Water for the Food Forest

Water for the Food Forest

2015 was an exceptionally hot and dry year here.  The 2014/15 winter was dry and the only rain we had until November was on our Beltane Retreat.  At one point in the summer we thought our deep well had run dry and we became very conscious of the water we were using. We are even more conscious of our water usage now, as we are going off-grid this summer and we aren’t on municipal water – we need to pump our own water.

I used to take water for granted when we lived in London, but water awareness was one of Gaia-Sophia’s first lessons here.  First, the well ran dry in the house we rented, even though the roof leaked into our bed when it rained!  Then when we moved here we had no water in the cabin for a month and that summer, 2013, the gravity well ran dry.  We had another month of driving 10 miles to fill up at the public font that brings water down from the mountains.  Many people in Spain still use mountain water for drinking that comes from the public fonts that are all over Spain.

The gravity well is our reserve well as it doesn’t need electricity to run.  It’s up the hill from the house and the cabin and we laid a pipe so it flows down the hill when we need it.  It’s all we had until we put in a deep well and it only ran dry because we lost a lot of water when we put in the pipe.  It just doesn’t have enough pressure to support all our needs when we have guests, or to water the garden.  So, last summer we opened up the other well that is in the barn.  This is about 15M deep, so we could put in a less powerful pump and the plan was to use that to water the food forest.  That well ran dry too!  The new plan is not to water the food forest.

Most farmers around here don’t irrigate their fields.  They grow potatoes, cabbages, pumpkins and corn and every year they plough in cow manure to get rid of weeds and keep in moisture.  We are not ploughing and we’re not using cow manure.  Cow manure is full of weed seeds and creates more work than benefits.  Our strategy involves swales, ditches, woodchips and trees.

The Lie of the Land

Our food forest is on a gentle south facing slope.  Two years ago we cleared the straggly pines that were there there and began the process of laying out beds and terracing the slopes.  We had the use of a digger for the initial clearing and to lay out the old chestnut beams that were in the house to make the terraces.  The terraces are not formal and not dug out; we are just using the beams to support the downhill side of the beds as we slowly build them up over time with mulch and wood chips.  The aim is to retain rain water and minimize soil erosion from water running down the slope. We’ve done most of the rest of the work by hand, mostly just Dean and I, with a few hours here and there from various visitors.

We get around 100cm of rain in a year, which should be plenty to keep the garden growing throughout the year – if we can keep it in the ground!  The wettest months are November and March, but we can get showers throughout the year and cloudbursts in late summer.  This province, Lugo, is named after Lugo the Celtic god who wielded a spear of lightning.  Lughnasa, the first week of August (thereabouts) is when he brings lightening and thunderstorms to recharge the earth.  Lugh is a Bearer of the Grail.

Our soil is mineral rich, because no one has farmed here for generations.  Before the pines were planted about 20 years ago it would have been cleared pasture for cows and before that it would have been native oak and chestnut woods, that still exist in these parts.  If you turn your back for five minutes in a field around here, an oak tree will shoot up!  However, the soil is solid clay and without the pines providing shade and a constant supply of mulch, it turns to concrete in the summer when the sun beats down.  It’s a beautiful and sheltered location, but it’s very hard on seedlings.

Trees

We have planted about 50 fruit and nut trees so far.  We lost all the hazelnut trees last summer, as the hosepipe wouldn’t reach them, but all the other trees survived.  Mature trees are expert water managers.  A mature fruit tree can drink nearly 200L of water a day and our aim is to keep as much water in the soil as we can, so that we can minimize watering in the dry months.  It might take us a few years to get to that point, as the trees are still young and not rooted deeply enough, but that’s our aim.

Trees are intelligent beings.  You might not be able to hold a conversation with them, but that is just as true for many human creatures.  If you plant a tree in the right place and support it when young, with the minimum intervention, it will adjust its needs to whatever the Planetary Animal Mother provides.  So last year many of the trees dropped their leaves to conserve water because of the drought, but their roots were safe and they are already budding this year, after a mild wet winter.  Trees collect rain and transmit it into the soil.  It has been shown that broadleaved trees intercept blowing rain and conduct it down the branches and trunk to the soil.  The roots then provide a path which carries the rainwater into the deeper soil layers very quickly.  Our indigenous species like ash, alder, chestnut, willow, birch, oak, elm and many hedgerow shrubs are known to be particularly effective even in heavy clay soils, like ours.  Coniferous trees are less effective at catching rainwater.  Trees reduce flooding and prevent soil erosion, as well as providing shade and evening out the temperature extremes.

Ditches and Swales

Everyone knows what a ditch is and a swale looks like a ditch, except it runs across the contour of the land, rather than down it.  A ditch moves water away from where it’s not wanted and a swale retains water where it’s needed.

Swale diagram

 We are using a combination of ditches and swales, to move rain water away from a very waterlogged area and into the swales.  The swales hold more water than would stay on the surface and allow it to gradually percolate downhill below the topsoil, reducing evaporation and encouraging strong plant roots as they reach down for the water.

A full swale
A full swale

We have dug three rows of swales across the slope, fed by the ditch, so that the parts of the food forest that were dry now have water leeching below the surface.  Initially, we put old wood in the swales, as I’d read that the wood preserves the moisture and prevents more evaporation.  I thought it might mean less mosquitoes in summer too.  But the swales are so full that with the wood that they overflow all over the beds, so we are making adjustments.  It also encourages brambles to fill the swales, as they love old wood.  We will probably shore up the downhill side with planks over time, as this will prevent wood chips and mulch from filling the swales.

Mulching and wood chips

If you walk in the woods anywhere around here, the earth is protected by a thick mantle of rich, dark leaf mulch.  This is what the food forest was like before we cleared the trees, which stripped off and compacted the mulch layer.  Mama does not like to be seen naked, so the weeds then grow prolifically to cover the bare soil.  We laid thick layers of hay from the fields when they were cut, to keep the earth covered and some of the weeds away, but it doesn’t work as well for growing as wood chips and mulch, so we strip it away when we make the beds.  Hay works well to cover empty beds over winter, to keep them weed free and warm ready for planting in spring.  It tends to get fungus easily, so I prefer wood chips.

Mulching reduces evaporation so that the soil stays moist in summer.  You can mulch with almost any natural material that you can lay down in layers, like cardboard, old wool carpet or straw.  However, some materials take longer to break down than others, so if you want to plant shortly after mulching, wood chips are hard to beat.  We haven’t got all the beds covered yet.  There’s no tree-cutting service anywhere near us and Dean has to drive to the wood yard 10km away and load up the truck, then we have to wheelbarrow it into place.  It’s laborious, but the earth and the plants will thank us for it.

Our aim is to minimize our work in the garden and maximize our enjoyment and yield.  It’s a two hour job to water the garden with a hosepipe and when we go off-grid that means two hours of running the pump!  Working with nature to manage our water makes so much more sense.

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Pagan-Permaculture-Kalika

Diary of a Pagan-Permaculture-Kalika

What is a pagan?

A definition of a Pagan  from the Pagan Federation:  A follower of a polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.

‘Theos” is a masculine Greek noun used as a reference for God, meaning the male ‘Father God.’ Pantheists consider God to be the living universe, which would make the universe and everything in it male; clearly incorrect.

Polytheism refers to the belief in and worship of many gods, which can be male or female, a bit of a catch-all, anything goes option for the liberal pagan of today.

I would define myself more correctly as a Sophianic Animist, but that wouldn’t mean much to most people. This is how John Lash has described Sophianic Animism:

“Living Nature

Here is a provisional definition of animism: the experience of the natural world as alive, and interactive with all that lives, rather than merely the inert setting for life. Animism is a way of seeing and feeling how nature displays animation. All children are natural-born animists. They sense clouds and waters and wind to be alive, creature-like, with no distinction from their own sense of being so. To them even dirt and rocks are animated. Before modern times, indigenous peoples around the world encountered nature animistically and interacted with the elements, the sky, water, and earth, through the imagined media of personified spirits of many kinds. They realized that the world they inhabit is a living presence, not merely scenery, not dead matter, not an inert backdrop like a stage set. For them it was not believed to be a living presence. Not merely seen as if it is one. But known directly, sensorially, and empathically, to be such.

In short, animism is not the belief that nature is alive, but the direct engaged perception of how it is so.

To say that the earth is a superorganism means simply that it behaves like a living creature, exhibiting mind, purpose, expression. This is one step short of saying that the planet you inhabit actually is, and acts like, some kind of animal. The view that planets are animated or animal-like was widespread in former times. Much evidence of it survives in alchemical writings from the Middle Ages. Mystics who observed nature in altered states called the encompassiong consciousness of the animal-planet anima mundi, the world-soul. In many respects, alchemy anticipated the Gaia hypothesis with its identification of a single integral planetary consciousness. Obviously, the earth-animal Sophia has no head or limbs similar to other animals in the habitat she provides. She resembles more a multicellular organism, like an amoeba, a massive protoplasmic creature in globular form, having an aquaeus terrestrial body and an atmospheric skin.

Sophianic animists call this spherical creature the “planetary animal mother.” PAM, for short. With this unique spin, a simple turn of language, humans living on earth have a way to address the earth in its totality. The Sophianic path reclaims animism and places it on the planetary scale. Animism in the 21st century emerges into a genuinely planetary perspective, as never before — except, it would appear, among the ancient seers who produced the Gnostic teachings in the first place. It also presents another striking feature absent in local animistic cultures of the past: a coherent and comprehensive narrative for the living planet.”

I experience the earth and all of nature as alive and I’ve found that the Fallen Goddess Scenario and the Terma of Gaia Awakening correspond to and enrich my experience. My experience is not so much about belief regarding the attributes of an imaginary creature, but a process of experimentation in interacting with the living planet as a single entity, as originally described by the Gnostics. She has many names, many moods and Her own Story in which humans can play a part, if they choose.

I started this post on the first day of the Matangi shift of 2016. Now confirmed by Javier in Alicante, with his sighting of the Matangi moon shown below.

Matangi moon 2016

 

What does this signify?

“Unlike the other devatas who receive offerings of ripe fruit and fresh flowers, Matangi is uniquely offered leftovers and other cast-off items, things left out, unsorted, unpaired socks, string too short to save, loose change. Her offerings may also include things considered to be polluted or spoiled, like spoiled food. In the Tantric sense, she represents candala the inner heat or “fire from within” that burns away all impurities, all that is inessential to the full awakening of ruthless warrior power………..

Matangi is the voodoo queen of the Shakti Cluster. Her Haitian name is Erzulie Dantor, a figure loosely associated with the “black virgins” of pre-Christian lore. She is a protector of women, especially mulattos, and avenger of all who have been raped and discarded, cheated and wronged. One of the most potent female figures connected with the loas, the daimonic powers that possess human bodies as a rider seats a horse. She is also famous for being the patron witch of New Orelans………..

As voodoo was directed against the predators of the native Haitians, so it may be said that the supernatural magic of Kali is now directed against the globalist fascist elite. This is the power to avenge those who have been wronged, polluted by the toxics potions of the predators, left out and left over, discarded. Kali herself is the exterminator of behavioural clones, the archontified population living in terror of those who reign over them by victim-perpetrator collusion, the rule of deceit. But Matangi is specifically the terminator of deceit and exerminator of the deceitful, including those in complicity with perpetration of social evil, who far outnumber the originators, strategists, or masterminds. For instance, the media whores, talking heads, and shills who lavishly propagated the cover-up of 9/11. Those who to this day protest in the public airwaves, “But why would the government lie to us?”, when they know better…….

In the Mahavidya Matangi we may imagine a divine embodiment of the human capacity to detect and dispel deceit. She represents one of the most powerful and exceptional attributes of the human species.

As an animal gifted with imagination in a measure that exceeds any other terrestrial creature, the human being must be able to discern deceit, the destructive bent of the power of imagination, in order to assume full responsibility for using that magnificent gift correctly. Matangi is that capacity to discern the working of deceit, and as such she might rightfully be “worshipped”—a term I normally reject—because that capacity is a divine and salvific endowment as good as anything a god can confer, as mighty and magical as any god or goddess. This capacity of humankind is worthy of the highest respect, even reverence.

Matangi is one of the Mahavidyas said to confer the power to kill with a look, quaintly misunderstood in folklore as the “evil eye.” But could there also be an eye against evil? A killing glance to take down the intraspecies predators? If there is some kind of evil magic dominating the planet, as the growing perception around 9/11 seems to indicate, where is the countermagic?

I sound a strong alert not to attribute a “lethal weapon” of magical or occult power to the globalist criminal elite without allowing that honest, kind, well-intentioned people hold the counterpart, occult power to oppose and defeat their game.

To reach the power of the killing gaze, look steadily, nakedly, honestly into the mirror of evil until you see your innate goodness reflected there. The mirror itself confers that killing power. There is “sacred balance” (as noted by Wade Davis) in how evil contributes to the recognition of the good: to be precise, self-recognition. We do not need evil to be good as human beings, but if it is there, presented to us, mirrored in our own species, its presence can support recognition of the goodness unique to each individual of the self-same, high-risk species. This recognition is a supreme and sacred commitment that cannot be sustained, I would guess, without a divine or superhuman referent to offset the daimonic psychological inflation it can induce. Matangi is such a referent. She would be the supernatural fail-safe that allows the human mind to see as evil sees without succumbing to self-deception.

The eighteen power-nodes of the Shakti Cluster are human capacities, siddhis of occult potency, conferred by Gaia into the transpersonal life of those who call her attention and hold her gaze. The devatas and dakinis are conscient nodes of Gaia awakening, flashpoints of lucid dreaming at which she identifies and recognizes individual characters who enact her dream by consistently showing up in it. Her co-witnesses in a massive surge of planetary awakening.

There is no viable solution to the problem of evil in human behavior without an intimate supernatural connection to the planetary mother animal. “

Excerpted from “MANITU: Matangi, The Outcast. She Who Vanquishes Deceit” By John Lash http://www.metahistory.org/tantra/lunarshaktis/Matangi1.php

I felt Matangi coming on strong yesterday, with the fire within that had me prowling around and spring cleaning.  In a playfully, cat like manner, She drew me to two tracks when I was looking for some music to download:

The Cat Empire, Wild Animals

The Cat Empire, Prophets in the Sky

 

The sunset crescent will not be visible here until tomorrow, at the earliest, and maybe not even then as it is likely to be raining, but the shift has now been confirmed by others. We watched the sunrise crescent dissolve the predawn morning of the 7th February, drinking Kali’s Elixir. I find that this simple ritual binds me into the rhythms and moods of the earth. It makes my life easier and magical.

Sunrise crescent 7-2-16

 

In a general sense, I see chaos looming and ask myself: am I doing enough to keep us safe and warn others? Sadly, the desire to remain ignorant cannot be overridden, except by the person holding that desire. A couple of weeks ago we found out that a friend is in hospital with a brain tumour. The problem started with a headache one week after a smart meter was installed on his house. Unsurprisingly, the doctors didn’t know the cause of the tumour, so we sent him some of the research showing how smart meters are now implicated in many brain cancers all over the world. We also gave the information to our neighbours and haven’t heard another word. It’s the same with chemtrails, vaccines, pharmaceuticals even GMOs in come cases. People will come up with all manner of imaginative excuses to avoid what they think they don’t want to know and that works well for the predators. What can I do about that?

As I’ve moved deeper into the Dreaming of the Planetary Animal Mother it has become easier for me to see problems and solutions, as it does for everyone. At the retreat last November in Andalucia, my vow was: to act ruthlessly and with consummate playfulness in seeking out and destroying my enemies, so that the power of Her Dreaming and the truth of Her Story are recognized by all who know me. How do I do that from here? Well, that is what I’m in the process of discovering. This month I’m sensing that the Eye of Matangi will expose the game to the many human animals who are ready, willing and able to act and the killing power of Her mirroring attention will be activated.

Kalika Permaculture Politics

 This week Greek farmers took to the streets to protest against higher taxes and pension reforms.

They have been duped by their government. Socialism is a front for communism, currently being acted out in Greece as Syriza, the puppet government of the European banking mafia, begins seizing control of the food, energy and resources of the people. The new tax reforms mean that farmers have to go into debt to run their farms and will get lower pensions on retirement. The Greek people are learning that the Syriza socialists were only pretending to serve the interests of the Greek people and were in reality only taking care of themselves by collaborating with the Jewish banksters – as has been always been the case with any so-called socialists who come to power.

Greek farmers are not rich. The average size of a farm in Greece is 4.9 hectares and the average farming family income is €12,000 per annum. Under the new laws half of this will be taken by taxes and contributions. This is Agenda 21 in action.

Farming here in northern Spain is similar to Greece, small subsistence farmers, not industrial farming and quite similar to permaculture in many ways, because it’s still very traditional. Permaculture is one route to finding your place in nature, going beyond growing food to consideration of the invisible structures that keep a community coherent and ecologically balanced. Permaculture is inherently political in the broadest sense and many permaculture activists are overtly politically motivated to change society in positive ways. If you are one of these people, perhaps you might find ‘Kalika Permaculture’ interesting. So, what is ‘Kalika Permaculture?’

Kalika permaculture is permaculture with an edge; that edge is the boost of the earth. Kalikas are devotees of Kali, the expression of the Rage of the Planetary Animal Mother. So I live according to the fundamental permaculture principles, I care for the land, I care for the people and I share any surplus – but I do not care for all people. I do not care for the agents of government who try and tell me what to do on my land, I do not care for the weather manipulators or the whores of biological warfare and GMO peddlers, with their vaccines and pharmaceuticals and I want to see them eliminated.

The permaculture philosophy will never gain traction within a socio-economic system created by Jewish-communist-supremacists hell-bent on claiming the earth for themselves. This system has to be destroyed, root and branch before it takes over the whole planet. It is no longer sufficient simply to explain the problems ad nauseam. We know what the problems are and we also know how to resolve most of them, but a certain group of psychopaths is preventing us from implementing those solutions. Anyone who spends a couple of hours researching beyond the mainstream into WHO has caused all the poverty, pollution, disease and unnecessary suffering to all forms of life across the entire planet will find that it all points to one specific group: the Zionist-communist-supremacists and their goyim collaborators. Now, I’m not claiming that I know how to deal with this group of demented psychopaths, but lets’s start by acknowledging that we know who they are, what they are planning and that they will never win. And do you know why they cannot win? It’s because they are afraid to get their hands dirty. They are afraid of Nature and so they should be.

 

St John’s Wort

St John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum, is another of my favourite healing plants.

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It grows all over around here, more abundantly each year.  The healing plants are like that, the more they are appreciated, the more they grow.  St Johns Wort is said to be named after St John, because it begins flowering on St John’s day, the 24th June.  The bright yellow flowers look like the sun, star-shaped with stamens shooting out like tiny sun rays.

From Matthew Woods, The Earthwise Herbal

“It is best known as a first aid remedy for injuries to nerves—and is suited to injuries to parts rich in nerves (eye, fingertips, spine) where there are sharp, shooting pains, inflammation along nerves, acute sensitivity and pain, blood poisoning from injuries to fingers and toes (red stripes up the extremities), and clonic spasms and convulsions from inflamed nerves. Hypericum was considered a specific for tetanic convulsions in homeopathy

It is a fixture of Russian herbalism and medicine (which are not separate in that country). Russian indications are therefore extensive. It is considered to be a “liver remedy” and thus a “detoxifier.” We get some of these indications from Alma Hutchins and Fred Siciliano, OMD. The latter studied with Sydney Yudin, a Russian trained doctor of botanical medicine. Hypericum with Aloe powder (the purgative) is a deep detoxifier, according to Hutchins (1992, 258). Watch the urine: “Whole flakes of morbid matter are sometimes washed away with it.” St. John’s wort is particularly called for in cases where the innervations of the digestive tract, the autonomic, are weak and there is tension from a toxic liver—“liver overpowering the spleen” (Siciliano).

St. John’s wort and wood betony were the two most important remedies for psychiatric problems in the Middle Ages—what were then called the ill-effects of witchcraft and demons. Both plants strengthen the enteric brain, seat of the instincts, and it is in this manner that they “drive away evil influences”—the person gets stronger, so as not to fall under the domination of untoward people. Today, Hypericum is used for depression and anxiety. The exact mechanisms are uncertain, but it does not seem to be an MAO inhibitor.”

St John’s Wort for the nervous system

Many studies show that that the central nervous system is particularly affected by microwaves and ELF radiation, this map of EMF and the nervous system gives you a good overview of the issue and relevant studies. Many health practitioners who are not bought off by big pharma are now finding EMF pollution to be the root cause of all modern disease. It is impossible to escape EMF pollution and it has become a factor in our transmutation to Anthropos 11, whether we like it or not. Anyone who wants to remain healthy for as long as possible needs to reduce their EMF exposure in any way they can.  St John’s Wort has a special ability to support the nervous system and I find that a teaspoon of tincture through the winter months to be noticeably beneficial in maintaining calm alertness and mental clarity.

St John’s Wort is another healing plant that is associated with witchcraft.  I think that its proven ability to support the nervous system has a lot to do with its reputation for scaring away evil spirits and demons.  Anxiety make people susceptible to negative influence and the human imagination is good at creating demons.

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St John’s Wort tincture

The tincture couldn’t be easier to make.  Just gather the flowers and buds, not any that have turned brown, put them in a jar and fill it with 100 proof alcohol.  I use the local moonshine, orujo, which my neighbour makes.  It turns bright red almost immediately and I leave it in the sun for a few weeks and then filter out the flowers and throw them out on the ground.  It seems that the seeds are very robust and often grow the following year.

SJWoil

I take a teaspoon of St Johns Wort tincture a day throughout the winter.  I use it at other times if I’m feeling particularly tense, upset or overwhelmed, or if I’m spending too much time at the computer. I like it because it doesn’t numb the feeling, it just enables the nervous system to cope with the extra strain more effectively.  It is a good pain reliever for pain associated with nerves, like sciatica and inflammation.  I have used the tincture and the salve in combination for these conditions.

It’s also good for dogs.  I’ve given it to the girls after they’ve been spayed, it is recommended post-surgery as it helps with tissue and nerve healing.  It’s also good for anxiety caused by fireworks and hunters.

St John’s Wort salve

Some of the flowers go into olive oil and some coconut oil, to be left in the sun for a couple of weeks.  The flowers in the olive oil go bright red and those in the coconut oil a pinky-red.

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I add beeswax to the St John’s Wort in olive oil to make a salve that will travel and can be kept for a while.  The St John’s Wort in coconut oil is excellent for burns, taking the pain out immediately and preventing blistering.  Although most oils should not be used on a fresh burn, coconut oil is the exception as it has a cooling effect.  It is also anti-microbial.  Both salves can be used topically for nerve pain, arthritis, shingles or any kind of inflammation and can be used on open wounds. I prefer yarrow for open wounds, unless there is bruising as well, in which case I’d use St John’s Wort.  It works just as effectively as arnica for bruising.  It also relives sunburn and frostbite.  I’ve read that some people have increased photo-sensitivity from using St John’s Wort, but I’ve not seen it in anyone myself.

I used St Johns Wort oil most spectacularly when I disturbed a wasp nest and was stung at least a dozen times and had a histamine overload.

I also keep some flowers dried flowers for tea on glum winter days.

Local medicine

As I’m plugged into the Planetary Animal Mother, I take it for granted that She wants me to be well and happy and that She has provided everything I need within walking distance to make it so.  Our ability to travel around and settle a long way from our indigenous homelands has made it harder for our mind-body systems, poisoned and attacked on so many fronts as they are, to access the innate self-healing with which we are endowed.  However, my experience here supports the notion that, if you are able to return to your ancestral homelands, your health will improve and the local medicine will be better than anything you can buy.  Especially if you make it yourself.

Update on wound healing with St John’s Wort

Our adopted dobermann Freya, was spayed last week.  The vets gave us a prescription for antibiotics, which we didn’t use.  Instead I gave Freya coconut oil with St John’s Wort, yarrow and cannabis for the first few days and rubbed the St John’s Wort in coconut oil on her surgical wound.  When we went back to the vet for her three-day check-up after the surgery, her temperature was normal and her wound was healing well with no sign of infection.

I used the St John’s Wort in coconut oil for the wound as it is anti-inflammatory and soothes nerves.  She hardly licked the wound at all and it healed very quickly.

 

 

 

Gardening with Woodchips

A couple of years ago we watched a documentary called Back to Eden.  It is an excellent permaculture documentary, that pioneers the use of woodchips in the garden.  If you can get over the Christian, Bible quoting dsitractions, the natural farming methods of Paul Gautschi are truly Goethean, based as they are on observation and contemplation of nature.

Our land is clay, and most people around here are dairy farmers. They grow potatoes, pumpkins, cabbage and corn and not much else.  The permculture sites always reference talking to your neighbours as a good source of information, but that’s only useful if you want to do as they do.  We do not want to plough up our land and cover it in cow shit.  Cow shit is full of seeds and you have to leave it for years before you can use it and ploughing destroys the mycelium network, through which the plants communicate. The Gautschi approach immediately appealed because this area is naturally temperate woodland – blink and an oak tree grows.  So do, brambles and weeds on any bare patch of land – the Planetary Animal Mother does not like to parade around naked!

We started the food forest in January 2014, by cutting down about an acre of straggly pines that had been planted too close together on a gentle south facing slope.  It took most of 2014 to clear the area and lay out some chestnut beams that came from the old house.  We covered the whole area with straw for the winter of 2014/15 as we didn’t have enough chips the and we needed to keep some of the weeds away. We have made raised beds that form terraces down the slope.  We put in swales and planted trees for the canopy layer in 2015.  The earth got terribly compressed by the wood cutter’s truck and the tractor for clearing the branches away.  We left most of the stumps in place as they will gradually break down and they keep some of the moisture in the ground.  As the land is south facing and there are no longer any trees there, it’s really muddy in winter and rock hard in the summer.

The biggest challenge was getting enough woodchips.  We bought a Titan chipper from the UK, which works well, but we still have to drag in the wood to chip. We have oak woods all around, but these are wild woods, full of brambles and it takes a couple of days to get enough wood to chip for a day.  Most of the permaculture sites that talk about woodchips are based in the US, where there seem to be an endless supply of tree surgeons wanting to offload their chips on anyone who wants them. Not so here.  Finally, after having bought thousands of wuros worth of chestnut beams from the local wood mill for our house, Alberto happily agreed to let us have as many woodchips as we want for free.  Although Dean still has to drive over there, load up the truck and bring them back here.  It’s still more efficient than chipping our own.

Straw v woodchips? Straw makes a good layer to suppress weeds and to keep in the moisture, but it’s not good for growing in.  I don’t have a greenhouse at the moment, so everything has to be grown in place from seed and the straw makes an impermeable mat that is too tough for the seedlings to get through.  I moved the straw away on some of the beds as they grew, but it’s more work than woodchips and not as successful.  With the woodchips I just move the woodchips aside to expose the bare earth, sow the seeds and push the wood chips back and the seedlings germinate and grow.  I keep straw for the paths.

So, we are still building our wood chip beds and have many. many weeds.  I leave most of the weeds, many of which are wild herbs and medicinal plants, as well as food for pollinaters and predators that would otherwise eat all my plants.  We haven’t used any fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides and everything that survived the drought of 2015 grew just fine. The thistles, gorse and brambles are the only weeding that we do – sometimes plantain, which is plentiful around here.  My aim is to keep the garden work to a couple of hours a day; of course it doesn’t work out that way because of the weather and the fact that we are still setting things up.  Still, in the first year we’ve had: carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, chard, peppers, onions, radishes, beetroot, beans, broad beans, courgettes, squash and we would have had sweetcorn, but the wild boar got it all!

 

  • Minnie the Mulcher

 

The White Warrior-Shaman

What does the White Warrior-Shaman have to do with permaculture and alchemy?

Everything, as it happens! Permaculture, organic food, natural medicine and our chosen way of living are all under threat.

Why white?  I’m an indigenous  white skinned European and I’m remembering and re-imagining the shamanic warrior tradition of my ancestors.  Perhaps you are too.   We were proud pagans, before being forced into Christianity on pain of death and this spirit has re-awakened and is there for anyone who claims it as their own.

As I’m writing this post on a peaceful, sunny afternoon here in Galicia, the enemies of life are spraying their toxic chemicals overhead.  Most people around here don’t look up at the sky and if they do, they don’t notice the spraying, or think they are normal contrails.  When we ask them why they think there might suddenly be so many planes criss-crossing the sky in this forgotten part of Spain, they just shrug. No different to many other people all over the world.  Geoengineering is just one method of boiling frogs.

This guy says it all:

 

But what can you do about chemtrails, or GMOs or smart-meters, vaccinations, government mafia or the phoney financial system?  At this point, I don’t know.  However, I do know that just as human ingenuity is capable of solving these problems, it is also capable of eliminating the cause of these problems.  Correction:  you and I are capable of eliminating the cause of these problems, if that’s what you choose to do.

 

Yarrow: Achillea millefolium

Yarrow: Achillea millefolium

Everyone needs to get to know yarrow. It grows wild here through the summer and I harvest the flowers and leaves and dry them and make tinctures and sun oils for use throughout the year.  It is a wonderful helper plant, with many uses.

When I first noticed its feathery leaves growing abundantly and picked it, smelled it and crushed it in my fingers, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Yarrow has a lovely clean fragrance, gently floral and very slightly anti-septic (reminiscent of sticking plasters). Its scent is more pronounced in the leaves. I decided to pick some flowers and leaves, even though I didn’t know what I might use it for at the time – just following the trail of wondering.  Yarrow is good for that……

Yarrow

Yarrow’s ‘magical’ properties

When yarrow first caught me attention, with its lush feathery foliage tiny white flowers, floating like parasols in the breeze, I was certain it had a lot to offer. I have no hesitation in following my instincts. I get three clear indications when I question whether it is good for me to interact with a plant or substance:

  •  strong, clear ‘good for me’ with a feeling of eagerness and no hesitation or doubt, no mental chatter, my body just leaps joyfully towards whatever it is I’m asking about
  • a hard ‘no way’ often coupled with a feeling of repulsion, sometimes I will ‘accidently’ drop the plant or substance
  • nothing, no feeling at all. I’ve learned from experience that this also means that it’s not good for me, even though I might want it to be!

Very often, the first thing I’ll do with a ‘good for me’ plant is make a tea. I’ve never liked herbal teas, they always taste stale and smell musty to me, but I like teas from plants I’ve harvested myself. My current favourites are, red clover, Queen Anne’s Lace, pennyroyal and yarrow.

Yarrow tea

Yarrow tea, made with leaves and flowers that have been dried for an hour or so (or up to a year if it has been stored out of sunlight) has an immediate normalising effect on body temperature and makes you slightly thirsty (the astringent effect). It is a bit bitter (as are many herbs/plants) and so I sweeten it with little honey.

When you follow your wondering, you are led into the unknown, out of the matrix and directly into Gaia’s dreaming. This can happen so gently that you might not realize what is going on, until you look back on it later. Yarrow tea, made with dried flowers, helps me slip into the trance-like state of awake dreaming very easily.  One of its old names is Devil’s Plaything and a sure-fire way of identifying plants with psychotropic properties is to look for the devil in their folk lore names: Datura Stramonium, aka Devil’s Apple, Devil’s Trumpet; Belladona, aka Devil’s Cherries; Mandrake, Satan’s Apple and Devil’s Testicles. All these plants are known to have psychotropic properties, to be analgesic and have various other healing properties, as well as high levels of toxicity. In medieval times, anyone who practiced healing and enjoyed tripping was obviously in league with the devil!

Yarrow for colds and chills

Recently, I came back from the UK with a cold; probably because I didn’t take any warm socks and shoes when we went to Wales and my feet got cold and wet. Yes, you can catch a chill from sudden exposure to cold weather! Our bodies aren’t made to adjust instantly to the climatic and microbial extremes we can experience through the wonders of air travel. This kind of cold comes with a clear, runny nose, sensitivity to cold temperatures and a bit of a headache and may be the start of a sore throat. It commonly occurs with the change of seasons, which I experienced in the extreme in this instance. We tend to call it a head cold – wind with cold in Chinese medicine.

Yarrow tea is particularly good for this kind of cold, as it helps raise the body temperature to induce sweating. This may seem counter-intuitive with the sensitivity to cold, but sweating it out through the skin is the best approach for this type of cold, if you catch it quickly enough.

I made yarrow tea with ginger and went to bed, piling on four extra blankets and sweated it out. The cold was gone in a few days.

Yarrow was among the plants buried alongside a Neanderthal man, plausibly a shaman or medicine man, in the Shanidar cave in Iraq over 60,000 years ago. Does this suggest that maybe the Neanderthals were not as primitive as we have been led to believe? Yarrow has been helping us for a very long time.

Healing with yarrow

The legend of yarrow is remembered in its botanical name: Achillea Millefolium. This roughly translates as ‘Achilles’ Plant of a Thousand Leaves’. Achilles is said to have used it to staunch his soldiers’ wounds on the battlefield and it also known as staunchweed.

The medicinal properties of yarrow have been well studied and are summarised in this article (which everyone seems to quote without referencing):

A few weeks ago, Izzy got a deep gash on her shoulder after chasing a fox. I don’t know whether the fox bit her or whether she caught herself on a branch in the woods.  After I’d cleaned the wound, I saw that it was about 3cm long and a centimetre deep, pulling open because of the location on her shoulder. Dean thought it needed stitching, but it would have been next to impossible to get Izzy to the vets, so I packed the wound with dried yarrow powder. I did this twice a day for the next week or so as the wound dried out and scabbed over, then re-opened slightly because of her activity. Within three weeks it was completely healed, with no scarring.

Yarrow is styptic and hemostatic (stops bleeding), astringent (makes tissues contract), antiseptic (inhibits bacterial growth), vulnerary (helps tissues heal), anti-inflammatory, and slightly anesthetic. I use it powdered, dried in teas, in tinctures and salves. It is an essential element of the Gaian Medicine Cabinet

Powdered yarrow: to stop bleeding and aid wound healing

Take 6-10 white flower heads. Dry the heads for 2-24 hours, depending on the weather. Grind the heads in a coffee mill and store in an airtight jar. It remains effective for a year or two if kept sealed and in the dark. It has a lovely fresh clean smell.

Use by applying directly to any bleeding wounds and it will stop the blood flow almost immediately and help the wound heal.

Yarrow tincture

Tincturing is a method for extracting the active ingredient from the plant, so that it can be used in liquid form and easily stored. Most tinctures will remain effective for at least a couple of years, if stored in a cool dark place. I add a teaspoonful to teas, when I don’t have the fresh or dried flowers.

I make yarrow tincture from fresh flowers at their peak and the top few leaves of the plant only. I pick what I need on a dry sunny morning (yarrow blooms from May to October here) and let the heads dry for an hour or so before using them, to let any critters get out of the way. I don’t wash the plants, because everything I use is wild and organic and it’s very clean here.

I use Orujo for tincturing, which is the local spirit distilled from the solids left after the grapes are pressed for wine. It is usually over 50% or 100˚ proof. We get ours from a neighbour, so I’m not sure how strong it is, but it seems to work well enough.

Prepared yarrow
Prepared yarrow

Yarrow flower essence

All healer plants work on multiple levels and flower essences, being subtler, work on the energetic rather than the physical levels. Yarrow is a wound healer, so the flower essence works to heal ‘wounds’ in the psyche and energy field or aura.

Flower essences work very well with dogs. Just recently we adopted another dog, Freya, after Riley died. Freya had been found wandering the streets in a town in southern Spain. We don’t know anything about her previous life, but she was very skinny, covered in fleas and ticks and had lots of scars around her face and neck. She had obviously had a loving home before, because she is the cuddliest dog we’ve ever had, but she must have had to fight for her survival on the streets. She settled in immediately with Tulku (our male dog) but she and Izzy (our other female) were not quite sure of each other; they couldn’t work out the pecking order. Izzy is terribly sensitive and thought she had to take over Riley’s role, although that wasn’t what she wanted. Freya wasn’t taking any chances if Izzy came near her food and they both wanted to protect Tulku, who wanted nothing more than to play with them both at the same time.

I’ve been giving yarrow flower essence to all three a couple of times a day to help them with the transition into their new pack. Tulku didn’t need it, but he loves to take any kind of supplement or medication (seriously, he starts making sucking noises as soon as I get a dropper or syringe out). Izzy and Freya haven’t obviously bonded yet, but they can sleep on the same couch and the three of them all go off for a walk together often enough. It’s only been three weeks as I write this and they are becoming more comfortable with each other every day.

Yarrow insect repellent

There are many references on the internet to a US Army study that allegedly found a yarrow tincture insect repellent to be more effective than DEET. DEET is toxic stuff [http://www.naturalnews.com/029136_deet_toxic.html] that no one should ever put on their skin – have you ever considered that your skin absorbs substances as easily as your gut? So why would you put anything on your skin that you would not consider eating?

The references to the mythical US Army study made me conduct my own study with yarrow tincture as an insect repellent. I didn’t do it it scientifically, I just diluted some yarrow tincture with water and sprayed it around. It smells lovely and does keep some flies out of the eating area, but it also has a cumulative effect; the more you use it the more it keeps bugs away. I haven’t tried it specifically for mosquitoes, but it is very useful generally.

(We use a home-made pyrethrum spray as a really effective bug, tick and flea killer. I don’t like to spray it around more often than necessary, because pyrethrum is also a neurotoxin, although it is much less harmful to mammals than insects and an organic substance is easier for the body to deal with than anything synthetic. Pyrethrin is generally used in reference to the synthesized version.)

Very little research is done on natural compounds, as it’s not sufficiently profitable, but I found this study stating that yarrow has been shown to repel mosquitoes.

Abstract: An ethanol extract of Achillea millefolium L. showed repelling properties against the mosquito, Aedes aegypti L. “

 Yarrow In the compost heap

 “Yarrow works in the compost heap in the same way as used medicinally in the human body: it can remedy the weaknesses of the astral (soul) body.”

Rudolf Steiner

We compost as much as possible, as a matter of choice and necessity. We don’t have any rubbish collection where we live and we don’t have a sewage system or septic tank – we have a compost loo. I’m very interested in anything that that helps the composting process.

This statement by Rudolf Steiner had me wondering why yarrow is identified as working in the compost heap in the same way as it does in the body, as opposed to any other healing plant. I did a bit more research and discovered that yarrow is known as a compost accelerant because of it’s ability to concentrate both sulphur and potassium, along with other micronutrients such as copper and phosphates.

I’ve started putting some dead yarrow heads, as well as the leftover plant matter from tincturing, in the compost pile and we’ll see how it goes.

Yarrow around the vegetable beds

In addition to helping the compost heap, I think that yarrow works in the earth in the same way as it does in the human body. It’s root runners help balance temperature in the topsoil, just as its tincture does in the blood. It spreads happily bringing lushness to the beds and is easily dug up when it’s time to replace it with something else.

Yarrow attracts beneficial insects and pollinators and is a great companion plant, because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is considered to be of special benefit to aromatics, but I’ve put it all around the veggie beds and find that it generally makes everything grow stronger. It looks beautiful too!

Yarrow around the broccoli
Yarrow around the broccoli

Yarrow as a natural fungicide

I haven’t tried this, as we haven’t needed it, but I came across this recipe for a fermented yarrow fungicide

[http://www.growtheplanet.com/en/blog/learn/article/486/fermented-extract-of-yarrow-a-natural-fungicide] just as a friend asked if I knew of anything that might help his goji berries!

Further resources

Matthew Wood on Yarrow, from the Earthwise Herbal

 A study of White Yarrow by Jane Ellen of the Flower Essence Society

“Yarrow is always the greatest boon, wherever it grows wild in the country — at the edges of the fields or roads, where cereals or potatoes or any other crops are growing. It should on no account be weeded out… In a word, like sympathetic people in human society, who have a favourable influence by their mere presence and not by anything they say, so yarrow, in a district where it is plentiful, works beneficially by its mere presence.”
– Rudolf Steiner.

Making Apple Cider Vinegar

I was given a bag of apples the other day; completely organic but I’m an apple snob.  I love a crisp sharp Braeburn, but most red apples are just a bit too mealy.  I’m not a fan of apple sauce and I tried drying apples last year and what a waste of effort that was!  But we do use apple cider vinegar, mostly in salad dressings and as a post shower rinse, because the home-made shampoo we use is alkaline and needs to be neutralised.

IMG_2816

I mostly avoid vinegar.  This could be because my body seems to go over the top with histamine and vinegar is very high in histamine, but I am attracted to apple cider vinegar.  It has a long history of health benefits, going back to Hippocrates, and some recent studies have confirmed this.  My gut feeling (literally) is that it helps balance bacteria in the gut and this helps the immune system and well-being in general.

It is very simple to make apple cider vinegar.

1: Wash 10 or so whole apples, cut them into chunks and leave them to brown for an hour or so.

IMG_2817

2: Fill a large glass jar with the apple chunks,  including seeds and stems, to about halfway or just over.

3: Spoon honey over the apple pieces.  I put 4 dessert spoons in the large jar and two in the small one.

4: Top up with water with water until it’s at least three-quarters or entirely full and stir in the honey.

IMG_2818

5.  Cover the top with a cloth held in place with a rubber band and put it in a warm-ish dark room.  (I put the jars in the utility room).

6.  Over the next week I’ll need to give the mixture a stir every day.  Once the fermentation starts, the mixture will foam and bubble and smell of rotten apples!

7: After a week or so the apples will have have settled to the bottom of the jar. This means it’s time to strain the liquid and discard the apples into the compost bin.

8: Cover this liquid with a cloth and again, store in a warm, dark location. This time, it will be stored for four to six weeks, in which time the mother will form on the surface.

9: Keep sealed and out of sunlight. After about another two weeks, it should lose its alcohol content, become more acidic and develop the traditional apple cider vinegar taste.

10.  This bottle then becomes ‘the mother’ and can be used as is, or diluted with water to taste.

Natural pool update

We dug the natural pool in August last year, so that we could use the clay to build the house.  It is coming along nicely:

Pool-from-deck

IMG_2514

We made a sundeck out of local chestnut this spring, but it’s been to hot to sit out there.  We’ve had no rain for over six weeks and the water level goes down a couple of centimetres every day due to evaporation.  We are having to top the pool up every few days from the well.  We’re opening up the old well in the barn this week, to use for the garden and the pool, but we really need some rain now.

 

Permaculture and the Telestic Shaman

The Telestai were what the ancient Gnostics called themselves. Gnostic was a derogatory term that other people had for them, akin to “know-it-all” or “smart Alec”. Telestai means, “those who are aimed”.   From the Greek “telos”, meaning aim, goal or objective. When I first encountered that term I wondered what they were aiming at! Wrong question; the result of anthropocentric programming. The better question is: who, or what, aimed them?

Very little information on the practices of the ancient Mystery Schools of Europe, the Levant and Egypt has survived. However there is evidence from historical records, poetry and oblique references from initiates that the primary methodology of the Telestai was instruction via the Organic Light. The Organic Light is the primary substance body of Gaia.

 “Within the sanctuaries of the telestai, “those who are aimed,” the Mysteries were divided into general admission and special admission, the latter being membership in a cell of 16 people. Qualifications for special admission were various: the desire to learn a specific trade or craft, acceptance of a term of apprenticeship with a veteran, willingness to experiment with psychoactive plants for the purpose of learning specific things, and, most importantly, the desire for a consistent and repeatable encounter with the Organic Light. Apprentices in the Mystery cells were taught many things, including skills in all the arts of culture, music, mathematics, navigation, geography, animal husbandry, metallurgy, and much more.

The primary method of the initiates for fostering higher education (mathesis) was instruction by the Light or theoria. In that time and setting, theoria meant “beholding” and literally does mean that in ancient usage as Arthur Koestler notes in his masterpiece, The Act of Creation. These is a pun on theoria and thea, “things divine.” To encounter the Organic Light is to behold things divine and learn intensively and optimally from the “supernal vision.””

John Lash

http://www.metahistory.org/terma/termapractice.php

The telestai were teachers and above all else“Gnostic shamans,” interacting directly with Sophia, to bring wisdom to the people, to inform art, literature, sciences, medicine and society. They were egalitarian in sharing their teaching and learning processes.  The only requirements were not to have committed unjustified murder or dishonesty to the harm of others.  “The only qualification to be brought to an encounter with the Organic Light was the innocent and heartfelt desire to meet the White Goddess.” JLL

Fast forward 2000 years or so and we are in a very different world. Our indigenous European shamanic tradition is lost and forgotten and with it our link to wisdom. There is a growing surge of interest in shamanism and many curious individuals who feel the call are looking to other cultures, where pockets of the local tradition have survived.   There is always something to learn from other traditions, but every shamanic tradition has grown from the land of its origins. The story of that land and the people who lived there is intertwined and encoded in the DNA of the indigenous people. We can’t move between the nagual and the tonal unless we are able to live those stories today, in every moment, in their entirety. This is difficult because we have been displaced and dispersed over many generations. Our roots have been deliberately cut, making it difficult for us to access our ancestral memories. I enjoy hearing the beautiful creation myths from different cultures, but they are not my stories.

This is where permaculture comes into the picture. The permaculture ethics of care for the earth, care for the people and return and surplus (in that order) are an echo from the distant past. The call to set up a permaculture garden comes from the same source as the call of the spirit world – from the Earth.  If you love life and love the Earth who provides it, you hear the call. For me, the call of the nagual came first, leading me to explore different traditions and practices. From that came the realization that I didn’t want to live in the city anymore; I hungered for space where we could grow our own food and be away from other people and all their noise. We followed an invisible trail to the place where the call felt strongest.

My lineage is forgotten. My mother is Spanish, but not from this part of Spain, and I lived most of my life in London. My father is English and all we know of his ancestry is through the name, which is from the Huguenots Protestants of France. However, I feel more at home here than I ever have before, even though I don’t speak the language and am not part of the local culture as it is today! My connection is with the land and this has deepened as we observed the seasonal changes and planted trees and began working on the garden. As we worked with the land, the Planetary Animal Mother worked with us, clearing out the dross and waking up our senses.

Love is the supernatural force that brought me to Galicia, where I could ‘discover’ the Sophianic Narrative and then the Terma of Gaia Awakening in the perfect setting to unlocked the phylogenetic memory banks my ancestors shared with the Earth.  This is the same for everyone; you don’t need to have previous knowledge of where your ancestors are from in order to recognise your ancestral home when you land there.  But you do need to know that the Organic Light exists before you can see it and I don’t think I would have been able to see it in London. Through the Organic Light, I’m learning how to find my way back to Wisdom and share that knowledge with anyone who wants to participate in Her Story. This is more fundamental than healing the sick or saving humanity, because without wisdom humanity has no future. That’s what we are doing in Planetary Tantra Retreats.

The telestic shaman were aimed and guided by the Sophianic Mythos and this is my story too.  We all draw sustenance and strength from the roots of our ancestral history and from this place we can meet other cultures who share our love for the Earth and together we will guide humanity back to Wisdom.

Medicine-wheel

 

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