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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Day 16 (West Virginia)

C. F. "Catfish" Gray, Man of the Woods. by Will Endres. Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum.
C. F. "Catfish" Gray, Man of the Woods. by Will Endres. Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum.

West Virginia has always been, to my mind, a place of mystery, folklore & strange knowledge tucked away in unfamiliar, dark hills. I had a friend in college who was raised somewhere in that mysterious place -- wandering in its deep woods, knowing its secrets. She used to tell me about hunting for ginseng (American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius), only she called it jin-SANG. It was the motherlode & her eyes would light up all crazy-like as she talked about it. They harvested it in the fall, during a narrow window of time, as I recall. I think she also said maybe only her brother was allowed to go, or maybe it was boys-only, but she went anyway because she was a wild thing. It was not just the ginseng hunt though, every time she spoke of her childhood in West Virginia, she started turn feral right before your eyes. I was so jealous.

In my search for a focal image for West Virginia, I found an article on a man named "Catfish" Gray (Clarence Frederick). He was an herbalist and folk doctor in West Virginia whose prodigious knowledge of plant lore, herbal medicine & his native flora made him known around the world. People sought him not only for herbal cures, but also for advice on healthy living, spiritual matters & even astrology. He lived to be 85, working out of a one-room building near his home, gathering wild herbs, drying, sorting & creating his medicinal blends that would treat people near & far. His warm, kind demeanor earned him great respect & something of a public following. Given the way in which I understand West Virginia, I could find no better face for this singular place than the face of Catfish Gray.

I awakened yesterday from dreams of magick, but this time I was accompanied not by fungi, but by my beloved slime molds -- curiously, only pink & yellow slimes. The verdict is still out on what the colours might mean. I am not sure how they work into this process, how they can help clean & transmute the rainstorm of negativity, but they made their presence quite clear. 

Strange... but wise. Strange but wise, just like West Virginia & the inhabitants of its shadowy forests. I may not understand, but I will trust in them to know.



Anonymous said...

Your pictures of the fungi are stunning. Your connection to them comes through the camera lens. Thank you.

Moma Fauna said...

Thank you my friend. It is difficult to express that connection in words -- it is good to know that perhaps a wee bit of what I feel can be communicated through my images. :)

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