The full moon in my different phases

As a child, I don’t remember having much of a relationship with the moon, except that it often had a magical role in stories I enjoyed. In the maiden phase of my life, during my early steps along my spiritual path, the moon and her cycles became greatly important how I lived my day-to-day life and gained understanding of myself.

The full moon phase was always busy; I would hope to not be working a late shift! I’d have a sacred bath before dressing in special clothes, silver jewellery and make up. I’d decorate my altar, bake/buy cake. eat a special meal and go for an evening walk. I’d work a spell, do a Tarot spread and carefully put my crystals and other magical items out to charge in the powerful moonlight.

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With my rocky arrival into motherhood, my focus shifted. I was, like many new parents, exhausted, clueless and overwhelmed. My baby was mostly either feeding or crying and I was shaken from how the birth went. My instincts and intuition were lost among emotion, nappies and inability to keep on-top of housework. I didn’t really give much thought to my spirituality for a while. It’s not uncommon for mothers to immerse themselves in the needs of their babies and forget who they themselves are. My understanding is that some don’t recover this until around when the kids leave home.

I guess now, in this new phase of my life, I have a new relationship with the full moon; the mother moon. I identify with this energy. I feel her within myself. The nurturing, creative, intuitive, maternal aspects. The high-emotion, heavy, tired aspect. The challenges and magic of this ongoing process of birthing a new person into the big wide world. The abundance of joy, learning, fun, love, pain and chaos.

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My menu of full-moon night activities is somewhat leaner. I rarely devote the whole night to it, and the focus tends to be on being rather than on doing. I watch the moon from our garden, drawn to her stillness – her calmness – rather than her power. I go inside and meditate, or journal, or draw a single Tarot card.

I wonder how my full moon nights will change as I move out of early motherhood, through mothering all the childhood ages ahead, and eventually towards my cronehood and beyond. For now I savour my simple menu.

)o(

IMG_1519(framed picture is of a work by Wendy Andrew: www.paintingdreams.co.uk)

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Pink moon / growing moon

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Happy Pink Moon or, as it’s sometimes called, Growing Moon. Blessings for all that is growing in your life right now. In mine, I’ve got some little seedlings growing up and up; more leaves folding out on our fruit bushes with each sunny day; a toddler’s vocabulary growing at a remarkable rate; his knowledge of plant names also growing so fast that it will surely soon catch u mine (which is not, I hasten to add, that impressive!); my insight into what foods, eating habits, lifestyle habits and other practices suit me is growing with each day of this “sorting out my health” month; my gratitude and excitement about the new job that my husband starts next month is growing the more I think about it (it will give us more time as a family, and – hopefully – him more job satisfaction); and my love of pink is somehow growing too! Happy full moon – and what a beautiful one. 

 

 

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Full moon prayer/blessing

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These words came to me as I stood in my garden looking at the full moon last night. Things have been a little unpeaceful in our house these last 2-3 weeks – fuelled by one or two disappointments that have come our way, a few frustrations here and there, a little difficulty in adjusting to change (including the constant change that normal, healthy toddler development involves!) Nothing we won’t find our way through; we just need to figure out our path and clear some brambles out the way first. Although it can be hard in such times to focus on what I am achieving and what we’re grateful for, it’s very levelling to do so. That activity alone breathes calm into my heart and mind. ♥

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. ♥

Cold moon, cold womb

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The December full moon is sometimes known as the “cold moon”, as the darkness and coldness of winter is really felt. Indeed this December’s full moon is only a few days from midwinter, when I feel the goddess to be swinging her dark cloak far out and around over our northern hemisphere. Swoosh! It’s a very beautiful cloak that I can find comforting in the way it envelops us – similar how I carried my son in a sling with my coat wrapped around both of us during his very first winter. However, the invitation to look within whilst there is is so much darkness without can be a little daunting; I don’t always find it easy to accept the need to change, let go and renew. To allow death even when I know that it will create space for new life to burst forth.

My garden is pretty empty, and I’m not spending much time out there – again, I’ve “come inside” to create comfort for myself and my family with baking, creative crafts and reading stories and magazines. This is the week when I really start to build up to the solstice and to Christmas; when I’ll start to plan festive food, to panic about how few gifts I have organised, to dig out the decorations. I guess this busyness helps fill the void created by the bare trees and weak sun. Hopefully, I’ll remember to make time to acknowledge and feel that void – to deeply breathe in and out, to spread my arms and stretch in that dark space which is needed for life to begin again. For those ideas and dreams that I’ll conceive on the 21st.

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I know that some pagans see the goddess as being pregnant now, about to birth the sun on the winter solstice. In my interpretation (which is neither right nor wrong, like anyone’s beliefs), her womb is now empty and resting, having birthed during the harvest time, then bled her afterbirth and then rested her womb. I interpret the solstice to be conception; the meeting of energies within the void womb to create new life. Life that is tiny and delicate – and probably unseen for a few weeks. Of course in all this womb-talk, I consider my own womb which is itself a cold dark void, my cycle still not having returned due to lactational amenorrhea. Certainly in the early months following Dylan’s birth, the space where he had grown felt literally a void; I could not connect with this space, imagine it, acknowledge it or anything because of the impact having an emergency Cesaerean had had upon me. If I held my hand over my lower abdomen. it just felt cold (even if I myself was feeling warm). Thankfully, this changed in time due to many factors – the healing nature of time itself being just one of them. Another was Miranda Gray’s worldwide womb blessing which takes place on a few full moons per year; I’m very grateful to the friends who encouraged me to accept this beautiful gift freely available to all women.

I look forward to joining so many women today in sharing this blessing, and I look forward to joining with what I imagine to be many more people on Saturday to celebrate the solstice. I know that I will join some people who, like me, ascribe messages and metaphors to this day; who will greet energies and spirits, create rituals and passageways, feel the shift of the outer world in their inner world and send out intent for the new stage. I know that I will join some people who simply want to celebrate the cycle of nature; I don’t think it matter exactly how any of us are approaching it. What matters is that we will all be there on that day and at that time, feeling hopeful and embracing love and light. And smiling. And that’s a great vibe to be going round so early in the morning. 

Full moon: “I’d like to connect more to nature’s cycles”, “What do you do to celebrate the full moon?”

IMG_1214These are things that I have sometimes heard/read people saying. I think that there is a realisation dawning that many of our current “Gods” of brands, celebrities, money and status symbols aren’t serving us well and that many people are wanting a bit more nature in their lives. Maybe I just say this because of the circles I frequent, the things I read and the city I live in!!

Either way, I believe that there are many benefits to a life in connection with nature. Benefits for our mental health (ecopsychology) to benefits for childrens’ development (nature deficit disorder) to benefits for the environment (through developing awareness of the affect of our actions on flora and fauna) to benefits to our economy and our nutrition (eating seasonal food). And more. But this post was going to be about celebrating the full moon…

When I first started exploring nature-based spirituality and paganism, my celebrations at seasonal festivals and at the different points of the lunar cycle were very ritualistic. I’d devote quite a bit of time to decorating my altar, casting a circle at a specific time, calling the quarters, drawing energy up from the earth and down from the sky, entering a meditative state and then grounding myself and closing the circle before having some food and drink themed with that sabbat or moon phase.  However, I noticed that, in time, I felt less inclined to go through all these steps and then felt “bad” that I wasn’t “doing it the right way”. To be honest, it just all felt like a bit of a faff to me. Now that I’m a little older, more self-assured and (hopefully!) wiser, I see it that these things don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. I’m probably not quite organised and methodical enough for that way of working to click with me, whilst for some people it may be perfect. Plus I have a young child and many things that I try to fit into my days and for these celebrations to feel like an item on a to-do list is far from how I want them to be.

The style of celebration that works best for me is flexible (in order to fit around family needs that can be unpredictable!), short and sweet with simple decorations, symbolic food and at least an element of it being outside. Sabbat celebrations in our house tend to span at least a day and include all three of us. Lunar celebrations tend to be solitary – although Dylan does often help me decorate our nature display and he looks out (often unprompted) for the moon in the sky!

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For full moon I usually….

  • that day I usually where something pretty and feminine. There’ll be some white or pink in there. Maybe both!
  • decorate our sacred display with a (mainly) white cloth with a flowered pattern and shimmery threads, a couple of decorations that symbolise the full, bright moon to me and a mainden-mother-crone picture that I have. I have fresh flowers or another offering (dried rose petals, food) and sometimes a white or silver candle. However, I usually use the beeswax candles that I make (and that you can buy from my Etsy or Folksy shops – shameless plug!!)
  • have an evening meal with foods that symbolise that full moon to me. So maybe white rice, (creamy) mushrooms, fried or grilled round aubergine slices, a yoghurt dip. Or fried potatoes, something in a coconut sauce – or with desiccated coconut sprinkled ontop.  You get the idea! I don’t eat cheese but can see how this could fit!
  • go outside when the full moon is up. Sometimes I’ll have a 10 minute walk around where I live, sometimes I just go into my garden and look up at the moon. I try to make this a pretty meditative experience; experiencing rather than thinking, feeling the connection I feel to the moon’s energy (if that sounds  bit new-agey, you could just admire the beauty of the bright glow).
  • come inside and make a hot chocolate or warm juice to drink with some fresh berries (if seasonal) and/or bit of cake/biscuit. (I usually bake at sabbats and esbats  any excuse!)
  • I enjoy this snack in candlelight (outside if warm and dry) whilst I contemplate what the full moon symbolises to me and how these themes are represented in my life right now. So, for me, the full moon correlates to the pregnant mother, so I think about what feels full and ripe right now, what I’ve been growing and is now complete. I think of what’s inspiring me right now and what I’m celebrating and grateful for in life.

Happy full moon ♥

harvest moon: gratitude.

autumn heart stoneI believe that if we live consciously and mindfully, gratitude comes naturally to us: we are aware of what we are harvesting and gratitude rides in on the back of that awareness. However, often we don’t live consciously and mindfully, distracted by our busy lives and the fullness of all our interests, commitments, relationships, experiences and dreams. I find that gratitude grounds me in the present, anchors me to the important stuff and breathes peace into whatever the storm is – even if just briefly.

But where to start? My husband and I have sometimes found that gratitude can almost feel a little cheesy, a little Sunday School reminiscent, and that in our hearts, there really is a lot we’re grateful for. Yet if we offer that “I’m grateful for the inventors of toothbrushes and toothpaste and for the knowledge that brushing teeth prevents tooth decay. I’m grateful for there being clean water in which to rinse my toothbrush and for our landlord having installed a mirror above the sink so that I can see what I’m doing…” etc, acknowledging gratitude is going to take all day.

The school/Sunday School gratitudes I remember were quite broad, global subjects such as being thankful for having food and clean water when many people in the world don’t. Furthermore, such gratitude can trigger a huge guilt trip; at times I’ve felt depressed, I’ve then felt worse still wondering what right I have to feel depressed when I have clean water, food on the table, a roof over my head etc. Of course, it’s all contextual and these feelings are still valid. something that came up during some counselling i had a while ago was that we often tend to polarise and make either/or’s. We subconsciously say to ourselves: “I can feel depressed OR I can feel grateful”. Surely, when we think about it, we can feel grateful AND depressed. We don’t even need to try to remedy our sadness with this list of “good stuff” in our lives; just to let ourselves feel both feelings.

I find it more meaningful to be more specific in my gratitudes; to use what has impacted upon that day/week/year. Sure, I am always grateful for food on the table but that’s not the whole story; I’m grateful for these salad leaves growing well in our garden, for Dylan helping me to bake this bread and for the convenience of tinned beans that we can rustle up a quick hummus even when we’re really busy.

For a while, Rob and I have put aside a few minutes each Sunday to reflect on our gratitudes from the past week. We’ve got better at not missing this time, especially as we noticed that the weeks when we were most likely to not make or “feel like” making time for gratitude were the weeks when we most needed to! I’ve started trying to practise gratitude daily – at mealtimes and/or at the end of the day.  I take a deep breath in and, as I exhale, let my mind scan over the day. What will jump out? Brushing my teeth doesn’t (what a surprise!) Some are obvious, easy gratitudes (autumn leaves being just so crunchable!), some less so (those silver linings of the clouds, if you like). Even on days like the ones this week when Dylan’s current teething episode has meant difficult daytimes and sleepless nights for all three of us, there are still gratitudes, such as for the chamomilla homeopathic remedy that seems to help him. For surely, every day has its harvest, for even through pain – sometimes especially through pain – we are constantly learning.

Happy harvest moon, the full moon at this time of year when we are gathering, reaping, enjoying, sharing and preserving. We collect seeds to save for next year by acknowledging the things that we have learnt and gained that we want to carry forward with us into the future. We are thankful in our hearts and in our celebrations, be they just personal or with others. And I am thankful to you for sharing with me this interest in dancing to nature’s rhythm. ♥

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We keep this little basket on our sacred display and, throughout the lunar month, put in it objects that resemble significant events, achievements or gratitudes.