A time back a friend of mine, and a very dear soul, did a series of posts on the appropriation of culture, cultural practices and spirituality. Being one who descended from lost tribes and lost in a spiritual void, I could well understand the desire to appropriate.
As Northern Europeans we have experienced severe spiritual drought, one that was supposed to be watered and fulfilled by Christianity but has left us parched none the less. So in past generations we went searching, longing for the connection to purpose and fulfillment, spirituality and understanding and the ever important sense of belonging. Many tried on every culture, tribe and spirituality. We see the 1960's dotted with those who spoke of finding meaning in ancient eastern philosophies and we see the 1970's increase in the metaphysical and theosophy movements. Still we were bereft of that sense of belonging. The one who can best practice Native American Shamanism is a Native American. The one who understands the deep mysteries of Hinduism is a Hindu. Not that we will not benefit from studying and learning these things because we do and we are the wiser for it. It is simply because in our DNA and in our collective unconscious resides the memory of our ancestors, crying out for tribe and the ability to release hidden knowledge passed down to us. For some of you this may seem to be a far fetched concept but I assure you that if you do the research on genetic memory you will find fascinating studies on the topic as well as studies on the "collective unconscious".
"The existence of the collective unconscious means that individual consciousness is anything but a tabula rasa and is not immune to predetermining influences. On the contrary, it is in the highest degree influenced by inherited presuppositions, quite apart from the unavoidable influences exerted upon it by the environment. The collective unconscious comprises in itself the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings. It is the matrix of all conscious psychic occurrences, and hence it exerts an influence that compromises the freedom of consciousness in the highest degree, since it is continually striving to lead all conscious processes back into the old paths." (Collected Works by Carl Jung 1960)
My dear friend stated in her pros that the exact reason that her culture, spirituality, ritual practices and world views were so deep and beautiful were simply because they had been well preserved throughout generations even against threat of annihilation. It is this very deep and lasting connection that Western Europeans are longing for because our own was all but destroyed. and we were told it was "evil".
Thankfully much work has been done to unearth and revive our heritage, the myths, the old ways, the tribal models and the ways of wisdom which is due to the ability of nations to share their ancient wisdom's. We can now read the Icelandic Sagas in our own language. We can read the Prose Edda, The Poetic Edda and all the Sagas because we have the technology to translate these things even on our computer screen. Yet there are so many who are still wandering, searching for the ancient path. Why is that?
Most of what you will see in mainstream posts and articles deal with the honor, integrity, vitality, truth, strength and valor of our culture but little attention is given to the spirituality. We (our tribe and people) long for deep mysteries, the hero or heroine's quest, and the connection to truths and understanding that is not of this physical world. All those things are in our ancestral heritage as well. All those things were and are just as important as the moralities and values that are taught everyday. The secret mysteries of the Healer, the Seeress, the Vitki, the Volva are what we long for. It IS our responsibility to revive and revitalize our traditions, our tribal values, our rituals and our basic understanding of the gods. It is imperative for our survival and future that we also revive, practice and hone our skills in the ancient mysteries, sharing the direction to the spiritual path with those who are searching, so that the hungry and parched souls can be watered and find their soothing.
Thanks for reading
People everywhere are trying to clean up their diets, eat better, exercise more and generally take better care of themselves. The alternative of illness and disease is a strong motivating factor and so is the expense of poor health. But if you want to improve your diet where do you start? First, with the way you shop for or purchase food. Second, stop eating out or at least significantly reduce the times in a month when you do eat out. Processed meats and foods, sauces, salt and sugar are the inticements that chain restaurants use to addict you to harmful ingredients.
Many who begin walking the natural path of our ancestors envision a day when they can raise their own food and live that sustainable life. The truth is there is a space of time between now and then, that time in transition where you are realizing your vision. During that time we have to be able to begin to make changes so that we have the energy and vitality to grow stronger, healthier and more independant.
If you are fortunate you can find Farmer's Markets or local growers where you can buy fresh meat and produce but if not there are other choices you can make.
Let us start with the grocery store. Shop the perimeter of the store, that is where they keep the healthy food. The produce section, meat, dairy and eggs are all on the perimeter of the store. When choosing meat make sure you know something of the provider. There are natural farm raised chicken and then there is the poor chicken raised in tight quarters with poor diets and even hormones and antibiotics. The same goes for red meat and especially pork. Having lived in many rural communities I have seen pig farms where the pigs live and die in tiny pens that are not even large enough for them to turn around. They are overfed and given antibiotics to get them to market quickly. Every day these farms have trucks come that are loaded with dead carcusses of those animals that could not survive in those conditions and taken to the incinerator. Not a good life for a pig and not good food for your body. The feed lots that dot the country side of rural communities are loaded with cattle that are fattened the last six weeks before market. The same thing happens to them, they are overfed, given antibiotics and sometime hormones to make them market ready quickly. There is a distinct difference in the flavor of meat from a grass finished cow and one that goes through a feed lot. There is also a distinct benefit to your body. The same is true of chickens.
Rice, pasta, grains and breads should be purchased with simplicity in mind. If you can't read the words in the ingredients you should not put it in your body. If you buy tomato sauce, paste or other canned products, look for organic. These products have been carefully raised and packaged to minimize harm to your body. The best option for vegetables, aside from fresh is actually frozen vegetables and if you live a distance from the source of fresh produce, frozen is actually better! When vegetables are harvested, washed and then shippied they may spend several days from the farm to the warehouses. Then they spend time between the warehouse and the store and then they spend time waiting on the shelf. The produce loses it's food value of vitamins and minerals between the time of harvest and consumption. Producers that send vegetables to be frozen actually do it at the farm. The produce is harvested, washed, trimmed, frozen and packaged. The same is true of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and so on.
When you start on the sustainable path you have to have mental clarity, energy and strength to fulfill your vision, which means your body needs to be properly fueled. Next time we will discuss other options from decks gardens to food coops. Stay tuned!
n order to accomplish anything in this life whether it is sustainable living, building tribe, learning to walk a free and independent road, you have to begin....with yourself. In order to function well, think well, train well and survive, you have to feed yourself well.
First and foremost we have to begin thinking of food for what it is, fuel and medicine. For too long we have overindulged ourselves in all the fast foods and marketed products that were supposed to be delicious, simple and sustaining. They are none of that. Restaurants are on every corner and every kind of cuisine is available to tempt us and they do. I know of people who only eat at home a couple of meals a week and their health has suffered for it.
We also must navigate all the diets and health experts and mirriad warnings. The truth is we need to eat as our ancestors did. There are many who have found and believe that our bodies respond best when we eat diets that match our heritage. Whatever the case may be and whatever advise you choose to follow know this, our current health crisis in this nation is do to our sad American diet. We cannot hope to build any kind of future if we are not healthy and our children are not healthy.
Not only does a proper diet benefit us physically but mentally as well. Stress, anxiety, depression and the inability to focus can all be tied to diet. There is a video series that I recommend everyone watch called "The Broken Brain". While some of Dr. Mark Hyman's materials are solicitous the information contained in the video series is groundbreaking and informative. He teaches about the gut and brain connection, the impact of toxins on our health, how to heal our bodies and our immune systems and how to personalize our diets and understand our genetics.
Those of us of Northern European descent come from strong stock. There is some information published on what they ate and what they drank, meat, fruit, berries, tubors, mushrooms, nuts and let us not forget meade! We are also reminded that they didn't eat three meals a day every day of the week. There were times of feasting when the hunt was successful and then there was the times when food was more scarce. There is something to be said for intermittent fasting, it gives us an opportunity to clean the pipes, clean our blood and clear our head. Ritual fasting does even more but we will delve into that later. You can begin reading on Intermittent Fasting with this article.
The last thing I will mention on health is the importance of water. Plain old water. It is suspected that 70 - 80% of people are dehydrated. It is like trying to drive a car without oil....the engine will seize. It is true of our bodies as well. Water can fend off heart attacks, muscle cramps and injuries and helps to send waste and toxins through our system. Drink water.......all day long!!!
As with all things, we must return to our roots, to the foundation of who we are and what we are made of. Our strength and vitality begins first with a strong and healthy body and a healthy mind. If you have not done it already, begin evaluating the things you put into your body and begin to give it the proper fuel it needs to operate at optimum levels. You can get all kinds of diet advice from all kinds of resources but the best advice is to eat naturally. That will be our next article.
One of the best ways to insure that the food you are putting in your body or giving to your family is fresh and healthy is to grow it yourself. The reality is that most of us do not live on a farm or in the country or even in a house with a yard. That doesn't matter.
People have turned their decks, patios, sunny area in the living room and any other little space into a garden. You can grow celery on your kitchen counter! You can grow spinach in a planter pot. All you need is the desire and a little dirt. I am going to give you some great links so that you can be inspired. The best part is that there are organizations across this country that have taken it upon themselves to find natural solutions to urban food deserts. These places have no access to natural healthy food. Can you imagine? The extreme occurrence of disease in these neighborhoods and communities prompted devoted people to plant healthy food. People have decided to grow food in there front yard instead of lawn. This conserves water, creates a healthy environment for insects and bees and they grow great food. Imagine how great life would be if you could walk out the front door and pick food for dinner instead of trudging through the grocery store, standing in line and fighting traffic?
Now I can tell you that there is resistance to this. YUP! There are neighborhoods where people have been taken to court because they grew food in their front yard. There neighbors apparently didn't like the look and wanted them to conform to their standards.
If you can only grow a portion of the vegetables and fruits that you eat, obtain the rest from a local small farm, farm coop or farmers market. Eat what you want and learn to freeze the rest for another time.
The same goes for the meat and eggs that you consume. Buy grass fed and finished beef, natural chicken, pork without hormones and antibiotics and if you can find a local farm for eggs.
I have links below to get you inspired and next time we will cover the ease and beauty of gardening.
Grow Food, Not Lawns
Fresh Food Coops
And if you want to be truly inspired check out the Gangsta Gardener
Raidho - is the cosmic law of right and archetypal order in the multiverse. This is expressed by such natural phenomena as the daily path of the sun and the cycles of nature and humanity. The R-rune is the mystery of divine law, manifest in both the multiverse and in humanity. Today the R-rune is a symbol of the "way back to right," through the conscious efforts of asatruarfolk to recover the essence of the primal order. Lore of the Elder Futhark. This rune represents the right order of the initiate's journey through the paths of the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasill. Good advice and judgment according to right are ascribed to raidho. Raidho is the channeling of force according to natural laws along the right road leading to the right result. It describes, and analyzes, a certain aspect necessary to the working of the laws of cause and effect. [excerpts taken from Futhark by Edred Thorson
Before we go any further in sharing information on how to eat healthy and natural, how to garden and live sustainably, how to better care for the earth by eliminating chemicals from your home, I want you to know something. This is NOT about the latest trend to live a healthy lifestyle or to get on the "environmentally friendly" train. This is a hard turn, this is walking away from the destructive ideals, practices and decisions that have brought this world to the current level of slavery and destruction that we see today. Harsh word you say? It is slavery and that slavery has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. Everyday people around the world get up, go to work for the majority of their waking hours, to earn money to spend on the things that our current society deems important if you are to live, not live successfully, but just plain live. No matter how hard we work we cannot escape. "I owe, I owe so off to work I go." Even if you do not have credit card debt or vehicle debt, you are still indebted to the civil authority that requires payment for your utilities; you still must earn the money to visit the grocery store or buy clothes or pay for the gas to get you to work. You can never escape debt as long as you agree to and feed this system.
I know that sounds impossible. We want to clean our home quickly and well. We want the dishes, laundry and bathrooms done without fuss right? Would you feel the same about all your cleaning agents if I were to tell you that the worst and most common pollutants in our environment are household cleaners? Of course we want to clean up those dark smelly places and get the sticky, dirty handprints off the walls but we can do it safely, simply and cheaply! The picture to the left (click on it) will take you to The Hillbilly Housewife and The Coastal Home Stead which is a great source for information on the benefits of natural cleaners and also recipes for creating those home cleaners. Let me tell you what I use.
There are so many individuals and families that are trying to lessen their impact on our natural environment. In our own culture we use the terms "living a heathen life", "honor the old ways", "return to natural living", "sustainable living" and so on. The questions remain; how do we do that? How can we transform our dwellings into sanctuaries and how can we live closer to nature while even dwelling in a city? I have decided to create a resource that will help all of us to accomplish these goals.
I am fortunate in that I have lived through this kind of revolution before. There was a push to live with nature, use natural products, wear natural fabrics and to live off the land way back in the 1970's. While I was a young teen at the time, this movement and the fact that I was raised around hard working farmers and craftsmen set the stage for my own natural way of life. I run two businesses from my home so you will also find information and stories about running a business, craftsmanship and a few philosophies thrown in. I hope you will join me in this endeavor and share it with your friends. Yes I make and sell natural products but my purpose here is to provide information to that you can learn to do these things for yourself. Here we go!
Have you ever looked at a piece of furniture and wondered how the craftsman become so skilled as to create something so unique? Have you ever looked at a business or person and wondered how they became so successful? I can not pretend to have all the answers but there are a few basic things that are required if you are going to build a lasting and successful business.
First you have to decide that you want to be the best, that your name or your company name means something. When I finish a product, when I send out a purchase I sign my name to it...literally. If I am putting my name on it then I want it to be the best product, the best service and a memorable experience for my clients.
Communicate with your clients. Sounds like a no brainer but I can tell you from experience that most companies are not diligent about following up on initial inquiries and therefore lose the opportunity for business at the get go. Acknowledge a purchase, notify clients through the process, verify and track shipping, follow up after they have received their purchase to be sure they are satisfied.
The next one is most important and most companies fail at this one: Make and keep deadlines. I have experienced failure of this one basic tenant of business so many times over the past two years that I have lost count. Your clients make plans based on the product or service they are purchasing from you. The commitment you make to provide a product or service by a certain time is vitally important to the future of your business. As entrepreneurs building a business can be a balancing act between home, kids, maybe a part time job and a myriad of other commitments. If you are to build a strong business that will grow and prosper, your word is invaluable. If your client finds you unreliable, unable to make deadlines and full of excuses, they will not return. Even worse, they will tell their friends or, the very worst, they will give your company a bad review.
I have always had one motto: Exceed their expectations. When someone purchases a product or service they anticipate to get what they paid for and they leave satisfied. If you add special touches, maintain excellent communication, come in ahead of deadlines, then they leave with a wow! That customer? They will be back and they will tell all their friends.
The secrets to a solid business are really no secret just good solid business practices done everyday.
With all the different kinds of projects I do, I realize there might be some confusion over the terminology that we use in this business. There are many who are close to me that don't really know what I do or how I decide the fate of a piece I am working on. Then there are some clients that aren't sure how to explain what it is they are looking for so I am going to try and explain it.
Let's start with the terms "restore, refinish, re-purpose" and add rebuild, reuse and replace. I want to start with one of my favorite finds, this oak fern table. I found this table at an auction and it literally was in pieces and it was covered in dust and dirt from being stored in a barn. There was mud on the legs from laying on the floor of the barn! As you can see the top was cracked and there were some splits that were beginning in one of the legs. However, I knew that under all that grime and brokenness was a beautiful oak table so I brought it home. First I removed all the dirt, then I began to repair the broken top by removing the old frame and then joining the two pieces together with dowels and glue. Next I sanded the entire piece to remove the old pits, dirt and even out the wood grain. Once that was done (and that is a long process) I re-stained the wood. There is a purpose for stain it is not just for aesthetics, the stain puts oil back into the piece. In the case of really old wood like this piece, it will drink the stain right in. Once the stain is dry you begin to put a finish on the piece. There are many types of finishes and all of them have a purpose. On antiques I always use tung oil. Tung oil is also a long process of application, rubbing, drying and then another application. The wood will soak up the first few applications because it needs the moisture, then the protection will begin to build and you have a beautiful sheen. In the process I come to know the original craftsman, the detail, the thought and the skill that was put into the piece. The end result is a fully restored and refinished piece. It is an honor to bring these old pieces back to life and preserve the craftsmanship that went into these kinds of pieces. It is also meticulous and detailed work. I have done many pieces like this, some of my own finds and some commissioned work as in the case of the parlor set.
Then there are pieces that are very damaged or missing pieces and you have to rebuild them and sometimes re-purpose them. I have done two sewing machine cabinets and two phonograph cabinets. In every case these cabinets were already separated from their mechanical parts. I have had the opportunity to purchase some very beautiful radio and phonograph cabinets, the problem with them was that they still had the components intact and I cannot separate them...I am just weird like that. Also these aforementioned cabinets were in bad shape, in pieces and the original purpose was no longer an option. This is an opportunity for re-purposing. These cabinets were hardwoods, beautiful and unique so they had no business hitting the trash heap. The veneer on the tops of some of these pieces were so brittle that I could pull it off with my fingers. The result? Some pretty unique and beautiful pieces.
Then there are those pieces that we call wipe and go's. These are pieces that were sold from estates and they were gorgeous as they were. All they needed was a little restoration. The pieces were old and neglected and just needed a little cleaning and oil to look spectacular again. This was true of these two amazing antique pieces.
This brings me to a very important piece of information, wood must be cared for if it is going to last. In order for furniture to maintain its luster, avoid cracks and splits and to protect it from everyday use, it must be oiled and polished. Everyone seems to love the convenience of a swiffer but that swiffer only removes dust it does nothing for the condition of the wood. A light polishing should be done weekly in drier climates and monthly in more humid climates. Every few months your prized pieces need a good dose of polish. Spray on polishes actually contain other chemicals that leave a sticky film on your furniture, my recommendation is a lemon oil or orange oil polish.
Finally we have the art pieces. These pieces were usually broken or missing parts or they weren't useful in their current condition. They had good wood left to them so I re-built them and created something artistic. The office credenza had a melamine top that was marred and chipped (no one likes melamine anyway) and the legs were broken. The side table was one of those buy it in a box and put it together pieces which had become wobbly and used. The desk had a leather top in the center that was covered in words and letters that had been carved into the top and one of the legs was missing. So I rebuilt them and had a little fun in the process.
Every piece that I do has a different story, a different purpose and a different outcome. Unlike my competitors I am not a chalk paint fanatic or a fan of shabby chic although they have their place. Every piece I do is an adventure. Thank you for coming on this adventure with me and for giving me the opportunity to create. Hopefully we learn something about furniture and wood in the process and create something beautiful out of something meant to be thrown away.
I am sure that all of you are on the patio having a beverage on this beautiful day and you are trying hard to put the work week out of your mind. However, I want to plant a seed in your head for Monday morning.
I have spent the past month and a half dealing with other service businesses or trying to find a business to perform a service for me. My roof was in desperate need of replacement following some pretty big early spring storms. We interviewed a few companies that were quick to return our calls and give us estimates on the roof repair and from that selected a very reputable company. That was the end of the open communication. The company did not let us know the day the project would begin, the workers just showed up one day and began working. When the project was completed no company representative came to inspect the work and give us a final bill. When the roof failed inspection we had to contact them. When we were waiting for the repairs to be completed no one called to let us know of the time line or the fixes they proposed. We had to contact them and it took several phone calls to make a connection. They failed to communicate.
My sister in-law and I have been working to settle the estate of my in-laws. We have been taking all the heirloom items and distributing them and clearing out all the trash. We were left with a house FULL of stuff that we needed to sell, get the house empty and then sell the house. First we tried some of my auction house friends and they were at least professional enough to say that they were very busy and wouldn't be able to get to us for a couple of months. We decided to try Estate Sales companies and I began to research them. I made a couple of calls and finally got a company to return my call and meet with us. They promised to let us know if they would be able to schedule us in within one day. Three days and three unreturned phone calls later I moved on. The next company returned my call and has agreed to meet us...we will see where this goes.
All this to drive home a point. We may have our businesses on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google but we are forgetting to communicate with our clients. The basics of any business is building a clientele. We do that by providing a good or service that our client is willing to pay for and if they are satisfied with their purchase they will return again to our door. The only way to do this is to establish and maintain communication even after the sale is complete. There is never an acceptable reason for not returning a call in a timely manner. It takes longer to take a picture and upload it on Facebook than it does to call a client. When I worked in the corporate world I was successful because I was quick and efficient in providing information and services to my clients. Twenty-four hours, every call returned and every email answered within 24 hours.
When someone asks me about three of the estate sale companies I called and one that I met with, I can honestly say that I don't have a recommendation because they never returned my calls. That alone will not build business but ruin it. No matter how hard you work.
This is also true for our personal lives. We tweet, post, snap and google but when was the last time you called someone and talked to them...a real conversation? How many times do we say, "I have been meaning to call them but I just don't have time."? Those tweets, posts and pics do not tell you what is going on in their lives, it does not connect you, it does not replace the human need to share and connect. So pick up the phone, drive to their house, meet for coffee, but communicate.