Though I’d like to believe myself concise or economical in my word usage and Backyard haiku series, the truth is it’s my lazy way of expression. And so on this rainy day, I challenge my brain to an essay. The problem, or situation rather, is that I haven’t had much thought at all lately.
Awhile back I accidentally forgot to credit Kahlil Gibran’s words,
And let your best be for your friend
If she must know the ebb of your tide,
Let her know the flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek her with hours to kill?
Seek her always with hours to live
Another friend thought I had written those words, which spawned a little Facebook project of writing Haiku’s or American Sentences with photos from my property. Maybe they don’t quite touch the depth of Kahlil, but with all the politics and depressing news, I like to think maybe they will put a smile on at least one person’s face… and so here they are for any of my blog readers as well.
Backyard Haiku #1
Open for the sun’s kiss
I flaunt my beauty, then hide
Mourning dove says, “Coo!”
Silence until “Croak!”
the vessel of memory
we built together?
Backyard Haiku #4the weaver of dreams
can only be awoken
by the dawning light
Backyard Haiku #5Touching elements
Leaves, skin, roots kissing Spirit
Winter’s gift of warmth
the fun guy of the forest
never lets us down
good with mac and cheese
Backyard Haiku #7
Crow cawing nearby:
What mysteries do you sing
from the darkest night?
Backyard Haiku #8Possibilities
We all began as a thought
Keep your mind open
Backyard Haiku #9
How many dead bees
will it take to awaken
honey in our hearts?
Backyard Haiku #10What of suffering?
The lotus flower blooms regardless
of murky water
Backyard Haiku #11All of the sudden
You awake and they are there
Road map to your life
Backyard Haiku # 11
The best medicine:
finding a praying mantis
the day of a sweat.
Backyard Haiku #12Fire is both a strict
and compassionate teacher:
You choose the lesson.
American Sentence #2Like dragonfly wings-the illusion that we’re fragile beings is false.
Backyard Haiku #13The power of love
comes not from standing alone
but as family.
Drunken Backyard American haiku # 1Respect your pussies:
appreciate their purring,
love their uniqueness.
Backyard American Sentence #5
At the very center of love, forgiveness springs wells of gratitude.
Backyard Haiku #14triple faced goddess
the maiden, mother and crone
we are each of these
Backyard American Sentence #6 and #7Five o’clock shadow: a blanket of darkness lies upon our tired souls.
But the light continues to return unbeckoned, Love leading the way.
Backyard Haiku #15Let’s follow the lead
of Nature, not of bullies,
Knowing All as One.
Backyard American Sentence #8Deer prints are on the path of my ancestors, the sweetest medicine.
Backyard American Sentence #9
One must look closely upon the starling’s back to see the universe.
Backyard Haiku #16
If they can survive
winter’s sharpest edged knife;
We too shall flourish.
When there are children starving
and the worst kind of silenceever heard abounds:those innocents resigningthemselves to no more tears..I gather up my harvestso that I can weep for them.
I taste the juicy peachand allow it to dribble down my chinbecause if I allow for the weight of the world tofall upon my shoulders, I too shall crumble.I gather again at my table to fill my chalice withwine, laughter and yes, forgetting….to balancethe times I am on my knees whispering into Creator’s earsand begging:begging to understand how it can be,how to help, how to change, how to stop, how to grow.The burden of the truth is at times unbearable.The great mystery of life, God…loves all Creationand it has been our free will as humans to destroy it.We are all guilty.Through touching wind,watching stars, feeding fire..I too know that all is possible.Through the sharing of the harvest,through poetry, through generations embracing,through the mother’s milk, the shaman’s roar,and the lover’s kiss and within creations of Love,ALL is possible.At my humble table,I have seen prayers so strongthat they awoke the thunder beings.I have seen a smile returnedto a friend’s face after her mourning.I have seen the magic of my mother’s foodtransform us into twinkling lights.I’ve heard soft tears, glorious laughter,song and prayer at my table.People of different faiths, colors and creedhave joined together here.And yet, I still can’t reach the hungriest of bellies,those unloved, those lost and those forgotten.I can simply continue to love the peaches.To know how precious the seeds are.In the very least, I can feed the angelswhose only hunger is for our happinesswith the joy that has had me dancing uponthis very table.And I can watch the peach tree grow.
For this year’s Imbolc….I dedicated my poem to these times. I’ve been blessed to have yoga and prayer to always fall back on, no matter how stressed, angry or depressed I am feeling. But the beginning of this year was so unnerving with this political climate, that it started affecting me physically….and so I had to search deep within to keep touching the light. Thank the Goddess and her many forms, for the constellation of women friends in my life that bouy me. They were the inspiration for this year’s craft as well. In years past, I have always set the craft table so that each guest can make their own art, but once I started crafting these spirit dolls for the friends I knew would be absent at my table, I became completely obsessed and finished them ALL (except for two) in one day!
I found the faces on Etsy and then glued them to drift wood which I attached together with sinew.
I gave each doll a little lavender breast so they would carry the sweetness.
And then I wood burned each friend’s name and ..is LOVE on the back.
The rest was done with a little thread and a glue gun. The most important part of this craft though is that while creating these dolls, I thought about each woman and allowed their beauty to inspire me.
This spirit doll and I were wearing matching dresses made by my beautiful friend Karen Flood. I had to trim the bottom off though because when your arms and thighs are basically the same size, it is best to go really short or really long.
No matter the size of your table, I encourage you all to start breaking bread with those you love. It is the most fulfilling of all rituals. No matter the suffering and pain happening all around, within a shared meal, the onions make us cry and the garlic makes us laugh so that we can forget momentarily, or rather Remember…all that is good in the world.
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since we almost lost our dear friend George. As I mentioned in my last writing, I don’t know how or why some of us meet death and some of us survive it. When we lose our loved ones- it doesn’t mean we didn’t love them enough, or pray for them enough, or that they didn’t want to live enough. The reason we love, we pray and we tell our loved ones to fight for life however, is so that we can rise above the grief of loss and ride the swell of love that comes at the threat of loosing it. We offer our tears, our words, our art …not just for our sick, or down and out friends but also for ourselves to help transmute the pain. There is no way for me to speak of the journey that George’s family went through and are still on. They, along with George, continue to inspire me more than anyone. With their love, laughter and smiles..I’m simply humbled by how they embraced this latest year as a part of their journey as complete LOVE champions… I am here to share however, that coming together with community for a loved one is one way to help heal your own pain when there is a fear of loosing someone.A communal altar is a lovely way to set up a space that holds the possibility of healing.
Hello everyone,George had a stroke while in Hawaii in the early hours of yesterday morning. He is in critical condition.As most of you know, George has one of the most kind-hearted spirits of anyone out there.George and I share a similar faith. We attend the same church and I know that both he and Liz believe in the power of prayer. Already My Uncle Jake has made offerings, and CC is an interfaith minister and married George and Liz has been praying, and their old neighbor Rebecca.I have seen miracles happen. I know that LOVE is very powerful and it certainly can’t hurt for us to all direct that Love towards the Whitehouse family.Between 3:30 and 4:30 if anyone would like to show up at their house, I’d like to create an altar there. You can add rocks, shells, flowers, anything that feels right. While we don’t take photos of ceremony traditionally, I was thinking we could at least take a photo of the altar to send to them to let them know we are thinking of them.This time of year is hard , so please if you can’t be there at 3:30 or so, you can arrive earlier and START the altar, or even drop by later and add to it in the next coming days. Or if you can’t drive to their house, just keep positive thoughts for them.If anyone wants to make a sign to hold in the photo, that could be sweet as well.I will say a prayer and anyone else is welcome to pray silently or out loud along with me.If you would like to stop by earlier in the day,, we have had ceremony in their back yard where it is kind of flat near their outdoor grill, or there is a spot down from there where their sweat lodge use to be…since offerings have already been made in those areas, I think that would be appropriate for the altar.Thanks so much.Cheri
I just finished reading one of my favorite author’s books The Smell of Rain on Dust, a book about Grief and Praise by Martin Pretchel.
It seems apropos with all the loss that has kicked off this new year. I’m so relieved and ecstatic that we are going into Imbolc with some joyful news about our brother George. It is funny how certain people, we may not even give much thought to them, but when they are taken away from us, they are constantly on our minds and we realize how crucial their existence is to our happiness.
All of us have been touched in our lives by this kind of loss to varying degrees. Many of us can empathize with loosing a pet, or a parent. Some a love, a brother or a best friend. There is no pressure to be any which way. I know that the Imbolc table has gotten heavy at times, but I embrace all of it and whatever shows up. We’re all at varying degrees on our journeys. There is no judgement.
Whatever poem speaks to you now and whatever dish speaks to you now. I’ll leave it at that. Imbolc is always about transforming the pain, the grief, the bad choices, and mistakes into love. All the greater themes are always in play, so come as you are and know you are welcome and so appreciated.
I leave you with this quote from the book that I whole heartedly agree with. The reason I can walk my path with positivity and light is because I make space for all that is lost. And I offer that in quiet moments to the grandfather stones.
Can’t wait to see all your beautiful faces on the 30th!
“If we let ourselves “have” our deepest emotions about the prospect of losing what we love most, our deepest feelings about having lost what we do love, then those deepest feelings of love, no longer have a place to go, must now get to the real work of life: by filling the place she, he, they or the country lost have left empty, with our creations of beautiful music, singing, eloquence, housing, plant growing, beautiful food, clothing, jewelry, acrobatics, dancing, stonework, iron work, woodwork, communal gift giving, weaving, knitting, spinning, braiding, and so on in every kind of good and well done creations for the world to have. Motivated by our grief in this way, our creations only express our emotions, but because our well-made creations from our grief must bring “beauty” to those who hear or wear them, anyone seeing, hearing, or feeling what we have caused to manifest would be inspired and filled with life. This is turning loss into beauty in its most elemental sense.”
And so we came together again for my annual Imbolc dinner and dedicated our thoughts to this lovely family. What better symbol of transformation than the butterfly? All you need is wooden butterflies and markers that draw on wood. I also like this idea for a new baby…one could make a mobile with the butterflies.
Fortunately for me, I was able to hand deliver the butterflies. Unfortuantely, I didnt know that they were staying in a house with 20 foot tall ceilings! This was written upon my return.Hello everyone!The question that has most been on my mind these past two months is how are George and Liz doing? Liz has done such a precise and difficult job of keeping us all updated on the incredible hurdles George has had to metaphorically jump over. He’s has been through a ring of fire so profound, so life threatening that he will never be the same again. Oh yes, I believe he will heal completely, but after having a fist on heaven’s door about to knock and then choosing to return to life and family, I know that each footstep will be even more profound for George than it already was.From the moment I first heard of George’s stroke, I immediately attached to the possibility of full recovery. Even so, there was a moment in which without even haven spoken to Liz, or heard recent updates, energetically from thousands of miles away, I felt we might lose him. Those weeks leading into Christmas and the New Year were clouded. Fortunately for me, I have a place to go to speak to God. And so I pleaded on behalf of George’s life. We need people like George (and Liz), for they are true beacons of love. George and I have always had a spiritual connection because we share the same church, and I call him brother. And so after meditating all night, as one does in the Native American Church, on George’s recovery, the tears started streaming down my cheeks as I was allowed to be in the presence of the spiritual beings that watch over him. They are a mighty bunch and Uncle Bill who had the depths of both George and I’s hearts came to me and assured me that he has been holding vigil for George from the other side. He has long moved on into Spirit and yet his mundane love was so strong for George, he came back for him. I gave him my grief which he replaced with hope.For whatever reasons our lives have connected, I have only ever been inspired by George. I think I was a fairy the Halloween night he first met Liz, and promptly fell in love with her.I have literally walked over coals made from his fire, prayed with him after he lost his father who was an amazing man who I remember fondly from the time he taught my children magic tricks. I have eaten many turkeys cooked by this wonderful couple and am always intrigued with how George knows when to remove the coals from his earth pit and un-bury the turkey…you don’t really have a timer on that one. I was there to pray with them when the twins position in utero was compromised and we had a sweat for them. I was also able to witness the twins receiving their spiritual names from Margaret Behan, one of the 13 indigenous Grandmothers who helps run an international peace council. But truly what bonds me to George even more than the love our children have for one another, the love I have for his wife as one of my close friends, is sharing my grief with him over our loss of Uncle Bill. If road men (men that run ceremony in Native American Church ,originally called Robe Men in honor of their ability to wear particular robes,but then adopted as Road Men, since they travel so much) were being compared to rock stars or musicians, Uncle Bill was Mick Jagger. He had deep issues with alcohol addiction and was in no means perfect, but he loved unconditionally and moved me in my expanse of caring for others like no one else has. I have always had a deep connection to the Earth, but he was the one that came along and lifted this veil for me, that there is no shame in expressing myself. George also had a deep closeness with him. And so along with my brother-in-law James , we all drove down to Oklahoma together to say our goodbyes to Bill when he was dying. I met George through James as they worked together for a few years.My sister’s entire family is also very close with the Whitehouse clan.The tenderness and devotion that I saw between George and Bill was a memory I will never forget. That it is okay to touch and caress a dying person. It is okay to cry with them. I feel like we all have so much fear and keep our emotions so bottled up, including myself, that it completely opened my eyes. There is as much strength in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as there is strength in sometimes not being vulnerable.When Bill was dying Jake Singer showed up seemingly out of nowhere to help us fix up the family plot for Bill’s 4 day wake. I feel like it was divine intervention that sent Jake to step into Bill’s boots so to speak and be our spiritual mentor. If it wasn’t for George opening up his doors for Jake, none of us that live in the vicinity would likely have his presence around. But again, through George’s (and Liz!) generosity, Jake was able to land and ground himself and has been helping and healing many people in this community ever since. While Bill was holding vigil from heaven, Jake has been making prayers on Earth and even went to visit George during his brain surgery in the hospital. All of our tears, and prayers, ALL of them have helped. But Jake certainly has a way with prayer that is miraculous. I have seen the way he is with his patients as a medicine man, and been witness to much healing through his connection to God and plants.I have yet another connection with them in that my mentor and best friend outside of my age bracket, CC Loveheart, married George and Liz,,,and through that introduction realized that CC’s husband and Liz’s dad were buddies in college!Speaking of Liz, it has always been with open arms that we embraced her as George’s equal and perfect match. Two thumbs, two arms up rather AND a WHOOT WHOOT! Their magnetizing yin/yang, their wonderful sense of humor, their bravery is what has made this epic battle of his bearable in my mind. Knowing that he has Liz by his side. I have told Liz that out of all my friends if I was ever stuck on a deserted island and I could only choose one other woman to be there with me, that I would choose her. I may have a couple of friends that I have more history and therefore more emotional attachment to, but Liz would get me off that island and back into our families arms!She demands of people their best selves, because she always is giving 110%. She has an incredible mind and I find it so rare to know a person that has such a balance of wit and being grounded in heart and spirit. We both share immense practicality and strong will with a penchant to have FUN.Imagine my delight to love these two people so much and then to get to become their children’s teacher! Orson and Theodora have all the best qualities of George and Liz. I know I would have to fight other willing and capable hands, but it would be within a heartbeat that I would raise these two as my own if ever needed.Which brings me to the fact that it won’t be. The preamble and introduction of who I am in relation to this family, or rather who they are to me, is so that you all can understand what I am about to say going forward.Please don’t do this by the way!!! I have been recently moved by an Elizabeth Gilbert speech on following our curiosity. Choosing where we go and what we do by what engages us. Because the question of George’s well being was such on the forefront of my mind, I bought a ticket to go see them this weekend, without even speaking to Liz about it first. Granted I had my brother’s house to stay at 20 minutes away and if I was blocked at the door I would have had a bed to turn to….But I just had to see George and Liz with my own eyes.So for all of you who care for this family as much as I do, I am sharing with you now, in order that you don’t have to go and visit yet. I know Liz and George both have relationships in which face to face is simply a must, family and very close friends. But now I know that Liz is more than capable of calling on these friends herself and knowing best the timing of things. As Liz mentioned, George will be released at the beginning of next month to come home and begin physical therapy with Liz. She will be completely focused on his recovery.On first sight, it was simply shocking to see George. This once nimble, and incredibly fit climber of rafters, sailor of the Sunfish, incredible craftsman is about half the size of his former self. After two months of being on a feeding tube he has lost much body mass. But after getting over that initial shock, you see it. GEORGE WHITEHOUSE< the fighter. The miracle man. The man who spiritual men fall in love with. The father. The husband, the friend.Yes, he has a long way to go, yes, he has to relearn how to walk, how to speak, how to eat. But he is there and there is no doubt that his will and love for his family will bring him back even further. I was right. Liz is a champion. She is his greatest advocate and of course they have the entire staff, maybe minus one social worker, in love with them. Willing to be their best selves as I mentioned Liz’s influences has on people. George is already making jokes with them. When they enter the room, he remembers their names and says hello to them. It takes him a while to get the words out still but he is speaking. He is cognizant and aware. On the other side of my pleading tears, were only tears of gratitude. I’m so deeply grateful to all who have held this family in your hearts. SO deeply grateful for George’s family who gave him to us in the first place. Grateful to his guardians that willingly fight for this man knowing he is the kind of man that was born remembering how to love others. But I am most grateful to Liz Whitehouse. She is absolutely AMAZING with George, as much as he was with Bill. Her devotion and patience with him, her smiles, her coaching. Her love. I didn’t know I had it in me to have even more respect for this strong woman than I already do, but she is not only managing to take care of George but insure that the twins are happy and taken care of. She is actually ready and willing to embark on this new journey as a family.Crazily enough, she already has a built-in support system, perhaps stronger than she would have here. We would all be rallying to help her, but we simply don’t have the sunshine, the swimming pool, the garden, and the horses that all make up the environment in which George will be doing his healing. Her uncle’s house is simply heaven on earth. I got to meet this wonderful woman that has basically adopted Liz and the twins into her family. She happens to be married to Liz’s aunt’s best friend’s son! Was reconnected with Liz And Liz knows her from her college days at Brown! AND we also discovered I went to high school with her in Dallas! Leslie and Jim have two children who love the twins. She looked my sister and I in the eye and said, “Dont worry, I have their backs.” And I believe her.This whole experience has made me a better person. George’s brush with death, their resilience, the power of love..all of these things have made me stop taking so much for granted. Of course, I still will at times, but less so.It has taught me that kind people make a difference in each other’s lives as apparent in the way, there is so much support for this family back home. It has taught me, to not be afraid of illness. It is almost as if they have been given a second chance..I can’t quite bring myself to call it a “ gift”, but yes in some ways, this has been an awakening for them as a family….Liz’s heart has grown even more. George is moving and inspiring all the lives he touches, even still.Thank you!A year later, I think about the great musicians we have lost, the threat of our democracy and our right to protest , the tragic state of our water, and then I think about George and what he has been through this past year. I think about his smile and heart felt and contagious laugh. I think about how he managed to land such a powerful and wild heart of his wife’s, I think about the joy in the hearts of his children and I rememebr that while I will never give up fighting for the things I belive in, that I will count my blessings. I will take pleasure in the small things. I will mediate on the light and give thanks for all that I have. Merry Christmas and may Peace be in your heart.
Perhaps I’ll never understand the reasons for senseless death. Through all my years of spiritual study, never have I found a meaning that satisfies my need to know how innocent children can be killed. Some say, we choose our paths before we are born. That we choose these hardships to know expansion. For instance, anyone who has every truly healed themselves from trauma, helped others heal, learned how to forgive… these people have a deeper capability to know love. Even a simple thing, like finally getting over a bad cold.. we feel freedom for a few days before we fall back into unawareness and take our health for granted. Sometimes, the deeper our sadnesses, the deeper our happiness on the other side. However, seeing the images of dead children, bloodied children in Aleppo, I don’t think the Dali Lama himself can explain these things in a way for my heart to comprehend.
And yet, the mind and heart are vast in their complexities. And so I can’t explain why some of us are taken in ways cruel and unfair.. I also know that we can affect our deaths. We can at least work on ourselves everyday so that we can go peacefully when the time comes. Through yoga, meditation, walks in nature, we can calm our minds. When we get diagnosed with diseases, fall off our horses, have mishaps with ice… we are given an opportunity to remember that life is short. We have a chance to ask ourselves how am I fulfilling my heart and spirit? For the people in the war torn hells in Earth, no I can’t fathom asking these questions when you are trying to simply survive,,, but then there are others who find themselves and wake up to their expanse of love by helping, and the deeper the need for help, the greater the reward of fulfillment from helping. We do not have to look far to find someone to help. And sometimes, we don’t have to do much to be helpful. I remember a homeless guy once told me thank you for lighting up his day with my smile. I didn’t even have any money to give him at the time.
For the empathetic soul, it can get overwhelming. Once you start seeing all the four leggeds, swimming and winged ones in need, it’s hard to even get past those atrocities to also find the compassion and time to help our fellow two leggeds. When we see the ocean being polluted and governments turning their backs, we want to throw our hands up and accept defeat. But if each one of us, chose one cause to fight for, whether through activism, time or money… so much could be done. Giving to local charities can be very rewarding because you can physically see the effect. But the world is also full of suffering and help is needed everywhere.
And no one says you can’t take a rest. While I couldn’t physically go to Standing Rock: I had prayer ceremonies, sent money, donated clothes gathered from community, cleaned about ten pounds of cedar to mail, and now.. I just need a break . I need a break from Aleppo news. For this week going into the lengthening of the light, I will not click on Donald Trump’s image. I need one week of positivity and love. I have seen some of my activist friends, burn out. I have an elder friend who is no longer with us, tell me a story about loosing his family after the Vietnam War, for spending so much time trying to speak out against it. Balance is key! And so for this week, I will gather with friends, be with family, eat well, and enjoy myself. We have to be good to ourselves too! Garner strength, rest, and then when you wake up one day in early January, choose one way to be of service. The holidays are wonderful because many people truly do inhabit the spirit of giving. But there are always people in need.And for those of us who become too preoccupied, or forgetful, or busy… like an oil change or dentist appointment, you find ways to make the time. And when you take care of maintenance, you realize things run better. This is more like spiritual maintenance. After volunteering, running for breast cancer, adopting a foster dog, donating to a cause… whatever it may be, the heart always alights. While the tragedies may never make sense around us, let’s all do what we can to effect the causes we can. Let’s make each day better than the next.
How will you donate to your own, another’s or the planets betterment? We never know when it will be ourselves needing the help. Maybe it starts with a little intention of today I will be kind to myself. I will not allow negative thoughts about myself enter my mind. Or if I find myself judging others, I will ask how am I different from that which I judge? How am I responsible? Perhaps, in the end,, there are no answers to what our true purpose here on Earth is. Maybe, just maybe, the idea is to keep searching for Love..and when it touches you for a second, a week, a year or a lifetime, give thanks.
I may well end up on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, feeding the birds. The color and sound they bring to my world is not lost on me. During the summer months when I am unhurried to get my day going, I lie in bed and do my mental workout. I think about how great it would be to salute the sun, take a brisk jog, juice some veggies. All the while, laying snug as a bug and watching the birds. I’ll ever have the disapproving look of our exterminator in my mind telling me that if I don’t want mice, I may consider getting rid of the bird feeder, but that is nonnegotiable. It is a favorite part of my day.
There are so many things I cherish about the Native American Church, but perhaps my favorite detail is the use of tail feathers to pray with, such a kaleidoscope of color. There is nothing like getting smudged off from the wind of an eagle tail from one of my Native American uncles. It feels like the Goddess coming around and gracing me with her presence. Or perhaps what some people call the Holy Spirit.
And just like the rest of us, birds can be assholes, squabbling about their differences, insisting on taking up space by the sheer beauty and depth of color that they inhabit.
The suited bluejays are the bullies of the playground. The sweet morning dove, always a part of a duet. The yellow finches seem to be forever at play. The hummingbird zooming in and out, arguing the “whether”. I celebrate their diversity. And perhaps that is why I find them underfoot at times. I’ve held a few birds while they take their last breath. They just seem to find their way to me.
So for me, the dream catcher and the use of bird feathers is much more than simple decoration. It is rather a form of communion: creating something beautiful with these heavenly gifts.
One can easily look up how to make a dream catcher online. I am here rather to encourage their usage. Originally intended by the Ojibwe for protection of their children from bad dreams, the dream catcher seems an over-commercialized item, even inspiring trendy (but I think Beautiful) tattoos. Even so, it is a simple enough to make symbol of good intention and a lovely way to use found feathers.
Woodpeckers seem to be a strong medicine for me. There was a pair mating in our willow tree during my wedding ceremony. And ever since, they have flitted in and out of my life. They represent the heartbeat to me, the drummer, the opportunist. We’ve all heard the expression when opportunity comes a knocking. I do believe there is a balance between asking for things we need/want and taking advantage of people’s inability to say NO. I think heartfelt and sincere moments of asking for help bring out the opportunity for others to give and feel good about themselves rather than leaving them feeling used. The woodpecker sighting is a reminder to be bold, like the red flame atop their heads, and go for it.
Whether making jewelry or dream catchers, I always bury the birds I find with some tobacco and a prayer of gratitude.
There is truly no greater joy for me than being buzzed by a hummingbird (the namesake of my blog). And as Henry Miller says, “either you take in believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.”
This little beauty was gifted to me be a dear friend. I use her feathers as part of my prayer fan. A reminder that despite all the suffering in the world, the injustices, the horrors…we still all have a choice to choose joy. Joy is a harder path for some than others, but I can assure you one of the easiest step towards joy is counting your blessings rather than focusing on what is lacking.
Dream catchers are an easier craft than some of the other feather work you see here as all one has to do is make a loop out of willow, or you can even buy a metal hoop.
There are different methods of lacing the spider’s web for catching dreams found online. And once that is done, it is up to you how you’d like to individualize your dream catcher. My daughter made this one with a cardinal wing .
And my sweetheart former student Vivi made this beauty.
The feathers can be tied on, or simply stuck in the bead on the leather hanging down.
What is so fun about creating these is that they can be unique and embellished per one’s desire. My mother’s dream catcher happened to match her outfit.
My beautiful friend Sandra, all a smile.
and a wonderful, wistful dream catcher created by Jess…
While I prefer to use willow and sinew and make more traditional style dream catchers like Jess’s above; I think in a culture in which we adopt ideas of others and personalize them, the most important thing is to imbibe your creation with good thoughts towards it’s owner whether it be yourself or another. We make offerings to the willow tree before using her branches.
For a young friend of mine, I added a fairy detail. For who better to help protect our dreams?
Just as within the seed the potential of the fruit, the flower, the scent and the beauty of a flower exist, so does the possibility of our own blossoming exist within the dream.
We simply can not achieve that which we can not imagine. Everything begins with a thought. And the more we can spin our thoughts into conversations, and then actions, the more we manifest our waking dreams. And what of the journeys we take in our sleep? I think they are important beyond measure. Whether we can recall them or not, the time spent asleep when our subconscious mind is allowed to process all that we encounter is a precious jewel whose currency is priceless. Just as in waking meditations we can begin to control our minds, calm them, observe and release our thoughts with non-attachment, so can we control our dreams. Once all the unproductive jibber-jabber, negativity and doubt falls to the way side, we can find clarity and begin to build the lives we want. The dream catcher, is a reminder of this.
Much like dealing with a hormonally charged woman, I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone play with fire.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
― Maya Angelou
I think one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the time to grieve. Otherwise, the beauty that surrounds us on all sides is tarnished to an extent because the weight in our hearts is pulling us down and we can’t be in the moment. There is much to grieve about. I am ever grateful to have a place directly on Earth to do so. The inipi ceremony to me is such a precious gem. It is so sacred that I don’t quite have the language for it, nor do I necessarily feel inspired to talk about it to others. Only to recognize that having a space to put down our worries is so important. I’m not one to criticize so much, as I have learned that you never can judge another person for you are not walking in their shoes. Unless one is psychic, there is no way to tell the lack of love, the pain, the bad upbringing that another person has had that makes them act the way they do. I can only ever really work on myself. But I will say, that it does annoy me when people are criticized for how they grieve. Don’t even get me started on the slack that President Obama got for crying about CHILDREN DYING! in these absurd mass shootings. It is something that I cry for as well. Pointless death of innocents makes me sad.
I think because I do allow myself the space for this, like lying in bed for ten hours yesterday and watching David Bowie interviews, movies and music videos, all that weight is lifted. You almost have to go all the way to the bottom of it before the drain is unplugged and you can fill up with joy and light again. Some people are afraid to do this, but I am more afraid not to. As I don’t want that pent up emotion materializing into illness. In the sweat, the grandfather and grandmother stone people are the ones that listen and diffuse the pain. But a listening ear, the ocean, a hike….there are other ways to quietly let our sadnesses free. The deepest question I have that I still have not completely felt fulfilled in having answered is why such heavy burdens are given to those who don’t seem deserving of it. I have studied spirituality, buddhism, and understand a bit about the quantum field. And no universe, I am NOT asking to be burdened. Only to understand WHY . I do think a lot of the cancer that is occurring now is due to the collective consciousness being asleep at the wheel. Actually at all times, I believe that bucket of light and that bucket of dark is balanced…and we choose which one to gather our light from. So while there are so many strides towards being a better human race, and people genuinely seem kinder in ways,the Earth is suffering and we aren’t doing enough and it is making our planet sick and therefore ourselves.
Oh crap, sorry, I am going to get off my soap box as my intention was to talk about crafts!!!
I guess my point is! That Imbolc is a time of year I allow for my friends to bring both their sadnesses and their joys to my table and share it through poetry. But I have been adopting other “ritual” so to speak for the evening and I find that creating with other people is so healing! Even just a meal. I am pretty simple. I just got a phone last year. I am naughtily addicted to Facebook, but I don’t do pinterest, instagram and all those other things, as I can’t give up any more of my time. So I figure I will share these ideas and if even only a few people adopt them, I will have at least shared and have these memories down for my daughter.
So since I just went on a lecture and I am now running out of time before my children start circling me like wolves for lunch, I am going to make this a simple list:
Make a collaborative meal with friends. I like rolling spring rolls, or have everyone bring an ingredient for something like tuna nicoise.
Order a candle making kit and roll them with friends, light them and state an intention for the light. Light and fire is a really wonderful way to represent the Divine. Even atheist can recognize that we need light to survive, and that it can be honored and represent the love that abides within us.
Ask your friends to make a tarot card. I love the tarot for guidance. There is a great website that makeyourownplayingcards that has a set up for tarot. I made my own personal deck with photos of friends and Brigit on the front. I think it is a fun way to play around with your unconscious mind and learn how to bring it forward into consciousness.
4. You can read my other posts about making altars/tarot, but I find that having a small altar at gatherings really helps to ground the energy. Here is one of mine and you can see that I take those old make-up compacts and make them into traveling altars. Some people get their panties in a wad if you touch their stuff. To others it may just be a rock or a feather, but to the creator of the altar it might signify something much deeper. So it is always a good idea to ask. Me personally, I have no problem with my friends interacting with my altars. I trust that only their good energy will be imbibed. But I have heard some crazy stories and people’s things getting infested with bugs and stuff…Just F.y.i.
5.Set a beautiful table! The best thing I ever learned from Martha Stewart. Always have your table set before the first guest arrives.
6. Have guests bring a poem written on found pieces of nature, and then let everyone take home a piece. So if they write the verses divided on ten pieces and there are ten guests who do the same, everyone will go home with a beautiful and original poem that they can interact with.7. Write a collective poem by writing a line and then covering everything except the last word…and then passing to next person to write
Our collectiveness and other thoughts
Being together, wanting more, wanting less
creates in us an implosion
sparkling geodes of wandering thoughts
of you when we were young
and loose-i will always love
To Love, to be loved, to love, to be loved
to love, to be loved, to love, to be loved
I feel loved by all these beautiful and wonderful
ladies came to our house for Imbolc.
It is a wonderful feeling.
It was written in the heavens long before you or me
we are here together and we are one.
We are the color, the light, the texture, the wonder of LOVE.
There is heart between the two
love is true, horses running into light,
It is within our Flight.
She glides along the earth,
head and spirits in the clouds.
We all scramble to keep up,
to learn. to glimpse the world through her eyes.
Fairy Cheri, you possess such magic
and share such Love.
the magic of sisterhood
the nucleus of our community
I am grateful for it
(something something…words got ripped off the paper)
There are many reasons I celebrate Imbolc annually coming up on ten years. First of all, what is Imbolc? In the Old Religion of Goddess worship, February 1st was always celebrated as the birthday of the triple Goddess Bridget and was considered to be the first day of Spring. The Irish would wait to see if they would see a snake crawl out the ground on that day to determine how much more winter there would be to come, by wether or not the snake saw its shadow, (sound familiar?). And the Christian church adopted Candlemas to incorporate the worship of Saint Bridgit, Saint of the Hearth and Poetry.While my table has expanded to include more friends for the evening’s festivities, my own tradition of celebrating Imbolc started in 2006 with a humble group of 6. Since then, so many magical happenings have grown from that.
I grew up in Texas, so after moving to (south) upstate New York, I had to find a way to survive the winters besides painting everything in my house white and sitting around crying because I missed the heat.
There was no particular emphasis on any one religion in my family growing up. While I attended an Episcopal school and church, my pastor drank beer and his son deflowered a girl in our R.V. at half time at a Baylor football game. So I guess I just assumed God was very casual. It wasn’t until I started coming home from boarding school in Dallas to my parent’s country home that my need and connection to Nature grew very deep. I would take long, solitary walks and admire the eagles, deer, even the scorpions that I would find. I discovered peace in the stillness and quiet of the Texas hill country and it rooted itself into my being.
Not really knowing that many people yet, and still not having found my church community, I wanted to honor the season of spring coming and do something “spiritual.”
So for the first Imbolc, I invited all five of my lady friends, including my sister. We gathered in my then carpeted living room , stood in a circle and held hands. We asked the eldest of us, to start first, maybe stating an intention.
After awhile she yelled out, “FOUR!” or maybe she was saying “FORE!”
We were all a bit awkward. SO I then asked everyone to instead write their intention on a piece of paper. I had made an altar out of an old planter, and stuck a bunch of candles in the dirt, thinking how very clever I was.
We burned our little papers off the candle’s flames and continued eating and drinking in the kitchen. A few hours later my husband came home with my children. The kids RAN upstairs and he looked around. Without saying a word, he counted all the wine bottles on the table, and then walked into the living room where he picked up our smoldering altar, placed it outside and then upstairs to bed. Brigid sent us a man to save the day!
The following year, I upped my game a bit. With a few new solid friendships, I think I may have doubled the guest list! Being the closest Saturday to Feb 1st each year, however, you never know what Mother Nature will have in store for you.
I dutifully tied my ribbon on my door for Imbolc’s eve and then tied that ribbon on a pen that we would again write down our intentions, but NOT burn them this year. (Apparently Bridgit is meant to come to all the houses with a ribbon on the door and bless them). Because my mom use to go to a lot of auctions I have random things laying around, like incomplete tarot card sets. So for this year, I set the table with a tarot at each plate and a shell with Rilke’s poem:
Spring has come once more;
earth like the double of a girl who has memorized
many, many verses… For her trouble
and long study she earns the prize.
Her teacher was strict. We liked the white
in the whiskers of the old man.
Can she tell us the name of the greensward light,
now, the meaning of this blue? She can! She can!
Lucky Earth at liberty, play tag with youths
who long to catch you. Will any succeed?
Only those most happily delighting.
Of what her teacher professed, manifold truths,
what is imprinted within the roots, the seeds,
the long, demanding stems: she sings, she sings!
Due to an ice storm, only 4 people showed up! Even less than the previous year. We made the best of it however. I had a potpourri of rose petals, cut up peacock feathers, lavender, and sage and we made our own bundles. And everyone was gifted feathers from the grouse and morning dove I found that year.
More to come on other ideas, but I share this for all of you: invite friends over and ask them to read a poem. It makes for an intimate evening. We have become lost from words and poetry in this fast paced world. It is the one constant ritual I have required every year, and we all look forward to it. An unleashed poem captures a moment into eternity.
I have to say that without my husband supporting me and my crazy ideas, without judging me, and giving me complete free rein, I don’t think these evenings would go as beautifully as they do. He must recognize the strength I garner from my female friendships. My children have received his sweetness and that is my greatest joy. I pray that their lives be paved with amazing experiences and awesome amounts of Love.
I think by gathering, and sharing, and relieving myself of the burden of life by sharing it with my close friends, I am able to be more present for my family. It is because of nights like Imbolc that my Love deepens for them and the profundity of that bond is deepened. Men, be patient and trusting of your women and they will Love you to no end. Women:when men treat you well, praise their efforts and feed them well.
I assure you that magic will happen.