The other half of the cycle; the waning moon, the impending post-summer-solstice-time, and my purple-sprouting broccoli

I read somewhere (memory fails me as to where!) recently that many people in the East find it strange that we in the West are so obsessed with doing and give very little time or value to not doing, stillness and just being. I see this as a feature and result of the capitalist and patriarchal society I feel that we live in. A society that constantly encourages competition, gain, production, expansion, power, measured success; “bigger, better, more”.

I see these characteristics as being represented in nature’s cycles by the waxing moon (new-full) and by the waxing half of the year, which climaxes this weekend (in the northern hemisphere) with the midsummer solstice. I’m not meaning to diss them here; such characteristics are all very essential for change and for the growth of ourselves. our ambitions, our knowledge, our plants, our societies etc. Yet there is the other half that completes the cycle; the waning moon who’s cycle we’re now in, and the time from the summer solstice to the winter one. Indeed it can be easy to overlook these phases – after all, the waning moon comes up in the sky after many of us are asleep. And do we expect to see it in the morning? My experience – and memory – is that we have the idea that the moon is out at night and that most illustrations of the moon show it as a waxing crescent or full moon.

And summer – everyone loves and looks forward to summer! Now I’m not suggesting that loving summer is some patriarchal evil, it’s more that I see myself as a bit of an advocate for winter, which I think gets a little demonised. I know cold is a genuine hardship (especially for those without adequate heating, or in super-cold places) but summer can bring its challenges and, in my experience, anticlimaxes from all the expectations we put on the weather! Perhaps its that many of us shy away from the introspection and inner work that winter invites us towards. Again, I see our view of the cycle as not being one of two equally-valued halves. I could extend this to the female cycle too – menstruation isn’t honoured by many in our society in the way that many other cultures do. And indeed to our own life cycles: I think we’re a pretty ageist society. Thankfully, I feel that many people are becoming more aware of that and that it isn’t fair.

I thought about all this over the weekend whilst I read an article in the current issue of lovely Taproot magazine about seed-saving, and whilst looking at our purple-sprouting broccoli. (Behold the broccoli):

Image

Image

Sure we enjoyed watching it grow. We certainly enjoyed eating several of the florets! We’ve also enjoyed watching what happens if you leave a few florets, as we chose to do. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to watch this other half of the cycle – there’s so many vegetables that I still don’t know what they look like in flower (and beyond) because, as Ken Greene the seed librarian interviewed in the Taproot article says, “we’re used to interrupting plants at their most delicious or beautiful moments. But there’s a whole life cycle beyond that moment.”. The purple-sprouting flowers are adored by the bees, pretty to look at and yummy in a salad (or straight off the plant, like my toddler does!). We can see little pods on the plant and hope to harvest the seeds before cutting down and composting the rest of the plant. Then we’ll dream again, plant again, nurture again, celebrate again, harvest the crop again, watch it go full cycle again, harvest the seeds again, compost the plant again…and on and on and on. ♥

Image

 

Advertisements

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 ♥

Liberation

IMG_1723For a while, I worried that it was because I was being over-stubborn, stupid, inherently greedy and/or a product of a capitalist society whose mantra of “bigger, better, more” doesn’t easily correlate with the idea of waning. release and un-productivity. This autumn, as nature in her leaf-dropping and her decay calls us to release what is no longer serving us,  I’ve been struggling to figure out what I need to let go of this year. Life has felt a little overwhelming at times recently: surely this was a certain sign that something(s) had to go. Surely I can’t need all that my life is feeling so full of. Surely I should know.

It came to me this week, as the harvest season draws to a close and Samhain approaches. Arrived on my consciousness with gentle wings and brought a soft smile to my autumn-cracked lips.

On a rare child-free afternoon earlier this month, my husband and I had listed the things we really love and want to feature strongly in our life. Ironically, a lot of these precious, beautiful values are the things that we often feel that we have little time for. I suspect that it is the same for many people who also feel bound to life’s various commitments and chores, who are also feeling their time drip away in frustrating calls to energy companies and deciding which brand of honey to buy whilst their passions get squashed out. Surely it doesn’t have to be like this.

No it doesn’t. There certainly are essential commitments and there most certainly are realities such as the cold hard fact that the laundry won’t do itself. Yet there is room for prioritising and making choices, for focusing on what’s needed. This week, I’ve kind of battened down the hatches a little to spend more time with my husband and son – and with myself – to really listen to what those needs are. That’s meant that a few texts haven’t been replied to, a couple of social dates have been cancelled and non-essential chores have been left. I know that I can feel very responsible to others and to their expectations, to what I perceive others’ expectations to be and to what my own expectations are.

What I’ve been needing to release is myself.

And I can see that I’ve been doing this for a little while now; reducing the time I spend on Facebook, not vacuuming quite so often, seeing when we just need a gentle day at home and saying so. I feel like the boss is giving me a wink and saying “it’s ok, you don’t have to come to work today”, or “go, just for today leave these things that don’t really inspire you and go. Run out to somewhere beautiful and dance to the song that makes your heart sing with it”. I am that boss, and sometimes that beautiful place I follow my heart to is just to potter around the garden with my son, watching worms. But the feeling is that of running free.

I don’t want to just live life selfishly but I can see that there’s a few things that have been getting in the way of the person I want to be. Or rather, I’ve been standing behind them and letting them block my view and my path, resenting them for it. I’ve let them disconnect me from my family – and from my craft projects.

The fallen leaves will decay to nourish new plants and the dead flowers release seeds that will grow into the next generation of crops and blooms. I hope that the me that I’m releasing will grow, bloom – and nourish others. ♥

 

 

Waning moon, waning year: embracing the dark side

IMG_1603As darkness slightly – but not quite noticeably – outweighs light in our days now, I’m still feeling a little stuck in that little rut that a balance point can bring (see autumn equinox: stillness or waning half moon: spinning wheels). One of nature’s messages at this time of year is that of release: leaves, seeds and the last of the fruits are all being let go. I’m still working out what I need to release right now; my recent stress levels are doing the job of a whirling, flashing, bleeping siren warning me that some thing(s) have to go. Besides, with every year we grow and change and so must cast aside our outgrown, too-worn things to make way for what we need now. Just as I do with my little boy’s clothes.

I may have mentioned before a little trait of mine that my husband and many others just can’t understand: I actually prefer the late autumn, the winter and the spring to the warmer months. As well as not being a particularly hot weather person, (as I truly realised when travelling in south-east Asia), I can just find that summer can be a bit of an anti-climax, especially here in the UK. We anticipate warm, sunny long days, have high expectations of all we want to do – and some years (like this one) these hopes and fantasies are to some extent realised. But so often they are not. With the other seasons, I feel that we know what we are getting and that the surprise weather is often pleasant.

My preference is also perhaps due to what, historically, my hobbies and talents have been. I was quite an indoor child (quite possibly due to my brother and his friends having claimed the garden as their football pitch), doing wintery things like baking, reading and crafting. So I loved the darker months, when it seemed right to be inside doing such things. Yet now, as Rob and I fumble our way along the path of growing and foraging for some of our own food and medicines, dreaming of one day keeping bees, some animals and having a coppice too, I am drawn so much to the outdoors as well. Now with a football-less garden, I can even be found knitting out there! (although who knows what will happen if/when Dylan wants his own pitch…) Yet still I love the cosyness of (knitted) jumpers, blankets and hot chocolate (because, yeah right, like I never drink hot chocolate in summer!), love the mystery of the long nights ruled by the wise goddess in her dark cloak, love the heightened sense of intuition I feel and the closer connection to other worlds and spirits in the paler, more translucent light. I love seeing the trees’ shapes more clearly without the beautiful distraction of their leaves. I love, truly love, these coming months. ♥

IMG_1602

IMG_1601

IMG_1600

IMG_1604

Raining and waning

IMG_1469After so much sun and so much heat, the storms came. Creeping in slowly with a thundery night last week, a shower or downpour here and there over the weekend, and then a proper thunder and lightening showdown. We’ve yet to see a full day of rain and perhaps this is what we need to rinse out those last dregs of  muggyness that are clinging to our skin.

 I suspect I’ve not been alone in my gratitude for the reduced humidity, in my relief that the plants’ thirsts have been quenched, in my thanks for the cooling down of air, tempers, transport vehicles and the slide in the park. Our home has certainly benefited from my having had enough energy to clean it this week! Sure, not everyone may express their gratitude through a rain altar and a welly boot walk that has the sole purpose of puddle-splashing and slug-watching like the one my son and I enjoyed, but I expect there’s a general vibe of gratitude going around.

This washing, cleansing rain and weaker sun comes at the time that the moon is waning and people are celebrating Lammas (or Lughnasadh): the start of the noticeable waning of the year and for many the start of Autumn (or Fall). It still feels too summery for me to begin my celebrations – I need to clock a few more seasonal signs and probably see through a stint of infamous British summer rain – but there are a few hints around. ♥

Image

Image

I’ve also got a Lammas Pinterest board going for festive celebration and inspiration: http://pinterest.com/heartshapedmo/lammaslughnasadh/ Enjoy. ♥

Relax with the waning moon

waning gibbous

To be honest, I feel a little relief when the moon starts to wane. The excitement at the fresh energy of the new moon and starting new projects and goals, then the buzzing busyness that this brings for that fortnight, plus the sowing and planting that biodynamic gardening recommends for most plants during this phase…it can all make things feel a little heady for me come full moon. As the moon starts to shrink – now visible in the morning rather than evening – I feel the equivalent to when you sigh into a comfy chair at the end of a hectic day, stretching out aching limbs and grabbing a comforting drink and book. You’ve enjoyed the day but have looked forward to putting your feet up.

The diminishing light of the waning moon connects me to tasks of “releasing” that I generally do during this phase; letting go of unwanted/unneeded physical or emotional things; harvesting, healing and mending activities. I see it as the autumn of the lunar cycle, the time to direct energy inwards. So I may spend more time reading, looking at things that inspire me, or meditating.

I find that I can also relax a little more with my health; my body seems to naturally flush out and detox more easily during this time. Sure, I still follow a plant-rich wholefood diet as that’s what I believe is good for us. However, I can relax a little with the foods I otherwise find it hard to digest. Following this principle would suggest that it may be wise to up our nutrient intake during the waning moon; it may not only be the nasties that get flushed out easily!

In addition to my gratitude to the connection I feel with our beautiful and mystical moon, I love having this framework to direct my focus and task-management. Many of us complain that modern life is so hectic and hamster wheel-like; I find this rhythm grounds and simplifies my life. ♥