Monday, November 30, 2009

Art of the Month: November

One year ago I gave my friend Heidi this piece for her birthday/new baby gift. I call it Birth Giver in the Red Tent. You many remember another version of the birth giver as tree of life symbol that I did for my Memory Keeper Project last year. This piece incorporates the tree of life and a poem from The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Heidi is a doula and was at Kyan's birth and so I wanted to thank her, and honour the birth process that she was about to revisit. I was hoping she could use the piece for a visual marker during the labour process but Lu decided to arrive before I could get the gift to her. To date this piece is my best example of the style I'm developing and where I see my artwork evolving in the future. This is hand embroidery, beading and applique on linen.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Ramblings

November has flown by with fewer posts than normal for me. It seems that the desire has been there but not the drive. Part of that was an attempt at combating what I see as a recipe for a lower immune system, too much stress and too little sleep. As the little guy deals with his two year molars coming in and we wash those hands to avoid viruses I have tried to be mindful of the natural rhythm this time of year brings to slow.
So while my physical self has taken that literally my brain is full steam ahead. I have so many lists floating around in there, planning for our holiday trip, getting the house, finances and blog in order before we leave, developing some new materials for Chasing Domestic Bliss, Pagan Pages and some other web content, work as always coming in and out each week and the small detail of an overwhelming desire to re-organize my entire house. This desire has crept in as a little idea here, a hint there and then just a realization that as another birthday rolls around for the little guy new stuff will arrive with it. And that of course means that some of the older stuff needs to go or be put away. I also want to rethink his bedroom since he has had the same room placement now since his birth. I've changed a few things here and there but overall it is the same room. We will probably move him into the larger bedroom that is now a guest room/office in the next six months and with that will come the intimidating (probably more to me than him) big boy bed. His new stuff also needs better placement in our home. Art supplies, toys that require more space, books shifting with seasonal changes etc.
Today I put my sewing stuff away until after the holidays. I need to focus my energy in other creative areas and take some time to develop projects and time lines. Making plans is a fun part of the change of the calender. There seems to be infinite possibilities and potential. I do tend to over plan and bite off more than I can chew but it's nice to dream a little and let reality come calling later on. Here's to your holiday & new year dreams.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book of the Month: November

Creation's Heartbeat: Following the Reindeer Spirit, written by Linda Schierse Leonard takes the reader on a journey with the writer and her husband. A journey to distant lands and to visit with cultures that venerate the Reindeer. This book is one that I feel the need to reread now that I have connected with the deer spirit. Leonard is a Jungian analyst who was inspired by a dream her husband had of a reindeer woman. In her research and work with different cultures that have deer goddesses an archetype of strength and gentleness takes form.
Reindeer are more than cartoon characters that pull Santa's sleigh. They are vigilant animals and both males and females have antlers. The pregnant females travel a great distance to birth their young and will use their antlers to defend them.
If you have an interest in northern legends relating to deer or tribes in Siberia and Alaska and their complex relationship with reindeer this book will be a great addition to your inner journey.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Birthday Walk

On Friday Ky and I took a walk to our (his) favorite spot. We had a slight respite from the rain for a time and so getting a walk in on my birthday was more enjoyable than it would have been hours later during the thunderstorm.

His passion (right now) is trains. Chu-chu trains, transit trains, Thomas the Tank Engine...if it's a train he wants to see it.

Trying to talk to him when the train is going by is impossible. He is enraptured. Luckily we live close to a bike/pedestrian bridge and we can watch it from above. When becoming a mother I never would have guessed that learning the train schedule and rejoicing when we happen upon one would be such a huge part of my day.

It is challenging to convince him to keep walking so that we can get to the part of the walk that I like. He would wait all day for another glimpse.

A fallen birch tree. More and more birches strike me with their beautiful bark.

Still Creek. I loved the reflections of the moody clouds and the stillness of the water. Despite the dreary November weather I was able to find some soul enriching beauty to wonder at that day. It's always nice to have something beautiful to fill you up on your birthday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From Wolf to Doe

Puberty brought me my first encounter with a spirit animal. I use the term here in the sense of an animal that you feel drawn to or that comes to you and that guides or imparts wisdom through their nature that aides one on their spiritual path.
I probably heard of the concept during my teenage years and when my fascination with wolves took hold I equated it to the New Age/Indigenous People's mold. Over the years wolves not only decorated my bedroom walls but called to me from movies, books and art. I dreamed that one day I would go on a organized group trip to howl with wolves to the light of the full moon, and yes it was an interest that was very romantic to me. I was often angered at the misconceptions about wolves in our culture, how they were blamed for everything from low elk numbers to stealing children and I used any opportunity presented to dispel myths about them.
As far as the spiritual side however, I can't say that I did much work with the wolf spirit. One meditation that came to me frequently was running through a dense forest from a wolf's perspective. I felt breath, low, quick movement and physical power in that state. It has been years since the wolf and I have conversed but she has remained an animal that I have great respect and admiration for.

Fast forward to my trance work now. I have received a different visitor. In two trances I have interacted with a doe and her fawn. In the last one she informed me that she is now my spirit animal. This shocked me somewhat. I had just assumed that I would stay with the wolf spirit my whole life. But the doe informed me otherwise. She told me that it was time to move into my mother role and embrace the qualities that I need to feed my soul now. I have reflected on this a lot since the meditation and I've come to some conclusions through research into the differences in the animals.

While wolves are obviously still mothers in their packs I think the wolf was my maiden animal. Puberty brought the wolf to me when I needed to learn to respect my emotions and unconscious urges. My early twenties brought me to face my darker side which the wolf is supposed to aide with. They are fiercely loyal and that quality is one that will always be with me, I still see many wolf qualities in my nature. But as I learn of the doe, and examine my new fascination with deer I see that the internal fierceness that I needed during my teen years and during my twenties is quieter now. I still need to be fierce but in a radically new way: that of compassion, gentleness and patience.

During my pre-natal classes I was asked to pick some words that I felt would represent my internal needs during childbirth. I picked Surrender Warrior. Dave thought that they were a contradiction and on first glance they are but to me they made the most sense to the childbirth process and my feelings about it. Two years into motherhood they still make sense to me. The doe listens, she offers alternative paths to a goal, she sacrifices for the higher good and all the while maintains a fierce protection of her young. The outward picture of gentleness and grace can be overcome in an instant if a predator is near. The doe is my helper and guide through the trials of motherhood, the good, the bad and the ugly. But while she is an example of how I connect with my mothering she is also a herald of my journey inward. The Hind (red female deer) referred to as the Eilid in Gaelic, tempts one to explore their own magical and spiritual nature. She has arrived just as I feel called to look deeper and find more meaning. So while I greet her with open arms and am so glad to have been chosen by her, I miss my wolf self slightly. Perhaps she will return in another incarnation someday, but who I was before, who she was before is now a part of the past.

Deer now pop out of the woodwork everywhere I go. The Stag visits as well, though he reserves his lessons for very select periods so far. I've also realized that indications of this change have been coming up for several years now but I guess I was too distracted to listen to the signals. I have several books related to deer that I thought I had read and absorbed but now I feel compelled to read them again. I love that the universe spins you sometimes and says Ha! You thought you had it all figured out but you didn't. And in terms of my soul this could not have come at a better time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rainy Reflections

The rain is here. Torrential at times, blustery at times, and rather cold. When Kyan woke up for some milk around 5:30 this morning it was very much a downpour. I could hear drips and I immediately had a flashback to last year. Same month, perhaps a week later and crazy amounts of water coming out of our fireplace. At that point Kyan was crawling and was not fun. I briefly mentioned it in this post from last November. As I lay in bed this morning debating whether to go and check the fireplace (I didn't. I correctly convinced myself it was not coming from downstairs) I sensed that the experience had left a bit of panic in me. My body was remembering that ordeal, the weekend following which was my birthday and in which I had a pretty bad flu, and Kyan having a cold that lasted three weeks. To sum up these feelings left me unable to get back to sleep for over an hour.
Our family is slowing down at this time. Sleeping more, cuddling more, trying to stay cozy and dry. I feel that this year with H1N1 out there and the fact that we are going to Quebec to visit my family for the holidays we need to be as rested as possible. Last night some friends and I had a wonderful meal, did foot soaks and facials and watched an entertaining movie. A great night and very needed for our bodies.

November wants us to slow but it is such a hard thing to do. I'm doing my best this year to not let the frenzy of the holidays spin us around like tops. This has meant not signing up for some fun holiday blog events that I would have liked to participate in and deciding that my ambitious list of homemade gifts was going to have to be seriously cut down. But there is always next year. Take care of yourselves. Rest, sleep and eat good food, you deserve it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Life in Shoes

Getting an early birthday present led me to examine the shoes that I've had over the last 8 years. My life has gone through some pretty drastic changes in this time. I guess the last 8 years have brought me into adulthood. And it all began with hiking boots and a sunny stroll in a field.

These boots were a gift from my mom just before I moved out to British Columbia. I was proud of these boots. They signified my new life. A life of adventure, being an artist, hiking in the mountains, traveling to far off places and even marching for causes. They were the culmination of 4 years of Fine Arts education, feminist theory, and a renewed love and respect for nature. I don't consider myself much of a material possession obsessed girl but I remember taking a walk through a field on the farm I grew up on and looking down at these boots. The feeling running through me then was one of contentment and anticipation for my new adventure.

After several weeks in Vancouver without a single call from a coffee shop offering a job I tapped into an old dream. This dream left my hiking boots on the back burner and took my feet in an entirely new direction: Modeling. As I said, I had wanted to do this as a teenager and then had never pursued it. But opportunity knocked and I said yes please. So instead of hiking boots being the shoe defining my days it was high heels. I was now walking local runways, doing fashion photo shoots and having a great time. Some woman have difficulty walking in heels and I don't. I'm certainly not good at standing in them for hours on end but I can walk a 20 minute fashion show well. It was a great sense of accomplishment to be good at something that I dreamed of for countless years. Many circumstances led to modeling ending for me. My agent had hoped to get me modeling internationally but that was not meant to happen. And then my shoe selection changed too.

My Pumas! I saved up for these babies. And I've had them now for 4 years. So they were a great investment and are still the most expensive shoes I own. These shoes went to South Africa with Dave and I. They are comfortable, stylish and versatile. They represent a period of comfort to me. The days that Dave and I were in love and without obligations, the days leading up to our wedding and our honeymoon period, a time when I thought I was busy but really had SO much free time. They have transitioned well into the next phase of life too where comfortable and practical shoes are very important: Motherhood.

Here are the newest edition to my shoe arsenal. They allow for treks through suburban rain storms, muddy trails behind a stroller and most importantly jumping in rain puddles. Clothing and footwear have ceased to be primarily about style for me now. Action is what my shoes are about. Ease of use, comfort and fun. I want to have fun with Ky and jump and play and enjoy nature and these boots are perfect for this time of year in Vancouver. Since we don't get much snow here they will work throughout the winter and into spring as well. My life is now about the little guy more than me. My hiking boots are still in use from time to time, I wear my Pumas often, the high heels are used very rarely. So much so that my feet protest slightly and my back strains to remember the muscles used to stand in them. But I don't miss them that much everything has a season, especially shoes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poem of the Month: Tribute

Today is Joni Mitchell's birthday. Last year I wrote a post with details of my love affair with her music. This year I have chosen song lyrics to share. Her songwriting is superb and this one is very timely for the season. Enjoy.

Urge for Going

by Joni Mitchell

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold and all the trees are shivering in a naked row

I get the urge for going
But I never seem to go
I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I had me a man in summertime
He had summer-coloured skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win
But when the leaves fell on the ground
Boy winds came around, pushed them face down in the snow

He got the urge for going
And I had to let him go
He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
Summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

Now the warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying and all that lives is camping out
See the geese in chevron flight flapping and racing out before the snow

They got the urge for going
And they got the wings so they can go
They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Little Things Fall into Place

Wow, what a week. It seems that the post ideas percolating in my head have only just now sorted themselves out to come out of my fingers and onto this page. In September I wrote about my feelings concerning my path and how I should define it for the pagan community at large. The universe is a magical place and when I said I was open to change it decided to grace me with some insight. Trance work has been the key in this transition. Symbols have been coming up and revealing clues to further research. I can't delve into each one in one post but I wanted to mention one in particular because it seems that November is offering up some wonderful giveaways for us all to enjoy.

I have had two runes present themselves to me in my sacred trance space. I have never studied runes before, despite having a set that some friends made for me years ago. Divination in general has never been a huge focus of my practice. I would search it out here and there when I felt the timing in my life needed it or it suited the ritual I was doing but I have never felt the need to study runes before now. These two images were illuminated on the entryway to my internal trance space. The first one was laguz:

"(L: Water, or a leek.) Flow, water, sea, a fertility source, the healing power of renewal. Life energy and organic growth. Imagination and psychic matters. Dreams, fantasies, mysteries, the unknown, the hidden, the deep, the underworld. Success in travel or acquisition, but with the possibility of loss"

This symbol helped me to see that change was coming. An inward change that I spoke about in September, a change that was renewing and soul affecting. This rune came to me in January of this year so it was a lengthy herald of future soul work.

The next one that emerged during the October full moon meditation that I did was ansuz:

"(A: The As, ancestral god, i.e. Odin.) A revealing message or insight, communication. Signals, inspiration, enthusiasm, speech, true vision, power of words and naming. Blessings, the taking of advice. Good health, harmony, truth, wisdom."

During this trance I was seeking guidance and help with a few emotional issues. One concerned parenting and the other body image. This trance presented me with several answers and revealed some wonderful insight into who I am today. In relation to runes, seeing this rune and learning its meaning made me think about researching runes further and that despite my apparent lack of Scandinavian heritage I was called to explore them as a divination tool. If anyone can recommend a good Rune meaning book I'd love for you to mention it in the comments. I have found a fantastic website from which I've quoted the meanings above called I have not read it extensively yet but it is on my to-do list.

And serendipitously this month there are two rune set giveaways in the blogsphere.
Domestic Witch is giving away a rose quartz set of runes that are just lovely. So head on over. You can enter until the 28th of November. And Mother Moon's Message is giving away a set made from willow wood that was reclaimed from a fallen tree on her property. You have until November 30th to get your name in.

Runes have given me new eyes through which to view messages from the universe. Despite my confusion concerning how to label my path I am asking for guidance and receiving it. I'm very grateful for the blessings of autumn's stillness within me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Just a reminder that the new Pagan Pages is up. This month Pagan Parenting Everyday discusses family values beginning with Thankfulness. Enjoy.

Ancestor's Dinner

Our Samhain celebration was last night. It was understated and simple since I have an almost two year old and a non-pagan to please. We had a feast of lasagna, Caesar salad and apple crisp with yogurt. And we set out a place at the table for the spirits to join us.

Before we ate I read this blessing:

Tonight we honour our beloved dead. As a family we honour those that came before us, whose blood runs through our veins. Those who toiled, who laughed, who birthed, who hunted and who cleared the land. We remember the ancestors we have had the pleasure to know, the one's whose faces we can picture and the one's whose names we have spoken: (insert names of family members here) ....and the many others.

We welcome you to our table with thanks and respect. You are with us in our hearts,
what is remembered lives.

Unfortunately death is very present with us this year. The mists are covering a dear one and will soon bring her away, and another has already moved into the next stage. This has made this time very poignant for me and very emotional. After my Spiral Dance trance I didn't feel that more magical work was necessary last night. Instead I did a simple chakra cleanse before sleep while imagining what the full moon must have looked like behind the shroud of the clouds. Today on our walk Kyan and I will spread the food from the ancestor plate in the woods and we will continue to burrow into our little nest as the nights get longer and longer. Blessings.