Sacred Earth

Exploring nature and culture, ecology and eco-psychology

Hi, Thanks for stopping by!

This website has been sleeping for quite some time. Some people thought it had died altogether. But, no! Thankfully, that is not actually the case. Rather, I have been going through a long period of reassessment, thinking, learning, and restructuring. I needed a new vision. And eventually – I found it!

So here we are, back again, with a whole new look and a slightly different angle. This site is still about plants, about people and about the planet, and how we can all make a difference. But, the vision has expanded. During my long absence, I have become more interested in eco-psychology, vision quests, and earth-centered spirituality. Although they had always been part of Sacred Earth, I now feel a strong urge to give them more space. 

If you were a fan before, you will have noticed that I have updated and modernised the site’s design – hopefully for the better :D. Looking through the old articles I was tossed – should I just throw them out, or revamp the whole site? In the end, I opted for the latter. But instead of slogging through hundreds of pages before coming back on-line, I decided to edit and post them as I go along. So, some of it may look familiar. But there will also be plenty of fresh stuff. Which reminds me – please subscribe to nature notes, if you would like to be kept in touch.

 I am happy to be back and I am happy you are here to join me! So let’s get started!

Kat Morgenstern

Kat Morgenstern

creator

I am an earth pilgrim, a plant lover, and an unashamed tree hugger. 

Life is a journey, a story unfolding, a tapestry woven, with threads connecting, from the cradle to the grave. I follow my heart, curious and mindful, whether I walk the well-trodden ancient pilgrim's path, or follow my own instincts, into the wild.

Nature Notes 

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Sections:

Spirit

This section covers spiritual and psychological topics, mythology, cosmology, astrology, and ecopsychology, Art and nature writing.

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Plants

This section offers in-depth plant profile information. Habitat, history, and uses, as well as a collection of related recipes.

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People

This section covers our everyday uses of plants, in herbal medicine, food and foraging, as well as domestic and industrial uses of plants.

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Planet

This section covers sustainability and ‘green living’ hacks, permaculture, conservation, the climate crisis, and environmental issues.

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Current issue

What is the use of New Year’s intentions?

What is the use of New Year’s intentions?

When one year comes to a close and another one comes around, it always feels like the beginning of a new chapter. Although just a date in the calendar, it represents a threshold. At such times many of us feel inspired to aim and focus on new goals, whether it be giving up a bad habit or implementing a positive new one. We make a list of intentions of long-term, medium-term and short term goals. Whatever they are, there is a record.

On the other hand, there are those who think, ‘why bother? I’ll break them anyway!’. The road to hell starts with good intentions, or so they say. But it would the road lead there with or without intentions? Perhaps, but without the guilt, one might say. But is that a reason to not even try? 

The date may seem arbitrary, but nevertheless, consciously marking a threshold to initiate change is a powerful symbolic act – if you mean it. But why should you?

It is better to aim high and miss than never to aim and shoot at all. 

We often regret the things we never tried more than the ones we did try, but failed at. 

At the core of setting intentions is actually some pretty powerful stuff! One could call it magic – the art of bringing about change in accordance with the conscious will.  The underlying idea is that our situation in life is not predetermined, that it is possible to bring about change, both internally and externally. 

Among the typical things that people tend to put on their list of good intentions are items like ‘lose weight’, ‘stop smoking’, ‘go to the gym’ etc.

But how about using this ‘magic moment’ to bring about change for the better not just within the personal sphere, but to also consider how your actions and habits impact the world around you? How are your inner values and outer actions aligned? If you could change something in your environment, what would that be?  And what is within your power to do something about it?

We may not be able to change the whole world, but we are capable of changing OUR world. That change starts with oneself. And when we stop to think about it, we will soon realize the ripple effect that our actions can have. What we do, or don’t do can have great implications that are far removed from our direct sphere of experience.

 ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’

To be sure, this is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a certain amount of self-awareness. If we want to see less plastic in the world, we can start by using less of it. If we want to see more organic produce, we can buy more of it. If we want more sustainable sources of energy, we can switch to a provider that offers it, etc. That is the base-line. It starts with our own actions. The great thing about it? Everybody holds the power to affect this type of change right in their own hands. 

It all starts with sitting down to reflect on what kind of person we want to be and what kind of world we want to live in.  It starts with a vision of possibility.

One of the big issues that have been bothering me recently is all the plastic in the world. It is truly abominable to contemplate the amount of garbage that we have produced in the last few decades (and are still producing) and how this stuff is now coming back to haunt us – as microplastics in our food, in the landfills full of toxic trash and in the silent suffering and death of fellow species that are constantly found with their stomachs full of our plastic garbage. I am ashamed as a human being. I do not want this suffering, I do not want the earth to become toxic in this way. To bring my inner values in alignment with my outer habits, it would require giving up plastics altogether. Sadly that is pretty much impossible in our modern world. But, I am making a commitment to reducing my use of plastics as drastically as I can. I can try to make non-plastic choices when I go shopping, refuse bags, don’t buy takeaways that come in plastics etc. It is of course not nearly enough to stem the tide. But it is a small start – and every journey must start with the first step.

I also set goals for myself – to care better for my websites and by extension, for my readers. That too takes time and commitment, but I am hoping that this channel of communication – the only one I have – is bringing enjoyment and maybe even inspiration to some of my readers. And it gives me the joy to be able to communicate with ‘the world out there – or at least that small section that has found its way to my pages, on their journey through the cyber jungle. I know there are a lot of pages out there by now, so I truly appreciate you stopping by!

But nothing would happen if I did not make a firm commitment to these intentions. The magic of intentions only happens when they are focused,  and followed by action. And they also need a driving force. For me, that force is love. Love for Mother Earth, and for my fellow-creatures, whether human, animal or plant. 

 

Plant Profile:

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)

Autumn equinox always arrives with a shock: summer is over, winter is on the approach! How can that be? It seems only such a short while ago that we laughed and played in the summer sun! But all too soon I hear the equinox winds hurling outside my window and watch dark, ominous clouds chasing each other across the sky. I sigh. The last of the foraging days are just around the corner. From now until Samhain or All Saints Day, a flurry of activity lies ahead: I will be gathering mushrooms, berries, and nuts to fill the winter larder.

Strawberries, raspberries, red currents – berry season is already over. Almost – except for one! A sweet reminder of the summer days will take us to the threshold of winter: the lowly Blackberry (aka Bramble). How we curse it in spring and summer when we find our passage across a field blocked by its dangling thorny limbs, when its barbs tear our clothes, tangle our hair, or scratch our skin! When bramble blocks the way it means business. Although it is not impossible to overcome, most will choose an easier route than to engage in direct combat.

Yet, who can resist the sweet berries once summer is over? From the end of August to the beginning of November Bramble bestows a seemingly inexhaustible harvest. Rows of jam jars that line the larder are abundant proof.

Bramble is extremely undemanding. It pops up just about anywhere and is often cursed as a weed. But, like many other so-called weeds, it bears a precious secret.

Blackberries highly nutritious and rich in vitamins, especially Vitamin C and A, and K, as well as in minerals, especially manganese and fibre. They also contain flavonoids and tannins, which means that they are not only delicious fieldfare or raw material for jams, but can also be used medicinally.

The tannins act as an astringent. Medicinally Blackberries (as well as the Blackberry leaves, picked in spring) can be used to tighten the gums and to inhibit bleeding. It makes a good remedy for the upset tummies of small children, can arrest diarrhoea, settle a nervous stomach and even soothe a stomach-flu.

The leaves can be brewed like tea. Sometimes they are mixed with raspberry and strawberry leaves to make a refreshing general-purpose household tea. Their diuretic and diaphoretic properties useful in a blood cleansing tea and help to reduce a fever.

Extremely valuable is their ability to lower blood sugar levels, which would commend them to diabetics as an alternative to regular tea or coffee. The leaves are also astringent and can be used as a gargle to soothe a sore throat. The berries or their juice are beneficial for treating hoarseness. Singers and speakers should make ample use of this freely available and effective remedy.

On a more spiritual note, the lowly Blackberry flower has an honoured place among Dr. Bach’s flower essences. He saw it as a remedy for confusion. Bramble essence is said to help one realise the ‘essential truth’ or underlying pattern of a situation and is thought to assist in finding solutions to a problem, bring about mental clarity, and to aid concentration and memory.

Recipes

 

As blackberries are so commonly found in the hedgerows there are a plethora of recipes for cordials, jams, jellies, ice cream, mousse, pies, chutneys, and tons more. I prefer the fresh berries straight off the vine with just a little cream, but here are another couple of favourites: 

Apple and Blackberry Crumble:

Filling

  • 3 Large cooking apples
  • 1lb Blackberries
  • 5oz Sugar or Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon
  • ½ oz Butter

Crust

  • 2 oz Butter
  • 2 oz Rolled oats
  • 2 oz Flour
  • 1 oz Walnuts (crushed)
  • 1 oz Sugar or Honey
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

Peel and cut the apples into small chunks. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Cook until it carmelises, stirring frequently. After about 5 min add the apple pieces, lemon, and walnuts. Cook until the apples are getting soft.

Prepare the crumble topping by rubbing the softened butter, sugar, flour, and oats into a crumbly mixture.

Take the apples off the heat and add the blackberries. Stir in gently. Transfer the filling into a shallow ovenproof casserole and sprinkle the crumble topping on top. Bake for about 20 minutes at about 180°C or 350°F until the topping turns a light golden brown.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Blackberry Cornbread

2 cups white cornmeal

¼ tsp. soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 cup maple syrup

1 ½ cup blackberries

Mix cornmeal, soda, salt, buttermilk, egg in a medium-sized mixing bowl; stir well. Add maple syrup, stir well. Add blackberries, stir into the mixture without mashing them. Pour into a well-greased iron skillet and bake slowly at 350°F/180°C until top begins to brown. Reduce heat to 200°F/100°C until cooked.

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