Sunday, May 27, 2012

Staycation Destination 1: Star Trek Exhibition

My husband Dan, my 13 year old son Tristan and I want to make sure that we get to have some fun this summer, but we don't have the funds or the time to go on a big vacation, so we decided to have a "staycation."  A staycation is when you have a vacation close to home.  We're adding a fun twist, our staycation will happen one day at a time on various days, and each destination can happen at any time and will be a total surprise for Tristan!  We've dubbed these single day trips a Secret Staycation Destination.  Tristan will never know it's coming, we'll get in the car and just go!  There are lots of great things to do in Missouri that are either cheap or free, so we'll have a lot to choose from throughout the summer.

Today I managed to get Tristan ready to go without him suspecting a thing.  When I called him down the hall so we could leave to "go to the store," Dan and I told him we were really going on a Secret Staycation Destination number one and then explained the concept, he was really excited!  First we hit the local Taco Bell for a quick bite and took our food on the road.  We drove from our home in the suburbs down to St. Louis, and went to the St. Louis Science Center, one of our family favorites.  But the special thing about this trip is that the Science Center is hosting the final days of the Star Trek Exhibition!  Tristan was really excited, he's been wanting to go for quite some time, and we just never got around to it. 
Captain Tristan Mueller of the Starship Enterprise and his crew!

The exhibition was really cool!  They had conceptual art from the series, a huge timeline of all the different series' and movies, lots of the actual ships models that were used, costumes, props and tons of other cool stuff that any Star Trek geek would love, and we did!  It was really interesting getting a close up look at the uniforms and props, I loved seeing the details of it all, and it was sometimes very interesting how what looked like a painted block of wood with some buttons and labels glued on ended up looking like pretty cool technology once in the hands of a costumed actor on set.  They also had several photo ops throughout the exhibition, we had our our photos taken on the bridge of the Enterprise from the original 1966 series, those photos were done as a green screen. (above)

Captian Dan, "Engage!"
We also had photos taken on an actual reproduction of the bridge of the Enterprise D from Star Trek The Next Generation.  They didn't allow other photography inside, but we did take some pics in other areas of the Science Center.  They also had a Star Trek gift shop where Tristan got a T-Shirt that looks like the shirts the science officers wore on the original series with the Starfleet combadge silk screened on it, he's always wanted one.

We all had a blast, I told Tristan to be ready at any time this summer for another Secret Staycation Destination, he loved the idea of being totally surprised, it added a lot to the fun of the day.  We were so hot and parched by the time we left, we drove through Hardees for some cold drinks and headed home for a dinner of homemade hot sub sandwiches and mac and cheese while we settled in the living room and watched some of the classic Star Trek on Netflix.

You might not be into Star Trek, but there are probably lots of other things you'd love to do this summer.  Do you want to try having a series of Secret Staycation Destinations this summer too? 
Secret Staycation Destinations ahead!

  • Do searches online to see if there are free plays in the park, concerts, fairs, and make a list of the dates.  Also pick out some fun places to visit like zoos, landmarks, art museums or parks that you like to visit, just be sure to choose things that appeal to your group.
  • At least one person has to plan it and know the destination, but you can keep it a surprise for the rest if you want, or choose someone else in the group to be in cahoots with you.
  • Plan your destinations on days when you know everyone is going to be available.  One of the best things about one day excursions is that you don't have to take a week off work, just do several trips to different destinations one day at a time.
  • To keep it a surprise, make up a trip to the store, Grandmas house, or some other rouse to get everyone looking decent and into the car.  Come up with a story that is hum-drum but will at least have everyone dressed appropriately for your destination, comfortable shoes, clothing, etc.  If your kids get bored in the car, have them bring their games along to keep them busy until you arrive.
  • Make sure you pack a small cooler with cold drinks and snacks in the trunk of the car.  Also pack bug spray or sunscreen, etc. if needed.  If you're going all day bring a picnic lunch to save lots of money.  Be sure to pack this stuff all in the trunk so they won't know you're going to a Secret Staycation Destination until you're on the road.
  • Even if you've found a free event, be sure to factor in gas money, parking fees, and a little extra for incidentals, you never know.
  • Once you're on the road you can make the announcement that you're going to a Secret Staycation Destination and let them ask questions on the way if you want, giving only the most elusive answers you can, this is really fun and builds up the anticipation. 
  • Have fun!  Make it special, and remember it's not about how far you go or how much money you spend, it's about spending time with people you love doing things that everyone will enjoy!
  • If you plan to be home by dinner time, be sure to have something really simple planned to prepare for dinner, you'll all be tired and hungry.
We're really looking forward to our next Secret Staycation Destination, sorry, it's a secret! I can't tell you (or Tristan) when or where, but I will be sure to share it all afterwards!

Bright Blessings!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Pagan Artists Thoughts on the Solar Eclipse

The first time I remember experiencing a solar eclipse I was a very small child, probably 4 or five.  I remember being in the garden with my mother.  Through the years the neighborhood kids took to calling her "Mother Nature" because even in the desert earth in Albuquerque New Mexico where I grew up she had a knack for making things grow.  Anyway, this was in the early years before we grew big vegetable gardens, it was mostly flowers back then, and we were messing around in the garden.  Mom pointed out all the things that were happening, explaining the mechanics of it to her little girl in the simplest terms she could.  She pointed out that every thing had gotten darker even though there were no clouds.  She brought to my attention how quiet everything had gotten because the birds stopped singing, it was as if the whole world stopped to witness the event.  It wasn't a total eclipse that day in Albuquerque, only partial, but I still remember it.  The light coming through the old elm tree left tiny crescents all over the patio.  It was pure magic!

To see a total solar eclipse, you have to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.  Those that are under the shadow that the moon casts upon the earth as it crosses the sun get quite a show, and others see a partial eclipse.  I've never gotten to experience the crazy-cool "ring of fire" only because I've never been in an area where the total eclipse was visible, but I've seen several partial eclipses now in my life, and it's still a very amazing thing to witness.  I'm holding out for August of 2017 which looks like it will be pretty close for me.  The eclipse today will block 53% of the sun in my area.  In St. Louis the sun will set only 40 minutes after the eclipse begins, so we will be seeing it low in the sky.  But I'll still be there with my husband and son, hole in paper plates and checking it out.

Of course, you're never supposed to look directly at an eclipse, you can damage your eyes, and I use mine lots, so I'm very careful.  Here's a link with directions for different methods you can use to safely view the eclipse.

What Kind of Magic Can I Do?

Magically this solar eclipse falls right after the super full moon, when the moon is closest through the year.  This solar eclipse is all about big life changes.  You can use the energy of this eclipse to bring about big changes, ending an old cycle so that a new cycle can begin.  Decide what your intention is, what do you want to eclipse in your life?  Solar eclipses can bring about big shifts, so do some soul searching, decide now how you want to change and adjust the rudder of your boat to aim you in the direction that you want.  What do you want to draw into your life?  What do you want to let go?  Focus on your intentions and ride the wave of the solar eclipse!

Solar Eclipse by Mickie Mueller, print available in our Etsy shop, click here

Solar Eclipse by Mickie Mueller
In ancient times a solar eclipse was considered a very powerful omen. It is a very unearthly feeling as anyone can attest who has witnessed it. The sky turns a unreal dark shade, the birds and insects stop making any sound. As the dark lady moon passes in front of her consort, the sun, the shadows that the leaves cast upon the ground all become little crescents, mirroring the event unfolding above. It is a moving event, even if it is only a partial eclipse, all of life seems to hold its breath in awe nervously until the sun is full and bright again. During a full eclipse, stars can even be seen.

Of course, in these modern times eclipses solar or lunar are scientifically explained. We know the earth casts a shadow across the moon during a lunar eclipse, and the moon passes between the earth and the sun during a solar eclipse. But these explanations don't really take away any of the magic or awe, just observe one of these celestial events and you'll probably agree. If we see the moon as being a representative of the Lady and the Sun a representative of the Sun God, then their meeting in the sky, however brief, must be a symbolic meeting of the two. A celebration of the joyous reunion of the two who circle each other in the sky.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flowers, Cats, and Art from Scotland

I had a very sick cat last week, and art that arrived from Scotland just in time to soothe my spirit.

Celtic Blessing Tree by Ruthie Redden, read on for more on how this talented artist made my day!
Here's the Willow recap, for those who missed it on Facebook.  My cat Willow (yes, the little calico seen on my art table above) ended up in the emergency vet late last week on May 3.  Willow ate some day lilly which is very toxic to cats!   My cats are both indoor cats, so I seldom worry about what plants I put in the garden as far as what's toxic to cats.  I picked up the lilly at the store to plant in the yard, but not thinking, I carried it in the house with the groceries. I set the groceries down and turned around to take the plant back outside and she was already munching on the leaves! I told her, "That might be poison, stop eating it!"  Dan was sitting there on the Internet so he Googled "is day lilly toxic to cats" just to check while I proceeded to put groceries away.  He discovered that if at cat eats daylilly and go untreated, kidney failure can develop in 48 hours! She threw up most of it 5 minutes later and we got her to the vet right away. They gave her activated charcoal to absorb any left in her system and she had to stay there for 48 hours on an IV. 
I went to see her several times, she hated the IV in her little paw.

A poster in the vets office, some pretty plants toxic to cats and dogs, some are toxic to people as well.  Click here for more info
Our other cat Garfield the gray tabby missed her terribly.  Of course I sent lots of reiki to her the whole time and was totally overwhelmed with the outpouring of compassion on Facebook.  So many people sent energy, prayers and well-wishes.  How life can change in just a few moments!  Thankfully, she's home now and doing fine, and back to her old self.

There are many plants that are bad for cats and dogs to eat that you might not even think of.  Of course not all cats and dogs will eat them, lucky me, I have a cat that eats all plants like they're made of tuna.  I know many people who have told me their cats play amongst day lillies in the yard and don't eat them.  I think that outdoor cats that are used to being around a larger variety of plants are probably less likely to chew on random greenery.  I've tried that cat grass they sell for cats to eat, but that's the only plant Willow doesn't want, much like the fact that the couch is always better to scratch than a scratching post.  For those interested, here's the ASPCA's website with info about toxic plants and foods, (click here) it's actually quite surprising.  It's good info to have just in case, after all I could have lost a wonderful member of our family because I didn't know.  I'll tell you what else, after a 48 hour stay at the emergency vet, that was the most expensive flower I ever bought!  Willow was worth every penny, but I would have preferred to avoid the whole thing.
On the last day Willow had to stay at the vet, on the night of the full Celtic Willow moon, which was also a Supermoon (see previous post) I got a package in the mail that lifted my spirits! 
All the lovelies in the package from Ruthie Redden, along with the gorgeous print, she included a handmade card, a card with the poem on it, seashells and feathers all the way from Scotland.  Such treasures, it's like she knows me!
 I had been notified the previous week that I had won a giveaway from the 5 Precious Things blog, Celtic pictorial storyteller Ruthie Reddens beautiful Celtic Blessing Tree print.  Written around the tree is the Celtic Irish blessing "Deep Peace"  in elegant calligraphy.  The colors are so rich and the details are a delight, it looks like a page from an illuminated manuscript.  It came on a day that I really needed it, I was feeling very sad over my poor kitty and here was this gorgeous blessing in the mail.
Ruthie's business card, visit her website and pick up a print for your home too!

As I write this little Willow with her two little shaved front legs is purring happily in my lap, life is good!

Willow is a great cat model, here she is "painted black" for the Hidden Path card, Art of Magic" Click here

Willow showing her "true colors" for my Magic is Afoot piece. Click here

Willow and my cat Garfield will also be making an appearance in the upcoming Mystical Cats Tarot, we'll see what card they end up on!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Celtic Willow Moon and Supermoon Magic

This coming full moon is the Celtic Willow Moon, and it's also a Supermoon, that equals some powerful full moon energy on the 5th!

Willow, Tree of Water, Moon and Magic!

The Willow month falls between April 15-May 12 and the full moon between those dates is the Willow Full Moon.  Willow brings us in touch with Goddess energy and teaches us to follow our intuition. Willow energy also teaches us to work harmoniously within the cycles of life instead of trying to fight against them.  Willow is a strong tree because it is flexible and bends instead of breaking, a lesson we can all learn from in these times.  Willow is a water loving tree and is associated with lunar influences, it represents unseen influences in our lives.  This is also a tree of magic, enchantment and sorcery that helps us forge a deeper communion with our higher power.

Willow is sacred to poets and is also associated with healing and divination.  This is also a tree associated with fairies and the otherworld, weeping willow images were often seen on Victorian era grave markers and in "Mourning Portraits" paintings or embroidered depictions of the loved ones of the deceased gathered in mourning around an urn and willow tree.

Many people feel comforted by the willows loving energy, sitting within the veil of a weeping willow can be a very healing experience, and is a perfect place for meditation.  It's also traditional to tie a knot in a willow branch and make a wish.  Return to the tree once the wish is granted and untie the branch and give thanks!

One of the easiest ways to propagate a willow tree is from rooted cuttings, you can actually cut a single stem from a willow tree and put it in a vase of water.  A single branch of this watery tree will sprout roots!  We used a branch of willow to bless our wishes at the Celtic Tree Calendar class I'm teaching at Pathways this month and that branch has little roots growing out of it.  I plan to plant it in a sunny spot in my yard where all the water runs off.  Some people report just sticking a fresh cut rod of willow in the damp ground and successfully growing a tree! 

Would you love to learn more?  I offer the Celtic Tree Calender class online, and because it's a cyclical calendar you can start any month you wish.  This is a beautiful class with some full color pages for your book of shadows, lots of spells, and extras like candle labels and do-it-yourself amulets, charms, etc. here's the link:
Here's what you get with the Willow Class, Click here for more info!

So if the Willow Moon which is full of strong lunar energy already is also a Super Moon, what does that mean?

Willow Moon/Supermoon, What's it All About?

This month, the Celtic Willow Moon will officially become full Saturday (May 5) at 11:35 p.m. EDT. And because this month's full moon coincides with the moon's perigee which means it will be its closest approach to Earth, it will also be the year's biggest moon in the sky.  How close the moon is to the earth varies throughout the year, right now it's really close. 
Yep, it's kinda like this!

This Willow Full Moon is due to be about 16 percent brighter than average and will appear larger in the sky.  Willow is associated with lunar energy, water and the tides, and although we don't expect extreme tides, the Supermoon will exert about 42 percent more tidal force than the moon when it's at it's furthest from us. But fear not, in reality the supermoon should cause no natural disasters or anything, but some bonus moon magical energy and a great show, for sure!  If you look at the moon when it's close to the horizon or through a trees branches it's easiest to see the effect because it gives your eye a point of reference.

Magically, this means extra moon energy and specifically extra Willow Moon energy!  So this is a great full moon to work on projects such as: enchantment, boosting magical power, wishing, fertility , love, healing, protection, magic for women, death, femininity, love, intuition, divination, friendship, joy, and deep peace.

You want a spell, don't you?  Mmmmm...well, ok, you twisted my arm.

Willow Divination Tool Blessing

The willow tree's roots run deep with emotion and the powers of divination, this is a tree that can bridge the worlds.  The willow full moon is a perfect time to bless and charge your divination tools.  Do you work with a crystal ball, pendulum, runes or tarot deck?  If you have a Voice of the Trees deck or Ogham set, this willow spell is perfect to fill it with extra divination energies.  Bless your items under the full willow moon to fill them with willow moon energy, this will re-energise your tools. 

Place your divination tools in a willow basket, you can find one easily at your local craft store.  Take the basket outside under the full willow moon. (The 5th full moon of the year, usually falling between or near April 15-May 12) You may wish to light a white or green candle and have some incense of your choice to set the mood, try violet incense.  If you have a willow tree you can work under or near, all the better, if not sit anywhere you like and visualise a spiritual sparkling willow tree rising up from the ground and surrounding you with a curtain of leaves.  Now visualise energy from the moon pouring over your divination tools in the basket filling them with the powerful full willow moon energy.  As you feel the energy flowing into your tools program them with the following charm:

"Full willow moon lend your vibrations,
Bless these tools of divination,
Always guide my heart that I may see,
All they have to show to me."

When you feel the tools are full of moon energy, you may wish to use one of your newly empowered tools to do a little divination work under the willow moon.  When you're finished be sure to leave a gift for the willow tree as thanks, a crystal, fertilizer spike, a coin, or water are all appropriate gifts.

Willow Candle Sconce available in the official Voice of the Trees Etsy shop, click here
Have a lovely Supermoon/ Willow Moon!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Magical Plant You Might Not Know

Dan and I have had a great time with the garden this spring.  It's taken us several years to discover through much trial and error what works in our yard.  One of our biggest problems is that we have a lot of clay in our soil, or should I say we have a little soil in our clay.  We've often joked about getting a kiln and opening up a pottery shop with the proceeds going towards several trucks of top soil, but since we rent this land that never made much sense. 

We added a garden to the front yard last year and Dan had the excellent idea of making it a raised bed filled with decent soil that we could put several containers in and then surround them with ground-cover.  We used Speedwell (magically associated with the moon and healing) for the ground-cover, which has beautiful little purple flowers and has almost filled in the area completely which was exactly what we wanted.  We were so happy with the Speedwell that when we added another garden this year, we decided that the raised bed containers and ground-cover concept was a great idea to repeat.  We wanted a different ground cover this time just to shake things up a bit and so I began my quest. 

I researched low ground-cover that could handle a little clay and could survive the summer heat and found several possibilities.

My Grace Ward seems to be very happy in it's new spot!
Then one day I was up at Green's Country Store near my home looking through their plants and I discovered these beautiful little cobalt blue flowers and I was hooked.  I had never heard of this lovely perennial called Grace Ward but it seemed obvious what at least two of the magical properties might be.  Since the garden bed in near the front of my home, a plant to ward the area seemed like the perfect fit and it felt to me like a blessing plant as well, so I figured that must be where the name comes from.  The plant has a very cheerful vibe, just seeing it makes you want to smile, it's an absolute delight. 

I did some research on this lovely little plant and made some interesting discoveries that I wanted to share with you.  Here is a plant to add to your ever growing list of magical plants.

Grace Ward (Grace Ward Lithadora) is classified in the Borage family, Boraginaceae.  It was named by German botanist, August Grisebach, 1814-1879, who is most noted as author of Flora of the British West Indian Islands.  It comes from Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. It has a spreading dark green mat and produces true blue flowers from March to July. Excellent as an edger or in the rock garden. Needs full sun and not to much water preferring Mostly Sand to Clay Loam. Cut it back after flowering to freshen the foliage.
Planetary energy: Jupiter
Element: Air
Magical Use: Warding and protection from negativity, blessings, courage in battle, anti-stress, lifts spirits, psychic shield, boost psychic powers

My Grace Ward growing next to Buddah
If you happen to find this sweet spirited little perennial at your local garden center, I highly recommend that you pick some up if you have a sunny spot that need some ground-cover and magic!