holidays

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

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Crossposted at SageWoman

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

Green Man (#30DaysofMay)

Today is my birthday and the prompt was about sensory images of May. Based on this post, tonight at dusk we made a Green Man in the field by our greenhouse. It was quite lively and fun. 



As we finished his beard, we looked up and the full moon was rising beautifully over the trees. It was one of those moments of natural magic that was really potent.



Whippoorwills were singing, dogs were barking, fireflies were twinkling, and frogs were calling and we drummed and danced together in the moonlight. 



Now let the song begin! Let us sing together!

Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,

Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,

Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,

Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water.

Tom Bombadil’s Song, Lord of the Rings (via Beltane Ritual)



Categories: #30Daysof May, family, holidays, nature, night, ritual, seasons, spirituality | 2 Comments

Day 7: Praising (#30DaysofBrigid)

IMG_2219Today we had our family Brigid’s Day celebration. Our baby turned three months old on the 30th and so we also had a little three-month birthday ceremony in the woods in which we touched his feet to the earth for the first time.

Here are some pictures from the day (click for captions). We painted prayer flags (based on the “seeking” prompt from an earlier day’s sacred pause email) and then took them down to the woods to tie to the oak. We drummed and sang as the sky spit some freezing rain and a few snowflakes. We wrapped the baby in the silk painted “welcome” banner that we painted for him during the summer. I offered him a blessing and we touched his feet to the rock, to the leaf-strewn Earth, and to a tree. Then we hurried through the cold back to the house where we were cooking “hobo dinners” in the barbecue (I swooped him by the fire briefly to bless him with the flame also, but it was too cold to stay out longer). Inside, we made bread snakes and then enjoyed our dinners. We then had a Brigid/Imbolc ritual with a body blessing, house blessing, and “three blessings of Brigid.” We ate our traditional “fire and ice” trifle and then had a family drum circle! We also experimented with wax divination (dripping wax into water and reading the result). I had hoped to also do metal stamping on copper disks and art journaling, but we ran out of time.

As I’ve mentioned, ritual with kids is a challenge, but I think it is worth it. In case you think I am merrily sitting in the woods with my drum and then effortlessly priestessing my delightful family in harmonious ritual, know that my daughter mixed the sacred salt and sacred water from the body blessing into a paste and spread it all over the kitchen floor. The baby cried when a cold gust of wind caught his face suddenly. The boys made fart jokes at dinner. And, both my husband and I ended up briefly yelling at the kids about various frustrations. (Like doing one-handed cartwheels on the couch and almost kicking over candles, suddenly grabbing iphones and starting to play games, the list goes on!) It is always more wild and discordant and frustrating and stressful than I envision when I’m happily typing up my plans! Guess what? I do it anyway. Therein lies the mamapriestess lesson for me.

Oh! And, today I finished the final two assignments in my final class at OSC. I am now ABD (all but dissertation). I can hardly believe it! I’ve been working on this degree for a long time and I actually expected it to take me several more months from now to finish my final classes. Finishing my dissertation project is one of my biggest goals for the year (I have several others too). Today, I was reminded in multiple ways that I did just have a baby three months ago. It is okay to pace myself and to take my time. So close though! So close.

I have all the time I need.

(right? I made this one of my mottoes for the year in my Shining Year workbook…)

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, blessings, family, Goddess, holidays, nature, parenting, priestess, ritual, spirituality | 2 Comments

Imbolc Meditation

If you pause in darkness what does your body have to tell you? What do your dreams have to tell you? What does the frozen ground have to January 2015 018tell you? What do the spirits of place have to tell you?

What song can only be sung by you?

What emberheart can only be ignited by your breath?

What path have your feet found?

What messages are carved in stone and etched on leaf for your eyes and in your name?

What promise are you keeping?

Imbolc.
Time for your light to shine
from within the sheltering dark.

Note: Modified from a prior post, I shared this on my SageWoman blog earlier in the week and then decided to include it here also.

Categories: blessings, holidays, liturgy, meditations, ritual, sacred pause, seasons, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Seed Corn Ritual

I dream of a sacred fire December 2014 127
where a family circles,
arms linked
as one.

Shared dream,
shared harvest,
shared blessing,
of family, spirit, hearth, and home.

Light the fire
with your children.
Sing with your partner.
Create a temple
of your hearts,
hands,
and bodies.

A simple seed corn ritual is a lovely addition to your New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day celebration. It can be completed with a group, a family, or on your own. After reviewing your year and celebrating your accomplishments and successes, consider what you would like to save from this year’s “harvest” to plant in the new year. Take a piece of corn from a pretty dish, close your eyes, and let the seed corn share its dream with you. The above lines are what my seed corn (actually, a piece of unpopped popcorn) had to share with me.

What have you harvested to plant in the new year? What dream are you dreaming?

Categories: blessings, family, holidays, ritual | 2 Comments

A Solstice Blessing

May you have a warm heart, December 2014 093
open hands,
a creative mind.

May you experience inspiration and brilliance,
clarity and focus.
May you laugh richly and deeply.

May you circle and celebrate,
may you change and grow

May that which is waiting to be unlocked
be freed.

And may you soar with the knowing
that you are carried by a great wind across the sky.

Just a quick post to share some pictures from our family solstice celebration last night (mouse over or click for captions). We didn’t do everything I had planned and trying to have a ceremony that includes children can be a chaotic, frustrating, and wild experience (separate blog post about this on another day!), but I enjoy our traditions and I’m pretty sure it is worth it…

Bright blessings of the season to you!

December 2014 075

Categories: blessings, family, holidays, parenting, ritual, seasons, spirituality, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Winter Solstice Meditation

When the wheel of the year turns towards fall, I always feel the call to retreat, to cocoon, to pull away. I also feel the urge for fall de-cluttering—my eyes cast about the house for things to unload, get rid of, to cast away. I also search my calendar for those things which can be eliminated, trimmed down, cut back on. I think it is the inexorable approach of the winter holiday season that prompts this desire to withdraw, as well as the natural rhythm of the earth which so clearly says: let things go, it is time to hibernate.

Late autumn and the shift toward winter is a time of discernment. A time to choose. A time to notice that which has not made it through the summer’s heat and thus needs to be pruned away. In this time of the year, we both recognize the harvest of our labors and that which needs to be released or even sacrificed as we sense the promise of the new year to come.

This year I cocoon with my new baby. Though I have three other children, this new baby was the first child whose development and arrival December 2014 106perfectly mirrored the wheel of the year. Conceived during the first month of the new year, taking root in the darkness of winter’s end, beginning to bud during the springtime and coming into full bloom during the summer. And, then, with the season’s spiral turn into fall, when many beautiful things are harvested, his birth: October 30, into my welcoming hands in the sunlight bright morning in my living room. Now, with the steady progress of winter, we curl together in a small, new world. We cocoon in the cave of our own home, the size of the world re-sized to the size of my bed, kitchen table, and rocking chair. This is the fourth trimester, the time in which the baby continues to develop his nervous system and continues to live within the context of the mother’s body. I am his habitat. His place. His home is in my arms.

This sinking in, this cocooning, this safe, small world is perfect for the call of winter. While my to-do list has again begun to clang in my ear and the clamor of my other children surrounds me, the early nights, cold temperatures, and gray skies, remind me to nestle, remember, and grow. Beautiful magic takes root in dark, deep places.

Winter solstice.
Deep, long, dark night.
Cold cracks
brittle branches,
icy stone.

Winter’s song December 2014 004
echoes in skeletal treetops
and crackling leaves.
Rest time.
Hibernation.
Silent watchfulness.
Waiting hope.

Sink down.
Open up.
Receive and feel.
Hold peace.

May you enjoy a rich, peaceful solstice with your family and loved ones! May you be blessed by light and may you find wisdom and solace in dark, deep, places. And, may you remember not to be so distracted by the promise of the light to come that you forget the great value to be found in endarkenment as well.

December 2014 211

 

Categories: blessings, endarkenment, family, holidays, parenting, poems, spirituality, theapoetics | 1 Comment

Family Winter Solstice Ritual Outline

IMG_0545“Only in the deepest silence of night
the stars smile and whisper among themselves.”
–Rabindranath Tagore

(quoted in Dear Heart, Come Home page 52)

As I prepare our family’s winter solstice ritual for this Sunday evening, I feel moved to share our family’s tradition and ritual process. I’d love to hear from readers in the comments with their own family traditions! We have celebrated the winter solstice together as our primary family ritual for the last eleven years. There are several elements that remain constant from year to year and other elements that vary based on new ideas or projects that we decide to incorporate for that year.

The following is a brief explanation of three of our core traditions, which is then followed by a full ritual outline for this year’s ceremony! Make sure to read through to the end of my ritual outline for links to even more posts with further ideas and information.

Bell-ringing ceremony: it is common to use bells to ring out the old year and ring in the new. We gather together outside at dusk, each holding our bell. We turn to each direction and ring the bells together to honor the connection to each sacred quarter. Then, we ring them up to the sky, down to the earth, and at chest level for our hearts (or the divine within). We then each speak a one or two word wish for the Earth in the coming year and all ring the bells together to affirm each wish.

Goals review: Each year during our family winter solstice ritual we review our lives from the past year—things we’re proud of, things we’d like to let go of—and then set new intentions for the coming year. We write these down on pieces of paper that I then roll up together and put in a box. The following year, we each open our papers and read what we wrote the year before and see how/if these intentions manifested over the year. It is very interesting to see how we rarely remember exactly what we wrote and yet, how often those things have come to pass. After this goals review process, we all get our candles and walk the solstice spiral in turn to symbolize the setting forth of our new intentions and the goals we would like to carry forth into the light of the new year to come.

Solstice spiral: the highlight of our ceremony is a walk through the solstice spiral. It is based on the Waldorf tradition of an “advent spiral,” which is often made outdoors using evergreen branches. During the first year we tried the spiral, I did decorate the outside of our spiral with evergreen branches, but since then I’ve simply opted to lay out a spiral shape on the floor using silver and gold tinsel garlands. It is simple, but once ringed with candles and the household lights turned out, it becomes magical!

Ritual Outline:

  • Group hum–in my community, we have a tradition of casting our opening circle in a very simple manner: we stand together in a circle and place our hands on each other’s backs. Then, we hum in unison at least three times to pull our personal vibrations and rhythms into a sense of physical and literal harmony. I do not find it necessary to symbolically draw the circle with any kind of object. I have a very body-based personal practice and find that our bodies and voices very effectively cast a circle without any need for additional objects.
  • While drumming a basic rhythm, sing Circle Casting Song together (by Reclaiming)
  • Introduction: We are here to celebrate our connection to each other, to recognize our accomplishments of the past year, to welcome the coming year ahead, to bless our paths in life, our chance to grow and learn, the sacred cycles, our loved ones, our health, our creations, our home, where we live, what we have, and who we are.
  • Go outside for bell ringing ceremony (see above).
  • Returning indoors, shut off all lights and take a minute to sit together in a dark room to think about past year. Then simple toast and candle-lighting.

The winter solstice happens in nature around us.  But it also happens inside of us, in our souls.  It can happen inside of us is summer or winter, spring or fall.   In the dark place of our soul, we carry secret wishes, pains, frustrations, loneliness, fears, regrets, worries.  Darkness is not something to be afraid of.  Sometimes we go to the dark place of our soul, where we can find safety and comfort.  In the dark place in our soul we can find rest and rejuvenation.  In the dark place of our soul we can find balance.  And when we have rested, and been comforted, and restored, we can return from the dark place in our soul to the world of light and new possibilities.

–John Halstead, Family Winter Solstice Ritual

  • Year review and new intentions.
  • Make manifestation ornaments together: rosemary (for protection in the new year), sage (for cleansing) and cinnamon sticks (for activation). Put new year’s goals inside.
  • Solstice spiral—read following as we each enter with our ornaments and unlit candles.

Surrender to the Dark and Nurture your Dreams …

The dark season challenges us to surrender to our dreaming, to trust that the strength of the earth will support our weight as we sleep.

It is out of the darkness that flowers eventually emerge, babies are born, and inspiration for poetry and ideas are nurtured toward the page and through our voices.

In the deep, dark places in ourselves, we find the inner truth about ourselves. In this winter season of so many people prematurely rushing toward the light, remember to slow down and do Winter’s inner work.

Celebrate the dark, where the inner life is honored and nurtured. One is made confident that the seed of light, sown in the womb of the dark, will grow, and in its appropriate season, bloom.

via Global Goddess | Goddess Women Helping Women

  • Sing We Are Circling (see: http://ourchants.org/songs/we-are-circling) while we each walk spiral with candle and light from center candle. Upon return to outside the spiral get animal oracle card (or other guidance/divination card) and a small gift (pocket totem, stone, charm, etc.)
  • Stand together and do responsive reading:

Inviting Our Light to Shine (responsive reading. Modified from: John Halstead, Family Winter Solstice Ritual)

When you celebrate the winter solstice,
            May your light shine. Solstice spiral. We shut the lights out and walk it with candles.
When you share love,
            May your light shine.
When you work for peace,
            May your light shine.
When you teach someone,
            May your light shine.
When you comfort someone,
            May your light shine.
When you create works of beauty and love,
            May your light shine.
When you laugh together.
            May your light shine.
When you grieve a loss,
            May your light shine.
When you are challenged to change,
            May your light shine.
When you (add your own intention here), December 2013 042
           May your light shine.
Bless yourself with the light.
            Your light will shine.

  • Take candles to Yule log:

Upon this Solstice season night
I burn these candles strong & bright.

Abundance and blessings grow and flow,
As comes the light, it is so!

via The Nine Nights of the Winter Solstice Hallowing.

  • Any other words or blessings participants have to offer…
  • Closing reading

A Solstice Blessing
(written by Shiloh Sophia)

Blessings upon your hope for your today.
Blessings upon your healing of your yesterdays.
Blessings upon your continued dreams for your future.
Blessings upon the Loved ones you have today.
Blessings upon your ancestors who made the way.
Blessings upon you and yours for the next seven generations.
So that your light continues to shine in the darkness.
So that you may show us the beauty within your soul.
So that our world might be made brighter because you are.
May you be kept warm in the arms of Love.
May your harvest grant you a season of rest and renewal.
May the return of the light remind you of the goodness
that is waiting within to be born

  • Make large Sun Wheel decoration together (see link below)
  • Drumming & divination.

Additional links:

Information about solstice spiral: Teaching Handwork: understanding the spiral walk for advent.

Information about bell-ringing ceremony: Winter Solstice: Ritual, Ideas & Celebrations

Sun wheel project: Let’s Weave a Giant Sun!

Manifestation ornaments: Yule Prosperity Ornament

More celebration ideas: Winter Solstice Ritual Ideas

Crossposted from my SageWoman blog.

Categories: family, holidays, liturgy, parenting, priestess, readings, resources, ritual, spirituality | 1 Comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Come into my lap and sit in the center of your soul. Drink the living waters of memory and give birth to yourself. What you unearth with stun you. You will paint the walls of this cave in thanksgiving.”

–Meinrad Craighead

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This year I’m thankful for my sweet new baby as well as for my other children, a husband who is home with us, the opportunity to pursue creative work together, my parents who live so close and who are so helpful, our first nephew who is so smiley and cute, my friendship with my sister-in-law, and our “tribe” and community of friends. This year has been a really formative year for us and one in which we have completed a lot of significant projects and focused our energy in building our creative business together.

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IMG_9836As a thank you to our Brigid’s Grove customers, we’re offering free shipping for United States customers in our etsy shop through December 1st. For our international customers, we have a thank you discount code for 10% off: SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

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Categories: family, holidays | Leave a comment

Family Spring Equinox Ritual Recipe

Today we had a simple family ritual to celebrate springtime. We missed our family full moon ritual this month because I was out of town at a Goddess March 2014 142Weekend (and then it was St. Patrick’s Day and we had a corned beef and cabbage dinner and full moon cookies, but no ritual. Too tired!) It feels important to me at we do at least one family ritual a month, so today felt perfect! My three year old daughter helped me set up a spring-themed altar outside. She had tons of fun choosing items to add and I let her set most of the altar up herself. It looks a little haphazard accordingly, but she really enjoyed herself.

Our ritual recipe was as follows:

  • Gather in circle by altar and group hum (hands on each other’s backs, hum together three times).
  • Smudge with sage (my daughter got very into this—we don’t usually smudge during family rituals so it was new to her—and just wanted to keep doing it).
  • Drumming invocation—I use a modified version of Circle Casting Song from the Second Chants CD

Eastern morning
First breath of the soul
Worldview forming
Sacred and whole
Wind of knowledge
Simple and wise
Bringer of the lightning
That strikes in our minds.

Come to us.
Be here now.

Southern Fire
White rays of the sun
Source of will
That always is done
Heat of passion
Longing and need
You who push the green one
Out of the seed.

Come to us.
Be here now.

Western River
Devotee of the moon
Gentle sculptor
Of babes in the womb
Spring of jubilation
Courage and tears
Bringer of the sweet love
That soothes all our fears.

Come to us.
Be here now.

Northern Mountain
Body of the earth
Finite treasure
Of infinite worth
Cave of transformation
Childbirth and death
Suckler of the wild ones
Who curl upon your breast.

Come to us.
Be here now.

  • Planting ritual—we planted primrose seeds in front of the house. Each person took a turn stating what they’re hoping to “grow” this season and this was probably the best part of the ritual.
  • Chant (from a website I recently became reacquainted with from my Priestess Path group: En-Chant-Ment

Sweet water and warm sun bless us
Sweet water and warm sun bless us
Oh spring comes hope—begins in us
Oh spring comes hope—begins in us
Out comes the leaves, up comes the grass
Out comes the leaves, up comes the grass
Sweet water and warm sun bless us

  • Earth Listening exercise—I forget where I originally learned about this, but basically you lie on the ground with your ear to the earth and listen, first March 2014 144tuning into your own heartbeat and then following it to the heartbeat of the Earth and as you continue to breath and connect and go deeper, see what else you hear…
  • Drum/sing—Mother I Feel You

Mother I feel you under my feet
Mother I hear your heartbeat
Mother I feel you under my feet
Mother I hear your heartbeat

Heya heya heya, ya heya heya ho
Heya heya heya, heya heya ho

Heya heya heya, heya heya ho
Heya heya heya, heya heya heya ho

I can hear your heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat
I can hear your heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat

Mother, Mother, Earth, Earth March 2014 145
Mother, Mother, Earth, Earth

  • Closing:

Open your heart to the Sun
Open your eyes to the Sky
Open your ears to the Sea.
Deep love to the round Earth who has given us bodies.
Deep love to the stars for their energy and light.
Deep love to our mothers and fathers for the gene patterns of our souls.
Deep love to our mothers, for the home of our first growth.

We bless each other for the truths we have shared.
We are people of love.
We are people of bone.
We are blessed.
We are people of light
We are people of words.
We are blessed.
We are people of truth.
We are blessed.

May it be so. March 2014 165

–Rachel Pollack, The Power of Ritual via Blessing to Close a Ritual | WoodsPriestess

  • Decorate hard-boiled eggs
  • Make honey cakes

Spring Honey Cakes recipe

(modified from this one: Easy Spanish Dessert – Fried Cakes with Honey Recipe – Tortitas con Miel)

March 2014 156

I opted to roll larger circles and cut them into quarters before cooking.

6 eggs
4 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour (I had to add at least 1/2 c. additional to get a rollable dough)

oil for frying
honey, fruit, or powdered sugar for topping

Beat all ingredients together, using your hands to finish mixing. Divide the dough into two-inch balls and roll out flat (about 1/4 inch thick and four inches around). Heat oil and fry the rounds until they are puffy and golden on both sides. Drain on paper towel and serve with your chosen toppings (honey recommended so that they are actually honeycakes).

There were a couple of hiccups with our ritual—basically, priestessing ritual with children is not for the faint of heart or easily discouraged!—such as the kids rolling around and fighting during the Earth Listening, but overall it was a satisfying experience!

Categories: family, holidays, priestess, resources, ritual, spirituality | 3 Comments

Happy New Year!

drummersOn New Year’s Eve even though I had a horrendous migraine and family due to come over for a party,  I took some time in the early afternoon to go down to the woods for a review of the past year of my Woodspriestess experiment. It felt really important to me to spend some good time looking over the past year and what I’ve learned in and from the woods. I ended up recording 15 minutes worth of reflections and I’ll come back to them later—I think they will come in handy for the conclusion of my thesis/book project. (One of my reflections was that this year was a complete thesis project and it just needs to be shaped and refined into an integrated document now.) After recording, I decided to try out an exercise I’d read about the night before in In the Shadow of the Shaman. It was essentially about going to a special spot in nature and walking no more than 12 paces in each of the four directions. At the twelfth step, or when felt called to stop, you are supposed to look down and find a gift. This felt like a very fitting ritual to conclude my year in the woods and so I did it. And, at the twelfth step in each direction, I did, in fact, find something waiting for me. To the East I found a piece of a hornet’s nest (I also see this as a helpful reminder from the woods to take a much closer look at the hollow tree nearby, because I think I was being told that it is harboring something stingy!). To the South I found two acorns joined at the caps. To the West I found a mossy piece of fallen branch. To the North, I found a small square rock. I laid them out on the stone to look at as a whole…January 2014 008And I picked up a message that felt like the closing thoughts for me from the land itself in terms of this year-long project. The message was this:

things change and decay and pass away (the branch), new things grow (the acorns), sometimes the world is sharp and stings you and it hurts (the hornet’s nest), but it is possible to discern clear edges and find a solid core (the rock)

This afternoon my husband and I worked on the New Year Intention candles that we’d started as part of the simple New Year’s Eve ritual we did with our family last night. These were my idea to be a combination of a vision board and an altar candle, with each lighting of the candle throughout the year serving as a reaffirmation of our intentions for 2014. I had a wonderful time creating mine and it felt like just the right project. We then lit the candles and spent some time on the Biz section of the Amazing Year workbook and it had a really incredible time of synchronicity and clarity about the direction in which we will be going in the year ahead.

 January 2014 040Happy New Year!

Categories: art, blessings, family, holidays, prayers, resources, ritual, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Gratitude’s Song

Thank you sacred one December 2013 026
thank you sacred ground
thank you Ancient Mother
thank you sacred womb

Thank you loving family
thank you sacred ground
thank you sacred body
thank you healing sound

Thank you sacred one
thank you sacred ground
thank you Ancient Mother
thank you sacred womb

Thank you loving family
thank you solid ground
thank you sacred body
thank you shining moon

Thank you solid stone December 2013 016
thank you sacred oak
thank you ancient wisdom
thank you sacred hope

Thank you ancient rhythm
thank you song of blood
thank you holy hour
thank you holy wood

Thank you sacred one
thank you sacred ground
thank you Ancient Mother
thank you the world around…

The day after Christmas I took some of the books I’d received as gifts down to the woods. I laid them out the rocks and felt so appreciative of having a family who cares about me and what I’m interested in. I got a selection of priestess books, other books from my Amazon wishlist, and the Amazing Year workbook from my friend. I felt so grateful to have a mom who looked at the picture of the pottery elemental altar I showed her in a magazine at some point this year and then worked and worked to make one for me as a surprise. I felt grateful that she comes to my rituals and reads my blog. I felt grateful for other family members and friends who read my blogs and cheer me on when I make new things and try new avenues. I felt grateful for parents who will hold candles in the darkness on solstice night with me, for a husband who will make a drum and cast pewter with me, for friends who support and encourage me and are able to accept when I need to make changes or let go of things. I felt grateful that I live in a beautiful place and that I have woods to go to and rocks to sit on. I felt grateful for the small adventures of the past year and even for the losses and the lessons of grief and change. Then, I picked up my drum and I sang a song. I feel like acknowledging that yes, I can see there are flaws in my lyrics in that they are perhaps roughly patterned and could be reworked into something smoother, but when I listened to the recording of it again I heard something authentic and something that worked for what it was, when it was. And, I decided I like it just the way it is.

And, then, just now as I type…I felt grateful for myself-–that I will sit in the woods with a drum and sing spontaneous things and write blog posts about it even though maybe I could be embarrassed or self-conscious instead and hide my song away instead of posting it for people to read and possibly feel critical and judgmental of, but I do it anyway and I own it and I keep trying…

(and that is a run-on sentence and I’m not going to edit it either)

Today, I hung up the new goddess-ful Good Karma flags that my mom gave me for Christmas. They’re gorgeous and I loves ’em!

December 2013 034 I’m working on making a “Temple” workspace for myself instead of just huddling in a corner with my computer…

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(my new little altar goes in front of the Cretan priestess figure here, but it is still on the living room floor waiting for me to finish my life-and-biz-planning session)

BOOKS! Oh my first love, I will never forsake you!

 

Categories: blessings, chants, family, friends, holidays, moontime, music, nature, poems, prayers, readings, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

The Wheel of the Year

Are you awake in the night on these long winter turns as we labor to Birth the Light? The Wheel creaks slowly. The crone rests in her bed of dried leaves. The fields, cleared by the harvest and the gleaners, wear winter’s blanket. Can we trust the darkness of this final descent, where nature seems to hold her breath? inside this “new moon of the year” we labor, surrendering everything to the prevailing dark.

In the wide world, the holidays offer anxious frenzy: a false labor, falsely induced. What to do? Follow the crone down and in, toward the still point. Gather sisterly support. Listen! Inner and outer worlds are yearning for Peace, so turn toward what wants to be birthed. Circle in darkness, moan in labor, trance deep, cross the void. In starlight vision, whorls of small flames come into view as we carry the Mystery! The bottomless, blind dark is pierced at the moment of its victory, delivering the tiniest slivers of peaceful light. Blessed Be.

–Marian Spadone in We’Moon, 2013

In my most recent post in my SageWoman blog, I wrote about the living practice and observation of the wheel of the year as it turns:

As my family celebrates the Full Moon together monthly and as I honor my own recurrent need for stillness and retreat during my Dark Moon Retreats, we are making visible this interconnected dance with nature and with life. We are affirming our commitment, our relatedness, to each other and to the natural environment around us. We are communicating and in relationship to that larger force of life and spirit that we know as Goddess. And, we bring our spiritual beliefs into our bodies, hands, minds, and hearts in an ever-spinning Wheel of celebration, attention, observation, enjoyment, and communion.

via Moontale, Moontide, Moonspell

I had a different and more expressive post in mind for tonight, but once again have run into the end of the evening and have to honor the pull towards sleep instead.

I had a winning streak with giveaways during the first week of December. I won the Animal Powers Meditation Kit I mentioned earlier, I won a secret something I’m excited about that is going to be a gift for someone else, and I also won a pretty card for my birth art wall. The card came today, titled Abundance:

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I’m working on improving the atmosphere in my bedroom work space and I added the card there plus the elemental altar bowl from my mom that I mentioned yesterday 🙂
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Categories: art, endarkenment, feminist thealogy, holidays, spirituality | Leave a comment

The altar of love

This is my body; this is the temple of light. This is my heart; this is the altar of love.” –Sufi song (quoted in Birthrites)

“Traveler, there is no path. One makes the path by walking.” –Antonio Machado (in Birthrites)

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This is a picture of the lovely elemental altar bowl my mom made me for Christmas. It “holds” all four elements in one: Earth the clay it is made from, water in the dish surrounding the candle, fire in the candle, and air in the smoke/flame.

I was going to write a bit more about the large stack of books I was lucky enough to amass over Christmas and solstice, but I decided a short, quoteful post will suffice for today (I also posted a thealogy-related Mary Christmas post at my other blog).

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While I’ve read a chapter each in most of the books I received, I completely finished reading one of them: Birthrites by Jackie Singer.

Two quotes from Birthrites about the value and purpose of rituals:

Making ritual diverts our attention from the everyday tasks of survival, and for a brief time allows us to notice and comment on where we are. Faced with the awesome experience of findings ourselves conscious in an unpredictable universe, making ritual is a noble attempt to confer rhythm and coherence to our lives…

…there is a paradox inherent in the whole concept of new ceremony, because part of the power of ceremony is that it has the weight of tradition behind it. In times of continuity, ritual would be something handed down by the elders. Perhaps this is an ideal, but we do not live in times of continuity. Rather than abandoning the whole idea of ritual as irrelevant, we need to respond to the challenges of our fast-changing age by renewing ritual practise in a way that honours the past but makes sense to us now.

Merry Christmas! May we all remember that we carry an altar of love within us.

Categories: family, holidays, quotes, ritual, spirituality, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Solstice Spiral

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Last year’s spiral.

In my winter solstice post, I referenced our family’s tradition of walking a “solstice spiral” each year as part of our year-end ritual. It is based on the Waldorf tradition of an “advent spiral,” which is often made outdoors using evergreen branches. During the first year we tried the spiral, I did decorate the outside of our spiral with evergreen branches, but since then I’ve simply opted to lay out a spiral shape on the floor using silver and gold tinsel garlands. It is simple, but once ringed with candles and the household lights turned out, it becomes magical! I wrote about the purpose somewhat generically in this winter solstice post from last year:

Then, lighting candles, we walk our traditional “solstice spiral” (made with gold garland laid out in the spiral on the floor, ringed with evergreen branches and candles)—leaving behind our losses and that which we no longer need in the darkness, and carrying forward the bright spark of new possibility that is taking root in our lives for the new year. After exiting the spiral, we place our candles together on the Yule log to represent that which we hope to bring into the full light of dawning year.

via Goddess Wheel of the Year: Winter Solstice Ritual | WoodsPriestess.

Solstice spiral. We shut the lights out and walk it with candles.

This year’s spiral before the lights are out.

Each year during our family winter solstice ritual we review our lives from the past year—things we’re proud of, things we’d like to let go of—and then set new intentions for the coming year. We write these down on pieces of paper that I then roll up together and put in a box. The following year, we each open our papers and read what we wrote the year before and see how/if these intentions manifested over the year. It is very interesting to see how we rarely remember exactly what we wrote and yet, how often those things have come to pass. After this goals review process, we all get our candles and walk the solstice spiral in turn to symbolize the setting forth of our new intentions. This year, as each person came out of the spiral, I gave them a stone totem animal that I’d purchased from a nifty ebay seller and also a card from the Animal Powers Meditation Kit I’d conveniently won in an online giveaway recently. The stone animal was my gift to each and the card was just an intuitive solstice message for each that they then returned to the box. We carried our candles over to the Yule log and did the following responsive reading as I lit each candle in the Yule log:

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Little stone bear.

When the earth is barren.
The light is reborn.
When the animals sleep.
The light is reborn.
When the leaves have all fallen.
The light is reborn.
When the rivers are frozen.
The light is reborn.
When the ground is hard.
The light is reborn.
When the shadows grow long.
The light is reborn.
When warmth has fled.
The light is reborn.
In the darkest night.
The light is reborn.

(via Family Winter Solstice Ritual)

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Lit Yule log.

Then we each shared the animal message from our cards. I’m actually planning to do a variation of this ceremony on New Year’s Eve when some other members of our family will be visiting. We will use it as a welcoming-the-new-year path and I have some different things to give them at the end of this one (you’ll have to wait to hear about that later, because some of them read this blog and I don’t want to spoil my little surprise!)

Categories: endarkenment, family, holidays, night, readings, ritual, spirituality | 2 Comments

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