Friday, March 30, 2012

G is for Garden Guardian

This spring I have finally had to admit that its time to let go of my very first garden guardian, little friend Turtle. He was so lovely in his early years...


... but not so much anymore. Sun, snow, dropping tree branches, neighbors burying their electric cable and dumping dirt and rocks on him in the process, have laid friend Turtle low. Bleached out, broken shell, he's been in sad shape for a couple of years now, but its taken me until this spring to find the perfect new guardian for the herb garden, although I half-heartedly started looking last year.


But when I saw this little owl, I knew the goddess Blodeuwedd was making Herself known to me once more. What could be more perfect than an owl, Her animal aspect, to sit on the offering stone on the east (air) side of my herb garden to guard it? Blodeuwedd herself was made of herbs and flowers, so it seems very auspicious to have Her blessing upon my garden.


When I placed the little owl on the offering stone at the entrance of my little herb garden, I briefly welcomed Blodeuwedd and asked for her blessing and protection; however, I plan on doing a much more formal welcome and dedication to Her at Beltaine, which I consider her Sabbat, as she is a May Queen. But for now, I feel pleased and comforted to have found the perfect new guardian for the garden.


This post is part of the alphabetical topic series for the Pagan Blog Project.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tarot for 2012: 3rd moon

It's well into the 3rd moon cycle of the year; time for me to explore the card I drew for this moon when I did my New Year's reading

from the Druidcraft Tarot

FOUR OF CUPS~ 

Keywords & phrases include: Stagnation, dissatisfaction, discontent, apathy, stuck in a rut, lack of motivation, withdrawing from involvement, feeling disengaged, ignoring gifts & blessings. 

This card is about being self-focused, often to the point of losing awareness of others or the environment around oneself. Life seems stagnant, but only because focus is on what is causing discontent. The figure in this card is so focused on the 3 cups within sight and completely misses the opportunity presented by the cup behind her. 

This card describes very well where I am at, especially the past couple of weeks. I have been so withdrawn while healing from surgery earlier this month that life feels stagnant. I am looking for things to engage my mind and heart and pull me out of my apathy-- hence, buying seeds, cleaning out my garden and focusing on the arrival of spring to lift my spirits. I am still struggling, but I feel that I'm starting to awaken from a deep sleep. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In the Backyard

Signs of spring in my backyard today... 

 ... fuzzy buds on the maple tree...


... my rhubarb is coming up... 


... many of my herbs are greening up and filling out already! Sage, thyme, apple blossom yarrow, lavender and comfrey are doing well. Lemon balm is starting to peek out. I am so excited; I love this time of year!

Friday, March 23, 2012

F is for Feathers

I have a fascination with collecting bird feathers. It started when we found our first house. We were at an open house and thought perhaps we'd found THE ONE-- a lovely little sage green and brick house with a nice little yard, 2 bedrooms (1 perfect for my craft room), 2 baths, finished basement...

As we left the open house, my husband handed me a beautiful striped feather. "I found it in the back yard," he said. I took it as a good omen regarding the house and have been fascinated with feathers ever since. (It was a flicker feather, indicating new beginnings, and yes, we did buy the house).

Since my cats are also feather lovers, I've had to contrive ways of keeping my feather collection away from questioning, thieving paws. I have some of my favorites-- blue jay, magpie, possibly a stellar jay and dove, in a found birds' nest under a glass bell jar on one of my altars. The rest I have carefully hidden away in my craft closet for now.


A collection of goose feathers I found on the shore of the lake behind my in-laws' house.

When it comes to using feathers in magic, it seems there are two schools of thought-- one is to associate the feather's color for its magical associations and the other is that the type of bird the feather comes from determines its magical properties. While I don't turn my nose up at color magic, it doesn't feel right at all to me to use it as a basis when it comes to feathers, I would much rather learn about the qualities of the different birds.


Wild turkey feathers from my Dad's wooded property in Iowa.


I believe that found feathers are best for magic (and most of the resources I found regarding feather magic said the same)-- the only problem with this being that unless one is very well versed in feather identification, you don't always know what you've found. All of the feathers I have are gifts that have been given to me-- either by the birds themselves, or by friends or family who have found them.


Above are more of my feathers: top left is an exotic bird feather I received in a ritual; top middle are woodpecker and flicker feathers (including the one my husband found); top right are most likely mourning dove feathers; bottom left unidentified feathers (pigeon?); middle bottom most likely belongs to one of the many seagulls that, strangely enough, hoover over parking lots here in land-locked Colorado; bottom right are most likely blackbird feathers.

The majority of feathers I have were collected from my own back yard, where we have a feeder and birdbath. Not only do we (humans and cats) get to enjoy watching the birds who come to feed, but occasionally they leave feathery gifts for me.


In many of the books and resources I consulted, it was easier to find information associated with the more exotic birds, but I was able to compile a list of associations for many of the backyard visitors I have enjoyed over the years-- hopefully it will be of use to other feather fanatics out there.

BIRDS and their MAGICAL ASSOCIATIONS:


Blue Jay: adaptability, creativity, speaking out, trickster, use talent & power properly

Crow: ancient wisdom, boldness, diviner, magic, walk your talk

Finch: activities & potentials awakening, energy, greater opportunities, home, meetings, opportunity

Flicker: new beginnings are near

Junco: migration, moving, revealing facial expressions, replenishing,

Goose: draws love, fruitfulness, heed call to a new quest, protector, reliable, safe return, storytelling, territorial, travel, Autumn Equinox. The Goddess Hathor became a Nile goose and laid a "golden egg"-- the sun. In medieval times, geese were said to carry the souls of those who were not baptized (pagans).

Magpie: crafty and willful, communicating secrets, doorway to new spheres, life & death, occult understanding, oracular announcements, prophetic, use magic and knowledge properly. Chattering magpies foretell the arrival of guests; 2 magpies or more indicates a happy occasion, 1 magpie indicates sorrow.

Mourning Dove: beauty, fertility, forgiveness, long life, love spells, peace, prosperity, sex magic (dove)

Robin: harbinger of spring, new beginnings, new development, territorial, trust in your new creative ideas, the New Year. The robin is said to be the bird form of the God of the Witches, Robin Goodfellow (Cock Robin).

Sparrow: the moon, maintain your dignity and pride, sex magic

Starling: communication, friendly, strong and powerful, variety

Turkey: abundance and blessings are present, artistic, bounty, communal giving, gifts (given/received), shared blessings, thankfulness, originality, prosperity, they are sensitive to the evil eye

Woodpecker: activity, energy, prophecy, time of new rhythms and new beginnings, weather predictor

Sources:

Animal-Wise by Ted Andrews
Bird Spirits (Native American Cherokee Tribe)
Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magic for Teens by Ellen Dugan
The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland
Grimoire for the Green Witch by Ann Moura
The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects by Barbara G. Walker

This post is part of the alphabetical topic series for the Pagan Blog Project

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Equinox Gardening Altar

Blessed Spring Equinox to all who celebrate!

I created a "sabbat specific" altar for the first time in ages (usually my altar is dedicated to the four elements, Lord & Lady) and it's a wonderful change.


This year for the Spring Equinox, I decided to create a Gardening altar; my gardening tools and the seeds I will be planting are on the altar ready to be blessed. For those who don't know, my altar is an antique marble-topped Edwardian table that belonged to my great-grandmother. I almost always use a pastel tea towel, embroidered by my Gram, as an altar cloth. A few other special items on my altar include my in-progress apple wood wand, a bit of moss from a tree at Lake Tahoe where I went one year for a mini-vacation, a cowrie shell I got when I was initiated, a pinecone I picked up on a walk with my husband in the housing area where we lived when we first got married, a very special rock that looks like crystals, tree roots and moss, and a tagua nut that was a gift from one of my Wiccan teachers.

I have a little decorated nest filled with the packets of seeds I'm going to plant this year in my herb garden and patio pots: chamomile, cosmos, moonflower, snapdragons and zinnias. I am still looking for the calendula seeds I plant every year and some nasturtiums, but they will be added for blessing when I find them. I also have my boline for cutting plants and herbs, and some pretty carved and painted eggs in the basket.


My most-used gardening tools are on my altar as well-- a new transplanting trowel, as my old one finally met its demise, and my pruning shears used for trimming roses, thick woody stems and small branches.

As always, I'm excited that the spring planting time is drawing near. I love preparing my pots and garden for planting, love having my hands in the soil, love seeing my perennial green friends returning and choosing my new annual green friends for planting. This year my Spring Equinox celebration is all about seeds, nurturing and growing.

May whatever new seeds you plant this spring be blessed!

Friday, March 9, 2012

E is for Elm

With the semi-arid climate here in Colorado, big leafy trees are fairly rare (big PINE trees are another story). Our next door neighbor has a huge elm tree that hangs over the fence into our backyard; its a tenacious and messy tree, sending off runners to start new trees in all the nearby neighbor's yards and frequently dropping branches in ours after windy days. Nonetheless, its a lovely, large, shady tree with gracefully drooping branches that are lovely to watch through the window in my craft room. So I figure I should learn more about a tree that is so majestic and so prominent in my life.


Element: water

Day of the week: Tuesday

Planet: Saturn

Gods: Odin, Loki, Dionysus

Goddesses: Cerridwen, Danu, Gaia, Hel

Associations/Powers: attraction, birth, compassion, empathy, endurance, energy, grounding, healing, intuition, love, passages,rebirth, stability, wisdom

Magical uses: protects against lightening strikes, attracts love, use as amulets and wands for love spells, use for dark moon or initiation rituals, grounding after ritual, seeking comfort

My personal experience with the elm is that it is very tenacious. Although it does tend to lose branches frequently, it also reproduces easily. I can see how it's associated with birth, rebirth and healing. The main tree sends off runners (root suckers) that come up everywhere and quickly turn into new trees. If we don't catch them when they are tiny and pull them out, they grow quickly are are hard to get rid of-- we cut them down to the ground, but they sprout back up again.

The elm feels very feminine; maternal, even, with all her little babies coming up everywhere nearby. The graceful, drooping branches also seem very feminine.

I have the neighbor's elm to thank for free firewood for our patio fire bowl. While we've let some of the runners alone to grow, others we've had to cut down, and so I have the elm to thank for a collection of stangs I am saving to share with pagan friends. Overall, I would say that the elm is a very giving tree.

Sources for magical correspondences:

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
A Wiccan Formulary & Herbal by A.J. Drew
Whispers from the Woods: the Lore & Magic of Trees by Sandra Kynes Green Magic: The Sacred Connection to Nature by Ann Moura

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Little Bitty Doilies

I started doing a little bit of thread crochet again. I thought I'd make some small doilies to use as props when I take photos of my polymer clay items. And, its always handy to have some spare doilies around.

I'm crocheting patterns from Leisure Arts 99 Little Doilies book. The doily that's finished is #10. It still needs to be blocked, so that it will look a little neater. It turned out super tiny, because I used size 20 thread instead of size 10, but that's okay, it doesn't need to be very large.

The one that is partially finished is pattern #81 and it will be a hexagon shape, looking forward to how it turns out. It's soothing and relaxing to be doing a bit of thread crochet again.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This Week I Am

Things move pretty fast around here. Saw the surgeon last Tuesday about my wound from December's surgery re-opening and I had surgery AGAIN last Friday. On to recovery phase!

Feeling: I have some mixed feelings going on-- I'm relieved that surgery is over and that it wasn't as invasive as the doctor anticipated... however, he still wasn't able to pinpoint a reason for the infection, even after doing more exploration during surgery. So we don't know if the procedure will fix everything this time around or not, its just wait and see how it heals again.

Reading: Its been a while since I've read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, so I decided it would be a good choice to re-read while I'm healing. Love this whole series. Seven deliciously fat and wordy books ought to keep me busy for a while.

Watching: Hubby & I watched The Tooth Fairy with Dwayne Johnson over the weekend. Maybe it was just my pain meds making me feel wonky, but I thought the movie was pretty darn funny. Also watched The Walking Dead on Sunday evening, what a good episode! All sorts of new dilemmas have cropped up-- and now **SPOILER** the group has lost their moral compass! It will be interesting to see where things go from here.