ENCOUNTERS IN GRATITUDE AND A CHANCE TO LISTEN

Good Witches Homestead

by Guido Masé November 19, 2018

A long time ago, Anne and I traveled to Ireland. We vagabonded slowly down the west coast from hostel to hostel, over green hills to rugged seaside cliffs, stopping at standing stones and the ruins of circle forts, visiting old-growth forests left intact for hundreds of years. One day we were wandering in the southwest corner of the island with the goal of reaching one of those old forests. We crossed over a small waterfall. We walked between two ancient, massive linden trees whose roots and branches had grown together, leaving an almond-shaped opening just wide enough for us to cross. And finally, we came to the oak wood we’d been seeking. The trees were old, yes, but not very tall: craggy, leaning at odd angles, with moss covering their trunks up to the lower branches. This forest is still part of a protected area…

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Here’s An Easy (And Delicious!) Way To Consume More Wild Plants & Mushrooms

Greetings!

The leaves have fallen from most of the deciduous trees in my neck of the woods (save for a few Norway maples and persistent oaks), and even though the year is dwindling with predictable haste, wild edible plants and mushrooms can still be found.

During a recent walk through a local floodplain, I was excited to find several fresh greens sprouting amongst the leaf litter.  Many of these plants were herbaceous members of the celery family, and a few others were aromatic species related to mints and chives. 

Rather than treating them as trailside nibbles, I decided to harvest these tasty plants and incorporate them into a wild, homemade vegetable broth.  With the addition of wild edible mushrooms, the broth was incredibly easy to make and quite delicious. 

If you’re interested in learning how to forage local plants and mushrooms so that you too can create a homemade vegetable broth, check out the brand new video!

Have you seen this waxcap mushroom?  Few fungi resemble this species, and if you’re in the right habitat, perhaps you’ll encounter a specimen or two!  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more about the violet-colored waxcap.Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

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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This Wild Mushroom Is No Longer Recommended For Eating

Greetings!

With only a handful of weeks left in 2018, I’m hitting the road one last time this year to offer a few exciting events.  During these programs, I’ll be discussing the bounty of mushrooms and other foods associated with one of my favorite groups of trees:  oaks!  Here’s the current schedule:

November 5, Clemson, SC: South Carolina Upstate Mycological Society
November 7, Atlanta, GA: Mushroom Club of Georgia
November 12, Slippery Rock, PA: Bartramian Audubon Society

For more information on these events, check out the Learn Your Land event calendar.

Moving forward, let’s talk about the Angel Wing (Pleurocybella porrigens).

In older field guides, this fungus — which looks a lot like a small oyster mushroom — is listed as edible and good.  In more recent guides, this mushroom is accompanied by the warning:  not recommended for eating.  And according to many credible sources today, the Angel Wing is considered poisonous.

And not just mildly toxic, but deadly poisonous.

So how did it happen?  How does a mushroom go from being “edible and good” to “poisonous?”

Well, that’s the topic of today’s brand new video.  In it, I discuss the controversy associated with a species once widely touted as an edible mushroom.  Check it out!

 

I missed the opportunity to photograph this tiny green mushroom back in June, hoping that it would reappear during a more favorable moment in the future. Fortunately, it did… and I was able to spend a few precious minutes with this little green slimer last week.  Check out this recent Instagram post to hear more of the story!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

BE A HERBALIST THIS FALL

Good Witches Homestead

Autumn is the time to ground down and return to our inward selves.  After the ethereal light and abundant days of summer, we start to prepare for the darker days ahead.  It’s the best time of year to set intentions, get quiet, create and manifest dreams, and to re-commit to healthy habits–the simple things that add up to a healthier state of being.

Wherever you are in the world and whether you experience a dark winter or not, honoring the seasons within the body is one of the most fundamental practices within herbalism.

1. INVITE WARMING, GROUNDING AND NOURISHING RITUALS BACK INTO YOUR LIFE

From a holistic, traditional standpoint, each season is characteristic to an element or quality within nature, and we should guide our lifestyle choices to support the season. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this season marks the beginning of the Yin (cool, watery, deep) part of…

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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 II: Preserving and Preparing Sacred Plant Medicine

The Druid's Garden

The moonlight shines through the window in my kitchen as I carefully use a mortar and pestle to grind dried herbs for making tea.  Candlelight softly illuminates the space, and I have my recipe book with me, ensuring that I record everything that I’m doing for future use. Magic is in the air; working in a sacred space at a sacred time on the Fall Equinox ensures that these medicines will be potent, effective, and magical. On the counter, I’ve already finished my fresh New England Aster flower tincture; this keeps my lungs in good health and helps me manage my chronic asthma without pharmaceuticals. A pot of olive oil is infusing with herbs is on the stove; I am getting ready to add beeswax and pour it off into small jars.  This healing salve will be for friends and family as Yule gifts.  The kitchen is bursting with good…

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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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Here Are 16 Wild Mushrooms You Can Forage This Autumn

Greetings!

I’d like to say “thank you!” to everyone who registered for (and inquired about!) the upcoming Fall Flora & Fungi Outing on Saturday, October 14th at Cook Forest State Park.  The event filled to max capacity and registration is now closed.

If you’re interested in learning how to harvest and process acorns from start to finish, I’ll be demonstrating the steps involved for the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania on Monday, October 8th.  The topic is “Acorn History, Harvesting, & Preparation:  An Intimate Look At Pennsylvania’s Oak Trees,” and the meeting is free to the public.  If you’re interested in attending this event in Pittsburgh, click here for more information!

Next, let’s talk about edible mushrooms… specifically, the ones that can be harvested during the autumn season.

There are lots of them.  Perhaps more than you’d ever encounter during any other season.  Cool temperatures and ample rainfall provide the perfect conditions for fungal growth, and if you’re prepared for the bounty, you’ll never leave the woods empty handed.

In this brand new video, I cover 16 (yes… 16!) wild edible mushrooms you can forage right now.

Enjoy!

Okay… I forgot to include one mushroom.  This species makes the list at #17, and if you’re interested in learning more about an aromatic mushroom that loves hanging out in coniferous forests, check out this recent Instagram post!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan