More on Recovery

My surgery for a torn knee ligament happened last week and went well. I am walking without crutches and healing rapidly. I have been tired and sleeping quite a bit, but I expect to be truly on my feet again within a few weeks.

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Personal Update

US Fish and Wildlife

By the time this is published, I will be recovering from surgery for a torn knee ligament. It’s not nearly as big a deal as knee replacement, but I’m not sure what the time frame for my recovery will be. I could be blogging again next week, or I could be as elusive as this bittern.

At any rate, I am looking forward to happier trails. Blessed be.

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The Holy Beech

In the mature hardwoods of the Adirondacks, the American Beech reigns supreme. It is a majestic tree, stretching 80 feet or more and providing the dense summer canopy of the forest. The wood of this tree is also dense, and the trunk grows straight, with smooth gray bark. In the fall the golden leaves of the Beech offset the bright red of the many varieties of maple that grow here. While the forests at mid-elevation are described as Beech/Hemlock/Yellow Birch/Sugar Maple forests, it is the Beech that predominates the longer an area of forest is undisturbed.

Forest animals from Red Squirrels to Black Bears depend on the fruit of the Beech for survival. The tree produces two small triangular nuts encased in burry shells. The Beech fulfills a core sustenance role for wildlife played by the White Oak in warmer climates. Like the Oak, the Beech hangs on to its dry leaves throughout the winter, letting go only when spring arrives and its long spear-like buds emerge. The leaves are large, oval, and pointed, with toothed edges. This is a long-lived tree which bides its time in the shade for many years, shooting up quickly when a patch of sunlight emerges as another tree falls.

Though nature enthusiasts prize this beautiful tree, the lumber industry is equivocal about its merits. The wood makes beautiful furniture and durable blond flooring, but the trees themselves are susceptible to various diseases which are hard to recognize uncut. Beech is less desirable as cordwood because the wood takes a long time to season. Mostly the trees are left alone, which is just as well since they fill such an important ecological niche.

American Beech can be thought of as the North American equivalent of European oaks such as the English Oak. Both belong to the Fagaceae family, and according to Robert Graves much religious symbolism associated with the oak was transferred from the Beech, partly because the Beech is not found in Mediterranean climates. The European Beech is equivalent to the American in many ways: it is long lived, tall, shade tolerant, and produces the seeds that animals love. The American Beech is a bit fussier about its growing environment, though, and the European grows faster, so if you live in a North American city the beech tree in your neighborhood may not be a native one.

In German folklore the souls of children waiting to incarnate hung around beech trees, so women would wander around beeches to conceive. Beech wood could not be allowed near a woman in labor, however, or she would have a more difficult time with the birth.

Beech has a strong association with writing. Beech wood tablets were once used as a writing surface, particularly for runic script. The smooth bark of living beech trees continues to be used for carving.

Beech is considered conducive to divination, and it is a recommended wood for wands. I suppose it’s used for wands, rather than staffs, because it is so dense. I recently acquired a prime piece of American Beech, and I’m surprised every time I pick it up by how heavy it is. I am intending to use it as a staff, but I doubt I’ll be able to carry it too far into the woods.

Further Reading:

Dana, “Sacred Tree Profile: American Beech (Fagus Gradiflora) – Magic, Medicine, And Qualities, The Druid’s Garden, July 6, 2015. https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/tag/beech-tree-mythology/

Chris Dunford, “Beech: The Most Beautiful Tree in the Wood,” Nature Explored Photography http://www.nature-explored.com/beech-info.htm

Stan Tekiela, Trees of New York (Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 2006).

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New Post Up at Return to Mago

Owl Head Brook.

I have a post in this week’s Return to Mago eZine: This Disappearing Leadership, in response to what happened at Fayetteville Goddess Festival. It’s about a need to reflect on power and control tactics being used in the Pagan communities.

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Day of Robigus

Drawing by Martin Cilensek.

Troubled by bothersome mold and mildew? There’s a god for that! Robigus is the Roman deity of rust and mildew. His honorary day is April 25. Implicit in the worship of deities who rule over things we find abhorrent is the recognition that these things do have a place — just not in our house, please. Pray to Robigus to keep rust off your ritual tools and mildew from you ritual spaces.

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Retro-Spective

Photo: NASA.

Both Mercury and Venus are retrograde right now, along with Jupiter and Saturn, but don’t freak out just yet.

“Retrograde” simply means that from our Earth perspective the planets are going “backwards” in the sky, although in reality they are tootling along like they always do. The outer planets are retrograde a good part of the time, so Jupiter and Saturn retrograde seems like business as usual, nothing to remark upon. Jupiter, for example, went retrograde in February and will go direct in June before going retrograde again in March of next year. Venus is more significant, as this planet goes retrograde every few years for about six weeks. Venus will go direct in a few days, so that retrograde is about done until June 2020.

So what about Mercury? That’s the retrograde people have learned to fear. I have written before on this blog how retrograde Mercury is a shift in attention, usually toward an area that has not been getting much focus. I recommend taking another look at this post.

My understanding of retrogrades, and particularly Mercury retrograde, is undergoing another transformation. I am especially taking exception to the admonition frequently given that the problems of Mercury retrograde are “your own damn fault. If you’d just been conscientious about your diet/maintenance/bookkeeping you wouldn’t have anything to fear from Mercury retrograde.” I don’t like this perspective because, for one thing, we can’t focus everywhere at once: our lives are too complex. The shift in attention may be needed, if unwelcome, but it’s not necessarily a punishment. You may have to take “lessons” from what happens at this time or you may not, depending on the situation. Whatever happens, you will find yourself preoccupied with things you don’t normally think too much about, though they will (probably) not be bizarre or highly unusual things.

But my thinking has evolved a bit further, to the point where I actually look forward to Mercury retrograde. Yes, it can be a wonderful time! This is when problems are addressed and often resolved, usually problems dealing with health, communication, finance, commerce, construction, or machinery. They can be hidden problems rising to the surface, which is the aspect of Mercury that is frustrating, or they can be longstanding problems. It’s a great time to proofread, revise, revisit, and reflect.

Take advantage of these next few weeks to problem-solve and resolve issues, especially the niggling kind that sap your energy. This may be the time you admit that you’re over your head in certain areas and go the doctor, hire a bookkeeper, or ask a friend to help you organize a project. This is a good time to use your magic for solving personal problems that seem outside your control.

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A Breakfast Poem

Early the other day, while I was reading the nature poet Pattiann Rogers, my pancakes got a bit scorched in the griddle. I probably should not mention my name in the same post as Pattiann Rogers, lest comparisons be made, but the incident reminded me of this poem I wrote at this time last year.

Breakfast at My House

I am eating poems for breakfast.

Giraffes, dragonflies, and polar bears stalk
my kitchen. It is spring, it is winter, it is sunset, it is
too late – another burned pancake
goes in the trash.

I ponder food as a metaphor for wisdom while the cat
chows down on the scrambled tofu. The poignancy of life’s
impermanence hits home as the coffee
grows cold.

You can’t eat poetry, said my mother, but
I know you can, because I know what poetry
tastes like. It is soggy cereal and scorched potatoes.
It is charred polenta. It is over-steeped tea.

Millions of people
are eating poems for breakfast, and it is
the only meal that leaves you
really full.

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Coffee Break

Last weekend I completed the index for my next book. It’s coming along, folks! This week I finished another article for Return to Mago. Look for it in mid-April. Now it’s time for a coffee blog.

The Tractor Breakdown
Jay Ungar and Molly Mason
From Waltzing with You

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Queen of Heaven and Earth

Ishtar with her animals. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Ishtar amongst the gods, extraordinary is her station.
Respected is her word, it is supreme.
Strong, exalted and splendid are her decrees.
The gods continually cause her commands to be executed:
All of them bow down before her.

March 22nd marks the 27th anniversary of my ordination as priestess of Ishtar.

Hail to the Queen of Women, Mistress of Animals, Embodiment of Righteousness, the Beautiful Light of Heaven.

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Resistance

Thistle Pettersen is a songwriter from Madison, Wisconsin. This is from her collection Animal Dreams.

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