Monday, July 22, 2013

Wild Talewort

In celebration of the 6-month mark of my Gray Fox Epistles, Wild Tales By Mail, project, I've created a new website and centerpoint for all of my "business" endeavors. It is called Wild Talewort, and it is the umbel that holds beneath it the Gray Fox Epistles, Leveret Letters, and any new projects related to the intersections between ecology and mythology. Below is the short essay I have written to explore the name and purpose of Wild Talewort. 

Also, for those interested in receiving the 6th Epistle this August 6th, please sign up by this Thursday the 25th, right here. 
Arthur Rackham: The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers
Stories are medicine, and strongest when wild, like plants and animals. When a nettle grows wild in the wet soil near alders and a creek, in green-spined thickets of nourishing and fierce leaves, they are made of their own will. They are made also of the will of the alder, the phoebe who shat out their seeds, the young doe who carried them at her ankles. The nettles therefore have absorbed the medicine of the creek made by rain and the topographies of time & earth, the alders who fill the soil with nitrogen-dreams, the deer who pass and drink, the bobcats who brush past at dawn, the black-coated phoebes who dart and eat bugs off the water. Only a wild plant grown in tangled interdependent, fierce community can have this particular sort of medicine—the medicine of a living place.

Stinging nettle
Stories are wild when they come from the part of the mind that the Baba Yaga stalks in her house of gray fox bones on great blue heron feet through old fir forests thick with primordial elk right off the cave-walls of the Paleolithic. Stories are wild when they come from the part of us that is that dark firwood we don't always know the way out of, and it scares us. In that place of tree roots, owls, silver mycelia, we glimpse the evolution of our own bones out of primeval oceans and the bodies of primordial amphibians, and it shakes us further, until we see we are made also of stardust and planetary mineral. Stories are wild when they place us back in the family of things, back in the family of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, fungi, bacteria and air. And when they show us that our heart is its own watershed, many-streamed.

Mandrake root, from Naples Dioscurides, a 7th c. Greek Herbal
WILD—(of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated
TALE— a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted
WORT—a plant, generally medicinal, often used in combination, as in motherwort, mugwort, liverwort

These are words with old native roots in the soil of primeval English, the language into which I was born and raised, the language whose mycelial fibers and taproots I follow and map each time I create and write a story from the wild place in my mind, the place in the firwood, the place where the healing nettles grow. Wilde, from Old English, of Germanic root. Talu, from Old English, of Germanic root. Wyrt, from Old English, of Germanic root, and, as an aside, related to that very word, root. 

May the healing of wild stories take root in our feral imaginations. It is my hope that the work and offerings here help to foster that uncultivated, undomesticated space in all of our minds, our hearts, making us better caretakers of the families of plants, animals and weather systems that share our backyards, making us better dreamers of the songs the land is humming below us all the time, no matter if we live on urban streets or in the open coyote-chorused hills.

Kay Nielsen
Follow along if you haven't already to the new Wild Talewort. Don't worry, the Indigo Vat will remain the same as ever. I just wanted to streamline & separate the two sites. 

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