Trance or Ecstatic Ritual: What form does it take?

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This past weekend I participated in a Workshop with 35 other participants. Among many wonderful things, we were introduced to Trance work. Moved and curious, I did some research: here is one link. Trance and Ecstatic Ritual is practiced all over the world: a sacred practice shared by many cultures. But it takes various forms depending—and that struck me. So, I did my own trance work...with amazing and profound results. 
• I worked with drumming. In this case, I was physically active with clear mind. The effects were calming and peaceful. I was called to chant, and so did.
• I moved with trance music. Again, very physical, but the piece I chose was both quiet and energetic. Likewise, the outcome was calmative. (The entire journey, however, was not.) 
• I listened. I sat in a comfortable position and basically meditated to music, but unlike some meditations, I asked tones and notes to allow subconscious connection.

The effects of trance can be quite profound. I encourage you to zip through the above link and check out some trance options (on line or with a local group). 

What Good Can We Do?

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I have lived here for about seven years: floors have shifted, doors have opened and opened and opened—gardens have been planted and the fields populated by bees, birds, sheep and so much more. This is a magic place: a very magic place. The house is a 1798 farmhouse with lots of history and frequent spirits. It speaks to me.

Circles, songs, drums, gatherings and workshops: all have happened here. The walls have embraced harmonies, tears and celebration. The outdoors remind us of the fabulous truth of nature. 

Nearing spring, seeds are planted and it smells like earth inside. As they grow, they move to the hoop house...and finally to the rich and supportive soils that are natural to this land. The gardens bloom and abound, the fruiting trees and bushes happen up, and the foraging continues all season long. There is so much to celebrate. 

By seasons end, the root cellar is full, the shelves are filled with preserves and canned goods, the freezers are paced with what veggies I could not otherwise keep/process. 

The sun streams through all directions. We sit high up. There are few words...or just too many.

I've never do it again ... but

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...I don't regret. Not at all. "Walk with me with a flock of sheep through the fields of clover, grasses and wildflowers—imagine." And here, we bring home Jane, a lovely and wonderful Dorper. Those days are long gone, but it was a personal challenge—and we took it on. Through tragedy and purpose, we ended up with a flock of sheep on our land. I bonded with them immediately: they are prey...and so was I. For five years, I smelled them, learned them, loved them...and cherished their every birth and step. I pray to sheep...I honor them. HONOR.

Gentle prey. Wise and loving. 

 

Crystal Love

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Life Art and Blessing has always turned to nature, at the very core, for inspiration, reflection and relationship. RELATIONSHIP: the essence and deep meaning of all. Crystals are a daily part of the Creatrix of Beauty meditation, consideration, and natural, physical and elemental connection. There are literally thousands to consider, but these ones were a bang-wow-super-purchase. Left: Green Apophyllite with Stilbite. Right...as suggestion of the amazing Amethyst Phantom. In connection with nature, the Green Apophyllite is an empowering steward—birthing forth that relationship. 

Take a spin: energymuse.com. These guys are so legit and lovely—you cannot go wrong here. There are many many ways to explore the crystals: I prefer in person, but living in a rural place, don't have too many options. Be sure to consider your sources carefully (that's Karma). Or check with a friend in the know. Ask us anything! We are endlessly curious. 

Green Apophyllite with Stilbite
"Shed your reservations and get in tune with something that never goes out of style—nature. When you allow the stresses, fears, doubts and worries of the modern world to dim your vibrant light, you block your true self from shining through. Green Apophyllite brings you back to your most natural essence. Let go of suppressed emotions and negativity, and, instead, welcome the green energy of growth for vitality and health within your environment. Stilbite will sine a light on your spiritual path. Allow it to open the heart chakra and it will lend its natural rosy pink hue to your rose-colored attitude." —Energy Muse

 

Good Food • Good Life • Good Love

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Food is such an important part of our lives—or, I hope it is for YOU. The practice of growing; carefully washing and selecting; preparing and dishing up into a lovely plate, bowl or cup...is an amazing one: few things could be so healthful, healing and satisfying. This is truly...self care and self love. It is also care and love for others! So, freely share your bounty as you can. 

The above was inspired by a recipe from Super Foods Super Fast. I took my own twist based on what I had and what I was choosing to avoid. Potatoes are from last years harvest (makes my heart sing!). Seeds, chickpeas, cabbage, onions and greens. Simple, bowl-worthy and delightful.

Recommendation: think of some amazing ingredients. Consider how they'd blend (color, flavor, texture). What's missing? What doesn't fit. It's not so hard to create the most amazing, healthy, nourishing and satisfying combinations. Get to know your kitchen. Practice kitchen self care and wellbeing. 

Yes! So rewarding. xoxo

 

Super Friends

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Depending upon where you live, there may be an abundance of weeds and wonders: here, we have nettle, motherwort, bee balm, yellowdock, burdock (and so much more) growing wildly and abundantly through the warmer months. The above is a clipping from a poster I designed a few years back (an assignment for school and Mandala Botanicals). 

Nettles: One of the most nutritious wild greens in the fields. It is, indeed, stinging, so harvest with long, protective gloves (like rose-pruning gloves) and protective clothing (your skin will burn and sting if it meets the nettle). The stinging quality goes away after steaming or drying. 

Marshmallow: Sooooooothing. Good for intestines and bowls. Nice for an irritated throat. Soft leaves and lovely flowers. 

Cayenne: Circulation, stimulation, immune kick. Harvest carefully and always keep away from the eyes and wear gloves when handling. Super hero in the immune herbal medicine cabinet

Astragalus: An adaptogen, meaning it helps protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. Astragalus may help protect the body from disease and contains antioxidants. It is used to protect and support the immune system. Also known to help prevent colds and upper respiratory infections, lower blood pressure and protect the liver.

Bee Balm: Easy to grow and beautiful! Sort of invasive (bullies my lemon balm out of the garden every year—so I divide and move). As a part of the mint family, it is both calming and uplifting. Great for herbal baths and teas. 

Finding Connection

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The act of moving pencil across paper is m a g i c a l. In every consideration, there is pause and motion—and they are, in fact, a married process. The mind, unlocked, reveals. Love, harvest, care, focus, connection, appreciation, reception, thought and celebration.

And then...there may be idle thought and healing: a novel, a card game, a cup of tea. Don't let Virgo steal you away from idle pleasure and "tending of your soil." There is a richness found in breaking rhythm: going places you are not accustomed to, allowing for surprise. 

Energy Muse • Clearing and Energizing

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I really love these guys (Energy Muse): I love the quality of their products, the integrity behind the video content—And their recently released book is a treasure I am awaiting. I read this earlier today and wanted to share. Cleansing and clearing has been on my mind and in my daily efforts, for these vary reasons (plus a regular honor/respect to the plants/elements/elementals):

"Change isn’t just necessary, it’s life itself. We can see it in nature every day with our ever-spinning planet, its majestic flowing rivers and the constant push and pull of the ocean tides. Our constantly evolving world is always going through phases of transformation. But when this energy gets stuck, it causes a once pristine river to turn into polluted pond overrun with algae sludge.

The same can be said of your body and spirit, which is heavily influenced by your environment. When you combine the ancient philosophy of Feng Shui with space clearing and the power of healing crystals, get ready for opportunity to rock when you clear negative energy from your home and create a space that vibrates at its full potential."

Herb burning for clarity, clarifying and cleansing is a regular practice here: Bay, Sage, Lavender, Pleurisy, Sweetgrass and Honeysuckle. Copal and Paulo Santo are also wonderful—and popular. Crystals vary depending: right now we have a full-on, full-moon cleanse and clearing going on. (The actual Full Moon is tonight at 7:51pm EST.) If you'd love to know more, visit their website and/or blog. Enjoy! 

Are you a Magpie?

©Ron Dudley

©Ron Dudley

mag·pie

ˈmaɡˌpī/
noun
1. a long-tailed crow with boldly marked (or green) plumage and a raucous voice.
2. used in similes or comparisons to refer to a person who collects things, especially things of little use or value, or a person who chatters idly.

Kelly-Ann Maddox referes to herself as a Magpie. Curious...we looked it up, and found the above. Yes, she is, indeed, chatty, but certainly does not collect things with "little use or value." Are you a Magpie? 

I own a lot of stuff. Often, I go through all of my bookshelves, my crafts, my clothing, my decks, my drawers of miscellany, fabrics, herbs, artwork and more. I can only keep as many books as fit into my one shelf. I can only have the clothes that fit in the spaces provided. I can only have...what I know and can manage to relate to: Most of what I have has deep meaning to me. Deep meaning. (p.s., regret that I gave up a large collection of albums, but they were a "travel" and "moving" burden.)

I also have a "present closet." I have kept this for many years: it's a place I put special things that I know I will want to gift away. It makes me happy to peer in.

What is special to you? What do you collect? What do you honor? The things we own are part of who we are and what we reflect into the world. Fun exercise
• Look around your space
• Make a list of what you see
• Make a list of what you smile about
• Make a list of what brings sad or anxious energy
• Make a list of what doesn't suit anymore
Reflect on the above. Write some notes. These things define you in ways. What do you love...and what do you want to shed... This is a "cleansing" exercise. Enjoy!

Super Foods ... Everyday

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Considering our wellbeing, everything really comes down to diet and circumstance. In the use of the word "diet," note how we've misconstrued the meaning to embrace the idea of deprivation vs. abundance. "Diet," is what we consume. It is our nutrition. It is our sustenance. (Circumstance is very complex: and for another posting.) If one can afford to, paying attention to diet is one of the very best things we can do to achieve and maintain optimal "performance" (again, a loaded and often mis-understood word). Our body longs for homeostasis, and works super hard to achieve it: we can assist by learning a bit or buying an amazing cookbook or two to educate. For those short on time but eager to eat well, consider "Super Foods, Super Fast" by Julie Montagu. She's heavy on the coconut oil, but simply substitute olive oil or avocado oil or something if the coconut oil is not your thing. For those longer on time, Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Every Day" is AMAZING. 

The Joys of Canning

Bringing frozen Elderberries, Cherries and Currants from the freezer: was too tired to cook them and can at harvest's end. Now...ready: the below inspires.

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Every year, the objective from March on, is the grown, feed, harvest, preserve, honor and enjoy. We log everything we can...and rate it. We also have fun creating new labels each year (also a great way of knowing what to use up first). Always so amazing to visit the root cellar in February...and cook from the last apples, onions, potatoes and husk cherries. And the canned tomatoes are so "fresh"—they taste (this time of year) like the garden. The jellies and jams are consumed with pride and honor. It takes so much time, but is so very worth it. 

Lifting Winter Dullness — Beauty!

We gathered for some winter celebration—and afterward, settled flowers in spring water to float beautifully. Here where it is cold, it is nice...this time of year...to have a store-bought memory and spark of color in the house. 

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But the flowers would get tired in the water—and not do well over time. So I dried them (low oven...meaning pilot light on) and later packed them. Dried, these petals and collected greens are lovely in a bowl—and with a sprinkle of Rose Water or flower essence, brings such joy. JOY. 

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Arugula, Spinach and Eggs: Power foods

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Apologies up front to our Vegan community: this one is not for you. But for those of us who eat eggs, please know that they are one of the best proteins one can eat. The reason? They have the closest make up to our protein chains. From a scientific standpoint: they are a hero protein source for us. Many women are encouraged to eat eggs during pregnancy: and this is exactly why.

An we know spinach (along with nettles) are one of the super powerhouse veggies in the veggie kingdom. Just their deepest to green quality tips us: "I'm a hero!" Arugula qualifies as a bitter: while mild, it is a great add to those seeking to add the bitters to their food choices.

A SIMPLE RECIPE:
Add a bit of butter or olive oil to a frying pan. Heat a bit and add some finely chopped onion, garlic or scallion (or all three!—alliums are great for us). Allow to soften a bit and add spinach and arugula leaves, sea salt and pepper. Squeeze a touch of lemon juice, crack and egg or two and cover the pan while the egg(s) cook. I prefer mine a bit runny, but that's a personal thing. When the egg(s) is/are cooked to your liking, serve up with a bit of creme fraiche or marscarpone. 

(Image©Jennifer McLagan, Bitters (where Methi is used instead of Arugula).

Hearing the Seeds

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Mid-February. It is cold and icy today, but rays of sun break through and the days grow longer. I walk the frozen grounds and check the gardens. The golden stalks rise above the snow: signs of last year's marshmallow, angelica, bee balm. Circling the greenhouse, my heart rises with the thought: "soon, I plant seeds." 

I make charts and graphs and plan for this years garden—considering rotation and companions. The calendar dictates who's planted first—and marked well so I know who's who as they are beginning to sprout (or not). March is not far away...and the soils will welcome the seeds.

Every year...the planning, planting, rising, gathering, fading and turning in. Every year, the wheel of the year. Until I no longer walk, in this form, on this earth as I know this. 

Bitter as a Way of Life

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Herb schooling has taught the importance of bitter herbs and vegetables in a healthful and vibrant diet. The bitters keep the digestives system rolling: key to our wellbeing. 

Folks are often surprised to hear that the digestion is so critical: we have cramps, sluggish bowls or gas...and take a Tums, Senna or some anti-gas over the counter quick fix. But the real deal is to incorporate bitter qualities into your diet on a daily basis.

It took almost two years to correct a ragged digestive congestion: the "patient" here had suffered from constipation and gas for many many years. The reasons were both physiological and psychological: sugary white diet and high degrees of stress respectively. A healthy dose of slippery elm (primarily) in supportive combo with a few other herbs (in powder form) slowly healed the dietary rigidity and got the bowls responding in a healthy way. A bit of therapy and readjustment of life priorities reduced the stress load.

Food is our best medicine. Each recipe I post from Jennifer McLagan's BITTERS cookbook and educational sweet experience guide incorporates bitters in one way or another. This one...is a variation on her Rony's Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas. (YOU SHOULD OWN THIS BOOK.)

YOU'LL NEED: Chickpeas (soaked and cooked), sea salt, ground black pepper, olive oil, a finely chopped shallot, 1 cup of veggie stock, brussels sprouts, a touch of dry sherry.

WHAT YOU'LL DO: Heat olive oil in a pan and, when hot, add the shallot and cook until soft. Add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly browned and add then add the veggie stock and bring to a boil (deglaze by scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. In another pan, sauté the brussels sprouts in olive oil until they are fully cooked—and even browned on several sides. Add all ingredients to one pan and toss with a little sherry. Enjoy!!

Creating Sage Bundles

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My friend brought me the most beautiful sage bundle—and I was inspired to make my own. I grow sage every year, dry and store. But I'd never made a bundle before: mine included some chamomile, rosemary and calendula.

Bundles (or smudge "sticks") have been assimilated from Native American culture and ritual, where they were used in ceremonies. Sage was believed to cleanse and bless people and places. The bundle are made of dried sage, and can be made with many other combinations include other dried herbs and flowers  (lavender, thyme, bay).

The bundles are lit and blown out so they emit a lovely, herbal fragrance. Cleansing and nourishing.

Sage and Rosemary Bundle
• Dried herb(s) and/or flower(s)
• Twine

In this season, you'll be working dried plant material (unless you life somewhere warmer than here!). It is more difficult to work with dried material, but can be done. When working with freshly harvested plants, you'll find them easy to gather and wrap—and will dry after. 

Gather together your herbs and flowers. Lay your larger leaves down in a row with stems collected to a point toward the bottom. Add in your smaller petals, buds and sprays. Wrap the larger leaves to contain the smaller things. Shape them as you wish (a long bundle is probably easiest—but get creative!) and wrap to secure (begin at the bottom and work your way up...like lights on a Christmas tree, but bottom to top). Dry in a dehydrator or in a gas oven with pilot on. Or...simple hang up-side-down in a dark, dry closet/room until fully dry for burning.

Image courtesy helloglow.com

Image courtesy helloglow.com

Canning and Preserving • Getting Itchy

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This is my "quiet season:" rather than working the soil, harvesting, canning, tincturing and drying, I am researching and planning. The garden plot is "settled" (draw up, rotated) and the seeds (if not saved) have been ordered. My garden plans are elaborate: they are detailed and sometimes colorful—and included companions within rows and categories. Herbs and flowers are woven between vegetables...and there are separate herb, fruit and flower beds. We have trees: plum, pear, cherry, elderberry, apple. There are currents, strawberries and raspberries. 

One of my favorite things to in the winter is to check back to my canning logs. Each year I keep a list of what I made, where I got the recipe, how it worked out and if there were any errors or changes I would make next time around. I give the recipes stars—so it's easy for me to see visually what I should repeat and avoid (using up resources!). I'm itching to get back to it—so recall I froze elderberries, cherries and raspberries at the end of the season...when I was too busy to deal. So, I'll make some syrups and jellies while I wait for the snows to melt and the seedlings to grow...and the tree and bushes to bare fruit. Yummy!

Favorite canning books:
Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff (five stars!)
Ball's Blue Book Guide to Preserving (with some adaptations, another five star reference)
Putting Food By by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan and Janet Greene (timeless)
Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan (perfect for small quantity canning) 

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