Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke


I’ve been so engrossed in my gardening, I nearly forgot it was Earth Day. Some images and quotes below to mark the day.

(My front garden in April. Virginia bluebells in the foreground. My dear grandmother gave me a start of these decades ago and they have thrived.)

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood, “Unearthing Suite,” 1983  (I’ve certainly been covered in dirt lately)

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout (I love this quote and greatly admire the wonderful Ruth Stout and her gardening wisdom.)

(Most mornings I wake up to geese in my yard and garden. How about you?)

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain (Yep. And this spring has been extra wacky)

‘Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.’ ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day. ~W. Earl Hall

(Another shot of the bluebells and tulips)

April is a promise that May is bound to keep. ~Hal Borlan

Every April, God rewrites the Book of Genesis. ~Author Unknown (I know what he means, new life and all that. Like the valley is recreated each spring)

Exciting spring smells waft through wide open windows… ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2009 March 7th

The window is open and a warm, delicious little breeze comes wandering in. It smells of magnolias and dogwood and it whispers in our ears enticing little stories of gurgling brooks and cool woods. Yes, we have got spring fever and got it bad. ~Country Life, June 1922 (Me, too)

(This deep purple lilac has been on the farm since long before my time. Does anyone not like lilacs? I love them.)

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost (I do, indeed)
The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

…the sweet wildflower breath of spring… ~Terri Guillemets (I have planted oodles of wildflower seeds. Pics to come.)

(Puffy flowering pussy willow)

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. ~William Shakespeare

It’s spring! Farewell
To chills and colds!
The blushing, girlish
World unfolds
Each flower, leaf
And blade of sod—
Small letters sent
To her from God.
~John Updike, “April,” A Child’s Calendar, 1965

(My front garden in April. Note the much used wheelbarrow in back)

Spring: the music of open windows. ~Terri Guillemets

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri Guillemets, “Cephalophyllum,” 2007 (True)

(My back garden with cherry blossoms, herbs, flowers…preparing to bloom)

Spring in verses
Verses in spring.
~Terri Guillemets

The Magick of Trees


pattykoontz

Dark Hedges in N. Ireland

Trees are nature’s oldest living magick. I’ll always treasure the grand memories of my Daddy taking me by my hand and letting me tag along on the many strolls we took through different forest paths. A true  highlight of my childhood, while I learned about nature and the magick of trees. I’d  watch the squirrels and other creatures scurry about and make nests in the towering giants these critters called home. 

Whether strolling thru the enchanted woods where I envisioned the fairies playing and hiding beneath the caps of acorns, and knew the wee people and leprechauns lived; or else riding thru a shaded tunnel of mystical towering splendors – their magick has played a gigantic role in my imagination.

 

A few favorite fairy trees:

The Sacred Oak is not only king of the forest, but considered the most favored “home” of the fairies.

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Herbs for Romance and Love Charms


Through the ages, herbs have furthered affairs of the heart. I’ve provided snippets of historical lore on some of the most significant.

Calendula: One favorite bit of lore is that calendula flowers were used to keep a lover faithful. All one had to do was to dig up some soil where their lover had walked, and use that soil for planting calendulas. From that day forward the lover would forever by faithful. Calendulas are the original English/Scottish Marigold. Though not native, they are widely naturalized from Europe and have been grown in the UK for centuries.

Rosemary: English folklore says if a girl places a plate of flour beneath a rosemary bush on midsummer’s eve, she will find her future husband’s initials written in it. Another bit of lore to discover your true love is to place a sprig of rosemary under your pillow. A dream will reveal their identity. Dried rosemary was laid in bed linen to ensure faithfulness and a bride who gave her groom a sprig of rosemary to hold on their wedding night would ensure his faithfulness.

Another belief regarding dreams: On Saint Agnes’ Eve (January 20), a woman seeking romance would mix thyme with rosemary and pray: “Saint Agnes, that’s to lovers kind, Come, ease the trouble of my mind.” The virgin martyred saint would then send a dream about her true love.

Rosemary came to Britain with the Romans and has centuries old use.

Violets: Gaelic advice: “Anoint thy face with goat’s milk in which violets have been infused, and there is not a young prince on earth who would not be charmed with thy beauty.”

Violets are used in love spells and may be carried as an amulet to increase one’s luck in love. Combine them with lavender for enhanced effect.

Violets grow throughout the UK. But Lavender wasn’t cultivated there until the mid-sixteenth century. No herb smells more wonderful than lavender. I just planted more in the garden.

Wild Pansy (violas): Violas, heartsease, V. tricolor…have a great reputation as a love charm. Its three colors of purple, white, and yellow, each marked with a petal, have given it associations with the Holy Trinity, and the name Herb Trinitas, which figures in old books. The name pansy comes from the French pensée (thought). ‘Love in Idleness’ is another of this beloved flower’s names. In ancient days the plant was much used for its potency in love charms, hence perhaps its name of Heartsease. It is this flower that plays such an important part as a love charm in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The pansy Shakespeare refers to are probably V. tricolor, the wild pansy or viola. ‘In A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon sends Puck to gather “a little western flower” that maidens call “love-in-idleness”. Oberon’s account is that he diverted an arrow from Cupid’s bow aimed at “a fair vestal, throned by the west” (supposedly Queen Elizabeth I) to fall upon the plant “before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound”. The “imperial vot’ress” passes on “fancy-free”, destined never to fall in love. The juice of the heartsease now, claims Oberon, “on sleeping eyelids laid, Will make or man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees.” Equipped with such powers, Oberon and Puck control the fates of various characters in the play to provide Shakespeare’s essential dramatic and comic structure for the play.’

The wild violas, heartsease, grow abundantly throughout Britain.

Vervain: An ancient cure-all, sacred to the Druids, vervain was also thought to be a love charm. According to the Druids, the plant should be collected when neither the sun nor the moon is in the sky. And in exchange for removing such a valuable plant from the earth, honey combs should be left on the ground. It grows wild in England, sparsely in Scotland. However, vervain was grown in herb gardens in the Middle Ages (and later).

The Hawthorne Tree:

“The fair maid who, the first of May

Goes to the fields at break of day

And washes in dew from the Hawthorne tree,

Will ever after handsome be.”

There is also an old belief that cowslip (primrose) flowers hold magic value for the complexion and making one beautiful. Seeking beauty is an age-old pursuit in love.

The wild white yarrow is the variety referred to here and elsewhere in my herbal posts. Yarrow, an ancient widespread herb, is used for medicinal purposes, but also in love charms, and in divining who the lover might be. I’m not certain exactly how, but the rhyme below was thought to be useful.

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me…”  ~Danaher, 1756. (But the saying may be much older.)

Herbs might be worn as amulets or love charms alone, or inside jewelry, like a locket, or in small cloth bags hidden in clothing, woven into a woman’s hair, rubbed over her in an enticing oil… They were brewed into decoctions for her/him to imbibe, or to anoint the object of one’s love in his/her sleep. Herbs were hung overhead, tucked under pillows and in bedding. Women bathed in their essence… I say him or her but this sounds more like something a woman might do. There are many ways people thought herbs furthered romance and kept a lover true. I hope you find these suggestions interesting.

Meadowsweet–Fascinating Herbal Lore


Fragrant meadowsweet is a beautiful white flowering herb with fern-like foliage. A form of meadowsweet grows in our Virginia Mountains, but I don’t see it in the Shenandoah Valley, nor have I grown it in my garden(s). Common in the British Isles, it’s called the Queen of the Meadow, Meadow-Wort, Bridewort, and Meadsweet… The plant blooms from early summer to fall and is native to Europe and western Asia, but has been widely naturalized elsewhere from the earliest times. Meadowsweet was found in Bronze Age (4,000 year-old) burial sites in the Orkneys, Scotland, and Wales, both in plant form and honey mead detected in vessels. The herb was sacred in the far distant past and fresh flowers were left on graves and in mead as tributes for the departed.

(Meadowsweet flowering along beck near Conistone, North Yorkshire. Image from Wikipedia)

Meadowsweet pollen was found in a stone cairn alongside the cremated remains of a young girl above Lake Llyn-y-Fan Fach that lies below the Peak of Black Mountain in Wales. Pottery and flint tools were also discovered with her. Probably no connection, but an ancient legend says a mysterious beautiful lady came out of the waters of Llyn-y-Fan Fach and taught the first of the Physicians about the healing power of plants. They are called The Physicians of Myddfai, and make their first appearance in the Middle Ages. The last of their line died out in the 1800’s, when the story of The Lady of the Lake was first recorded. According to the Lady of the Lake and the Physicians of Myddfai, it’s possible that the Carmarthenshire village of Myddfai may be the birthplace of modern medicine. The legend says this dynasty of herbalists lived and worked there in the 11th and 12th centuries, and some say with magical powers. For more, check out the link above.

In Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, meadowsweet is known as Meadwort and was one of fifty ingredients in a drink called ‘Save’–must have been an amazing cure-all. The name Bridewort comes from its use as a strewing herb in churches at weddings and often as a bridal garland. Queen Elizabeth 1 favored meadowsweet as her choicest strewing herb in the sixteenth century, but its use far predates the queen.

The entire plant has a pleasing aroma and taste which led to its use in flavoring wines, beers, vinegars, and the ancient honey mead (herbal honey-wine). The dried flowers are added to potpourri. Fresh flowers lend a subtle almond flavor to stewed fruit and jam.

According to A Modern Herbal, meadowsweet (Spiraea Ulmaria) is collected in July, when in full flower. Infuse 1 ounce of the dried herb in a pint of water, sweeten with honey, and administer in wineglassful doses for invalids or for regular use.

Medicinally, meadowsweet (aka Filipendula ulmaria) has a long use in pain relief and is a source of salicylic acid, the basis of aspirin, but in a form that causes less stomach upset than other plant sources. Meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria, was made into Bayer aspirin in 1887. Historically, it has also been used for soothing an acidic stomach and calming diarrhea. Simply put, ‘it’s a cooling, aromatic and astringent herb that relieves pain’.(http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/meadowsweet-herb.html). ***Not to be imbibed by anyone allergic to or intolerant of aspirin. (Image from Wikipedia)

Meadowsweet, water-mint (also known as marsh mint, grows near water, its strong scent not as pleasingly fragrant as other mints), and vervain were the three herbs held most sacred by the Druids. They also had sacred trees which I have touched on in other posts. For those interested in Druids, a useful site on Meadowsweet and Druid Plant Lore is: http://www.druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-plant-lore

A beautiful post on meadowsweet: https://whisperingearth.co.uk/2012/07/06/meadowsweet-queen-of-the-meadow-queen-of-the-ditch/

For more on herbs, you might be interested in my book, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, available in kindle and print at Amazon.

An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

Now in Print–Historical Romance The Bearwalker’s Daughter


‘A change was coming as surely as the shifting seasons. Karin McNeal heard the urgent whispers in the wind.’

Historical romance novel, The Bearwalker’s Daughter, is a blend of carefully researched historical fiction interwoven with an intriguing paranormal thread and set among the clannish Scots in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies. The story is similar to others of mine with a western colonial frontier, Native American theme, and features a powerful warrior or two. My passion for the past and some of the accounts I uncovered while exploring my early American Scots-Irish ancestors and the Shawnee Indians is at the heart of my inspiration.

A particularly tragic account is the driving force behind the story, the ill-fated romance of  a young captive woman who fell in love with the son of a chief. As the result of a treaty, she was taken from her warrior husband and forced back to her white family where she gave birth to a girl. Then the young woman’s husband did the unthinkable and left the tribe to go live among the whites, but such was their hatred of Indians that before he reached his beloved her brothers killed him. Inconsolable and weak from the birth, she grieved herself to death.

Heart-wrenching, that tale haunts me to this day. And I wondered, was there some way those young lovers could have been spared such anguish, and what happened to their infant daughter when she grew up? I know she was raised by her white family–not what they told her about her mother and warrior father.

Not only did The Bearwalker’s Daughter spring from that sad account, but it also had a profound influence on my historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song. Now that I’ve threaded it through two novels, perhaps I can let go…perhaps….

The history my novels draw from is raw and real, a passionate era where only the strong survive. Superstition ran high among both the Scots and Native Americans, and far more, a vision that transcends what is, to reach what can be. We think we’ve gained much in our modern era, and so we have.  But we’ve also lost. In my writing, I try to recapture what should not be forgotten.  Read and judge for yourself. And hearken back.  Remember those who’ve gone before you.

As to bearwalking, this belief/practice predates modern Native Americans to the more ancient people. In essence,  a warrior transforms himself into a bear and goes where he wills in that form, a kind of shapeshifting.

 Blurb: A Handsome Frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irish Woman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter~

beautiful dark haired woman

Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman who longs to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges–for her?~

family musket and powder horn image by my momThe Bearwalker’s Daughter is at Amazon in kindle and print at the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Bearwalkers-Daughter-Native-American-Warrior-ebook/dp/B007V6MA22

*Cover by my daughter Elise Trissel. She also formatted the novel for print.

*Image of old family musket, powder horn, and shot pouch by my mom Pat Churchman

***The Bearwalker’s Daughter is a revised version of romance novel Daughter of the Wind Publisher’s Weekly BHB Reader’s Choice Best Books of 2009 

“Ms. Trissel’s alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding.” –Long and Short Reviews

For more of my work, visit my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/

Or just do a find on my name. I am the only Author Beth Trissel in the world.

Herbal Lore of the British Isles–April Workshop


herb gardenMy Herbal Lore Workshop for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers is also open to others. For more info and to register visit the link. The workshop runs from April 3-30, and will be interesting and informative. Although the focus of the herbs are those used historically in the British Isles, if a question arises about Native American plants, I can help out there, too. Be an active participant or a lurker. The material can be saved for later use. Lively interaction does make the class more fun, however.

Regarding homework, there isn’t any. If  you incorporate one or more of herbs into a scene you’ve written and would like feedback, I invite you to share it in the broader group, or email it to me privately and I’ll tell you if I think the herb choice and use seems right. My role is to offer information and inspiration.

Visit: http://celtichearts.org/herbal-lore-of-the-british-isles/

Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters


Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn. ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

(Crocus and violas in the garden blooming now)

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout

The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
~Julian Grenfell

I wonder if the Daffodil
Shrinks from the touch of frost,
And when her veins grow stiff and still
She dreams that life is lost?
Ah, if she does, how sweet a thing
Her resurrection day in spring!
~Emma C. Dowd, “Daffodil and Crocus,” in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain

Her fairies climb the bare, brown trees,
And set green caps on every stalk;
Her primroses peep bashfully
From borders of the garden walk,
And in the reddened maple tops
Her blackbird gossips sit and talk.
~Hannah R. Hudson, “April,” The Atlantic Monthly, April 1868

(Grecian wind flowers)

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

…the sweet wildflower breath of spring… ~Terri Guillemets

I hear the passing echoes of winter and feel the warming spring on my face. ~Terri Guillemets

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring. ~Bern Williams

(Snowdrops blooming in the garden)