Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Days of Mail


The last two days of mail gave me pause to wonder... just what does this say about our household?


Day 1: Cards from Prague: The Alice Tarot. Day 2: Shroom: a mystery gift from a kindred spirit.
Day 1: Cards from Prague: The Alice Tarot.
Day 2: Shroom: a mystery gift from a kindred spirit.


Special thanks to the mystery mailer. 
I'm sure you know who you are. It took me a moment, but I do too.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 6: Offerings. (More? Really?)

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.


Back to the business of documenting the Summer Solstice Ceremony -- no doubt with further interruption as life continues & other things also demand a voice...

Once I reach the point when this chronicle is complete, I will set all the pieces in a separate place in this blog where they can be easily accessed. I'm sure that once they are collated, so to speak, they will make more sense to someone wanting to use this as a model.


offering |ˈôf(ə)ri ng; äf-|nouna thing offered, esp. as a gift or contribution animals as sacrificial offerings.• a thing produced or manufactured for entertainment or sale :Hollywood's latest offerings for the European market.• a contribution, esp. of money, to a church.• a thing offered as a religious sacrifice or token of devotion. -- Apple Dictionary


Animas Ceremony Officiants with  Floral & Fungal Offerings. See also Art Eggs in background.
Animas Ceremony Officiants with
Floral & Fungal Offerings. See also
Art Eggs in background.
Offerings. Just who or what exactly do they serve? How do we classify them? Or, as I like to ask, should we? I believe that the effort of creating & providing ceremony can be an offering in itself. That is, some ceremonies are just fancy packaging for countless smaller offerings. The Invitation to Passion ceremony in its entirety was really one juicy, oversized offering -- the kind you for which get a pilot car and banners -- for our gods, the spirits & for our people

A brief aside: Sometimes I get the sense that humans who practice modern forms of animism forget the human-human side of relationship. Folks get wrapped up in summoning spirits, communing with corvids or talking with trees & take their relationships with other humans for granted (perhaps even as obligatory). Being a human animal is being part of the human social system (at least marginally) & being human is necessary to our part in other animistic relationships. In other words, don't deny who you are & don't forget your kin. Tend to your relationships.


Back to the subject at hand. Offerings, in this particular ceremony provided several important functions:

  • The offerings served their most conventional function as gratitude gifts & enticement for the spirits of Passion & their associated entities, in the context of the invocation.
  • The offerings served as a mechanism for self-expression & social bonding by providing opportunities to create art-objects together in groups & the company of others.
  • The offerings, as aesthetic elements, created atmosphere for the ceremony environment.
  • The offerings amplified the ceremonial experience by providing a multi-sensory adventure & reinforcing the symbolism, primary themes & intent of the ceremony.

Our offerings, in addition to the Art Bowls already discussed at length, included (but I am sure I will forget some):

    Offerings: Eighty-ish Art Eggs
    Offerings: Eighty-ish Art Eggs
  • Art Eggs: Eighty or so hollow hen's eggs blown over the course of several months & then hand decorated & charged/blessed/imbued during a gathering over dinner, drinks & discussion of Passion (or Star Trek, or whatever other rabbit holes). These eggs were placed in the central Officiant's bowl & poured onto the sand to be trampled into the circle during the dance. These eggs captured the eye & imagination, gave a gentle clacking to the close of the ceremony & gave an irresistible crunch underfoot.



    Animas Ceremony Officiants with Offering Bowls
    Animas Ceremony Officiants with Floral Offerings
    Photo credit HPS CC.
  • Florals & Fungals: Boxes & boxes of dried flowers & fungi were collected from family gatherings, public rites of passage ceremonies, household shrines, funerals, florist friends, etc. The flowers were used as offerings in four of the Officiants bowls & also the containers carried by two of the dancers for Fire Offerings. They were also abundantly distributed across the ceremonial area & ecstatic dance circle. The florals added to the visual, aromatic & tactile atmosphere & contributed to at least one improvisational ritual.

Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for
Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Photo credit HPS CC.

Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for  Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Dancer's Floral & Fungal offerings for
Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Photo credit HPS CC.

Additional baskets of Floral offerings used throughout the evening.
Additional baskets of Floral offerings used throughout the evening.

  • Home Brew & Cakes: A Lychee Cider was brewed specifically for this event. It was used by two dancers as Fire Offerings while the remainder of the cornelius keg was shared with the community as refreshment. We baked several Chocolate Chipotle cakes, some of which (I hope) were offered to the fire, most of which fueled the revelry & fed hungry dancers. In bear country, we must be sensible -- offerings made on the ground must be limited to things which will not serve as an attractant to our Ursidae neighbors. Thusly, the food in this ceremony was restricted to the fire & our bellies. Food & drink, are of course, traditional/old school offerings which please the spirits, our senses & satisfy the human body in numerous ways.

  • Music & Dance: The music, which was carefully collected & arranged by our DJ Magus, has already been discussed in detail in Trust Your People: The Magus (DJ, that is). The dance, thoughtfully choreographed by our teacher & the troupe has also already been discussed in Trust Your People: The Choreographer. My point in mentioning them here is to stress the point that these too were offerings, the dance being perhaps the central or key offering for the entire ceremony. Both served to please the spirits, create atmosphere, facilitate a sensory shift & allow for self-expression, among other things.
Resh K'eljesh Dance Offering for  Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Resh K'eljesh making a Dance Offering during
Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.
Photo credit PCC AK Facebook Page.


  • Poetry: Poetry was recited by the Officiants during the ceremonial Invoc/Evoc/Invit-ation. Each Officiant carefully selected their personal Offering-of-Words. In my opinion, this was very likely the most potent & moving portion of the ceremony (although I am sure some may argue that the dance was a fair contender). The poems spoke volumes about each individual & their relationship to Passion. In this way, they were presenting themselves very personally & with vulnerability, before the spirits & our people. Obviously, like the music & dance, the poetry was presented to please the spirits & allow for self-expression, as well as reinforce the symbolism, primary themes & intent of the ceremony. At the risk of receiving further messages to the complaints department, I will present the sacred poetry in a separate post as an appendix to this Offerings post.

  • Incense: Finally, let us not forget the primal olfactory. Among the most ancient & widespread of offerings, incense is a mainstay. Copious copal pleases, transports & transforms. Enough said. 



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Another Year, Another Mushroom Moon Shrine. (As all beneath the Moon decays...)


Mushroom Moon Shrine, 2014. This year's in miniature.
Mushroom Moon Shrine, 2014. This year's was in miniature.


A whirlwind of days have passed. Birthdays, guests, gatherings, travels & fungi, of course. But the Decay Moon's happenings shall not be left unmentioned:

We began our procession around the lakeside trail, baskets in hand as usual, not knowing how this project will manifest (also, as usual). Ours is an improvisational process driven by cues fed to us -- in the moment -- by the forest floor.

This is our tradition.

Miniature, in vivid colour was the theme we were assigned. 

A bijou ornament collected for the shrine.
A vibrant, bijou ornament collected for the shrine.

And we processed -- unfortunately with some sadness & disruption due to the loss of a familiar feathered face on this tour -- in time, completing our collections & arriving at our traditional site with baskets ready to begin arranging the assemblage. 


Baskets readied for the Mushroom Moon Shrine composition.
Baskets readied for the Mushroom Moon Shrine composition.



The boys worked together steadily & carefully -- a remarkable thing given their knack for disagreement -- as I wrote the words of this day on a piece of birch bark. 


"I know that all beneath the Moon decays..."
"I know that all beneath the Moon decays..."

And when it was complete, we had three layers of teeny micro landscapes. An almost unremarkable view from afar,




But increasing nearness & changing angles,




Allowed for a peek into a variety of small, fanciful, fungal worlds...










And as I looked upon another year's shrine, I reflected on the variations from year to year; the changing availability of various fungi, the tasks & roles assumed by various family members, the different outcomes... I also wondered how we will adapt when the time comes to find a new location for this shrine. It will not last forever. Like everything else under the Moon, it too shall decay.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What He Said. (About life choices.)


"Life is an aesthetic practice rather than a material or moralistic one.   You are a work of art in sidewalk chalk that will be destroyed by the next rain, a piece of graffiti soon to be white-washed, a comedy improv skit nobody will remember next week.  While you last, be the most beautiful piece of art you can be." 
-- Robert Mitchell Jr., from Pointlessness and the Purple Pill

Yes. 
And pass the purple pills please.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

(Belated) Poetry for the Esbat: Decay Moon or My-Heart-Hurts Moon, 2014

The decaying one-half of One. A sympathetic wanderer on the same trail who also lamented the loss  of these familiar denizens indicated that they are Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus).
The decaying one-half of One.
A sympathetic wanderer on the same trail who also lamented the loss
of these familiar denizens indicated that they are Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus).


"I know that all beneath the Moon decays..."


A belated "Poetry for the Esbat," because we were busy constructing Mushroom Shrines & preparing for the arrival of a special guest & of course, we were foraging...

If you step into the forest now, you can smell the highbush cranberries (Viburnum edule). They are rotting. 

This is a sure sign that the foraging season is screeching to a close & yet I love that familiar, dank, heady odour. 

I had chosen the poem below for that reason -- the decay, the inevitability of endings, the reliability of impermanence.

What I did not anticipate was that this poem, chosen for the Esbat, when the Moon is at Her fullest, was that it would take on an even more poignant & relevant meaning to us.


*****

We began our Mushroom Moon Shrine assemblage as usual, by collecting a wide variety of beautiful fungi from the trees & forest floor. Cheerful & diminutive seemed to be the theme of the day.

But as we passed thru the territory of the mating pair of raptors, (ironically?) discussed in the previous post's comments, I noted that they were peculiarly quiet, or absent...

And my husband, my mate, was suddenly drawn to a Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus) leaf he mistook for a mushroom. I cannot recall what he said, or if he gasped, or groaned, but there, beneath the leaves of the Devil's Clubs & ferns was the decaying body of one of our beautiful, avian forest neighbors.

The bird appears to have been shot for sport & left to rot under the still, watchful gaze of our Moon. 

Of it's mate, there was no sign. 

But how can you blame the creature? If I witnessed the loud & violent death of my beloved, I would never return to that haunted place either.

And so, this is the way of things. There is no real sense to it. However, there is an Order.

But my heart still hurts.

And I am reminded & know that all beneath the Moon decays...



"I know that all beneath the moon decays"
by William Drummond of Hawthornden


I know that all beneath the moon decays,
And what by mortals in this world is brought,
In Time’s great periods shall return to nought;
That fairest states have fatal nights and days;
I know how all the Muse’s heavenly lays,
With toil of spright which are so dearly bought,
As idle sounds of few or none are sought,
And that nought lighter is than airy praise.
I know frail beauty like the purple flower,
To which one morn oft birth and death affords;
That love a jarring is of minds’ accords,
Where sense and will invassal reason’s power:
Know what I list, this all can not me move,
But that, O me! I both must write and love.



I hope your Esbat was indeed blessed, my friends.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mycophilia: The Wild Hunt 2014

Last year's Wild Hunt chronicles came to a screeching halt with the sudden & most disturbing coma-like sleep of the laptop. Let it not happen again this year.

Wee Ones snacking on an Emetic Russula (Russula emetica).  Obviously less troubling to their systems.
Wee Ones snacking on an Emetic Russula (Russula emetica).
Obviously less troubling to their systems.


Last year I wrote in the never completed, never published entry: 

"When we hunt, we hunt for food,
& non-food supplies,
but even more fervently, we hunt for Beauty. It is so easy to find.
It's the experience of being present that drives us, the excitement of discovery, sharing, learning, knowing. The familiarity & the unknown. The piecing together of connections, relationships...
"

And this is all still true, but I discovered something else this year.

Sometimes, when I am out there in the forest, either alone or accompanied by my people, I get high. That is to say, the hunting (or something) gives me a high & unsophisiticated as it sounds, there is no more straightforward was of describing it.

The Hunt makes me high. 

Or something.

And when this happens, my head swims & everything smells in technicolour & I can 'hear' (intuit?) whisperings (or is it that I sense presences, like radar?) & I get a little frenetic & breathe fast & perhaps I get a bit sloppy because this is when I stumble over logs & nearly step on moose & ptarmigans & anyone else who isn't a fungi...

And just to be completely clear (a laughable aim, I admit) it isn't the acquisition that feels good -- it is the discovery, the sensing & the knowing.

With that, some fungi porn from our wanderings during this Wild Hunt 2014. 

❋❋❋❋❋

This year seems to have an abundance of brown. For the humans who like nomenclature, everything below we will just call an "LBM" unless otherwise indicated, partly because I don't know everything & partly because I really would rather be back outside than labeling photographs.




Fried Chicken Mushroom (Lyophyllum decastes).
Fried Chicken Mushroom (Lyophyllum decastes).

Brownie Cup (Peziza repanda)?
Brownie Cup (Peziza repanda)?

Grisette hatchling. (Amanita pachycolea)
Grisette hatchling. (Amanita pachycolea)

Also brown, but not a fungi. What?

Pear-shaped Puffballs. Lycoperdon pyriforme.
Pear-shaped Puffballs. Lycoperdon pyriforme.

Lepiota spp.
Lepiota spp.

Gypsy Mushroom. (Rozites caperata)
Gypsy Mushroom. (Rozites caperata)

Polypores, so pretty.




 



Gemmed Puffballs. (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Gemmed Puffballs. (Lycoperdon perlatum)



Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), immature.  Also brown. Also not a fungi.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), immature.
Also brown. Also not a fungi.





What the helvella? A Gyromitra!
What the helvella? A Gyromitra!


A Funny-Guy. Probably.
A Funny-Guy. Probably.

But there are other shades of colour too...


Green Russula. (Russula aeruginea)
Green Russula. (Russula aeruginea)

Belly Button Hedgehog. (Hydnum umbilicatum)
Belly Button Hedgehog. (Hydnum umbilicatum)

Probably Clavaria pyxidata.
Probably Clavaria pyxidata.

 


Probably Fluted Black Elfin Saddle,  (Helvella lacunosa) but a bit moldy to be sure.
Probably Fluted Black Elfin Saddle,
(Helvella lacunosa) but a bit moldy to be sure.

Yellow Earth Tongues. (Spathularia flavida)
Yellow Earth Tongues. (Spathularia flavida)

 Black Cup Fungi nestling in a bed of moss & growing some mold.
Black Cup Fungi nestling in a bed of moss & growing some mold.

My Love. Pom Pom du Blanc.  (Hericium coralloides formerly H. ramosum.)
My Love. Pom Pom du Blanc.
(Hericium coralloides formerly H. ramosum.)




Sleeping?
Sleeping?

Some of us look better with age.
Some of us look better with age.

 


Witch's Hats. (Hygrocybe conica)
Witch's Hats. (Hygrocybe conica)



Probably Fuligo septica.
Probably Fuligo septica.

Bleeding Hydnellum (Hydnellum peckii)
Bleeding Hydnellum. (Hydnellum peckii

Pholiota spp.
Pholiota spp.



Bearded Milk Cap. (Lactarius torminosus) A new friend.
Bearded Milk Cap. (Lactarius torminosus)
A new friend.

Russula spp.
Russula spp.

Golden Coral. (Ramaria flava)
Golden Coral. (Ramaria flava)

 


Possibly an omen, G. fallax.
Possibly an omen, G. fallax.







Russula spp.
Russula spp.

Saffron Milk Cap. (Lactarius deliciosus) Also a new friend.
Saffron Milk Cap. (Lactarius deliciosus)
Also a new friend.

And finally, something truly suggestive (to the human sensibility anyway). Because that is how some fungi roll...


Alaska Gold. (Phaeolepiota aurea)
Alaska Gold. (Phaeolepiota aurea)


End fungi porn transmission.
Off to seek more.


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