woodspriestess

Bounty

My bounty is in reflection August 2015 106
and story-telling
and deep spaces.

My bounty is in dreams and plans
and refusing to quit.

My bounty wells up from within and
spills over with gusto
and irrepressible hope for
possibility,
and plans,
and endless newness
bright within each morning.

My bounty is in blooms and clay
and gemstones and gravel
in dirt and weeds
raspberries and blood.

My bounty brings the women.
Energy feeds the land.

Words spill forth onto
page,
screen,
memory,
ground.

My bounty is in what I holdAugust 2015 119
and release.

What I won’t give up on
and what I set free.

My bounty is milky.
Curled eyelashes,
blonde head,
sturdy legs.

My bounty is in conversation
circling the veranda in
steady, strong loops
of raw possibility
hope and wonder.

My bounty is in moments of despair and hopelessness
that break like waves on the shore
and make way for sunrise.

My bounty gathers together broken pieces
and tries again.

My bounty moves quickly
fluttering like a butterfly
and traversing continents of desire
before alighting on a thistle
downy,
purple,
sharp,
and beautiful.

As the wheel of the year turns towards fall, what is your bounty? What have you harvested or are waiting until the time is right to pick? What have you created, birthed, sweated over, discovered, or enjoyed?

There has been a crispness to the evening air and the hint of color in the trees that makes me reflect on the passage of another year. It feels like a time to wrap up projects, enjoy results, and to begin another time of turning inward, moving toward the cocoon-call of winter.

Last night my family held an abundance and gratitude ritual (+ harvest + autumn + full moon). I had a wonderful time setting up a mandala on our back deck, which we have recently taken to calling the veranda. Life is much nicer with a veranda in it and we regularly make time to sit out there in the morning as well as walk there at night. I got the term “verandahing” from Leonie Dawson and I highly recommend this practice of making time daily to sit outside on your veranda (deck, porch, front stoop, stair, whatever you’ve got, just try it!).

In the mandala, I set gourds and sage that we grew, harvested, and dried. I also used rose petals and hydrangea blooms that are still currently blooming. I picked dittany, sumac, and dogwood leaves from the forest. After the moon rose, we drummed, sang, danced, wrote what we are grateful for on paper leaves and added them to the mandala. Earlier in the day, I followed a prompt from my Sacred Year class to reflect on my “bounty,” as we approach the harvest season. I expected to write more literally about the things I’ve created and harvested this year, but a bountiful, bounty poem emerged instead.

I registered for Joanna Powell Colbert’s upcoming ecourse: 30 Days of Harvest ~ A Daily Sacred Pause of Welcoming Autumn. I look forward to another experience of daily practice with her.

My own Red Tent class began on the full moon, the birthing of the “seed dream” I planted in February, and another Womanrunes Immersion as well as a Divination Practicum begin in October. A bountiful culmination of the year’s work. I am amazed to see what can be generated and grown over the course of a year.

This month has been a busy one for me and I’ve felt emotionally erratic—vacillating between a boundless enthusiasm and a sort of trapped, snappy despair (as I re-read past blog posts, I recognize this as a feature of having a toddler, disrupted sleep, and an unpredictable “schedule”). Last week, I felt moved and very reassured by a quote I read via a post on Changing by Trista of the Girl God:

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”

-Alice Walker, Living by the Word

August 2015 089

Categories: poems, ritual, spirituality, art, nature, woodspriestess, seasons, sacred pause, practices | Leave a comment

Call for Contributions: Practical Priestessing

July 2015 001I am in the process of finishing my dissertation project about contemporary priestesses in the U.S. The working title of my dissertation is “Practical Priestessing.” As I’ve collected data and dialogued with practicing priestesses throughout the U.S. and in four additional countries, I have been touched, honored, and amazed to see how much deeper, more nuanced, and powerful my work is with the gracious contribution of additional voices. I have always intended to publish my dissertation in book form after I complete my degree, but I now envision including an anthology section in the book about practical priestessing from a variety of perspectives. I gratefully welcome the contribution of your essays (previously published blog posts or articles acceptable) for this project!

Contributions should center around the following themes:

  • Priestess path: how did you become a priestess? How did you hear the call? How do you serve?
  • Practical service + vocational priestessing: what does priestess work look like for you? (Yes, this project is about the DO-ing work of a priestess, rather than the be-ing work.)
  • Community support: how do you work with the community around you? What would it take for the community to support you in vocational priestessing?
  • Nuts and bolts: thoughts, reflections, and suggestions on ritual facilitation, pastoral counseling, teaching, group dynamics, etc.
  • Scraping the candle wax. My dissertation project has its roots in a quote from Ruth Barrett that ends with this thought: “The reality is this: you will be the last one left in the rented hall, scraping candle-wax droppings off the floor with a razor blade…” While it sounds mundane and even a little harsh, at the core, my dissertation research is focused on these Candle Wax Priestesses. Anyone can say, “I’m a priestess,” but when the wax actually hits the floor, who is there?! That’s the crux of it, for me, the differentiation between “title” and practice. The difference between inner activation and outer vocation. I’m not talking about pop culture priestesses or “The High Priestess Nail Your Webinar Manual,” I’m talking about candle wax. I’m talking about toting tubs of supplies, I’m talking about making copies, and picking dates, and writing rituals, and doing this…

You may also include a brief biography as well as links to your own blog or business to be included in the book. Please include your mailing address with your submission if you would like to receive a copy of the book when it is published! 

Submissions should be emailed to Molly: priestessworkbook at gmail dot com. 

Deadline for contributions is February 1, 2016. 

Suggested word count: 500-2000 words. 

“The priestess is worn within the soul, not donned for occasion or kept in a bowl.” (http://schoolofsacredscience.com/Priestess_Training.html)

“The journey to become a priestess…(even of the urban variety) remains a grueling task, not something capable of being conferred by a few weekend workshops or sweat lodges. The glibness with which such terms are used can be infuriating…”

–Vivienne Vernon-Jones (in Voices of the Goddess)

“The Goddess is not only for the temple, she must be carried out into the world to wherever she is needed…”

–Vivianne Crowley (in Voices of the Goddess)

Categories: community, dissertation, priestess, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | 6 Comments

Woodspace

Woodspace July 2015 005
soul unbound
mind unhurried
emotions settled
mood soothed
life paused
senses sharpened
awareness heightened.

Solitude soaks in
like a mantle of truth.

and yet
all around me
are life
companions
creatures
trees
plants
all that
which is seen and unseen
watching, waiting, living,
growing, learning, knowing,
spinning
the world into being.

Body relaxes
I am whole
Complete unto myself
I know who I am
I am real
I am at peace
I rest in authenticity
And appreciate my own company.

I read several articles this week that I identified with. One was about how walking in nature changes the brain (for the better!)

But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

They also had less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That portion of their brains were quieter.

These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.

via How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain – The New York Times.

The other was a thoughtful, critical analysis of the “shadow” side of the mainstream “green” movement:

These days, in the ‘new green economy’, trees are seen simply as things that make the air better for people to breathe. This new, modern functionality stems from the next generation of green propaganda, which strives to homogenise everything into one giant communist planetary pie chart. Small ecosystems like a forest or river no longer matter in this grand global picture. It sounds almost acceptable now to hear someone say something like ‘But after they clear-cut the old growth forest, they replant way more trees than were there before, so they improve the climate, now it’s even better than it was!’ Marketing air as a commodity from trees created things like carbon credits and off-setts.

via Our Footprints on the Earth | The Dark Mountain Project.

Reading this article as well as getting ready for our Red Tent Circle this Friday, brought me to revisit an article I’d saved several months ago about creating a Black Tent temple as a space for endarkenment: The Black Tent Temple: A Space for Incubation and Endarkenment | The Black Stone Hermitage.

I also enjoyed browsing through the blog posts of a woman who writes about her life living and farming in an Irish cottage: Bealtaine Cottage | 11 years of Permaculture in and around a small Irish cottage, 3 acres and 1 woman…creating Eden!.

I haven’t been making many blog posts here lately myself because I’ve been working on my newest program: Listening to the Deep Self: Divination Practicum for Women. I’ve also been keeping up my writing with my other blog and my business site. My most recent Feminism and Religion post came out today, I submitted an essay to a new book about the placenta from Demeter Press, I’m working on multiple essays for The Oracle and for Motherhouse of the Goddess, and I’m continuing to collect data for my dissertation project. I also finished the content for a new book about ceremony that will hopefully be published in September. And, yes, I do actually get eight hours of sleep each night. ;)

Thank goodness for the woods!

 

Categories: nature, resources, woodspriestess, writing | 9 Comments

Moon Stained

Darkness falls. July 2015 083
I enter sacred space
stepping from holy ground
onto holy ground
only this time I recognize it.
Owl calls,
moon rises,
sun sets,
leaves rustle,
heart beats.

Breathing in,
breathing out
feeling the world spin
feeling the earth turn
watching Her weaving at work in the night.

July’s Blue Moon is coming up at the end of this week and my Womanrunes course is carefully scheduled to end on that day. I can hardly believe we have worked through 37 runes already! (I’ve also scheduled the next Immersion for October.) I’ve written a Full Moon ritual to go out with the last email for the course and I will do the ritual myself with my family. I definitely feel the restless energy referenced in this Blue Moon article:

…As amazing as this moon will be, and necessary—it’s going to be one that challenges us on every single level. In the build up to this lunar event we may have been feeling restless, or have had an excess of nervous energy. Our pulses may have been racing, and it may have been harder for us to relax or fall asleep at night.

Our souls can sense that we are on the verge of something big—but it’s up to us to initiate change.

via Unprecedented Blue Moon in Aquarius: Now or Never. | elephant journal.

Last night, I took my new crystal ball with me to the woods to reflect. I asked what I need to know right now, as I am feeling pulled in several directions and between several wonderful ideas, and I drew The Heart. It reminds me to rest for a little while, but also that I act in this world with great passion and intensity and that’s okay.

We are leaving tomorrow for a family mini-vacation at a river cabin. I’m really looking forward to it. Some healing, play, and relaxation after the energetic depletion of the hard work required for me during the last two weeks of my school session.

(Of course, I fantasize that somehow I’m going to finish writing my dissertation during our mini vacation! ;) )

July 2015 081

“She may feel she will die if she does not dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained.”

—Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 

Categories: liturgy, moon wisdom, nature, night, poems, practices, prayers, sacred pause, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Initiate Yourself

11692528_1643738219171727_6214351850615964803_n
…Make a sacred fire
and throw on it all that you would use to harm yourself.

Make kindling from shame.
Let your dance be wild,
your voice be honest
and your heart untamed.
Be cyclical,
don’t make sense..
Initiate yourself.
Initiate yourself.

(Aisha Wolfe)

The Spiral in Womanrunes is The Rune of Initiation. Our spiral goddess pendant represents and reminds me of this lifelong process of initiation. A pivotal initiatory point for many women is giving birth and I wore this pendant all through my last pregnancy, including in the birth pool in which my last son was born. She carries the imprint of that power for me, a reminder of my own capacity to change, grow, welcome, and create.

I consider her a pendant symbolic of initiation for many events, whether a personal life transition (such as childbirth) or as dedication to a particular path, life purpose, or journey.

This is the pendant of initiation. This is the pendant of change.

It is time for dedication to your sacred path.

Pewter Spiral Goddess Priestess Initiation Pendant by BrigidsGrove.

I’m currently taking Vanessa Sage’s Enchant Your Everyday class (free!) and my daily enchantment practice is this:

  • Open arms to the sky.
  • Touch the rock/earth.
  • Place one hand on belly and one on heart and take a deep breath
    (“belly, bones, and blood,” I usually say in my head)
  • Touch my spiral pendant and say: Initiate yourself. Initiate yourself.

(I usually go to the woods for this, but sometimes my own living room has to work instead!)

July 2015 124

Categories: art, blessings, poems, practices, prayers, priestess, sculpture, spirituality, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Holy Ground

June 2015 051

The color in this picture isn’t edited at all. They really are this glowing color that is so perfect it doesn’t look real.

“And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here*…”

While I expected to participate in my own photo prompts for the Womanrunes Immersion course, I didn’t really expect or plan to fully experience the course myself, personally. I am so familiar with the Womanrunes that I guess I didn’t know they still had more to share with me! As I developed the course, I kept saying to myself, “I guess this is my immersion!” When I described it as an “immersion” course, I meant it for the participants—to have daily contact with the symbols, to uncover their own truths, and to be alert for this work and magic in their own lives—but to develop the course materials, I had to be immersed myself for several months. And now, as I read my own words as they arrive in each daily lesson/prompt, I find the immersion continues and I still have more to uncover. As I touched on in my last post, what this course is uncovering for me is a desire, no, a need to reconnect and re-establish meaningful practices and contacts that I have let fall away since my baby was born in October. I also need more gentleness, patience, and grace when faced with the unexpected (which pretty much happens every day). I am receiving that I need to tend my relationships. And, at the same time, I am feeling the tickles of multiple additional course ideas and possibilities and I feel exhilarated and excited about this inspiration. I often feel as if my work comes through me, like I am a channel for it and this fire of inspiration just wants to burn through me…to be expressed and birthed into the world. It is an intense experience and it can lead me to be a little skewed in my personal life—to burn and burn and burn with “just one more thing! I’m almost finished!” rather than heeding my body’s call for rest or food or hugs.

Yesterday morning, in response to the prompt for the Pentacle, Rune of Protection, I took a picture through my roses at the woods leading down to overlook where I wrote the Womanrunes book. I love this place so much.

June 2015 077I was then enchanted by the raindrops on the rosebuds and by my baby’s face, enjoying the light drizzle.

June 2015 075 June 2015 071In the last few weeks, I’ve been delighting in harvesting various plants. I made a rose elixir and also started a plantain infusion for salve. I finished drying raspberry leaves for tea and some chocolate mint leaves as well. And, I made four sage smudge sticks from sage that grows in front of our house in the flower boxes. I’m having so much fun lately with this herbal craft. As I mentioned, one of the things I’m recognizing as I work through this course myself is that I really want move these self-care, nurturing connections and practices up in my daily priority. While much of my work takes place online and I am grateful for that, I simply must cultivate more time to be offline, restoring my soul.

June 2015 083
June 2015 059I’m also remembering to consciously center in my heartspace to consider what is actually required in each moment. What task actually needs my attention and what is self-generated, self-imposed busy-ness. And, I’ve implementing a daily, one minute grounding practice after being inspired to do so by Enchant Your Everyday.

While I was walking in the driveway on our nightly walk, I came across a gigantic frog. I’ve never seen such a big one! It was the perfect reminder of how this very same patch of ground upon which I spend all my days still finds new ways to surprise and enchant me!

June 2015 079One of the Womanrunes course participants then shared this with me:

Frog spirt animal associated with water:

“Cleansing
Renewal, rebirth
Fertility, abundance
Transformation, metamorphosis
Life mysteries and ancient wisdom.”

Sounds perfect!

June 2015 068(*Past post with the rest of the “I stand on holy ground” poem quoted above: I stand on holy ground | WoodsPriestess.)

Categories: divination, nature, sacred pause, seasons, self-care, spirituality, Womanrunes, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Summer Solstice Imprint Necklaces

Summer’s bounty b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2015-060.JPG
both sweet and spiky
sun-kissed and thorny
able to draw blood
and to cause you to smile
as you taste the juices of life.

I find it interesting to observe how the wheel of the year is reflected within my own mind and thought processes. In the late fall, I turn inward and feel like retreating and pulling away from commitments. In the winter, I incubate and make plans. In the spring, I emerge again and feel enthused with new ideas. In the summer, I start to make decisions about what to keep and what to prune away. I find that summer is a perfect time to see what is growing well and what needs to be yanked out by the roots.

Summer brings the opportunity to both wrestle with what isn’t working in your life and to celebrate the fruits of your labors. Summer is when you peek under leaves only to discover bugs in your cabbages, whether literal or metaphorical. And, it is the season in which you bask in what is growing well, what has taken root firmly, what is beautiful in the sunshine, what you can trust, taste, enjoy and savor. In the summer, we see both weeding and harvesting. Planting and tending and maintaining. We see withering. We see giving up. We see what is dying and what is thriving. This is the balance of the year. The wheel turns and turns and turns and before we know it, we are holding a palm full of berries once more. Older, different, changed and yet, right there, again. That juicy bite of summer.

Heat and light. Growth and transformation. Bearing fruit. Spreading open in the sun. Digging up by the roots. Weeding out. Composting. Turning over. Turning over. Turning over.

I’m preparing for our summer ritual and the themes above are on my mind. Based on the Sacred Year class I’m taking via the Sacred Living Movement, I’d like to offer the following activity idea for your own summer solstice experience. It would be a beautiful project to undertake at sunrise or sunset on this year’s summer solstice.

You will need:

  • Clay of some kind (self-hardening, air dry, oven cured, kiln fired, or polymer clay)
  • Rolling pin
  • Knife or cookie cutter
  • A few minutes outside alone in Nature

Go outside and center and ground yourself with three deep breaths. Then, begin to walk around slowly looking for a message from Nature, from Gaia, from the Earth. Trust your intuition and choose what calls your attention and seems meant for you. It might be a seed, a berry, a leaf, a stone, or a flower. Accept this small, renewable gift from nature with appreciation and collaborative intent.

Roll out your clay on a firm surface (protected with cardboard or a placemat) to about 1/4 inch thick. You can use whatever shape or size makes sense to you, squares, circles, dewdrops, ovals and freeform oblong shapes work well that about two inches across. If you are using clay that will be fired in a kiln, remember that it will shrink as it dries.

Gently press your gift from nature into the clay. Press it down on all slides, firmly but gently. If you are using a leaf, use the back of the leaf to create the imprint, because the veins on the back will create a clearer impression. Your imprint will not look perfect, but that’s okay!

Make sure to poke a hole near the top before the clay dries so that you will be able to hang it up or string it on a cord. If you are using clay that will be fired in a kiln, you can use one of your imprints as an essential oil diffuser after the first firing. Or, you can glaze it and have it fired again. I am fortunate to have a mom who is a potter and who is firing the imprint necklaces I made.

As I referenced in my last post, wild raspberries are special to me. While I originally expected to use wild dianthus flowers for my imprint, I followed my intuition and absolutely delighted in creating my imprint necklaces using wild raspberries and raspberry leaves. Seriously. These little berry prints make me swoon.

June 2015 067
The message of the imprint necklace you create will be unique to you and your experience. When you wear or hang up your summer imprint, you will be reminded of the messages and lessons of Gaia’s natural, wild wisdom and the ever-changing, unfolding, everyday miracle of life on Earth.

(Note: if you also use berries, choose an unripe berry because it makes a much firmer “stamp” with which to imprint!)

b2ap3_thumbnail_cropwomanruneslogo.jpgUpcoming courses:

Womanrunes Immersion

Red Tent Initiation Program

—-

Crossposted at SageWoman

Categories: art, holidays, nature, seasons, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Raspberry Revolution

…The spirit of adventure b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2015-067.JPG
    runs through my veins
    with the rich color
    of crushed raspberry

    May it always run so free
    may it be blessed
    and may I be reminded
    of the courage and love
    shown in small, wild adventures.

June brings out the hunter in me. The mission: wild raspberries.* A friend once laughed to hear me describe picking raspberries as a “holy task,” but it is. A task earthy, embodied, mundane, and miraculous at once.

Two of June’s treasures each year for me are the roses and the raspberries. This week, I sweated and struggled and was scratched and stung, but I returned home once again with my bounty.

Last year I wrote about my “Inanna’s descent” as I picked wild raspberries with my children:

    …I was thinking about how I was hot, tired, sweaty, sore, scratched, bloody, worn, and stained from what “should” have been a simple, fun little outing with my children and the above prayer came to my lips. I felt inspired by the idea that parenting involves uncountable numbers of small, wild adventures. I was no longer “just” a mom trying to find raspberries with her kids, I was a raspberry warrior. I braved brambles, swallowed irritations, battled bugs, sweated, swore, argued, struggled, crawled into scary spaces and over rough terrain, lost possessions and let go of the need to find them, and served as a rescuer of others. I gave my blood and body over to the task…

I consider any berry picking expedition to be the very definition of success as long as there are enough berries to make a cobbler! It is so delicious I feel like sharing my version here, in case any of you would also like to enjoy one with your family during berry season (modified from this recipe).

Ingredients:

1 stick butter b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5581.JPG
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 ts. salt
1 ts. baking powder
1 cup milk
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions:

Melt butter. Mix sugar and flour into the same baking dish in which you plan to bake the cobbler. Whisk in milk. Pour in melted butter and whisk again.

Scatter rinsed raspberries evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly.

Serve with whipped cream on top if desired, though plain is delightfully delicious as well!

While in the woods with my raspberries this year, I also finished taking pictures for my upcoming Womanrunes e-course:

b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2015-078.JPG
“Revolution keeps a steady tempo with your heartsong and the color of your wings.”

Sometimes revolution tastes like raspberries.

(*This post is crossposted from my Sagewoman blog where it received many Facebook comments from people feeling compelled to inform me that these are called blackberries, not raspberries. Have no fear, however, yes, wild raspberries are black in Missouri and these are indeed raspberries, even though they are not red. We have wild blackberries also, which will ripen in July. The wild raspberries and blackberries, both black in color, grow right next to each other in my back yard. There are distinctive differences. The raspberries are less seedy, sweeter, juicier, and tastier. Their canes are green-white and waxy in color and they ripen a month earlier. We also have mulberries and dewberries here, which are both black as well.)

Categories: nature, prayers, seasons, woodspriestess, writing | 5 Comments

A whisper of the Beloved (#30DaysofMay

IMG_5194

“…Enough with such questions!
Let silence take you to the core of life.
All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.”

— Rumi

Categories: #30Daysof May, art, nature, quotes, sacred pause, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Body to body. The Boat of Heaven. (#30DaysofMay)

“The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.” –Starhawk

(quoted in Dedicant)

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

–John Muir

I stand on the body of the Goddess
I sit on her bones
I breathe her breath
Spirit of Life moving through me
Her voice sings in my blood
stars shine in my veins
my heartbeat a drum
tuned to the core of the planet…

via Goddess Body, World Body | WoodsPriestess

Related posts: Woodspriestess: Body Prayer  Woodspriestess: Pelvic Cradle

Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, embodiment, Goddess, nature, poems, sacred pause, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Approaching the beautiful (#30DaysofMay)

When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.”

― John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (via 30 Days of Bringing in the May)

I’m in the middle of finals week right now. I know finals week is hard on students, but it is seriously hard on professors too. Teaching fits into my life and is very rewarding. Grading is an enormous energetic expenditure that doesn’t feel like it fits (i.e. it “takes from” other important areas). It takes a while to rebound from being thrown off balance like this. I always feel as if I’m “getting home” from being out of town when I resurface after finals week, and just like getting home from a trip, there is a lot to catch up with and it takes time to recover. I literally feel energetically drained, like something has been taken out of me that I didn’t really have available to give. I also notice a pattern of depressive thoughts at this time: not a good mother, not a good friend, not a good wife, not a good daughter, not enough, not enough, not enough, no one likes me, what is the point of anything, why do I try, who do I think I am, what do I have to offer. (Usually accompanied by a headache.) I’m trying to just observe and notice this as a pattern, rather than getting stuck in the thought-ruts. However, even this noticing usually involves a hearty dose of self-beratement: how come I can’t remember this, how come I can’t be more zen, how come I can’t “unclench” and flow, how dare I claim to be a “spiritual” person when this is how I think and feel, and blah, blah, blah.

Today I went outside after finishing my stack of final exams. We were supposed to get family pictures taken this afternoon and I’d finally come to the conclusion that it didn’t make sense to do pictures today and I should reschedule. Right then, my photographer-friend messaged me to suggest the exact same thing! Sweet relief! It is interesting how a fairly small adjustment to a day can relieve some of the drain and restore some of the energy. Just then my four-year-old brought a clover flower over to me and said, “I picked this for you, Mama, to help you have a happy day!” I smelled it and realized I may never have truly smelled a clover flower before. It was beautiful. I sniffed and sniffed the flower. My husband and daughter picked more flowers and we all inhaled the smell of them deeply. Indescribably lovely. And, then I realized…this is “approaching the beautiful.”

Categories: #30Daysof May, family, nature, sacred pause, self-care, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

The singer and the silence (#30DaysofMay)

IMG_4600I am the blossom, I am the bee
I am the branch, I am the squirrel

I am the acorn, I am the oak
I am the breath, I am the words
I am the space, I am the fullness
I am the song of the May.

Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, nature, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Tags: | Leave a comment

Discernment (#30DaysofMay)

IMG_4416In direct contrast to the sweet contentment I felt on Earth Day, today I have felt tense, taut, stressed, unhappy, unsettled, depressed and discouraged. Yesterday was a hard day for a variety of reasons (primary being a baby that doesn’t like car travel + a long day in town with much ins and outs of the car). The Judgmental Committee in my head not only decreed that I’m a bad mother, but also a bad friend, wife, daughter, and overall person.  I feel pulled between the needs of my older children, my baby, my work, and my business and end up feeling like I’m not doing a good job with anything. Today, I returned to an old conclusion/realization: much of life about discernment. I have a tendency to become dualistic in my thinking, either I DO IT or I QUIT IT FOREVER. At the same time, I am very harsh with myself at my perceived inability to “flow” and surrender (even though, when I look at my life objectively, I see that every single day, I actually demonstrate great capacity to adjust and adapt and be flexible).

This morning, I woke up remembering that today is the second anniversary of my grandmother’s death. No wonder I feel a little “off,” sad, and out of sorts. I also was harping at myself about not being able to “unclench my life” and just be with it. Why must I always push and force? Why don’t I know when to stop pushing or grasping? But, then the image of a seed came to me, pushing its way out of the shell and up through the soil. Life, Nature, pushes all the time. And, she refuses to give up. One of the daily miracles I witness in the forest is life’s refusal to quit. The refusal to give up, the tenacity of trying again, even when the ground is rocky and the wind blows fiercely. So, in response to the first prompt for 30 Days of May today, I realized the call of the “May Queen,” to me is of discernment. To find the balance between when to hold, when to fold. When to yield, when to resist. When to coast and when to swim against the current. When to push and when to pull. When to rest and when to keep going. When to laugh and when to cry. When to (temporarily) surrender and when to fight. When to soften and when to contract.

Pushing is not wrong. Sometimes it is exactly what is called for. 

These are not unique or amazing revelations, but I needed the reminders anyway. The prompt for today also suggested pulling a tarot card and so I drew a Womanrunes card and it was The Cauldron. In a sweet synchronicity, it reminds me: something is waiting to be blended. 

IMG_4412Coincidentally, I had a post from Jennifer Louden starred in my inbox as well about cycles of expansion and contraction:

…Be alert for feeling like a stubborn child, who feels cheated because the perfect day at the park is over and digs in her heels, stubbornly turning away from the cool glass of water and the freshly made bed. In other words, continue to give yourself what you most desire – the time to meditate or write, the time to hike in the patch of forest by your house – even if it isn’t the hours you would have on retreat or the pristine wilderness hundreds of miles from humans. Because to follow your desire, to tend them with care, is both the path home and a wonderful place to be right now.

Be alert to telling yourself, “Well that was pointless, why give myself _____ again?” Retreats and deep dives and walkabouts are precious. Period.

When I first led retreats, I used to feel like a charlatan because after the retreat was over, in a few weeks, people were back to regular life. It took me years to understand that’s normal! It’s okay. It is what we do with what we experienced and how we generously share that matters…

via newsletter

I’ve had this feeling before about our women’s retreats—how to “carry over” our sense of centeredness and connection and sisterhood and positivity. Or, how to maintain and hold the sense of personal equilibrium, stillness, connection, and understanding that I feel while sitting along on a rock into the chaotic noise of life with four kids. Maybe it is fine simply to sometimes feel it and sometimes not.

This tree took root over a slab of stone in the woods. At some point it tipped over, pulling the rock up with it. It continues to grow from a prone position along the forest floor. Its huge, strong roots stretch out on either side and you can peek right under it…

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And, nearby, redbud flowers bloom directly from the partially split trunk of a storm-damaged redbud tree.

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Categories: #30Daysof May, nature, self-care, woodspriestess | Tags: | Leave a comment

Spring Meditation

   Shedding January 2015 087
    releasing
    changing
    renewing
    growing
    healing
    springing

    Letting go
    leaving behind
    casting off
    sloughing
    opening.

    What are we leaping towards
    what wants to push up from cold ground
    what wants to open to the sun
    what is it that we need to know?

    What quiet, steady pulse beats
    below the surface
    what hope watches from the wings
    what light grows broad
    upon a patch of ground…

What expectations need we shed? What old thoughts need to leave our minds? What habitual patterns of behavior, relationship, and communication need to change?

It is easy to be centered when you sit in the woods alone. The challenge is to carry that core into the unrelenting murmur of everyday life. The challenge is to reach for that place of inner stillness, even when it feels as if chaos reigns. The challenge is to return to a place that heals your soul every single day even when the to-do list gets longer, the have-tos, the should-dos, the want-tos. Lay those things aside for a minute and step forward onto solid earth, steady stone, grassy ground. Rest for a moment in the calm stillness that sings through the air in harmony with the call of your own heart and the center of your own being. Find it here, find it now. Knowing that the potential is always within you and the place remains for you to return and return and return…

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Categories: nature, poems, prayers, seasons, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Misty Morning

This is your wildness IMG_3455
don’t sell it.
Raindrop on plum branch
Leaning oak
Mist rising through branches
Birdsong
Squirrel conversation
Forest song.
Life’s pulse
Weaving you into the world
Patient
Watchful
Wise.

Since welcoming a new baby into my life as well as continuing to develop several other projects (hello, dissertation!!!), I’ve found the hours in the day increasingly short and tight. This morning, I looked out the window of our workroom into the woods and saw the foggy woods and the sun shining through the misty air and I knew I had to drop everything and get to the woods. It was beautiful and even though it “slows me down” to head out there when I was so many other things I want to do and a limited time frame in which to do them (nap times are precious!), it is actually exactly what I need.

IMG_3453When we cut trees in the woods several months ago, one of my favorite rocks on the path disappeared. I knew where it was supposed to be, but surmised someone either kicked it aside or it had gotten pushed underground (or even broken) when some of the wood was dragged out. (This tree cutting, while necessary, still hurts my heart to see the destruction in my sacred little grove.) Today, after watching the fog lift, I stopped on the path and “felt” for the stone that I liked. I brushed some fallen leaves away and there she was!

IMG_3461I am so enjoying the signs of spring and the warming temperatures. I registered for a neat sounding Spring Equinox online free event. I’m also looking forward to hosting a small drum circle at our house this weekend. And, don’t forget to check out all the lovely offerings in the upcoming Red Tent fundraiser auction to be held on the Spring Equinox as well: Auction Special…..see what’s on offer! – Moon Times Moon Blog.

Categories: nature, poems, sacred pause, seasons, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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