family

Day 8: We remember them (#30daysofHecate)

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“Tell me again, a story of an ancestor of your bloodline or of your heartline, a story you have not shared before…” (30 Days course prompt)

This is a photo of my grandma on her wedding day to her second husband (who is still alive). Her first husband was the love of her life and he died from colon cancer at age 59 (in 1989). The next year, she married one of his lifelong friends and they were married for more than twenty years until her death from sudden, aggressive pancreatic cancer in 2013 (at 83). I remember this wedding clearly, in the living room of the home she’d shared with my grandpa and in which they raised their three children. I remember my mom and her siblings as being a little strained and tense. I remember my grandma laughing and almost giddy. They kept the wedding a secret from all of their friends and had a family-only ceremony and then an after-party with a group of friends, to whom they then announced their marriage. I remember standing next to my grandma at the front door of her house, greeting guests. She’d turned her new sapphire wedding ring around so the stone was hidden in her hand and she showed it to me, saying, “see, now no one will see it accidentally before we make the announcement!” I remember feeling like this was a “weird” or “funny” (not funny “ha ha,” but funny as in odd), because I’d never seen her in this mood before–kind of silly and excited–I didn’t know how to experience her this way, like she wasn’t as grown up as I’d thought.

Looking back at the photo as an adult myself, I can now begin to imagine how she must have felt in this moment, making this decision, possibly facing criticism and disapproval from friends and family and being giddy with excitement and nervousness and perhaps some fear about doing it anyway.

Prayer for my grandmother October 2015 002
sweet wind carry it
hope guard it
love keep it
peace bless it

carry my gratitude
straight to her heart
fold it into her hands
nestle it in her body
where it will take root
and blossom

(Full disclosure: I am standing right next to her in this photo [you can see part of my arm and hair], but I cropped myself out because I look terrible! I am only 11 in the photo, so maybe I should have left myself in, but it was not my best look.)
Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, death, family, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Day 7: An ancestor offering (#30daysofhecate)

  
I made soul cakes with my kids this morning and had a fabulous time. On one, I included the Womanrunes Moonboat: rune of journeys and took it out to leave under my grandma’s memorial hydrangea bush. ❤️ She loved to travel and was very adventurous, so it seemed like a good tribute. On my own, I put The Flying Woman, rune of transformation (she’s been speaking to me a lot lately!). One of the best things about Womanrunes is how useable they are. They definitely go beyond being  “just” a divination system. 

  
   

Categories: #30daysofHecate, death, divination, family, prayers, sacred pause, Womanrunes | Leave a comment

Day 6: Halloween Feast (#30daysofhecate)

The kids did Trunk or Treat last night, so tonight we stayed home and shared ancestor memories during dinner. Afterward, we drank hot cider, listened to a “deep autumn” meditation together, drew guidance cards from The Gaian Tarot, and then all worked on a “witch’s ladder” charm cord project from my Sacred Year class. ❤️
The Samhain issue of the Global Goddess Oracle is available now.

Honey Roasted Vegetables
Here is our simple recipe for roasted vegetables. We’ve been eating these a lot this season (including for dinner tonight). Enjoy!
  • ½ stick butter (4 TB)
  • ¼ c. honey (more or less according to taste)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 3 large peeled and chunked sweet potatoes
  • 1 lbs baby carrots (one bag) or 4-5 large carrots peeled and sliced
  • Optional: half of an acorn squash, peeled and chunked

While you are cutting the vegetables, preheat the oven to 350. Put the honey and butter into a cake pan and set it in the oven to melt (about 7 minutes). Toss the cut up vegetables in the melted honey and butter mixture and return to the oven for 45-60 minutes, stirring/tossing every 15 minutes. Vegetables are most delicious when they have some browned areas and are caramelized.

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Day 4: My beloved dead (#30DaysofHecate)

 ’Tis the ancestors’ breath, when the fire’s voice is heard,
’Tis the ancestors’ breath, in the voice of the waters . . .*

I felt a strong connection today to the prompts about my “beloved dead” and to ancestor altars. My heart felt full and appreciative today. After a lot of thoughtful effort from my mom and aunt to pack them up for me and then a cross-country drive by my uncle driving them to me in Missouri from California, I now have my grandma’s collection of international dolls from her many travels. I didn’t expect to have these and I feel very thankful for the thoughtfulness and love that went into getting them to me. I set them up tonight which felt like setting up an ancestor altar of sorts. I added some small dolls of my own and was touched to see how many “matchers” there were in our collections–meaning I had one that I’ve kept since she gave it to me as a child and then she had a matching one in her own collection.

My 4.5 year old daughter helped me unpack them and get them all set up. Another link in the chain…

IMG_8803Then, I looked at the tops of my bookshelf and realized I already have quite an altar there. In the middle, there is a box with my grandma’s Dionne Quintuplet dolls + her beloved Hitty doll and a photo of her. On the other shelf is a case with some of my grandma’s Shirley Temple dolls as well as some of my own dolls. On top of that shelf is a drawing of my grandma and also a “four generations” photo of my great-grandma, my grandpa, my mom, and me. (My mom is very much alive, but the others are my beloved dead.)

Today also made me think of two of my past posts for Feminism and Religion:

An Epic Woman: A Feminist Eulogy by Molly

Forest Heritage by Molly

*From the song “Breaths,” lyrics by Birago Diop, music by Ysaye Barnwell, and recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Listen to the song here. (via 30 Days of Hecate)

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Mamapriestess?

She who changes IMG_7770
She who expands and contracts
She who stretches her limits
She who digs deep
She who triumphs and fails
Every day
Sometimes both within a single hour
She who tends her own hearth
She who comforts and connects and enfolds
She who opens wide…

(via my past post: Goddess Mother)

I recently finished reading Under Her Wings: The Making of a Magdalene, by Nicole Christine. A theme running through the book was the concept of “As Above, So Below and As Within, So Without.” I read this book as part of my research for my dissertation about contemporary priestessing. I posed two questions based on this book in my dissertation research study group, but I’d like to invite other responses and experiences as well.

I want to hear from the Mamapriestesses, from the Hearth Priestesses! Where are the other practicing priestesses b2ap3_thumbnail_11209411_1658113891067493_624517776654095662_n.jpgwith children at home? I noticed in Christine’s book that the bulk of her work took place after her children were grown and, to my mind, she also had to distance or separate from her children and her relationships in order to fully embrace her priestess self. How do you balance this? How does it work for you? Parenting, for me, can simultaneously feel as if it is stifling my full expression and yet perhaps as if it holds the greatest lessons and teachers

I notice that many women seem to come to priestess work when the intensive stage of motherhood has passed, or they do not have children. Is there a reason why temple priestesses were “virgins” and village wise women were crones? Where does the Mamapriestess fit?

So, if you have children, I’d love to hear from you about this! If you do not have children by choice, how does that play into your spiritual work? If you do not have children and that is not by choice, how does that play into your spiritual work?

As I read Christine’s book and witnessed her intensive self-exploration, discovery, and personal ceremony and journeys, I realized that in many ways personal exploration feels like a luxury I don’t have at this point in my parenting life (as an example: for an entire month I’ve been dreaming what feel like really powerful and almost revelatory dreams, but I have a night-nursing 11 month old and after multiple night wakings with him, the dreams slip into nothingness and I’m left with a sense of “forgetting” something that is trying to communicate with me or share wisdom).

How do you balance your inner journey with your outer process? Christine references having to step aside and be somewhat aloof or unavailable to let inner processes and understandings develop, since our inner journeys may become significantly bogged down by interpersonal relationships, dramas, venting, chatting, and so forth. Or, as I tend to joke, during a full moon ritual as my two pre-teen sons make fart jokes or the baby has a poopy diaper. For me, this distance for inner process exploration isn’t possible in the immersive stage of life as a mother. And, yet, I also know in my bones that I’m not meant to give it up. How does the As Within and the So Without work together for you?

Several years ago, I was sitting at the table sculpting clay for a new design and my then six-year-old son worked at the table too, finally presenting me with a special gift of his own design:

February 2013 051“This is the Goddess of Everything,” he told me. “See that pink jewel in her belly, that is the WHOLE UNIVERSE, Mom!!”

Categories: dissertation, family, Goddess, OSC, parenting, priestess, self-care, women, woodspriestess, writing | 4 Comments

Day 27: Time is Short (#30DaysofHarvest)

 

In January of 2014, I sat on the stones in the woods, came face to face with a raccoon in the tree and suddenly knew that I was pregnant again. In October of 2014, I sat on these stones in the woods awaiting the imminent arrival of my new baby boy. Today, I sit on these stones in the woods with a baby boy who is now approaching his first birthday. The wheel spins quickly. 

Today, my mom reminded me that it is the 26th anniversary of her father’s death. 

This tiny boy whose fuzzy blonde head I nuzzle is somebody’s grandpa of the future. 

“Unlimited,” his shirt reminds me and yet I also know that time is short. 

Pay attention and tell about it. ❤️

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, family, meditations, nature, parenting, practices, sacred pause, seasons, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Day 22: Demeter (#30DaysofHarvest)

IMG_8161Our Women in the Wild inspired photo shoot last weekend thanks to Little Mother Photography felt like a nice response to today’s earth mother prompt.

I actually struggled to come up with a photo today for quite a while. I took a couple at my mom’s house as possibilities. One a palette of fall colors…

IMG_8157And one with my mom herself in it…

IMG_8158Part of the material in today’s prompt included this message:

Give no part of yourself to what does not sustain you.

Given that I’ve spent the last three days doing hard and largely unenjoyable work finishing up my current class, this gave me something to chew over. I start to feel very skewed and off-balance and tense during the end of the session. I start feeling like I’m doing things wrong, that my priorities aren’t in order, and that I don’t have “enough time” for all of my life, and that something needs to change. I get very irritable and strained. It is temporary and subsides when the job is done, but I don’t like experiencing it. This time, not only did I finish my work more quickly, I also became mindful of those old, familiar, unpleasant, exaggerated, feelings in the middle of the downward spiral and kind of laughed at myself about them. Grading papers does not feel like it sustains me. But, teaching does provide more than half of our household income and since grading papers is part of teaching, I guess in their way they do sustain me…

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, family, nature, sacred pause, seasons | 3 Comments

Day 19: Flowing (#30DaysofHarvest)

  
Today I participated in a Women in the Wild inspired photo shoot. It was held by the river (and I got two pictures taken in the river as well) and as soon as I got there, I knew I had my photo for today! This picture was taken by a friend and is not one of the actual photo shoot pictures. 

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, family, nature, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Day 15: Savoring autumn fruits (#30daysofharvest)

 
Nine fruits and nine flavors to preserve my soul

in peace this day.

— Caitlín Matthews

I took today’s prompt metaphorically and went on a walk with my baby to identify nine “flavors” of autumn from my own back yard.

Persimmon for patience
raspberry for reflection,
dogwood for dreams,
rose for enchantment,
aster for starshine,
polk for color,
oak for mystery,
and cucumber for salad.

Okay, so that’s only eight, because the ninth is those cuties in the middle who have been wanting to buy boxes of international snacks online. My husband went to Big Lots today and got them a box of snacks from Germany, Italy, Peru, China, Turkey, England, and the U.S. I think we’re also going to call this a homeschooling win!

For my pictures today, the persimmon is what I went after first, remembering how this time last year I was very pregnant and climbed around in ditches and over fences collecting them in my quest for persimmon cookies. My husband said the other day, “the way to know persimmons are ripe is when they’re all gone.” There is stiff competition from the animals for these little fruits.

Today brought to mind the “nine powers of nine flowers” prompt from 30 Days of May. I can hardly believe it is already fall. I also feel like in September and October I should apparently change my name to “Rosepriestess,” because I cannot stop taking pictures of them!

IMG_7984

This is the real color! I don’t do anything to the pictures to get this day-glo look.

 

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, family, Flowers, nature, sacred pause, seasons, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Day 13: Autumn Colors (#30DaysofHarvest)

I boldly take up
the shadows,
wear them
like midnight silk,
honor them
for their part in me

excerpt © Nell Aurelia 2013

via We’Moon Lunar News

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.

 

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, art, family, nature, parenting, sacred pause, seasons, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 9: Generosity (#30DaysofHarvest)


Resting and rocking and nursing the child. Figuring out enoughness. ❤️

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.”

–Rosellen Brown

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)

Source: Breastfeeding as a Spiritual Practice | Talk Birth

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, art, embodiment, family, parenting, practices, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Day 8: Healing the land (#30DaysofHarvest)

Harvest Chant 
Our hands will work for peace and justice
Our hands will work to heal the land
Gather round the harvest table
Let us feast and bless the land.

— T. Thorn Coyle & Starhawk

(Listen to this chant here.)

This morning, I strained my kombucha and started a new gallon. While doing so, I drank raspberry and nettle loose leaf tea I blended myself. I also strained my plantain infusion (from front yard) and made three tubs of plantain salve. Then, I strained and bottled my rose elixir made from my beloved back yard roses. I reflected that there is a reciprocity between the healing offered by the land and offering healing to land. World ecology and personal ecology are inseparable. May we find healthy balance.

One of my favorite images from the beautiful Gaian Tarot is the three of Earth. I thought of it today as I mixed up my own healing potions (it showed up in 30 Days of Harvest a couple of days ago as well).

Tonight while we were cooking dinner, our power went out unexpectedly. Luckily, we were grilling dinner, so we stayed outside and ate dinner on the veranda. Then, we went in and had a drum circle. We were laughing and making up songs and the kids said we should sing, “we are powerless,” because of having no electricity. Instead we sang:

We feel the power of our hearts.
We feel the power of our minds.
We feel the power of our bodies.
We feel the power of our family.
We feel the power of our drum.
We feel the power.
We feel the power.

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, chants, family, nature, parenting, sacred pause, seasons | Leave a comment

Day 6: Honoring the Harvest (#30DaysofHarvest)

 

I always find The Return after a trip difficult. Today is our oldest son’s birthday and earlier today I took a few minutes to lay on my back on his new trampoline and look at the trees against the sky. Fall’s return is crisp in the air. ❤️ And, I saw a bald eagle fly over!
I can hardly believe my first baby is twelve!  

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Day 5: Communal Creativity (#30DaysofHarvest)

  
“…When we work together cooperatively, the final product is one of synergy — it is more than each of its separate parts. The pleasure we take in each other’s company finds its way into the medicine we create.”

— Joanna Powell Colbert, The Gaian Tarot

Today was the final day of Gaea Goddess Gathering and my sister-in-law took this picture of me by the lake. It was a re-creation of a similar picture she took two years ago that now graces the back cover of my new Earthprayer, Birthprayer book (published just last week and still waiting for me to write some launch posts about it!) 

I’m feeling relieved to be home now from Kansas after five days away. Gaea Goddess Gathering was a multifaceted experience as always. Vending was so rewarding with lots of lovely connections woven and stories shared. Many other elements felt like something we survived! It is quite physically taxing to be there–not enough food, water, or sleep, too much climbing up seventy steps up a steep hillside while breastfeeding + babywearing! And, this year there were weather extremes–first, 90+ degrees, follows by rain and wind, then cool. I couldn’t have done it without my mom’s help with my daughter and with the help of my SIL and my mom with set up/take down of the booth. 

Whew! 

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, community, family, GGG, nature, sacred pause, seasons, self-care, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Ritual Recipe: Fall Equinox Gratitude Ceremony

cropped-august-2015-106.jpgSupplies

  • Items from nature for a collaborative nature mandala: leaves, stones, acorns, seeds, twigs, feathers, and other items from nature (mindfully collected and ideally found on ground). If a group ritual, ask each person to bring a quantity of something to add to the mandala. If it is a family ritual, go out together before moonrise to collect your items. Note: Depending on size, composition, energy, and patience of the group, you may wish to create the mandala together first before beginning the rest of the ritual and then gather around it for the rest of the ritual itself.
  • Paper leaves (can be simply cut out ovals using scrap paper) or dry, fallen leaves + markers to write on them.
  • Optional: drums, rattles, or bells
  • Optional: a candles for each participant (place around outer edge of nature mandala)

Before the ritual: ask each person to respond to the prompt: “my bounty is” and collate the responses into a collaborative bounty poem. If you are working alone, respond to this prompt on your own and form a poem for yourself (example poem)

1. Body Invocation (inspired by one in Gathering for Goddess by Melusine Mihaltses):

  • South:
    I welcome Fire with my body. (We welcome Fire with our bodies [group repeats])
    Rub your hands together, feel the heat you generate. Now place your hands upon your chest. Feel the heat upon your heart.
    Fire lives within me (us).
    I (we) have invoked the powers of Fire. August 2015 145
    Welcome Fire!
  • West:
    I welcome Water with my body. (We welcome Water with our bodies [group repeats])
    Lick your lips, wet them with your tongue.
    Water lives within me (us).
    I (we) have invoked the powers of Water.
    Welcome Water!
  • North:
    I welcome Earth with my body. (We welcome Earth with our bodies [group repeats])
    Give yourself (or the person next to you) a hug or place your hands upon your thighs and then your upper arms. Feel the solidness of your body.
    Earth lives within me (us).
    I (we) have invoked the powers of Earth.
    Welcome Earth!
  • East:
    I welcome Air with my own breath. (We welcome Air with our bodies [group repeats])
    Inhale and exhale. Breathe audibly in a deep sigh.
    Air lives within me (us).
    I (we) have invoked the powers of Air
    Welcome Air!

Optional variation: sing or listen to Circle Casting Song as the invocation.

2. All sing (and dance and drum!): August 2015 119

Dance in a Circle of Moonlight
Make a web of my life
Hold me as I spiral and spin
Make a web of my life

(modified from Marie Summerwood’s chant, Dance in a Circle of Women)

3. Mindfully create your beautiful nature mandala—depending on size, composition, energy, and patience of the group, you may wish to create the mandala together first before beginning the rest of the ritual and then gather around it for the rest of the ritual itself.

4. Gratitude and abundance leaves (pre-written on if working with children or for faster-paced ritual). Reflect on theAugust 2015 131 bounty of the year and write down things you are grateful for on leaves (dry, fallen leaves or on paper leaves). Read aloud (size permitting—multiple people can speak at same time) and then scatter the leaves around in the nature mandala.

5. Read your collaborative bounty poem: “my bounty is…”

6. Sing: Autumn is Here (modified from Gathered Here in Unitarian Universalist hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition)

Gathered here in the mystery of the hour
Gathered here in one strong body
Gathered here in the struggle and the power
Autumn is here
Autumn is here

(repeat several times)

7. Finish with more drumming and dancing. We usually join hands and end with the prayer: “May Goddess bless and keep us. May wisdom dwell within us. May we create peace.”

August 2015 109

An easily printable version of this ritual recipe is included as the freebie with the fall issue of our newsletter. Sign up available via Brigid’s Grove.

Categories: family, holidays, liturgy, nature, practices, priestess, resources, ritual, seasons, spirituality, woodspriestess | 4 Comments

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