Sunday, November 12, 2017

Olive


I love the craggy trunk on this old tree. Or young tree. Since olives have been cultivated for thousands of years, this one is still just a baby, although it is older than most of the ones I have seen. Of course people eat the olives. But the oil has been burned for light and it was massaged into the skin long before moisturizers were available. 

This tree can be considered sacred because it is a part of many religious traditions. In Greek mythology, it was a gift from Athena, and considered the greatest gift to humankind. Although some may think the grape deserves that credit. Muslims used to wood to make prayer beads. Of course, in the bible, there is the story of the dove bringing the olive branch to Noah to let him know that the floods were subsiding. 

Seems like the olive has always been a symbol of peace. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Iris


I love iris. I have planted many in my yard, but few bloom. They are so fickle! But this beautiful purple and white one bloomed a few years ago. Gorgeous! I like iris because so many have beautiful purple flowers. But they are named iris, after Iris, the Rainbow Goddess, because they come in all colors of the rainbow. So iris is not really a sacred plant. It is just named after a mythical creature. 

Iris are mostly used in gardens for their flowers. But the roots have been used to make perfume. Which, after drying for five years, ends up smelling more like violets than iris. Strange!

Sacred Myrtle


In Greek myth, myrtle is sacred to Aphrodite. She wore a belt of myrtle that made her powerfully attractive. So a myrtle girdle created irresistible eroticism. Sexy! However, in Jewish mysticism, myrtle was a symbol of masculine force, and myrtle branches were given to grooms before they deflowered their new wife. Maybe myrtle is just good for sex, no matter what gender. 

Myrtle is also used during Sokkot, which is sort of a Jewish Thanksgiving. For this holiday, a Sukkah is built of four kinds of plants, citron, palm, willow and myrtle. Then while celebrating, people are supposed to eat in this structure. Ritual and prayer are also involved.  

Myrtle has white flowers and fragrant leaves. It grows about 15' high and can make a lovely evergreen hedge. 



Oak


This is the coast live oak growing in my backyard. It started out as a sapling when we moved in, but it is huge now. It is home to many insects, which attracts birds. But this post isn't really about my tree. It is about tree magic. 

To the druids, the oak was sacred. Not much is known about the Druids, because they didn't write anything down. But they worshiped outside in groves of oaks. Trees are also home to many small magical creatures, like elves,sprites, fairies and dryads. 

When the Christians wanted to covert the Druids, they built  churches in the groves. I guess it worked, I think the Druids died out, but it seems sacrilegious to me. 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Milkweed


Milkweed is the host plant for Monarchs. The butterflies lay their eggs on the the plant and the caterpillars eat the leaves. Seems like most people know that. 

But did you know that the scientific name of this plant is Asclepias curassavica? And it was named after the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. This plant has been used for "what ails you" for thousands of years. Intestinal parasites? Got it. Warts? Got it. Syphilis? Got it. And the list goes on. 

So, since it was named after a god, I consider it a sacred plant. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Pomegranate--Another Sacred Plant

In Greek mythology, the pomegranate is a symbol of the underworld. It grew from the blood of Adonis, god of beauty and desire. 

Most people have heard the story of Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus. When she was out picking flowers, Hades came up from the underworld and stole her away. She was probably picking flowers in a botanical garden, which we all know is SO WRONG! Don't pick anything in a botanical garden! The pic was taken in the herb garden. at the UC Botanical Garden.

Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, grain, and fertility was sad and angry. She used her power to cause famine. Zeus decided to use his power to get his daughter back on earth. Here is where the pomegranate, food of the underworld, comes into play. Persephone ate pomegranate seeds while in the underworld, so she was obligated to stay. The gods and goddesses worked out a compromise and Persephone was forced to stay in the underworld part of the year. During that part of the year, winter arrives on earth. 

So we can thank the gods and goddesses for the seasons. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Growing Pipevine from Seed


So, it takes about a year. In June, cover the Aristolochia californica fruits so that the wasps don't eat the seeds. When the fruits split open, near the end of summer, take out the seeds and plant them. They sprout in January or so. And by June, the seedlings are looking good. My bags are now in place for the next crop.