Sacred Tree Profile: Oak’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology, and Meanings

The Druid's Garden

A glorious oak tree in fall colors! A glorious oak tree in fall colors!

There is nothing quite as majestic as an oak, which is likely why ancient druids met in groves of them to perform their ceremonies.   As I write this, I look at my glorious black oaks, white oaks, and burr oaks in the surrounding landscape and their incredible mantle of gold, tan, crimson and oranges.  Where I live, the oaks keep the green on their leaves through most of the fall season, and begin their transition into color just before Samhain. The oaks and beeches, here, are the very last to lose their leaves–if they lose them at all.  Many of the oaks, especially the younger ones, keep their leaves all winter, dry and crackling, and only drop them before they bud out again in the spring.   Their behavior in the fall and winter months is certainly a testament to their energy and…

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November, Autumn, Fall

Good Witches Homestead

“The name ‘November’ is believed to derive from ‘novem’ which is the Latin for the number ‘nine’.  In the ancient
Roman calendar November was the ninth month after March.  As part of the seasonal calendar November is the
time of the ‘Snow Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Falling Leaves’
by Black Elk.”

Samhain:

“This association of death with fertility provided the theological background for a great number of end-of-harvest festivals celebrated by many cultures across Eurasia.  Like Samhain, these festivals (which, for example, included the rituals of the Dyedy (“Ancestors”) in the Slavic countries and the Vetrarkvöld festival in Scandinavia) linked the successful resumption of the agricultural cycle (after a period of apparent winter “death”) to the propitiation of the human community’s dead.  The dead have passed away from the social concerns of
this world to the primordial chaos of the Otherworld where all fertility has its roots…

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The Samhain of our Lives

The Druid's Garden

Just last week, we had our first hard frost. After homesteading for a number of years, you grow to be vigilant for the signs of the first frost. The air smells different somehow in the two or so weeks leading up to it. The bird and wildlife patterns change.  The nights have a crisp bite to them that they didn’t even a few days before. And then, just like magic one day, the frost is there, glistening in the morning light. The garden radically changes overnight–even for those things you covered–the entire landscape lies in disarray.

Sunrise at First Frost Sunrise at First Frost

I could feel it on the air, and for the last few mornings, have been going to to see if it had arrived. That morning, I turned the corner and first saw it first on the strawberry patch–white and glistening. The frost is beautiful, magical, and yet, destructive. While the…

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A Druid’s Guide to Herbalism, Part I:Harvesting by the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and Sacred Intent

The Druid's Garden

Field of Goldenrod in Fall Field of Goldenrod in Fall

A field of goldenrod, nettle, and aster greet me on this warm post- Fall Equinox day.  As the moon comes up with a sliver in the afternoon sky, I joyfully take my basket and harvest knife into the field for my fall plant preparations. The breeze has change on the air–winter is coming soon, and the sacred medicines I prepare will bring my family nourishment and strength for the coming dark half of the year. As we are well into the harvest season at this lovely Fall Equinox, I thought I’d take the time to talk about harvesting and preparation by the sun and moon and honoring the harvest. Next week, I’ll talk about the most basic plant preparations and we’ll end this series with talking about energetic preparations through the creation of flower and leaf essences.  That is, we’ll talk about the medicine of…

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Watch Webinar on Native Wildflowers

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Jen Munson, HSA Education Chair

ginseng American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) a globally rare plant species

The diversity of the world’s plants has dwindled and/or is threatened. In fact the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that 54 percent of the 19,000 plant species they have identified are at risk. In New England it is estimated that almost 20 percent of New England’s native plants are on the verge of being lost and  another 5 percent has already disappeared. Native plants are under threat from invasive species, habitat loss, climate changes among other impacts.

The New England Wildflower Society seeks to preserve New England native plants. Based at the Garden in The Woods botanic garden in Framingham, Massachusetts, their mission is, “to conserve and promote the region’s native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes.” They secure and preserve seeds from rare plants to protect genetic diversity…

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Building Soil Fertility with Fall Gardening at the Equinox

The Druid's Garden

Leaves - nutrients AND enjoyment! Leaves – nutrients AND enjoyment!

In the druid wheel of the year, we have three “harvest” festivals.  Lughnasadh, the first harvest.  So much of the garden produce starts to be ready at this time–and also at this time, the garden is still at its peak, but quickly waning. In the weeks after , our pumpkin patch died back with beautiful orange pumpkins and said “ok, I’m done for the year!” Then we have the Fall Equinox, where things are continuing to be harvesting, but many of the plants are in serious decline. By Samhain, everything is dead, the hard frosts have come and the land goes to sleep. It seems then, on the surface, that what we should be doing in the fall is primarily harvesting and sitting on our laurels and watching fall and winter come.

However, as a gardener and homesteader, my busiest time, by far, is the…

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The Plant Spirit Oracle Project

The Druid's Garden

Spirit of the Oak! Spirit of the Oak from the Plant Spirit oracle!

As we’ve been exploring over the last few weeks, plant spirit communication can take many forms.  The rustle of leaves outside of your window, the inner knowing, or the song a plant sings to you as you honor it for the harvest. These simple messages weave a complex landscape beyond what we can sense with our fives senses, and invite us deeper into the mysteries of the earth and all living beings. And as we’ve explored, the voices of the plants, the spirits of the plants, take a number of forms and can appear to each of us uniquely. What is clear is that the more that we open ourselves up to understanding them, honoring them, and working with them, the more connection we have with the living earth in her many forms.

Part of the reason I’ve been sharing so…

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The Druid’s Prayer for Peace: Shifting from Exploitation to Nurturing as a Spiritual Practice

The Druid's Garden

Working with the land, in harmony and peace Working with the land, in harmony and peace

One of the things I’m hoping to do on this blog, in addition to my usual “how to” posts, permaculture, and tree work, is give us a set of working tools and philosophical lenses through which to see and interact in the world.  Today’s post does just this–explores two concepts underlying much of industrial civilization and various reactions to it, and does so with a distinctly druidic lens.

In The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Wendell Berry discusses two approaches to living and inhabiting the world–the practice of exploitation and the practice of nurturing. Berry wrote The Unsettling of America in the 1970’s as a small family farmer’s response to the rise of “Big Ag” and industrialized food systems. The book was truly visionary, and, if read today in 2015, rings even more true than it did in the 1970’s. Berry…

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Plant Spirit Communication Part III: Spirit Journeying

The Druid's Garden

Plants have been teachers and guides to humans for millenia. Deeply woven into our own DNA are receptors for certain plants and plant compounds. Our ancestors understood this, and in different parts of the world, cultivated thousands of medicinal plants, healing plants, teacher plants, for use on mind, body, and spirit. While the physical plant can offer much to our bodies in terms of healing, strengthening, and support (which is the basis of herbalism practice), plant spirits can offer the same thing to our hearts and spirits.  While there are lots of ways you might go about doing this, one useful tool is to enage in plant spirit journeys.  This is the third post in my plant spirit communication series; if you haven’t yet read the first two posts, go here and here.

Journeying is a catch all term that describes “inner” experiences that people have where they go…

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Plant Spirit Communication, Part II: Communication in Many Forms

The Druid's Garden

I remember taking a drive with some friends and friends-of-friends some years ago. As we were driving through a really nice forest preserve with some old trees, one of my friends in the car said, “There’s so much money there in the trees, some of them would be worth more than $1500.” He went on to talk about how his family had recently logged their property and earned over $25,000. Other people in the car jumped in and talked about the forest’s beauty and argued against him; and I just listened. Finally, I responded and said, “Every living being has a spirit. I hope that forest stands forever. They deserve to live as much as you or I.” Before this conversation had started, I was listening to the singing of that forest, so happy, so safe to be preserved. This experience stayed with me, and was a good reminder about…

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