Blog Archives

Gardening Updates as of May 18, 2020

Gardening is so weird. It’s awesome and wonderful and back-breaking and frustrating and just weird. We’ve had some ups and downs this past month, with unusually cold weather about two weeks ago killing our basil plants. That was shocking – not that they died, but that they turned totally black having been frozen to death. I’ve read accounts about farming and trying to save crops from an unexpected frost, about how they could turn black and be lost but I’d never seen it happen and it was really shocking to see. We’ve replaced the basil but our intense respect for the elemental powers grows daily (and for farmers, and all of our ancestors who were farmers who depended on the land and elements for not only their livelihood but for the survival of their families).  I’m also deeply envious of my friend Sarenth’s rotary tiller lol. I have told him this too. Now, mind you, we don’t have that much land that we would ever *need* a rotary tiller, but that is not the point. I saw pictures he was posting on facebook of a beautifully ploughed field bed and now I have rotary tiller envy. Ha ha.

Our greens have grown lol. I’ve been harvesting and freezing romaine, lettuce, chard, spearmint (I like to add a little to salads to give it a zing), and just as of today, spinach. I’ve also been making salads and clipping our chives to use in omelets and it’s wonderful. The food grown by our own hands tastes so much cleaner and fresher than what we buy at the store. We’re waiting with bated breath for our tomatoes to decide what they’re going to do.

I’m currently waiting on two raised gardening beds for the other side of the house where we’re going to put our root vegetables. I was worried we’d be late planting, but everything we want to put there will work in late summer/early autumn so that is perfect. I just wish the beds would arrive already!

I planted a bunch of seedlings, the first time I’ve worked from seed, and they’re growing! I looked today and radishes and marjoram had sprouted. I hope the parsnips and carrots follow suit. In the interim, we planted a bunch of flowers (many of which are either edible or medicinal and all of which are beautiful), another rose bush (I love roses and have a couple more on order), and I set out some potted herbs: marjoram, basil, rue, peppermint, lemon verbena, lavender, and chamomile.

may 2020 flowerpots 2

I also bought a tiny savory plant. I’ve read about this plant but have never used it in cooking. I’m looking forward to experimenting. First though, I need to make woodruff syrup so I can enjoy a nice Berliner Weise when the weather turns hot again. ^___^.

So that’s where we’re at now: waiting for things to arrive and letting the land do it’s work. We’re going to be setting up two shrines in the garden, most likely as part of our solstice celebrations: one to Ceres and one to Freyr. Working the land in this way, for me at least (I can’t speak for my housemates) has given me a far, far greater respect for my ancestors but also a deep sense of conscious connection to my Lithuanian ancestors particularly. I’d always felt somewhat disengaged from them, chalking it up to having been raised by my mother’s side of the family but since we started gardening, my Lithuanian ancestors have been so tremendously present. Farming was a way of life for them, whatever other professions they may have had. Several times they’ve actually given us suggestions to help with our planting. They know the land and what it takes to work it.

Next week, the local CSA should be open and possibly our local farmers’ market too. I’m looking forward to that and soon in addition to adventures in gardening, it will be adventures in canning and pickling. I shall keep you all up to date on how it goes.

may 2020 flower pots

Gardening Adventures – It Begins lol

gardening adventures april 22

So, this is a picture of what my driveway looks like right now. This is about a third of the soil that we will eventually need to have delivered to us in order to cultivate the side of the lawn pictured here. This is because we are three inches away from bedrock, maybe less. This was a huge shock when we were planting roses a couple of years ago. I knew we were close to the bedrock, but had no idea at all that it was at most, three inches down. We live in the shadow of the mountain, in its water-basin, and the mountain guards us, but oh it does make gardening a challenge!

A local gardener suggested that we have proper soil delivered and so we have done. It’s beautiful soil too, rich and lush and black. We decided to do three separate deliveries to make it all easier and less intimidating to shovel and rake out. After two days of working on that, I decided to hire someone because with my back injury, I just can’t do it. Fortunately, a local farmer, a young woman contacted us almost immediately after I put the add out and all this should be sorted by the weekend. I’m grateful for the help and she is happy with the work. It’s a win-win. A friend said, “that’s a lot of money you’re paying” (I had set a rate I was comfortable with and thought fair when I posted my ad) and I promptly responded, “After doing this myself for the last two days, it’s worth every penny and more.” It’s labor. (Normally Sannion would help whip it right out but he’s had some pain issues lately, esp. with the cold weather, and I’m not willing to risk it). 

This weekend, we’ll be making offerings to Erda, using a version of the Acerbot charm and setting out eggs, bread, milk, honey, and beer at the four corners of our home, the four corners of the yard that will be our garden.

In the meantime, since I know that we are unlikely to have the best harvest in our first year, the household has joined a local CSA. We buy shares in a local farm’s vegetable crop. I drive past the farm we chose almost weekly as it’s not far from my friend Mary Ann’s house. Starting the end of May, we’ll have weekly vegetables and the opportunity to pick herbs and flowers if we so choose. If we have too much, I’ll share with the neighbors or can them for later use. This way, I can be supporting local farmers too. We are still considering our meat and egg options but I suspect that once Covid restrictions are over, the local farmer’s market will handle that.

That’s one of the things our ancestors have pushed us to do: develop a network of farms, farmers, farmer’s markets, etc. because no one needs to do every single thing, but we can support and sustain each other.

More to come, I am sure, though right now I feel as though I shall never move from this sofa again lol.

Learning to Work the Land

My household is currently focused on turning our lawn into a working vegetable garden. We’re planting vegetable, fruits, and also medicinal herbs. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years but it’s been a little overwhelming. Now, being at home due to Covid, it’s provided a perfect opportunity to really focus on learning how to work — and work with — the land.

Actually, while Tatyana had a thriving herb garden since last year (she’s our housemate) this was really my first go-round with any type of gardening (though I did grow a few herbs years and years ago when I lived in Queens) and it was prompted by news reports that Michigan was banning the sale of seeds in local stores as “non-essential.” That triggered something with my Lithuanian ancestors and they started hammering me hard to plant. Something about government stepping in and preventing local stores from selling seeds well, it was like it flipped a switch for them and they started hammering me so intensely to create my own garden, to get it up and running right away, that I had no choice but to comply.

Now, I have severe spinal damage (remnants of a career as a ballet dancer and one of the main reasons I retired in my early twenties) so bending and working the soil is not something I can easily do – one of the things that was very intimidating to me about all of this. I solved that problem by starting with porch boxes, pots, and standing boxes (these latter haven’t yet arrived). We discovered our local gardening supply shop is open and that they deliver so Tatyana and I went to town. While she’s busy setting up our in-ground vegetable garden, I decided to start with about a dozen porch boxes. I planted marigold (keeps pests away and leaves are edible), lettuce, onions, peppers, brussel sprouts, strawberries, cauliflower (I accidentally planted Tatyana’s cauliflower and it’ll have to be replanted when it really starts to grow), basil, thyme, oregano, woodruff, parsley (I have seeds for marjoram and sage on their way). For medicinal purposes I have feverfew, calendula, chamomile, lavender, lobelia. For beauty, I have a rose bush, poppies, and already had lilacs and forsythia. My ancestors don’t care about flowers unless they are medicinal or edible but these were available and I like them. I also ordered a lemon tree –potted so it can live inside during the winter.

Tatyana is planting carrots, zucchini, peppers, squash, peas, potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, parsnips, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, cucumbers, a passel of medicinal herbs including yarrow and elderberry, and a ton more that I can’t recall at the moment. I think this is something anyone can do, but it’s important not to get intimidated. Starting with a single herb in a pot is well begun. It helps us connect to the cycles of nature, to the spirits of herbs and trees, plants and the land, and as we work hard to build communities, well, there’s no functioning community without food. We’re a long way away from being self-sustaining but it begins with willingness and putting those first seeds into the dirt.

I’ll be blogging about this as we go and you can join us on this journey.

garden april 19

(our porch garden. there are more boxes to the left not pictured here). 

In the meantime, here are a few sites that have been both inspiring and beneficial:

Here an here are two posts on Victory Gardens – why did we ever stop doing this!

Then there’s Townsends, which focuses on 18thcentury cooking, crafts, and gardening. It’s a great site and it’s way too easy to go down the rabbit hole emerging hours later with a desire to build a log cabin, cook weird dishes over an open hearth, and make one’s own clothing. LOL.

Finally, there’s this channel Homesteading Family. They know how to do things and their channel is a treasure trove of info (even if I find the ever-growing passel of children off-putting lol).

 

 

 

Honor the land, honor the dead

I found this while sorting through some older writing. I’m reposting it because it’s so incredibly relevant to some of the work I’m doing now. 

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Some friends were having a discussion with Sannion last night and as I was passing through (swamped with preparations for my upcoming trip), he mentioned one of the things they were discussing and it just blew me away. This is so spot on, so powerful, so incredibly profound that I, half way upstairs, stopped dead in my tracks and asked everyone’s permission to write about it here. (Obviously they graciously allowed me to do so, or I wouldn’t be posting this!).

The latest issue of Walking the Worlds discusses the importance of regional cultus to the restoration of our polytheisms. We talk about regional cultus a lot but I don’t think many of us (myself included) ever really stop to parse it out or to figure out how all of the various parts of our praxis are organically (no pun intended, I swear!) connected. Part of regional cultus is venerating the land spirits, what a Norse practitioner might call vaettir. Hand in hand with this goes a certain reverence for the land and the spaces in which we practice, which support our practice, be they cities or forests or anything in between. This is good. I think honoring the land is the third part of a very powerful trine of Gods, ancestors, and land that is foundational to polytheism as a whole. But I don’t think many of us take this any farther. My friends did and I’m still just blown away.

Essentially when you are honoring the land, over and above any individual spirits you may be engaging with, when we just talk about the soil itself, you’re honoring the dead. You cannot engage in regional cultus, you cannot really honor any piece of land, without also recognizing and honoring the dead. Why? This is basic to the way both geology and ancestor practice works. The dead are always with us, underpinning everything we are and everything we do. The Yoruba have a powerful maxim: “we stand on the shoulders of our dead,” or sometimes “we stand on the bones of our dead.” Well, we do. Literally.

What is soil but eons of dead matter? Many of us in the Northern Tradition praise the forces of decay because without decay and rot, without this process of transmutation what would our world be? With the grace of the gods and spirits of decay and rot, we have soil, soil made up of dead bodies, dead animals, dead plants, going all the way back to the beginning. We quite literally walk and live upon the remains of our dead and we are nourished by it physically just as ancestor work nourishes us spiritually. There is nowhere we can walk where the dead are not. There is nothing we can consume, that has not partaken of this blessing of death and decay (unless it is solely processed in a lab and then I don’t want to be consuming it!). All that grows in the soil and everything that devours that which grows in the soil, and all who devour those things…we are all physically nourished by our dead and in time our corporeal matter will fade into the blackness of the soil to nourish those who come after us in turn. I have said before that there is more life in a teaspoon of soil than in the greatest metropolis on earth and that is true, but in the soil itself, there is also more death. The two cannot be sifted apart.

We as polytheists and animists know that we are not apart from the natural world. We are in harmony with it (or strive to be). We are connected to all things that were and are and will be. The detritus of a small dead plant is as much part and parcel of our tapestry of being as those buried in a cemetery to whom we might be related by blood. We are literally made up of the dead. The soil is the stuff of our blood and bone. It’s all interconnected.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

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To Honor the Land is to Deal with the Dead

Some friends were having a discussion with Sannion last night and as I was passing through (swamped with preparations for my upcoming trip), he mentioned one of the things they were discussing and it just blew me away. This is so spot on, so powerful, so incredibly profound that I, half way upstairs, stopped dead in my tracks and asked everyone’s permission to write about it here. (Obviously they graciously allowed me to do so, or I wouldn’t be posting this!).

The latest issue of Walking the Worlds discusses the importance of regional cultus to the restoration of our polytheisms. We talk about regional cultus a lot but I don’t think many of us (myself included) ever really stop to parse it out or to figure out how all of the various parts of our praxis are organically (no pun intended, I swear!) connected. Part of regional cultus is venerating the land spirits, what a Norse practitioner might call vaettir. Hand in hand with this goes a certain reverence for the land and the spaces in which we practice, which support our practice, be they cities or forests or anything in between. This is good. I think honoring the land is the third part of a very powerful trine of Gods, ancestors, and land that is foundational to polytheism as a whole. But I don’t think many of us take this any farther. My friends did and I’m still just blown away.

Essentially when you are honoring the land, over and above any individual spirits you may be engaging with, when we just talk about the soil itself, you’re honoring the dead. You cannot engage in regional cultus, you cannot really honor any piece of land, without also recognizing and honoring the dead. Why? This is basic to the way both geology and ancestor practice works. The dead are always with us, underpinning everything we are and everything we do. The Yoruba have a powerful maxim: “we stand on the shoulders of our dead,” or sometimes “we stand on the bones of our dead.” Well, we do. Literally.

What is soil but eons of dead matter? Many of us in the Northern Tradition praise the forces of decay because without decay and rot, without this process of transmutation what would our world be? With the grace of the gods and spirits of decay and rot, we have soil, soil made up of dead bodies, dead animals, dead plants, going all the way back to the beginning. We quite literally walk and live upon the remains of our dead and we are nourished by it physically just as ancestor work nourishes us spiritually. There is nowhere we can walk where the dead are not. There is nothing we can consume, that has not partaken of this blessing of death and decay (unless it is solely processed in a lab and then I don’t want to be consuming it!). All that grows in the soil and everything that devours that which grows in the soil, and all who devour those things…we are all physically nourished by our dead and in time our corporeal matter will fade into the blackness of the soil to nourish those who come after us in turn. I have said before that there is more life in a teaspoon of soil than in the greatest metropolis on earth and that is true, but in the soil itself, there is also more death. The two cannot be sifted apart.

We as polytheists and animists know that we are not apart from the natural world. We are in harmony with it (or strive to be). We are connected to all things that were and are and will be. The detritus of a small dead plant is as much part and parcel of our tapestry of being as those buried in a cemetery to whom we might be related by blood. We are literally made up of the dead. The soil is the stuff of our blood and bone. It’s all interconnected.