It was easy to imagine this caftan worn by some Celtic Priestess, and I felt drawn towards one of my favorite trees, the Madrone, to make a special image:
Here is the berry of the Madrone, the very last one on the tree, which I am pretending to pick (actually I left it for the birds-- they need it more than I do).
This is a Pacific Madrone, beloved by the wildlife whom it shelters and feeds (some trees in the foothills are as big as four story buildings!) and used by Natives for a strengthening and healing tea. Modern herbalists use the leaves much like its relative Manzanita, for treating urinary tract infections, and in post-partum sitz baths.
She is appealing to the artist's eye, with her red bark like peels like a beautifully distressed barn door to reveal a silky smooth surface underneath:
I have always felt a special affinity with this lovely tree, and she is one of the beings of the Sierra Foothills that makes me childishly happy every time I see her, like a dear old friend. Celtic Tree Lore mentions Madrone's symbolism as a "Mother Tree, protector", and in fact this grove of young Madrone trees is the favorite place for me and the cats to hang out on the hillside behind our house. I recently learned that Madrone's relatives in Ireland (where she is called the "Strawberry Tree", and is indigenous) grow most profusely in my mother's homeland of County Kerry! So perhaps there is a genetic connection...?
The "Mists of Avalon" caftan, by the way, is for sale in my Etsy store! Happy magic-making!
I am not one to get out of bed a single minute before I have to, so it was somewhat of a miracle that I was up this morning before 8am. Maybe it was because it had just stopped raining after a steady downpour all night long? Whatever the reason, when I descended the steep Dutch staircase from our sleeping loft, to the wall-of-windows living area, the most amazing scene met my eyes: ethereal grey mist was rising from every conceivable nook of our little holler, making it look almost like someone had turned on a fog machine! My first impulse was the correct one for a fashion photographer: "I have to take pictures!" By the time I dressed and painted a little eyeliner on, some of the mist had melted away, but I still found a pocket of it in the apple orchard by the pond. I chose for my outfit this beautiful robin's egg blue capelet (which will be for sale in the shop this evening, by the way). It just seemed like the right thing to emerge from the Mists of Avalon! I wish it could have all lasted longer, but after about a half hour my hands were freezing and covered in dew, and my boots were caked in sticky mud. I did find some amazing apples, though, still hanging on into mid-November, and still crisp and delicious... survivors.
Hello to friends and readers old and new, and welcome to the new blog home of Astral Boutique! Come visit my new Etsy store to see all the beautiful new things that I have found for you... and meanwhile, let's be blog friends, please?
Now I think that, for a first post, an explanation of "how I got the name" would be apt.
"Astral Boutique" started as a character in my own mind, a stage name that I adopted for myself when I first started playing live music in earnest a few years ago. That was before I even had my own band, when I used to first accompany Chris in his group The Dazzling Strangers. He is "Christopher Stranger", and I couldn't very well be just "Sasha Soukup", could I? Since the genre of his work is often classified as "Space Rock", the "Astral" came naturally (I love all star names- Stella, Astrid, Aster, etc.), and since I have always liked to glam it up onstage (and in life), "Boutique" was a perfect last name.
I adore that "boutique" is thoroughly, wonderfully French, and yet it's a word which has been completely absorbed by the American language-- so everyone actually knows how to pronounce it! And I love how "boutique" evokes a different image for everyone... the consistent theme being that a Boutique is always a carefully curated, intimate, classy place.
This was all ages before I ever dreamed of opening a clothing store online, and to tell you the truth, I hadn't even thought of my stage name lately (maybe because I have been gadding about as Sasha Shamrock quite a bit more these days). Chris was the one who had the revelation for the new store (after we discarded such gems as "Fabric Forest", and "Bohemian Basement") (the latter of which Chris was actually disappointed that we didn't use)-- and it just made sense right away. Not only was the name totally ME, but it was a pun on the very idea of running a clothing store in this virtual ether of the online world!
Even better, the name implies the era which I specialize in-- that special time in the late 60s and early 70-- when fashion and thought was, well, a little trippy. Last but not least, "Astral Boutique" sounds a lot like the name of Van Morrison's amazing classic album, Astral Weeks, which is a reference I am more than happy to make!
Welcome to my new world. Sit down, relax, tell me a few secrets. We'll get you fitted out in the dress of your wildest dreams, ready for the next adventure.