Springspiration

Yesterday, at the outdoor Stay-and-Play group that my son and I often go to, I saw my first flower of this spring. In the past fortnight, I’ve seen many green shoots poking above ground but this daintily nodding little narcissus was the first I’ve seen to burst out of the green and beam its beautiful colour boldly to all: “Hi! I’m awake, I’m here, I’m strong”. Unfortunately, due to inaccessibly of camera and speed of toddler, I was unable to get a photo to share with you the pretty sight I still have nodding in my memory. But i do have many gorgeous inspiring images to celebrate the coming of spring on my Imbolc Pinterest board!

It doesn’t quite feel like the time for me to celebrate the dawn of spring yet. Not until a few more flowers have come to say hello. Not after yesterday’s wintery pale, chilly sunshine (any readers in North America will be shaking their heads and thinking “chilly?! Chilly?! She knows nothing of chilly!!” I know, I know. It’s all relative!). Until then, I will drift through my dreams of how we will celebrate: recipes, decorations to make, how to spend the day we celebrate on…. Until then. I’ll enjoy just feeling spring slowly stirring, eyes not yet open, bedding not yet thrown off, but just starting to stretch in the earlier dawn. ♥

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Time to birth

To me the waning moon represents birthing and harvesting. I see the full moon as the round belly that the 3rd trimester of pregnancy creates (and oh how the belly of a soon-to-be-mama is certainly high on my list of Things I Find Most Beautiful!).  It speaks to me of the completion of gestation, of nearly-ripe crops, of the project that is now tangible and nearly fit for its purpose. And of light at the end of the tunnel. In pregnancy, the belly actually tends to “drop” sometime in the final weeks before birth, so I see the full moon as representing a time a little before that drop. I feel invited to slow down. to celebrate, to admire, to feel the magic, to turn inward, to honour my instincts and intuition, to give thanks.

As the moon gradually edges away, I’m reminded of those final weeks of pregnancy where birth can happen at any moment. You’re called to surrender; to stay near to where you plan to birth, to not make any big or fixed commitments. Most natural-birth experts advise surrendering to your body and your baby as you labour to bring them “earthside”. In the birthing of my own child, I surrendered the natural, spiritual, lovely birth I planned to a very medicalised un-lovely one in order to save his life. In other areas of life where we birth and harvest, we maybe surrender to doing the overtime hours needed to meet that work deadline, or to spending sunny days in the kitchen preserving and storing the garden’s harvest to keep our cupboards stocked through winter.

For me, birth is not just the hours in labour, or the date when you release that product. I feel that I am still birthing Dylan and will be for many years to come as he gradually becomes more independent. From being in the womb, to babe-in-arms, to crawling and walking, to one day leaving our family home (and a few stages in between!).  I also see this point in my life as kind of yoyo-ing between the full and just-waning moon because, although I have become a mother, I hope for more children. (and of course, at times I feel very much a naive child- see this Daughter Moon post!) Someone else may build more than one career, or write more than one novel, or birth children AND a strong career. In a smaller-scale analogy (as fits the lunar cycle), we work on many projects. Right now I ask myself questions like: what do I need to release because things have moved on? What do I need to gather up because this is the opportunity for getting the best from it? What has come and served its purpose but now needs to receive my gratitude and be prepared for closure? What am I done with and ready to let go of? (ie: is it time to just get on and push “Publish” on the blogpost that I keep tinkering with?!)

Blessings for whatever you’re birthing ♥

Cry of the Wolf Moon

IMG_1881January’s full moon is often known as the Wolf Moon, particularly in North America where, as it is said. the howl of the hungry wolf packs would be particularly audible to Native American tribes across the cold, bare winter landscape. I have never heard a live wolf’s howl but imagine (from recordings and film versions I have heard) that I would find it eerie, penetrating, beautiful, enchanting and a little scary. So too are the other calls ringing out in my world right now, where long dark nights invite deep conversation, introspection and private meditation; where the recent winter solstice and a new calendar year have beckoned review, transformation and renewal; where cold, wet weather (and storms!) necessitate wrapping up and nurturing our bodies and our homes in the interest of health and comfort.

This full moon is sometimes known as the Snow Moon, which doesn’t feel very relevant for me as not every winter gets snow in the South West UK where I’ve always lived. It is also known as the Old Moon, and with this I identify more. Whilst, as some of my recent posts have talked about,, I’m feeling a big feeling of “newness” right now. there’s a lot of old energy too. I guess it’s a transformation in progress where both old and new are present as one is becoming the other. The spirit of the just-died year is held in the leaves still on the ground and the tidying – in our outer and inner worlds – not yet completed. The earth still sleeps yet the sun is reborn – seen in the days being visibly so slightly longer now.

Yet the earth is stirring. This week I have seen a the odd little green shoots poking out of the soggy earth. I generally mark Imbolc earlier than the calendar date of 1st-2nd February anyway because snowdrops, catkins and crocuses usually arrive sooner here in the south. It doesn’t feel time yet; not until I see flowers outside of a garden centre where they’ve probably been brought on artificially. Not until there is just a little more strength in the air – until the year has taken hold with a firmer grasp.

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And so I try to firm up my grasp on where I am and what I need right now. For example, where the last 2 years have been a time of a lot of focus on my self-development and my transition from maiden to mother, this year feels like a year where we need to build more community and spend more time with others on a similar path. This evening, hopefully Mama Moon will be a little more visible than last night so I can spend a few minutes standing in her light giving thanks for that realisation, celebrating the ideas we are gestating and asking for strength, calm, nurture and whatever else we need to bring them into being.

May your needs and dreams receive that light and nurture too. Happy full moon. ♥

Plough Monday

IMG_1545 I recently learned about Plough Monday, a tradition dating back to the middle ages where, on the Monday after Twelfth Night, communities would parade and bless their plough in preparation for the growing season. The blessing would often come from the local church and plough boys would apparently get up to all sorts of antics that people would give them money for (or to prevent); it was a bit of a fundraising event at a time of year when agricultural work was short. More info by much more knowledgeable people can be found here!

On reading about this tradition, I liked the idea of celebrating of the tools and the land that grow us our food. The sentiment of this festival has similarities with wassailing; acknowledging the bounty previously enjoyed and the hopes for a good harvest in the coming year. I planned our own celebration for today (Plough Sunday, if you like!) as Rob will be working tomorrow. As you would expect, we don’t have a plough for our little urban garden, but we do have hand tools with which we turn the soil, one of them being modelled here by Dylan back in the autumn! We need to spread some horse manure around our rose bushes, apple trees and in the extra spaces in our garden that we want to add to our veg-growing area this year anyway – as well as top up our potted acid soil-loving blueberry bushes’ ericaceous compost. I planned for us to do this today, with a little giving of thanks to our tools and the lovely colleagues and relatives who gave us the garden centre vouchers that we bought them with when we got married. For any tools that didn’t get a good clean in early winter to do so. For us to visualise the nutrients from the fertiliser seeping down into the soil, aided by the rain and the worms (of course they’d get a thank you too!), nourishing that earth to make it good for growing in. For us to visualise the plants that we hope to grow – to see them in our minds growing strong and green and beautiful (and tasty!!). To ask for the blessing of the spirits that we may do so with respect for them and for every living thing that our garden provides habitat for. The moon is waxing at the moment so I’d also have in mind that energy of nourishing, increasing, creating and growing.

However…. we didn’t manage to find someone selling manure in time. Another plan to get some general compost fell through. And then this morning vanished, and we had another commitment this afternoon. So Plough Monday it will be – focussing just on caring for and blessing our tools and our hopes for what we will achieve with them. Although that’s definitely a call for creating a wassail celebration for the end of the week! ♥

 

And here’s a few pictures from the tool-cleaning on the day! Baking as usually part of our celebrations, so we also made some cookies – carob and walnut sugar-free ones to represent the darkness of the earth and the bitterness that winter can hold. Indeed, as I handled the dough, my hands looked as they do when they are covered in mud from the garden! The walnuts were from my in-law’s walnut tree, under which the family dog is buried so their walnuts always remind of nature’s continuing cycle of life and death.

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Keeping the new year energy going all through the year

IMG_1828In my last post I wrote about the role of our “inner child” in making plans. I’m pretty good at making plans and starting projects. Astrology says this is due to my Aries sun sign, Ayurveda puts it down to my vata dominant dosha. Perhaps this is why I feel such a happy buzz at new moon: I feel a close affinity with this energy so am in my comfort zone. Per haps I’m still a little more child than adult!

What I’m not so good at is carrying plans and projects through and completing them, particularly when obstacles occur. My husband is similar so it’s entirely possible that, give it a couple of decades, we’ll live in a home full of half-finished projects with our hearts feeling a lack of fulfillment and personal satisfaction. But hopefully not, particularly as we are both very aware of this tendency.

This year we have made less plans than previous years. I guess that helps in making them SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). Several of our goals are for our garden. In the last few years, when our garden plans have not worked out, we’ve not only experienced a sense of failure, frustration and dissatisfaction, but also guilt at plants having died (and money being lost) and a knock to our confidence of trying again.

This week, a newsletter from the craft marketplace Etsy (where I have an online shop) listed ideas for keeping your creative inspiration going all year round. Some of these I can apply to the garden goals and other goals we’ve made. For example: writing down ideas as they come, seeking fresh perspectives from others, and taking breaks -ie. spending time NOT doing what you’re trying to do! I thought of some others too that will hopefully help sustain my motivation:

  • IMG_1874regular reflection and review. I use nature’s cues to check in on the progress of my goals. I feel that the half moon points call us to do this; to look at what’s working and what needs a change of directiion (or letting go of completely). I also reflect on goals as part of each sabbat’s celebreations – particularly the equinoxes.
  • making resources accessible. I feel that January is a great time for this. In nature in  our hemisphere, the earth is resting, preparing for the time when seeds will be sown. My gardening books recommend this as a time for ordering seeds, cleaning up garden tools and planning out your garden. I think this can be applied to other things; if you’d like to be more creative, do you have a good range of creative materials placed in an ordered, accessible place in your home so you can get going easily without always having to hunt around? Do you need to buy some books or find some blogs to follow for inspiration? If you’d like to eat more healthily this year, perhaps now coulld be spent accumualting healthy recipes (and trying them out to see if you like them), of keeping a food diary to record what food makes you feel healthy (do citrus fruits make your skin flare up and make your tummy feel over-acidic, or do they make you feel cleansed and good? We’re all different!) I guess this then links to
  • easing yourself in gently. Where I live, late January/early February is when the snowdrops and crocuses come out and the other signs of spring arrive. I’ll let my plans really kick off then!
  • going slow: I’m so prone to the too much too soon thing! Then both my energy and enthusiasm burn out.
  • keeping it simple. Last year we learnt a lot about where and how we need simplicity in our life and home rhythm. Towards the end of the year, some of my posts focussed on simple(r) celebrations and I’ll be posting more on that kind of thing from now on. This is our year of living more simply!
  • reaching out. As I talked about in my last post, knowing guides and mentors – and where I can go for support or advice.
  • connecting with nature’s helpful energies: the sun on sunny days, (particularly in late spring and in summer), the moon when she is waxing and full. I like to go outside at these times, stand in the sun/moonlight, give thanks for the beautiful glow, run through my current goals in my head and ask for the sun/moon’s blessing.
  • celebration and gratitude At full moon, I try to celebrate wherever I am in my goals. I’ve only chosen the fabric for the peg bag I planned to make my mum? Well yay that I’ve had the mental energy to do that! It’s a step. In the year, I take the summer solstice, lammas and the autumn equinox as cues for doing this too. We found it really helpful incorporating more gratitude into our lives the last two years; this year, we are striving to give thanks daily for our blessings, inspirations, discoveries, achievements and anything positive and lovely that has come our way that day.
  • Recognising ego, and dropping pride I find it easy to compare myself to others and try to achieve what I percieve them to be achieving. For a start, my perception may be wrong. Also, their circumstances, skills, resources and luck may be different to mine. And they may be more practised at these things than me, so it comes more naturally and automatically to them. This year, I ask for the grace to let go or change direction when something just isn’t working rather than clinging onto something for the sake of image, ego, saving face or “being right”.

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Do you have any ways of sustaining your motivation with your goals? I’d love you to comment! Bright blessings for all you are hoping and planning for. ♥

Childlike

The new calendar year, new moon and just-rebirthed sun are all bringing me a sense of renewal and freshness as I wrote about yesterday. I call the new moon the “Daughter Moon”, representing to me the child phase of our life before she becomes a maiden, mother, crone and hag. Although rain clouds shroud her tonight where I live, during the last two evenings I’ve enjoyed a little time with her. Mere minutes – but very special ones. In those few minutes, I saw the parallel between new beginnings and chiildhood and immediately saw various images of my son in energetic play and eager exploration. I see such images in real life several times each day and adore his sense of wonder and excitement at the world. I adore how it brings up a sense of wonder in me. Yet with a young child, there is also the naivety, the need for guidance, help and boundaries. For mentoring.

I thought of all my goals and hopes for this moon and this year; seeds sown and dreams dreamt both for my own projects and the ones made by my husband and I together. I thought of the need for us to be childlike from time to time – particularly when embarking on something new. To let excitment and awe override all the adult “shoulds” and inhibitions we so easily acquire.  To feel fresh and playful. To recognise our naivety and reach out for guides and mentors for our new projects. Guidance from people we know, from online or print resources, from the things that inspire us and that we connect to, from the sincere voice of our heart, from the whisper on the wind.

That naivety can feel so vulnerable. It can hound out confidence and trust and scare us away from what we want altogether. I think again of my goals – it might be easier not to bother, not to try. But my heart and soul have dreamt them up, conceived them and brought them into my consciousness, bringing with them excitment and hope. I look forward to them growing with the growing light, and to myself growing through growing them. ♥

The ex-boyfriend’s creation on my altar…

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In my head, New Year’s Eve and Day don’t mean that much to me. After all, I mark each year’s close at the end of autumn when I observe the death and decay in nature, then I celebrate the return of the sun at the winter solstice and the signs of nature re-awakening at Imbolc. To my logic, the first of January is just another calendar date, and 2014 a human-appointed number. Yet I still get a little buzz, a little whirly-smiley-bouncy excited feeling of freshness and new-ness. Renewal – yes, I feel renewed. Particularly so this year, when the calendar change has coincided with a new moon. We’ve freshened up the house with a cleaning mission, benefited from some family time and some deep conversations, rested ourselves and firmed up our solstice goals. This year calls for a bit of a new rhythm to our life as Rob moves to a new job role with more hours, as I drop my work with a holistic therapies clinic that was just spreading me too thin, as Dylan grows so fast in that way small children do, as we realise what just hasn’t been serving us well – and also what we need and want more of. I love that, in spite of how commercial and soulless this time of year can seem, our society still kind of sleeps for a week or two at this time. People have time off, shops reduce their opening hours, schools are on holiday, animals are hibernating, there’s less traffic and everything and everyone seems to be going about their business just a little slower. I love the parallel between this and the sleeping earth; I think we all need a winter rest, whether or not our jobs and commitments allow this to be exactly over Christmas. We’re part of nature and nature needs this annual slumber to keep moving, producing, fertile and beautiful. I’m also part of the society I live in and that society is now putting new calendars on the wall, naming the year a new one and referring to “last year” as being the one that encompassed January-December.

At such a time of renewal and fresh starts, it seemed apt for this to be reflected in our sacred display on our kitchen table. Also, our festive visit to my in-laws enabled the return of our beautiful wild god plaque from where it had been stored for safety when we moved house. In the dilemma of where to put it (so heavy to hang on the wall, might damage it just standing it up…), the idea came to lie it down as the base of our altar and put other things on and around it. I liked the imagery of the god aspect underpinning nature, of the revolution of the seasons around him being represented by the placing of the objects I have to represent them and the elements. The display, now dressed for new moon, has a pale cloth arranged in a crescent shape around him, some dried lemon balm (a Christmas gift from my mum) providing lovely scent being offered for air, some soda bread that we made last night being offered for earth – upon a wooden spoon carved by Rob. We often burn a candle of a corresponding colour at sabbats and esbats on the tall candlestick Rob made, whereas day-to-day we burn the beeswax tealights I make. There is a creation of Dylan’s too! The little modelling clay plate “for goddess, for goddess eat dinner”. The water in the tiny bowl usually comes from one of the springs around Glastonbury tor and is dabbed on or sprinkled over bruises of both the physical and emotional kind!

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The oak king himself was made by an ex-boyfriend. I know, it seems a little weird to have such a thing on your kitchen table, in your home that you share with your husband and son. I totally understand that a lot of people just wouldn’t want that at all. Both of us respect our own and each others ex’s as part of the story of our lives. We’re both comfortable with the good times, pain and lessons those people all wove into our tapestries – not at all right for us now, but there’s no changing the significance they had. And the plaque is a plaque: it’s not my ex himself on the table! A plaque that we both find gorgeous. In my relationship to nature and the seasons. honouring the past and what has created who we are is quite important to me. Again, I emphasise that this is just how I feel; you’ll have your own view on your story and its characters.

Blessings for any goals you make for 2014 or for this moon, and may the next chapter of your story be exciting, whenever it starts. ♥

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