Sunday, March 06, 2016

Gone to Go A'Mossing

A few days ago I hit the trails around home to collect oakmoss for a friend. It wasn't the optimal time to get moss as it had been weeks since the last rain, and at least as long since the last big wind event. To find good moss in abundance, one should hunt a day or two after a good rain, or the day after a wind storm. All that action brings the moss-laden branches down to the ground, where I can pluck them clean. It doesn't snow here, so my strategies for a'mossing have changed. Before, when I lived closer to the Sierra Nevada's, I would go as soon as the snow was melted. The heavy moss covered branches would snap under the weight of the snow and fall to the ground, only to be buried by more snow as the season progressed. Then when the snow melted, voila, fresh, perfectly preserved oakmoss everywhere! I now live in the land of oaks, so finding oakmoss can be as easy as a walk to the corner store, though I prefer the hiking trails over the streets.

California/Atascadero Oakmoss with some tagalong lichen (like that one with the little round feet)
Another lichen that grows in abundance here is Ramalina, or lace lichen, a semi-parasitic lichen that doesn't kill the host tree it grows on. The thing about Ramalina is that it's almost like the Rose of Jericho in that it can sit in a drawer or bag for months, or years, and then as soon as water and sunlight are introduced, it begins to grow again. From all the research that I've done on Ramalina, it's a pretty damned amazing creature, and its health is a harbinger of the state of the environment. As a magickal element, Ramalina can be used in white magick, in much the same way as Rose of Jericho, without all the holy mother connections. Ramalina's magick can also be used for any healthy growth or plain old good health and abundance situations. Native Americans thought that putting lace lichen in water would make it rain, and some tribes would even use the lichen as padding for baby diapers. Just give it a good spritz with a spray bottle full of water, hang the lichen in the sun, and do your good work with it.

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