Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Posts tagged ‘Sacred Play’

Little Green Worlds

Today I am playing. With frigid cold, snow, and ice outside the window, I decided to play with green things, feel their life force, smell the soil on my hands. Below are some photos from the terrarium I created.  On the KatharineHouk.com website you’ll find some tiny terrarium pendants I made with living moss.

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This little green world was created in a glass cube shaped container, 5″ x 5″ x 5″. The people are approximately 1 & 1/4″- 1 & 1/2″ tall. I do have much smaller mushrooms to replace the “large” red ones, but the tiny ones need a coat of glaze to dry before I put them in a moist environment. The “large” rock was found by my granddaughter and added to the scene. Smaller stones are semi-precious. The bright sun washed out the green in these photos; it is much more green and verdant than it appears.

It’s the little things that keep me going.

Barnstorming!

Last night we attended a nearby annual event, Barnstorm, which included live music, dancing, food, a pumpkin-carving contest, and conversation.

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Women in the window! There were windows on all four sides of the second floor of this marvelous old barn.

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The interior of the second floor was home to the festivities. The small loft above was used decoratively.

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The stage, ready for a variety of musical acts.

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Three women, three paper lanterns ~ waiting for the music to begin.

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A musical beginning. The show was opened with a lively guitar and ukulele number.

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More music ~ Em and Kate

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Some of the entries in the pumpkin-carving contest.

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A Jack o Lantern with quite the nose.

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Goodnight, Barnstorm! We left early and missed many musical acts, dancing, and the pumpkin judging. Several people brought tents, which were pitched outside the barn for those wanting to sleep over. I opted for my cozy bed at home.

Seasonal fun!

Snow-building as meditation

Another post from the Dept. of Post-Collapse Studies.

The icicle doesn’t fall far from the eave.*

Click on the photo below to read the beautiful accompanying blog post.

* If you missed it last year, please visit my post about my love of building snow houses as a child.

Woodland Critters

The critters below were watching me warily from the undergrowth as I walked the paths near John’s Pond.

One can never be too careful when walking in the woods.

Awakening to Wonder

The Factionist/via Flickr

Today on an NPR blog I read about a symposium (at Concordia College in Minnesota) regarding “re-enchantment.” The posting caught  my eye because “re-enchantment” is one of my forms of sacred play.

From the College’s website:

Awakening to Wonder: Re-enchantment in a Post-Secular Age
Sept. 14-15

The symposium will explore the role of wonder in today’s world by asking such questions as:

  • What role does wonder play in popular culture, including literature, movies, and games, and what is the significance of the current attention to wonder and mystery in these areas?
  • What place does wonder have within the intellectual vocation of making sense of the world?
  • Can reason and wonder coexist, or are they in serious conflict with one another?
  • How and why is the place of religion changing in the contemporary world?
  • Do such changes in religion involve changes in our sense of the world as a locus of wonder?
  • What are the experiences writers in a wide range of fields of study have in mind when they speak of re-enchantment?
  • Do shared experiences of wonder represent a common ground where people of different faiths, cultures, and academic disciplines might meet, understand and appreciate each other, or explore solutions to problems they have in common?

How I wish I could have attended! A post-secular age. The rebirth of wonder.

At this time of year, when the green melts away from the tree leaves, leaving on display the reds and golds; when the air has that delicious crispness in the morning; when the pace of summer activities has slowed; when I feel myself beginning to be drawn inward ~ the story-spinning part of me begins to awaken, and of course it whispers of inner and far-out worlds. My fingers itch to create masks and otherworldly garments, all in the service of re-enchantment, at a time on the wheel of the year when the earth appears to be falling into a doze.

Awaken! We need new, more expansive ways of understanding the world and our places within it. May our common ground in experiences of wonder lead to many stories, works of imagination, and the enchantment that will empower our creative connections to this amazing planet, and with one another.

Wild Flowers

After several days in the woods with more than a dozen women, I’m slowly adjusting to the indoor world. The rooms seem cramped and stuffy, but I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising, after living outdoors for a few days.

There were many memorable moments. One of my favorites was watching a huge flock of hundreds of birds encircling the clearing in which I was sitting ( a little freaky, in that it reminded me of the Hitchcock movie). They were silent except for the sound of their wings.

The photos show the back of the stone fireplace, where some flat surfaces provided spaces for small “altars” to be created by the women present.

On one evening, we lay on our backs near the coals of the fire and watched for meteors. There were many, but one was absolutely spectacular as it streaked across the sky, leaving a long trail which looked almost double. Later that night I took the rain-fly off my tent so I could continue to watch the stars through the night.

On the last evening, a friend and I created a “dusk walk,” a liminal experience on the paths in the woods, which were lit with candles. The experience left me with the desire to create more outdoor magical experiences for others.

I’m already dreaming about next year’s Wild Flowers event. It is sponsored each summer by the organization Wellspring Haven.

Welsh Ethnobotany and Ethnoecology

Ethnobotany: the study of culturally important species of plants.

Ethnoecology: the study of culturally important ecosystems.

Ned Phillips-Jones offered the above definitions at a workshop my daughter and I attended today on the Ethnobotany and Ethnoecology of Wales. First we gathered for a power-point presentation about the process of using one’s own ethnic background to research and imaginatively explore what plants and animals might have been important to our ancestors. There are close relationships between plants from Wales and plants here in New England: the Welsh rowan and the American mountain ash, for example. My father (whose mother came to this country from Wales) planted mountain ash trees around our home when I was a child – and now I have planted mountain ash at my home. Many plants (rowan, oak, hazel, mistletoe) were considered sacred by ancient Celts. Ned also spoke about coppicing, creating hedges, carved and standing stones, and building cairns. He has been incorporating these methods into his garden project.

The Forest Garden

After the indoor presentation, we proceeded outdoors to the wonderful forest garden that Ned has created on the Hampshire College campus. There we saw hawthorn, blackthorn, elderberry, sloe plum plants, nettle, tiny Welsh daffodils, and many other plants, beautifully arranged in beds with stepping stone paths. We ceremonially planted a holly bush in the garden (the berries on it in the photo below were not real but were there for effect! 🙂 ). It’s a beautiful, peaceful sanctuary of edible delight!

Planting the Holly

Welsh Daffodil

On the social network Americymru, Ned wrote: “A long term goal of mine is to teach Permaculture through the medium of Welsh. I want to help create forest gardens (and teach about them) in order to help struggling communities produce a diversity of foods and useful goods which require little maintenance to produce for years. A number of traditional perennial Welsh wild food crops are promising as contributions to forest garden ecosystems (hazel, gooseberry, wild leek, sea kale and sorrel).
There are strong connections between language, culture, communities, and locally produced food. I believe there is great potential to reinvigorate communities and local economies by investing in perennial agriculture and designed ecosystems. The opportunity for ‘green’ job creation gives the concept added relevance to current policy discussions.”

To finish our time together we enjoyed Herbal Mead, Black Currant Juice, Laver (sea vegetables), and Cawl Mamgu Tregaron (soup).

Gardd bendigedig, Ned! Diolch yn fawr!

Ned Phillips-Jones