The Tale of the Summer Wellness Spirit Sticks

Updated: Jul 7


The Origin Story: Auntie Caryl's Spirit Sticks


I am an artist who loves to give new life to objects that have had previous use. When you receive your Wellness Kit this summer, it will include hand-hewn wooden circles on our spirit sticks.



The circles, which for me call up the circle of life and our yearly seasons, were inherited from Joe Kreft’s woodshop in Wolcott, Connecticut. Joe was my father-in-law at the time and he created each circle for a railing on the deck of his home. When he made his transition I inherited the unused wood pieces. I knew that one day they would be part of my artwork -- and some 30 years later they are just perfect for these spirit sticks!

original-wooden-discs-later-repurposed-as-CHA-spirit-sticks
Joe Kreft’s hand hewn wood circles, circa 1990

As you may recall, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the globe in 2020, Gratitude Garden was my place of peace, of connecting with the land, and connecting with my deep roots! Except when the deer were eating everything in sight! A local farmer had shared this method of keeping them out of our beds with the caution tape and poles. It worked! This year I am protecting each bed separately and the 2020 poles became the base on which our spirit sticks were built. Another repurpose!


My Gratitude Garden in Clinton, Maryland

Spirit Sticks in the Garden: Not Just Decoration, 2021


This year I am protecting each bed separately -- and in 2021, somehow, I found myself "planting" spirit sticks where I had previously used poles to deflect the deer. I loved it! A whole yard full of spirit sticks! They still achieved their purpose, but the energy of the garden shifted. The light and the color added a dimension of creativity that energized and expanded growth both botanical and personal.


So, you know I had to play along the way. I had some fun creating this mandala/sunburst with the sticks as I called spirit up as they came together! And as I painted them -- with long hot days sunrise to sunset colors! -- I had to try some more mini installations!


unpainted-Auntie-Caryl's-spirit-sticks-laying-in-a-wagon-wheel-formation-on-the-ground-spring-2021-Clinton-Maryland-USA
Mandala-shaped burst of unpainted poles, ready for painting. On their way to becoming Spirit Sticks!

I was called to bring the spirit of the plants into the mix, as the height of Summer is when so many of our plant friends are in their absolute zenith!


Consider All Sides!


When working in 3D, I’m challenged to work with all sides. Contemplating all sides of the Spirit Sticks felt to me like a pathway. With this art, I ask you to consider your pathway and how this path can lead to good relations with your own vision. Especially during this yellow, orange and red time of year as we are outdoors and the days are long.


The Spirit Sticks are a seasonal symbol that asks you to embrace the circle-and brings forth positive questions that connecting with the earth can help answer. Where along this path might I be: where do I want to be headed? What’s my next step toward this vision? How do the wisdom, nature, the land, our air, sun and rain bring to my journey?


In support of this joyful work, a memory emerged of a Mosaic I helped create back in 1998 with a transitional community in Newark, New Jersey. Together we visioned and designed a mosaic mural that highlighted community solidarity and was sited in the complex’s courtyard. The glass tiles on these Spirit Sticks are the extras after that mosaic project was completed and, as with Joe’s circles, I kept them. I knew that an opportunity to work with this beautiful Italian glass again would emerge!


These artworks created for you are a perfect addition to your outdoor space. They call both you and nature to connect and through that connection find answers and GROW.


Your Spirit Stick!


Your Spirit Stick is available as part of 2021 Auntie Caryl’s Art and Herbs Sunshine Wellness Kit. It is 38” long x 5 inches wide and 2 inches deep. She will bring good spirit to your garden and home space. They are beautiful gifts for gardening friends. Place your order at Auntie Caryl's Art & Herbs.


I’m glad that we could share this creative journey! Tell ALL your friends! Thanks for your interest and support!


Spirit Sticks Around the World


The role of the walking stick in Zulu society was so ubiquitous that there are more than seventy-five terms for different types of sticks.


In Ghana a traditional staff can be created to serve as an insignia of office for an okyeame, an advisor to an Asante ruler.


The Native American Prayer Stick is a stick that has the purpose of making petitions and offerings to the world of spirits.