Tag Archive for: conservation

Meeting the Eastern Hemlock

Eastern Hemlock branch covered in snow with cones hanging below

The abundance of cones this year was what drew my attention to this Eastern Hemlock.

It was an abundance of tiny pinecones dangling below the branches that brought my attention to the tree this winter. I had not paid much attention to this tree in the past, mostly because it was just one of the many evergreens that grow here, and I had not spent time getting to know them individually. It is probably no coincidence that the tree came into my awareness now when I have just stepped onto the Druidic path.

After some research I discovered that the tree was an Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), whose common name came from the poisonous European herb, perhaps because of a similar smell. This Hemlock tree is a pine. The branches are pretty and lacy, and the tree is loosely pyramid-shaped.

I was curious about the noticeably large number of cones this year but read that the Eastern Hemlock likes moist soil. Last summer was cool and very, very rainy. It seemed there were few hot, sunny days. I kept wishing it would dry out for a bit, but I guess the tree was happy.

The seeds in those cones are popular with some of the local wildlife, including red squirrels. My little friends must be eating well, as scales (the “petals” of the cone) litter the snow under the tree. Mice, voles, and even snowshoe hares will pick up any seeds that fall to the ground. A few of the winter birds, including black-capped chickadees and dark-eyed juncos, also enjoy the seeds. I also learned that porcupine like to dine on the bark and twigs of the Hemlock, but I have not seen one here.

Hemlocks grow slowly and make take 300 years to reach maturity. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, an aphid-like insect native to Japan and accidentally introduced to North America, is decimating our Hemlocks. An infestation leads to decline and mortality within ten years. Hemlock trees are dying all along the east coast of the United States. Because the cold seems to be the only thing that stops the Woolly Adelgids, the Hemlocks here, in the Adirondacks, have been spared. Since the average temperature is rising due to climate change, our Hemlocks may not be safe for too much longer, though.

I will be monitoring my new acquaintance, the Eastern Hemlock, for signs of Woolly Adelgid while I observe the tree’s seasonal changes. If watching the tree means I am likely to spot a red squirrel scurrying across a branch, all the better. I feel blessed that I was invited to meet this tree.

Get Out of My Swamp

For my Druidic studies I have been reading books about my local ecology. I couldn’t resist the crossover with my work with turtles, so my current read is The Ecology, Exploitation, and Conservation of River Turtles by Don Moll and Edward Moll. In there is a section on wetlands and the harm caused by draining that swamp.

swamp edge of pondThere are four types of wetlands in the Adirondacks: marshes, bogs, fens, and swamps. The designations have to do with the types of soil and plants in each, but in general wetlands are wet places. Wetlands often link dry places and more defined bodies of water, such as the spongy edges of ponds, but sometimes they are just there, at least for part of the year.

Most of Dancing Turtle Rescue’s healed turtle releases happen in wetlands. I invested in a good pair of waterproof boots after having a few shoes sucked off my feet by mud while escorting turtles home. The still water is a good breeding ground for insects, so wetlands are also often buggy. Because humans usually complain about the mud and the bugs, alterations are made to make wetlands more enjoyable, such as installing walkways and treating the water with pesticides. Wetlands are also unsuitable for building, so swamp after swamp has been drained for development.

Now, thanks to all that swamp draining, we have lost some of the most biodiverse places on Earth. And turtles have lost much of the ideal habitat for hatchlings and juveniles to grow and thrive. As wetlands disappear at an alarming rate, so do turtles.

To save turtles, we need to save wetlands from alteration and development. Shrek said it better, but, seriously, get out of my swamp.

Podcast Ep 101: Butterfly Yoga

For the final episode of 2021, relax into a hip-opening yoga practice based on butterfly pose and consider what small way you can make your habitat more welcoming to butterflies and moths.

We’re cocooning like a butterfly until the end of the year, but new episodes will be out in January. Meanwhile, you can join me in ceremony to celebrate Yule on December 21st and welcome the return of the light. Visit the ceremony page for information and to register.

If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit my Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to patron-only guided shamanic journeys to meet animal helping spirits and read posts about the animals’ symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges those animal face in their living incarnation. As you work with different animals, you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

Podcast Ep 99: Yoga as Dolphin Play

As helping spirits, dolphins are playful healers who, like their manifestations in the physical world, love the companionship of those who are heart-aligned. I know some humans who embody dolphin energy and guess you do too. To embody dolphin spirit, you will practice dolphin pose playfully in this episode of the My Shamanic Life podcast.

See what has changed on my website!. There is now a page which lists upcoming online ceremonies. Included are monthly virtual HEARTH Circles which benefit the Olympic Mountain Earth Wisdom Circle. I will be facilitating the November 15th HEARTH with project co-director Lori Ferry’. Please join us for a guided shamanic audio experience.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook. And get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.

Podcast Ep. : Yoga for Your Inner Spark

The spark of inspiration for this episode was Firefly Spirit. The cherished lightning bugs who created magical nights during my childhood are declining. Saving them will require a spark of out of the norm thinking. The yoga practice ignites your inner spark and channels Firefly with expansive and contractive movements that mimic the lightning bug’s flashes.

Register for the virtual Lughnasadh ceremony here.

If you like this podcast and would like me to keep recording new episodes, please visit the updated Patreon page and become a patron for as little as one dollar a month. When you do, you will have access to a new patron-only offering. Each month you can listen to an exclusive guided shamanic journey to meet an animal helping spirit and read posts about that animal’s symbolism and archetypal energy as well as the natural history and conservation challenges that animal faces in their living incarnation. You will work with a different animal each month as you connect more deeply with the natural world and may be inspired to advocate for one of the wild beings you resonate with.

If you would like to chat about this episode and connect with others who share your love for the wild beings, join the Shamanic Flow Circle group on Facebook and get the free Guide to Getting Real when you sign up for the email newsletter, which is full of moon magic and upcoming virtual events.

Much love and gratitude to Blair Sutherland for the beautiful intro and background music. Blair is also an outstanding webmaster and makes sure I can share these episodes with you. Thank you, Blair!

While the yoga and other practices presented are intended to be accessible to most, please be open to practicing in an appropriate and safe way for you. It is recommended that you consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program and that at any time during a practice you feel nausea, dizziness, or pain you stop and seek medical advice. I accept no liability whatsoever for any damages arising from the use of my podcasts and, while I make all reasonable efforts to share accurate instruction, the podcast may contain unintended errors. Before all else, listen to your body and trust your inner knowing.