- Appalachian Mountain Magic
Today I have posted eighteen essays and a plant appendix as a primer for Appalachian Mountain Magic. It was my privilege to do this research as background material for a colleague who is a traditional storyteller and a recipient of many handed down stories. She is going to publish her stories on BroomRiders. Should you want to read them you will just have to become a member of BroomRiders and join her group!
My contribution was to provide information concerning the various Indigenous American tribes that might have influenced the folklore and magic of Southern Appalachia. Included are basic essays about geology, geography, ecology, and history. I have archived my part of this effort here on my website but the true beauty will be found in her stories.
- An Auspicious Day
“I have known a few others like myself, harbingers for the Ancient Ones, waiting for the death rattle of the oppressor. We stare into that vacant socket repeatedly, apprehensively, and although the glue that binds us to this reality is spent beyond the struggle to remain flesh, we endure and when certain we will cover it with a shroud and be gone. There will be no malingering ascension. We proclaim the rebirth of our kind into the rapture and the Infinite Present.”
Excerpt from Ancestral Airs
- New Posts
We are now up to chapter twenty-one in Letters to the Unborn, and you will find a terrific new piece on Basket Medicine in Essays. I hope you like them.
For some of you winter has been a challenge, especially this weekend with Nemo and his blizzard. Stay safe and warm. Winter has been good here in the desert with just enough snow and rain to keep my garden and me happy. Just think, soon the daffadils will be up. Remember to get your seeds started under some grow lights and re-visit the Companion Planting blog for a review of the seed planting calendars.
- Have a Safe and Sacred Solstice
The Death Clans enter the spiral to celebrate the birth of the sun. Eagles, Badgers, Ravens, Owls, Lynx, Wolves, and Greihound dance the sacred for their people. The Mother moves their feet; they lift their arms awe-struck by Her power. Skins and feathers mix with guttural, rhythmic prayers. I drift into their dreamtime, Darkling Light prods me to stay alert, “Don’t watch the others, you stand for Moondog and Greihound.” I feel him stirring inside me like a wisp of smoke that rises from an extinguished candle. I watch it disappear. He comes again, growling, teeth bared. (I’m alert! I’m alert!). He licks my lips renewed to his sacrament. Grasping the need I stand for days, centuries, six thousand years, filling his tender belly with delicacies of my ether as he fills mine, dancing the rapture for all of us. Calvinist ancestors cover their eyes, others I catch peeking between their fingers, they realizing that savagery was never cruel.
Flesh Eaters nearly naked whirl in air so frigid the snow feels warm to their skin and melts into the Earth. Rhythmically they reach between their moving feet touching the soil, offering the traces on their fingertips to the sun, never missing a step, believing the magic will always work.
[Excerpt from Ancestral Airs].
- New Posts in Miscellanea Magica
There is a rather unbelievable number of new posts in Miscellanea Magica that include the plants associated with 18 tree clans, 25 animal clans, and 18 shamanic societies. You will also find 13 Spirit Gardens designed for serious practitioners who are also astute gardeners, and 7 species by habitat indexes that include all of the property numbers so that appropriate substitutes can be easily made in the spirit gardens suggested. Originally all of these files were part of The Compendium for Spirit Handling.
The Compendium is now completely posted; well over 400 ritual species. It provides an indepth reference species by species for the recent Miscellanea Magica posted files. The material posted in both blogs constitutes decades of research that in the end belongs to everyone. That is my basis for deciding to make it free to you. I invite you to print in out even though it is copyrighted. One of the privileges of ownership and a deeply appropriate give away for me.
- The Compendium for Spirit Handling
I am excited. I have finished posting over 400 species in The Compendium. The entries provide detailed information about the properties inherent to each species, based on thirty properties described in its own file (found in The Compendium top menu), and which plant components are used. This list is followed by unique anecdotal material. All of these species have many other uses beyond ritual and spiritual applications (food, clothing, medicine, shelter), and are described in detail in Ancestral Airs. I felt Ancestral Airs needed The Compendium as a companion so that ritual healers, shamans, and spirit handlers could find a concise reference for plants suitable to their practices.
In the blog I named Miscellanea Magica you will find many appendixes that were originally featured in The Compendium. So far I have posted 13 Spirit Gardens that list ecologically harmonious collections of plants that include all thirty ritual properties. There are 7 files called Species by Habitat with Property Numbers. These entries guide you through making substitutes in Spirit Gardens, and also illustrate which species have the most number of properties. I am in the process of posting the files on Clan Magic. To date you will find 18 Women’s Tree Clans and 12 Animal Clans. It will take me a few more days to post the remaining animal clans and the numerous societies. These files tie specific affinities to the ritual plants that best support those affinities.
The Compendium for Spirit Handling is a complex and comprehensive work that I felt should be given away because I believe in my heart of hearts that this old knowledge belongs to everyone.
- The Quickening
This has been a year of consuming challenges. I had plans for lots of gardening and prolific writing. But spirit had decidedly different designs on my life, and as each of us knows intimately, spirit always gets its way.
Attending to my responsibility toward the garden became something of a marathon. Note how I have used the word: responsibility. The first step to spiritual stewardship of our beloved Earth understands that the moment we germinate a seed or commit a plant to soil with deliberation, we have taken responsibility for its life. Now that fall is here the garden and I can finally visit; we talk together as weary friends ready for the season of dreams.
Most everyday I spend hours tending to one miniscule patch and while we talk I primp and prune to their every desire. I ease back the mulch and inspect the flurry of new growth hidden there. It feels as though I am a child clandestinely poking around known hiding places, hoping to catch a glimpse of a secret gift. The garden is busy! She is already paving the way for a glorious season that won’t show its face for another six months. Perennials are quietly doubling and tripling their colonies. Although we haven’t seen them since early spring, the tulips and daffodils are multiplying discreetly deep beneath the surface and beyond our scrutiny. The mints, the wormwoods, the catmints, the evening primrose are sending out scouts looking for new territory to explore. Take a peek beneath the mulch and you will see them moving off into every direction. Many things are dropping seeds, some on their own, and others with the help of birds, insects, wind, or magic. In the spring treasures will pop out in the most unexpected places! Fall, for me, exemplifies the spirit of hope and perpetual life. It is profoundly evident that the garden is planning an extraordinary show and I hold the intent of watching it unfold.
I have many other friends as well. Birds are constantly negotiating with the feral cats. I see an occasional raccoon, and a skunk or two shows up to purge the garden of grubs. But what comes to mind, as the nearest and dearest treasures without measure are the spiders and ants. My life would often feel an empty shell without them. I watch everyday, often for hours, and they tell me wondrous things.
Spider Woman, the benevolent wisdom keeper who taught us how to weave, has set up her loom in countless places. She is the creatress of dreams, mystical and elusive, sometimes comic, other times the mistress of dark and troubling worlds. And her manifestations are dazzling. I have seen her appear as a golden jewel set in the heart of a spun and woven masterpiece. She is shy and tentative in that form. Once, long ago and out of fear of my tenacious pruning, she climbed into my ear for shelter. When she is black and glistening Spider Woman is confident, an aggressive, venomous diva who wouldn’t have a single reservation about making me deathly ill. In another presentation I simply call her Lady Gaga; she weaves her web nightly between the shed and a tree, right where I walk each morning. It’s a colossal undertaking, easily four by seven feet. And yet as soon as the sun strikes it she hauls it back in. I think her daily attempt to catch me exhibits a tremendous awareness and a genuine sense of humor. Spider Woman is everywhere, an astute shape-shifter and trickster, weaving dream catchers at night, gathering them in at first light, and allowing us the illusion of a solid, solitary reality for just a while. Manipulating matter is her medicine and she is a master magician.
And then there are the Ant People who saved mankind during one of their many migrations. Old storytellers claim that in those days, when ants toiled to keep us alive, ants enjoyed the same stature as humans. But the toll was enormous, reducing them to the size we recognize today.
In the very heart of my garden the ants have engineered an extravagant colony. They chose a ring of stones that had once surrounded a tree, a creature that had left before I arrived to care-take this small plot. All summer I have watched the ants bring up jewels from the deep recesses of our Earth. One week it was brilliant white particles unrecognizable to me. Then I spotted them laboring with a once hidden pocket of aquarium gravel the kaleidoscopic colors of confetti. I tried to picture who might have buried it and wondered, how long ago? The ants moved the colored gravel with obvious intention and when they were done, their entire hill was impeccably decorated. And they are still working, bringing polished black stone to the surface. It looks like anthracite or tumbled basalt, and the chunks are a formidable size. Curiously, some of the ants are moving countless pieces of tan gravel. It had become somewhat scattered during the season and it is being put back in its original setting. Still others are selecting bits and hiding them in the drain holes of flowerpots. I would do just about anything to comprehend their plan.
But what I found most telling this year was the prey that the ants brought in; big game, huge black beetles the size of my thumb. They would labor for hours bringing them to their hill. Some excavated the entrance to accommodate the extraordinary size of their harvest while others brought up more gravel, creating hidden storage chambers somewhere in the depths of their colony. The Ant People have told me that winter will come early and stay late.
When the snow flies again all of these creatures will find their way into their own dreamtime. I will bundle up and go outside just to stand next to the anthill, watching the snow melt from the rock ring in the pale sunlight, forever confounded by that world. Spider Woman will take her needed rest among the Ancient Ones. In the spring she will be reborn in the souls of her offspring, now asleep; I just can’t imagine where. I could spend a millennium trying to discover their secret but I can’t bring myself to disturb the hidden hope of their inevitability. I am spellbound by the mystery and that is enough.
- Fall 2012
I don’t know about you but I have had a very busy summer. Northern New Mexico was finally blessed with some abundant rainfall so my garden is lush and gorgeous. The pollinators are having a grand time gathering their nectar. The bees are so plentiful they tend to lazily bump into me as they go about their business. And although everything is blooming magnificently I know its time for all of us to be considering fall garden chores and securing our outdoor spaces for winter. It will be here before you know it. I would suggest you revisit the numerous lessons in the Companion Planting blog so that you can tie up the loose ends effectively, finish your harvest and preservation, and look forward to all the new catalogs coming out in December and January…..when you are cozied up watching the snow fall.
I really don’t know how many new entries I have posted in The Compendium for Spirit Handling. Dozens for sure which takes us through the H’s. There are plenty of well-known species, some surprising ones, and certainly ones you might never have expected. Give it a visit and add some tidbits to your knowledge of ritual plants and plants that will assist you in a vast array of spiritual endeavors.
I have started a new blog entitled Miscellanea Magica. Its going to become a repository of all types of things I have learned along the way. Currently I am publishing files called Spirit Gardens which are actually appendixes for The Compendium, (sorry, it isn’t yet fully published but I am posting the entries just as quick as I can). These gardens are for serious practitioners who believe that knowledge of the Earth is essential to handling plants in rituals. There isn’t any text, just the species lists organized by habitat. I think there are nine more to go, along with an assortment of other lists organized by Clan affiliations, garden substitutes, and so forth. In time this will be an invaluable companion to The Compendium. When those posts are completed I will add an index by property. There exists a menu at the top of the blog page that includes the properties with which I have cataloged these species. Please note when the Alkaline Spirit Gardens come up, I am only publishing a couple. The entire alkaline range is so diverse and abundant there would be literally dozens if not hundreds of Spirit Gardens that could be designed. I hope you enjoy them all.
Lastly, I am up to Chapter Fifteen of Letters to the Unborn. For those of you not yet familiar with this book, Letters to the Unborn is a sequel of sorts to Ancestral Airs. Ancestral Airs is for sale as an e-book. Just click on Books and you will find lots of excerpts. It and a few beautiful cards are sold strictly for the purpose of supporting this website. And your support is deeply appreciated.
- Summer of 2012
I hope your gardens are thriving even in the record heat. Should they be struggling, don’t be afraid to trim them back and give your plants a break from the challenge. They will re-foliate and thank you for it with glorious new growth in a couple weeks. This will also aid in their ability to capitalize on the water they are receiving. The high dry desert is hot too and I am grateful that my gardens are doing well and responding happily to the pruning.
I have to admit that I have done more gardening than writing in the last few months. Nevertheless you will find numerous new posts in the Companion Planting blog and many new plant entries in The Compendium for Spirit Handling. We are now up to Chapter 13 in Letters to the Unborn. I have a great deal written for Letters and will get it posted very soon.
I hope this finds you well and happy, staying cool, and sneaking out to the garden at dawn to enjoy it’s early morning beauty.
- Another Busy Week.....Just The Way I Like It
You will find not one but two new chapters from Letters to the Unborn; chapters twelve and thirteen. A gathering has taken place, a very significant one, and there is also a somewhat wistful departure.
The Companion Planting blog features a short piece about preparing everlasting flowers. One more thing that can be done with all those herbs and flowers I have encouraged you to grow.
And finally you’ll find lots of new entries in The Compendium for Spirit Handling. They include beauties such as Goosefoot, Chrysanthemum, Enchanter’s Nightshade, Marsh or Meadow Thistle, and a number of others. I hope you enjoy all of the posts.
- Chapter Eleven: Letters to the Unborn
There are numerous other posts too. The Companion Planting blog features an article about using Herbs as Houseplants. And The Compendium for Spirit Handling discusses the ritual and spiritual properties of Hornbeam, Caraway, Cornflower, Centaury, and one of several species of Sweetgrass called Catabrosa. You will also find a new essay in The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs entitled “Loving Balance: Competition and Community”. It draws the connection between competition in nature as a social model for hunter-gatherer communities. I hope you like all of these new entries.
- Letters to the Unborn
Chapter Ten of Letters to the Unborn has just been published. This week you will also find new posts in The Compendium for Spirit Handling pertaining to the ritual properties of Shepherd’s Needle, Bittercress, Bear’s Throat, Sedge, and Boar’s Throat. I hope you like them.
- Chapter Nine: Letters to the Unborn, and Other Good Things
Yes, Chapter Nine has now been published. The rest of this week’s posts covered some good things too. The Companion Planting blog featured a new piece about preserving all those herbs I have encouraged you to grow. And The Compendium for Spirit Handling explored some wonderful species that included Heather (Calluna), Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia), Bellflower (Campanula) and a species of Lichen (Candelaria). All have ritual properties and their spirits enhance our lives, each in their own way. Several are well-known garden varieties while lichen is often forgotten as having value beyond its beauty. And Bindweed, thought a curse by farmers, has a real place in spirit handling. Hope you like them all.
- A Whole Host of New Posts
This has been a busy week and I am pleased to present Chapters Seven and Eight of Letters to the Unborn. The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs features an essay entitled Bridging Worlds that explores just a taste of my personal journey writing Ancestral Airs. And speaking of taste, The Companion Planting blog features a brief how-to on creating Herbal Jelly, Sugar, and Syrup. You will also find some lovely species posted in The Compendium for Spirit Handling who are happy to share their secrets with you. They include Hare’s Ear, Flowering Rush, Box, Blue Joint, Pot Marigold, and another species of Moss. Hope you enjoy them all.
- New Posts
Today, The Compendium for Spirit Handling features a lovely species called Moonwort or Botrychium. It is a lesser known species that has incredible ritual and spiritual properties. The Companion Planting blog has a nice piece about preparing Herbal Butters, Oils, and Vinegar. Hope you like them both.
- Chapter Six: Letters to the Unborn
Bringing the week to a close with Chapter Six of Letters to the Unborn. You will also find a nice post in The Compendium for Spirit Handling about Timber Mushroom. It is a Sacred First Food and considered a panacea for ritual healing.
- Rites of Passage
That is the title of a new essay found in the Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs blog. It explores the importance of rites of passage historically as well as something we should consider today as spiritually significant and worthy of reinstating in our lives.
This week The Compendium for Spirit Handling has featured some wonderful ritual species that include the common Beet, as well as Bur Marigold and Deer Fern, both formidable, and the intrepid Birch, one of the 21 sacred trees of the British Isles.
Tomorrow I will bring the week to a close with Chapter Six from Letters to the Unborn and a post on a modest species of mushroom in The Compendium.
- A Wide Range of New Posts
I have been busy this week with new posts in my blogs. In Companion Planting you’ll find a short piece on herbal tea complete with a simple recipe and a nice list of savory combinations. “What’s In a Name”, found in The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs and first published by The Witches’ Voice discusses the considerations for name making and the extent of the research involved with developing the character names in Ancestral Airs. New posts in The Compendium for Spirit Handling include both known and little known species such as English Daisy, Liverwort, Moss, Winter Cress, and Black Horehound. Each of them has incredible spiritual and ritual properties. And saving the best for last, Chapter Five of “Letters to the Unborn”. Hope you enjoy them.
- What's In a Name
This is a new essay posted today in the Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs, first published by The Witches’ Voice. It discusses the significance of names once held by our shamanic ancestors and the research involved to get the names of characters right in Ancestral Airs.
You will also find new posts in The Compendium for Spirit Handling about Winter Cress (Barbarea) and another species of moss called Barbula. Its amazing just how many simple, disregarded, and often ignored species found their way into ritual.
- Today's New Posts
You will find a couple of new posts today. There is one on Herbal Tea in the Companion Planting blog and another in The Compendium for Spirit Handling about an obscure little species called Black Horehound or Ballota.
“When Might We Have Had It Right” is a piece found in Essays; first published by The Witches’ Voice. It was written in order to illustrate the needed awareness we must re-cultivate about the wisdom of our ancestors and the sacredness of our beloved Earth. I hope you like it.
- Letters to the Unborn: Chapter Four
As you can see by the heading I published Chapter Four of “Letters to the Unborn” today. You will also find numerous new posts in The Compendium for Spirit Handling including one about moss and the spiritual properties of oats. Who would have ever thought that a breakfast cereal was once regarded as a spirit of great ritual sgnificance? Hope you enjoy them all, and have a splendid weekend. There is much more to come next week with all my various endeavors here.
- Lots of New Blog Posts and a Splendid Improvement
Due to circumstances beyond my control I have gotten behind on my posts!!! Nevertheless they have been caught up and there is some news as well. Chapter Three of Letters to Unborn has now been published and best of all is a fabulous new menu for that blog thanks to Green Willow Designs. Now you have easy access to background material first introduced in Ancestral Airs. If you haven’t read it yet this menu will help fill in the blanks while reading Letters to the Unborn.
Today I posted on edible flowers in the Companion Planting blog and you will find a piece in The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs entitled A Paronym of the Earth Mother: Clans and Societies. And in The Compendium for Spirit Handling entries have been posted about the ritual properties of Aster, Milkvetch, Lady Fern, and Orach. I sincerely hope I do not have another quantum adjustment in my life any too soon that causes similar posting delays. I hope you like all of them.
- Coming Soon: A New Format for Letters to the Unborn
Soon you will have easy access to files that will give you some background information about Ancestral Airs and its main characters if you haven’t had a chance to read Ancestral Airs yet. This material should make Letters to the Unborn even more enjoyable to read. I will let you know when this new formatting is in place but while we are waiting new chapters will continue to be posted every Friday as planned.
Today’s post in The Compendium for Spirit Handling discusses the ritual properties of a lovely woodland species called Female Fern (Asplenium). And let me draw your attention to a piece I named “Nature’s Advocates or Armchair Philosophers?”, found in Essays. It speaks of the essential need for Earth-worshipping Pagans to become experts at all-things-Earth. I hope you like it.
- The Spiral of Time: Dreamloops and the Infinite Present
This piece, posted today in The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs, was first published by The Witches’ Voice. I want to extend my gratitude to them for their enduring support of my work. The Spiral of Time is a brief excursion into the uncanny similarities between mythology and quantum theory. I hope you like it.
- Northern Earth
Northern Earth (www.northernearth.co.uk) is in my opinion, one of the best-kept secrets on the planet. That fact makes it an especially delightful surprise that my book, Ancestral Airs earned a second review in recognition of its e-book availability and the launching of this new website now posted in, you guessed it, Reviews. I want to thank John Billingsley, General Editor of Northern Earth and himself a superb author, for the generosity of spirit required to return to Ancestral Airs. Please visit Northern Earth’s wonderful website and lend your support for one of the greatest efforts ever entertained by a mere handful of devoted individuals. And take particular notice of Billingsley’s new work “Hood, Head, and Hag: Further Folk Tales from Caderdale”. I will be posting a review of it soon but let me give you a hint now: incredible stories, brilliantly written and researched, and paving the way to make folk tales return to life again. Billingley’s work breathes and renders me breathless!!!
There are several new posts today. The Compendium for Spirit Handling features a sweet but toxic beauty called Cuckoo Pint or Arum. And the Companion Planting blog has a nice piece about butterflies, moths, lacewings, and hummingbirds. It lists some of the species you could include in your garden that will help to sustain them while you get to enjoy their beauty.
- Discarded Daughter of the 20th Century
This is a piece that you can find in the blog entitled The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs. It discusses, in part, the position taken in Ancestral Airs with regard to the mistreatment of women in the last 2000 years.
Today’s post frrom The Compendium for Spirit Handling is about a well known species, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and the properties it brings to rituals. I hope you like both of these posts.
- Making Prayers with Dirt
This is a new essay of mine first published by Mare Cromwell in her splendid blog (www.marecromwell.wordpress.com. Thank you, Mare for this wonderful invitation. You will find it posted in Essays.
Today’s post from The Compendium for Spirit Handling is about the ritual properties of that immortal species, Wormwood. It is a genuine powerhouse and a fine choice for practitioners. Hpe you like it.
Today I posted a short piece about bees in the Companion Planting blog. While exploring the imperiled world of bees I also included a list of plants on which bees like to feed. We can help them with their fight to survive by eliminating all toxins from our gardens and providing good hosts that will help to sustain them.
The Compendium for Spirit Handling features Sandwort, also called Arenaria. The entry lists it’s formidable properties as they pertain to ritual healing. I hope you like it.
- Letters to the Unborn: Chapter 2
As you can see by the title of this post, Chapter 2 has now been published. If this is your first visit to my site just look at the menu on the left and click on Letters to the Unborn. Then scroll down to the first post. The second post follows above it.
You will also find a juicy post from The Compendium for Spirit Handling about the ritual properties of Bearberry. Hope you enjoy that one too.
- Sun Signs and Plant Indicators
Sun Signs and Plant Indicators, found in Essays, is in part an article about the importance of observation. Ancient people understood their environment in such extraordinary detail that they could rely on the observation on one thing to tell them the specific details of something else. I wish there remained more information on this fascinating subject but this essay explores what I found.
Today’s post in The Compendium concerns the ritual properties of a powerful species, often thought of as a weed, called Burdock or Arctium. Some of the most awesome species on Earth are discarded as nuisances when in fact they bring us the lion’s share of both medicinal and ritual medicine.
- Rock Cress and The Death Rattle of the Oppressor
There are two new posts today.
I post an entry from The Compendium for Spirit Handling daily. Its a long book with more than 400 species entries so posting it in its entirety will take a while. Today’s post is about the ritual properties of Rock Cress, also called Arabis. This formidable beauty might just be growing in you garden.
The new post in The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs defines my position, as an Earth-worshipping Pagan, with regard to Christianity. It might surprise you. The post is called The Death Rattle of the Oppressor.
- Rainmakers and Thunder People
Rainmakers and Thunder People, found in Essays, explores the plants entreated to remain in harmony with the weather, remedy its related problems, and create a means of surviving in a good way weather associated challenges. Perhaps if we revisit our ancestors’ knowledge of these things we might just find a path through the trying times ahead. Global warming has already had an enormous impact on every species that exists on our Earth. And as you know, countless are imperiled. While we invest in scientific knowledge and learn how to live more responsibly, we cannot leave out the balance of spirituality.
There are new posts today in several blogs. Companion Planting has a nice list of herbs and flowers that attract beneficial insects to your garden. These species and the flowers that host them are absolute essentials to creating a healthy, bio diverse garden whether grown in a field, a little plot, or in a container. The Compendium for Spirit Handling discusses the ritual applications of Apium. You know this one, its celery. You would be surprised just how much ritual medicine is associated with such a common food. Hope you like today’s entries.
- Letters to the Unborn
I am pleased to be able say that my new book, Letters to the Unborn, is now officially launched as a new blog. It will probably be the most unusual book you have ever read and because of that I had to muster some courage before publishing it.
Letters to the Unborn is not exactly a sequel to Ancestral Airs but many of the same characters are revisited. For those of you yet to read Ancestral Airs pop-up windows will be provided, giving you some necessary background material concerning both the original story and the characters. However, several of the characters introduce themselves in the opening segments so pop-up windows won’t be needed for a week or so. Occasionally you will see passages in quotation marks. These indicate excerpts from Ancestral Airs.
This book has been some time coming. It required additional research into lunar cycles and a few other things. Letters to the Unborn provides a glimpse into a rare ritual that takes place only once every eighteen & half years and the consuming preparation for such an important event. I hope you will join me in this journey to the world of the Ancient Ones and our ancestors, both startling and stunning.
- Announcing a New Blog
I am pleased and a bit nervous about launching a new blog today called The Depth and Breadth of Ancestral Airs. And what better way to do so than to post an essay recently published by The Witches’ Voice. Thank you Witches’ Voice for your enduring support of my work.
This blog explores not only what was rattling around in my head but the actual research into various fields required for the creation of Ancestral Airs. These posts will certainly be excursions into many things and thoughts.
The menu link doesn’t seemed to be activated yet but will be momentarily. For now you can find it on my Facebook page.
And don’t forget that there is a new post daily in The Compendium for Spirit Handling. It is both a book and a blog about the ritual properties of more than 400 plants indigenous to the British Isles.
I think we long for a taste of an ancestral tribal connection. Just look at the fabulous tattooes we are all sporting again. We have been tattooing and painting up for countless millennia. In Essays you will find an in depth article entitled The Keepers of Body Paint, Pigments, and Tattooing Soot. It explores the species once used for adorning our bodies, our treasures, and our habitats.
“The spirits that inhabit every single species are uniquely qualified liaisons for very specific purposes.” This is a line from an article published in Essays entitled The Spiritual Disposition of Tools. It explores the union between devoted spirituality and the practicality of tools. Always peruse the Appendix found in the Essays menu for greater insight into the vast appreciation of plant species held by the Ancient Ones.
This information is expanded exponentially in The Compendium for Spirit Handling being rolled out as a blog. Today’s post from The Compendium concerns the ritual properties of Sweet Vernal Grass.
- The Flutes and Drums of Antiquity
We still place extraordinary significance on the use of musical instruments in rituals. There are uncountable drumming circles throughout the world. And where would Celtic or Native American ceremonies be without drums, flutes, and whistles? But none of the species used to create these marvelous instruments, whether plant or animal, was ever chosen randomly. Each has unique ritual properties and those properties would be well known before fashioning a flute or tying up a drum. Please visit Essays for a more in depth discussion about The Flutes and Drums of Antiquity and the Appendix where species are listed. Note that most drums and many flutes and whistles require animal components. While in Essays take a look at an associated article called Animal Allies.
Today’s post in The Compendium for Spirit Handling is about a ritual species called Mayweed or Anthemis. And Monday being the day for posting in the Companion Planting blog you’ll find a new post about plant propagation. Hope you enjoy them both.
“Hunting as a sacrosanct necessity is not just a thing of the past. We are still hunters, seeking jobs and security, good health, knowledge, and wisdom.” The Sanctity of Ancient Hunters” and its Appendix is a piece found in Essays. It explores hunting medicine and the plants associated with it in the context of both the ancient and modern world.
Smoke medicine is huge and explored in an essay entitled The Prayer of Transcendent Smoke. Smoke, in my estimation, is a practitioner’s dream. You can find a list of well over a hundred species used as smoke medicine in the Appendix that is found in the Essays menu. The list is long and comprehensive and includes species not only for fire making tools and fire wood, but species associated with strength, endurance, prosperity, magic, protection, exorcism, purfication and many other things associated with ritual doctoring. Please visit Essays for the entire text.
“Everyday Things Have Ancient Roots.” There is something sacred there, long forgotten by most, disregarded by many. This piece, found in Essays, explores the sacrosanct origins that are shrouded in prayer, incantation, and ritual. This one has a fabulous appendix of plant species with what we now think of as mundane things that were once infused with magic and regarded as sacred. Please visit Essays for the entire text; then explore the Appendix found in the Essays menu. An extensive plant list can be found there. If you are student of shamanism or the craft this is basic, must-know information.
“Those that lived harmoniously in the natural world had an inherent understanding of the continual forces of creation and destruction.” This is a line from a piece posted in Essays entitled The Delicate Dance of Balance.
It isn’t possible to think of oneself as pagan and know nothing about the dynamics of natural forces that govern our beloved Earth. The essay explores the most basic features of what is now called Earth Science. Six thousand years ago, in the shamanic world of hunter-gatherers, it was the foundation of life, ritual, and mystery.
Did you know that most of the tribes in North America were Mesolithic when Europeans arrived a mere 500 years ago? No doubt nearly all of us have met the descendants, still alive today, of some of these cultures. It is commonly thought that the Mesolithic era is locked into antiquity and most of it has been lost to history. That isn’t true.
If you are European American knowing your own tribe is more problematic. The Mesolithic era there ended more than 5000 years ago and information about them is hard to come by. But it can be done, having been my quest for decades. The result of this long and arduous search is systematically being posted on this website.
Should you have an interest in knowing your European tribe or exploring the Mesolithic era I invite you to click on Essays and begin reading Introduction to Mesolithic Britain.
- The Portal of the Past
“…Of its secret I can only say that the puritans in my blood sigh with relief, convincing themselves it is only a dream, invoked by the devil, beyond my control. I look deeply into their eyes and shrug my shoulders, bidding them farewell forever, knowing that the ether is pure and incorruptible. I, having committed unforgivable sin, shed their condemnation like a skin I have outgrown; back to the dust from which it rose. They will never burn me again.” [Excerpt from Ancestral Airs]
History is an elusive thing, most often coming down to us (or not at all) through the filter of prevailing power. What a pity. Then there opens a window of opportunity and we can gather up the shards of what remains. Piece by piece the sacred vessel of history emerges out of remoteness and we can hear the whispered prayers of our ancestors once again. The portal to the past is, at this very moment, open wide and waiting for each of us to take the plunge.
The greatest beauty for me is to know that once we had it right. We don’t have to forge a new reality from scratch; we need only to dig into history to find the blueprint. History not only satisfies my unquenchable thirst for mystery and magic it brings me face to face with my true value as an individual and the irreplacable uniqueness I hold within the family of mankind. History gives me the courage to confront corruption and descrimination head-on. I no longer shrink from oppressors or take to heart their lies as though I had to wear them like a shroud of disgrace. This is what history has done for me.
I would love to know what you feel about the history placed so readily in your hands. Which jewel in the treasure chest speaks deeply to you and why; which led to the realization that you are divinely created and therefore perfect.
I have often wondered about the compelling notion that draws individuals to embrace the idea that the creative force in the universe is female rather than male. My own beliefs have certainly taken on a life of their own since the moment I put that first seed in the soil nearly sixty years ago. And I can’t deny that my convictions haven’t been ever-evolving, much like our Earth busies Herself with the forces of creation, destruction and re-creation throughout all of infinity. In all of my years of study, this holy trinity of process has always gone on, where revelation was constantly pulled apart and rebuilt into greater and greater understanding of the holistic and mystical nature of the primordial Mother Goddess, the Earth.
Even as a child I found the male god of prevailing belief something of a snob, always a “my way or the highway” sort of guy, a bit too cold and illogical for my taste. If such an entity created the extraordinance of diversity on this planet why then was so much of it confined to the “do not enter” box? I also thought that the lofty mysticism that few if any of us could comprehend was a bit beyond the pale, big empty talk designed to make most of us just feel stupid. So even as a child I found something profoundly honest and tangible about dirt. Dirt was the spirit of abundance: food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and ceremony. It was complex and mystical yet I could hold that mystery in my hand. It had substance and texture. I could examine it and as I did so I could contemplate its wonder and smell its bouquet. For me, that was the heart of the Goddess. Out of that heart grew a rainbow of vitality and expression of worship from hunting and gathering to the pageantry of human sexuality. And such worship was entrenched in the belief that our kaleidoscopic displays were the very energy that fueled the regenerative power of our Earth and in doing so She provided us with an abundance of food. In its simplest terms this is not an idea shrouded in incomprehensible mystery, its right there for each of us to touch, smell, taste, see, and hear, a thing tangible with which we can interact. The misconception that Goddess worship has its foundation in anything other than the Earth or is nothing more than a re-run of the old male god with a new agenda is fundamentally wrong. The Earth and the abundance She provides is not just a sidebar to this faith, it is the faith, the outgrowth of which took many forms.
Predation when harmonically balanced is an essential part of sacrosanct natural order. I studied the predator/prey relationship extensively for Ancestral Airs as a feature of the animal clan stories, as well as developing the attitude toward doctoring malevolent spirits as hunter-gatherers do. In both the spiritual world and the biological one predation is wholely based on vulnerability and opportunism. Preying on the strong is most often an act of desperation fueled by starvation. This shifts somewhat in the mating rituals of animals (and probably humans too) where the young, virile ones try to out do the weaker but wiser older ones. Youth does not always prevail. The same concept tends to govern spirit handling where we might, for example, live in such a way as to invite predatory spirits to prey on us. Such ways of livng create vulnerabilities that include, in part, losing the protection of benevolent spirits or set up the perfect environment in which predatory spirits thrive. The third scenerio seems to take place between practitioners and malevolent spirits whose existence is threatened by the strength, knowledge and healing ability of the practitioner, that through helping others heal, takes away the breeding and feasting territory of the malevolent. The flip side to all of this is the essential feature of balance in nature and a thing that is divinely created as in all the sacred twins of light and dark, summer and winter, day and night, and so forth. The dance between these elements and the predator/prey relationship is found everywhere in healthy, well balanced ecosystems. Perhaps what we have failed to remember are the prayers. Hunter-gatherers conduct deeply spiritual rituals in preparation prior to hunting. These rituals insure that the prey, like the hunter, is entering into the sacred dance.
I have several new posts today. The Compendium for Spirit Handling is featuring Alder, and I posted two new articles in Essays. Both of these first appeared in BroomRiders for Samhain. One is called “And The World Shall Forget You For Kings”. It addresses the plant species entreated when suffering the loss of a loved one. The second essay, “I Beseech Your Soul to Arise” lists the species used to either invoke spirits and ancestors or convene with them. I will leave you with the following thought.
The spiritual devotion to the Earth that tribal people cultivated upheld the principles of living frugally, never taking more than was needed, and giving back more than was taken. They believed that such a way of life was deeply spiritual and brought abundance to their people, by no means defined as society defines it today. The hunter-gatherers of antiquity have a great deal to teach us about the stewardship of our planet and each other. My belief that they did indeed have it right remains my inspiration for this extensive website.
- Power Objects
Every object, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, holds an element of power. But objects, even if merely everyday objects can accumulate power as well. I often think about my grandmother’s spoon. My grandmother was blind by the time she was about twenty and yet everyday she cooked. Her spoon hung in a specific place next to her stove and she used it everyday. One side of that spoon is flat from daily stirring because of the way she held it. That spoon is utterly infused with the spirit of her life. And although she left long ago I can hold that spoon and see her life, listen to her words, and continue to learn from her wisdom. That is a power object.
I have now-old plumes and things I used in rituals long ago concluded. They were certainly powerful to begin with but now these plumes contain detailed memories of all the rituals of which they found themselves a part. I can re-live those rituals in detail every time I hold them. I can hear the songs and the prayers, smell the fire, and the perfume of the smudging herbs. That is a power object.
Don’t be fooled into buying what is sold as a power object. It is not. Wait for one to come your way, wait until you have earned one. The seemingly insignificant pebble you might have picked up along the way and finds itself in your pocket all the time has more power than anything you could buy. That simple, little stone has become the repositiory of your life, your thoughts, your dreams, your spirit. That is a power object.
- Thank You for the Comments
I want to thank all of you for so many comments and such an out-pouring of encouragement. I know your time is valuable and I deeply appreciate the time you have spent here and the comments you have made. So far in The Compendium for Spirit Handling blog Lady’s Mantle/Alchemilla, Monkshood/Aconitum, Sweet Vernal/Adonis, and Maple/Acer have sparked some interest. Please note that these entries are actually alphabetical by the botanical Latin name.
The Companion Planting blog has received some as well in Corn…, Atichokes…, Lettuce…. and Eggplant… Others are peppered throughout Essays, Reviews, here on the News page an on the Books page. To find the comments you must click on the post title. A new page comes up and the comments and responses are found at the bottom of the page.
Thank you so very much and please keep them coming. I promise there many more posts coming from me.
- Animal Totems
There has been much discussion about animal totems and animal medicine for a long time now. Some people believe that they can pick their animal totem; others believe their animal totem picks them. The Old Timers that I knew said that ain’t necessarily so. They taught me that animal medicine had a great deal to do with ones inherent predisposition. If your nature was such and such an animal with a similar nature was your medicine. I have a piece that can be found in Essays called Animal Allies. It is brief and only includes the animals drawn on for Ancestral Air’s clan system. Nevertheless, read it over and while doing so read the entries in the context of your own nature, not what you find cool or special. You might just see yourself there and chances are that particular creature or one related to it is your animal totem.
I have just posted three more reviews by Nancy Wait, Temple of Cybele, and Pagan Book Reviews. They are terrific and I am grateful. Please check them out in Reviews.
- Sacred Trees
After many years of research I settled on my own list of what I believe are the 21 sacred trees (some are actually shrubs) of the British Isles. I based my choices not only on their spiritual, magical and ritual properties but also on their extraordinary scope of practical uses such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and tools.
Our misconception that the characteristics that define a plant as sacred is its ability to alter the senses has absolutely no foundation in history or the cultures that pioneered the discovery of them. Within these cultures not only are all plants regarded as equally sacred there exists a deep spiritual appreciation for those species that secure life such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and tools. Practical species are most often the foundation of spirituality and ritual, not hallucinogens. And what are referred to as Sacred First Foods and Famine Foods are regarded as panaceas, plants that can accomplish and resolve anything.
Decades of study concerning both esoteric and practical usages led me to the understanding I now hold with what is often and erroneously referred to as the 21 Sacred Trees of the British Isles. I remain so convinced of this that I used the 21 species listed below as clans in Ancestral Airs. Ancestral Airs devotes many pages to both the practical and ceremonial uses of hundreds of plants. The Compendium for Spirit Handling, published as a blog on this website, deals exclusively with the ritual properties of about 420 species including the list of trees here.
New in the news. The mystery with the inability to respond to your wonderful comments has been solved. And apparently there were some glitches with the e-book downloading and to date that has been remedied as well.
A few things I have seen on line lately has compelled me to bring something else up.
“Shamanism: What The Heck Is It Anyway” is a piece first published by The Witches’ Voice and can now be found in Essays on my website here. It illustrates that the class distinction and snobbery prevalent in the Neo-Shamanic community has no foundation in history or among shamanic cultures today. Every single individual born is psychic, prophetic, and has a profound ability to heal themselves and others. Authentic medicine people know this. If someone or some group is treating you in a way that makes you feel badly about yourself or what you are trying to learn, know that their behavior is highly inappropriate. Find another group; good people are out there and they know what it means to live in good way.
News for me is whatever happens to be floating around in my awareness at any given moment. I am thinking about the elders I have known and the tribal cultures in which they were born. The perception among tribal people is exquisite in its simplicity. Their world is older, more complete than ours but it is not a complex world or one shrouded in mystery. And yet it is one singularly magnificent in its spirit of devotion.
In the decades I spent among tribal elders I never questioned their wisdom. Western culture would have preferred that I had and act as an inquisitor into the nuances of every detail. I simply couldn’t because I understood in my bones that within ancient cultures elders had the last word. And like it or not their words stood as absolute, as law, and were final.
I invested my heart and soul into tribal elder systems as the community that spoke most deeply to me. And in doing so I had to learn to bite my tongue and accept whatever those elders dished out. It was often frustrating. Their words sometimes angered me or hurt my feelings but I endured it because I wanted to know and embrace “the old way”. It required that I set aside whatever contemporary cultural had taught me when it conflicted with more ancient thinking. In time it changed me. Those old ones taught me to think and perceive as they did, to live in good way. And I remain in their debt forever. Their generosity of spirit gave me the life for which I had longed.
As far as what news might seem more conventional, today I posted a piece on Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla) in the Compendium for Spirit Handling and one on soil in the Companion Planting blog. I have also completed an essay entitled “What’s In A Name” that I will submit to The Witches’ Voice for publication. They have been extremely generous in their support of my work and I hope they accept it. It deals with the significance of names and the tribal perception of the importance of names, often given by elders (there’s those elders again). Eventually this article will end up in Essays here.
- News on the "News" Page
I am something of a reclusive fuddy-duddy. That isn’t “news” to most of you. What might be news is my fabulous new website created by Green Willow Designs. And step by step it becomes more interactive, and hopefully for you, increasingly more user friendly.
To date I have two blogs well on their way. At the prompting of my incredible Facebook friends, friends who have vastly expanded my knowledge of the world, I created a blog entitled Companion Planting-Bio Diverse Container Gardens. My awareness was drawn to the economic issues wed to greater and greater concern for our beloved Earth. Thanks to my friends I realized that there were many people developing a profound desire to grow their own food and contribute to the health of our planet while doing so. Consequently, I was compelled to write this blog.
Companion plants are plants that enhance the garden environment exponentially. And increased bio diversity triggers robust health within any system. The Companion Planting blog combines the practicality of growing common vegetables, regardless of the space or lack of that you have, with the sophistication of bio diverse wild tangles.
The Compendium for Spirit Handling is the botanical companion to Ancestral Airs. It deals exclusively with the ritual properties of about 420 species of plants as perceived by shamanic hunter-gatherers. There is a great deal of information about the medicinal uses of these plants in Ancestral Airs but I wanted to write a book that also illustrated that at one time we understood illness as a manifestation of spirit. And the practitioners that doctored these illnesses were spirit handlers.
And finally in a few weeks my newest book will be launched as a blog. It is a sequel of sorts to Ancestral Airs. I will reveal the title to you very soon.
I am deeply grateful for the enduring support and encouragement you have extended to me. I will do my best not let you down.