The Naturalist’s Altar
I befriended an entomologist in Oregon who studies bees (and whose name coincidentally means honey bee) and we performed a naturalist’s trade – Pacific Northwest bee specimens and a beautiful alder borer beetle for specimens of feather, bone, wood, and resins from my collection. I am utterly and completely in love with my bees from the golden-coloured honey bees and fat fuzzy bumble bee queens to the tiny metallic blue and green bees. Now to find a wooden display case for them to truly honour them and keep them safe.
I have an altar of horn and bone and I felt the draw to create another altar to honour Nature’s trees, plants, and insects – a naturalist’s altar. On an altar cloth of a vintage beaver pelt (complete with face, toes, and tail) I placed my bowl of necromantic honey comb from Nikiah’s hives, my new collection of local bees, the phallic root ball of a hemlock tree I found on my mountain by a sacred spring, a cicada carving gifted me by a former student, water and a holed stone from the Chalice Well, and specimens of deer vertebrae, yew, poplar, lichen, stone, and crow egg shells with a tiny silver cauldron for burnt offerings and a toad standing guard.
The crow egg shells I found last week under the trees of the park by my house. February is a sexy time of year for nature in the Pacific Northwest rainforest with the phallic catkins appearing on the trees bursting with pollen, flowers and leaves budding, and new growth sprouting from moist dark earth. The crows have been busy too, finding lovers and making little crowlings.
With the first stirrings of spring I feel like a veil has been lifted. I spent the past weekend finishing unpacking and organizing my new home. I created an office space and a crafting space so I can get more done. Now back I go to my woodcarving and the flying ointments brewing in their oils…