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Beauty and wonder on my doorstep.

Hi, Happy holiday season to everyone.  I hope you're all warm and safe.

Something a little different in the newsletter this week. Pages from my nature journal this Autumn, and the travels nature journaling can take you on.

Autumn here in Yorkshire has been wet and tumultuous.  Storm Agnes started off as the first Winter storm of the season, then we had Storm Babet, Storm Ciaran and Storm Debi being the most recent on the 13th November. 

The wind and rain could have been disheartening to someone who spends a lot of time outside.  It certainly cut my usual walks and runs to a route more close to home.  But beauty and wonder were found right on my doorstep. You can see my nature journals and some footage in my most recent ‘Diary of a Nature Journaler’ video.

It really wasn't the weather for using my outdoor journal, my walks with Merlin were snatched in between rain showers.

Fungi have featured heavily in my nature journal this year, mainly in my writing.  The writing in my nature journals and in the images above and below are written with ink made from fungi. Shaggy Inkcap fungi that I gathered last Autumn. It smells kind of fishy, which on the one hand is unpleasant, but on the other is earthy and comforting.

As the soggy days passed by, I noticed more Fly Agaric popping up.

Then slowly begin to decay.

One of my daughters asked me ‘Why are you painting mushrooms for Christmas decorations?’. At first I didn’t see a connection of Christmas or the Winter holidays either, until I remembered something I remembered reading a few years ago.

It’s actually thought to have originated in far Northern Europe, in parts of Siberia and Lapland. Fly Agaric or Amanita Muscaria were one of the very early sources of hallucinogenic plant materials used by shamans. They begin to appear in the period leading up to the Winter Solstice, the darkest night. The shamans would dress to resemble the colours of the mushroom. Collected from under pines trees in sacks. They would be gathered, prepared, and ingested in ceremonial rituals. The mushrooms gave the effect of flying, and this is where we have the association with reindeers. The Sami herders noticed their reindeer eating the fungi. You can see a wonderful short film here by the BBC. Reindeer were the spirit animal of the Sami, and used the fungi to reach the spiritual realm.

I love this connection to nature and our ancestors. Although I wouldn’t fancy eating a Fly Agaric, I am happy to carry on this tradition, filling my home with symbols of this connection to my ancestors.

We’re reading ‘Finding the Mother Tree’ by Suzanne Simard‘ in our Patreon book club and in one of the chapters Suzanne discusses the different types of fungal relationships, mycorrhiza. Fly Agaric are ectomycorrhiza  which means the relationship they form with other species is mutually beneficial. The fungi helping trees like, Birch, Pine and Spruce receive the nutrients it needs. A relationship that both species need to survive. Helping each other out in times of need.

Nature providing us with a perfect example at this Wintery time of year. Kindness, connection and sharing.

What journey will your nature journal take you on?

Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful end to the year.


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