Gender Confusion

So, Matt took the cats to the vet for their checkup. I get this voicemail on my work machine (said in a laughing singsong voice): “Mystic is a boy!”

Stunned silence.

Er, OK…

Now we’re having a really challenging time trying not to say “she” and “her” and getting used to “he” and “him.” This poor cat won’t know what gender he is…especially once he’s old enough to get neutered.

Meow!

Barefoot Hiking

Last summer at a Reclaiming witch camp, I (re)discovered the joys of going barefoot. It was a very rainy week, and the terrain was hilly, rocky and muddy. Soon all three of the pairs of shoes I had brought (sandals, sneakers and hiking boots) were completely soaked through, and the notion of dry socks was a laughing matter. So, I decided to go barefoot. My studies that week were focused on connecting with nature and the divine, and I soon found that having my skin directly connected to the earth with each step was a profound experience. By the time I came home, I could hardly wear shoes at all. The chakras on the bottom of my feet were wide open and the energy between myself and Mother Earth was flowing freely.

Over time, as the weather grew colder and wetter, I forgot about going barefoot. During the winter, I resumed wearing socks and shoes, and wore slippers in the house so that my feet would stay warm. I ordered some new Birkenstocks online, thinking ahead to spring, not recalling the way my feet felt on the cool grass. Spring came, and it was rainy and cool, so I stayed with socks and close-toed shoes. But at last, the sun peeked through, and I started hiking.

Not wanting to get my new Birks muddy on a hike with Quester, I decided to take them off and put them in my backpack. Within moments, I could feel the energy of the forest more strongly: the trees breathing, the earth’s heartbeat, the life force of the moss and flowers, the humbling strength of the rocks. My awareness continued to expand as I walked, placing each foot as if in a moving meditation. As my consciousness shifted, colors seemed brighter, my love and joy for Quester seemed bigger, and I could feel the attention of the Goddess upon me. Barefoot hiking made a beautiful day even more magickal and meaningful.

Recently I was able to introduce a close friend of mine, B., to the pleasures of barefoot hiking. Getting past the initial discomfort of roots and sharp stones, he opened himself to the experience, as I had done at witch camp. I could see the shift in his consciousness as he allowed the direct connection with the earth to flow up through his feet. We also did some silent hiking, which again expanded our awareness of the energies surrounding us and connecting us. The cool mud soothed our feet, and we headed for low spots on the trail, rather than going around them. Flat rocks in the sun also became favorite spots for a moment of rest, and we picnicked with our feet in the stream, feeling ourselves fully open to all of the elements: the cold water, hot sun, soothing breeze, and patient rocks.

The reaction of the other hikers was interesting and amusing. Most people were incredulous that we would hike barefoot, and said things like “you must have really tough feet!” One woman said she “could never do that,” to which B. quipped, “sure you could, just take off your shoes.” A little girl told my friend intently “you have mud on your feet.” An older woman stopped us to tell us about a friend of hers who always hiked barefoot, and who had written a philosophical treatise about the benefits. That led me to do a little bit of research when I got home, and I found a cool website, Barefoot Hikers.org, that will give you more information if you’re interested.

Hiking has long been one of my favorite summer activities, and now it has taken on a new dimension, directly related to the energy work I’ve been doing. Go ahead and try it, with a friend or on your own. Or if you don’t hike, take a barefoot walk around your yard or a park. Open yourself to the loving energies of the earth, grounding and releasing with each deliberate step. Enjoy the warmth and aliveness of the earth at this vibrant time of the year.

Authentic Service

As I learn more about my fire and my will, and explore what it means to be fully myself, I’m finding an interesting balance between self and service to the community. In the past, I tended to err on the side of being a bit too focused on other people’s needs and desires, to the detriment (sometimes) of my own. That type of selflessness can backfire, because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can burn out and then not have any more energy to give, whether you like it or not (been there, done that).

On my new path, there are times when it feels like I’ve gone to the other extreme, being selfish to the exclusion of the needs of my family or friends. This has been pointed out to me a couple of times recently. And of course, that taps into my old pattern and I feel horrible about it, and start to question my new way of being in the world.

But, as my dear friend B. says, there is a middle path, that of ““self interest.” As I’m learning, this is a way of being that takes into account one’s own needs and desires, and pursues them in a way that is in sync with the needs and desires of loved ones and the greater community. It allows for service to community, but in a way that “feeds” one’s energy rather than drains it.

I can take the energy I get from doing what empowers me personally, and feed it back into helping others with their work. That way, everyone benefits. And I’m being more authentic in the world, by acknowledging and acting upon my own desires, exercising my will in a positive and sustainable way.

It’s still a work in progress, this new way of approaching my life. Feedback and suggestions are certainly welcome!

Quick(paw) Kitten Update

Little Mystic Quickpaw has swiftly found her place in our home and hearts. The two older cats are still not sure; they hiss at her and give her disdainful looks, to which she looks up at them like “what? I’m a cat, too!” But she and our dog Star are, unexpectedly, very good pals. They play together, chasing each other around happily whether indoors or out. Quester says they are the “black and white team,” since they are both the same colors. Plus they are the youngest four-leggeds in the house, so there is a lot of playful energy. Mystic has to hide herself away when she needs to sleep, because the kids are so enamored of her that they won’t leave her alone very long. She has had her first tree-climbing adventure; Crow climbed up to fetch her down. She goes outside, and sleeps with ElvenTiger every night. She’s a sweet little cat, and I’m glad she’s here to live with us.

Meow!

Mystic Quickpaw

We got a kitten this weekend! After some deliberation, her name is Mystic Quickpaw. We’re reading Christopher Paolini’s “Eldest,” and really like the two werecat characters in that book. Solembum is the male werecat’s name, which didn’t seem to work for a girl kitten. The female werecat who hangs out with the elves in Ellesmera is Maud Quickpaw. I didn’t really like the name Maud, though (and the name didn’t seem to go with this kitten’s energy and personality), so we decided on Mystic as her first name.

She is black with white paws and some white on her chest and belly. We got her through someone my brother works with, and two of her siblings (Puss and Vinegar, or Vinnie for short) were adopted by my parents. The kids are SO excited about her, and I share their enthusiasm. Our oldest cat, Huzzah, was around before both of the kids, and we got Penny when Crow was only two, so he doesn’t remember. So this is their first kitten. When we saw how excited they were about my parents’ kittens, and then found out another one would be available, we just had to get her.

She seems to be adjusting well to the family so far. The kids have a really hard time leaving her alone long enough that she can sleep. But she has adapted, going off to find a hidden spot for her cat naps. She’s an Aries, having been born sometime in early April. Her personality so far goes along with that, being fairly fiery and independent. And of course, curious. She is brave enough to go up to Star, our dog, and check her out briefly before dashing away again. Star is a bit intimidated by this tiny creature. She seems a bit jealous, too. The older cats seem largely indifferent thus far, though Huzzah and the kitten have been hissing at each other when they happen to occupy the same space. Mystic seems comfortable enough, eating well and sleeping through her first night here. And she certainly loves to play!

I think she’ll be a great addition to the family. Welcome, little Mystic!

Rain and Dancing

Here we are in another rainy weekend. You can tell because I’m actually staying inside long enough to write. Although there is probably no one reading this anyway, because of the long gaps in entries while the sun was shining! (Helloooo, anyone there?)

Last night was Freakwitch band practice, with all five members in the house. I hung out and danced to their music. The “new” guitar player, who played with Quester years ago, is learning the tunes and they’re sounding quite good. Go check out their website; they have a lot of good stuff happening right now and in the near future.

Today we were able to sleep in late, listening to the rain, which was lovely. The kids were up but were in quiet mode and we had a really relaxing morning. Then we took ElvenTiger to her haircut appointment, stopped by to see a friend where she works at a farm (the kids both helped operate the soil machine that packs soil into small pots for seedlings), and did some grocery shopping. Came home and had soup for lunch, and did some stuff around the house. The kids wrote, played computer, and played pick up sticks. We all did power yoga together this afternoon. Now Quester is making dinner, and the kids are out playing in the rain.

Soon our friend R. will come over to babysit, and Quester and I are headed out for a night of dancing! I’ve been dancing quite a bit lately, and am feeling really happy about it. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I prefer live music, and most enjoy dancing to jam bands with lots of improvisation, wild drumming, spacey guitars and general harmonious cacophony. That and dancing to rhythmic drums and chanting voices around a fire in sacred circle… But just about any type of dancing is better than none! Quester and I haven’t gone ballroom dancing yet, because we aren’t so sure of our new skills. I think we need to take another session of lessons in the fall before we’ll feel confident enough with it. A friend of mine once asked me, with look of serious concern on his face, “why *is* it that women like dancing so much, anyway?” My answer: “because it feels good!”

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.