Two for joy

Handfasting by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Handfasting, a photo by me on Flickr.

I woke yesterday morning to find Jay’s place beside me cold and empty once again and rose with a sigh to draw the curtains. The day I had dreamed of and looked forward to for so long – my Summer Solstice handfasting – had arrived, yet my beloved had disappeared and was still missing. I turned to go and wake Minet, determined that she should have a wonderful day, even if I should not, but a small commotion in the garden took me back to the window in time to see two magpies jumping up and down on the fence squawking raucously. Two for joy! My heart lifted immediately, Spiritual Insight returned and I knew that all would be well and all would be well and all manner of things would be well.

But Minet’s room was empty. I stood for a moment wondering where she could be. It was only as I was preparing a celebratory breakfast of homemade museli and goat’s milk that I heard singing becoming gradually louder, and went to the kitchen door to watch her cross the wet grass. She had been to pick redcurrants and wild raspberries in the orchard, and had some wondrous news – Jay had returned! He had asked Minet to tell me that he would greet me at the ceremony, as it would be unlucky to see me any earlier. I asked her where he’d been, but she said it was a surprise and I would have to wait to find out.

Minet had been busy while I’d spent those days walking in the rain, and everything was ready. Jay’s old friends who were to officiate as priest and priestess were parked in the lane in their ancient kombi – Minet had invited them to stay, but apparently Crow was allergic to cats, and Azriel, his lady and their seven little ones would be sure to bring on an attack. Minet said it was just as well though, as otherwise there’d have been no room for Henna and her young Vic. ‘What!’ I shrieked. ‘Henna’s here, now, this very minute?’ ‘Of course,’ replied Minet. ‘We couldn’t not invite our own mother!’ I had to admit there was some logic in this statement, and felt relieved that the Grand Ovum was not accompanying her, as I knew he would detect the presence of his book as soon as he set foot in the house.

Breakfast over, all that remained was to prepare ourselves for the ceremony. We met Henna and the young Vic (whose name by an odd coincidence just happened to be Victor), coming out of the spare room. It was strange seeing her again after all the drama about the Druid’s book, but she had returned to her multicoloured gear and looked more like her old self than when she’d left the last time. She greeted me as usual with a simple Hiya Aisse – today’s the day then girlie! the diagonally broken tooth adding to her slightly comic look. I think she must have been bouncing on the bed again as we’d heard her while eating breakfast, and she did look very flushed. Mind you, so did the young Vic. He looks about nineteen and has the face of an angel.

It was time to get ready. Minet had made me a combination tinfoil hat and willow crown to set off my new blue gingham dress, white blouse and red sequined shoes. She looked beautiful in a long gown of green satin with a hooded patchwork cloak of many colours and patterns and the contents of Henna’s jewellery box.

And so, after a fortifying glass of elderflower champagne, Minet and yours truly, Aisselle AT Gabegie, made their way across the wet grass of the orchard followed by Boötes and Baaaarbara and all the goats and alpacas, with dear little Leon dashing here and there among them, doing his best to be a proper sheepdog but failing happily. Henna and the young Vic had left earlier. And there in the orchard, under a bower of baby apples, just as the Lovers Tarot had predicted, splendiferous in his robes and antlers, stood dearest Jay with the priest and priestess. As we approached two figures stepped out from behind the trees. I recognized the aged crone from the battered caravan immediately – she was still wearing the long red velvet dressing gown and the huge pink carpet slippers. They must have been rather damp, for although the sky was cloudy and  there had been no rain so far that day, the long grass was still wet from the night rain. The crone didn’t seem at all bothered, and waited silently (as was her wont), wrinkled hands buried in the deep pockets of the gown. I wondered if she were to be a guardian or witness, and how she would manage without speech, but she must have read my mind because she removed one hand from a pocket and flashed the flash cards she’d used the last time I’d seen her. Dear Copwatcher, dressed in her long purplish pink robe, the trusty binocks at rest on her bosom, completed the picture. All our friends were here!

George stepped out from the opposite side. I have to confess that he gave me a slight turn as he was dressed in his policeman’s uniform, but a sideways glance at a radiant Minet told me that this was exactly what she wanted.

Miraculously, the sun appeared from behind the scudding clouds to bless us, and the lovely ceremony began. Ancient traditions were revived and leapt into life, pledges were made and poems spoken. And then, telling us to wait, George and Minet disappeared into the depths of the wild orchard only to reappear moments later as… Joel and Georgina! Joel was wearing his red shirt with the frills around the cuffs, but strangely, Baphomet took no exception to it this time. And Georgina looked exactly like the Queen of Swords in the Golden Tarot of Klimt, except that she’d added a satin blouse to the ensemble and had replaced the high heels with pink spotted wellies just in case it rained again. Minet (or rather Joel as s/he now appeared) said that s/he’d made Georgina’s outfit her/himself after I’d posted my reading for them on the blog! They intend to spend half the year as Joel and Georgina, and half as Minet and George. So Mollie Promp was right, and Joel did return – even if only temporarily.

Gateway by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Gateway, a photo by Aisselle  on Flickr.

The whole ceremony was performed again for Joel and Georgina before we all wandered in procession to the magic wood to pass ritually through the hollow tree from one part of our lives to the next. The sun had not left us – it seemed we were touched by some magic. And so onwards through the trees to receive the blessing of The Woodman before completing the circle by returning to the orchard for the handfasting feast, where Jay’s disappearance was explained by his gift to me. He had journeyed far to collect a special carving, which I could see standing beneath our handfasting bower as we approached. Carved from a trunk of pine stood the Green Man in all his natural glory. He will remain there to remind us of this day, and though he may weather and darken, and cracks will appear in his body, he will endure, just as we will.

Green Man by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Green Man, a photo by me on Flickr.

As the sun went down and the longest day drew to a close, we lit the solstice fire and gathered round with a good supply of elderflower champagne, nourishing goat’s milk quiche, nettle and carrot cake and fresh raspberries and redcurrants. Be glad for me, dear friends. I have never been so happy.

Till when, Aisselle

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A spell for protection

Kokolosh by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Kokolosh, a photo by me on Flickr.

We spent a short time recovering before deciding what needed to be done. I will not be forced from the home that Henna spent her life juices on, nor live in fear. I cannot sit by and watch those I love angry or afraid. Knowing Hermaphroditey would guide me, I retired alone to the basement and spent all day yesterday in seclusion.

The answer came as dusk was falling. We must make a spell for protection using four powerful watchtowers to keep danger out.

I called Jay and Minet and told them Hermaphroditey’s plan, and they set to work at once. Minet ran to collect candles, salt, water from the spring and milk and urine from the goats, and Jay went to find the Kokolosh and representatives of the other spirits we needed, as only he has the strength needed for this task.

I made some cakes from honey and oats, as protective spells are exhausting to perform and wholesome sustenance is essential both during ritual and once the spell is complete.

By midnight all was ready. Luckily the moon was at its fullest, and we needed no extra lights to load everything into the old wheelbarrow and make our way to the magic wood.

Our first stop was at the southern corner of the wood, and we found a suitable tree under which to place the Kokolosh, protective cousin of the mischievious African Tokoloshe, lighting a candle before him and calling on his spirit to protect the South of our domain, using the salt, water and goat’s urine in the manner approved by Hermaphroditey. This is all I can tell you of our ritual.

woodman by Aisselle A T Gabegie
woodman, a photo by me on Flickr.

The wheelbarrow was lighter now, and we made good progress to the woodman at the western corner of the wood, having left a trail of salt from the Kokolosh. We repeated the ritual, silently awed by the giant figure. He looked as though he were still asleep, but I knew the ritual would stir his spirit into watchfulness on our behalf.

Aisselle's Imp by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Aisselle’s Imp, a photo by me on Flickr.

And so on to the north, to a tiny copse behind the house where we found an ivy-covered tree stump and set in place Aisselle’s Imp. I was given this creature many years ago by an Oxford don for whom I sometimes used to read the tarot. There are many such imps in that place, looking down from on high as one walks the streets. The don told me that they protect the old buildings. I think he (the imp, not the don) may have fallen from a gutter into the window-box outside the don’s rooms because he survived with only slight damage to one of his little horns.

The Green Man by Aisselle A T Gabegie
The Green Man, a photo on Flickr.

The trail of salt was now almost complete as we reached the eastern corner of our domain at the edge of the garden. Here we placed the head of the Green Man, who’d assisted with the reading that identified the meaning of the three Star cards that kept floating to the surface in Joel’s (as Minet was then), bath.

The spell for protection was now complete. We ate the cakes and drank the rest of the water and milk by the light of the last candle. We’d made sure that the salt and the goat’s urine had all been used up, as these are not pleasant, and one must have nothing left after a spell has been performed.

We now found ourselves exhausted, and went to bed. I slept peacefully and woke refreshed – we are protected.

Thanks be to Hermaphroditey.

Till when, Aisselle

PS. Jay checked on the watchtower spirits this morning, and took the photographs for this, my very own blog.

The Wanderer Returns

Praise be – Jay has returned. When we came back from a fruitless search in the forest, he was sitting under the kitchen table, his eyes burning with rage and exhaustion. He is very tired and angry, and would barely speak to either of us while he ate and drank like a starving man – which indeed he seems to be. He is covered in cuts and scratches, and what he has to say about the police cannot be said here by my own self, as I don’t know the words he used.

It seems that the police did indeed wish to have a word with him – not only about strange plants and Joel, but also about one of our alpacas, which has apparently been roaming the village at night eating the flowers carefully nurtured by little old ladies. At first, he said, he was prepared to be cooperative, as he knew how important it was to keep – er – Minet safe. So he answered every question truthfully and with careful omissions where necessary. He said they weren’t very bright and that part was easy. Strangely enough, it was when the questioning turned to the alpaca that he became angry. They expressed an unhealthy interest in his antlers – which he was indeed wearing when the policemen found him, as my reading suggested – and seemed to be suggesting that they had something to do with the wandering alpaca.

Eventually he asked if he was actually under arrest, and they said not. So he stood up and left. As he turned the corner in the village, though, one of them shouted after him – and fearing that this time they would decide upon an arrest, he ran for it. Into the bluebell woods – though the bluebells are over now – and along the path above the river. But looking too often behind him, he tripped and fell over the cliff into a tall thicket of gorse. It broke his fall – yes – but also scratched him most horribly, and tore his clothes. As he struggled to free himself, he heard someone approaching and then the voices of the policemen, who had clearly followed him thus far. The cuts and scratches were suddenly better than the alternative and he held his breath while they stood above him discussing which way to look next. What he heard shocked him. The policemen actually thought that I, his beloved Aisselle, was involved with the magnet and his plants in some way, and that arresting him would make him tell them about this. They were saying that I was weird and made people eat and drink things that normal people wouldn’t touch. And that I was popular with teenagers in the village – even if this were true – which he was unaware of – he did not understand why this meant I was of interest to them – and neither do I. Mercifully they seemed less interested in “Joel”, though.

In the end, he heard them say they would leave it a bit and then try the house again, and they wandered away. Jay struggled some more with the gorse, and after several hours, he managed to extricate himself and drop – painfully – to the ground by the river.

There was no way to know how soon the police would visit the house, though – so instead of returning to warn me – if indeed I had managed to get home, as he hoped – he decided to hide away in a disused woodman’s hut in the forest. It was something of a challenge to find it, as he was so sore and tired, but by the time it got dark, he had made his way there, and fell to the floor to sleep.

In the morning, desperately hungry and thirsty, he had picked himself a few leaves and drunk from a puddle that had conveniently collected on the floor of the hut. It tasted vile, but he said it was better than the painful rasping in his dry mouth and throat which had made even eating the leaves agony. And then he waited. He tried to think his way to me, he said, to tell me that he would be back soon, but he was too tired to think straight. He waited for darkness to fall and then almost crawled back to the house – which was, of course empty. He was filled with horror and fear. Had the police come for me? Had I spent the night in that horrible police station? Would I say the same things as he had said to them, he wondered? He paced to and fro till his feet began to hurt, and then sat down to think about what to do next. After a few hours of sheer terror, he heard footsteps and crawled hastily under the table to conceal himself beneath the tablecloth. Not until he was certain that he was not imagining our very own voices did he emerge and shout out how terrified he had been and how we should never have left the house without him and other such imprecations.

Eventually we managed to calm him down, and now we must discuss what to do next. Will our lovely home ever be truly safe for us again? If we must move on, what can be done with the animals?

Till sometime soon, Aisselle

Pussy cat chaos

pussy cats by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Seven little pussy cats, a photo  on Flickr.

Minet came downstairs to breakfast this morning with a Spiritual Insight illuminating the second half of the small bird’s message. Strangely I had had some presentiment of this myself yesterday when we were using the Ship of Fools Tarot numerically to find her name, but had been unable to dissuade my sibling from the instant choice of Minet.

And then Ellen Llewellyn, my devoted fan, pointed out to me on this very blog that Minet means ‘pussy cat’ in French, but by then it was already too late.

The small bird, after advising Joel (as he was then) to fully embrace change and choose a name, had cautioned against picking anything French that had meaning. For (as Hermaphroditey has advised me also), there are vengeful French spirits in the aether who, in their traditional dislike of the English will cause appropriate mischief to those so named. I myself have personal experience of this, and although I would not now change my name (having the support of Hermaphroditey), there was a time when I wished it had been anything but Aisselle, even Doris.

But as I said, it was already too late. Across the garden with Azriel at their head and an unknown tabby at the rear progressed a tottery line of very small pussy cats. They immediately made for the back door and entered to investigate every nook and cranny of the kitchen, tumbling over the lower furniture and sharpening their claws on the legs of the table. It was pussy cat chaos for over an hour.

They’ve now taken up residence in the old chintz armchair, and the seven little ones are asleep. More mouths to feed and names to find. Where will it all end? I will have to ask the cards later.

Blessings, Aisselle

A change

Henna's dress by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Henna’s dress,  by Aisselle  on Flickr.

A change has come over Joel since the trauma of the police raid and yesterday’s tears when he was unable to understand the tiny bird. When the cards had advised him to become my fortune-telling sister his mood had lightened and he seemed without a care, but he is not strong as I am, and his peace of mind is fragile and easily broken. But during breakfast he told me that last night he had played the recording over and over again until he finally fell asleep. When he awoke he understood the first part of the tiny bird’s message – that for his safety there must be no half measures in adopting his new identity and that a suitable name must be chosen.

So he has spent most of this morning sorting out Henna’s gear and hanging it in the wardrobe. Today he picked a very special Indian block-printed dress in shades of blue, red and pink with tiny mirrors sewn into the bodice, and a green fringed shawl. Long dangly earrings, assorted beads, green socks and gold slippers completed the transformation to his new persona. He will have to grow his hair, but for the time being says he’ll cover it up with any one of the dozens of little caps in Henna’s collection, today’s choice being black with very long beaded fringes around the edges. Luckily from a distance this looks exactly like hair.

Speaking of distances, I have been worried about a strange glinting emanating from the hill some distance behind the house. I first noticed it yesterday afternoon. I have never seen such a thing before, and wondered if a vagrant spirit were trying to manifest. But my mind was put at rest on reading the new comments on this, my very own blog. One of my devoted fans is on the lookout for the police and promises to alert me with a mental whistle (or does he mean a metal whistle?) if he sees any sign of a raiding party.

All that remained was to choose a new name for Joel, and we could think of no better way to do this than to ask the cards. Using the Ship of Fools Tarot we assigned the letters of the alphabet to each card of the major arcana, leaving out X, Y and Z, as they’d probably only cause trouble by creating too noticeable and dramatic a name.

We both shuffled well and took it in turns to pick out five cards, as this is Joel’s favourite number. It would perhaps be better for his future if we could change that too, but he insisted. When we turned them over we discovered the Hierophant, Death, Judgement, the Hermit and Temperance; numbers 5, 13, 20, 14 and 9. This gave us E, M, T, I and N.

I was eager to arrange these letters in as many different ways as we could before choosing, but Joel immediately saw the name Minet and would not consider any other, as it reminded him of Min, the pet name for his favourite out of all the tobacco magnet’s many female friends as he was growing up.

So Minet he is, Minet Gabegie. It’s good to have a sister – maybe even better than a half-brother.

Till when, Aisselle

Secrets

The High Priestess by Aisselle A T Gabegie
The High Priestess,  on Flickr.

Joel and I have kept to the house today, but no one has come. Jay carried on as usual, looking after the animals and working outside so that if anyone were watching things would look more or less normal. Joel’s agitation is contagious – I have found myself behaving in uncharacteristically strange ways, pouring boiling water into the honey jar instead of the teapot, and putting the lid of the jar into the teacup. I even tried to fasten my plaits with clothes pegs, and cleaned my teeth with tomato paste instead of toothpaste. For a nasty moment I thought a tooth had fallen out. I must remind Jay not to leave the tube in the bathroom.

We went over the events of last night, and looked again at the Neuzeit Knight of Wands. Joel noticed another link to his misfortune in the card. He says he distinctly remembers one of the policemen calling another man ‘Chief’, and tells me that the figure on the card is wearing the headdress of a Native American Tribal Chieftain. If only we’d been able to read the card correctly Joel might not be in this predicament. We decided that we must practice more and hone our skills – hindsight is all very well, but you cannot alter the future if you don’t read the cards accurately until after the event.

Joel went upstairs to change into some of Henna’s gear, and we met in the basement. It seemed natural to make good use of our tarot practice time to ask what he could do to continue to avoid detection and arrest.

We drew three cards, Past, Present and Future, and tried with different decks, but again and again the same three cards kept turning up. The Tower, the Hanged Man and the High Priestess. The first two were not difficult to read – after all, the Tower moment has passed and Joel is currently in limbo as the Hanged Man. The High Priestess proved more difficult until I looked across the table at my dear half-brother, beautifully got up in Henna’s gear. I remembered the blue damask curtains that she’d cut up to make the cloak, and the dress had once been a red chenille tablecloth. Suddenly all became clear. I told him that his future lies in the High Priestess, and handed him the card from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot.

Henceforth he must assume a new identity as my fortune-telling sister, newly returned from distant lands. His expression was one of pure joy – I believe this may even have been his secret wish. I can’t wait to see Jay’s face when we tell him the good news.

Till when, Aisselle

Rain

rain by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Rain, a photo  on Flickr.

Last night the rain came, tapping on the windows – slowly at first, then rapidly with drops that sounded more like walnuts than water. I lay awake, watching and listening for the thunder and lightning predicted by the woodpecker, but the storm I expected never came. Instead a flash swept past the window and a violent hammering shook the back door. I woke Jay (returned temporarily from his vision quest) in some alarm and we lay listening for a moment, flashes lighting the room through the thin curtains, before running to the window to look down on a dark figure.

Again the flash swept upwards past the face of the person below and we saw now that it came from a torch held by a very agitated Joel. I ran down and let him in – he was soaked through and could barely speak. I sat him in the most comfortable chair and made some chamomile tea, and when he was calmer he was able to tell us what had happened.

He told us he’d run all the way from home, a distance of perhaps four miles. He’d been eating fish and chips with his stepfather, the tobacco magnet, when they’d been raided by the police. Unwilling to wait until the door had been opened for them they’d broken it down and confined Joel and his stepfather in the kitchen while they searched the house. Apparently they’d found things growing in the attic that ought not to have been growing in the attic – or even anywhere. Goodness knows what manner of plants could cause such trouble, and Joel wouldn’t tell me what those things were, but muttered darkly about many eyes and greedy hands, and I immediately thought of the eyes and hands on the Neuzeit Knight of Wands card. I’m sure those horses’ heads came into the story somewhere too – at least there was certainly one – but they are eluding me for the time being.

As Joel and his stepfather were being put in the police car, Joel managed to break free and ran all the way to the only place he could think of where he’d be safe.

Amazingly he managed to evade capture, although we could now hear what sounded like a police helicopter somewhere in the distance. Thank the Goddess I’d given him the old woman’s bugstone for protection.

Joel promised me that although he knew of the mysterious attic plants, that he took no part in their cultivation or had anything whatsoever to do with them, and looking deep into his eyes I had to believe him.

He slept the remainder of the night in Henna’s old room, and woke late this morning, worn out with all the trauma. He says he is a wanted man and cannot go back to the house as it’s certain to be watched, and begs to be allowed to stay.

What could I say? He is the other half of myself – I could not deny him so simple a request.

So now we are three.

Till when, Aisselle

Of Joel, Jay and woodpeckers

linden  by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Linden , a photo by Aisselle A T Gabegie on Flickr.

Finding it impossible to throw off my uneasy feeling about Joel, I wandered in the magic wood, picking leaves for a spring salad. The linden trees are beautiful with the sun shining on their young lime-green leaves (it is also called the lime tree), which taste delicate, tender and slightly mucilaginous. Later I will collect the hanging flowers to make a lovely calming tisane. I found a patch of wild violets with their delicious heart-shaped leaves (although the root should not be eaten), and some young ground elder, used by the Romans as a pot herb, but lovely in salads too. White-starred ramsoms carpet the wood, although the leaves are past their best now, and I found garlic mustard and dandelion, grown huge in spite of the lack of rain.

Thoughts of rain reminded me again of the woodpecker Joel startled yesterday. The lightning bird. It is close and too warm today, and we may have a storm tonight. Goddess knows we need the rain, but I can’t help feeling that the woodpecker was an omen sent as a warning to Joel.

Strangely, the sighting has prompted Jay to embark on a vision quest, and he sits under the oldest tree in the orchard with his eyes closed, attended by the goats, who seem to understand his mission and behave with great calm and dignity, quite unlike their usual selves.

The Tower by Aisselle A T Gabegie
The Tower, a photo  on Flickr.

I had brought a deck of cards with me, the Tarot of Trees, and sat with my back against an old stump to throw a card or two, hoping to find out a little more about Joel’s omen, but as I was taking the cards from their purple bag one fell face down onto the ground. I hesitated for a moment, unwilling to know the worst, but then, with a silent plea to Hermaphroditey picked it up. The Tower, complete with lightning, rain storm and torrents of water.

My poor Joel. I hope the bug stone will be enough to shield him from danger.

Till soon, Aisselle

A little bird told me

Woodpecker by Aisselle
Woodpecker, a photo  on Flickr.

The old woman’s gift has inspired me to paint my own stones, and I spent this morning looking for suitable ones in the garden. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any smooth enough – they were all chalky or flinty, soft and crumbly or sharp and jagged. Jay tells me that I will need to find stones that have been worn down by water, and that the best places to look are in rivers and streams, or on the beach.

But that will have to wait for another day, as Joel arrived at twelve, keen to explore the world of Spiritual Insights.

After a warm greeting, he told me how a green woodpecker had shot, startled, from a tree in the orchard as he’d walked through from the lane, its distinctive cry of alarm seeming to echo through the trees.

Knowing this must be a message from the Gods, I got out my old book of augury, and found the chapter on the woodpecker.

All three different kinds of English woodpecker – the green, the greater and the lesser spotted – have a red crest, which connects them to the Norse God Thor, the God of Thunder. His magic hammer, Miolnir, shattered whatever it hit and returned again to his hand – this was the lightning flash of mythology. Ancient man chose the woodpecker flashing through the woods into his neat round hole that struck straight to the heart of the tree to represent Thor and the powers of lightning. The sound of its tapping was as rain on a roof.

It was said that the woodpecker’s beak, like the lightning, could pierce anything, and that the bird’s power came from rubbing its beak on a plant that bloomed only at midnight on Midsummer’s Eve. The bird’s mocking cry is said to be derision at the efforts of country people to find this wonderful plant.

All this and more we found in the ancient book, given me by Henna many years ago when she decided that she already knew far more than could be found within its covers.

So it seems that we must expect rain, even storm – complete with thunder and lightning, or at least that Joel must. I do hope he will be all right.

After deciphering the woodpecker’s message, Joel dressed up in some of Henna’s gear and threw a few cards. He makes a convincing gypsy fortune teller, and the silver nose ring is a nice touch.

9Batons by Aisselle A T Gabegie
Knight of  Wands, a photo  on Flickr.

He used the Neuzeit Tarot that he’d chosen from Henna’s collection, but the same card kept coming up – the Knight of Wands – a determined and slightly sinister figure wearing a strange headdress made from feathers and horses’ heads against a stormy background. Many disembodied eyes and hands reach upwards towards him.

I felt so uneasy as I watched Joel cross the orchard to the lane where he’d left his car that I snatched the bugstone from its place on the windowsill and ran after him to place it deep in the pocket of his trousers. I believe it is a shield beetle, and will help to keep him safe.

Till when, Aisselle

Of Joel and nettles

nettles by Aiselle A T Gabegie
Nettles, a photo by Aisselle on Flickr.

I watched over Joel while he slept, his face in repose more peaceful than I’d ever seen. There is something very beautiful about him, something spiritual and otherworldly. Jay came to sit with me, and we spoke of what had passed. Jay said that Joel and I are twin souls, and that what we have together is something precious that must be protected – a gift of both blood and spirit – and that our own union can be harmed by neither man nor beast. We sat in silence then, and after a while he disappeared. He is always most comfortable when not enclosed within walls.

At last Joel woke, his face reflecting subtle emotions as he recalled what had passed between us. There was no need for words. He is calm now, and all will be well. After a mug of cocoa made from fresh goat’s milk we crossed the orchard together to his red Ford Prefect, and bid each other till soon. I watched as the little car bumped away down the lane. I am twice blessed – I have Jay and I have found Joel.

I spent this afternoon collecting nettles, which are excellent nourishment – rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals; wonderful for your kidneys, adrenals, skin, hair, lungs, intestines and arteries.

Gather the tops now, before they flower, and use some fresh as a green vegetable before drying enough for later, either in a herb dryer or on a tray in the airing cupboard.

The dried leaves make lovely nettle tea to drink hot or cold and use as a rinse for skin or hair, or add a handful of dried nettles to soups, casseroles and risottos. And be sure to steep some fresh nettle tops in cider vinegar to use as you will after six weeks.

Till when, Aisselle