Michelle Simkins specializes in nature writing, spiritual writing, speculative fiction, and hand-crafted talismans, spirit dolls, and other magical art.

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Garden Magic



Garden magic is humble magic: soil under the witch's fingernails and in the lines of her palm, a mason jar, a pint of honey, a fifth of scotch, a hag stone from the beach, an old pair of scissors and red-handled garden shears. It's a makeshift wand given by the mugwort plant, tiny purple flowers and soft green leaves, and the screech of the scrub jay in the cherry tree. Common as dirt: but common things are magical the closer you get, the deeper you look.





Garden magic is slow magic. It is the slow stately dance of the seasons, each day an almost imperceptible shift from one state to the next. It is steeping herbs for six weeks in a matrix of honey and liquor, while the light of the moon waxes and wanes and waxes again, while Summer Solstice passes and Lughnasadh approaches, while the grass by the road bleaches yellow and sweet peas give way to yellow dock and teasel in the ditches. Time flies only in retrospect, the seasons foreshortened by our unreliable memories.



Garden magic is green magic, rather than white or black. When the witch breaks the soil, harvests the fruit, she leaves behind any notion of being a white witch, blameless in the cycle of life and death. Each breath, each bite, each balm depends on destruction as much as creation. Nature herself is often merciless, not out of malice but out of necessity, and we are nature. Green magic has its price, like everything else. The witch strikes the bargain because she needs magic like she needs breath and food.



And garden magic is experimental magic. The witch can research folk charms and formulas, read grimoires and herbals, but in the end what she makes is a collaboration between herself and the plants she grows and loves. Together the witch and the herbs journey, imagine, and create, with no guaranteed results. What worked for one witch in one garden is never certain to work for another witch in another garden, because the spirits are not the same, and the witches are not the same. Each spell is a series of questions: how well does the witch listen to her plants, how well do the plants know the witch, what will happen when the spell is set free into the universe to do its work?



She sows the seeds of magic and waits to see what she will reap.

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Michelle Simkins

writer . maker . seer

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