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Magic in Nature

Beltane Blessings

Deborah Accuardi

I love this pagan holiday so very much! A day to celebrate the richness of spring with the beauty of flowers, fertility of soil and of women. This, like most other pagan holidays, has become a western celebration as well. The May pole was danced around by young ladies well into the last century in every small community and you still see the custom in many earth based schools. Here you can read about original and more current celebrations of Beltane. My first May Day celebrated was a very special one. I was four or five and when I went out the front door that Beltane morning I found a handmade paper basket full of a spring flowers hanging on the door knob. Joseph, a boy in my pre-school class, lived about a block away and had shyly left the posy and gone back home with his mother. I still remember the glee I felt on receiving this gift, having no idea of the significance until my grandmother explained the tradition as we walked down the street, me with my first thank you note in my hand. Fast forward 25 years to a crisp Beltane day spent in Paris. Walking down the street with my husband and two friends I spied a florist with Sweet Violet posies in the window. Each with thick leaves surrounding the blossoms to create a kind of basket. I immediately thought of Joseph and my long ago delight. I certainly didn't wait for a boy to present me with this gift. I pulled out coins as the rest of my party wandered on. I didn't have enough money and couldn't catch any of my group's attention. I was getting a bit distraught as I looked at the bucket of posies wanting to celebrate the day and the place by carrying around a fragrant treat. Luckily the owner was feeling the pull of the day as well. She took the coins I had while presenting me with my special May Day gift, as well as a deep sigh and shake of the head. Today I shall pick a posy of various Daffodils, continuing the tradition. I may even make a little paper basket and put them on someone's door knob.

This May first I am also beginning a month of daily writing about plants. Do you listen to my weekly podcast? Last week I posited the idea of joining together to write on one subject throughout the month of May.  I'll be writing about a different plant each day. I did this a year ago in April and loved all the inspiration it gave me throughout the rest of the year to create based on what was in my notebook. I didn't try to write within any constraints of genre. I set a calendar of healing plants for each day of the month, as I will this month. Then I just wrote what I felt. Somedays I was inspired with story or poetry. Somedays I wasn't feeling that creativity and wrote lists of uses and actions. All have been useful and all helped me to keep writing after the month ended. Not necessarily about plants, but to keep up with some kind of daily writing. Ideally I would spend at least 20 min every morning just writing about whatever pops into my mind. But that doesn't always happen. There are days when I am off to the races with ideas for classes or writing about the monthly tea packages I send out. But I am writing and it always inspires the rest of my day if I start off in this manner. This month I invite you to join me. What will your subject be? I'll post on Instragram with the hashtag #31daysWritinginMay and the plant I chose for that day. Today my writing will continue beyond this blog. I like to have a notebook and good pen for these types of explorations. I know others that write always on their computers and others that would never write without adding artwork to their page. What are your writing habits? If you don't have one why not start this month and just see how it feels. Miss a day or two? don't beat yourself up, just pick up your pen and start again. I'll be checking in here a bit more often and this month I'll write about other daily habits for feeling inspired. 

 

Every year that I see these bloom I think of Paris and of young Joseph. But mostly as I inhale I think of the return of spring and all the beauty that is on the horizon.

Every year that I see these bloom I think of Paris and of young Joseph. But mostly as I inhale I think of the return of spring and all the beauty that is on the horizon.

Ending on a Positive Note

Deborah Accuardi

I've been thinking, as you do at the end of December, about the last twelve months. Rough yes, but also beautiful. For every loss I can think of a positive. The icons lost this year were all people that touched my life at some point of my upbringing with their music, acting, words. I am broken hearted to lose each, but the way they touched my heart and helped to form who I am will always be part of me. There was a young man that was a big part of our mountain community who died last spring. He touched so many hearts with his generosity and his music up here. As we looked around at the people of our community during the memorial service we realized just how lucky we were to be part of this place. We think about moving every so often, but in that moment we realized we were part of something very special. Just the other night our community came together for an open mic night. It began with a band of high school kids. They have a ways to go in the talent area, but there were 50 people that came to support them. I could feel Josh's presence in the room. A bit of each of our energy stays behind in the places we've touched. It's sad that it takes these passings to look at a larger picture. That is how I look at the political upheaval of this year as well. I'm sickened by the outcome, but also that so many in this country feel such a deep level of disenfranchisement that they would rather listen to pundits and hate mongers rather than seek out positive change for themselves. The larger picture? Those that had their eyes closed to the violence and discrimination against minorities in this country can no longer turn a blind eye. Our voices are louder than they have been in decades. People that want change or want to protect the changes we have won in recent years are more organized. It sometimes takes  a horrible outcome to wake up the masses. But we are awake! I love the conversations I'm hearing about rallies people will be attending, about donating to organizations they know can make a difference, about educating their children instead of protecting them from what is happening to less fortunate children. Let's make our future generation a compassionate one! Our family of women will be joining my mother on her 75th birthday (January 21) to march in Portland in solidarity with the million woman march in Washington DC. Four generations facing forward. Ready for the future.

There were many moments in 2016 that had no ying and yang. They were just plain wonderful! The most important was the birth of our first grandchild. Welcoming a precious little girl into the Accuardi clan (the first girl in 21 years) in the late summer brought hope, wonder and a deepening sense that we can only move forward in love and celebration of life. That celebration of life must be protected. And while I do mean the lives of these next generations, I also mean the life of our planet. I am an Animist at heart. I believe there is energy (life) in every tree, rock, plant and drop of water. What would this world look like if we treated all life as precious as the newborn babies we welcome with promises of protection. I, for one, plan to pass these beliefs and teachings of love for the earth on to miss Fae Adele in hopes that she will then pass that love on to her children. What fun these next years will be watching her discover each new plant and taste and experience for the first time.

Other terrific moments of the year for me:  my writing which deepened greatly. Especially in  April when each week I dedicated my writing to a specific plant and then in May wrote shorter pieces by choosing a different plant each day. These writings were guided during classes with Cynthia Morris. She leads wonderful classes. I look forward to taking what I glean from her into the next many years. Learning about herbs never stops. I began study of herbs in 1988 and will never stop. Each plant is like the layer of an onion. In 2016 I took online classes with Rosemary Gladstar and KP Kahlsa. Continued course work here in Oregon with my teachers in the Alchemy of Spagyrics. The work I'm doing with the teachers and students has allowed me to learn more about myself as well as the plants. I so look forward to bringing new medicines into the world next year as I continue that work. I'm very excited about the new website my niece helped to build. She and her friend helped to rebrand Chicken Coop Botanicals creating the clear and simple look that I think exemplifies what I do. There was also camping along coast and river and forest, foraging, gardening, making new plant and human friends. Yes, if we look deeply I think we will each find wonder in the year behind us. Keeping these memories close will help me move into 2017 with positive energy and projects to help us all find that deep connection to earth and plants that makes us strong and resilient.

Almost a year ago I began a daily practice that I look forward to continuing. I begin my day with gratitude. I walk outdoors and offer three breathes in gratitude for three things. Some of those may be that each new day is unique in weather, that I know there will be new lessons to learn, that I am lucky to have what the bounty I do as so many do not. This practice centers me, grounds me to this earth, allows me to pause and smile before moving on with my day. Join me?

And next year? I'll be writing about moving forward  into 2017 in my Year End newsletter. Make sure you are signed up. I am very excited about my plans for myself and others going into 2017. I am not a resolution person. I am a planner and list maker. I am all about projects and activities. Many could include you. Sign up here.

Quiet Morning Thoughts

Deborah Accuardi

It's still dark outside and very quiet (well except for a couple wakeful roosters). The snow fell all day yesterday, ending with freezing rain and wind that brought the white right up to each door. It was funny watching the cats this morning trying to figure out how to walk the edges when there were none. Cleopatra finally climbed into a flower pot just outside the door and sat there for a while. Once she had stayed out for her allotted time she was ready to return to the house and a warm fire. We heat our house solely by wood stoves (one at the back of the house and one in the living room). Both have been blazing this week in our little non-insulated cottage. This time of year more than summer I feel the bliss of living a rural life. We stack wood, we replace frozen water for the chickens and ducks, I look for the last of the apples to help out this year's deer "pets". We live in a mountain village that is just an hour above Portland, Or. As the cost of living rises below many have moved up here making it easy to forget our rural life style. On a quiet morning like this I am fully aware of the forest surrounding me, the snow covered meadow and gardens that I will walk in when the sun rises. I love this magical time of winter day. And hey, it's not even winter yet! Many years the snow doesn't stick very long at our level. This is a fairly temperate spot. Farmer's Almanac is promising a long winter this year however. We are ready with wood, candles, broths for warming soups, herbs for warming teas and put up for healthful needs. I have a stack of books and yarn for projects when the electricity goes out (we had a sweet day this week with no internet and therefore no phone service). It's funny that each season I say this is my favorite season; right now this is. These quieter times force me to slow down. I hate that I even need to use the word "force". But I like many get caught up in life's crazy pace. Trying to pack too much work and friends and family and to do into a daily schedule. This week I let the weather lead me...I canceled everything. As that included house work I'll be taking care of that today;)

Last weekend I took Chicken Coop Botanicals out in public to a holiday market. I hadn't done this before and I loved it! I was happy with sales, but even happier to talk to old friends and new about plants. A friend commented on how happy I look. I said it was because of the lovely chai I was drinking. But really, I am happy and very content. I am doing something I have wanted to do since my early twenties. It wasn't a viable career at the time and I turned that plant energy to my garden; to a career in the kitchen with good food. And then to foraging. And later to plant dyeing yarn and fibers. And now back full circle to working with the plants for medicine. I never really stopped. I have been quietly doing that all these years for family, employees, my animals. I have been drawn to the plants my whole life. And I am full of gratitude that I can take the time to fully realize that dream of sharing plants and their healing with others now. To be able to seek out new teachers and ways of seeing the world and working with plants. I see so many being drawn to working with herbs or drawn back to them as I have been right now. I think it is the times. Things are shifting in the world (they have been for a very long time). As there are some that are shifting to aggression and corporatization there are many that choose to resist, each in their own way. The hope of course is that there will be many more on the Earth side of this shift; that we will see a brighter future when all is said and done. In what way will you make this shift in your life? How can you be happier? live a more content life?

The sky is shedding light on the snowy ground, the rooster beckons a bit louder. Time for me to move on to the projects of the day. I began recording a podcast yesterday. Since last I did that Garage band has updated and I now have a learning curve I was not expecting (yuck). But I will have one flying through the iTunes channels today. With their holiday schedule we'll see how long that takes for you to receive it. I have been filling the shop with items daily this month. I have begun with all those wellness products that would be helpful during times of strife, stress and for celebration:) The next newsletter will be heading out soon. Make sure you subscribe! There are coupons, items and news that only arrive through that outlet. I've also been considering a little popup shop the next two Sundays at Gino's. The dining room is closed between 2-4. Would you stop by? This will only happen if I receive feedback that you all might be interested.