Vanishing

I was blessed with a beautiful glimpse of the vanishing moon – the waning crescent – this morning. The last, or maybe penultimate, sliver before she enters her dark phase. Sadly I have no photo due to our brilliant little camera being away at the camera hospital, having accidentally met with my arm and then the kitchen floor. Can I blame pregnancy for such clumsiness? Let’s go with yes.

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A Great-Grandmother Moon from a less clumsy time in my life. This morning’s moon was leaning back a little more, and the sky a little darker with Venus shining brightly quite nearby.

I correlate the dark phase of the lunar cycle with the Winter Solstice in the solar cycle, so today we’re around similar times in both. I hold the word vanishing in my mind and think about its correlation to my own life right now: the vanishing days before the Solstice and Christmas is upon us (why am I not more organised for these events by this point in December?! And why do I leave it so late every year?!), the vanishing weeks before my baby is due to be born, my seemingly vanishing energy in the evenings. The vanishing sense of anxiety about it all as I realise that, really, almost everything that’s truly important has been done; by the time baby comes, we’ll be ready to welcome them.

Back outside, the colour is fast vanishing from our garden as the last of the nasturtiums have died and the green leaves are pretty few. The piles of crisp, vibrant leaves on the ground are vanishing into brown soggy mud and mush. The light starts vanishing not long after 3pm. “Come inside,” it all whispers sleepily, “find a blanket. Rest and dream”.

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)

New moon

In the almost-2 years that we’ve lived in our home, I feel I’ve just about got to know the moon’s path across the local sky through the year. This new moon is the first of the year where, for my first glimpse of it, I have to walk a few streets up the hill. The lighter evenings add a challenge to my four-weekly ritual of hunting the sky for the thin, fragile crescent; she’s paler when sharing the sky with the sun. But it’s when there’s a lot of cloud that I totally lose at my game.

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A new crescent from a few months back – hence the darkness. Our camera is currently having a little vacation with a friend of ours, having been left at her wedding!

I enjoy the walk, though sometimes feel just a little self-conscious strolling along my inner-city neighbourhood searching the sky. At new moon I get a lovely buzz of refreshed optimism and excitement. Like many people do at New Years. I make goals, I hope hopes. Planting seeds is the easy part for me. Like a typical Aries, it’s sustaining, persevering and completing projects that are among my stumbling blocks in life. I find an interesting parallel between this trait and my relationship with the moon’s cycles; where new moon is always a happy time for me, full moon is unpredictable. Sometimes I soar on positivity and strong physical energy – my intuition, creativity and nurturing and maternal instincts at their peak. Other full moons I’m tired, irritable, weepy, apathetic and physically bloated – and falling far short of my parenting ideals. I’ll be interested to see if my relationship with the full moon could stabilise as I find my feet more with the mother phase of my life.

After I returned from my walk last night, I lit a candle in my little red corner. I visualised the crescent as I’d seen it shining delicately above and felt the feelings and meanings I associate with new moon inside myself. I said the words below, holding a basket in which I’d assembled items associate the projects I’d like to grow with this moon. One of those is some changes to this blog – it’s time for a new name and some other adjustments. I’ll talk more about that in another post soon.

Happy new moon. ♥♥

“Welcome, welcome daughter moon. Thank you for revealing yourself to me tonight. I welcome your pale smile and the optimism you bring me. I thank you for the return of your light. I’ll walk with you as I nurture these seeds and dreams of mine.

I sometimes feel myself to be a child like you; when I feel naive, delicate and vulnerable. In many ways I feel my mother phase – that I could cradle you as I cradled my son as a a baby. Welcome to all the potential that you hold; I’m looking forward to growing with you”.

dark moon theme: transformation

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Right now, the moon is in it’s dark phase: the waning crescent is no longer visible in the morning sky and the new moon’s waxing crescent does not yet grace late afternoon. It’s an in-between point. A transition. A time of transformation.

I generally mark the dark moon as a 3-4 day period; even on clear days there will be this length of time where I can’t see a moon. I correlate this phase of the lunar cycle to midwinter in the cycle of the sun and to the bleeding days of the menstrual cycle. In the cycle of our lives, I see it as the time between death and rebirth. I see it as a time for rest – which seems paradoxical as transformation would appear to be a somewhat active thing! But Eastern philosophies have long held as sacred (and beneficial to health) the power of stillness and “not doing”; yoga teaches of the magic of the moment between in breath and out. The dark moon always feels a very potent time for me. This time often gifts me special insights, bursts of energy, heightened intuition and/or creativity.

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I see the cycle of growth, fruition, decay, death and transformation as ever-present in all of nature around us. This new garden feature of a small compost bin – my husband’s latest pallet-recycling creation – means that we as a family can now engage with this cycle by transforming our food and garden waste into compost for growing more plants. Although I don’t believe that my son needs to fully understand death yet (or is able to) at his young age, I see a lot of merit in his day to day life having connection with composting, recycling, repurposing, mending, stillness (ha! If only you’d met this little dynamo…), cooking, natural healing and creative mediums that explore the idea of transformation. As a society, our huge focus on growth and fruition in everything massively disconnects us from the other side of the cycle. Who knows what beautiful possibilities there would be if we were to allow room for them. ♥

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Raw vegan sugar-free coconut sweets

They’re white and they’re round and they’re yummy so they’re likely to make a regular appearance in my full moon celebrations! I originally concocted these last month for our celebrations of the first signs of spring. I’m totally in love with raw coconut oil; it boasts benefits such as anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial proporties; it’s high in healthy fats; it helps reduce cholesterol and it can boost brain function – and more! AND it tastes delicious! Its natural sweetness is proving extremely helpful in my ongoing efforts to reduce my sugar consumption, allowing me to still enjoy little sweet snacks. Omnomnom!

So, it has to be said that I’m not exactly exact when it comes to measurements; I tend to play about with ingredients until I reach the consistency and flavour I like (which may be different to what you like – or even to what I liked the previous day and may like tomorrow!!)

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For about 10-12 sweets:

  • 3 generous dessert spoons of raw coconut oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger (or mix half and half with cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice/cardamom)
  • 2 dessert spoons or so of dessicated coconut, plus extra for rolling the balls in
  • a small handful of raisins or chopped dates
  • ground almonds to mix – around 5-7 dessert spoonfuls
  • agave nectar or maple/date syrup (or honey for a not-strictly-vegan option) to taste – around 1/2 teaspoon. Or none at all, if you’re aiming for total sugar-freedom!

Mash the coconut oil in a bowl with a fork, then mix in the lemon juice and spice. Stir in the dried fruit, dessicated coconut and then the ground almonds until the mixture is firm enough to roll into little balls. If you’re using a sweetener, you’ll want to add that before said ball-rolling. I make each ball with about a teaspoon’s worth of mixture, then roll the ball through dessicated coconut and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Store in the fridge too.

As with any recipe, the real fun comes in tweaking it to your own needs. You could add some cocoa into the mix at dark moon (or any time that you feel cocoa would be appropriate… so anytime!), or substitute the spices for crushed fennel seeds.

Happy full moon! ♥

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 ♥

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. ♥