Saturday, April 21, 2018

On Sabbatical

I'm taking time out of my blog writing to work on getting Imagination Prymm: A Year and a Day published...I'll be back after a time...

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Friday, April 20, 2018

Green Witch's Report: Spiderwort

What a name for such a sweet little wildflower! But there are goode explanations behind its name...
The word wort found in a plant name indicates that it was a plant commonly used for medicinal healing, as wort in Olde English means "cunning," and it was the cunning women/folk (healers) who used it most often, its being readily found in woods, meadows, etc.

Spiderwort is an herbaceous wildflower which was commonly used by the Indians (Cherokees) and healers to treat kidney and stomach ailments and, as a poultice, its leaves could be applied to treat stings and insect bites (spiders, perhaps?). As a food, it can be parboiled (stems as well as leaves) or put raw in a salad (wouldn't the little blue flowers look pretty in a salad?).

The little blooms only last a day, but they bloom constantly for up to three months. They are understated, yes, but enchanting up close. And the color of their blooms reveals the pollution and radiation levels! Recent studies reveal that these little flowers are hypersensitive to pollution levels. If the spiderwort blooms change from blue to pink, that indicates a high level of pollutants in the environment (translation: blue is goode). Thankfully, this little Green Witch's Spiderwort blooms have always been blue. My Gardens are entirely organic.

I did not plant this wildflower, though some people do. It grows wild in my Garden and, being a perennial, it returns each year...I love them.

Here, mine are just beginning to come up (the photo at the top was taken in at my sister and brother-in-law's farm, south of where I live).

But they will cover a space between the Abelia and Rose...and will now be neighbors to my recently-planted Pineapple Sage...

Folklore has it that, to attract greater abundance in your life, carry the dried flowers in your wallet!
And scattering the flowers around your home will chase away negativity and attract the blessings of love... :)

No. Spiderwort is not a weed. It is a wildflower, an herbaceous one. Notice the shape of the leaves...the little blue blossoms you won't forget...and keep your eyes peeled for these enchanting little flowers in the wild!

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Crowood: Lessons

March 1, 1692

It was early morning, hours before sunrise, when Remember awakened to the shrill scream of the fox. The weather being cold but clear, she grabbed her woolen wrap, quickly slipped on her shoes, lit a candle from the hearth flame, and headed out to the enclosure. She needn't have brought the candle, she realized, as the Full Worm Moon shone exquisitely. She always smiled at the name the Indians had given the moon for this month, but they used the phases of the moon to track the seasons, and a Worm Moon meant that the ground was beginning to warm and soften for earthworms to reappear, inviting robins and other migratory birds. Spring was indeed on its way and, though the air remained frosty still, it had a different feel to it when compared to winter's bite.

Quietly, she opened the fox's enclosure and, taking the fox in her arms and stroking his fur, she gently felt the bandaged leg and deemed the creature ready to be sent back to the wild. It was almost past breeding time for foxes, and its hoarse cry of anguish had been one of anxiety in trying to attract a mate. Yes, later, when Resolved came for her lessons, she would be the one to experience the joy and privilege of setting him free, as she had been helping to care for him almost every day, feeding him whatever he would take and changing his bandage as necessary. After calming the creature, she stepped outside the enclosure and, securing it, went back inside the house.

There she prepared for the day's lesson. She would have Resolved read more from Anne Bradstreet's poetry, something the young girl quite enjoyed. She had a talent for expression, and read the poet's words aloud with an instinct for emphasis and flow. She was a quick study at learning her letters and had been forming her words quite naturally, Remember sensing there was a keen joy in it for her. Her stitching, however, left much to be desired. Though she was learning the necessities of sewing and mending, the aesthetic aspects of stitchery eluded her. Nevertheless, Remember continued to instruct her in this and found that, as Resolved's fingers worked doggedly on her sampler, her mind was inclined to create entertaining stories, the two of them enjoying her imaginative play.

Soon Remember heard the familiar light tapping at her door, the sun now fully awake and shining brightly. Resolved having already eaten, they immediately set out to the enclosure. There the red fox lay, his head resting on his front paws, a forlorn expression of want in his golden fox-eyes. They entered, Resolved scooping him up and nuzzling him sweetly to her. Ever-so-gently she unwrapped his bandaged leg and examined it for herself, now fully satisfied that it was well. And so they strode to the edge of the woods where Remember had found the injured fox late last fall. There they each bid him farewell and set him, all four legs, on the ground. Looking around, he promptly disappeared through the brush where he truly belonged. Remember assured Resolved that she had done a goode thing in caring for the fox, and had no doubts that he would find his mate and, by April's end, have a fine family of his own. Smiling at that, the two of them set back to Crowood House for some herb tea.

While Remember prepared their tea, Resolved looked around, a quiet observer, and picked up the woven splint basket that the Indians had given to Remember. Noticing her small fingers lightly tracing the painted wolf figure, Remember anticipated her question and shared that the Indians had given it to her thirteen years ago---that she and Goody Prymm had come face to face with the wolf---and, she believed, that its spirit had guided her safely out of a snow-camouflaged woods. Soft and low, she added that Goody Prymm had guessed the wolf was her spirit guide, reflecting Remember's strong instincts and appetite for freedom. Resolved stared thoughtfully at the basket, turning it over in her hands, her curious mind reflecting on Remember's words.

The tea now ready, they sat down on the settle in front of the hearth, Resolved opening the treasured volume of Anne Bradstreet's book of poems. Her head bent to the page and her long black hair shielding her face, she began to read, her voice sweet and low, and Remember leaned back, closing her eyes, and savored the words:

           I heard the merry grasshopper then sing,
           The black clad Cricket bear a second part.
           They kept one tune and played on the same string,
           Seeming to glory in their little Art.
           Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise?
           And in their kind resound their maker's praise:
           Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher layes.

Resolved stopped. Remember's eyes opened at the interruption and looked questioningly at the girl, who then expressed with a reserved fervor how she longed to be able to write so well! Remember smiled softly and directed her to continue reading. When the reading was over, they sat for a while,  quietly pondering the passages, when suddenly Resolved stated how she had seen a black fox on the edge of the woods. Remember sat up at that, telling her though she herself had never seen one, the Indians had seen them on occasion but had not taken them since they considered them Manitous---or spirits. And then, looking at Resolved, she suggested that, like the wolf was Remember's spirit guide, perhaps the black fox was hers, reminding her to tap into her strengths.

For the remainder of the day, Resolved seemed less distant, happier even. Together they worked on their stitching, Resolved all the while making up animated stories of the black fox. Ever inquisitive, she asked why this place was called Crowood, Remember then telling her of her dear crow Nightfeather, how he had taught her to let go, to free those things that should be freed, just as the Indians believed. Having freed the fox earlier that day, Resolved nodded her head.

The late afternoon sun would soon be abed, its long, late-day shadows glinting through the pines, an indication that Resolved needed to get home. Bundling up, she thanked her teacher for the day and, opening the batten door and pausing on the threshold, turned to Remember, her golden eyes smiling, and quietly spoke, "Crowood has Manitou..." Remember nodded at that and, closing the door behind her, picked up her dear olde Smoke, wrapped them both tightly in the warmth of blankets, and went to sit by the firelight.

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

A Colorful Past and Present

"Imagination and Remember offered their pottage and pumpkin mash to the feast as their contribution and soon were being served the fall delicacies in bowls of birch bark, sewn with thread from spruce, the brims glistening with the quills of porcupines dyed black and red! Around them were beautiful mats and baskets, some rush baskets and others made of woven maize husks, wild hemp, or bark, decorated with colorful figures of birds, beasts, fishes, and flowers, all made by the Agawam women."

                                                             ~~from Imagination Prymm: A Year and a Day

I've always had a deep appreciation for things made wholly from Nature, and dyeing with plants, berries, etc., is particularly fascinating to me. Recently, I've been experimenting with dyeing using berries...

The bright magenta linen in the middle I dyed first, using only crushed blackberries and adding just a little salt and a small amount of spring water. A glorious shade! The linen piece on the right was also dyed in that same berry vat, only I also dipped it in a black walnut bath to tone down the brightness. It gave the linen more of a light lavender tint (though the picture doesn't do it justice). The larger piece of linen I had previously dyed in black walnut...and then put it in the berry vat, giving it more of an aubergine shade. Below you can see the contrast between brown wood and the dyed linen, though the linen is really a darker shade as in the picture above...

I'm saving these for a little aubergine witch I will sew...and am striving to get a very deep shade...

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Monday, April 16, 2018


"Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame;
Each to his passion; what's in a name?"

                  ~~Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
                       American poet and writer, activist on behalf of Native Americans

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, April 15, 2018

No Bubble, No Trouble!

Dyed a piece of linen today using only mashed blackberries, salt, and a smidge of water...
Looks wicked, doesn't it?

I rinsed the linen, and this was the result!

Tomorrow I will dye another piece and leave it in much longer, to yield (hopefully) a deeper purple...
I like dyeing with all natural materials and preferably no heat!

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Memories of Iceland

"Seeking Truth and Beauty as a Natural State..."

                                  ~~Lou Reed

© 2018 Nancy Duncan