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.

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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.

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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.

Orchid TreeOrchid Tree

Orchid Tree BlossomsOrchid Tree Blossoms -Drying

 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.

The color of Rainy Season is YELLOW!

Bridgekeeper: Stop. What… is your name?
Galahad: Sir Galahad of Camelot.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
Galahad: I seek the Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?
Galahad: Blue. No, yel…
[he is also thrown over the edge]
Galahad: auuuuuuuugh.

 From, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, as quoted on Internet Movie Database. 

I’ll get some photos in here soon, but the Color of Rainy Season, is not Blue like you would expect, but YELLOW.      The majority of trees that are flowering now, are doing so in Yellow flowers.  All kinds of wildflowers and ground covers are popping up now and they are Yellow.  New growth appeares as yellow against a branch of dark green leaves.

 

Fire Season and Live-Oak trees

Here are the photos of the Live Oak.  Live Oak have smaller leaves than Laurel Oak and Water Oak.  Also, these are not located near a stream or low lying area. 

During Fire Season, trees produce their pollen vehicles (*I can’t think of what these are called.  Earlier I had typed seeds.  But that isn’t correct.  A seed is an acorn, and that’s different from the things on the trees here… take a look.  (I’ve mislabeled the photos, I’ve called them ‘berries,).  Very soon, these pollen vehicles will launch a very fine pollen mist all over southwest florida.   

Also  Note the Air Plant on the Live Oak Tree, it is a mich larger one that the one on the Cypress.  (I don’t know if it is a different species, or just a much more mature air plant.)  [sigh, another thing to go look up…]

Fire Season, Cypress Trees.

Ok, so in the previous post, we had some photos of the plants that are in bloom this time of year, Fire Season, and they all have red tones in them.  Today, I’m posting some photos of trees.  This post contains the photos of Cypress (another post will contain the Live Oak photos.)   At this time of year, the Cypress trees are dormant.  They look ‘dead,’ or ‘dried up.’  But they are really ok.   At other times of the year, these trees will have green needles with red at the tips.

The top left photo shows the cypress tree.  They are triangular trees.  The photo under the Tree, shows cypress berries forming. 

The top right photo shows an Air Plant that is living in the Cypress Tree.    The photo under the Airplant, shows the cypress knees.