As The Wheel (of the Year) Turns…

It’s officially Winter again, y’all!  Depending on where you live, the weather may have given the impression much sooner.  In my neck of Appalachia, though, it’s been wishy-washy.  Some days were incredibly cold; others, not so much.

Today’s warm enough that a long sleeve shirt or light jacket may be all you need.  The forecast for Christmas day is 55 degrees F.  No White Christmas this year.

There have been many changes at the ol’ homeplace, as I’ve landed a job outside the home, so we’re figuring out our Yule holiday for this year a bit on the fly.  Obviously, I’ll be lighting our Oak Yule log and probably anoint the candles in it with Pine essential oil.  Frankincense and Oakmoss oils are also under consideration.

Christmas_with_the_Yule_Log,_Illustrated_London_News,_23_Dec_1848(If you’ve missed my previous post on Yule, it touches on the almost-universal holiday tradition of lighting candles and the Celtic tree associations…Oak (my personal favorite) represents wisdom, strength, and protection while Pine represents prosperity and good health…planning on a more comprehensive post on those at some point)

I’ll likely make pork for dinner and drink some bourbon or egg nog.  If I can find some gingerbread cookies when I hit the store later (as I ran out of time to make any), that’ll be a plus too.  But, the important thing is being together as a family to celebrate the heralding of the Winter season and all that it represents – a season of:

  • Contentment and contemplation
  • Planning the next year’s “busy seasons” at a more relaxed pace
  • Enjoying the bounty of the previous season’s harvest
  • Slowing down and taking the moment as it is, for what it is

Whether you celebrate Yule, one of the many other Winter holidays, or even none at all, I hope you all have a great time with loved ones and get a chance to relax.


For more on Yule traditions, recipes and Celtic tree associations, check out the following links:

Sacred Earth Journeys – Yule Traditions & Symbols

Earth Witchery – The Yule Log

What’s Your Sign – Celtic Meaning of Symbolic Trees & The Ogham

Recipes for a Pagan Soul – Yule

Greenhaven Tradition – Preparing for Yule  (includes detailed info and holiday rits)


There’s an Herbal Medicine Workshop Tomorrow!!

And a bit of awesome music for right now…

I found this in my email this morning and had to share it.

There’s a workshop on herbal medicine starting tomorrow, provided by Marjory Wildcraft.  I’ve run across her name before.  She does a lot of workshops and speaking engagements on herbs, natural medicine and what-not.

This workshop is a 4-video series that runs for just a few days.  So, if you’re interested in something like this, definitely register!  Heads up, I think the link may be an affiliate link for Melissa K. Norris, whom I follow and who sent the email I received.

For some reason, I now can’t get this awesome song from one of my favorite bands, Rising Appalachia, out of my head.  So, I’m sharing that now too. 🙂


This Tenn. Lovely’s After My Heart!

This sweet place mixes music, natural beauty, and maybe even some ghosts…

OK, so I have to share this old house with y’all!

It’s in a Folk Victorian style, with a stated build date of around 1900.  It sits across from Loretta Lynn’s property in Hurricane Mills, TN.  And it comes with 2 land options – 15 acres for $159,900, or 30 acres for @219,900.

How cool is that?

The house itself needs some work but comes with a mobile home.  If it’s in decent shape, that could be home base while the main house is renovated.  After that, it would make a nice guest house, private grandparent suite, game house for the kids, or even a craft shop/office/library (I’m always looking for those!).

Hurricane Mills-land view
Link to home description – and more pictures – by clicking the image!

The land is beautiful.  Not too manicured but not exactly overgrown either.  There’s plenty for a self-sustaining garden, some grazing for animals, and even the Oak Grove of my dreams.  Cause you know a Pagan gal’s gotta have a proper rit site on the ol’ homestead!  A girl can dream anyway…

I can’t help but wonder if the property has its own Civil War era ghosts, as Loretta Lynn has claimed her place does.  As long as they’re friendly, I’m good to share the space.  My childhood home (among others I’ve lived in) was haunted also, so it’s no big stretch.

Now, to figure out how to cover the money, taxes, move, reno, etc. for this sweet, sweet place…


Hocking Hills – To Log Or To Preserve?

In something of a follow-up to my post about The Wayne being in danger of fracking leases, I am now posting an alert to a danger in the Hocking Hills area.

Hocking Hills is a popular tourist destination, and a total gem to locals.  There is so much here – history, natural beauty, activities such as camping and hiking, and great food culture too.  Unfortunately, some see all that amazing and immediate think it’s something to tear up for profit.

An area of the Hills known as the Spruce Run watershed is under consideration for logging.  This section, near Conkle’s Hollow, is home to rare Hemlocks and boasts gorgeous rock formations.

Luckily, instead of running full steam ahead, the ODF (Ohio Division of Forestry) is also considering preserving it and wants to hear from the public about it.  Comments will be accepted through the end of September.  Together, we can help preserve a natural treasure and keep it recognizable for future generations.

Honoring Appalachia’s Granny Tradition

Even in Appalachia, the term ‘Granny Women’ is one most folks don’t hear (or use) anymore.  It’s become obscured by the hectic pace of modern culture, and hidden under the overgrowth of history.  Its practicality has devolved into superstition.  Its relevance, now considered obsolete.  Luckily, the phrase, and the knowledge that comes with it, is making a comeback.

The Granny Women were the ones who answered the call for healing in their communities.  Doctors were not always available, and many preferred their local healers anyway.  They knew the herbs their mountain provided and where to find them.  They knew what ailments the plants treated, how to extract the medicine from them, and which formulations worked best.  Their midwifery skills saved the lives of countless babies and mothers.

They were known for having extraordinary gifts, from “blowing away” pain to forecasting the future.  They were revered for their dedication to their communities and their accuracy in practicing their craft.  They did not charge for their services, giving unselfishly of their time and energy.  However, grateful families often gifted them things, such as food and handmade goods.

Fortunately, this crucial skillset survived the decades that attempted to leave it forgotten on the shelf of history.  In fact, it is being rediscovered and even gaining credibility through science.  We now know how willow bark helps with pain.  We know about the synergy of plants and that it makes a better medicine than isolating just one plant compound.  It is not snake oil selling.  It is tradition in action.

wild apocathary
(a wild apothecary I envy,  photo from Joan on Flikr)

Now, don’t let the Granny reference fool you.  The gift does not discriminate whom is worthy of wielding it.  Young and old, male and female…doesn’t matter.  Often, it travels through families.  Sometimes, it’s taught by another healer.  One thread runs through them all: Faith, and a lot of it.  God speaks and works through them, and they don’t question it.

While they traditionally identify as Christian, often referencing God/Jesus and using bible verses, their work could easily be called witchcraft by suspicious, jealous, or self-righteous folks.  Their magic consists of ancient knowledge passed down from their Scots-Irish ancestors and the Natives they encountered, and they make practical use of it.  They know there is nothing evil or wrong with what they do.  They have a gift and are simply answering the call to use it.

Are you familiar with the term “Granny Magic”?  Do you, or someone you know, practice it?

Wayne National Forest: Still Not Safe

Wayne National Forest, or “The Wayne” as it’s called locally, is Ohio’s only national forest.  It covers over 240,000 acres of southeastern Ohio’s Appalachian foothills region.  Home to a special eco-system that includes endangered species, such as the Indiana bat, it’s beautiful and rich with history.  Some have even claimed it to be haunted.

It has also been under threat for some time.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have seen fit to lease and auction off parts of The Wayne to the oil/gas industry for fracking.

If you’re new to the concept of fracking, it’s the use of highly pressurized liquid to fracture wellbores in deep-rock formations, such as shale.  This is done in the hopes of stimulating the flow of natural oil/gas reserves trapped deep underground, so it can be more easily pumped out.

As you can imagine, there is much debate as to whether or not this is a safe option for fueling our energy needs.  Industry PR proclaims it as wholly safe and an economic boon to whatever area it’s performed in.  They like to paint naysayers as well-meaning but ignorant of the process and its benefits.

Environmental concerns abound, from the polluting of downstream waterways to the increased seismic activity in fracked areas.  Pipelines have burst, wells have caught fire, and major damage to the surrounding landscape has resulted.  Far from just “an ignorant outcry”, these are well documented incidences.

Fracking pollution diagram
Diagram of fracking-related air & water pollution

Despite this, the Forest Service and BLM have willfully ignored the concerns of the public and neglected to perform the assessments necessary to making an informed decision on the matter before opening forest land to leases and auction sales.

Another auction is set for next month, on Sept. 21.

It seems that, as many public groups are guilty of, the dollar signs they saw came before the job they are tasked with performing.  Several environmental groups are suing these agencies for their neglect.

One of these groups, Ohio Environmental Council, is beefing up their formal protest with a webinar on LTE writing.  LTE (or letters to the editor) are not just for opinion pieces.  It can be a very effective tool for activism and is a grassroots method of building awareness and stimulating local action for issues that can affect everybody.  The webinar will take place on Friday Aug. 25 at noon (EST).

If you’re a concerned citizen, there are many ways to affect change, locally or otherwise.

It can be as simple as a donation to a favorite related non-profit or contacting your political representatives.  It can be as complex as regularly attending protests and town hall meetings or becoming an official spokesperson for your cause.  You can be as public or private about it as you’re comfortable with.

The most important thing is to not let complacency take hold.  As the Flower Children were fond of saying, and Nahko sings: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”.