Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday- Treasures

Today is Wishcasting Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios and for the first time I am joining in.  The question for today is "What treasures do you wish for?"

There are so many tangible, material treasures that I wish for on a daily basis.  The Taurus in me loves to covet those material goodies.  But today I am wishing for something more meaningful, something altogether more intangible.  I wish for the treasure of treasuring myself.

Motherhood and caregiving has not been the easiest road for me.  As the youngest of five and being more than five years apart from the others, I developed an ability to be by myself and do whatever I chose.  This has been a huge part of my adult life and while some of the lessons of learning to adapt have been valued and needed, I find myself treading water, waiting for the long-awaited opportunity to return to myself and sink deeply into the wants of my selfish soul.  But my life keeps going and my girls keep needing me to fill the day with mundane tasks like diaper changing and potty trips and meals, along with those sweeter moments of togetherness, snuggles, reading on the couch, and playing.  I find it is all too easy to lose the memory of who I am and who I want to be in that.

So on Wishcasting Wednesday, I wish to find a way to return to myself.  With the girls playing in the peripheral space, with meals in between, with diaper changes and vomit cleaning and snot wiping and laundry, I wish to find myself among  all that, within it, between the lines and imbedded in the lines.  I wish to find a path back to myself, and let being me be the treasure it once was.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brave

Being brave is something we are all capable of, but sometimes it requires a little searching, a little effort to uncover just what it is we are brave about.  Sometimes we need to be faced with that key situation to ignite the willingness to push forward, and sometimes we have to remember the courage we had before the struggling river wore down the stone's strength within our disposition.  But it is inside us all, and if you are afraid of something right now, just imagine what life will be like if you don't push through it, don't face it head on and let it teach you what you are made of.

Next summer, we will also have a feature film by Disney, set in Scotland with Celtic imagery all over it, to remind us, as mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, artists, dancers, priestesses, healers, shamans, and warriors, what it means to brave.  And maybe it will be a seed of learning for our children.  If this film is as good as it looks to be, I am quite certain I will enjoy it just as much as my brave little girls will!

http://disney.go.com/Brave/#/home

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Energy of Slow

This is reposted from my original website, written a little more than a year ago.  I am feeling that same sense of slow as when I wrote this so I thought I'd share it here.  Originally posted Aug. 18, 2010.


Somewhere in my mind, I decided that fast was good, full commitment was necessary every time I approached something, and slow meant incompetence. After returning home from our trip to see family and immediately catching whatever bug Rob brought back from Texas, I am moving pretty darn slowly this week. The herbs sit neatly on the shelf waiting to be entered onto the website. But in my mind I keep hearing "Stop following the rules."

While there is much to be said for following rules, when it comes to personal matters I find it's usually better to follow our own rules provided those exist within the paramenters of doing no harm and respecting all involved. So today I embrace the tortoise and her slow persisitence. I have slowly been accepting that it is in my nature to need time for things. This has not been an easy lesson, nor has it been the most obvious lesson to me and I've been slow to catch on. But if I don't relax and take things slowly, the pressure to commit clouds my judgement and I rarely end up with what I want.

So for those of us that need time, that need to let things steep, I say embrace the tortoise. She gets to the finish line in her own time and hey, she even wins! Relax, take note of whether over-committing causes you to change your mind too often, and let things rest for a while. We are entering a time of year when the hustle and bustle of Autumn will lead to the stress and overwork of the holidays. This is in conflict with what our bodies need and want. The first of three harvest festivals has passsed (First Harvest, Lammas, or Lughnasadh) and our work at getting the crops to grow is slowing down. Depending on where you are, the heat will soon soften and the mornings and evenings will cool off.

The Earth relaxes her hold on the tips of her trees allowing the first layer of leaves to fall and with that, we too, should relax our grip. Ease into things, allowing time for uncertainty. Taste the decision making process and let it simmer on the back burner. There will be plenty of time for rushing and worrying when there is something to rush and worry over. Until then, be patient with yourself, let the tortoise teach you to commit with the option to go slowly. And knowing you can always change your mind, you may make it 3/4 of the way across the street, avoid being hit by a car, and decide to turn around and save that swim in the pond for another day. There's no shame in that, just avoid the cars on your way back
!





Thursday, November 17, 2011

The World Craves Magic

My husband and I have just finished watching the last Harry Potter film in the quiet of our living room, and as the the reverberations of the excitement fade, the grieving process starts.  We have all invested emotions, time, money and even our identities in the Harry Potter novels and franchise and as the last one passes it is hard to imagine what will come along to replace it.  Of course, this is on the eve of the newest Twilight release, so there is a strong reminder that an incarnation of magick and mahem will appear on the horizon.



The movie industry goes through phases of embracing fantasy and magic, but as the world becomes more tolerant and less frightened of whether such subjects will taint our souls, there will continue to be a rise in the availability of novels and movies in this genre.  What this all says to me is that we, as human beings, crave magic in the same way we crave love and acceptance.  It's a part of us that we have yet to fully realize, that is taught out of us at an incredibly young age, and that is overshadowed by electronic stimulation and bombardment.  But it's there and I'm quite certain if you are reading this blog you are keenly aware of it.

Many authors and veterans of the new age and pagan genres stress that magic is not in real life what it is depicted to be in the movies.  I agree.  And I also disagree.  If you've ever been in the thick of a spontaneously mystical experience the moment is like no other, indescribable in many ways, and often gone just as quickly as it came.  Writers and movie makers are often limited by two things:  1) their lack of that personal experience to shape their description or depiction and 2) the difficulty in taking something so completely abstract and unseeable and putting it into language or the visual.

The mystical world is entirely foreign to most, even those of us that believe, simply because we don't live in a world that supports it and encourages it and we don't have the luxury of walking around tapped into that realm every minute of our mundane lives.  But at the same time, the mystical world is not separate from this mundane existence and is entirely tangible and easily misinterpreted as "normal."  Energy exchanges happen every second of the day without thought, intention, or awareness.  Muscles twinge, headaches plague us, dreams invade our night, but it all gets turned into mineral imbalances, stress, and unresolved emotions.  Well, it might just happen to be those things.

As a young college student not yet aware of my own beliefs about the world, I took a geology class.  On the first day of the course I sat with a hundred or so other students and listened to the professor give his "we teach evolution and you have to deal with it" speech.  As he finished his discussion, emphasizing that just because we would be tested over it didn't mean we had to believe it, he closed with an interesting statement.  He said "Just because we are telling you HOW this all happened doesn't mean we are trying to say we know WHY it happened." 

So that mineral imbalance just may be what's causing the muscle aches and cramps, but WHY did you get a mineral imbalance in the first place?



Magic, energy, the spiritual, metaphysics . . . they are ever-present in our mundane lives.  Some of the things we see in the movies are unfathomably impossible in our tangible existence, but take away the flashy graphics and descriptive language and it no longer seems so out of reach.  Magic happens every day.  More and more of us find our way to mystical practices on a daily basis.  Is this because we are so much different than everyone else?  No.  We are, in fact, just like all those muggles who walk the mundane straight and narrow.  They just haven't caught the magic bug yet, they haven't remembered what they were trained to forget.  But we, as human beings, in some form or fashion, need magic in our lives.  We crave it with our cellular form, we long for it just as we do that connection to other human beings.

So there is no need to fear that the end of magick has come in the movies.  There won't be another Harry Potter, but something else will rise and remind us of who we are and who we want to be.  Until then, go forth and make your own magick.  Make it real.  Prove to yourself that it exists on a daily basis.  Build your relationship with magick the way you do with your children, friends, and lovers.  If you are fed, clothed, sheltered and loved, magic is the next inherent step.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Moon Dreams

The evening was filled with a wild woman tone, a little chaos, a lot of herbs, and quite a bit of disarray.  My evolution into hearth magic has been a slow acceptance of the fact that little hands will always grab, and my "tribe" is my family, with each girl a full-fledged wild woman in her own right.  Patience and distraction lead the day when attempting crafting around these two, but with visits from hubby and a lot of persistance, we managed to make a success of the process.

With the moon peaking today, I've been enjoying the anticipation of creating something herby, so I began with a Full Moon incense that I'd made a couple months ago to inspire me.  With a base of red sandalwood powder, which is said to have one of the highest vibrations of any plant, and adding jasmine flowers, mugwort, amber resin and few others, this incense is intensely fragrant and has a strong energy.
Flipping through books and recipes, I muddled through, looking for something that would really support the connection to the full moon and contain ingredients that were on my shelf.  I have a decent herb selection, but there are definite limitations sometimes.  I wanted something that would embody the fullness of the moon, but also aid in building the relationship with her that so many of us work towards.  I stumbled upon a tea to help with dreaming and that's when I started formulating.  

Part of the obstacle to connecting with the moon is that she's so unreachable, literally speaking.  I wanted something to support bridging that gap, and using an herb to promote that dreaminess and some astral projection potential was important.  Combining moon recipes with dream and astral projection recipes seemed to be just what I needed, so this new incense has a healthy dose of mugwort.  I gathered herbs and my trusty blender that I use for grinding hard to grind herbs, or when I am using a large quantity of them and using the smaller (and slower) mortar and pestle would be impractical.  As I ground the herbs in the blender, I combined them in a large bowl and used my pestle to ritually combine them and grind the herbs a little more.  I prefer a varied texture in my incense with the larger pieces just being small enough to burn nicely on  a charcoal disk.  It feels more organic, more in tune with the wild nature of those plants.


Moon Dream Incense
4 parts Jasmine
2 parts Mugwort
2 parts Rose
1 part Willow bark
1 part Frankincense resin
1/2 part Sandalwood
13 drops of Ylang Ylang oil (reduce this amt if your portions are smaller; my "parts" were 1/4 cup each)

Use this incense to attune with the moon, for dreaming, astral projection and abundance in relationship to the moon.  Give a full moon bath to empower it, and then add your own energetic intention before using.  Store in glass, in a cool dark place.

I wanted something else to round this out, something to really add depth to the process, so I mixed a simple tea to parallel the Moon Dream incense.  Much simpler to make, teas are fun to blend and even better to drink, and with hints of mint and touches of cinnamon, this Moon Dream Tea is sure to please the palate.

Moon Dream Tea

3 parts Rose petals
2 parts Mugwort
2 parts Jasmine flowers
2 parts Peppermint
1 part Cinnamon

Combine in a large bowl and stir loosely to blend the herbs.  Fill a glass jar with your herbs and give this a moon bath right next to your incense.  Empower it with your intention along with your incense.  When you're ready to drink it, use a teaspoon for every cup of water.  This tea can also be used as a bath tea by adding to a small canvas bag or sachet  and adding to a hot tub of water.  Breathe in the energy and soak up the oils.  If only I had an over-sized tub to really relax in!

With the moon at 100% today, I'll probably do some empowering and use my goodies for tonight, leaving the bulk of the supplies out for Luna to gaze upon them, kissing them with her reflection and attuning them to her power.


I have a good supply now, and hope to be getting them listed on Etsy soon.  Please share your moon adventures with me if you decide to experiment.  Happy Full Moon!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Full Moon Fun

My little wild ones and I concocted some multi-colored, all-natural dough for fun filled tactile experiences today.  We made playdough . . .

Homemade playdough is a great treat for the little ones, a bit of a headache in clean up, but well worth the effort.  This was my first adventure with making it, using a recipe from Unplugged Play , a great book with loads of ideas for non-electrical, non-technological, non- tv and non-computer fun, and I have to say it went really well.  The recipe is short and sweet, using flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil and water. 

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
1 tbspn of vegetable oil
2 tspns cream of tartar
Saucepan and cookie sheet

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan on low (I tried low and it wasn't warm enough, so I turned it up to 3 or 4) and stir for 5 minutes (this was more like 15 for me, but it might have to do with the heat setting).  When the dough turns into a ball, remove and spread out on a cookie sheet to cool.  When cool, separate and add food coloring. 











We ended up with seven colors from pink to brown and the girls had a great time with it.  Our non-toxic, edible dough is snuggly packaged in glass canning jars, no plastic required.  I love to avoid plastic when I can!

We made a double batch to get this much and it seemed to work out just right.  We have plenty of ingredients left over for another batch at some point.  Jetta started combining colors almost immediately, so we may end up with a big blob of gray not too long from now!  Either way, their excitement for having made something from almost nothing and it turning out to be such a cool toy was well worth it.  We'll call this a success in our hearth witch/pagan homeschool categories!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Imperfection

Accepting imperfection is a challenging thing, particularly when we are bombarded with messages about not settling, manifesting dreams, having it all, and living our best lives.  From talk shows to novels to movies and  documentaries, we are pressed to create the ideal.

But does the ideal exist?  Does it exist in this earth-bound realm?  Or is the ideal just as much about attachment as it is about being who we want to be?  There are plenty of times in my life when I have experienced the ideal.  Visions of perfections likely concocted years before would manifest in fleeting moments, vanishing just as quickly as they came, making me long for more, making me wonder how to create it again.

What I am finding in my almost mid-life, post-partum, spiritual crisis is that reaching for perfection and working towards it is to be desired, unless it becomes something that clouds our vision and allows us to overlook the perfection we have already achieved.  And let me add, most of that perfection is, well, imperfect. 

Northwest Arkansas is a beautiful place in the Fall.  The leaves turn to intense colors of gold, orange, red and brown before they drop from the trees and there are quite a few drives that would be breathtaking.  But if you get a little closer than that picturesque postcard sized image, it is quite easy to see the decaying leaves that are losing their brilliance, the discoloration of the outer edges as they begin to dry, and random branch, twig, or rotting log that litters the forest floor.  Is all this imperfection?  Is our view of what we perceived as brilliant wrong?  No.  It's our perception of what perfect is that is wrong.  It's our inability to let perfection be flawed and less than Hollywood glamorous.  Perfection is right now.  Perfection is the next step you take, the last step you took, and wherever you exist in this moment.  Perfection is the body's ability to adjust to whatever imperfect belief we have about ourselves and it's ability to adjust back to perfection when we change our minds.  Perfection is in between all that imperfection, perfection is in between all that messiness. 

Perfection IS the imperfection.  Flawed.  Tattered.  Exhausted.  And ready to go again.  Perfection is perception and your own ability to perceive the good things you have in your life and the long journey of achievements that have brought you to today.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bountiful Life

At this time of First Harvest, I am grateful for all the things I have in my life and for all the things that have synchronistically moved out of the way so that I might have those things, even as my ego reached and grasped for them.  I am most grateful for my family.  My husband, sweet girls, and loving siblings uplift me and hold me together in times of trouble, and they enrich me, fill me with joy and overwhelming love in times of happiness.

 
I am grateful for all the times past that have led me to where I am on this day of bounty.  My life is overflowing with opportunity, healthy change, and paths that lead me back to myself while guiding me ever forward toward what I will become.



I embrace the abundance and harvest the visible and the invisible.  I harvest the things that are waiting patiently for me to embrace, and the things that rush to me with just a moment of availability.


I am grateful, too, for those that have passed the threshold of this blog and read a little or read a lot.  If you are reading this now, share with me and other readers, if you choose, what you are grateful for and that which is abundant in your life.

Happy Lughnsadh

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paleo Pagan: Fun Flax Focaccia

The harvest season will soon be upon us and for the small group of society that follows Earth-based spirituality and holy days, grains will be prevalent in their Wheel of the Year celebrations.  Whole wheat bread, grain crusted pies, and a plethora of other grain-based dishes will be featured and enjoyed in many a Harvest meal.



But more and more, the potential for intolerance to said grains has led to another growing minority that is refraining from eating them.  Whether it is from digestive issues, concerns about whether grains are actually suitable for humans to consume, confirmed Celiac disease, or just an effort to lower starch intake, many people are backing off and attempting to find tasty treats that are grain free.  This movement is illustrated by the plethora of websites, diets and blogs that discuss the topic, such as The Paleo Diet, Dr. Eades' Protein Power blog/diet, Body Ecology, and Mark's Daily Apple.  For me, and I'm sure many others, attempting to eliminate grains from my daily intake is about lowering starch intake and avoiding potential repercussions that might be subtle or severe.  After my mother died of a digestive cancer, easing out of grain consumption became a personal goal of mine.

So what is a "Paleo Pagan" to do when their celebrations and rituals are intertwined with worshipping Goddesses of grain and honoring the cycle of the harvest?  It's pretty simple.  The harvest goes on with or without grains, so that's ultimately a non-issue, but the bounty of bread that makesus  all feel so wonderful can still be enjoyed.  There's no yeast involved, no refined flour that glues itself together and makes a doughy, rising loaf, but below you'll find a recipe for an herby, "grainy", and very yummy bread.  And it's grain free.  Make sure to let me know if you try it!


Flax Focaccia Bread
Ingredients
1 1/3 cup flax meal
2/3 cup almond or coconut meal (if you use coconut, add water)
1 tblspn baking powder
1/2 to 1 tspn sea salt
1-2 tblspn honey or raw sugar
1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozarella and parmesan work well)
italian herbs of your preference, about a tblspn total (I typically use garlic, oregano, and rosemary)

5 beaten eggs
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil

Reserve for sprinkling on top:
1-2 tblspns shredded parmesan
1 tblspn rosemary

Instructions
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.  Prepare 10"x15" pan with oiled parchment, or directly oil pan (you can also split this into two smaller pans).
3.  Mix dry ingredients well in large mixing bowl.
4.  Mix wet ingredients, beginning with the smallest amount of water.
5.  Add wet to dry and combine well.
6.  Let batter set for 2-3 minutes so it will thicken.  The more water you use, the longer it will need to set.
7.  Spread into pan, making it thinner in the middle and avoiding spreading completely into the sides.
8.  Bake about 20 mins until it springs back when you touch top, or a toothpick comes out clean.
9.  Cool and cut.

This bread never lasts long in our house, and it is fantastic with some herb butter or olive oil!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Something Wild

I recently decided that  it might be easier for me to fit writing this blog into my Groovy Mom Schedule if I had some themes.  I spend a lot of time wringing my hands, pacing the floor, sweating it out and don't come up with all that much to say.  Themes might narrow the topic a little so I'm not sitting at the desk, waiting for the spiritual solutions to the world to burst forth from my fingertips and transfer into a trancendent pattering of letters on the keyboard, leaving you with gaping ah-ha's and a new direction in life. 

So I arrive at this Wednesday's blog with a new theme:  Wild Wednesday.  And to start off that theme, I'm presenting to you a book review of a wonderfully, wild children's book.  But let's not get stuck here-  it's definitely a book for all ages IF you like things wild.


The book jacket describes this book as "an eco- fable for kids and other free spirits" and we are definitely the target audience in our household!  The Last Wild Witch, written by Starhawk, who is arguably the most famous and influential pagan writer of the last couple decades, begins with a perfect town, perfect children, and lots of rules.  Since no one ever breaks those rules, "well, hardly ever," the narrator describes, the last wild witch that lives in the last wild forest is a disruptive force to this "perfect" town.  They don't follow any rules in the forest and with the wild witch up all night, drumming, making her magic healing brew, and handing it out to whomever visits, they are not the poster children for civilization as this town knows it.  Of course, sometimes that wildness gets into the children and they refuse to stand in straight lines, don't come in from recess on time because they are enchanted by the sun or the rain, and they even sneak into the forest at night to visit the last wild witch!

Trouble comes when the parents of this community are enraged by children sneaking out in the middle of the night.   The town holds a meeting where only adults are listened to and children are ordered to be silent, and the problem solving, wildness stifling, forest burning, witch revealing plan is formulated.  The children are left to worry over how to save the forest, the witch, and the wildness that is so easy to embrace.

As a rule follower and cooperative citizen, the adult that was taught to follow all those rules as a child objects to a few moments as the plot plays out.  No, I definitely don't want my children sneaking out in the middle of the night to go have some "magic brew." ( I have first hand experience with this kind of thing, and it never led to anything good!)  And as a parent, the protector/controller in me pushes against the idea of my children doing anything that might lead to their harm, even if I am a treehugging, nature worshiper that loves a good healing brew when I brew it.  When the girls and I read this, every time, I find these parts of myself pausing and re-assessing, resisting and then surrendering to the message of the book, and have to face the truths of it with a mirror in one hand, and honesty in the other. 

The key to this book begins on the first page when the narrator describes the rules always being followed and never broken and then says "well, hardly ever."  On the surface, this town appears to be struggling against a foreign wildness, a wildness that threatens their eutopia, and the nature of nature, but in reality, that wildness is already inside them.  What we discover as we read is that we all need wildness, but also that wildness, courage, and intuition are our natural states.  We adults have had it "taught" out of us enough that we can deny our inherent inner wildness, and we can overlook the inherent and virtuous wildness of our children long enough to manipulate them into being rule-following conformists.  Conformity is a necessity for a lot of reasons, but non-comformity, whether wild or civilized, is too often judged, ridiculed, and denied.  This perfect town of The Last Wild Witch has some work to do, and so do we. 

As wildness disappears at a rapid pace, both from our natural environment, as well as from our own inner landscapes, we risk losing what is truly real.  I remember waking up on a summer morning, going outside and not coming inside until my feet were coated with a thick layer of dirt, the chiggers had bit every inch of my ankles, I'd gone a good 7 hours without eating because I was so enthralled with whatever wild play my friend and I were engaged in, and dropping off to sleep with little struggle because I was so worn out from the constant movement of the day.  I woke earlier than my school friends throughout gradeschool and jr. high because we didn't have air condidtioning or expensive curtains to block out the sun.  We had no cable; we had two channels on the tv and the control of that was given to my mother.  No video games, no internet, and no twinkies to sedate us.  We were not the norm for my generation, but it gave me a wildness that was undeniable.  That wildness was smothered for a few years here and there, put on the back shelf at other times, but I never stopped identifying with what was wild, never stopped being pulled into the deepest currents of wildness, like a mermaid needing to stretch her fins in the depths of the deep blue sea. 

When the girls and I go to the library on Wednesday mornings for story and craft time, there are lots of soon-to-be soccer moms ready for action.  Every now and then I spot another Wild Woman herding her little ones into the circle, but the great thing about the preschoolers and toddlers is that their wildness has not yet been contained.  They haven't learned to stand in straight lines, haven't learned to sit all day at a desk, haven't learned to accept fluorescent light instead of sunlight as their primary source of rays.  But as the landscape changes, inhibitions to natural living and natural healing become more common, and the wild part of the natural world shrinks, I wonder, have they? Do those children still have wildness in them, or are they already watching hours and hours of tv, playing just as many hours of video games, eating pounds and pounds of sugar each year, and unknowingly having that wildness sedated and soothed with the drugs of technology and genetic modification?

The Last Wild Witch is an entertaining tale that will keep most children engaged, but be warned!  It teaches non-comformity, listening to our own inner nature, tuning into intuition, using herbal healing medicine and magic, treehugging, independent thought, environmentalism, standing up for what you believe to be right, and preserving natural resources.  And if you are okay with all that, be careful when you read it.  Some of that wildness just might get inside you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Re-inventing Faith

When I was a student at a small East Texas university, it was a time in my life when I set out to articulate just what I believed about the world.  Having grown up in an incredibly small town in South Texas, my beliefs were "assumed."  I assumed they were the same as everyone else's and everyone else assumed they were the same as well.  It wasn't until my arrival in Nacogdoches, Texas and my sophomore year in college that I really began the questioning phase of knowing what I believed.  I had a few basics:  reincarnation, the physical world, and some form of metaphysics. 

Being in East Texas "behind the Pine-cone Curtain," as we often referred to it, was a place that stimulated my need to know just what I believed.  The extremes of conservatism, fundamental Christianity, and racism were such an abrasive environment that it pushed me to the other side in a dramatic repulsion.  This environment that so intensely demanded that I believe with them or be opposed was just what I needed to find my way in my own beliefs.  Like bumper cars limiting me into a designated lane, the contrast of the dominant culture in East Texas pushed me into my own path, the one single path of my own beliefs that only I could take.

There was another key to uncovering these beliefs at this time.  This was a time when I met someone that would become a lifelong friend.  I applied at her parents' restaurant and for the next 13 months, we spent every afternoon and evening at the front of this restaurant in deep conversation about the mystical world around us and how we fit into it.  Amy has been at the other end of those conversations for more than 15 years now, but our conversations, unfortunately, have held a different tone to them rather than one of discovery.

As the years passed, our lives have progressed, the focus of our talks, letters, and emails have leaned more toward the daily ongoings of our lives and those ever changing events that weigh the heart so heavily.  And it is here that I have found myself wondering again, as I travel through the loss of a first husband, two dogs, both parents, and now the growing pains of being a mother and rising out of depression, just what do I believe?

Some days, my beliefs remain intact, but they are fragile, like shattered glass waiting to crumble to the floor.  Other days, I can't see past my own immediate experience to believe anything beyond survival, and it is this particular place that leaves me most uncomfortable.  But again, the universe is providing me with what I need to settle in to a new place of faith.

Recently, there have been two events that have created the beginning of that bumper car lane to send me down the path of what I believe.  Stephen Hawking, a famous author and scientist, openly declared that he believes there is no afterlife and in a dramatic disappointment to many, a large number of Christians also believed that just this past weekend was Judgement Day .  As I read about both perspectives I find myself agreeing with both in an interesting and surprising way.  But is there really nothing beyond this physical existence?  Is there really no God and no spirits and no soul?  In my darkest, most desperate hours, I can believe that, but then an intrinsic part of me rebels.  I look around at the physical world and the existence of all the beauty in nature, all the horror in humanity, and I sense the ludicrousness of the notion that anything could exist without there being a spiritual purpose, a spiritual existence beyond the physical.

As May 21, 2011 passed and there were many a sigh of relief that this particular group of Christians seem to have had it wrong about the apocalypse and Judgement Day, my husband was amused with the extremity of this idea.  As he chuckled his way through the weekend, I found myself fearful at times, and defensive at other times for this group of people that choose to believe beyond rational thought.  How do we know Judgement Day didn't happen?  No, there were no explosions, no disappearance of large groups of people, but as Sonia Choquette often reminds us in her teachings, the psychic pathway is a subtle pathway.  The dramatics of movies and television express the level of intensity that we can feel about metaphysical events, but over-exaggerate the actual manifestation of them.  And as I contemplate the notion that for Christians, their Judgement Day could have happened a dozen times already, but on such a subtle level as to not manifest in the dramatic way that the whole world, including most Christians, would expect, I return to a place of knowing that has been foreign for quite some time.  That knowing, for me, returns to the notion that it is ALL real, that every single belief is a reality in some form, but embraces the layer of knowing that it is because we have created it all in individual and mass manifestation of the worlds we believe to be true.

When faith leaves us, we have to return to the beginning, to the most basic questions, and be willing to allow the answers to be unfamiliar.  This may take time, or it may be in bursts of revelation, but however that sense of "knowing" returns, it will be a result of having experienced what caused us to question faith in the first place.  For me, the spiritual world has been an anchor and when that anchor seemed to be dissipating, it was a challenge I didn't know how to face.  It was only by being challenged to know what I DIDN'T believe that I could return to understanding what I STILL believe.

Losing faith comes in our darkest hours, when our lives, or others', seem to be needing assistance and not receiving it, when miracles seem to be absent, when the Gods seem to have left us to our own survival.  Re-embracing faith happens when we return to exactly what we believed before, but re-inventing faith happens when we allow ourselves to discover anew, to be open to change and to believe in what is shown to us.  Re-inventing faith means rising from the ashes and embracing the world as our changed existence reveals, letting go of what no longer serves us and embracing the path and the beliefs that will take us forward.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wild Rhythms

 . . .the rhythms of the drums collided with my heartbeat and spread into my core, tempting my hips to swing and enticing my feet to step, step, step.  In a moment's notice, the wildness that had been kept at bay, almost forgotten, almost hidden forever, returned to the surface and filled my cells with renewal.  There was no difference in the way the music seduced me into moving.  No difference in the way I responded.  Beat, beat, beat.  Pulse, pulse, pulse.  Lost in a meditative rhythm, I faced myself in the past, faced who I used to be, and challenged her with my current existence.  What could have been triumph and control became a blending of energy, a compromise of existence that erupted into a symphony of layered destiny.  Jade held in my left arm, I released the wildness with my right.  Jetta prompting me for validation . . . "look at this Mom . . . see how I'm dancing . . ." and I pleased her with approval.  Accomodating the present, I continued to dance, drumming up the fire that once was there.  And as I simultaneously chose to reveal this part of myself to the girls while willing myself to allow this time of inner process, inner rhythms, the destiny of this wildness shown in the inherent wildness of the girls.  The rhythms moved them as they moved me, in their small, growing bodies.  The pulse pushed Jetta to move her feet, free her hands, and shake her head, rivalling the best medicine woman with years of drumbeat dancing behind her.  The landscape changed with the needs of the little ones, and I moved with the changes, letting Jade move in and out of the room, holding her, putting her down.  But still, my feet kept stepping, my soul kept singing, and my heart kept matching the beat  . . .

Today I danced to a new cd that had an all too familiar soul.  My own soul met it with reunion and my mind and emotions followed.  This part of me has been on the shelf since my fifth month of pregnancy with Jetta.  My wildness has waited patiently while I indulged the civilized preschool songs that work too insistently at not being "excitable."  There is only so much trance potential in the latest rendition of Wheels on the Bus!  But today as I realized that if I were going to get that time to renew my connection with rhythm it was likely going to be with the girls present rather than with them away, I indulged for just a moment.  That moment was long enough for me to put the cd on and hit play, long enough for me to let go of any inhibition I might have had in front of Jetta, long enough for me to light a candle and turn off the lights so we could find the rhythms of our souls and let our bodies move to those rhythms.  Unstructured.  Not always pretty, and visibly, probably pretty awkward, our bodies worked out the energy stagnance that too easily occurs with mundane living.  Like toxins stored in muscle tissue and fat, the body stores emotions, experiences, and energy that need to be purged in some form or fashion.  Free-form dancing will do the trick.

For several years before my mothering role arrived, I led women and men in movement.  Sometimes it was structured movement for the purpose of holistic fitness, and sometimes it was wild movement for the purpose of whatever the heck we chose.  This was a part of my process, almost daily, a part of who I was.  And as I begin the steps of my own healing, my own ascendance back into myself, it was only fitting that I begin it with steps to some wild rhythms.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heal Spur

The last few years have been a struggle.  Beginning with my husband deploying to Bahrain in 2008, immediately followed by my mother being diagnosed with a fatal cancer, my life became dictated by the mundane task of surviving, feeding myself, our daughter, and my mother, taking care of the most basic things, and just treading water emotionally.  This process continued with a second deployment the following year and a last minute decision to conceive our now 16 month old before we were forced to wait almost a year to try again.  It was during that second deployment and that lonely pregnancy that my toddler, Jetta, and I became part of a family bedside, care giving team during the last months of our mother's life.  When dementia set in we sought professional help and admitted her to a facility, but the pros and cons of that kind of environment left us feeling less than confident, and our bedside vigil as her advocate far preceded the last two weeks of her final decline.

In the Autumn of 2009, our mother released from her struggle and body, and we all worked slowly to redirect our lives.  Two weeks later my husband returned from his deployment, and we began the slow rebuilding of our family while awaiting the new addition.  In December of 2009, our littlest one, Jade, an amazing magical child, graced us with her birth. 

Since then, the outer landscape of my life has improved dramatically while the landscape of my internal process has declined.  Post-partum depression has been a lingering issue, not surprisingly since my system was depleted during the years of stress and care giving before.  The most useful information I've found on this came initially from a couple of books by Julia Ross (The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure).  As I remained committed to breastfeeding Jade, I also remained confident that prescription drugs were not the answer, and they remain so.  Unfortunately, much of the amino acid therapies suggested in these books were questionable while breastfeeding.  While it might have been okay for another baby, Jade is especially sensitive to any form of stimulant and some of the amino acids (and the chocolate I CRAVE!) that are suggested just over-stimulated her.  So I have waited, patiently, relying solely on better nutrition, enzyme rich fermented foods (see http://www.bodyecologydiet.com/) and a very healthy dose of fish oil.  As Jade has graduated into toddlerhood, the option of weaning has hovered, but I still see that she needs me.  I have pushed the issue to the side.  Put my needs on the waiting list again.  And continue to tread water emotionally. 

Another book, A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health, confirmed everything I knew was happening.  Depletion of nutrients, essential fatty acids, and specific amino acids lay the groundwork for a predisposition to postpartum depression.  High levels of stress further deplete those nutrients and it seems pretty obvious how I arrived at this state. 

At 16 months, Jade is toddling around, climbing everything, discovering language, and learning body parts.  My emotions seem to be a secondary priority to what she needs, so I have continued to breastfeed.  Admittedly, the process of weaning is a deterrent; who wants to go through however long it is that a baby will cry for her mother's milk, even if she is a walking, talking toddler!  But recently, a painful foot injury has created a demand on my body.  What appears to have begun as plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the tendon that runs along the bottom of the heel, has also resulted  in a heel spur.  For a couple of weeks, I haven't been able to walk without pain.  My limp improves as the day goes on, only to worsen in the hours before bedtime.  Being barefoot improves it, ice helps, but again, the natural remedies I would prefer to use as anti-inflammatories may produce a certain detoxification in my system that I don't want to share with Jade (see ginger, turmeric, as examples). 

My body is literally putting it's foot down.  The length of time that I can go without taking care of my own needs has come to an end.  If I can't walk without pain for any length of time, how can I care for my girls?  It is an obvious choice, a true necessity now from my perspective.  I have to heal my body in order to be what Jetta and Jade need. 

So many of us, both men and women, carry on in our day to day lives ignoring the cries of our bodies.  Whether emotional or physical, mental or spiritual, the body is a vessel through which we can achieve relatively quick results through nutritional, herbal, and energetic manipulation.  The body responds easily, though the seeming subtlety may give cause to believe that nothing is growing under the soil. 

It is time now for me to put myself on the front burner and tend to my own needs.  My heel spur has become a heal spur, a message from my soul that it is time to get back to me, time to get back to the things I know are right.  Time to move, time to feel, time to release what is stagnant.  Time to heal.  The pain spurs me on.  And I embrace what is to come.