Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art of the Month: Simple Summer Projects

I have managed to get some sewing done so far this summer.  Not a huge amount but certainly more than last summer.  Taking on simple projects is good for the soul at this point.  Reminding me that I can get things done if I put my mind to it. Mostly I have to avoid the time suckers that surround me, the internet and t.v being the worst.  But sometimes the starts align and that is when I get to make stuff.

I found the plans for this storybook banner on Pinterest.  I had a book that I'd bought second hand for the boys only to discover that a page had been ripped out.  So I decided to keep it in case I could use it for collage or something since I loved the illustrations.  Then I happened on this idea and thought it would be cute for the boys room.  Elliott looks up at it every day points and makes animal sounds.  I like that it is very affordable to do as well and can be changed on a whim if we want to look at something else.

Here is my very own clothespin apron.  Making things for myself is rare but I was prompted by how practical this is and how happy I am to wear it while I hang out the laundry.  I made a few adjustments to this tutorial and since I'd made one already it came together well.  All the fabric was from my stash...I love using up what I already have.  Every time I do I think, soon I'll be able to get more....well, someday maybe not soon.

Next on the list is finishing up some small gifts and then it's on to finish Kyan's quilt.  I've only been working on it for about two years....but the deadline is Yule.  I may not sew anything for anyone else as a gift until this is done.  I must finish it.  I'm excited and also nervous about the challenge of finishing a real quilt.  But I keep focusing on how I'll feel when it's finished and I'm making his bed in the morning and smoothing it out and that feeling keeps me motivated.  Anyone else have some summer projects on the go?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ocean Ritual

As a water sign I feel compelled to visit and connect with my element often.  It can be as simple as standing beside a stream or feeling the rain on my skin; but sometimes I need a bit more.  A few years ago I wrote this ritual for a friend and I to do together while camping on a lovely island in the Pacific ocean.  As two depleted mamas you can imagine what we were asking for from the waves but anyone needing to connect to water could use this ritual and adapt it as necessary.

We sat in the ocean in sacred space, the tide was coming in which created a beautiful movement for us.  Rocking us gently.  I would recommend being as close to the water as you can when you do this.  Summer is of course a great time to be immersed in cleansing waves.

Before beginning ground and center in which ever manner you are accustomed to.  Cast a circle if that is your normal practice or if the circumstances are favorable for it.

The Water holds our emotions
we ask for cleansing
we ask for healing
we ask for rest
we ask for calm
we ask for release

Great Mother Ocean please share with us your wisdom and strength
Please help us as we mother
help us to flow and move like the waves
help us to soothe others but not deplete ourselves

After these words evoke a rhythm with singing or chanting.  We sang the song in this post which I wrote years ago.  But any song or chant about water will work.

Great Mother we offer you ___________ today and thank you for your love and abundance.  
Blessed Be.

Though this is short and simple we sat for over an hour in the waves.  Connecting with the water and it's healing powers is the key. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Out of Doors

 Summer Solstice beach fire (with the moon above and waves crashing) 
The wind was also very strong that night.

There really is nothing like being outside.  And by that I mean in fresh air, under the sky, and on earth that can be felt under your feet.  Attending ritual within nature's cathedral enhances my senses and often I feel a link to centuries past, a time when being in nature was our nature; when we couldn't shield ourselves from inconvenient weather because our indoor options were few and far between.  Certainly the soft breeze and warm sunshine of spring and summer, the crisp air and slight chill in fall, and the mild cold and soft snowfall of winter are the ideal settings to share sacred space in, but what happens when the temperature drops suddenly or the day is full of thunder and lightening...well, it can't be helped.
My philosophy with the weather is to tough it out as often as I can.  I do this not because I'm a masochist but because I want to acknowledge my humble place on this globe and push myself beyond my comfort zone.
Rituals are not a huge part of my practice right now but as all ebbs and flows I know they will become more prominent as I gain more "me" time.  Also my interests are changing.  My spiritual inspirations are shifting and that will change what ritual means to my practice, but the being outside connection is a constant regardless.

 A lovely Beltaine day making wands by a lake on a mossy patch

I was just listening to episode 103 of The Wigglian Way and they played a song by Lady Isadora called Drawing Down the Moon and these lyrics fit perfectly with my theme today:
"Gather in secret if you must
But do not tarry overlong behind closed doors
For it is in the richness of the Earth
And the boundlessness of the Sky
That My true Temple is to be found
And the Moon and Sun and Stars
Will keep your secrets.
Look for Me within these things
But above all within your own souls
For it is there I am
And beyond..."
My dad built this in -10 degree Celcius temps.

And though you can't see the rain here Elliott's naming ritual was a wet one.

In my memories of these rituals and many others that I didn't have photos to share, the weather whether it was lovely or not stamped a mark.  That is the beauty to being connected in sacred space to the earth's many faces.  You remember the cold or the soft breeze,  how wet you were from the rain or how the candles were melting from a scorching sun. All this makes that time about more than words and deity or spells but also about our humanity, and our interconnectedness with this holy earth that is our home.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moo, Neigh, Baa and other sounds

It's been a while since I wrote about the boys; where they are right now.  Often I feel overwhelmed by them, they are so full of life and their ownness.  These last few days have been no exception.  I find the most unexpected thing about parenting two little souls is that it is almost impossible to make them both satisfied at once.  (Notice I didn't bother to say happy, please!)  When I get one a cracker and he seems placated the other takes exception to the sun in his eyes or some other random/freak occurrence and here we go again.
So often I'm just trying to keep some variant of peace in the chaos and remember the help that a laugh and tickle can have to remedy most situations.
Kyan, at over 4 and a half is full of questions, imagination and self-expression.  His days are filled with play including various t.v. characters or building elaborate train tracks.  He sings lots, loudly and has become a proud big brother explaining to everyone who his brother is.  Colouring is a daily activity too.  I marvel at his sweetness and how that manifests in him.  Contrasted by his not so sweet self on other occasions I've noticed that 4 is an age of opposites and defining self through lots of push and pull.  Be near me, now let me go type thing.
Elliott at 16 months is busy.  Words are coming and each week he has a new sound to try out.  First of the animal sounds was moo, last week neigh and today we moved on to baa.  Going out in public is challenging.  Screams and screeches replace any language inroads we've made and often results in difficult tantrums.  This guy likes animals and music and,  lucky for us, trains.  His teeth are almost done coming in and I still hold out hope that when they are done it will mean he sleeps longer.  Weaning is slow but happening as well.

I don't remember much about Kyan at this age.  I think it is due to the sleep deprivation I was experiencing then and that obviously has never stopped.  And while I'm not much of a mom who dresses her kids the same (see above's rare & cute example) I am trying my best to appreciate this time.  
This crazy, slow, fast, demanding time.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Needlework in Magic

[updated July 4th, 2014 - as information regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley's sexual abuse of children has been revealed I am deeply distressed but will leave this post as it is.  Mists of Avalon was a work that I loved to read but I no longer endorse Bradley's work.  In no way do I feel her art makes up for committing sexual abuse or turning the other way when a loved one commits such acts.]

Many artists, myself included feel as if they are conduits for divine energy.  I do not separate my artwork from my spiritual practice because when I make art I connect to a deep soul place that resonates with both my artistic and spiritual self.
Spiritual artwork is brought forth in many forms and has been used to adorn magical objects and places for thousands of years.  In my case this work is created with a needle and thread.  Whether through embroidery, quilting or sewing functional objects with each stitch I try and connect with a deeper flow and sense the divine moving through my fingers.
One of the most eloquent and powerful descriptions of this can be found in Marion Zimmer Bradley's classic Mists Of Avalon.  Morgaine is a priestess of Avalon and is told to make the scabbard for Arthur's sword.  She enters into a ritual space where she will channel the Goddess and embroider spells to protect the sword's bearer in battle.

On the first day, she cut, using the sword itself, an undersheath of thin doeskin. It was the first time she had had fine tools to work with, and she took pleasure in the special iron needle she had been given to stitch the sheath together...
Fashioning the shapes of doeskin sheath and velvet to cover it, she spent the first day; and before she slept, deep in meditation of what she must do, almost a trance, she cut her arm a little and smeared the doeskin with her blood...
All that day, in silence, she worked, gazing into the chalice, letting the images rise, now and then stopping to wait for inspiration in the meditative flow; she worked the horned moon, so that the Goddess should always watch over the sword and guard the sacred blood of Avalon. She was so wrapped in the magical silence that every object on which her eyes gazed, every movement of her consecrated hands, became power for the spell; it seemed at times as if visible light followed her fingers as she followed the horned moon with the full moon, and then with the dark moon, for all things must follow in season...there were times when it seemed that needle and thread moved through her own flesh or through the flesh of the land, piercing earth and sky and her own blood and body...
By sunset of the third day it was finished, every inch of the scabbard covered with twining symbols, some of which she did not even recognize; surely they had come directly from the hand of the Goddess through her hands? She lifted it; slid the sword into it; weighted it in her hands; then said aloud, breaking the ritual silence, "It is done."

While I have never had an experience as grand as this telling the trance-like rhythm of needlework often carries me to a space that feels between.  As I look towards a future of making more time to create artwork I see this as a technique to develop not only for my art career but also for my spiritual practice and journey.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tales from my Garden

With the arrival of the sun my sauna-like conditions on the patio went into high gear.  Besides drying laundry in record time I also have my tomatoes in for trial number 3.  So far suckers have been removed and blossoms are not falling off.  The container gardening course I took in May gave me some great tips about keeping the pots moist all day so hopefully I'll be rewarded with some tasty tomatoes eventually.

Peas are growing bigger and trying to hang on in the heat.  I'm trying to let the shelling peas mature as much as I can before I harvest them.  The snap peas are a living snack as you go by.

  I'm onto my second harvest of rhubarb so far from the front plot.  I think there will be at least one more run and strawberry rhubarb jam is the result this time.  I hope to freeze the remainder for some winter muffins or crisps.
I didn't plant much in terms of flowers this year since our roof is being redone and debris could damage them.  But there is a little bit of colour out there and it always brings a delight to the eye.

So far this year my little garden is as happy as it can be.  How does your garden grow?

Monday, July 9, 2012

around here

The sun has arrived.  And we have been busy.

making plant material headbands:

and running through sprinklers:

and playing in and by the pool:

This week we plan on lots more sun worship including beach time, garden work and making some jam from the sun drenched strawberries we are blessed with this year.  The busy of summer has a decidedly relaxed vibe for us.  No planned camps or special activities just occasional play dates and plenty of room for taking it all in.  We have family coming to visit soon as well.  Good times.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Poem of the Month: Nuance


Shadows are there 
fallen, strewn, cast about
this path is not smooth

this path twists
back and forth
your way is not clear through

this path brings thorns
blood dripping a trail behind
one drop for each test endured

ahead is somewhat mottled 
nuances of colour
grey upon shades of grey

stars shine above you
the earth firm below

this path is yours
but you are not alone

this path brings rest and sustenance
this path takes courage
but rewards with truth
simple as it is complex
bringing strength of heart