Wednesday, May 2, 2018

queen of swords

With spring in full force, I've either been researching or experiencing spring tonics nearly every day. By definition, a tonic is simply something that restores or refreshes one's being...a tonic could affect someone on mental, physical or spiritual levels and by various means. Activities, exercises, nourishment, art forms and even ritual practices could all be subtle magical tonics.

I think I have the nose of a dog. Inhaling spring blossom fragrance daily is a favorite restorative of mine and there are many items on that menu -- apple trees, plum trees; golden currants, lilacs, sand cherries, grape hyacinth and Oregon grape holly bushes for starters. The beautiful iris was accidentally snapped off a few days ago and is developing her fragrance even without sunlight and birdsong.

I've begun a sort of art journal practice in a new handmade journal -- the first section of the book is dedicated to the Queen of Swords with a focus on the element of air and its corresponding attributes. It begins with the language of name and place...thinking about where I come from brought both people and sweet memories back to life. I loved doing this.

Every spring I look forward to collecting and cooking wild weeds from right outside the back door...tonic foods. My weedy stalwarts are always steamed nettles with onion and garlic, nettle pesto and dandelion Italiano on toasted sour dough bread.

I yearn to connect to the ways of my grandmothers, I tell myself that surely they cooked these same greens in the spring. The bowl of nettles is placed on my grandmother's table, now my dining table. She lived and died many years before I was born. When I feel sad that I have nothing to know or remember her by other than a few old photos, I remind myself that she rested her hands on this very table, maybe even in the exact same places that I rest mine.

A tiny prayer flag became a book mark on the full moon -- the chain-stitched spiral symbolizes air and wind.

We removed two dead trees this past week -- a pear tree and a juniper tree, both from which I kept mementos. The little bundle is a tiny pear twig tied together with some nearby plants. From the juniper trunk, Jan sawed me a small section revealing rings and colors and fragrance that surprised and delighted us. I'm finding that saving and holding natural objects like these as sacred is one way for me to express gratitude, no matter what the season.

The Queen of Swords has clear, piercing vision which the likeness of Frida Kahlo epitomizes for me on the bit of collage (the back of a greeting card). The handmade journal to the right, which I adore, was made by Kate Jackson.

In case you're wondering, the Queen of Spades is the equivalent of the Queen of Swords.

I'm ending this post with yet another photo of our many-years-old bee house holding a brand new colony of Italian honeybees. This house was vacant all last summer due to colony failure and I am so happy to have a full house again. At present, we have one wild bee colony in a tree trunk to the west and the new bees live on the east side of our back yard. At last it feels like things are back to normal around here.

My spring tonic practices have felt short-lived, almost elusive -- there is still so much I want to read and make and think about. But as we approach the threshold of summer, it will soon be time to begin focusing on the element of fire and the Queen of Wands. I am excited to see how they will show up in my life.

Late spring/early summer blessings of nettles and iris to you. xx