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Maia Toll's Wild Wisdom Companion
A Guided Journey into the Mystical Rhythms of the Natural World, Season by Season
By Maia Toll
Formats and Prices
- Hardcover $24.95 $30.95 CAD
- ebook $12.99 $16.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 23, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Organized into 12 chapters—Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumnal Equinox, plus early and late stages of each of the four seasons — the book features seasonal practices; exercises for the body and for writing and reflection; plant, animal, and mineral medicine; and symbolic explorations of the gifts and challenges that arise with seasonal change. Original illustrations by Kate O’Hara illuminate the symbolic richness of the text, and 28 pop-out oracle cards plus four bound-in pocket pages enhance the invitation for readers to use this interactive guide as an ongoing tool for cultivating the sacred in their own lives.
The mission of Storey Publishing is to serve our customers by publishing practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment.
Edited by Liz Bevilacqua and Sarah Guare
Art direction by Jessica Armstrong
Book design by Stacey Wakefield Forte
Text production by Liseann Karandisecky
Illustrations by © Kate O'Hara
Text © 2021 by Maia Toll
Ebook production by Kristy L. MacWilliams
Ebook version 0.0
November 23, 2021
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages or reproduce illustrations in a review with appropriate credits; nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other—without written permission from the publisher.
The information in this book is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author or Storey Publishing. The author and publisher disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.
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This book is, essentially, about time. It was written, however, in a strange little eddy of history when time was flowing in none of the usual ways. During the spring of 2020, as we were facing a global pandemic, time moved in neither a line nor a circle. If it weren't for the turning seasons outside my window, I would have truly been lost. Thank you to the earth and the sun for continuing to dance.
This one's for you, Aunt Gloria, for making the seasons sacred. You are alive in so many hearts.
Element: Water Into Earth
Energy Center: Third Eye
Plant Medicine: Rosemary
Animal Medicine: Turtle & Tortoise
Crystal Medicine: Amber
Seasonal Symbol: The Phoenix
Seasonal Symbol: The Descent
Seasonal Symbol: The Void
Energy Center: Root
Plant Medicine: Burdock
Animal Medicine: Bear
Crystal Medicine: Moonstone
Seasonal Symbol: The Womb
Seasonal Symbol: The Dreaming
Seasonal Symbol: The Hearth
Element: Earth into Air
Energy Center: Hands
Plant Medicine: Dandelion
Animal Medicine: Earthworm
Crystal Medicine: Mica
Seasonal Symbol: The Seed
Seasonal Symbol: The Maker
Seasonal Symbol: The Crossroads
Energy Center: Throat
Plant Medicine: Chickweed
Animal Medicine: Deer
Crystal Medicine: Clear Quartz
Seasonal Symbol: The Wind
Seasonal Symbol: The Door
Seasonal Symbol: The Fool
Element: Air into Fire
Energy Center: Solar Plexus
Plant Medicine: Daisy
Animal Medicine: Woodpecker
Crystal Medicine: Agate
Seasonal Symbol: The Lodestone
Seasonal Symbol: The Staircase
Seasonal Symbol: The Alchemist
Energy Center: Crown
Plant Medicine: Mullein
Animal Medicine: Horse
Crystal Medicine: Hematite
Seasonal Symbol: The Star
Seasonal Symbol: The Council
Seasonal Symbol: The Warrior
Element: Fire into Water
Energy Center: Heart
Plant Medicine: Apple
Animal Medicine: Elephant
Crystal Medicine: Rose Quartz & Morganite
Seasonal Symbol: The Harvest
Seasonal Symbol: The Witch
Seasonal Symbol: The Traveler
Energy Center: Sacral
Plant Medicine: Willow
Animal Medicine: Salmon
Crystal Medicine: Obsidian
Seasonal Symbol: The Mermaid
Seasonal Symbol: The River
Seasonal Symbol: The Elders
Energy Centers in Your Body
New Beginnings Card Spread
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Scent, symbol, dance, and song which revolve around the rhythms of light and dark, earth, sun, and moon, move us out of linear time into magical time. Weaving our joys and sorrow into this web renders our human experience holy and places it alongside the daily miracles of sunrise and sunset.
— Judith Berger, Herbal Rituals
At the age of 12, I wrote a note to my future self that simply said, "Don't trade happiness for security."
At the age of 33, after spending most of my adult life creating stability and structure for myself, my world unexpectedly unraveled. The sense of safety I'd spent years accumulating evaporated over the course of a few wild months. The prescience of my previous self was stunning: I was standing at the crossroads, with happiness traveling one way and security the other.
At the time, I was living in a crazy old Victorian house whose original bones were buried beneath the detritus of multiple decades: paneling from the '60s, carpets from the '70s, and some truly horrific light fixtures from the '80s. The house was an ongoing art project, and I was gobsmack in love with the idea of turning it into something quirky and beautiful.
The living room was adorned with the jetsam of various eras of furniture history, and the garden was a random mélange: Black tulips stood sentinel next to the rosemary bush a friend had gifted me, and volunteer watermelon vines appeared each summer to weave through the lavender. Even my housemates were salvaged. One was pulled in on a stormy night when I learned she planned to sleep in her car and eat an avocado for dinner (apparently avocados are the perfect food since they're self-contained and come in their own wrapper). The other landed on my sofa after a breakup and never left. Every aspect of my life was an odd mishmash that somehow worked—until it didn't.
The unraveling began slowly: Avocado became chief gardener at a fancy farm-to-table restaurant. She decided to move in with her boyfriend, who lived closer to her work. This small change was a harbinger of things to come. As the great unraveling continued, my collection of freelance jobs ended in odd and unexpected ways, and then, in a final plot twist, housemate number two decided to return to New York City. By the time I turned 34, the house and everything in it had been sold.
During that time, which could have been unsettling and scary, my long-abiding interest in spirituality led me to the concept of animism. Simply stated, animism is the philosophy that all of existence has within it a spark of spirit. From an animistic point of view, it's not just us humans who have souls; plants, trees, animals, and stones also have purpose and aliveness.
In my mind, the concept of animism segued into the Gaia theory I had studied in grad school. In simple terms, Gaia theory, developed by the chemist James Lovelock, hypothesizes that the earth is a self-regulating, living organism. The organic and inorganic components of the earth work together to form a complex, synergistic system that maintains the conditions for life.
The Gaia theory opened doorways of possibility in my imagination. It makes a metaphoric kind of sense to me to see the earth as an organism, with me (and you!) nested within it. And then nested within each of us are all our organs with their independent functions, and nested within them the various types of cells. Moving the other direction, the organism that is our earth is nested within the galaxy, which is nested in the Milky Way. This nesting doll imagery addressed many of my spiritual questions and gave me a sense that, on some level, everything of the earth was conspiring toward a common goal in the same way that all of the organs within my own body were working toward the same cause.
Playing out the confluence of animism and Gaia theory in my mind, if everything was conspiring with everything else, that meant that the raven could truly be a messenger for me and a stone could actually teach me about the nature of time. It also meant that I could mimic the cycles of nature to learn to deal with the changes I was going through. It became a bit of a game: Which animal would point me on my path? Could I drop my leaves like the mulberry tree in the backyard, allow my energy to sink into my roots, and, in the way of the trees, be okay with it?
At first the internal conversation went like this:
There's a crow! I wonder what he wants to tell me. Ooooo . . . he just took off and flew west. What is west of here?
Wow, that whole plant is in shadow except for that one berry sitting in its own shaft of sunlight. The berry is red. What other red things will I see today, and why will they be important?
These inner dialogues reminded me to remain curious and joyful in the face of the many changes I was going through. Simply stepping into this alternative mind-set was bringing the world around me, with all its magic and wonder, into sharp focus. Plus the challenge of suspending my disbelief for even the 30 seconds it took to play my little game was a fabulous distraction from the sadness of leaving a home, and a time in my life, that I had loved.
My "real world," the world that existed when I wasn't imagining conversations with stones or instructions chirped by a noisy robin, was full of uncertainty. I, quite literally, didn't know where I was going next. Everything that had anchored me was sold (with the exception of Rosey, my Toyota Corolla!).
But over time I noticed something: The more I played the game of letting nature lead me, the more I noticed my anxiety about life's uncertainty falling away. While my human friends were fearful for me and, in their own anxiety, often amplified my own fears and self-doubts, the natural world had no such concern. The pine tree validated my need to grow roots, and the creek high-fived my decision to flow. Plus, I watched myself solving problems in more interesting and creative ways as I sank deeper into my "nature's conspiring with me" mind-set. What would Squirrel do? I asked myself. Or If I was Citrine and had taken eons to form, how would this situation look? These questions made me smile, and simply asking them of myself provided much-needed perspective.
Over the course of a year, I conspired with the world around me to change my life. The first thing I had to do—the hardest thing, really—was to change the way I was thinking. I had to willingly suspend my own disbelief so that I could develop a sense of the sacred. Metaphor and symbol had to become as real to me as "hard facts." Seeing it as a game gave me a nonthreatening doorway into the riches of an animistic point of view.
The change from "this is a game" to "this is how I see the world" came incrementally over many years. But as each season passed, I found that my life remained joyous and exciting, my creativity and intuition were expanding, and my sense of the sacredness of being a part of Gaia's great nesting doll gave me a feeling of belonging, which healed a lifelong yearning and loneliness.
As you think about this concept for yourself, remember that you too are a part of this larger organism, which you can think of as the earth or Gaia or even God. The word you choose to describe this state of belonging doesn't really matter; it's the feeling of being "part of" instead of "separate from" that allows you to connect with the nonhuman world around you.
As you journey through the seasons, notice nature's ease with change. Pay attention to the way the the trees let go of their leaves in autumn and the rich creativity that comes in the wake of winter. See how it feels to commune with the earth's creatures and connect with a sense of being a part of Gaia's patterns.
What would happen if you gifted yourself a year to willingly suspend your current belief system and let a new one take root?
Can you imagine yourself being more authentic, more in touch with your inner wisdom, more connected and aligned?
What can change in a year?
•••• Introduction ••••
What, you might wonder, is wild wisdom?
Wild wisdom is feeling in accord with the hawk flying overhead; it's feeling sisterhood with the willows; it's knowing that the stones are millennia older than humans and have much to teach about the passage of time.
Wild wisdom is the sense of being in sync with the world around you, so much so that you feel safe and at home in your own skin. It's a feeling we're all looking for but very few achieve.
This book is your map to find this wild wisdom. Remember: A map is not itself a destination. Instead, it's a set of directions that guide you from the place where you are to the place where you want to be. Actually getting to that place requires a journey out of your comfort zone. It requires the bravery to be willing to shift the way that you see the world. Creativity flourishes when you are able to trust yourself and honor your intuition.
To find your wild wisdom, you'll need to shift from a mundane way of viewing the world around you to a magical and mystical one. You'll need to allow metaphor and synchronicity to become trusted traveling companions. You'll need to toy with the idea that the world around you is alive and conspiring to ignite your creativity. Don't worry if these changes come slowly or if you swing like a pendulum between extremes as you experiment with these processes. It's absolutely normal and expected that you would have a hard time changing your mind and erasing the conditioning of our shared modern culture. Allow your mind to think whatever it will. This book is a step-by-step guide to feeling into this new way of being even if your brain does not yet buy it.
The journey you are about to embark on consists of small steps that I call practices. These practices are laid out to align with the seasons of the year. It doesn't matter which season your location is in when you pick up this book; after you read the introductory material, simply skip to the current season and begin your journey there. Work your way through each season's practices, ending where you began (although I would argue that there is no ending and would advocate for continuing around the seasons, shifting your practices as your intuition dictates and seeing how you grow and change year over year).
The seasonal practices in this book are not meant to simply be read through. They're meant to be experienced. It's the doing that's important and it's through the doing—the action, the practice—that you learn. Some practices will resonate with you immediately—they will feel right and good and you won't feel silly or self-conscious doing them. But others may feel odd or awkward. They may challenge your belief system or your thoughts about who you are in the world. And that's actually okay. The learning is in trying new practices and then deeply listening to your intuition, your spirit, so that you can alter them in a way that makes them feel right for you. This tuning-in and aligning the practices to your own energy is where the magic is; this is how you learn to feel what's right for you, which is at the heart of intuitive and creative living.
The Shape of the Year
The year is divided into eight seasons and punctuated by solstices and equinoxes:
- Late Autumn: November–Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere/May–Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere
- Winter Solstice: December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere/June 21 or 22 in the Southern Hemisphere
- Early Winter: late December–late January in the Northern Hemisphere/late June–late July in the Southern Hemisphere
- Late Winter: February–Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere/August–Spring Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere
- Spring Equinox: March 20 or 21 in the Northern Hemisphere/September 22 or 23 in the Southern Hemisphere
- Early Spring: late March–late April in the Northern Hemisphere/late September–late October in the Southern Hemisphere
- Late Spring: May–Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere/November–Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere
- Summer Solstice: June 20, 21, 22, or 23 in the Northern Hemisphere/December 20, 21, 22, or 23 in the Southern Hemisphere
- Early Summer: late June–late July in the Northern Hemisphere/late December–late January in the Southern Hemisphere
- Late Summer: August–Fall Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere/February–Fall Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere
- Autumn Equinox: September 22 or 23 in the Northern Hemisphere/March 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere
- Early Autumn: late September–late October in the Northern Hemisphere/late March–late April in the Southern Hemisphere
Note that the year begins in Late Autumn. This is antithetical to the modern mind, but to the ancient farmer it was clear that the year ended when the final crops were harvested. After the hard work of Early Autumn, it was a time to rest, regroup, and begin again. As you read through this book, note how this skewed cycle feels. Even though your mind finds it odd, your body may tell you otherwise!
"Maia Toll yet again combines wonder and magic in an enchanted guide to the magic of the seasons and teaches us how to connect and live in alignment with the natural world all around us." — Ambrosia Hawthorn, author of The Spell Book for New Witches
“Maia Toll’s Wild Wisdom Companion teaches us the magic of living by the seasons instead of merely alongside them, slowly helping us to reveal the deepest truth hidden in our souls." — Amanda Lovelace, author of Shine Your Icy Crown and Believe In Your Own Magic Oracle Deck
- On Sale
- Nov 23, 2021
- Page Count
- 192 pages