Monday, May 25, 2009

Journey Moon is New

The new moon on May 24 is named the Journey Moon in Annette Hinshaw's calendar. It is the time of the blessed pause between the hard work of sowing and birthing and the herculean tasks of harvesting and raising young. It is the time of year where, in most places, the weather is sweet and warm but not yet oppressively hot and travel is at it's easiest. It is a time for exploring... exploring the physical world around us, the mental world in our heads and where the two intersect.

Just the other day as I was walking in a park near my house I spotted a playing card on the ground. I picked it up to see what it was... the queen of diamonds. I took her home, figuring she had something important to say to me. Playing cards and tarot cards are close cousins of each other and one can actually use playing cards as one uses the minor arcana of a tarot deck. I love the symbols of tarot and own a particularly fun tarot deck; The Inner Child Cards: A Fairy Tale Tarot by Isha and Mark Lerner. This deck uses well known charcaters and stories from fairy tales and fiction for the major arcana and the face cards of the minor arcana. For instance, the Fool card is represented by Little Red Riding Hood and the Tower card by Rapunzel. The Queen of Diamonds in a playing card deck is equivalent to the Queen of Pentacles in a tarot deck and in my deck the that card, called the seeker of Seeker of Crystals, is represented by the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.

In a traditional tarot deck the Queen of Pentacles is an earth mother like figure. She is often thought of as nuturing and very resourceful, but willing to put those resources to use for others. Biddy, of, says that the Queen of Pentacles represents "Want[ing] to establish yourself TO yourself, to find your 'centre' or place where you belong, and for words (prophecies) or ideas to come to light. Keep following your star and you will get your wish. You may have to wait but what you want WILL come. " In the Fairy Tale Tarot the Seeker of Crystals talks about transformation and spiritual growth through a journey. The Lion eventually finds his center by following his star. He is able to drop the facade of bravery because along his path he finds his true courage.

It's always good to have traveling food when you go on a journey. Cookies travel well and are always welcome, no matter where you find yourself. Last winter I made these Swedish Rye Cookies and loved them. Try making them in a shape that represents what you need or what you have. Try diamonds to represent the Queen and her blessings or perhaps find a lions cookie cutter and nibble them as you walk your own yellow brick road.

Swedish Rye Cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup fine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
coarse or powdered sugar for dusting

*Sift flours and salt together. Cream butter and cream cheese together until combined and fluffy. Add flour to butter mixture and stir only enough to incorporate. Knead gently to get the dough to stick together, form into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill.

*Line baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with cutters. Sprinkle with coarse sugar now, or powdered sugar after baking. Bake for 4-6 minutes or until they are fragrant and just starting to brown around the edges. Don't let them overbake or they will be dry.

What path are you traveling during this Journey Moon? What is testing your courage? What resources are avaliable to you on your journey? Do you feel more like a Queen of Pentacles this month or more like the Cowardly Lion?

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Flower Moon

This last weekend was the full moon in what Annette Hinshaw calls the Mating Moon. Many other calendars call this the Flower Moon. When you think about it, that's one in the same, no? Flowers may be beautiful and smell divine, but those are just by products of a flowers real purpose - mating. Making more. More plants, more flowers, more life.

There are a hundred million ways to bring the magic of flowers into your life. The most simple is, of course, to collect flowers and bring them home. The flowers have been fantastically beautiful in Portland recently. The tulips and daffodils are gone but in their place are screaming azeleas and rhododendrons, lilacs and wisteria, poppies, daisies, bluebells and a million wild and garden flowers I don't know the names of. I've taken to collecting neighborhood flowers on my evening dog walks and creating beautiful bouquets for my table. My favorite flowers recently have been the irises. The purple ones are most common in my neighborhood but one yard has fantastic "chocolate" irises that are a deep mahogony red brown.

Another way to utilize the magic of flowers is to eat them. My dad's chive plant has been blossoming and I've been adding those flowers, along with wild mustard flowers to my salads. Rianna of These Days in French Life has many recipes that include flowers like elderflower fritters and sauteed holyhock buds. Plantainpixie made violet infused vinegar and We'moon in the Woods tried her hand at dandelion wine. Learning to identify and use edible flowers is a powerful way to bring their magic into our lives. And it is tasty!

Another way to bring the power of flowers into your life is to think about pollination and pollinators. In a Calendar Companion email a week ago Waverly Fitzgerald invited us to "consider what resources, what partnerships might pollinate your desires." It can be hard to ask for help, but the old saying two heads are better than one usually is a truism. How can bringing outside ideas and influences into your life help make your life more fruitful? What can we do to make ourselves more attractive to those who can spread our message or bring us messages from afar? I'm feeling a little stagnant in my personal life these days and the encouragement to make myself willing and open to cross polination has been timely.

What flowers are blossoming in your garden and in your life? How are you taking the messages of flowers, generally or individually, into your life? What's your favorite edible flower?

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day

It's May Day and the wheel of the year has turned halfway from where we started. May Day is the cross quarter opposite Halloween and the beginning of summer! Woo hoo! Like Halloween, May Day is a time when the veil between the worlds is thin but at this time it is not the veil to the shadow world of the dead but the veil to the bright world of the fairy that is thin. Instead of marking death with the Beloved Ancestors we celebrate life with the eternally young Fairy People.

Each of the cross quarter days, the days inbetween the solstices and equinoxes, have a door ritual associated with them. Today we still practice the Halloween ritual of soliciting treats door to door while the February and August rites are more obscure. One author suggests collecting rowan or other budding tree branches on the evening of February First, creating a bower or bouquet and hanging it over the door - all in silence. Smashing oat cakes agains the door frame as a house blessing is a common August First ritual. We all have a cultural memory of baskets or bouquets of flowers being left on doorsteps on May first. Cross quarters are the doorways to the seasons so it is all together natural to focus our celebrations on actual doorways on these days.

On the morning of May Day this year I woke up early and went for a walk around my neighborhood looking for flowers. The flowering of spring is reaching a crescendo and I had lots of variety to choose from. I collected a big bunch of lilacs, cherry blossoms, woodland hyacinth, basket of gold, candy tuft and a few other flowers from yards and lots around my house. They smelled so, so good! I wrapped them into little bundles tied with yarn and hung them on my coworkers' doorknobs in the morning. Everyone loved them. Happy May Day!

I've also been out collecting herbs, greens and flowers for my table as these evening stretch longer and longer after work. I collected nettles earlier in the spring but have found lots of mint, sorrel, melissa and comfrey this last week. Many people have heard that comfrey has liver toxins so should not be eaten, but I believe Susun Weed who has been consuming comfrey infusions and leaves for years. I also found a whole patch of wild mustard and have been enjoying the flowers in my salads. Who doesn't like flowers in their salads?

How are you celebrating the beginning of summer? What flowers are blooming around you? Do you feel a connection to the fairy people or other little people? How do you celebrate that connection?

Happy summer! Happy May Day!