I boldly take upthe shadows,wear themlike midnight silk,honor them
for their part in me
My little girl has been craving attention and special time lately. Today, we took some time to make this colorful fall mandala down in the woods.
I boldly take upthe shadows,wear themlike midnight silk,honor them
for their part in me
My little girl has been craving attention and special time lately. Today, we took some time to make this colorful fall mandala down in the woods.
Today’s prompt brought the day in and day out body-based connection of breastfeeding to mind. Inexhaustible. Ongoing. The fibers of life and living. Body and blood into milk, into life. Here’s the clincher though, the more you nurse, the more milk you have—the more you put in, the more there is. It expands. Body generosity…
“I know that for me, writing has something in common with nursing the baby. I can’t do it if I don’t do it all the time. Put it aside to build up strength, the flow will dwindle and finally disappear. When the baby was at my breast ten times a day, I had a rare secret feeling that we were violating a law of nature, defying a form of entropy…One cannot hoard some things. The more I gave the baby, the more I had to give her, and had I tried to conserve myself, I would have found that I conserved nothing.”
Source: Writing and Nursing | Talk Birth
Since I wrote the post below, I’ve re-estimated my total to more like 43,000 times (not kidding):
I calculated that so far in my life I’ve put a baby to my breast more than 12,000 times. Even if I only experienced a single moment of mindful awareness or contemplation or transcendence or sacredness during each of those occasions, that is one heck of a potent, dedicated, and holy practice. In the unique symbiosis of the nursing relationship, I recall a quote from the book The Blue Jay’s Dance (1996) by Louise Erdrich about male writers from the nineteenth century and their longing for an experience of oneness and seeking the mystery of an epiphany. She says: “Perhaps we owe some of our most moving literature to men who didn’t understand that they wanted to be women nursing babies.” (p. 148)
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
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
What I won’t give up on
and what I set free.
My bounty is milky.
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
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
…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.
don’t make sense..
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.
I’m currently taking Vanessa Sage’s Enchant Your Everyday class (free!) and my daily enchantment practice is this:
(I usually go to the woods for this, but sometimes my own living room has to work instead!)
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:
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.
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!)
Crossposted at SageWoman
“…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.”
Goddess is my name for
that which holds the whole
that which weaves the all
that which knows the story of the ages…
I’ve taken a lot of pictures of flowers for 30 Days of May already, so today I took the prompt in a slightly different direction. The prompt was to find a yoni-like flower. I won this tapestry in a contest from Orgasmic Birth a couple of years ago and it hangs in my bedroom. Today, while thinking over what to photograph for the prompt, I looked up and saw the tapestry and knew I had my pic!
I’m off the actual theme for today, but I’m delighted to be home again! Tomorrow is my birthday. When we visited friends on the way to our mini-vacation, my friend surprised me with this beautiful print of one of her paintings! In the painting are several sculptures I made. I love it so much and I was very touched to receive it. Then, on the way back home today, we stopped to visit a different friend who made us lunch and then had surprise birthday cupcakes for me. It was nice to be remembered. 🙂
After posting about the “twisty legs” on some of my goddess designs, it occurred to me to explain the reasons behind the forms of my other designs! Our goddess pendants have several different leg configurations. Each type is chosen to represent a specific energy…
Used for my mama goddess designs, this pose is a grounded, mindful, yoga pose bringing harmony, restoration, and balance. These mama goddesses are centered within themselves. They are focused, intentional, mindful, meditative, and purposeful. They are connected and in flow.
Inhale and repeat silently: “I exist in the here and now….”
Exhale and repeat silently: “The present moment is all I have to be with…”
Continue inhaling and exhaling as you silently and simply repeat: “Here and now…present moment.”
The spiral leg form represents the energy of rising. I think of these goddesses as joyfully dancing, twirling, expressing themselves actively and energetically in the world. Indeed, the sensation of moving energy is so palpable through this design, that as a high-energy person, I have to be careful how and where I wear them, because the sense of being activated is so strong with them, that it can be too much for me! However, if you feel in need of activation and mobilization, however, then these dancing, moving, energetic goddess pendants are the designs for you! Any of my pendants with dancing legs represent Shakti rising in an energetic dance of creativity, freedom, and personal power. She is unapologetically fully inhabiting her own personal power and her being is enlivened by an exuberant flow of passionate, inspired energy.
spin with me now
until we dance shadows into art
hope into being
and pain into power…
The priestess designs are those with a “dress” bottom (instead of pointy or twisty legs!). This solid foundation represents grounding, while the uplifted arms represent connection and inspiration. These designs draw down energy from the sky and draw up strength from the earth. They represent serving as a conduit of divine energy, flow, and inspiration. Draw it up, draw it down. Let it take root in belly, bones, and blood. Let the mantle settle on your shoulders until you know without a doubt that this is who you really are.
I am committed to this path
With courage, may I walk
With patience, may I love
With strength, may I serve…
The pointy legs of this design are a classic goddess form. They form a connection to ancient goddess images as well as to modern experiences and represent a numinous, everpresent, universal Goddess energy. The holding “web” of energetic, cosmic co-creation. This form makes the as-above, so-below connection with the shape of the arms mirroring the shape of the legs.
Be still and know that I am she
She who kisses your eyelids with sunshine
Blesses your brow with raindrops
Lifts cares from your shoulders
She who rises with the sun
And who holds the night sky
She who holds you firmly
While spinning in space…
Of course, the forms may speak to you in different ways. To call you to different understandings and meanings and to signify something specific in your own life. They have room for that too! 🙂
Our collaborative business planning and progress is so intimately tied to our work with Leonie Dawson’s annual workbooks, that when I saw the theme of this year’s workbook—Create Your Shining Year—the wheels starting turning about how to communicate that in a pendant format. A friend then made the suggesting of making a Shining Year pendant with a sun at her center, so I found a sun stamp and set out to create some Shining Year goddesses. I also wanted to make a connection to the sun symbols used in Womanrunes, which are about laughter, healing, and letting go—all messages I need to receive into my own life this year!
Shining Year Goddess meditation
Take a minute to put down anything else you are carrying, doing, or thinking about. Let your shoulders relax and release. Let the breath move easy down into your belly. Then smile. Smile from your roots up through your branches. Feel joy suffuse you, filling you, bathing you, and laugh. Laugh from your belly. Laugh from your heart. Laugh with the wild abandon of freedom and release.
Let go. Feel the release and freedom that comes with unclenching your life. Remember to trust yourself and what makes you smile. Are you afraid to laugh? Are you scared to let go? Do you fear the loss of control that comes with hilarity? It is time to shake that off. Don’t be afraid. Laugh, sister, laugh. It is time to have some fun!
Know that you are as free as you allow yourself to be.
Why the twisty legs?
Recently, the same friend who suggested the sun image asked me why some of my pendant sculpts have twisty legs and I realized that sometimes the why I’m trying to communicate through my work isn’t always immediately interpretable! To me, the spiral leg form represents the energy of rising. I think of these goddesses as joyfully dancing, twirling, expressing themselves actively and energetically in the world. Indeed, the sensation of moving energy is so palpable through this design, that as a high-energy person, I have to be careful how and where I wear them, because the sense of being activated is so strong with them, that it can be too much for me! However, if you feel in need of activation and mobilization, however, then these dancing, moving, energetic goddess pendants are the designs for you! Any of my pendants with dancing legs represent Shakti rising in an energetic dance of creativity, freedom, and personal power. She is unapologetically fully inhabiting her own personal power and her being is enlivened by an exuberant flow of passionate, inspired energy.
Other new designs
As you may glimpse in the opening image, we’ve also created two new miscarriage mama goddess pendants, a new dancing moon goddess, and a mastectomy goddess pendant.
We’re excited to have donated several pieces of our work to a Red Tent fundraiser project in the UK. Please check out all the details about the Community Red Tent and join supporters from around the world for the online auction taking place via Facebook on the spring equinox: Community Red Tent Auction & Raffle
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re also offering a 10% discount code on any of the items in our shop through March! Use SMALLBIZSATURDAY.
Magic mama. She who transforms body and blood into milk. Into life. Into the heartsong of another. Maternal sacrament. Shared freely. Flowing sweetly. Uniting. This thoroughly embodied stuff of motherhood. This physical commitment. This body-based vow to our young. She holds her baby. And she holds the world.
Mammal mama. Liquid love. Cellular vow. Unbreakable, biological web of life and loving.
She’s just feeding her baby. Is she? Or is she healing the planet at the very same time?
Milky smile, fluttering eyes, smooth cheeks, soft hair. Snuggle up, dear one. Draw close. Nestle feet to thighs, head to elbow. And know that you are encircled by something so powerful that it has carried the entire human race across continents and through time for thousands upon thousands of years on its river of milky, white devotion.
This 30 Days practice keeps me on my toes! If I had known that today’s theme was milk, I would have used yesterday’s picture for today! Instead, I’m re-visiting this reading that I wrote at my other blog about my breastfeeding goddess sculptures.
I am also completely, 100% in love with my baby’s tiny tuft of “long” hair that is puffing up on the back of his head today. I feel a pang for his little duck fluff “messy hair” of the newborn days that is already gone and I tried really hard to take a good picture of his current “messy hair” so I remember. I feel this intense and primal urge to try to capture and preserve this time with him, but I know from my other kids that these moments pass by and become old memories, particularly because the current version of each child is right here in front of me, a baby no more. Their babyselves are faded, though my body carries the memories of each of them…
One of the things that is fulfilling about creating art is how to speaks to others. I was brought to tears last week by reading a customer’s review of her cesarean birth goddess pendant and how her husband will be wearing the pendant for her while they welcome their second baby into the world. I am honored to be a small piece of her path and to touch the lives of other families with our work. Today my husband and I had a really great conversation about our business and its direction for the year. We want to create that which is in us to create and to share it with others. That’s the core. We have to move a little slow this year because we’re on baby-time now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to take one step at a time and to continue to build our momentum, to change and grow and dream big.
For me, the profound shaping event was the experience postpartum with my first baby. I have never had an experience that shaped me and impacted me and SHOOK me more profoundly than adjusting to life with my newborn son. That was my journey. That was my struggle. That was my challenge. That is what dissolved me and burned me into ashes and let me rise again as someone the same but also brand new—a mother. I was not “born” when my son was born, I was forged. Made, in the intense weeks that followed his birth.
The above passage was written about the birth of my first child. Now, my fourth is three months old and I am still being forged. I find each new baby serves as a smith, prompting life changes in the crucible of parenthood. I am better aware now than I used to be about the swift passage of time and how quickly the baby-season of life passes and winds into something new. As such, I made some decisions today to postpone some of my ideas for 2015 into next year instead. I realized I need to underplan for this year and be pleasantly surprised by bonus pockets of time as they arise, rather than overplan as I chronically do and then be distressed and upset when my equilibrium and delicate balance of tasks for the day is thrown off by my little babysmith. In the sacred pause from 30 Days of Brigid today was a quote from a forthcoming book by Lunaea Weatherstone:
The blade is put through fire, hammered and shaped, then cooled in water. It is the repeated process of stressing and blessing — pushing to the next level of refinement — that creates an excellent blade, strong and flexible, able to withstand resistance.
I thought about it several times today as I thought about how I need to re-shape my life and my plans and expectations for this year. After some intense conversation with my husband today and a “Holy No” meditation in the woods, I realized that if I really tune and listen to what I want and need this year, I actually know exactly what to do.
Returning to the idea of being forged by motherhood as well as to today’s prompt, I share this photo of my brand new pendant cast by my husband after originally being sculpted in clay by me. In her belly is a placenta jewel made using one of the placenta capsules from my youngest baby’s birth.
The woman gets up.
Nothing seems changed.
But the next day a wind
blows warm from the sea.
— Patricia Monaghan, Seasons of the Witch
(via 30 Days of Brigid)
The goddess in the picture is my new springtime, watergathering goddess sculpture. To me, she is kneeling by the riverside, joyful that the springtime thaw is here and the waters flow freely once again. She is welcoming the new—the buds, the blossoms, the tender new shoots, the newborns, the vibrant wellspring of creation and delight.
In the Sacred Year class I am taking, we are supposed to be making and drinking crystal water. When I got the 30 Days of Brigid prompt this morning and it was about holy water, I knew it was time to get to work on my crystal water! While I have an open mind about some things, I confess that gem elixirs and related ideas are definitely not one of them (they raise my “hokeylicious” alarm), so I was actually thinking of skipping the crystal water assignment. The synchronicity between the two totally different classes made me think it was a perfect time to do it after all though. While I don’t know that I will continue drinking this water every day for a year, I certainly enjoyed it today:
(and patience. Patience too)
of the Sacred Oak.
of the Sacred Flame.
shape our lives
in the cauldron of destiny.
Ignite our creativity
forge our passions.
Keeper of flame
hope and hearts.
Enliven our work
guide our steps
inspire our message.
(modified from earlier poem: Woodspriestess: Brigid)