Solitary: A Self-Directed Spiritual Life

Let's talk. Come sit with me under a tree or by a lake while we chat about being alone in our practice and our beliefs. Solitary practitioners choose this path for many reasons and have a unique perspective. As a solitary witch, I want to share how I keep true to my beliefs and practices whether I'm working on my own, in a small group or attending a large group gathering. Author of Moon Affirmations, meditations based on the phase of the moon.

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Creating with Purpose - Fall Harvest

Autumn brings cooler weather, trees changing colors and harvest time.  Red tomatoes, green cucumbers, apples, potatoes, onions and so much more is being harvested from gardens, orchards and farms.  The local farmers markets are flooded with garden produce. 

A tradition for my family, my middle daughter, Vicki, mom (Joan) and one of my sisters (Alicia) and I travel west of our home in late September or early October to the apple orchards near Gays Mills.  We always make a day of it since it is a couple hours drive.  So we pile into a vehicle with a cooler of sandwich fixings, bottled water and anticipation for the outing. Usually the morning starts cool and crisp with the bite of early frost in the misty morning air.

The scenery is amazing!  Where we live is relatively flat farmland interspersed with woods and tress.  So our journey begins with greens and golds of fall harvest.  As we travel west the terrain becomes more hills and trees.  The farmers usually strip farm so the hillsides are covered with stripes of green and gold almost like a miss colored flag.  I guess with that analogy the black and white Holsteins and rusty brown Guernsey cows grazing on some hillsides would then be the stars of this natural flag.  The road winds through limestone carved hills adding hues from sand and beige to creamy milk white.  The real show though (if we time it right) is the tree covered hillsides.  Some remain green with the pine and sage colors, others are fading into the lighter yellowish green.  The other trees are busy showing off burgundy and fire red; sunset and rusty orange; gold and lemon yellow.  As we travel the roads the hillsides covered with trees look like a giant played with paints and splashed all these colors across the huge canvas of nature.  We will round a curve, point, and enjoy the natural beauty.

We stop at my mother’s favorite orchard which is always busy with people.  Walk in to a sea of apples, every kind imaginable is displayed – granny smith, Jonathan, Macintosh and kinds I’ve never heard of.  Hot spiced apple cider scents the air. 

This is where harvest is driven home to me.  In addition to the apples they have a section of jellies, jams and preserves, baked goods, mustards, sauces, cheeses and so much more.  The smells remind me of fall on the farm when I was growing up.  We baked, canned and froze all the summer’s hard work.

We load up our purchases and head home but the day isn’t done because we also stop at the farmer’s market stands to add potatoes, onions and other fresh vegetables to our driving harvest.  We come home exhausted from our travels but pleased with ourselves for food we have gathered.

Then the work begins.  While the potatoes and onions can be stored somewhere cool, the rest of our purchases need to be dealt with.  We pull out the dehydrator, zip lock bags and canning supplies.  The apples are cut and sliced for freezing to be used for pies and crisp during the winter.  When we do treat ourselves in winter, it is almost like having a slice of our harvest day.  Other apples are cut up and cooked down to make apple sauce for canning or freezing.  Tomatoes, grown by my husband Ken, are canned into juice, sauce and whole tomatoes.  Salsa is another easy dish if I’ve gotten some good peppers.

Vicki, Ken (my husband) and I usually have a great time getting in each others way while we are processing the bounty of our trip.  We laugh and work at storing food for the winter.  As I’m cutting and chopping different foods I’m thanking the Earth for providing everything that culminated in juicy apples and other fruits and veggies.  I’m looking forward to how these foods will nourish my family and how the joy we had in gathering and prepping the food will be infused into the meals we make. 

Then throughout the winter when I pull out a jar of my own applesauce or tomato juice, I’ll think of the good family times gathering and preserving.  I’ll also remember the gift of the fall day with the beauty Mother Nature gifted to us.  This carries the joy of nature throughout the year.  It also acknowledges the work put into the food both from Nature nourishing the plants to the work my family did preserving it.

Because we choose the ingredients for the items I know there are no added preservatives or sugars.  My applesauce tastes like an apple freshly picked from the tree.  It is a great pick me up on a cold winter day.  For Ken’s tomato juice it is like popping a cherry tomato fresh from the vine with juice dripping down your chin.

Each of these food products I’ve preserved reminds me of turning of the wheel.  There is a time to grow and a time to rest.  It teaches me to enjoy the quiet times when I have them.  It also reminds me there will be times I’m extremely busy but the fruits of my labor will nourish me in many different ways.

Even if you don’t know how to preserve your own food, you can still acknowledge and recognize the elements which go into growing the food.  It doesn’t matter whether you shop at a huge super market or a small corner store.  When you prep your meal look at how the vegetables, fruits and meats all require work from nature and humans to grow.  You can embrace the cycles involved. 

As you prep a food dish, take a moment to visualize the items growing in the earth with the sun beaming down.  Consider how the sun helps the food to grow.  See the earth giving key vitamins and minerals through the roots.  Visualize rain quenching thirst and giving more nutrients.  See how oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged by green plants to provide needed growth and elements for the plants and humans.

As you cook your meal, think about how these foods which have been nurtured by nature will nourish you and your family.  Think about how this keeps your life cycle moving forward. 

Set your table and put intent into the ambience of the meal.  Incorporate the feelings of joy and pleasure in the gifts nature has provided into the family meal.  Light candles as a symbol of the sun; water glasses can be a symbol for water; use flowers or a houseplant as a symbol of earth.  Thank Earth for the offerings you are about to eat.  Take some time to focus on what the gathering is to accomplish and how you want people to get along and how you want a positive environment. 

All these symbols put purpose behind your meal.  It incorporates a positive energy within the meal and brings that energy to your family.

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As a solitary, I consider myself a pagan witch who is seeking. Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day I work as a clerical worker and at night I spend my spare time writing. Writing is my way of expressing my feelings about my world and life. Raised on a farm, I have a love for nature and am inspired by the beauty and power I find there. I've been married for 33 years and have three adult daughters. Some of my other interests include cooking, genealogy, reading and crocheting.  
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