For week 15 of the PBP.

My first encounter with cranesbill wasn’t in the wild woodlands, but in a garden center. A customer came up to me asking for perennial geranium, and stuffed full of recently acquired knowledge about annuals, I proudly announced that there was no such thing.

Ah, the certainty of youth!

In any case, these are some of my favorite markers of summer here in the Massachusetts woodlands. They bloom so suddenly, then disappear again in a matter of weeks. If there is any flower that inspires thoughts of dancing fairies, it’s these delicate blooms stirred by a summer breezy.

Catching Up

As happens every Spring, the outdoors start calling and I spend less and less time in front of the keyboard. But, I have been dragging my picture-taking device with me into the woods and into the garden, so I’ll share my adventures from the last few weeks visually instead.


The biggest tree in the forest. Yeah, I’m a size queen. ūüôā


250 year-old white oak in our conservation land.

Memorial Day wildlife & weeds

Close-up of amphibian invasion forces. The Spawn head this little guy under our deck and said, “Wanna turn frog OFF!”

May apples

May Apples



Garlic mustard harvest

Garlic mustard, stripped and waiting for the blender.


First garden harvest: radishes!

Spring greens

New tree identified: Hawthorn!

PBP plants


PBP plants


PBP plants

Wild geranium

Memorial Day wildlife & weeds

Half a fairy ring.

Memorial Day wildlife & weeds

Lightning struck oak

Memorial Day wildlife & weeds

Fungus amongus!

Memorial Day wildlife & weeds

Raspberry blooms. These guys are going to be very tasty in a few weeks.


First off, in case anyone here is reading from Europe, I’m not talking about the stuff Socrates used to end his days. Why the shared name? Supposedly, when the needles of Eastern/Canadian hemlock, or¬†Tsuga canadensis, ¬†are crushed, they produce a¬†smell¬†similar to that of poison hemlock. However, Eastern hemlock¬†is a slow-growing, long-lived tree that, unlike many conifers, actually needs the shade of taller hardwood trees to grow well. It is very sensitive to sun, wind and moisture variation, all of which can cause¬†die-back during the winter.

name? Supposedly, when the needles of Eastern/Canadian hemlock, or Tsuga canadensis,  are crushed, they produce a smell similar to that of poison hemlock. However, Eastern hemlock is a slow-growing, long-lived tree that, unlike many conifers, actually needs the shade of taller hardwood trees to grow well. It is very sensitive to sun, wind and moisture variation, all of which can cause die-back during the winter.

Sadly, Eastern hemlock faces a moderate level of threat from the wooly adelgid, which was introduced from East Asia (those Tsuga are resistant to it, happily). The major problem with the death of a single hemlock is its shallow and wide-spread root system: if a large tree falls, it is very likely to take many younger trees with it as well.

Because of its longevity and love of damp places, Hemlock is what I replace Yew with in my Northeast ogham set. Interestingly enough, none of the magical authors whose books I own address Tsuga, though plenty mention poison hemlock. Astrologically, because of its slow development, I associate it with Saturn, and with the element of Earth, though she embodies Spirit as well to my mind, particularly since male and female cones are formed on the same tree. I’ve always found Hemlock to be very open to humans, both curious and sassy. She’s a wonderful tree under which to meditate, and for those working the Ovate grade of OBOD, ¬†she can be a wonderful candidate to watch over both the Rite of the Tree and the Rite of the Ancestors.

Practicing Together #4

Today’s sunrise

Seed thought taken from Leaning into Mystery: Practicing Together #9.

I noticed¬†that what I put out into the world is what I get back. This is hard if you’re in a bad mood! I also noticed that toddler snuggles are some of the most powerful banishing magics on the face of the planet. ūüôā

This week, I invite in creativity and groundedness. I need to be able to create to work on the series of planetary paintings, but I need to have the follow through to get one done each day. Art is a hard mistress, dontcha know?

Ways this could happen: Using the Hours app to schedule creative time in accordance with the planetary days and hours. Getting the draft designs done before those hours come around (the outer planets are already handled, thankfully).

The Sun

What went well:¬†I started by inviting lightness into my life with candles on the altar and by playing with a singing bowl or wind chimes throughout the day. I took extra time to make sure my son was well tickled. And I was finally in a headspace to begin creating the planetary paintings for my altar area. The goal is to do one a day for the next ten days, in the corresponding planetary hour. The first one, the Sun, was completed yesterday‚ÄĒthis really brought light into my life! The painting also has Agrippa’s sigils and squares, as well as Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery sun sigil painted on the back. This went very well indeed!

Updates:¬†Wrote Ovate tutor! With any luck she won’t fire me from the grade. ;p ¬†It felt really good to get past this block (which for those keeping count was 16 months or so), write up the gwersi and begin moving forward (in circles?) again on the Ovate journey. Still didn’t actively work on SS homework, but I feel like this planetary stuff I’m doing will contribute to that in the long run, so I’ll give myself a break there.