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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

Marya of the Wood: Marigold Moon

Wildcraft Studio, Woods, Marigold Moon
Marigold Moon Wildcraft Studio

For several years, I have nestled into my studio— a sacred place, synonymous with healing, creativity, and all things magic. It is where I bring medicinal plants for hanging, drying, and after prepared, placed on shelves for those in need. It is where I write, listen to the wild chorus of warmer seasons, and create that which emerges.

This did not happen overnight. I spent my early childhood days here, where Our Mother and I remember each other, where fragments of knowing are carried in the wind. Although not wholly aware until my return, with mother wisdom and experience, this is my place of belonging.

The name of my studio and practice is Marigold Moon Wildcraft Apothecary. Now, upon seeing the name Marigold, one would imagine that I had a field of them or at least a pot. Over the years, this has both plagued and amused me. I have only had a handful of marigolds on a few occasions. I am mostly about wild things that grow and show up as volunteers. I’m a weed kind of girl.

Marigold came about when I began to question the role of the inner child. I needed to establish boundaries. It is essential to be connected to the child within, but it can be problematic if she takes the helm. I saw that in myself during my unfounded wavering.

I refer to my inner child as Goldilocks. Whenever I stopped believing that I was up to a particular challenge, I began to recognize her. She was the one with doubt. Fear and anxiety had the upper hand.

Girl in Forest, CCO

If there is one thing that I cannot tolerate, it’s indecision. Yet, this somehow appeared in my own life. I’m the kind of friend, parent, and mentor that encourages others to believe in themselves. And here I was, breaking that rule.

When I initially recognized this (which rarely happens now), I have a brief inner dialogue. It goes something like this:

   “Oh, Goldilocks, here you are. This is an old story, this fear. Everything will be fine.”

Was it perfect? Did it work right away? No. But in time, it helped me to rewire a belief system previously unhelpful—self-sabotaging.

Maryjane is the academic, bold, fearless leader. She is wise and self-assured. She doesn't think about jumping in puddles, not without a nudge from Goldilocks. When facing situations that require self-confidence and the will to move ahead, with a sense of awe and openness, it is best to call upon a balanced combination of both aspects of self. This is Marigold.

As far as the moon? I just happen to love the moon. If one is interested in astrology in any way, I am Cancerian and ruled by the moon. Hence, Marigold Moon is the name of my wildcraft apothecary.

When I was raising and educating my family on the farm, it was vital to maintain a self-sustaining, rustic lifestyle, viewing food and plants as medicine. However, if my children or I required modern medical attention, I sought it. During that time, I forged a close bond with the wild plants that grew in our midst.

I come from a long line of farmers. Growing, preparing, and preserving food has been a way of life. Then, when I crafted the first book in the Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series, I leveled-up in my understanding of wild plant medicine.

Many are familiar with the story. Nellie, the Native Elder, is a healer and midwife. To be aligned with the integrity of the written word, I did painstaking research about plant medicine. This is based on local plants and practices of the Indigenous Peoples of this land. My great-grandmother, Nellie Baldwin, and Mrs. Lewis, the one referred to in the records as “Indian Woman,” inspired me to provide a rich narrative steeped in this culture. This—along with my Celtic roots—is in my DNA. 

It was during this time that I began my authentic journey with wildcrafted medicinal plants. My notes, research, and the book itself, served as the foundation. I also studied herbalism courses, self-tailored for local plants, to raise the level of my work. 

Two events awakened me. The first came with a bite from a brown recluse spider. It took months to rebuild my immune system after being flooded with antibiotics. That ordeal illuminated the fragility of the human body. 

The other was when I got pneumonia. Although I was prescribed antibiotics, I was wrecked. Then, it dawned on me, and I asked myself, “What would Nellie do?”

After looking through my notes to confirm my instincts, and still wearing my flannel nightgown, I went outside to gather some pine boughs to make a decoction. I was in snow up to my knees, thanking a Great White Pine when someone shouted, “Hello!”

It was as good a time as any to meet my new neighbor. It was about 2 °Fahrenheit, and there I stood, shivering and sweating at the same time.

The good news is that the flannel nightie, dazed-look, purple boots, and pine boughs in hand, didn’t phase my neighbor, and the decoction worked. The pine hastened my recovery. Yes, the antibiotics were necessary, but now my immune system is like a fortress. Other than an infection in my finger (from a thorn) that went rogue while traveling, that is the last time that I’ve been sick or used antibiotics. I have been practicing the art of wildcraft medicine for years—prevention. I am well.

Soon, my family and friends were coming to see me. I was hosting Wild Tea Parties, which is about learning, gathering, and circles. My goal is to share ancient wisdom and awareness of the plants that live amongst us. It is about the art of wild tea and nurturing ourselves, each other, and Our Mother.

It was time for a separate space. I don’t want a large commercial business. It isn’t a trend; there are no angles; my work isn’t about souvenirs or catchy packaging, and it isn’t about money. However, I require sustainability. I don’t advertise. My philosophy is that those who are meant to find me will.

My work with plants is a sacred art. It is not only about me and healing others, but it is also a pact and a promise with the plants and living creatures. It is an honoring of life and living that must be reciprocated. When I am out in the field and wood, I walk with my ancestors. This is not about making a quick buck or competing. 

I have been away for the past week. I have had to take down every little embellishment—personalized aspects of myself. I didn’t want to, and I put it off. But it was necessary to winterize the studio.

It took about a week to undertake this dismantling. Many emotions arose when I touched each symbol of healing and wellness from the past years. I will post photos of the “new studio,” where I will be for all of the seasons. I will no longer have to hibernate during the long winter months.

If you live in the area, look for the sign, which is only a marker. Otherwise, I will be lost to you. I did not put it up last year. Many of you still contacted me. I was here, but not really. After losing my mother and while facing the task of completing, “Down from the Tree,” I did not have the required energy to operate as usual. It was a time of restoration and healing.

After answering a call from the underworld, one of great transformation, I was at a critical phase in my journey. I continued to gather, dry, and prepare plants, still available for those who needed assistance. Yes, I was buried deep in my experience, but I heard the voices of others, and when necessary, I responded.

We cannot always simply pick up where we left off. No. Sometimes, it is necessary to pause in anticipation of rebirth. One is never truly lost. In order to heal, we must feel. Then the path becomes clear again. I am committed to the creative journey of transformative writing, storytelling, and healing. I do this through the surrounding wild world and very importantly, ancestral, historical, and cultural trauma integration. It is the 298 that brought me to my fullness and where I am now.

There are gentle yet persistent whispers in rustling leaves, wings of those taking flight, and in the presence of four-legged creatures. They show up, bringing gifts and insight. More stories are to be told as words flow downstream, not to be missed or forgotten. For me, now is not time to look away, but to embrace them. I am a mother to all.

In my studio, beneath the new walls and scribbled on the old, is a time capsulestories about now, when the world came to a standstill while facing the unknown. We continue to find our way. We needed to be here so that we could reclaim our true essence. Will we? Time will tell.


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