I didn’t think I would see her.
On the night, in the heart of Edinburgh, she was smeared in dark cloud, though just the promise of her radiance was entrancing enough. It was the following day’s early start that allowed me to encounter her, slightly bleary after her night’s work, but still hanging huge over the city’s Athenian skyline. ‘She’ is the full moon at the apogee of this fortuitous lunar cycle: the Hunter’s moon.
Artemis. Daughter of Zeus and Leto, sister to Apollo, goddess of the hunt, and of wild animals, wilderness, childbirth and virginity.
She seems to have been making her presence felt in all sorts of ways this week.
On Tuesday, we were given the benefit of the teachings of Duncan Ross, the biodynamic herbsman at the heart of the Poyntzfield Nursery up on the Black Isle. We were treated to an ident. parade of some of the healthiest and most vibrant plant specimens I’ve seen. Amongst them Artemisia dracunculus(tarragon), known for its ‘abilities to influence brain function and gastrointestinal function and the presence of antimicrobial activity’*.
In the afternoon, after the gale force wind miraculously calmed, we were led out into the gardens to meet our plots; the small areas of earth that will be ours for the next nine months, and upon whose design, fertility, and maintenance we will ultimately be assessed.
‘Plot‘, however, is too bleak a description. These small gardens have been carefully tended by our predecessors, and boast a plethora of fine and interesting annuals and perennials, many still in flower after the long sultry summer. Our task was to ‘clear’.
It was actually quite difficult. I found it hard to clear plants that still seemed to have a little something to give, and even harder to decide what to confine to compost and what might be useful to my emerging theme. Having just ‘met’ my garden, I wanted to spend time slowly getting to know her. Perhaps drawing and photographing her, sitting with her a while, but time is impatient and we were compelled to push on with the work in the few hours available to us.
Can I blame my uncertainty on the waxing of the moon? On the whirling of the wind? On fear of incurring the wrath of Artemis by ravaging one of her own?
I dithered. I resisted. I flapped. I panicked. I observed. I considered. I learned. Only latterly did I begin to clear. And in the earth began to find solidity, comfort, ‘grounding’.
Artemis, the goddess of childbirth and also virginity.
Waxing in Taurus on the 24th October 2018, this moon brings an end to uncertainty, ushering in stability, and revealing endings as pathways to beginnings.
I’ll be back in the garden this weekend, making a slow and gradual transition, helping the plot revert to its virgin state, ending and beginning.
*Aglarova, A.M., Zilfikarov, I.N. & Severtseva, O.V. ‘Biological characteristics and useful properties of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus L.) (review) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal (2008) 42:81.