Magical Moons and Seasonal Circles

comments (0) December 16th, 2011

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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The cover of Magical Moons & Seasonal Circles by Susan Betz.Click To Enlarge

The cover of Magical Moons & Seasonal Circles by Susan Betz.

Photo: Susan Belsinger

Last week, I wrote about one of my favorite cookbooks, Preserving by Pat Crocker, released this year and now I am going to review a wonderful nature book. Magical Moons and Seasonal Circles, written by Susan Betz this year, is one of my favorite books of 2011. I must admit, Susan is an herbal friend and colleague of mine, and I did work on editing the book for her. In fact, she came to me with the first chapter of this book a few years ago and I encouraged her to write it and she has created a delightful read. She has written a hands-on, user-friendly book on the cycles of our earth; her subtitle is Stop—Look—Listen, Stepping into the Circle of the Seasons.
Here is the description on the back cover of the book: “Mother Nature keeps a date book, an exciting schedule of mysterious and magical events unfolding daily in our backyards and beyond. She does not want you to wait for an invitation or schedule an appointment; she is ready and willing to entertain and educate on a moment's notice. Phenology is the study of the timing of natural periodic events in the plant and animal world influenced by the local environment, especially weather, temperature and seasonal change. In pre-colonial America, the cycles of nature directed the American Indians' daily tasks, economy and celebrations. Their knowledge of 'nature's calendar" kept them in harmony with the natural world. Magical Moons and Seasonal Circles follows nature's annual cycles according to Algonquian full moon names, demonstrating how seasonal weather patterns and climate effect the life cycles and interactions of common native plants, trees, animals and insects living in our backyards and local communities. The Algonquin full moon names assigned to each month provide themes for the gardening projects, games, crafts and American Indian folk tales.”

Magical Moons and Seasonal Circles is a thoughtful celebration of the earth and the year-round cycles of nature. Intended as a guidebook for teachers and adults, Susan Betz has gathered this wonderful compendium of Native American lore, passed-along stories, poetry, interesting facts, science and botany, as well as her own personal observations and black-and-white photographs from years of experience as a nature lover. The hands-on activities and thought-provoking projects range from simply taking the time to observe what is going on in our own backyards, to keeping a journal, as well as nature crafts and experiments which will appeal to children of all ages—there is something in this book for everyone—from preschoolers to big kids.

Besides, the native American legends and moon stories, I love that Susan includes Good Friends—Our Native Trees; Constellations Every Child Should Know; Activities and Adventures from the Backyard and Beyond (great crafts and projects); Thymely Tips and Sage Advice (things to do and look for now); Seasonal Patterns, not to mention fun quotes, poems and observations for every month.

The winter solstice is fast approaching—it is a part of the seasonal cycles that we celebrate year round—our longest night and shortest day of the whole year. I recommend that you buy this book so that you can read all about the winter months; snuggle up in a chair and read it out loud to your favorite little kids, big kids, or just enjoy this lovely tome all on your own. You can purchase this book at



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posted in: Book Review, Magical Moons & Seasonal Circles, phenology