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!

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.”