Renewal

The Renewal of Willow

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It's been over 7 years since we first moved to this property in a suburban landscape. The land and I have been through quite a transformation during that time, some challenging and some magical. As this land has restored and renewed itself, I have also confronted severe health issues for the first time in my life. As I struggled with overcoming an autoimmune disorder, I began to come to terms with the origins of it-- the trauma held in the DNA of my family due to war tragedies and now the cells of my body essentially fighting themselves. It was obvious there was a deep connection which has been unraveling for many years.

I could feel that the land could not breathe. I felt it so deep that I had an anxiety attack one day that was so severe, my son called 911 when I could not breathe myself. My brother attributed it to the stress of the move, but as the years went by, I began to realize just how sick the land was. There was a reason for so many trees dying on the property and the stench of the soil that I could smell in the spring when this former wetland was swamped with water. Gradually I began to listen to the land, revitalizing it by creating gardens and planting more trees. I allowed meadows to grow in certain areas and gradually the plants and trees began to absorb all the excess water and transmute the fertilizer and pesticide treatments of neighboring properties. I also came to find out that this property had previously been treated with chemicals something which may have created to a toxic buildup of metals in my body and contributed to my disorder.

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When I first came to this land, it was largely mowed lawn with a small wooded area created by a fallen Willow tree that had once anchored the energies of this land. Willows will continue to grow once fallen, ever renewing themselves, but after the Willow was struck by lightning, the previous owner decided to cut it down completely and burn the stump. So the severed limbs and trunk were piled into a wilder section of the property and the Willow began to decompose and become a haven for wildlife. Moss began to grow, fungi appeared and eventually the bark and wood formed a fertile ground for new life where wildflowers and other life could develop.

As the gardens naturalized, the wildlife returned. The orbweaver spiders appeared, all sorts of wild bees, butterflies and songbirds began to appear. I also immersed myself in beekeeping. Year after year the land began to heal and I began to heal myself. Throughout those years I supported myself trying to integrate my passions of writing, consulting and just enjoying life with continuing to work for other businesses helping owners to become organized or just following their direction. Sometimes the mundane routine was comforting and other times it frustrated me to no end. The fear of totally being on my own as a single parent was daunting and yet the stress of trying to manage everything was wreaking havoc on my body until I couldn't do it anymore and my immune system collapsed. The internal war I had fought much of my life had taken it's toll.

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Being a sun sign of Leo with my Venus in Cancer, I have constantly struggled to integrate these warring aspects within me of fire and water. With my moon in Libra and my love for beauty and balance, it was even more problematic, but as time went on I knew I had the answers within me. My body was screaming to me to let go and pursue my passions, but I had consistently wavered. At least I had been consistent in being inconsistent. That moon in Libra can be very problematic.

Then last fall I began to notice mushrooms on my walks in nearby parks and also on my property that had not been there before. More than likely, most mushrooms on my land had been killed by lawn chemicals, but now over so many years as the land healed and began revitalizing, things that had not been allowed to take hold before, flourished. The stagnant water was being absorbed in a myriad of delightful ways.

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One day I ate my first wild mushroom and that began my love affair with the fungi kingdom, something that had been developing for years but previously only from a distance. Having to overcome the fear of eating wild mushrooms, something that has largely been imposed by our modern society, I felt suddenly empowered. That day became a milestone for a very long journey that lasted 1 1/2 years. Though I rebounded numerous times during that period, I was slowly regaining my health. There were times I thought I would never be free of the pain and fatique, but eventually my strength returned.

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On the Autumn Equinox, a black and white cat caught my attention in the wooded area of my property. She stood next to the largest mushroom I had ever seen on my property, an 8 inch Shaggy Parasol aka Chlorophyllum Rhacodes, a mushroom I had first identified last year and eaten several times enjoying its wild, earthy taste. Initially it had been difficult for me to reconcile eating what I thought was one of the most beautifully designed mushrooms I had ever encountered, but I knew that it was all part of the plan.

I knew these mushrooms from the Willow tree that had slowly been decomposing from the form that once was, had given me a gift on this sacred day-- a piece of her to revitalize my body once more. It was only fitting that I should feast on food of the Goddess, delicious red raspberries and wild mushrooms on the day of equal darkness and light. I knew deep in my heart that eating this wild food from Nature, from the land that was mine, from the land that had healed as I had healed, was the connection I needed toward the complete restoration of my health, as I continue the next step in my journey, this process of connecting more deeply to the Earth and my own heart.

 

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison. All photos and content subject to written permission by author.

A Stag Appears

Source: unknown

Source: unknown

Animals have always appeared to me at turning points in my life, particularly deer. More than 20 years ago, my first story was published about an injured doe that had crossed my path. I was on my way driving to a creative writing class. The anguish I felt that day when the deer had to be shot by law enforcement was poured into my first class project. The support I received in class prompted me to submit my story to the city newspaper and I became elated when I received the call that it was to be published. For the first time I saw myself as the writer I had always been. I had many more experiences with deer over the years, some inspired me to write and others just remain etched in my heart.

Last week another deer appeared to me and I knew something was about to change in my life. I was driving to the post office shortly before 9 am passing by St. Mary's on the Hill in the town where I live. It was a cloudy day. Despite living in Lancaster for over 7 years, I had only recently found out about this church and visited its surrounding landscape. There was something sacred about this landscape which I felt from the moment I saw it. Records indicate it had once been all forested land. The feeling was something ancient and primordial which went well beyond what man had created in the last few hundred years. The hilly landscape was also unusual for an otherwise flat town.

As I drove alongside the perimeters of the church that morning, a young stag appeared with his beautiful crown of horns. I stopped my car. He looked directly at me sensing whether or not he was safe, and then made his way across the road searching for a more safe haven. In that moment as his eyes met mine, I felt this deep sense of heartfelt connection and I knew something was about to happen in my life. On my return drive, I had to once again pass the boundaries of St. Mary's and the hillside landscape. The sky was dark that morning, but suddenly the sun appeared in all its glory through an opening where the clouds had briefly parted. The glow of the sun cast its light directly upon St. Mary's church and in that moment I felt an immense feeling of grace that I cannot really put into words. Then the sun disappeared, as I continued on my way.

Source: unknown

Source: unknown

I knew that magic had just happened. It was enough to have me inspired the rest of the day as I thought about what it all meant. I knew that something was about to occur in my life-- something life altering. It was just a matter of time. The animal signposts had been there throughout my life. Later I came to find out that the Assumption of Mary, after which this church is named, is the time when Mary ascended to the heavens from her earthly realm and it is celebrated on August 15th, the same day as my birth. It was another synchronicity, but what did it all mean?

Three days later I received news that stunned me, eliminating something from my life that I had only recently begun to rely upon. It was clear I was not meant to follow in this direction. It was a betrayal among people I didn't really know, an end of a path that was not meant to be. There had been no explanation, no reasoning offered, though I felt certain that maintaining my boundaries and speaking my truth had contributed to the end. There had been constant insights in conversations, symbols from my helping spirits that were meaningful to me, but I had not heeded the warnings. I chose to see the best in others and not necessarily the reality of a very dysfunctional system that was doomed to implode upon itself. I had offered my services for a short while. My work was done.

The stag has long been a symbol of Christ with its antlers reaching up and bringing light down from the heavens. It is also known to be an enemy of snakes, stamping out darkness. I cannot think of a more appropriate symbol to receive three days prior to the truth being revealed to me. Each year the stag sheds its horns symbolizing a cycle complete and a shedding of the past. Sometimes people don't like when your light shines too bright and you speak the truth because it causes them to look at their own lies and inadequacies. In time I know that the next part of my journey will be revealed to me. I have faith in the Stag's appearance. My Spirit has once again been renewed.

 

 

Copyright 2017 Clarissa Harison/Awen Environments. 

All photos: Source unknown.

 

 

Daffodil in a Foreign Land

Planted in the earth of a foreign soil
you have been uprooted.
You know not where they are sending you.
You have lost part of your identity
in this unfamiliar land.

Your roots and your memories lie
in the place of your origins
though you know you must adapt
in order to survive.
Your spirit is strong and your beauty radiant.
It needs to be in order to endure and flourish.

Your body is poison to those who
delve too deep and take a bite.
It is sacred, mysterious and forbidden
though some have sought to calm
their torment with your bitterness.
Best just to admire your beauty from a distance.
And yet the land knows how you
heal the soil with your poison.

You have bloomed this spring as you have done before.
But this time your beauty has been diminished
while you lie wilted upon the ground
from the extreme cold of this place
where you find yourself.

Deep inside you know your strength,
from some long forgotten memory.
You know this land only makes you wiser.
Your beauty this year goes unseen
but your roots, your body, grown stronger.
It is your poison, that is your saving grace.
~ Clarissa Harison

2017 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison. 

The Sacred Hive

It was a beautiful, sunny day yesterday and my honeybees were out searching for pollen and nectar amidst a pretty barren landscape. The Maple trees are starting to unfurl their buds and luckily the Crocuses are starting to bloom, but there is not much else out there during this first week of Spring. Sometimes you wonder how these tiny creatures manage to find any pollen or nectar during those bleak days, but somehow they usually do. I was thrilled to know that my hive had survived yet another winter and to see several of my bees busily gathering nectar from the Crocuses that had just burst forth their brilliant colors.

It's been a challenging winter for honeybees in this region. We had a late, fairly warm winter with constant extremes of temperature and high winds which can wreak havoc on a hive if they are not prepared. I believe in the wild, the honeybees know what lies ahead and prepare accordingly just like many other animals do. Somehow their internal guidance system leads them to gather more food, develop a warmer coat or a myriad of other things that animals do to prepare themselves when they know a challenging winter lies ahead. What about when these creatures are living in the care of a human such as a beekeeper?

Last fall I decided not to harvest honey, just as I had done the previous year. To me it was more important to have my hive survive rather than to benefit from the harvest. That is to say, I left all the honey to my bees who rightly deserved all that they had created. To some that might seem crazy, but to me it was insurance against a hive that might not survive the constant fluctuation of temperatures which would create more stress on the bees. The more they were awakened from their sleeping state, the more food they would need and there was no way to accurately determine what that might be until the warm spring days arrived and nectar and pollen were once again available. To me, feeding them with sugar water is just not an option, as I feel it is unnatural and similar to feeding a child candy and junk food all the time. The bees need the nutrients from the nectar they have created to support the strength and immunity of the hive.

Many people just keep honeybees because they wish to have honey or sell it. Often they are really not thinking about the overall needs of the bees in a sacred relationship way. The bees are after all just insects and yet bees, as do many other animals, provide a valuable product and service for man. They pollinate our flowers and trees and offer their healing nutritious nectar, as well as revitalize the landscape. Our climate is changing and so is the challenges it presents to beekeepers and their bees. Much of the sacred relationship that beekeepers had in ancient cultures has been forgotten, but I believe if the honeybee is to survive, this memory needs to be reawakened.

As our planet goes through extreme changes, it is time to do things differently and look at the relationship we have with all life around us. We need the honeybees and all pollinating insects. Without them, humans as a species, will likely not survive. Treating honeybees as we always have, is not the answer to saving them. Restoring a sacred relationship and recognizing them as intelligent, creative beings is. These tiny creatures are no doubt, the keepers of great wisdom.

Orchid Equinox Blessing

My Orchid opened its first bloom the day of the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. I could not have been more thrilled. I had been wondering when it would unfurl its first petals and as spring drew near and the buds grew bigger, I had a feeling there would be a beautiful sign of beauty, love and renewal. I cannot think of a more appropriate sign from the Plant Kingdom. 

I purchased my Orchid last fall and it remained in bloom for many months well beyond what I had remembered from previous plants. This Orchid sat on my nightstand in the southwest corner of my bedroom which receives light, but not so much in the fall due to the heavy foliage of a maple tree outside. Despite the low light, this plant flourished largely I believe because I paid so much attention to it, more than I had to any previous Orchid. I had learned so much about energy and focused attention since the last one had been in my care many years ago. Each day I would tell this plant that I loved her. I really did because she made me happy. The flowers were just so beautiful and the perfect shade of magenta that I adore. Eventually the last flower fell and I was sad not to see its beauty anymore, but I knew I would keep this special plant even if it never bloomed again because it had graced me with so much beauty for so many months.

You can imagine my surprise when suddenly one day weeks later I found a new shoot which promised another bloom of Orchids. I was so thrilled because this had never happened before. I had not even known they could bloom again in the home until a friend mentioned she had a nursery for throwaways from family and friends. Most certainly they can bloom again given the right conditions. So despite the low lighting in my bedroom, I would receive this Orchid's blessings on the Spring Equinox, the time of equal light and darkness and symbolizing regeneration and renewal.

I have found in my life that my plants and flowers really respond to my attention and my own energy. When I am struggling, they seem to be struggling and dropping their leaves. When I am sending out love to them, they are emanating their vibrant beauty back to me. I know that this Orchid blessed me with her greatest gift of beauty on a day that was so meaningful to me. The Spring Equinox brings the promise of new life, new beauty and new opportunities for joy. I cannot think of a more beautiful sign from the Nature Spirits and the Divine. The next day I also realized the deeper meaning of this flower and the message she was bringing forth to me, to love myself and know that I have value even when I don't feel beautiful.