Lammas at Sacred Heart

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For various reasons, I had been wanting to attend a couple of Lammas celebrations this year, and stumbled across one that was 2 1/2 hours from my home in Minneapolis, which seemed a bit much of a drive, until I saw two things.  One, it was being held near a rural town named “Sacred Heart”, and two, it was in the middle of farm country, in an area not too different from the farm where I grew up.   Where better to celebrate the “first harvest”, than in the middle of farm country?  And, “Sacred Heart” – what a name for a town!

The soil in southern Minnesota is incredibly rich, and black, and this region likes to think of itself as one of the bread baskets of the world, which is not without merit.  The richness of the soil lends itself extremely well to growing corn and soybeans (which are grown in rotation, since the corn depletes the soil and the soybeans enrich it (they’re nitrogen “fixing” legumes-  but I’ll spare you the agronomy lesson), whereas the small grains – wheat, barely, oats –  are better suited to the dry land farming of the more western states.

Nonetheless, when I was growing up, I would estimate that about 10% of the land here was planted to small grains, and the rest into corn and soybeans and hay.  Since Lammas is about celebrating the “first harvest” – the harvest of the small grains, I looked forward to my drive through the rural landscape and seeing, scattered here and there amidst the still rich green of corn and bean fields, the golden-maned fields of ripe grain, ready for the the harvest.

I have more than a passing interest in this, for, from the my mid-to-late teens, I was very much involved in the harvest of these grains (well, I was very much involved in the harvest of the corn and soybeans too, but that’s so exciting I’ll save it for a post about  “the second harvest”).   During those years I operated a Case “Swather”, about identical to this these:

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which you’ll notice are built upon a triangular frame, rather than the conventional rectangular frame of most vehicles and machinery – it has only 1 wheel in the back, which merely pivoted.  The power wheels were the front left and  front right, which functioned indepently of each other.  Meaning, the left wheel could be moving in reverse while the right wheel was moving forward, and vice versa. Which made it an incredibly maneuverable machine to operate.  In fact, it is the most elegant piece of machinery I’ve ever been on.  Operating it was almost an art form.  With the wheels moving in oposite directions, one could make a complete 360 degree circles in a space no bigger than the machine itself.

So, when the landscape (and fences) necessitated it, or if one simply felt the inclination 🙂  one could turn pirouettes out in the middle of a field.

It’s impossible to convey the full effect of that, for the reel that you see in the picture would be constantly turning like the wheel of a paddlewheel boat, and the sickle blade (which cut the grain stalks), which you cannot really see, would be moving back and forth with sewing-machine precision.  And one needed to raise the entire front mechanism over the standing grain or over the “windrow” (I’ll get to that in a minute). So the reel would be spinning high in the air and there was all this other motion going on in the machine itself as one turned one’s pirouettes;  it was a thing of beauty.

Again, it’s called a “Swather”, though my father always called it “the swatter”.   I towed the “swatter” behind our pickup truck, going from farm to farm, cutting their hay fields 2 0r 3 times a summer. And then when it came time to cut the grain fields, we made adjustments to it, so as not to damage the grain heads.  I cut all of our immediate neighbors fields, and we also had other customers miles and miles away from our farm.  Can’t tell you how many farms we did, nor how lunches I was served in farm houses scattered throughout the county.

The function of the swather/swatter, was:  1) to cut the grain while the stalks were still a bit green, so that the grain heads could dry out in the field before it was actually harvested with a combine, and 2) to pile the grain, still on its stalks, into  thick rows, called “windrows”, as you can see here:

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Gosh, I still love that word, “windrows” (not to be mistaken with a “wind rose”)  – these were made so that the wind would not scatter the grain about and knock the seeds from their husks.

I should mention here that we went through a number of “swatters” over the years.   2 or 3 made by Case, one by John Deere, and one by Owatonna – manufactured in the town of Owatonna, Minnesota – with a cab – like this one:

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– the cab saved me from becoming covered in grain “rust”, a fungus that grows on small grains – some fields were so bad, my father used to kid me that I would go out to work as a white boy, and come back as an African American (that was not the term he used).

Something to grasp here – while most occupations these days have overlapping beginnings and endings of sales and production cycles, on-going throughout the year, farming is the only occupation in which you spend months and months of planting, cultivating, and tending something, only to shear it all off and then start over the next year.   It’s a remarkable feeling, to go out to a field, stalks standing tall, heavily laden with the fruit they’ve spent the growing season producing, and to leave that same field with it shorn to the ground.

But that’s what Lammas is all about – the death of the God – in the form of the grain, and gathering it’s seed to feed the people and to re-fertilize the Goddess Earth in the spring.

So, back to Lammas and my drive to Sacred Heart.   It was very striking – for over 100 miles there was not one field of small grains or hay.  It was all corn fields and soybeans.  Field after field of the lushest of green, but all the same two crops.  Times have changed.

I had time to do some hiking in a natural area before going to the ritual, and there found the remains of what I believe was a broadwinged hawk.  There was very little left, just some of the primary feathers and a scattering of bones.   My intuition suggested that I take with me some of the leg bones, but I was not sure why.

Finally, within a couple of miles of the farm where the ritual was to be held, I encountered this field of oats:

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~ so idyllic, and so reminiscent of a late summer day of my youth.

When I arrived I was warmly greeted by the group of complete strangers, who welcomed me as though I were a member of their extended family.

This was also so striking to me – to encounter a group of Earth-worshipping pagans in the middle of farm country. This was unheard of when I was growing up.  Back then I often mused how far removed from the Earth many farmers actually were.  Even though they tended it throughout the year, they did not possess an emotional connection to it – it was merely the medium in which they worked to make a living.   But here I was , on a farm, with people who thrived upon their deep awareness of the Earth and her cycles.

From our sacred circle formed in their backyard, this was the view to the south – a wheat field that had just recently been shorn and harvested:

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In our circle, I was stationed in the East, and here is the view to the East, overlooking a soybean field:

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The great, long vistas of the flat prairie…

It was a lovely ritual, with everyone playing one role or another.   One of the men in attendance was being initiated as a “Warrior” of the coven.  In the midst of this, I was led to give him one of the bones from the hawk that I had found, to serve as a talisman to connect him to the hawk energy.

The entire experience was so moving, to have so many memories return to me, to experience this celebration of the harvest in the midst of farm country, in a setting that was so reminiscent of where I grew up.

It was a beautiful integration of two very significant parts of my life…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gooseberry Falls State Park

As the Gooseberry River flows into Lake Superior, it plummets down 3 tiers of falls…

the upper falls…
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the middle falls…
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and the lower falls, which is split in 2, by a massive rock wall…
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a Faerie Cairn found at the mouth of the river…
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(be sure to click on the pictures for better images)

will try to insert some videos..not sure that they will work:

Interesting Synchronicity?

(006) Dorset detail-world tree

An image that I used in my post on June 18th  bears a striking resemblance to a crop circle that appeared on June 17th.

To be sure, the potential significance of the crop circle itself is far more interesting than its connection to my writing; but of course I can’t help but wonder what personal meaning it might have, given the “temporal proximity” of its formation and my subsequent post.   : )

I’m not the one that put these two images together. I never would have seen it.  This was done by the folks over at http://www.cropcircleconnector.com.

Here’s a link to my blog post from that day:

https://etherealnature.com/2014/06/18/medicine-walks-journeys-from-the-center-of-the-earth/

In that post about doing sacred journeys into the sacred directions, I mentioned the necessity of having a reference point from which to anchor those journeys.   For my reference point I choose to use the island located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, which the Dakota’s called “Bdote”, and which they considered to lay directly over the center of the Earth and immediately below the center of the Heavens. Thus, it was their axis mundi…and in that discussion used this image of Yggdrasil, the world tree from Norse Mythology:

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Another image of the crop circle, which is located by the ancient hillfort called Badbury Rings, which can be seen in the background of this photo by Lucy Pringle, also from the website  www.cropcircleconnector.com

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Another photo by Lucy Pringle of the rings themselves.  [I trust that it’s okay that I’m posting these]

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One also wonders about the significance of this proximity, as if the crop circle were identifying the “fort” as an axis mundi.   The earthen rings seem to ripple through the three dimensions of the lower world, middle world, and upper world, and resemble all three as depicted on the Yggdrasil image.

Interesting enough, the “fort” has an Arthurian Connection.   Badbury Rings is one of the sites that is considered as a possible location for the Battle of Mount Baden, the site of the first decisive victory of King Arthur.  Which of course connects to my series of Grail and Quest of the Knight Errant posts.

If this crop circle is authentic, in some sense of that term, (whether of other-worldly or inspired-human origin) does it point to Badbury Rings as a portal to other dimensions?  If so, does my connection to this through use of the Yggdrasil image, point to Bdote as also a portal to other dimensions?   

Mysteries to Explore…

 

Another depiction of Yggdrasil (note the rings in the middle world):

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Of the world tree, Joseph Campbell says in The Power of Myth:

…. The center of the world is the axis mundi, the central point the pole around which all revolves. The central point of the world is the point where stillness and movement are together. Movement is time, but stillness is eternity. Realizing how this moment of your life is actually a moment of eternity, and the experiencing the eternal aspect of what you’re doing in the experiences – this the mythological experience.”

In The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell writes about The World Navel (and world tree):

“The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world….

The torrent pours from an invisible source, the point of entry being the center of the symbolic circle of the universe… around which the world may be said to revolve. Beneath this spot is the earth-supporting head of the cosmic serpent, the dragon, symbolical of the waters of the abyss, which are the divine life-creative energy and substance of the demiurge, the world-generative aspect of immortal being. The tree of life, i.e., the universe itself, grows from this point. It is rooted in the supporting darkness; the golden sun bird perches on its peak; a spring, the inexhaustible well, bubbles at its foot. Or the figure may be of a cosmic mountain, with the city of the gods, like a lotus of light, upon its summit….Thus the World Navel is the symbol of the continuous creation: the mystery of the maintenance of the world through that continuous miracle of the vivification which wells within all things.”

 

Two WordPress sites that have info on the archeology and history of the Bradbury Rings site:

https://archaeologynationaltrustsw.wordpress.com/category/badbury-rings/

http://dorsetcountymuseum.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/arthur-badon-and-badbury/

 

You can see more beautiful images (even a video) of the crop circle here:

http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2014/banburyrings/banburyrings2014a.html

And additional interpretations of the glyph here:

http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2014/banburyrings/comments.html

 

A special thanks to Anne over at http://www.exopermaculture.com , whose WordPress blog brought this image to my attention.

Check out her post about the crop circles of 2014,

http://exopermaculture.com/2014/08/21/crop-circle-harvest-2014/

which leads you to this site: http://augureye.blogspot.com/2014/08/2014-crop-circle-gallery.html

 

another wordpress blogger that  posted info on the crop circle:

http://2012thebigpicture.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/spectacular-crop-circle-at-badbury-rings-near-wimborne-minster-dorset-uk-june-17-2014-videos/

Lactarius Indigo

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This blue mushroom received so much interest, deservedly, on my earlier post that I thought I’d pass along some info about it.   As I said in reply to a comment, it was almost otherworldly.   Such a stunning find.   Below is info from Wikipedia.
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Anyone care to suggest a symbolic significance? 
Couple of things to take into account:   1) it is not common in northern Minnesota, where I encountered it.  2) It’s symbiotic relationship with trees  3) it’s Edibility  4)  found around the world  5)  Of course, the stunning indigo coloration.   [you should be able to click the photos to get a more vibrant view)

from Wikipedia: 

Lactarius indigo, commonly known as the indigo milk cap, the indigo (or blue) Lactarius, or the blue milk mushroom, is a species of agaric fungus in the family Russulaceae. A widely distributed species, it grows naturally in eastern North America, East Asia, and Central America; it has also been reported in southern France.

Lactarius indigo is distributed throughout southern and eastern North America, but is most common along the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and Guatemala. Its frequency of appearance in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States has been described as “occasional to locally common”.[8] Mycologist David Arora notes that in the United States, the species is found with ponderosa pine in Arizona, but is absent in California’s ponderosa pine forests.[35] It has also been collected from China,[32] India,[36][37] Guatemala,[38] and Costa Rica (in forests dominated by oak).[39] In Europe, it has so far only been found in southern France.[40] A study on the seasonal appearance of fruiting bodies in the subtropical forests of Xalapa, Mexico, confirmed that maximal production coincided with the rainy season between June and September.[41]

L. indigo grows on the ground in both deciduous and coniferous forests, where it forms mycorrhizal associations with a broad range of trees.

Lactarius indigo is a mycorrhizal fungus, and as such, establishes a mutualistic relationship with the roots of certain trees (“hosts”), in which the fungi exchange minerals and amino acids extracted from the soil for fixed carbon from the host. The subterranean hyphae of the fungus grow a sheath of tissue around the rootlets of a broad range of tree species, forming so-called ectomycorrhizae—an intimate association that is especially beneficial to the host, as the fungus produces enzymes that mineralize organic compounds and facilitate the transfer of nutrients to the tree.[42]

The fruit body color ranges from dark blue in fresh specimens to pale blue-gray in older ones. The milk, or latex, that oozes when the mushroom tissue is cut or broken—a feature common to all members of the Lactarius genus—is also indigo blue, but slowly turns green upon exposure to air.

The cap has a diameter of 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in), and the stem is 2 to 8 cm (0.8 to 3 in) tall and 1 to 2.5 cm (0.4 to 1.0 in) thick.

It is an edible mushroom, and is sold in rural markets in China, Guatemala, and Mexico.

The firm flesh is best prepared by cutting the mushroom in thin slices. The blue color disappears with cooking, and the mushroom becomes grayish. Because of the granular texture of the flesh, it does not lend itself well to drying. Specimens producing copious quantities of milk may be used to add color to marinades.

A chemical analysis of Mexican specimens has shown L. indigo to contain 95.1% moisture, 4.3 mg of fat per gram of mushroom (mg/g), and 13.4 mg/g protein. There is 18.7 mg/g of dietary fiber, much higher in comparison to the common button mushroom, which contains 6.6 mg/g. Compared to three other wild edible mushroom species also tested in the study (Amanita rubescens, Boletus frostii, and Ramaria flava), L. indigo contained the highest saturated fatty acids content, including stearic acid with 32.1 mg/g—slightly over half of the total free fatty acid content.[33]

THIS SITE BRINGS TO MIND THE OLD GEORGE CARLIN ROUTINE ~ “Whose got all the blue food?” 

http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/june2000.html

Lactarius indigo is a delicious edible mushroom– and fun to eat. There are very few blue foods. Even blueberries are not really blue, but purple!…. there’s just one natural blue food that I know — blue corn!… Lactarius indigo is delicious simply sautéed in butter, but the most fun way I have prepared them is in an omelet with or with scrambled eggs. You can guess what this does to the eggs– it turns them green!! Green eggs are lots of fun to have, especially for kids. You’re on your own for the green ham.

George Carlin video:
Where’s the blue food?   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l04dn8Msm-Y

guess I should have eaten that mushroom!!!

Return to Raspberry Landing

A sure sign that the time to return was ripe
for the raspberries were
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at Raspberry Landing.

This rustic lodge
upon the mystic waters
of the wild and heathen Saint Croix
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Where once I taught the mysteries
of Earth and Wind and Fire and Water.
Opened portals

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that others may travel
between the worlds.

Quantum Entanglement
draws me back
after so many long years.

Walking paths I knew not
encountering ruins
that were ruined
before my time.

A wishing well
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though silted full
granting wishes still.

Built alongside gushing brook
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and ancient waterstone walls
that once held pools serene
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now toppled over
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torn down by torrents
that would not abide constraint
no matter how serene
on their way to the wild Saint Croix.

A walk upstream
tracing back the Flow
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along muddy banks

and plunging falls in miniature

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and ace of spade succulents
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and always a damsel
or damsel fly
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To contemplate once more
all the many roads
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not taken
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