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inspirational living arts
Remembering Charlotte: Message from an Orbweaver
|Posted on November 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (10)|
As time goes on I realize that so much of what we've been taught or have a tendency to fear is actually associated with balance and light. This story is about a marbled orbweaver spider that I found this summer in one of my gardens. I named her Charlotte after the spider in the book "Charlotte's Web" by American author E.B. White. I had always enjoyed the book and later also the movie because it held a special message regarding seeing the world differently and how sometimes the seemingly impossible can be achieved (photo of an orbweaver spider by Nicholas Ta).
I observed Charlotte on a regular basis this past summer over several months weaving a new web every night. As I came to know this tiny creature better, I realized there were many things she had to teach me. Perhaps most would find it unusual that I would spend time writing about a garden spider, but I felt very strongly about sharing Charlotte's story particularly at Halloween time here in the US. Perhaps also some reading this would learn to appreciate and respect this highly persecuted and misunderstood insect which I believe is one of the most creative of God's tiny creatures alongside the honeybee, albeit in a very different way
One day I woke up to find a myriad of beautiful dew covered webs all throughout my gardens. The effect was purely magical and I marveled at how many of these spiders were actually in my gardens. Someone who is afraid of spiders would definitely have been overwhelmed, but for me it was the opposite. I realized how far my gardens had come and how revitalized this little plot of land now was, something I had written about previously in a blog. The land had once mostly been just lawn and now this backyard was teaming with biodiversity with all sorts of beneficial insects, birds, flowers and wildlife. My new hive of honeybees were doing well and I had so many varieties of orbweaver spiders to keep a healthy balance in my ecosystem. This balance would in turn draw new forms of wildlife. Each day I would observe Charlotte and acknowledge her in some way as I took my walk through the gardens.
The time came when I saw that Charlotte could no longer weave her beautiful web and only a few strands at best. Her body was about the size of a dime, full and round and looking like it could burst. I knew it was nearing the time when she would lay her eggs and then die as in the book. It saddened me to think that this little garden friend I had come to know was leaving. She stayed a few more days until she weaved no longer and then one morning she was gone, having descended to the ground to go back into the earth from whence she came. I knew I would miss her.
As I thought about Charlotte and the progression of her life, I knew I had gained a new found respect for this particular type of spider called the marbled orbweaver. Unlike some other species of spiders, she only came out at night and each time she would weave a completely new web. Inevitably it would become damaged throughout the day and sometimes completely destroyed either from the weather or from animals and insects.
It amazed me that Charlotte would tirelessly weave her beautiful and complex creation anew each and every night one strand at a time. I thought about how hard it would be for humans to create a work of art or a garden from scratch only to have it eventually destroyed repeatedly. I had certainly felt that anguish and frustration with my own gardens after I had left certain homes in the past. Here was this tiny spider weaving a work of art every night. What a monumental task for a creature so small and with so short a lifespan. So much could be gained by humans if we had nearly as much resilience and wherewithal in striving toward our goals or completing creations despite whatever came our way.
One day a really tiny spider also taught me something after Charlotte left. It was another dew covered morning when I spotted a new web in one of my fir trees. This spider had built a spectacular web between some branches one night. The spider was nowhere to be seen, so I assumed it was another marbled orbweaver because they tend to hide during the day, but I was wrong. To my astonishment the following day I found a very tiny spider had built this huge new web. I thought perhaps she was a baby orbweaver. I called her Maya for illusion, but she quickly disappeared. Maya had created a web to rival that of any orbweaver much larger than her own size simply by using the same principals of weaving. Her small size and seeming limitations had not hindered her in the least.
It appears the last of the orbweavers have laid their eggs and died due to the colder temperatures but they have all left me with admiration and a new awareness and thoughts about the mysteries of the universe. What task lies before you that seems to be overwhelming? Do you ever think that your own actions cannot effect change because you are only one person? What are you weaving in your web of influence? What seems out of reach at this time? We are only limited by our beliefs. Perhaps we can take inspiration from the tiniest of beings that surround us and weave something new and more spectacular in this world.
Blessings of Creativity!
2014 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
Gardening with Faith
|Posted on August 3, 2014 at 11:59 AM||comments (0)|
Bee Feng Shui: the Energy of Space
|Posted on September 7, 2013 at 11:01 AM||comments (4)|
Bee Swarming: a Message of Rebirth
|Posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (10)|
This morning I went out to check my original beehive and found that half of the bees had swarmed with the old queen. The steady streams of workers were no longer there, though I could still see bees inside the hive. Although I never witnessed the swarm, I knew something had changed and I felt like a piece of me had gone with the bees. It had been over a year since they had arrived and interestingly, today is a new moon in my sun sign of Leo. Somehow I cannot see this as a coincidence, as my birthday is also next week.
This original hive was my initiation into the realm of bees. They taught me how to overcome my fears through working with the hive, they taught me about the mistakes I made along the way (and there were many) and they taught my son and me how to develop a love and respect for beekeeping, though it is not an easy art as it requires time, patience and dedication to get it right. It truly is about being a steward and developing a relationship with the bees and not about 'having' or exploiting them. Had I known how much it entailed, I probably would never have gotten involved. It's like that with many things in life, but in your heart you know that what you're doing is what you're supposed to be doing and you continue because a love gradually ensues and it envelopes you as each day your relationship grows and you look forward to it's existence and you can no longer imagine life without this passion.
The bees have become my allies in so many ways. They have taught me my priorities, how to conquer my fears and how to be prepared during these tumultuous times. Each step along the way has been like a milestone toward a better awareness of the beehive and how it functions in unison as one being comprised of many collaborators each fulfilling an important role. Though I'm saddened by the loss of half of my bees from my original hive, I am also happy and concerned for their welfare as they venture out into the unknown searching for a new home. I'm told they have three days to find one, otherwise they perish.
Gunther Hauk explains this process so well in his book "Toward Saving the Honeybee." Contrary to what has been done in the last century and the ways of modern beekeeping practices that often seek to exploit the honeybee, swarming is a natural process that is necessary to maintain the well being and vitality of the hive. Ironically, just when everything is fine at home, the food is stocked and the bees might be able to rest on their laurels, a new queen is created and half of the colony leaves with the old queen in search of a new home.
This is in sharp contrast to what we as humans strive for and live out during our existence on this planet. And yet, perhaps the bees' message is even more relevant during these times of upheaval and change-- searching out into the unknown, into territory that is at times both exhilarating and terrifying not knowing what you will find. Simply knowing that this is how it needs to be. Gunther Hauk and Rudolf Steiner talk about the swarming of bees as a rebirth of the hive. In essence it truly is when you understand the complexities and perfection that exist within a honeybee colony.
Interestingly, the swarming of my bees was part of a series of experiences I had involving both my original hive and a second hive that I acquired as a result of a swarm that we captured one evening hanging from one of our pine trees. At the time, I thought this swarm was my own, but later I came to see that it had probably been from a nearby property that also had bees, as I could tell that my original hive was still intact and the bees in the second hive were much more docile.
So, this past weekend I had to correct a mistake that I had made with my second hive-- that of not being prepared. I did not have additional beekeeping supplies ready in the event of a swarm and so when it happened, I was scrambling to put things together having to borrow supplies from a mentor friend and buy new ones. Because the main hive box was not my own, I would eventually have to switch this out with my own and that's what I did this weekend with trepidation because it meant taking everything apart and reorganizing the bees by myself. I had to do it alone because my son was away on a trip and my mentor was also unavailable.
What ensued was rather complex and unexpected. Amidst opening the hive and seeing the queen for the first time since I had begun beekeeping, I was so intensely focused on what I was doing and keeping the queen and workers safe, that I completely lost track of time. I became one with the beehive. They were part of me and I was part of them. It was as though I had gone on a shamanic journey, though I did not set out with this intention. Yes, I was functioning as a normal human being going through the activities of beekeeping, but at some point which I think was upon encountering the queen, I went into an altered state of consciousness and remember little from what happened thereafter. I just know that when I had everything rearranged and reassembled, I had no recollection of many of the things that I had done. As I spent time in my gardens, for several hours thereafter, I could not remember what exactly had happened to me.
Simon Buxton talks about altered states of consciousness achieved while working with bees in his book "The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters." It is a profound book and one that at times is difficult to conceptualize and understand, if you have not experienced anything similar. It is nevertheless, a delving into the mystical and complex world of bees that we as humans have yet to understand fully. Though I do believe that ancient cultures once understood the honeybee much better than we do today. The honeybee has long been revered for its ability to work in such complex unison and produce such a 'nectar of the Gods' from within it's own body via the perfection of Nature and the beauty, complexities and high vibration of flowers.
I have spent a great deal of time observing the bees in my gardens and I can say that the relationship that exists between bee and flower is truly a love affair as I have ever seen. The fervor with which the bees gather pollen and nectar is really quite interesting to observe as they both depend on one another for their very existence-- the bee to create honey to feed its queen and colony, and the flower to perpetuate it's life cycle. What can we as humans create, if our very survival depends on it?
And so, my experiences with the bees have come full circle. I have experienced the joy of capturing a new swarm to create yet another hive to pollinate our gardens and offer us the rich golden rewards of honey-- gifts of which I have given to family, friends and neighbors. And I have also experienced the sudden anguish and sadness over losing part of a hive due to my inability to attend to the needs of the hive in a timely manner by not providing them with adequate space for their colony.
Did I error greatly by not putting on another hive box in a timely manner or was the rebirth of the original hive meant to be to serve as a signpost for a new life that is beginning for all of us-- the bees on their journey with their beloved queen and I having completed a year of honeybee stewardship and many, many years of healing the lands where I have lived, ready to face what new surprises lie before me in this ever changing world.
Blessings on Your Journey!
2013 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
A Look Back: Taking Inventory of Your Landscape
|Posted on June 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM||comments (0)|
Honoring the Girls: a Day in the Life (and Death) of Honeybees
|Posted on October 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM||comments (3)|
This is my first year beekeeping and although I'm so happy to have my own hive and see and feel the vibrancy that these bees bring to my landscape, it has also been a learning experience which at times is saddening and frustrating.
A few weeks ago I went out to check my girls (only the females work, as the male drones are just there to inseminate the queen and eventually die or are pushed out of the hive) and much to my dismay found many of them grounded or clinging to the side of the hive loaded with pollen. I knew something was wrong because ordinarily they would be depositing their pollen treasures into the hive, but these girls wouldn't enter and many were wandering around in a daze.
Pesticides were the culprit most likely. Honeybees will not bring toxins into their hives. Despite having travelled many miles and visited up to 100 flowers, these girls could only collapse in front of their home, symbolically honoring their queen with these hard won bounties. It is a sad sight to see for a caring beekeeper. How these workers managed to navigate their pollen laden bodies with the contamination of pesticides from the flowers they had visited is an unimaginable feat for one so tiny. These girls have to beat their little wings up to 12,000 times per second in order to carry a load of pollen back home. Visiting up to 2,000 flowers in one day, honey bees are exhausted in a few weeks when their short lives end and their tattered wings show all they've endured.
Most people don't realize how important the honey bee is to our food system as estimates have been put at 1/3 of our entire food supply being pollinated by honey bees. They are highly intelligent beings and display a complex communication network that has been researched and documented. Their hive is comprised of an equally complex system that includes one queen, workers that feed and care for the queen as well as the nursery, plus workers that forage for pollen, guards that stand vigillant at the entrance for intruders and also undertakers that take out the deceased bees and/or intruders. All that being said, I think it's time these girls deserve a bit more respect.
Recently at my son's soccer game I sat next to a woman and her granddaughter who kept referring to yellow jacket wasps as "bees" as they were systematically drowning them in a juice bottle. At one point I clarified that these were not in fact bees, but wasps and yet this woman continued to refer to them in front of this little girl as bees.
This is not the first time I've seen this type of aggression toward wasps by humans and this identification of them as "bees". While yellow jacket wasps may be annoying and can certainly cause injury, they are also pollinators and serve a vital role in a balanced ecosystem. People just don't realize that their attitude towards insects is affecting everything we do on this planet to eradicate them. This improper identification with anything that stings only perpetuates this negative attitude. Truthfully, we could not live without stinging pollinators because there is so much work that they do, that most will never realize or appreciate until it may be too late.
Honey bees are not aggessive. My 10 y.o. son occasionally helps me work with our hive and we have both observed the girls in action. Honey bees will generally only sting to defend their hive or themselves if they are suddenly startled or fear aggression due to someone's negative state of mind or carelessness.
Last weekend I spent a few hours helping a friend harvest honey from his hives. I have yet to harvest the honey from our hive and may wait until spring to do so to allow the bees enough honey to survive the winter. But we are already looking forward to sampling our very own honey for the first time and gathering wax to eventually make our own candles. I know my son is excited about both of these activities. I also know that next year our gardens will be much more vibrant due to all the work the honey bees did during the summer to pollinate the flowers. I look forward to the forthcoming years as the land heals continuously due in large part to all the work that the honey bees will have done. I hope that eventually more people will learn about beekeeping and decide to help these little creatures survive this imbalance that man has brought upon them. I know that I am profoundly grateful to my girls for teaching me the ways of this Earth and learning to check my own energy field on a constant basis.
If you live in WNY and are interestedin learning more about beekeeping, you can contact the
WNY Honey Producers Association which holds regular meetings and occasional workshops on issues related to beekeeping including how to get started with your own hive. Most cities and towns will have a similar organization to help you meet beekeepers and learn more about this amazing art.
I highly recommend you do your research and connect with these people or a mentor before attempting to keep bees on your own. There was a time when people apprenticed and spent a great deal of time learning the art of beekeeping because there truly is alot to learn, but it's well worth the effort. The benefits of a revitalized landscape cannot be measured in monetary terms. It is something that you begin to see and feel in your heart and in so doing, you know that your own well being is being supported by these miraculous creatures.
Bountiful Harvest Blessings!
Copyright 2012 Awen Environments / Clarissa Harison.
The Summer of Orb Weavers
|Posted on September 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM||comments (178)|
This summer I had the opportunity to experience the benefits of a re-vitalized ecosystem with many songbirds, pollinators, butterflies and other beneficial insects returning to my own backyard. I had the awesome moment of witnessing the emergence of a beautiful swallowtail butterfly from its chrysalis just because I left a section of my yard unmowed.
I saw the return of numerous orb weaver spiders which I've found to be the only predators of the destructive Japanese beetle. Orb weavers are a sure sign of the revitalization of the landscape and their arrival is one I look forward to, not despise, because I know the land is healing and balance is being restored. I also got to listen to the Choir of the Crickets once again, something I usually just hear while camping or at the lake. They are no doubt, bringing a higher vibration to the land.
Though my yard may look unruly to the meticulously groomed, pesticide ridden yards of many neighboring properties in my suburban area, I know that restoring ecology to my own backyard is not only good for the environment, but also for my own health and that of my child, as well as our pets and the overall community. A great book I read many years ago on this topic is Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards. Although this book was written in the 90's, Sara Stein was well ahead of her time in recognizing that the gardening and landscaping methods we had grown accustomed to and come to accept as 'normal' in our society are actually destroying our environment and cannot be sustained indefinitely. That is, if we want to have a healthy future for our children and this planet to survive.
While I love the philosophy and information within this book, I will say however, that I do take exception to the author's use of the Monsanto herbicide Round-up and the burning of fields to eliminate unwanted plants. I don't agree with using any chemical in the garden including the 'seemingly harmless' glyphosates which have since been proven to be the contrary. Nor do I feel it is necessary to burn a landscape in order to place what you want in a meadow. I also don't believe it's necessary to only use native plants in your landscape. There are many, many medicinal/healing advantages to having exotic and naturalized plants in your landscape, so eliminating one for the sake of the other is not in my opinion, the answer. Finding a balance between both worlds is. If a plant is growing wild in your yard, there's a reason that usually only Nature knows and plants follow people when they are needed.
Being different is not always easy, however. One weekend I witnessed one of my neighbors discussing my property with a guest at his backyard party. I was mowing the lawn and wanted to go right over to him and tell him what I knew and how I felt. Not only had this more recent development of homes pushed all the water from the previously existing wetland onto my property, but also the subsequent common use of pesticides from these homeowners had contributed to making the soil into an unhealthy, unproductive hard pan which reaked of decay when I first moved there over 2 years ago.
I wanted to say all of these things, but I didn't because I knew it would only insight anger and increase tensions between us. Instead, I chose to continue with my mowing and I write about my experiences here on this blog, in hopes that eventually people will wake up and realize that what they are doing is so contrary to the well being of this planet and the very health of humanity and all life. I know I've said this before, but I will continue saying it until I see the last of the yellow signs in my neighborhood and community because it continues to amaze me how many people are still unaware. Last night as I took a run through this neighborhood, I could just smell all the pesticide residues from the yellow signed properties, definitely not a healthy place to take a walk or be running, let alone allow a child to play.
Of great concern is also the activities that recently took place in cities like Dallas, TX and New York City, as well as states like Massachusetts and Pennsylvania with aerial spraying of pesticides to combat the West Nile Virus. I believe many were unaware of these municipal sprayings as they were done during early morning hours and others expressed little or no concern to this activity which not only harms useful pollinators, but also animals and humans. Which town or city will be next? What is truly needed is for the restoration of healthy landscapes which support beneficial insect predators and other forms of wildlife which create balance. An excess of any type of insect is a sure sign of imbalance and spraying chemical pesticides will not resolve the problem, only create more imbalance and disease.
This excessive need to control our natural environment I believe stems from very deep rooted emotional issues and imbalances in our society and our ancestral DNA that need to be overcome and healed. Attempting to control something so powerful as Nature is a wasted effort and so not in alignment with the way life should be. Please give even just a little bit of space to Nature by allowing her to do what she does best. Choose to live gracefully and in awe and respect of Nature, and then she will bring you bountiful blessings beyond what you can imagine.
Blessings of Awareness!
2012 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
Earth Energies: What is Your Home Telling You?
|Posted on July 3, 2012 at 12:21 PM||comments (6)|
Does your home speak to you? Are the channels of energy running freely on your property? Do you pay attention? Land has chakras (energy centers) just like people do. I pay attention to every subtle little nuance that takes place in my home and on the land. Sometimes the messages are blatant, like when something breaks down or becomes clogged, but other times they are more subtle, requiring insightfulness and awareness.
When you work with the energy of your home as I do, you begin to see the unfolding of new life on the land such as new flowers or wildlife, improvements in your health and well being or relationships with neighbors change. Sometimes there is also an ugly phase where things surface, relationships become explosive and accidents or illnesses occur. It's all part of the process of releasing the past, old memories, energy patterns or toxins held within the land and in your home. Knowing why you chose your particular home is half the battle and the first step toward improving your life and the well being of all that surrounds you.
I happen to live on a property that is incredibly sensitive energetically and physically because it is affected by underground streams of water and Hartmann lines, energetic grids of energy that emanate from the Earth. Hartmann lines occur when natural existing energies emanating from the Earth combine with electrical interferences. These energy fields have been scientifically proven and measured. They are also typical in urban and suburban areas. It is said that animals and people will sense an earthquake 16 hours prior to its occurence, if their home has Hartmann lines running through it.
It took me a while to recognize this pattern, but then it dawned on me one day that the reoccurences I was seeing in the behavior of my animals, the flowers in my gardens, and in me were being determined by this energy that ran through the land. I would see flowers like Tradescantia (spiderwort) and Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) collapse suddenly for no apparent reason, my cats would become incorrigible, and I would be edgy and irritable or anxious. Because I'm so sensitive, I knew I was feeling the shifting of energetic grids in the Earth when an earthquake occurred and eventually I was able to verify it after doing some further geomancy research. For more information on geopathic stress, Earth energies and specifically Hartmann lines visit Richard Creightmore's research on this topic. I found his extensive work to be supportive of many of my own conclusions, as well as supported by a wide variety of resources.
There is also the issue of the vitality of your land. The natural geomagnetic field that exists on this planet is 7.83 hz which is necessary for all life to exist as we know it here on Earth. When this vibration falls too low where there is little life force or too high where there is a great deal of electrical interference whether man made or naturally occuring underneath the Earth's surface, there will be signs of disturbance. Plants, animals and people are all affected by this imbalance of energies. They will display it in various ways whether it is through illness, weakness and irritablity, or exhaustion and depression.
A common sign of low vitality on your land is areas where nothing will grow or trees become diseased and deformed eventually dying, contorting away from underground streams or other forms of interference. Plants, fruits and vegetable growth will also be stunted such as berries that never reach mature size because there's not enough cosmic life force drawing them upward.
It doesn't matter where you live, the same laws prevail all around this planet. Plants, animals and human beings will thrive where the energies are balanced and supporting of their natural systems of equilibrium. Where it is not, you will see signs of decay, difficulty, and even disease and death because the energetic patterns are such that they support the destructive activities initiated by parasites and other micro-organisms which create the continuous process of breaking down material in order to recycle into new life. In truth, we could not live without these microorganisms because they provide a vital service to this planet. Would you want to live in an area that is going through a process of decomposition? Absolutely not. It will pull down your energy and make you susceptible to a myriad of problems. In order to remain healthy, we all need to be in areas that are supportive of life.
The Earth needs to maintain this delicate balance between Earth energies and cosmic energies (influences from the sun, moon and planets) in order to maintain equilibrium. Unfortunately, where man has intervened, this is often not the case. Visionaries such as Viktor Schauberger and Rudolf Steiner discussed this delicate balance in many of their writings. Although both passed away some time ago, we are at a crucial stage of this planet's evolution that was foretold by both of these men because Nature will always know the right way and will act accordingly to restore balance to her ecosystems and this planet. This is evident in the increasing amount of natural disasters and Earth quakes being experienced around the globe.
Ants and yellow jacket wasps in and around your home, for instance, are a common source of irritation for many and are an indication of geopathic stress and low earth energy. They are vital however, because they are releasing formic acid which is necessary to all life, as well as to restore and revitalize dead soil on a landscape. Yellow dock and bull thistle plants are typically an indication of toxins in the soil. Yellow dock is a liver cleanser if taken internally and it binds itself to harmful toxins and metals in the soil such as arsenic. Queen Anne's Lace cleanses and aerates hard, lifeless soil and pulls nutrients from the subsoil with its long taproots. Killing or pulling them out or using weed killers or pesticides is actually doing yourself a disservice, because you're not allowing these plants and insects to do their job. These life forms know what they're supposed to do and that's why they're there to restore balance.
So what can one individual do to restore balance to a planet that seems more and more chaotic? You can work on your own home and/or plot of land to bring energy and vitality to your life, thereby affecting your community and the world at large. By revitalizing your land and restoring balanced systems that enhance and allow for the natural order of things to exist, you will essentially restore health and well being to your own life. Working with native and naturalized plant life and decreasing or eliminating chemical usage are a great way to start. Whatever's growing wild on your property is usually a great indication of what's lacking in soil vitality and Earth energies.
If you need help and don't know where to begin to address the myriad of problems facing you and your property, I can help identify energetic imbalances that can be corrected to help your gardens and landscape to flourish and your health and well being to improve. Having a second set of eyes to evaluate and redirect imbalances that may be existing in your home and on your land may be all that you need to set you in the right direction. Change begins with you and your landscape. Why not make an investment in yourself and your long term well being? You'll be glad you did.
Steiner, Rudolf, Bees, Steiner Books, 1998.
Copyright 2012 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
Initiation into the Realm of Bees: a Lesson on Chaos
|Posted on June 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM||comments (6)|
I'm convinced that chaos is the new norm, and that the challenge is all in how we deal with it. A few weekends ago, after much deliberation and some setbacks due to an unforeseen incident, my son and I picked up our new bee colony from a local beekeeper. Due to a severe accident that left this beekeeper temporarily in a wheelchair for many months, our bee colony was delayed and at one point, I resigned to the possibility that we might not be able to do beekeeping at all this year.
When this beekeeper's family stepped up and filled their customers' orders, we surprisingly were able to pick up our bees after a mini workshop on beekeeping at this apiary the same day. It was to be the only introduction to hands on beekeeping that my 10 year old son and I would have before being immersed in a series of incidences and synchronicities that formed the basis for what I now know was an initiation into the realm of bees and their loving wisdom.
I feel it necessary to discuss a bit of background as to my history with the stinging insect realm. Several years ago, while my son was still a toddler, I experienced anaphylaxis, which was an extreme reaction to the sting of a yellow jacket wasp. I had been gardening and unbeknownst to me, suddenly found myself allergic to these creatures. Nearly losing my life that day and also being stung several more times in subsequent years, I began to contemplate the message that kept repeating itself. Why were the insects reacting this way to me? The answer was my energy field of anger/irritability which I was putting out into the environment every time I gardened, something I wrote about in a previous blog Gardening with Nature: the Wisdom of Insects.
I had to learn to conquer my fears in order to continue gardening and recently I faced my fears once again by picking up my bees. Anything that could have gone wrong, did, and yet we were never stung by our colony because my son and I had learned a valuable lesson. If you stay grounded, if you send the bees love, and you do not show fear, you will be just fine. The bees showed us that. Despite all the stress they went through, they never became aggressive toward us nor did we ever get stung.
All the beekeeping books will tell you that if a bee(s) is injured, they will give off a pheremone that signals to the other bees to be on guard and become defensive. What happened that weekend, was enough to have given us a multitude of bee stings, but it never happened because we remained calm, focused our intentions and deep down I believe the bees sensed we were wanting to help them and have them become our allies.
Because our beekeeper had been experiencing a series of personal challenges after his accident, a sequence of steps occurred which led to our bee experience. The enclosure not quite secure, I noticed a bee had managed to escape. Surprisingly the person loading my car assured me not to worry and advised us to just wear our veils during our 1 hour return trip. I thought he was crazy, but agreed to go ahead and I didn't care about the stares from passersby. Nevertheless, we were still vulverable and the trip became increasingly stressful as more and more bees began escaping from a tiny hole and we watched them gather at the back of my SUV. My son was a real trooper though and we kept assuring each other to remain calm.
When we reached home and after smoking our bees to calm them, I realized that it was not even clear to me how to install the bee colony in my hive since we had never received proper instructions amidst the simultaneous goings on of the workshop. Luckily I managed to reach the beekeeper who informed me that the bottom sheet of wood to the box needed to be taken off, but unfortunately he ran out of screws and so there were also nails to be taken out. Well, screws you can slowly unwind, but prying nails out while a colony of bees have been stressed and are anxious to fly out is another story. Since I do not chose to harm any living beings, I was horrified to say that in the midst of all these activities and due to lack of complete instructions, I stood the hive box on end in the wrong way and inadvertently caused major casualties to the colony. I was devastated but had to keep moving all the while knowing that if the bees sensed my fear, we would be in trouble. My son stepped up, keeping calm and continuously smoking our bees as I took all the necessary actions to install the colony in their new home.
What a sense of accomplishment my son and I felt as we managed to get everything set up without a sting and we saw the bees slowly begin filtering out of their new home and drinking at our bird bath. Several hours later, a single, solitary bee came up to me and followed me around the garden. When I finally managed to let her land on my hand, she began grooming herself as if to say "we know you did your best and didn't mean to hurt us." It was a tremendously endearing moment for me which I will always remember. Later that night, I remembered the words of one of my Native American teachers who told me that sometimes animals we encounter do what's called a "give away" which means that the creature will sacrifice itself in order to assist us from the realm of spirit. Because the bees are communal in nature, it stands to reason that a multitude had to die to send this message to me. I knew that in that moment, the bees had become our allies and would be our lifelong teachers.
The lessons didn't end that day, however. The following afternoon while my son and I were hiking with two other people along Lake Erie, we happened upon a wild swarm of bees that were making a new home in an old oak tree in the woods. Having experienced enough stress for one weekend, my son was reluctant to stay on the trail and walk through the swarm, but I assured him this was no coincidence and that we came upon the bees for a reason. If we could manage to walk through the swarm without injury, we would have passed our initiation into the realm of bees. After some coaxing from our trail guides who walked through unharmed, my son and I both faced our fears once again and felt a tremendous sense of exhilaration from walking through this time a colony of bees that were probably not used to human contact and yet, once again we remained unharmed.
I am still in awe from our experience with the bees and I know there will be other challenges to face, but I know we will get through them. What matters is not what happens to us, but how we deal with and face the challenges we are presented with. This is increasingly becoming the message that I am receiving via Nature as the Earth and economies continue to shift, and we are faced with chaos that needs to be dealt with. There is so much that can be learned from the bees and all of Nature, if only we pay attention to the messages and confront our own innermost fears.
"Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved." excerpt from The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd
Blessings from the Bees!
2012 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
Gardening with Nature: In Defense of Dandelions
|Posted on May 17, 2011 at 12:39 PM||comments (39)|
Despite this progress, I was extremely disappointed to still see a familiar yellow warning sign displayed in one of the public flower gardens recently in the town where I currently reside. This particular garden dedicated to world peace with the sign "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in various languages, was created by a girl scout troup project and is located in the center of the Village of Lancaster. It is a beautiful small garden when in bloom.
Given all the information that's out there concerning how detrimental pesticides are, not only to the environment, but also to people and animals, I would hope that townships (including school districts) within WNY and around the U.S. would start becoming more progressive in their gardening and lawn care approach. Even so called 'natural' lawn care products are just a play on words and their advertising very misleading, as these products still contain chemicals that are harmful to life. If they didn't, they wouldn't require a yellow warning sign, now would they? The 24 or 48 hour waiting period may be over, but the chemicals are carried by the air that we breathe and seep into the ground water and they affect all life including butterflies, bees and songbirds. Couldn't those funds devoted to pesticide and herbicide maintenance be put to better use?
I happen to differ from most, as I see the beauty in dandelions and they are welcome guests in my gardens and on my lawn because I know how valuable they are to creating healthy soil and providing nectar for bees and butterflies. I admit, it's hard to be a non-conformist in a suburban area and eventually I have to get my lawn mower out when the grass gets too high, however I do allow them time to bloom. Allowing the dandelions time to fulfill their destiny is not the sign of someone who is neglectful-- quite the contrary. I happen to love my yard and all the flowers that grow there. And I enjoy seeing the mass of yellow color. As mentioned in a previous post, the bees are in dire need of our help and the more food sources and habitat that we can provide them, the greater their chances of surviving. Bees have to travel longer and longer distances just to get enough nectar because there aren't may wild spaces left and well manicured lawns provides little nourishment. After a long winter, the bees are desperate to find sources of nectar and the dandelions are usually the only ones available.
The bright golden color of the dandelions is also linked with the third chakra (energy center of the body), the solar plexus which is associated with our emotions, creativity, personal power and instinctual or "gut reactions." These rays of sunshine are some of the first flowers to bloom in the spring time long before all the cultivated gardens begin to blossom. Their color and healing gifts are needed by Nature and by man. Not only do the bees need the nectar, we need the vibration of the color yellow to re-energize our body after the darkness of winter. Unfortunately, we always destroy that which we do not understand. It is the habit of human nature.
Interestingly, the European colonists brought dandelion seeds with them and planted them in their gardens many centuries ago. They were used for food sources, medicinal properties and their roots were roasted and ground into coffee. Dandelion tea is used as a blood purifier and is a great tonic to use to cleanse your system in the spring time. It contains a variety of different minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium to name a few, as well as various different vitamins such as A, B and D. Much of this knowledge has long since been forgotten.
With the advent of extensive advertising and chemical companies seeking massive profits, the entire image of dandelions has become that of disdain by most of society. It is truly unfortunate and saddening because what the dandelion can do for man's body, it also does for the earth. I'm certain that their proliferation is directly related to the amount of toxins in the soil. The more we fight them, the greater their need to do their job. Not only are they aerating the soil, but they are also providing much needed nutrients. That's why you'll always see them popping up their yellow faces in my gardens.
We need to look at generally accepted beliefs with new perspectives and not assume that just because we've been led to believe certain things (mainly by corporations seeking profits) or because we've always been doing something in a particular way, that it's the right way. Our current mode of thinking is not what will change the current weather patterns or stop the degradation of this planet or improve our health, it is looking at our environment with new eyes and the wonder and open mindedness of a child. Haven't you ever wondered why young children think dandelions are beautiful and bring them to you to be placed in a vase? Children see the beauty that is all around them before they are indoctrinated into a certain set of belief patterns based on society's norms at any given time. Our attitudes and beliefs are learned behaviors largely driven by what is seen in advertising and projected as acceptable at that moment.
Dewdrops and the morning sun,
Weave your garments fair and bright,
And we welcome you to-day
As the children of the light.
Children of the earth and sun.
We are slow to understand
All the richness of the gifts
Flowing from our Father's hand.
Welcome, early visitants,
With your sun-crowned golden hair
With your message to our hearts
Of our Father's loving care.
(Excerpt from Dandelions by Frances Ellen Watkins 1825-1911)
In Native American traditions, the earth is considered to be our 'mother' because she is a living being and provides for us in all ways. Isn't it time we stop the war against this planet and start making peace with all life, including the insect kingdom and seemingly unwanted flowers? Peace starts right in your own backyard. Though May 11th (Sierra Club's Dandelion Day) has already passed, why not join the growing number of people in honoring all that grows naturally on your property? You'll be glad you did.
Blessings of Sunshine!
2011 Copyright Awen Environments.
Green, Emily, Concern Grows in Weed War, What Price Freedom from Dandelions? The EPA is Rethinking a Long-used Herbicide's Cancer Risk to Humans, LA Times, 2002.
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