Cultivating Resilience as a Physical and Spiritual Practice

The Druid's Garden


A lovely stand of staghorn sumac in bloom! Staghorn Sumac: A tree that teaches us about resilience

Resilience is a term I first learned as a permaculture practitioner–resilient ecosystems are those that are able to withstand hardship, recover quickly when faced with difficulty, and had a capacity to endure. In other words, a resilient ecosystem can withstand drought, flooding, or other difficulties by being adaptable, flexible, and having redundancies. Which of course, is so critical in today’s ever-changing world fraught with climate change and instability.  Resilient plants are the often-maligned weeds: those weeds who take every opportunity to grow: who find a crack in the sidewalk and take root, who immediately start to grow after disruption, or who outcompete less resilient plants. They are able to be like weeds or opportunistic species, taking advantage of new opportunities, finding niches, and gracefully adapting to change. Think of the dandelion here, growing up through cracks in the sidewalk.  This same…

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These Male Trees Turn Female Even If It Kills Them

What goes on in a forest might be none of our business.  Curious minds, however, always want to know.

In the lower canopy layers of Appalachian forests, a particular tree known as striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) does something that very few trees do.

It changes sex.

Males become females.  Females become males.

In academic circles, this phenomenon is known as sequential hermaphroditism.  Some plants do it when stakes are high.  In the case of striped maple, males become females even if it kills them.

Why does this happen, and what else is known about sex changes in plants?  In a brand new video, I introduce some important questions and wonder about them aloud.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the brand new video!

This animal does not change sex but it does change the way people maneuver through the woods.  I recently spotted a few timber rattlesnakes in a Pennsylvania forest.  To see photographs and to read more about my encounters, check out the latest Instagram post!Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Embracing the Wilds at Lughnasadh

The Druid's Garden

Wildlife Wildlife

When you think of the term “wild”, what comes to mind? Perhaps wild can be defined by that which is its opposite: civilized, tame, domesticated, and controlled.  Wild, on the other hand, is free, unrestricted, unbounded, and sovereign.  And while I resist binaries, there does seem to be some truth in the difference between that which is wild and that which is tame–a manicured city street vs. an old-growth forest has a world of difference: in the smell, in the biodiversity present, and in the energy of the space.  A wild place is hugely biodiverse and serves the needs of a wide variety of species. A wild space is in a place of ecological balance, where all resources are cycled and used. The human-tamed spaces are most frequently designed for human needs exclusively, and in the modern age, are also prime producers of pollution and waste. There’s, of course…

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Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year Through Earth-Centered Sustainable Practices

The Druid's Garden

Sacred Actions book!

I’m really excited to announce that my new book through REDFeather / Shiffer Publishing is now availableo!  The Book is titled Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year Through Earth-Centered Sustainable Practices. I wanted to give you an introduction to the book and the concepts behind the book.  If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you’ll see a great deal of familiarity: my explorations and writing on this blog shaped this book, although the book goes well beyond the blog.  In a nutshell, Sacred Actions presents a hybridization of nature spirituality, sustainable living, and permaculture practices and ethics.   I can’t wait to introduce it to you in today’s post!

Order in the US or UK from the Publisher (available now). Pre-order from Amazon (US) or Amazon (UK).  Pre-Order in Australia from Booktopia. 

As I’ve written on this blog before

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Never Be Fooled By Poison Ivy Again

Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, May 24th—  is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms

After today, registration will be closed for the season.  If you want to learn the skills involved in safely and successfully harvesting wild mushrooms with confidence, Foraging Wild Mushrooms can help you achieve that goal. 

Click here to register before midnight.

And now on to this week’s brand new video.

There is no shortage of phrases that we can use to assist with the identification of poison ivy.

Most are lyrical and memorable, but few ever describe the less familiar parts of poison ivy (e.g., winter buds, twigs, flowers, autumn foliage).

Even then, the phrases that do describe the most familiar parts aren’t entirely foolproof:

“Leaflets of three, let it be.” (Many other plants have compound leaves with three leaflets, and I’ve seen poison ivy leaves with only two leaflets.)

“Side leaflets like mittens, will itch like the dickens.” (Side leaflets will oftentimes have no teeth or lobes.)

Needless to say, catchy phrases aren’t always accurate, and field guides that offer one photograph per plant only add to the confusion.

To address the situation, I created a very detailed video that covers key identifying features of poison ivy in every season.

If you’re looking to improve your poison ivy identification skills while reducing the chances of physically contacting the plant, check out the brand new video!

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Land Healing at the Druid’s Garden: Replanting, Forest Healing, and Refugia Update

The Druid's Garden

Ramps planted in my Grove of Renewal

Today I wanted to take some time to share some of the updates on the land healing and permaculture practices we are enacting at the Druid’s Garden Homestead.  As I’ve shared in earlier posts, when we purchased this land four years ago, the family who owned it just before us selectively logged about 3 acres, leaving the forest an absolute mess.  The land otherwise was perfect–we have our own spring, a nice sunny area for gardens….and three acres of land in desperate need of healing.  Since land healing is one of my primary forms of spiritual practice, I rolled up my sleeves and purchased the land! As this ongoing land healing project takes shape, I try to check in on the blog every once in a while to share new insights, techniques, and experiences.  Today I want to spend some time offering updates…

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The Magic of the Understory

The Druid's Garden

A path of evergreen mountain laurel at Laurel Hill State Park. Amazing to hike through in the winter, when the understory sings!

As you may have noticed, in the last month or so I’ve been working diligently on my “Sacred Trees in the Americas” series.  The truth is, I’ve worked through most of the trees that are well known and form the overstory of most of the forests in the US East Coast.  Trees like White Pine, Oak, Hickory, Sugar Maple, Ash, Beech, and Birch are dominant trees.  And when you do research on these trees, you find a rich tradition and lore from both the Americas and the Old World.  Recently, I’ve moved my attention to lesser-known trees like Ironwood and Devil’s Walking Stick, and have covered others like Witch Hazel (distinct and different from American Hazel) and Spicebush. There is a striking difference between the first group and…

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This Edible Mushroom Grows In Human Bodies

For better or for worse, untold numbers of fungi live on and within our bodies. 

Some of these fungi are faithful allies.  Others can harm our bodies only under certain circumstances.  Almost all of them, it turns out, are microscopic and mostly undetectable to the naked eye.

But what about the larger mushrooms that live in forests?  Do they ever engage in any sort of physical relationship with humans?

For a very long time, mushroom-forming fungi were never known to grow inside human bodies.  Instead, molds and yeasts — including species of Candida and Aspergillus — were almost always the main culprits implicated in human disease.

And then something strange happened.  In 1950, a doctor treated a 33-year-old man for fungal overgrowth of his toes.  Upon isolating the fungus, the doctor discovered that his patient’s foot infection was attributed not to any of the usual mold-producing suspects, but instead to a mushroom-forming species that commonly grows on trees.

Since that shocking discovery 70 years ago, researchers have documented this wild fungus growing on and within other human bodies.  To date, almost 100 cases of infection and a few unexpected deaths have been reported.

During a recent walk through a local floodplain, I encountered this fascinating mushroom and decided to film a video regarding its bizarre tendency to do such a thing — to colonize human bodies and cause infection.

Check out the brand new video to learn more!

In addition to the sights of tree-eating mushrooms, a January walk through my local woods is likely to yield splendid sightings of wintering songbirds.  Pictured here is one such bird who demonstrates something known as differential migration.  In short, males overwinter farther north than females.  Why is this?  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more.Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Nature Mandalas for Inner Work, Rituals, and Blessings

The Druid's Garden

A woman comes to a clearing in the recently burned forest with a basket of stones, sticks, nuts, and flowers.  She begins to sing, laugh, and dance as she creates a beautiful circle with the materials. As she weaves her healing magic, the design of the circle grows more complex, spiraling inward and outward.  She finishes her work and sits with it quietly for a time, before leaving it in place to do its own work.  A healing mandala has been made on that spot, to help the forest recover after a fire.

Nature mandalas can be used for a variety of inner work, healings, blessings and rituals and are a wonderful addition to a druid or natural spiritual practice. Nature mandalas are an intuitive magical and bardic arts practice that works with the connection of your own subconscious to the living earth.  You use materials that are local to…

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The Tree That’s Only Slightly Out Of Place

Greetings,

In the fields of biology and ecology, a specific word is used to describe a living organism that no longer inhabits a particular area:  extirpated.

An extirpated tree, for instance, grows in other regions of the world, but it no longer exists in a particular place that it formerly occupied.

An appropriate example is the Atlantic White-Cedar tree.  This coniferous tree formerly inhabited the state of Pennsylvania, though by the early 19th century all wild populations had been logged.  Atlantic White-Cedar is not extinct, however, because its range currently spans the Atlantic coastline.  Instead, this tree is considered to be extirpated from Pennsylvania because wild populations no longer grow here.

This past weekend, I encountered something fascinating:  a healthy population of Atlantic White-Cedar in Pennsylvania.  This population was located within a beautiful bog containing typical bog specialists including cranberry, huckleberry, pitcher plant, sundew, and dozens of other plants.

Interestingly, ecologists and botanists are well aware of these Pennsylvanian Atlantic White-Cedar trees, and even though this population of Atlantic White-Cedar seems to be thriving, the tree is still considered to be extirpated from the state.

But why?

In this brand new video, I discuss the topic and address a few pertinent questions.  If you are unfamiliar with the beautiful and majestic Atlantic White-Cedar tree, check out the video!

July through September is mating season for timber rattlesnakes in Pennsylvania, and in this recent Instagram post, I describe a very recent and close encounter with one of these beautiful creatures.

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan