thegreenestjewel

Into the woods

FullSizeRenderIMG_2990IMG_2989Though 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.

I’ve simply spent all  my spare time learning the language of flowers. I am single minded
and devoted to them. After having a physical reaction to our current president and breaking out in hives over the stress and worry that he causes me, I decided to switch my focus onto Nature. She inspires me, and frankly I think I have much more to learn from her than from our so called leader of the United Sates. With my shift in focus, so has my perspective shifted, and in an odd way, I have actually become thankful for our current POTUS. Not for a single one of his policies, or his tweets, or really anything that has come out of his mouth….but for the change I see available to us through him. Through the backlash I see of people taking matters into their own hands to make the world a better place.
     And so what have the flowers taught me? Well, they are very feminine, and like women, they are complex and unique. There are some flowers like daisies that have more of a puppy dog energy and they simply want to please us. Not all of them are so humble however, like my roses and my peonies. They beg nothing of us. They don’t need our attention to be big and beautiful. It is simply enough for them to be themselves. They don’t even compete, like the shy lotus flowers who hide among the frogs and lily pads, only blazoned by the encouragement of the sun. I am partial to the field flowers; the goldenrods, wild irises and strawberries and flowers whose names have been forgotten because they were never deemed pretty enough to become engrained. What they have taught me, all the different species, is that like them, we too are beautiful as we are…especially the more diverse we are. I believe I will never conquer my war with weeds, until I learn to love them. And so it is with people.
     Last Friday something happened that took me out of my garden and into the woods along the edge of our property and into our neighbor’s land. My husband was mowing the lawn and saw two bald eagles doing their mating dance, and one of them dropped a white tail feather. I used some tobacco and my prayers and ventured into the woods, very optimistic that I would find that feather for my uncle Jake Singer who is being honored as a CHIEF this year at Sundance. They say the feathers from live eagles make the most powerful healing tools and he has the training and knowledge of how to do so. While I have spent the larger part of my weekend, trapsing the woods, I did not find the feather. What I did find however was the beauty and energy of the woods. As much time as I spend on my flower gardens, the forest is one massive garden of trees, ferns, lily-of the valley and oh so much more.
     When I was pregnant I use to wander into the woods quite often so I could skinny dip in the stream and wash away the commotion of NYC off my body. But since my neighbor died, and his grandson took over the place, I feel better about respecting his privacy. He also likes to do a lot of target practice, and well, yeah. I am a pacifist, but I actually have much respect for my friends who hunt ethically for food. Every year, I tell myself I’m going to learn how to hunt, but Ive never gotten up the gumption. Anyhow, I revisited the brook where we once took red clay to make finger pots with, the spot where I would meditate in the water, and my old sitting bench that I forgot all about! The river has slightly changed its course from the time when we were such close friends.
     Probably the most exciting find was the reishi harvest jackpot I found. They are such magical beings mushrooms. The way they communicate and help each other out. Perhaps when I graduate from flowers I will start spending more time with those fun guys. If it wasn’t for that eagle feather sighting, I never would have found Mother Nature’s pharmacy.
     Whether through my flowers, or the forest breeze, or the dappling light…the biggest message that I am hearing is that we all must return to Nature in some shape or form. Yes, it is disheartening to see our president not stand up for our planet, in some weird, confusing jargon that makes it seem like he is doing it for us Americans. But I tell you, those wounds can be healed. We can go into nature and allow her to teach us, allow for her to share her Beauty in a way that we stand up for her protection. In a way that we will be allowed to sustainably hunt her animals for years to come. I know I am blessed, and not all of us can just walk into our backyard and find woods. But She is everywhere! And so Be Good to you, go to Her. Have a listen, sing out loud, bathe in her waters. And perhaps we too, can blossom into a bouquet of humanity that strives to make each day better than the next. How are you allowing yourself to live or not live?
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. ThoreauIMG_3026
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Backyard Haiku’s

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 live14237602_10154467722208571_7392942750501147330_n.jpg

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.14232562_10154473225543571_4846455327820639302_n.jpg
Backyard Haiku #1

Open for the sun’s kiss
I flaunt my beauty, then hide
Mourning dove says, “Coo!”

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Backyard haiku #2Lotus flower blooms
Camouflaged enlightenment
Silence until “Croak!”

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Backyard Haiku #3What will remain in
the vessel of memory
we built together?

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Backyard Haiku #4the weaver of dreams
can only be awoken
by the dawning light

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Backyard Haiku #5Touching elements
Leaves, skin, roots kissing Spirit
Winter’s gift of warmth

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Backyard Haiku #6chicken of the woods
the fun guy of the forest
never lets us down

(or alternately)

good with mac and cheese

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Backyard Haiku #7

Crow cawing nearby:
What mysteries do you sing
from the darkest night?14344182_10154515970848571_4052815148442852895_n.jpg

 

Backyard Haiku #8
Possibilities
We all began as a thought
Keep your mind open

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Backyard Haiku #9

How many dead bees
will it take to awaken
honey in our hearts?14390624_10154526482683571_1624651324141655959_n.jpg


Backyard Haiku #10
What of suffering?
The lotus flower blooms regardless
of murky water

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Backyard Haiku #11All of the sudden
You awake and they are there
Road map to your life
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Backyard Haiku # 11

The best medicine:
finding a praying mantis
the day of a sweat.

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American Sentence#1There is not enough room to speak about this jewel in one sentence.

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Backyard Haiku #12Fire is both a strict
and compassionate teacher:
You choose the lesson.

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American Sentence #2Like dragonfly wings-the illusion that we’re fragile beings is false.

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Backyard Haiku #13The power of love
comes not from standing alone
but as family.

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Drunken Backyard American haiku # 1Respect your pussies:
appreciate their purring,
love their uniqueness.

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Backyard American Sentence #5

At the very center of love, forgiveness springs wells of gratitude.

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Backyard Haiku #14
triple faced goddess
the maiden, mother and crone
we are each of these

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Backyard American Sentence #6 and #7
Five o’clock shadow: a blanket of darkness lies upon our tired souls.
But the light continues to return unbeckoned, Love leading the way.

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Backyard Haiku #15Let’s follow the lead
of Nature, not of bullies,
Knowing All as One.

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Backyard American Sentence #8Deer prints are on the path of my ancestors, the sweetest medicine.

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Backyard American Sentence #9

One must look closely upon the starling’s back to see the universe.16999175_10155035754768571_3858640237677181753_n.jpg

Backyard Haiku #16

If they can survive
winter’s sharpest edged knife;
We too shall flourish.

It is the daily miracles that we witness in nature that help us reach our hearts and minds towards the sun. Relish in these. 4 years is a long time. Parts of us are dying much like Mother Earth. But the best parts will continue to return, like the crocus in springtime.
 

Spirit Dolls /At my Table

 

When there are children starving

and the worst kind of silence

ever heard abounds:
those innocents resigning
themselves to no more tears..
I gather up my harvest
so that I can weep for them.
I taste the juicy peach
and allow it to dribble down my chin
because if I allow for the weight of the world to
fall upon my shoulders, I too shall crumble.
I gather again at my table to fill my chalice with
wine, laughter and yes, forgetting….to balance
the times I am on my knees whispering into Creator’s ears
and 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 Creation
and 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 strong
that they awoke the thunder beings.
I have seen a smile returned
to a friend’s face after her mourning.
I have seen the magic of my mother’s food
transform us into twinkling lights.
I’ve heard soft tears, glorious laughter,
song and prayer at my table.
People of different faiths, colors and creed
have 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 angels
whose only hunger is for our happiness
with the joy that has had me dancing upon
this very table.
And I can watch the peach tree grow.

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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.

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I gave each doll a little lavender breast so they would carry the sweetness.

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And then I wood burned each friend’s name and ..is LOVE on the back.IMG_0465.JPG

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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For George

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.

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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.
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Hello Dears,

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.”


xc

 

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.img_3262

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 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.

Spirit of Giving

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.IMG_0155.JPG

DreamWeaver

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.

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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.

 

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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. IMG_7451 (1)IMG_7460 (1)

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 .DSCF0837

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And my sweetheart former student Vivi made this beauty.

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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.IMG_7659

My beautiful friend Sandra, all a smile.IMG_7668

and a wonderful, wistful dream catcher created by Jess…IMG_7676

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?

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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.

 

Seek those who fan your flame :Rumi

Much like dealing with a hormonally charged woman, I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone play with fire.

The fire, like the woman, sometimes has an insatiable hunger…for the woman, it may be that she is tuning into the immense grief of our Mother Earth.
Her rage and anger may be starving for attention because she was always taught to be nice and not to speak up or ruffle feathers.
But her inner strength is fueled by this extra bit of power and she is communing with the Divine Femine, the gift that enables us to literally Create a Human Being.
And so she realizes that it Is OKAY to be angry, and/or sad for all the grievances of living beings that make up the whole. If one is willing to ask her, she might tell you.
She might begin to feel better by speaking about it. She might even turn her rage into joy through the action of her care taking. Through her remembering of her beautiful
indigenous spirit. She might find that this monthly meditation also lends to incredible energy surge of nesting, building, or creating. You may even decide she is worth
complimenting. And you will see her face begin to illuminate when the compliment is sincere. It does not have to be about her beauty. It can be about her strong hands,
her lyrical voice, or the gratitude you have for the environment that she maintains clean and cozy. It can be the appreciation for the moment she took to be present with your offspring, how she fed them from her breast. Sometimes she is so thoughtful that she knits things for her future offspring , grandchildren or loved ones. You may have to get through her rage to find the light. But if you are willing to do so, you may stop her from getting ill. She is as the Mother Earth is. Take care of her now and appreciate her love and she will not have to become ill so you can see what has been taken for granted. It will not have to come to that .
Just like her, the fire is more of a counter part. I think of the fire as He. He is always hungry as well, without his hunger, without being fed, he will die. What we don’t realize, what we forget however, is that the fire doesn’t have to only be fed with wood, or our forests, or our houses and homes for our four legged and winged beings. The fire can be fed with song, with food, with cedar and tobacco.
I say be wise with Fire. Be cautious, but don’t be afraid to get to know this element as well. We must be respectful of it, and in return it will illuminate the light within us.
It will show us the colors of the angels. It will sing back to us. Take the risk to know that which is wild in nature, but never try and tame it. There are a small breed of humans who can do this, tame the horses, falcons and landscapes. Because they know their secrets. For the rest of us, it is certainly enough just to be alongside the fire. Hopefully it is enough just to know that the last remaining two leggeds that exist solely with what nature provides for them is enough. We don’t have to meet them. They are fine without us.
You never know which ones of us speak this language of fire. We can ask one another. And if you are curious and cautious, have someone introduce you. Of all the teachings I have embraced, the fire has been the greatest teacher. He is NEVER afraid to dance. He will not  be contained. But if you respect him, he will share his light, warmth and beauty. Today, my other favorite teacher showed up, the rain. She cut in, and danced the tango with the fire. They are a mysterious duo. Whatever bit of ego the fire can not burn up, the last bit of ourselves struggling to survive and feel like we are important, the rain then washes away.
And we are left, as we came in. Simply Love.

Butterfly Wings

Maya Angelou

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

― Maya AngelouIMG_2948.JPG

My mother and I both have a deep love for flowers and gardening. I think a lot of her love “stems” from the fact that she is a master at creating flourishing landscapes. She can showcase the humble ground cover or moss and the most magnificent peony in a way that would sound like a symphony if it were to speak.
As an imperfectionist, I like having dirt under my nails. I like seeing the worms come out to play. I love what the flowers themselves call forth: the butterflies, the hummingbird and yes, even the destroyers…. the deer and rabbits. I love the miracle of a seed to a flower. I love the Earth.
That is one of our similarities and that we both make very loving and friendly drunks. Being Korean and having an allergy to wine, it only takes my mom one or two glasses before she is hugging everyone. Myself, it takes more like 3-4 (6) glasses, but for being a somewhat insular person,I have been known to talk to the doorman, the chauffeur at prom, the bus boy, and whomever is the oldest person present at any event where there is alcohol available longer than whomever I am attending the party with. I’ve had DEEP conversations with hired help back when I lived in NYC and restaurants had people to hand you a towel to dry your hands.
We  have a lot of differences however, my mother and I. She is kind hearted and loving but once you cross her the wrong way,,,she is like that one icy patch in the yard, under the shade, with a slight spring under it that is the last piece of Earth to thaw out.
I like to think of myself as being more forgiving. Like the time she paid my children and niece and nephew when they were all under the age of 7 to collect butterflies for a dollar each. She ignored my request to stop paying them to intentionally hurt innocents, especially the magical butterfly! Of course she created a beautiful still  life with the butterflies, and even feeling awful about the whole deal, I couldn’t be mad at my mom. Over the years, I have collected my own DEAD butterflies and Dragonflies.
For this year’s Imbolc gift I decided it was time to depart with some of my collection to the circle of women who color my life. While Thoreau might turn in his grave at how many chairs I squeeze in for friendship, I can’t imagine surviving the ugly parts of life without them. Because I have all my needs met, I deeply hurt for those who don’t. For those who are so burdened that even the simple beauty of the sunrise may be lost on them. For innocent children who may be too sick to see it from their beds. I do small things for these people. But honestly I give more of my energy into helping heal the healers, to be there for the true medicine men in my life, my teacher friends, my friend who heals with horses, my friends who nourish with their food. People who like myself who are good and when well-nourished spiritually can share that wealth of kindness even more.
While Thoreau might disagree with the number of friendships I try and maintain, I think he would like the meaning I receive from them. They are my constellation. They are the petals. They are the wings that lift me.
And so for each of them, a wing or a feather.  Again all one needs in their life besides water, shelter, food and clothing is ETSY!  the lockets themselves only run about $4 each, and yet make a sweet, meaningful gift when you put something in them.
I will say this. Life is short. Sudden loss is shocking and hard. But it happens to the best of us, it happens to ALL of us sooner or later, we loose what we love. So whether it be friend, lover, family… say thank you to those who nourish you. They might not be there tomorrow, and neither may you…..hopefully, like a  caterpillar we transform into something even more beautiful after death. But since no one truly can know what happens, why not spend our time being kind to one another, in case the buddhist have it right?
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From Maiden to Mother:Practical Crafts

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:

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Make a collaborative meal with friends. I like rolling spring rolls, or have everyone bring an ingredient for something like tuna nicoise.

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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.

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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.DSCN3130.jpg

5.Set a beautiful table!  The best thing I ever learned from Martha Stewart. Always have your table set before the first guest arrives.photo (2).jpgimbolctable1.jpg

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.imbolcbounty1photo (1)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)

8. My all time favorite craft was making crowns with everyone. It is actually really easy. You only need floral wire and either fresh or fake flowers.1798656_10152190863788571_943081973_n.jpg9.Um , fireworks are always fun. Not so great for the environment so we only use them on very special occasions. This one looks like a sperm sending all of our intentions to the ethosphere.1238141_10152214472938571_700849717_n.jpgOkay, I hear the kids opening up the kitchen cabinets. So I am going to push send now. But  I can’t say enough that no matter what the craft or the gathering purpose, it is wonderful to turn all the sadness and grief into something beautiful. That way all the things that are lost are honored and remembered.

Imbolc: from maiden to mother

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!
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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.

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