The dark garden
The Taurus New Moon is already bringing fresh flora, fauna, and a much-needed dose of grounded-- and growing-- goddess energy.
I don’t normally write a lot about New Moons, as I tend to take them as a quiet moment of personal reflection, release, and clearing. But the upcoming May 18th Taurus New Moon is begging for some attention.
And you know what? I’m more than happy to oblige.
So, why am I so stoked for this Taurus Full Moon?
Mercury Goes Direct on May 14th
To start, just about everyone I know has had a HELL of an eclipse season and Mercury Retrograde, and it appears all of us just cannot wait for that mischievous planet to turn direct.
Based on chats with clients and collaborators, it seems like we’ve all been sucked into various whirlwinds of miscellaneous, crazy-making fuckery during this Mercury Retrograde (including the “shadow” period in the days before its official start).
Have you felt inexplicably anxious about the future, experiencing a kind of nameless, vague and shifting dread, perhaps with regard to the future of your career or finances? Have you gotten hacked or had to play “whack-a-mole” with imposters and grifters on social media? Have you had bizarre dust-ups with your fellow humans, either in-person or online? Have people seemed a bit too trigger-happy with their vitriol or negative energy? Have you had a hard time feeling safe and secure and embodied and grounded and, well, normal?
God. Remember when things felt normal?
To me, this Mercury Retrograde has been a bit like an evil toddler marching around the energetic ecosystem, banging large symbols while blowing on a kazoo… and intermittently playing with matches. Just the worst of the worst of clashy, out-of-balance yang energy and very little of the slow, deliberate yin that typically comes from Taurus season.
New Moon Meditation: Energetic Sanctuary
If this resonates with you, I’ve got some good news: this upcoming Taurus New Moon offers us a much needed oasis of sanity and calm. Taurus energy is the ultimate antidote to this Mercury Retrograde’s shenanigans. So, in the celestial window opening between May 14th and May 18th, we can finally get off the highway of crazy and enter an earthy, tranquil rest stop. A moment staged in a welcome, energetic sanctuary, filled with Taurean earth tones and good acoustics and grounding, calming energy.
Try to picture what this sanctuary looks like for you in a short, Taurus New Moon-themed visual meditation. Perhaps there is warm, exposed brick and timber beams and some tasteful terracotta planters. A bit of gentle, late afternoon sunlight poking through the window. A warm greeting with a hot, wet washcloth with which to cleanse your hands before picking up a pristine glass of cucumber water. Time for peace and quiet. Time for some much needed bodywork and aromatherapy and, perhaps most importantly, sanity. Time for fuzzy robes and spa slippers and energetic silence.
Time to unclench.
While visualizing this space, do you notice any sensory elements? Are the herbaceous smells of a nearby garden wafting in? Is the light dimming as you lay on the massage table, warm and cozy? Is there soft, instrumental music humming in the background?
What comes up for you in this metaphorical vestige of self-care? When was the last time you actually got a massage? How does your body feel? Are you tight or heavy anywhere in particular? What emotions are coming up?
Whatever data comes in from your mind, energy body or physical self, just take a quick note and try to release any attachment to meaning or value judgement.
While in this meditation, establish a sankalpa for yourself: a short phrase or sentence, clearly and concisely expressed, using the same wording each time, to bring about a positive change in your life. Examples of sankalpas for this New Moon might include:
“I’m going to live slowly and abundantly this year”
“I’m going to take care of my body and prioritize it before other demands”
“I am going to spend more time in nature”
Make it your own, and keep it specific. This sankulpa will not limit you or what you can achieve, so just focus on one simple, measurable and tangible element for the purposes of this New Moon meditation.
After all: this Taurus New Moon is going to bring all of the elements of this wonderful astrological earth sign: beautiful sounds, sights and smells that uplift and calm; a slower, more intentional pace and connection to the natural rhythms of our bodies and the natural world; and a palpable connection with the flora and fauna of the earth— the creatures all around us that don’t get calendar reminders or worry about their social media posts or fret over how their stock portfolio is doing.
Flora and fauna
I felt the first drip of this Taurus New Moon energy just a few days ago: a slower, calmer and more optimistic vibe in contrast with the last few weeks. A notable shift to yin, goddess vibes and less of the manic noise that had been percussively punctuating our consciousness during this retrograde.
I mean, the world is still being extra and the economy is still WILD and our sociopolitical landscape is still acting like a primate on meth…but things just feel a bit better as we approach this New Moon, don’t they?
And I think there’s a reason. Ever since Beltane— aka May Day— I’ve noticed a measurable uptick in fairy activity, as I outlined in our Fairy Tales post here on Substack. In the days (and evenings) since, I’ve seen flares of fire element fairies waft upwards through the windows. And no: they weren’t lightening bugs. Trust me: that was our first experiment!
And I think the fairies are influencing an inordinately gentle Spring here in Austin, with everyone in our little neighborhood commenting on the mild weather and the intensely verdant landscapes that are unfurling as a result. I know it might sound a bit silly or cliche, but I really have started to get the feeling that the earth— and her creatures and spirits— are making a bit of a comeback.
In fact (and at the risk of sounding totally crazy), I’ve been having very clear telepathic conversations with a fairy queen, Mab. Mab is the “Queen of Air and Darkness” and tends to rule over cycles with minimal solar activity or heat. Hmmmm. Interesting, isn’t it?
These little claircognizant chats with a fairy goddess have been unfolding in the evening, generally when I’m out in the garden to oversee our wolfie dog’s nighttime, pre-bed pee break. It’s kicked up images of the mythical “dark garden”: the parallel dimension governed by Mab and filled with dark, star-filled skies and night-blooming flora. A time and place in which the Mab is worshipped, the zodiac has 13 signs for 13 annual Full Moons, and crucial real estate is taken back by nature herself.
In short: it’s a yin, nature-ific paradise. And yes: I do think our backyard is starting to take on some unusual TANIS qualities;)
Given all of this, I don’t think it’s an accident that our backyard TOTEM Flower Essence garden has produced a veritable Noah’s Arc of new and varied creatures and plants and flowers and yes, fairy activity, giving me a fresh window into what I’m now referring to as “the dark garden”.
In just the last few days, we’ve had visits from new kinds of lizards (skinks, dragons and anoles!), snakes, moths, butterflies, bubble bees, giant ospreys, night herons, a pair of wrens, a pair of cardinals, and even a brief visit from a bald eagle, who stopped by for some “fast food” in the form of a squirrel. We even have our very own Assassin Bug, which is apparently a very good sign of the TOTEM Flower Essence garden being genuinely organic and teeming with life. You just don’t want to get stung by his very strong and very poisonous venom, which apparently causes intense pain and numb limbs for days at a time.
These visits from fauna have brought back a very missed and very genuine sense of childlike wonder, making a few minutes in the backyard feel like my first visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo when I was a kid. What’s more: the herbaceous, living smells are totally Mother Nature’s own aromatherapy, soothing and grounding me with every little garden sojourn.
Just this morning, I was taking out some recycling when I heard a ruckus in the low tree branches. The blue jays were pissed about something, and on my way back to the front door I was greeted by two humungous and very inquisitive crows walking towards me down the driveway! Like the crazy lady I am, I started waving and said, “Good morning, Hugin and Munin! Please live in our yard. We love you!”
And, I swear to God, one of the crows titled its head like our dog does when understanding a command, a gesture that seemed to indicate they had something akin human-level sentience.
Or maybe it was Mab, coming and going from the consciousness of these creatures, as she pops in and out of our little wildlife sanctuary.
The best new creature addition to the flower essence garden? Check these guys out:
We are now hosting two very weird and very toxic-looking bright red caterpillars that we jokingly call the “Hellraisers”, a reference to the schlocky Hellraiser horror movie franchise (you know- the ones with the villain named Pinhead). But, in fact, these caterpillars are the larvae of beautiful passionflower butterflies, also called “gulf fritillary” butterflies here in Texas. And where are these little wormy things, you might be wondering? On our red passionflower vines of course, which are currently winding up around a gorgeous metal sculpture of Mab that my wonderful, talented client and friend Holly Brodt sent to our garden as a gift:
New Moon Exercise: Green Medicine
As we approach the Taurus New Moon, try to get outside and enjoy nature (and the fresh air) for a bit. If you live in a big city like Chicago and green space is limited, go to a conservatory or zoo, or swing by the Lurie Gardens to take in the sights and smells of the downtown flower— and pollinator— garden.
Try using color therapy, meditating on the color green, visualizing it, or engage in a meditation surrounded by the original shade in nature. The color green sends a signal to our brains that immediately reduces inflammation, stress, anxiety, and even slows our respiration and heart rate, helping us get out of fight or flight and ground our energy. What’s more: fresh air is crucial for filtering toxins and filling our bodies with awesome new olfactory data, stimulating our somatic and mental health systems, so deep breathing in nature is a real game-changer.
Are there nature-based smells that uplift your mood? See if you can dial into what they are, and then stop by a Whole Foods or head over to Smallflower.com to order some essential oils, candles, incense and even room sprays to bring this fragrance into your daily life. I personally love anything herbaceous or smelling of an open, sunlit prairie, like thyme, rosemary, lavender, and wildflowers. I also LOVE the smell of tomato leaf, and am currently working on a spray to capture the essence of our super fragrant tomato leaves from the garden.
New Moon Exercise: New animal “medicine”
This Taurus New Moon seems to be bringing a new cadre of TOTEM Animals to us, often with a bit of a “dark garden” theme. What does that mean? Well, they may not seem like the sexiest or noblest of creatures— like the deer or hawks of the countryside— but they serve crucial functions in their ecosystem, and offer us unique “medicine” in our lives.
Take, for instance, the curious case of the toad. The other day, I was stunned to see what I can only describe as a “clown car of toads”, with more than 13 of the little guys climbing out of one, rather small flower planter. It didn’t make geometric sense, and I have no idea what they were doing in there. Yah, there is a strong possibility that the planter is a portal to another dimension!
They stared at me, a bit cranky, after they were briefly evicted from their tiny little condo, and I realized just how cute and funny they are. Even better news? I looked into toad as a totem animal, discovering that toad is a noted lunar symbol, embodying strong goddess energy and the power of the yin water element. Toad is also considered an astral traveler, and I just bottled our Astral Travel flower essence…from the plants that were in this very planter.
Mind = Blown.
I was also very happy to see that toad is a sign of abundance and “rain making”, a welcome omen for any flower essence garden!
Go outside, pay attention to your dreams, or simply tune into what spirit animals might be around you and take note. Look them up in out Ted Andrews’ awesome book Animal Speak; there is so much garbage online regarding totem animals, but Ted was both a shaman and a wildlife biologist and his work is really solid.
New TOTEM Flower Essences
Speaking of the toads, astral travel and our poppy plants, we really have had an incredible season in the TOTEM Flower Essence garden. The incredible weather is producing incredible flower yields, enabling us to bottle new essences at a rapid rate!
(Thank you Mr. Toads).
Our 2023 TOTEM Flower Essences really do seem to embody the unique energy— and high strangeness— of our “dark garden”. Mab’s presence has seemed to infuse the garden’s flora and fauna with a little something extra, which I’m already feeling after testing out our new essences. Here are some of the new additions to our TOTEM Readings ATX Etsy Shop in the last few days:
Astral Travel, made of Turkish Poppy
I am so, so stoked to have this flower essence in stock, and will likely be getting high on my own supply…a lot. After two years of unsuccessful attempts to grow and harvest poppies, the poppies absolutely “popped off “ in the garden this year, no doubt the product of hard-working mystical toads.
Astral Travel supports dreamlike travel to the astral realm and the ability to easily access other states of consciousness; excellent for anyone seeking to deepen their meditation or esoteric practices; great for shamans that “journey” to the other realms to undertake work for their clients; thins the veil between worlds and amplifies ability to see spirit and/or interact with other dimensions; induces a deep sense of tranquility while doing psychic work. When used in combination with our Lucid Dream Flower Essence, a surefire way to have the most incredible dreams of your life (and remember them)! You can learn more or add it to your cart on our Etsy Shop HERE.
Archangel, made of Blue Lace Iris
My first introduction to Iris Flower Essence was about seven years ago, when the Archangel Gabriel directed me to it for some very crucial healing after a few mini-strokes. Needless to say, I’ve been obsessed with iris as a plant “medicine” ever since, and have added a new, periwinkle blue variety to our garden and our TOTEM Flower Essence program.
This new Archangel Flower Essence facilitates spiritual communion with the angelic realm, particularly with the archangels. It assists in the channeling of angelic messages and connection to the upper world, as it opens the crown, third eye and throat chakras for optimal angelic communication. Archangel is an excellent flower essence for supporting spiritual and religious studies and for connecting with your own guardian angel.
AEAEA, made of Cypress
The ultimate in witchy potions, our AEAEA Flower Essence infuses the user with the powerful, primordial energy of the goddess of witchcraft, Circe, and her island home: AEAEA. This flower essence is a crucial assistant in the study of practical magic, herbalism, witchcraft, and ritual magic more broadly. Cypress initiates an alchemical, transformative process in the energy body, ultimately manifesting in magic in material reality. This is an excellent essence for anyone pursuing occult studies or seeking to make medicinal remedies from items found in the garden, field or forest.
And yes: it's delicious. It tastes like very high-end gin!
Sacred Temple, made of Tea Olive
Our Sacred Temple Flower Essence energetically supports the physical "temple" that houses our spirit. This flower essence is focused on clearing of the sacral chakra, eliminating blockages around power, autonomy, abundance and manifestation. Sacred Temple helps to clear out energetic cords and removes unwanted spiritual entities that mess with our money. This flower essence is excellent for psychic practitioners, small business owners and women seeking hormonal regulation.
Spiritual Gangster, made of Palo Verde
Spiritual Gangster Flower Essence is a great choice for these challenging economic times! It supports resilience, resourcefulness and personal strength in challenging situations, serving as an energetic reminder that you have everything you need right now. Whew. That’s a big deal, isn’t it?
Spiritual Gangster Flower Essence supports the energetic ability to do more with less, and is an excellent flower essence for small business owners and solopreneurs in challenging economic conditions. This flower essence reinforces energetic and behavioral boundaries, and is a reminder that spiritual development and spiritual work are challenging, but very rewarding.
Empath, made of Bougainvillea
Empath Flower Essence offers a much-needed feeling of relief for empaths. This flower essence assists emotionally-sensitive individuals, healers and psychics in separating from the negative emotions of others, energetically minimizing overwhelm and abating the anxiety that comes from a toxic energetic ecosystem. Empath Flower Essence gives us the feeling of being able to breathe and relax in stressful situations, protecting and clearing the heart chakra, and is (in my opinion) a must-have for any highly-sensitive person, reiki practitioner, healer or empath that works with others.
It's been a tough couple of years for you kind, wonderful empaths. Help is on the way!
Phoenix, made of Acacia
Phoenix Flower Essence, made of acacia tree, energetically supports intense cycles of spiritual death and rebirth. The acacia tree is the “burning bush” from the Bible, and embodies the energy of Phoenix totem animal, enabling accelerated transmutation and integration of intense personal development efforts.
Phoenix supports lifestyle changes (career, geographic location, relationships, etc.) and is great for anyone experiencing their astrological "Saturn Return" or in the midst of dramatic change. I mean, Pluto is retrograde for all of us…so it couldn’t hurt to get a little help. Phoenix Flower Essence acts as an energetic reminder that you can rise from the ashes-- there is life after major change and disruption.
Underworld, made of Hellebore
Underworld Flower Essence facilitates a connection with the underworld, also called the Lower World in shamanism. I planted these bulbs after a dream in which they were prominently featured as a key to me connecting more readily with my deceased loved ones and other spirits.
Underworld provides energetic access to the world of ancestors, totem animals, and other nature spirits, and manifests sensitivity to the energies and intelligences of the realm of death. This flower essence supports mediumship, channeling and work requiring communication with the "other side".
Chill Pill, made of Meyer Lemon Flower
And we've restocked Chill Pill, which had sold out very quickly earlier this year. Chill Pill, made of Meyer Lemon Flowers, is my go-to for relaxation-- particularly during stressful situations. And it's got a great, citrus-y, perfumed flavor that cannot be beat.
Trust me: it's better than Xanax, and I think we could all use a bit of that right now;)
Still to come
We're currently bottling and about to release even more new TOTEM Flower Essences, including: Goddess, Bees Knees, Sweet Dreams, Seance, Feast and Sherpa! These in-progress TOTEM Flower Essences are going to hit our Etsy Shop in the next few weeks, starting with Archangel (which I'm bottling today!). Make sure you're following our TOTEM Readings ATX Etsy Shop to get the latest updates, early access, promo codes and sales-- like our current 50% off sale across all items for the rest of May.
Flower essences are a great way to bring the energy of nature, it’s flora and fauna and fairies, into your daily practice in an easy, manageable way. Flower essences gently support us without tremendous effort or investment, making it a sustainable addition to any busy lifestyle.
New Moon Exercise: An Offering to the Fairies
And, of course, this May 18th Taurus New Moon is a great time to connect with the fairy spirits and beings that just might be all around you, unseen while navigating a parallel dimension to our own. Check out our Beltane post, Fairy Tales, HERE for specific tips and tricks to commune with these friends in the week or so to come.
I can honestly say that things got a lot stranger and more interesting the moment we put that lovely metal sculpture of Mab out in the garden, and I’ll forever be grateful to Holly for this thoughtful— and intentional— garden gift!
And, if nothing else, just try to spend 30-60 minutes of the New Moon outside, even if that “outside” is just a balcony facing a busy city street. We humans are a part of nature, too, and we can always tune into the earth grid (and each other) to recover, refresh, and reconnect to Mother Earth.
Ancient Alchemy, Modern Medicine
And, if you want to learn how to make your own flower essences or learn more about how we hand-harvest and make these tinctures here at TOTEM, come and hang out with us at the Herb Bar this coming Saturday, May 20th for our Ancient Alchemy, Modern “Medicine” workshop. You can learn more and register HERE to secure your spot!
Plant medicine and herbalism, just like the dark goddess and her fairies, are making a big comeback. I’m thrilled to be a part of a community seeking out new and innovative ways to bring back the “old ways”, and revivify ancient techniques and technologies!
Thank you and Happy New Moon!
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