Tag Archive: nature walks


St Johnswort (2)

“When I first moved into the house I live in, there was no Mullein in the yard so I went outside and called it in, singing my need. Within a year, it started to appear.”  ~ Ellen Evert Hopman (Secret Medicines from your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality and Magic)

Herbal book

I was delighted to read this little vignette as I perused her wise and charming book, newly arrived to my herbal library. It reminded me of my own experience of “calling in” a desired plant ally and the on-going surprise and merriment of connecting with the magic communications and interaction between us and the Green Kindred Spirits of field, forest and garden.

I was teaching an herbal/whole-foods/women’s spirituality internship and living in a little house with a wonderful herb garden bordered by small and pretty wooded lots. The herbs in my garden were there by design for culinary and medicinal purposes, raised from seed or purchased at local nurseries: Calendula, mints, angelica, lemon balm, rose, lovage, thymes, basils, elecampane, borage and the like.

There is an “agreement” between  us and those kinds of plants who allow themselves to be semi-tamed and happy living within the borders of a planned garden, but one summer I needed a wild-er companion to make a healing oil, and so I set out to find a stand of St. Johnswort which is not so tame as to be usually found raised in packs of six or eight at the garden center.

The seaside neighborhood  where I lived had many little cottages, groves, wooded or field-like lots with no houses and I walked up and down the bumpy roads hoping to find St. Johnswort getting ready to bloom. I searched carefully and looked intently here and there and then back again, hoping to find this now-desired ally,  but to no avail. There was no St. Johnswort as far as I could tell. Sweet fern waved hello in the breeze, yarrow swayed in the wind, yellow dock’s long curly leaves signaled its presence and I was happy to find them where I had not known they were…but they were not what I was looking for that day….

Coming back home I sat on my front steps and pondered an eventual walk at one of the nearby nature preserves although I was used to finding what I needed in my own garden or in the neighborhood.

I sat and pondered “St. Johhnswort” and in a mischievous and playful mental moment, I called out to it in my mind, asking it to PLEASE show up so I could make the precious blood-red oil for bruises and boo-boos!

I kid you not…and I am not telling “fairy tales” (or maybe I am) but about ten days later I was out in the yard in my garden when something little and yellow caught my eye at the edge of the woods at the property line. I KNEW! I KNEW as soon as I walked over to it…St. Johnswort!!…one little stand of about 3 plants in blooming where there had been none before. And I knew, in my “inner child’s magical heart” that “The faeries” (or the St. Johnswort’s plant deva) had  brought it and installed it there, just for me because I longed for it, sought it dearly and asked!

Of course, I laughed out loud and said thank you, thank you! But just to be sure, I once again roamed the neighborhood and the vacant field and wooded lots through which I had searched previously to see if St Johnswort had been in the area all along and I had missed it.

But NO!…there was no other St. Johnsworts anywhere to be found anywhere else around. Only …and only…in my own garden, over there at the edge of the wooded border.

This is a true story.

*photo credit, St. Johnswort:  Barbara and Peter Theiss (The Family Herbal)

From Christine,  the Greening Spirit

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picture credit: unknown

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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

Yellow   ps. T’would make me smile if you leave a *like* if you did, share away or make a comment of your own! Are you smiling?

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

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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.

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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.

**YOOHOO! How do we writers know if you liked this unless you tell us! Please leave a *like* if you did, share it or leave a comment of your own experience. Would love to hear from you!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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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.

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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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!

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GREEN FIELDWhat is it about the color GREEN that is so luscious, cool, and healing? It has been poetically said that in the process of photosynthesis, the green color is “congealed sunlight” captured in the plant’s leaves and for sure that is a magical process of creative transformation.

Green, the color of the earth’s bounty and wealth, and associated with money and wealth along with gold, silver and precious gems. Green, the color of emeralds, the jewel of the month of May, and the color, along with soft pink,  of the Heart Chakra and its emotion and “knowing”.

Green leaves giving cool shade, gardens of  green veggies containing water, moistness, vitamins, minerals and medicinal properties.

Veggie Garden

(one of my vegetable gardens)

Green,  and Hildegarde of Bingen’s premier and most holy word “Veriditas!” meaning the greening, moist and verdant powers of life and all that softens, feeds and opens the Soul.

Green….the lush and varied hues of the magical kingdoms of the hidden realms of (supposedly) mythical earth creatures, faeries and elves vividly known through the imagination but shy to human 156316_593312384017317_1591585182_neyes.

Green, green, GREEN…

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Radiance Melissa

“There is no creation that does not have a radiance, be it greenness or seed, blossom, (leaf) or beauty. It could not be creation without it.” ~ Hildegarde of Bingen  (1098-1179 c.e.)

It is true than everything has its own shimmer and radiant sparkling, but it is not always perceived except with the eyes of the Mystic or Dreamer. How lovely are those graced and gifted moments when Light opens and illumines for us the life force of the greening spirit that is of science, earth and heaven all dancing together.

Radiance 10

The delicious woods and gardens walk with one of my daughters in honor of Mother’s Day was filled with the radiance of life and love … in the land, the vegetation and air itself. It is no wonder that painters have often painted “halos” of light around who and what is holy and beautiful.

May the eyes of our Souls be ever open and perceiving of the Radiance existing all around us… 

(top picture, my daughter M…who is full of radiance herself)

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Gareden tulips soulspace

In the poetry and writing of the Mystics, the flower garden is often a metaphor for the Soul or the time out to tend the Soul. If you are not sure exactly what “the Soul” is or means….just open the gate to the flower garden, enter there and be IN it surrounded by the colors, textures, imaginative shapes and sensuous scents and you will come to understand “The Soul” or Soul-Space.

Linger there, awed by the beauty and the stimulation of all your senses,  for “the Soul”  is not separate from the body…. the body is IN the Soul, surrounded by the Soul, and not the other way around. Soul Space is often boundaried and contained, the fence symbolic of the time apart necessary to pay attention to its creative potential and flowering gifts…time out from the “un-awares” and surface mainstream life. 

Garden tulips-001

But really..better still…the secret to happiness:  once inside the garden, awake and aware, it is possible to gather the flowers of Soul and bring them back out into your life and the world around you…so in need of Beauty. Live it! BE it!

From within the Garden,

Christine, the Greening Spirit

Flower Child

There are lots of ways to be in Soul Space!

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Tree stark

I am teaching at the local University a course called “Dreams and the Imagination: Doorways to Creativity and the Arts”. It is my way to see things first as they are or appear to be, and secondly with the eye of the Dreamer. If you have regularly visited here on the Greening Spirit blog, you may have already guessed that…that through photography and editing, I cannot resist telling a story through the altering of images.

No apologies or uncertainties as I am dedicated to following the promptings of the Imagination and encourage others to do the same, in my teachings. I am always called to the attempt to turn the ordinary into some form of art as for me it is a way of play and pleasure.

I was recently asked by one of the students in the above class about the Imagination’s capabilities to imagine either the best or the worst in all situations which is of course, true. We must choose. I personally mostly choose the playful, the hopeful, the beautiful, the magical and the wondrous possibilities inherent in dreams and visions for the better because really, for me..it is more fun!

This tree was fine as it really is to the naked eye on our walk. But there was also imaginative magic in the “dreaming” of this tree image, playing with light and shadow, tint and color, enhancing and softening to make it available, understood and cherished in another way.

We each and all are actually dreaming, imagining all of the time, sometimes even “hallucinating” when giving into our fears of what might be or what others might be thinking of us…

Let’s choose instead to dream of and imagine beauty, the magic of possibilities, and not forgot also to be playful in the creation of meaningful lives and  self-expression….!

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

The Dreamer (Artist unknown)

The Dreamer (Artist unknown)

If you like to live life with Imagination and Play..please visit my other blogs!

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