Fire on the Mountain

What? It’s June already? How did that happen? I’ve been off being fiery. Yes, me, fiery; whad’ya mean that’s weird?! You’re right, of course.

My energies could usually be described as a fairly calm mix of earth, air and even a bit of water thrown in for good measure. But fire has been a challenge. Perhaps as compensation, I tend to surround myself with intensely fiery people (you know who you are; hey folks!). They help serve as catalysts to keep me moving on my journey, and I’m grateful for that. But beyond aspiring to be like them and knowing that I just won’t ever be that extroverted, I hadn’t worked much with my own inner fire. Until recently.

Actually, my path work at Reclaiming’s Vermont Witch Camp was the start of this recent work. I came back from that excursion feeling charged up with power-from-within, glowing with my own light and creativity. As described previously in this blog, though, I then went through a cycle of forgetting these lessons, getting ill and then reemerging to a new place on my path. Or as a “new me” walking my same path. Or something like that. So as that integration progresses, and with the help of a wonderful friend whose own expression of fire is more attuned with my way of being, I’ve been exploring my own fiery self. And I like it! It goes along with having gotten more physically healthy, too. I feel like my metabolism is functioning better than ever before. I’m able to be more active and still feel full of energy. Able to explore new areas in my life and still feel supported and fueled.

Last weekend I had a polarity session from a friend who is a healer, and she helped me to balance this new expression with the other elements in my energy system. That means I’m a bit more grounded, and can actually sleep better than I had been since Beltane (well, most of the time).

My next step is to recognize these new lessons. I have two plans in that regard: to get a new tattoo, of a small red and black lizard (think southwestern style), and to buy a drum and learn to play it. And of course, to enjoy the warmer sunnier lovely weather that we’ve been enjoying between bouts of rain. Summer rocks!

Rain, Rain

Another in quite a string of rainy days. I like rain, though, especially after such a lack of precipitation this winter. The trees and plants are soaking it up, and I know the next sunny day we have will glow with their green vibrance.

This morning we all slept in a bit, enjoying the downpour outside the window. The kids were up before Quester and I, amusing themselves until they got hungry. We had a lazy morning, with our favorite ‘Dead bootleg on the stereo. Crow was playing his Civilization conquest game on the computer. ElvenTiger made jewelry; she made a bracelet for me and a really pretty necklace for herself. Quester and I did some housecleaning and some reading. In the afternoon, ElvenTiger and I went and got some groceries while the guys went over to a neighbor’s house to play ping-pong. When we all got home, we made a batch of salsa (yum).

In the afternoon I felt a bit down, and rather sleepy, so I crashed in the comfy chair for a while and listened to music, did Reiki on myself, and dozed. ElvenTiger had her turn on the computer, then did some drawing, while the guys (and dog) went out again, this time for a rainy walk. Now we’ve had our dinner and listened to A Prairie Home Companion, and I’m writing this as Quester reads, Crow does some writing, and ElvenTiger wanders around talking to us.

A rather lazy day overall, but it seems that’s what I needed. With so much going on this Spring, internally as well as externally, it’s essential to have down time. When I was relaxing in the chair I realized that it had been a while since I just did nothing (aside from that quiet time before falling asleep). If it had been a sunny day today, we’d have been up early for Crow’s baseball game, then probably home to work in the yard, or perhaps off on a hike. All of which would be fun (well, except maybe watching kids play baseball :), but today I’m thankful for the respite provided by the lovely steady rain.

A New Poem I Wrote Yesterday

EarthFire

Dancing on the edge of fire
Isn’t as easy as it looks,
Nor as hard.
An art, to find that sure place within,
Just the right steps
To invoke heat and flame,
Warmth and pleasure,
But not the lethal inferno
That consumes as it purifies.
My feet grow weary,
My skin parched –
But I grin,
Warm to the bones,
Whirling to the rhythms
Of the earth’s deepest places,
The glow of the fiery core
Lighting my path
Along the edge.

Dancing with Change

I have an interesting relationship with change. For one thing, I do it a lot. I’m not the same person I was last week, let alone months or years ago. I feel that this is a good quality, as I like to think I’m learning and growing, and that changing my viewpoint or expanding my beliefs is evidence of progress. Though it does make consistency a bit sketchy; I have a poor memory for past events, and I think this is a part of it. Luckily, keeping several journals helps me with that, and I have a lot more room in my mind for being and dreaming and creating without all those pesky memories of other selves crowding the halls all the time.

Yet I am also an earth sign, and can sometimes be stubbornly resistant to external changes. I get into a certain flow of habits, and like to go with it. It can be disruptive to integrate something new, something that alters the flow. But of course, it can be a very healthy thing to get jolted out of a rut. And if the external change is something I actually enjoy, it’s easier to let go and learn to flow in a new direction.

Since having kids, I’ve gotten a lot better about not resisting external changes. No one changes more swiftly than little kids! Keeping up with their evolving personalities has been a blessing, allowing me to be more flexible with other changes in my life.

There seems to be a preponderance of change in my life this Spring, both internal and external. I relish much of it, and embrace the increased feelings of power-from-within that are buoying me up. And when I have felt that old stubbornness, that notion of wanting to dam up the flow of new energies, I’ve been able to release it and allow the story of my life to unfold as it will. After all, if the music never changed, the dance would be pretty dull.

A Good Omen

Last summer I went to a Reclaiming camp for the first time, Vermont Witch Camp (VWC) to be precise. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. My studies there allowed me to reach a deeper place of connection with Nature, and a more consistent experience of being in my entire body (I tend to reside in my head too much sometimes). Over the winter, I gradually forgot some of the feelings and lessons I thought I’d integrated. And when Spring began to emerge, I found myself physically ill (with various viruses) and mentally depressed and stuck in old patterns.

I’ve gradually emerged from the illness and, over the past few weeks, allowed myself to be reborn with the season. As that has happened, I’ve been working on how my heart and head can work together, rather than at odds with each other. Just recently, as I felt the stirring energies of Beltane and warmer weather, I’ve begun to really *feel* the way I felt when I came back from VWC. My energy system is more vibrant, and I can connect with Nature, including other people, in that deeply-felt way. Yet this makes “talking self” nervous, so I’ve had to really focus on relaxing my thoughts and balancing my energy system.

Today on my walk, I found a dead bumblebee on the sidewalk, and was reminded of the other two times this has happened over the past few years. To me, this omen is a message from the universe, a sign that I’m on the right path. A note from the Bee Goddess, telling me that the sting can be released, and I can taste the honey that is the result of this hard work. I was really thankful to hear that today, particularly after a few days of struggle between heart and head. I feel different yet again. My heart is open, my body breathing, and my mind, too, can sing. The drumbeat of the earth calls my feet to dance, and the dreams I find are ones of hope and joy and love. Blessed Bee!

Amazing Beltane

I’m up early on a Sunday when I don’t have to be, which for a night owl like me is just plain weird. But I couldn’t sleep any longer; I’m still filled with wild zingy energy from celebrating Beltane. I’ve had such a wonderful time, and I’m so thankful to be feeling so strong and happy.

Last weekend we went to an annual open celebration on a beach. There were 5 maypoles, and probably over 200 pagans there to celebrate. It was a warm sunny day, and I ran around with the SpiralScouts kids all day, dancing, playing kickball, and just generally having a fun day.

Quester and I had a terrific week. Spent a lot of time together, did our power yoga, connected to each other. He’s so kind and amazing. We had our final ballroom dance class on Wednesday, and went out afterward with K and T, and had a goofy laughter-filled evening.

Friday night was our coven’s Beltane ritual and celebration. I had such a blast. Ran around with kids again, and made R, an almost-three year old, giggle uncontrollably. Her 8-year-old brother M and I called Earth/North together; I did a series of warrior yoga postures while he did a kata with a plastic sword. I like those wordless active invocations, like the ones the dance collective and I did last year at Vermont Witch Camp. And right now, for me, the energy of Earth is all about feeling physically strong and powerful-from-within.

After the ritual some of us stayed up late and just hung out around the fire talking. I especially enjoyed connecting with B, who is becoming a cherished close friend. J ended up putting our kids to bed (big thanks!) so Quester and I could sit and chat with B and relax by the fire. The half moon was shining down through the oak and it was so lovely out there that I didn’t want to come in.

Yesterday LM and I went on one of our fun girls’ day road trips. She is such a blast to hang out with. We were having fun being silly and chatting about everything. Did I mention I’m really thankful for my community?! So many blessings. Thanks, and I hope your Beltane was as excellent as mine.

The Joy of Yoga

I’ve ramped up my home practice of yoga recently, with more vigorous posture flows and more challenging poses. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but Quester and I, back in the fall, had agreed to do yoga together on a regular basis. He was still working on releasing some recurring lower-back pain, primarily through chiropractic care, and wasn’t yet ready for vigorous yoga. But now that his back is strong and healthy (great Work, Quester!) we’re both ready for more of a challenge.

We’ve been alternating between a CD made by my yoga teacher, of her intermediate-level Kripalu yoga posture flow, and a “power yoga” DVD that I gave Quester for Valentine’s Day. Both have a lot in common with Astanga yoga. I took some Astanga classes a couple of years ago and loved it.

I’m happy to note that, while a few of the poses are a stretch (pun intended), I’m really in pretty good shape for this. It’s a good way to start the spring. And not only does my yoga practice support physical activity and wellness, but it helps keep my emotions on a more even keel. It enhances my spiritual practice, as well. I know many pagans who do yoga, and it seems to fit very well with my own personal belief system and priorities.

Some of the poses I used to dread are now among my favorites. I have short hamstrings, so forward bends with straight legs have consistently been difficult. But now I love doing forward bends, and while I’m still not able to place my hands flat on the floor (yet), I’m able to get a really good stretch. I’m now physically stronger than before, too. Holding some of the strengthening poses, like warrior, is easy. And I can even lower myself from plank to upward dog during the Sun Salutation, with ease and grace.

The best part about taking my practice to a new level is the sheer joy! It feels really good, physically and emotionally, both during the actual practice, and as I take that energy “off the mat” and out into the rest of my life.

Strong Women

I went out to dinner tonight with two of my favorite women in the world, my Mom and my friend LM. We had such fun! I love the conversations that evolve when women have time to sit and chat.

When I was younger, I didn’t have lots of girlfriends. I was too shy, and didn’t fit into the cliques in high school. But as an adult, I find I really value the women of my community. They are fun, fascinating, and very strong people. My yoga teacher was talking about how in this culture, we emphasize the masculine, physical, power-over type of strength. But in yoga (and in life as a whole) it is also important to honor the feminine, receptive, power-from-within strength; the kind that enables you to hold an asana for several breaths, with ease and confidence.

The endurance of women, on all levels, is amazing. I’m so impressed by how, in the most desperate or sad or terrifying conditions, women go on. They find that wellspring of strength that enables them to continue to tend the people in their lives, even when reality is falling apart around them.

My Mom, who is known as “The Miracle Lady” to her surgeons and nurses after she survived a horrific car accident a little over two years ago, is a perfect example of this type of inner strength. She has always been my role model, but seeing her now, and how her spirit shines even more after what she went through, is so inspiring. Even through a devastating situation like the accident, she has touched people throughout her community and beyond. She is truly blessed. And so am I, to have her here and to be her daughter. And to be part of a spiritual community that has so many strong women whose company I can enjoy and learn from.

Unschoolish Weekend in Progress

With Quester focused on his recording session with the band, the kids and I have been spending the first part of the weekend together. Yesterday they went up the coast with my parents, to see an old ship that’s docked in one of the quaint little coastal towns. Then, after I was done work, we went to our SpiralScouts meeting. We’re working on the birding badge, learning about birds in preparation for a visit to a bird sanctuary. Before the meeting, Crow was making some notes about the upcoming Beltane holiday. We listened to and talked about jazz on the way home. They had a late dinner and then we read. I’m reading them a Hardy Boys mystery, and “Eldest” by Christopher Paolini.

This morning (Saturday) Quester and Crow went to help clean up the town baseball fields in preparation for the start of the Little League season. ElvenTiger and I worked on some more bird pictures, and I read to her.

When it was time for some more recording, the kids and I headed out for the afternoon. First we did a short hike (more of a nature walk, really, just a couple of miles). It was a warm day, cloudy with the sun peeking through. We had fun. Then we went to get my brother a birthday gift; we’re celebrating at my parents’ house on Monday night. We also got a few groceries. After that we went to the movies and saw “Ice Age 2.” I thought it might be lame, being a sequel and all, but it was delightfully goofy and hilarious. We had fun, laughing throughout the movie.

We came back and, since the band was taking a break, I helped with some dinner preparations and other chores, and read a bit. The kids played outside. Dinner was homemade pizza, and I think some “dinner table math” was involved, too. After dinner, ElvenTiger played with a magnet set, and Crow conversed with one of the band members about the Great Depression and the Bonus Army March. We read our chapter books and now they’re all settled in for the night.

Tomorrow they’ll be with my parents again, as Quester and I are going off on a “real” hike (i.e. longer than ElvenTiger’s legs would be able to tolerate, especially as she’s still recovering from the flu). It’ll be lovely to have some “just the two of us” time. Not sure what the grandparents have planned for the kids, but it’s usually something cool.

Lots of the neighborhood kids are now starting a “school vacation.” We just “do school” as a part of life, and our next week will be filled with as much fun and learning as all of them are.

The Homestead

Right now as I write, Quester and the rest of the band are down in the basement, in their studio, recording basic tracks for the first Freakwitch album. I love having them here, working their creative musical magick. For many years, we’ve opened our various homes to Quester’s musical projects. When those homes were apartments or rented houses, there was always the concern that the landlord wouldn’t like it, or, since we lived in urban settings where the houses were close together, that the neighbors would be offended by the noise. But now that we’re in our own home, offering rehearsal (and recording) space is an even greater pleasure.

This place is very special to me. We built our house on land where my maternal grandparents lived. My Mom and Aunt gave us three acres on which to build (thanks, you guys rock!!!). My kids play in many of the same spots I did while visiting my Grammy at their age. I can sometimes feel her spirit, and that of Grampa, looking in on us and smiling a blessing. We often host family gatherings, such as the annual Thanksgiving feast; I love playing the hostess for family and friends.

Many of the members of our spiritual community live in a nearby city, and rent apartments. So I’m happy we can offer our home and yard for them to enjoy. We host many of the Sabbat celebrations here, around the fire pit Quester and some friends built the first year we moved in, five years ago. The circle around the fire pit is surrounded with 13 oaks, just babies now but placed so they’ll form a protective ring as they grow bigger. We even have a backyard stage, built of donated timber from a friend’s dismantled barn, for Freakwitch and others to play on at our big summer bash at Lammas.

I feel really blessed to live in this lovely space, to see the stars so vivid in the night sky, to hear the peeper frogs singing in the spring. And one of the ways I give back, and with joy, is to share the space with my community. So, “come on over to my yard, sit around, let your troubles all disappear.” Beltane is nearly upon us, and yes indeed, we do have a Maypole!