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”.

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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 ♥

full moon: Mother moon

IMG_1214It’s a bit of of a tough spot here in Mama-land. Fewer blogposts written, incompletion of projects, a shortened fuse, an increased number of text messages between my mother and I…these are the symptoms of an Attack of The Night Owl Toddler and the resulting reduced physical and mental energy. Of course said toddler, by day, is still as energetic, super-curious, adventurous, strong-willed and rarely still for more than two seconds. This is who he is  – this is how many toddlers are to my understanding – and I adore him for it. In my heart, I wouldn’t want him any other way.

Yet it is intense, particularly as I am within a few feet of him for all the hours of six and a half days per week. My opinion, backed by that of many, is that we weren’t meant to raise children in such isolated units; we’re designed to have a family community or tribe around us to dilute the intensity of these growing little people who are developing at what can only be an intense rate for them too. I’m grateful that technology enables me to access my mother’s support and wisdom, despite the miles between us. I’m grateful for the online and physical communities of like-minded parents who share their support and wisdom with me, for the books and magazines that also guide my journey and, of course, for the wonderfully supportive and hands-on other half of this parent team: my husband.

Yet, as well as the support that the mama hands and mama brain need, the mama soul needs feeding and replenishing too. Many write about how creative pursuits can provide such nourishment; Lucy Pearce in particular has explained this need well to me. I also turn to the moon, especially the full moon; the mother phase. On most full moon nights since learning that I was pregnant, I’ve stood outside, bathing for a few minutes in the silvery white glow. On these nights I admire her mystical beauty and connect with the mother energy in her and in myself. Often, these nights have found me making a plea for her wisdom and guidance, or feeling the coolness of her light cool my current parenting frustrations. I observe the strength of her wholeness and draw down that strength to help replenish my own.

So many other mothers exist and have existed under this same moon. Millions of us.  In connecting with Mother Moon, I hope to draw down their pooled wisdom as well as offer my own ( for there are odd days when I do find a way, crack a problem or learn a technique). At the very least, I draw down the fact that they survived; as far as I know, no-one has died of simply having a toddler! I hold an image of myself on a rocky, twisty-turny path, Mother Moon lighting my way as I carve it out, Dylan beside me. Like with the text messages from my mum, I let myself feel mothered a little, That warm feeling of being loved and nurtured replenishes my own heart and soul to mother with more love, empathy, patience and compassion. Patience with both him and with myself, for we’re both learning new roles here. In the moon’s light, I give myself permission to forgive those times when I’ve not been the parent I want to be: the parent I believe Dylan needs. Once again, I drink in the bright moonlight through every pore of my skin to fuel that goal.

And to that shining, milky sphere who, to me, resembles the mother, who corresponds to the times in our lives when we are birthing and mothering – be that a child, a business, a project, a garden or whatever – I usually shed a few tears, and always give thanks, ♥

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painting on altar by Wendy Andrews
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Vanishing moon: stopping life from running away

Sometimes visible as a thinning crescent in the morning sky, the vanishing moon has, for me, the wise elderly grandmother energy. Stronger in mind than body, she has the rich bounty of life experience, skills, knowledge and self-assurance if she has lead a fulfilling life. That’s the question I ask at around this time of every lunar month; has the month been a fulfilling one? Did I achieve my goals and meet my targets? If not, was it because they were unrealistic? Or because I procrastinated? If the latter, was that perhaps because I was afraid or lacking confidence?

I ask myself: “what has changed in the last month? What defines this month for me?” It could be the month that my son started walking, or a month where my mum came to stay. Maybe it is the month where I first recognised how much more confidant I now feel using my sewing machine, or a month where I often felt a little low.

As well as connecting me with the lunar tides and energies, this helps me kinda keep track of my life. My husband and I both feel that we would hate years to pass us by with us barely noticing them, or having not really reflected and evaluated along the way. Evaluate if the things we are doing and working towards are still true to what we want, need and value. To take a look at what potential opportunities or dreams are in front of us and if now is the right time to pursue them. To just acknowledge how we’re finding living day to day life right now.

Of course, you don’t need to plug into what the moon’s doing to reflect and assess in this way. We just use it as a framework so that we do it regularly and so that, in my belief, the moon’s energy is complementary to the energy of what we’re doing (and therefore aids it).

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I’ll share something else that I like to do: during each lunar month, I place on our sacred shelf (which serves a similar purpose to an altar or nature table) a reminder of anything significant that happened. For example, a “find” from a particularly lovely walk, a scrap of wool/fabric from something I’ve made, an epiphany of a though written down. At the vanishing moon, we look over these. Some objects will prompt laughter, others regret, others relief; a myriad of feelings may be amongst these little things, but all will prompt thanks.

Happy vanishing moon ♥

The beautiful card is by Jan Fowler. See www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk and www.slipperyjacks.com.

Half moon health

We’re a day or so past the half moon, that bi-monthly rest point. You know, you’re out for a nice, long country walk and have been plodding up a steep hill for quite a while now. You’re enjoying the exercise, the fresh air and the scenery but your legs are getting a little tired and your breathing’s not quite as easy as normal. You spy a bench, situated at a lovely view point, and you smile in relief as you ease yourself down to glug some water and sit for a few minutes.

Refreshed as this rest makes you, sometimes it can be pretty hard to get up and continue your climb. For me, this is the energy of the half moon; a rest that can turn into a rut. This is why I try to incorporate gentle movement into my diet and activities on half moon days; spices in my food and drink, (This article justifies my aforementioned chai tea habit!),  a little wheatgrass shot, fresh air, some gentle yoga and a little self-massage.

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It’s this tendency for obstacles that I blame for this post being a day late…technology issues, toddler issues, tiredness. All temporary, all frustrating at the time and none important in the grand scheme of things ♥

Pink moon this morning

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I found myself awake early this morning and oh what a stunning treat was waiting outside for me! Having a little moon-bathe in this soft, pretty pink glow was such a gentle way to start the day. Now I’ve not read much about the reported meanings and messages of a pink moon, partly because I don’t tend to with these things; I prefer to delve inside my heart to find my own. How do I instinctively feel standing in the glow of this moon? If I focus on my breath to turn off that mental chatterchatterchatter we’re all prone too, what images or messages or feelings invite themselves on in?

Even for those who don’t really click with the concept of intuition or spirituality, I doubt there’s many who wouldn’t enjoy such a sight from a purely aesthetic point of view. And stopping for a few minutes to indulge your eyes in beauty is definately time well spent in my book. ♥

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Pink moon on Pinterest

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For those who celebrate the seasonal festivals according to moon phases, this week’s full moon would mark Beltaine. As I prefer to take my cue to celebrate these things from nature’s signs, it just doesn’t feel right for me to throw my party just yet. Where I live, a lot of the daffodils are still standing tall and bright, the hawthorn (also called May) blossom hasn’t yet burst over those frilly leaves, the ramsoms and bluebells aren’t shaking their pretty fairy-hat flowers and it just doesn’t quite feel like the start of our lightest quarter of the year.

However, April’s full moon, known as the pink moon, is not to be sniffed at. I’m hoping to catch a glimpse later, last night’s dreary clouds having stolen the sky-stage. Meanwhile, I’ve made my own little representation, as well as my very first Pinterest board, which you can check out here. ♥