Also of interest in Shelburne Falls. Seriously. Stand still with me and look.
We got not so very much snowfall before and directly after daybreak. The roads were clear by the time I was on the road and the river looked absolutely gorgeous. BUT. It doesn't seem likely I can get close to it to photograph until J's behind the wheel and I can jump out, walk around, and be picked up on the other side of the long bridge. That can happen for sure but guaranteed not on Wednesday mornings.
It's become important to me to stand near trees and moving water Out in the larger world from our place - and to do so on a reliably consistent schedule. This experience has built itself into my week the way some people cherish the same half hour to forty five minutes of Alone time to do whatever. Or nothing. Alone. So today I made it my business to find what I needed.
But first. A whole different form of water that I can visit quite easily as part of my established schedule. The available parking that overlooks this swamp used to be private property. Now it's county wildlife management. I can park there long enough for 15 or 20 minutes of deeply inhaling the actual components of this familiar landmark. Don't know much about swamps at all. But have always felt that in some other lifetime I knew enough to get by within them.
and yet it isn't running water, is it? however ...
this is. I crossed the road to say hello to a large expanse of icing-up water. Before I was halfway there I felt a kind of energetic stopping mechanism. I am a place. So I focused beyond the river to its bank and all the beautiful trees on both sides of the road. "You are a very beautiful place."
On the other side of the road: water moving swift and loud. This very happy brook is just aside a confluence of roads where I have two or three options for parking long enough to get better bearings of less time-sensitive places to leave my car comfortably. The latter option might not work due to everything there being private land with scant town/county abutment rights. So my quest will be ongoing but for today this is where I went to reconnect with the constant pulse of moving water.
Of course I can always go to our little stream but I like the idea of making a point of forming connections with wider landscape water ways as well. I also like keeping that a part of my mid-week psychic/emotional groundcloth. Last week I actually got a little bit buggy without this intentional Time With Water experience. Like: early April still haven't seen any green yet level buggy.
Yesterday around two in the afternoon from my studio window. It snowed for a couple of hours with just enough precipitation to dust everything newly white and sparkly. Above is the closest I can get to a true portrait of the four-trunked maple I consider to be our home's Place/Keeper as well as the property's southern guardian. On the first day after we'd spent a night here, I went out on the porch with a few important garden talismans I wanted to introduce to this Place. One of these was a large whelk shell I'd found in my mother's garden a few days after she died. I took it home and placed it in my own garden the following spring. And then placed it in another and then we came here. I placed the shell very carefully on a large heavy rock that's just below the tree atop a low stone wall that's buried under the snow in the image above.
A family of nuthatches was living in a prominent hole of the middle trunk at the time. As soon as I walked back to the porch and sat down a few of them emerged in order to talk at length and with considerable emotion - curiosity, uncertainty, excitement to be confronted with something new BUT WHY - all the things humans do when something unexpected shows up on their doorstep. I took the shell away when I realized that. Two years ago it finally found a significant purpose when my son moved back home with a 50 gallon fish tank and four freshwater friends in addition to the splendiforous Mama Cat. One bottom dwelling fish desperately needed a private place to Be and so I washed and offered the shell. Felt that helped to balance the scales from having unintentionally freaked-out the nuthatches with the same object.
and then - here's this morning
Earlier today I checked on my ceremonial oil and noticed a large air bubble in the quart jar. You can see it above covering the left side of jar's curved base. Brought both jars out to the kitchen in order to rectify and take these pics. Thought it might be helpful if you're getting ready to check your own brews or simply appreciate more encouragement by way of information concerning what you can expect as an overall process when doing this for yourself.
As soon as I unsealed the jar band on the quart jar I could smell the white pine. Once I lifted the lid I also smelled juniper and lavender in equal measure. It was only after I walked away to grab my camera that my brain registered the after-note of tulsi just as true to itself as a small crushed leaf in my hand.
a visual aid of what you can expect due to oil seepage. The outside of the infusion bottle may also have a sheen of oil. I use a cotton dishcloth with a tiny amount of grease cutting liquid dish detergent to swipe clear then polish everything clean with some warm water rinsed through the cloth and over the dish.
note: I don't include this oil with lid leavings (see below) because it isn't remotely clean. It's been sitting around in the open air collecting everything that's passed through the room. By default that means it's holding a much lower vibrational frequency than sequestered lid leavings.
Here's what full to the brim should look like. Note the surface tension of the oil is still holding its own weight. Nothing should be dripping before you do this:
You can see oil seeping like something in a cave, and also dots of infusion material. That means you'll need to get everything clean and clear of oil. Yes I realize that sounds redundant but oil's relatively heavy. That can be a royal pain if you've got a lot of it to deal with at one time and your cleaning cloth becomes over-saturated too soon.
pro tip: The surface tension smush-down pictured above makes its own case for the advantages of working with banded lid canning jars. Although it's by nature a messy maneuver this particular way of getting the jar re-sealed with confidence is simple and effectively fool-proof.
When you check on your own oil's welfare you'll probably have a lid with some thoroughly oil saturated infusion materials clinging to the lid's underside. Usually I use a small rubber spatula to scoop everything back in the jar. But today I had the inspiration to try scooping everything into the bottom pan of the enamel pan I use for all my herbal concoctionary needs. Once the water was simmering I placed it on the stove's warming burner. This had the whole downstairs smelling refreshed and revitalized in 20 minutes or so.
The smaller half pint bottle I prepared didn't need additional oil. When I took a deep inhalation of its scent I discovered the imprint was exactly opposite to the larger jar. The tulsi hit me right in the third eye as soon as the lid was unsealed. But the general scent's olfactory after-glow came from white pine. In both jars the elder lavender buds mellowed the sharp edges of the juniper. Which in turn enlivened and bolstered the lavender.
If you're doing this - or still actively planning something out at the recipe level please share in comments or drop me an email.
Thought it would be fun to share some of my documentation photos of the season's first snowfall. Especially the above being so similar to the hazy green view of the same thing at the opposite point in the year. Yesterday's predicted precipitation time frame was cut in half and so I declared the storm a dud at 8 inches. But then a second snow band started adding to the mix around 4 in the afternoon. And that one's been active until 20 minutes ago. So it's quiet and white and timeless outside. Winter's clearing her throat - letting us know she's about to take center stage.
If you look closely you'll see the uphill road dips and then rises to a stronger slant of incline. This is a steep hill to walk and consequently it's an excellent cardio workout. But not when the whole thing gets layered with impacted snow, ice, snow, ice, ice.
Last night right before I went to bed I watched the wind blowing snow from the top deck railing. Was amazed the difference the slight elevation made because nothing was blowing off the fence gate or sheltered-by-fence picnic table. When I got downstairs around seven this morning I learned J. was told by his boss that he might as well work from home again today. That gave me a back-up for my snowfall estimate. We agreed on 14 inches.
Since it was so early in the day and there are some miles to go with neglected chores and incomplete organizational upgrades here in the house, I didn't linger a lot while taking these pics. My venture outside wasn't to commune at length so much as it was to silently address the snow (you are back. I am grateful. Please blanket the ground safely and securely as much as you can in your natural season) take these pictures and put seed out for the birds. A mixed flock surrounded me as I walked away and they all descended to the rocks. The chickadees flying close enough to hear their wing flutters rhythmic and strong in my ears; the titmice circling noisily overhead along with jays while silent wary cardinals watched it all from the shelter of pine boughs within the adjacent volunteer windrow.
Until this point in the yearly cycle I generally let myself sit in this chair for a little while to watch them feed and interact with each other. Now I regret not pushing myself that one last extra quarter mile to carry them into the dog run over the weekend. But there's always the January thaw...and I did get the two little garden strips by the porch's walkway mulched while the first flakes of the first snow band fell.
For reminding me of my level of BIG luck indeed that means everything. Here we are standing beside our first garden, the one I named Little Findhorn, during the early fall of her first season in '83. A lot of people in our position say these sort of images from the 'way back era seem like yesterday or last week. For us it's more like a thousand light years. I am grateful. for all of it.
also thank you to everyone reading here who has welcomed me back to blogging.
and for caring about our planet.
and each other.
Isn't he magnificent?!? This is how he appears from our front steps throughout our green-season months. His presence is the first thing I register when I hit the bottom of the stairs and automatically open the door to release the cat. But there's nothing automatic about the way I stand and gaze at our property's western guardian every morning and night. One of the things I love most about this image (other than it being one of the few times I've successfully captured the greenalicious haze and harmony that personifies what this place looks and feels like roundabout my birthday) relates to the way Grandfather's shadow rolls up the widening lawn in a capture that illustrates his clear embrace of this Place.
[I'd also like to point out the graceful young Maple lass in the lower left third's top edge. She is growing from a stump we judged to be 10 to 15 years old upon arrival. I blogged about Her a few times in the first years here before my big Unplug.]
I took this picture from the dooryard/driveway of the farmhouse across the road. For awhile now I've been drawn to have reference material for drawing Grandfather from his west-facing profile-side. Before that I'd spent an hour or so bombing around in the part of our little woods that's open to human passage. Eventually this brought me back where I'd started and set me walking along the mildly nerve-wracking (due to its narrowness) hump of walk-able ground between woods terrain and the most oft-traveled road in these parts.
Grandfather's north-facing profile is something I don't usually notice. To begin with, this road is dangerous to walk along although people do it all the time. Living where I do I've borne at least auditory and directly-after-the-fact witness to the human risk* of doing so. Driving on the road with my array of witness experiences, I'm virtually never looking at the tree although I surely feel his presence holding me steady. Keeping me on point constantly scanning for *people who, more than likely, have no choice but to walk the road in order to secure their groceries. But I do often admire his opposite southern-facing profile from the passenger's seat with J. when we're heading home from where-ever we've been to the south or west.
This was the best approximation/partial rendering I could get from the middle of the far less traveled street just around the corner from the road. Truncated to insure privacy for my farm neighbors. Except these two who were STOKED when I appeared first in the cow's line of vision across the road and then drawing ever-closer while cow did the same and then directly adjacent to the goat's rock there just inside their electrified World. Both of them posed almost expectantly. Realized they'd been watching me snippy-snap all my way along the journey to THEIR place and probably understand on their own terms about phone cameras. But more importantly I realized at a sensory level their oasis of Sanctuary. Both clearly secure in their Place within a larger Place-for-All. Farmer lady told me summer before last that the goat could easily jump clear of the wires whenever he pleased "but he likes the cow." Indeed. Who wouldn't.
While I was talking to them as I rewarded their posing efforts I realized Grandfather is part of their bedrock life's landscape just as much as mine. I don't know what that means to them collectively as a micro-herd or as individuals. But I know they know Grandfather is there.
In this week's Riverview report: I developed an active connection to the young oak closest to the river despite a pool of mental distraction along the way. Was, before getting behind the wheel, smiling from a place of ease. But once I started driving it seemed I was automatically moving myself straight into a no-win corner of trying to figure out everything we could possibly need if, during the predicted storms of the coming days, the electricity goes down for an indeterminate length of time. Or fallen trees block the road and then also everything stops in place even further due to long-term black ice and/or fallen live wires. Or if black ice becomes so treacherous a state emergency is declared for a few days' running. Suppose fallen trees and/or live wires block entry or exit from the driveway and it takes a scary long time before that's fixed due to so many other live wires blocking so many other driveways. Which has actually happened here, as have all these other things. Most of them (except the live wires blocking the driveway) more than just once or a scant few times. Just as a regular part of winter. A regular part of life's rhythmn.
What do we Need? Nothing. Sure? Positive. No such thing as positive if we can't Get Out for awhile. Let's take it from the top. What do we Need?
It was a relief worthy of some other deeper-level name to understand what I in particular needed was to shut this level of brain stuff all the way down and simply breathe deeply once my car was parked and I was There.
[as I write this Here in the future of Then - it's 6 in the evening and pitch-dark except when lightning flares light single portions of the sky. The thunder is loud but not directly overhead. Hail's hitting hard against the studio windows. We don't need or even merely want anything that isn't already here or utterly unavailable to us. That makes the storm feel invigorating. I'm free to revel in the Thunder Beings breaking up every energetic thing that's too stuck or otherwise past its expiration date. To picture so many of my beloved plants safely nestled in their mulch cocoons. To smile. Just because it's been a good day and promises to be an equally good evening.]
Hello. Find Yourself Here Now.
There/then: I was being addressed by the young sentry tree. Felt that distinctive zap of communicative connection without question or doubt. Having visited this place for five relatively consecutive Wednesday mornings I have a sense that All involved have helped choreograph a basic routine that is becoming muscle-memory natural to me. Being here is a form of walking yoga as well as whatever it was that occurred on an unexpectedly vertical plane between the two oaks. On this occasion my entire body is THERE - all the way IN that place the second my shoes hit the ground. I let the oaken channel guide my steps. And noticed I was both a lot more careful and considerably more sure-footed as a result. First stop: the mulleins growing inconveniently but, being mulleins, they are continuing to thrive nonetheless.
And then a slight backtrack to the Oak Pair for this week's portrait before heading more directly, and a lot closer, to the young sentry Oak. I would have moved even nearer; close enough for touch but that would've been quite a mistake for somebody on a schedule who lacked boots and/or a change of shoes, slacks and socks. I did get close enough to grasp the land looks stable enough from afar but it's seriously marshy up close.
I am a greeter not a sentry. There are the sentries.
I felt myself directed to look Beyond. Towards far-off bare hardwood trees congregated here and there on each diminishing curve of the westward river.
I see. Thank you very much for showing me.
It felt right to go back to silent communication after just becoming not-so-uncomfortable with vocalizing my communicative contributions. I breathed deeply into this familiar co-creative comfort zone and without doubt I sensed oaken roots breathing even deeper into this spot of theirs. Their world. Knowing of Oaks holding space everywhere and many other things but this is THEIR place.
Thank you for letting me know you can hear and feel me caring about you. For showing me who your tribe is.
I cried a little in a very pure moment of overwhelming gratitude. The tears were thick and copious but they dried almost instantly once I felt myself opening psychically. My crown, palm and sole,secondary heart chakras opened with a gentle lack of fuss or ceremony; they simply opened like a blooming rose brought into a warm room - in complimentary unison and then there I was: suddenly capable of feeling myself pulled deeper into an under-ground vibe and the pulsing divine presence of universal Root Medicine. It was so vivid I could almost feel the snap and tingle of the tiny ice crystals forming just under the surface of the ground. I caught my breath. This was really happening. Sometimes, in the past, this kind of occurrence causes a reflexive tightening up and shutting down. What if this is NOT real and I'm merely batshit crazy? That recurring fear, all by itself, has the power to hold me steady in Lack Of Progress and/or Getting Nothing where authentic celebration of sentience is concerned. But not today. I breathed deeply. Felt the landscape breathing as a single entity. I was part of it. Everything breathed together and I felt, as oaken roots might feel, the rise of slowly moving water energy. YES. We were all together and it was very googoogajoob groovy indeed. Today there would be no fear or panic or second guessing reality beyond predictable human confines or any other reflex that sets far too many ultimately irrelevant terms to also be a state of true Be-ingness. Sometimes that happens, still. But not today.
Thank you for letting me in. Into this Place.
I felt as if I was mentally chanting. That, once I was home and the coming storms stopped I could move with privacy among the oaks scattered at the edges of our field's wild windrow. And there I would find the right vocal tones of the silent chant. I smiled to picture myself stomping around our place all winter chanting out loud.
Thank you for letting me in.
And then as a clear and direct reply The Greeter sang a very swift-paced and incredibly beautiful song. Hard to explain via words but I felt this song vibrationally - as sound travels through wood. This is something I know of from the decades full of sensing the way any wood in our home is enlivened and brought back to its living essence whenever J. plays bass for an un-distracted and extended period of time - particularly The Big Boy; his acoustic upright. This is something I love to experience but now i was having the opposite experience of a tree's vibrational sound expressions passing through me and reverberating the way J.'s bass playing passes through the wood throughout our home. Everything becoming one long evenly vibrating ribbon of sound translated far beyond the sense of hearing that ribbon undulate and unspool further and further. Who knows where and when the language of wood stops vibrating? Maybe it never does.
I also felt The Greeter's song as the river might receive it: as if it was an all encompassing gentle breeze of universal language. I felt the song encompass everything I had told the pair of oaks when I first arrived but now in this re-telling my introduction to pair and place was focused primarily on the tree in my backyard as kid. Which was known to be from a different species. In somewhat abrupt conclusion The Greeter sang about squirrels - even more quickly and just as beautifully. It might have been a micro-second. Or even something I dreamed during the night and then through some sort of confirmation bias I attributed it to the tree as it Was. But no. IT was as I felt it to be.
By now my brain was chattering very feebly and sporadically -purely out of reflex - concerning the proper necessary foot gear for getting closer to the water and The Greeter. And then. I stood all the way still, finally, all of a sudden. It was as if I'd never done anything else, stood there looking at a part of the river's view of land on its far side that I deliberately choose not to photograph or otherwise share with word imagery. Beyond this: stiff peaked whitewashed 18th century farmhouses dot the higher rises nestled among an evergreen wall of dark green. And the visible roils of granite ledge pushed far above ground.
Some of these farms are known at a personal level. One in particular is beloved for multiple reasons. I watched mist rise from the ground as parallel smoke rose from the houses' tall brick chimneys. And saw a gull pass overhead with something long and limp in its beak. I saw in a perfectly still and well-rooted manner with slowly dawning awareness: The Greeter was showing me how it lives. What it senses of the landscape. What it has come to know as part of itself and part of Beyond. Whoa. I stood still as an oak tree feeling what it was like to be just one young well-placed life form embracing everything about its existence with full sensory capabilities. I breathed in the purely loving energy of this sharing and exhaled heart-spawned gratitude. Did a counted breath mini-meditation that left my heart and lungs fully open and my brain at least partially grounded in a focus of keeping myself out of spaceshot harms way before crossing the road to approach the river itself.
I kept my senses elevated. Noticing my joints no longer object to the slanted walk downward. Appreciating the many layers of ever so slightly different reddish-browns in the dried stalks of still-sturdy vegetation all around. At the time it seemed likely we'd escape the doom and gloomy weather prediction for at least a few hours. Maybe for an entire 24 hours until everyone could safely get to where-ever they were going for tomorrow's Day of Eating. But the image above proved to be the brightest the day ever got. Not yet knowing that I stood before the sun and its reflection. HELLO. I closed my eyes and stood more like a water reed than a young oak tree. For you to take. Spirit of Place, I thought at first. Telling me in some Yoda-like way to drink the moment all the way in one cell at a time. For. You. To know. Come closer.
I was drawn directly forward. After I snapped the above image I walked all the way down the slanting cement boat launch. Assuming I now understood. Because I suddenly saw the "inlet" I've been admiring for years is actually a tributary feed coming into the opposite side of the river. FOR. YOU. And as I felt myself nudged downward ever closer to the water's surface I finally got it. I was being given a gift. Once that clicked the rest was easy. Water energy moved through me - lazy slowing down seasonally dark and ever-potent water guided me to select a shell fragment and a small round stone.
The water was much warmer than I expected. Not warm by strict definition but not yet shock-cold like I assumed it would be. It was merely cold like the tap water in my studio faucet roundabout mid-February. And as the river's energy and literal watery self moved into every crack or crevice of my palms they felt a lot more healed than they look. I compassionately noticed the folly of skipping my normal hand-care routine since the previous morning. Understood without judgement that I'd imagined myself too busy or distracted or interested in something else or entirely too tired to stop long enough to do it. I examined my gifts, especially the luminosity of the shell fragment. And the river mentioned something very sacred that has become a cornerstone of my personal taproot's energy. The gifts having been offered with intention for inclusion and it was such an obvious (and perfect) suggestion that I stood absolutely still staring into my own rough-hewn palm. I don't know how long it was of standing so still before I could hear the water's steady movement. Not approaching, passing or retreating traffic. Not voices amplified here and there - raised in most cases specifically to make use of the water's sound amplification powers. No chattering seasonal thoughts. Just standing still and fully present in the place and my body right there at the river's edge.
Thought this might be a nice post to get manifested at a point in the year when there are plenty of gathering options irrespective of hemisphere and general temperature ranges. Am aware that many who read here actively engage in a variety of ceremonial rituals, including caring for the sacred objects they like to work with and Keep. More than likely that means everyone also has their own existing care and feeding rituals related to nourishing those things that nourish us tenfold more. Years ago I developed the habit of making my own consecration oils for nourishing purposes. I use them to dress candles just prior to lighting. I also like to warm the oil on the stove, add just a bit of beeswax, and pour it to cool within recycled hand or face cream jars. This becomes a nourishing and revitalizing butter for all wooden objects of ceremony as well as skin-headed drums and rattles.
~*~ you need a scrupulously clean wide-mouthed glass jar to successfully manifest this project. As a guide - I use a half pint canning jar for my personal use and in this case I also impulsively grabbed a full pint jar to infuse for wider distribution. Mainly because I inadvertently over-gathered inclusive materials. I've found a half pint of oil will meet my personal needs, plus maybe six or seven half ounce bottles to be given as gifts, for 2 or 3 years ~*~
I put the above jar remarks first because there's really no way around their importance at a practical level. Now to the single most vibrationally important aspect of creating a ceremonial oil that is in complete tune with your uniquely impeccable intentions:
when working with fresh/windfall materials: isolate your focus on your home landscape's most inherently sacred plants that are also at least a bit fragrant and safe enough to be handled over time. As with any other sacred and ceremonial endeavor there may be one or two that call to you there in the spontaneous moment of scanning what's available to be gathered.
If you're strictly urban or unable to roam around outdoors: Take stock of what you've gathered through shops, precious gathering expeditions in a loved one's garden or wild-crafting adventures, and as gifts from friends. Plan to spend a long slow dreary Saturday or Sunday puttering about your home while a small pan of infusing oil wafts its magic throughout your brain chemistry and home environment. Be assured that most dried herbs re-hydrate with slow deliciousness especially when they're warmed in a gentle and slow manner.
Note: You'll create a far more phytochemically potent oil by going the warm infusion route. Or if you get a little science-y from time to time, as I do, you might relish putting up two half pints - one as a warm infusion and the other left in place over slowed-down time as a cold infusion. That's how I concluded I preferred the latter method - because it felt a lot more vibrationally unique and gorgeously subtle to me. Among many other things I particularly loved how grounding and centering it became simply to see the infusion bottle sitting there quietly holding space in alchemical process day after week after month. Every time I picked it up and gently shook it I imbued the container's energy with my own love and gratitude for this tiny little way of slowing time enough to hold it there in my hand.
Perhaps your own emergent recipe will incorporate sacred purification elements of a long-standing historical nature such as the juniper and white pine in the first image. Or it might revolve around a plant or two with an established spiritual/ceremonial history that led to its inclusion in your garden space. My interest in Angelica archangelica (seedheads pictured above at my former home) began in my early twenties so when I first felt drawn to making ceremonial oils about a dozen years later it was a no-brainer to base nearly all of them, for years and years, upon the elevating properties of this illustrious herb's distinctive angelically antiseptic scent.
[Note the commonality of cleansing & purification properties held between the two evergreen sprigs and the angelica seed heads. Somebody working from dried/cached supplies might fill this quadrant by selecting some preciously hoarded copal, amber, or myrrh resin. If that somebody is you, pound what you've got into smaller pieces or at least scarify your resin in order to release more of its scent's healing and illuminating properties.]
pro tip: pounding dried tree resin is 'way easier and far less fiddly but if you're used to scarifying tough seeds here's another way to put that highly specific skill set to practical use.
Over the years I've been drawn to create nearly all the infusions I've made with olive oil as their carrier. For the vibrational/ceremonial oils I generally go with three months of cool infusion on a dark shelf in my dining room. This makes the coalescence of energetic and phytochemical properties nicely subtle and more about co-creation than 'maximum extraction' as when preparing medicinal tinctures and therapeutic oils. Matters of scent are easily fine-tuned once the base oil is prepared - most commonly via essential oils and/or strongly fragrant flower petals such as tea roses, their fresh wild cousins, or highly scented lilies such as the ever-popular Stargazer.
Am repeating a more complete look at the first image so you don't have to scroll up as you think more closely about your own options. Remember my chosen/illustrated quartet is just an example based on what was immediately on offering at the time I was spontaneously moved to prepare this oil as a ceremonial activity during the current season's mid-point energetic cresting.
Perhaps your ideal base/grounding formulation is a trio or even a duet. Focus on what it FEELS like you should work with not What Acey Did. That having been said - my oil's four-square base is firmly grounded in Place by the two evergreens inclusions. White pine is a naturally occurring tree ally and the juniper bush by the frog pond is the botanical anchor of the original landscaping plantings.
If you're reading along thinking I'd really like to do this but where would I even start try this:
Consider, as quietly as possible, what would ground your oil in the most personally meaningful corners of your daily landscape? Just keep asking yourself that until your automatic answer stops reflecting your lack of certainty. Go with your instincts. You have them or you wouldn't still be reading along with any inclination to try it for yourself. Gather what makes sense amount-wise plus just a little more. Not too much. Just enough so you aren't cut short if the proportional amounts need to be 'adjusted for taste' as you move into the prep work and your gathered materials begin to look and feel a bit different.
With strong grounding comes the ceremonial need for equally strong elevation. Lavender is an excellent and widely available choice in dried bud form that's often vibrant enough to include in projects like this one for two or even three years after harvesting. The dried buds in this post's images were given to me (an entire pound. YIKES.) two years ago in fully dried and husked form. But these treasures from a summer gone by shyly murmured in a steady way within my heart while I was figuring out my recipe - forgotten as they were in the farthest recess of my herbal pantry. I'd received so much lavender I simply didn't know how to deal beyond shoving the final overwhelming last-straw quart jar of it far out of sight. Stay tuned for how I'll employ the rest of this retrieved cache - most likely in celebration of the winter solstice.
To round out the quartet/power-square base, I was drawn to pluck the remaining sprigs of Tulsi that had not yet succumbed to our plummeting night temperatures. As you read my explanation below, think about any plant that YOU'VE actively brought into your garden/life specifically because it elevates your mood, soul and spirit. The vibrational goal in making a four-square base is to balance the organic landscape energy with intentional humanly-introduced plant energy of equal significance to the person making the oil. For that reason this is a great activity for Going Within in a unique way that may well reverberate, at least a little, every time you work with the oil or share it with somebody else.
Every year I grow about a hundred Tulsi plants from seed. Some day I'll explain the whole story but for now: the plants live as hardened off seedlings ever-eager to become full blooming plants within a variety of containers on our deck and the paved area below it. In the beginning of the crop's outdoor growing season I pinch off the tops when the flower heads are plump with purple-tinged budding energy. These are carefully dried for my family's winter tea inclusions. As the plants begin to branch I continue to harvest for drying purposes, but only here and there. At this point many of the tea herbs in the field are in bud, bloom or swollen with sought-after leaves so I focus on preparing our daily restorative teas from freshly gathered materials. In this dual manner I harvest what I pre-determine to be my fair share of the Tulsi over the next few months. The scant leavings pictured above, on the eve of Samhain, held a deep reservoir of this beautiful plant's juicily scented healing signature: abundant illumination, spiritual protection and elevation.
Let's review how to recreate my power-square on your own terms: think about the scents and plant energies that draw you in and hold you steady in both practical and elevated aspects of your life.
As a very different example from what's on the screen - one year pretty far back in the past I made a square infusion from chopped angelica leaf stems, a few pristine acorns gathered from a particularly meaningful tree, a small white shell of enormous personal significance, and a recently broken aqua aura point. Later, when the oil felt ready for its final touches, I decanted and strained, placed the clear oil in a fresh glass storage jar, and then added a few drops of frankincense and sweet orange essential oils, plus the precious last remaining segment of a dried vanilla pod. I shook vigorously for about a week before commencing work with the oil, with the vanilla pod fragment left in the jar.
While you're finalizing your choices make sure you have a sufficient amount of carrier oil on hand. Olive oil is often the cheapest and easiest choice especially since most people already have it on hand in their cabinet. It's easy to find in the market in a variety of quantities/prices. Of even more value for vibrational considerations, olive oil has a number of established connotations in both healing and ceremonial work. It weight and viscosity adds a nice little sizzle to a burning candle and hugs the beeswax close when making a butter-cream to feed your sacred objects.
Gather your chosen infusion elements. Work quietly and mindfully to chop or hand-tear the various elements. Remember that the more you cut or tear the fresh material, the more surface area will be exposed for infusing the oil with its physical/phytochemical properties.
pro tip: set aside any stems or woody branches to dry a bit. When your homespace feels in need of a special cleansing and brightening perk, break everything into pieces that will fit in a simmering pan of water. The scent will be subtle at first and then (as the dried wood chemistry releases itself into the heated water) miraculously full and rejuvenating.
I'm not sure how long it took me to prepare my pint and half pint jars. I do know it was long enough to drop down deep into my quiet inner center. And to relish how healing it felt and how grateful I was to have taken the time and space for the process.
Once you have your materials bruised or chopped place them gently in their jar and slowly fill it with olive oil. Note: since oil's so heavy it takes a while for all the air bubbles to rise to the surface. You can help this along with a clean chop stick or wooden barbecue skewer, Sometimes for smaller bottles I've used an extra long darning or doll-making needle. Try stirring the bottle's contents gently then doing something else for twenty minutes before stirring again. Once all the air bubbles seem to be released cap the bottle tightly. Turn it upside down on a saucer or in a shallow bowl. Leave it alone overnight or even a bit longer. By then any remaining air will have formed a gigantic bubble at the bottom of the jar.
note: I like isolating the air bubble this way even though it means you have to turn the bottle over to get it all the way filled. But this way you'll have a visual idea of how much oil you have to add due to the curvature at the base of most glass bottles. Upright, it's easy to get visually distracted by both the lid bands and the congregated infusion materials due to somewhat less curvature at the top of a typical wide-mouthed jar.
Once you've adjusted the oil amount in the jar, it will become very apparent why you're sequestering this project within a saucer or bowl. Keeping the project as clean and free of seeping oil as possible is a bit fiddly but easy enough to manage quickly and effectively. I like the way this low-key jar tending adds another layering act of careful manifestion. I usually keep the oil infusion going for a full season. This would make a lovely family/inter-generational project to begin now and complete in late winter or early spring.
If you have any questions, leave comments or send me an email.
Above: my beloved familiar kitty-girl Celeste who died, at 23, two years ago tomorrow. Here she is as a young lass in one of her favorite resting places at our former home - nestled deep within an expansive colony of Sweet Cicely. She also loved resting amongst Angelica plants which is what I thought this image showed until I loaded it into this post. Have decided I like closing-out with this peekaboo glimpse of her all the same. For she is an enormously big part of the story I'm telling here ...