Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nature's Pentagrams

Given our spiritual path that deviates from the conventional way of thinking, sometimes it is simply prudent to assume protective coloration and keep a low profile. Consider the words of Al Pacino's character in "Devil's Advocate" : "Don't let 'em see you coming."
Yet there are near-invisible techniques we can quietly use to remind ourselves of our true path. When we plant a garden of whatever size, we can nurture plants whose blossoms display five petals--a Pentacle created by the Mother Herself. No one need notice, but our glance at such blessings is usually enough to remind us, "It's okay to be who you are. For now, keep your thoughts behind your forehead and be content."
What better time to reflect on these matters than now, when seed catalogs are beginning to manifest in mail boxes?
So what are some plants with such a configuration? Here's my starting list of such forms, with their botanical names and one folk name (probably one among many). Start digging. Heh heh.

Five-Pointed Blossoms (or parts), taken for now largely from "A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of North America" by Joan Barker
Silene virginica fire pink
Spigelia marilandica indian pink
Sphaericea coccinea scarlet globe-mallow
Hypericum perforatum common St. John's wort (sorry)
Lithospermum incisum fringed puccoon
Lysimachia ciliata fringed loosestrife
Lysimachia quadrifolia whorled loosestrife
Meltzelia lauricaulis OR northern blazingstar
Nuttallia laevicaulis
Potentilla glandulosa sticky cinquefoil
Potentilla simplex common cinquefoil
Saxifraga bronchialis spotted saxifrage
Viola glabella stream violet
Glaux maritima sea-milkwort
Nemophila maculata fivespot
Saponaria officinalis soapwort
Silene latifolia, Lychnis alba white campion
Thalictrum dioicum early meadow-rue (sometimes 4 petals)
Agrostemma githago corncockle (seeds toxic)
Asclepias speciosa showy milkweed
Claytonia caroliniana carolina spring beauty
Erodium texanum Texas storksbill
Geranium carolinianum cranesbill
Geranium maculatum wild geranium
Geranium viscosissimum sticky geranium
Hibiscus moscheutos crimson-eyed rosemallow
Ipomoea pes-caprae railroad vine
Mimulus lewisii pink monkeyflower
Sabatia angularis bitterbloom
Silene acaulis moss campion
Nemophila menziesii baby-blue-eyes
Polemonium viscosum sky pilot
Saxifraga oppositifolia purple mountain saxifrage
Viola sororia common blue violet
Aquilegia caerulea Colorado blue columbine
Camassia quamash common camas
Campanula rotundifolia harebell
Lobelia siphilitica blue cardinal flower (makes you wonder, dunnit?)
- - - - - - - - -
there are also
squash helleborus
cucumber balloon flower
mountain laurel vinca minor
- - - - - - - - -
and if you are Inside or something and simply can't do anything with any of the above, get an apple. Cut around its equator. Observe the beautiful five-part star displayed there.
Blessed be those who ... fill in the blank. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Hi, gentle readers.
We have finally caught up on the mail that accumulated during our very short weekend trip to observe Imbolc (an Irish-Celtic word meaning in the belly or the womb; thus a festival sacred to the female principle). Yes, it snowed up north, but that was overcome by the warmth of our reception. Thanks again, FireHeart.
When we returned we were greeted by blossoms on the two witch hazel bushes* that bracket our front steps. Always the earliest bloomers, they are welcome even if they are a week or so early and presage more global warming. On that subject, the University of Munich has kept records of the blooming of snowdrops for over a hundred years. The snowdrops they observe have never been caught in a late frost. This year they have already bloomed, over a month early. Kew Garden (London) reports that the spring seems to be two months early this year.
What do you know about global dimming? Not much, right? Well, global dimming is the reduction of heat from the sun, caused by jet contrails (or if you prefer, exhausts). After 9/11 all flights were grounded for about three days. During that brief time, the sky became startlingly clear. NOAA in Boulder noticed a two- to three-degree rise in temperature. Worst-case calculations now show that without the jets, temperatures would be as much as five degrees higher. So here we have a situation where the exhaust gases cause a rise in temperature because of their carbon footprint--and a lowering of temperature because of their dimming effest. So far no one has figured out the loss/benefit tradeoff of these effects.
Back to good old global warming: Apparently insects are hatching earlier, so that their larval stage is over before several bird species hatch and can use them for nutrition. So soon, as Rachel Carson foresaw, no birds will sing.
When you next dance around the bonfire, think about it, if even for just a moment.

* Hamamelis vernalis or
Hamamelis virginiana