Babymoon

Six precious weeks of dreamy days and drift-y nights, of pleasant surreality and an enchantment I don’t want to wear off. Six exhausting weeks where, in this eclipse of “normal life”, hours often float in tender slow motion between the mugs of hot chocolate.

Six chaotic weeks of adjusting to a new pace of life – or rather, a pace I danced before (but rather differently – I didn’t also have another child’s needs to meet then). A pace where Leaving The House is an epic (and sometimes abandoned!) mission. Where, once out, the usual timescales of How Long Our Errands Will Take are totally unpredictable. It’s an enriching challenge to my routine-loving personality that most of my days (and nights) are currently quite unpredictable.

Six precious weeks of being in the constant company of my baby. There’s something magical about a newborn: some kind of holiness surrounding them, a spell they spin over the room they’re in. I think that’s why people so want to visit, to touch them, to hold them. I feel it a sacred honour to be in physical contact with this boy most of the time, under his innocent spell. Even if I do whinge about my back ache, and worry about being enough for him and his brother.

I’ve been held, in these blink-and-you-miss-’em weeks, by the beautiful love I’m surrounded by. Mama friends have gifted cake, soup and help with my eldest son. My own mother amazingly gifted us two weeks where she stayed with us, helping out. Other friends have gifted reassurance on the harder days. All these things have enabled me to focus on my family; on our transition and on the welcoming of our newest member.

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There seem to be various practices centering around the six weeks postpartum period. From Ecuadorian closing the bones ceremonies to  traditional “confinements”. From Ayurvedic massage and dietary practices to contemporary six-week check-ups with the doctor. Of course, nothing suddenly changed on the day that my son completed six weeks in the world. He didn’t suddenly snap into a routine. I didn’t suddenly “get” the new dance required of me.

I certainly didn’t start drinking less hot chocolate.

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December

 

December, to me, is twinkling. The day’s light is pale, fragile and translucent – and there is always twinkling. Twinkling of the indoor lights that peep from windows, determinately warm against the outdoor winter light, twinkling of streetlights that come on in the afternoon and of Christmas lights. I find some of them pretty and some of them tacky and garish.

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Last year’s Solstice Branches

The pretty ones give me an inner twinkle. It’s the twinkle of anticipation as the festive season – and deeper winter – draws near. I love winter: the beauty of bare trees and of frost, the cosying up, the feeling of mystery in the darkness and in the . The anticipation that I feel is similar to that of my son as he opens his advent calendar each day. It’s in our excitement in this month of preparation for the solstice and for Christmas. It’s a child-like feeling and that’s probably what’s so special about it; this time of year awakens the part of me that will always be a wonder-filled, magic-believing, enthusiastic child. The busy awake feeling of my inner world is in contrast to the outer world, which speaks of sleep and inactivity.

But glitter and sparkle is where they both meet.

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A beautiful, glittery heavy frost in 2012

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Magical, Avalonia-like misty frost near the Forest of Dean last winter

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“Snow Garden” – snow is made from soap powder and crystals, twigs, fir cones, conkers etc are added. Taken from Earthwise by Carol Petrash.

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Rethinking midsummer associations – fire and water.

Our garden is all planted, and too full for anything more. It just begs for water, water, water. And it’s water that I’ve been thinking more about this midsummer than other years. I’ve always associated summer, and Litha (the summer solstice) with fire; the time where the weather is hot and we celebrate the sun being at its strongest. It seems obvious. However, it was whilst learning about Ayurveda that I first considered the water aspect to summertime. Pitta, the dominant dosha right now, is comprised of fire and water. Water is liquid and Ayurveda connects this to the melting power of heat. Water is heavy and I guess Ayurveda would attribute the heaviness we tend to feel now to the presence of water in this season’s Pitta energy.

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Of course water has a balancing effect to heat too and I think that this is where the association of water with midsummer from a pagan perspective rings true for me; we associate summer with the seaside and with boats and shells and pebbles and fish, we think paddling pools and water-play for our children, we know we need to drink plenty of the stuff. The association is also relevant to the story of the year as told in the analogy of the goddess reproductive cycle; she is heavily pregnant and waiting for labour to start – the first sign of which is often the waters breaking. Fluids – and fluidity – are then quite symbolic of the birth process, including the fluidity of time and perhaps reality that many women report experiencing when they are in labour. Indeed, such fluidity seems quite pertinent to summertime itself, for our usual routines, activities and times that we do things warp a little with the long hazy, dreamy days (or if we are on holiday). Midsummer has long been associated with the fairy world and their magic and mischief: further blurring and dissolving of reality, time, space, form, and boundaries of possibility.

This theme of fluidity – ie: motion – is kind of incongruent with the call for stillness and slowing down that I also feel at this time of year. That the word solstice comes from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) impresses this for me. I guess this contrast gives me more food for thought and discoveries to make as my journey with my own spirituality continues – or is maybe a call to not get too hung up on associations at all, but to take each year for what it is and where I’m at, listening to the unique messages that year brings.

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Out of the darkness and into the light; Beltaine

On this eve, the first summer night
Out of the darkness and into the light
Set the Beltaine fires alight
Season of the Goddess return
Hail! Hail! the Queen of the May
Now is the season, now is the day
A time to laugh and a time to play
Hail! Hail! the Queen of the May
Through the time when the green leaves hide
The dream of summer has kept us alive
Through the darkness we have survived
Season of the Goddess return
Let the leaves be green again
Let us all be free from pain
Out of the ice and into the flame
Season of the Goddess return!
” 

Queen of the May, Inkubus Sukkubus

Tonight, many who follow a nature-orientated spiritual path will start celebrations for the cross-quarter festival of Beltaine (or Beltane). I personally tend to wait until the May full moon and for when I’ve seen a few hawthorn flowers to celebrate what this festival symbolises to me – the start of summer, the fertility and beauty of nature (and so our own fertility, beauty and sexuality), the life phase of young adulthood, the day now being noticeably longer than the night. Yet, as many people will celebrate some or all of these things this week, I’ll join my heart with theirs; there’s no harm in extending my own party a little!

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Indeed I felt this sense of kindred values and shared celebration when I visited Glastonbury yesterday. It’s reason I go there 2-4 times a year; I get a special kind of nourishment from it (in spite of the logistical super-challenge the day often turns out to be with a little person’s needs to meet, as well as a those of two big people. But it’s the things in life with the most rewards that sometimes take the most work). My feeling is that the nourishment comes from the spirits of that area’s history and ancestors, the leylines that cross around there, the beauty of that landscape,  the lovely people and general vibe. the magic of all the creative and healing work that people do there, the spring that I always fill a few bottles from and the nurture of places like the Goddess Temple and the Chalice Well Gardens.

A theme of my thoughts and revelations from our visit yesterday was of, as the song above says, coming out of the darkness and into the light; out of the immoveably solid ice of recent struggles and into the flames of an inspired, joyful, bright life. We’re feeling that ice start to melt now, my husband starts a new job next week where he’ll work fewer hours and my month of giving myself some serious mind. body and spirit care has benefited us all. it feels as though there really is beauty, light, fertility, blossoming projects to celebrate. And, as with any rough patch I’ve ever been through, there’s certainly a lot of growth to give thanks for. All hail indeed.

Happy Beltaine-tide 

For some Beltaine inspiration and general celebration by way of beautiful images, check out my Pinterest board here!