the wheel of the year, part 5: ostara

in the spirit of moveable feasts, here is my ostara post….very late.   the only problem with this, of course, is that while easter, ostara’s namesake, is indeed a moveable feast, the spring equinox (ostara’s current date) pretty much stays put 🙂 i  dropped the ball on this one folks!  —but as always, there are reasons for this, and i plan on tucking those reasons handily into my exploration of the nature of the holiday. Read the rest of this entry »


the wheel of the year, part 4: imbolc

can i be honest with you?  this week has really sucked.  i found out that one of the classes that i’m teaching pays nothing until the end of the semester, and when it does pay, it only pays based on how many students actually completed the class (which means that if i spent 10 hours grading a student’s work before he dropped out, i simply don’t get paid for that time…..poof!  it’s gone.)  not sure how that’s legal.  so all of this boils down to me getting 2/3 of my normal pay (don’t teach college; you’ll starve!) and the little bit extra i get at the end is going to be a pittance compared to the amount of work i put in.  also, i’m working a couple of jobs, neither of which pays very well and one of which verges on eating my life (there’s a dent in the far left couch cushion from all of the “office hours” i’ve had to put in.)  i miss my husband, despite being across the room from him, i’m tired of sitting on my butt, i’m mad at my job, and here’s the worst part—-i’m REALLY tired of bitching all the time!   for the past month my facebook statuses (stati?) have been eeyore-ish, and i’m sick of it! Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: salves

before i started practicing herbal medicine, i think the one time i’d ever heard the word “salve” (pronounced “sav”) was at my grandmother’s house.  salve-making is really a lost art, but it’s so simple and is such a fundamental way of delivering medicine to the body that i can’t figure out we don’t all learn this skill in kindergarten.  for those of you thinking (from my last prep post) about making herbal oils, salve-making is the next logical step in the process, and it gives you a lovely way to showcase your sweet medicine for your family, friends, and local farmer’s markets! Read the rest of this entry »

the wheel of the year, part 2: samhain

janus, namesake of the month january

i mentioned in the first wheel of the year post that this may seem like an odd place to start a calendar, but it really isn’t.  rather serendipitously, i’d started my blog just before the celtic new year, samhain (pronounced SAH-wen)—better known to us today as halloween.  traditionally, our new year happens on january 1, but seasonally speaking, this is a little odd, since january 1 is smack dab in the middle of the winter.  in the first century b. c., the romans set this day as new year’s day because janus, the god for whom the month was named, was imagined as having two faces, one of which faced forward and one backward.  this simultaneously forward-backward-looking month, then, seemed the most logical place for new beginnings.  for the celts, the indigenous peoples of europe, however, notions of beginnings and endings followed more physical markers.  samhain, for the neolithic europeans, represented the end of the growing season and thus the beginning of the new year. Read the rest of this entry »

lunar musings

as we approach the full moon, i feel compelled to write about it…but what to say?  there’s so much that it’s almost impossible to know where to begin.  the moon has fascinated human beings (english teachers, get ready to cringe) since the daaaaaaaawn of tiiiiiiiiime!  but seriously, humans have been mystified by this serene celestial body, i am positive, for as long as there has been abstract thought.  each culture has its own set of myths and legends, gods and goddesses, associated with the moon, and both our recent (well, relatively anyway) lunar landing and our subsequent failure to return have only further fueled humanity’s obsession with our nearest neighbor.

i suppose that, since i’m approaching such a massively huge topic, the best place to start would be, well, with a definition—and with some good old-fashioned science—but not too old-fashioned mind you!.  so what is a moon?  in general, a moon is a natural satellite of a planet.  earth’s moon (i wonder if she’s upset that we just call her moon; the other moons have sweet names) is 238,900 miles away and is about 1/80 the size of its primary, the planet earth.   Read the rest of this entry »

the wheel of the year, part 1

holidays are funny creatures…and i don’t only mean “ha-ha funny.”  think about it…spread throughout our calendar are days during which we force ourselves to be around people we may or may not want to be around, we eat ourselves sick (or over-indulge in a number of other activities), we focus almost solely on material goods, and, most of the time, we forget to stop and think about what the holiday even means anymore.  the material bit really bothers me the most—christmas is the biggest victim here.  once a year, i am expected to scrape together what little money i have to buy something for damn-near everyone i know.  most of the time it isn’t even something that that person needs, and we all know what happens to the heaps of unwanted gifts—you’re welcome, america’s thrift stores.   gift giving is so huge that it a tremendous taboo (perhaps one of the largest social taboos in america) not to buy someone a christmas present.  you’re not held accountable for figuring out what they really need—you’re simply accountable for getting them…..well….something. Read the rest of this entry »