A Mystery Solved and the Spring Dance of Green Men

I’m so excited, I’m almost dancing.

Salix viminalis, Osier willow, common willow, osier.

These are names for what I believe is my little tree in the front yard! It has stymied me since I moved in 12 years ago. I suspected it was a kind of willow, but when I searched “willows,” none matched my tree. It’s not weeping and it has really small, narrow leaves. It has catkins in the spring, a willow-like characteristic, and gets lots of suckers and turns yellow in fall.

This morning, I broke off a small branch, including catkins and leaves, ready to send it off the National Arboretum in Washington, DC, for identification.

In one last ditch effort, I searched the internet for “trees with catkins.” This time, It didn’t take long to find a photo that looked like mine! “Osier willow” was what was pictured, a tree native to the United Kingdom and across Europe to western Asia. I am 99.9% certain that this is what it is.

I have a female tree, according to the description of its green catkins.

Male trees have yellow ones. Interesting! These trees favor wet areas and their branches have widely been used for basket making.

Osiers and Green Men

But, more interesting is the folklore associated with osiers. According to one British website, Chediston, Suffolk, has a local custom known as a ‘willow stripping’ ceremony. Typically held at the first full moon in May, this Druid-like event features a ‘Green George” figure dressed in willow strippings, who dances around and is then ceremoniously thrown into the local pond.

Wow! May Day is coming. Perhaps I should dance around my tree, though where it’s planted makes that impossible.

I wonder if Green George is what we also call Green Man? I have several versions of Green Man in my garden.

Myths abound about Green Man or “Jack-in-the-Green.”

Figures of Green Man can seen in numerous churches, cathedrals and abbeys, largely in Britain and France. He is variously depicted as good or evil, frequently with vegetation coming out of his mouth. This can represent life returning each spring, fertility, nature and in general faith and hope.

Obversely, Green Man has been depicted as a demon, devouring all of nature, instead of bestowing it.

Whether you know him by Green Man or Jack-in-the-Green, I prefer to think of him as a spirit who guides us back to our nurturing relationship with Mother Earth.

Jethro Tull did a delightful little song about Jack. It always makes me smile and imagine the little people living in my garden.

By the way, in case you  didn’t know, the name Jethro Tull pays homage to an 18th century English farmer and agricultural pioneer, credited with inventing a horse-drawn seed drill, an improved plow, and a horse-drawn hoe. So, he was a bit of a Green Man himself!

Here are some of the lyrics for the song by Jethro Tull, the rock band. Have a listen sometime!

 

Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He quietly sits under every tree
in the folds of his velvet gown. . .

He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground
signals the snowdrops it’s time to grow.

It’s no fun being Jack-In-The-Green
no place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colours of the summer soldier
carries the green flag all the winter long . . .

Jack, do you never sleep
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times.
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today . . .

The rowan, the oak and the holly tree
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green . . .

Have you spotted Jack yet?

Spring Equinox and the Super Worm Moon

March 20, 2019: the first day of spring – the equinox, full moon and the third and final Super Moon of the year. That’s a lot of weight for one little day to carry. I was curious about what it all means, so I consulted those most in touch with and knowledgable about the cosmos – astrologers, of course!

This is what they had to say about this overwhelming energy.

Under this Libra Super Moon, “we are going to be guided to enter into the new.” Under these three Super Moons, they say, “we have been encouraged to tune into our intuition . . . to purge and release all that is holding us back.”

Under these Super Moons, they say we have been guided to clear the slate and set ourselves “back to zero” and prepare for the new chapter that is ahead.

March’s Full Moon “opens a portal to a new wave of energy. It falls around the same time as the Equinox, which is the start of the astrological year and the beginning of a new cycle.”

And, get this! “Zero is the number of infinite potential, and it’s no coincidence that the March Full Moon falls at zero degrees of Libra. At the time of the Full Moon, we will actually have three planets in the cosmos aligned at the vibration of number zero, which means the Universe is just going to be blossoming with potential.”

Wow!

“. . . the Libra Moon will be calling us to take inventory of how we are using our energy and to assess whether we are using it in a way that serves us or drains us . . . we may realize that we need to let things go, and to do away with things take up too much of our precious energy reserves” This is interesting because that’s exactly what I’ve been called to do during the past week.

This Full Moon reminds us to center ourselves, to return to the blank slate . . . get perfectly balanced, so we can feel more peaceful and in tune with our lives.

Stay on this path, one astrologer says, because April also brings another Libra Full Moon, and this will bring the closing of the portal.

We will have one lunar cycle to integrate these new energies and walk into the new.

A final warning from one seer:

“Full moons tend to make us purge and release things from our lives, The bright light of the sun throws a spotlight on our subconscious and our shadow. This can feel uncomfortable as the Sun literally blasts out the demons who have nowhere to hide. Often the full moon is a time when we reap what we sowed at the new moon . . .  for good or for ill.”

“The veils between the worlds are thinnest around a full Moon, so be very careful what you invite in.”

Happy Spring!

Jack Frost was Here

This morning it was below freezing. It’s been said that Nature was the first artist.

And so she painted in frost on my deck railing!

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. – John Burroughs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. – John Steinbeck

Winter is a glorious spectacle of glittering fractals complete with a soundscape and atmosphere entirely its own. – Anders Swanson

 

 

 

Fall Equinox

Fall 2018 is arriving with a blast.

Last night the breeze began to build. Tree branches danced to and fro. It rained overnight. This last summer morning, the warm season is letting us know she is not happy to have to step aside. Her winds tell us so.

This evening fall will officially arrive. The equinox is said to yield equal number of daylight and dark hours.

But as daylight hours dwindle, we have something pleasant to witness. The earth brings out her colors.

Full Blood Moon, Buck Moon, Here Comes an Eclipse!

Today’s superstar is the full moon, and this one is being hailed as the longest lunar eclipse of the century!

That’s a lot of hype. Sadly, the eclipse won’t be visible in the United States, because it takes place during daylight here. But it should be exciting for people in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America, who should see a reddish moon.

That’s where the name Blood Moon comes in. Any moon in eclipse typically looks reddish, so it’s always called a Blood Moon.

The July full moon is also called the Buck Moon, referring to the time that deer start to shed their antlers. Other names for the July moon are Thunder Moon and Hay Moon.

Whatever we call it, our moon is deeply tied to our rhythms and cultures on earth.