Jul 29, 2010


Determined to find some small moment or project each day to help me appreciate Summer despite the sweltering heat, I decided that I would go sage picking this morning.

I live in an area that is partially lakes, vineyards and mountains, and part arid desert.  The desert areas are where the sagebrush grows wild and spreads as far as you can see.  I drove out to one of these areas today, and picked a good bucket of sage to dry for loose smudge and to try my hand at some bundles.

There are some people who don't believe you should ever remove any plant from the wild, and I respect that view, but politely maintain that wildcrafting when done properly, can be a very rewarding experience. 

Some important tips about wildcrafting:

~ Be sure that you know a bit about the plant you are harvesting.  If it is rare or endangered (or poisonous) please don't pick it!  Carry a good plant identification book with you.  Lone Pine is one of many great publishers that feature resource books that I love and use.

~ Look around you.  What is in the immediate area?  Are you beside a highway that may be exposing the plants to exhaust fumes?  Are you near an orchard or farm that sprays its crops with pesticides?  Think about what these plants may have been exposed to.

~ Are there many specimens of your desired plant to be found in this area?  I always make sure I'm picking in a place where the plant in question is abundant so as not to remove pieces of the last plant of its kind in the area.

~ Use clean, sharp garden snips or scissors to gather your plant materials.  Not only is one, clean snip a nicer way to gather rather than tearing a branch off a plant, but plants can be subject to disease, rusts or pests riding on your old, unclean garden tools.

~ Only take one or two branches/ flowers/stems from each plant.  You want to leave as much of the healthy plant behind as possible so it may continue to grow well (and possibly provide for you next year.)

~ Leave behind an offering.  On the way out to pick, I ask that I be led to the plants/bushes that are willing to give a bit of themselves for my purpose.  I feel that it's only fair and respectful to leave something (natural/organic) behind.  I alternate between leaving ceremonial tobacco leaves or herbs I've grown and spring water.

~ Leave the land better than you found it.  If there is trash on the ground - pick it up.

My little picking adventure was a great way to start the day.  I highly recommend getting out and seeing what your area has to offer in the way of plant life.  If not for harvesting, then just for appreciating! 

Jul 28, 2010

Signals, Symbols and Signs

So...aside from almost being killed by someone turning in front of me, with no signal light on, I've had a pretty good day. 

I managed to get plenty of work done at the office, eat a healthy lunch and there is now a strong possibility of a visit to the pub for "Wing Night" with the girls. 

And - as an added bonus I was treated to a 15 minute massage today when my boss brought in a shiatsu/massage practitioner to give the staff a little rub.  Yes - the people I work for are ridiculously cool.

We were asked to choose an essential oil that was dripped onto a sash that covered the massage chair for some aromatherapy benefits.  I immediately said "Rosemary" without even thinking, which was a surprise because it's not my usual scent of choice.  I figure I must have needed it though - and a quick check of it's magical properties and symbolism confirmed it: memory, health, love and protection.

Also - as a reminder from the Universe that all is in fact, not lost because of the intense heat and tourists - I have bright, happy Sunflowers opening up daily in the garden, a sure sign that Summer is not without it's rewards. 


Now...I think there are some ice cold rewards calling my name.....

Jul 25, 2010

Farmers Market Saturdays

Today I wanted to direct you to a great website that will help you find a farmers market in your area - or whatever area you travel to this Summer.

Local Harvest is a fabulous organization where you can find great info on local markets, farms or read blogs by growers and shop their online farm stores.

 Do check out what markets are in your area, and be a tourist in your own town.  Get to know your growers and artisans and enjoy the bounty that the Earth and the Summer have to offer!

Jul 22, 2010

Why I Love My Job

Today the owner and general manager of the store that I bookkeep for, took me and the department managers on a "Mystery Tour."  When we all showed up at the store this morning, there was a stretch limo waiting, and we were whisked off to five local wineries for a fun-filled day of wine and food.

The views were stunning, and the wineries were all so original.  This winery had a gorgeous deck with a pergola covered in grape vines:

I lost count of how many wines I tasted....possibly as little as 10....or as many as 20....

There were also so many great gifts and books and clever sauces and other yummy items being sold by the wineries.  I picked up a cool bottle of BBQ sauce for my brother the BBQ sauce connoisseur. 

I loved this little monk wine-bottle cover:

I was a good girl and only came home with three bottles of wine - but it was very difficult to stop at that.  There were so many wines that I just wanted to buy for the witty labels - like this one:

It was such a fun afternoon, and a lovely gesture by the owners of the store.  The managers work pretty hard this time of year, and it's such a treat to know you are appreciated, and to be rewarded with a day like this!

Now I just have to decide which bottle to drink first....

Jul 20, 2010

Save My Sanity This Summer

My Idaho camping trip was a wonderful way to slip into Summer living.  I've been making an effort to find ways to make the hot weather and busy roads not affect me the way they usually do (meaning - curl up and hide in my home all Summer.)

Some of my Save My Sanity This Summer tips are:

~ eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  They are at their freshest this time of year, and a trip to the market always yields wonderful finds.  Plus, I feel better after a nice Summer salad, roasted veggies on the BBQ and a dessert of fresh fruit (and whipped cream, of course!)

~ leaving myself an extra 15-20 minutes between appointments or outings.  With the population boom in the Valley each Summer as the tourists roll in, it can get really frustrating trying to get somewhere on the roads, or through all the stores.  Remembering to give myself plenty of time means less road rage and minimal stress when shopping.

~ treating myself.  I bought the bottle of pink champangne.  I also bought the bottle of Mojito mix.  And when I stagger home in the evening, tired and hot - having not run over any bikers on the road, or punched any haute tourist from the big city, I reward myself with a glass of something cold and luscious.  I deserve it.

~ stopping for a breath.  Sometimes you just have to stop what you are doing.  Take a breath.  Find the breeze.  Clear your brain for a moment.  I need these little mini-breaks during the day.  In the middle of work chaos, I can stop and do some breathing exercises.  Craziness on the road?  I pull over at a field or at the lake and just stop for five minutes (see 2nd tip about leaving lots of time to get places!)  Far too hot to breathe?  Find a breeze, or escape to the bathroom and put a cold cloth on your neck.  It's amazing how fitting in a moment or two of rest each day, can get you through even the craziest Summer afternoon.

~ time outside.  Even in the heat, you can find some shade.  There is nothing like being outside in the fresh air.  I sleep better.  I feel better.  And I feel more connected. 

This Summer I'm changing my attitude.  I'm sure some small whisper or whine of complaint may escape my lips on the 100 degree days to come - but I fully intend to make every effort to enjoy this season and not just wish it away like I usually do.

Jul 17, 2010

Farmers Market Saturdays

I'm home from Idaho, and had a wonderful time camping in the sunshine.  I got in plenty of shopping, sleeping, reading, and sun-time.  I'm feeling wonderful!  I hit the farmers market this morning for supplies, as my fridge is empty and my business partner said she'd run our booth today.  Here are some of the gorgeous things I saw:

Divine garlic....food of the gods!

Cut flowers in every colour:

Pretty pink chard:



Bunny love: (no - this one is not for eating!)

The garden folks:

It's so great to be home, and taking in all the things my beautiful Valley has to offer.  If you are ever in Southern British Columbia - the Penticton Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 8:30am to 12:30pm.  Come on down and say hi!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Jul 9, 2010

Farmers Market Saturdays

I am about due for a little break in my regularly scheduled life, so when my friend suggested camping, I was sold.  I am heading out after our market and should be in Idaho by dinner time - woo hoo!

Here are some photos from the few markets we did last week over the holiday weekend.

A little patriot with horsey backpack:

Some big crowds!

A little farmer:

Ah yes.  Nothing more Canadian than a mullet.

A serious patriot:

The cutest puppy EVER!

I will be back next week in time for another Farmers Market Saturday, and to catch up on all you've been doing while I was gone.  Have a wonderful week!

Jul 6, 2010

Does Night Have a Pagan Heart?

I just returned from another movie (seemingly my new Tuesday night ritual) - this time it was The Last Airbender.  Written, produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this movie is quite a treat and really kid friendly.  One of my friends was a bit bored by all the martial arts in the film, but with the stunning cinematography, I thought it was beautiful.

I am a Night Shyamalan fan though.  Most people liked the Sixth Sense, but not everyone cares for his other films.  I love them all.  Well...The Happening was a bit hard to watch.  But it brings me to my point...finally.

Is Night a Pagan?  I find it interesting that many of his films have supernatural, spiritual or elemental aspects to them.  Lady in the Water was about a Sea Nymph.  The Happening was about the Earth (plants/trees) finally having enough of us humans, and basically eradicating us.  And this movie, about four tribes Air, Fire, Water and Earth all held in balance by Spirit is a classic Pagan theme. 

Of course, the cartoon/story was out long before the movie, so I realize that Night is just following the tale the way it has been laid out previously.  But he does seem rather at home here - and it seems as though this may end up being four films (for the elements?)

Whatever he is, there is no doubt he is talented and has an incredible eye.  This really is a movie to be absorbed.  I'm not sure I cared more about the story line than I did about the gorgeous scenery and the special effects when the benders moved their elements.

As we drove home, we all mused which elements we wished we could control.  I was Earth, of course - but it was fun to hear what everyone else picked, and why.  Is this an Oscar-worth film.  Probably not - but it was a fun night out with friends, and made my little Pagan heart happy!

Jul 3, 2010

Farmers Market Saturdays - Magical in the Mundane Edition

One of the great things about farmers markets - especially ours, which spans three blocks of Main Street, is that you can find just about anything you could possibly want in one place.  I took a good look today, when I went to get my veggies, at the myriad items and noticed that many of them could be used for my magical work. 

First there is the actual produce.  Not only is it incredibly good for you, but fruits and veggies make beautiful seasonal displays and offerings.  Also at our market there are many people who sell herbs and flowers, both fresh and dried, and I could get much of the ingredients I needed for a spell pouch, dream pillow, or for some homemade incense or smudge.

There are also two fantastic soap vendors at our market - both of whom use organic ingredients and locally grown herbs and flowers in their soaps.  If you are looking for something special for a ritual bath - organic handmade soap is it!

Photo found here.

I've also purchased sarongs and silk fabric and a gorgeous wrap skirt at an artisan's booth.  I've used a sarong and the fabric for altar cloths, and the wrap skirt is one of the special pieces of clothing I set aside for magical work.

Photo found here.

Something you can find at most farmers markets is local honey.  I am in LOVE with local honey!  Firstly, it's a fabulous way to stave off allergies.  I started getting some sniffles this Spring and after a teaspoon of honey a day, I am allergy free!  The idea is that the bees collect pollen from the local plants (many of which are responsible for your allergies) and by dosing with the honey, you are in essence allowing your body to build an immunity to the pollen from those plants.

Also, honey can be used as an offering (Faeries are said to love their milk & honey) or used for 'sweetening' someone (more common in hoodoo and rootwork.)

Photo found here.

So, next time you visit your local farmers market, remember that all those wonderful wares can be used for more than just making a Summer meal - they can be used for making a little magic too!