Day 21: Time out of time (#30daysofyule + #30daysofdissertation)

I have trouble expressing how significant it has been for me to claim this “room of my own” in which to work, dream, contemplate, and enjoy solitude. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d converted my kids’ former clubhouse into a tiny goddess temple. I’ve been working on my dissertation project in there and it feels so peaceful and quiet. Like it brings out my own best self. It is hard to separate out from my family to go out to the temple on my own, lots of demands pull at me, but it benefits everyone when I take the time to do so. Yesterday, I spent almost two hours working only on my dissertation–devoting time is the only way to bring this into being and it is amazing how much more “flow” developed with focused energy spent on it. I never even opened a single other computer window as I worked and the single-tasking allowed for big steps! I feel it being born…

Yesterday afternoon, I also started working on our Shining Year workbooks for 2016. These liminal days between years feel perfect for it.

In the photo with the candle above, I see my first augur/omen for a “12 days of Christmas” divination exercise that Joanna shared with our class: Soundings: The Omen Days: The Twelve Days of Christmas. In the knot in the wood next to the candle, I see The Flying Woman (rune of transformation) in the center–a little figure with arms raised. ❤️

On Christmas evening, I used my new camera to take some pictures of the beautiful full moon. We also drummed and danced on the deck.

I’m getting ready for the next Womanrunes Immersion ecourse and I’m looking forward to connecting and centering in the energy of the new year. This 41 day ecourse explores each one of the runes in depth, allowing you time to practice with and learn from that rune in your own life. The course includes journal and photo prompts, journal pages, full and new moon ritual outlines, and a private facebook for interaction, support, and shared learning.

You can register for the course here: Womanrunes Immersion – Brigid’s Grove


Categories: #30daysofyule, 30daysofdissertation, divination, holidays, introversion, moon wisdom, nature, practices, sacred pause, seasons, writing | Leave a comment

Ritual energy (#30daysofdissertation)

November 2015 059“Personally, what I have noticed most often about the level of energy in the many rituals I have experienced has far more to do with my mood and personal energy level in solitary rites, and the personalities and personal connections of the people involved in the group rites I’ve experienced than with any external factor, from clothing or lack thereof, to male-female alternation around the circle, to tradition or jewelry or hairstyle, or whatever. Are the people happy to be there? Do they genuinely like each other? Do they believe in the work they’re doing? These are the things I’ve noticing affecting magic’s potency for me.” (Thuri Calafia, Dedicant, p. 159)

I didn’t feel like I had a lot of generative, creative energy for dissertation work today, so I decided to spend my fifteen minutes finishing typing up some quotes from the book Dedicant, by Thuri Calafia. It was a smart way to spend my time, made me think of a new question to pose in my Priestess Path study group, and “decluttered” my research desk by moving the book from the stack on the desk to back on the bookshelf!

This quote caught my eye because I’ve written before that I find it easier to have spiritual experiences on my own rather than in a group, even though I deeply value and enjoy working with groups. Working with groups of people has a lot of power by their own right, but for divine connection, give me solitude in the woods!

That reflection brought me to a quote I’d used in a past blog post:

Ritual Priestessing is not for the faint of heart. If you fear chaos, the unexpected, or the unforeseen, choose another vocation. A ritual facilitator regularly finds herself in challenging situations that are not at all what she originally planned. In order to facilitate others, you first need to know how to be a good participant. I don’t believe that it is possible for a woman to priestess/facilitate a ritual effectively until she first knows how to truly participate in one…

Source: Dance in a circle of women… | WoodsPriestess

And, considering the why of doing this 30 Days project now. Why expect this daily dissertation work during the holiday season, when business is booming, my kids need me, etc.? Can’t I just wait to work on the dissertation until January? Well…first of all, I said I’d do it this year and I feel like I’d like to honor myself by giving it the best effort I can during what is left of the year!  Second though, I realized with the “fifteen minutes” tip from my friend that I routinely spend way more than fifteen minutes scrolling through my instagram or facebook feeds, so it really isn’t too much to expect of myself to redirect that energy into #30daysofdissertation. So, appropriately, this afternoon I also typed this quote I’d marked down months ago from Dedicant: As it is with our gardens, so it is with life. We sometimes can have too many choices, too many things that pull us in too many directions. There comes a time when we must decide what we will keep putting our energy into, and what we will let go of, even if only for a while…Be gentle with yourself, as you need to nurture your own growth…” (Calafia, p. 202-203)

I don’t know that I’ll actually make a companion blog post each day, but so far I am enjoying the accountability factor in doing so.

Now to turn my attention back to my Feminism and Religion blog post!


Categories: 30daysofdissertation, books, community, dissertation, Goddess, introversion, practices, priestess, quotes, resources, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | Leave a comment

Day 5: A Tarot Reading (#30DaysofHecate)

wheelThe wheel turns. Our youngest son is ONE today*. His pregnancy and birth was so closely aligned with the wheel of the year and my pregnancy with him was an incredibly generative time for our business (I wrote and published the Womanrunes book as well as sculpted more than twenty of our sculpture/pendant designs while pregnant with him!) I can hardly believe he is one now! Instead of leaping right into my to-do list when he was napping today, I sat with my cards and my Divination Practicum workbook. I’m really enjoying the many ways my own course dovetails with the prompts in the 30 Days of Hecate course. Today’s assignment was to do a tarot reading using Joanna’s “Elder of Fire” layout. I did it with the Gaian Tarot (of course!) and then with Womanrunes. I learned from both layouts and felt like doing this was just what I needed today. I’d been feeling scattered, drained, touched out, and stressed. The kids are all sick and we’ve been what feels like nonstop busy and I’ve been craving down time, solitude, and space to think. My list is a mile long, but I made space for this work first instead of saving it for the oft-elusive “later.” This Elder of Fire layout feels like a really, really powerful layout to do at this time of year and I encourage you to try it yourself this weekend! I was also very interested to see that the rune of the day for me today was The Cauldron and then The Cauldron was also the first card for my Elder spread. That is very Hecate-riffic.

1. Offering: What or who is dead or dying, that you need to honor?

2. Challenge: What task does the Elder of Fire ask of you?

3. Center: Where do you find your center of power?

4. Opening: What new sweetness is wafting in on the scent of burning herbs?

5. Wisdom: What secrets do the ancestors whisper to you this All Hallows Eve?

Source: Elder of Fire: A Tarot Spread for All Hallow’s Eve

The results of this layout for me were:

IMG_8818and combined with The Gaian Tarot:


1. Offering: What or who is dead or dying, that you need to honor? The reversed Awakening tarot card indicates that what is “dying” is being controlling and rigid, unwilling to hear the call of spirit. The Cauldron reminds me that something is waiting to be stirred–to be brewed up–and that what is passing away is a time of confusion or not knowing.

2. Challenge: What task does the Elder of Fire ask of you? The Elder of Earth here asks me “to be deeply content within” while the Flying Woman serenades me with her call to action and transformation. Interestingly, I’d already inked her on my wrist this morning holding the Cauldron. Even more interesting is that the takeaway part of her message in the Womanrunes book is to spin, spin together in the dance of life. And…look what she is paired with…the Elder of Earth spinning on her wheel!

3. Center: Where do you find your center of power? This one was a little more confusing because The Canoe in the tarot is reversed, which doesn’t feel very center of power-y. However, I read the description and actually laughed because it says, “perhaps you are pushing too hard and have lost the pleasure of the project.” I have been complaining all week of feeling too pushy and like I’m “revving” too hard trying to keep up. So, The Canoe reminds me to paddle and float and steer with focus rather than drive, per se. I’m not surprised to see The Winged Circle show up here—I’ve been tight and closed in and need to remember to spread my wings and to shake things off, opening to possibility.

4. Opening: What new sweetness is wafting in on the scent of burning herbs? Justice showing up here makes sense too, reminding me of balance. So, what better pairing to balance out my sense of tight, driven pushiness than the Womanrunes card, The Yoni: Rune of Pleasure. This rune relates to creativity and joy. Yes, please.

5. Wisdom: What secrets do the ancestors whisper to you this All Hallows Eve? The Two of Air shows up here telling me to make time for silence and to listen to the whispers of my deep self. And, to “move at the pace of guidance.” In a funny, literal twist, something that I keep snapping about this work is that I need quiet. I crave silence, I have said multiple times over the last few days. The Rune of Prosperity shows up here, connecting beautifully to the tree imagery in the tarot card and whispering to me to rest and let sunlight kiss my branches.

After laying out the cards and journaling, I let myself page through the notes from my friends at my mother blessing last year as I prepared for my baby’s birth. It felt sweet and tender to allow myself that pleasure as I sit next to my napping now one year old boy, instead of immediately launching into my to-do’s, which is what nap time is usually reserved for (and indeed is usually the only sustained period of concentrated, creative energy I have in a day and even it is often fragmented by needing to pat his back or nurse him so he will continue napping).

My husband finished uploading Tanner’s birth video today in honor of his birthday. I know that not all of my followers here are interested in childbirth, but if you are, the video is here!

*Note: I keep saying “today” in this post because I started it on October 30th, which is the day it goes with. However, it isn’t actually publishing until the 31st, because it got really late before I could finish writing it!

Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements.

Categories: #30daysofHecate, birth, blessings, divination, introversion, practices, readings, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, Womanrunes, womanspirit | 1 Comment


“My writing is a practice. It requires that sort of daily repetition and solitude—being with oneself—awareness—awareness of one’s body, awareness of one’s thoughts, awareness of one’s own process. And meditation makes me more aware of everything I do, so it makes the movements within my writing process clearer to me.”

–Susan Griffin (in Open Mind, 10/16)

It is interesting to see that I’ve decided to begin this new daily writing practice at a time in which I don’t feel much like writing any blog posts! Hmm. Today, my time in the woods was abbreviated slightly by the return of my small children, but before their voices came floating over to me, I was sitting with the sound of woodpeckers. There were at least three different ones near me of at least two types and it sounded like there were more that I didn’t see. As winter steadily approaches, I’ve noticed that there is much less bird song in the forest lately, but today (warmer) the woods were alive with the sounds of birds and squirrels. Woodschorus.

I’ve also noticed that while I enjoy being alone, I’m feeling a little cooped up and isolated lately–the Thanksgiving holiday meant that our usual weekly activities were different from what they usually are and I’ve gone nearly a week without seeing anyone other than my immediate family and my parents. My nerves feel a little shot by the voices of my darling children, I’m really feeling extremely done co-sleeping with my toddler daughter, and all three of them seem out of sorts and extra messy, wild, loud, disagreeable and irritable too. I think they also miss seeing their friends and going places.

With winter’s approach and the turn of the wind to cold, it has also come to my attention that I want to create some more sacred spaces inside my home. Before I began my woodspractice, I used to sit at my living room altar every morning and spend some time in prayer/reflection. Now, I’ve let it get a bit dusty and so over the weekend I spent some time cleaning it up and rearranging the items a little bit. Today when I sat down at my desk to work on my classes, I lit a candle and then designed to squeeze a little altar space in front of my textbooks 🙂

December 2013 001I’m having trouble allowing myself the moontime downtime my body calls for as well. Though I very nearly talked myself out of it AND very nearly apologizing for wanting to do it, I did carve out a small niche of time in which to participate in Paola’s New Moon Intention call this evening. I laid down with a heat pack with a candle December 2013 009and a pocket goddess sculpture as a tiny altar space and listening with my eyes closed to her voice and to the intentions of the other women in the virtual sacred circle. I’m glad I gave this to myself, even though it meant people were waiting for dinner.

Yesterday, I decided that I’m no longer willing to expect myself to be perfect. I’m done with that. I’m cleaning it out. Unraveling it from around my heart and brain. Done.

“Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” –May Sarton (in Open Mind, 10/25)

“It is a long baptism into the seas of humankind, my daughter. Better immersion than to live untouched.” –Tillie Olsen (in Open Mind, 11/8)

In keeping with the swirling change of the seasons, I fell in love with this amazing picture of Shekinah Shaking Out the Seasons by Caron McCloud (Shiloh Sophia McCloud‘s mother). For some reason it came to me today and I felt absolutely transfixed by it:

I hope there is a print of this available someday because it must go on my wishlist! And, I signed up for her free “7 day aliveness challenge” too.

Categories: art, family, introversion, moontime, nature, quotes, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Sunday Sabbath: Rest

June 2013 015

Surprise milkweed bloomed and looks gorgeous! (and yes, is almost never without a butterfly atop)

Clear your mind
rest your body
still your chatter
become fluid…

Opening to breeze
to the richness
of solitude

the messages
from butterfly wings

shadows making patterns
across rock.

Hold your place
hold steady
and watch the swirling change
around you
in hopeful majesty
and exuberant life.

Be still June 2013 054
let everything else fall away
let your body melt into rock
held by the arms of the earth
and spin through distant galaxies
with invisible

I’ve been out of town this weekend and with no opportunities to blog, though the thoughts of things to blog about continue to arise and I have a backlog of both pictures and recordings to get to, “someday.” Rest has been on my mind though as I gave a presentation about Moontime and honoring our menstrual cycles at the conference today, even though I’m actually at the most energetic and productive point in my own cycle. The “rest” poem above arrived as I was preparing for my presentation and packing for this trip, so it feels appropriate to post today.

As I shared during my presentation:

“…Could it be that women who get wild with rage do so because they are deeply deprived of quiet and alone time, in which to recharge and renew themselves?

Isn’t PMS a wise mechanism designed to remind us of the deep need to withdraw from everyday demands to the serenity of our inner wilderness? Wouldn’t it follow, then, that in the absence of quiet, sacred spaces to withdraw to while we bleed — women express their deprivation with wild or raging behaviors?…” –DeAnna L’am via Occupy Menstruation

The essay I finished writing while at Pismo Beach was up on Feminism and Religion earlier in the week. I struggled in the writing of it because I was in a different head space, not to mention literally in a different space, while trying to work on it. I felt distant, distracted, scattered, and unfocused while I was writing it and worried that that was what would come through. Instead, it became a cohesive piece that “flows really well,” according to the editor. Reading it now, it feels like someone else wrote it—I guess I did manage to get into the writing-zone after all, even with my mind being preoccupied with a different place, different subjects and different people…

In the aftermath of giving birth, particularly without medication, many women describe a sense of expansive oneness—with other women, with the earth, with the cycles and rhythms of life. People who become shamans, usually do so after events involving challenge and stress in which the shaman must navigate tough obstacles and confront fears. What is a laboring woman, but the original shaman—a “shemama” as Leslene della Madre would say —as she works through her fears and passes through them, emerging with strength.

[Monica Sjoo describes] the homebirth of her second son was her, “first initiation into the Goddess…even though at that time I didn’t consciously know of Her…”

via Birth as a Shamanic Experience by Molly Remer | Feminism and Religion.

This week I also put up a post on Pagan Families that was modified from my introductory post on this blog and I’m pleased to welcome new subscribers who found me in this way:

In late December 2012, I decided to begin a year-long spiritual practice of “checking in” every day at the priestess rocks in my woods. I committed to spending at least a few minutes there every day, rain or sleet or shine, with children or without, and whether day or night throughout 2013. I also decided to take a daily picture. My idea was to really, really get to know this space deeply. To notice that which changes and evolves on a daily basis, to see what shares the space with me, to watch and listen and learn from and interact with the same patch of ground every day and see what I learn about it and about myself. I want to really come into a relationship with the land I live on, rather than remain caught up in my head and my ideas and also the sometimes-frantic feeling hum of every day life as a parent and teacher. When I went down to the woods to “listen” to this idea, I spoke a poem that included the word “woodspriestess,” and I thought…hmm. Maybe this is what I’m doing. As I planned, I started this practice on January first and have not yet missed a day, except while traveling (and, then I bring a small rock from the woods with me so that I can still “check in” with them). In March 2013, I decided to do a thirty-day experiment in which I made a daily post/picture about my “woodspriestess” experiences. It was a rich experience in many ways. (The daily practice will continue through 2013, even though I have not continued writing on a daily basis after the March experiment)…

via Small Sacred Places.

This daily time in the woods provides a regular, daily opportunity for me to restif only for a few moments, and it is so nourishing and feels vital to my very being. I’m not sure how I was getting along without it before!

June 2013 005 June 2013 055

June 2013 044

At the river on Thursday.

Eyes open
ears open
heart open
mind open
spirit open

to miraculous possibilities
of being…

Categories: blessings, introversion, moontime, nature, poems, sabbath, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess, writing | 2 Comments

Womanrunes: The Box

May 2013 073

Today for the first time I also noticed that one of the large stones has a vaguely humanoid/female form.

Note: The beginning of the process originally described below evolved into a full-length book of Womanrunes interpretations and uses. The book and cards are now available on my business site here as well as via Amazon.

I’ve written before about my attraction to Shekhinah Mountainwater’s Womanrunes system. Information on interpreting them is limited—available is a small booklet containing the name of each rune and several associated words as meanings. Shekhinah’s book, Ariadne’s Thread, says that the womanrunes are very intuitive and can readily be interpreted in this manner. While this can be true, I’ve also observed that many women wish there was more explanation for each in the little booklet, beyond a couple of words. At our craft workshop last week, I took my bag of homemade Womanrunes with me and I envisioned working up a more detailed paragraph about each rune. That didn’t happen, since I was running a craft school after all, but I did bring this idea together with my previous idea about a post-a-day experiment drawing a divination card, rune, or CroneStone and sharing the results here. I decided that instead I will draw one of the Womanrunes each day and take it to the woods with me to think about and then I will share here what I come up with. After I manage to work through each one (could be tricky since I’m drawing randomly, at least right now!), I will then have created that booklet of paragraph-long interpretations that I’ve wished for 🙂 I’ve been doing this for several days already, but time to write has been extremely tight to nonexistent.

Today I got off-course at the beginning of the day in trying to help someone with a complicated situation in conjunction one of my volunteer roles as a breastfeeding counselor. It ended up taking several hours and involved more than 20 text messages and an email. I was very preoccupied with the situation, as well as with several other “must-dos” and I found myself lamenting about needing to set boundaries on my roles and that it is okay to say no and to hold my own boundaries. I’ve also been fretting over several other things and feeling very behind on life—the things I need to finish before leaving for California (grandma’s memorial, plus family vacation) actually feel beyond the capacity of one human to handle. Today I also needed to get ready for both my in-seat classes, catch up with my online class, and finish the preparations for our spring women’s retreat on Friday—which includes multiple small ceremonies within it. I did manage to also almost finalize the ceremonies I was working up for my grandma’s memorial services. I experienced a “boundary” issue with some of my students this weekend too and I honestly just felt like lying on the floor and saying, please let me rest. I need to stop, but I can’t say no. I can’t stop responding to people who need me. I feel almost helpless and paralyzed at the foot of this Mountain of Too Much. Yet, I keep going.

Anyway, I am not kidding when I say that the Womanrune I drew after this was THE BOX: “rune of limitation: stability, lessons, boundaries.” So, I went to the woods with it and this is what I learned:

The Box: rune of boundaries. Boundaries. Hemmed in. Closed off. Boxed off. Or: safe, protected, assertive. What do you need to stand up for yourself May 2013 068about? What do you need to speak out about? How do you own your own needs? How do you respect your own inner call? What you want to do. How you want to spend your time. The Box reminds us of the critical importance of saying NO and how that relates to our ability to stay alive, vibrant, connected, vital. In order to be of good service, in order to be strong and healthy, sometimes we will disappoint others, let them down, say no to good ideas, good projects, and even sometimes to legitimate requests for help. What does your body want from you? What does your soul want from you? What do you need? Heed that call.

Set firm boundaries, establish personal space, draw lines in the sand if needed. Mothers know, women know, that boundaries must too be fluid and flexible, because that which cannot yield when necessary, snaps and breaks. So make sure that in your effort not to become taken advantage of, you don’t also become shut off, boxed in, and unable to connect. We must forever balance the forces of separation and connection. Boundaries. Boundaries. Lines. Squares. Diamonds. Protective forces. Sometimes with sharp edges. Sometimes with assertive language, but blessedly essential to wholeness of being and defragmentation of self. Sometimes we desperately need The Box. And, so we refine these boundaries, hone them, trust them, own them, and respect them, in ourselves and in others, when that is what our lives call out for.

To the woods with me, I also brought several items gifted to me for my recent birthday. A mini rosebush from a friend and matching candles from another (one to take to the woods and one to take with me in my travel altar) as well as a niftiest mini crocheted Goddess of Willendorf from my mom.

May 2013 064   May 2013 069  May 2013 072

I also took a new statue of the Goddess Hathor, one I requested for my birthday specifically because she was advertised by as Goddess for the Exhausted. That’s what I need, I thought. Bring her my way! I had a lot of thoughts for her and recorded, I thought, about four minutes worth of musings about what is it okay to say no to, what is it okay to not do, but when I checked my phone I saw that I’d accidentally paused the recording 27 seconds in, so those insights have slipped away. (I record myself when I’m in the woods because I forget so quickly what it is that I say when I’m alone there.) I thought there was a bit of a “lesson” for me there too though—maybe I need to not try to type up those things I record! 😉 Or, perhaps her gift was allowing me to just speak and not have to transcribe. There was lots said about permission and not doing self-criticism or blame.

May 2013 067

Categories: friends, introversion, Womanrunes | 7 Comments

Sunday Sabbath: Sacred Words


In November of 2010, I attended at women’s spirituality retreat in St. Louis and we did an exercise in which we each wrote a “gift” on a piece of paper (following a guided meditation) and then put them into a communal bowl and each drew out another’s woman’s gift—like she had passed it to us. I drew out “sacred words.” My friend told me she thought it was perfect for me because talking to me about her own experience of spirituality had been deeply meaningful to her. When I got home, I started looking for study programs/schools online because I knew in my heart that the time had come to deepen my personal study and experiences. I ended up applying to Ocean Seminary College and being accepted into the doctoral program in Thealogy/Goddess studies. This weekend, I finished my eleventh OSC class. I’m almost finished with two more and currently enrolled in another two. After those classes, another 11 classes remain, plus a priestess practicum and my dissertation. I really feel grateful for my experiences and classes at OSC. They have helped me clarify my own vision, purpose, and direction as well as helped me develop skills, rituals, broader understandings, and personal practices. I’ve also branched out as a writer as a direct result of my coursework there. While anchored for several years in being a birth and motherhood writer, my woodspriestess project has its roots in my Ecology and the Sacred class at OSC. Writing this blog, as well as writing for Feminism and Religion and Pagan Families, is a direct result of my work with OSC and the opportunity it has offered me to deepen my own practices and understandings. The decision to apply and then to begin classes represents one of those pivotal life moments for me. It is also entwined with my priestess path, since it was from Global Goddess members that I learned about OSC in the first place and then in doing my work at OSC I gained the confidence to see that I was already functioning in a priestess role in my community and wanted to step more fully into that place, which led me to apply for ordination as a priestess with Global Goddess…it is like a lovely big circle 🙂

I had fun times at Tagxedo making the word cloud above out of my blog and also word clouds for my mom and grandma. And, I learned that this year is the 70th anniversary of the classic Myers-Briggs Type Inventory. I have my online students take this test every session and we compare our results and the overall class dynamic. In celebration of the MBTI birthday, they have cool little wordcloud heads available with your type. Here’s mine!20130412-105737.jpg

And, I saw this quote on Facebook and liked it!
And, speaking of words and wordweaving, I enjoyed this article about poetry in the schools:

Poetry builds resilience in kids and adults; it fosters Social and Emotional Learning. A well-crafted phrase or two in a poem can help us see an experience in an entirely new way. We can gain insight that had evaded us many times, that gives us new understanding and strength. William Butler Yeats said this about poetry: “It is blood, imagination, intellect running together…It bids us to touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrink from all that is of the brain only.” Our schools are places of too much “brain only;” we must find ways to surface other ways of being, other modes of learning. And we must find ways to talk about the difficult and unexplainable things in life — death and suffering and even profound joy and transformation.

via Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in Schools | Edutopia.

I still don’t think of myself as writing poetry and yet there it somehow is on almost every page of my blog… 😉

The trees are coming back to life!

The trees are coming back to life!

Beauty surrounds me
I am immersed in beauty
Tasting it
Hearing it
Feeling it fully
Through me
Around me
Within me…



Categories: introversion, nature, OSC, priestess, sabbath, spirituality | 1 Comment

Thursday Thealogy: Making a Place for Others


I went to the woods intending to take a picture of the setting sun, but I’d accidentally hit the reverse-image button, so my own face was looking at me instead. So, I thought…that’s most real!

 “…in listening you become an opening for that other person…Indeed, nothing comes close to an evening spent spellbound by the stories of women’s inner lives.”–Sacred Circles

This morning my attention was caught by this blog post’s exploration of becoming most real:

Becoming most real means becoming aware of what we are doing and feeling all the time. It means noticing not only our imagined or desired reality —the one we’re cooking up in our mind to soothe our discomforts and fears — but also the reality that actually exists, the one that is most real…

[during a stressful experience]…But then I asked, “What is most real?”

I noticed that I was feeling tense and stressed. That I knew already. But I also noticed that I was struggling to change things, trying to force myself to feel relaxed. And that was the key. Because then I went from being lost in the struggle to being aware of the struggle. I went from identifying with the struggling to identifying with my deeper self that sees the struggle. For a moment I was grounded in the unflickering flame of my true self. For a moment I achieved the very aim of yoga.

You can practice being most real by asking yourself, “What am I trying to feel right now, and what am I actually feeling right now?” These two are related: What you are trying to feel right now, or more specifically, the fact that you are trying, is what you are actually doing; it is most real. Most real is not the state you are trying to achieve but the state you are in. That’s where you’ll find the greatest vitality, peace, and happiness.

via Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi (book review).

I’m three quarters of the way through a year-long OSC class based on the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. We’re examining and practicing compassion to ourselves and in personal relationships, community relationships, and to non-humans. The subject of the sixth month  was, “making a place for others.” What does this mean? The author explains…

I began to notice how seldom we “make place for the other” in social interaction. All too often people impose their own experience and beliefs on acquaintances and events, making hurtful, inaccurate, and dismissive snap judgments, not only about individuals but about whole cultures. It often becomes clear, when questioned more closely, that their actual knowledge of the topic under discussion could comfortably be contained on a small postcard. Western society is highly opinionated. Our airwaves are clogged with talk shows, phone-ins, and debates in which people are encouraged to express their views on a wide variety of subjects. This freedom of speech is precious, of course, but do we always know what we are talking about?

Armstrong, Karen (2010-12-28). Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (Kindle Locations 1476-1481). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Previously used in: Plucking out the heart of mystery

I spent all month working with this idea and very often, I suck at it. One of the roles of a priestess is to hold the space for others, and I do find I am able to do that in a ceremony environment and also in a support group setting, but it pretty much ends there. This isn’t really new for me, when I worked in battered women’s shelters, I remember coming home and being aware I was monopolizing the airspace with my husband and saying, “I spend so much time listening to other people and their pain, that then when I get home I just need a space too and I no longer feel like I can give it to anyone else.” So, I feel as if my closest family members rarely get to experience my ability to hold a space for others, because they’re sort of forced into that role for me instead.

I’m really feeling exhausted this week. Worn out and beaten down. Incapable of keeping up. Dropping balls. Forgetting things. Having to leave things undone, unreplied to, unfinished, let go. Bad mother, bad wife, bad friend, bad person. I know from past experience that this isn’t a permanent feeling. It is directly related to not enough time at home alone and too much outward directed energy with no time to refuel and recollect my energy. Next week looks much the same. Some of it is self-imposed. A lot of it is related to other people’s expectations of me (or perceived expectations). I keep feeling as if I’m making the wrong choices, doing the wrong things, letting myself get scattered and fragmented and overwhelmed and panicky. And, as I write it all out, I then feel like I can see how my thinking is disordered and I feel judged.

What’s been on my mind today is listening to other people; making a place for others. I’ve been thinking about seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard, knowing and being known. About witnessing each other. But, is there really any way to see and to truly be seen or is it all so filtered through our own lenses and our own interpretations of experience that we all just bump around into each other’s “ice cubes” rather than actually connecting? (See Charlotte Joko Beck for the “ice cube” thing.) I’m such a self-monitor, the watching of myself becomes painful, and I feel inauthentic or critical of my own responses and being. I want to be able to connect authentically, to reach out and engage with others deeply, to have the same sense of understanding of other people as I have of myself and this patch of earth I live on. Today, in the woods I thought: this is just all so relentless. And, then I thought: yes, it IS relentless. Life is relentless. That is what makes it beautiful. I sometimes feel as if I’m becoming more and more distant and disconnected from people even as “connection” takes a prominent position in my thealogy and my values, and yet it feels so hard, and I feel so tired. And I want for everyone to get along and I want for everyone to be friends and I want for everyone to understand each other, I want for everyone to be seen and to be heard and to be known. I want this for myself and for others and yet, I can’t do it. Sometimes I feel separated from others by glass. The way I share my own feelings and taste my own experiences is through the written word. Companionship lately ends up making me want to run away (again, I know logically that this isn’t actually true, it is symptom of not having the two hours to myself that I need. Once I have some two hours I’ll be back and not at the verge of tears all of the time anymore). I want to separate right now. Separate so that I can write about connection…

What is real?


Sun on its way down.
I had a weird moment here in which I laid my head on my knee, where my phone was resting–both my eyes were open and because one of them was looking at the reflection of the trees/sky in the shiny front of the phone and the other was actually looking at the ground, it was like I could see the trees and sky superimposed on the leaves/rocks and it was very surreal. Since I was writing about perception and thinking, again, about subjective experience, it seemed like a fitting moment–one I wished it was possible to photograph too!

Feel your breath
feel your pulse
notice the butterfly
watch the hawk
hear the spring peepers
witness the sunset
listen for howling
give thanks for that relentless, hot, hunger
that fuels you
celebrate your own passion
and your refusal to stop trying
feel tears prick your eyes
feel tiredness sweep your body.
wind in your hair
life at your back and at your shoulders
hope on your lips
love is in your hands…

I can’t make a place for others unless I’m willing to make a place for myself.

Categories: family, friends, introversion, nature, Thursday Thealogy, women's circle, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Woodspriestess: Change

Tiny change may be invisible 20130326-145921.jpg
but impactful just the same
the sun emerging from behind a cloud
a bonewind stilling for a minute
shadows marking the ground
clouds drifting
bird song
rooster call
snow melting
ice dripping
breath moving

in and out…

There’s something in most of us that longs for some kind of solid core. Something to return to. Something to come home to. Something to rest in. Yet if the only constant is change, and you can never step in the same river twice, perhaps it is similarly unrealistic to expect to a steady core in personality or personhood. Or is there…


The river on my way home. This is the one that floods my road sometimes and that I can hear rushing from the woods.

Breathing in,
breathing out.
Heart pulsing.
Lungs moving.

Clouds cover sun
shadows fade to earth
airplane crosses broad sky
trees stand steady
My heart keeps beating
I breathe in
and out.

One of the things that has struck me repeatedly about my woodspractice is the constantness of change. Today, I had to look hard for it at first. I actually a sense of, “same old, same old,” when I first stepped out onto the rocks and thought that I couldn’t see anything new or different, but then I did notice and I did see. And, it is incredible how everything keeps moving, evolving, changing, adapting. It also surprises me, but maybe it shouldn’t, that later in the day my mom often accidentally brings up the very topic that was on my mind during my woodsvisit. Today we spoke about the changing texture of friendships and relationships and I thought about what I’d just thought about…that we may expect this “core” from people, that may not actually exist. Or does it, truly at some level? I don’t know.


Today I noticed the coming and going of shadows on the ground.


Kwan Yin at the chiropractor’s office earlier today.





Categories: introversion, nature, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Sunday Sabbath: Solitude


In entering this space alone
I feel I touch the spirit of this place
and it is in solitude
where I feel most authentically whole
at ease
secure in my inner wisdom
loved by my own heart
patient with my own soul
studying my own life
and my relationship to the sacred

Being alone is not lonely
it is being alive

When I’m alone is when I feel most real, most solid, most whole, and when I like myself the best. Somehow in relationship to other people, I never quite meet my own expectations, I don’t live up to my own standards, and I don’t necessarily live in complete accordance with my own values. When I’m alone, I’m whole and complete, I love myself, and I’m at peace. Who I am is good company. I’m smart, I’m thoughtful, I’m in tune with my body and with the Spirit. I’m in relationship with the world, to the sacred, to the Goddess. Then the swirl begins again with other people, suddenly who I am is not enough. Who I am is too critical, who I am is flustered, distracted, hurried, too busy, impatient, snappy, hard, selfish, all these things. So which one is it? Which one is real? It is in solitude that I feel most solid. How can I carry that sense of self, that sense of worth, that sense of serenity, that sense of grace, that sense of ease into the rest of my life, particularly into my life with my children? I told my husband the other day, “I think I’m a better writer than I am a person.” 😦

Anyway, I mentioned on my other blog that I recently finished reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea and I marked a whole bunch of quotes about solitude:

“Woman must come of age by herself…
She must find her true center alone.”

Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.

“I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.”

“How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

It snowed again today. I took a photo of my little snow-covered labyrinth as well as of the usual rocks!



Categories: family, introversion, nature, parenting, sabbath, spirituality, women | Leave a comment

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