Monday, May 28, 2012


Do you do any foraging for herbs and other edibles? 
Do you forage for food, magic or some other reason?
What sorts of plants are available for the picking in your area?
What are your favorite things to forage for?

From what I have seen, I'm a bit different from many pagans in that I currently do not garden at all, instead I forage for most of the different things that I use in my craft. Some of what I forage is also used for food. There are so many different plants to forage here, and of course while the bulk my foraging is done in the warmer summer months, there are things that can be gathered all year.

During June and July, many berries are in season. Blueberries come along first, followed a bit later by blackberries. These go mostly to cooking - put into pancakes, muffins, cakes, breads, or made into jams. (Or, you know, just eaten by the fistful off the bush.) Wild blueberries are especially abundant, one of my favorite things to forage for. They're a good bit smaller than the blueberries you usually find in stores, and more flavorful. Whatever blueberries don't get baked into something, or turned into jam, are frozen for use through the year. Wild strawberries also pop up around this time, again, they are smaller and have a stronger flavor than the strawberries found in stores. However, I have been seeing fewer of these in recent years, so they've become more of something to have a small snack of when found, rather than used in any other way. Wild grapes are in that same category.

The state flower of New Hampshire is the purple lilac. They tend to bloom in late April, early May... they are everywhere, and they're also edible. Dandelions are another common flower to forage for. They grow all through the summer months, and both the greens and flowers can be cooked and eaten. Lavender and clover are other flowers I forage for, both also edible. Along with being edible, they can be turned into teas or tinctures, or used in other ways - dried lavender for sachets, or incense for example.

Pine trees are everywhere, and I gather their needles, roots, bark, and resin. Pine needle tea has an interesting flavor (best with a bit of honey, in my opinion), is loaded with vitamin C, and can be used as a decongestant, among other things. (And should not be taken by pregnant women.) Oaks provide acorns, which need to be boiled a few times before eaten. They're somewhat similar in flavor to chestnuts, and you can also grind them into an acorn meal for various uses.

Fiddleheads (young ferns still curled up) are a popular foraging item in the spring - great when boiled, then sauteed in butter and garlic. Other plants I forage for include mugwort, cattail shoots, teaberries, milkweed, juniper, burdock, curled dock, wild carrot, and stinging nettles. There's just so many different things you can find around here if you look, and knowing where to get the various things I need has become a vital part of my craft.

(*Standard warning when it comes to foraging or using medicinal herbs - know what you're doing! Be careful that you know for sure what you're harvesting, there's a lot of good stuff out there, but there's also a lot of harmful plants as well... and sometimes they can look very similar. When using herbs for medicine, know the proper dose, know how it will interact with any medicines you take, or any health problems you have, etc. Foraging and herbalism can both be great, but do your homework first!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm back!

First, I want to apologize for going on such a long (and basically unannounced) break from writing. There had been a lot going on, both good and bad, and unfortunately a lot of my writing projects were put on hold. I kept meaning to come back sooner (I took pictures on the Spring Equinox to share... that long ago already?), but sometimes it's hard to get back into good habits, I guess.

Still, as the weeks have gone by, I've tucked away ideas, knowing that eventually I wanted to get back to writing. I also know I left a few projects sitting unfinished here.

I do want to catch up a little here first, though... There was Ostara, of course. Simple ritual, just sitting under an old maple watching the sun come up. Same as last year, actually. Now as I'd written about, we had a very warm winter - and that became a very hot spring. The day after spring was hot enough to go down to the beach. I'd never been so early in the season, there were tons of little baby shrimp (we think they were anyway) all along the shore. That was followed by an evening fire under the stars.

After that equinox week, the weather went back to normal for the most part... which means a drop from the nice 85F down to 45F. Yeah.

Beltane rolled around, and the lilac bushes were in full bloom. I didn't get to make a cream pie this year, which is the usual Beltane treat, but there was some fresh, whole milk, and oatcakes. Just something small to mark the occasion. Simple rituals are sometimes some of the nicest.