Category Archives: supernatural

Haunted Wetlands

“…there are deep, silent forests, plunging ravines and gorges,
tumbling waterfalls, still lakes, soaring mountains, and bird-haunted wetlands.”
~ Lincoln Barnett, The Ancient Adirondacks, 1974

Mist rolls off the pond like tumbleweed. Over Columbus Day weekend, I swam in the lake with a juvenile loon, listening to its creaky voice. A flock of geese flew in a V across a sunset hazy sky. They squawked. Alone in the water, I pushed through hydrilla and slippery reeds, coiled ‘round my wrists like odd bracelets. Back home, thumps and thuds clamor through the woods. It’s just deer and moose. A murmuration of starlings explodes suddenly from trees and even the woodpeckers pause their pecking on a rotten birch. My black ash seep, Fern Gully, smells of sweet fern and wild grapes, a strange brew of grape and goldenrod. A perennial stream trickles through the woods and flows into the pond.

A neighbor told me something eerie about the land—that’s mostly forested wetlands and uplands. We live next to a pond previously called Little Rattlesnake Lake.  It was known as a sacred place. A legend told of a healing energy and spiritual protection over all who lived there. I’ve noticed that a number of healers, and others who work in the health profession, live in the neighborhood. My neighbor retold stories about ghosts and spirits, which she had believed to have seen in the woods between our houses. She thought the land was haunted. A hydromancer came with a dowsing rod and he identified several places where water was hidden underground, matching my neighbor’s maps showing the location of pipes and springs. He also confirmed her suspicion—but clarified that the area was charged with a kind of water force and spirits, and they held positive sway over the land. I listened to all of this with great curiosity because I, too, had felt good vibes. When I first moved here, I named my new home “Nixie’s Vale,” with a nod to Tennyson and to water spirits.

Growing up in haunted houses in coastal Maine, I was no stranger to ghost hunters. My family lived in a home that was featured on the TV show, “Unsolved Mysteries,” for one thing, and tourists wandered in through the parlors when I was a teen-ager.  Wetlands of all kinds, but especially bogs, moors, swamps, meadows and seashores, set the scene for a good ghost story. In classicliterature, wetlands represented something dark and mysterious. In modern fiction, wetlands are still a preferred setting. Read a short story called, “Phantom Lovers of Dismal Swamp,” by S.E. Schlosser or the famedSookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, set in a rural swampy Louisiana parish with quirky stories of the undead.

Skeptics and believers alike may have a strange experience, then share their story with others, like this one in Florida: Spirit in the Swamp. Others are legends retold over time, such as the story of the “swamp girl” in South Carolina. Ghost hunters or “paranormal investigators” are drawn to the places where the stories originate—and sometimes that means wetlands. Read the story of the “Floating White Mist of the Laguna Wetlands” involving a tiger salamander. Or arrange to go on an Appalachian ghost walk in the Wetlands Water Park in Tennessee (note the “Spook & Slide” vacation package.) If you’re in Maryland, visit the wetlands of the Haunted Eastern Shore, notorious for ghost sightings, along with sightings of phantom-like swans.  In Louisiana, there are many Cajun tales and other ghost stories…too many to mention here. Here’s one website that links to a number of Louisiana ghost stories, some of which are set in swamps: http://www.prairieghosts.com/hauntla.html

If you prefer to curl up with a book of wetland ghost stories, try Ghosthunting North Carolina by Kate Ambrose. Most of the book is set in coastal wetlands. For stories set in other parts of the country, there’s Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound andGhosts of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak.

By contrast, some deer hunters’ tales read like ghost stories. Read “Going after Swamp Ghosts.” But that isn’t science fiction.

Strange Wetlands wants to read your ghost stories set in wetlands, fact or fiction. If you have a link to your story or blog, please send it to us for consideration.

2012 the Year of the Black Water Dragon

The Chinese year of the Black Water Dragon—2012, began January 23rd, and ends on February 9, 2013. The last time it was a Black Water Dragon year was 60 years ago in 1952. Black Water Dragon years are meant to “cool things down.” The Dragon is the fifth symbol in the Chinese zodiac.

Before you roll your eyes about all of this astrology business, keep in mind the example of the year President Obama was elected…the year of the Earth Ox, or water buffalo. Chinese astrologers predicted that the elected president would be one who was born during an Ox year (he was born the year of the Metal Ox), and President Obama was also elected during an Ox year. Astrologers claim that the Ox succeeds in a slow-and-steady process.

In addition to the Chinese zodiac animal, there is also an element (water, fire, earth, metal, wood) attached to each zodiac animal year, as well as a color, attributing more specific characteristics to that year. Historically, there were 9 types of Chinese dragons, which were regarded as demi-gods because they were believed to be a source of rain. This also meant that dragons were the cause of floods. Dragons play an important role in Chinese mythology. For instance, one of their river deities, Pi-hsi, is part tortoise, part dragon, and its ruling element is water. Another mythological dragon was born out of aquatic weeds. Different colored dragons foretold different weather patterns, for example, a black dragon predicted storms. The color black, when applied to a dragon year, gives it a mysterious, unpredictable quality. As applied to water, black water years signify storms, flooding and other “dark water” – water heavily loaded with sediment can be dark.

What about other water dragons?  Water dragons appear in mythology and folklore all over the world. For example, in the Seneca Nation in the U.S. and in Canada, there is a story about a giant serpent-like dragon with antlers or the horns of a buffalo. He’s a formidable dragon, however, he’s been known to rescue women in some of the stories. The piasa bird is a North American dragon associated with modern folklore along the Mississippi River. This dragon was a man-eater, which arose out of stories in the 1830s.  Another water dragon shows up in Pueblo stories across Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona—a Water Serpent tied to water disasters and fertility.

Among the predictions for 2012, Chinese astrologers foresee that it will be a year of peace and prosperity…and not the end of the world. Because dragons are associated with water flow, floods and rain, water dragon years are also called “Water Dam” years, as connected with the building and maintenance of dams and flood control. At the very least, Black Water Dragon years are never dry for the entire year; wetlands may stay wet during dry seasons, according to the myth. In particular, a water-related disaster is predicted for late 2012. Some predictions imply that dams will need to be checked carefully, otherwise they may fail, and land will be either hydrated or flooded.  Overall 2012 looks like a year of great creativity and stormy weather, with a strong water influence, and possible flooding events (such as those caused by hurricanes). Whenever someone says, “expect the unexpected,” or forecasts stormy weather and possible flooding, it is prudent to sharpen our tools and be ready for anything. For more information on watersheds, floodplains and floods, check out ASWM’s watershed resources on the Mississippi River flood, the Natural Floodplains Functions Alliance and natural hazards. And may it indeed be a peaceful year.

Supernatural Wetlands

Mist creeps over a saltmarsh. Moisture settles heavily onto the cordgrass that pop and sizzle as water sinks into muddy soils. The air is thick with salt and mystery. Nocturnal sounds of animals awaken the imagination and remind us of campfire stories and superstitions.

I love legends and lore, especially having to do with nature.  As a kid, lessons on ecology were sometimes fused with fiction. While my dad taught me which plants were edible if I were to get lost in the woods, my mother fed me tidbits of stories from Uncle Remus’ folk tales about “Brer Rabbit” or the world of Beatrix Potter.  Reading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia filled my head with talking animals and singing trees.  The symbolism associated with plants and animals has been part of our cultural unconsciousness for centuries, dating back to early human civilizations. It shows up in daily life, in common expressions, “old wives’ tales,” or in superstitions that are alive today, as in the Cajun culture in the Bayou. For instance, if Cajun children misbehave, they are taught to fear the boogeyman. Cajun hunters are wary of “fifolet” or swamp gas, which may let them know that something is following them, or  lead them to treasure. Read some “weird true stories” from Cajun legend here.

Depending on the region of the world, some cultures believed animals to be demons or witches in disguise. In another part of the world, the same creatures were considered blessings, good luck or to embody the spirits of loved ones. Often poets will write about the “magic of nature”…but there are also cultural beliefs about paranormal aspects or supernatural powers associated with the creatures that live in wetlands. Why wetlands? Part of the reason may be rooted in the medicinal properties of some wetland plants like willow, red mangrove or sedge discovered by early healers—and through an oral tradition of using folklore to explain elements in the natural world.  These gave rise to a belief that wetland places had supernatural properties. In Native American custom, sage, cedar and sweetgrass are used for spiritual healing through a process called smudging. Furthermore, in some native stories, streams and wetlands and even water itself has a spirit, possessing spiritual healing powers.

Fact or fiction? Don’t step on a spider or it will rain. Seeing a robin is a good omen because it is a harbinger of spring. In folklore, if a person steals a robin’s eggs, s/he will fall prey to witches.  My brother and I were taught to revere the white swans that swam in the pond across from our house—not aware of the myths of the swans that pulled the chariots of Norse gods.  Ferns are believed to bring good fortune. For instance, it’s said that if you bite the top off a fern in spring, it will keep you safe from toothache and if a woman puts a fern leaf in her lover’s shoe, he will love her forever. Male ferns were used to protect a household from evil-doers. Other wetland plants have superstitions linked to them.  Elders were given to bewitched folk to break a spell and restore them to health. Ash tree leaves, which sometimes have equal numbers of leaflets, were thought to be lucky leaves, even used in divination. Moss that grows in graveyards was said to cure illness, especially in animals, according to Welsh and English lore. In some African stories, wetlands are dreaded places, home to witches or demons.  This was true for western folklore as well where marsh and moors were metaphors for darkness and evil. Darker stories gave birth to certain fears about entering wetlands, which were believed to hold illnesses and death.

All over the world, there are wetland-dependent and aquatic species thought to have supernatural powers, like the maned wolf of South America that lives in tropical savanna.  There are real-life frogs that freeze themselves (cryogenically!) and frogs depicted as the guardians of freshwater springs and wetlands in Native American mythology, sometimes called “Frog Woman.” In Native American stories, human characters take on animals’ traits to show the relationship between people and the natural world, for instance, stories about “salmon people.” Reptiles, and their role in wetland habitat, are rich in superstitions throughout the world possibly because of their secretive, nocturnal natures and sometimes dangerous attributes.  Turtles have also been long regarded as sacred and ancient creatures. Inuits believed thatpolar bears held a “personhood” even though they were not human.  In science, there are some aspects of an animal’s life cycle that simply defy logic and thus take on “supernatural” characteristics. See “Supernatural: The Unseen Powers of Animals” (video documentary): http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/supernatural-the-unseen-powers-of-animals/

Kingfishers bear good news of calm seas to fishermen and sailors, who say, “So long as kingfishers are sitting on their eggs, no storm or tempest will disturb the ocean.” Frogs and cranes have long believed lucky money signs, predicting good fortune. Owls have both good and bad superstitions surrounding them.  Although owls are believed to be wise in many folk tales, they are also foreboders of ominous outcomes, especially related to pregnant women who hear the hoot of an owl. More of these legends are explored in Ruth Binney’s natural history book, Nature’s Way – lore, legend, fact and fiction (2006). Her book is on the General Wetlands part of the Wetland Bookshelf that I put together for ASWM, a wetlands nonprofit.

In Australia, there are several myths associated with wetland creatures that take power from water and wetlands: http://www.mythocreatology.com/Wetland.html But that’s getting into cryptozoology—the study of creatures that (probably) do not exist, e.g. the Loch Ness monster, or mermaids. That’s another Strange Wetlands story still to come!

River of Avon—Providing a Wetland Link Between the Living and the Dead, Mysteries of Stonehenge Revealed in an Ancient Streambed

When it comes to Stonehenge, many theories abound. What was its purpose? Why build there? One of the recent theories comes from an archaeologist, Mike Parker Pearson at University of Sheffield in England, who has been researching the link between Stonehenge and the Durrington Walls. He found a correlation between the two monuments—and the geographic and ecological connection to the River of Avon. If Stonehenge was a cemetery, as many believe, and the Durrington Walls stood for the living, then the River of Avon connected the land of the living to the domain of the dead, carrying the ashes of cremated loved ones after royal burial rites.

Pearson leads the team of researchers on the Stonehenge Riverside Project.http://www.shef.ac.uk/archaeology/research/stonehenge The team discovered natural underground gullies in an ancient streambed that made a direct path between Stonehenge and the river—strangely enough, in perfect line with the sun’s rays during the Winter and Summer Solstices. This astrological event might have influenced the monuments’ architects and engineers, thought to have built Stonehenge around 2900 B.C.http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/
05/080529-stonehenge-cemetery.html

The River of Avon is Britain’s largest unimproved floodplain and has been a favored area for anglers, naturalists and conservationists. But land use changes over time have broken the links between the adjacent wetlands in the floodplain and the river. As a result, there have been a number of recent wetlands restoration projects, including the 2009 Strategic Restoration and Management of the River Avon, which won a Living Wetlands Award in 2010http://www.waterlink-international.com/news/id430-Ciwems_Living_Wetlands_Award_For_STREAM.html and Wetlands West, formerly known as the Severn and Avon Vales Wetlands Partnership, which aims to protect wetland habitat and create floodplain and water resources management practices for that watershed. http://www.severnwetlands.org.uk/restorationzones.asp In addition, there have been other local municipal wetland restoration projects like this one that created the community Avon Meadows Wetland in 2008:http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1059717.

For a virtual tour of the World Heritage Site, including Stonehenge, the Durrington Walls and the River of Avon, go to: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/
properties/stonehenge/explore/stonehengemap/
 This ancient and mysterious tie to wetlands is one of several that I unearthed in an earlier Strange Wetlands blog post on Lost Worlds, Lost Wetlands.

Lost Worlds, Lost Wetlands

Mesopotamia is argued by many historians to be one of the “cradles of civilization.” Historically, the Marsh Arabs depended on the marshlands of the region for 5,000 years, going all the way back to ancient Sumeria. These wetlands show up in epic poetry of early Mesopotamia:

‘Ever the river has risen and brought us the flood,
the mayfly floating on the water.
On the face of the sun its countenance gazes,
then all of a sudden nothing is there’.
– ‘He who saw the Deep’,
(The Epic of Gilgamesh, 1,200 B.C.)

Most of the marshes of Mesopotamia, including the delta plains of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in the Middle East, were destroyed by the year 2000. The marshes were lost to hydro-engineering for dams (flood control and electricity), canals and reservoirs (irrigation, farming), all of which reduced the annual floods, which used to renew the waters in the wetlands. The once-thriving marshlands have dried out due to a 20-50% decrease in the flow of water from the major rivers throughout the region. In addition, Saddam Hussein drained large wetlands to punish the tribes—Marsh Arabs—living in those areas and to expose the rebel hiding places, in the 1990s.http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/
Features/WorldOfChange/iraq.php

A number of international organizations pulled together to bring attention to the loss of wetlands there, including World Wildlife Fund, which recorded over 278 species of bird in the Mesopotamian ecoregion. Nearly half of those identified are wetland birds. http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/ecoregions/mesopotamian_delta_marshes.cfm A marsh restoration project through the United Nations Environment Program began in 2006. For an image of the Vanishing Marshes of Mesopotamia, go to: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=1716 For a technical report,http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/1000/1716/meso2.pdf

For those who research archaeological use of wetlands for agriculture, the Mayan use of the “seasonal swamp,” known as el Bajo la justa,” in northern Guatemala is also very interesting. In the latter years of the ancient Mayan culture, archeologists surmise that the Mayans must have expanded the way they farmed the lowlands, including wetlands, in order to support a larger population. But this has been a subject of much debate: whether these “bajos” (interior wetlands) were used for agricultural purposes. A 1995 study by T. Patrick Culbert funded by the University of Arizona looked this issue: http://www.famsi.org/reports/94033/94033Culbert01.pdf

Last fall an issue of Nature featured new findings. A study identified more evidence that wetlands were used for agriculture by the Mayans: The new “research suggests that the Maya built canals between wetlands to divert water and create new farmland,” according to Timothy Beach, a physical geographer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.. Archaeologists often explore the question of any ancient civilization, how did they feed a large population? The answer for the Mayans was wetlands.
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101105/full/news.2010.587.html For more background information on the history of Maya agriculture and the role of wetlands, go to: http://www.authenticmaya.com/maya_agriculture.htm

Finally, I’ll leave you with something fun to ponder: the true whereabouts of the lost city of Atlantis. Is it buried in the marshlands of Spain after all?  According to a new film, Finding Atlantis, on National Geographic (TV channel), a documentary-maker from Hartford University in CT has proposed just that. To find out how to see the film, visit: http://channel.nationalgeographic.
com/episode/finding-atlantis-4982/Overview
 and come a little closer to understanding one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Yet again, the answer to the riddle could be wetlands. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/8381219/Lost-city-of-Atlantis-buried-in-Spanish-wetlands.html

The “Other” Wetland Heroes

Last year I paid homage to the fictional characters, Mark Trail and Swampthing, as unsung wetland heroes. But what of others? Let’s not forget Ranger Rick. As a kid, I looked forward to receiving my monthly issue of Ranger Rick magazine in the mail. I inhaled the stories. I treasured the magazines like they were living things. My mother kept one issue with a coiled-up snake on the cover in a basket of secrets so I would not snoop. When passing the basket, I gave it a wide berth as if the magazine snake might come alive and spring. I learned a lot about nature and wildlife from reading Ranger Rick.

Today the raccoon dressed as a park ranger, “Ranger Rick,” continues to teach kids about wildlife and the natural world. For instance, here Ranger Rick educates kids about wetlands and the Gulf oil spill: http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Ranger-Rick/People-and-Places/Ranger-Rick-on-the-Big-Oil-Spill.aspx Ranger Rick also teaches kids about the importance of wetlands: http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Ranger-Rick/People-and-Places/Whats-a-Wetland.aspx Kids today might suggest another environmental hero close to their hearts (and DVD players): Shrek, the swamp-dwelling ogre, fights development pressures from the royal kingdom and restores balance in his wetland home. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0002004/ A different generation might think of a certain Muppet, who lived in a swamp and sang, “It’s not easy being green…”Of all the comic book heroes, it is safe to say thatCaptain Planet is a well-recognized environmental hero. His main role is to protect the planet and all its natural splendor, wetlands included. EPA’s Wetlands Program worked with the creators of theCaptain Planet cartoon series, especially an episode called “Jail House Flock,” which taught kids about the importance of wetlands.http://www.turner.com/planet/mission.html Watch the episode depicting the eco-emergency about migratory birds and destruction of wetlands here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur-Kss-yTxwEco-geeks to the rescue!

Often comics and cartoons take an extreme slant in portraying heroes and villains to communicate an environmental message. In the Swampthing comics, a recurring anti-hero called Floronic Man, aka Jason Woodrue, feels that humans are destroying the Everglades. Unlike Swampy, who’s fairly conscientious in his noble attempts to save the wetlands, Floronic Man plots for the plants to take over to the point of killing developers with a chainsaw.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floronic_Man Man-Thing was another large misunderstood, empathic human-plant mutant character living in the Florida Everglades. This Marvel Comic character was criticized for being too similar in origin to Swampthing,even though Man-Thing came from a 1960s comic series called “Tales of Suspense,” which means that he preceded Swampy,who first appeared in 1971. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-Thing For Strange Wetlands’ Ode to Swampthing, see:http://aswm.org/wordpress/
strange-wetlands-ode-to-swampthing/

Science fiction sub-genres span a wide spectrum of stories that carry an obvious environmental message, from post-apocalyptic, including an obscure comic series called “The Puma Blues,” (1986-1989) featuring wildlife and nature with prose poetryhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Puma_Blues to fantasy realms of authors like Ilona Andrews (her recent book is called Bayou Moon http://www.ilona-andrews.com/) and Kim Stanley Robinson, who has been called an environmental hero for his series of books(Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) about the terraforming and settling of Mars, after global climate change has caused wide-spread flooding on Earth.http://sciencefictionbiology.blogspot.com/2008/09/kim-stanley-robinson-hero-of.htmlThere are too many science-fiction authors to name here. If you have one you’d like to recommend, please leave a comment.

Wetland-dwelling protagonists are also abundant in fiction and creative nonfiction. Novels like A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean and some of Carl Hiaasen’s stories that take place in the Everglades are linked on ASWM’s Book Service On-Amazon, under the categories for fiction and nonfiction here:http://www.aswm.org/propub/bookservice/fiction.htm If after visiting the book list, you have a suggested title to add, please leave a comment.

Fortune-telling with Wetland Plants

A long time ago, someone introduced me to Celtic divination with trees. The tree that stood for my birthday month was the ash. TheNuin, or ash tree, was considered the “Goddess tree,” and the wood was commonly used for Druid wands and the handle of a broomstick. http://www.thegoddesstree.com/
trees/Ash.htm
 A witch’s broomstick was made from ash to ‘protect the rider from drowning.’ The myth may have been derived from the tree’s tendency to live in wetlands. In Maine, for example, Black ash swamps are home to the showy lady slipper, and small enchanter’s nightshade, as well as mosses and liverworts that often carpet the floor of this forested wetland. It just so happens that swamps, along with other wetlands, have been places where fortune-tellers have sought plants for the purpose of divination, such as fig, sage and verbena.

Botanomancy is an ancient method of divination by means of the burning of leaves, herbs and tree branches. Usually vervain (Verbena officinalis), or any of a group of herbs or low woody plants with often showy heads or spikes of five-parted regular flowers, is used to predict fortunes. In addition brier, a plant with a thorny or prickly woody stem, such as any in the genus Rosa (roses), or Rubus (brambles), were used to predict omens. Omens are drawn from the smoke and ashes generated. This divination method was used for centuries by Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Arabians, among many other civilizations. It is still used today by modern fortune-tellers. Fortune-tellers carve their questions on the branches prior to burning them. Alternatively, botanomancers write words on sage or fig leaves. Fortune-tellers expose the leaves to the wind and whatever leaves remain hold the answer. Historically botanomancers also observed the growth patterns of these plants; any odd behaviors or aspects of the plants would reveal information that could be used to predict events.

One of the plants used in botanomancy is the Swamp verbena, a.k.a. Blue vervain,(Verbena hastata), which can be found in degraded wetlands as well as high quality wetlands. It is common throughout the Midwest. It has pretty blue or violet flowers. The leaves are big enough to write words on, so this would be a good choice for a botanomancer.  http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/
wetland/plants/bl_vervain.htm
 Now for those who love growing hybrid iris, don’t be fooled by the common name of the Tall Bearded Iris—Fortune Teller, which is neither a naturally occurring flower nor used in fortune-telling. It was cultivated in the 1980s.

Reading tea leaves, or tasseography, is another type of ancient divination. With roots in Asia, the Middle East and Ancient Greece, the tradition has been widely practiced throughout Europe (Scotland, Ireland) and Eastern European cultures. Because of the wide practice of tea reading, any kind of whole cut tea leaves may be used. The aromatic leaves of Bog Labrador tea plant (Rhododendron groenlandicum),which grows in bogs in northern climates, make an herbal tea. Please note: even though Bog Labrador tea is known for its medicinal properties, it does contain ledol, a poisonous substance that can cause cramps and paralysis! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labrador_tea Always take care when making teas from unknown plants. In China, bulrush tea is a common beverage and Chinese tea is often used in tea readings. http://www.asktheplantlady.com/bulrushes-not-to-be-confused-with-cattails/

After tasseographers drink tea, the wet dark tea leaves form shapes at the bottom of a cup, or the leaves can be tossed onto the saucer; then the shapes are interpreted. Tasseographers work with whole tea leaves. It is ill-advised to simply use the tea from a broken tea bag. The symbolism involved in reading tea leaves is based on a variety of theoretical foundations ranging from Plato to Carl Jung.http://www.crystalinks.com/tealeaves.html There are numerous books available on how to interpret tea leaves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasseography It’s a fun activity for a Halloween party or get-together. The basic instructions can be found here:http://healing.about.com/od/tealeafreading/ht/readtealeaves.htm