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!

Quotes from Seth

These quotes are from “The Way Toward Health” by Jane Roberts/Seth:

“The way toward health is simplicity itself. It is perfectly fine to make plans for the future, yet each individual should live day by day, without worrying about the outcome of those plans.”

“Sunny thoughts are as biologically necessary to your well-being as are the rays of the sun that shines in the sky.”

“Each person is a vital, conscious portion of the universe. Each person, simply by being, fits into the universe and into universal purposes in a way no one else can. Each person is a beloved individual, formed with infinite care and love, uniquely gifted with a life like no other.”

“One of the attitudes detrimental to good health is that of self-condemnation, or dislike of the self. Feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, and pleasure with one’s abilities promote feelings of well-being, health, and exuberance.”

“Energy is indeed at its basis, love.”

Wellness and Illness

Here it is the middle of April already! The month of March, for my family, was spent in various states of illness. Colds, flus, mystery viruses–you name it, we had it! And the emotional depths that tend to go with such physical ailments, too.

The start of Spring has certainly helped lift our spirits and bring in some good fresh air (even though I was sick in bed with a fever during the Spring Equinox ritual I was supposed to be co-leading–oops). We’ve been on a few easy hikes so far, with good prospects for more hikes to come. I’ve noticed that simply being out in Nature has a profound effect on my mood and energy system. That sounds obvious, but it’s even more noticeable than usual.

Lately I’ve been reading Jane Roberts/Seth books, which are a total brain-enlivener, and have also made my dreams even more vivid than usual. I’ll post some quotes from them at some point.

That’s all for now. I just wanted to make it known that I am, in fact, still alive and (mostly) well.
Blessed Be!

A Quote from my Favorite Author

In response to the question, “the antiwar movement, what good is it?”

ALICE WALKER: Well, as I was saying about the Civil Rights Movement, sometimes you can’t see tangible results. You cannot see the changes that you’re dreaming about, because they’re internal. And a lot of it has to do with the ability to express yourself, your own individual dream and your own individual road in life. And so, we may never stop war. We may never stop war, and it isn’t likely that we will, actually. But what we’re doing as we try to stop war externally, what we’re trying to do is stop it in ourselves. That’s where war has to end. And until we can control our own violence, our own anger, our own hostility, our own meanness, our own greed, it’s going to be so, so, so hard to do anything out there. So I think of any movement for peace and justice as something that is about stabilizing our inner spirit so that we can go on and bring into the world a vision that is much more humane than the one that we have dominant today.

Welcome, EarthTides Readers!

A friendly welcome to those who are regular readers of my “Starcat’s Corner” column in the EarthTides Pagan Network newsletter and have been referred here. Don’t be scared, blogs don’t bite! (Those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about can check out EarthTides here.)

Anyway, here we are in March and approaching Spring Equinox/Ostara/Eostar. It still doesn’t feel much like it outside, but that’s to be expected. March came in like an arctic lamb. The winds have been wild, and I can feel the energies shifting as we approach the change of season. My clan has all been sick with a late-winter virus that snuck up on us just when we got used to the (relatively) mild weather.

I’ve found myself busier than I prefer lately, with lots of community commitments, and I think perhaps catching the virus was meant to slow me down a bit. Extra reading time is good, though I could do without the nasty earaches. My own energies are shifting as the wheel of the year turns, and I feel I’m letting go of a really old pattern, which will leave space for increasing wellness. I welcome the cleansing winds of Spring. Throw open the windows! Bask in the strengthening sun! The light really is returning, and bringing, slowly but surely, milder weather. The bairns and I even got to hike this past weekend; neither of them complained of tired legs, so I think it will be a terrific hiking season for our family. I think I will build a labyrinth this Spring, here at the homestead. And perhaps Quester and I will work on the stone well…

Blessed Be and “may the four winds blow you safely home.”

Book Review

I just finished reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (published in 1980). Years ago, I read his novel Foucault’s Pendulum (published in 1988), and really enjoyed it. So I decided to read The Name of the Rose, which was also made into a movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet, though I plan to rent it soon. But that said, I was disappointed in the book. It didn’t seem as well written (or as well translated from the original Italian, or perhaps a combination) as Foucault’s Pendulum. Perhaps he was still developing his style.

There are many times where a character goes off on a long diatribe that doesn’t contribute to the plot in any significant way. If I was reading the book in bed, it tended to put me to sleep. I don’t suffer from insomnia, though if I did, I’d probably keep this book nearby. The book is set in a monestary in the Middle Ages, and thus is full of Christian theology and Biblical references. I’ve never been a Christian, but I’m usually interested in mysticism of many types. But for some reason, this particular book seemed overly pendantic. The narrator was likeable enough, and the mystery did hold my interest enough that I plowed my way through the book, but that didn’t overcome the its flaws, from my perspective.

I hope the movie is more interesting.

Have you read the book? Did you enjoy it and find it of value? If so, please enlighten me!

That Vegan Thing

Over the past few months, I’ve been eating more and more like a vegan. I’ve been eating less dairy and eggs because they cause me digestive problems. I get along fine that way (I’m one of those people who really likes tofu) and I really appreciate the fact that foods without cheese and cream are also lower in calories. Although I consider myself a vegetarian (for about the past 12 years), I do eat fish and seafood occasionally.

My food choices have thus far been primarily about health. I originally stopped eating red meats because of a family history of colitis. As mentioned above, avoiding dairy and eggs keeps me from having health issues, too. Though I do value the fact that I’m not personally contributing to animals living in cramped and unhealthy conditions, I know that vegetarianism isn’t for everyone.

A couple of nights ago, though, I had a dream which involved a pool of water being formed (temporarily) on my Aunt’s driveway. When the water was drying up, there were three large salmon flopping around in the evaporating pool. My companions and I knew they would die soon, and I was given a knife and told to put them out of their misery. I just couldn’t do it, though, and I handed the knife off to someone else, covering my eyes and turning away. The question that ended the dream was “well, should I be eating fish, then?”

Today I went out to lunch with my parents at a local diner, which isn’t particularly vegetarian-savvy. This is the type of situation where I might normally have a haddock sandwich or some such thing, but after that dream, I couldn’t do it. I’m not sure what my long-term decision on this is, but for the moment at least, I’m feeling that I’ve made a further step down the vegan path.

[As a footnote, if vegan food interests you, there’s a really cute blog about it that I’ve linked here, called The Vegan Lunchbox.]

A Curious Dream

I was hanging out with a friend in his apartment (a dreamtime friend, apparently; I didn’t recognize him from waking life) in a city. We went out for a while, to get something to eat, but when we came back to his street, his apartment building was gone. Not demolished or burned down, but just…not there. He was incredulous and upset, and checked up and down the street, and several adjoining streets, making sure we were in the right neighborhood, looking at building numbers, and just generally freaking out. Finally I made him stop and look at me, and said, “look, it’s obvious we’ve somehow gotten into a different reality. You’re trying to solve this with logic, with your left brain, but it’s not a logical situation. I know you’re not going to like this, but we’re going to have to solve it with magick.” I asked him to take me to a place in nature. He said there wasn’t anyplace, we were right in the city, but finally admitted there was a golf course nearby, “but we’re not supposed to go there.” I said “perfect,” and we snuck onto the golf course and found a cluster of trees with low, gnarled branches. We sat down to work our magick. Pretty soon we started to see fantastical creatures walking around the golf course. My friend was still incredulous, but I took it as a good sign that we were between the worlds. Unfortunately, that was when I woke up, so I don’t know if my right-brain solution got us back to the reality we started in, or not.