Perhaps now more than ever, the idea of taking regular retreats is a critical one. Last week, in my post on the Winter Solstice, I shared the deep need for restorative activities that allow us to heal, process, and deepen our practice–particularly in today’s age and as we move further into the age of the Anthropocene. Finding restoration activities are particularly critical because so many of us are languishing, dealing with the real effects of deepening climate change, dealing with the long-term upheaval and separation due to the pandemic, among a host of other issues. Thus, this week, I want to share one practice that I’ve developed over the years that is particularly helpful–I call it “going dark” or “inner life retreat.”
What is a Going Dark Spiritual Retreat?
Going dark to explore the world of the subconscious and dreams
The principle of going dark is very simple–rather than…
Want to introduce yourself to the Goddess? First thing you need to understand is she will give you no powers or opportunities that you are not ready to receive. It is all in the life you live. Life is the test. You can never gain anything by reading sacred texts. They are all exoteric. The Goddess is a spiritual thing and you will only be able to get her attention if you live in harmony with her. The powers you look for will destroy you unless you are robed in the garments of purity. To the un-purified the Goddess is a consuming fire. Those not ready will have confusion, insanity and death.
Happy Winter Solstice! I’m sharing this recipe from the Gather Victoria Winter Magic ECookbook because it encapsulates the archetypal drama of the season – the rebirth of the light. And that meant plenty of cakes, cookies, and confections for the old winter witches like Frau Holle! Their symbols are very much alive in our holiday…
The time of the greatest darkness is upon us at the winter solstice. Each morning, the sun seems to struggle to rise and hangs low in the sky. The world is covered in frost, cold, and snow, and the darkness of winter sets in. This is a hard time for many, perhaps more so now than before, given the cultural darkness and challenges that so many of us are facing globally and locally. So facing the darkness, in this very challenging time, takes something extra.
Winter Solstice Snow
In my first post on this series (Receptivity at the Fall Equinox), I made the case that the traditional Wheel of the Year was developed and enacted under very different conditions than our present age. We now live in the Anthropocene, a period of human-driven climate change and cultural unrest which is very different than the Holocene, the period of…
This is a good question to ponder, but it’s a difficult question to answer unless clarification is provided.
How much land are we talking about? And what is the time frame in question?
Even with such clarification, answers do not come easy. The original question often persists and we are prompted to further refine our inquiry.
What did the eastern forests look like 300 years ago? Which trees were present, and what was the composition of the trees in these earlier forests?
American chestnut, it turns out, can help us answer those questions.
American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is a tree whose numbers have dwindled over the past 100 years. A fungal disease known as chestnut blight has been the major culprit, but other factors have contributed to the decline of mature American chestnut trees in eastern forests.
When we study accounts of American chestnut, we routinely hear the same thing: “American chestnut was a dominant tree in eastern North America prior to the introduction of chestnut blight.”
We also hear this: “One in every four hardwood trees in eastern North America was an American chestnut.”
Believing both statements to be true, we might imagine an unbroken expanse of chestnut trees in eastern North America. The proverbial squirrel might have been able to travel from Maine to Florida on chestnut tree limbs without ever touching the ground.
But was that ever the case? Was American chestnut really the most dominant tree in eastern North America?
Or, have the claims been exaggerated? Could it be possible that American chestnut was not so dominant of a tree in these earlier forests?
That’s the topic of this week’s brand new video. If you are interested in learning what the land might have looked like in the not too distant past, check it out!
Most maples are leafless this time of year in eastern North America. Fortunately, bark features are still available and very useful for proper identification. Check out these side-by-side images of 8 different maple trees to assist you with your winter identification skills.Click to view post
If you are eager to pursue educational opportunities during the winter months, check out Foraging Wild Mushrooms.This 4-season online course is designed to help you safely, successfully, and confidently forage wild mushrooms from the forest, from the field, and from your own backyard.Click to learn more
Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!
American Holly is one of the most wonderful trees for getting us through dark times. And as the season of darkness is upon us once more, it is a good time to consider the magic, meanings, and mystery of this incredible holly tree!
American Holly has many names including white holly, prickly holly, Christmas Holly, Yule Holly and Evergreen Holly. It is quite similar to European Holly (Illex Aquifolium) with similar leaves, berries, and an overall growth habit. The American Holly has larger, brighter leaves and berries, but the trees are otherwise quite similar. While I often argue against importing meanings and uses of European trees into American contexts (with Ash being a great case in point), in this case, I think that the myths and old-world understandings of Holly apply!
This post is part of my Sacred Trees of Eastern North America series–here you can learn about the…
The opening ceremony of Aquarius has happened. It happened on November 25 in Egypt. Depending on which side of the conflict you are on it was called the opening of Rams Road or the opening of Sphinx Avenue. This ceremony was basically the handing over the power to the Thebes bloodline. The boats are the boats of the Gods and Goddesses who sailed the seas of the cosmos. They are now in Thebes(Luxor) along with the blessings of the Gods and Goddesses. Watch this beautiful ceremony and see if you can catch the symbolism I have taught you over the years.
Nothing really needs to be said. Nothing more needs to happen. The fact that such an encounter occurs at all in the 21st century is enough.
But occasionally something else does happen, and silence is broken not by statements or declarations but by questions and inquiries.
A few years ago, I encountered a massive white oak (Quercus alba) in the woods. With deeply furrowed bark and a wide-spreading canopy, the tree was certainly the largest forest-dwelling white oak I had ever seen.
Since that first encounter, I have returned to see the massive white oak on numerous occasions. In every instance, curiosity has prompted my meddling mind to ask questions.
During the most recent encounter, I decided to wonder aloud (and on camera) about Quercus alba — a species that was once regarded as being the most common tree in many forests. Over the years, however, white oak has slipped in status. No longer does it hold the title of being the most common tree in many forests.
How did this happen? And which trees took its place?
If you are interested in seeing a massive old growth white oak, all while learning how an incredibly common tree became less common over time (despite a relative increase in forested land), check out the brand new video!
The spice that we call cloves comes from the clove tree, Syzygium aromaticum. This evergreen herbal tree is in the Myrtle (Myrtaceae) family and is native to the Molucca Islands in the Pacific Ocean. These islands were once called the Spice Islands and now are a part of Indonesia.
The tree needs a warm, humid climate, and deep, loamy soil to grow well. It is said that it also needs to see the sea in order to thrive. It does indeed grow well near the coasts of tropical islands. The clove tree can reach a height of 26 – 40 feet and begins to flower when it is about five years old. At 20 years, it is ready to begin harvesting the cloves, which are the unopened flower buds, growing in clusters of 10 – 15 buds. The tree continues to produce cloves for more than 80 years…
Oak friend – one of my first interactions with this incredible friend and mentor
Many of us on the path of nature spirituality grow close to trees–so very close. What happens when a tree that you love dearly, who is a good friend and mentor–tells you that it is time to go? In this post, I share the story and passing of one of my dear tree friends, a White Oak with a giant burl. After I share the story, I offer some general thoughts about how we, as humans, can support and honor the natural lifespan of our tree friends. This post is meant to be a compliment to my earlier post: Holding Space and Helping Tree Spirits Pass. My earlier post talked about trees who were cut before their time–while this post honors those who have the privilege of living a full life and dying naturally.