Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Upcoming Book: Unlocking the Spiritual Power of the Plants

Unlocking the Spiritual Power of the Plants

      Plants sacred to our Afro-Caribbean Traditions from a Palero’s Perspective

Over several years, we have been working on a in-depth book on using plants in Palo.  The book looks not only at certain key plants that we use every day in the munanso, but also at plants that grow outside of the Caribbean which are powerful spiritual plants.  In our munanso, we do not want to be reliant on botanicas for our plants, and have turned to the natural environment that we live in here in the diaspora for local options.  The book includes history, cultural notes, plant energies, and uses in palo.  We expect to be completing it in the new year (2019).

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Shifting Priorities (ACTIONS) Require Careful Use of Resources

Shifting priorities require the adaption of existing resources to create new functions.  Raising strong and healthy goats and sheep has become an increasing priority for us.  As all Paleros know, both of these animals are important and vital within the munanso.  Finding healthy, vibrant, well raised animals can be very difficult in the "market" that is out there, with the increase in animal brokers who keep these animals in bad conditions that are full of diseases.  

It has come to the point that we decided to repurpose some of our pigeon coops as well as a large pergola, to allow us to create some good long term shelter for the goats and sheep.  They need this shelter specifically during winter.  During the spring, summer and fall, they will be on the pasture, and also assist us in clearing out invasive weeds.

We begin here with the goat nanny house.  Our boer nannies (does) are meat goats, originating in Africa.  They are large, horned, and very friendly.  We will be breading them for the first time in the fall and expect the "kids" in early spring.   Their shelter allows them interior space as well as a large porch where their hay bale sits.  
A small coop of pigeons lives in the same barn and can be seen from this angle, the other half of the goat barn houses white roller pigeons.

Goats love to be up high and the raised barn is perfect for them to jump up and feel safe.  There is also an old table that they like to jump up on.  Goats are very friendly animals and each one has a very distinct personality.  All our boer nannies have one grandparent or great grandparent that is a milking breed (Nubian or Alpine) which makes them better mothers, and increases their milk yield slightly.  

These goats are much more than just produces of goats for the Munanso or to sell or eat.  In the summer they will be excellent helpers to us, eating thorny bushes and poison ivy.  Their goat milk makes excellent cheese and yogurt.  We look forward to being able to produce most of our own cheese and dairy once the herd builds up.  

We have had a pergola up on our hill for over 10 years.  It had become a space we really had not used in a number of years.  We decided to build a sheep barn for our ewes.  Using boards salvaged from some old fencing we had removed, plus boards and roofing salvaged from an old shed we had taken down, we adapted the pergola to be a sheep barn.
The sheep barn has two stalls in the back where we put the moms once they have their lambs so that they can bond well before having to go back to the herd.  However, since sheep are herd animals the stalls are designed so that the isolated sheep can see her herd mates, so that she does not get anxious.  
The sheep, like the goats, also have a porch where their hay goes.  They munch the hay all day long, eating as much as they want to.  
The hay is very important for the functioning of their digestive system.  Whatever hay they leave, as well as the bedding from their barn will be used for mulch for our Conucos.  The manure will add fertility and the hay will add organic matter and these will build the fertility of the Conucos and create healthy environments for the soil life.
We have come to realize that the choice of breed of the sheep or goat is very important.  Some breeds are very prone to parasites, or are not good mothers, or have problems with the birthing process, have issues with summer heat and so on.  We selected the Barbados Black Belly Sheep because they are "hair sheep" meaning they will not need to be sheared, and they naturally shed their winter coats.  They are hardy, they are good mothers, they give birth easily, and they like to browse on various invasive weeds.  Their meat is excellent.  Because they are Caribbean sheep they deal with summer heat without any problems.
In our herd we have two "pure bred" and two with a "wool sheep" ancestor.  The pure bred are more flighty and nervous, so it seems the wool sheep influence is somewhat stabilizing and we are appreciating its influence.  
When it is time to move our ewes from one place to another we simply call them and they follow us.  They are very intelligent and fast.  In fact we discovered through a neighbor (about 1/2 mile distant) that our sheep were traveling through the forest and to his corn field every day and every night on a schedule.  He discovered this through his trail cameras set up to look at the deer.  We thought they were simply free ranging on the Ceremonial Grounds and were surprised to discover that they were sneaking out every day and night to eat corn!
For much of the year the rams are with the ewes, however we moved them once the ewes started lambing.  They have their own area, which we are currently upgrading (again using salvaged materials).  The rams do not come when they are called, and have to be caught.  They are very protective of the ewes and more distrustful than the ewes.  

Sheep and goats are amazing animals, and have taken up vital roles on the land.  Their behaviors are fascinating and give us insight into their roles within the Munanso.  They provide us with meat, milk, gardening assistance, laughter, and education.  Inside of the Earth Changes that are upon us, these animals have become very important elements in our response to Earth Changes.  They are also a stabilizing element in economic terms due to their contribution to the table, to the fertility of the Conucos and pastures, to the Munanso, and because we can sell any surplus.  We are delighted to see how they are thriving, and the task of interweaving them with the Conucos, forests, and fields in a sustainable way that restores Mother Earth's fertility is a fascinating  challenge.  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Response of the Spirit

Corn shoots spring forth from our harvest of Corn that we offered to one of the Cemis that we work with.  This Cemis we brought to our newly built greenhouse to continue to bring the blessings and the horticultural wisdom of the Taino Ancestors  to our work with our greenhouse.  All the fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the bowl we collected from our Conucos.  A couple weeks later we notice these fresh green shoots emerging from the corn.  What a beautiful response from the Cemis!  We are always excited to see these types of manifestation because this illustrates the difference between fantasy and real spiritual work!

You can see the original offering before anything grew on this post:
Walking on Conuco Hill

The seeds we planted are already emerging, and we will be following up with photos once the greenhouse is vibrantly green!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Walk on the Hill August 2015

Here we explore a grove of trees at the top of the hill which all were planted as tiny bareroot saplings.  This came out of our original garden which was known for its tomatoes and scallions!  These bareroots are already up to 20' high and have formed a magical grove.  We then walk down the hill to look at the watershed, discuss trees and water table levels, and how to care for the slope and watershed.  

Walking on Conuco Hill

As many know, our Taino Ancestors had mounded gardens called Conucos.  We also know that this was also a term utilized by our enslaved African Ancestors to refer to their personal gardens.  These personal gardens enabled them to have a small income stream in spite of their enslaved condition.  In both cases Conucos were about stability, resilience, and sustenance.  We utilize the Taino mounded Conucos to create swales that also harvest rainwater.

Here we share a walk through the Concuos that are growing corn, beans, various squash, tobacco, white sage, potatoes and black eyed peas.  We begin the walk by discussing some black walnut trees that we had cut down, which had re-sprouted.  The video, taken a few days ago, shows the subtle changes of fall approaching.  We also take a look into the greenhouse to see how we are working with the Spirit within the context of this 'mundane structure.'  We  discuss the water harvesting function of the Conucos themselves.  

We will follow this post up with some videos showing some of the Conucos lower down the hill, which are in very different stages of their cycle.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015


This photo journey takes you from seeding time to the full expression of the Conucos within our gardens.  The magic is in the fertility of the Conuco itself.  The seeds are the biological Ancestral line but the myriad micro-organisms plus the magical ingredients of the brujo allow these seeds to grow and thrive.  

Corn Seeds

Seed Potatos

Alpaca Manure

Time Passes, the Sun Shines, the Rain Falls, we remove weeds....
Minuscule Tobacco Seeds grow to these huge plants, sweet smelling flowers, sticky aromatic leaves!
Tobaccos include VA Smoking, Huichol, Aztec, Oneida, Flowering
White sage, tobacco, corn, potatoes and sunflowers!
Corn, Potatoes, Elderberry, Beans and Squash...

Our Greenhouse....
Corn and Potatoes
Beautiful View of a Conuco
The Ancestors are Happy!
The Elderberry, a plant we have come to LOVE, who also Loves Us!

Mammoth Sunflowers, for seed through the winter!

Elderberry Patch, the Catbird Sanctuary
Somos Tabaqueros
Another Concuco forming...

And once we get our harvest, our Blackbelly Barbados sheep will enjoy the pasture!

Some people call this 'subsistence', we call it thriving!