Sacred Garden Update: Recovering

Upon learning of the Lilly massacre, a dear friend sent me bulbs to replace those who died in action, along with a variety of other lovely new plant friends. Oh yeah—the lily colors were selected to MATCH MY HAIR!! How awesome is that?!?!

They came last week. On a difficult day, matter of fact. While I was thinking and evaluating and yeah, hurting a little, too. In the midst of emotional mud, new flowers showed up. Grow something beautiful from your mud.

Lilies and Freesia came first. I was going to put them aside for a few days to figure it all out, much like my concerns. Box it up, nice, tidy and neat. Get myself a new, large and perfect container to plant all the lilies in—all organized and sorted. Unambiguous.

But my neighbor showed up with even more seeds and “spare” potting soil for me to use. She bought more than she needed, I think to make sure I had plenty. And as soon as she offered, I got an overwhelming urge to get my hands in the dirt, plant those suckers NOW. Planting always grounds me, calms  me and helps clarify feelings. It always helps me feel things are right. Tidy or not, perfect or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s the act that takes me out of my head and connects me to a bigger world.

Well, these flowers aren’t going in the ground. Not here. Nothing I’m attached to in any way, shape or form is going into the ground here, not anymore.

Of course,  most of my friends from years past are still live in the ground. This phlox, for example, is really working it…I did set aside some phlox in a pot, well, just in case. Portable! I’m ready to pick up and change direction as needed.

So I just planted. And I started to feel better. Not completely, not instantaneously, but better. Enough.

I grabbed a frog planter in honor of the Scorpio toad…If I spray painted it black, it would look just like him…now every time I see it, I will think of him and what he may have to say to me. Even though toads were often looked upon with suspicion and dread historically, I know he didn’t have an evil spirit. Black toad or not, he was Zen. I respect his visit.

And do you know, one of those new lilies is already sprouting? He popped out of the dirt almost as soon as I’d planted him. He was more than ready. Much easier than I expected. What else may sprout for me, quicker and easier than I ever imagined?

And the seeds came, too. Morning Glories and Night Flowers, Passion Flowers and Coneflowers. I can hardly wait to plant them all!

For most of my seeds, I do want to get a huge, round pot, so I can pop my trellis in the middle and create a portable, magical gateway, you know? The Morning and Night flowers together are very Yin/Yang Goddess/God Sun/Moon. I love the polarity—and having been reading up on Wicca, of course the dual representation is perfect. I’m also planting them with the Passion flower seeds to bind the energies of day and night with “passion,” i.e. emotional energy.

I haven’t decided what to do with my coneflowers yet, but my daughter-in-law is working on some pots that will be painted with chalkboard paint. Since coneflowers are known to enhance spells, I think a pot I could draw magical symbols on might be a good home for them…sure, pentagrams or astrological symbols may freak out the neighbors, but who cares? I’ve long since stopped bothering about the neighbors. I’ll just see what shows up when I’m ready to plant ’em.

I’ll tell you something: the lily incident really did draw to my attention how much this humble little garden means to me. It’s so long been a source of comfort and quiet, a little sacred space, I had been taking it for granted. You know? Last year, I didn’t even plant anything. Friends from years prior filled my pots and the little plot of dirt I have. It was just…there, effortless, without my thinking about it. I was pleased but didn’t think so much of how important it is to me. Now, I’m thinking about it more and that has made me recognize how very valuable this little bit of sacred space really is to me. Appreciate the beauty and magic in the everyday.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve starting planting—we keep getting gentle, sporadic rain. It feels blessed.

Are you emotionally attached to your garden?

Scorpio Toad

Old lawn chairs = free plant stands!

The sunshine eventually gets me off my ass every year, to address the front porch. Arranging flower pots, organizing and positioning everything in anticipation of the patio garden season.

I finally tackled out the stack of leaves I’ve ignored all winter as they wedged themselves in between the fence planks and flower pots. I dug them out with an old broom, damp and clumped together due the morning’s rain. But I’ll get ’em!

Sweep, sweep, sweep… Hmmm. They really are sticking, huh? 

“C’mon, leaves. Leave!”

Pleased with my cleverness, I snort and continue. Sweep, sweep, sweep. Sweep, sweep.

What IS that? It’s too heavy. Parting the leaves with the edge of the broom, I take a better look.

Oh! A toad. But not like any toad I’ve ever seen. He’s ALL black, including his eyes, which move oh-so-slowly. Completely and utterly matte black, and I’ve got to say, he’s about the Zen-est toad I’ve ever seen. I’d been sweeping this sucker all over the porch, going, “Why do these leaves feel heavy?” and he doesn’t budge.

He looks up at me, calmly following my motion with one ebony eye. He waits. I nudge him, he repositions himself and waits. Black eye, just staring.

I feel a little guilty, but he can’t hang in the leaves because they aren’t staying in the middle of the porch. I don’t want to offend him, though. Toads by the door are great Feng Shui–they fetch money to your door–and I think, “Hey, maybe he’s a friend of Ganesha.” Wouldn’t want to be rude.

I swept the rest of leaves away. Hell. I didn’t really have a funky Plutonian-toad-friendly hideout awaiting, so I scooted him into a corner behind a couple of flower pots, apologizing aloud and inviting him to hang there. (No, I have no effen’ clue why they neighbors think I’m crazy.)  It had some cover, but also an escape route when he’s ready to go.

He stayed there while I finished sweeping and coffee, bidding him farewell before coming in to Google his ass. What kind of toad, and what do black toads symbolize? You know, I couldn’t find a single damn picture that looked like him, nor did I see an all-black variety listed on any regionally appropriate wildlife guides.

I have no idea what kind of toad he was, expect that he seemed to have a very Pluto kind of vibe.

The first thing I run across web searching the symbolism was Toads as witches familiars, and I laughed out loud. I’ve been getting a lot of witch references lately, so perhaps I was being reunited with a familiar or from a former life.

The black toad is evidently also a symbol in alchemy for Plutonian process of fermentation.  Evidently, frogs and toads have quite the symbolic history. Transformation is not a surprising recurring theme, considering the whole tadpole-to-frog metamorphosis. Toad secretions have been used as both poison and medicine. The Toad has been viewed as auspicious and evil and everything any between, depending on who and when you asked.

Me and my Scorpio can relate. But regardless if they were revered or feared, it seems they credited with powerful magic. Scorpio can still relate.

My astrologer just told me, I AM Mercury touring the Underworld. She suggests I work my Pluto. Maybe my black toad friend came to remind me of that. You think?

Or not. I don’t know. I speak cat fluently, but not Black Toad.

Do animals bring you messages?


Sacred Garden and the Lily Survivor

flowersOne of my most cherished pastimes is sitting on the front porch, surrounded by my flowers, drinking coffee amidst to the whisper of rustling leaves and birdsong.

I may look for figures in the clouds, or relax my gaze toward the treetops, seeking the energy spirals that tell of their life force. I admonish the ants and bees to come back when I’m inside, leaving me in peace. I breathe. I pace. I pray. I meditate. I commune.

As long as we’ve lived here, I’ve kept a small garden. I don’t have much space to work with—a small bit of dirt, in front of the kitchen window, and the patio itself, to overfill with pots every year.

When blooms are spent, I prune with reverence, fully enjoying the feel of the soft petals, gentle scents and colors. I like to scatter them on the ground, thanking the flowers for their gifts, willing them to bring joy and luck and protection to whomever crosses their path. I reflect upon the cycles of nature, forever waxing and waning, always in tune with the bigger energy of the universe. I see the cycles in my own life. It’s humble, but certainly enough for right here, right now.

At the beginning of spring, when the perennials sprout, it never fails to take my by surprise. Or seeds from annuals long forgotten may show up volunteering here and there to add a spot of magic. Each year, I look for my old favorites to return, and look forward to new friends showing up.

The first I planted were lilies. It felt, quite literally, like putting down roots. Not that this is my “real” home base forever. Far from it, but more that I was committing to filling this box within we reside, with love. You know?

Digging in the dirt, planting the flowers and arranging plants about the porch all soothed during many a difficult time. In pain, in happiness, in confusion, in elation, all the same. This little bit of space provides a sacred respite, a haven of divine life, even if it’s surrounded by asphalt and concrete. It’s needed, especially if it’s surrounded by asphalt and concrete. This is my humble sacred space.

I headed outside to get the mail yesterday, checking on my flowers as always and got a shock—the landlady had dug out my lilies! I was stunned. Every single one was removed, the ground utterly bare where they once lived. A big tub sat nearby, all but empty. Only a few bits cut from the greenery was scattered about as evidence there were once flowers there.

20120327_111256Now, I know she probably had some reason or another. It no doubt was about property value or concern about roots or some thing or other I never would have considered. I have no idea. All I know is that my lovely lilies were gone!

And what about the indigo Morning Glories that crept up around the lily greenery, and of course the cockscomb and wildflower seeds I’d tossed in the flower bed the day before, dousing in Miracle-Gro with anticipation? And I wonder, which might be next? The phlox, the butterfly bush, tiny daffodils or miniature roses?  Who knows which may somehow be considered bothersome?

Why hadn’t she talked to me? Brought in another plant as an offering or apology? Let me save a few lilies to grow in pots on my porch? I was here all day. Something, anything would have been more welcome than the slap in the face from the empty space. It was so much more disturbing than I would have ever guessed. It hurt.

I awoke in tears, still feeling loss today. And then, my thoughts went to the tub…what was in there, anyway?

I ran outside and took a look, seeing a single cluster of lily bulbs. Swooping in, they were rescued! The sole survivor of the Great Lily Massacre of 2012, now hidden away safely in a big pot of dirt. Right after relocating them, a gentle rain began. I smiled through the tears; maybe the Gods are blessing my rescue, helping care for my survivor. Lord knows I can space off watering schedules.

Do you have a sacred space?