Archive for June, 2015


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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.

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         (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.

*** 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.

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(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

please visit my other blogs too!

http://sensuousoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

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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 it 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 keep 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 competetive 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 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 flowy 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.

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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

My other blogs have magic as well!

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

 

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

All my writing does seem to be a mix of order and wildness of thought! Check that out in my other blogs:

http://wordmagicandthelawof attraction.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

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

156316_593312384017317_1591585182_n     Hopefully, my other blogs will enchant you as well!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

Rugosa 2

Yesterday I wrote an essay on Rugosa Rose and the exquisiteness of its fragrance. I posted the link on FB only to find that a number of my FB herbalist/magical friends had also written or posted links and essays on “The Rose”  and its variety of virtues as well, at the same time. What synchronicity!

I have learned that when that sort of thing happens, that there is a mystery in the air and the channeling of a message from the Universe that needs to get out to all.  And yesterday it was the rose. Apparently a number of us, aware or not, were the channels for passing on the message of the Rose….  beauty, inspiration, healing, nourishment and Love.

I love being a messenger or channel of all those things and so I am very grateful for the abundance of Beach Rose (Rugosa) around my house. At this time of the year, they are overflowing with delicate sensuous fragrant flowers that captivate all who come through the yard to the front door. At all times of the day I gather the fresh petals blossoms for tea. Though one could make a tea of just the rose petals, I prefer to add them to other herbs like lemon balm, lemon verbena, or basil… OR…I add them fresh to a cup of a special prepared blend like the one pictured  above ..tulsi/lavender….calming, scent-uous and yes, subtly enticing.

When friends or piano students visit who have especially come under the enchantment of the scented garden, I will pick a small cupful of petals for them to take home for their own tea as well.

The petals can be dried for future use either in a dehydrator at low temperature, or on a screen, paper towels or nubby cloth towel. My piano students and I are sitting less comfortably on chairs during this week’s lessons as I have stolen the piano bench to serve as a drying surface…but the inconvenience is temporary and the reward a special delight.

Rugosa petals

                                                                                                                                               It is also possible to make a most luscious syrup from the petals. On early mornings during the season, some of us go to the wilds where the rugosa roses bloom in profusion,  and gather a basket full of petals.     

Seaside Mists (2)

Later:  prepare the syrup in a large glass bowl…a layer of sugar, a layer of rose petals, another sprinkled layer of sugar to cover, another layer of petals etc. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for a day or two. I keep mine in the fridge…others keep it out. Strain and add a  small splash of rose wine, or brandy….or not. Keep in a sterilized glass jar, or pretty bottle. I keep this in the fridge as well. Add a splash to champagne, or over ice-cream or a special dessert.

If this is not beautiful, healthful, nourishing to body-mind and spirit and overflowing elixir full of love from the earth, love of the rose, and LOVE in all ways, I don’t know what is!

Rugosa 20

(all photo credits: Christine Phoenix Green)

With love from Christine, The Greening Spirit

Cranberyy 2  For other earthly delights, check my other blogs!

Music and Piano Memoirs: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

Delicious Food: http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

The Power of Words and Positive Attitude: http://wordmagicandthelawofatraction.wordpress.com

Rugosa 20

Everywhere we go we are inundated by powerful artificial smells in products…everything from hand creams and makeup, to dish soaps and detergents,, spray disinfectants, car fresheners, candles, shampoos, doggie grooming products and on an on. Walk into a grocery store, passing by the floral department and be assaulted by the overpowering scent of hyacinths, even though there might be only a few tucked in display.. the area sprayed to create atmosphere and stimulate buying. Go into a fabric store and be assaulted by acrid fumes of formaldehyde which is impossible to mask.

Product scent chemistry is big business, enticing us to buy…everything. A world of illusion.

I have been fortunate to live in a little house surrounded by greenery…shrubs,  grass, woods and garden. Part of it is wild, part has been tamed for untreated lawn and for growing flowers, vegetables and herbs which provide unlimited delight from early spring to late fall. What comes with such blessing is scent… the rapturous, elusive, delicate scent of the natural world.

Many years ago, I brought home two little pots of Rugosa (Beach) Roses and we planted one by my front door and one by the road. They are somewhat invasive and have never really been tamed, refusing to surrender their wild spirit. Living in a climate near the ocean, they have formed quite an impenetrable border on one side of my house and at this time through the season, are bursting with gorgeous pink flowers against their rich and thorny greens and the scent ….the most delicate, heavenly fragrance, which could never be created in a laboratory. When people..friends and piano students…come into my house from the yard, they often stop for a moment, captivated by the soft fragrance in the air and tell me that the magic of scent in the garden..again, rather elusive and invisible to the eye… put them momentarily under enchantment.

We desperately need such enchantment in a world full of noise, constantly assaulted by the bright and blinding lights of consumerism and illusion of all that is is natural..the sights, the sounds, the costumes, products of the commercial word trying to entice us to embrace and purchase their faux delights for pleasure, happiness and fulfillment.

But instead, flee to the woods, the garden or the shore..stand still and BREATHE in Nature and the scents of what is real…and connect with what is real in yourself.

Rugosa (Beach) Rose… the Queen of the Seashore…

Seaside Mists (2)

***  More on Rugosa Rose in the next few days….  check in again!

*** Photo Credits: Christine Phoenix Green

Breathe…! From Christine, the Greening Spirit

dreams   There’s much magic in the Universe…check out my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

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