Friday, June 29, 2012

Book of the Month: Moon Mysteries

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this fantastic book last year.  Written by Nikiah Seeds and Nao Sims and illustrated by Eyan Myers this book celebrates an intimate side of womanhood, our menses.
Moon Mysteries: Reclaiming Women's Menstrual Wisdom takes the reader through 13 months/moons and features personal reflections from each author as well as historical and spiritual associations with different aspects of our menstrual cycles.
From our connection to the tides to our relationship with motherhood and our sexual partners this book is designed to be a workbook with custom charts for filling in and recording moon phases and emotions throughout our monthly rhythms.
Moon Mysteries is a journey helping us to honour something that our culture has come to denigrate making us in turn do the same.  Celebrating, writing in journals, taking time to acknowledge the changes that your body goes through each month all of that and much more is possible in this book's pages.
I love how each chapter is named by a themed moon as so many cultures have done for millions of years.  The Green Witch Moon, Blood Moon, Dreaming Moon, Serpent Moon - so much lovely imagery for the soul.  And speaking of imagery for the soul Eyan Myer's illustrations are stunning and invoke magic for the reader.
Although the book is not specifically pagan it speaks to the deep magic of ancestral devotion and the spiritual side of living.  I would recommend it for any thoughtful woman's library as a treasure to read through again and again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

a quick mention

Just wanted to let you all know that one of my photos is featured at the Rhythm of the Home blog this week under the theme of warmth.  Have a look and join the Flickr pool if you want to contribute a new theme is chosen each week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rain at Sasquatch

Our first camping trip of 2012 was certainly a memorable event.  The skies opened up and pelted us with a rainy night.  No camp fire or smores were had (well there were two attempts at fire that resulted in exactly two marshmallow's being roasted quickly) (must learn more about fire making!).  But there were some cozy tent moments, hearing an owl hooting in the forest and just enough sunshine the next morning to dry things up a bit.

We visited Sasquatch Provincial Park near the lovely town of Harrison Hot Springs.  While we didn't visit the hot springs this time we did manage to visit a hazelnut farm and a cheese shop selling cheese made on site from their own goat and cow's milk.  We even managed to sit on a patio and eat some lunch before heading home.  The weather forecast was for thundershowers and so we decided that one soggy night was plenty.  But Kyan was thrilled to be camping rain or not.  And getting out of town for 24 hours was refreshing for all of us.

The lesson learned here?  When it's calling for rain, unless it's under a 20 percent chance we'll try another time.  There's always next weekend.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Second Time Around

One aspect of having a second child that no one mentioned to me was how you can be thrown off by your experience with the first.  Especially when you have two kids of the same sex.  In my case boy 1 is more of a look before he leaps guy.  He can be silly and hyper too, but can be slow to warm up to strangers and thinks about things.  Kyan and I have navigated lots of baby, toddler and pre-schooler milestones.  Teething, potty training, nursing and weaning, learning to sleep on his own (still a work in progress that one,) overcoming fears, illness and emotional outbursts.  He gets to do things first, so I thought Elliott would benefit from his path making in the bush of parenting.  In some ways he does but in many ways we are cutting out a whole new path.

I marvel pretty much daily at how opposite our two boys are.  I didn't expect them to be the same but for several of the big things,  like the ones I mentioned above, I thought I had at least an idea of how to do them. But as Elliott is hitting the time periods when these things are to begin I'm realizing that this is a whole new ball game.  My boy who would sit on the potty patiently reading books until a desired outcome was reached is not shadowed by my boy who sits for maximum 30 seconds before leaping to his next location.  Hun.
One little boy loved cow's milk and would take a cup full as a substitute for mama's milk when weaning began, our other little boy is not so interested in cow's milk but for the last week or so will take a cracker instead of having a meltdown when he can't nurse on demand (only took me a day or two to figure that one out).

So as we navigate through these waters I try to keep my assumptions in the background and take cues from Elliott.  Everything is different and while Elliott copies Kyan frequently throughout the day; trying to do all the things his big brother does, our journey through the months of potty training and weaning are going to have their own process of trial and error to find what works for him.  He is quick and super smiley these days.  Words are beginning for him and have taken a bit longer to emerge than with Kyan.  The parenting Elliott journey is opening up a bit, moving away from baby world to the toddler with the burgeoning personality one.  Parenting two is a dance that will take several years to become routine.  But there have been some little glimpses of newness these last two weeks; playing together, playing side by side (without conflict) and the proud big brother introducing his younger brother with a protective hand on his shoulder.  Makes a mama's heart melt for just a second or two.  Sweet boys I have, lucky me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Lark: hear your sacred song

For some reason for a year before I became pregnant with my first son I was entranced with several different  plants, animals and other magical messengers.  I was very open to noticing the signs around me at the time.  And I had the time to not only notice but delve deeper into the messages they were imparting.
One of my messengers was the Lark.  The name stood out to me and the bird began to sneak into my world.  I have no idea if I've ever seen this bird in person, and I've never had a dream of one either.  The lark just sticks with me as a word that makes me smile and an inner connection to something quiet but compelling.

Just to clarify the Western Meadowlark and the Lark are two separate genus of the bird family.  I have looked into both.  There are several varieties of Lark in Australia and Europe.  Only one variety the Horned Lark has spread to North America.  As a totem the Lark is said to herald the importance of sound, music and voice.  The bird is associated with the Heather plant and will awaken you inner sacred song.  Chaucer called the lark the busy messenger of day and most often the lark is associated with the early bird saying.

The Meadowlark has both an eastern and western version and is a "New World" species.  As a totem this bird is said to mean a cheerful journey inward revealing intuition and innate abilities.  Meadowlarks are valuable to have in your fields as a natural insect remover and is the State bird of six U.S. states including: Oregon, Montana and Nebraska.  The Eastern and Western Meadowlarks are most distinguishable from their songs.

Whether in the magical or mundane world this bird is another wonder of the Goddess' creatures to behold.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Looking deeper: Northern Gateway Pipeline

How does one begin to talk about the power of large corporations?  Their shear mass, their money to hire talented wordsmiths, lovely artists and fund projects with the "downtrodden" to distract us from what they are really doing.  After seeing this commercial I simply could not keep turning my head in disgust anymore.  Honestly, the capacity that Enbridge has to gloss over the reality of what they are doing is remarkable.  The details of what this means for the communities that will be impacted and the habitats that will be destroyed to make one pipeline to carry oil and another to carry condensation are just small blips in what they consider to be their "ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship, habitat remediation and protection."
Doesn't that sound lovely.  They destroy one habitat and then fund other groups that are working to protect other areas.  I guess as long as they don't need to build a pipeline there then it's a great place to conserve.
The nitty gritty details of this pipeline are as follows:
A 36" in diameter pipeline will be built from near Edmonton Alberta to Kitimat British Columbia.  This pipeline will traverse the Rocky and Coastal Mountain ranges, many communities and end up at the port in Kitimat where the oil would then be transported to Asia on tankers that will have to navigate through the narrow channels and fjords of the Great Bear Rainforest.
The oil is coming from the Alberta Oil Sands (often referred to as the Tar Sands).
The oil is going to be used in countries that are growing in their need of this non-renewable substance rather than looking harder for alternatives.  In the meantime the ecosystems that will be destroyed to build this structure can never be repaired.  Permanent damage for 560 permanent jobs and 525,000 barrels of oil per day for 30 years.
If there is an oil spill, leak or damage we can not count on Enbrige to responsibly clean up the oil.  Their reputation in this area is not sterling.  In fact it's as dirty as oil.  So the people of this province need to stand up and say no.  Of course our current government, sensing the storm of discontent already raining down about this project are now changing the rules left, right and center to prevent the people from having our say.  Apparently if it comes to Harper's precious oil tycoons all bets are off and the projects will be done whether Canadians like it or not.  The Northern Gateway project is one of three plans to bring more oil through our province.  The other two are another pipeline project run by Kinder Morgan (which just happens to literally run through my back yard) and CN Rail plans on taking oil by train to ports as well.  Does this sound like a country with a "demonstrated commitment to improving environmental standards" or a country that is being denigrated by corporate interests and short term dollar signs?
 I'll leave it up to you to form your own opinion as I have.
If you'd like to stand up to this you can check this out.
And if you'd like to see just what we stand to loose please watch the film below.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lessons abound

When I think of spiritual seekers who make sacrifices and climb the ladder of enlightenment my mind creates a visual:  nuns, monks, long robes, simple and unadorned they move through life in quiet contemplation.  Often a family is not in the picture, deadlines, money concerns, filling the car with gas and shopping for groceries,  those things are not in the forefront of my spiritual seeker's life.  Instead they are meditating on a mat each morning, reading ancient texts, and praying before each meal.  A daily practice is second nature.  Whether or not this person or these people actually exist is another story.  This is an image that my soul shows to me when I question my path.  It offers the opposite to what I have now as a more pious option.

You can't let go of your ego and wipe runny noses and cook dinner...
You don't have time to have a daily spiritual routine...
Your life is not part of the big world picture... 

My soul likes to send me messages of doubt.  Years ago in Soul Mates by Thomas Moore this lesson struck a cord with me.  The soul always craves the opposite of what it has.  So despite my life's mission of raising my kids and relishing in the chance to be with them all day when they are little I crave something different.  Part of my soul longs for solitude, peaceful moments to reflect and seek truths.

I think the collective mindset regarding living a spiritual life is skewed.  We look at 40 days fasting in the desert as an ideal trial.  Searching for answers in sacrifice of daily life and isolation from loved ones as a defining test of dedication to the Gods.  But what about standing in your life, the stuff of life and doing it at the same time?
What about looking in your child's eyes and trying to figure out what they need in this moment, seeing them for the bright spirit they are and giving your self for their betterment.  Therein lies an ultimate test of piety.  There have probably always been spiritual men and women who have sacrificed a family of their own for the care of the tribe.  They could not dedicate time to their own offspring when they were needed to help others in their lives.  But in many cultures the holy men also were fathers.  My above vision is a newer idea of spiritual life.  Men and women were not always expected to give up family for a life of service to their religion.

This topic is much bigger than I can tackle here in this moment.  But what occurred to me as I was trying to get Elliott to sleep the other night is that no spiritual trial could challenge me more than this work I'm doing.  My ego rears itself often as I shake my fist at the universe.  Can't the baby just sleep for 2 hours straight, must I pick up these crayons again today, who are these little men that I care for day after day?

This work is my fasting in the desert.

My quiet contemplation is done in literal seconds.  Tiny snippets when both boys are content and occupied.  The adventure that is parenting is a trial by fire, you see many of your worst traits reflected in the faces of little ones that look to you for their very survival.  I will never seek transcendence in a cave in Tibet, a hermit in self inflicted isolation, rather I look for my truth in the shining eyes of two little boys every single day and know that this moment is all I have and I'm grateful for the chance to live this way.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rainy day plans

Oh, June.  You fool me every time.  I look forward to you for months and think June, June will bring warm sun and sandals and those long days of outside time.  And then June arrives and it rains and rains and rains.  The most I can hope for 7 days in is sun by the solstice.  The longest day sometimes brings some happier fluffy clouds.  In the meantime though I am still planning.  Planning to bake and prepare things in advance.  Changing over the entry closet from scarves and mittens to sunhats and sandals.  This year, as my kitchen time has certainly grown with each moon cycle (these boys can eat I tell you) I've come to really understand the importance of planning ahead.  Having food to pull out of the freezer; whether it be for smoothies, quick treats for guests, or even the "I don't feel like cooking" blues is a must.   And since those hot days are inevitable (they are coming right?) I don't want to be chained to my stove during the dog days of summer.
And so I've been hatching a plan.  I've been gathering advice and making lists in my head.  On my list is making jam, freezing produce in season and trying to ferment veggies too.  So the main gist of this is that if it's raining I'm paying attention to food.  Even if it is just one small batch of cookies or researching U-pick farms rainy days are the time for it.  Because if the sun is shining we are going to be enjoying it.  Period.
So here is my list of finds that are going to help me keep our summer as fun as possible.

Warmer Weather Batch Cooking - Simple Bites

More Warm Weather Batch Cooking - Simple Bites

10 Things to do Every Day to Stay Organized - Home Your Way

Preparing for preserving season - local kitchen

Camping with Kids - Real Simple

Keep your Summer Organized - Simple Mom

If you have any additions please add them to the comments.  You can never have too many ideas or tips when it comes to food prep and planning ahead.

Monday, June 4, 2012

spiritual Kinship

kinship - relationship by nature or character; affinity
Along the winding path that has brought me to this moment in my spiritual journey I have been fortunate to find many kin.  None have been blood relations but our bond has been from a common nature, character or interest.  We have sought together, looking inward while using each other as sounding boards for the next step to take.  Sharing books, information and the planning of rituals.  Challenging directions, supporting changes and many times letting go of hopes of similar outcomes.
Each woman that has joined me on this path has met me in a place of openness and I have tried to hold that space with her with an open heart.  You'll notice I say woman and that is because as of yet my practice has not included direct interaction with men.  This was a fairly deliberate choice.  One that can be fleshed out a bit more here if you are so inclined.   In the future I see that that could be different for me but since I am not a seeker right now it remains only one possibility of many.
 I feel fortunate that from several of my close girlfriends spiritual bonds evolved.  And despite geographical distance we ventured down similar paths in search of our truths.  Certainly most of our twenties were about this journey.   Who am I?  What am I looking for in this life?  To have companions as you search is truly a blessing.

Rarely the magic of the circle cast and the trust built from years of planning and carrying out ritual cemented friendship.  The kinship here was made slowly, fermented like a good wine and required patience and devotion to reach it's unique maturity.

Working together, falling apart, trying again or calling it quits.  There have been so many ebbs and flows as the kin have changed through this process.  They all retain special places and memories, sometimes sighs of regret but all lessons were important to the journey at hand.  
This post is about how integral the kinship of the women pictured here and some who are not have been to my path.  How their teachings and love have influenced me beyond measure and made their lasting patina on where my soul rests today.  Coming together in perfect love and trust is a risk that requires a leap of faith.  There are rarely road maps to direct you through the waves of life and spiritual practice as they crash on the shore.   But the bonds breathe and flex, twist and stretch.  I am grateful for each of you, near or far for all you have been and continue to be in this spiral dance.