Hints from Hera: The Wisdom of Red Peppers

The more time I spend in nature, the more I believe that its essence contains all the wisdom and truth that exists.  All we need to do is look for it, listen to it, and align ourselves with it enough to know what is all around us.  Most often what I find in nature are reminders of the bigger picture, that my small problems are really unimportant compared to the grandeur of what is outside in my garden, a gift given to me for no real reason other than that I was born, or of the overwhelming power of hope that comes with realizing that every morning the sun will rise.

But, I think that we can also find smaller truths in tinier pieces of nature.  I am forever looking at pieces of art to see what messages it holds, what I can learn that I had never even thought of before.  If all of creation is the Creator’s art, then what would happen if I did the same for those creations that I have in my everyday life?  What if I asked what was in my own kitchen for insights?  I am at a crossroads in my life and work.  What answers will my vegetable bin hold?

I love red peppers.  I have always craved red peppers more than anyone should adore a vegetable.  If I stop looking at it as lunch, and instead view it as philosophy, what does it tell me?  Well, first of all, it is chalice-shaped, hollow inside.  It is a tiny little pepper cave, a perfect place for being a hermit.  Being a hermit is my dream job – the hours are flexible, the commute isn’t long, you can wear pretty much what you want to work.  Of course, few people are real hermits anymore, going to live in the wild somewhere, always in contemplation.  And hermitting is not what would be considered a high prestige job.  It is, however, I think, a “Goddess-y” job, by which I mean one in which encountering and respecting your entire inner being, especially your Sacred Feminine, is essential (I mean, there really isn’t anyone else much to talk to if you are a hermit :)).  Someone who is a hermit in a positive way is someone who has as her profession entering into the flow of life, listening to what it says, and reflecting it back to the world.  Positive hermits are the chalices of our world, they take into themselves what the world gives and offers it back, transformed into a nectar that nourishes those who partake of it, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Sometimes our hermits are poets or musicians or novelists, sometimes the person on the block in whose kitchen everyone sits when they are unnerved or in despair, sometimes just the person who chooses to work alone but who is therefore able to speak or write or act more truthfully and powerfully without compromise.  The value of being a “hermit” in a chalice-like place is a powerful message; one I had forgotten and needed to hear as I think about my next few steps. 

Within the red pepper cave is great fertility — all those seeds just hanging around, waiting to be planted and grow into more red peppers.  A red pepper’s seeds aren’t hidden or protected.  You do need to ask for them by opening up the pepper, but once you have asked, they are there, revealed to you.  Once we have entered our hermit-like place, creativity is like that – abundant, present for the asking, but we do need to ask.  Sometimes, that can be hard.  Sometimes we are afraid to hear what we will say if we let ourselves express what we wish.  We need to crack that shell of the pepper, that shell we cast around our own creativity, but when we do, the gifts we receive are as numerous as those pepper seeds.  Another lesson I needed to hear; my creativity may seem to be lagging, but I need only enter into myself and ask to find it again.

Red peppers are both sweet and peppery.  Always good advice to be a little of both, especially when you are being a hermit who is in pursuit of those seeds – sweet because we really do need other people, even when we are being hermits, and peppery to keep the world on its toes around us.

And so I have my answers – pursue my inner life, alone if need be, and do not be afraid to gather those abundant seeds, but remember to always be a little sweet and peppery, too, along the way.

And so we end this hint about fruit and vegetable divination with the advice that you do not need exotic symbols or special talents to find meaning, just what Goddess has placed all around you.

By Carolyn Lee Boyd

Carolyn Lee Boyd is a writer, drummer, and herb and native plant gardener who lives in New England. Her essays, short stories, memoirs, reviews, and poetry have been published in, among others, Sagewoman, Feminism and Religion, Return to Mago E-Zine, The Goddess Pages, Matrifocus, and The Beltane Papers, and various anthologies. Her work focuses on spirituality in everyday life and encouraging new ways to better live in local and global community by seeking guidance in traditional myths, stories, and practices and creating new myths and stories to find our way to a more peaceful, just, and sustainable future.


  1. And so we end this hint about fruit and vegetable divination with the advice that you do not need exotic symbols or special talents to find meaning, just what Goddess has placed all around you.

    That includes “simply” beautiful posts like these. Thank You!

    And thank you!

  2. I, too, have ached to be a hermit…I like the idea that I can be hermit in the world of people in my own little way. This is a gem of a post – thank you, carolyn!

    Thank you! Being a hermit really is a calling!

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