parenting

The Motheredness of the World

“…We were all held, touched, interrelated, in an invisible net of incarnation. I would scarcely think of it ordinarily; yet for each creature I saw, someone, a mother, had given birth….Motherhood was the gate. It was something that had always been invisible to me before, or so unvalued as to be beneath noticing: the motheredness of the world…”

–Naomi Wolf, Misconceptions

This quote from Naomi Wolf  as she reflects on an ordinary street scene and suddenly comes to understand the web May 2016 113of life and the universality of motherhood (even for squirrels!), forms a key part of my own thealogy as well as my ethics. I return to this concept of the invisible net of incarnation over and over. I am aware that some people critique mother goddess imagery as exclusive or reductionist, but I am of the opinion that Mother Goddess imagery is not specifically about women as mothers, but rather about the motheredness of the world. In this way, I do not find the image of the Mother Goddess (that web of incarnation Herself!) is exclusive, rather I find it exceedingly appropriate. It isn’t about a culturally constructed role, it is about the primal relationship. The root of life.

At Brigid’s Grove, we value, honor, and celebrate each turn on the women’s wheel of life, whether someone has children or not. There are many women’s mysteries and much goddess wisdom to explore at all ages, stages, phases, and family configurations. I find that to honor and celebrate one experience need not devalue or denigrate another’s experience, rather we hold multiple realities at one time. The journey of woman who has experienced infertility. The celebration of the woman who gives birth at home. The joy of a mother of many. The self-possession of the woman who is childless by choice. The wisdom and life experience of the sage woman crone. The priestess path as it is expressed in many forms of service, healing, wisdom, gifts, and ceremony.

I began my professional career focused on what I, as a still-teenage college student in Psychology, broadly described as “women’s issues.” This first was expressed in working in domestic violence shelters as an undergrad and then ongoing into my clinical practicum as a graduate student in social work. After I gave birth to my first son at 24, my passion shifted expressions to focus on childbearing women. After the miscarriage-birth of my third son, my passion expanded to the totality of the women’s life cycle and each person’s right to define and acknowledge the significant moments of their other lives, regardless of whether these passages, initiations, and rites are celebrated, held, or heard by the larger culture. This experience set me firmly on my priestess path. My walk through grief followed by my pregnancy with my daughter, led me to create goddess sculptures to honor experiences of all kinds–to form as sort of “3-D journal” of significant life events as well as connection to the Divine. Now, as I facilitate Red Tents and women’s rituals and work with women online in our practical priestessing and red tent courses, I am honored, humbled, and blessed to be a small part of the deep, diverse, rich, and powerful stories and paths of each of these women. There is so much goodness and courage to bear witness to in this world.

…See your worth March 2016 002
hear your value
sing your body’s power
and potency
dance your dreams
recognize within yourself
that which you do so well
so invisibly
and with such love…

(via: A Prayer for Mothers)

As I consider mothers, women, and women’s power this weekend, I have some additional resources and thoughts to share with you:

Other news:

  • The Goddess Magic Circle has begun and the experience we’ve been having so far are beautiful to witness! More than 25 women have joined the Circle from around the world and I love sharing sacred space with them. Registration remains open through the end of the month if you’d like to join us and create some powerful magic together!
  • I’m guest teaching with the beautiful Awen Clement for the Merry Moon MoonWiseWoman Circle.
  • Check out the recent Beltane issue of The Oracle from Global Goddess for many May articles and resources from goddess women across the country.

March 2016 001

Categories: family, feminist thealogy, Goddess, holidays, parenting, priestess, resources, sacred pause, spirituality, womanspirit, women | Leave a comment

Day 1: Inner Maiden (#30daysofspring)

I’ve been taking Joanna Powell Colbert’s 30 Days of Persephone’s Return course (and coincidentally reading a novel about Persephone that was free on Kindle recently). I’ve been posting in the companion Facebook group, but it is Day 7 now and I haven’t followed my old pattern and also made a companion blog post for each day. I miss that practice and the “stretch” required to post each day, even if I don’t have anything dramatic and exciting to post about. So, I’m going to go ahead and share posts for each day so far and hopefully continue with the daily post after that point (be prepared for a quick avalanche of posts all in a row!).

The first day drew our attention to the inner maiden. I offer an Inner Maiden workshop and do inner maiden work through both the Red Tent and the Womanspirit courses I teach. I feel like I struggle with the Maiden though–she feels far away and distant. Also, I have a five-year old daughter and sometimes I have to really catch myself to remember: I have The Maiden RIGHT in front of me. I think being a mother at this stage of life really kind of blends the question together–do I view The Maiden through the eyes of the mother-of-a-maiden, or as a once-maiden myself, and how do I connect with my own inner maiden while being so thoroughly immersed in mothering, including mothering-of-a-maiden…

The first picture I shared in the course is of my little maiden:

12798895_10208965294319589_7010341172583622105_nMy mom took it last spring, but it is the one that came to mind.

The second is the one I thought of when I thought about how I connect to the maiden within and it is in my laughter and letting go (I laugh frequently, but I let go rarely!) This picture was taken when my family was messing around with my dad’s jug band equipment (homemade musical instruments. I’m on the washtub bass! My husband is on the cigar box guitar he made from scratch and my kids are all joining in too):

1797387_10208965294799601_9138356937611042126_nThe third photo is me as a little girl (taller one) with my sister in our prairie dresses sewed by my grandmother so we could play Laura and Mary. My dad made us a covered wagon in a trailer too! I laugh because I only had one “real” prairie bonnet and dress as a girl, but I have three as an adult!

12809623_10208965295639622_7701230420725149565_nThe final picture is my response to the photo prompt. On the course’s opening day, we had been working on these rose quartz bracelets as gifts for the participants in the Pink Tent Circle this month.

March 2016 044

Categories: #30daysofspring, parenting, practices, sacred pause, seasons | Leave a comment

Day 30: A magical giftbringer (#30daysofyule)

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Where in your life might you be putting work before wonder?

The final day of 30 Days of Yule corresponded with the first day of the Womanrunes Immersion course. The first rune we study is The Tree. The Tree is special to me because I wrote the Womanrunes book surrounded by trees, in my sacred space in the woods behind my house. I was “named and claimed” by the woods in this way and they are my spiritual home, place of respite, solace, and restoration. My soul is replenished by my daily woodspractice.

I didn’t post immediately after reading the “work before wonder” prompt, but not because it didn’t resonate, rather that I thought about the question of work before wonder all day. I am the kind of person who always does what she “should” do first and it can be easy to miss out on wonder that way! That’s one reason why I’m recommitting to my 365 days in the woods Woodspriestess practice this year. I HAVE to allow myself to put the practices that nourish and restore me first–or, at least move them up in the day.

At the same time, I thought of my kids, my “magical giftbringers.” How often they need my attention and it is only half available to them because I always have so much to do in a day. But, then I also allowed myself to tune in to and appreciate the times I do enjoy wonder with them every day–and maybe don’t give myself credit for, caught up in the barrage of “should do’s” plus maternal guilt that tends to haunt many days. We have a home based life. We homeschool and we work from home–I spend 90% of my waking hours in the company of my family + 100% of my sleeping hours in the company of my youngest who sleeps in my arms all night long. Paradoxically, it can be hard to be “present” in the face of that much togetherness!

So, I took some moments to notice and bask in wonder. All four of them lined up waiting for me to read to them at bedtime.

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Reading at bedtime. We’re reading “Milly-Molly-Mandy Again” and “Wild Magic.” I read to them all for 30 minutes to an hour every night.

My arm curled around the baby as he fell asleep at naptime that afternoon. No matter how I might feel “not enough” in the course of any one day, it must be a pretty nice life to fall asleep on your mother’s chest–hugging you and smelling your hair.

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The final picture was taken on Christmas, but I included it here because that is the, “pick me up” face I see every day and it has a background of gifts, which seems symbolic and appropriate.

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Yep, of course I picked him up! But, I wanted to remember what it looks/feels like to have a little person reaching for me. It seems so commonplace and never-ending. I’ve had little people reaching for me with a very similar face for 12 years and counting. But, this is the last baby. And, the days of the intensive need for mothering will pass and this face and this reaching will be a memory and a past spin on my own wheel of life.

 

Categories: #30daysofyule, family, parenting, practices | 1 Comment

Day 17: Holy darkness (#30daysofyule)

 

 I’ve been feeling rushed for several days so late yesterday afternoon I went and sat on the back porch with my two youngest kids and my drum. We admired the nearly full moon and my daughter said, “let’s make up a new goddess song.” So, we sang and drummed:

I see the goddess in the moon

I feel the goddess in the earth

I taste the goddess in the wind

I hear the goddess in my heart

I touch the goddess in your hand. 

We drew oracle cards and inked them on our wrists. Then, she went in and I took the baby down to the woods where we sang and drummed as the sun went down and darkness fell. We sang:

Moon wise woman*

Moon wise baby

We are moon wise

We are moon wise.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

 

(*”Moon wise” from a new program being launched by a long distance priestess friend and for which I will be guest teaching in the spring.)

Categories: #30daysofyule, chants, drums, family, moon wisdom, nature, night, parenting, priestess, ritual, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 1: Stillness, Quiet (#30daysofyule, #30daysofdissertation)

IMG_968430 Days of Yule began today. I deeply connect with Joanna’s description of the twin moods of this season: “The deepest gifts of the midwinter holiday season are the twin companions of Solitude and Community. We need both.”

I feel these twin companion keenly at this time of year. My picture for today is also part of my 30 Days of Dissertation, because I’ve decided I’m raising a Goddess Temple here in the woods. For real! I’ve commandeered my children’s unused clubhouse (with their blessing/permission) and it is becoming beautiful, sacred space. I spent way more than 15 minutes yesterday working on the inside of it and I had such a wonderful time. I will write more about it soon.

Today, the day was actually anything but still and quiet. We went to St. Louis for a homeschool field trip to the history museum and were gone all day (I did manage to move some quotes from three different saved pdfs into my dissertation document). We were in need of a small adventure for our family after all of the busy-ness November held and so I have no regrets about being in the hustle and bustle of the city rather than the peace of the woods. However, I now seek the quiet of my bed, my thoughts, and the restoration of sleep…

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Carriage ride at the museum (with merry jingle bells on the large draft horses).

Categories: #30daysofyule, 30daysofdissertation, community, family, parenting, priestess, retreat, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

All you need to make magic…

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

–Starhawk

12273734_10208257980397183_3464865230043116217_oWe had a small family full moon ritual last night and incorporated a simple gratitude ritual into it. The sky was overcast so we couldn’t actually see the moon, but my four-year-old daughter wanted to get out glow sticks left over from Halloween. We had SO much fun dancing around with them and making patterns in the dark night! We sang a chant I recently made up:

Hallowed evening
Hallowed night
We dance in the shadows
We offer our light.

We did a simple gratitude practice by placing corn kernels in a jar, one for each thing we are grateful for from the past month. We started out slowly and taking turns and then we sped up and the gratitude offerings came tumbling out, over one another. Even the one-year-old added corn, rapidly yet with great concentration to make it actually go in the jar. We drummed and called out, “We are ALIVE! We are GRATEFUL! We are POWERFUL! We are CREATIVE!” When we finally decided to close our ritual and go back inside, the moon peeked out from behind the clouds to briefly say hello and it felt like a blessing on the magic we’d just created together.

As we went back inside, I felt relaxed, happy, and connected. For being something very simple, not particularly pre-planned, and semi-chaotic, it felt like one of our deepest and most connected personal family rituals. The quote above from Starhawk floated back into my mind and I reflected that when I try “too hard” to get things ready for a perfect ritual, I often end up feeling a little disappointed. Things might not work out as I envision or my kids might be as cooperative as I hope and it often takes longer than I expect. While I do enjoy getting some ambiance set up with candles, an altar, a mandala, or a fire, running outside with our glow sticks and spinning around together under the cloudy sky was more than enough to create a sense of magic.

I then stayed up too late coloring mandalas with my daughter from our new free goddess greeting card set. I’ve only recently discovered the magic of sparkly gel pens. Such delight!

12291710_10208257978597138_8682294194396026468_oSource for corn ritual: Some Quick Thanksgiving Magic – Jess Carlson

Another great offering from Jess, a free gratitude journal: End the Year with Gratitude! – Jess Carlson

A full moon ritual outline: Creative Ceremony Academy: Simple Family Full Moon Ritual – Brigid’s Grove

A gratitude ritual outline: Autumn Bounty Ritual Recipe (Fall Equinox Ceremony for Families) – Brigid’s Grove

New moon calendar offering: Free Calamoondala Class with Womanrunes Book Purchase

Come Join the Circle! – Brigid’s Grove

Categories: chants, family, holidays, moon wisdom, night, parenting, priestess | 1 Comment

Day 11: Daughters of Hecate (#30daysofHecate)

  
Maybe this picture seems a little “bright” for our themes, but I realized it is actually perfect for the photo prompt today! I’m getting ready for our first mother-daughter Pink Tent event tomorrow night. My husband made the new sculpture in the center of the photo especially for our circle. ❤️ The Womanrunes card I drew this morning was the The Dancing Women (rune of celebration), which felt very appropriate too. 

Mamapriestessing. 🌀

Categories: #30daysofHecate, community, family, parenting, priestess, red tent, ritual, women's circle | 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.

Categories: #30daysofHecate, family, parenting, sacred pause, seasons | Leave a comment

Day 2: Flaming torches (#30DaysofHecate)

Today is the first day of our Divination Practicum. This morning, when I saw that the photo prompt for 30 Days of Hecate was “flaming torches,” I thought: “what if I get The Flame today when I do my Womanrunes pull? Wouldn’t that be cool?” In the afternoon, I did a little ceremony to begin the course and what did I draw, but yes, The Flame! I just love cosmic winks.

In keeping with the themes of crossroads and thresholds and being “between the worlds,” I want to share a little story from tonight that is a reminder of how our “torches” impact others in surprising locations. (I teach on a military base.)

Me: drives up to the entrance to the Fort listening to “Amazon Warrior Princess” by Big Bad Gina.

Young army guy at gate: “that’s a cool necklace, what is it?”

Me: “which one?” (I’m wearing three)

Guy: points to the homemade spiral goddess pendant.

Me: “she’s a goddess.”

Guy: “neat. What does that mean? What does it represent?”

Me: has no elevator speech prepared that seems suitable for man with gun who is looking in the back of my car and inspecting my license. Say something to effect of, “oh, she represents honoring and celebrating life’s important transitions.”

Guy (enthusiastically): “oh! Could you make one that is a werewolf holding a moon?!”

Me: “we do make one holding the moon, but she’s still a goddess, not a werewolf.”

Guy: looks disappointed and sends me surreally on my way…

And, still reflecting on thresholds, on this day one year ago, I was forty weeks pregnant! I have now nearly completed a full “sacred year” with my baby…

On this day last year. Yes, I am wearing my same spiral goddess pendant from the story above!

*Blink* Suddenly, walking around dressed up like Draco Malfoy.

Categories: #30daysofHecate, night, parenting, sacred pause, seasons | Leave a comment

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 21: Dreaming (#30DaysofHarvest)

A wisdom whispers from the Dreamtime IMG_8151
calling me to ceremony and song
it flickers in the firelight
of ancient memory
rippling along my spine
dancing through my fingertips.

What is it that calls me in the night?
I look up
She’s pouring tea across from me
a patterned rhythm to her movements that speaks
of sacred knowing.

A door opens
She is ready to share
and yet, I slip away
through the undercurrents of time
falling down out of space
out of memory
out of song
and out of touch.

Landing
in a soft bed
my arm curled around my nursling
hearing his breath in the dark
and wondering
what I am missing
what I’m forgetting
and what remembering is right here.

I’ve been craving solitude and time alone to simply think. My dreams have felt very significant and yet skitter away from me during frequent night-wakings with my nursling. They roll just out of my reach and dance at the edges of my consciousness with the promise of something forgotten…

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, endarkenment, night, parenting, practices, sacred pause, self-care, theapoetics, womanspirit | Leave a comment

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

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