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Six Practices for Emotional Resiliency in Covid Time

Every month a group of wonderful women meet for a day of peer mentoring and spiritual deepening. Each meeting has a special topic to ponder and discuss. This past meeting I facilitated, creating a topic inspired by Carolyn Baker’s books “Collapsing Consciously” and ‘Navigating the Coming Chaos” in which she suggests six practices to build emotional resiliency in order to withstand the stresses of times such as we are in with the frightening covid crisis and lockdowns, restrictions and cultural disarray. I share here the program I put together for us, taking each of her six suggestions and enlarging it with images, pondering and questions sfor our retreat day of deepening and sharing.

May we all find a way to be strong and courageous during this challenging time.

Christine, the Greening Spirit

PEER MENTORING Pt 1 ~ November 16, 2020 Greeningspirit Mystery School ~ Christine Phoenix Green

GOING DEEPER WITH CAROLYN BAKER’S PRACTICES FOR EMOTIONAL RESILIENCY (during a Covid winter)

The REAL question is not “Is there Life after death, but is there Life BEFORE death?”

Our life is a band of brightness between two invisibilities” ~John O’Donohue

Is there anyone here who longs for Life and desires good days?” ~ St. Benedict of Nursia

*** A reading from The Music of Silence: p. 31

THE SIX PRACTICES FOR Life, Emotional Resilience, and Happy Days

1. JOURNALING: “HOW IS IT WITH YOUR SOUL?” ~ An ancient Celtic greeting with an Anamcara. (so much deeper than “Hi, what’s up?)

Come now to the secret places of the soul.Let us each inspect ourselves with care, looking at the emotions that stir our hearts and the thoughts that run through our minds. Let us learn the essential goodness of the Heart from the heart itself.

~Morgan of Wales (Pelagius) ~ 360 AD-420AD

2. POETRY: When we cannot find the words, poetry…which comes from the SOUL of the poet… finds them for us and helps to reveal the truth in our hearts for all emotions and experiences. Search for poems or write your own! Two poems below:

Life is short, though I keep this from my children by Maggie Smith

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children.

The world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children.

(Instead) I am trying
to sell them the world.

Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shit hole, chirps on
about “good bones”….. “This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.”

QUESTION: in spite of the darkness in the world and the challenges right now, what are you doing to make this place beautiful in your own way?

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work

,and that when we no longer know which way to gowe have come to our real journey.t

the mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~

3. DREAMS AND DREAMWORK ~ Capture the Dream, LISTEN to its wisdom/guidance and DO the work of follow-through. (Monastic Mantra: Ora et Labora – WORK and prayer. This is our work!”)

4.MEDITATION AND PRAYER– how about Lectio Divina using Sacred Scripture, Poetry or Essays and Letters by wise human being?

And the Lord says ‘Stand at the crossroads and LOOK (listen). And ask for ANCIENT PATHS where the good way lies. And walk in it, and find rest for your Soul” ~ Jeremiah 16:6

QUESTION: What word or phrase in the above scripture speaks to you to ponder more deeply? Be still with it. What else comes up for you in holding it? What would you say to God/Your Higher Self about this? What would you ask? LISTEN for an answer in this dialogue”. Be still and then go about your life. Like a seed deep in the earth, this seed is now planted in your psyche and heart and will bear fruit in time.

5. CREATE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL/CREATIVE EVERY DAY ((Altars, crafting, cooking/baking, sewing, gardening, writing, artwork,letter-writing-playing an instrument, singing) OR SEEK OUT SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL OR CREATIVE TO ENJOY EVERYDAY – Listen to uplifting Music, watch Theater, Films, appreciate Artwork, reading words of inspiration)

*** Watch a creative scene from the production HAMILTON. (King George)

6. DELIGHTING IN NATURE– Paying attention to the beauty, mood and message of each season. Take that season into your spirit…how do you BE Summer? Autumn? Winter? Spring?…paying attention to the beauty and changing light and darkness and day and night in Nature as we move through the 24 hours. What is Nature Doing? What lessons does the Earth want us to know at different times of the day? TAKE WALKS! Take pictures on your walk! BRING SOME herbs into your living space over the winter to use, and smell! Make herbal preparations for your wellness! Give thanks.

WE DID NOT COME “into’’ THE Earth. WE came OUT of it” ~ ancient Celtic Wisdom

ALL OF NATURE IS ENSOULED. THE SOUL IS NOT INSIDE OF US. WE ARE IN THE SOUL OF THE WORLD WHICH EXTENDS TO THE FARTHEST REACHES OF THE COSMOS) ~ ancient Celtic Wisdom.

QUESTION- How are you intentionally delighting in Nature? What are some of your favorite Nature Places in your movement through the week? What are some of your favorite entities in Nature? Birds, Water. Trees, the Wind, the element of Fire, Creatures, Dogs and Kitties, butterflies, flowers, herbs, Rocks and Boulders etc. etrc.

When You Are Too Sad to Write. Write Anyway.

It’s okay to be sad right now. Writing/journaling it can help. Here, some thoughts from my greeningspirit blog written in 2018 but especially relevant now. Today. Hope it helps. (Find a pen and a journal and write your experience) I have not followed through as I intended but will start once again, today, tho I post regularly on FB.

The Greening Spirit

I have made a commitment to write a daily essay here besides personal journaling for myself. I write because a Writer must write or we don’t feel well. This is because the words of truth as we experience it, having been born from the powerful  Womb of deep silence, if closeted,  become too heavy or filled with energy to not allow them passage into the world.  Hopefully on ordinary days, sharing those words will touch others in some way with inspiration, comfort or solidarity.

But today I cannot easily find the words to comfort or inspire either you or me. The Writer’s womb is too dark with grief. It is another day in the dissolution of America when we grieve another of the now endless experience of mass shootings and the blatantly corrupt and passive present “leadership” that does nothing but  speak empty words of “thoughts and prayers”, while blocking…

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My garden grow boxes lying Fallow 2015-2016

Fallow (adj) ~ adjective. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated. not in use; inactive. (of personhood) ie My creative energies have lain fallow this year.

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During the last three summers of my home gardens, I decided to add grow boxes in the middle of my front lawn, as well as planting and tending all the border gardens around the boundaries and sides of the property. It was a joy and delight to witness all the green goodies…flowers, herbs and vegetables…. spilling out of those raised boxes…healthy and lush and easy to tend (no weeds!).

Sam garden

Jardin

Jardin one

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Sam garden

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These gardens gave me inspiration, strength, encouragement, hope and grounding during the several years of intense national and personal challenges in my life due to the economic downturn that so many Americans and home-owners were facing at that time. Holding on as best and as long as I could  came to an end in 2015… my “Year of the Thorn”…. when that way of life and the land had to be released, giving up home, gardens and land that could no longer be sustained.

 

 

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2015 My Year of the Thorn~ Loss and Letting Go

 

Receiving sanctuary with the dearest of friends, I was welcomed to stay with them for  the next year of my personal paradigm shift and healing of spirit. My grow boxes, once the containers of vibrant overflowing life, now lying fallow in their woods below a white pine.  And myself, fallow in spirit and activity as well, though still teaching piano to a small handful of mature students. Spirit-wise, though the rich compost of Creativity lay somewhere deep in my Soul, all was still and quiet and as empty as the soil in those grow boxes. Where to go next? How to work in new ways, how to sustain myself? How could I live in joy without my gardens, the source of so much creative inspiration, healing and connections to the Earth?

The blessings of my sanctuary friends and their own beautiful gardens still surrounded me with the green Veriditas so vital to my well-being. The joy of their land and its growing bounty helped during this fallow time between my familiar old life and my as yet-unkown new life when no new vision and direction revealed itself. Though their land and gardens were not mine, I was still tethered to the Earth while I waited for new as yet-unknown seeds of Soul to sprout.

 

Jungle Kitty Big

Madeline’s Garden

Eventually, when the Year of the Thorn  and the Fallow Period shifted slowly into the new life that I now live, those grow boxes were gifted to my daughter, and to a couple of elder friends who were happy to have them for easier gardens to tend. There are no more grow boxes or gardens at ground level for me now. 

But still…. this is not the end of the story of My Garden, My Soul. I am living with Veriditas (the greening spirit) .., but in a new way… with my “gardens” of green growing things and of Creative spirit.

Stay with me. There are still a couple of chapters to come.

 

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My Garden, My Soul

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

There are many ways to live with Veriditas, the Greening Spirit of Soul!

You are invited to visit my other blogs…

http://sensuoussoupsandseuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (actually..herbal recipes for year round)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share the Thorn ip(2)

 

There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine have been sweet reminisces, for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges as emotional and situational experiences in our personal journeys. This series so far  has been mostly re-blogged/newly written celebrating and sharing  about the gardens..my gardens …for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything and the time between my “old life” and my “new life” became a true personal paradigm shift from landowner to apartment dweller and the loss of my treasured gardens.

2015 was the “Year of the Thorn” in my life’s journey and relationship with the Garden of my Soul.

*************

The  invasive wild white rose vines bordered my garden on the back side of my land separating my front lawn from the lot next door, every year sending out a line across the yard and wrapping itself tightly around the water spout of the house. It was an arduous and often painful experience cutting this vicious plant back, as the vine…thick and hard..was covered with very large dangerous thorns with a tiny backwards tip at the end that pierced and embedded itself deeply even through protective gardening gloves.

The several years leading up to 2015 and specifically 2015 itself were the years of, and specifically the “Year of.. the Thorn” in my life’s journey. Due to severe economic challenges in our country of those years and it’s impact on my work…losing a major portion of my private music teaching income when my many students were also financially impacted and had to let go of their frills including piano lessons…I was no longer able to sustain myself, my home and my land. The thorn of personal and societal disaster hooked itself deeply into my life, wrapping itself around all that was familiar, piercing my Soul-filled life as musician, teacher and gardener.

In short, I lost everything. Income, House, Land and Gardens.

What was left to me..household furnishings, a vast library of books, piano and instruments, and all manner of the stuff of living went into storage.

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Packing up a life

 

Storage 1 Closeup

Storage GS

However, I was truly blessed by loving and generous friends who invited me to stay with them for a year between my “old life” and my “new life” …a year during which I had no clue as to what would come next for me, where I would go, how I would continue the Journey of my own destiny. A double blessing was that these friends were also gardeners of exquisite skill and magic, and though the gardens were not mine, they surrounded my exhausted emotional life with their green healing power and beauty.

 

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My friend Madeline in her garden…the year between my old life and my new life

My grow boxes, once overflowing with flowers, herbs and veggies, also become un-employed as they, empty of life,  were stored and sheltered under the trees in the forest of my friends.

 

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My growboxes stored in the woods during the Year of the Thorn

                                                                   Remembrances

Jardin

There is no escaping challenges and changes if we are alive on the Earth. Like the plants in the Garden, there are seasons for everything including us in our life’s journey. Some years of bounty, some years of barren-ness. It’s always a cycle of letting go and letting “in”, of deconstruction and re-construction, of loss and then renewal.

This is not the end of the story of “My Garden, My Soul”.

Stay with me. Chapter 24 is next. Like Life.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

share purple gardener

You are invited to visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com  (music and memoirs of a piano teacher. Me!)

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (healing herbal recipes. Fire Cider!)

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (kitchen memoirs and recipes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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burdock, iris, chives, lamb’s ears, milkweed, daylilies

The Everything Garden is just that! The delight of green growing things, colorful flowers, healing and culinary herbs, delicious vegetables on whatever little (or larger) plot of land you are blessed to care for is a joy. If one is an artist in your spirit and soul, but perhaps “painting” is not your skill, one can plant and create painting-like images in your garden that invoke moments of stillness, awe and wonderful memories if you have a camera to capture and hold them…How I loved my morning walk along the garden’s edge above…a wild mix in the border..

Jardin one

My years of gardening in the yarden surrounding the house that was mine for an extended time was supported and cared for with hoes, rakes, bags of soil, the best compost, trellises, grow boxes, raised beds, little fences, and garden decorations created by my artist partner, David…and…my CAMERA!

 

The Dance of the Femine Face of God

The Garden Dancer by Canadian Artist David Hickey

 

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The Great Mother by Canadian Artist David HickeyT

The pictures in this series was from that time and will be from that time since… But a primary part of my gardening adventures has always been a camera, for during the growing season I would be in and out of the house multitudes of times throughout the day to visit, tend and photograph the life journey and antics of my green Kin.

An exciting, interesting and humble way of life. Humble ..as from the word “Humus” ~ of the earth. Living with Humility as in the true definition according  Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister –

                            “Knowing one’s proper place in a Universe of Wonders”

                 ..and for sure, the garden is one place to experience those wonders!

 

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Aren’t these Poppy seed heads fun?

       

                                       More Images from a Universe of Wonders!                                                                                                                     

SIGNED Ed Bursting

Bursting

 

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Mountain Laurel by my front door

 

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Chives in bloom in the un-mowed border

 

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A Universe of Wonders ~ The stars in the center of chive blossoms

 

                                                                An Everything Garden!

 

Veggie Garden

ONE of my Everything Gardens!

 

Well now. There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine are sweet reminisces for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges in our personal journeys. This series so far has been mostly re-blogged, written in 2015,  and celebrates and shares the gardens..my gardens for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything. (The last several chapters are recently written.)

Has there been a pivotal year as well somewhere in your life when things changed and you had to let go and live creatively between your old life and your new life? What does that new life look like now?

A few more chapters to come in this story of My Garden, My Soul  from 2015 to the present now of 2020 when EVERYTHING that was familiar for all of us is pivoting into the as-yet unknown and the now new-normal.

It is important that we still be Gardeners of new ways. Staying close to Mother Nature. Staying close to each other. To choose and attempt to make our lives and the way we live a Sacred Garden.

 

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Garden stone for my garden by Canadian Artist, David Hickey

Mary Oliver Gardener

From Christine, The Greening Spirit ~ July 2020

Moi FM

Please enjoy some of my other blogs here on wordpress!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (delicious and healthy recipes and kitchen memoirs)

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http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (herbal recipes and memoirs)

Fire-Cider_landscape

http://musicmistress.wordpress.com (music and memoirs from a piano teacher!  Me! )

Piano Teach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

share My garden soul artsy eggplant

I recently read an article on how to get children to eat (and love) vegetables. Have them plant them, watch them grow through all their stages, tend them and harvest them in a garden! As children are so curious and tender-hearted, growing their own veggies is fascinating for them to watch from seedling to maturity,  becoming protective of their well-being as they grow  ….and finally getting to EAT them too when at last they are ready! Harvesting is often like playing a game of hide and seek!

 

 

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A Grandson in the Veggie Garden

 

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Grandsons in the Garden!

 

 

Aiden Garden

The “little”  grandson in the above pictures is growing like a weed! He likes mini tomatoes.

 

I myself must have a child’s spirit when I have planted and tended my own vegetable gardens, totally mesmerized by all of the fascinating stages from seed to seedling, to green leaves , budding flowers and the pushing out, giving birth from the flower center of the veggie itself. Switching to my Mothering-self, these plants become my children in the garden and I am in and out of the house, camera-in-hand photographing them and their curious idiosynchronistic ways and then writing about them in my blogs ie  https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/my-garden-my-soul-part-14-cukes-overboard/.  My veggie garden is a creative resource for me!

 

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photo credit: from my daughter’s garden MGPerry

 

Colors Beanlings

Are you REALLY going to turn into a BEAN?? C’mon you can DO it!

 

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Oooh! Hello baby tomatoes!

Switching again to my poetic and spiritual-self, I often make metaphoric connections between the plants and my own personal life situations, finding that the green KINdom..veggies, herbs, flowers,trees have much to teach me about how to live wisely and well.

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/my-garden-my-soul-part-10-beany-babies-sprouting-something-new-2/

 

 

Bean Baby

Beanie Babies: What is sprouting new in me?

 

Shy pumpkin teaches me it is okay to sometimes stay behind the action until I am really confident and mature enough to engage with the World! 

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/shy-pumpkin-pondering-vulnerability/

 

Shy Pumpkin

Shy Pumpkin

Purple Kale teaches me “If you’ve got it, FLAUNT IT! “

 

Kale with water droplet-look!

Aren’t I just so gorgeous??? (Purple Kale in my Garden)

 

From my lovely eggplant and its roundness, I learn to celebrate my own womanly form, round and curvy, and yet firm, full of the seeds of creativity and life in all stages.

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This is all so much fun and fun in these ways is Virtuous. However in a more serious vein, the Veggie Virtues of Nourishment and Strength are such awesome blessings upon us  from these delicious gifts of the Earth, that forever in the Garden and at the the Table we should always give thanks for this that sustains us body, mind and spirit. There is a life force, a vibrant Veriditas/Greening Spirit,  always present in the plants whether growing in the garden or on our plates, and in partaking of this powerful energy,, we are intimately connected with the life force of Nature and of the Creator who loves us.

 

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a little help from the farmers market garden

 

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May all be blessed in our gardens of Flowers, Herbs and Vegetables and let their Virtues live in us.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Pearls Gardening

You are invited to check out some delicious recipes on my food blog! :

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/tempting-tomatoeggplant-basil-teasers/

Eggplant basi teasers

 

 

 

 

 

On the virtues of the herb Lemon Balm~ “It maketh one merry” ~ Hildegard of Bingen

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Morning tea blend from my garden: Nettle, red clover, mugwort

On the virtues of the herb Lemon Balm~ “It maketh one merry” ~ Hildegard of Bingen   *(to be in a merry state is an important component of good health)

There is something particularly magical about Herb gardens and in particular, something mythically magical about Gardeners themselves who raise, tend and wisely use these herbs for the making of herbal teas and potions for healing.Those who knew and still do know about the inherent powers in the plants that offer healing to both creatures and humans alike were both admired and feared and in older times, labeled as wisewoman or witch for their knowledge of the secrets of Nature. What is odd about this view is that the healing powers in the herb gardens was also a tradition kept alive by monks of the medieval Catholic Church as apothecaries in their monasteries, most of which had impressive herb gardens to care for both the monks and the villagers where they lived. The awesome Benedictine  abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) amongst her other extraordinary gifts of music, writing, visions, prophecies and teaching, in her later years wrote three books of medicine based in the medieval use of herbalism and the greeningspirit (veriditas) energies of Nature.

 

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Herbal wise woman

 

 

 

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Brother Cadfael in his herbal apothecary

I have always felt like that magical wise woman as I tended the many herbs both medicinal and culinary in my gardens. Moving amongst them, gathering them, LISTENING to them, using them,  always stirs my imagination and images of ancient times dimly remembered and seemingly familiar. A felt-sense of history/HERstory. A scriptural quote that was presented to me serendipitously seemed apropos to this experience:

  “And the Holy One says ‘Stand at the crossroads and look, asking for ancient paths where the good way lies. And walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ ”  ~ Jeremiah 6:16

The herb garden with its ancient paths and ever-present healing gifts is certainly a good way to follow!

 

 

 

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Borage (for courage!)

 

 

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Echinacea and Milkweed in my garden

 

 

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Mugwort and red clover in my garden

BUT herbs have another virtue and that is saved for the kitchen and those of us who love to cook and adore delicious food! The herb garden is a scentuous symphony of flavors to tempt and delight even the most jaded or bored eater! Basils, rosemary, sage, chervil, lemon verbena, the thymes, sweet marjoram and oregano, chives, caraway and of course, the heavier spices from bark and seeds imported from faraway exotic places not near or backyard gardens. Fresh or dried they make us hungry for beauty on the tongue and for the tummy and stimulate creative cooking for ourselves or as loving gifts for family and friends! Or even a delicious tea to sip while reading a good book! A kitchen without bouquets of herbs on the counter or collections in the cabinet tells me much about who cooks dinner regularly or orders take-out!

 

 

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My special herbal vinegar with lovage, garlic and hot pepper

 

 

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Chives in my garden

 

 

 

 

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Tomato, Basil and Cheese  Quiche

Herbal virtues one cuppa

Spearmint, lemon balm and rose petal tea

    Whether you include herbs for either medicinal or culinary projects, know that you are entering a truly magical time filled with ancient secrets and wisdom… enjoy and share these virtues with others whom you love and treasure! In fact all herbs are a mixture of both medicine and food… you can’t lose either way…you bring the gift of love and healing from your garden of herbs!

Other herbal post on the Greening Spirit:

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/mugwort-magic-and-medicine/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/herbal-love-finding-my-plant-spirit-guide-mugwort/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/herbal-love-2-mugwort-dreams-and-dreamers-tea/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/herbal-fantasies-a-ladys-tea-recipe-1/

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/herbal-fantasies-a-magical-big-hearted-tea/

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

I invite you to visit my other blogs for recipes, inspiration and music!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com    (Tomato, Basil and Cheese Quiche)

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com  (Herbal Fire Cider Recipe)

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

 

 

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“In a world without color, it would be impossible to imagine Beauty, for color and beauty are sisters” ~ John O’Donohue, Celtic priest and poet

“The eye needs color as much as it needs light” ~ Goethe

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There are all kinds of Gardeners and all kinds of reasons for gardening.  What one plants in a garden is a decision that each person makes for a particular purpose. Some love a variety of green foliages, some love flowers, annuals and perennials, some love the delicacy and purposeful mission of culinary or healing herbs, some love to grow things to EAT ! And there are gardeners who want it all…and I was such a Gardener myself when I had the land on which to plant EVERYTHING! And I DID!

 

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From my former garden: The year I planted a sunflower border

Today’s essay is about what might take our breath away at the the sight of BEAUTY..which is exactly what Flowers are all about…their physical Beauty and their scent and perfume that makes us..(and the pollinators) swoon, stopping and letting our senses of sight and smell be filled with delight.

 

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from my former garden: Milkweed

The earth…Nature’s  Earth..is a very sensuous and sexy place, if I may be so bold and slightly risque. But it is exactly the Beauty and Scent of flowers that are filled with the intoxicating powers to seduce birds, bees and insects to draw close and flit from color to color collecting and spreading moist pollens and sensuous sweetness for the continuation of the populations responsible for gifting us with such delightful and irresistible BEAUTY! Are we not overtaken ourselves entering a garden in blooms of all hues and shapes? Do we just look, or do we so often gather some to bring inside of the four tamed walls of our homes..How often then, do we stop and bend and sniff and admire the Beauty from our gardens, cultured or wild, that we have brought inside to keep that loveliness near us?

 

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from my former garden: mini-sunflowers and love-lies-bleeding

There was a time, I have read, when there was such a thing as “The Language of Flowers” when little nosegays or a single flower was sent..without words…to a beloved or for consolation in a time of sorrow, or for an invitation to meet…a time when knowledge of what a particular beautiful flower “said” without words. An almost magical communique between the sender, the receiver and the Flower. How lovely that secret language!

 

 

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From my former garden: The intricate Beauty of Nigella

I have a daughter who is a Gardener and until this summer, has mostly enjoyed the landscaping with green plants of interesting shapes…some flowering bushes and shrubs like roses and hydrangeas. But being home during Covid time, she expanded this year into her first vegetable garden plot and flowers. This is the summer she fell in love with ZINNIAS! Planted from seed in a special longish strip along her driveway, she texts me pictures of them as they come up, praising their Beauty and cheerful inspiration in a time of pandemic and community lock-downs. When I see the picture below that she sent to me, I can feel the joy and delight she feels when she walks by these flowers of hers!

 

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From my daughter’s garden-the happiness and delight of her Zinnias July 2020

The Celtic poet/priest, John O’Donohue calls God “The Great Artist” and that works for me especially in the Virtue of Flowers ~ BEAUTY

 

 

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From my former garden: Mountain Laurel in bloom

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

Please visit my other blogs for recipes, inspiration and music!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Many years ago when my gardens surrounded the house and I was traveling to Vermont one long weekend a month for an herbal internship with the beloved herbal teacher, Rosemary Gladstar, I learned about the virtues of the amazing healing plant, St Johnswort. We collected and studied its wonders there on Sage Mountain in Vermont, growing in the wild rather than  in the gardens themselves, and for me, it was so exciting to learn of this plant and I was eager when I returned to my own home on the coast of RI to find it and make that wondrous blood- red healing oil for bruises and wounds from the leaves and flowers.

I had never seen it in my area before, but back home I took long walks around my country neighborhood and nearby fields and wild places and along the wooded borders of my own “yarden”  every day for several days, following the exact same route each time as well as other new ones. I could not find it ANYWHERE.

Disappointed after several days of unrewarded searches, I sat on the front steps of my cottage and pondered. And then…and thennnnnn….. the thought came to me to ASK “the Universe” or more specifically, the Faeries/Devas in charge of St. Johnswort to help me out …to lead me to where I might find this bright yellow healing ally to make medicine for good causes. I asked most humbly…and then got up to do the ordinary, non-magical tasks of life, letting that thought and request go as I busied myself with other things.

It was only two days later (no more searching) that while walking down off my back deck into my garden along the back border next to the woods..right THERE!..in full view…was one little cluster of St. Johnswort with yet unopened buds and bright yellow blossoms in full bloom.  One plant only in a spot where daily I entered my garden plot from the rear and which was mowed down. It had not been there previously.

St johnswort shut

To say I was stunned is no overstatement, followed by laughter..out loud. Like this is not a new thing for me, these surprises and responses from the natural world and those unseen Beings who take delight in gifting those of us with good hearts alive with humility and respect for Nature’s magic and generosity. Thank you, thank you I said…also out loud…appreciating this gift and the playful humor that accompanied its appearance.

That afternoon and the next day, just as a test, I once again made the rounds of the places I had been searching for a St. Johnswort plant in the first place…. And there were NONE to be found anywhere. Only in that one special spot at the edge on MY garden.

Yes this is another TRUE story. Try it yourself when on a plant search and wildcrafting. This is an indigenous way of communication. Be of good heart and always with the sincerest humility and the Faeries, Devas and Angels will hear you!

Humility ~ having a proper sense of self in a Universe of Wonders ~Sr. Joan Chittister, OBM

    Virtues of St. Johnswort

If one looks closely at the leaves of St. Johnswort you will notice tiny little dots that when rubbed between the fingers release a blood red oil..the flowers do this also. Collecting the flowers and leaves of this herbal ally, covering and steeping them in a good quality olive oil for a couple of weeks will produce a deep blood-red oil that is used on bruises and wounds. The plant taken long-term is also a helper for depression although for this purpose a standardized preparation in pill form from an herbal pharmacy is more effective.  However, making the oil is empowering and magical and really does work for skin irritations and bruised boo-boos! The flowers can also be used as a summer tea..a cup of sunshine!

 

Preparation of St. John's wort oil from fresh St. John's wort fl

St. John’s wort flowers macerating in oil, to prepare a herbal remedy

May you enjoy communicating with the Faeries, Devas and Angels in your own searching!

from  Christine Phoenix Green, the Greening Spirit  2020

Moi W four (2)

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The Greening Spirit

 nasturtium ED(2)

Planting flowers in the vegetable garden brings color and good cheer to all that green while we are waiting for the fruition of the harvest, and so with happy planning, I raised the multicolored nasturtiums from seed and waited with goodly anticipation for the bursting open of those flowers of red, orange and yellow.

Garden Nasturtium

They did magnificently, and grew with such vibrant largesse and color in a special patch in front of the bush bean bed. I don’t think there was ever such a beautiful display of their large rounded leaves and multi-colored blooms (both edible btw) in any of my former gardens.

One morning a friend stopped by to see how my garden was coming along and we walked through this particular fenced-in and highly organized cluster of beds. She was taken by the lushness and beauty of the nasturtium patch which was really quite stunning, delighting each of…

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The Greening Spirit

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I am in and out of the house all day long as I come and go, checking out things in the garden to my endless amusement and delight.  Viewed with a quick passing glance, the scene appears static and frozen, like a snapshot capturing a still moment for all of eternity….but….

But what a false impression is THAT! The garden is dynamic and in motion each second and things are happening at an uproariously fast pace even tho we might not register it in the way we experience time as a human. Take the beanies for example.

I with a sense of fun and anticipation go out in the morning to collect some beans, eagerly parting leaves and looking for those that can be collected of the right size. I even wear my reading glasses so I can find them and not miss the ripe and ready ones for lunch or dinner. When I have…

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My Garden, My Soul: Part 16- Sunflowers and Smiles

The Greening Spirit

Sunflowers and smiles  at Buttonwooods Farm in Griswold, Ct. Sunflowers and smiles at Buttonwooods Farm in Griswold, Ct.

What is it about Sunflowers that makes us so smiley and happy? In a world full of bad news and upset on a daily basis, and the constant barrage of vapid or divisive media chit-chat we sometimes need to FLEE into our gardens, or garden centers or those wonderful land-trusts and farms offering creative Greening Spirit delight and refreshment.

Sunflowers speaking; Sunflowers speaking; “Hello there, Humans! Lighten up!”

I have decided at a time of personal life challenges and change at this time to purposefully include happy “field trips” to places nearby that I have always meant to visit, but had not yet done so. Calling a friend who is always ready for a spur-of-the-moment adventure, we took off to join throngs of smiling people who were doing the same to visit Buttonwoods Farm during this two-week only sunflower festival.

Peekaboo You....Look this way! Down here! Peekaboo You….Look this way! Down here!

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Plantspeak

LINK to original post:

https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/my-garden-my-soul-part-15-when-the-plants-speak-or-yell-at-you-2/

My Garden, My Soul: Part 14- Cukes Overboard!

The Greening Spirit

Cukes Overboard! Escaping! Cukes Overboard! Escaping!

You don’t have to go far from the garden to learn lessons about life, plants and people. For instance, Cukes have a mind of their own…being such a watery vegetable, their emotions are quite sensitive. If the environment of their daily life becomes too small and contained, or they have to partner up sharing space with others who have a different temperament (like Italian Frying Peppers), they can only put up with so much.

Cukes have the propensity to wander…and wander far, as well as have a rather secret life. That is, in search of emotional freedom and adventure, they travel by their vines right out of the box and across and around the green, yet sending out their fine tendrils to hold on to something steady and reliable…you know… that means anything in its path, to assure a modicum of security as they wander far…just in case.

Cukes on the move.... vines heading out! Cukes on the…

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My Garden, My Soul: Part 13- When the Plants Speak #1

The Greening Spirit

Plantspeak

Anyone who has attended an Herbal Internship knows this exercise of being sent out into the garden or fields to sit with a plant that “calls you” and just listen….. listen for a message about it or from it as an answer to a question. You most likely will NOT experience this kind of communication task at your  local gardening club monthly meeting, or the University course in landscaping and horticulture who are about things other than talking and listening to plants.

You have to hang out with the herbal people who tend to be more than a bit a-cultural or with fans of Findhorn!

Plantspeak 5

We have done this kind of communication with nature often here in my own garden whether it be with other plant people or with our Dreams/Peer Mentoring Circle and no one….NO ONE…ever comes back to the group without a special message or insight. But then again, these are the kind…

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The Greening Spirit

JHS

For a number of years I taught a green internship called The Sacred Garden on herbal wisdom, natural foods and women’s spirituality. The yard and garden highlighted in this series was (and still is)  our classroom.

One meeting day, one of our lovely students came with a rolled up yoga mat, blankets and her usual bag of special necessities for all situations. She was very stressed out, dealing with several major life issues needing discernment and sorting. Life was chaotic with many competing voices demanding her attention.

What she desperately needed, she said, was to have a little time out from the group to think those things over. “Of course”, we said, and went into the material of the day, setting her free to be there but on her own.

Several hours later, during a break in our projects I noticed her car still here altho she seemed not to be. “Where is…

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Evolution 1M

As I go through old photos, deciding what to keep and what to toss  preparing for an eventual  move from my present sanctuary of over twenty years, I am surprised over and over again at the way I have gardened for many a season.

I found this series of photos of the small vegetable/herb and flower garden I created quite a while back at the side of my house. That was “then”.  Now, many years later, this space is totally hidden by a hedge of brambles and wild rose… a “Secret Garden” perhaps to be re-discovered someday by the next owner.

These photos are memories of the evolution and organized planning of a beautiful “life” and garden within neat and safe boundaries. I am pleased that I have had the opportunity of creating such a planned and organized sanctuary for the sake of art, beauty, healing and refreshment. However, this is a different time of life for me at present…at least for now… and my garden and my life are more un-planned, un-contained, alternative, sometimes un-kempt in areas and certainly wilder in soul/spirit…

So here it its. Memories of the evolution of an orderly garden:

#1. The Beginning Idea

Evolution 1

#2. Boundaries Three

Boundaries Three

Boundaries Three

#3. Deciding where to put the rosebush

Deciding where to put a rosebush

Deciding where to put a rosebush

Evolution 4

Evolution 3

#4. Rosebush planted! Now on to the flowers/veggies and herbs

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#5.  Chives and herbs along the sides

Evolution Success

The borders and familiar sanctuary of my life are breaking down at present and so the my garden/my soul of “today” looks quite different than it did up there when life was a little more stable and predictable.

Now my garden is in moveable grow boxes and the back and side yards are left to nature’s plans…un-mowed and seemingly un-kempt…  my Soul and future a personal field and meadow defying predictability, certainty and stability for a while.

Garen Lush July 5, 2015

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Wherever it is that I go you can be sure that it will have to be somewhere that, when I step out of an open door, I am in green space ready for the next garden. My Life, My Soul, My Gardens…we evolve together….

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Boots on the Ground

 

 

 

 

The Greening Spirit

Kale with water droplet-look! Kale with water droplet-look!

Yesterday morning when I went out to the garden very early, the whole front yard and plants were awash in brilliant blinding light. Everything shimmered with moisture and dew that was rapidly evaporating in the heat.

The morning light was behind the plants as the sun was coming up and everything was back-lit with halos and transparencies, not the best conditions for taking a picture.

Blinding Light

However, close up to each plant, there was light behind them and a radiance around their edges that revealed things not readily seen in other more mundane situations. Once again, I was grateful for this time in my life that allows a mindful presence before my day starts, grounding me in mystery with the opportunity for deep-seeing and new in-sights.

We live in a culture of speed touted as a virtue, and distraction, a tool for programmed consumerism…both of which are Soul-thiefs. We miss…

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The Greening Spirit

The first baby eggplant! The first baby eggplant!

Those of us who are gardeners…especially of vegetables…get REAL excited at the rapid day-by-day emergence of something we will eventually eat! I am a grandmother, and I am astounded at the SPEED of the life cycle of my vegetable plants…. they grow up faster than my grandchildren, who are inches taller every time I visit! And so are my green garden beings who I tend each morning and evening…

Oooh! Hello baby tomatoes! Oooh! Hello baby tomatoes!

I have so many pictures of my children and THEIR children (my grandchildren) from over the years, cherishing each phase of their lives from teeny newborn to …well… stem, leaf, flowers and fruits of their unfolding or yet-to -unfold lives. As they all live farther away from where I do, I think I have transferred my need for intimate familial relating and caretaking to my greening garden plant-children, delighting in and photographing every new…

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The Greening Spirit

TeaselHead 2015

It’s not just one garden ie the one I planned. There is another kind of garden around me…the one that comes of its own accord, the Wilds Garden, perhaps seeded by the Faeries who take delight in surprising us or bringing us and the land things we didn’t know we needed.

My Wilds Garden has plants that are not usually found in polite garden centers for “landscaping” and  perfectly weedless lawns. They ARE weeds, but weeds who bring special healing for body and for spirit. Weeds like poke, St. Johnswort, milkweed, blackberry brambles, mugwort, plantain and today’s subject…TEASEL.

This year, quite out of nowhere and suddenly, the Teasel Twins appeared on my lawn near the side un-mowed meadow.

Teasel Twins

Tall and stringy, they have been growing into maturity day by day, but not softening one bit in their sharp and spiny personalities, looking like some fierce ancient dragon plant. And in truth, their…

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*** Photo: Lemon Balm Tea, steeping, fresh from the garden

As every herbalist knows, once we start growing herbs, harvesting or drying them and making tinctures, teas, vinegars and all manner of preparations, we start collecting glass containers to keep them in and especially so we can SEE them.

What that leads to are closets compulsively filled will bottles of different shapes and sizes, saving interesting jars that originally  contained pickles, jams, mustards, condiments, or liquids like wine and spirits.  We cannot…CANNOT…. resist a pretty bottle or jar…!

Glass Garden

We also cannot resist the magic of the herbs either and so hopefully we are engaged in the making of lovely herbal delights for healing, culinary temptations or gifts for bath and beauty. Thus…. A Garden in Glass!

Glass Garden 3

*** Picture: Dark Moon Tea/Dreamers Tea (recipe at the end of essay)

The garden is not producing veggies yet, but the greening herbal leaves are abundant and ready for preparations like flavored vinegars. One of my daughters just asked for a family favorite which I have not made in recent years… my Italian Lovage vinegar in a light red wine vinegar (like Pastene), also adding fresh parsley, basil, a few..just a few!..hot pepper flakes and a smashed garlic clove. LOVAGE is a strong herb…I describe it as a kind of cross between parsley and a medieval celery.  This first tiny batch will start us off and more will be steeping as summer progresses. These smaller glass jars originally held Major Grey’s Chutney.

Glass Garden 5

Summer goes by so fast, as does life, which we do begin to realize when our children go through major passages like graduating college, getting married, becoming parents themselves while we become grandparents. Capturing the essence of the greening seasons of the garden and  those in our lives seem to be a desire to hold on to the experience or the memories through tasting, savoring…sometimes in photographs, sometimes in food…and sometimes in glass bottles to remind us of the seasons of life and love. Our Gardens in Glass …a little bit of magic…!

 

***Recipe:  Dark Moon/Dreamers Tea

A blend of dried mugwort, rose petals and perhaps a little spearmint or lavender… To your liking.  A teaspoon per cup, steeped for about 10 minutes, strained with honey for a social tea with friends. Stronger…a longer steeping time (an hour), 2-3 teaspoons per cup to drink before bed to stimulate and remember dreams…. (make sure to write those dreams down in the morning!)

 

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Christine 3My other blogs:

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My Garden, My Soul-Part 5: Plants on the Piano!

The Greening Spirit

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(DryingLemon Balm for Tea on the Piano Bench)

*** Gardening sounds like an outside thing and it is….but harvesting eventually ends up indoors, for cooking and eating, and also for drying if you have herbs. The bounty of the herbs goes beyond fresh tea (no you don’t have to dry the herbs first to make tea). There is enough in a season’s harvest to dry for use in the winter.

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(Drying Rugosa Rose Petals for Tea)

*** My home is very small, and I work at home mainly in the open living room-kitchen space. My piano is here in full view and my kitchen table is often “my office”. Everything I do is on display at all times and my life, work and creative projects are sharing the space with the projects and people who come and go here.

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         (Drying Lemon Verbena for Tea/ Hydrangea Leave for Bookmarks)

***…

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My Garden, My Soul-Part 4 : Treasures in My Meadow

The Greening Spirit

Brambles (2)

Well, in Part 3  (Order and Chaos) of this series, I revealed  to all the wild un-mowed backyard which has now been christened “The Meadow”.  All of my attention this year has been out front growing vegetables in boxes in full view of anyone passing by and the picture of that mower in the tall grass is it only on its way back to the shed after the front lawn has been spruced up.

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The back has been untended for three years for several good reasons and for sure I have felt a bit guilty about it each year. But just a bit, because in fact, each time I go out there, I am captivated by the spirit of the wild, the untamed, the unplanned. There are TREASURES in that meadow…. varieties of ferns under which faeries hide, teasing waving grasses that keep the black kitty who wanders through the green in hunting mode…

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The Greening Spirit

Yarden mow (2)

Every front has a back and every life has a public and a private reality. In the practice of “dreamwork” we use the terms “The Conscious” and “The Unconscious” to understand the parts of us that we ordinary identify with and know about ourselves in some sort of orderly fashion and predictability vs the part of us that is more hidden behind the scenes(or underground to use a green metaphor) and often surprises us with unexpected behaviours or bursts of unplanned genius and creativity. In truth, in a balanced life, we need to allow for the activities of both territories.

Ancient writers, philosophers and poets have often used the garden as a metaphor for the soul and I find that it is so, as an expression of the way we live our lives. Thoughtful awareness, intention, focus, purpose, conscious planning and follow-through often (but not always!) produce the results we intended. The garden, tamed and contained…

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Ms borage without border

The Virtue of Humility:  “Having the proper sense of oneself in a universe of wonders!” ~ Sister Joan Chittister

Those whose gardens are the sanctuaries of herbs know that humility is a Virtue.  We often refer to herbs and their “virtues”, a medieval usage of  the word, describing their merits and usefulness subtly hidden in their at-a-first-glance smallness. Theirs is a humility defying the flashiness of showy and commanding Divas, but instead, tended in the green world by the elusive but ever present plant “Devas” whose mission it is to oversee and communicate the virtues inherent in each plant. Indeed that humility might almost render a clump of borage invisible except for tiny quick flashes of blue if we are moving through the garden mindlessly and in a hurry.

MsGarden Gate

The herbal kindom require us to slow down and practice the soul-virtues of stillness and deep seeing. Looking closely into a patch of tiny blue flowers amongst their soft but prickly leaves, we observe a tiny magnificence of color, complexity and imaginative shape. The borage flowers are beautiful…another of the plants that exhibit the 5-pointed star in its form. If we moved quickly and mindlessly by a patch of this plant, as so many humans do in our largeness and speed, we might miss the complex but delicate blossom design.

Borage flowers closeup

Borage has many “virtues” and gifts for us. An herb of “good cheer”, it was thought to dispel melancholy and pensiveness (Culpepper) which actually happens when taking a true look at its richly colored flowers and their display.

A slight taste of cucumber in its leaves and blossoms offers a cooling effect…it can be used as a tea, or added to salads.

Herbs and their uses come in and out of favor in different time periods, but truly their virtues are always present whether acknowledged or not. I find that something shifts and awakens in me when I am hanging out with the herbs…something mysterious, wondrous, and alive…as if under an enchantment.

Enchantment… a virtue of Soul accessed through the magic of deep-seeing and discernment.  A rather nice way to live….whether one be a a plant or a person.

*** These pictures were taken in the garden of good friends….

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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My Garden, My Soul: Part 1- The Season’s Beginning

The Greening Spirit

Garden June Sacred

Being a Taurus Sun Earthkeeper person, I have always had gardens where I live. The cycle of the seasons in a 4-climate region has captivated me since childhood…each turn full of magic, myth and mystery.

Growing up in an inner city in the northeast USA, I was not exposed to posh gardens in the concrete environment even though I lived in an apartment building on Ash Grove Place which still had a genteel air leftover from earlier times when the neighborhood was lined with ash trees before cars. The plants that came through the cracks and between the buildings in ally-ways were the wild things…dandelions, poke, yellow dock, plantains and the flowers of grasses. Of course back then, I didn’t know their names but I was called to them because they were green growing living things tucked in and around the hardness and grey of city asphalt.

There were two “garden” situations however that served…

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East Jer Dune ED PIC Dec 2018 (2)

Yesterday, a need to get out in Nature, to the sea, to the shore even though the colors of a snow-less winter so far are mostly of a brown, and black palette.

Apparently, many people had the same idea. At one of our lovely beaches here on the coast of New England, this one a little on the wilder side, looking down at ground level in the parking lot I saw that it was as busy here as the moving traffic in town.

East Mat Parking Lot Pic Dec 2018

But…

Stillness at the top of the dune.

Because of the lighting and the grey storm sky and the seasonal dying of the beach grass, the whole horizontal dunescape was an eerie yellow…

I am not sure why I respond so intensely to this season of letting go, finding beauty in its stark silence and the experience of quiet solitude. Maybe it’s because I believe in Mystery.

Christine, The Greening Spirit

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The Hands of Thanksgiving: Three Generations

Hands Giana

Our family is spread across several states and so, given in-laws and divorced re-married persons….  who gets to share the traditional holidays with whom is always a bit complicated and changes year to year so everyone eventually gets a turn to celebrate together.

This Thanksgiving, I was with my daughter who lives in Queens, NY and enjoyed several days with her, my son-in-law and my grandaughter…an inner-city holiday instead of a feast on the New England coast.

Queens 3 ed Window (2)

Inner city apartments, though charming, have very small, tight kitchens with little counter space, but still, the food that comes out of that somewhat cramped utilitarian room can be awesome when prepared with love. Three pairs of feminine hands, each in a little corner worked magic to bring about our delicious feast later in the day. These hands spanned three generations preparing theThanksgiving feast that included most of the traditional foods that came out of my side of our family…recipes of my mother, passed on and prepared each Thanksgiving by me when I was raising my girls and our family, and this time, prepared by my daughter L and myself. These traditional family contributions to the celebration included my mother’s recipes for pineapple cabbage salad, stuffing with sausage and herbs, and my own signature cranberry orange relish with cinnamon,  golden raisins, chopped pecans and a dash of triple sec.

My thirteen year old grandaughter had been captivated by a youtube tutorial for making dinner rolls and she was excited to make her first-ever batch of dough. I helped with experienced suggestions and cheerleading along the way as she followed the youtube directions on her cell-phone. She especially loved watching the yeast magically bubble up into becoming “alive” and then kneading the dough from a sticky ball into a silky shiny pliable entity to be shaped into the rolls. Her beautiful long youthful fingers and sturdy palms brought about the transformation. I noted the young smoothness of her skin, and that her hands favored her mother’s hands, that of my daughter L.

Hands Giana

My daughter L was really the Queen of the kitchen and all preparations, moving efficiently in that small space preparing most of our feast…the turkey, the dressing, the pineapple cabbage salad and timed cooking of everthing all in an organized one-by-one sequence full of grace and intelligence.

This daughter does not like her picture taken and I have been given orders to NOT post her on FB! BUT! AHA! I caught a picture of HER hands preparing  our family stuffing..I note that her hands are the proto-type for her daughter’s hands and I also note that her hands favor her father’s hands and fingers, though much more feminine. Beautiful long fingers that are as strong as they are pretty…. Wedding rings a sign of partnership and a loving family life. It is mid-life here in those hands…

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For many years I was Queen of the kitchen preparing and cooking for the holiday feasts and so I appreciate the complexity of planning, shopping, preparing, timing and cooking to pull it all together. Now as Noni, I prepared my special donations in advance of the visit because I have time that I did not have in earlier years. I am not the main cook now, but an assistant and so my hands chopped the veggies…the turnips, the sweet potatoes and white potatoes. I notice the years of my life in older hands and fingers,  less smooth and supple with wrinkles and note that my hands have turned into my mother’s hands..their shape not at all like my daughters, who, again, inherited their father’s fingers, not mine. No wedding rings, having gone solo in my early 30’s. But they are ever busy in my own at-home kitchen in which cooking is still a passion, as well as making music on my piano. They, my hands, are older, but wise, creative and capable (though sometimes a little stiff)

Queens Noni hand-sED (2)

I am ever and always amazed how stories, personal memories and inspiration can be found no matter where we are or what we are doing if we can see with the eyes of our hearts and imagination. Many other lovely things happened with this part of my family over these visiting -together days of Thanksgiving, but the “hands” of Thanksgiving gave me pause to reflect on the passage of time and the holy in the ordinary.

For the hands of these three generations, I give thanks.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

btw:  G’s dinner rolls were a success!

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Over the years, I have had a number of powerful dreams with Tigers, cougars, panthers, lions or other big cats. In some dreams they were accompanying me as protective guides, in others I was being pursued by or hiding from them. A most important and unforgettable dream was an”assignment” dream in which I was given a black and white picture of a face with tiger-like markings on it and told to color it in and access its power…to take on its likeness in my life. (more on that in an upcoming post).

I don’t live in Africa, India or the Amazonian rainforest. I live in New England on the coast and these big cats are not indigenous to this area. They come and visit me from the mysterious lands of the Unconscious and they seek me out to relay important messages and guidance for my path in life and situations that need me to access or express sensuality, inner power, direction and leadership. They in the dreams are NOT caged, captive and pacing with blocked energy. They are free, flowing with the life force and doing whatever they are supposed to be doing with intense focus life force.

Noni's Tigers

One year at a medieval fair there was a stage performance with the big cats. When a tiger came out and across the stage in front of me, I was stunned by its SIZE and its powerful rippling muscles. I was totally in awe. And I was also terrified to be so close to such raw power and I moved way to the back..you know…just in case something unexpected went awry. Being so close to the LIVE energy of such animal magnificence literally took my breath away for the moment.

Well, the big cats live on their own terms in my dreamworld but it is no mere coincidence that for many years I had these two tigers at the foot of my bed as guardians and “familiars”.  The orange one was male and the white, a female. They sometimes startled friends who entered my room to leave their coats on the bed during a visit or evening dinner ..they looked so real!

My Tigers one

However, my grandchildren were fearless with these big cats and brought them out to the living room whenever they came.

“Noni’s Tigers” were always a special part of the family visits. Though they are way too big to sit on and play with them now, hopefully they will always remember that the tigers were part of the magic of Noni’s home.

Noni's Tigers w Grands TWO

A year ago on one of the family visits we went to a local arcade for miniature golf and games. Inside the venue was a merry-go-round  with a magnificent tiger to ride … a simple but wonderful old-fashioned fun experience complete with music and flashing lights and various colorful animals to sit upon.

share Mel visitTHREE Tiger July 2017

Yes, the tiger was my favorite and also a wonderful subject to photograph, reminiscent of simpler times, simpler pleasures…  and pure magic while we play. Adults and children together.

Things are different now. My house is gone, I live in a lovely but small apartment and my “Noni’s tigers” are all wrapped up and in a storage unit along with many things I need to release and let go of. There is simply no room.The grandchildren no longer ask for the tigers and living in two different states are very busy now with growing up responsibilities and are not able to visit very often. But…

…. maybe I should surprise them. Maybe I should go to the storage and bring the tigers home to my apartment at least for the next time they do come. To see what will happen. Will they laugh and remember? I think they will. Part of our story. They NEED to remember in a culture that moves WAY too fast with too much irrelevant input.

I have not had a tiger visit me in my dreams recently for the past year or so. But in my experience, when I talk of these things, it calls images back in. I suspect I may have a Tiger dream soon because I “remembered”  them here and because courage and self-empowerment is a lifelong work.

Yes, Noni’s Tigers are going to come and visit in my dreams…and here! (going to the storage unit tomorrow brintog them back home…!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

“Write the truth”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have been enduring the bleak, stark monotones of late winter/earliest pre-spring here in New England..grey skies, white snows, black and brown dried frozen trees, shrubs and vegetation. It’s darkish often on some days, and foggy too, a drab palette that if enveloping us for too long, drains our spirits, speaking too intensely of loss, letting go and even death.

We can only be with that for a certain length of time without losing hope that color will once again return to our world.

But color WILL always return, as the Celtic Poet/Priest John O’Donohue taught in his pilgrimages and lectures. “If you are going through a bleak time in your life right now, remember this: “SPRING is the secret work of Winter“.

And with the return of Spring, is the return of color into our environment and even in the roughest personal season, into our lives as well, drawn forth by the warmth of the sun and and the warmth and love of supportive friends and community.

In preparing for today’s essay and message, I was going to write about this last Nor’Easter… a wet, wild, windy and dangerous winter storm that has just once more passed through our lives here. But in scrolling for a picture of it in my files and camera, I found that I just could not give that topic any more energy. Over and over again, I stopped and paused at pictures of other seasons with gorgeous hues, tints and vibrant colors of happiness, hope, celebration and joy.

Given that we are also in and suffering through a “winter ot our discontent” these days with cultural chaos,  non-compassionate coldness,  and the grey fog and mists of lies and deceptions from corrupt leaders and complicit media, I was magnetically drawn to images of green gardens, blue skies and LOTS of flowers to revive hope in a season and society that brings life for all instead of destruction.

And so, I have “picked” from my files, a bouquet of beautiful flowers for me, and for you… a variety of lovely zinnias from the summer garden of an artist friend. They lift my spirits with their beautiful shapes and colors and inspire me to not melt into the grey wet mud of a too long winter, nor allow myself to dry up and blow away with the harsh cold winds of nature and history-in-the-making…

With this bouquet of pinks, I,  like the Spring, prepare right now (!) to celebrate the return of color to the Earth and into our Spirits and Lives as well as we welcome and invite the warmth of sun and community to bless us.

Don’t lose heart! Remember ” SPRING is the secret work of Winter! ”

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Cranberyy 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we were not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the loveliest meditation practices in retreat work is praying with clay, a medium whose primary virtue is its ability to be shaped by the intent of the artist whose hands are able to bring imagination, warmth and life from a seemingly inert, cold and compact ball of earth.

In the retreat experience, the prayer that often accompanies this centering and contemplative “shaping” experience is drawn from Old Testament scripture (Jeremiah) in which we are encouraged to be like clay in the hands of God, the Master Potter, allowing ourselves to be formed into goodness by the guidance of the Divine.

Clay is also a therapeutic tool in retreats for Healing and Wholeness aside from a religious focus although such healing often includes a deep spiritual sense of awe and relief that can border on the miraculous. In such exercises, a story from our lives that is painful or un-healed can be crafted into an image that holds and carries our experience so that we ponder it and receive insight, release, and movement into re-creation. As we shape the clay with intent, we may also re-shape our lives when it is necessary to let go of the old forms that have lost their purpose.

Many years ago when I was going through a very intense period of loss…divorce, single parenting, challenging financial survival while crafting a self-employed music teaching career.. I sought inspiration, support, deepening and sanctuary in a long-term program of training in retreat work at a wonderful nearby Catholic Retreat Center.

During one of the retreats on healing and wholeness, we worked with clay as a meditation. Desperately needing to be centered and still, coming in from a noisy, chaotic,  confusing, challenge-filled personal world that needed re-shaping for the survival of my children and myself, I took that cold ball of clay and worked it until all that pain and broken-hearted-ness entered it and became the clearest answer to what I needed for healing, comfort and clarity:  a cave/womb of refuge and sanctuary in which sacred silence, stillness and chosen periodic solitude would be the best medicine.

For whatever reason, I crafted on the back outside wall of this Cave, this Sanctuary, snakes which originally I think symbolized the challenges I was dealing with, and the safety of my sacred shelter in keeping them outside until I knew how to work with them. Yet over the years, those snakes have become instead, Guardians of the Goddess, protecting me and that sacred space ..the cave of my Heart where much of my work in the world has been crafted.

I also remember that at the time of this shaping, the little figure who was ME, had her hands over her eyes..and though over the years that has come to mean shutting out worldly distractions in order to dive deeply into the cave of my heart for Wisdom, during that initial time of crafting this image, the hands over the eyes symbolized the intense grief and the weeping I could not allow myself to do in real life with its demanding immediate responsibilities because I always had to be “on”.

However, that is all past now and there have been many many happinesses and blessings since then, as well as the inevitable periodic challenges and losses that are always a part of life. But over the years, this little ME image has traveled with me through all the chapters of my book of life, reminding me to take the time for withdrawing from the chaos of a conflicted world and particularly at this time of our deteriorating political national culture.

For me, the snakes are still Guardians, protecting the need for silence and stillness to Discern Truth, BUT these days when shifting focus, those snakes also symbolize the Lies and Deceptions that are rampant right now in our media culture and  socio-political landscape and must be kept outside, being agents of Soul pollution.

I has been a long time since I have worked with clay and sculpted images that have beauty and power for transformation. But I DO have a packet of clay here, just waiting to be touched and warmed into life. Like what happens each time I sit down to write an essay initially not knowing what it will actually be about, I am ready to be just as surprised (and informed) when that clay comes alive under my fingertips!

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I love surprises.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

UU2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an occasional instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at a nearby University. The OLLI program across the country is a college for seniors, age 50 and older, who come back to school just for the fun of learning, because it is NEVER too late to learn new things or buff up on skills and talents put side during the busy years of looking after others or working full time.

This past fall, I taught a course inspired by a wonderful book by the author Christine Valters Paintner. With a rather unusual title, “Nurturing Your Creative Spirit with Monastic Wisdom” the book shares Benedictine monastic practices and daily rhythms to deepen our spirituality in a complicated world AND guide us back to that  “room” in our souls where creativity is  birthed and stored,  hopefully followed by  the courageous  re-entry into our actual individual  time-apart studios to manifest artwork, poems, writing, sculptures or crafts.

Our class was exceedingly exciting as we employed various meditative practices from monastic life to settle down, reach inside ourselves within the context of silence and stillness, and find our way back to personal artwork and creativity in new and surprising ways, gathering up long ignored pen, paper, journals, paints, brushes and the like.  Our  daily inspirational mantra was a prayer from the Divine Muse, with which we initiated our creative endeavors awaiting the surprise of new expressive ideas:

“Now I am revealing new things to you.

Things hidden and unknown to you, created just now, this very moment!

Of these things, you have heard nothing until now, so you cannot say, ‘Yes I (already) knew that’ “

Some wrote exquisite poems, some shared reflective journal entries. One woman started an art project, a beautiful book of paintings..one for each of the monastic hours (Lauds, Vespers etc) with eloquent musings on each…and with delightful imagination, one woman made for the homeless, a comfy sleeping mat from colored plastic bags, much like a hooked rug, and complete with the ability to roll it up and carry with handles.

Crea Mona 4 Five

Crea Mona Se 4 One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our class was a total delight but our Eldest Elder was one of the most delightful creations herself.  “Joan” is well known and very beloved by all  who know her at OLLI. In her mid-90’s she attends a variety of classes for enjoyment, inspiration and, as she has told me a number of times, to find out what it is she is supposed to be doing with her life at age 95!

During the class she sat attentively up front as always, usually rather quiet until she has something to say.. generally a soft-spoken one or two-liner that catches us by surprise and makes us all laugh with delight…or a question that reveals a piercing depth of curiosity and wisdom that stops us cold to ponder.

Throughout this class as others brought their creations in for our opening “show and tell”, eliciting claps and smiles, we knew that Joan had not as yet gone back into her “studio”  to start painting again which had for quite a time, maybe years, been set aside. She was quite elusive about why she was unsure about doing it.

But then …..

On the last day of the class, she and her daughter came in with a surprise!

Joan had in fact gone back into her “studio”,  picked up her brushes and painted a picture of the rough ocean waters  near the sea wall after a wild storm! Like Joan herself who is quite a “modern-thinking”  Elder at 95, her painting is also modern in expression, impressionistic and with dynamic movement.

Crea Mina Joan PICA ED one 1 (2)

I am a Senior now as well, and the rhythm and responsibilities of life have shifted although I am still far from being  95 years old. With new “open spaces” in my days, I often wonder what I am supposed to be doing with my life now, knowing that it is up to ME to create the new meanings and that, given good health, I need to listen and follow The Divine Muse who has ideas for me to be creative and of service in a world so needing inspiration and beauty.

I think on one level, Joan’s work at 95 is being a “Muse” for us younger Elders… 

 And… for the record…..

We’re  paying attention to you, Joan!!

Crea Mona Group PICASA Blue (2)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

 

 

 

 

 

I was kind of in a hurry, dashing into town to pick up a few things. It was cold, grey and damp, but my car was warm and my four wheels could get me where I needed to go quickly and then back home again to host a friend’s visit.

You know…..that light at the four corners takes FOREVER to change so I  cleverly turned left for a short-cut behind Bess Easton Coffee to quickly drive across the parking lot and across the street to the pharmacy and Belmont’s market.

But no such luck. Turning the corner to make that quick dash, right there squarely in the middle of the road heading in the same direction was an old woman, pushing a little shopping cart with empty shopping bags attached. She was all bundled up against the cold, layers under coat, hat, gloves, scarf and she was SLOWLY making her way..and I mean SLOWLY…inch by inch….alone.

My first inner response  of impatience was “Oh, SHEESH!” ….. but just momentarily as I reminded myself that I now live in a Senior Housing Apartment complex and though I can quickly veer around those with walkers or a cane in the hallways of the building, someday a number of years from now, that could be me!

Compassion, my dear. Let’s polish that up a bit.

I backed up and turned my car around going to a store behind me instead and also stopped to top off the gas in my vehicle. And then I proceeded to my original intended destination, though about 25 minutes behind schedule.

The old woman was gone from the middle of that short-cut, and I was able to cut through, across the parking lot, across the road to the big parking lot of the pharmacy and market.

And there she was… inching her way step by slow step over towards the market…! She had covered quite a distance in those 25 minutes and quite frankly, I was awed and humbled by her determination, her courage, and her intrepid spirit making her way alone, without partner or friend, on a cold grey day. It was a very long walk in distance and time.

ELDER-kin. There are so many of us now…from about age 60 to 90+..especially single women, living alone in senior apartments.. families somewhere else and ever so busy..adult children on the move and grandkids too and so much time between visits. We did not know when we were younger about the sometimes isolation and lonely journeys we must take in this third life chapter.

It takes courage and pure GRIT to take that LONG WALK alone to the market on foot on a cold day. Women, I must say, are known for that kind of pure GRIT… haven’t many of us just up and done what needed to be done as we once accompanied partners, children or aging parents through all kinds of growth pangs?

Seeing this Elder Kin sister from across the distance stirred my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. I blessed her, and me, and all courageous elders who are are taking that long walk…even when it is slower than it used to be.

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

update Feb 2016 (2)

Don’t think for a moment that the plants don’t have the ability to communicate with you! Sometimes to share wisdom and sometimes to tell you off when need be! This really happened to me..

The Greening Spirit

Plantspeak

In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin…

View original post 677 more words

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I am in and out of the house all day long as I come and go, checking out things in the garden to my endless amusement and delight.  Viewed with a quick passing glance, the scene appears static and frozen, like a snapshot capturing a still moment for all of eternity….but….

But what a false impression is THAT! The garden is dynamic and in motion each second and things are happening at an uproariously fast pace even tho we might not register it in the way we experience time as a human. Take the beanies for example.

I with a sense of fun and anticipation go out in the morning to collect some beans, eagerly parting leaves and looking for those that can be collected of the right size. I even wear my reading glasses so I can find them and not miss the ripe and ready ones for lunch or dinner. When I have collected ALL of them that I have discovered, they come in with me to add a tender crunch of green to my meal. (Did you ever notice that green beans from the garden taste every so much differently delicious that those beans you pick over and choose at the supermarket which often have an odd flavor and take FOREVER to cook to tenderness?)

I feel good to have harvested all that I found making a stimulus for more little white bean flowers and eventually new pods on those vines.

What a surprise though that same day when I go out in the evening at dusk to water the grow boxes, and check over the plants one more time…you know, just to see what’s happened during the day. SHOCKING to turn over the bean leaves just for a peek, or to survey their well-being, and find fully mature beans hidden from my morning’s careful foraging… how in the world had I missed these newly giant beans in the former harvest just half a day back?? I think they are having fun tricking me…

OBVIOUSLY, the vegetables are a playful species… loving to play hide and seek. I find myself laughing out loud… I’m game….!  🙂

I must admit that the plants and I have a very personal relationship, as if they were pets or even people. We do seem to play games together as I pay such close attention to their habit, synchronicities and unique ways and a kind of “communication” happens between us through imagination and observation. Like when after a day in bright direct sunlight, the cukes and tomato vines give up and droop almost flat to the ground, dehydrated and thirsty. The Greening Spirit, concerned,  immediately comes to the rescue to water the boxes and spray them with a fine cool-down mist setting with the hose as if I heard them gasping… “oh PLEASE…WATER!”

This same attention, awareness and sensitivity is also needed with the people and relationships in our lives…noticing who needs a little extra care, watering through compassion,  a hug, or listening when they are dry and flattened by life, acknowledging or cheerleading them on for their special appreciated talents or gifts..their “fruits”… and saying grace and thank you’s for their friendships and nourishments in our lives.

It’s all one thing, you know……..  🙂

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From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Pearls Gardening

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Sunflowers and smiles  at Buttonwooods Farm in Griswold, Ct.

Sunflowers and smiles at Buttonwooods Farm in Griswold, Ct.

What is it about Sunflowers that makes us so smiley and happy? In a world full of bad news and upset on a daily basis, and the constant barrage of vapid or divisive media chit-chat we sometimes need to FLEE into our gardens, or garden centers or those wonderful land-trusts and farms offering creative Greening Spirit delight and refreshment.

Sunflowers speaking;

Sunflowers speaking; “Hello there, Humans! Lighten up!”

I have decided at a time of personal life challenges and change at this time to purposefully include happy “field trips” to places nearby that I have always meant to visit, but had not yet done so. Calling a friend who is always ready for a spur-of-the-moment adventure, we took off to join throngs of smiling people who were doing the same to visit Buttonwoods Farm during this two-week only sunflower festival.

Peekaboo You....Look this way! Down here!

Peekaboo You….Look this way! Down here!

Point and shoot digital cameras, cameras with BIG closeup lenses and busy cell-phone cameras were in everyone’s hands…stop, snap, stop, snap…taking home a sunflower picture if not a bouquet. My friend Margie had her little camera and focused on a happy sunflower being visited by a bee gathering its pollen.

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The sun was bright, the path through the acres of Sunflowers was long but upon exiting there was a lovely hill and a big shading tree and cool breezes to stop and view the field from a higher vantage point and rest up before making the return trip…

Cool breezes on the hill up there

Cool breezes on the hill up there

People, young, old, of all shapes and sizes made the journey through the Sunflowers to be greeted and blessed by all that good cheer.

Never too old to greet the Sunflowers!

Never too old to greet the Sunflowers!

On the way out, we met a real Sunflower Smiley Face!

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After our trek through the Sunflower Fields…back to my own neighborhood for Ice Cream across the way, sitting in the shade and enjoying every single lick on a warm day.

I didn’t bring a bouquet home with me from Buttonwoods.. I knew there were, on a much smaller scale, but still smiling, emergent sunflowers in my own garden…they are just beginning to open now as will add to the greening spirit joy and delight as I also daily prepare to release this home and venture into a new chapter.

I want to take these smiles with me wherever I go …..  🙂

My Garden, My Soul

My Garden, My Soul

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Soulfulness can infuse everything! Please visit my other blogs! They’re FUN!

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Plantspeak

In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin to take root and thought of how much fun it was going to be, as always, enjoying their delicious goodness in my kitchen and table during harvest.

But, after working as educational co-ordinator during the winter with this gifted family of musicians for school concerts, it was decided that I would accompany them on the road in summer for a variety of festivals. That meant that I would teach piano Tuesday through Thursday morning, and leave with them in the dark of night on Thursday, returning late Sunday night or Monday morning.

Obviously, my home and garden life was disturbed and disheveled as I came and went balancing my music teaching with on-the-road away adventures with the performers.

Late midsummer when the plants have set  their fruit and begin to offer their goodies harvest, I stood by the garden in a now-rare state of presence and mindfulness thinking to bring in some tomatoes or squash or beans or SOMETHING and was shocked at what I saw.

My originally carefully and lovingly planted veggies and herbs were…were…a mess or just plain dry and barren. Rich soil, good enough rain and moisture,  a wonderful contained spot, but the garden was now overgrown with tangled weeds around the plants that (WHO) seemed to be gasping for life. The WEEDS were doing GREAT! The poor vegetables…oh dear.

I had to admit that I had not had much time if any to tend them as I came in an out each week between my work at the piano and my work …and adventure…on the road. I stood there trying to analyze why the weeds looked so healthy and robust, and the vegetable plants that I had helped to initiate into this life experience where so…stunted and forlorn. I stood there really trying to figure this out logically….and then, all of a sudden…….  WHAM! 

Plantspeak

In my mind’s eye an image came of its own accord of a Walt Disney-like cartoon plant… tall plant with leafy tendril-ed  arms, one of which was placed indignantly upon its stalky hip and I “heard” these extremely clear, stern and huffy words, not in my head, but somewhere in the middle of my chest..in the region of my heart:

“Wh-elll ! WE who are FOOD, are not like the others that grow in the forest on their own without help. If you say you are going to be here for us and are not, we are DISAPPOINTED!”

I was totally stunned. I had just been told off by a garden of Disappointed Vegetable plants. Yes, I had led them to believe we were going to do something grand together as we always had done in the past.. And then I took off for a summer adventure leaving them to fend for themselves in the heat, the winds, the bright hot sun, the sometimes rain and sometimes not, the encroaching tangle of strangle-weeds and vines.

They sure TOLD me what’s up and Truth isn’t always pretty….

All I can tell you is that this is not a made-up story. It REALLY happened and I have never forgotten it! Plants, like people who are family and friends, do count on us to be there when we say we will…and we hope for the same support in return. Sometimes we are better at it than at others times…life is so full of distractions and personal challenges that we get side-tracked as we try to personally stay upright.. But we are all in the garden together and interdependence often is the key to survival ( and pleasure) as we flow through the seasons of our lives.

Yes, the Plants DO speak to us when we stand still enough to listen. 🙂 AndI always do try to listen now. The kind that of listening that is centered in the Heart.

At a fair with Manuel of YARINA

At a fair with Manuel of YARINA

*** Writers love to hear from you if you enjoyed our story. I’d love you to click *like* if you did. Feel free to share and repost, or leave a comment! Thanks!

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

School Concert with YARINA

School Concert with YARINA

On the Road with YARINA

On the Road with YARINA

At home with the Family Cachimuel (YARINA)

At home with the Family Cachimuel(YARINA)

Cukes Overboard! Escaping!

Cukes Overboard! Escaping!

You don’t have to go far from the garden to learn lessons about life, plants and people. For instance, Cukes have a mind of their own…being such a watery vegetable, their emotions are quite sensitive. If the environment of their daily life becomes too small and contained, or they have to partner up sharing space with others who have a different temperament (like Italian Frying Peppers), they can only put up with so much.

Cukes have the propensity to wander…and wander far, as well as have a rather secret life. That is, in search of emotional freedom and adventure, they travel by their vines right out of the box and across and around the green, yet sending out their fine tendrils to hold on to something steady and reliable…you know… that means anything in its path, to assure a modicum of security as they wander far…just in case..

Cukes on the move.... vines heading out!

Cukes on the move…. vines heading out!

Their “secret life” manifests in tossing themselves..the cuke itself…right out of the back of the box where they remain hidden from your eyes even though you thought you had spotted and collected every delicious one.

But NOOOoooooo…. out back over the fence behind the box or border, hiding in a mass of tangle of their leaves and vines are the BIG guys. Having “jumped ship” before you could shout…”Ahoy…Cuke overboard!” they live out that secret life of competing for the biggest and best of the group before in a slant of light, quite by accident…you..the Master Gardner…catch a glimpse of them and fight your way through the vines getting all prickled and itchy to round them up to accompany you for dinner.

Fighting your way through the viney jungle

Fighting your way through the viney jungle

…Which of course, they are happy to do. Vegetables know they are here to serve as food, and are happy to fulfill their mission being at table with us.

I often think how necessary it is for creative /spiritual people to break “out of the box” of traditional culture and our home base as we mature when the familiar and static patterns become too routine, and too small or tight for exploration and self-expression. Sometimes, in order to grow into our bigger Soul-selves we just do have to jump ship, go over the side into the wilds of life to find out who we authentically are, spiritually and creatively. However, it serves us well to send out kind tendrils of friendship and connection as we move about, even if we have to hide out back at times to do our creative work inspired by imagination and dreams.

Sometimes we just have to go rogue and become “cuke”.

But after a while, we must remember to come back to the table and share our goodness! Our crispness, moisture. inspirations and stories.

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From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Garden June Sacred Lots of inspiration on my other blogs! Come and visit!

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Plantspeak

Anyone who has attended an Herbal Internship knows this exercise of being sent out into the garden or fields to sit with a plant that “calls you” and just listen….. listen for a message about it or from it as an answer to a question. You most likely will NOT experience this kind of communication task at your  local gardening club monthly meeting, or the University course in landscaping and horticulture who are about things other than talking and listening to plants.

You have to hang out with the herbal people who tend to be more than a bit a-cultural or with fans of Findhorn!

Plantspeak 5

We have done this kind of communication with nature often here in my own garden whether it be with other plant people or with our Dreams/Peer Mentoring Circle and no one….NO ONE…ever comes back to the group without a special message or insight. But then again, these are the kind of whimsical, open and yes, magical, people I tend to hang with.

Plantspeak 3

I mention herbs first because they have such a long tradition of both medicine and magic which both push our boundaries to entertain unusual or unexpected sources of wisdom and guidance. They DO have a propensity for words sent directly to the human heart. But you can listen to flowers and vegetables too…perhaps the devas that represent them are the ones who speak, but if you LISTEN the way children…young ones under the age of six..would listen, you will be amazed.

plantspeak10

It is good to take a notebook and write down the thoughts and inspirations as they come, for like a dream, they may fade as you come back into the mundane and ordinary mindset.

Plantspeak 2

It is always exciting and amusing to compare notes afterwards as it is quite fun and inspirational to share the magic, validating that there ARE worlds around us and within us besides the one we usually think of as the “real”. Share away and enjoy…but maybe not right away at “the office”.  🙂

Plant speak 7

I find that entering the “magical mind” is a wonderful way to balance those many other complicated issues we deal with in living our lives. Escaping into a good novel, or attending a wonderful play (Think “The Lion King”) or viewing an imaginative movie (Think “Avatar” or “Lord of the Rings”) we really enter various dreamworlds that are rich resources for creative thinking. Listening to the plants is a wonderful exercise of loving connection to that green world that indeed is our ground of being.

Highlighted in these pictures: Echinacea, lamb’s ears, milkweed, arugula, blackberry brambles, sweet pea and much more hidden in the green.

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From Christine, the Greening Spirit

156316_593312384017317_1591585182_n

You know, it’s all kind of magical! Check these out too!

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JHS

For a number of years I taught a green internship called The Sacred Garden on herbal wisdom, natural foods and women’s spirituality. The yard and garden highlighted in this series was (and still is)  our classroom.

One meeting day, one of our lovely students came with a rolled up yoga mat, blankets and her usual bag of special necessities for all situations. She was very stressed out, dealing with several major life issues needing discernment and sorting. Life was chaotic with many competing voices demanding her attention.

What she desperately needed, she said, was to have a little time out from the group to think those things over. “Of course”, we said, and went into the material of the day, setting her free to be there but on her own.

Several hours later, during a break in our projects I noticed her car still here altho she seemed not to be. “Where is she?” I asked myself..with a little concern I might add.

Walking through the yard and edge of the bordering woods there was no sign of her. Not in the shed, or under the trees out back, or a bedroom in the house. Coming along the side of the back yard and behind the garden I wrote about in Part 11, between it and the sheltered thick hedgerow of the property’s boundary, I caught a flash of white low to the ground and deep into the green narrow hidden overgrown splinter of land.

And there she was, lying on her yoga mat, hat over her eyes, little camera in her hand, comfy blankets around her legs in the warmth of a bright sunbeam yet cushioned and sheltered by a carpet of overgrown green.

She had run away to think and balance and heal a tired soul. She had  run away to find her greening spirit. Which actually, she did.

I often find that when I too am burdened with concerns and decisions needing to be wisely made, that writing, dancing, playing music and “running away” into the green world and the rhythmic misty paths by the sea, lifts those burdens and brings clarity and calm. The music of wind and crickets and birdsong, and the coolness of “veriditas” in nature has such a loving Soul that longs to bonds directly with our own.

Maybe because it is that we and it are all one thing…… one Soul…

I have learned that seeking refuge by periodically “running away” into nature is absolutely necessary to keeping connected to that One Soul when we have wandered away.

I have also learned that by running away in this way, we actually come home…….

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From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Bean Baby
When I was a youngster, I received many a microscope kit for Christmas (by request) as well as girly things like dolls, and teeny bopper things like a transistor radio in pale blue.

I asked for microscope kits because from an early age, I was drawn to the wonders of nature and seeing the mysterious patterns and shapes in the tiniest unfoldings of plants, stones, and insects. I wanted to see them up close and personal, so my “natural science” tools were microscopes and slides, and magnifying glasses of various strengths.

Oh what amazing wonders I have seen up close!  The personal communicative  intimacy and deep-seeing have always enchanted and nourished me.

I, in this time of my life, sometimes still have a magnifying glass in the garden, but it is the camera that is my “microscope” today along with the photo editing programs that allow me to zero in and frame some captivating section or thing in the whole of the  bigger picture, by cropping.

In the past week and up until yesterday, the bean plants in my garden were decorated with little white flowers. And then  *POP!*…. just this morning, there they all-of- a-sudden were…..silently (to my ears) bursting and pushing the flowers outwards…little beanie babies being born from somewhere in the center of that fading bloom.

Bean borning (3)

It’s not that I have nothing else to do in my life except to watch a baby bean be born. I teach piano, cook, prepare a variety of interesting courses on dreams or positive manifestation or inner peace at the University, lead groups, visit with friends and go dancing…naming just a few things. But…over and over again, I am called back out to the garden throughout the day,  and in my comings and goings, to stop and pay attention to some incredibly important,  awesome and powerful event….like a baby bean being born, a miniature eggplant crowning out of the green womb, or a calendula bud silently exploding open and orange into the sunlight. It’s very mysterious and very organic, this sprouting something new almost every minute. Ongoing change and transformation out there… something amazing is happening all day and all night long!

I think about my life and some significant challenges I am facing at the moment. Challenges of having to let go of my home and the garden of this series, challenges to maintaining the stability of familiar work and service, yet  transformational opportunities for teaching in new ways, and living inter-dependently rather than independently. Like a beanie baby, pushing out from the flower of familiarity and comfort and becoming something new-ish in the world and my way of moving through it.

The pfesity and prophetic priest, Matthew Fox once wrote somewhere in his book “Original Blessing” (and paraphrased here) that if all “holy books” were put on a shelf for a number of years and we went out to read nature instead, we would learn everything we need to know about living a wise and good life. A “Whole-y” life, I call it.

Beanie Babies…little Beanlings…being born is my message and lesson for today. Got it!

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Selfie  Some of the other things I spend my time on when not watching baby beans grow.  Please visit!

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Kale with water droplet-look!

Kale with water droplet-look!

Yesterday morning when I went out to the garden very early, the whole front yard and plants were awash in brilliant blinding light. Everything shimmered with moisture and dew that was rapidly evaporating in the heat.

The morning light was behind the plants as the sun was coming up and everything was back-lit with halos and transparencies, not the best conditions for taking a picture.

Blinding Light

However, close up to each plant, there was light behind them and a radiance around their edges that revealed things not readily seen in other more mundane situations. Once again, I was grateful for this time in my life that allows a mindful presence before my day starts, grounding me in mystery with the opportunity for deep-seeing and new in-sights.

We live in a culture of speed touted as a virtue, and distraction, a tool for programmed consumerism…both of which are Soul-thiefs. We miss so much that is grounding and heavenly combined as we run (or are chased) through our lives pursuing a dream of what is supposedly important.. imposed by popular culture, not revealed by Presence to the miracles and messages all around us and within us.

Stepping out into the world, early morning, shocked into stillness by radiance..(it is said that to look upon the face of God or Angels is a blinding experience). Even squinting, Illumination can come out of awe and prayer. All of which can change our lives.

This was it. Were there Angels in my garden?

And…. can you find the water droplet in the kale leaf (?) not noticed until magnification and deep seeing.

There is ALWAYS more than initially meets the eye…….

With love from Christine, The Greening Spirit

Me Light  My other blogs are full of illumination for body and spirit too!

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The first baby eggplant!

The first baby eggplant!

Those of us who are gardeners…especially of vegetables…get REAL excited at the rapid day-by-day emergence of something we will eventually eat! I am a grandmother, and I am astounded at the SPEED of the life cycle of my vegetable plants…. they grow up faster than my grandchildren, who are inches taller every time I visit! And so are my green garden beings who I tend each morning and evening…

Oooh! Hello baby tomatoes!

Oooh! Hello baby tomatoes!

I have so many pictures of my children and THEIR children (my grandchildren) from over the years, cherishing each phase of their lives from teeny newborn to …well… stem, leaf, flowers and fruits of their unfolding or yet-to -unfold lives. As they all live farther away from where I do, I think I have transferred my need for intimate familial relating and caretaking to my greening garden plant-children, delighting in and photographing every new stage of their becoming too.

Are you REALLY going to turn into a BEAN?? C'mon you can DO it!

Are you REALLY going to turn into a BEAN?? C’mon you can DO it!

Cheering my little grandsons on the soccer field and my granddaughter for her amazing artistic skill, and clapping at the discovery of the first cucumber hidden under their leafy vines seem to come from the same place of love and delight.

Oh you are such an adorable little cuke!

Oh you are such an adorable little cuke!

Some things grow faster and more directly from seed than others for instant gratification.. abundant, lush and up-front it is what it is even from an early age without the metamorphosis of one stage into another. Thank you, for the immediate and direct gift of nourishment while we wait for the unfolding of others. Sometimes we just need that nourishment without the “wait…”

Oh you are so gorgeous! Let's eat!  (Kale chips?  Sauteed Kale with olive oil,  garlic and onions?

Oh you are so gorgeous! Let’s eat! (Kale chips? Sauteed Kale with olive oil, garlic and onions?

All you at-home gardening kin out there…you are smiling with me, aren’t you? (listen to yourself the next time you go out to check your plants. I bet you talk out-loud to them…..  )

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

The Garden Guys (Grandsons planting stuff)

The Garden Guys (Grandsons planting stuff)

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Evolution 1

As I go through old photos, deciding what to keep and what to toss  preparing for an eventual  move from my present sanctuary of over twenty years, I am surprised over and over again at the way I have gardened for many a season.

I found this series of photos of the small vegetable/herb and flower garden I created quite a while back at the side of my house. That was “then”.  Now, many years later, this space is totally hidden by a hedge of brambles and wild rose… a “Secret Garden” perhaps to be re-discovered someday by the next owner.

These photos are memories of the evolution and organized planning of a beautiful “life” and garden within neat and safe boundaries. I am pleased that I have had the opportunity of creating such a planned and organized sanctuary for the sake of art, beauty, healing and refreshment. However, this is a different time of life for me at present…at least for now… and my garden and my life are more un-planned, un-contained, alternative, sometimes un-kempt in areas and certainly wilder in soul/spirit…

So here it its. Memories of the evolution of an orderly garden:

#1. The Beginning Idea

Evolution 1

#2. Boundaries Three

Boundaries Three

Boundaries Three

#3. Deciding where to put the rosebush

Deciding where to put a rosebush

Deciding where to put a rosebush

Evolution 4

Evolution 3

#4. Rosebush planted! Now on to the flowers/veggies and herbs

evolution planted copy

#5.  Chives and herbs along the sides

Evolution Success

The borders and familiar sanctuary of my life are breaking down at present and so the my garden/my soul of “today” looks quite different than it did up there when life was a little more stable and predictable.

Now my garden is in moveable grow boxes and the back and side yards are left to nature’s plans…un-mowed and seemingly un-kempt…  my Soul and future a personal field and meadow defying predictability, certainty and stability for a while.

Garen Lush July 5, 2015

Yarden mow (2)     Yarden mow   back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wherever it is that I go you can be sure that it will have to be somewhere that, when I step out of an open door, I am in green space ready for the next garden. My Life, My Soul, My Gardens…we evolve together….

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Boots on the Ground

 

 

 

 

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(Drying Lemon Balm for Tea on the Piano Bench)

*** Gardening sounds like an outside thing and it is….but harvesting eventually ends up indoors, for cooking and eating, and also for drying if you have herbs. The bounty of the herbs goes beyond fresh tea (no you don’t have to dry the herbs first to make tea). There is enough in a season’s harvest to dry for use in the winter.

Rugosa 10

(Drying Rugosa Rose Petals for Tea)

*** My home is very small, and I work at home mainly in the open living room-kitchen space. My piano is here in full view and my kitchen table is often “my office”. Everything I do is on display at all times and my life, work and creative projects are sharing the space with the projects and people who come and go here.

IMG_9632

         (Drying Lemon Verbena for Tea/ Hydrangea Leave for Bookmarks)

*** Drying the herbs on the piano or coffee table, or pinned to the kitchen wall is what happens here along with paying bills, cooking, writing all manner of things, creating art, hosting peer mentoring circles and giving music lessons.

share SAM_0031 (2)

*** My house seems to amuse my guests and students, wandering on the front lawn in and around the grow boxes of vegetables and clay pots of plants before entering the house, and then coming inside to see leaves and flowers on display, drying, on pieces of furniture and all available flat surfaces.

IMG_9638

(Drying Parsley and Lovage for Vinegars)

*** One summer when  all manner of herbs were hanging from a beam in the living room, a new piano student…a well-known physician…came in for his first lesson. He looked up, standing under hanging bunches of drying herbs and said…”Hmmmmnnnnn…….”.  I was thinking,  he being a doctor, that he might judge that as old world stuff.  Suddenly in the middle our first piano lesson he asked…”Do you believe in magic?”,  thus initiating the first of many lively exchanges about alternative medicine, art and music in our time together… A fine doctor, he eventually became an acupuncturist as well, and supported my investigations into Teasel as a remedy used by indigenous peoples for Lyme disease. I am pleased that my piano “studio” was a safe place to discuss alternative medicine with a mainstream medical doctor!

hydrangea

Whether outside or inside, I love sharing space with the herbs, vegetable and flowers. After all, that is the mission of a Greening Spirit!  Veriditas!

From Christine….

Christine 3

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Brambles (2)

Well, in Part 3  (Order and Chaos) of this series, I revealed  to all, the wild un-mowed backyard which has now been christened “The Meadow”.  All of my attention this year has been out front, growing vegetables in boxes in full view of anyone passing by, and the picture of that mower in the tall grass is only on its way back to the shed after the front lawn has been spruced up.

Yarden mow (2)

The back has been untended for three years for several good reasons and for sure I have felt a bit guilty about it each year. But just a bit, because in fact, each time I go out there, I am captivated by the spirit of the wild, the untamed, the unplanned. There are TREASURES in that meadow…. varieties of ferns under which faeries hide, teasing waving grasses that partially hides the black kitty who wanders through the green in hunting mode early morning and at dusk, and for sure, herbs for healing that appear on their own without any assist from me.

Ferns

Treasures for sure!  My herbalist colleagues know these to be just that, although  those who are into perfect presentations of turf and balanced landscsaping ie immaculate carpets of green untainted by…argghhh! A WEED! …. would be “tsk tsking” at my supposed irresponsibility.

Not so.

Burdock! – burrs and healing seeds in the making. The root, if I were to dig it up, which I am not planning to do, is powerful cleansing and nutritive medicine.

Burdock closeup

Mugwort- The herb of dreamers, visionaries, opening the third-eye of deep-see-ers and wise-women. A smudging herb and the herb used as moxa in acupuncture. It is also an herb for regulating the menstrual cycles of young women.

Mugwort

Lemon Balm- According to Hildegard of Bingen ( ) “it maketh one merry” and indeed its delicate lemon scent and flavor tempers sadness and stress in the moment,  especially sweetened with a little honey. A delightful happy herb, it is nonetheless considered one of the premier nervine herbs to calm distressed spirits. My large patch of meadow lemon balm grows amidst a stand of ferns whose interesting shapes amuse the eye.

Lemon Balm

The Brambles: where the blackberries grow all tangled up with milkweed, mugwort, and in some places, treasured nettles. Invasive but colorful bittersweet grows in there too, and thank goodness for some friends who are compulsively compelled to rip it out on sight while passing through the yard. At the moment, the berries are still red, but I watch them turn darker each day in the competitive game of one-upmanship with the birds who will try to get to them first before I do.

Brambles (2)

ELDER- Oh what a precious and magical shrub… every part of the plant having a use, especially the flower (used in gypsy cold care tea) and the berry (used in elderberry syrup as medicine for the flu).  The elder was the magical herb that played a prominent role in the movie, ” Sorceress”  about a medieval herbalist, her craft as the village healer and the danger it put her in. 

Elder

When I was a little girl, I was enchanted by fairy tales and faeries and I always knew that the best place to find them would be in the meadow, hedgerows or fields. I am in love with the vegetables and flowers and the magic of their unfolding  in my orderly garden but where the wildness Nature has the upper hand is the best magic of all.

I will add a less poetic paragraph here that is a reality where I live, needing precautions for safe foraging and gathering in the meadow here and in the real wilds. Ticks and their four or five tick-borne diseases are endemic where I live in New England, so although lovely dream-like pictures of young women in white flowing gossamer dresses dancing through the fields are on-line,that is NOT what I look like when out there. Covered up with socks, boots, and layers of long-sleeved denim…all sprayed with permethrin has become an un-fun and certainly un-glamorous necessary costume for avoiding the ticks and the very serious diseases they carry. Clinging to tall grasses, or nesting under dried leaves and shrubbery, they love hitching a ride on YOU, to bury underneath your skin and transfer their nastiness.

Yarden mow   back

But still, go forth in the proper way, to discover the Treasures of the Meadow forgotten or unknown in today’s techno society. The real magic is out there.

(all pictures credit: Christine Phoenix-Green)

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Me Turqoise

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Yarden mow (2)

Every front has a back and every life has a public and a private reality. In the practice of “dreamwork” we use the terms “The Conscious” and “The Unconscious” to understand the parts of us that we ordinary identify with and know about ourselves in some sort of orderly fashion and predictability vs the part of us that is more hidden behind the scenes(or underground to use a green metaphor) and often surprises us with unexpected behaviours or bursts of unplanned genius and creativity. In truth, in a balanced life, we need to allow for the activities of both territories.

Ancient writers, philosophers and poets have often used the garden as a metaphor for the soul and I find that it is so, as an expression of the way we live our lives. Thoughtful awareness, intention, focus, purpose, conscious planning and follow-through often (but not always!) produce the results we intended. The garden, tamed and contained, has a pleasing order, and is its own delight. In my world it is on the front lawn……what I can see from the open front door of my living room and what others can see as they pass by. Well tended,  watched over for the expected daily bursts of growth, what’s been consciously and deliberately planted appears (mostly) as planned.

Garden June 25

What is NOT seen from the well-planned front lawn of the Conscious mind is that back yarden that is always there and active altho un-tended with deliberate mindfulness and attention. No human “control” issues back there. That does not mean it is not FULL of life and things not ordinarily thought about. It TEEMS with wildness and creativity, this un-mowed territory, and it teems with the encoded genetic and experiential memory of weeds and herbs and vines, and roots and ferns and mosses and all manner of ancient life still blossoming all around us. Stepping around the house from the front to the back yarden there is a kind of shock entering this world of seeming chaos. Isn’t that an appropriate and understandable response or reaction when the wildness of the Unconscious bursts through into our well-ordered lives?

Yarden mow (2)

I  faux-lamented to a friend about this behind the scenes chaos, that in the  abandonment of control behind the house, my “lawn” had turned into an un-mowed field. Being an Englishman of proper language, he informed me that over there, it is called a “meadow“.

How lovely to think of this overgrown and untended area with the word “meadow”… a place to run through, investigate and play in discovering a wildness, as we should when immersed in living with “soul”. I much prefer now to think of that un-mowed part of my life as a meadow rather than a chaotic mess to tame and subdue with my imposed willfulness and intention, letting it reveal wonders and surprises to me if I just let it be.

Yarden mow   back

Later today, I will be stepping into that green chaos and see what’s out there and will report what I find in the next chapter here of  the My Garden, My Soul series…

Flower Child      Veriditas! from Christine,  the Greening Spirit

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Ms borage without border

Those whose gardens are the sanctuaries of herbs know that humility is a Virtue.  We often refer to herbs and their “virtues”, a medieval usage of  the word, describing their merits and usefulness subtly hidden in their at-a-first-glance smallness. Theirs is a humility defying the flashiness of showy and commanding Divas, but instead, tended in the green world by the elusive but ever present plant “Devas” whose mission it is to oversee and communicate the virtues inherent in each plant. Indeed that humility might almost render a clump of borage invisible except for tiny quick flashes of blue if we are moving through the garden mindlessly and in a hurry.

MsGarden Gate

The herbal kindom require us to slow down and practice the soul-virtues of stillness and deep seeing. Looking closely into a patch of tiny blue flowers amongst their soft but prickly leaves, we observe a tiny magnificence of color, complexity and imaginative shape. The borage flowers are beautiful…another of the plants that exhibit the 5-pointed star in its form. If we moved quickly and mindlessly by a patch of this plant, as so many humans do in our largeness and speed, we might miss the complex but delicate blossom design.

Borage flowers closeup

Borage has many “virtues” and gifts for us. An herb of “good cheer”, it was thought to dispel melancholy and pensiveness (Culpepper) which actually happens when taking a true look at its richly colored flowers and their display.

A slight taste of cucumber in its leaves and blossoms offers a cooling effect…it can be used as a tea, or added to salads.

Herbs and their uses come in and out of favor in different time periods, but truly their virtues are always present whether acknowledged or not. I find that something shifts and awakens in me when I am hanging out with the herbs…something mysterious, wondrous, and alive…as if under an enchantment.

Enchantment… a virtue of Soul accessed through the magic of deep-seeing and discernment.  A rather nice way to live….whether one be a a plant or a person.

*** These pictures were taken in the garden of good friends….

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Mary of Advent: Enclosure, Stillness, Waiting (Artist: Sulamith Wulfing)

Mary of Advent: Enclosure, Stillness, Waiting (Artist: Sulamith Wulfing)

 

 Path of Sacred Mysteries: Advent as a Marian Time of Waiting
ADVENT in the Christian tradition comes in the cold and dark of winter when it seems that we will be waiting forever for the return of Spring, the season of new light, life, warmth and the emergence of the greening vegetation that sustains us. It is in these dark days and even longer nights that we must not lose energy and Faith that although all seems hidden and silent,  a great Mystery is taking place within the womb of Mother Earth; the seeds of something wonderful and NEW are gestating in the darkness itself , and will indeed, undeniably and and with utmost certainty be born out of the Waiting Time to bring new Life and Hope everywhere.

In the Christian tradition, it is familiar to focus on the birth of a Savior..THE Savior… and so Advent is celebrated week by week, with the lighting of a candle and the reading of Scripture that expresses the LONGING of the people to be saved, rescued and renewed by One who will bring new life, new hope and new meaning to humanity in dark times. However, although the Catholic/Christian path was the inherited and beloved path of my own roots originally, as I have grown older as a woman, a mother and now a grandmother, and have spent many years in and with spiritual circles of Women, I have come to ponder  another perspective on this Holy time before the actual birth of the Baby…and that is,  ADVENT as a “Marian” time, and the story-REALLY pondered  studied, imagined and ritualized, as the story of a young, innocent Child-Woman asked to partcipate in an astounding happening: Maryto agree to be “overshadowed” by God, to defy the rules of Nature and become pregnant by Divinity…and  yet to remain within the tribe of her people, undercover as it were, containing a very great Mystery within her that surely could not be explained in ordinary society.  (artwork on the left by Janelle Michaels)

My compassion and admiration for Mary in this story is great and profound. It must also be said, having studied archeological histories that there is vast evidence of archeological HERstories also and that this particular Holy Story is not the only one of its kind..many that pre-date Christianity. But this is the season of ADVENT in the Christian tradition, and it IS winter,  during which the Earth is pregnant with the seeds of Spring’s new Life.  And so though it may be a departure from the traditional focus for this season of Advent, there is in truth for me a  very personal call to honor Mary in the enclosed time of her pregnancy, holding the Light of a very special Life within her, in a posture of Stillness, Solitude, Calm Waiting and Mystery.

It is also a time of personal remembering for those who have experienced 1514610_1431458313745785_3675754312023749390_npregnancy as a Mother-to-be in the waiting time, or for everyone borne of a Mother…and an honoring of an awesome event that can only be experienced by, and through the body of a Woman. (Artwork on the left: unknown artist- click to enlarge, Mary and Elizabeth)

 

***Notes on Sulamith Wulfing’s painting at the top of this essay. A deeply passionate mixing of both Christian and pagan symbols…metaphors all….the protective sweep of the Angel’s wing over Mary signifying Divine protection, the Full Moon symbolizing the fullness of pregnancy, the Winter scene of quiet, stillness and solitariness and the unseen seeds underground, and most powerfully, the cave-like enclosure and slab of stone on which Mary sits…a metaphor of both Womb and Tomb which are , and will become,  part of the big story… the prophetic  birth and death of Jesus, her Son

 

 

Christine, The Greening Spirit

dreams

Next on the Path of Sacred Mysteries, Part 3: Christmas Eve

 

A Peace Meditation in the Sand

The Greening Spirit

Note on this re-post from 2018

 July 28, 2018 ~ We’ve been in this emotional national trauma situation in America for quite a time..not just now. There have been many traumatic events. We need comfort. If we stay attuned to our Souls, watch with discerning eyes and “listen” from that deepness within us, perhaps the Angelic realm communicates with us in special ways…messages of comfort and guidance.. after one such national tragedy a few years back…this…on the beach near my home…

A walk at the beach, especially when the heart is heavy and sad, is never a
disappointment. There are ALWAYS surprises and messages there for us when we have
been cracked open emotionally and in pleading prayer have asked for guidance or a sign
of hope that no matter what the issue, in time we will be able to move through the
challenge.

We are in a very unsettled…

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