Summer Solstice

Midsummer Day is coming to a close. Throughout the day, my Facebook and Instagram and what-have-you have been filled with cheery greetings of “Have a blessed Litha” and “Merry Midsummer”, which never fail to give my heart a lift. How wonderful it is to know there are kindred spirits all over the world, sharing in the celebration.

The days will begin to shorten now, although the Sun’s power will still hold forth for many more months, especially down here in the South. In some ways, the conveniences of modern life make it more difficult to stay attuned with the passing seasons. Air conditioning holds back the summer heat. Electric lights make even short days seem long. How many times do we look up one day and ask, “Where did the time go? How can it be Fall already?” Acknowledging the turning of the Wheel of the Year, whether you do so with a formal ritual or simple private observance, keeps us in tune with the seasons in ways that many people are not. We know in our bones the dance of Darkness and Light, although we sometimes forget it in the rush of day-to-day life.

Merry Litha to you all!

Spring Altar

spring altar

The seasons are changing down here in the South. The spring equinox is just around the corner. Grey and gloomy weather has given way to sunshine and soft breezes.

This feels like the start of the new year to me, no matter what the calendar says. I feel itchy and restless and ready for new beginnings. Every tiny green leaf I see, on branches that have been bare all winter, remind me that I, too, have had a season of rest, and now it is time to burst forth and grow, grow, GROW!

I snuck away from my regular duties for a while today, to sit beneath the trees and recharge. And, because the day was so beautiful, I set up a few favorites of mine that will soon find their way to an indoor altar space. I thought they would enjoy the sunshine as much as I. Does that sound odd to you?

A quick Google search will yield numerous sites that will tell you how your altar “should” be set up. This crystal here; that candle there. And I have to admit, I just don’t get it. My sacred space needs to be mine alone, not a copy of someone else’s blueprint.

See that goblet? That’s a piece of Depression-era glass that I inherited from my Grandmother. It’s not just a symbolic vessel for my altar. It’s a connection between me and my ancestors. That wand? Made by my own two hands, from wood that grew right here on our homestead. The tiny eggs in the nest are “practice eggs”, laid by our hens when they first began laying. They aren’t just a symbol of new life. They are reminder of my connection to the land here. Everything in that untidy little pile has a meaning beyond what is easily seen.

And I have to admit, it’s unlikely that these treasures will all find their way to a single, formal altar space once they come back inside. Some of it will, surely, but the flowers will probably go to the kitchen table. The acorns will go back outside for the squirrels. The sage candle will go to my desk, because it smells like green and life and hope, and I love to have it burning as I work. And each of these spots around my home will become an altar. I will surround myself with my magic, and tuck it into every nook and cranny of my life.

There are no rules for your magic. Only the ones you write yourself. And you know, far better than any expert, what will call to your soul and light your fire within.

*** Would you like to share your springtime altar pictures and stories with us? Maybe your ideas will become an inspiration for someone else. What are you doing to celebrate the season?

Please come share with us on our Facebook page or you can share here on our blog page.

Back to School for Everyone.

gandhiIt’s that time of year again. Families are savoring the last few days of summer vacation, and proud parents are posting pictures of their kids, fresh-faced and eager, headed back to a brand-new school year. We tend to think of “back to school” events strictly as kids’ activities, but… when is the last time you learned something new? When did you last put your brain into gear and set out to master something new and exciting? The internet has made an astounding range of learning opportunities available at little to no cost, and you can adjust your schedule and workload to your convenience. Here are some of our favorite sites for learning something new:

TED Talks

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) features an ever-growing collection of talks about a wide range of subjects. These short (usually less than 18 minutes) talks are not detailed how-tos, but they are fascinating and often inspirational introductions to topics, served up with enthusiasm and humor.
http://www.ted.com/


YouTube

On YouTube you can find a vast array of helpful tutorials on more subjects than you can imagine. Want to learn glass blowing? Scuba diving? Hippo herding? Chances are, someone’s made a YouTube video about it! Part of the fun is, you never know how good (or how bad) your instructor will be. Just take everything with a grain of salt. It’s pretty easy to separate the wheat from the chaff.
https://www.youtube.com/


Facebook

Facebook has numerous groups where you can share and learn with others on many topics. From blacksmithing to gardening, music to jewelry making, and so much more. You may find that you learn best when you are part of a “community of learners”, where the lines between teacher and student are blurred, and everyone is sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. Facebook tends to work very well for supporting this social aspect of learning.
https://www.facebook.com/


Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers an extensive selection of on-line classes from Kindergarten level through high school and beyond. They have also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.
https://www.khanacademy.org/


Coursera

Coursera offers college level courses from top universities for free. That’s right: a FREE college education. There’s no diploma at the end, of course, but if you’ve ever wished you could stay in college forever, without ever declaring a major, well, here’s your chance!

https://www.coursera.org/


MIT OpenCourseWare

Looking for something a little more advanced? MIT offers a wide variety of both undergraduate and graduate level courses for free.

http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm


picassoWe’ve focussed on online resources in this list, but don’t overlook learning opportunities in your local community as well. There are usually plenty of clubs, classes and get-togethers to match your interests. And if not, perhaps you can start your own.

In short, never underestimate the benefits of being a lifelong learner. Your brain will stay healthier and more flexible, and you will find yourself with a renewed sense of purpose in life.

Affirmations

Do you listen to yourself? 

I mean, really, do you hear the messages you say to yourself day after day, year after year?

I Never thought I was a Bully... until I listened to how I speak to Myself. I think I owe myself an Apology. ~z2z~The internal dialogue you carry on with yourself is easy to overlook, but it nevertheless plays an important role in how you perceive yourself and your abilities. So honestly now, when was the last time you said something nice to yourself? Or is it more likely that you’ll find yourself saying, “How could I be so stupid!” or “I’m no good at that.”

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t– you’re right.” Smart man, that Henry Ford.

Listen to the thoughts running around in your head. Do you have a particular problem that’s bugging you? Some situation that’s making you anxious or angry? Fine. It’s time to take a closer look at it.

Imagine for a moment that your very best friend came to you with that same problem or concern. What would you say to them? Would the first words out of your mouth be “You are such an idiot!”? Of course not! You wouldn’t bully your friend, so why on earth would you bully yourself? And yet, we all seem to do so. Day after day after day, we repeat negative messages to ourself, and even worse, we believe them!

It’s time to change the message. Each morning, choose a simple affirmation for the day. Do you feel ugly and unloved? Tell yourself you are beautiful and appreciated. Do you feel like you waste too much time? Tell yourself you are focussed and productive. One of my favorite affirmations comes from the old story of the Little Engine That Could: “I think I can. I think I can.” Say that to yourself, and see if you don’t have a more positive, determined attitude.

The words you say to yourself matter. Choose them carefully, and treat yourself like a friend, not an enemy.

New Arrivals!

One of the few perks of being a business owner, is having the ability to take a day off when needed. Today was just such a day. When we went out to feed the goats this morning before work, it became readily apparent that our oh-so-pregnant doe, Sassafras, didn’t have much longer to wait. And sure enough, within about an hour, she had three of the cutest goat kids you ever did see. Sassy is a terrific mother, and we are all so proud of her!

So, to any customers who may have been inconvenienced today… we apologize! No packages got packed. Phone calls didn’t get made. Orders didn’t get placed. But it was a wonderful day nonetheless. And we promise, everything will be back to normal again tomorrow. Thank you for understanding.

Beltane Blessings

Beltane doesn’t have to be all maypoles, bonfires and naked dancing. In fact, if you have nosy neighbors, those sorts of things can be downright hard to explain. Here are some suggestions for ways to honor the turning of the wheel while keeping it simple and discreet.

  1. Light a candle. Burn some incense. Shoot off some fireworks. Heck, cook something on the grill. This is a fire festival, after all. It’s time to turn up the heat!
  2. Do something to connect with nature, even if it’s just a walk in the park. If you can’t manage that, at least open a window and let some fresh air into your life.
  3. Plant a seed. Don’t be too literal about this. Sure, if you have space for a garden, this is an excellent opportunity to do some planting for future harvests. But you can plant metaphoric seeds as well – start a new project, take a class, make a plan. Anything that will yield a harvest of some sort down the road.
  4. Wear brightly colored clothing. Put a smile on your face, even if you don’t really feel like it. It’s time to shake off the winter blues.
  5. pancakePlay with your food. Eat something round and sunny, like oranges, or key lime pie. Make pancakes shaped like the sun. Drink lemonade.
  6. Find some quiet time. Breathe deep. Close your eyes. Step away from the hustle and bustle, and create a space within yourself for magic.
  7. Share your blessings. A May Day card or small gift, either shared in person or left anonymously, can really brighten someone’s day.
  8. Pick flowers. Put them in a vase, or make a small bouquet to hang on a door or window. Save one to stick behind your ear, or in a shirt pocket.
  9. Play some music. What songs remind you of summer? What music stokes your inner fires, and fills you with energy? Play that!
  10. Engage in acts of love and pleasure. ‘Nuff said!  😉

Magic in the Night Sky

The night sky is always a source of wonder and awe, particularly when the heavens play host to a dance of shooting stars. The Lyrid meteor shower will peak in the pre-dawn hours of April 22 or 23, and if you don’t mind losing a few hours of sleep, chances are good you’ll get a spectacular show. Because the moon will set early on these days, conditions will be ideal for viewing (assuming your weather cooperates).

The Lyrids are a notoriously unpredictable meteor shower, often only producing modest numbers of shooting stars, and in other years, creating amazing outbursts. It is likely that you’ll see 10-20 meteors per hour, although rates of 100 per hour have been noted in some of the most active years.

You can find more information on the meteor shower here:
Everything you need to know: Lyrid meteor shower

Update: If you can’t see due to clouds or other conditions, watch them live at Space.com

Good luck!

-Bill, Kimberly & Rhys Tuttle

A Bit About Us

This month, we are celebrating our 20th year in business. That’s a huge milestone for any small business, and we’re awfully glad to be able to celebrate it with you. Our customers are the best in the world, and we look forward to serving you for another twenty years (at least!).

We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings, selling at local weekend events. As our customer base expanded, and our merchandise lines grew, it became readily apparent that a shift to online and mail-order sales was the way to go. Although we miss being able to meet our customers face-to-face in the real world, we knew that we wanted to give you the personal service of a mom-and-pop shop combined with the ease and convenience of internet shopping. Rest assured that no matter how much our company grows, when you contact us with questions or concerns, we will always do our utmost to make your shopping experience a good one.

We have big plans for the future as well. Of course we will continue to seek out new and interesting items for you and your home. We’re also working hard on several website improvements, including making it easier for you to shop with us on mobile devices like phones and tablets.

In short, we’d like to say “thank you”. Your support and patronage over the years has made this dream a reality, and we are truly grateful.

-Bill, Kimberly & Rhys Tuttle