Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leather Treasures

For our weekly homeschool learning cooperative, we hired one of our wilderness school teachers (they both happen at the same facility). She is the wonderful E. Barrie Kavasch; accomplished author, ethnobotonist, artist, Reiki Master, poet, and craftswoman, not to mention the direct descendant, trackable, by 15 generations, of Pocahontas.  Truly someone to learn from. 

I was lucky enough to assist in the class we brought her in to teach, which was an authentic leather working series. Something I have never done and was eager to experience. All the different types and textures of leather were amazing. The children designed their own little pouches, satchels, book covers, and even some tribal jewelry, of their own imagination and newly learned techniques. She told wonderful stories of Native traditions, taboos, foods, and even song. 

I didn't expect to make anything myself, actually, as the assistant I mostly expected to help with hole punching, supplies, and maintaining group focus. Lucky for me, she offered up an extra of a couple projects. Lucky indeed! I crafted a journal replete with bound paper, a sacred pouch perhaps for tobacco or some such treasure, and as pictured above, a lovely satchel witch I feel is to be my gathering bag, for small tools and quick to reach items while I prowl for wild medicines.
I love my handmade treasures and feel the sacredness of the animals from which they came. I am grateful to have spent some time with Barrie, a Wise Woman and herbal grandmother. 

If you live in the Northeast I highly recommend her book, pictured above. A thorough first hand account of foraged goodies, recipes and traditional tribal foods, plants, medicines, and ceremonial preparations. Beautiful and practical.  A perfect accoutrement to an identification guide and very useful for teachers.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Thaw

The curl of the wind around my house 

in winter

an evil grip on my breath

a visitor unwelcome

an emotional rip

The sweat of the sky 

dripping all over my roof 

like gym clothes too big and too worn

The smell of earth tainted by waiting

and tears of too long

and to where I belong

the river sings muddled 

old songs of melted mountains 

of valleys caressed

of fish now extinct and of old plants beloved

she drones out a tune 

in a rolling refrain

and the creatures are caught in the moon

Twice in the morning the dawn 

takes a swim

only to greet the sharp winters grin

as she sharpens her icicle swords in the air

the maiden of spring is reminded to share

Twice in the evening 

the dreams come to dance

in my head like a summer's unending romance

where the winter is slain 

and my gardens remain

where my clothes are peeled visciously 


In my free skin I run 

with my gathering mind 

in my satchel I place fragrant needles of pine

in my free skin I moan

to the voluptuous mud 

to the unfrozen frogs 

and my thawed winter blood

down the river she warbles 

and dribbles and spoons

and undulates stories

of never told moons

like an asana ancient and worth repetition

yet current with changes and new definitions

as I watch her in dreamland 

lucid I trust

my mortal existance gets left in the dust 

for a night of free living 

in waterlogged lust

The clasp of the cold 

is beginning to go

as the sap rises up 

making new out of old






feeding me


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A room with a view

This is the scene outside my office door. Some days it simply takes my breath away, like today, when the flurries drifted in like a cold swirl of fog through Narnia.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A colored page

I'm not a visual artist per se, (I think my last art class was 5th grade) but I do love colored pencils and I have an errevocable lust for journals. A perfect cocktail for creating a new journal for my Medicine Woman Tradition course journey.

(*little cackles*)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weave Your Life

A workshop series offered by our Red Tent Sister, Audrey........

Weave Your Life

Earth Based Workshop Series

This workshop series will focus on learning ways to honor the earth in various ways throughout the spring and summer seasons. You will learn to open sacred space, practice mindfulness exercises and participate in earth honoring ceremonies to bring you into a deeper relationship with the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Each workshop from 10:00 - 11:30 has a focus on one of the elements (earth, water, air, fire). There will be education about tribal, First Nations and eastern cultures. We will discuss ways to notice reciprocal ties with either human, animal, mineral or plants (all our relations). 

We will explore a mindfulness exercise (which focuses on one of our senses: sight, touch, smell, etc) and end with an earth based ritual/ceremony. 

Bring a bagged lunch and soft drink/water. We will break for lunch from 11:30-12:00 noon. The last hour will be ceremony. Dress in layers and according to the weather as we will be both outside and indoors. 

You can attend one or all. These workshops are meant for people who are seeking a greater connection to the natural world around them and to develop a spiritual understanding of the Natural Way.

Saturday March 28 10:00 am-1:00 pm

Early Spring-The Color of Mud and Straw-Sight-Earth-Human

Our earth seems dormant and un-alive during the winter. We look forward to Spring to welcome back new growth and life. In this workshop we will take a walk out in nature to observe the changes in the natural world since the Winter. We will also discuss various ways First Nations peoples around the globe honor the changing of this season and talk about what inner work we may have done within during the winter. We will hold an earth honoring ceremony and practice a mindfulness exercise which you can continue on your own time to come into greater harmony with the Earth.

Saturday April 18 10:00 am- 1:00 pm

Spring-Welcoming Evidence of Hope -Hearing & Touch-Water- Animal

Now that Spring has fully arrived, we are able to see and observe the natural worlds changes. The buds are on the trees and some species of birds are seen daily (Like the Robin) This workshop is focused around tuning our mindfulness skills into the unobserved changes, to look deeper into the ways Spring has been continuing to become. We will walk in nature and observe a natural setting around a water source. We will hold an Earth honoring ceremony making natural prayer sticks and discuss ways First Nation peoples use prayer sticks and ties.

Saturday May 30 10:00 am-1:00 pm

Getting Ready For Summer-Taste & Smell-Air-Winged-Mineral

The ending of May and bridge into summer. We will walk in nature and learn a mindfulness practice which focuses on using our taste and smell senses to notice subtle changes. We will discuss ways First Nations peoples honor the great Mystery in the air and the ethers. We will hold an Earth honoring ceremony to bid good-bye to Spring and welcome in Summer sending our intentions into the air.


Saturday June 20 10:00 am - 1:00pm

Summer -Developing Intuitiveness- Energetic Body-Fire-Plant

This workshop will focus on an inner journey and basic skills development of intuitive awareness. We will discuss various cultural ideas about the energetic body we have and we will hold an Earth honoring fire ceremony. (location to be announced) 


Each Workshop $30.00 pre-paid by the 7th of March $40.00 thereafter

All (4) workshops $120.00 pre-paid by the 7
th day of March $160.00 separately.

Locations: Blue Trails, Plymouth/Harwinton & Flanders nature Center in Woodbury.

Contact: Audrey Bennett LCSW, LADC.
 (860) 819-8570

For your payment convenience you can visit my web site and utilize Pay Pal e-mail:

Youth Welcome

Friday, February 13, 2009

Weather, forts and trees


And weird. Temperature fluxes up to 40 degrees in a single day. 56 degrees in the middle of February. Frozen snow and ice next to warm slush puddles adorned by whipping winds that remind me of those coiled things in the science museum - where one is hot and one is cold and when you touch it your mind bends with confusion.

The birds are wild. They are driving into activity; by the light I'm convinced, not the temperature. The flocks of blackbirds and grackles and geese are swirling over the open farmlands like an interpretive dance embodying Dorothy's windswept house. They land in succession and continue their percussive movement with hungry little beaks collecting seed, as the blanket of snow has finally been pulled back enough to uncover them.

Our resident Pileateds have been circling our home on nearly a daily basis, coming right to our yard trees more often than ever. Their spiral tree dance is spectacular, and their whooping call never ceases to amaze me, filling every empty crevice of forest with bouncing sound.

The plants seem to be yawning. I imagine the roots just stirring from slumber... the kind that keeps you in bed, lucid for hours, on that rare Sunday morning of lavish time. The hours where reality and dreams mesh together like layers of pastel gauze on a tutu. Their deepest little rootlets take a deep breath, and notice the trickle of melted snow beginning to penetrate the soil bed. The sun, brightest of the whole year it seems, triggers the plants into waking. My mom used to wake me by doing compressions along my legs to get my circulation going. It's just the same under there, as the heat and cold expand and contract, massaging the dirt into life. The red roots of the bloodroot, the first to begin the rise of green, remind me that won't be long before their little hooded beings come out of hiding.

In the distance a brave little soul fashions a winter shelter. He layers boughs and branches as strategically as he can with his little 9 year old hands. He breathes in the life of the quiet land, making beauty and joy out of few resources. He is near the beehive, which may or may not have a huddling colony inside. His place on the hill in his fort dons a patchwork of lichens and mosses as perfect as any decorator could invent. The moddled colors stand out sharp against the white ground.

He is usually the first to notice the details.... the garlic mustard that refused to be anything but green all winter. The tiny imprints on rocks of ancient creatures. The animal tracks in the snow, and the hidden nests in the bramble. The metaphors in the flowers.

The trees he leans his shelter against are right behind Persephone. Persephone guards the beehive, and provides a lovely mix of hardwood among the hemlocks. I have begun to name my trees, you see. This is my effort to know every single tree that is in my immediate yard. It is personal. It is part of my dedication to placed based learning. I know most all of the ground greens that grow, but I don't know the trees very well. I am learning.

This is Maybel:
Or Maybelline, proper. She is the stunning Eastern Hemlock on the far right edge, (there are two), and she lines my view with her feathery limbs through each color of the day's sky. I've taken countless photos of her, since she frames each season with a consistent beauty. The kind of beauty that *I* feel is the real Maybelline kind. Natural. Maybelline guards us against the harshest of Northeast winds, and offers a showcase of bird perches for us to watch. She delights in the diamonds of winter's snow and ice, showing them off like a million bucks sprinkled with fairy dust. And her arms hold at least one visit each summer by a large bird of prey.

Her spirit guards my home.

Her partner, the Hemlock just to the left of her in the above photo, is the provider tree. He hosts a plethora of meals for the Pileateds in his lower trunk, a couple of large nests, and ample bounding branches for the squirrels' daily trapeze practice. My horizon wouldn't be the same without them.

Friday, February 6, 2009


The days I catch myself here..... at nearly 1 pm, and I've been at the computer ferociously writing emails, creating letters and ideas and contacts since I awoke.... are good days. The fact that I never noticed I didn't make it to the shower, never finished my coffee, and my kids have made themselves busy all day, is a sign of a self motivated day. I like those. Things feel like they are just moving, right along, not too fast and not too slow, but just as they are supposed to. 

I am thawing my icy moods a little, and regaining some flow beneath the chill of winters stillness, both in work and personally. I am looking to the sunshine in her highest show of light all year, knowing that she has a divine synergy with the hard ground beneath me. I plant my seeds of ideas, send them to creator, and trust.