The theme for Day 7 was Garden. I have lots of pictures for it, but not a lot of words. We have been working outside every day and enjoying it so much. Planting fruit trees. Mulching. Pulling up old things in the garden. Putting down new rows in the greenhouse. Planting lettuce and peas in the greenhouse. We’re planning to finally get catfish in the aquaponics system this year. The goldfish we started with are massive. They were originally tiny little 50cent “feeder” goldfish. Now look at them!
My friend made this meme for me last month using a quote originally part of a blog post I wrote called Thealogy of the Ordinary, and later used in my Earthprayer book. I thought it was perfect for today*!
Had a truly beautiful day of ceremony and restoration today. I keep trying to take a “day off” and totally failing. Today made up for it as well as reminded me why I can NOT accept letting go of my personal magic in order to “get things done.” Went on a mystical morning walk into the deep woods with my husband and our youngest child. Did a sacred bathing ceremony of renewal for myself. Then, did a lunar priestess ritual in my tiny temple, but invited my husband to participate. We meditated, passed the rattle, chanted, did some candle work, and then listened to a shamanic drum journey together. I didn’t see a lot visually during the journey, but I did have really dramatic physical sensations around my forehead, the top of my head, and my “third eye” as well as hearing flute music (in addition to the drum, even though there was only a drum!)
I finished three intense projects and went on a big vacation as well as finished up a class (including final paper grading, etc.) what seemed like all at once and I feel like I dipped too far into my “reserve” energy and even went beyond it in order to get it all done. Very depleted. I also noticed it helps to acknowledge: “yes, it makes sense that you feel depleted. That was a LOT to do. It’s okay that you feel that way.” I think I had been feeling annoyed with myself for feeling depleted or like I “shouldn’t” feel that way!
Anyway, a little dedicated attention to my own renewal goes a long way! I will not neglect it again.
(*actually from March 13)
I took this photo at tonight’s* Pink Tent Circle and then laughed to see how it literally portrays an edge between winter and spring–the feet with socks and the bare feet!
Not a lot of time to write. Feeling the tug of springtime and bird song and yet feel I’m spending too much time indoors, when my soul longs for the peace of my cherished woods. Had a long conversation with my husband tonight about restructuring our schedule and boundaries to allow me some more time off for renewal and self-care. I know from past experience that it is ME who has to make my woodstime a priority. The whole family, and my work, benefit from the solace and wisdom I find there and yet…I keep holding it away from myself like a carrot on a stick…my reward that I have to earn each day and sometimes don’t get around to. That changes NOW. I tried to change it last month, but dissertation writing and business preparation before going on vacation precluded the reinstating of my woodspractice as a daily priority rather than a scrap at the end. My self-care feels like it has really suffered in the last month and I’m really feeling the emotional impact of that neglect tonight.
So, I’m recommitting here and now! Thanks for witnessing me.
(*actually March 11. And, yes, I know I also said several months ago that I was recommitting to my daily practices. Took a while for my promise to actually catch up with me!)
While it isn’t exactly returning from the “land of the dead,” I am still engaged in The Return journey from the vacation we went on at the end of February. It is amazing how long it takes to catch up/return from taking time off. Additionally, it keeps be highlighted for me how often I bargain with myself to “earn” the right to a break–including sometimes eating breakfast! I’m ready to alter this pattern and to honor space and time for rest and renewal in my life regularly, instead of “earning it” by catching up with all my work and doing all my to-dos!
My work, life, and play are so intertwined and interconnected though it can be hard to differentiate “work” from “renewal,” which is a good thing (most of the time). For example, today* I finished packing and shipping kits for my upcoming classes and I love creating and sharing these things with others.
At my baby’s naptime, rather than get out my computer for more “catch up” I got out my clay instead and sat next to him in bed creating some new sculpture prototypes including some meant to be supportive companions for hospice settings.
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:
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):
The 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!
The 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.
Something waits beneath the surface of your life. If you listen, if you’re quiet, you can hear her breathing. Stretching out, reaching forth. Change. It is coming. Peeking up from beneath the soil, a tender green shoot of possibility and promise, waiting to be nurtured. Do you have room for new growth? Are you able to water and tend to your dreams? Are you able to let light shine upon them? What in your life may be withering from neglect? What has attempted to sprout, but has been cut down, or uprooted, or malnourished?
–Molly Remer, Womanrunes
Imbolc, or Brigid’s Day, brings a reflective pause. Time to sit with your dreams. Time to look at the “seeds” of possibility in your hands and decide what you are going to plant. What needs some time in the deep, dark earth in order to grow? What are you incubating within your own deepness? In honor of this time of year, we created a special card layout themed around the The Seed rune. You can use any of your cards with it, but it works very well with Womanrunes. We have a full page worksheet for it and then the same layout on a half-size worksheet (for tucking into your journal).
May you enjoy a peaceful pause for contemplation today!
Also: we’re celebrating Brigid’s Day and our Business Birthday with an all day Customer Love event today: giveaways via Facebook and Instagram + a Brigid’s Day ritual kit in your email as well as 20% off in our shop with code BRIGID and a 99c deal on our original Ritual Recipe Kit ebook. Enjoy!
Happy New Year! I’m catching up with a few days of posts from 30 Days of Yule (which actually comes to its end today). One of the fun things about this class has been the opportunity to practice with thematic layouts for Tarot/oracle cards. For the New Year, in addition to determining my “card of the year,” I also used this spread provided by Joanna:
1. What do I leave behind in the Old Year?
2. What do I open up to in the New Year?
3. Key Opportunity of the New Year
4. Key Challenge of the New Year
5. Hidden concern (pull from bottom of the deck)
6. Deep Wisdom / Advice from God/dess (pull from middle of the deck)
7. Key Theme of the New Year
— JPC, The Gaian Tarot
I did this reading in bed next to my napping baby and found it hard to get a clear photo of it. I also had a headache and was in a bad mood and I think that impacted my results! All of the tarot cards were reversed, which I found interesting. The six of water that showed up at the end not reversed wasn’t part of the spread instructions, but I laid it out accidentally and so I kept it as an additional inspiration for the new year. I drew four fire cards from the Gaian Tarot and three hearts from Womanrunes, which was another interesting connection.
We did a lot of goal planning, as I am wont to do on New Year’s Day, and so I appreciated the reminder from the seven of air to “make my plans but leave room for serendipity.” The 8 of Fire also reminded that I may be rushing others and not overlook the inspiration! This pairs with the Yoni from Womanrunes which reminds me of the role of pleasure in life. The Lovers + the winged heart (rune of ecstasy) showed up in the first position and I don’t totally get them, but perhaps I need to leave behind not taking ample time for love? (Or, possibly only that I was feeling in a crabby mood with my husband that day.)
Not surprised at all to see The Flying Woman turn up as the key theme card! In the same position the reversed Four of Fire suggests feeling depleted and worn out and need to take a stand for myself. Fly, woman, fly! Another funny overlap was in the challenge section in which The Box (rune of boundaries) teams up with the Two of Fire reversed, which reminds me that, “no may be the best response.”
All in all this reading actually felt more relevant to the current week (or even just the day I did it!) than to the whole year! I might do it again next week or try a different format for a new year reading, because I feel like my subconscious focus was on this week and that the layout didn’t speak to much beyond that at this point (as a week’s reading it was very accurate though!).
In notes relating to the “12 omen days,” I remembered something I meant to share. On Christmas Eve we went to town to see Star Wars. On the way, within about a seven mile stretch of road we saw a dead coyote, a dead owl, and a dead hawk. It is uncommon for me to see birds of prey as road kill and I wondered aloud if perhaps they had been purposely shot and killed. We almost stopped to pick up the owl, but it is illegal to have feathers from them, so we didn’t. I still feel sad when I think of it there.
However, on the 30th, after the flooding in Missouri, I drove back to town and in almost the exact locations, except reverse order, I saw a live hawk and a live owl. I wonder if coyote was there too and I just overlooked her! I often see hawks, but owls, especially in the afternoon, are much less common sights.
Then, that night I dreamed of eagles, filling the trees at a nature preserve. A man behind me on the path told me excitedly that the preserve was being opened to hunters. For a certain price, you would have six chances to shoot an eagle. “That doesn’t sound like a good idea,” I said. “Oh, we’ll only shoot the bad ones,” he replied.
Anyway, I just wanted to share these experiences as well. Not particularly earth-shaking, but the memory was triggered and I felt prompted to share!
We had a small Yuletide ritual last night with extended family, celebrating 2015 and welcoming 2016. We made our manifestation ornaments and walked a slightly belated solstice spiral together (I did the outdoor spiral with my husband and kids on Dec 21st, but this ceremony was planned to include my parents and my brother and sister-in-law who couldn’t come until this past weekend). We sang blessings together and upon leaving the spiral, each person got a little medicine bundle that I had made for them with some stones it in.
My own little bundle, randomly selected, surprised me with my second augur/omen like I included in my post yesterday. It is The Flying Woman again! In the close up, you can just spot her to the left in the carnelian stone, arms upraised in transformation. ❤️
First, a beautifully written, evocative blog post about the ongoing spiral of initiation in leadership…
What does it mean to be initiated? To go through a rite of passage? What does it mean to stand up, to be seen, to be a leader? What does it mean to have the Mysteries revealed to us?…
I believe at one point in the ritual, one of my mentors said something about how initiation and ordination is about becoming someone who can’t unsee your impact. That you can’t go back to the person who can pretend that you don’t have power, you can’t go back to pretending that what you do doesn’t matter…
Source: The Heaviness – Rites of Passage
Then, one about the liminal space of this week between holidays:
The most subversive thing is silence. In this odd interregnum, in the days caught between Christmas and new year, the world suddenly falls quiet. Unless you are determined to face dubious sales, there is nothing more to buy. Travel, especially if you use public transport, is curtailed. We are forced to look at ourselves, to our own company, and those nearest us.
And, another about the value of solitude for parents, reminding me of my thoughts about my room of my own:
Solitude is like punctuation. A paragraph without periods and commas would be exhausting to read. In the same way, conducting relationships without the respite of solitude can lessen the benefits of those relationships. Downtime is important for you and your kids. They benefit from solitude too. Taking care of your own solitude will not only help you restore yourself but also show your kids this positive model of self-nurturance
Here is a past post about Frau Holle as well, who was one of the topics of our day 22 lesson: Source: Goddess Wheel of the Year: Winter Solstice Ritual | WoodsPriestess
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
(by Susan Pesznecker)
I arise today
through the strength of the heavens;
light of the sun,
splendor of fire,
clarity of ice,
speed of the wind,
depth of the snow,
stability of the earth,
firmness of the rock.
The light has returned!
We’ve set our etsy shop to vacation mode and are taking the next week off to enjoy an assortment of holiday festivities with our family! Here are some resources that we are using:
- We have a lot of winter holiday traditions that we enjoy on the winter solstice each year: Family Winter Solstice Ritual Outline
- I enjoyed taking this free mini-class about Yule: Joyful Yule!: Getting to Know the Sabbat
- I’m looking forward to working through this free workbook: Unravelling the Year Ahead| SusannahConway.com
- As far as workbooks go, we are also going to dig into our most fabulous and most helpful Leonie’s Shining Year Workbooks. (affiliate link included)
- And, as already shared, but worth sharing again, we created two seasonal freebies for our Creative Spirit Circle! Enjoy!
(*Paganized version of the Lorica of St. Patrick from a new book by Susan Pesznecker: Yule. A Lorica is a “breastplate,” a type of “word armor” for protection)
More than anything, I am the Lightbringer, who appears mysteriously out of the darkest night with hope and sustenance for all.
— Joanna Powell Colbert, A Crown of Candles: How to Throw a Fabulous Lucia Party
Simple rituals can be so powerful. Last night, the third candle on our advent Yule log was lit in honor of St. Lucia’s Day. We say a variation of the Buddhist metta prayer to go with our candle-lighting each Sunday. We followed this mini ceremony with slices of a Baumkuchen German cake from Aldi and mugs of mocha Teeccino (chicory “coffee”).
My daughter made the candles on the log with the help of my mom. And, joining our Yule log centerpiece is this “opalite” goddess that Mark just cast last night. We created so many that were sent out all over the world during our Nov 1-Dec 1 goddess holiday ornament event, but we hadn’t yet made one to keep! She’s it!
- Black and white and color versions of two different card designs
- A black and white Celtic Roots card specifically for winter (this is my favorite!)
- Three coloring pages to offer you a sacred pause in the midst of holiday hubbub.
- You can also download a goddess mandala desktop background
The cards are laid out to print two to a sheet. Simply cut the pages in half and then fold and, voilà, you have nifty greeting cards ready to send or give to friends. You may color the designs or leave them in simple black and white. Or, print out the already colored versions.
- Cut out the circles on the cards, color them, and make them into bookmarks for your women’s circle or to have an easily mailable, simple, cost-effective tiny present for the holidays. After coloring, mount the circle onto a bookmark length piece of cardstock and laminate (or, simply cover on both sides with clear contact paper). You can also embellish with stickers, affirming messages, and additional drawing, doodling, or collage. Gel pens are amazing for coloring these, but regular markers or colored pencils also work. I incorporated Womanrunes into some of my bookmarks.
- Have coloring pages or cards available at your holiday event and encourage people to take some time to relax and enjoy coloring together.
- Print a batch of cards out in black and white and have them available for quick notes of affirmation, greeting, or inspiration, and tuck them in with other mail that goes out for the holidays.
- A doula friend is printing the “Peace on Earth” birth goddess mandala cards to send out to local hospital staff as her holiday greeting this year. If you’re a doula or childbirth educator, you may wish to do this too!
- Let your kids color pages or cards to give to others as simple gifts (my daughter has been making bookmarks with me).
- Feel free to share your finished designs with us on Instagram using #brigidsgrove or #creativespiritcircle
I recognize that I am feeling a little sad and wistful that this month feels so “sped up” to me. I welcome the hibernation and incubation of winter, but the to-dos keep on coming. On Wednesday night, I stayed up late “catching up.” Last night, I honored my need for rest and decided to just go to bed instead of starting the “second shift,” that the push-y part of myself always urges me to do. I remembered that fifteen minutes of dissertation work doesn’t have to be sitting at my computer, but instead I read part of Drawing Down the Moon, by Margot Adler (a book I’ve never read. <gasp> Surely I “should” have read it before now?!) and decided that would count for the day.
A little earlier that evening, we got the beautiful picture above from one of the first women to buy one of our priestess initiation robe blessing bundles. I looked at it and realized that it is was lovely match for Day 4’s photo prompt. I “pass the torch” and light the flame in many ways through my work and it is gratifying and humbling and beautiful and powerful. I am honored to bear witness.
I also recognized that my most recent Feminism and Religion post about family ritual is also about passing the flame and lighting the torch (especially if the torch in question is actually a leftover glow stick from Halloween!): All We Need to Make Magic
As a side note about the hibernation urge–I recall from many past turns of the wheel that this is my usual feeling in December: anticipatory of hibernation and “slowing down.” Longing for rest, contemplation, and restoration. But, then really, more to do than ever before. But, then in January and February is when the hibernation actually comes. I usually do a personal renewal retreat in the first week of February. The beginning of January feels open and full of promise. It usually snows and we quite literally can’t go anywhere and so the hibernation I keep craving is then an enforced-by-Nature one. In fact, I think I’m going to “officially” release the idea that I should be resting and reflecting right now and trust the memory of restoration and the promise of winter’s incubation which is still to come.
It is as though the world sleeps under a gray cloak. Everything is still and silent. It is as though the world sleeps under a gray veil. . .
Life has moved to the center, to its hidden darkness. Bulbs rest, roots sleep, trees go dormant. Stillness settles over the world.
— Patricia Monaghan, “Winter,” Seasons of the Witch
The sculpture above was created in black by special request for someone who is in a Cerridwen priestess program. I find her to be a powerful evocation of the mood of this time of year as well.
As I noted yesterday, the twin pulls of withdrawal and community are strong for me at this time of year. I crave silence and time alone to work and think and be. I also am filled with ideas for celebrations and events and activities with friends and families. Creating my workspace in my clubhouse-turned-goddess-temple is one step that honors both needs: time apart and away to withdraw into myself and work, while at the same time holding the potential of being a gathering space for a (small) group.
Today, I left the door open so that I could hear the birds and the breeze while I typed at my little desk. I had to prepare a final exam for my class and so the bulk of my alone time was spent on that project. But, I also managed to pull in some notes from a review of the book Portrait of a Priestess by Joan Connelly (reviewed in the Journal of Law and Religion). I didn’t really enjoy her book myself, it was dry and ponderous, and it was kind of nice to read about it through someone else’s perception–I feel like I may have gotten more useful nuggets from the review than from the book itself! I noticed throughout my coursework at OSC that the classes that focus on history were the least enjoyable to me. I don’t find that I personally need historical validation to “legitimize” my own life/path. Connelly’s book focuses in exhaustive, painstaking detail on the lives of priestesses in Greece. The subtext being, to me, that if we can prove that there were priestesses in Greece who were respected and had authority, independence, and agency then this justifies the existence of present day priestesses. I don’t find the justification particularly necessary, especially since data is slim and contextual and cultural factors have such an influence. (It isn’t that it isn’t valuable or relevant or good information to have, it is just that my personal need for this information as a form of justification, validation, affirmation, or legitimization feels low and I therefore have trouble feeling passionate about it!)
From the review:
The religious activities of priestesses listed in Chapter Six, for example, are organized in the following categories: procession (167), prayer (173), libation (176), sacrifice (179), ritual feasting (190) and benefactions (192).
These are interesting and relevant, but do not dictate present-day behaviors or roles, to my mind. I need to do some work and “unpacking” of how I will weave some priestess herstory into my dissertation (I do, in fact, usually specify that my research is on contemporary priestessing in the US. However, this doesn’t mean that I want to ignore looking at the ancient thread of lineage and purpose that connects us to priestesses of other times and places…).
Have I mentioned what a big project this is? Luckily, my 30 days and fifteen minutes plans both make it feel doable again instead of impossible!
We rest in the shadows
We offer our light.
30 Days of Hecate was the first 30 days class that I haven’t kept up with in terms of taking a daily picture and making a daily post. This is partially because the heavier themes required more thought and a certain amount of vulnerability that I wasn’t always prepared to take time for. And, perhaps silly, but since I usually share the photo of the day on Instagram, which I also use for business, there were many prompts that didn’t fit with the overall mood and feel of my Instagram page. Also, this was the first class for which there was a Facebook group, so even though I didn’t post on my own blog every day, I read other people’s posts and reflections and thought about their pictures and insights each day, meaning that all things considered I may have spent more time involved in this course than ever before, even though my visible output and personal work was lower. This was more of a communal experience for me than a solitary one, which is interesting both in considering the themes (which I should maybe have taken more personal time for) and also because of how much I’ve valued the personal practice of the previous 30 days courses. I look forward to having that again, though I also wouldn’t trade the communal experience, which has been much bigger and more beautiful than I imagined it could be. I’ve already signed up for the next offering: 30 Days of Yule ~ A Daily Sacred Pause to Welcome the Return of the Sun
And, finally, in more practical terms, we were overwhelmed with Christmas ornament orders, which pared most of my personal practices and personal time down to almost nothing, by necessity. There were many nights where I fell asleep with my phone in my hand, after packing orders until 11:00, blog screen open, but untyped in….
Something I am left with after this course is the amazing Hecate chant I learned about via the 30 Days Facebook group. It is really powerful: For Tara – Hecate Chant | Sharon Knight