Our view from Austin of the super, blue, blood moon early this morning was clouded over, alas. But once the clouds cleared, I continued my monthly wildcrafted tea practice with cleavers. Here it’s called “sticky weed;” my children and their friends love to pick it and throw it at each other or stick it to each other’s backs. Other names for cleavers include “Velcro weed” and “backpacker’s colander,” since a bundle of it could be used as a strainer in a pinch.
In winter Central Texas cedar elms lose their leaves, revealing birds’ nests, ball moss, and mistletoe. The white-berried hemiparasite particularly plagues the cedar elm growing just outside our front door. While mistletoe performs some of its own photosynthesis, it draws most of its water and nutrients from the tree hosting it. Mistletoe flowers and produces white berries, which birds eat. They then disperse the sticky seeds via their beaks or excretions. Here’s one of our American species, Phoradendron tomentosum:
Phoradendron is Greek for “thief of the tree.” Continue reading “Burning Last Year’s Mistletoe”
Sitting outside in the bright, yet gentle mid-morning sunlight. Incense lit, second cup of coffee in hand. I’ve watered herbs and refilled the bird feeder. I’m watching my beloved Poe stalk a squirrel and listening to a red-bellied woodpecker knock on the utility pole at the corner of our backyard.
So it is, and so I let it be. This is it, and it’s enough. Continue reading “Back to Home Base”
At the beginning of a hatha yoga class that I attended, the teacher led a centering exercise. It involved lying supine and progressively relaxing each part of the body, fully surrendering our bodies to gravity, to the floor beneath us.
“You are in this body now,” the teacher crooned at the end of the guided exercise. My third eye shot wide open.
No, no, no, no, no, I thought. I am this body now.
These thoughts, the limbs heavy on the floor, the belly inside the ill-fitting sweatpants billowing up and collapsing with the breath, the pulse of salt and iron blood, that persistent pain in my left hip, the tension in my jaw, the big black saucer pupils dilated in the dim light, tympanic membranes vibrating with the rhythm of the teacher’s voice and my classmates’ breath. Not just present with these processes; I am they and what they do.
No ghost in the machine. I am this body now.
photo by Aniket Thakur on flickr
One of my New Year’s intentions is to celebrate each of the full moons of 2018 with a wildcrafted tea ritual. Aligning my spiritual life with moon cycles reminds me of the cyclic, rhythmic nature of life. Wildcrafting gets me outside and compels me to consider my relationship with green bloods and the rest of the world around me. Making myself tea is a simple, deeply nourishing act involving all five of the symbolic elements of life: the earth of the herb, the aroma carried on air, and the fire to heat the water. When I drink tea made in cooperation with the living land, I become the living land itself. Therein lies Spirit: embodied, interconnected, and immanent. Continue reading “January Full Moon Tea: Pine Needle”
The backyard compost pile is easily the most magical place of my family’s suburban home. We alternate layers of kitchen scraps with dry brown leaves, and in about a year the pile transforms our coffee grounds, onion skins, apple cores, and carrot tops into rich, dark brown compost, which I use to fertilize our herb garden or young fig trees. The compost pile is a very real, close, concentrated example of life’s most fundamental magic: fertility from rot, life from death.
Gulf Coast toad in our compost
It’s been a rough year for many in my personal circles, and it’s been a rough year for our larger communities. Some of my friends have struggled with illness, some with loss, some with financial strain. White nationalists have marched openly in our nation’s streets, and an ill, ignorant, unrepentant bully sits supreme in the White House, seemingly supported by many of my family, friends, and neighbors.
How to make merry this holiday season, while aware that the malignancies of bigotry and systematic oppression fester in our country?
How to honor holy winter, when at the same time we continue to foul, strip, and destroy the very ground of her being?
How to celebrate the return of the light, when the most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize cautions that “the death of millions may be one tiny tantrum away”? Continue reading “Season of the Dark Mothers”