There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

looking forward

THE YEAR 2012 has been a year of transition, which always uncovers something new. Also, what is seemingly old can be renewed with a fresh perspective. A lot of exciting things (along with the bad, of course) have happened this year, both personally and with the world at large. That's what the New Year's celebration is always about—looking back at where you have been, while looking forward to where you are going. It's necessary to gain perspective from what we have lived through to move forward with any new endeavors we dare to dream.

THIS "TREE" is composed from my snow globe collection is arranged on a galvanized three-tiered stand, trimmed in white crepe paper and dusted with faux snow. It embodies time and memory. I related my feelings about the resonance of the miniature worlds of snow globes in a previous post in January 2011 titled "Frozen Memories," which you can read here. Ancient druids believed that woodland spirits hid themselves in holly branches to wait out the harshness of winter, so I've included them as a forward-looking talisman for a sunny and warm new year.

ON A BROAD SCALE, a great way to recap the year's events is to look at what people have searched for. Google's Zeitgeist 2012 video does just that. Watch it (embedded below). More on Google's "most searched" can be found at this link
This inspiring video compiles the things people are looking for under broad inspirational themes in relation to the events of 2012. The word "zeitgeist" actually means "spirit of the age/time." I'm also using these themes as a way to relate the significance of the snow globes that decorate this "tree."

LOOKING FOR FIRSTS | This tree snow globe represents acknowledgement—surrounded by curious fauna. A personal first for me this year in a career of working as a designer in publishing, is actually being the subject matter of something that was published. Matthew Mead generously granted an eight-page feature about my blog and book in his Holiday/Christmas magazine available here. And Ben Ashby published a two-page excerpt of my book in FOLK, his magazine celebrating the made-in-America movement, which is available here. honored my book by selecting it as a staff pick! My book published through is available here. All this can only mean I'm gaining momentum with my pursuits (I have a scheduled surprise coming in the spring of 2013 that I'll reveal later). Now that I have some attention beyond the blogosphere, I hope to find a way to make my passions a way of life, rather than it being a sideline. Of course I give a lot of credit to my friends, blog followers and buyers of my book who have supported me along the way with their encouragement and inspiration.

LOOKING FOR RELIEF | Aren't we all? This polar bear snow globe represents a planet in distress. When the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, it's time to change course in the way we live. The biggest relief for me this year was when Barack Obama won his second term as president and was forced to address this issue because of Hurricane Sandy—the October Surprise in this year's election. The palpable effect of climate change is evident in bigger and badder ways than ever before. We are finally being forced to recognize that our way of living needs to change, not the climate. We're realizing that a more biocentric way of life includes keeping the diversity in the natural world intact. Sustaining Mother Nature will, in turn, sustain us, as it always has. It's a beautiful cycle not to be tampered with.
LOOKING FOR A CHOICE | The owl snow globe is a warning message. The right choices are always informed by the proper balance between the intuitive and the cognitive. We live in a world where information is at our fingertips like never before. We should be smarter for it, rather than misinformed. Our attention spans need to somehow lengthen again, now that we realize the end of the Mayan calendar wasn't the end, but rather, a new beginning. The Mayans considered the white owl a powerful messenger from the spirit world. This animal spirit warns us that a world out of balance is life out of balance. The white owl is a guardian that allows us to see clearly beyond fear and illusion. Taking time to slow down and ask the important questions will surely be one result of this.

LOOKING FOR CHANGE | The white rabbit snow globe is an invitation to step out of ordinary time. Seeing a white rabbit has long been an indicator of the possibility of spiritual enlightenment and/or an encounter with the Divine. As Alice in Wonderland experienced, a white rabbit can call us away from our ordinary life to go on an extraordinary journey. This will lead us to a transformational experience. It is an invitation to enter into the realm of the hidden, intuitive, unconscious world that coexists with what appears to be reality. A white rabbit in our path is a metaphorical invitation to remain awake and alert to new directions, sometimes releasing what we once thought was important.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL |  This silver tree snow globe is a symbol of finding the special qualities in everything you encounter, no matter how barren it may seem. My favorite way to gain this perspective is to allow myself some time to be completely immersed in Nature. In our lives in cities away from large expanses of sparsely populated land, the stars in the sky are mostly obliterated from sight by the ambient light of civilization. This past November, Devin and I had a week's worth of time to explore the beaches and land around Tulum, Mexico. One night we took the time to lie on the beach and look up at the stars. We were both amazed at the magnificent sight above us in this sparsly populated area. Looking into the depth of this unobscured night sky had a humbling effect. We both got a clear message of the love the universe has in store for us.

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION |  This Christmas Tree snow globe represents inspiration. Childhood Christmas trees from my childhood informed the creation of this blog. And I am constantly looking for new ways to create magic with The Decorated Tree. I invite you to continue on my journey with me in celebrating the seasons and I hope the new year is filled with joyous discovery in everything for which we search. Here's to a happy, prosperous and forward-looking 2013! 

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Sunday, December 9, 2012

pine cone abundance

THE PINE CONE crop this year has been extremely abundant. According to folklore an abundance of pine cones predicts a harsher than normal winter. In understanding the natural cycles in pine cone production, this abundance is called a mast year. This means large numbers of cones (along with nuts and berries) provide a greater than usual amount of seeds for wildlife. This is, in a large part, why pine cones have been a recurring theme in my creations for my blog.

PATTERNS OF NATURE | The amazing texture of a pinecone is gloriously replicated in this oversized mercury glass kugel placed among the gifts at the base of the tree (from a past season's Martha Stewart line at Macy's).
THE HIGH LEVELS of fat and protein in a fall masting help contribute to fat stores necessary for migration, hibernation and survival of young animals once they are out foraging on their own. There is much abundance to be seen all around in the simplest gifts of nature, even if times seem dismal in our increasingly anthropocentric lives.

BECAUSE OF the masting seed cone production, Mother Nature helps ensure that there will be plenty of seeds left over for young conifers to spring up in the woods to continue its magnificent cycle. Consider this rich symbolism when you're ritualistically decorating a tree in your own home.

NATURE STUDY | The seeds of conifer trees called pine cones are represented well in all their stunning variety with my growing collection of mercury glass ornaments.
LIGHT FANTASTIC | These tiny warm white LED lights add just the right amount of magical sparkle and hide well within the branches of the tree without it looking like a jumble of wires. The best ones I've seen can be found at Restoration Hardware and are appropriately called Starry Light Strings.
ONCE AGAIN, I present my ever-growing "mast crop" of glass pinecone ornaments. It was 2005 when I last decorated a real Fraser Fir with these, complete with candles, which was finally posted online the year I started this blog in a post entitled "Tree of Light." This holiday season, you will find a 2-page book excerpt with the photos from this post and one created especially for the book published in FOLK magazine (click here or on the cover link in the left column for information on ordering). You may also order my book at a $10 discount by clicking here using the code GIVE10 at the checkout.

SIMPLE ELEGANCE | Instead of blowing up the top of your tree with an explosion of glittery floral picks, huge bows and otherwise, the understated and simple elegance of an old-fashioned finial topper is the way to go. This retro-inspired topper is from a past line of ornaments for Target by Thomas O'brien.
THESE GLASS CONES have become magical symbols of fertility to create abundance in my life and in the lives of those whom I love. In 2005 when I lost both of my parents within months of each other, I didn't know that I could even muster the energy to decorate a tree, but the absolutely perfect fir tree found me that year and I had to honor its life, even in the absence of the people who brought me life, I set out that year to create a tree that exemplified what one of the first holiday trees might have looked like. Have a look back at the post again here to see this tree.

WITH MUCH TALK about a impending gloomy "end of the world" this year with the seeming "end" of Mayan calendar, I choose to believe that it is just the "end of the world as we know it."  A compassionate Evo Morales, President of Bolivia said it best in addressing the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly this past September. I end my post with these hopeful thoughts of an abundant new beginning of a more biocentric life for the world—as translated in English from President Morales address to the group:

"And I would like to say that according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of the time and the beginning of non-time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism . . . the 21st of December this year.

The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric­ life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love. The end of lies and the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of joy. It is the end of division and the beginning of unity. This is a theme to be developed, that is why... we invite you, those who bet on mankind, we invite those who want to share their instances for the good of mankind . . ."
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland