The Essentials of Witch Wood

There is a quote I read somewhere that says ‘a tree does not a forest make’. Well, I disagree with that statement. In this increasingly overpopulated world we live in it is becoming harder and harder to find what our ancestors would call a woods let alone what they would refer to as a forest. Deep within the heart of every tree there lives the potential for a forest. Each year as my single Norway Maple drops its leaves I am reminded of that. By the time it is finished they carpet the ground with the promise of a thousand trees. The promise of the Witch Wood.

I am on a spiritual journey with the trees. I have been talking to them since I was a child and for the past few years they have been talking back. It was a very large tree that showed me that she is indeed a forest in her own right. I have always had the extreme luxury of being able to enter the sanctuary of a large woods or forest but I realize that a lot of people don’t have that. And the trees also realize that. They want people to know that all it takes to enter the woods is to simply sit with a tree. Touch it, talk to it either out loud or in your head. It will hear you and if you listen with your heart you may hear it talk back. When you have experienced this connection you have entered the Witch Wood. It is a magical place where other worldly creatures dance and play with the earthly ones. It is a place where peace resides, a place you can go when life gets too hectic and you just need a little break from it.

All it takes is one tree and a few minutes of your time. The Witch Wood is calling. Will you answer?

Avenger of Trees

Plant Spirit Awakening

In a dream I met her. She was sitting across a table from me and talking, a lot, telling me so many things but the one thing that stuck out was that we were alike. Very alike, she said. Then today I am online watching a seminar on Plant Spirit Herbalism and there she was! Talking, a lot, about all the things that run around in my head, all the things I love and know about plants. Talking about talking to plants which I have been doing basically all of my life. Her words were pulling me back into a place I had lost. Her words were reminding me of the beauty and glory of being with and talking to and listening to plants and trees; a place of life and love and healing. Reminding me that without plants we cannot live for there would be no air to breath.  Simple truth so easily forgotten.

But let me back track to yesterday when I was feeling disconnected, drudging along my life- road with little enthusiasm, feeling drained of energy and my old nemesis depression was tapping gently on my door. Taking my dust mop, an old fashioned tool for cleaning floors, I stepped outside to shake the dust of my house from its woolen fibers hoping to shake the dust off my muddled thoughts when I heard the cry of a hawk very close by. Looking up into the sky to find where the sound was coming from revealed two red tailed hawks soaring over my head then landing on one of the trees right in front of me. They sat there just long enough for me to realize they were the bearers of a sign then they flew off into the woods their calls echoing behind them diligently succeeding at breaking into my muddled thoughts.

When I went back into the house I gathered up the few books I have on interpreting signs from the animal kingdom. I knew that hawk was a messenger telling me to pay attention, that something was about to be revealed to me. So for the rest of the day I watched and waited. Nothing seemed to be jumping out at me telling me ‘this is the direction’ or ‘do this and it’ll all make sense’. No, the rest of the day seemed to be just a continuation of the same drudging lack of purpose and now my old nemesis was knocking rather loudly at my door. So in an attempt to dull the racket in my brain I got online and just surfed, letting the digital waves take me where they wanted while secretly hoping that they might lead me to that anticipated and illusive message. Now, mind you, it is the middle of March in the northern part of the country; there are still piles of snow sitting around and I see something crawling on my computer screen. Thinking it was one of the few bugs that come inside up here to get out of the cold like  lady bugs or stink bugs I prepared to either move it out of my way (lady bug) or remove it to the outdoors (stink bug).  But on closer inspection found an ant! And I swear to you it looked right at me! So right then I knew it was another sign guiding me toward that illusive ‘message’. Ant’s significance is patience. So with a sigh, I resigned myself to wait.

So when I sat down at my computer this afternoon still feeling much like I did yesterday but with that weird dream still stuck in my head I remembered that I had signed up for a virtual conference on Herbalism. So I tuned it in and there she was; the woman from my dream talking about all the things I know and love and feel so deeply about. All the things I had forgotten to rely upon; the plants, the trees, my old friends, the ones who use to come to me when I was little, the ones who were the faeries, the spirits of nature. She reminded me that I am not alone, that none of us are. The plants are there waiting for us to acknowledge them, to let them help us, love us, heal us. They are more than just physical beings; they are also spiritual beings just like us only so much more advanced evolutionally speaking. They were here way before us and will probably be here way after we are gone. They are well worth listening to.

So what do you think? Was the ant also telling me where I would find the message? Makes sense to me.            

Johnny Depp and The Bees

Johnny Depp and the Honey Bees

I don’t know him, but I do. Maybe it’s a past life thing, maybe it’s a brown eyed thing (we both have them). Or maybe it’s just a thing but I dreamed of him last night. He told me there was eccentric and then there was me; he said I was just crazy. Then he smiled. I said, ”That’s what everyone says about you, you know.” Then he laughed, said us crazy people have to stick together. We made love then he fixed breakfast while I attempted to fold the sheets. It was fun.

Dreams… Huh. I have my theories but first about the bees.

So I have been waiting for the honey bees to return. I had a couple of hives a few years ago but anyone that keeps up with environmental news knows that it’s getting really hard to keep them alive. So, of course, they died. But I’ve never given up. I have two trap boxes set out for them, one between my garden and a large field and one at the edge of my woods. They have been there for three years and have not seen any activity. In fact, during that time I have not seen any honey bees in my garden. There are plenty of native pollinators but no honey bees.

This morning after that dream I wandered through my garden like I do every morning. I went to check on the progress of my small pumpkin patch and found twenty or more big, bright yellow pumpkin flowers, their faces open like smiles toward the sun. The familiar buzzing of insects surrounded them sounding like a miniature chorus. Closing my eyes I let their symphony soothe my dream addled mind when I realized there was a new yet familiar song being sung around the pumpkin blossoms. My eyes popped open, wide, as I realized there were dozens of honey bees busy gathering nectar and pollen from my humble little pumpkin patch. Tears gathered at the corners of my eyes as the gratitude unleashed its self. I watched in awe as my old friends worked happily in my garden once more, their droning song filling the morning air. It filled me with hope, something that has been sorely lacking in my life of late.

Then I trekked out to check my trap boxes, put in some fresh lure – just in case.

So, what, you might ask, has the dream to do with the bees? It could, of course, be just the typical birds and bees symbolism, a very viable option. Or just a simple escaping the ordinary dream. Another viable option. My dream dictionary says that sex in a dream can be a symbol of two energies joining together and with a stranger can portray joining with one’s own anima or animus. In other words, he could simply be a projection of my inner self attempting to bring me some comfort. Well, all I know is both the dream and the bees made me feel – well – joyful! Both gave me much happiness and hope that life can still be good, fun – exciting, even. Feelings many of us have been thinking of late could be lost forever.

There is also the theory that sometimes when we dream our spirits travel, wandering through this world or others in search of adventure. So I will be forever curious. Did he wake up this morning and wonder, who was that crazy old woman I made love to in my dreams last night? Then maybe he shook the cob webs from his dream addled mind and heard some bees outside his window.

Dreams… Huh. You just never know.

 

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Winter Fire

Fire Goddess who speaks

in tongues of ancient ancestors,

we jump within

your folds of life

bearing your heat

out onto the ice

and dark and night.

We hold you deep within

the winter of our journey

this journey you put

us upon before we

could speak or walk

or be whatever the spark

you placed within us

became.

Fire Goddess who speaks

a blazing inferno

sustain us as we walk

out onto the ice where

we carry your words

of hope and peace

deep within this Solstice night.winter fire 1

 

Faerie Food

I love mushrooms. I love looking at them, painting them, searching for them in wild places. To me they are the symbol of all things Faerie.
Today I was planting some bulbs and came upon a familiar mushroom, two, in fact. The Wood Blewit is one of the prettiest mushrooms you’ll ever encounter. It comes in shades of purple and lavender and best of all, it’s edible. So I carefully picked these two little mushrooms and set them on my kitchen counter. Later in the day I set about cleaning them, gently brushing dirt from them, sometimes blowing dirt off that was stuck in their tiny gills. When they were sufficiently cleaned I set them down on a cutting board and turned to grab an onion when a flash caught my eye coming from one of the mushrooms. I picked it up to examine it and noticed a fleck of glitter on its cap. Then I noticed another and another and realized the entire cap of the mushroom was sprinkled with the tiniest specks of glitter I’ve ever seen, so tiny that I had missed them during the cleaning process. The strangest part about this was that they were very hard to rub off. I had to scrape them off with my knife.
Now, I probably don’t have to tell you that glitter is not a natural occurrence on any mushroom. Loads of scenarios flickered through my thoughts. I have been known to brush off my glitter laden clothes just outside my door where I enjoy the sparkle on my doorstep for months after. But the area I found the mushrooms in is nowhere near my door, not even near my house. I live in the middle of eleven acres of woods in the country so the idea that someone tossed glitter on my property wasn’t a viable one. Then there was the fact that of the two mushrooms standing within a few inches of each other only one of them was glittered.
My logical mind wants to find a practical answer to this conundrum.
My spirit knows the answer.
Nature spirits, which I choose to call Faeries, took glitter which they found somewhere – perhaps on my doorstep – and carried it possibly on the wind, possibly by bribing some insect to carry it on her back, then deposited it onto this one mushroom. Then they set about leading me to that place knowing I had flower bulbs to plant that would give them beautiful flowers to play with in the Spring. In my heart I feel they rewarded me for planting those flowers by giving me not only something to eat but a sign from them that they really are there.
So – does that make my mushroom Faerie Food? We all know we have been cautioned not to eat faerie’s food or we will be lost in their world for a long time, maybe even forever. Well I live with one foot in their world already.
Maybe it’s time to jump right in.

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Dirty Feet

Anyone who gardens in the north knows that this is the season for dirty feet. It doesn’t seem to matter if you go barefoot, wear shoes, sneakers, or mud boots; somehow the dirt from the garden finds its way to your feet. I’ve tried tucking my jeans into the boots, wearing them on the outside of the boots, even going so far as putting a rubber band at the hem of the jeans around the boot. No matter what I do at the end of the day my feet still look like someone has dumped dirt into my boot and rubbed it into my skin.
I blame the garden gnomes.
I saw a garden gnome some years ago. Not one of those statues of garden gnomes you see all over the place, which I believe give them a good laugh. No, this was a real, honest to goodness gnome. Did you know that what people think is a pointy hat on their heads is actually the shape of their heads? Yup, that’s what I saw.
It was a one moonlit summer night when he appeared in my flower garden. He stood about three feet tall and just stared at me as I stared back at him. I got the feeling he was just as surprised to see me as I was him. It was difficult to make out colors due to the blue cast the moon gave everything but I did notice that he was not wearing clothes and he was a bit hairy all over. And, like I said, there was no hat on his head, just that domed point with long, dark hair cascading from it. His facial features were quite flat, eyes that slanted toward pointed ears held close to his head, a wide nose with flaring nostrils and full lips below a large mustache that hung well past his chin and his skin appeared greenish-blue in the summer moon light.
The night I saw the gnome I was wearing my wellies due to a resent downpour which made the garden wet and muddy. When the gnome disappeared – and I mean disappeared, he just seemed to sink down into the earth on the spot he was standing – I finished the ritual I had been doing when he first appeared then I went back inside. As is customary in many pagan paths, I had bathed before doing my ritual so imagine my shock when I removed my wellies and found mud caked on the top of my feet and between my toes. That was the first time I made the connection between dirty feet and gnomes.
That was the only time, so far, that I’ve seen a gnome but I know they’re out there in my garden just beneath the surface. I know they are waiting for me every time I go out to weed or water, gather or plant. They are just waiting to use their own little brand of earth magic to somehow put dirt into my boots. Sometimes I make their job easier by wearing sandals or simply walking around the garden barefoot, letting the dirt toss up onto my feet, squish between my toes. I can almost see them smiling knowing I have gotten their message to not forget what is responsible for making my garden grow.
Now when I take my boots off and knock the dirt out of them heading for the bathtub to wash my dirty feet, I think of that gnome staring at me in the moonlight and smile.

 

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