natively cultivated

Domestic Garden Witch: Staying In Touch with the Locals

A mixture of plants native to my home here in San Luis Obispo - this garden can be seen at our local California Polytechnic University! Golden poppies, buckwheat, and century plants can be seen, just to name a few!

Native Plants, Stronger Energy!

In many gardening articles for witchcraft, we see descriptions for containers, methods of gardening (i.e. with crystals or blessed waters), and most definitely descriptions of what plants to grow and why (rosemary for protection, basil for prosperity, et cetera). And while many gardens hold a beautiful energy and are often deeply spiritual (such as with moon, faerie, and dragon gardens), I don’t often see articles which address native plants in witchcraft.

This stands to reason, as it is difficult to address every single ecosystem on the planet. But I do believe it’s possible to tackle the subject in broad terms. After all, there’s a certain benefit in getting in touch with your local flora!

One of the goals for many witches is to develop and strengthen the bond between human and earth. This makes gardening a natural interest for many witches, giving rise to green witchcraft, garden witchcraft, et cetera. We meticulously cultivate plants for food and aesthetic pleasure, as well as for health and spiritual reasons. However, this comes with a certain risk. When non-native plants are brought into an ecosystem, one of the worst case scenarios is that the plant thrives to the point of growing out of control, and becomes an invasive species. One need look no further than giant hogweed in Oregon as an example - the plant has no natural predators, thrives in the environment, and can choke out other plants in the area (and that’s not including the fact that hogweed’s sap is extremely toxic to humans).

Some prevent overgrowth and invasion by carefully maintaining their gardens and preventing the plants from seeding or pollinating. But one of the best methods to avoid the risk is to cultivate native species of plants. In terms of witchcraft, this is double bonus points, as it allows us to interact with and connect with our local plant species.

Educational Spirituality

Growing native plants affords us a special opportunity to save money on gardening (no need for extraneous irrigation for plants that will thrive in your garden as is), but also to learn. In the process of collecting and growing local plants, not only can we learn how they are cultivated, but also what they can represent in our craft (golden poppies for wealth and prosperity; coast live oak for protection and wisdom; black sage for cleansing and health… just to name three natives here at home).

But as with any herb or witchy garden, it’s good practice to learn about the other uses of the plants in the area, as well as their history. We grow closer to nature by learning what it has to offer, and exchanging the gifts that it brings to us when we take care of it (another great example? coast live oak produces mass quantities of acorns - so many, in fact, that it became an incredibly easy to obtain food source for the Chumash and Salinan tribes who lived here; as such, coast live oak can also be associated with prosperity and health). 

For those who garden with aesthetic in mind, there is a certain beauty in the native blooms for any region. As can see in the image above, the Central coast has vibrant flowers, from the golden poppies to the white-yellow buckwheat and the purple native lilacs. The variation in textures and growth give a natural and pleasing appearance to any garden, and allows us to landscape with our homes in mind.

The Fair Folk Love It!

Faerie gardens often make use of bright colors and varying species in order to attract such spirits to the garden. But in a world where more and more space is urbanized, and more species are introduced that were not part of the environment before, perhaps it is good to consider how local spirits may feel if we can help provide a refuge of sorts, in which comfortable plants can thrive.

In my practice, I’ve always cringed a little bit to think of growing some of the gardens I’ve seen for local spirits. Something in my heart was bothered by the thought of trying to invite local spirits into my garden by using non-local plants - like trying to invite someone over to your house by trying to offer them their least favorite foods, or foods that don’t seem that attractive to them. Since faerie gardens are meant to invite your local spirits to create a home, consider ways in which you can focus on the plants that they’d be most familiar with, to create a pleasant and comfortable environment for them!

In Conclusion…

There is more to be said of native gardens - this article barely scratches the surface. They’re environmentally friendly, inexpensive to maintain, are educational, and provide a solid connection with nature’s bounty right where you live. If you struggle to introduce special or unique plants to your garden, try your hand and your magic at working with native plants - you may be surprised as to the possibilities that they can open up!

May all your harvests be bountiful! )O(

awaywardhill  asked:

So how bad is Guns, germs, and Steel? Is it still worth reading or do people consider it bunk/ too pop history.

It is a garbage book. Diamond tries to answer difficult questions, but in doing so simplifies issues and topics to the point of being wrong. This is compounded by his use of out of date information and poor understanding of topics within anthropology. Fans of his book like to say it is just sour grapes among academics, but his fans are the same sort of people who think colonialism was justified and that we no longer need to do anything for contemporary Native peoples.

Instead, I recommend reading 1491 by Charles Mann. He presents a lot of information, much of it very new and groundbreaking at the time of its publication in 2006. It is a favorite among academics to assign to their intro classes because Mann does not try and interpret research to fit a narrative like Diamond does. His sequel, 1493, is equally great with his discussion on the effects of the the Columbian Exchange. My favorite topics are the spread of the potato to Europe, the lack of European use of Native agricultural practices for cultivating the potato, and the resulting potato famines as a result of using New World guano as fertilizer which introduced a fungus that killed the potato. The effects of the famines were compounded by the use of European agricultural practices for the potato which greatly increased the spread of the fungus. If they had used Andean potato cultivation practices the potato famines may not have been so severe. My other favorite topic is how all the silver wealth extracted by Spain fro the New World initially made them rich, but the continued introduction of silver quickly caused a financial crisis with rampant inflation. Spain’s response was to use more silver. All this silver made its way to China which destabilized China’s economy and left it open for later colonization efforts.

Indian Arrival Day in Jamaica, May 10th

May 10th is celebrated in Jamaica as Indian Arrival Day. 

The first 261 Indians arrived In 1845, transported by British colonists and lading at Old Harbour, on the south coast of Jamaica. They were the first to begin their working contracts on the island. Today, 2015, 170 years later, we still celebrate their arrival.   

This day of May 10th not only reminds of the rich cultural and ethnic heritage of Jamaica’s people (“Out Of Many, One People”), but speaks also to the similarities between the experiences of Africans in the transatlantic slavery and the Indian laborers forced into servitude

Indians arrived to the island in many waves. These indentured workers were placed on the island’s lucrative sugar and banana plantations, tending the crops for land owners. The system of indentured workers in Jamaica ended in 1917. Some of them returned to their homeland in India, some moved in the Caribbean basin (such as Guyana) and some stayed in Jamaica. 

While they originally lived in forced isolation on the plantations, allowing them to preserve aspects of their native culture and cultivate it among them, they eventually had a large impact on the Afro-Jamaican community.   

Indian Arrival Day features a lively, vibrant celebration every year, affirming the continued importance of Indian heritage in Jamaican society. We find it in various aspects, including cuisine, language, agriculture and medicine, to name just a few. 

DREADLOCKS STORY explores the influence of Indian Sadhus lifestyle on the Jamaican Rastas lifestyle. Professor Ajai and Laxim Mansingh, pioneer researchers on Indian presence in Jamaica, have been interviewed by Linda  for DREADLOCKS STORY, giving an expert account of the influence of Indian people on Jamaican culture.

The Garden of Orange Delights by @wentingthings

Color: Orange / #FF7538

Have you ever wondered why some orange things – orange hair, orange-breasted English robins, the orange planet Mars – are instead called red? The color orange has had an interesting path into the English language, and many things that are orange predate the word itself. Orange the color is named after the ripe fruit of the same name, from the Old French pomme d’ orange; its first recorded use as a color in the English language is in 1512 – the High Renaissance. (To trace the word further back: orange comes from the Arabic word, nāranj, which itself is from the Persian, nārang). Believed to be native to Asia, cultivation of the orange fruit spread first to India, and then to the eastern Mediterranean from eastern Africa. When oranges arrived in the more northerly climates of Europe, affluent households preserved the trees in dedicated glass orangeries, as seen here in this garden of orange things.

Wild rose. An amazing mood enhancing herb. One of my favorites as a tea to calm and treat depression. The best part about it is that it’s one of the safest anti-deppressants out there and great for kids. Harvest the flowers in bloom and make sure it’s a wild, native variety. The cultivated roses don’t have the same medicinal qualities so be careful which ones you harvest.

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Medicago sativa, Fabaceae

Sometimes, when I found a peculiar plant in a peculiar position, I really wish I could know for certain its full story, as it can be hard to patch it together just looking at the evidence. This was the case for the only alfalfa, or lucerne, plant I have seen in Scotland so far, growing alone in a grassy, non-cultivated field. Native to Central Asia and introduced to Europe a long time ago by ancient Persians, this vigorous perennial is naturalised, but not very common here up north, whereas I used to encounter it quite often in Northern Italy. Where weather and soil allow it -alfalfa doesn’t grow easily in damp, acidic soil- it is cultivated extensively as a high-yielding, highly-nutritious fodder plant for livestock and its very deep and well-developed root system working along with bacteria fixes a great amount of nitrogen, like other Fabaceae. 

Most parts of the plant are edible, with the sprouted seeds being the most commonly consumed, but prolonged use is considered unsafe due to potential toxic effects. Due to its long recorded history, numerous medicinal properties have been attributed to alfalfa, but it should be used with care because of the possible side-effects, like photosensitivity. As a garden plant its best use is probably as green manure or sown in rows between vegetables, to improve soil composition and attract beneficial wildlife. 

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Among the earliest harbingers of fall in Appalachia are the brilliant red berries of the common spicebush (Lindera benzoin), also referred to as the Benjamin bush.  Its prodigious clusters of bright berries have always reminded me of ripe coffee cherries - they are highly aromatic but not edible to humans.   The leaves of this deciduous shrub turn a striking yellow shade in the fall, which, coupled with the gorgeous berries, makes the plant a popular choice for cultivation by native gardeners.  The leaves also have an appealing aromatic scent and can be used to make a tea.  Spicebush is a common understory shrub in Appalachia’s forests and is the primary host plant for the spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus).

the natives were by africans’ side in the 1500s enslavement and, having an advantage due to their knowledge of the land, escaped and almost always returned to help the africans. the first slave rebellion on present america was curated by natives + africans. the spaniards were terrified of escaped african + native villages/tribes, as they were always technologically advanced and “civilized”. africans taught natives rice cultivation and formed agricultural alliances. escaped slaves walked the trail of tears. we have such a rich history and bond, we gotta look out for eachother.

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Linaria vulgaris, Plantaginaceae

With its interesting and attractive racemes of yellow flowers, common toadflax reminds of a smaller snapdragon (Anthirrhinum majus), but unlike its showier relative within the same family, it seems much easier to encounter it growing as a weed or among wildflowers than in cultivation. Native to Europe, temperate Asia and naturalised in North America, this species prefers a sunny spot on well-draining, preferably alkaline soil, so here in Scotland I often find it growing in the gravel on roadsides whereas I used to find it in more diverse locations in Northern Italy (in the photos above you can see it in both countries). 

It is now mostly done flowering here up north so it’s time for propagation, which can be done by seed or division of larger clumps. Like many other similarly shaped flowers, toadflax will attract mostly bumblebees, strong enough to pry open the tight lips and access the inner parts of the corolla, so another good plant for a wildlife friendly garden to lure in pollinators. Although the leaves are reportedly edible and the plant has a long tradition as a medicinal plant, mostly as a diuretic and to treat skin affections, it can be toxic and thus now seldom used in herbalism.

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Philotheca myoporoides is in the citrus family Rutaceae. Commonly known as long-leaf waxflower, it is native to Southeast Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. This species and others used to be classified under the genus Eriostemon, but recent taxonomical studies have placed it and 39 others into Philotheca. The long-leaf waxflower is the most popular species within the genus, and is also considered one of the most cultivated Australian native plants, with multiple varities and cultivars available at nurseries. This perennial shrub grows up to 2 meters tall, and is easily adaptable to many growing conditions, but prefers areas with light shade.

Follow for more plant facts and photos!

Primula marginata is in the family Primulaceae. Commonly known as silver-edged primrose, it is native to meadows and subalpine areas of the European Alps. Silver-edged primrose is a small herb found growing on limestone outcroppings and in between rock crevices in its native habitat. First cultivated from wild specimens during the late 18th century, this species has been bred by horticulturalists to produce more vibrant and showy lavender flowers. This plant gets its common name from the silver hairs that outline the margins of the leaves, which also make this primrose attractive for use in the garden.

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I really didn’t truly appreciate the diversity of grasses in the local marsh area until they all went to seed: I couldn’t even begin to count the number of distinct (and beautiful) species.

I’ve read somewhere that grasses are notoriously difficult to identify, and that if you become a grass taxonomist, you’ll never be out of work.

Being from the Canadian prairies, I’ve always had an appreciation for grass-dominated biomes, but only recently have I begun to understand the ecological importance of these spaces: this is vital habitat.

As I read more about insect and pollinator conservation, I am starting to integrate more native grass cultivation into my permacultural praxis: I’m taking seeds and root cuttings from some of these stands, and integrating them into my bee gardens.

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Prunus americana is in the family Rosaceae. Commonly known as American Plum, it is widely distributed throughout the United States and is found as far west as Montana and as far east as Maine. This species is a small tree growing up to 26 feet tall and is found in gulches and canyons as well as along streams and riverbanks. American Plum produces white flowers that bloom in April and May which give off a sweet, fragrant odor. Outside of its native range, it is cultivated as an ornamental tree for landscapes. The fruit are also eaten fresh, or used to make jams and jellies. However, American Plum is more commonly used as a rootstock for other, sweeter plum varieties.