Going It Alone: the Solitude of 8 of Cups.

I draw a card for myself every morning. Sometimes to help me better understand a dream, sometimes to guide me through the day... and sometimes they're just there. But sometimes, you see a card you haven't seen in a long time and it touches you. The 8 of Cups did that for me this morning.

Seeking solitude, going it alone. Those were the words that reverberated through my mind.

I think in this day of ever connectedness, smartphones, the internet, everything, true solitude is rare. Some of us seek it and some of us are totally bewildered by the idea. Solitude causes you to examine yourself. Looking within, good, bad, light, shadow is a scary thing. Something we all benefit from experiencing though.

As an introvert I gain much from solitude. It's there that my creativity grows and my batteries recharge. I get cranky if I overextend myself and I have found that, in not expressing my need for solitude misplaced resentment and anger towards those around me develops. It's a bad trait and I have to know when to give myself the time I need to regroup and collect myself. It's like loosing all my organized papers to the wind. It actually took me a long time to realize this. I'm learning how to balance this aspect of my life. This article, Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You perfectly explains why introverts need to get away. Even if the door is shut, we can still feel you in the other room!

You think that I am impoverishing myself withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web or chrysalis, and, nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society.
— Henry D. Thoreau

The other aspect of this card for me is walking your own path. The person in this card is embarking on a journey, a pilgrim, a seeker. They do it alone. Recently in my life, I have had to leave some things behind... a dead co-dependent relationship. One of the driving fears of leaving was whether or not I would be able to survive on my own. 7 years is a long time to develop bad habits and grow lazy in knowing how to take care of some aspects of your life. I knew the day that I decided to call it quits, it would open so many cans, so many worms. But in the end I am better for it and through the suffering and throwing myself into the chaos I would gain more than ever from the experience.

So here I am staff in hand, going it alone.

Knowing When to Pause.

The days have been filled with avoiding the heat. The earth here is parched and the grasses are dying. You can smell the deep tang of the invasive blackberries in the midday sun, mingling with the loam of the forest, heated pine resin and the sweetness of dried grasses. Briar path days are upon us. I've taken pity on my neighbors dehydrated rose bushes (they've moved out and are gone) and am currently watering them. The plants feel glad. I've noticed the black (Br'er) rabbit family and local hares only come out to graze at dawn and dusk, avoiding the heat. It almost feels as if my little area is holding it's breath for a bout of rain, I think it really is.

There's an odd feeling of burn out I've been dealing with. I don't know if it's burn out, per-say. But I feel like disappearing somewhere for a little while, disconnecting from the internet and stopping the flow of communications. That need to isolate yourself and recharge so you can reconnect. It's hard when you have a lot of real life obligations, when you simply can't turn off the internet and you feel that never ending nagging persistence to be super productive, to get shit done and be awesome consistently, nonstop. Realizing when to pause can be difficult. Knowing when you're just not going to be productive anymore can be hard to recognize sometimes.

I feel like the land, dehydrated and longing for a good nourishing rain. The rains will come inevitably, right now it's a matter of digging deep with these roots to tap into the moist soil far below me.

I pulled the Page of Cups this morning. She's descended to the bottom of the ocean, alone. She uses her intuition to guide herself and she finds answers in the scrying bowl. My need for the element of water is apparent in this card. I think a good spiritual bath is in order, a bath at dusk to remove and a bath as the sun rises to bring in that which I desire.

Summer Solstice '13 Style.

 I wake very early in the summer, right before dawn when the robins are singing their good morning songs and the song sparrows weave their chorus through the thickets in the backyard.

 After the sun had risen and I had dressed, I went to fetch my bike. I had plans to collect lots of yarrow. We have massive amounts of it growing on the trail that takes me to work. The Solstice is a great day to do your wild herb harvesting. To my surprise, my partner had left the garage door locked, which is where I keep my bike. He had the only key to open it and was at work so, I took it as an opportunity to take a very long walk to the large yarrow patches and do some exploring along the way. It was actually a blessing in disguise, because I was able to access and discover many new trails I've never seen before. One of which lead me deep into the woods and into a clean red cedar clearing. It was quiet and still, but the air still moved around you. Sometimes you'll encounter these special places that'll send a chill up your spine, stir a nervousness in the pit of your stomach and you become hyper aware of your surroundings. Suddenly you'll feel the need to tip toe and walk very quietly. Then it dawns on you that the reason you're behaving this way, is because you're being watched by invisible eyes. I made sure to leave small offerings in these special places.

 I was after something though, and that was to discover that trilling bird I had talked about in a previous post. That was what led me deep into the forest. I got closer and closer to the call, but it seemed like the bird knew I was after it and it drew me deeper. I finally reached the edge of tangled woods I couldn't really walk my way through. I was so close! The haunting call was coming from the tops of the alder trees. Then I saw it, a bird about the size of a cardinal, it dropped towards the ground in a flash and then darted towards the sun. Completely obstructing my view by being partially blinded by the sun! Then it disappeared. For now, I'll just call it the Siren Bird. Right after that, a large crack sounded. As I looked through the tangled brush, there was a massive blue heron that had just flown off of a dead tree and broke the branch it had been perched on. The heron was with it's mate, they screeched at each other as they flew around the small swampy area. It was fascinating to see such large birds that close. I've never heard them call out to each other like that before either, it was a treat indeed. As I headed back out to the main trail, a flicker laughed and I couldn't help but think he was laughing at me, because I had been tricked by the Siren Bird.

 While I would like to say that collecting herbs is a fascinating story in itself. I think it's best told in pictures.

Lovely spicy yarrow.

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No trail going is complete without spotting the local Br'er Rabbit family. Three generations of black rabbits that live in and around a crossroads, right next to a graveyard. Magical indeed.

I hope that your Solstice was beautiful and bright. 

Hermes & Violet Thoughts.

My gym time is one of the ways I do devotional activities for Hermes. What's this got to do with violets? I'll get there, don't worry. Hermes holds a very special place in my heart. He's a jovial guy and many of his attributes are things that hold a prominent place in my life. I'm a business owner, a ram, I hit the gym on a regular basis and I aim to improve my writing and communications abilities. I dream very vividly and have a fondness for birds and often look to them for omens. He's also just a bad ass. I love reading about him in myth, he just comes across as the kinda guy you could have a beer and totally chill with. Or you know, get up to some mischief.

So, violets right? I make a point to focus on Hermes during my workouts. I give him my sweat, my pumping heart, my exertion, my focus. I make a point to commune with him. Violets dropped into my brain out of nowhere a few weeks ago. I walked home and the phantom scent of violets hit me over and over again, it's not even violet season mind you! Today, mid oblique crunch, there it is again. Violets. "Alright," I say to myself, "time for some google action." What's the first thing I see, after googling 'Hermes violets'?

photo by,  Married with Dinner .

Oh, snap. Indeed. Hermes very obviously wants his violets. This brand unfortunately is basically impossible to get in the US, unless I'm willing to hop on a plane straight to Japan! While I do hope to someday get my hands on this lovely jewel of a liqueur, I think I will settle for some Tempus Fugit Liqueur De Violettes. Or, make my own, which I have plans for come spring of next year.

I was really surprised by this. Violets aren't exactly mercurial, they're connected to the planet Venus, the element of water and love. Aphrodite was often referred to as violet-crowned. The sweetly scented flowers are calming and gentle and make me think of softening the woes of love, inducing lust, bringing lovers back together after a spat and tranquility. All sorts of ideas began bubbling into my head. Clearly, violets will make a great offering to Hermes in my personal practice, but this experience has brought me closer to a plant I had never really considered working with before. I actually encountered the wild violet this spring, for the first time. I had thought nothing of it, really. Just that they were the harbingers of spring. The first flower to pop up, they herald new beginnings.

Transient

I found this small wild patch at the end of my street last spring. I think I might transplant a few to the yard. And maybe even buy a few plants as they come available on websites this fall. Specifically the sweet violet - viola odorata, as this is the one with the sweet scent and flavor.

All sorts of wild crafty ideas are flying through my head currently. A violet water, similar to a Florida Water recipe. I imagine the color would just be fantastic. Violet liqueur, obviously. Cakes. Preserving the flowers in sugar. Perhaps even scenting the sugar, by placing lots of the fresh blooms in a jar, I wonder how that would work out. I suppose I'll have to find out next spring, these delicate little flowers are only around once a year. I look forward to getting to know this plant a little better come spring.

 

 

Tiniest Skull & Bushtit Chatter.

A few weeks ago I found the tiny mangled body of a bird outside of our stoop. I imagine a cat must have gotten it, or it died of natural causes. I picked it up and placed it between my althaea and mugwort plants. Today, while examining my mugwort for upcoming full moon cutting, I noticed the little birds body was still there. I was surprised it didn't disappear by scavenging racoons and neighborhood cats that prowl our yard. It's little skull was sticking up neatly out of the dirt, well cleaned by nature.

This tiny skull belongs to the bushtit. It's the smallest bird in North America by weight, right next to the hummingbird. His little skull is smaller than the tip of my finger joint! I feel pretty lucky to have such a curio.

Birds hold a very special place in my heart, thanks to my wonderful grandmother who subscribed me to Birds and Blooms when I was about 10 years old. This imbedded in me a deep love of bird watching. Anytime I heard a call or saw a bird I couldn't recognize, I'd go on a hunt for information to learn all I could about its range and habits. I wanted so badly to see Cedar Waxwings when I was young, it wasn't until I was crossing a bridge in Iowa City, Iowa at age 22 that I suddenly realized I was surrounded by a huge flock of them! And I saw them for the first time in my life. If you ask my partner, I was ridiculously excited. Pretty sure bystanders thought I was crazy.

Depending on the species, birds are messengers, tricksters, symbols of purity and love. Bushtits to me, are the embodiment of joy, thriftiness, tranquility and a cohesive family. They often travel in large groups tree to tree combing for insects. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll encounter a massive flock of them while walking through the forest. One moment it'll be quiet, and the next you'll be surrounded by what feel like millions of the tiniest fluff balls. No matter when or where you spot them, they are merrily chirping away paying no mind to who's watching them. If you're still enough, they will let you get remarkably close to them while they're foraging. They have the brightest eyes and most content and happy expression.

Birding adventures are a constant. My current hope, is to find out who it is that makes this eerie trilling sound deep in the forests. I hear this call only in summer and I've never seen the culprit. With some binoculars and luck, maybe I'll find out.

Other birdy goodness: The Secret Bird Society by Candlesmoke Chapel.

Meeting Shadowscapes Tarot.

My new Shadowscapes deck arrived just today. I don't generally go in for the airy fairy, dragons and sprites type decks but this one, this one was special. I found it while Googling the term, "watercolor tarot." The imagery just sucks you in, it's very dream like. The Cups are especially reflective of my own dreams, always near the ocean. I felt an instant connection to Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's incredible artwork.

When I asked the deck to show me the card that best represented itself, I received the Eight of Cups. It seems this deck will hold my hand while we plummet into the deep dark depths of emotions, the sub-conscious, seeking answers and discovering new questions. Ever seeking. This deck is based closely on the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot, but there are a few differences, like the Death card and the Hierophant. Reviews of this deck aren't the best. The biggest complaints are related to the card stock and many feel that due to her highly detailed artwork, these images should be on larger cards. While I can agree to both of these sentiments, I can definitely work with what I have here. You may need to squint to see the subtleties, but they are there!

I'm really looking forward to learning and studying these cards. They touch me to the core, and I have been waiting a long time to find a deck whose artwork does that.