Trusting that the entry into winter (the season of retreating into a bowl of nourishing, hearty soup!) here in the northern hemisphere is going peacefully for you.
It seems that many of the conversations I’ve been a part of recently have been expressing a desire to go slow, to not get swept away by the toxic GMO of relentless doing which is at odds with the organic slowness + stillness of the season.
For my part, I’ve been enjoying the revival of one of my favorite slow-down winter rituals in the Mojave high desert: building and tending the wood burner regularly. As the main heat source (and yes, it does get cold here!) in our home, the fire is literally and metaphorically the central focus.
And as the first person to rise every morning, I look forward to my pre-dawn time reviving the fire. Each day, the fire has a different need, and as I groggily slow down to observe it, listen to it and offer it what it’s asking for, there’s a deeply felt elemental exchange, a flow where there’s no forcing, trying or coercion.
Just the oxygen of space and unhurried communion between human, wood, air, fire and heat, from which there’s an opening to touch into a universal commonality of experience. Even Time decides to relax into its true nature of the eternal spiral Now.
However you’re moving through this time, I hope you’re allowing yourself spaces of wintering, one of the best gifts of the season.
In our next issue, we’re partnering with The Mojave Project again to publish one of their Field Dispatches.
This one’s going to be on the ubiquitous and magical creosote bush or Larrea tridentata. To the newcomer, these ancient plant beings look like big old stubborn desert “weeds”.
In fact, some of these date back almost 12,000 years (the King Clone variety) while many others are centuries old. They may not look as magnificent as a redwood, but spend some undisturbed time sitting with a creosote bush and you’ll leave feeling different, in a good way.
These are the plants that fill the air with the rich, intoxicatingly earthy aroma after rain – the result of its oils being released with the moisture in the air. If a smell could sit by the fire and tell its age-old story, this one would be it.
Much of the aggressive new ‘development’ that’s taking place out here in our rural desert hinterlands involves clearing the land of this dynamic, life-sustaining ecosystem of creosote bushes (and don’t even get me started on Joshua trees).
To the Native Peoples of the south-west, the creosote bush was a potent medicinal plant, a panacea of sorts for myriad physical ailments. It’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory – to name just a few of its benefits.
Having worked with it medicinally myself, I can testify to its effective healing properties.
In celebration of the ancient plant-spirit-medicine of Larrea tridentata, we’re partnering with the awesome Priestesses of the Mojave to feature their gorgeous Creosote Salve – which we’re big fans of at Luna Arcana.
Handmade locally made in small batches with organic, ethically wildcrafted creosote, organic wild beeswax and organic olive oil, this salve has multiple uses.
It’s worked wonders for me when I get occasional flare-ups of psoriasis. It also treats eczema, rashes, and minor cuts, scrapes and burns, is a wonderful lip balm, great for nourishing dry & split ends and is also excellent as a beard tamer, I’m told.
And the smell: deep, dark earth-roots-heavenly-grounded-clear olfactory wisdom for whenever you feel untethered. Rainy desert days are infrequent, after all.
Also, it comes in a zero-waste reusable glass jar.
Throughout December, subscribers to this newsletter are receiving 20% off this magical Creosote Salve. Head over to the Priestesses of the Mojave online shop here, and type in the code LUNALOVE20
And if you’re buying this is as a holiday gift, they can create a personalized gift note to send with your package, just type the note in the “Notes or Instructions” box at checkout.
Thank you for loving the deep mysteries of the beautiful creosote bush, and for supporting local, independent businesses this holiday season!
I’m also energized to introduce you to another contributor to our upcoming issue 6, Kate McCabe. If you’re a hi-desert dweller, her prolific, rollerskating artistic spirit probably needs no introduction!
Kate has been rooted here since 2004 (way before desert life became #desertlife) when she founded the art collective Kidnap Yourself. Back in Philadelphia, her youth was dominated by dance and art where she allegedly danced out of the womb. Music and writing were integral parts of her upbringing with her mom’s dancing school (the Veronica McCabe School of Dance) and a vivacious desire for reading and books.
At high school, she first studied photography leading her to a film and animation major at the University of the Arts where she obtained her BFA.
Kate headed west after her mother’s death to study Experimental Animation at California Institute of the Arts under the innovative Jules Engel and mentor Suzan Pitt. Her films have shown internationally since 1995 and most recently at Beneath the Desert Sky in Joshua Tree National Park and the Anneberg Theatre at the Palm Springs Art Museum. She has taught film at CalArts and USCD and worked for some of Los Angeles’ most prolific experimental filmmakers including Pat O’Neill.
In 2004 she came to the desert to direct and shoot Sabbia, her first feature film: a visual album for stoner rock legend, Brant Bjork. After Sabbia’s release in 2006, she began painting and writing more seriously, eventually creating her sketchbook Mojave Weather Diaries. As a lover of books, she self-published and created a series, spanning 4 volumes that are part accidental almanac, part emotional barometer of life in the desert. Kate also discovered the writing of Yucca Valley’s June Le Mert Paxton and honors her legacy as an original female voice documenting life alone in the desert whenever she presents her Weather Diaries publicly.
Kate’s Mojave Weather Diaries have been serialized in all the previous issues of Luna Arcana, and she’s become a popular regular contributor.
Most recently, her photo book Ghost O’Clock, a series of apparitions in landscapes shot over an 8 year period, has been published by The Artlands.
The desert has been more than a home base. Kate’s Kidnap Yourself Headquarters was always intended to be a creative conduit. From welcoming other artists into her space, to participating in Morongo Valley’s HWY 62 Art Tours, art is the central motivating force in her time there. Although it was the Milky Way and rock-n-roll that mesmerized Kate into making the desert home, it was the expansion of her work beyond filmmaking that allowed her to flourish as a multi-media artist. Her current work spans small sculpture, painting, photography, and she’s still making films.
Kate has found ways to incorporate her love of music in the desert as a DJ on the now defunct and beloved Radio Free Joshua Tree and currently as the resident Sunday DJ at Red Dog Saloon in Pioneertown. You can find her there every Sunday or somewhere, dancing through the desert with a camera in one hand, a pen in the other.
And that’s about it from me for now.
p.s. The weekly online nervous system regulation + meditation sitting, The Light Gets In is back.
Find out more here.