Fire Season is coming

In the Earthways Shamanic Path, I study the seasons as they unfold in my location, which is Southwest Florida.  The seasons here are, Rainy, Hurricane, Dry, and Fire.  I call this, ‘finding the Magic In the land,’

Fire Season starts in mid-February.  Some of the physical markers are, a doubling of our population, a drop in temperature, an increase in fires.  These markers relate to the spiritual aspects, which I’ll address in a different post.

I know Fire Season is coming, because the Live Oak trees are brimming with their flower parts, and will release “scree” soon.  Scree can be collected, dried, and used in place of sage, for smudging purposes. 

I don’t have Live Oak trees in my yard, but I know where they are.  The trick to collecting scree is it needs to fall onto a tarp, or on a paved surface, because it is whispy.

Scree burns fast, and you need to gather a lot of it.  Since the weather patterns have shifted so much, trees are blooming at unpredictable times.  Thus, when we see that the trees are just about to release the scree, we need to be prepared to collect it, that day, or the next. 

Share your peace with Mother Earth and Father Sky and the big Waters all around us.

(c) 2017 to present, Whale Maiden for the Earthways Shamanic Path.  All rights reserved. 

 

Falling Rain

Happy fall y’all.

I have this lovely tree in my back yard in the suburbs of Southwest Florida.  And this week, which heralds the First Day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the First Day of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, it is blossoming in a beautiful array of small yellow flowers. The little flowers drop off in the breeze and it looks like it is raining.  This tree is part of the group called the Shower Trees and is from India.

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My particular tree is a “Rainbow Shower” tree, (Cassia fistula x Cassia javanica).  That means it is a hybrid of a “Pink and White Shower” tree (Cassia javanica) and the “Golden Shower” tree, (Cassia fistula.)  What that means is, in late September, this tree produces yellow flowers.  And at a different time of the year, it produces pinkish ones.  And part of the year, it is bare.  (See photo from one of the tree look-up books I use, “Florida’s Fabulous Trees.”)

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The flowers are on bracts (like grapes) and are very small.  And, I have set out my collection tin trays this morning, to see what I can get.  While I was outside taking my pictures, I could hear the “ping, ping, pinging,” of the small flowers hitting my tins.

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I haven’t collected these flowers before, so I don’t know what they will smell like when they are burned for smudging.  I shall have to gather quite a lot for smudging!  I was able to get a few bracts in my tin trays, however, most of what can be collected is very, very small (like the size of a lentil) and collecting that will be labor intensive.  They are everywhere.

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What’s blooming in your yard?  Can you use any of it for ceremonial smudging?  When do you collect it?  

After I’ve collected it, I will sit with it and learn, What does it represent?  Is it aligned with masculine energies or feminine ones?  Is it about the Air, or Fire, or Water, or Earth?

Journey with us on the Earthways Shamanic Path, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans. Find the Magic in Your Land.  For more information about the Earthways Shamanic Path, visit  my website

And share your peace with Mother Earth, Father Sky and all the Big Waters around us.

Except for the picture from the “Florida’s Fabulous Trees” book,  everything else is (c) 2016 to present by Whale Maiden for Earthways Shamanic Path.  All Rights Reserved.

Gathering the oak scree

This is the time of year, Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans everywhere, when we collect the Oak Scree and Cypress needles for the next 12 months of smudging. One of the tennents of the Earthways Shamanic Path, is to go out into your lands and find the magic that dwells there, and honor it.

oak thingsFor us here in Southwest Florida, following this path means we do not use white sage for smudging.  It doesn’t grow here, and sage shouldn’t be used for “every” ceremony or occasion.  Instead, we collect the tree flowers or tree leaves/needles that have fallen off the trees around us, locally.   The challenge is to gather enough for the coming year.  How much do we need?  How often would you like to smudge yourself? !  Right, it is hard to know how much to gather.

The Live Oak trees only produce their scree at this time of year.  (December to January.)  I like to collect it from trees that drape over parking lots, or sidewalks, since that makes it easier to collect the scree, when it bumps up to a curb.  Live Oak Scree has a very simple smell when burned.  It burns FAST, you will need a lot.

Cypress Tress, on the other hand, drop their leaves/needles a couple of times a year.  They can be gathered directly under the trees.  I like to collect a pinch here, and a pinch there, so as not to dig holes around the trees.  The leaves/needles smell good when dried, and again, burns fast.

I also use rosemary and a few other locally grown herbs, to add  to my smudging blends.

Look around where you live, and where you go out into the wilderness, and see what grows that you can harvest, safely and legally.  Learn what poison ivy and other poisonous plants and trees looks like and do not use any parts for smudging.  Also, know what plants are protected species and do not harvest them.

And while smudging, share your Peace with Our Earth.

Join Whale Maiden in the discussion at the Earthways Shamanic Path – Facebook Group

(c) 2015, Whale Maiden, all rights reserved

Why not smudge with Sage in Floirida?

A few weeks ago now (Feb 22) I created a Medicine Wheel in Southwest Florida, with the help of several wonderful people.  Before we created the Medicine Wheel, I led a meditation/demonstration of what we could use besides sage, to smudge ourselves and our materials.

What’s wrong with sage?  Nothing, in general.   For something like 20 years, at almost every ritual I’ve attended, regardless of intent, we have smudged with sage.   This is painting with too broad a brush in my opinion.  I like sage.  It smells good to me, it tastes good to eat (or smoke) and is readily available at most “new age” or “metaphysical” shops.  The drawback is, I think it isn’t native to Florida, much less Southwest Florida.  Plus, I read a great article a few weeks ago on facebook called “the four sacred plants,”  which led me to reconsider how and when we use sage in our rituals and gatherings,  In a word, we are over using it, which I had long suspected.

So when I invited the people to help me create the Medicine Wheel, I also asked them to bring tree material from around where they lived.  I suggested they forage for tree items since that would reduce the potential to pick plants that are either non-native, or are endangered, or toxic.  Plus, trees are easier to identify than plants, so I thought that would help us keep track of this experiment.

I brought a coconut, from my neighbors’ coconut palm.  And, some dried flowers from the Orchid Tree.

Other people brought:  pine cones, pine needles, pine sap on bark bits, and a bunch of other types of trees materials, particularly from Mahogany.  We had cypress tree leaves that had fallen to the ground and were gathered.  They were already fairy dry.  We also had oak scree.

Oak scree is what we call the flowers/ reproductive parts of the Live Oak trees.  (There’s several species of Live Oak, but we don’t distinguish them in this essay.)

We talked about what each person brought and discussed whether it was suitable for burning in a smudge bowl.  For example, the coconut is readily available, at least in my neighborhood, but it is difficult to prepare for smudging.  We burned bits of each item and sat with each to see what we liked best.

I like the oak scree.  You have to be careful because it is a quicker burn than sage is.  But it is readily available, if you gather it at the right time, and has a nice smell.  One person brought some berries of (Cypress? or Cedar?) and these smelled very good when burned.

Of course, if I only use oak scree I’ll be back to the problem of painting every ritual with the same broad brush.  Hmmm…

Take a stroll around where you live, work, go to church, or play and see what tree items you could gather and dry for your ceremonies.  Sit with the items and see what speaks to you.

——-

footnote:  There are times where we have consecrated sacred space with an herb like rosemary, dipped on water.  We anoint people with this when we are in a place where we can’t burn sage or other materials.  Presently I’m using a sprig of Boston Fern to anoint people in my Class.  It is right outside the door of the classroom, and is thus very convenient.  And, it is growing in Florida, so that works for my purposes.

Building a Florida Medicine Wheel (part 1)

We will be using a template from the Sun Bear information to build our Medicine Wheel.  We will work collectively over the next 12 months, to convert this into a Florida Medicine Wheel.

If you plan to attend the Ceremony and help build the Medicine Wheel, this is what you need to do to prepare:

1.  Tomorrow or Monday:  This is really, really important.  This is your gift to the Medicine Wheel.  Look around where you live and select a TREE, and then gather off the ground under it, a couple of handfuls of dry,  natural objects but only one kind per tree.  For example, if you select a pine tree, you would gather pine cones, or pine needles, but not both.  We can use flower petals, oak tree scree (leaves and seed stuff) cedar tree leaves, bean pods, whatever you are attracted to.  Collect only one kind, but bring a lot, at least what will fit into a gallon zip lock bag, when it is dried.  Collect it in the next day or two  and put it somewhere where it will dry out before Saturday morning.  You will need to check it each day and make sure it is drying.   Please note what Tree you collected from.  You may want to take a picture of the tree you gathered it under.  DO NOT BRING SAGE.

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 2.  If you make coffee this week, save your old used filters with the grounds.  Put it in a separate container from the stuff you collect in Item #1.  We will use this to dump onto fire ants on the Tor.

 3.  Think about what you will bring for pot luck.

 4.  Make a note of your Birth Date and be prepared to think about Astrology in a different way.

 Saturday Morning,

 5.  Bring something Pot Luck-ish for us to eat.  This will be a lunch time meal, by the time we eat it.

 6.  Bring a gallon of water with you.  Some of it will be for you to drink during the Ceremony and Wheel Building, and some of it will be to help put out a fire.

 7.  Bring the following other items:  Sun hat, closed toed shoes, work gloves, drums and rattles (if you have them), folding chair, bug spray/sun block.

 Saturday, we will place all our objects in a holding spot on the Tor, in the North East corner.  We will identify the four directions.  We will conduct a Ceremony, involving songs and drumming and movement and chanting.  We will make a fire on the Tor. 

 Then we will begin building the Medicine Wheel.

 To make the Medicine Wheel, we will pick up and relocate 36 rocks.  They are different sizes. They will form the shape of the Medicine Wheel, which is a big circle with the four quadrants in it.  Each time we pick up a rock, we will say what its significance is, and offer it to the 4 directions plus Mother Earth/Father Sky.    This takes an hour or more.

 After we get the Medicine Wheel built, we will work with it a bit.  We will stand where we were born.  We will stand at February 22.  We will stand at East, South, West and North.

Then we will conclude the Wheel Building portion of the event.

 At that point, we will eat,  and then you are free to leave.

You may return to visit the Medicine Wheel any time you like.

part three — The Frog is found…

In my last post, I mentioned that I had hospitalized a frog (probably a Cuban Tree Frog, which is an invasive species,) in a container in my kitchen over night to help him recuperate after an exciting day.  See previous 2 posts.  And I explained how I checked on him that night before I went to bed (and may not have put the lid on his container correctly.)  And how the next morning, Frog was gone.

I did not look for the Frog who I suspected was hopping about in a house occupied by 3 humans and 2 cats… because, well because.

… Every so often when I am house cleaning I will come across some dried up critter, usually always a lizard, that has wandered into my house and made its way behind a piece of furniture in the bedroom.  This is Florida and the veil between the two worlds, or “inside” and “outside” are kind of thin.  Houses are not impervious…so I figured that I would find Frog a few weeks or months from now, in a closet or behind a bookcase, all dessicated…

and I admit I went about my business that morning.  Eventually I wandered through the kitchen and happened to look down (perhaps to not step on a cat tail,) and saw the Frog, hanging onto the handle of a jug of Arizona Tea.  We keep 3 or 4 jugs stacked next to the Refrigerator.

I swooped down, picked him up, he hung onto my thumb but also started trying to Escape! and I made a beeline to the Orchid Tree:  out the sliding glass door, out the porch door and out to the Tree.  As soon as we got to where there was AIR, the Frog was so joyful/excited/anxious…

I placed him on the sunny side of the tree because there was at least a 10 degree difference between Indoors and Outdoors temperatures, and the Frog bolted off the Tree and straight out into the Sunlight!

Rainy Season and Yellow and Orange Trees

Yellow Trumpet Tree by WhaleMaiden.

The Red flowering Trees of Fire Season, yielded to the Yellow blossoms and the Orange Blossoms of Rainy Season.  What I have learned this year about nature Photography and blogging, is that you have to take the picture(s) when and where you see them because if you wait a day or two, the blooms will be gone.  This wonderful yellow blooming tree starts out slow, but the tree eventually becomes completely covered with blooms.  I missed taking those pictures this year.  (Sloth!) I’ll have to remember to get them next year.

I don’t yet have a photo of the orange flowering Pamosa (sp?) ; I need to get one before it fades. [1]

Yellow is also the sign of new growth.

But so is yellow-orange.  See the new Palm parts on this photo:

June 8, 2010 edit:

[1] “the  orange flowering Pamosa (sp?)” is the Royal Ponciana.