Lessons in Weeding

It’s been a little crazy over here in my corner of the world. I love Spring, yet the season moves at its own pace. Sometimes it feels like it’s taking forever. When everything starts going, though, it can be quite the adventure trying to keep up. The plants are on their own time and they plan on doing their thing with or without me. The race between the plants and I is on.

Along with that race, my husband and I are in the midst of putting together the plan for our studio space, its set up, and what we are doing in it. Reiki, runes, shamanic work, tea, and more… it’s quite the fiasco! The date of our Open House closes in, and there is still so much to be done.

I know that this is the craziness of late Spring. Summer creeps upon us to envelope the sweet unfurling from the Winter months to greet us with a verdant world wrapped up in hot weather, plants everywhere, and adventures to be had.

It’s overwhelming and glorious.

In this craziness, I have to remind myself to take moments to enjoy it all and listen. This is a big part of my shamanic practice: taking time to stop and listen. My teacher Adhi has her apprentices taking time everyday this month to find something that the Earth offers and eat it. Whether it’s burdock, dandelion, or sorrel, we are to take time to taste and commune. If there’s a plant type that we continue to hit up, take some time to sit with it. Maybe make offerings or rattle to it. See what happens.

I’ve been turning my weeding regimen into a chance to explore this practice. Goutweed has found a home in a few of my garden beds and if I am not careful in eradicating it, it will happily (and aggressively) take over any space it can get. It’s also a medicinal and edible plant. It was used primarily for arthritis and (did you guess?) gout. While I am not aware of any magical history with goutweed, it is an interesting plant that is very intent on covering open spots.

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So, I am exploring my relationship with this weed. It’s tenacity is surely part of its magic. Its taste is a little unusual for the more modern palate, so I understand why it’s not a popular food in our cuisine. I have yet to really sit with it and listen. When I do, though, this is my plan. I can start with giving a plant an offering of tobacco. Say hi. Introduce myself. Then, I sit and listen. I don’t just listen with my ears. I use my entire body. I am in stillness, receptive to anything that the plant might throw at me. I can also try rattling to get my brain in a more receptive state, as well as another method of honoring the plant.

Take some time this week. Sit with a plant that you can identify. Taste it if its edible. Sit with it in silent meditation. What does it look like? What does it make you think of? Why? See if you can get any impressions from it. Plants and trees have surprised me many times with the insight that they have offered.  Don’t expect a voice (though, if your brain is wired to receive information that way, it’s possible). It can be a gut feeling. It might be connected to a thought. You can even try sleeping with a piece of the plant under your pillow to see if you can get something in dreams.

I’m still in the beginning stages of my relationship with this plant that I am trying to keep in check. I’m sure that there’s something to be learned even in the antagonistic nature of this plant. I just have to dig and find it.

In other news, I had mentioned in a blog a while ago about a project that I wanted to do with planting amulets under trees and seeing how it affected the surrounding area. For those of you who are interested in participating, please reach out to me. I’ll supply the amulet. All you have to do is get a tree and plant the amulet beneath it. Worse case scenario, you have a beautiful new tree in your yard.

I hope it has been as beautiful where you are as it is up here. Stay tuned to hear more about the new studio space and all the things that we will be offering there.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Spring Fever

Spring is here in the northern woods of Vermont, and I’m excited to be finding some of my springtime favorites growing in the woods around me in about a month. I thought that I would share a few of them with you.

The first is fiddleheads.

Taken from Wikipedia

Taken from Wikipedia

These little guys are a northern delicacy that have an amazing nutty flavor. They’re actually fern fronds that have yet to unfurl. I only pick Cinnamon Ferns (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), but I hear that Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) can also be used. They are sources of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and iron. As for the more esoteric sides of ferns, I only know that they have a traditional connection to weather magic. The spiral is a symbol of cosmic forces and the cycles of nature, so that could potentially part of its symbolism.

The next edible that comes to mind would be ramps (Allium tricoccum).

Also taken from Wikipedia

Also taken from Wikipedia

This relative of onions, leeks, and garlic sprouts from the ground pretty early in the season. If they find a spot that they like, I’ve seen them claim the side of a hill. They are picky about their spots, though. A friend had bought a bundle of ramps from a farmers’ market that was harvested roots and all. I tried planting some of them in a few different locations that I thought might work for them. Only one spot survived, and they aren’t big fans of where I put them either. This pickiness, along with heavy harvesting, makes them a little scarce. I have yet to harvest mine, in hopes that they will spread a little more. As with most alliums (the garlic and onion family), I imagine that they would be classified as a fiery energy. They could be used for banishment work. They also have some of the similar medicinal qualities, due to their shared sulphuric compounds.

One of my favorite wildflowers happen to be an early spring popup around here. It had a few names: Red Trillium, Trillium erectum, or, my personal favorite, Stinkin’ Benjamin.

Another from Wikipedia. I need to get out and take some spring photos this year.

Another from Wikipedia. I need to get out and take some spring photos this year.

The beautiful red flowers are striking in the shady spots that you can find them. As you may have suspected from the third name, the Stinkin’ Benjamin has a… “unique” odor. The best way I can describe it is as if a fish was left in the sun for a few hours. Because of how early it comes up, it’s pollinator of choice is another early comer, the fly. Its roots do have medicinal uses, though. The root, along with the root of other trilliums, has been used for menopausal issues, women’s hormonal issues, and coughs. Even though the red trillium seems to be one of the few trilliums not endangered, I still leave the wild ones alone. Symbolically, their three red petals could be a metaphor for the Trinity of your choice. There might be some symbolism to the offensive smell. I have never read about trilliums in any books on magical properties, to I’m left to potential metaphor and intuition on that front.

The final springtime favorite that I will mention is maple syrup.

Another from Wikipedia.

Another from Wikipedia.

I work with maple trees often in my energetic work, so I couldn’t skip this one. Vermont and its surrounding states are all in the middle of what we call “Sugaring Season.” The taps that maple producers put in their Sugar Maple trees (Acer saccharum) months ago are flowing with sap, and will be until the trees begin to bud. While the days up here have been in the 40s Fahrenheit, the night temps are still dipping below freezing. As the weather warms, the trees will stop producing clear sap. It takes about 40 gallons of this clear tree sap to be boiled down to one gallon of sweet, sweet maple syrup. While maple has its place in indigenous mythology concerning how humans learned how to make maple syrup, most of the information on energetics and correlations of plants that is used in present day comes from Europe. With its lack of presence in these tomes, I take it that there aren’t really any maples that way. So, we are again left with metaphor and intuition. I know that the sweet nature of its sap lend it to works of love, and giving. That jives pretty well with the juju I feel from the maples I work with, so I’ll roll with that. Maple syrup is also a great gift to ancestors and nature spirits. I mean, who doesn’t love good maple syrup?

So, you all know of some of the things that I will be on the lookout for as this month unfolds, and everything begins to warm up. This spring weather is getting me ready for days of working in the gardens. Now, if only all this snow would finish melting.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage