Posted at 10:22 AM in 2020 growing season, alchemical rituals, ceremony, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, gardening with purpose, making something new, medicine making from scratch, quantum healing, shift resiliency, sit and think with me, speaking of stones | Permalink | Comments (1)
pics taken at four different times over the course of two days.
Yesterday I weeded, re-topsoiled, and thoroughly amended a whiskey barrel in which I'll grow beets. I got a mixed variety packet because mixing varieties has led to family favorite side dishes. Today I did the same with two whiskey barrels in which I'll grow carrots and finocchio. J's been in the field a lot doing a second round of rototilling. Tomorrow I'll seed two of the whiskey barrels and plant shallots in a bed he amended with the lobster casting soil conditioner and two bags of top soil. It's late to put them in but I've been as late as the first week in June and still managed to reap a full year's harvest. I find they do pretty well provided the soil's still cold enough to hold the night temperature for at least half the day.
Today I had a responsibly quick visit with a favorite local friend. Haven't seen her in person for upwards of a two and a half months. The garden-oriented place where she works has set up online shopping and I timed my pick-up around when she was there and free to take five minutes. We spoke of what was good and whole for both of us but also spoke of exhaustion and its many derivations. We laughed. Behind our masks we were both smiling. I brought home thyme, rosemary and the last sage plant in stock. And If I'm honest - this is the first time I've been out in the larger world that I wasn't incredibly saddened by all the many things there are to be saddened about/over in these ever-shifting days. It's pretty much the only time in a bit over two months that I've done something containing a social component as opposed to staying rigorously task-oriented and steeped in the nobody must linger vibe. Lingering for laughter and traded confidences is the part of my former experience I've missed the most and the thing about my personal i-me-mine aspects that leaves me feeling most out of whack.
And so I didn't think/contextualize about anything much - I was just in that moment socializing. The masks didn't matter or in any way infringe on a single one of our combined Liberties & Freedoms. It was sunny and warm enough if we stuck to the sun and the wind wasn't blowing. Also had a chance to suss out the shape of this year's garden there in a different yet utterly familiar garden world. The person who fulfilled my order was worried I didn't know much about plants or I never would have ordered three thymes. My friend was asked to make sure I understood it spread farther and wider the happiest it was. Nobody else could conceive it was true I knew quite a lot about plants and yet ordered 3 Thymes. We laughed and laughed about that (I told you THREE THYMES now she isn't kidding when she says she was raised in a garden) and then pivoted back to our evolving days.
J also socially distance socialized today and arrived home with four generous bags of well rotted horse manure. His friend has a connection. They had it in the works for a week or so but J didn't want to raise my excitement level before the transaction was complete. This is an invaluable development given all the newly tilled space we have to amend.
Some of the pictures above were taken yesterday evening. The sun came out just in time to cast that magical glow that steps everything out of time and space itself. The last two pictures were taken yesterday morning about half an hour after it stopped raining. Other pictures are from today in both morning and afternoon.
Tomorrow I'm turning off the heat mats under the plants in the basement. Some, that have had two weeks without under-heating, will be moved upstairs to begin their hardening off process on the top deck. This transition involves getting them situated in their transplant pots tonight and/or tomorrow morning. There's a very beautiful co-creative wind at my back and I'm eternally grateful for that in these unsettled and unsettling times.
Posted at 07:58 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, direct retrospect, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, free association, gardening with purpose, making something new, medicine making from scratch, place/keeping, plant geek eyes, providence willing, quantum healing, seasonal shifts, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, visual autobiography, walk with me, water Ways | Permalink | Comments (4)
Day before yesterday was downright hot and the air quality throughout the county was afloat with many kinds of pollen. I chose not to participate beyond a few cursory inspection tours of the garden beds closest to the house. I'm thus declaring yesterday to be our first true day of Spring's greener beckoning magical phase. Was in and out any number of times - listening to the landscape and allowing myself to be mesmerized by various specific plants and trees. Last night there was a powerful micro-burst of rain and LOUDLY howling wind laced with a great deal thunder and lightning. Many windows were open at the time and I had to rush to shut them. J had fallen asleep upstairs and woke to hear the howling wind and rain that sounded like birdshot being fired through every portion of the sky. He can sleep through a lot but not a wind like that. He closed up our bedroom and met me in the doorway of the third bedroom/family lounge. It was a northern wind and the rain had pelted into the room sideways for the ten minutes or so I was rushing around shutting up the downstairs. I thought he'd be virgo-dismayed by the wet woodwork, rug, and chair but he only grinned and said isn't it wild?
Although I chose the evolving sanctuary garden for the lede image - it's not the way my Outside day began. I went out the front door "just for a couple of minutes" and beelined down the sloping lawn to the yellow toad lily. Cleaned her off and took a better picture for jude to find when she ventures by. I was lavishly admiring as I worked,. Seemed to receive confirmation of my hunch the plant would like to be divided in the fall.
Walked back to the house but then suddenly turned right and headed around it to discover the solomon seal buds have begun to open. Made note of where I want to continue consolidating the forsythia with more incisive pruning.
Also checked on the Japanese Spikenard we put in last year. It was one of those plants that just pulled on me like a tractor beam when we first got out of the car at our favorite nursery out in Amherst. Once I'd made my wandering way to the source of strong beckoning energy I picked up the pot and hugged it close. J kept asking if I wanted him to carry it but I just kept hugging and saying I was fine. When we got home I set the pot right where it seemed destined to live.
The location is a little too sunny for it to keep its leaf color. I thought about moving it - mentioned the possibility to the plant and then about a week later I approached with the intention of reading the signs of its response. The roots were FIRM and unyielding. I'm staying. I live here now. And so I promised it improved conditions. Consulted J. a few days back and in response he cut some leftover lattice to the size of the porch length behind the plant. Today he's giving the swiftly actualized shade-aid a few coats of paint to match similar lattice at the bottom of the porch. The shade-aid can be added or subtracted at any time of day. Some experimenting will be involved but I'm grateful he had a much simpler solution than something I haphazardly described based on the construction of a telescoping shelf in the refrigerator.
This jack-in-the-pulpit is growing out of the enormous rock I introduced here. Jude said the sense of Spring holds and even depends on the memory of winter. I thought that was both an eloquent and elegant way of expressing my own sense of time, life, and this particular day's feeling tone. Note off to the left a stray glimpse of carrion vine growing there on the rock. It's been eradicated. Took this picture on my second walk outside and removed the vine on my fourth. It's been that sort of day - in and out and in and then back out again. J's commencing to cut the grass so I thought I'd sit still and create this virtual walk.
Canadian anemone abound at the edges of woods and on the 'far' stream bank. The colonies sprinkled at the edges of paths and here and there in the woods spark joy for me - this is another friend since childhood. The little cluster is nestled between roots of the maple that gave flowers to an essence bowl earlier this year.
This is the first garden you'd meet on the other side of the hemlock-lined path at the western edge of the field. It used to be two distinct beds but over time they've become joined by colonies of milkweed and goldenrod. Am introducing it because I've decided to document my reclamation of the bed. It officially began today but for now I most want to share this:
A self-seeded tableau of green magic making under the gooseberry bush. a Sweet Rocket plant seeded directly in its center and she is attended by several self-sown yellow foxgloves. They are stalwart and certain of their Place here. They haven't exactly rebuked my relocation plans but have made clear their intention to stay as they are. And so I looked for ways to make their habitat more welcoming and attractive. Today I began weeding in this spot for the first time in four or five years. It's a space I love and always mean to [at]tend to but there are always only so many hours in a day. The somewhat smaller originally square bed was planted with a single-stemmed plantlet from the gooseberry bush I'd been obliged to leave behind. It was otherwise planted with A. archangelica and Angelica purpurea as well as a modest colony of yellow foxgloves - all from the old place. Spearmint and orange mint hitched a ride of their own accord. At this point the two mints are one of the bed's main acts from high summer onward Somehow the space itself has co-created sequential ways to share nourishment and space.
This is a close view of the area I hope to have re-cultivated by late October. Will save tales of what's there and what kind of approach the various green ones have suggested to me during this morning's time there. Got a bit lost squatting close for long moments of communion and consideration. At one point this space was packed with plants from the old place. During the latter half of our third summer here Graves Disease re-upped itself and the garden spaces throughout the property began to self-regulate. I dreamed of it often and really never doubted it was happening but that truth lives side by side with my ongoing frustration to remain largely uninvolved due to how sick I was for the better part of three years.
Throughout this time there was a simple picnic table bench at the edge of these two garden spaces. I sat there frequently with Celeste sitting under or directly beside the bench. A modest colony of milkweed stalks had appeared just before i got sick. I encouraged them to stay and establish themselves. fast-forwarding to now - the former path was eventually obliterated by drifting milkweed and an ef-ton of golden rod. Today I began weeding-out the goldenrod runners as gently as possible. My extra care was rewarded.
The season's first milkweed scout was carefully re-covered with a loosely packed blanket of dried plant matter. Am going to be fairly merciless with the golden rod in this area because I want to recolonize with more yellow foxgloves at the edges of the milkweed colony. Will be saving seedheads - saving some for starting on the deck next year with intent to introduce them within the side-pocket spaces. If there's plenty I'll also plant seed in the evolving sanctuary. The bench is long gone but I'm going to start bringing my camp chair so I can once again sit in this spot. It's a good place for day dreaming. Here's a quick peek at the main bed. J and I have a two week timeline for getting the garden fence installed.
In the background is a glimpse of J's completed roto-tilling endeavor. He's juggling a lot right now but seems to be having an experience similar to my own in that stuff's getting done somehow. Our ongoing byword seems to be: essential. What does that mean to us? To me, or him, or our son? What is essential for this new phase of life and any given day within it? How do we show up for ourselves and each other so that our essential priorities are both nurtured and met?
Thistle emissaries are always welcome in my gardens. I need to pitchfork and re-claim another strip across that's roughly the same width as the mulched portion. It needs to be done very carefully as per dreams over the last month. Along similar lines I can see that seed sowing of various kinds will be an ongoing effort for the next few weeks. Day before yesterday I found balance and returned focus by fully organizing my seed packets in a small gathering basket. I keep shuffling through them like tarot cards. Have in the past often slept with bundled seeds tucked into my pillow case but I'm not sure I could handle the depth and specificity that might arise. Have explained this while wandering and weeding in the main bed.
I did a bit of weeding here in an expanding Queen of the Meadow colony. As it's been expanding drifts of red clover have self-sown in a marvelous inter-planting. Today The Queen's emerging stalks buzzed at me repeatedly. You are asserting yourself. We welcome you as one.
Soon now the entire garlic bed will be bristling with green shoots.
Posted at 08:31 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, fresh food, gardening with purpose, life's special blessing of restrospect, making something new, place/keeping, plant geek eyes, providence willing, quantum healing, seasonal shifts, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, storyforms, telling the tale, viriditas, walk with me | Permalink | Comments (10)
So here's a sentence I wouldn't have imagined needing to type a week ago -- My son had a biopsy day before yesterday. The results came in this morning and I'm relieved to report he's facing the most manageable and least scary thing he could reasonably expect given his symptoms. His condition will be manageable "but highly annoying" as T. put it. Six months from now he will most likely be fully stabilized or very close to it. I know him to be physically resilient and mentally determined so I have a lot of confidence and faith. Also - as a cancerian mama's mama with venus and mercury in that sign - I deeply cherish the blessing of being able to care for him myself as much as he needs/will allow. so there's that.
and then about three hours after the guys got home from the hospital
J. sent me a text stating he was being laid off from work. As in - this was happening right then and there while I was smiling into space thinking right now I'm two-thirds as relaxed yet also ready to stand tough as I can hope to be in today's world.
So okay. Those things both happened. As I sat with my gratitude journal that evening I realized my two biggest what-if fears that have seeded themselves since the pandemic officially became our collective reality - those two enormous things I made an effort not to consider or otherwise 'call' into our general environment - neither of them require diligent ongoing CBT type management any more. I'm now set on the path of dealing with my fears* however they play out day to day. Rather than periodically scaring myself with them or otherwise letting them manage my state of mind. I don't have to prepare (or even more to the point of my own pointy personality - 'fail' to prepare) for these things happening as an abstract exercise. They're now what IS happening at the ongoing life level. So ... okay?
The pandemic is an ongoing constantly obvious feature here in MA. We will use an abundance of care and precaution same as we've been doing for the past however many weeks it's been now. All three of us are so into the groove of what we make of our days and strange domestically distanced evenings that we no longer ask each other how long it's been since This began. We don't care what was or for how long. We care about seeing this through one piece at a time. We care even more about each other and all those we know who are going through incredibly mettle-testing experiences - several directly involving The Corona. Mercifully enough there have been no additional deaths to process and grieve. Wish so much and so hard that could be true for everyone. everywhere.
My sense is that J. will land on his feet one way or another because that's his best and brightest Raven trick-of-many. It's helped unwind and stabilize my own pulse rate to witness how his friends and tech colleagues have rallied around him in the past 48. He has a modest array of options that probably put us in a rare percentile of folks suddenly faced with this all too common scenario of the times.
We remain grateful and committed to living our own version of a best life. Once we had T's diagnosis this morning and understood the time frame involved with him beginning to feel more physically comfortable, we both loosened up enough to go pitch-dark with our humor level concerning This Other Thing. We laughed a great deal all things considered.
If it's not pouring rain or snowing we've been outside working the land as much as our bodies will allow on any given day. As you can see the little stream is looking mighty fine as Spring finds a stronger hold on the landscape.
*something that's been running through my head & heart ever since T. texted us to say he needed a biopsy - a quote I may be paraphrasing inadvertently. Over time I've noticed it periodically resurfacing. Attribution goes to one of the native american men (forget name. Didn't see it in reading quickly through my choice of linked material - if you know please put it in comments) who physically created much of NYC's skyline. "Mohawks don't try to smother our fear - we deal with it."
The first time I saw the words it was in an old Life or Look magazine feature on NYC skyscrapers. I remember myself as being tween-aged but I could have been as old as my earliest 20's. The idea seemed so radically pure and liberating that I adopted the contextual message as personal words to live by ever after.
Yesterday J. and I went out to the field on his lunch hour so I could rattle around the garden and newly liberated windrow with the beautiful noise-maker pictured above. It's an extremely loud rattle that's well-suited to open space and offering ceremonial awakening blessings.
This morning I organized and phoned-in an order at the closest place that's doing curbside pickups for full-service gardening supplies. Got more straw, top soil, and a type of soil conditioner I've never used before. Two cases of half-pint canning jars and two additional boxes of extra lids for my existing bottle collection. Two bundles of 6 foot tomato stakes. We use them in so many ways around here.
The guy who helped me over the phone had to physically retrieve the canning jars and extra lids. He didn't put me on hold. I thus heard the other two people working phones complaining lavishly to each other about people phoning in massive orders and then being unreasonable about fulfillment turnaround time.
So when my guy got back on the phone and asked when I'd like to pick up my stuff I said 4 o'clock. It was then shortly after 10 a.m. The relief in his voice was quite noticeable. I felt a similar relief looking in the back of J's truck once he was home. We have the basics of what we need to continue building food-growing space with confidence.
Everything that's growing under lights is up save the basket flowers. All seedlings have their first set of true leaves. Some are very tiny but they're definitely there. It's time to begin planting tulsi one seedling per cell - in potting soil. Indeed - it's the season of perpetual tasks and to-do lists but it's also an enormous labor of love.
In the past I've grown roughly twice as many seedlings - when I was in my thirties twice more than that. Cutting back this year has been a big shift from my usual expansion mode but at the same time I'm leap-frogging forward in terms of getting the field in more functional shape. J. is an excellent influence that way and I'm also thankful to have his muscle and perceptual eye on hand for a few hours every day.
More death in our social sphere - this time right here in-state.
Taking a few offline re-calibration days. Making a point to mention that so nobody worries.
Today was a downright magical Outside day. J. took a floating vacation day once he saw his work-load could handle the time away from it. Spent the morning composing and then headed outside with intent to rid the back of the field of several dozen Russian Olive trees. It took him three hours using his bow saw. We'd discussed Bea's recently texted all-caps reminder: NO UNNECESSARY ACCIDENTS and agreed there would be no chain saw activities until further notice. Just to be safer than sorry.
When we were heading back from our on-site review in the field we both noticed the beautiful flowers on one of the two maple trees that stand as guardians of the little path made shadowy by the hemlocks that line its southern side.
Today's essence bowl was filled with flowers from the tree on the left. Had to pull down the branch used to take flower portraits in the first image because I'd taken most of the reachable flowers for the bowl a few hours earlier. I set the bowl on a wooden folding tray relatively near the tree but closer to the center of a steady four hour light-connection in that part of the yard. As I settled the bowl into place I realized the tray was made of maple wood.
Going back to the early learning days of getting to know flower essence healing & illumination properties via simple keywords - the Maple medicine spirit is all about balance. The mid-day's sun lit these beautiful red flowers so they glowed in a beckoning way. I realized at once this was a perfect essence for this time and also a perfect choice to create a practical application addendum to the part one and part two of the flower essence Nuts & Bolts posts.
***after the mother stock was safely delivered into the house I sat down to see what Molly Sheehan had to say about this essence. Saw she'd created a wonderful blog post about it back in '06. Reading through it - I remembered seeing it soon after it was published. Also reflected we'd lived with a completely different kind of maple tree then. ***
Here's a picture to match the written description of my full working tray for essence bowl collection:
When the bowl was in place I came into the studio. Could see the tray perfectly from the back window. Hadn't been up here more than two minutes when I was felt drawn to look. Saw the little woven cloth I placed on the tray for photographic aesthetic reasons had flipped up into the bowl. So I got an opportunity to follow my own advise about hustling things along while apologizing to the flowers. Couldn't hardly say I was new at this but am definitely new to working with that cloth in this way. I put short wooden framing pieces on either end of the cloth because they were at the bottom of the studio stairs and quick to grab as I rushed to the tray.
from here on, if I stick with the cloth which I rather liked as a nestling cocoon for the bowl, I'll put sticks or small-medium stones on either end.
As I was settling everything with my back to the east I felt a sudden awareness of benevolent attention. Creeping along behind me - powerful but kind of muted in the earth. Maple trees have extraordinarily long roots that travel just below the ground and often partially above it. I became aware the roots of the tree were right there beneath my feet. It seemed they were inviting me to sit against the trunk after I'd returned the bowl flowers. To be there together as three energies: tree, mother stock and co-creative human. I silently accepted and was further invited/instructed to shake the first 5 reps of the awakening process right there with my back against the trunk of the tree. And the returned flowers nestled within a slight hollow in the adjoining section of the trunk.
And so it was.
Maple trees are blooming all over the property and well beyond...
Posted at 07:19 PM in abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, flower medicine, flower portraits, how to make a flower essence, making something new, maple, medicine making from scratch, plant geek eyes, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, trees are the answer | Permalink | Comments (9)
Today is a long way from dandelion flowers at least here in the great Northeast. but I did snap a very healthy crown at the eastern edge of the field garden.
I know about the plant's special day via Kitchen Garden seeds. They're stepping up their usual twice a week growing season email blitz to every other day. I read an article Thursday or Friday about the seed market going through the roof in the wake of the pandemic. Kitchen Garden was one of the companies featured with quotes from a representative.
Today's email spotlight featured dandelion seeds from two German varieties that are highly prized for their leaves. Sometime in the next little while I'm planning to write a post about dandelion medicine making. Ditto violet flowers and leaves. But today my mind is on J's accomplishment of the day. He broke out the rototiller and created a lovely equilateral triangle bed for the tomatoes. We figure it will take a week of lunch hours or so to have the soil fluffed up, amended as best we can, and ready for deep mulching until it's time to plant the seedlings and sow some giant leaf basil seeds. If you look at the pink flower pot then just beyond it you'll see the straw covered plot I've begun pitchforking for calendula and borage seeding to be sown around one of the garden's lemon balm patches. Behind that is one of the "walls" of the four foot square Sunflower House IF there's time and ability to pull off this hazy dream I've never actively pursued. There always seemed like there'd be plenty of time to do it later - when I was old enough to sit still and enjoy it from time to time.
Today's overcast sky was perfect for working without getting over-heated or parched. The ground was damp and friable. Earlier in the day we also walked through the woods while I darted around clearing the path behind the utility and potting sheds. There's a path? J. had been astonished. I explained the cat and I used it all the time - that it was actually Mama's path that I was gradually clearing of fallen branches. I showed him how I'd been widening the trail with an additional 'walking lane" so that I could wander more comfortably along with her. He rejoiced in the improvement and together we cleared the latest fallen branches from yesterday's high wind.
Posted at 06:30 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, always choose joy, bee, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, gardening with purpose, making something new, medicine making from scratch, providence willing, seasonal shifts, self-sustainability, shift resiliency | Permalink | Comments (7)
Bronze Fennel bowl from '06 just prior to straining. Notice the water is filmy with a layer of flower pollen. This illustrates why I advise triple straining prior to adding this liquid to its brandy stabilizer. Any trace of pollen or other organic matter will hasten spoilage - sometimes within a matter of just a few months.
I left out an important detail in part one of this mini-series:
after you've filled the bowl with flowers and adjusted the water level set it in a place where you know it will get four hours of uninterrupted sunlight. If you're taking your best guess - make time to check your hunch every 45 minutes to an hour and adjust the bowl's placement if necessary. If you need to do this keep the bowl in sunlight as you move it if you possibly can. If you can't then just hustle the bowl right along to its next resting spot. Explain you're new at this. Flowers are endlessly compassionate and capable of adjustments we can barely fathom. Add to which you're doing this for you and those in your circle - not to mass produce the most assiduously pristine essence in order to keep the product radiant and maximize each drop of every mother stock. So far as I know there are no free-range flower essence police who make surprise inspections in the average person's dooryard.
do your best and let nature intelligence do the rest!
AND NOW IT'S THREE HOURS LATER
Harvesting & Stabilizing Mother Stocks
I advise beginning to organize yourself at the hour 3 mark especially if you've never done this before. The more organically you connect to the flower medicine spirit(s) involved, solar energy in a lesser-explored dimension, or the simple beauty of dropping out of NOW in order to go deeper into timelessness - the more spaced out you are in the linear sense. This is true, objectively, even though you're also quite likely feeling as grounded as you ever have. You may have powered through your time of doing whatever you've been doing with electrified focus and heightened consideration. Even if you perceive nothing at all happening you will still embody your own elastic potential to be both totally present and totally cosmic right at the same time. That's why you need some lead time to keep your body and brain in strong linear balance with your heightened experiential awareness.
Ground & Stabilize - specifically by eating something. Innumerable energetic healers and flower alchemists advise choosing solid nutrient dense food that is literally OF the ground. During parts of the summer when weather forecasts suggest I'll be preparing multiple essences for a few days running - I prepare a platter of chilled steamed carrots dressed very simply with tarragon, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These are easy to grab as finger food right before I head out the door with my collection materials. If I've allotted more than 15 minutes to eat something I'll heat up and mash part of a yam with some freshly grated ginger root.
important: don't have any honey, fruit, or fruit juice!! This will lead to your central and sympathetic nervous system vibrating extra fast due to the higher frequency range it's accessing via your part in the alchemy process. Super-quick response time is wonderful to watch in a hummingbird but not so kind to your jacked-up neurology.
I advise assembling everything you'll need on an easy to carry tray or within a small cardboard box. I usually do this about halfway into the fusing process just in case I misjudged available supplies and have to make creative adjustments. Once you've assembled the material supplies listed in Part 1:
Prepare a label for the container that will hold the stabilized mother stock. Include the name of the flower. Indicate it's a mother stock and when you've prepared it. I also include solar and lunar astrological information:
Attach your label(s) to the jar. I use standard issue Avery labels which often resist strong adherence to the glass jar so I also use washi tape to keep the label in place without being time-consuming to remove when need be.
After you label your mother stock jar add your stabilizer of choice. I like a 30-60 ratio : stabilizer to mother stock. For my smaller bowls that works out to roughly a finger's worth of stabilizer in the bottom of a half-pint canning jar. Large bowls need two fingers. My six inch bowls settle nicely with one and a half.
Some people bring a jar of their chosen stabilizer into the field with them. That way they aren't ball parking. They can see exactly how much mother stock liquid is in the first straining bottle and add a precise proportional amount of stabilizer to the mother stock bottle.
I don't do this simply because it would be one more physical object for me to keep track of, potentially drop multiple times, and just generally serve to lessen the buzz of co-creative thrall I feel when I prep as much as I possibly can in advance.
Note: If you get outside and find a bowl's evaporation rate is greater than expected - pour the surplus brandy into the ground or distribute it among other mother stock bottles-in-waiting.
Your bowl's remaining liquid will be strained 3 times. That's why you have 3 containers and 3 sets of double layered coffee filters per essence. The same funnel will be used for all three strainings.
This part of the process will be a different kind of mindful work from what you experienced in the preparation phase. You're excited and involved in something you couldn't have done by yourself. And on the other extreme - the more you've done this and progressively learned how to self-calibrate the more you're also testing your edges each and every time just as you would with yoga, lucid dreaming, or any other mind-body-earth-cosmos activity. Your consciousness is expanding and WANTS to grow farther and farther. This ephemeral imperative is under-storied with internalized experiences that quite often defy words or even inner categories you can recognize.
practical insight: If they've been well-strained and are lovingly maintained mother stocks that are stabilized with unflavored oak barrel aged brandy can last for years. Vinegar and red shiso stabilized mother stocks will need replacing on a very regular basis.
Everyone finds their own way with this part of it but let me spare you one particular intuitively based heartbreak: I began my alchemy adventures stabilizing everything with Grand Marnier. I thought it would be a lovely experience for the flowers' vibrations and also human recipients of the essences. Each and every one of those mother stocks spoiled in record time. In a few unwelcome cases - in just a matter of weeks!
As you head outside make sure you bring with you:
*a hat to protect both your crown chakra and your central nervous system - especially if you weren't wearing a hat when you prepared your bowl. Your crown center needs protection because it's open and actively receiving light-filled energetic information of a very powerful wattage. The sheer quantum mechanics can be too much for your subtle bodies' electrical circuitry in many of the same ways that time spent hat-less in full sun may overload your cardio-vascular system.
*Water for yourself to drink as you work unless you're very well hydrated in advance.
If you have the luxury of time prior to collection - plan to sit with your essence bowl for just a little while. Leave your imprint on the landscape which is leaving its imprint within your collection bottle. be as one with all. center in that oneness.
when you're ready to break that perceptual flow
sit on the ground or a low stool with back facing a north or east orientation from the bowl. This insures your shadow won't fall on it during the straining process. I pick it up in both hands unless it's very small. Hold it up towards the sun and say Thank You before beginning the straining process. This is what feels right to me although prior to moving here I didn't have the privacy to always feel comfortable doing it. Do what feels right to YOU within the process of disconnecting the bowl from the path of the sun's light
Work slowly and carefully. Place a pair of coffee filters in the funnel and slowly pour the bowl liquid into the funnel. Try to get as much of the liquid into the funnel and fully strained into the first designated container before tipping-in the flowers and remaining liquid. Let all of the plant matter strain for a moment. As you watch the remaining drips of liquid fall in the glass shift your eyes to the general landscape. Notice tiny sparkling ways you may feel a part of it more completely.
Once I feel confident most of the liquid has strained into the container I gently place the first set of filters into the emptied bowl. I then strain the liquid two more times. At the point of the third straining I'm moving liquid into my labeled mother stock.
I hold the bottle up towards the sun and say a second thanks. Then I shake the bottle with a vigorous yet respectful motion for a count of 77. Once I'm back in the house and better grounded I will continue to shake the bottle for another ten reps of 77 shakes - plus 7 additional shakes. This means the mother stock has been blended and called into activation by YOU with a total of 777 shakes.
This is the point, out in the field, where people want it to be a joke or something they can bargain past. Some protest with a lot of conviction and swear they could never. Nonetheless. It's how I learned, it's what I swear by, and it's also why I think hypersensitive alchemists pick up a bottle of Sparkling Lotus essences, widen their eyes and exclaim WOW. It's exquisite numerology and is worth the repetitive motion unless your shoulder/something else is damaged in ways that would prohibit it.
that said ...
If the mere idea is just too much of too much for you - consider using a rule of thumb I've been seeing online within newer alchemist's tip sheets. Shake the bottle until it begins to feel heavier and more substantial. Put the mother stock in a safe and special place out of direct light. Make sure the bottle isn't making direct contact with other bottles and won't be handled vicariously. I usually wait about 72 hours before preparing a greatly diluted stock bottle from the mother stock. So I'll cover those instructions in a separate post sometime next week.
a crucial part of this entire process is the final action of reciprocity. Return the flowers from the bowl to the base of the plant(s) where you collected them. Take all the coffee filters and squeeze their remaining liquid directly onto the plant. I sing at this point. Usually in spontaneous sustained tones but once in a memorable highlight of deviation I was returning California Poppy flowers to their patch at SL2 when I suddenly heard myself chanting we're going going / back to Cali Cali.
That was a very fun day and now I chant at length to each season's Cali Pops as they love to be called. I have re-worded a lot of the GBTC verse lyrics so they apply and actually want to come out of my mouth. Flower medicine spirits and attendant nature devas are inherently very playful. When they get a bead on who you are they may entice you to come out of yourself and be joyous with them in all sorts of unexpected ways.
*I love to take what remains of the wet coffee filters and wipe them on the back of my neck, pulse points, the palms of my hands, or soles of my feet. Then I like to go back to the house and paint with watercolor for an hour or so. To record my initial impressions of flower wisdom and personal insight in this form without words. They come later. First comes drippy and ever-eloquent color in its most flower-like form.
*Because you've spent a chunk of time actively or passively moving energy in a way that involves several forms of Other intelligence and multiple vibrational frequencies you may ping pong between feeling like you're mainlining coffee to feeling like you could remain motionless forever. Both extremes will temper themselves within a few hours of grounded activity.
pro-tip: sometimes your physical reaction will depend on the specific flower medicine and its strongest range of influence on the human form.
*I've observed at a strictly anecdotal level that those of us with muscular pain often hurt a lot more prior to sleeping. After that there's often a blessed dip in pain level that lasts for a number of days. Sometimes far longer for those with a diligent yoga/body-working routine.
*Keep a small jotter notebook or a few folded scraps of paper and a writing/drawing implement close at hand. You may have sudden flashes that you want to record before they flash right out of your memory's reach.
Posted at 11:11 AM in abundance of care, alchemical rituals, always choose joy, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, how to make a flower essence, making something new, medicine making from scratch, quantum healing, self-sustainability, shift resiliency, visual autobiography | Permalink | Comments (6)
The picture above shows an essence bowl set upon a battered wooden TV tray. It's sitting within the midst of our evolving sanctuary garden and the bowl is full of Bottle Gentian flowers. Took the pic just before harvesting and processing the mother stock there in the later summer of '18.
To successfully make a flower essence you need the following atmospheric elements:
* A sunny day with no/virtually no clouds.
* Temps somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees. You can push it to 85 degrees if you have to but setting out bowls in downright HOT weather insures your flowers will fry rather than fuse. Remember the sun heated glass will in turn heat the water. It's always going to be significantly warmer for the flowers in the bowl than the air temperature feels against your skin.
* Time in which to keep track of time: 4 hours worth. You don't have to stay right there, obviously, but you do have to remain aware of the ongoing project (I set both my stove and phone timers) - keeping special track of any sudden/cloudy shifts in weather.
on the material plane you need:
*A pair of small sewing or herb-cutting scissors/snips that remains dedicated solely for harvesting essence preparation flowers.
*Unflavored brandy* to stabilize the harvested mother stock. I use E&J specifically because Matthew Wood favors it. Equally specific: he does as much due to the brandy being aged in oak barrels.
* you can also use brown rice vinegar or a red shiso decoction
*THREE size-proportionate glass containers (I use half pint canning jars) per essence preparation.
*SIX coffee filters - unbleached preferred but we're all pinch-hitting these days - per essence bowl. You can use paper towels in a pinch although many shed pulp that defeats the purpose of straining. I've had better luck layering two or three pieces of white tissue paper.
*ONE funnel (large enough to accommodate a coffee filter containing liquid and soaking wet flowers) per essence.
* simple CLEAR glass bowls dedicated to essence preparation and nothing else*. no pyrex. I have fairly shallow bowls that are 3, 4, and 6 inches in diameter. I also have the 12 inch diameter version of the same bowl. All were purchased at a dollar store 18 years ago after an essence making friend grasped how perfect they'd be for our purposes and tried out the smallest bowl size by preparing an amethyst elixir. We had the type of friendship that involved excited phone calls when great bargains of vast consequence were discovered. In short order she'd picked me up and we were on the way to the store so I could purchase a set of my own.
*if you don't immediately know that you have a bowl or bowls that might work - consider what you're currently unable to recycle due to the pandemic. Look for short glass jars with wide mouths such as small spice/herb jars or clear glass containers from non-toxic beauty products. Wash and clean these jars thoroughly. I like to leave them to dry in the sun.
[I removed the ant drawn to the meadowsweet in the bowl - and swiftly transported it to a shaded recuperation site - after noticing it through the camera lens]
Additionally - many no-pick flower alchemists work with taller wide mouthed jars that allow for submerging full-peak flowers still attached to the plant or bush. Have done it sporadically with larger plants bearing flexible flower stalks - mints, bergamots, comfrey, a white lilac flower branch, a spray of flowering quince, etc.
re-imagining tip - I have made an emergency-status essence with just two key lime flowers* and spring water placed in the hole of a plain glass candle holder.
*lime flowers have a special affinity for cleansing the auras and emotional/psychic bodies of healers/teachers/leaders/activists. At the time of my emergency improvisation I was working between 5 and 10 hours a week with a group of self-described 'disaffected yet enraged' teenagers. Although I could say tons more I don't think I really have to ...
3 inch verbascum essence. Two 4 inch blend bowls in the southern bed of my former garden '07. Note that rather than removing each motherwort and yarrow flower individually, I plunged the flower heads upside down into the bowl's water. Never did it that way before but I'd observed a friend embrace the method to great success and was glad to try.
and of course you also need
appropriate water. Avoid tap water that is highly -inated with much of anything. Some people boil such water if it's their only option then set it in the sun for an hour or so to regain vibrancy. I don't use our well water because it's very hard and overly endowed with mineral deposits. This messes with the fusion process and tends to produce mother stocks that spoil in relatively short order or simply feel heavy rather than sparkle-bright. I collect water especially for this work from a friend's wellspring and when that's gone I break out my yearly purchase of two 12 ounce water bottle six packs from a local source. Each bottle is enough to fill a few essence bowls at one time.
for Phase One of this process you'll need your bowl, an easy-pour container of appropriate water, your designated scissors/snips and a well-balanced softly focused mind.
Your intention and practical goals will be centered on preparing the bowl for its four hour sun and water fusion process. This involves filling the bowl with enough water to hold the flowers you'll collect and then gently adding enough water to allow turning some flowers upside down.
[note: if you select a large tree flower or something huge like a peony, artichoke, lotus, or dahlia you may need to raid your pantry for a relatively shallow clear glass prep bowl. If you don't have one - or something else that feels like a strong choice - you'll have to deconstruct the bloom a bit in order to get all of it submerged in the watery bowl.]
GROUND AND CENTER
breathe deeply a few times.
If everything within your experience falls into place super easily you may get very spaced out and not realize it until you move back into more normalized and familiar activities.
Approach your chosen plant. Ideally you'll already have some type of personal alliance with your first few choices for essence preparation. This intuitive self/flower guided selection method will make the experience more meaningful in ways that are both universally profound and intimately unique to any given individual. The experiential commonality is one of cosmic union and coalescence. It's a lofty plane to seek on any given sunny day in today's world but it starts very simply with cellular connection.
Notice where the sun is in relation to your chosen plant. How is the light falling, specifically, on the flowers you'll harvest for your essence bowl? Make sure that you approach the plant and position your body so that you're not blocking the sunlight's passage. Throughout the rest of the harvesting and setting in place process you want to keep from blocking the sunlight's path to the bowl and flowers within it.
Above I'm harvesting blueberry flowers so they fall into a six inch bowl. My left/receptive hand cradles the bottom of the bowl and I'm careful to keep my fingers free of casting shadows on the water's surface. what's not completely clear in this picture is that I've pivoted my entire right/dominant arm from the shoulder through to finger tips in order to avoid casting any shadows. But look directly below this sentence:
You'll most likely be standing up to harvest tree and bush blossoms. For lower plants or ground creepers you'll be crouched/squatting, on a gardening stool, or sitting on ground. You aren't 'supposed' to touch the flowers. Snip the blooms with just a bit of stem left attached to the throat/base of the petals.
Old schoolers such as myself will recommend making any necessary adjustments or retrieving flowers that miss the bowl by using a leaf pinched between thumb and forefinger to shield the petals from touching your fingers.
If the flowers are large enough to consciously manipulate in a timely way make sure some blooms are face down in the bowl while others face upwards. I push things around with the tips of the scissors - really saturating the flowers so they'll settle into the water for the 4 hour fusion process.
tip: It can be surprisingly hard not to reflexively 'arrange' the bowl as if it were a flower vase. In my teaching and mentoring experience there's nearly always relatively adamant in-person resistance to turning flowers upside down at first because the results aren't as visually pleasing. What the bowl looks like is immaterial to how it feels vibrationally once the entire process is complete. To that end it's worth the time and suspended judgement to patiently saturate each flower enough to make them heavier and harder to disturb.
note: sometimes flowers will not cooperate with being saturated to the point of heaviness. They sometimes won't seem to stay right side down, either - as was my experience with the cherry blossoms below. Do the best you can to inter-mix their orientation. speak to them if you sense it might help.
If the flowers are small, like blueberries, you either want a proportionally smaller bowl OR the time and patience to fill a larger bowl's surface. I went with the latter choice because my inner sense was that I might not have another opportunity to work with blueberry flowers in this way. So far that instinct has proven itself correct.
If you have a very large flower such as a Lily you can cut it apart right there at the bowl while it's submerged in water. This structural mangling is hard to do - at least for me. But I did put that aside last summer in order to work with a Mona Lisa Lily. The medicine spirit urged me forward and as I did what needed doing I reflected on several well-known flower alchemists who routinely shred all the flowers before placing them in sunlit water.
note: according to Richard Katz & Patricia Kaminsky's remarkably gifted updating of the Doctrine of Signatures applied to flower reading rules of thumb - bell shaped/nodding flowers speak to the mind and soul needs of those who tend to be introverted in life and work practice. People who are not selfish or socially unskilled but almost supernaturally wise in honoring their need for isolated space and distance in which to do their intentional/healing/creative work. Blueberry flower essence relates specifically to the needs of those who are undergoing a sense of internal transformation that demands Cathedrals of One's Own even if that sense of inviolate sanctuary is largely metaphorical given our collective experiences of the moment.
[eta: since publishing this post I've come to realize that I conflated the Twelve Windows of Plant Perception with snippets of several Blueberry flower essence profiles as well as my own Blueberry reading notes. I left it stand rather than editing in order to avoid confusion for anyone revisiting these posts over time. The paragraph as I wrote it 'from memory' also illustrates the way combined knowledge follows a memory river of sorts.]
This seems like a good place to push the pause button on an info dump point of view. If you've already co-created essences and would like to talk about it please comment or email if you're so inclined.
Consider your options for making a flower essence. What plants/trees/bushes do you live with that have flowers which evoke something soothing or cleansing for you? What is coming into flower (looking at jude...) that calls to your soul and heart in an overwhelming sort of way?
You might also consider what plants/trees/bushes you live with that consistently evoke a sense of balance, unique familiarity, comfort or insight. Read something about their flowers even/especially if you believe you're too familiar to need this step.
as you think about this endeavor and look around your landscape's options for working with specific plants - remember that sometimes it's the in-person flowers that are magnetizing and sometimes it's the energetic vibration of the overall plant that leads to exploration/examination of the flowers it makes.
~~alternatively you can research flower essences more generally here online and match your intentions to the healing and illumination properties of a particular flower~~
I'll write the concluding portion of this how-to post on Wednesday or Thursday and schedule post it for Friday. Part two of the flowers' transformation process covers the nuts & bolts of how to turn the alchemized bowl's contents into a mother stock.
If such an inspirational self-care endeavor is viable for the place where you live consider preparing a bowl of whatever's freshly bloomed and feels beckoning on your solar return day. I've been doing this off and on (it often rains that day) during the decade we've lived here. I find it a wonderful way of celebrating both my life force and the landscape's floral bounty just south of mid-summer. These gifts often serve as constitutional remedies that last all year and well beyond. The birthday bowl essences nourish and soothe me as time passes in a way that always prompts deeply layered gratitude and respect for the healing properties - and extraordinary sentient intelligence - of flowers and all they hold.
Posted at 11:16 AM in abundance of care, alchemical rituals, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, how to make a flower essence, making something new, medicine making from scratch, providence willing, quantum healing, shift resiliency, visual autobiography | Permalink | Comments (10)
eta: a very different Molly's word tincture: Molly Sheehan of Green Hope Farm Essences.
Yesterday in the later afternoon I got a text from J. who was elsewhere in the house or yard. He said it was going to start raining in about an hour and a half and was predicted to keep going for four days. That's how I wound up in the way-back machine of my searching for the specific lede pic today. Am glad for the rain since we had so little snow. The more rain inches we can soak into the ground the better it will be once micro-droughts define themselves. But perpetual low-light will not make for compelling blog documentation.
Am currently putting together a super concrete - you need these things and then you do these specific steps - type of How to Make a Flower Essence post. Once it's published this will link back to all the posts that are previously filed under that category. The pragmatic how-to post is meant to be amplified by all those other posts in both direct content and more deep-reading between the lines. So far as I can tell, anyone who openly shares something authentic about themselves in relation to this blog has quite an adept feeling for their organic landscape and its specific spirit(s) of place. Not to mention a special affinity for many of the plants and trees that grow there.
All such affinity is, in effect, an integral part of how-to make/co-create an essence. This type of high-crisis moment - at a nuts and bolts level - is an awesome time for anyone who wants to participate in healing themselves, their environments, and their own growing spaces to actively do something that crystallizes the spark in their heart's dreams and healing wishes for All That Is on our beautiful and increasingly broken-apart home here on earth.
Above is a blended-flower bowl that yielded a wonderfully comprehensive remedy called Mellow Yellow. The essence came to life on the hillside where I kept a plot specifically devoted to raising flowers I wished to prepare as flower essence mother stocks. If you follow the link you'll land on one of the first posts I made here. You'll see a picture of me from '05 looking equally content and determined. Same pitchfork but now I wear shoes with hard shells like a sensible person. Or wait to do whatever until I am wearing them.
for the curious and knowledgeable alike - here's a thumbnail synopsis of the bowl's contents.
Broccoli - Scours the psyche in a way that allows us to see how/when/why we interpret the actions of others as personalized victimization. Offers psychic and emotional fortitude to deal with that skew IF we've a mind to.
Marigold - Very supportive of neural circuitry and its vibrancy level. This essence - in whatever form of flower variety and color - has been indispensable in essence combinations that are geared to supporting integration with the larger/higher/faster frequency that so many of us tend to 'catch' even if we keep our awareness of it deliberately small or convince ourselves it's merely wish fulfillment or Nothing At All.
Nasturtium - boosts the circuitry of the electrical body. A boon for those who tend to fade somewhere between the 6th and 8th inning stretch of any given day.
Pumpkin - Helps support our subtle and physical bodies' need to galvanize under duress/situations focused on The Choice of No Choice. Helps you locate whatever you need energetically to do whatever it takes mentally & physically in order to bring a necessary project to a timely conclusion.
Snapdragon - to smooth the bite in your communicative style if you've normally got one. To help you keep from developing such bite under duress - especially when thrown into a situation where you personally have little to no control and it angers you.
Vatican Tomato - Tomato's healing signature addresses situations in which we've actively allowed patterns of self-sabotage to become normalized behavior to you.
Moon and Stars Watermelon - psychic birthing & midwifery to support life's expansive changes and creative hot streaks. Times two thanks to the above contributor.
Yellow Wood Sorrel - hydrates physical and emotional burnout associated with hypersensitivity.
Zucchini - supports kinder & gentler self-care initiation than we generally allow ourselves.
The above packets hold the remainder of the other seeds I've started under lights in the basement - rattling all the way. Lincoln leeks and basket flowers are regular must-grows for me. African foxgloves are fairly well known to me in their purple form. They've grown with a gorgeously prolific branching pattern on various parts of the property but never taller than 3 - 3.5 feet. Am trying the white variety because they reach 5 -6 feet when they're happy. Was thinking I'd inter-plant with Indigo Spires salvia here and there within the Evolving Sanctuary bed. I really love gracefully architectural combos that intermix white and blue flowering plants - arranged in a visual chain that stays embedded in the mind's eye most vividly right before dusk. This I learned from a wonderful garden design book called Color Echoes in the Garden.
One day about a month ago an early morning dream spirit advised I grow Sweet Thai basil rather than my favored cinnamon variety. The latter has been indispensable for decades as our family dinner iced beverage of choice during the summer months. Couldn't find any on offer at any of my preferred seed sources when I finally ordered. So that turned out to be an on-point lucid swerve from the Beyond. Never heard of this bergamot variety before. It's capable of reaching maturity in a single season in this hardiness zone range. If it doesn't then I won't see what the flowers are like in relation to our bee, butterfly, hawkmoth and hummingbird contingents. Not unless I can figure out how to successfully winter it over somewhere in the garage ...
Posted at 03:16 PM in 2020 growing season, abundance of care, alchemical rituals, cohesion amidst chaos, feed what feeds you, field wonderings, flower medicine, gardening with purpose, Hosannas to the Hillside, how to make a flower essence, making something new, place/keeping, quantum healing, self-sustainability, sit and think with me, speaking of seeds | Permalink | Comments (4)