecrows or bird scarers, mostly adult men. In Georgia, Creek Indian families moved into huts in their corn fields to protect their crops during the growing season. In the Southwest, Zuni children had contests to see who could make the scariest scarecrow.

Pilgrim families took turns guarding their fields against birds and animals, but as Americans expanded west they invented new kinds of nonhuman scarecrows like wooden and straw figures. During the Great Depression, scarecrows could be found all across America, but in the agri-business era after World War II, farmers sprayed or dusted their crops with chemicals like DDT until scientists discovered their harmful effects. To substitute for chemicals, some farmers built scarecrows like whirligigs that revolved like windmills to scare away the birds.

Modern Scarecrows

Scarecrows still guard fields around the world during the growing season. Today some farmers use technological scarecrows instead of straw and wooden figures, technological scarecrows like reflective film ribbons tied to plants to create shimmers from the sun or automatic noise guns that are powered by propane gas. Other farmers in India and some Arab countries, station old men in chairs to throw stones at birds to keep them away from the crops just like the medieval bird scarers.

Just a Few Scarecrows of the Imagination

Even though Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, by American author L. Frank Baum, admonishes her dog Toto, “Don’t be silly Toto, scarecrows don’t talk,” the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz does talk. In his first appearance in the book, he reveals that he doesn’t have a brain and wants more than anything else to acquire one. The reality is that he already has a brain, but since he is only two days old it is largely unused. As the story unfolds, he demonstrates that he does use his brain and it keeps growing along with his experiences. The scarecrow is symbolic because even though he has the title, “the wisest man in all of Oz,” he is wise enough to know his limitations. He continues to credit the Wizard for his brains and he hands over the throne of Oz that the Wizard bequeaths him to Princess Ozma. He becomes one of her trusted advisors but carves out enough time for himself to play games and enjoy life.

Paul Cornell focuses on the sinister aspect of scarecrow evolution in his 1995 Doctor Who novel Human Nature, when he has his villains, the Family of Blood, create an army of scarecrows to try to capture the Time Lord.

Tim Preston, in his children’s book, The Lonely Scarecrow, sees a winter future for the scarecrow. He imagines that instead of dying in the fall after the festivals and fun of Halloween are over, the scarecrow is covered with snow in the winter and becomes a useful friend until he resumes his guard duties in the spring.

Scarecrows of the Future

Scarecrows have evolved along with people and people sponsor scarecrow festivals every year in places as diverse as West Kilbride, Scotland, St. Charles, Illinois, and Alberta, Canada. After the scarecrow festivals are over, both scarecrows and people enjoy a long, friendly, restful winter before they resume their more strenuous duties in the spring.

References: Brown, Margaret Wise, The Little Scarecrow Boy, Harper Collins, 2005
Miller, Marcianne, Creative Scarecrows: 35 Fun Figures for Your Yard and Garden, Lark Books, 2004.
Preston, Tim, The Lonely Scarecrow, Dutton Juvenile, 1st Edition, 1999

scarecrow2

Autumn ~ The Time Of The Crone

Spirited away, my energy gently glides above the treetops like a down feather blown within the circling wind. Below, I see the quilted workings of Mother Earth in the patches of green grass, freshly plowed ground and fields of grain ready now for the harvest. The air is sweet and cool as it moves around my body and delights me like loving whispers of voices unknown. Faeries dance on the wing; their joyous laughter calling my spirit ever on. Reaching down, I try to grasp a bright purple leaf from atop the sugar maple. As my energy moves within the magickal moment, I feel the sun warming me as it moves through the essences of my being, giving glimmers of what possibilities lie just beyond. . .

And then, in a sound, a spark of light, the cracking of a twig, I find myself laying atop the freshly cut hay ready for baling. Yet looking down I find within my hand the big and beautiful purple leaf from the top of the old sugar maple. Did I pick it up in my dreams or from under the tree? In my heart, I shall always believe it came within that veil of magick just between dreams and what others call reality.

I always looked forward to sharing my adventures with my Great Grandmother. She, in her wisdom, would listen to each of my quests with attentive wonder and delight. It didn’t matter if they were ones of my chasing a frog down the creek bank for a few short and muddy hours or those that carried me above the tree tops and into the veils of magick and possibility. She was there for me, smiling and teaching; teaching me many lessons I still remember even today.

Now that Autumn is here and Samhain is quickly approaching, I cannot help but remember the magick I felt and still feel today in this time of changing. The energy seems to rise within my spirit, as it sparks and dances across the essence of my soul. It touches me in memories and stories shared as my Great Grandmother would teach the old ways and the understanding of the Seasons of Life. In this, I again feel I can soar above the treetops in the arms of Autumn.

Fall is more than a season or that time of transition from summer to winter. Fall is what my Great Grandmother called the “Croning Time;” that time where the giving of life moves to the teaching of life within wisdom, no longer giving birth to new life, but nurturing all that is life and all that life brings.

Autumn is the “Spirit Goddess of the Changing.” She is the guardian of the Croning Time.” Autumn in Her feminine form is welcoming us unto Her as She, in wisdom, changes to the Crone. Autumn is a Grandmother Goddess and a keeper of the Cauldron of Life. She is wise with great knowledge and the understanding, which has grown within and of her experiences. Proud and strong, She dresses in the glorious colors of all that She is and shall be again.

As the Great Crone, Autumn welcomes us with an understanding of our own personal changes within the seasons that are life. She teaches us that Fall, as the Croning Time, is a time of celebration and joy. As we celebrate the seasons and ourselves, we find the wisdom within to see the beauty held in all the colors that make life the magick that it truly is.

Today in the eternal goal of everlasting youth, we find disgrace in and hide the changes of our personal seasons of life. Wrinkles are no longer seen as the lines of knowledge and understanding from the roads in life we have traveled and conquered. Now they are marks of shame for what nature brings us. We fight and pull and dug until sometimes, we cannot even recognize the reflection looking back at us in the mirror.

Graying hair is no longer a crown of wisdom, but a symbol of old age to be hidden. Age is no longer held as a destination of honor but is approached with the fear that we will be cast away, unimportant and forgotten. For our society finds it easier to lock away the wisdom of the aged behind closed doors than to seek the secrets held within. Perhaps age causes us dread because it uncovers within what our emotions fear. For when we are faced with those aged by life it reminds us each of the approaches of inevitable death. Death no longer being a new beginning but the end of what was.

Autumn, as the Great Crone reminds us, that time life and death are but a thought, a moment flashing past eternity. Not to be feared but each to be relished and enjoyed. For as with the seasons, each holds it on gifts. Spring, Her excitement of the possibilities of the magick life holds anew. Summer, Her knowledge growing as She gives birth to new beginnings and eternal hope. Autumn, in Her wisdom and beauty, reminds us of all that we have and all we have to give. Winter, wraps us in Her soft blanket of white that we might rest within the arms of Mother Earth to be reborn again in Spring. For this time shall come again as time circles forward in the Great Wheel of Life.

For thousands of years, women of wisdom and age were honored, valued and revered as the Elder Women. Autumn, as the Spirit Goddess of the Changing, is also the guardian of the Croning Time. Dressed in Her radiant colors, She reminds us of the respect held by those who are entering The Croning Time. Autumn allows us to reclaim our identity and status of the ancients, as Crones and Elders. We are coming of age, accessing our wisdom and acting upon it. Croning is the process of becoming active wise women.

Croning can begin at any age and is particularly relevant for women 45 and older. Yet, even men can become Crones within their on understandings of this passage. Personal experiences of aging provide the understanding of your path within this Time of Changing. It is up to us to decide how the circumstances of life transform us and move us forward.

We can no more hold back time and aging than we can stop the Great Wheel as it moves forward in its seasons. Perhaps the reason we all find such a joyous renewal in the energy of fall is the power that Autumn gives us over the fear of change, in both life and death. Change should not be feared but celebrated, for life has given us another year of wonder, magick, and beauty.

My Great Grandmother opened my eyes to the magick of the seasons. She walked with me as I found the Goddess all around me, dressed in Her bright and fiery colors of reds, oranges, purples, and golds. When I became tired, she encouraged me to walk forward on the hillsides and watch the morning rise as the glistening dew gave a kaleidoscope of color on the leaves. When I became weak, she would carry me until I could once more hear the sweet mystical voice flowing in the breeze that would renew my spirit.

Autumn is the Croning Time, a time of magick, a time for renewal of spirit. As you experience the mysterious energy of this mystical season, allow the child within you to replenish your soul . . . and again look to the treetops in their beauty and touch the veils beyond.

Now I am the Crone, proud to teach those within my life in honor to my Great Grandmother. Let the magick of the Season truly touch your spirit as you walk forward in the colors of life.

Witches of Halloween

As we are getting closer to Halloween or Samhain (depending on your point of view) , Witches seem to be lost in the myths and fabrications of Halloween. I thought it would be nice to put out some honest and truthful information about Witches.

Beliefs of witchcraft and magick have existed around the world since the beginning of time. Although ‘Witch’ is a more recent term, Elders, Healers, Sages, and ‘the Wise Ones’, those who carried the knowledge of healing and magick, were considered some of the most important members of any community.

For centuries, this information has been a part of our history. This wonderful knowledge would be carried in secret through the generations and handed down in secret through the ages. Seen as a great gift, the art of healing and magick was seek-ed out as good and those who had the knowledge were honored.

Unfortunately, in our society even today many people somehow associate Witchcraft with evil and have regarded all those called ‘Witch’ as someone who uses magick to harm others. The word “Witch” as well as the practice of Witchcraft, has been marked with negative connotations. For some, just hearing the word Witch, Witchcraft, Wiccan, Druid, Wisecraft, the Old Religion, or Pagan will still cause anger, fear and even hate.

Dictionary definitions for Witch:

A witch is seen as an old woman that is extremely thin or fat, ugly or hideously disfigured and works immoral and black magick. (Real magick having not color.)
A Witch is an ugly or unpleasant old woman known as a hag or crone.
Witches follow a practice of witchcraft where a female has the capability to enchant and bewitch any man to do her bidding. (Notice not men.)
Witches are those that cast spells for the work of evil or Satan.
A Witch is a woman believed to have evil and magickal powers, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat flying on her broomstick with a black cat.

None of these, of course, are true. Many witches like myself, rather than trying to fight the ridiculous superstitions placed on us, have decided to embrace the depiction and have fun with it. So I do have a black cape, pointy hat, and a long broom, (That flying thing I’m still working on.) I have a black cat but I happen to have a black puppy as well.

For hundreds of years, countless people were called ‘Witch’ and blamed for any dreadful or disappointing event that hit mankind. When actually throughout history Witches have been our confessors, scholars, scientist, leaders, psychiatrists and teachers. Witches have been considered the Wise Ones, the healers, midwives, doctors, nurses, and the ones who carried all knowledge. But somehow, even today, Witches are seen as evil.

Witches are not evil and we don’t wish to hurt anyone or anything. Most Witches believe that to cause harm would cast the harm back onto them three times three. Witches are both Male and Female. The title of Warlock is not commonly used by Witches yet is growing in popularity among our younger male Witches. A male Witch is a Witch who happens to be male.

Witches do not worship the devil; most of us don’t even believe in the concept of a devil since he was invented to control people with fear in case they didn’t believe or follow the Christian laws.

But we Witches do take our beliefs very seriously. Witches are not part of some kind of great cult out to steal the souls of the unsuspecting. We are just ordinary people who live, for the most part, ordinary lives. We have jobs, families, and lives like everyone else. Witches are not like the TV witches that pop in and out of rooms or fly across the sky on their broomsticks. (Although it looks like it could be fun.) Witches don’t trap small children to roast for dinner or make into gingerbread. Witches don’t go out looking to cause havoc or to plunder villages.

We do not feel the need to try to convert all those we meet nor do we wish to be preached to. As Witches, all we ask is for the same rights and freedoms as anyone else. We want to feel safe and know that we will not be rebuked or persecuted for our beliefs. We do not want to be made out of sinister beings or as being responsible for all the misfortunes that may arise with the world.

But Witches are very real and you would be surprised to find that we are your neighbors, friends, coworkers and even family. It is sad that so many wills chose not to get to know someone who is different than they are out of fear. Surprisingly, they would find us to be people they can always count on and who will openly offer to help. We are the good neighbors if only given the opportunity.

Most Witches practice magick for beneficial purposes and would never dream of harming anyone. Witches do magick for good in performing such actions as casting spells for love, healing, and knowledge. Don’t freak here! Spells for Witches are in most cases a form of Prayer. Yes, Witches Pray… just differently and knowing that what work we do, especially with the energy and blessings of our Deities, will manifest. Many Witches also have a great knowledge of herbs and how to use them in natural healing as well as in working magick.

Witches are not all old or warty. We are not wicked or evil. We don’t act immorally nor are we out to injure others. Witches do not live in caves or gingerbread houses. If given the chance, you would find we are basically like everyone else… except that, we live in a magickal world where all things are possible.

It is so sad to me that in this enlightened age something as simple as fear can cause people to judge and condemn us just as many did in the Dark Ages. Fear and bigotry cause them to put up walls that may never come down.

We shall not judge you for your beliefs and ask that you not judge us. You may disagree with what we believe and that’s okay. We don’t agree with you either. But that should not stop us from learning from each other. For it is only through an understanding of each person’s path that we can grow, and perhaps in time, truly find the freedoms we believe in. For us “Witches, Hindu, Pagan, Druid, Wiccan, Christian, Atheists and all people, no matter their beliefs, should have one magickal goal: That we can stand as one people who work together to create a world of peace and understanding.

Follow The Autumnal Wind

We look to the direction of the Wind.

Indeed, there is no simpler way to find inspirational direction in the cold of autumn, then to close your eyes and be guided by the direction of the Wind. Below, is a guide to reading the messages of the Wind.

1. The North Wind guides you to an Ending

The North wind is known to represent change and death. However, fear not the idea of death for, in this case, it is figurative for a simple ending. Though the wind can guide to the ending of an undesirable situation, it can also be the sign of hard times ahead. The sudden cold of the North Wind transports great danger to humans. So during movements of the North Wind, it is best to be careful, and think on your skills of preservation. Steel yourself for any change which may be ahead.

2. The East Wind guides you to a New Beginning

As the North Wind brings you to an ending, the complementary East Wind will guide you through to a new path. It is known as the wind of renewing life. Just as the Sun rises in the East, the East Wind will figuratively guide you into a new day. So during movements of the East Wind, prepare yourself for a wonderful active day of youthful creation and the discovery of new opportunities.

3. The South Wind guides you to Invigorating Passion

While the East Wind brings you to a new path, the South Wind will give you the enthusiasm to walk upon it. The South wind often represents romance and new love. It is the heated Wind from the hotter regions of the world. When you encounter the South Wind, know that vitality and excitement will soon be yours. It is a time to embrace the excitement of new love and the heady mania of memories for hot summer days.

4. The West Wind guides you to Inner Healing

After the heady passion of the South Wind comes the healing rejuvenating power of the West Wind. The West wind often represents tender love, healing, and cleansing. Think of the West Wind as the Sunset, a time for relaxing and preparing for bed. When you feel the West Wind, know that is now time for you to nourish your body and prepare for the night. Now is the time to feel revitalized by showing love for yourself and others.

Autumn is not solely the time to watch the leaves fall and the animals hibernate. It is also the best time to be guided to your newest path; for it is the one time in the year where the Earth bends to the will of the Wind. Next time you are feeling lost in the cold, simply lick your finger and hold it in the air. Feel the power of the Wind swirling around your mortal body and take comfort in the possibilities being shown to you. The Wind is there to help you, so all you must do is listen close.