Hawk: As Messenger:
“When you have the hawk as a spirit animal, you may have an inclination towards using the power of vision and intuition in your daily life. The hawk totem provides wisdom about seeing situations from a higher perspective, using the power of observation, and focusing on the task at hand. It’s a good companion to develop spiritual awareness.” Ted Andrews, Animal Speak
I rarely see a hawk in my new home. Fields of corn and soybeans surround me, and most are sprayed and using GMO seeds. I notice few butterflies, bees, etc., at one park nearby and wonder if the herbicide use contributes to fewer species. This park is loaded with white clover, and growing up, bees were plentiful and fed on the white clover, so we had to be careful walking barefoot. It’s disappointing and troubling not to see these pollinators on the clovers. Though I live near a waterway, hawks have been infrequent visitors until recently.
On one of my drives out of town, a hawk flew right across the front of my car, high enough to be out of my way but low enough for me to see. He got my attention. The hawk has been a strong messenger, which I learned from my Native American elders. The hawk brings messages from the Great Spirit or the Creator. It’s about listening. What was I thinking about when the hawk flew by? The next day or so, I heard a screech above me and realized it was a hawk. So, I’m on alert. A day or so later, I received an opportunity to heal a foot issue but on a different inner level. The revelation was astounding. While my foot didn’t miraculously heal at that moment, over the next couple of days, I felt an easing up.
Hawks are predators and can be harassed by smaller birds, especially crows. They can live long lives and share the raising of their offspring. Back in CT, I had the opportunity one spring to watch a pair build a nest, hatch a couple of young ones, and then teach them how to fly. They put on a magnificent and noisy show.
On the inner levels of intuition and following my gut knowing, hawk has been a messenger for me several times. I respect their presence. Though not every visitation by any critter means there is a message, our gut tells us when one is significant. For some of you, Hawk may be a totem animal, a power animal who guides you when intuitive senses are open. And when we get out of our minds and into the stillness, nature is there. She speaks through our intuition and helps strengthen our connection to the natural world.
In many traditions, hawks are sacred: Apollo’s messengers for the Greeks, sun symbols for the ancient Egyptians, and, in the case of the Lakota Sioux, embodiments of clear vision, speed, and single-minded dedication.” ~ John Burnside
Hawks, birds of prey, are strong fliers with bold talons. Did you know they can break a snake’s head in the air? Studying the different aspects of a bird’s characteristics can bring clues about an aspect of our own nature and tell us something about the natural world around us. Do you notice hawks around? If so, what do they mean to you? Did they fly high above you? Land on a nearby post. Were they teaching their offspring how to fly? Trust your gut, your intuitive senses. You may be in for some unexpected surprises.
Sweet dreaming. Judith
While we wait for the rain to stop here in the NE, spring flowers brighten up our landscapes. The grass is an ‘Emerald City’ green. Bulbs rise, flower, come and go as we place seeds in the ground for early crops. Clovers will be coming up soon though I kinda take the little white clover blossoms for granted.
Botanical name: Trifolium repens
Common names: white clover, shamrock
Parts used: whole plant, Peterson’s field guides to medicinal plants states the entire plant can be used.
Uses: teas, washes for sores, ulcers, very popular in Europe. This plant was brought to our country with the early settlers during the 1600-1700’s. It’s short, a perennial and flowers from April to September with shamrock type leaves. As you can imagine, looking for four-leafed clover was and is considered a sign of good luck. In Europe, flower tea was used for rheumatism and gout. In North America, the Native Americans used the leaf tea for colds, coughs, and fevers.
Jethro Kloss, an American icon in the world of herbalism, lived from 1863 to 1946 and practiced herbal medicine. He used white clover blossoms in a tea to cleanse the system, especially if ulcers, boils or other skin ailments were present. He also noted that poultices, tea washes applied externally, helped heal sores, ulcers too.
White clover has been used for many years as a ground cover. It is useful as a ground cover for its nitrogen-fixing properties. There are nodules on the roots that literally grab nonusable nitrogen from the air and with the help of bacteria convert it into a plant usable form which is important for plant growth and provides protein source for foraging animals.
Benefits of White Clover: (from the University of Hawaii cooperative extension service pdf.)
1. Excellent for attracting beneficial insects, for reduced- or non-chemical pest management, for controlling erosion, suppressing weeds once established,
2. …and as a source of organic nitrogen good for quick growth and establishment,
3. …for bearing equipment traffic
4. …tolerates low fertility soils
5…. fair shade tolerance suitable for higher elevations
6. …good forage for animal grazing systems;
7. …high production, nutritional quality, and palatability
8. For use in plantation and orchard cropping systems including macadamia and coffee, in vineyards, and as a living mulch in vegetable cropping systems.”
In doing research for this article I came across a blog: insteading.com they use white clover as a living mulch, planting it in the garden to keep down weeds; eventually, it becomes mulch, retains moisture, attracts pollinators, and improves the soil. When I visited Michael Judd’s property, (author of Edible Landscapes), I saw his use of crops like mint growing in many places. He explained to us that he was not worried about keeping them harnessed. He cut them down periodically during the growing season and they became mulch there and then. It seems Insteading supports the same practices.
Last but not least, white clovers attract pollinators. White clover honey is one of the most popular honey here in the US, light in color and milder in taste.
Teas are easy: gather flowers, leaves at peak growing times, dry, store in glass jars. These plant parts can be combined with other herbs for tea making. A few white clover blossoms along with red clovers can be added to ice teas too creating pleasing summertime drinks.
White clover flowers dried, then ground into flour can be added to bread recipes. Southern forager shares a bread recipe made from dehydrated and dried, ground white clover blossom flour. I have found forager sites have great uses and recipes for meadow plants.
I hope you look at white clovers in lawns, gardens, and paths a bit differently. This little plant often mowed and ignored provides a host of uses. Do you have a favorite recipe? Please share…I’d like that.
Workshop: Into the Land of Dreams
Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN
Time: 6:30 – 8 pm
Date: Monday evenings: November 5,12, 19th and December 3rd
Location: Contact Storyteller’s Cottage, Simsbury CT. to register.
Did you know dreams come to guide you? Did you know the dreams of your heart guide you, too?
Dreams are not just about our nighttime journeys but more encompassing than you can ever imagine. And, dreams are our birthright.
But how do we understand our dreams and the dreaming time? This workshop will give you tools to begin your journey and excite your imagination. Dream sharing is a part of every class and you will learn an easy but profound technique to capture the meaning and essence of your dreaming and create practical action. Materials are provided.
Plants help in so many ways. Got a cold? Drink peppermint or ginger tea. Can’t sleep? Make a cup of chamomile tea. Want to cook with a wild edible? Harvest some nettles in spring, throw chopped leaves into a pot of soup, or steam like spinach and add to rice, pasta, veggies.
We forage for plants all the time. Some of us go to supermarkets where the harvesting is done for us and we can pick and choose. Some of us like wilder varieties and harvest from our land and gardens. We marvel at meadows that sway and glow with a variety of colors. Trees and shrubs contribute too to our gathering, whether wood to burn, wood to use for product, berries to eat, nuts to gather. So much in our natural world supports us.
But let’s go deeper. We have many areas in our country contaminated by toxic wastes. Watersheds are polluted. Soils are denatured and rendered unhealthy. Air can be dense with toxic fumes. How do we clean these basic elements up and leave a cleaner legacy for our children and future generations? My podcast guest this week, Kat Van Deusen, an ecological engineer has created a firm with partners that do just that: they clean up toxic spills with plants.
She states: Many of our undeveloped lands in these states, specifically New York and New Jersey, have soils and waterways contaminated with:
Dry cleaner fluids (particularly toxic)
These sites are termed Brownfield sites. Our traditional way of dealing with contaminated sites is to extract the soil, remove it. Then the question becomes where do we dump this toxic soil? Other techniques for water breaks down the contaminants and then sprays them into the air. Is that further contributing to air pollution?
Kat is unique in this field. As a trained scientist she uses the skills and tools from her education. However, her grandmother taught her something about working with the plant kingdom in more traditional, esoteric ways. Kat has a knack for scouting out an area, observing plant species present which often leads to a hidden toxic dump site. How does she do this? The plants tell her, she replies.
How does she work?
- She evaluates the landscape or Brownfield.
- Evaluates plant and tree species present; these two steps are complex as our topography undulates, has curves and slopes.
- If she has to replant the area, she uses plants/trees in multiple steps to prevent further contamination into water or lowlands.
- Specific plants/trees can eat up contaminants, metabolize them, which results in the expiration of water vapor into the air that is no longer toxic.
- First successors like cedar trees, pokeweed do this efficiently.
- Does it work? Groundwater is repeatedly tested and these scientists note an 80% reduction in contaminants in the soil and water.
- Cattails (Typha latifolia), Phragmites are great at protecting habitats. Have you observed these plants around waterways near our highways? While some may consider Phragmites to be invasive I find it interesting that these plants are part of nature’s clean-up crew. Dandelions are soil stabilizers. Did you know sunflowers are planted extensively around Chernobyl? They absorb the radiation from the soil. Fukushima sunflower project is underway.
Kat concluded our interview by stating nature has effectively engineered a way to create balance and the renewed hope of cleaning up our mess.
Lastly, she gives thanks to the plant kingdom for their guidance and when done, she often feels she receives their blessing.
She states: “The true measure of a scientist is to allow themselves to be open to all possibilities not the empirical.” This philosophy allows the scientist within and her scientific curiosity to blend with her matrilineal ability to perceive plants differently: which plants give a clue to a problem, which plants can literally eat up toxins and bring healthy renewal to our land. Her projects are unique. Her approach is innovative. Her results are measurable and positive.
Most of us love plants, nature in some way. Today our science is helping us get back into nature with more awe, respect, reverence even for the intelligence that is right there often in our own backyard. What have you observed in your gardens? We enjoy your comments.
Oh and please share. let’s get the word out. Together we can make a difference.
I mentioned the Varney Farm in South Windsor CT in my last post. This farm, a small but remarkable farming venture that seeks to help reduce hunger, provides food for Foodshare. Foodshare is the coordinator and collector of food from farmers and stores in Hartford and Tolland counties. They disperse collected food to various food banks, soup kitchens etc in these areas.
Sandy Varney and I met the other day so I could see the operation first hand and maybe help get the word out for volunteers. (see previous post) and see the following:
However in our discussions she asked me to highlight a dream of hers. She notices fallow land on her drives through north central CT. She envisions this land converted to grow food crops. Could retired farmers help out in some way? This sounds simple but retired farmers are an untapped resource. Maybe for various reasons they can no longer farm but could oversee, counsel those of us who want to get back to the land. How about organic growers, nurseries donating seedlings, seeds to get the farming going? Who will take over Varney Farm when she can no longer oversee and manage her own operation? Will her land go fallow too? She also reminded me that converting used land into food crops is tax deductible which can be a further incentive to considering this option. Lastly, could a person or a group step forward to pull this together?
I know of a small organic grower in VA who put up a 8 x 10′ shed for a helper to use. This young man has access to water, toilet but doesn’t want conventional work. He helps tend and harvest all that is appropriate to her farm. Young graduates cannot easily find work. Agriculture is a field that is expanding. I could add my own vision: home schoolers, a high school or college graduate wanting to use their education in creative ways seeking out this kind of opportunity, a grassroots adventure, working the land.
We do this in cities. Bette Midler comes to mind. This well known actress put her money to work and began to clean up four blocks in Harlem, NY several years ago of trash. This one idea has led to NYC being replanted one tree at a time, community gardens and rooftop gardens flourishing. The question is: what can we envision for our smaller farms, fallow land in smaller communities? how can we use resources more sustainably and contribute to healing our environment not just in donations, but in education, in a hands on community approach?
We can and do think outside the box when need arises. Please send comments to Sandy at Varney Farm to her facebook page.
Comments can be added here too. Let’s get a dialogue going. . . who knows what dreams will manifest.
Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. ©all rights reserved. Including photos.