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A Totem for your Fall Greens

Originally published 9/22/2016

Invite a Tutelary Spirit into your Garden

It’s the first week of fall, and many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are looking forward to cooler, crisp weather and evenings by the fireplace. My thoughts in the fall turn towards what I can overwinter in the garden, either for a supply of fall and winter vegetables or for spring harvest.

In the Pacific Northwest, brassica is King. If you garden out here and don’t have at least a few kale or collards in the ground, you’re truly missing out. These guys love the cool weather that’s current for our climate, and produce edible leaves all winter. In springtime, they start getting massive and begin to flower just when the pollinators arrive. It’s win-win!

As an animist, I believe it’s possible to ask the plant spirits for a little help. Last season’s brassica (collard/broccoli hybrids I think) grew about 8 feet tall, and when it was time to collect the seed from them, I kept the sturdiest stalks:

After having cleaned them and air-dried them, I thought they’d be perfect for fashioning into Brassica Objects for Spooky purposes (that middle staff with the branches is totally going to become an Anthuor Wand). One of the best uses I could think of would be to carry over the Spirit of these enormous plants into this fall’s crop of kale and collards by crafting a totem. I let my 4 year old choose the stalk he thought would be the best, and he picked one that looked like it “had legs and a nose.”

A totem has to have a heart, by my reckoning. We (my son and I) gave ours a heart of serpentine crystal AKA healerite. Not only is it found in Washington State, but its deep green color matches our intention.

We added some brassica stalk arms, and beaded on two eyes, and welcomed “Crucifer” to the world:

After a little “charge” via spooky means and hand-waving, we put Crucifer into the garden where his influence would do the most good. Importantly, he was out under the sky at 10:21 PST, the exact moment of the Fall Equinox, when Light and Darkness were equal:

Will it “work”? No idea. But, the totem in the strawberry patch seems to be doing a good job — we’re still getting a strawberry or two each week in late September.

THIS guy

Regardless, it’s fun, and if you can’t believe in something fun, why bother believing in anything at all?

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