Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Just like a newborn ember needs dry grass, usnea lichen, mugwort leaves, cattail down, a good long breath of air, to light, so too does the creative ember (la chispa) in each of our spirits need its own nest of bundled fuel. Tinderbundle is just such a figurative nest of twigs and moss and down, to tuck the embers of your own dreams inside. 

Tinderbundle is my newest Wild Tales by Mail project. It has been crackling away in my imagination since early autumn, fueled by an embered conversation with my dear friend Nao Sims, of Honey Grove, my own love of the crafts and magics that come not just through the pen but also the making hands (medicine, dye, watercolor), and my experiences over the last year learning to make fire by friction. The first time I attempted to do so, I was very taken by the tinderbundle that I and the women I was with were instructed to make out of dry grass. I was moved by the idea that an ember is a newborn being that needs to be caught in the gentlest of beds before it can be blown into flame. That it is not just the act of producing a coal with spindle and hearthboard that is important, but also the act of caring for the ember so that it may reach the age of fire. 

All of this feels deeply resonant to me with the process of creativity. 

And so I give you... Tinderbundle. A firestarter for the wild soul. Each bundle is a nest of inspiration and small kindling for your own creative fires, for the path you are walking in your own place, slowly learning its wild songs. They arrive on the new moon-- so the first Tinderbundle is set to arrive December 21st! A wonderful yule gift...

Each Tinderbundle is wrapped in a vintage or naturally dyed piece of cloth and tied with my own handspun, naturally dyed wool (each dye relevant to the month's theme, and wildcrafted nearby). Once unrolled, you will find a short story vignette (of roughly 1500 words), two hand-painted divinatory cards (4 by 6 measurements, on watercolor stock), and an herbal salve (1/2 oz.)

Because these bundles contain such lovingly made items, I will only create 45 each month. So it is best to sign up early! Right now, I only have 14 Tinderbundles left for December's new moon.

Nettle, madder and black walnut dyes
Each Tinderbundle is woven around a single word, like a lone ember in the hand, a word whose roots stretch far back in the mothertree of the English language, to its roots in Old Norse, Old Dutch and Old Germanic. For example, the first month's word is Mast, from the Old English Maest: the fruit of forest trees, such as acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts, as well as the pole on a ship that supports the sail.

The word is the organizing principle for all materials within the bundle. 

A note on the cards: I describe these cards as divinatory not because they particularly resemble what we think of as tarot cards, nor because they in any way predict the future, but rather in the sense of the word divination at its roots, and the old spirit behind the tarot. Divination comes from the Latin divinare, "to be inspired by a god," and the concept of seeing into the unknown. Regarding the tarot, I've heard it said that the "original" tarot was a set of playing cards in which the magic keepers (witches) of medieval Europe hid their knowledge, so that it might live on and not be entirely destroyed throughout the era of the Inquisition and beyond. These cards are about looking deeply into the wisdom of the natural world and the stories of the land, and so in that sense, they are divinatory--looking into the unknown, inspired by the gods and goddesses which dwell everywhere: in the coyote, the candle, the hazelnut, the Fool. 

One of the cards contains the word (Maest, for example), a related painting, and a set of questions and tidbits to create points of departure for your own creativity. The other card contains an animal associated with the monthly word-theme. (So for Maest it might be a bear, it might be a deer, a squirrel, a woodpecker...) The animal card will not, however, resemble a "medicine" card, but rather will provide you with some basics of the creature's natural history, track and sign, so that you might go out on the land near your home and forge a relationship of your own. 

A note on the salve: All herbal salves will be both practically useful (for bruises, for wounds, for sore muscles, for chapped lips, etc), but they will also carry a magical component (as all herbal medicine does), as they are doorways into a conversation with whatever plant they are made of. I will provide a little scroll of information with each small salve. They will be made in a base of happily harvested beeswax and olive oil, and created with the moon. Salve is from the Old Germanic/Gothic root salben, "to anoint," which holds to me both the meaning of healing, and of magic. 

A note on the yarn: in the old Gaelic tradition of knot-magic and witch's ladders, the string wound around your Tinderbundle will carry sacred knots tied with blessings upon you, the recipient, and the four-leggeds, two-leggeds, waters, winds, stones, plants, and fire embers that surround you—the family of things in which you reside, and are inextricably connected to.

Follow any of the links above to purchase, or right here.


  1. I am hoping there is one left after the first of the year! just love your ideas!