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, July 15, 2012

When the Land Greets You Back, Part 2. Or, How I Came to Eat My Familiar.

"A late sixteenth-century English illustration of a witch feeding her familiars. The use of the familiar was something that witches and cunning folk were believed to have in common." ca. 1579, from, "Cunning folk in Britain" @ Wikimedia Commons
"A late sixteenth-century English illustration of a witch feeding her familiars. The use of the
familiar was something that witches and cunning folk were believed to have in common."
ca. 1579, from, "Cunning folk in Britain" @ Wikimedia Commons

This is a story comprised of equal parts embarrassment, amusement & enlightenment. It might also be a bit tongue-in-cheek. Or not. I have yet to decide.

Still wandering about, greeting the Land, I returned to my most beloved -- above all others -- boreal haunt in the Anchorage area. Peace & Belonging met me at the entrance. 

Once we had marshaled all the gear & accoutrements necessitated by having wee folk in tow, we began our reunion ramble through the park. About 30 feet down the paved central path, there is a 3-way crossroads. Our choices: the equestrian centre to the East, the exercise circuit & playground to the South/SouthWest & the parking/entrance to the North. Unpaved trails traverse & weave their way around all these features. These trails were our ultimate goal, but one must first pause to make a decision at the crossroads. I opted for the easterly arenas & began to turn in that direction when I felt it.

This is a weird thing, this thing that sometimes happens with fungi. I can be ambling about anywhere when my vision, or brain, or both, shift slightly & suddenly become kind of wavy, like heat rising off the road in the dead of Summer. Following this, I find myself turning my attention to a fungus (it happens with slimes too) which I had previously not noticed. Does this sort of thing happen to you?

So, I got the woo-woo sensation, gazed down at the angle where the paths meet & there it is: 

Boletus Edulis. The King Bolete at the crossroads.
Boletus Edulis. The King Bolete at the crossroads.

A perfect King Bolete… in early July. What the helvella?

When the Land greets you back, more often than not, It catches you unawares. This is the joy of it, is it not?

Later, in the kitchen, prepping & dry sautéing commenced. As per my own tradition, the first found of the "Kingys," as we affectionately call them, must be ceremoniously cooked (naked, alone, unobscured by other foods) & eaten, no, relished, by yours truly (because no one else in this household will do it). 

We sat at the table & I, self-satisfied in my porcini delight, began explaining to Hubby how we found this beastie "at the crossroads in the park." Mid-sentence, I was reminded of the material from this box which I had been digesting for the past few days -- material involving the of meeting familiars at the crossroads. I begin to say, half-jesting, "You know, you're supposed to be able to meet your familiar at the crossroads & here I am… eating my familiar…" With the sense that I just might be experiencing a very perverse epiphany, I screw up my face & consider the bits of fungus between my teeth. Then, it all begins to feel a bit awkward.

Spirit slices.
Spirit slices.
Hubby responded matter of factly to my ambivalent, canary-eating face with the most astounding statement, "Well, when you work with these things the way I do, you know that was just a gift of your familiar -- a gift of itself, but only part of itself. Your familiar is not gone. As you know, what you found is only the fruiting body. The mycelia, your familiar, is still there at the crossroads…" Then, with a nonchalant wave of the hand, he finished with a casual, "Familiars give all kinds of gifts..." I stared at him, stupefied. What the helvella? Who is this guy? Certainly it was not my vaguely-spiritually-inclined, but mostly-in-it-for-the-parties husband.

In bed, I asked him from whence he pulled all this cleverness & wisdom regarding the mysteries of familiar spirits. He began by expanding further on his ideas about familiar gifts & drawing parallels to various mythologies in a remarkably insightful manner. Again, I was nonplussed. Then, he told me he learned it all in the Kingdom of Loathing. Right. Now I understand why he has spent the last 10 years battling sorority zombies & mixing oxygenarian cocktails in that stick-figure game. Wisdom. Gnosis. The Mysteries. I wonder if they have crossroads in there? 

Well, I really don't have the moxie to be a virtual disco bandit, so I guess I'll have to continue learning my lessons the hard way. I am comfortable with that. It's so much nicer outside, IRL, breathing, wandering, being with the Land & its clever, wondrous & occasionally appetizing denizens. Even if, on occasion, I might find myself outwitted by a mushroom.


Chas said...

Telepathic communication with fungi, eh. Well, there is something that happens that makes them mysteriously show themselves.

Moma Fauna said...

Yes, well, hm. These aren't amanitas or psilocybe, if that is what you are inferring. ;)

But I often ask myself if I need a reality check when what I called 'woo-woo' happens, which is part of the reason I threw it out there. Really what I was asking is if this sort of thing happens to other people, not exclusively with fungi, but with pretty much anything. Do you ever get the 'woo-woo' or do I need a seat at the Hatter's table?

Anonymous said...

trust your woo-woo,
to thine own woo-woo be true.
familiarity breeds contempt,feeding is caring.
Neither family or familiars will take orders or do what you say,
as you expect........ surprise!
but they are often tricky teachers.
Discovery is food for the woo-woo and the language for what moves you.
How fortunate you are to have such tasty lessons. Bryan

Anonymous said...

I mean to suggest that your feeling of woo-woo may be beings of woo-woo,
as essential to our ability to sort out reality as the flora in our gut are to our digestion.
Think of your self as habitat and community.
The immaterial spirit world seems to follow biologic to me.
It feeds on some thing or moves on.breaths,reproduces.
We have spirit sense organs naturally,but few words permitted to go into their diverse qualities, other than attraction or revulsion.
The Woo-Woo may be your collection psychic flora, we are not directly aware of them but they are to a large extent directing us.
In Woo-Woo we trust

Moma Fauna said...

So you are suggesting that the "woo-woo" feeling is something like a "sixth sense," tuned into my own spiritual flora (not unlike acidophilus of the soul) which is responding to presence of spirit creatures which may or may not be the mushrooms themselves, but are most certainly associated with them. Did I get that right?

Geesh! Why so many intermediaries? I was thinking I just might be a bit daft & the mushrooms just talk to me, ala, "Psssst... hey you, would you like to buy an 'O'?" ;)

Kidding aside, I am liking this idea. I will be thinking about it as I hit the trail today. We went out to 3 parks yesterday -- fungi everywhere. The game is afoot!

...wishing now that I had used a more eloquent term than "woo-woo" especially since I have used the term in the past to describe magickal fluffery in a mildly pejorative manner. oops.

Anonymous said...

Intermediaries are the links of connection that are the chain of understanding. it is based on relationships, who you know,integrity ,respect,being.
forage vision and fisherman's luck may be the product of our unseen spirit guides, we are the crossroad, the gifts come and go.
Many spirits of place including ourselves.
few as delicate and transient as the fungi as profound as their stomach. Bryan

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