A Winter Solstice Poem

December 22, 2007


In some hollow hall behind the dawn

Silent copper horns are blackening

In the tarnished penumbra of the year.

In that last hour before the old brittle sun

Freezes to shards in a dark burst of metal,

A deep, molten hum breaks out of the ground.

The winds take it up, ringing a frost-blown swell

Of overtones, sending it spiralling

Into the black throats of the long horns

That shudder and drone to life.

A chorus as unerring and multiple

As tree sap streaming through its vessel pipes

Shatters wall after wall of blue ice like glass,

Each layer brighter than the one before,

From indigo to palest cerulean,

A cascade of sky fragments.

The horns gleam brown, then glow red,

Until the last colorless pane falls, and

The white gold horns melt into a spinning globe

And rise.


Solstice Cards

December 19, 2007

My next oracle project is a set of 16 Sticks and Stones cards.  The Sticks will depict twigs, wands, and staves along the Oldest River, and represent moon phases as well as the eight “fire festivals” of the solar year.  Four of these drawings are completed.  The Stones will show various types of naturally round white moon-like chalcedony pebbles in their geologic environments.  These are just pencil sketches so far.  I hadn’t planned to post about this oracle before it was finished, but yesterday I completed the Winter Solstice/New Moon card.  Since this year’s Winter Solstice is close to the Full Moon, I’ve posted the Full Moon/Summer Solstice card as well, for comparison.

Winter Solstice or New Moon

The Winter Solstice or New Moon card shows the the Oak Maze, Daedalea quercina, growing on a rotting stump.  Water or ice trickles down the labyrinthine pores of the fungus and seems about to split it in half.  D. quercina is a woody brown bracket fungus that grows on dead oak wood and often persists for many years.  The gills (platelike structures on the underside of the fungus, where the spores develop) are unusually thick and interconnected in this species, creating fascinating and beautiful maze-like patterns.  The drawing was made from a specimen that I collected in Virginia many years ago.

Summer Solstice or Full Moon

The Summer Solstice or Full Moon card shows a stick shelter made from stacked and interwoven cottonwood branches.  The fallen and living cottonwood trees behind it offer additional protection, and the water seems to be flowing out of or into the shelter.  The hut is reminiscent of ancient mammoth bone shelters that would have been covered with skins and earth.  I photographed this structure along a river, long after whoever built and used it had continued their journey downstream.

I realize that this pair of drawings is rather cryptic now, but there is no point in offering more interpretation until the other pictures are done.  Meanwhile you will have to make up your own stories about them.

Glacier Priestess Necklace

December 11, 2007

To celebrate my birthday (yesterday) and the cold rainy weather (the first significant winter rain since early 2005), I finished this necklace, which is inspired by the Tarot High Priestess.  The pendant is fossil mammoth ivory that I cut and polished to highlight a rare and beautiful blue vivianite “eye” pattern.  The back is hot-forged sterling silver set with an eye agate.  The beads are blue lace agate, cut in the style of ancient stone beads – no two are the same size or thickness, and they have a smooth frosted finish, not a high polish.  This was a prototype strand that I bought at the gem show a few years ago from the same Chinese gem cutter who made my frosted aquamarine beads.  Unfortunately, she did not make any more frosted beads because most buyers prefer the high polish.  The necklace is strung as a choker to fit me, but I have enough beads to add nearly four inches if the buyer wants it restrung longer….and I kept back a couple of odd larger beads for a pair of earrings.


 Glacier Priestess Necklacemammoth ivory pendantmammoth ivory pendanteye agate

Skystone Mineral Pigment

December 6, 2007

copper ore pigment

This is a new mineral pigment for my collection – a tiny piece of greenish-blue copper ore from a local abandoned mine.  It contains malachite, chrysocolla, and probably a bit of turquoise.  I already have several examples of all these pigments in my collection, but this piece was particularly bright and clean, so the paint is clear and (for copper ore) relatively intensely colored.  Sky and water, cool and warm, strong and delicate at the same time, like turquoise. Typical ore like the pieces in the photo is usually a mixture of several greenish or bluish copper minerals, often with dark impurities (cuprite, iron sulfides, and iron and manganese oxides) which make it unsuitable for pigment.  The small pieces are the best – they are the most pure, and usually contain the rarest and most intensely colored minerals.  Now I have the perfect pigment for my Copper Oracle, which is still in the pencil-sketch stage.

I printed the Lichen Oracle as a set of cards so I could learn how to work with it.  I’m finding it much more powerful this way, and the moon and three minor glyphs on each card allow for interesting patterns in a spread – it is an intriguing puzzle, yet the glyphs are good for meditation, and become even better as I grow more familiar with them.  The whole series flows, pauses, and moves very naturally.  Of course the published deck will look quite different – this practice set will help me decide what it should look like.

lichen oracle cards