In Honor of Saint Francis: Blessing of the Animals

Power of Now 2016 wall calendar

Image from The Power of Now 2016 wall calendar featuring quotes by Eckhart Tolle. Male rufous hummingbird © Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures. Click image for more info.

The Sunday closest to the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, usually the first Sunday in October, is often observed with a Blessing of the Animals ceremony in Catholic and Anglican churches around the world. This year the ceremony coincides with the day Saint Francis is honored, October 4.

Francis is famous for many things: for founding the order of Franciscans; for his peace-making efforts, particularly with the Muslim world; and for creating the first Christmas crèche, with live animals posed around a manger filled with straw.

Folk legends about him often revolve around his tender treatment of animals. On one occasion, he preached to the birds, telling them they should be thankful for their clothes, their freedom, and that God cared for them – and the birds stood still to listen to him.

He once tamed a wolf that was menacing the town of Gubbio, convincing the wolf to stop killing men and animals, and convincing the dogs of the town to leave the wolf alone and the townspeople to feed him. Renaissance painters frequently pictured him surrounded by animals.

In his Canticle of the Sun, Francis addresses Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Brother Fire and Sister Water. Thus, he has become the patron saint of ecology. The current pope chose to take the name of Francis because he admired the saint’s devotion to the poor. If Francis were alive today, he would probably join the pope in preaching about climate change.

On this holiday, if you do not participate in a Blessing of the Animals ceremony, you might consider undertaking some action to protect the environment, in the spirit of Saint Francis.

Waverly FitzgeraldWaverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”



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The Power of Now 2016 wall calendar

Artist Spotlight — Elena Ray

We asked Elena to share her inspiration behind her gorgeous images and her love of yoga. ~ Amber Lotus

Yoga Meditations 2016 wall calendar

Images from the Yoga Meditations 2016 wall calendar featuring artwork by Elena Ray. Click image for more info.

The art of yoga is a beautiful philosophy of self-care and realization. I discovered the practice at the age of 40 and, like so many people, was mesmerized by the gorgeous postures. It was a natural step for me to begin photographing yogis. My work is rewarding: you just can’t find nicer people than those in the yoga community!

Ultimately I have learned that in all instances the practice is finely tailored to meet individual goals and health considerations. This idiosyncratic objective has resulted in a wide range of yoga styles. Yoga Meditations wall calendar seeks to explore all these different approaches and to find those nuggets of wisdom that can fuel your intention to breathe a little deeper and make it through that next warrior pose.

The intention of Yoga Meditations is to be a modern-day sutra enlightening the year with practical inspiration. “Sutra” is the Sanskrit word for “thread.” In ancient times, yogic wisdom was passed from teacher to student through recitation and memorization; later, it was written as sacred texts on palm leaves.

All the teachers quoted in Yoga Meditations have contributed, each in their own unique way, to the uprising knowledge and evolution of yoga. The mixed-media illustrations are an amalgam of ancient oriental art, digital photography, and abstract painting.

To this day, yoga continues to be a teacher-centric practice. Hatha yoga techniques are voluminous and ever evolving. The physical and psycho-energetic work must be approached in a safe and holistic manner if the practice is to be of benefit to the practitioner. Teachers set a foundation for the work and provide insight. It is these insights that have been collected in Yoga Meditations.


Elena RayElena Ray creates mixed-media art exploring psychological revelation, spiritual unfolding, healing, and energy. She focuses on the holistic arts and the people who practice them. Elena is a yoga student and desert soul. She works and lives in Joshua Tree, California, with her husband and their two cats. For more information, please visit her website.


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Yoga Meditations 2016 wall calendar 50% off!
Features quotes by luminaries such as Yoga Swami Svatmarama and T. K. V. Desikachar and text from the Radiance Sutras. Special price expires 10:00 p.m. (PT), Friday, October 2.

Yoga Meditations 2016 wall calendar

Artist Spotlight — Lynn Karlin Wins Gold with Simply Raw

September 2015
Press Release Excerpt from the Garden Writers Association:
Lynn Karlin Receives 2015 Gold Award for Best Talent or Product

Simply Raw 2015 wall calendar. Click image to see the 2016 edition.

Lynn Karlin based in Belfast, Maine, received the Garden Writers Association Gold Award for Best Talent or Product in the Photography category for Simply Raw, a vegetable portraits calendar.

This national award recognizes individuals and companies who achieve the highest levels of talent and professionalism in garden communications.

“The Garden Writers Association Media Awards showcase the writers, photographers, editors, publishers, and trade companies that have pursued excellence in gardening communication in print or electronic communications,” says Larry Hodgson, president of GWA. “The Media Award winners have been judged by industry experts and show significant distinction and merits that exemplify exceptional work.”

A member since 1997, Karlin has won numerous awards for her photography that appeared in garden magazines and books. For the past 7 years she has added fine art photography to the mix and thanks to her collaboration with Amber Lotus Publishing her 4th Simply Raw 2016 calendar is out now with another to follow for 2017.

Since the early 1980s, the GWA Media Awards program has recognized outstanding writing, photography, graphic design, and illustration for books, newspaper stories, magazine articles, and other works focused on gardening. In recent years, the awards program has expanded to include on-air talent, production and direction for radio, television, video, Internet, and other electronic media.

See all the 2015 GWA Media Award recipients on the GWA website.

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Simply Raw 2016 wall calendar

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Thich Nhat Hanh 2016 wall calendar

Painting by Nicholas Kirsten-Honshin from our Thich Nhat Hanh 2016 wall calendar. Click to see more.

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival falls on the full moon of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (September 27 this year).

I’ve always loved this holiday that marks the beginning of the dark half of the year, the half that is correlated with the yin or feminine element. In some parts of China, it was celebrated only by women, who gathered in a courtyard and created an altar with a statue of the Jade Rabbit, who lives at the center of the moon. They drank tea and dined on moon cakes and fruits that symbolize fertility, like pomegranates, grapes, apples, melons, and peaches. I like to serve honeydew melon and lemon-balm tea (since lemon balm is an herb of the moon). Continue reading