Journal Inspiration: Connecting with Tree Spirits At Ostara

Depending on what time zone you're in, today may or may not be Ostara (or Mabon in the Southern hemisphere).  Where I am, the spring equinox started at 11:30 pm last night according to archaeoastronomy, only a few hours after I finished the journal spread in the photo below.

Around the equinoxes each year, I feel a strong connection to the plant spirits, since they are either emerging from the earth in a riot of color (spring) or going out in a blaze of glory (autumn) only to repeat the cycle again.   I often feel a strong desire to paint them.  This year, it wasn't a local tree or flower that captured my attention, but bamboo, a tree found on the other side of the world.  I was curious as to why I suddenly felt such a strong connection to bamboo when I hadn't really thought about it before (or realized it's actually a tree).  I did a general internet search to learn more about its symbolism and characteristics.  I was so inspired by what I learned that I wrote the poem below, which I lettered over some scrapbook paper I collaged on the right page of the spread.  I've been practicing my lettering in my journal.  I'm currently studying The Art of Whimsical Lettering to learn how to add beautiful writing to my pages.

Bamboo Spirit

Even as the storm rages around me,
I may bend but I will not break.
In the chaos of life's challenges,
I remain calm though my heart may ache.
Even when the world would change me,
I stand strong.
I am who I am
and have been all along.
©Wendy M. Juhl

I felt like I needed a painting to go with the poem.  What started as a fun opportunity to make some hand painted embellishments turned into a full spread complete with a portrait of a tribal bamboo spirit.  I'd actually had her image in my head for a few days before I finally decided to paint her.  I created the little bamboo girl using Copic markers, watercolors, and colored pencils on a piece of 140 lb. Strathmore mixed media paper cut to 2 inches by 3.5 inches.

I wanted to try another lettering exercise from the book I'm studying on the left page as well, but I couldn't leave the background for the lettering plain.  I collaged some Japanese text paper and bits and pieces of an article about Ostara from Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook.  I drew boxes around words that jumped out at me from the collage with a chartreuse colored pencil then did the lettering with a black Uni Posca marker.  I used a mix of Neocolor 2s, gel pen, acrylic marker, and pigment ink marker to add the colorful boxes around the letters.  I've recently started writing the moon phase on my journal pages, mostly since I'm more of a lunar/nocturnal person.

Lately, I've been focusing on journaling about whatever is going on in my spiritual life.  I don't always have the time to turn it into a tutorial, but I'm sharing it with you in hopes that it will inspire you in your own journaling practice.  With that in mind, here are some ideas for connecting with and receiving messages from plant spirits who may be trying to capture your attention this time of year:

  • Go outside and take a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood or a park nearby (be sure to take a notebook and something to write or draw with). Take deep breaths and calm your mind.  Walk around and be mindful of whatever stands out to you.  Is it a flower? A tree? A bush? A fern?  If you don't know what it is, take a picture with your phone or draw it, so you can look it up later.  Tune into the plant and see what impressions you get.  Take a moment to write them down.
  • Is there a particular plant that reminds you of this time of year or that holds strong memories for you?  If so, look up its meaning and symbolism, as well as any facts about it.  Write about them in your journal or write a poem about your memories and feelings associated with it.  If you enjoy art, you can paint an illustration of the plant.  If it's a plant that's easily accessible right now, you could press a flower or a leaf in your journal.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit and meditate in nature.  Listen and be mindful of what's going on in the natural world around you.  See where your awareness is drawn.  Journal about your experience.

I hope you enjoyed this journal share and that you're inspired to explore this in your own way.  Feel free to share a link to your own journal pages in the comments below.

Blessed Ostara!



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