Dear Friends,
This weekend we pressed the apple harvest. Five of us have been collecting wild apples from all over western Connecticut and downeast Maine for the past two months. A now yearly tradition for us apple devotees; we have grown very fond of the trees that we collect from. One of my favorite spots is in the parking lot of a regional land trust with trails leading down to a large pond. Here, there is a circle of three trees and they all have grown across the ground; giant trunks resting directly on the earth, forming a crown. Their horizontal growth makes the apple collection easeful; I feel balanced and held by the great limbs of these apples. Since we have been visiting these beloved trees for a few years now, we are noticing which ones need some care. There are many with a lot of dead wood and overcrowded limbs; they are overdue for good pruning. They haven’t been tended to in a long, long time, if ever. While picking this year, we all expressed desire to visit the wild apples that we love in February to prune the trees back. I have never been to downeast Maine in February. A cold, cold job, but a worthy trip to give some care to the apples that give us so much. We made 50 gallons of cider that is now fermenting in Will and Jill’s basement. We used a giant fruit press that Jill’s uncle, Pete, built in the 60’s. The press has a unique personality that they have been carefully learning about over the years; it creaks and squeaks and shifts and shudders. But it is very special to use this heirloom press. While we aren’t (yet) pressing grapes for the wine making that the press was intended for; this is our yearly devotion to this beloved tree, our own regional ritual that ties us to the shifting season and will provide in the months to come. 
24 crates of apples for cider // Will & Jill with Uncle Pete's press
I think of Palestine all day. I think of their sacred tree, the Olive. The ancient olive groves that have been tended to generation after generation after generation. These trees are considered family. My friend Yas and her family have been harvesting from the same olive trees for hundreds of years. She once told me her grandfather had a sweet, endearing nickname for every one of the trees they harvest from. A wide range of names to express the depth of his love. October is the month of Olive harvest in Palestine; the olives that are usually harvested at this time sustain a family for the year to come and are a necessary economic assurance while living under occupation and blockade. I have been hearing that so many families in Gaza are unable to reach their beloved trees because of the ongoing bombings. Not only is the harvest disrupted this year from the onslaught, Israeli settlers from illegal settlements have been burning and cutting down these sacred trees for years, vandalizing their tools of harvest. This is a calculated method of severing Palestinian families from their traditional ways, their life blood, as well as removing any opportunity for economic stability. This past Saturday, on the day of our apple pressing, a 40 year old farmer named Bilal Saleh was shot in the chest by settlers as he harvested his olives with his wife, children and siblings in his village of al-Sawiya. He harvested herbs in the hills to make a living: thyme, sumac, sage… he knew the plants well. My heart breaks for his family. May his memory be a blessing. May we feel him in our own thyme in our gardens. When we sip our sage tea. 
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a photo of an ancient olive sits on the apothecary altar 
Olive is an ancestral tree for me, having people from the southern Mediterranean who also tended to Olives. But I did not grow up around Olive trees. I have been closer to apple trees in this life time. A lot of what I have learned about the medicine of Olives has been because of the generous teaching of my SWANA kin. The first time I met a two thousand year old olive in Italy, I felt the medicine. If you have ever stood in an olive grove you will know what I mean when I say that Olive is the heart wood. These trees open your heart to the deep pulse of the earth. These trees nourish our sense of kinship with the world. They replenish humanity. Those who tend to Olives are tending to life, to all that is vital. There is a reason why they are a worldwide symbol for peace. My heartfelt appreciation for these trees is strengthened by Palestinian kin. Their exemplary tending is such a deeply rooted alignment of love. 
Today is Halloween. I will be at my altar tonight, praying and making offerings for Samhain. Some of my ancestors worked with apples on this night, to connect with the otherworld. I will be doing the same. Tomorrow I am beginning a deep dive into ancestor work with a new cohort of folks in the Becoming Kin offering. When I first announced the class a few months back, I knew I wanted to begin our time together on All Saints Day – a day when we list the names of the dead, a litany of ancestors surrounding us. I could not feel any more urgency around this work than I do right now: the haunting of Empire is on full display. 
Holy ones, we need you. Ancestor trees, remind us of the necessity of tending. Help us a remember a way other than conquest and estrangement. Help us see the ways in which we perpetuate the harms of our colonized ancestors. Help us metabolize our grief through action towards liberation. Let us remember how we are woven together. Ancestor Olive, let us enter your ancient grove of restoration so we can feel this remembering deep in our bodies. Ancestor Apple, bring us your divine sweetness, bring us the blessings and the medicines that we need to shift hardened patterns of domination. Ancestor trees, root these prayers deep into the earth. Ancestor trees, send these prayers to the stars of possibility, let them illuminate the sky. Thank you.
With heart,
x Liz 
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       A few notes on upcoming classes:
  1. Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for Kitchen Craft. I hope you can join us in collective medicine making, from our own kitchens. We will be focusing on helpful remedies for the winter season as well as a few nice things for holiday gifting. We start November 7th! 
  2. There are still spaces left in November 11th's intensive offering with Devin Antheus in Kingston on floral rites and magic… this will be a very special and intimate workshop. Flowers For The Altar.
  3. Tending The Hearth is still open for sign ups! We begin in December. I will be sending out a more in-depth newsletter about this class soon, but just a reminder that this is the last time this class will be offered and it is a deep dive into Winter folk traditions and magic from around Europe. A great place to start if you are considering ancestral remembrance work…
  4. I  signed up for this knowledge share: Olives & History Through A Palestinian Indigenous Framework which will be offered through Herban Cura sometime this winter by members of The Palestinian Feminist Collective. Join me?