The End of Summer

  Magnolia’s Journal Entry:

(almost the) Last week of Summer,

The air this morning was a cool kiss goodbye from Summer.  She’s packing away her green trimmings, folding up warm afternoons, and making room for Autumn.  The path is already dusted in golden leaves.  This year’s last fawns have lost their spots and the red berries of the Spice Bush and Jack-in-the-Pulpits are the showiest blossoms in the forest.

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Jack-In-The-Pulpit berries growing along The Path.

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Spice Berry Bush in the late Summer

I have devoted myself entirely to the Society of Moss and Lace.  Despite the distance between us, I feel close to Ironroot when I am creating for the Great Mother Rebellion.  I can almost feel his breath against my cheek as Juni and I bend our heads over bead work and his laughter is in the whirring of the sewing machine.  Knowing my love and I are joined in the same task makes his absence more tolerable.

Juni and I spent a whole day yesterday wrapping up parcels to go beyond the Santooshkan Border and into the lands of the Purblind.  I wonder if our magical packages will be drunk up by the thirst of the civil lands.  Our enchanted labors will take root, and like weeds in a fallow pasture, the tiny seed of magic will sprout in the willing minds of the Purblind.  We pondered the destination of our enchanted articles and hoped they would bind the fate of their new owners to Santooshka and the Still Water Way.

SAM_9599Greystone was the first to see Thimble Sip and Betsy paddling upstream.  He ran down to the sandy bank, waving his arms, and hollering, with Azalea quick on his heels.  Bedecked with packages, Juni and I carefully maneuvered to the water’s edge.   By the time we made it to the shore, Betsy the spiny soft shell turtle had lumbered onto the sand.  Her long snout nosed at some vegetation in Azalea’s hand, and Greystone had climbed on top of the great shell to better speak with the small wild haired gnome.

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Betsy looking hopeful as Azalea pulled the greens out of pouch.

Thimble Sip‘s palanquin was tied to the giant turtle’s shell with thin lengths of braided pond grasses. By way of wooden wheels and leather straps, his peddling turns a small paddle at the rear of the turtle, churning the murky waters, and propelling the creature-craft forward.  Betsy and Thimble Sip are the quickest way upstream, and the best conveyance to Honey Bower’s cottage.  Thimble Sip, always kind, agreed to take our goods upstream for one of Azalea’s kisses and a joke from Greystone.

The Still Water Almanac (the last but most used pages of the Grimoire) decrees that today is for “pruning to discourage growth”. All week Azalea and Greystone caught saw-nosed pixies down by Beaver’s Dam.  Funny little fae, they fall fast asleep when they are trapped inside a bell jar.  Because the creatures are hatched in the heart wood of Ancient Oaks, they are stubbornly tenacious and known through out the wood for their hunger.  If you place an open jar against a tree limb they will munch their way through in little time.  Juniper and I finished all the fruit tree trimming, and there were even a few left over , so I managed to cut back a little more bramble to expand the garden.pepsgoose

Juni and I have been so busy with the Society that I have been in the vegetable garden only in the early mornings.  It is so peaceful among the buzzing of bees and dewy leaves.   I spend most of my time harvesting produce.   The mulch we put down has done a good job of keeping the weeds out.  The last of the squash is swollen on the vine and the toms and peps are in their radiant climax.  Ironweed, tucked between the beds, smells sweet and is the current beauty of the patch.

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pepIn the late afternoons we have been cleaning, sorting, storing, and canning our bountiful fruits.  We have begun to set aside the best to be served on Mabon.  It is true, that I love all the spokes of the wheel, but Autumn equinox is my favorite!

We expect several of the wood’s inhabitants to attend.  Many travel across Santooshka with small wains to exchange bumper crops.  I am looking forward to the cranberries from the Bog.   The heady smell of the bonfire smoke mingles with the crushed leaves beneath our feet as we dance around the fire.  It is a reminder that Winter will be riding Autumn’s coat tails. It is comforting to know we have full pantries and a well stacked wood house.

Mabon is almost a week away, and by then our enchanted packages should have made it to the Western Enclave of the Silicon Elves.  They are well versed in the Purblind Ways, and have secret plans to distribute The Society of Moss and Lace magicked goods.  It will be our first true act in the rebellion, and the beginning to a journey we can not yet imagine!

M.M.

Excerpt from the Still Water Grimoire:

How to save Tomato Seeds:

548587_374213255986929_1967206707_n It is necessary to save the seeds from the best plants if you want to continue to have a good crop of Tomatoes.

  1. Gently scrape the innards of the best tomatoes into a glass jar.
  2. Cover jar in cheese cloth and mark the variety
  3. leave out in the sun until a white scum is on the top
  4. Skim the top and then rinse the seeds in water486798_374213219320266_1017809147_n
  5. All the good seeds will fall to the bottom
  6. Place wet seeds on cloth until dry
  7. Store in a dark dry place until next spring

In Which Magnolia Receives a Moon Message and Helps a Luna Pixie

Magnolia’s Journal:

 Sturgeon Full Moon FreeDay,

I can say for certain that I have been growing anxious for this night.   This eve is the first full moon since my husband has left.  I have just returned from my night adventure and the 1440868699647grassy glen just beyond the creek’s edge.  Midnight seemed to never come, as I waited sitting upon a mossy rock.

The spell worked as I hoped it would.  Written in Ironroot’s own hand were the words I longed to believe.  He IS safe!  He has reached his North Eastern enclave.

SAM_1268After reading Ironroot’s message, I sat still and listened to the night song of Santooshka.  Two Bard Owls sang spiraling duets in the finale of their nightly competitions. A soft wind dried the sweat from my face, it’s cool fingers tussled my locks, and tugged my nightgown.  It smelled like tomorrow’s rain and cooler weather.   The breeze beckoned me as I found myself walking down the moonlit path.

The new found power that Juniper and I discovered has helped in keeping my mind off Ironroot these last weeks.  We were amazed and delighted to discover a few pages that had been stuck together, I suspect magically sealed, in the Sweet Water Grimoire.  This hidden chapter contains a cash of Creatrix incantations and charms to enhance our innate power for creation.   The simplest and so far my favorite, is a summoning spell for a little pixie that sits atop my sewing machine.  She hums such lovely tunes, that make the sewing treadle go twice as fast, with half the effort, but is so shy she vanishes if we ask her name.

Juniper found a spell for her spinning wheel.  The most difficult task was to obtain a spider spun sachet to store the herbs in.  Luckily, I had received such a bag on my handfasting day.  After adding the final ingredient, a fist full of wooly Mullein harvested the last moment before day break, the pouch melted into a soft waxy ball.  When she rubs this substance on her spindle, the yarn always comes out the perfect thickness.

1440866634313Lost in my thoughts, I stumbled over a root and fell face first into a loamy pile of decaying leaves.  Unwilling to get up I rolled unto my back and stared at the slim span of stars between the branches that mirrored the forest path.  I laid there, in this manner, for an unknown time.  Knowing Ironroot is safe has  reduced the tightness in my chest, but his absence still weighs heavy on me.

I must have fallen asleep, because the rustling of nearby underbrush woke me.  I caught my breath and kept still, it sounded like a large beast, and I did not want to frighten any forest dweller away. In Santooshka there are nocturnal creatures  that keep away from the light of our cottages.  Only once or twice after a long hard winter, before spring begins to show any green, have the Sasquatch come to our valley.   On Feast days we leave jugs of ale, always gone in the morning, for the tanaki, but we have never seen them.  Juniper once heard the mad cry of the Hamadryad, and just recently, while out collecting Moon Beans, Greystone caught a glimpse of a man sized owl taking flight.

I slowly rolled onto my belly, as a litany of curses wafted through the trees.  I blinked the sleep out of my eyes, and noticed a blue luminescent sphere tucked between two tree roots off to my right.    The rustling grew louder as this sweet voiced foul mouthed creature thrashed about in my direction.

“Oh stagnant pond sludge!   Where in the dammed river did it go?”  A rounded rear end stuck out from the foliage as the Pixie walked backward with its head down and it’s arms thrashing behind it.  Her bare heel caught on the same root that was my down fall, and in a tangle of sparkly blue, she came crashing down beside me.

“PLASTICIZED PRICKS!” she yelled as she fell backward.  She landed on her behind, her elven shaped face next to mine.  Then, “Ooup.”  Wide eyed, she gulped.  “Pardon my mouth.  I didn’t realize anyone was about.”

I couldn’t contain myself, but managed to slap my hand over my mouth as laughter escaped.

“Plasticized-“ I giggled.

Blushing slightly ultramarine the blue girl shrugged and offered her hand.

“I have always wanted to meet one of the Ladies of the Wood, but I am  far too busy to drop1440866633710 in, and now just look at me, what an impression I have made.”  Her green eyes sparkled as she smiled.   “I’m Star Dust, and you must be…”

“I’m Magnolia, Juniper is my sister, and you’re right, we are the Ladies of Santooshka.  Never mind the how, we both were ensnarled by that treacherous root, it is happy chance to meet you in the forest this night.”

“I’ve just the thing to celebrate this happenstance meeting in the dark.”  Star dug around in a leather sack tied to her hip.  She pulled out a small pipe fastened from a deer antler and stuffed herbs into the end.  She caught a bit of a moon beam, and pinched it until it expelled a flash of flame that she stoked by taking deep puffs on the pipe.

“Fortifies against the dark,” she said, her voice distorted by a lung full, and passed me the smoking pipe.

1440793835903I joined in on her little ritual and as the tension left us, we chatted freely.   Star is a Luna Pixie.  Her kind are all sisters born from eggs lain generations ago, every millennium a new crèche is hatched.  A disaster occurred when Star was just a hatchling, killing all the sisters in her generation.   Her elder sisters too old, and the young ones too small, she alone could leave their underground burrow and preform their worldly duties.

“And that is why we have never met and why I can never find time to visit you.  I must perform the work of a hundred sisters,” Star finished

.“What is it that you must do?” I asked

“It is a heavily guarded secret of my people, but I will tell you this: Long ago when the Fae Kind and the Purblinds could no longer coexist, the magical people combined their powers and created many small havens that were hidden from Purblind eyes.”

“Like Santooshka?”
“Exactly,” Her azure tinged fingers tucked her dark curls behind her ear.  Her midnight locks shimmered like a star filled sky.  Her face darkened as she grew serious.   “However, the net surrounding Santooshka and all magical enclaves must be refreshed by every full moon, or it‘s strength will fade with the waning.”

Then she burst into tears, “And now I have ruined it all to bloody hell.  I have lost the Moon Key, and will be unable to rekindle the dammed hollows.”

“My friends and I will help you look!  Don’t cry, tell me what this moon key object looks like, and I can begin to search right away.

Star wiped tears from her face and took a deep breathe, ”It appears as a small hand sized glowing blue bauble, and it should be bleeding easy to see in the dammed dark wood.”

Of course the description sounded familiar, I had just seen the moon key on the other side of Star.  I smiled widely and laughed out loud.

“Don’t you understand anything I have just said?  You are as crazy as a Purblind if you think this is funny!”  Star said with her hands on her hips.

“Oh I understand,“ still smiling I crawled behind the blue pixie and reached into the low growing ferns.  “Is this what you are looking for?” I handed her the glowing sphere.

SAM_1219“Sweet Water!” Star exclaimed!  “You’ve saved the night, City Lights, you’ve saved us all!!”

I told her not to be silly, and assured her that she would have found it as easily as me, if I hadn’t already been sprawled on the ground when she fell.  She hugged me tight and did a little dance, sending, a shower of aqua sparks flying from her feet.

Once again able to go about her important business, Star was eager to be on her way.  “So many Hollows, you know,” she said.  She dug into her pouch once more, but it was not her pipe she pulled out this time.  Her hand was full of dazzling crystals.  Each one shone with it’s own light.

image“We call them star shards.  My sisters and I know when a fragment of star light becomes entangled in the protective web around Santooshka. I collected these myself, I give them as a small appreciation token!

“You do not know the trouble you have helped us all escape, not to mention saving me personally from my elder sisters’ wrath!!!”

She also gave me some of her pipe herbs, which I tucked away into one of my pockets.  We promised to look for each other on the next full moon, and to keep our new friendship.  After a long goodbye, we parted ways.

Meeting Star was a good omen!  It reinforces my decision to stay at home, while Ironroot walks the wind.

I think what I need before I retire this evening is long hot bath.   I’ll wake the fire pixies, and after they take a dip in the tub, the water will be almost boiling!  And I have the perfect Full Moon Bath Soaking Salts!

M.M.

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Full Moon Soaking Salts

You will need:

1 Cup Sea Salt

1 Cup Baking Soda

1 tsp of skin-safe quality sourced Essential oil ~ we used a combination of Lavender, Rose and Vetiver oils.

In a well ventilated area, combine the salt and the soda and the essential oils in a large bowl being sure to mix well.

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Spoon in to a colored glass jar and enjoy under the full moon!

In which Wandering WoolGather drops a parcel and the Forest Gives a Gift

Magnolia’s Journal:

Ides of August

I woke to the warbler’s song this morning.  It’s sweet song trilling between my covers and into my heart.    The sun was just peaking over the hill as I poked my head out from my cottage.  Thick mist rose from the dewy grass and clung to the branches over hanging the SAM_0963commons.  Spokes of light persisted in sheering through the fog and dappled my goose pimpled arms.   A slight breeze blew over the stream, sweeping cool air across my face.

Untold days had passed since I had last really paid attention to much else than my wounded heart.  I suppose I have been out of sorts, mourning Ironroot’s sudden departure.SAM_0966   However in the light of this new day, I finally felt a little reprieve.  The metal vice that had gripped my heart, not vanished, but had at last loosened.  I could finally take a deep breath.  And, as I already know, but must keep learning, the wholesome Santooshkan air lightened my heavy burden into a load I could bear.

In the last fortnight Summer had cloaked our little valley in bright green.   Curly locked moss had over taken the rock path, and tickled my bare toes.  I meandered down to the creek’s edge

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SAM_0674 All my favorite late summer wild flowers were in full bloom and the Bell Flowers filled the air with a grape like fragrance.  The clear running water was cold against my skin, and as I splashed water upon my arms and legs, the icy rivulets further revitalized me and swept the darkness into the far corners of my mind.

SAM_0681Suddenly I heard a loud whoosh, as if a concert of giants had all sighed at once.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught just the hint of the Wandering Woolgather’s hot air balloon.  I jumped up and ran down the path back to the cottages.

Having caught the wind, the balloon bobbed gently over the clearing.  Wandering’s balloon is not only a most welcomed sight, but proof of magic-if there was one.   It appeared to be always landing, but swooping up at the last moment over a stubbornly large tree.   Its lopsided dome is a literal quilt of patches.  Squares of all sizes, layered madly in an eye wrenching kaleidoscope of colors.   The rag tag balloon leaned precariously towards the bow, so it was often that you could spy Wandering, hanging nose down over the stern, with his long toes anchored through the rope, in a poor attempt to straighten the flying contraption’s path.  Though, he says he does it that way, so he can see where he’s been.

Wandering Woolgather likes to make his drops in the smack dab center of the meadow.  It is a good soft place for the packages to land, and free from tall trees to snag woolgather’s wonderful balloon.

Juniper and the changelings rose a little later to the whistling of the tea pot.   Sleepy eyed and wrapped up in her summer sheets, Juni stumbled over with her hand outstretched, reaching for the cup I offered her.

“My, you’re up early,” she smiled through golden tresses.

“It’s such a beautiful day!  I feel like I have finally woken up from a dark dream I’ve been living in.  Summer is slipping by and I will not spend the rest of it with my head buried beneath my pillow!   The sun is shining, birds are singing, and I can feel Santooshka soaking into my bones!

“It is good to see you in high spirits, not mention the clean smock,” Juniper kindly chided.   “And with hot tea.”   She put her face over her steamy mug and took deep breathes.  “But for truth, I am very glad to see you smile.”

“Thank you for helping me tend to my wounds.  Hot tea, is the least I can do.  Plus I have even better news!  Guess who I saw careening by?”

Juniper’s eyes lit up and she said, “I thought I was just dreaming, but I knew I heard the wandering woolgather’s balloon clunk by.”

After tea, the changelings, Juniper and I set out towards the meadow.   The morning had shed its early chill, and the sun warmed our faces as we crossed into the field.  Marked with colorful flags on long poles, several boxes lay in a neat bundle tied in blue string.   Juni and I took turns carrying the large box back to the cottages, while the changelings juggled a few smaller packages and ran ahead.

We reached the clearing just as Azalea and Greystone opened a package bearing their names in the curly script of Honey Bower.  They both let out a little whoop of delight, as they each pulled out a small peach pie

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“It’s still warm too,” Azalea giggled.

“I will put the kettle on, and we’ll all have tea and pie,” Greystone stood up, dusting off his breeches, mindful of the pastries.

“Honey’s peach pie for breakfast?”  I laughed, “This day keeps getting better and better!!”

Having been decently fortified by Honey’s gooey, delicious pie and Greystone’s steaming tea, we attacked the unpackaging with celebratory fervor.

Other than the pies, Honey Bower had also sent a few taffy candies, a handful of licorice, and a jar of this year’s maple syrup.  Colored wax sticks for Azalea, a child size set of silver hand tools for Greystone, and new shiny pins and needles and pair of sharp shears for Juniper and me, all lovingly wrapped in crisp colored papers.  There was letter for Juni, which she tucked into her pocket, for later scrutinizing.

We all turned our eyes to the last unopened box, it stood unmolested in a sea of crumbled papers and gaping packages.  Greystone attacked it with vigor, diving in head first, as he pulled wide the folded flaps.   He dug around for a moment only to reappear, with a rather less than pleased look on his face, “Its only cloth.”

Juniper and I looked at each other with matching enthusiasm, “Fabric!”  We grinned in unison.

The last parcel was indeed filled with magic; shiny blues and calicos, soft muslin, and rougher linens, bits of lace, and bobs of thread.  We pawed our way to the bottom, rubbing the silky ones on our faces, and running our fingers along intricate designs, holding up bolts and waving things in the air.  This continued in such a manner for so long the changelings had run off with their prizes and the sun moved across the sky by the time it was finished.SAM_0860

Alone, I was able to tell Juniper that the hole in my chest had become smaller.  I was able to enjoy the moment once more.  We chatted until our soft tones had turned to merry banter, discussing one fabric or the next.

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We took the bolts of fabric bundled in our arms and placed it in the clearing between some oak and cedar trees next to Juniper’s Moon Garden.  Juniper fetched the Still Water Grimoire, blue moon fairy dust and some sage, while I arranged the newly acquired material.

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The forest crooned as we danced around the circle.  The trees swayed in a still air and little sprites spun in tight circles above our heads.  We summoned the magic of the four Fairy SAM_0915                      SAM_0895SAM_0926

Queens, from each direction.  We called upon the meadow’s flowery breath, the stream’s clean spirit, we asked the mighty Oaks to lend their strength to the threads, and the wild flowers to share their colors.  We asked the Mother Earth to enchant these mundane items with magic of the forest, binding the destiny of the each garment to that of Santooshka.

In a final crescendo of forest buzzing, the piles of fabric began to slowly move.  It gathered speed until it was a blue swirl with magic being released in azure popping sparks.   One fabric rose above the rest billowing and rotating to its own tempo.   Two corners extended outward and the top formed a sphere. Then suddenly the wood was quiet, and the gold flowered material fell to the top of the still pile.

Juniper and I rushed forward each picking up the silky fabric.  It was no longer a simple square of fabric but a beautiful caplet.

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“Ooo” we cooed together

“I have read about this in the Grimoire,” Juni said.  “We must be Creatrixes!! The Grimoire tells that in some cases where extraordinary women work together, their individual magic expands exponentially.  They have been known to be create magical artifacts out of single particles of forest matter!

“Mags, do you know what this means?  There hasn’t been any Creatrixes in Santooshka for a thousand years!   The forest could read our desire for creation.  It fed upon our ideas and gave us a gift.”

Even as I write, the smile plastered on my face has not faltered.   It is good to be here with Juniper and Azalea and Greystone!  I now know my heart can be in two places and not break into pieces.  I am Magnolia, a Lady of Santooshka, a married women, a friend, and O holy Still Waters, I am a root’n Creatix!  And I will not wallow in brokenness, but will live my life making magic and laughing.

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M.M.

Juniper and the First Fall

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I followed the music after the ceremony. I left Magnolia gleefully wrapped in Ironroot’s arms just after the handfasting. It was a low thudding, much like the steady heartbeat of a large animal. There were golden mid-tones, and glittering- almost metallic high notes rippling through like water flowing; an endlessly cycling, yet never exactly repeating, song. I studied the faces of the guests at the wedding- no one else seemed to be hearing the music. After a time, I made my way to the outskirts of the soiree and found myself in the forest again.

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I could almost hear the trees sighing and swaying to the rhythms that rippled through the dendritic canopy over the worn footpath. The heat that clung to my dress and skin began to fall away behind me as I moved deeper into the woods. The bright Lughnasadh sunshine splashed across my face, and as the tunes became sweeter, and I found the corners of my mouth turned up involuntarily.

What a gift music is to the soul. It touches places where words cannot reach, and cleanses and realigns the spirit in the most gentle of ways. Like the wind wears away the mountain, music wipes clean the arenaceous sediment of sadness from the heart. As the moments dissolved into a singular liquid presence, I began to run through the forest as though in a rapturous chase.

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A snapping turtle crossed the path as I drew near the creekside. “Turtle! Do you hear that music?” I was almost giggling.
“You speak much too fast for me to understand. Slow down!” He snapped and with determination and focus, kept striding determined toward his destination.

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The woodland darkened and the light became the divine even green, as it does when it is ready to tell you it’s secrets. The music played on and it drew me deeper and away from the hard packed game trails through a thicket. Stinging Nettle hissed and lapped at my ankles and calves as I wove in and out of vines and low hanging branches.

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I tripped over a large root and landed squarely in front of a mother Turkey and her clutch, at once upsetting their afternoon tea. “I’m sorry for the intrusion But, do you hear that sound?” I queried like a madwoman.
“Dear me! Come and brush the dirt from your knees and have some seed cake and blackberry tea. We have more than enough to go around.” Her voice warbled the invitation. “Please, sit, rest, you have everything you need here with us. Rest. Sit in our circle. Share our food. Heal.” Her kind black eyes revealed nothing but unconditional concern.

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The music played on and I felt now compelled to find it’s source. I would not be deterred by turtles, turkeys or tea. And on I tramped through briar and boughs toward the unknown.

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Slowly the soft, moist forest floor gave way to smooth sandstone. The trees began to shift and space themselves between root-impenetrable rocky outcroppings. Instead of the moss and mycelium majesty of the inner forest, grass and the occasional prickly pear cactus grew in between boulders.

A rather large timber rattler sidled up next to me and shook his scaley segmented tale. “Ssssay, ssssissster. Where you headed?” He wound around in front of me to meet my face.
“Don’t you hear the music? I’m going to find out where it’s coming from.” I trudged forward but was met with a coil and a warning.
“I will grant no sssuch passsage through my kingdom. I know your sssort. Alwaysss russshing about on some fool’sss errand- never sssatisssfied with what you’ve got, and ssseverely lacking in ssspiritual qualitiesss. I ssshall bite you and make you sssuffer.” He coiled and licked at me.

“Perhaps you would like a taste of my pemmican, instead?” I was always taught to keep a secret stash of pemmican in a pocket, for time is a beast that does not dwell in the forest as hunger does. When I reached into my pocket, I realized that the snake would strike me and that there was no fear that would change a destiny that was already written, and so I closed my eyes and held out my open hand.
“I sssmell your fear.” he hissed.
“I wish I could say the same for your mercy!” My breathing became shallow and I braced for the needle toothed attack.
As I stood there hand outstretched and trembling, the music quickened and a blustery wind blew up through the boulders. A shadow fell across my face. In an instant, the snake was snapped up in the clutches of an eagle, and I heard the head being severed as the bird landed mere feet away to devour it’s dinner. Not another second was spent to gape at the serpent’s body in sharp-taloned grasp. I was gone in an instant.

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Bright and baking in the sunlight, I stepped out onto a large sandstone bluff overlooking the green enchanted forest of Santooshka. The music became a bell-like ringing in my ears as I searched for the source.

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I stopped, chewed my pemmican, and then, after some time, stood open-armed in complete gratitude for the sweet sounds. I started to dance; whirling atop the bluffs in joy. The music began to fade, and slowly turning in time with the aria, a single Autumn-painted Maple leaf descended from the sky. As soon as I grasped the golden thing, the music stopped.

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“It was the chiming of the trees!” Magnolia clasped her hand over her heart. I was able to sneak back to the gardens before the cake was sliced.
“Yes, and to hear it on such an auspicious day, must only mean glad tidings!” I smiled at my friend who now wore the same toothy grin, having been reassured from my afternoon adventure. We locked arms and re-joined the wedding feasting aglow with renewed hope for the future.

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The Hand fasting of Magnolia and Ironroot

Magnolia’s Journal:Sabbath,

imagesLike the silver workings of the spider’s web, my life seems to be remade over night.  Ironwood received a message late last night.  He must leave Santooshka and travel to the eastern Civil Lands.  He does not need to say the words, but I know he fears he will not return.  He has asked my hand in marriage, a small token to hold dear to my heart in face of the impending emptiness.

MM

Woddenday,

Featured imageIt is a fine thing that our Santooshkan Vale revels in impromptu festivals! Our Lughnasadh celebrations are usually quite small with only the valley’s inhabitants attending.  Once again this cycle, I give thanks for our bountiful gardens and prosperous woodland gleanings.

Juniper’s cottage was  filled with the sweet chirruping of sparrows, as they alight on the sills to take  the freshly inked invitations from GreyStone’s hand.    Azalea wandered around the meadow picking wild flowers.  Juniper has left her spinning wheel to help me sew my gown. Featured image The cavern weavers sadly refused my desire for new cloth, quoting the wrong season and lack of time.  It is just so, I have mountains of small scraps, and we will sew them together.  A perfect symbol for my past transforming into my future.

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Thorsday,

Two great things are occurring. It is no surprise that I feel as if my soul is shining and spilling out into the ether.   My wedding, and Juni’s and my decision to reach out to the Purblinds.   In a dream, Juniper saw our “other selves” and it planted the seed, which we have nurtured into a realized action.   We will create the secret Society of Moss and Lace.   Moss for Santooshka and the Still Water Way and Lace to symbolize the interconnectedness of not just the fay folk but of all peoples who wander the earth.

It is not necessary to emphasize our need for secrecy.  If even the slightest hint of our rebellion reaches the Queen, I have no doubt that Titania will follow through with her threat of banishment.  Despite the heavy consequences, Juniper and I must do what we feel is right.  I can not deny the Still Water prophecies.  It has become our obligation to open the eyes of as many Purblinds as we can, even if it is only one.  They deserve to know magic is real, and that the Earth Mother is alive.

After my dear Ironroot leaves, I will be able to give myself completely to this new cause.  Juniper and I know what we want to accomplish, but the exact means still evade us.  Despite the worry in Ironroot’s eyes, he knows he can’t keep me from this task.  The three of us have spent many evenings this week discussing the Society.  Juniper and I have decided to keep this from the changelings at the moment.  We are truly an odd assortment of people, preparing for a wedding by day, and making furtive battle plans by night.

MM

Blue Moon,

My Husband (even though that will not really be true until tomorrow),

I know when you read this you will be far outside the protective veil of my Santooshka.  I have secreted this small package into your belongings, if only to gladden your heart, and bring a smile to your beautiful face.  And perhaps too, because it is difficult for me to speak of separation when we are just about to be joined.

It will be an easy task to bind the two of us, because I know we are already one. The universe brought us together and neither of us expected to be to be so intertwined, especially at this moment. We are like knotted macrame, so many different ropes fasten us together, but also take us in different directions.  You outward on your clandestine sojourns while I must stay grounded in Santooshka to begin the Society with Juniper.  Even though our paths will take us different places, our cause is the same.SAM_0772

Place this enchanted locket in the light of the full moon.  The rays of Luna will connect us no matter where are we are. Words that are spoken into the open locket at midnight will be written in moon beams for me to read.  I will not be able to respond, but I will know that you are safe.

Juniper sends this Moss Amulet.  We believe whole heartily that it played an essential role in reviving her after her entanglement with the trolls this spring.  It is a small part of Santooshka and thus a small part of me.

Travel safe, my other half. I know your commitment to spread the Mother Earth Rebellion is as strong as your love for me.  If you sense the path ahead of you is is diverging into two futures, I beg you, please, choose the way that will bring you back to me.

Eternally Yours,

Mags

The Wedding of Magnolia & IronRoot

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“Love is the language of two.”

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Fay Folk flew in from all over Santooshka to witness the cemermony

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Trading of Rings

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Magnolia and Ironwood

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Queen Mab made a special appearance

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Ironroot drinks from the quaich

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OakLeaf the Wizard and the Elven Lady Evermore

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Three Fairy Maids:  Sunshine, Sparkle, and Glisten

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An Ancient Rock Spirit wishes Iron Root Good luck on his journey

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After IronRoot and Magnolias Lips met, the sky opened up and rain poured down

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Juniper’s Journal: Wandering feet, a troubled heart, and tea with a Groundhog

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I find myself changing since my return to the forest from the short time I’ve spent amongst the Purblind. Small creases around my mouth and eyes appear when I catch a glimpse of myself in the looking glass. It seems I have aged a decade in the days I was gone from our enchanted home.

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Though I welcome becoming a crone, I do not wish it upon myself prematurely. In quiet parts of the day, I remember my trek to the seed festival,  the troll attack,  and the fever that followed, and that is how I have explained this mysterious accelerated aging to myself. I have also noticed a quivering in my chest and I have taken to solitary walks along the edge of Santooshka as consolation. It is as if I am being called out of the forest by an inaudible pleading, and many moments since Midsummer has been spent listening to the wind and hoping it will tell me my own heart.

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This wanderlust I have recently acquired, is both exhilarating and terrifying. I can’t help but wonder if this is the inner state of all Purblinds. The busyness, the maddening tumbling, grasping and scrambling to achieve obscure, disconnected, self-imposed prisons of sameness and convenience. In Santooshka, we are birthed and rooted into an unbroken circle of giving and receiving. When the rain falls, we drink. When fruits ripen on the trees, we feast. Even when our harvests are meager, we take joy in experiencing the lack, as it allows us to consider our bounties ever the more precious when we have it.

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It was during one of my recent pensive ramblings, that I found myself near an abandoned tumbledown shack, and from underneath it, emerged Serafina the groundhog.

“Ooh, it’s the beautiful Juniper GinFairy, come to visit me!” she cooed in her sugary voice. “I knew I’d be having a visitor today, which is why I just dusted the entirety of my large, beautiful mansion!”
Once in a while, a groundhog will come across a house that some other man built and claim it as the fruit of their own labors. As one such groundhog, Serafina made sure to work her home into any conversation in which she found herself. “Juniper, please come inside for some tea, I have just put the kettle on.” She preened her coarse silvery brown fur. A visit with Serafina always proved to be disorienting. She would sweetly offer tea and treats and laude their refined tastefulness only to serve up sugared pond water and half-eaten dried lichen chips with her stubby little fingers.

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“Come and sit here in the kitchen, the woodwork is original, you know. Come and sit and you’ll tell me all that is weighing on you, my dear!” She ushered me inside her mildewing manor. No matter the vocal content that drizzled out of Serafina’s mouth, she is always sure to deliver it with acute sweetness. It is of course, soothing at the onset, but over the years, I have learned that this is how Serafina lulls one into spilling out private thoughts so that she may regurgitate them later when she has the audience of anyone who will listen.
“I don’t mean to burden you with my troubles, Serafina. I am just out walking to clear my head.”

Serafina the Groundhog beckons Juniper inside for tea.

Serafina the Groundhog beckons Juniper inside for tea.

As soon as I said it, I saw her neck-less square head perk up. “Heavy thoughts troubling your mind, Juniper?” She said in her lilting, sing-song way. And this is the manner in which Serafina prodded and poked me with sugar-coated barbs until I began to indulge her a little and confess:“Magnolia has fallen in love with a man named Ironroot!” I blurted. An awful sinking feeling started inside me. I was ashamed of using my dear friend’s budding romance to deflect from Serafina’s self-serving inquiries, but Fae are nothing if not polite when invited for tea.

I knew not to touch on my true distraction- the warning from Queen Titania at Midsummer, and my unresolved hope for a world in which Purblind and Faerie were one people again- for fear of her saccharine criticisms when my heart is so very tender and unsettled. Thankfully, she took the bait and I sat and listened while Serafina speculated on the breeding and background of Ironroot, and the foolhardiness of Magnolia’s trust for him. The more she belched sugary disapproval, the more sour it turned in my ears until at last I feigned illness and excused myself from the groundhog’s hovel.

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Breathing the wild open air again, I felt myself steady in my convictions, rooting deeper inside until the steadiness overcame my heart. I think that is always the lesson learned when one is blessed to take in groundhog medicine. Digging deeper in the dirt of my emotions, I find I question Titania’s urgency to let Purblind affairs alone. The Stillwater way is to reject segregation. We are interconnected, and though we may not see it right away, we could share with Purblind more than we can imagine.

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As I walked the path back to the cottages, I let my feet carry me and let those parts of me that are older than the mountains, older than the ocean, older than the stars in the sky overcome the worry, and remind my heart of an infinite plan. As the sun slipped low between the trees, I felt my uneasiness drain away and trail behind on the path.

Blush by Wolf Alice

Later that evening, over cozy bowls of Blue Moon Mush, I confessed to Magnolia the details of my encounter with Serafina the groundhog earlier that day.
“That bitty!” Mags threw back her head and laughed. “You remember what Mother Tasha always said, right?” she asked and slurped another spoonful of pudding.
“Groundhogs will gossip!” I chuckled.
“You let Serafina get to you only because you think others actually listen to her. And really, the only one who gives her the time of day is you, Juni. Some people are miserable because they’ve had bad things happen to them. Then, there are folks like Miss Serafina, who are miserable because they don’t let anything at all happen to them at all. Take a cue from the rest of forest and let her be with her pond slosh tea!” Magnolia’s contagious laughter roared and her cheeks glowed from the pudding and the mead. It wasn’t long before my own guffaw joined her, and then giggling from the brownies, house elves, teacup fairies, then yuk-yuking from the doves in the rafters until the entire cottage dissolved into fits of laughter.

Suddenly there came a loud pounding at the door that imposed a dark and immediate silence. Magnolia jumped up so fast her bowl of mush fell to the floor and rolled under the table. It was like she was in a wide-eyed trance- knowing before the rest of us did who was on the other side of the door.

She turned the knob and and there stood Ironroot- his face as pale as the moon, his white ringed eyes glowing, and his mouth gaping open so as to deliver news of severe importance. His eyes searched the candlelit room and before they could fall on me, I slipped out of the back door of the cottage to allow the lovers a private exchange.

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Blue Moon Mush

Makes 2 generous bowls

1 Cup Blue Corn Meal

1 Cup Fresh Cold Milk

2 Cups water

A generous pinch of salt

toppings such as: butter, honey, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, berries, heavy cream, or nuts

While you are waiting for the 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan, mix the cornmeal and the cold milk together in a bowl. This is to help prevent any lumping. When the water is boiling, add the cornmeal mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to make sure it is completely mixed. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until the mush is the consistency of pudding (or a consistency you like).  Serve in bowls with copious amounts of butter and sweetener, and cream, and anything else your heart desires!

**note Blue Corn is more bitter and earthy tasting than yellow corn, you may substitute for yellow corn to get a milder flavor.

Magnolia’s Journal: MidSummer Reflection, Past Recollections, and possible True Love

Thunder Full Moon

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Oh great Ebbing tides, what a turbulent time this is!  How can the best and the worst moment in this long life happen on the same day?  Such occurrence only proves the balance of Nature.

I have seen Titania on one other occasion before this Midsummer, but I did not share this with Juniper or the other inhabitants of our small valley.  I was quite small and my mother was a favorite of the court.  Her herb garden was renowned for its rare and medicinal plants.  She spent much time traveling from one magical enclave to the next, dispensing herbal health potions, and Still Water remedies.   This was a different time; the Purblinds had just begun to adopt their foul smelling, poison belching conveyance.  Most traveled slower, lived smaller and so it was safer for the fae folk to roam among them.

Featured imageOn a night so dark, it seemed to seep into our cottage and swallow the illumination from our own lanterns, a great storm broiled over the horizon.  The shutters rattled and tea cups clattered on their saucers every time the great thunder elements called out to each other.  We thought the storm was upon us when there was a great knocking on the door.

My mother hurried to throw open the latch.  From the window, I glimpsed a golden chariot, pulled by three aurulent griffins.  A crimson cloaked figure stood in the doorway, a dark silhouette in the lightening ravaged sky.  My mother bade them come in, and as the individual pulled back her cowl, her face glowed in our meager domicile.  Her unmistakable likeness left no question as to who this royal personage was, it was Queen Titania.

I was banished to the loft-no business for a child, but peered through the floor boards and heard bits of words as they wafted up the stairs.  The Queen’s appearance was no consequential happenstance, her paramour had fallen ill, poisoned by water flowing from a large Purblind settlement. The Queen was equally as fierce in my memory as she was this Midsummer.  imageShe stalked great circles around our small parlor, while my mother ground carefully selected herbs into a fine powder with her mortar and pestle.  As my mother offered Titania a vial full of swirling silver liquid, it makes me shiver now to think of it, the Queen warned, “This had better work, Tasha, or I will curse the Purblind, and make them suffer threefold.”

Weeks later, news reached us that the Queen’s paramour had succumbed, dying before the Queen could return to her bower.  The Fae took this very seriously, although our spirits travel to the next dimension, our useless bodies returned to our Mother, an immortal life spent without the ones you love, can be a fate worse than death.

It was at this time when my mother began instructing me in the ways of the Still Water.  She believed in the prophecy.  A day would come, when our duty of keeping the secrets of magic would end. We would become more than mere care takes, but would usher in a new era, where humans would no longer be blinded from the natural world.   My mother taught that it was arrogant to blame all the Purblinds.  In every garden, were there not weeds?  You did not turn over the whole patch just because there was Horse Nettle in the Feverfew.  But it seems Titania has not forgiven the Purblinds for their unintentional transgression.

Featured imageAfter Titania’s polemic, she turned to me, glancing down at her talon sharp nails, she hissed “I see your mother in you, but just as she was unable to help me all those many years ago, I will not show you any favors, if you disobey me.”  Flicking her hands, she dismissed me as she might shoo a fly. Facing the others, she declared Midsummer festivities to begin.  Her temper quick to flare, now dissipated beneath an awesome calm, like that of a windless lake.

As on Titiania’s first visit, the sky opened up and rain began to fall onto our valley.  As the others rushed to the shelter of Juni’s cottage, I lifted up my face to the falling drops.  Letting the water wash over me as the Queen’s warning swept through my mind.  Before I could become completely lost in my bewilderment, a calloused hand rested upon my wrist.

Iron Root stood with his arm out stretched.  “Magnolia,” he whispered. My previous melancholy was gone in an instant, replaced by steaming anger.  I demanded Iron Root’s allegiances, and accused him of falsehoods.  I urged him to tell me why he had come one moment promising hope, only to arrive the next with Titania’s entourage damning all we had planned.  I raved until I could not tell if it was rain or tears wetting my cheeks.  Only then did I ask him the true bitterness that lay closest to my heart.

Why did he leave? His large blue eyes grew larger still, and his face wrinkled up causing lines engraved by laughter, to gather at his mouth, but he was not laughing now.  He wrapped his fingers tight on my arms and pulled me to his chest.  Jasmine and hints of May Apple blossom encircled my head, and for a moment our breath intertwined before he pressed his lips to mine.  Outrage drained from my body, and I yielded to his soft lips, tasting like raspberries.

“I have loved you from the very moment we met,” he spoke softly, nestling his face into my Featured imagehair.  These words slid into all the other thoughts in my mind, tossing and churning like a raft on the distant sea.  But they sank deep into my bones and settled into my heart.  He laughed then, shaking his curls loose in the misting rain.  He held me away from him, searching my face with his deep azure eyes, smiling he said, “Well?”

Furling my brow, weary of the warmth that threatened to engulf me, I merely replied “Well, then you have some explaining to do.”

Once again his smile dropped from his face.  “I cannot tell you many things.  In part, because my past is a tangled mire with my future and I play small roles in many games across the land, but mostly it is my desire to keep you safe from the Queen’s wrath.  There is much that your small haven has been fortunate enough to evade, and is it my deepest desire to keep you innocent of such perils.

“I implore you to trust me.  I am the same man who was here not a fortnight ago.  You must trust me in this.  Above all else I am loyal to you, Magnolia.   I am loyal to Santooshka.  There may be times in the future where my motivation for certain actions may be called into question,  but please believe me when I tell you I love you more than any creature has loved another.  I will protect the Still Water way of life even if I must give my last breath in doing so.”

“Well…I suppose there is little harm in mystery, if your intentions are true.  I will try to keep my curiosity at bay.  However, one day you must empty all that you keep locked inside that handsome head of yours, and I hope to be there.  For now, I will only ask one thing of you.  Tell me again.”

“I love you Mistress Magnolia Magpie.”  He hoisted me up and we spun in lazy circles beneath a dark gray sky.  His strong hands clung to my arms as we embraced.

Featured image“And that will have to suffice me on this strangest of MidSummers.  Let us join the others to celebrate this season and your proclamation.”  I pulled him towards Juni’s cottage. I do not know all there is to know about the one named Iron Root, but I believe him when he says he loves me, and Santooska.   I may not trust him on all things, but I do not fear giving him my love.  A chance to be happy with another, is worth the risk of a broken heart.

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Mid Summer night was magical. Juni’s cottage  was lit by tallows on every shelf, table or surface that was not covered by food platters or drink cups.  Her humble dwelling was transformed into a great royal hall.  The musicians played many reels, sprites and nymphs held hands, dancing and spinning between the chairs.  At some point early in the evening Juniper’s Cottage Brownies took over the labor of serving, so Juni and I were allowed to join in the comfortable chaos.

Featured imageThe Queen completely assured of our acquiescence, played the role of honored guest graciously.   She tittered over meadow wine with some young dryads discussing this century’s courtly fae fashion.  She gave belated royal blessings to many woodland folk.  She graciously accepted gifts and goodwill.  Once, Titania  even declared  an acorn from one of the Old Oaks,  the fairest she had ever encountered.

Featured imageAs the new sun’s rays began to peek through the slender trees the Queen readied to return to her bower.

She did not remind uFeatured images of her will, but gave us a steely

glare.  “I will leave Iron Root here, as he wishes but, know that I may again be in need of his services.  I bid you Good Summer.”  At that she  stepped inside a large blue flame and was gone, just  as the last of her caravan rounded a corner and was out of sight.

Juniper and I looked at each other in deadly serious silence.  Then my eye twitched and her lips quivered.  A smile grew on my face and was matched by hers.

“Holy Still Water, Did that just happen?” Juniper asked around a widening grin.

“I am not quite sure I can say.”  And I started to giggle.

Iron Root looked between us, shaking his head.  “Do you ladies take last eve’s warning as jest?”

“No, but oft times, laughter is better than any other options.”  Juniper tittered.

“I think it may be too late for the likes of you two.”  Iron Root’s face cracked into something that almost resembled a smile.

“Come on in, let’s have ourselves the last of this year’s Ambrosia, I saved back one bottle of honey suckle Cordial just for us.”  Juniper smiled, but this time it did not reach her eyes.  “We have many things to think on.”

It is hard to comprehend that Mid Summer was nigh a fortnight ago. My days are so queer now, with laughter and happiness, but always a nagging of uneasiness.  Iron Root and I have spent every moment together.  It is almost as if we are the only ones in existence and all else is faded like an unreal dream. It is no wonder Juniper and I have only touched on the subject of Titania and the Purblinds. It has been too easy to forget the troubles that lay beyond my love’s embrace.  I must make time to speak with her.

I do not know what the future holds, but for now I am content in my mother’s teachings. I know in my heart there is hope for the Purblinds.  That is not just our duty but our right to share the wealth of magic with them.  But I cannot yet reconcile this inner knowledge with Queen Titaina’s warning.  I think I would surely perish outside the enchanted veil of Santooshka.

Mid Summer Santooshkan Hand Pies

For unexpected entourages

Featured imageThe Still Water Grimoire for Crust and  Honey Basil Berry Jam Recipes

1.  Mix an ounce of goat cheese (from your best Nanny) with freshly chopped basil and rosemary.

2.  Remove chilled crust from larder, roll out to 1/8″ thick

3.  Use Granny’s large biscuit cutter to make as many mini crusts as will fit.

4.  With a small fairy spoon, dip a teaspoon of berry jam into center of “bottom” crust

5.  Add a dollop of goat cheese mix on top of jam

6.  Place a second crust on top of entire pile

7.  Using a fork, press around the edges, squishing the two layers

8. Don’t forget to poke some holes on the top, so it can vent steam

9. Place in jelly roll pan

10. Cook in hot oven for eighteen  minutes or until center crust is a golden brown