The Ancient Art of Splatiomancy

Ancient Art of Splatiomancy

by Andy


In times of Yore, when our ancestors needed to know something, they turned to divination. There has been much written in this paper about the systems they used, such as astrology or fire scrying, and how we can apply those systems to our lives as modern witches. One very popular technique, however, has never been written about: Entrail Reading. It is true. Oftimes, when our ancestors needed to know the future, they would kill animals, look at their insides to divine the future, and serve them up for dinner. For instance, recent scholarship has unearthed the tale of Morgana de Ravenna (Note – even in ancient times, pagans used made up names like Morgana and Raven), a mid-evil pagan witch (the mid-evil period comes in between the early-evil and the late-evil periods).

At dawn of the summer solstice, 942 years ago, Morgana was asked by the village elders to foretell what the coming year would bring. As per her requirements, they brought her a pig to slaughter. They brought it to a clearing, she killed it, let the entrails spill out, and began the Sacred Ritual of the Afore-telling. For hours she danced around pig under the hot sun. After the Afore play was finished, she went over to the pig, got down on her knees, sorted through the entrails and smelled the meat. Then she raised herself up and uttered the prediction: “A Plague of Salmon will soon strike the village” (translated from the original Arabic phrasing: “Salmon El-La”).

The villager elders liked the sound of this, for the fish are good to eat. They took the sacred pig back to the village, cooked it up, and served it for dinner. Sure enough, that very evening, everyone became sick, and many people died. The aforetelling was true, and the people learned never to wake Morgana before noon.

The question is how can we adapt this ancient and powerful art of entrail reading to modern times. Splatiomancy is the answer. Splatiomancy is defined as “the Art of Telling the Future by Interpreting Insect Entrails on the Windshield” (from 1,001 Useless Forms of Divination for the Modern Pagan).

This family tradition is handed down from Mother-in-Law to Mother-in-Law, smiting hapless husbands along the way. It originated in the Detroit area, the ancestral home of the Way of the Horseless Carriage. As my own mother-in-law is from Detroit, and a high priestess of the Ford tradition (high priestesses have owned at least three different models of Ford vehicles), she has initiated me in its ways. To this day, she occasionally tests me with the ritual phrasing: “Aren’t You Ever Going To Get This Thing Washed?” when she wants me to do a reading.

Before you can begin divining, you must prepare your tools. Splatiomancy has just one tool, your “horseless carriage,” or car as we now call it. You must cleanse your car, front and back. Do not forget the roof and undercarriage because “as above, so below.” While a “drive though” car wash is acceptable, a personal cleansing is preferable.

A patient seeker will find that some of the fueling shrines of the carriage are equipped with wondrous wands that aid greatly in the invocation of water. These will multiply the effectiveness of your cleansing at least until the buzzer announces that your time is almost up.

Pay special attention to the windshield, for it is here that you will read the secrets of the entrails. If this area is not spotless, your reading will be muddled with the omens of drives long past.

At its heart, Splatiomancy is a local art. The insects you drive through are local, and thus must your reading be based on local signs. Make a map of your local area. Divide the map into regions, and figure out the energies of each of those regions. Above is the map I created for the Seattle area.

Take your map and copy the regions from it to your windshield. I find lipstick works well for this. If you live in a vertically oriented area, as we do, you may find it easier to use east for the top of the map. All maps used to have the orient (which was east) on top, hence the word “orientation.”

I have divided the Seattle area into 12 regions called “garages”. They are, with their energies:

Contented Cows: A peaceful, quiet garage where chewing your cud all day seems like a good idea. Not thinking about things.

Microsoft: The high tech garage. All things electronica reside here.

Boeing: The garage of war and strife. If your energies are destructive, this garage is for you.

Bellevue: The garage of greed and calculation. Trapped between the garages of Microsoft and Boeing, who are constantly warring for capitalist supremacy, Bellevue is about exploiting your situation for your personal ends. If you are successful, you move to…

Billionia: The garage of the super-rich. A region of idols and the idle.

Amazonia: Not the garage of Amazons, but of A place where knowledge comes at a price, but shipping and handling is free with an upgrade code.

Capital Hill: This is the garage of has-been. Like the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, this garage may once have been a cool counter-culture area. Now it is the domain of over-priced yuppie stores pretending that time has not passed them by.

U of W: The garage of the real counter-culture, in all its smelly dread-locked glory. It may be dirty, but at least it is honest. The university also adds an air of learning, without the fees of Amazonia.

Suburbia: The garage of people, houses, and everyday life. Strong in the energy of doing things behind closed doors that you hope your neighbors will never find out about (unless, of course, you can talk them into joining you…)

The Zoo: This is where the wild things are. If you like animals or nature, this is your garage.

Stadium Heaven: The garage of sports and recreation for the masses. Or the garage of a fool and his money, depending on your perspective on professional sports and stadiums.

Sea-Tac: This is the garage of the air and of getting away from it all.

Now that the car is prepared, begin your ritual. Take up your keys and go out to your car. Circle your car three times widdershins, for widdershins is the direction the wheels roll. Use the following invocations to the Lord and Lady:

Asphaltia, Goddess of the Highways and By-Ways, come to us. Great lady of the Crossroads and all other Intersections, guide us so that we do not go astray. Asphaltia, guard and protect us from the highway patrol.

Spacius, Great God of Parking, come to us. Lord of the Open Road and the Open Spot, bring us to your sacred space, that we may always have room to park. Protect us from the vultures of the lots and from the scourge of the meter maid.

Next you must call the little folk, the flying ones to be part of your rite:

Flying ones, buzzing ones, come to us. Sprites of the air, you who sting or drink blood, join us. Your lives will bring us the sacred knowledge. You who are about to die, we salute you.

Now enter the sacred carriage and drive. Play some pagan music, and focus your mind on the future. The rite is best performed by the last light of the setting sun, and with your headlights shining as a beckon. The winged spirits abound at this time. After a few miles, you will find your entrails are ready to be interpreted.

There are three factors to consider in your entrails: Color, Placement, and Legs.

Color is the Signifier in Splatiomancy. It defines to whom the scrying applies. Look at your splat. What color is it? The color yellow is the color of the sun, of the center. It represents you. Red is the color of love, and thus represents a significant other. Green is the color of trees, standing together, and represents your friends. And blue is the color of the Big Blue Marble, representing the world as a whole.

Next look at where the splat is on your windshield. Check what garage it is in and think about the energies of that garage. If you are local to Seattle, you can use the associations listed above.

And finally, how many legs and/or wings can you see in the sacred splat. These do not need to be distinct, in fact they rarely are. Just look at it and count in your mind. The number of legs and wings is the Sign of your scrying and tells how the splat is to be interpreted. Zero is the Sign of Abstinence. Never had it, never will. One is the Sign of Masturbation. It represents enough to get you through the night, but nothing more. Two is the Sign of the Couple. It is balanced, and enough to go around, but it can get stale. A good sign for stability. Three is the Sign of the Three-Way. It is wild, unstable, and more than people need. This sign can represent hidden desires. And four (or more) is the Sign of the Orgy. This is a crazy level of abundance and can represent too much of a good thing.

Now do your scrying. Look at the Sacred Splat. In April, I did a scrying and got a yellow splat in the Garage of Billionia. There were no surviving legs or wings so the Sign was zero. Personal abstinence in the garage of the super rich. So I sold my Microsoft stock. Now look at it, off by 35% from where I sold. Thank you Splatiomancy. Note that the splat was not in the house of Mircosoft. That would have meant my computer was going to die.

Let’s do another example. Say you get a blue splat with two legs and two wing pieces in the Garage of Boeing. Blue is the global color. Boeing is the Garage of War. Two legs and two wing pieces (remember, just count them all) is the Sign of the Orgy. Pack your bags and head for the survivalist bunker, we are talking World War III. If you also get a yellow, zero-legged, Billionia that means you should liquidate your assets before going to the bunker. I’m sure this paper can get you a good deal for any assets you care to liquidate. After all, you will need seeds much more than a car after the Blue Bug hits.

A final example, more complicated this time. Last fall, I got a green splat (friends) with three legs (three-way = wild) in the Garage of the U of W (smelly, counterculture). I also got a two-legged (couple = stability) blue splat (global) in the Garage of the Contented Cow (unthinking). It also had a five-legged (orgy), green (local) splat in the Garage of Boeing (War). Unbalanced counterculture, global unthinking, and local war. That was the WTO protests.

Splatiomancy is an ancient, venerated art. Before there were cars, splatiomancers would draw diagrams on their servants, and look at where the bugs bit them and were splattered. Go out and divine with pride knowing you are following the Way of the Horseless Carriage. If you wish to begin an initiation in the Way, the author is available for personal lessons. Rates are reasonable; you pay for the sacred gas, of course. Lessons are in my garage in Bellevue…

Basil: The Green Leaves of Summer

by Catherine Harper

I celebrate the beginnings of several different, overlapping, summers. When April blooms into May, and the days become long, that is the beginning of summer, the voluptuous green and flowering summer that turns into warm gold autumn in August. In mid-July, when the rains dry up, and we have our stretch of dry, hot days, that is the beginning of another summer that continues through September, usually, or perhaps later. But the summer of the palate, for me, begins when the local basil begins to appear in the farmer’s markets, beginning the cycle that will bring in turn corn, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to the table.

Basil is the most delicate of herbs. While many tough, resinous herbs of the Mediterranean thrive in poor, rocky soil, developing their best flavor where water is not overplentiful, basil is a tender, soft-leaved plant. It requires as much care as all the other herbs in my garden put together, and indeed is happiest if given the rich loamy soil and regular waterings I think of as more the provenance of vegetables. I start the plants indoors, on a warm surface, and then hold off on planting them out until June. From that point on, they must be watered and tended, given plenty of sun and protected from slugs (planting basil in large pots — large so that they do not dry out too quickly — and fixing a three inch strip of copper to the rim to deter slugs is perhaps the simplest solution). And deer. And even your neighbors. Basil needs to be gathered in fall before the night temperatures fall much below 50 degrees.

I have an aesthetic preference for working closely with my local climate, and growing mostly the things that thrive here with little intervention. These plants seem, to me, to belong here. With all the culinary splendors of the world open before us, it is a comforting discipline to me to work sometimes with a more limited palate of local food. Basil, is at the best, borderline. There is a reason we have no native basil. Basil self-seeds only reluctantly here and is outcompeted by any number of plants better suited to this clime. But every year, I plant or buy my starts, and fuss over them throughout the summer months. Basil I cannot resist.

Basil is the name given to any of about 150 plants in the Ocimum family (Ocimum basilicum is perhaps the best known culinary basil, varieties of which are usually sold fresh, though Ocimum minimum, or bush basil, is also common, and often sold dried). These are native to Africa, the Mediterranean and southern Asia. Even inside the O. basilicum species, flavor can vary incredibly, tasting now like cinnamon, now like cloves, and here again like lemon.

Ocimum sanctum, holy basil, is a plant sacred in India to Krishna and Vishnu, and found to this day planted around their temples. To my mind, basil is an herb well-suited to temples beyond just these. Many European cultures, especially those of Latin origin, consider this herb to be associated with love. In Italy, a pot of basil displayed in a window of a family’s compound indicated that a daughter had reached marriageable age. In Mexico, there is a custom of carrying basil in one’s pocket to attract love.

But basil lore has a darker side. Culpepper, the noted English herbalist, mentions that while many Arabic physicians defend the curative properties of basil, he has found it useful only for such things as poultices for drawing out poisons, for, he remarks rather snarkily, like calls to like. The English used it to ward against insects and evil spirits. Early English sources also refer often to its unpleasant odor, a reference which quite bemused me until I recalled that garlic, too, had been referred to as foul-smelling by many. (Asafoetida, on the other hand, is a well-loved spice in many Near Eastern cuisines but is disliked intensely by most people of European descent, who see it only as a banishing herb. Tastes vary.)

Though the common name “basil” derives from the Greek word “basileum,” meaning king, the Greeks saw basil as a plant of ill-omen. The Romans, perhaps similarly, thought that basil would only grow well if abused when planted or on ground that had been cursed — a custom that seems to survive to this day. But not with me.

To me basil, with its strong clear flavor, its affinity with light foods and its splendor when served fresh, epitomizes summer cooking. Though I used fresh basil first in cooked tomato sauces, and then more heavily in Thai dishes where basil was treated almost as a green vegetable rather than as a mere flavoring, I find myself most pleased with the basil leaves uncooked. Vietnamese cooking seems to have a particularly fine grasp on the use of fresh herbs. One of my favorite of such dishes is the cool noodle salad bun, where rice vermicelli is served on a bed of shredded greens including copious amounts of basil and mint (not to mention Vietnamese coriander and perilla) topped with grilled meat and drizzled with a fish-sauce based dressing.

But one does not need to be so complicated.


Pesto is a paste, such as might be made by grinding moist ingredients with a pestle. The proportion and ingredients vary greatly — what I include here is the recipe in its simplest and most common form. But increasingly pestos are based on other herbs than basil, or sunflower seeds and walnuts are incorporated to spare the expensive pine nuts, or spinach is added to supplement the basil. These too, can be fine (if you like sunflower seeds, or walnuts, and remember to use twice the quantity of pesto, which spinach dilutes in flavor — this is a fine way to eat spinach, but it does not save on basil). All measurements are approximate; adjust to taste.

  • 5 parts basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 part grated Parmesan
  • 1 part pine nuts
  • 1 part olive oil
  • Fresh garlic and salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Or a blender, or a food processor (though the texture of pesto worked by hand is superior). Blend ingredients until they reach the desired consistency (which can be completely smooth, or rather lumpy and grainy, as desired, but should be more or less pastelike). If you are using a blender, you might need to add more olive oil so as to have a liquid enough consistency for adequate blending. Serve tossed with pasta. Or on bread, or pizza, or crackers. Pesto can also be frozen in ice cube trays or muffin tins (and later transferred into freezer bags) yielding a number of single serving portions for less bounteous times of the year.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

By fresh, here I mean “uncooked.” This is a dish that should wait for the arrival of decent tomatoes. If the tomatoes have no scent, pass them by.

Combine the following:

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 generous fistful of basil, sliced widthwise into ribbons (slicing basil widthwise, across the veins, best releases its flavor)

Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or a good red wine vinegar), then add salt and pepper to taste. One can also add a bit of pressed garlic, or a finely minced shallot, but in a dish so fully flavored there is no need to allow the alliums to dominate. Allow the sauce to sit for at least 10 minutes to better mingle the flavors before eating.

Serve, again, over pasta. Or as a topping for bread. For that matter, tossed with greens this sauce makes a nice salad.

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for June 1

By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

There is much to be said of small things. Even in this age of emphasis on bigness, we must realize that bigness is only a mass of small things. An idea is a small thing. With it we can change our world. We can take a tiny seed and give it careful attention and reap a hundred fold. We can take a little idea and give it our attention and build it into a fortune.

A smile is a small thing. Smile once at someone in passing and three will return the smile. Smiling is so contagious that it moves from person to person until a hundred smiling faces are the result of one.

A thought is a small thing. One thought inspires another and another until a mental image is formed. From that mental image blueprints are drawn. And from those blueprints worlds are built.

Here is a small thing. One tiny glimmer of hope can lift us out of the deepest pit of darkness. One whisper of encouragement will help us to know that as long as there’s hope there is an excellent chance.

A wish is a small thing. Like a little prayer, it climbs the steps to an idea that makes a smile and gives us hope to make our wishes come true. For in small things are all great things formed, in little beginnings the possibilities of great events.


Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet:
Click Here to Buy her books at

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site:


Elder’s Meditation of the Day June 1

Elder’s Meditation of the Day June 1

“You have to have a lot of patience to hear those old people talk, because when they talk, they talk about motivation, the feeling, the unsound that is around the universe. They explain everything to one understanding. They bring it all together, and when they finish, just one word comes out. Just one word. They might talk all day, and just one word comes out.”

–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

We need to be careful about judging the old ones when we talk. At first they may not make sense to us. Maybe we’ll say they’re old fashioned and don’t understand. But the old ones do understand! When they speak, listen very carefully. Often it will take weeks or maybe even years before we understand what they are really saying. This is the way of Wisdom. We need to listen, listen, listen.

Great Spirit, today, open my ears so I can hear the Elders.


June 1 – Daily Feast

June 1 – Daily Feast


Da tsalu’nee
Green Corn Month

I am….the Cherokees are….your friends…..Our wish is for peace. Peace at home and Peace among you…..

June 1 – Daily Feast

The morning is quiet and the high-pitched cry of the hawk carries clear to the quail and rabbits that rely on their sharp hearing to skitter out of sight. The hawk is hunting, and the small things of nature want no part of it. Threatening sounds – whether from a t wo di, hawk, or sirens, or angry voices – are frightening. As a child, a lesson in survival was learned when a rabbit ran the length of a field beneath a barbed-wire fence with a hawk in pursuit. The hawk was not about to fly into the barbs and gave up to hunt easier prey. The rabbit lay spent from fear, panting and gasping – but unafraid of a child that was no adananuladi, no threat or danger. It is easy to go weak from fear. But how many know where to run to when angry sounds threaten? The hawk does not hover over us but Yoweh does.

~ I hear nothing but pleasant words. ~


‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler


Daily Motivator for June 1 – Encourage yourself

Encourage yourself

Many times, the situations and events in your life won’t offer you much encouragement. On top of that, even other people may not have much encouragement to give you.

But that doesn’t mean you have to go without any encouragement. After all, you are perfectly capable of encouraging yourself.

Remind yourself how truly fortunate you are to be able to experience life’s great wonders. Consider all the positive possibilities that are available to you, even on the most difficult days.

You are marvelously free to think what you wish, to feel the way you choose, and to act in the best interest of yourself and your world. On top of that, you’re surrounded by a magnificent abundance that you can transform into great meaningful value.

Perhaps at the moment life is not offering you much encouragement, but that’s not really a problem. Connect with the joys you’ve already experienced, the possibilities of the present, and your dreams for the future, and you’ll find plenty of encouragement within yourself.

Is your world in need of encouragement, and there’s none to be found? Be the encourager, and you’ll be powerfully encouraged.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for June 1 – Recognizing Happiness

Recognizing Happiness
Analyzing the Path

by Madisyn Taylor


When we take the time to recognize when we are happy and what that feels like, it becomes easier to recreate. 

Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them.

Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we’ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there’s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don’t resonate with our light mood.

Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it doesn’t seem to come naturally, helps us to reconnect with the joy that usually precedes it. If we can identify a song, a picture, or a pet as a happiness trigger, we can use them as tools to recapture joy if we are having trouble finding it. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness.

Astronomy Picture of the Day for June 1

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 June 1
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

A Sagittarius Triplet
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh 

Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right. The third, NGC 6559, is above M8, separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20’s popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight. This broad skyscape also includes one of Messier’s open star clusters, M21, just above and right of the Trifid.

News From NASA: Live Webcast of Venus Transit








Watch the Venus Transit! Live Video Feeds

Several live NASA video feeds will be available on June 5 to observe the Venus transit. In the late afternoon on June 5, a live video feed of the transit as it looks over Huntsville, Ala., will be embedded on this page. We’ll also offer links to other cameras around NASA, including full coverage from Hawaii courtesy of NASA EDGE.

You can read more about this at:

NASA Home Page

Protecting Grandparents From Mercury

by Dominique Browning







By Laura Michelle Burns, Moms Clean Air Force

If you’re anything like me, you fall into the category of women who are caring for their children and their parents or grandparents. My aunt and my grandmother are both in their 70s. I’m grateful that they are in good health and are active. But I will confess that I worry about them the most when they are up visiting Lake Erie with their friends. It may sound silly, but I worry because they always tell me about the wonderful local, fresh caught fish they had each trip.

Growing up, I spent a lot of my summers visiting Port Clinton and Marblehead on the Lake Erie coast. Even as I type this, I can see myself sitting in a corner booth of a small Ohio diner watching the fishing boats pull up to the dock to sell their morning’s catch. I ate a lot of fresh caught fish sandwiches with my aunt and grandmother. I know they taste amazing! But what I know now is that those fish are tainted with mercury. Lake Erie is surrounded by coal-fired plants that spew mercury into our air. Mercury in the air doesn’t stay in one place, it is absorbed into the water droplets in the air and circulated through the clouds, and eventually rains down into our lake.

We know what mercury does our our children. Today though, I’d like to highlight what mercury does to our children’s grandparents. Since mercury is a neurotoxin, it functions in the degradation of the brain. A child’s brain is impacted by mercury in a way that can hinder the child from reaching their full potential. An adult’s brain has already developed and is now used to maintain the information necessary for everyday life and beyond.

6 Facts About Mercury:

  • Mercury can have an effect on the Central Nervous System, specifically the brain, by concentrating in the cerebral spinal fluid.
  • It can also inhibit the microtubules in the brain which then reduce the nerves’ function and their communication.
  • Our brains rely on the communication between the nerves to do things like remembering what it felt like to hold our baby for the first time, or how to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
  • As we age and these memories aren’t so recent, we rely more and more on our brains to retain them.
  • Alzheimer’s disease was reported to affect an estimated 5.4 million Americans in 2011.
  • Research has shown that mercury can be a causal factor in Alzheimer’s disease…even more so than the concerns of thimerosal being a leading factor in autism!

Of course, I want my family to be able to enjoy their summer visiting Lake Erie. I want them to eat and be as carefree as the day allows. But I also don’t want to worry that their memories could be affected by their unwitting consumption of mercury. This summer, as excited as I am to share my days with family, I’ll be encouraging them to skip the fish and order a burger instead. I know that memories can fade in time, but I’d hate to hurry it along with a side of mercury to accompany their catch of the day!


Eating Invasives: Delicious or Dangerous?

by The Nature Conservancy

By Matt Miller, The Nature Conservancy

Warm spring days evoke a strong memory of my grandmother. She’s hunched over the yard, seemingly picking randomly at the grass. Her short stature and rapid movements give the appearance of a dervish. She grips at a plant, plucks and plops it into the bucket, then moves a short distance away to resume her harvest.

My grandmother collected dandelions, a spring bounty she served with a bacon dressing. The bitter greens were not unlike spinach or kale, bitter yet tasty. My grandfather used the flowers to make a potent wine.

This time of year, I so often encounter dandelions shriveled from hefty doses of herbicide. Recalling my grandmother, it seems a waste: here are delicious, nutritious greens that could be providing some free meals. Instead, they’ve become toxic reminders of the so-called “war on weeds“—the scorched earth approach to invasive control favored by both surburban lawn owners and conservationists.

Why aren’t we instead looking at some non-native, invasive species as a sustainable source for fresh, local food?

The idea is popular. Books like Jackson Landers‘ upcoming Eating Aliens encourage local foodies to eat such invasives as iguanas and nutrias. Marine conservationists have launched campaigns to encourage restaurants to carry lionfish, a species devastating coral reefs. Even governments have urged their citizens to eat non-native gray squirrels (in Britain) and camels (in Australia).

As history shows, people can certainly eat their way through populations of species. As such, eating invasives doesn’t only provide good food, it’s good conservation.

Or is it?

An upcoming paper by ecologist Martin Nunez and others to be published in Conservation Letters, the journal of the Society of Conservation Biology, encourages skepticism to this approach. In the paper, they argue that encouraging people to eat invasives may have unintended consequences. There’s a real risk, the authors argue, that people will start actually liking said invasives.

Entrepreneurs could develop markets for them; hunters could enjoy pursuing them. Invasives could become a part of the local culture. As a review in Conservation Magazine points out, native Hawaiians often oppose eradication measures for non-native pigs because pig hunting and eating is so clearly linked to their culture.

I can relate: On a recent weekend, my friends and organic gardeners Clay and Josie Erskine asked me to their farm to hunt the non-native (in Idaho) wild turkeys that had begun raiding their gardens. As we looked across their farm, ring-necked pheasants ran from the kale patch. Valley quail called from literally every corner of the property.

“Every one of them is a non-native species,” Josie sighed. “And they’re all absolutely devastating to vegetable farmers like us.”

Non-native quail, pheasants and turkeys have a constituency, though. Membership organizations advocate for their conservation. Landowners can receive government funding for practices that largely benefit these birds.

I reluctantly admit, as a non-native gamebird hunter, I would oppose any effort to eliminate these species.

Could campaigns to eat kudzu or camels or carp actually have the reverse effect? Could such campaigns lead to people protecting or spreading them?

It bears serious thought.

The risks need to be recognized. So, too, do the benefits.

Intensive invasive species control poses risks of its own. With its war metaphors and scorched earth campaigns, invasives eradication often requires hefty doses of toxic chemicals. And just as often, weeds or invasive animals still flourish. Aside from cases on small islands such as Santa Cruz, complete eradication is usually impossible.

Recognizing dandelions as a food source will not eradicate the plant. But spraying dandelions doesn’t, either.

In many ways, eating invasives is not a control measure so much as it is a new way of interacting with non-native species. Through eating them, they become part of our environment rather than “enemies.” And because they’re prolific and abundant, they make ideal sustainable, low-carbon, local food sources.

Despite our best efforts, invasive species already thrive in our midst. Is serving them for dinner really going to make them even more prevalent?

Doubtful. These species are here to stay. It’s time to recognize them as a truly sustainable and abundant food source. I’ll take the fried iguana served over a bed of dandelion greens, please.

Matt Miller is a senior science writer for The Nature Conservancy. He writes features and blogs about the conservation research being conducted by the Conservancy’s 550 scientists. Matt previously worked for nearly 11 years as director of communications for the Conservancy’s Idaho program. He serves on the national board of directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. An avid naturalist and outdoorsman, Matt has traveled the world in search of wildlife and stories.

First Lady Grows a Book

by Eric Steinman

Eleanor Roosevelt achieved the last vegetable garden planted at the White House back in the early 1940s. For approximately 65 years the White House lawn (which technically is considered a national park) was reserved for press conferences, Easter egg hunts, and photo ops. Nary a vegetable was grown for generations. First lady Michelle Obama sought to change all of that, while simultaneously addressing the nation’s need to rethink health and nutrition. So, she did the obvious thing and planted an organic garden (or more accurately, had it planted) on the White House lawn a few years back.

The yield was impressive, with tons of organic veggies, honey, etc, and the reception was largely positive (excepting a few naysayers who feel the First Lady is trying to impose a “nanny state” where nutrition is dictated from up high). Now, after two harvests comes the definitive, White House-approved book to go with the garden. The fittingly titled American Grown is a look at rebuilding the tradition of the White House garden, while taking a concerted look back at the history of the American garden (it wasn’t so long ago that nearly everyone that could, had their own backyard garden).

The First Lady has made some noise in the past, and ruffled some feathers, with her dedication to reframing how Americans, particularly American families, consider health and nutrition. For her, the journey seems like it was informed by personal experience, as she told NPR earlier this week:

“Obama says her path to becoming a health advocate was a personal journey. ‘Before coming to the White House, I was a busy working mother. My husband was a U.S. senator and was often not home. We found ourselves eating out more than we should, packing on the sugary drinks … the habits that you fall into just trying to get through the day. And our pediatrician kind of pulled me aside and said, ‘You might want to look at your children’s diet.’ ‘”

Are you inspired by the First Lady’s moves towards a new era in gardening, or do you see it as just a cynical undermining of personal choice? Do you have a garden and if so, has it changed the way you and your family eat? Whether or not you want to buy the book, is there any reason not to be in support of the mission of bringing backyard gardening back into the mainstream?

Daily Feng Shui Tip for June 1 – “World Milk Day”

Some calendars refer to this first day of the month as ‘World Milk Day,’ so I thought I’d share some milky legends and a silky soak. Milk was once considered a mystical gift from the gods. It was also believed to strengthen and enhance your own ability to give and receive love. And that promise pertains whether you’re wearing a milk mustache or bathing in it. This particular milk bath recipe offers soothing and calm while bringing restoration to body, mind and spirit. You’ll need a half-cup each of honey, milk and Epsom salts, as well as a few springs of fresh parsley and mint. Mix the milk and honey in a bowl and add the herbs. Run a bath and pour in the salt and let dissolve. Add the honey and milk mixture and soak in that for twenty quiet minutes. Ah, milk. It does a body good.

By Ellen Whitehurst for

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for June 1 is 54: Careful Affection

54: Careful Affection

Hexagram 54

General Meaning: Affection is the basis of all lasting relationships, but must be channeled properly in order to bring satisfaction, and support the self-esteem of both parties. For example, a married person’s lover would necessarily have conflicted feelings: affection coupled with insecurity. Relationships based mainly on personal attraction, especially those that are outside the mainstream, require special caution and tactful reserve.

If you assert yourself too much, or try to make yourself indispensable, you will only incur misfortune. It is never easier to make disastrous mistakes than when you venture outside the bounds of propriety. If you are in doubt as to whether you should follow your heart or your head, allow for some time to pass, and perhaps the answer will become clear. Initiating any action could bring misfortune. Do not attempt to be too creative or attract favorable attention at this time.

Today’s Runes for Friday, June 1 is Fehu


Ice Runes are most commonly used for questions about struggle, conflict, and achievement. Fehu represents cattle the Norse symbol of wealth. This rune has some interesting implications based on the fact that cattle, unlike land, move about of their own accord. Cattle also reproduce, so this rune often speaks of wealth that renews or perpetuates itself. Wealth takes many forms, but this rune generally represents the value that is purely material or monetary in nature. Alternatively, this rune is deeply associated with Frey, and hence can be the harbinger of fertility and children.