St. John’s River

There’s just something about Florida rivers. The lazy meandering of hidden currents, the tranquil relief the waters offer at the end of an extraordinarily hot day.

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The spirits of the rivers of Florida aren’t ordinarily sought out, but they’re no less potent than Ocean, Great Lake, or Sea; the soft drifting melody of the river’s voice is enough to cleanse and renew just as a wild tempest sea roaring ashore in crashing waves.

This I came to love about Florida’s rivers: that calm surface hiding worlds of knowledge just beneath, a surface smooth as glass, reflecting the earth and sky above it.

Response to the Daily Post Daily Prompt–Glass

 

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Lyreleafs & Cloud Readings

Spring has sprung here in Florida, and with temperatures ranging from the 70’s to the 80’s, it’s been perfect weather for cloud watching and wildcrafting with some of the beauties right here in my yard and garden.

With spring fever behind us and hot days ahead, I’ve grown more and more interested in weather lore and other folk lore isolated to Florida and the Southeast. I have checked out some books on Florida’s climate and general weather patterns, but I want the old folk’s lore of weather and cloud divination.

 

 

I want to learn about the clouds moving overhead, about what those movements mean for my home and garden, my place in the local Land, and about how to perceive outcomes of various garden-related happenings when divined.

I want the magical and mystical workings of rain and clouds and fog. I want to gain and use my knowledge and experience of the weather patterns and learn how to read them with the purpose of divining future energies of all things home and garden.

So what does one do when one is looking for some divine guidance in seeking out the appropriate information about a spiritual topic of interest?

Invite the Ancestors to tea, of course. And a little bit of Lyreleaf Sage goes a long way.

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This sage (Salvia lyrata; other common names include wild sage and cancerweed/cancer root) grows wild in yards, meadows, roadsides ditches, culverts…you pick a spot, and these babies will root there. They’re hardy little herbaceous perennials and readily self-seed and spread like crazy in ideal conditions.

Which is good for me, because hey, if I can use it as an edible and a healer, I sure as hell will! And this little plant is wonderful as a calming tea at 10 o’clock at night, curled up with a good book. The fresh young leaves and blossoms can be used in salads, and have a very light and pleasant minty flavor.

While the Lyreleaf’s medicinal properties don’t pack as much of a punch as other species of salvias, Lyreleaf can be used as a carminative/laxative (a mild tea made for kiddo’s gassy tummy or constipation…hey, it happens), and for relief during cold and flu season. Lyreleaf sage also makes a relieving salve for cuts, sores (warts and zits and boils, oh my!) and minor wounds.

On the spiritual and magical side, sage is also a plant linked with divination, purification, protection, and psychic learning. I’ve come to connect sage’s otherworldly attributes to, well, the other-world. Ancestors can be invited when sage is burned.

Now, traditionally White sage, or Sacred sage (Salvia apiana), is the sage of choice for burning and smudging, but I’ve found that the edible sages work well for these purposes, too. So I decided to harvest and dry my Florida Lyreleaf for tea, as well as a bundle for smudging/incense.

Then we’ll see what we see.

I haven’t used this particular sage in an infusion or for spiritual purposes yet, but am anxious to have it dry so I can get down to business.

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Until then, I’ll keep reading my library books on weather and atmospheric phenomenon, and offer these lovely tidbits on my new friend, Lyreleaf sage:

 

 

 

 

 

[Close-up of Lyreleaf blossom photo: ©Mark Hutchinson for http://www.fnps.org]

Clearing a Path

Clearing a path through the brambles (truth)

A midst all the chaos and catharsis is an ultimate truth. A dissolution of an inferior way, a past recollection in which dreams will die. I had reached this place of perplexed peace, a new beginning of sorts, just as the moon came full. Lunar and water elements gliding around me. The death and rebirth of another astrological year.

It’s led me to where my path must cross a threshold of tiring and disjointed debris cluttered in piles along my desired way.

Truth must serve, now. Truth even in its ugliest moments. I must cut through the thicket. This beast within whose ferocity no longer serves me must die and rise from the ashes of an inferno not yet ready and frightened to be quenched. But the truth calls for a reckoning, a wandering eye to still and open, and a move into action all of the choices that have already been made.

I have to make a new path.

The Law & right action (justice)

The Law governs me, keeps me in check. Not modern society’s laws, though there is that–which honestly, I break those too– the law by which my very own nature cannot turn against. I make judgments and decisions based on as much knowledge as I have about myself and the world around me.

I must live by right action: if it does not serve me, I must cut it out. If it harms me or those I hold dear, I must cut it out. The truth in all things must never be broken. At least from me. I am a loyal person, a steadfast soul, sometimes to a fault. I cannot waver from the truth. It drives my actions. It is my Law.

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“According to the legend of the Salmon of Knowledge, the Salmon ate hazelnuts, which were full of concentrated knowledge. Hazel is the tree of hidden knowledge and learning, of authority and justice. It brings the ability to discover truth.” -Taken from The Celtic Oracle

Learning & challenging (Understanding & Wisdom)

It’s painful and it’s raw, the surrender to unseen forces. It’s consuming and comforting and terrible inside a stormy mind and heart. A fiery being who hides in Earth. But I’m learning. I draw inward to reflect on past and present and future.

Multiple strands intersect and part and cross throughout the Web, and I can feel it growing within my hair. The challenges these Sights bring are their interpretive messes that bind themselves as riddles to my heart.

But the general nature of navigating this Life is something of a comfort, a pleasurable experience, if indeed dappled with pain. We have so much at our fingertips, and I’m learning how to cope with that. I’m learning how to pause and understand before judgment. To understand there is no judgment.

We must return to the highest Source, for our Divinity is in the Stars, in the Sea, in the Soil. We must learn to govern our inner selves, to work outward with what we learn from doing so and use it to approach all things with love and understanding in our hearts.

But we must hurt in this learning. Transformation is nothing short of painful.

Though in this, as in all new cycles, is a cleansing burn that will open the way and make clear a path that, before, was hidden from view.

So we must learn to be as the Salmon and delve deeper into divine knowledge. We must travel the currents of life’s River, always seeking Truth through higher knowledge and learning. We must eat the proverbial hazelnut as often as it presents itself, and like the Salmon, be reborn through truth and justice.

So I will find that path. And I will clear it.

Through the Garden Gate

Memories seduce me as I tread upon the moist ground that weaves through these Florida flowers. Music is on my mind, a melody upon my lips, entrancing and requiring an emotion I’m not quite sure of.

The feeling plays over me like a wave, shimmering tears from the corners of my eyes. My Grandmother is gone. One can never be quite prepared, no matter how many years pass. She was ninety-eight. Passed through Death’s door during the Solar eclipse, at a time between the changing to full spring.

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Bittersweet is the only word to describe it. I’d already begun to miss her, as if who she was had already died under the onslaught of dementia several years ago. That time was the time I had already begun to let go.

This final end to biological life is the last puzzle piece. Of course I miss her, but I have missed her, and of course I grieve, but I have grieved.

But I also celebrate.

We are so fleeting, so infinitesimal. Our lives are but fine silk threads that can be snapped, cut off, in a split moment. Even though Death is merely another part of the journey, the conscious life we are given is such a fragile thing. Memories are reminders of this very fact.

The flowers greet me in happy colors, yellows and blues and purples, nodding soft petals and bright foliage in my direction as I step through some of the overgrowth of the trees and shrub of the butterfly garden. Insects of dreamy hues flit from blossom to blossom, reminding me to still myself.

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Meditation beneath the grapefruit tree, surrounded by healing plants, listening to my breath, the breeze, the life. Memories.

We are conduits to our Ancestors. We are conduits to our descendants. But we only have moments. Only moments to live and love and die.

So I still myself. I plop right down and let everything else fade into the distance as I listen to my self, my life force, my mortality. I close my eyes and just be.

And I emerge refreshed, renewed, awakened and ready for my tasks and responsibilities. In the clean air and morning light, when the dew sparkles as brightly upon the fresh growth of ideas as it does on the Florida primrose at my feet, goals are clearer. Purpose is crystal.

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I have my Grandmother to thank for such discipline. To use what she taught me about my sense of self to seek inward reflection and assessment. To look at each beautiful thing and to be thankful to be alive and breathing.

And to always use our fleeting time wisely, in all things pursuing a way to better myself and those around me.

Traditions of the North Witch: The Völva

In ancient Scandinavia and Germania, there was a class of priestesses or seeresses whose history and lore are of great interest. These seeresses, or völvas/vǫlvas, were a class of women all their own. Responsible for reading omens, prophesying, and divination on behalf of their tribesmen, these women were clearly the conduit between Midgard and the Beyond.

Völvas must surely have looked to the Ancestors’ spirits, as well as spirits that resided in the land and sea. These women were thought to be the mortal divinity of Freyja, as it is said Freyja was the goddess who introduced the art of Seiðr–that is, the practice of seeing into the future, the Unknown, and even the world of the dead, as much wisdom is gained from Spirit conversation.

These women were held in very high esteem, respected as a divinity by all…including men of all ranks. This seems to be so because the culture and religious practices of the Vikings and Germanic tribes attributed all women as having been in some way endowed with this power. Those that chose this path in life because of their strong sight became married to their staves, the working wand of the wild witch.

Völvas who were requested to divine on behalf of the people would do so sometimes publicly, as all were connected to Fate, and would sometimes be called to the home to perform a ceremony. It seems clear that these women acted as Shamans to their communities. They would be imparted with spell-song, to help aid their trance-states so the information from the worlds beyond would be better transmitted.

Not unlike Shamans of many other tribes, völvas would commune with plant and animal spirits as well as those that dwell within the land and hearth and home. For this reason, many were called upon as healers for spirit and body, too.

The Seiðr-craft was so revered and respected (because of its origins from Freyja, no doubt) it is said that Freyja was the one to impart this knowledge to Odin himself. The power of the Feminine Divine, indeed.

The lesson one can take from the völva and other women who are practitioners of this ancient tradition is one of self-discipline and spiritual development. The sight must be practiced, brought into harmony with all of the Self. Such practice seeks to completely eradicate the Ego’s stirring presence of self-doubt, opening the channels for communication between all divine beings, both of Earth and those who dwell beyond and below.

Image courtesy of GermanMythology.com