The advent of autumn simultaneously warms my heart and brings an onset of nostalgia. Throw in a new moon, and the day is ripe with new beginnings and new possibilities, reminiscent of my grandmother's reverence for the cycles of the moon. No, she didn't consult zodiac signs and horoscopes, but she farmed seventy-four acres in Indiana, and sowed, reaped and harvested with the moon in mind.
She taught me to pay attention to the phases of the moon, to honor the cycles of nature and to consider the impact of their power. I am a believer. I've seen the cycles of the moon in action. When I volunteered in the prison, we all took a deep breath and gathered our courage during the full moon. We knew it would bring different behaviors. This is not my imagination. Police departments and hospitals have long documented the increase in crime and emergency room admissions when the moon is full.
The new moon's power is more subtle and often considered less potent, but I'm not convinced. The force it holds for new beginning is a positive power to be revered. Maybe it is simply a matter of the gift of opportunity, of a new beginning.
Each day is a miracle. Today I was reminded of this, as I am almost daily, by a friend reflecting on her weekend filled with concerns about a family member's health problems, and the the death of a dear friend in his seventies. Life is fragile.
My dad died in his early 40s and from that time on, I've been aware of the value of each day. I know life can end as quickly as a star can fall from heaven. For awhile, it seemed I had a reprieve. Very few people in my life died for decades. And then the pendulum swung. The death of loved ones increased, and my appreciation for life increases simultaneously.
Today's treasure is a new moon, the autumn equinox and the arrival of Libra. The air is crisp and cool, the moon is encouraging us to begin new endeavors, thought processes and leaps of faith and Libra brings balance, reflection and celebration.
This is the first day Mabon, the harvest festival, in the northern hemisphere. It is a time to harvest and to reap what we sow. Mabon is a time of rest, reflection and assessment. This is a time to celebrate your successes, consider which projects and endeavors were beneficial, and which can be replaced and set aside. Be gentle with yourself as you review and assess. Nature is here to support and lift you up, encouraging and empowering you to be the very best you can be. There is magic in the air!
Baseball season and summer days remind me of the may fly! There were frequently clouds of mayflies at the Senator's games in Harrisburg. I've been told this is a rather glamorized version of the insect but I call it like I see it!
The may fly lives less than 24 hours as an adult, some for only a few minutes.
Life's short! Sparkle!
Lessons from the Mayfly
Transformation while in Motion
The Mayfly reminds us that life is fleeting and precious
and we should live it to the fullest. Embrace adventures
and new opportunities while you grow and transform!
The dragonfly is from a series of insect paintings -
I've always been fascinated with their iridescent colors and intricate patterns.
Lessons from the Dragonfly
The intense colors of the dragonfly brighten as they mature.
He reminds us to pay attention to our deepest desires,
never stop dreaming and remember that some of the
most wonderful dreams come true later in life.
Remain flexible and be ready to turn and change directions
at a moment’s notice in order to fulfill your dreams.
This one is from the archives but worth repeating! It's been a long bitter winter in Maryland, and the birds are finally beginning to share their songs again. This morning I saw a robin and her baby scratching for earth worms when Zippy and I took our morning walk. A cardinal perched in a gingko tree looked as beautiful as he sounded against the fan shaped leaves. I'm still looking for my first Baltimore Oriole now that I'm living in Baltimore. (I'm a dedicated baseball fan so I see the non-feathered specimens almost daily!)
Birds add vibrant color to our world. But do you know that at one time their feathers lacked the beautiful variations we see today?
An African American legend explains that at the beginning of time a torrential rain fell on the earth. When it ended, the world was gifted with a glorious rainbow. No one had ever seen such brilliant colors!
The birds were the first to see it and the flew swiftly to get closer, joyfully flying in and out of the brilliant, iridescent arch! As they passed through the colors, their feathers were painted the gorgeous colors of the rainbow!
The cardinal fell in love with the red and spent most of his time flying in and out of the crimson stripe! The goldfinches were charmed with the yellow, staying predominantly in that area! Blue birds favored the blue, weaving in and out of the glorious blues.
Other birds, such as the kestral, flew through several different colors. This caused stripes and spots of colors to form on his beautiful feathers! The swift and exuberant hummingbird flew merrily in and out of every color, causing him to have his own iridescent rainbow, delightfully visible when the sun catches his feathers.
Imagine! Two of our most delightful treasures, color and birds, working in harmony to create beauty that we see every day if we just stop to notice!
Sundays in April remind me of trout season. My neighbors always had an opening day party and the creek was filled with canoes, kayaks and people wading and fishing.
I was blessed to have spent eleven years living next to the creek. Great blue herons frequently fished outside my window and kingfishers bulleted down the stream, always dead center and on a mission. Occasionally a beaver would swim by or a kestrel, eagle or wild turkey would visit. Hummingbirds sipped nectar from the bergamot every summer, and a flock of cedar waxwings made their annual visit. One year I got to see a robin teach her baby to fly!
Inspiration was abundant and the paint brush danced! Fish, insects, turtles, mallards, chipmunks . . .
Many of my paintings were done on stone, the perfect natural canvas for capturing my visitors.
We are coming to the end of the first quarter of 2014. For me, it has been a year with a very clear lesson. No day is promised and each day on this earth is a blessing. I've known this intrinsically, but with so many unexpected deaths this year, it is being reinforced and magnified.
If we are fortunate to awaken to a new day, it is a gift and to be treasured. But sometimes, facing a new day also holds the reminder of loss. It may be the loss of a dear friend who shared decades of memories, a classmate whose absence leaves an empty seat where once there was a warm greeting and a smile, or the choir member who sat behind you during rehearsals and smiled across the room at his wife at every opportunity. Now you watch her quietly weep as you sing 'Farewell, My Own True Love." The loss could be more personal - a pet, a spouse, a child - leaving a constant void in what should be your safe space, your home.
Most recently, a dear friend's son died of a heroin overdose, an epidemic in our country. It is ignored as we focus our attention on a missing airplane or gay marriage. The elephant in the living room, stealing the lives of our children, is more likely ignored and denied. What if it's contagious? Another post.
Each soul's passing brings adjustments and different stages of grief. There is loss of energy and motivation. Energy loss is cumulative, further depleted with the news of each departure.
April's posts will focus on numbers, dedicated to my father who died at the age of 46 years old when I was 13. He was a calculus professor and loved numbers. I've always simply endured them, being much more interested in letters and the arts, yet they are invaluable treasures, very much on my mind as I make a commitment to make each precious day count.
Yesterday a friend posted an essay stating that a house fly is as beautiful as any other wonders of nature. It reminded me of a series of insects I painted a few years ago. We collected and studied insects when I was in eight grade and I still remember the Latin names - Diptera are the flies, the butterfly is Lepidoptera, Coleoptera are the beetles . . . The insects were so spectacular and I began painting insects, reptiles and amphibians long before I turned to birds and flowers.
My friend Doris laughed at my Mayfly and insists that the ones that splat on her car windows and form clouds at baseball games aren't nearly this beautiful, but then I'll admit to viewing the world with rose colored glasses.
Once upon a time, two experienced treasure hunters gathered their flashlights and headed out into the night to search for crabs on the beach. Instead, they found seven star fish! And so began my
Search for Stars
Won't you join me this month and actively begin to search for stars? August is known as the meteor viewing season, and the next event is the Perseid meteor shower, due to arrive on August 11 and 12, with potentially 20 shooting stars visible per hour if conditions are right!
You can find stars any time! They are everywhere! Those of us living in the U. S. find them on our beloved Stars and Stripes, and they can be found on flags representing companies, organizations, states and countries around the world!
There are stars through out museums, and antique stores, in traditional and modern quilt patterns, and mosaics and paintings. You'll find them in tiles on the floor, restaurant walls and the hardware store! The star fruit at the market is obvious, but don't miss the star hidden in the apple if you cut it from side to side instead of through the core!
Nature is abundant with stars right here on earth! The delicate blue flowers on the herb borage are edible and make a beautiful garnish on a fruit salad or in ice cubes with your favorite summer beverage.
You'll find stars on the shells of turtles, the leaves of the sweet gum tree, on seashells and squash blossoms!
There are the 'stars' that entertain us! There are sports stars, stars of the silver screen, you'll find stars on broadway, at concerts, There are local unsung heroes, working to make your community and our world a better place to live! They are stars!
And we certainly can't forget the sun! It is the ultimate star, giving life and energy to all of us! Our very existence depends on this miraculous golden orb!
Searching for stars is wonderful in and of itself, but there is an added bonus! Stars are for making wishes. Use your imagination and makes wishes on every star you see, then prepare to make all of your wishes come true!
And the most beautiful stars of all?
The stars in the eyes of those you love!
May you have an abundance of stars and may your every wish come true!
Coming in September!
Enhancing Your Life with Herbs E-books!
AND there will be a series of books on herbs created for the Enhancing Your Life with Herbs course I'm teaching this fall at the Renaissance Institute at Notre Dame University of Maryland.
I find beauty and value in plants that most people pull and discard or step on. At one time they were loved and valued. Join me as I reintroduce these hidden treasures of nature!
The herbal e-books will feature water color illustrations, nearly 300 in all, and a fascinating, fun, and sometimes funny look at symbolism, legend and lore. You will learn which herb to use to prevent baldness, predict the future, give you courage or stop bleeding. (All that from just one herb!)
You can learn about
Welcome!! I’m Mikell (pronounced Michael). If you love spicing up your life with herbs, recipes, decorating and crafts, symbolism and rituals like I do, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter and free Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book!
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!