Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Autumn Tarot

I had meant to do a Tarot reading for the equinox, for the turning of the seasons, for autumn, and I finally got around to it today.  I googled "autumn tarot", considered a few different lay out options, and finally decided this one resonated with me.


I used my Herbal Tarot deck and here was my reading, which was so spot on, it made me laugh.  When you pull that many Major Arcana, it's definitely meant for you to pay attention. 

Perfect layout for this season of balance, and perfect for me, as finding balance in my life has recently been my goal and challenge.  I really like this spread's simplicity and straightforward goal.  If you try the spread as well, let me know how it works for you. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Crone's Tale (Or One of Them Anyway)

I've been thinking a lot about archetypes lately. Particularly, about crones.

In the Disney version of things, crones are divided between good crones, fairy godmothers who grant wishes while asking little or nothing in return for their favors, and bad crones, usually evil old hags or other disenfranchised women who are pissed off at the world and want to make everyone else pay for their unhappiness. 

Things get more nuanced in traditional tales. Although myths and fairy tales have been written down and held to more specific plots in recent times, the farther back you go in time, to when stories were primarily an oral tradition, the more fluid the stories and characters become, neither wholly good or bad.  But in any particular story, the old woman still plays a specific role that doesn't care anything about her as an individual.  The reader/listener is never told the Crone's own perspective on the events that are unfolding.

Crones, when they appear in stories, are not the main character. They are there as a lesson, or a mentor, a challenge or a help, to the younger more important character. The complexities, stories, needs, faults, or desires of the crone are rarely mentioned or deemed important to the story. Mother archetypes, entangled in the story of a heroine or maiden, mothers still get some motives (good ones or bad ones), but crones are considered background material.  No one thinks to stop and ask why the queen is evil? Wonders why the witch lives alone?  Did their stories once hold abuse? Love? Travel? An unforgettable choice? Were they once the heroine of the tale?

I think of Baba Yaga. Standard thought is that she's an evil witch in the woods. But something inside me has always both identified with her and thinks she's somehow gotten a bad rap. Like the wild woman, like the aforementioned disenfranchised woman (because of age or income or skin color or what have you), like Mother Nature herself, she doesn't go out looking to ruin someone elses life, she is simply minding her own business in the woods, or of the woods, while other people label her as the antagonist.
In Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, there are a number of witches, the two most recurring crone witches being Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax. With Nanny Ogg's huge rambling family tree, you'd think I'd primarily relate to her but for some reason, I always read her as a character outside my head. Granny Weatherwax on the other hand, I read as if I am her character. Despite her spinster life, she is the person I can relate to most. It's odd, because I don't think I appear like her when I interact with others, and yet inside she fits.
As a older woman myself, I have mixed feelings about all these versions of the Crone. Because I am older, and therefore blessed with a wider view of life's journey (to date), part of me doesn't really give a shit any more what others think of me. If I'm certain I've done no intentional harm, if my plaid skirt clashes with my floral socks, if my tea cup is chipped but beloved, then it's nothing anyone has a say in but myself. But no one, of any age, likes to be marginalized, likes to be portrayed as a stereotype more than an archetype, likes to be burdened with not only ones own legitimate expectations, but the expectations others have laid on us as well. The shoulds and the musts, the assumptions, fears, hopes, and tints of other's needs and wants that blur who you really are as a person separate from who you are to someone else.

Maidens and Mothers are also burdened under their own stereotypes. Men too - Youth, Father/Warrior, Sage perhaps? Crones, however, don't seem to get the same amount of press these days. Ageism is still a thing, and it seems to be a thing that's been put on the back burner while other battles are being fought. We all battle our culture's pattern of constricting and defining roles in society. We all want to be acknowledged,  we all deserve to be acknowledged.  Some times it feels as if Crones are expected to understand that it's not their time, can they please just take a seat because, you know, other people are waiting for their turn....
Some examples? Young actresses are not only allowed, but expected to be all sexy eye candy. Older actresses are told to tuck those saggy boobs out of sight, or better yet, fix them so we can pretend you aren't old yet. Older male politicians are typically construed as wise and experienced, older female politicians are bitches who don't know what they are talking about - pat pat pat their coiffed heads. Crones are often invisible in public, assumed to be good at making apple pies but probably not good at understanding pi. An older man is a retired something.  An older woman is... an older woman.  Oh?  You did things beside being female?!

On a personal level, I juggle my identity as Crone. I do like to putter in my garden. I make a mean apple pie. I am a grandmother. I embrace (or embarrassingly own) many of the stereotypes of an older woman. And yet at any moment I might just as easily set the stereotype on fire and dance around the flames gleefully nonconformist. And, as mentioning above, not giving a shit.  I don't want to apologize for those stereotype aspects I happen to fit, I shouldn't have to explain the lack of those stereotype aspects I am not even interested in caring about. 

Art by Autumn Skye Morrison

To further complicate things, as we walk our path through time, we don't completely shed the person we were at the beginning of the journey, or the middle of the journey. We carry those parts of us packed into our rucksack of memories. The Maiden is still alive inside of me, still going off on adventures, blithely, stubbornly unaware, wandering to grandmother's house (and of course cleverly outwitting the wolf). I'm still the Mother, both blessed and burdened by the weaving of souls, a Mother's focus still influences my interactions and choices.

Beyond the stereotype, I find the archetype itself to be a a mixture of garments.  I can put on the sparkly tiara or the grandmotherly shawl. I am the wise, understanding and all giving fairy godmother who cares about others because I understand the path is confusing and frightening and difficult at times.  But other days I sympathize with the evil queen, with the Baba Yaga, both frustrated at having to deal over and over again with the ineptitude of others, roped into interacting with story characters who refuse to take responsibility for the task to "know thyself".  More and more I see the appeal of disappearing into the dark woods, to become the hermit witch in her forest green dress and her midnight black hat, feared just enough to keep all but the most truehearted well away from her small chicken footed cottage.
It's annoying to be a stereotype.  It's exhausting to be an archetype.  It's confusing to be a real person whose story doesn't fit neatly into either.   What I want, what we all want of course, is to feel the sum of our parts.  I want to embrace the dark and honor the light, I want be balanced between them, each valid and worthy in their roles. I want to mix it up.  I want to be an evil godmother and a good witch, a foolish grandmother or a distracted scholar, whatever the day calls for. Instead of having all my parts spinning atop different poles, me racing to keep them all twirling, I want them all clustered together comfortable, a big china cabinet of me (or toy box of me, or wardrobe of me...), each part pulled out as needed, and returned to the whole when done.  I'm tired of keeping things separate and spinning.  

Of course, we all want this, right? Maybe it's just hard to find enough time to worry about it until we reach our later years. Maybe it takes decades of spinning those damn poles before we realize it's too much work.  We don't have to do a huge song and dance shtick to explain our story to others. We just want to be our whole, unapologetic, patchwork self.  Broomstick, tiara, glitter, warts, and all.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


I've been thinking about time. About how I use it and abuse it, let it slide past or try to make the most of it. I think about how, although I am eating up time, taking bites of it, nibbles, for this purpose or that, time itself will one day swallow me whole. And not only me, but all that I know and love. 
Time itself will always hold us, solidly present in each moment that ever was, like rings in a great grandmother tree, and yet we will each eventually be buried deep in her core and the story on the surface of time will be new and unknown to us, and we unknown to it. We will still be part of time, we will, in fact, have been the creators of what will come, but the hours when we could make a difference, when we could write our small but important chapter, will be gone. We will have joined the audience of ancestors, watching, reading, as the universe continues unfolding, moment by moment.
I worry about how I use that time. I worry about about my small personal contribution, the teensy tiny word that will be my addition to the story. Will I be a noun? A verb? A simple comma between thoughts? I want the word to be a useful one, I want it to encapsulate all that I am, even if I still don't know myself which word to choose. How many words can I write? How much time do I have left to find them all?
I worry about how we are all using time, using it as if it belonged solely to each of us individually, not understanding that we are all one piece of work together. I am afraid that the most enlightened among us are hijacking the plot, and sending us all forward into an apocalyptic grand finale. Time herself is not worried, time will survive. But will humanity survive? Will our small and beautiful branch of it hold fast, growing green in the spring times and blazing golden in the autumns? I fear for our time.
I stumbled upon this photo the other day. It is my youngest son, William. I think he's eight years old in this photo? He's sitting on the foundation of my grandmother's farmhouse, the house now gone (although the garage still peeks out of the tree tops in the background), trees growing inside where I once sat at a long oak table with my grandmother, my great aunt, my sisters, mother, uncles, cousins. 
All those people are spread across the globe now, or seated with the ancestors themselves. That small transluscent globe next to him is undoubtedly a rain drop on the lens, it was a drizzling, windy afternoon. It is undoubtedly a rain drop, but I think of it as my grandmother, who William never had the opportunity to meet in life. I imagine she took that moment to visit with him from my past, from his past. It reminds me that we are bound, each to the other and all of us to this world that cradles us, who mothers us even in our times of folly. And this world, spinning in space while we dance upon her, is nestled in the branches of time, who holds us all.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Question of Faeries


My dearest Joli -

Today your Mommy told me you said "I'm never going to be a REAL fairy.." and that made you sad.  I'm sorry that you were sad.  It's hard sometimes when our life starts to feel a bit too ordinary, when the magic is quiet.  I know that you are getting to the age where you are beginning to understand that a lot of the things we do at Faerieworlds, or any time really, is all for fun, it's fantasy, pretend, and theater, like in the movies.  

But rest assured, that doesn't mean it isn't real.  Yes, it's good to know that it's not ALL real (I mean, who would want scary ogres that might live under our bed to be real, right!?  Although if a scary ogre lived under your bed he'd probably just play dollies in your little fort and forget to be scary.)  Anyways, it's good to know the difference, and it's also good to not be quite sure where fantasy stops and real begins.  Or maybe it's where real stops and make believe begins?  Because even now, at my very old age, I am never quite sure where that change is.  I think I know and then something new happens to me and I am surprised and happy to realize that there are lots of things that I thought were fantasy that might be real after all.

And even though we make up a lot of things about faeries, why do you think we make them up in the first place!?   It's because we feel the real faerie things inside us, in our hearts.  And we sense them outside us, in those magical places where the ordinary world meets the unknown edges of what is possible.  When we make things up, we aren't doing it because it's not real, we're doing it to celebrate the world we know is possible, even if we can't fit it all inside our everyday lives.  

So yes, I guess in some ways, granddaughter, you are not a "real fairy".  I mean, the wings you put on when you play and pretend won't ever help you fly.  You won't have all the magical abilities you see in the movies.  But those aren't the important parts about being a faery anyway.  Faeries, real faeries, are magical exactly because they  live just beyond our ability to see them.  (although sometimes we might, I have caught glimpses of them, rare but cherished glimpses)  Real faeries can't be seen because they live just beyond what we understand and know.  They live there because they protect the edges of our world from becoming dead and crumbling.  By filling up the unknown spaces we can't usually reach, they are making it possible for the real world to get larger and more magical every day.  Without the fae, we'd never have anything but what we already have, there would be nothing new to discover or search for, and that would be a very sad world to live in.  

We don't really know if faeries are big or small (or maybe both or any size they want to be) or what they look like or what they eat or even if they have wings at all.  If we knew that, we wouldn't have to use our hearts to imagine all the infinite possibilities of what faeries could be.  Because we don't know for sure, we have the freedom to envision more amazing and ever expanding worlds and we create even more magic than if we already understood everything about the faerie realm.  For example, what if I told you to make a toy, and I handed you a scissors and blue paper and three buttons and said that your toy had to be made with only those objects.  Boring!  What the faeries do is much better.  They say "Make a world.  And use EVERYTHING!  Use your imagination, of course.  And trees.  And hugs.  And pretty colors.  And twirly skirts.  And dark caves.  And drums.  And spirals.  And tea parties.  And stones.  And singing.  And shadows.  And clouds.  And everything, everything else you can possibly imagine!"  Isn't that far better than just one way of knowing and seeing the faerie world?  I think so.  Because it means we aren't just seeing it, we're part of making it manifest.

You are a very special person, Joli, one who has the gift of living very near the edge where the human world brushes up against the faerie realm.  The faeries have sought you out because they know that you have a very beautiful imagination and can imagine all sorts of wondrous things into being.  You see, not everyone can do this.  It is a very big and joyful responsibility to believe in the faeries.  Because faeries, the real kind that we can't see, need belief to work their magic.  Just like we humans need food and air and water and homes and warmth and all manner of things to be alive (we wouldn't be alive without those things, would we!), the fae need... well, they need all those things too, and they also need belief and dance and song and art and love and nature as well.  (Hey, and people need all those things too!)  So, every time you do any of those things, you are a very important adventurer who is protecting and building up the magic that keeps the world growing larger and more amazing  every single second.  This might not make you a real faery, but it makes you someone with a faery heart, and that's the most important part of being a faery.  

I like to think that some day, when enough people grow a faery heart, like you, like your Mommy, like your Grammy, then maybe the edges between real and make believe will be strong enough to allow us to go back and forth at will.  I believe that some people already have the ability to do that, but because much of the world is fragile and scared of things they don't understand or can't explain, isn't ready for that much believing, those who can travel between the worlds don't really talk about it too much.  

Maybe some day you will be one of those travelers.  I hope I'll be one too.  I have felt very close sometimes.  I've had real faery moments.  They weren't glittery or fancy.  They weren't anything I could explain very well about why there were real fae near.  It was like walking past an opened door and feeling a faery wind blow through my hair, or like turning my head and seeing through a window into the unknown but then when I realized it was important, suddenly it was gone.  Those moments are hard to describe, but they have changed my life always.   

In the meantime, while we're busy doing the things we have to do in our world, I think we should continue to do as much as we can to listen and watch with our faery hearts open.  I am ever so thankful that we are chosen by the faeries and by our own faery nature to live close to the edge where the two worlds meet.  Remember that the edge isn't in a certain place, like your bedroom, or Faerieworlds, or the garden, or nature (although those are all places faeries love!), the edge is wherever we can feel the faeries near, and we catch a bit of their music floating on the air, and we stumble upon things that we can tell a faery must have left or touched.  And sometimes we hear them whisper silly or inspiring things in our ear, things they want to share with us, with those of us who believe.  Because magic is about faeries and humans both, and only people with a fae heart know how to listen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mushroom Festival

We went to the annual Mushroom Festival at Mt. Pisgah Aboretum a few weeks ago.   I'd gone to the Wildflower Festival there in the spring and had really enjoyed it, so I had an idea of the size and lay out.  As wonderful as the spring festival was, this autumn festival was even better, being my favorite time of year and all, and the weather, gloomy but warm, was just about perfect for showing off all the wonderful autumn displays.

Display as you entered.

The aboretum itself was filled with table after table of beautiful tableaus of mushroom, fungi, moss, and... I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the different plants.  Lichen, they had that too.  Still probably forgetting some.

Of course this was the first thing that caught my eye when I entered the building.

A wee skull

They remind me of "land clams".  What are these called again?  Fungus?  Fungi?  (which reminds me of Hubby's joke about a fungi and a mushroom that walk into a bar that I have heard him tell six bajillion times - *Runs screaming away with hands over ears*)

Check out the lady's hat, cute huh.  I was wearing a mushroom hat too but didn't take a pic of myself.

And here's the real thing.

Some mushrooms were big. (there were some that were even bigger, pics didn't come as well though to show the size)

And some that were eensy teensy tiny.

Is this Hobgoblin graffiti?  Or Elven petroglyphs?

A carbon based agate.

These were called Orange Peel Fungus, but I think they look more like little fae soup bowls.

A star fallen from the skies?

These were called Cat's Tongue.  They were somewhat transluscent and rubbery to the touch.  They weren't rough like a cat's tongue though.  They look more like dripped candle wax to me.

Ah, chanterelles, the delicious ones!

Moss, lichen, fungi... a patchwork of texture and design.

I liked the wee red caps on these.

There were other things at the festival as well.  Music, food, plant sales, vendors, informational booths, children's activities, hiking.  I didn't take pics of all that but a woman who sold yarn and fibers kindly allowed me to take a photo of her samples, all dyed from different mushrooms.  Beautiful colors.  There was another vendor that sold scarves that were all dyed with mushrooms and her colors were even more varied, including many greens and pinks.

Hubby (cleverly disguised as Sherlock Holmes) waiting in line for very delicious mushroom soup.

They had a scarecrow contest.  By the time we wandered over the festival was almost over and some of the scarecrows were gone or being taken down, but I managed to snap a few pics of some of my favorites.

I thought this guy looked like a forest guardian you would see in a Miyazaki film.

A forest faery of course.

He looks scary but maybe he's just a good ol' boy that would be happy to sit down and have a beer with ya?

This guy definitely needs his meds adjusted.

A courtly gentleman, surrounded by adoring little toadstools (made out of pumpkins, squash, and gourds.  I'm totally stealing that idea for next season!).

The obligatory werewolf wandering loose in the woods.

This guy with his floating Stetson looks almost kindly but I sort of think he might be the creepiest of all - lure you in and then.... I don't know... he just seemed ready to turn into something frightening when I least expected it.

Alas, all good things must come to an end.

If you'd like to see all the mushroom photos I took, you can check them out here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Garden is Born

We had to go into town on errands, so we made it worth our while and did a bit of fun wandering. First a stop at a self serve frozen yogurt shop. I'm rather addicted to self serve frozen yogurt. I'm considering trying to figure out how to make it at home as the cost of driving in to appease my cravings cost more than the actual yogurt purchase itself. But today we had to go in anyways, so pretty guilt free yogurt indulgence. Then we browsed at Barnes & Noble for an hour or two. Now that we live outside a metro area, we have our "own" Barnes & Noble. Before I sort of split my allegiance to all the nearby (meaning, in a 100 mile radius) B&N's, but now we have one nearby enough to be our primary store. Not that I buy a lot of books there any more, but I do buy magazines there a lot. Today I got out of their without any reading material, except for a small clearance decoration.
When we first arrived a month ago I was certain we were late on putting in our garden - I had the mistaken impression that planting started much earlier here. We ran around looking for seedlings and were frustrated at the limited plants available. Turns out that it was just too early for most of them to be in the nurseries yet. We went back to a couple of them today and found eggplant and a pepper. I still want to find a few more varieties, but at least we have a bit of everything. In fact, when we got home and laid out all the plants, I discovered I'd bought a considerable number of tomatoes. Oh well, never enough tomatoes, right!?

Oh, at a lovely little shop downtown Eugene - I think it was called The Backyard Farmer?  Anyway, he had this little faery cage hanging from the ceiling.  He was using it as a chicken cage, but it's clearly a faery cage, don't you think? 

Whether it's meant to cage a faery, or for a faery to cage something else in it, that's unclear, but I'm loving the idea of creating a few of these for my own garden. 

And then, after a quick supper of potato leek soup and fresh bagels, it was time to finally plant our first garden here.  Here it is with the plants all laid out where I want them.  Since we aren't using the dog fencing for the dogs anymore, we thought we'd put it around the garden to deter the cats from using it as a giant litter box.  They're all old and they're all rather large in the poundage departments, so we hope they won't try to hard to jump over it.  This is the main garden.

And here is the second garden for larger sprawling plants like pumpkins and winter squashes.

I planted spaghetti squash and some blue potatoes.  The straw is for mulching and hopefully, knock on wood, to deter the cats.  (I've gardened in containers for so long that I haven't had to deal with animals in my garden.  Although I did noticed at the end of last summer that the oak barrels didn't stop the chihuahuas from hopping up into them.  Sheesh!)

Ginny (aka Fat Kitty) did try to check out the spread straw and I yelled at her.  Although the chihuahuas think they're free to go in the garden, they were quick to back me up and chase Ginny off.  Maggie is looking back to make sure I see what a good job she did - "See Mom, no cat!"

And here's the main garden planted with what we have so far - about a dozen tomato plants, a pepper, three eggplant, a whole lotta multi-colored chard (the six pack had about forty plants in it!) and three zuchinni.

Since it's a new garden and the soil, although we added loam and topsoil to help deter grass from coming up through the dug out area, isn't really seed ready.   So I started our seeds in the emptied out containers.

Oh, here's the main garden from another angle.  Green Mary had to leave her beautiful grape grotto at the old house, but she seems happy here for the time being, watching over the vegetables.

Fortunately I was able to find my older seeds in the mountains of boxes in the garage and I planted a few more things, until I ran out of containers.  Uhm..... probably can't remember them all, let's see.... butternut squash, sugar pod peas, pole beans, dragon tongue bush beans, mesclun both mild and spicy, a lettuce mix, canteloupe, a lone sunflower seed, patty pan squash, armenian cucumbers..... that's all can remember.  And it's too dark to go out and see if I missed anything.  I put them all in this cage to keep out marauding birds and cats.  Clever of me, yes?

I'd put it off planting this last week as the idea of working a garden from scratch, although exciting, was surprisingly intimidating.  Hubby had turned over the plot, I'd had some loam and topsoil delivered, but actually putting plants in the ground was, I know, this sounds silly, but scary! It felt so good to finally jump in get it started. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Totally Toadstools? Mostly Mushrooms?

Today was all about fungi, toadstools, mushrooms.... whatever these earthy little habitats are called. We went out intending to attend some of the Wine and Wings Festival events - hiking, talks, wine tasting. But apparently we arrived too late for most of the activities.

Here's where the wine tasting was - some of you might recognize this site.  Yep, the ol' Secret House Winery.  It's now under new owners and called the Domaine Meriwether Winery.  We arrived in the heat of the day and, because we weren't really set up to do any wine tasting, we didn't stay.

But not before I took a few photos of this wee fae condo.

Or perhaps it was a mansion for just one fae family.

In any case, it was quite grand.

We didn't end up doing any of the things we planned on doing today, instead we went into town and ran errands, where we picked up some groceries, a curtain rod for the bedroom window, and our own little fae village!

Aren't they cute?  Hard to see the size in this pic, but they're about a foot tall, plenty of room for an entire family in the two larger toadstools, the green one is slightly smaller, for a new family or perhaps a retired faery or two.    Now I just need to landscape the little neighborhood with plenty of shrubberies and flowers.