"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wannabe Drummer

I'm sitting here typing and listening to Freakwitch practicing in the basement. I wanna be a drummer! I need to somehow make it a priority (i.e. find the money) to get the djembe I've been talking about getting for months. B. is going to give me some lessons. And my Mom is going to learn, too - we both want to get a drum soon. I really like B.'s drumming, both kit and doumbek. And I just feel like I have a natural affinity for rhythms and beats. That's always what I follow the most when I'm dancing. Sure, I groove to the melody, but the rhythm always calls to me. Ah well, for now I'm just a wannabe!

What to do with Strong Emotions

I've been feeling a lot of strong emotions lately, and trying to figure out what to do with them. Ideally, it's best to feel the emotion fully in the moment, and let it flow through you, not becoming attached to it. Sometimes, though, I'm in a situation where it's not appropriate to cry or show anger, such as in the workplace. In that case, I tend to supress the feeling, but then find that I do have to deal with it sooner or later, and sometimes it has grown bigger in the interim.

The emotions that I have the most trouble with are ones that are essentially reactions to other people's strong emotions. I am an empath, and when someone around me is feeling something very strongly, I tend to pick up on it and either share the feeling, or blame myself for it in some way, which can cause other emotions to arise. Usually if it's a situation that makes me upset, I can let go of it pretty quickly. But dealing with others' feelings is more difficult.

In the past I tended to process my emotions internally, in my head or in a journal, rather than speaking out loud about them with others. More recently I've been in situations where I've been doing a lot of verbal processing, which has been both good and bad. Good, in that I can get ideas and new perspectives from talking with friends. Bad, in that it tends to tire me out very quickly. And it can also be a burden on the friends.

So now I'm trying to find a good balance for all of this. To be open and honest with those I love, without overburdening them with my emotions. To process things internally, without hanging onto them in an unhealthy way. To express my emotions authentically as they come up, but not let them control me. As I write this, it seems to me that what I'm working with is a basic aspect of being human, and learning to be a better person.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Touching the Ancestors

As the Wheel of the Year winds down and the earth prepares to sleep, it’s time to turn our thoughts to Samhain. Traditionally, this is a holiday when pagans honor our ancestors and beloved dead, while the veil between the worlds is thin and the dark nights grow longer. Often this means cooking their favorite foods and setting a place for them at the Samhain feast. But what are some other ways to honor and connect with those who have crossed over?

If you have friends or family members who have passed away within the past few years, perhaps you wish to create something new to honor their memory. Writing a poem or song, embroidering a wall hanging, or building a rock garden are some examples of a creative tribute. Use your imagination, and as you work, focus on happy memories of times you spent with your loved one. If you like, charge your creation in sacred space, dedicating it to the spirit of the person it’s made for.

Another way to honor your ancestors is to find out new things about them. Ask your elders about people in your family or community you were too young to know or remember. You may discover many funny or poignant stories by asking questions and then sitting back and just listening. At a recent family gathering, I discovered that the cat symbol I have drawn since I was a kid (and which contributed to my choice of pagan name) came from times I spent drawing with my Mom’s favorite eccentric aunt, when I was really little. I’ll certainly be honoring Great Aunt Ruby as part of my Samhain ritual this year!

You can also, with a little research, discover something new about your family’s culture of origin. Go beyond the stereotypes of what it means to be of French or Celtic or African descent, perhaps unearthing an old song or folk tradition that you can use in your Samhain celebration. Or dig a bit deeper, and discover the reason *why* a particular custom or tradition was handed down as part of the culture’s lore.

Many of us also honor spiritual ancestors, who may or may not be blood-related. Who are those who went before, whose lives have brought meaning to your own? Women during the Burning Times? The anonymous “conductors” for the Underground Railroad? Native Americans who walked this land centuries ago? Find a way to honor them this Samhain, perhaps leaving an offering in the woods or garden. Find or create a piece of jewelry to wear as a tribute to them, or burn a candle on your altar in their memory, on the days leading up to Samhain.

There are many ways to honor our beloved dead. Samhain is an especially good time to do so, but it’s also important to remember them throughout the Wheel of the Year. Perhaps you could set up an altar or shrine of photographs and special items passed down from past generations. Or simply send them a prayer, song, or mental “thank you” when you think of them. By remembering our ancestors and paying tribute to them in some way, we continue the thread of love and magick woven through the tapestry of our lives, passing it along eventually to those who come after us, and continuing the legacy of our evolving spirituality. Blessed Be!

Don't Read This Entry

Yes, this is one of those oh-wow-life-has-been-so-busy-I-haven't-written-in-forever entires. Boring, I know. So, don't read it. Move on to what's next. Unless you really can't help yourself.

The summer and early fall have been (obviously) quite busy and full. There were sad parts and happy parts and amazing things and painful things and fun times. The kids are both in soccer, and loving it as usual - Dryst got asked to be on a travel team and he's really enjoying that. I'm actually thinking maybe I'll join an adult soccer team myself. Weird, I know.

Mystic Quickpaw is now 6 months old and is so cute and wonderful!

I've been doing some writing here and there, and cultivating my creativity. A good friend and I are going to write a cookbook, which is exciting! I've been eating mostly vegan, which feels great.

Not sure what I've forgotten. And here's the usual vow: I'll try to be better about writing here. Really!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gender Confusion

So, Matt took the cats to the vet for their checkup. I get this voicemail on my work machine (said in a laughing singsong voice): "Mystic is a boy!"

Stunned silence.

Er, OK...

Now we're having a really challenging time trying not to say "she" and "her" and getting used to "he" and "him." This poor cat won't know what gender he is...especially once he's old enough to get neutered.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Barefoot Hiking

Last summer at a Reclaiming witch camp, I (re)discovered the joys of going barefoot. It was a very rainy week, and the terrain was hilly, rocky and muddy. Soon all three of the pairs of shoes I had brought (sandals, sneakers and hiking boots) were completely soaked through, and the notion of dry socks was a laughing matter. So, I decided to go barefoot. My studies that week were focused on connecting with nature and the divine, and I soon found that having my skin directly connected to the earth with each step was a profound experience. By the time I came home, I could hardly wear shoes at all. The chakras on the bottom of my feet were wide open and the energy between myself and Mother Earth was flowing freely.

Over time, as the weather grew colder and wetter, I forgot about going barefoot. During the winter, I resumed wearing socks and shoes, and wore slippers in the house so that my feet would stay warm. I ordered some new Birkenstocks online, thinking ahead to spring, not recalling the way my feet felt on the cool grass. Spring came, and it was rainy and cool, so I stayed with socks and close-toed shoes. But at last, the sun peeked through, and I started hiking.

Not wanting to get my new Birks muddy on a hike with Quester, I decided to take them off and put them in my backpack. Within moments, I could feel the energy of the forest more strongly: the trees breathing, the earth's heartbeat, the life force of the moss and flowers, the humbling strength of the rocks. My awareness continued to expand as I walked, placing each foot as if in a moving meditation. As my consciousness shifted, colors seemed brighter, my love and joy for Quester seemed bigger, and I could feel the attention of the Goddess upon me. Barefoot hiking made a beautiful day even more magickal and meaningful.

Recently I was able to introduce a close friend of mine, B., to the pleasures of barefoot hiking. Getting past the initial discomfort of roots and sharp stones, he opened himself to the experience, as I had done at witch camp. I could see the shift in his consciousness as he allowed the direct connection with the earth to flow up through his feet. We also did some silent hiking, which again expanded our awareness of the energies surrounding us and connecting us. The cool mud soothed our feet, and we headed for low spots on the trail, rather than going around them. Flat rocks in the sun also became favorite spots for a moment of rest, and we picnicked with our feet in the stream, feeling ourselves fully open to all of the elements: the cold water, hot sun, soothing breeze, and patient rocks.

The reaction of the other hikers was interesting and amusing. Most people were incredulous that we would hike barefoot, and said things like “you must have really tough feet!” One woman said she “could never do that,” to which B. quipped, “sure you could, just take off your shoes.” A little girl told my friend intently “you have mud on your feet.” An older woman stopped us to tell us about a friend of hers who always hiked barefoot, and who had written a philosophical treatise about the benefits. That led me to do a little bit of research when I got home, and I found a cool website, Barefoot Hikers.org, that will give you more information if you’re interested.

Hiking has long been one of my favorite summer activities, and now it has taken on a new dimension, directly related to the energy work I’ve been doing. Go ahead and try it, with a friend or on your own. Or if you don’t hike, take a barefoot walk around your yard or a park. Open yourself to the loving energies of the earth, grounding and releasing with each deliberate step. Enjoy the warmth and aliveness of the earth at this vibrant time of the year.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Authentic Service

As I learn more about my fire and my will, and explore what it means to be fully myself, I'm finding an interesting balance between self and service to the community. In the past, I tended to err on the side of being a bit too focused on other people's needs and desires, to the detriment (sometimes) of my own. That type of selflessness can backfire, because if you don't take care of yourself, you can burn out and then not have any more energy to give, whether you like it or not (been there, done that).

On my new path, there are times when it feels like I've gone to the other extreme, being selfish to the exclusion of the needs of my family or friends. This has been pointed out to me a couple of times recently. And of course, that taps into my old pattern and I feel horrible about it, and start to question my new way of being in the world.

But, as my dear friend B. says, there is a middle path, that of "“self interest." As I'm learning, this is a way of being that takes into account one's own needs and desires, and pursues them in a way that is in sync with the needs and desires of loved ones and the greater community. It allows for service to community, but in a way that “feeds” one's energy rather than drains it.

I can take the energy I get from doing what empowers me personally, and feed it back into helping others with their work. That way, everyone benefits. And I'm being more authentic in the world, by acknowledging and acting upon my own desires, exercising my will in a positive and sustainable way.

It's still a work in progress, this new way of approaching my life. Feedback and suggestions are certainly welcome!

Quick(paw) Kitten Update

Little Mystic Quickpaw has swiftly found her place in our home and hearts. The two older cats are still not sure; they hiss at her and give her disdainful looks, to which she looks up at them like "what? I'm a cat, too!" But she and our dog Star are, unexpectedly, very good pals. They play together, chasing each other around happily whether indoors or out. Quester says they are the "black and white team," since they are both the same colors. Plus they are the youngest four-leggeds in the house, so there is a lot of playful energy. Mystic has to hide herself away when she needs to sleep, because the kids are so enamored of her that they won't leave her alone very long. She has had her first tree-climbing adventure; Crow climbed up to fetch her down. She goes outside, and sleeps with ElvenTiger every night. She's a sweet little cat, and I'm glad she's here to live with us.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mystic Quickpaw

We got a kitten this weekend! After some deliberation, her name is Mystic Quickpaw. We're reading Christopher Paolini's “Eldest,” and really like the two werecat characters in that book. Solembum is the male werecat's name, which didn't seem to work for a girl kitten. The female werecat who hangs out with the elves in Ellesmera is Maud Quickpaw. I didn't really like the name Maud, though (and the name didn't seem to go with this kitten's energy and personality), so we decided on Mystic as her first name.

She is black with white paws and some white on her chest and belly. We got her through someone my brother works with, and two of her siblings (Puss and Vinegar, or Vinnie for short) were adopted by my parents. The kids are SO excited about her, and I share their enthusiasm. Our oldest cat, Huzzah, was around before both of the kids, and we got Penny when Crow was only two, so he doesn't remember. So this is their first kitten. When we saw how excited they were about my parents' kittens, and then found out another one would be available, we just had to get her.

She seems to be adjusting well to the family so far. The kids have a really hard time leaving her alone long enough that she can sleep. But she has adapted, going off to find a hidden spot for her cat naps. She's an Aries, having been born sometime in early April. Her personality so far goes along with that, being fairly fiery and independent. And of course, curious. She is brave enough to go up to Star, our dog, and check her out briefly before dashing away again. Star is a bit intimidated by this tiny creature. She seems a bit jealous, too. The older cats seem largely indifferent thus far, though Huzzah and the kitten have been hissing at each other when they happen to occupy the same space. Mystic seems comfortable enough, eating well and sleeping through her first night here. And she certainly loves to play!

I think she'll be a great addition to the family. Welcome, little Mystic!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rain and Dancing

Here we are in another rainy weekend. You can tell because I'm actually staying inside long enough to write. Although there is probably no one reading this anyway, because of the long gaps in entries while the sun was shining! (Helloooo, anyone there?)

Last night was Freakwitch band practice, with all five members in the house. I hung out and danced to their music. The “new” guitar player, who played with Quester years ago, is learning the tunes and they're sounding quite good. Go check out their website; they have a lot of good stuff happening right now and in the near future.

Today we were able to sleep in late, listening to the rain, which was lovely. The kids were up but were in quiet mode and we had a really relaxing morning. Then we took ElvenTiger to her haircut appointment, stopped by to see a friend where she works at a farm (the kids both helped operate the soil machine that packs soil into small pots for seedlings), and did some grocery shopping. Came home and had soup for lunch, and did some stuff around the house. The kids wrote, played computer, and played pick up sticks. We all did power yoga together this afternoon. Now Quester is making dinner, and the kids are out playing in the rain.

Soon our friend R. will come over to babysit, and Quester and I are headed out for a night of dancing! I've been dancing quite a bit lately, and am feeling really happy about it. It's one of my favorite things to do. I prefer live music, and most enjoy dancing to jam bands with lots of improvisation, wild drumming, spacey guitars and general harmonious cacophony. That and dancing to rhythmic drums and chanting voices around a fire in sacred circle... But just about any type of dancing is better than none! Quester and I haven't gone ballroom dancing yet, because we aren't so sure of our new skills. I think we need to take another session of lessons in the fall before we'll feel confident enough with it. A friend of mine once asked me, with look of serious concern on his face, “why *is* it that women like dancing so much, anyway?” My answer: “because it feels good!”

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fire on the Mountain

What? It's June already? How did that happen? I've been off being fiery. Yes, me, fiery; whad'ya mean that's weird?! You're right, of course.

My energies could usually be described as a fairly calm mix of earth, air and even a bit of water thrown in for good measure. But fire has been a challenge. Perhaps as compensation, I tend to surround myself with intensely fiery people (you know who you are; hey folks!). They help serve as catalysts to keep me moving on my journey, and I'm grateful for that. But beyond aspiring to be like them and knowing that I just won't ever be that extroverted, I hadn't worked much with my own inner fire. Until recently.

Actually, my path work at Reclaiming's Vermont Witch Camp was the start of this recent work. I came back from that excursion feeling charged up with power-from-within, glowing with my own light and creativity. As described previously in this blog, though, I then went through a cycle of forgetting these lessons, getting ill and then reemerging to a new place on my path. Or as a “new me” walking my same path. Or something like that. So as that integration progresses, and with the help of a wonderful friend whose own expression of fire is more attuned with my way of being, I've been exploring my own fiery self. And I like it! It goes along with having gotten more physically healthy, too. I feel like my metabolism is functioning better than ever before. I'm able to be more active and still feel full of energy. Able to explore new areas in my life and still feel supported and fueled.

Last weekend I had a polarity session from a friend who is a healer, and she helped me to balance this new expression with the other elements in my energy system. That means I'm a bit more grounded, and can actually sleep better than I had been since Beltane (well, most of the time).

My next step is to recognize these new lessons. I have two plans in that regard: to get a new tattoo, of a small red and black lizard (think southwestern style), and to buy a drum and learn to play it. And of course, to enjoy the warmer sunnier lovely weather that we've been enjoying between bouts of rain. Summer rocks!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rain, Rain

Another in quite a string of rainy days. I like rain, though, especially after such a lack of precipitation this winter. The trees and plants are soaking it up, and I know the next sunny day we have will glow with their green vibrance.

This morning we all slept in a bit, enjoying the downpour outside the window. The kids were up before Quester and I, amusing themselves until they got hungry. We had a lazy morning, with our favorite 'Dead bootleg on the stereo. Crow was playing his Civilization conquest game on the computer. ElvenTiger made jewelry; she made a bracelet for me and a really pretty necklace for herself. Quester and I did some housecleaning and some reading. In the afternoon, ElvenTiger and I went and got some groceries while the guys went over to a neighbor's house to play ping-pong. When we all got home, we made a batch of salsa (yum).

In the afternoon I felt a bit down, and rather sleepy, so I crashed in the comfy chair for a while and listened to music, did Reiki on myself, and dozed. ElvenTiger had her turn on the computer, then did some drawing, while the guys (and dog) went out again, this time for a rainy walk. Now we've had our dinner and listened to A Prairie Home Companion, and I'm writing this as Quester reads, Crow does some writing, and ElvenTiger wanders around talking to us.

A rather lazy day overall, but it seems that's what I needed. With so much going on this Spring, internally as well as externally, it's essential to have down time. When I was relaxing in the chair I realized that it had been a while since I just did nothing (aside from that quiet time before falling asleep). If it had been a sunny day today, we'd have been up early for Crow's baseball game, then probably home to work in the yard, or perhaps off on a hike. All of which would be fun (well, except maybe watching kids play baseball :), but today I'm thankful for the respite provided by the lovely steady rain.

A New Poem I Wrote Yesterday


Dancing on the edge of fire
Isn't as easy as it looks,
Nor as hard.
An art, to find that sure place within,
Just the right steps
To invoke heat and flame,
Warmth and pleasure,
But not the lethal inferno
That consumes as it purifies.
My feet grow weary,
My skin parched -
But I grin,
Warm to the bones,
Whirling to the rhythms
Of the earth's deepest places,
The glow of the fiery core
Lighting my path
Along the edge.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dancing with Change

I have an interesting relationship with change. For one thing, I do it a lot. I'm not the same person I was last week, let alone months or years ago. I feel that this is a good quality, as I like to think I'm learning and growing, and that changing my viewpoint or expanding my beliefs is evidence of progress. Though it does make consistency a bit sketchy; I have a poor memory for past events, and I think this is a part of it. Luckily, keeping several journals helps me with that, and I have a lot more room in my mind for being and dreaming and creating without all those pesky memories of other selves crowding the halls all the time.

Yet I am also an earth sign, and can sometimes be stubbornly resistant to external changes. I get into a certain flow of habits, and like to go with it. It can be disruptive to integrate something new, something that alters the flow. But of course, it can be a very healthy thing to get jolted out of a rut. And if the external change is something I actually enjoy, it's easier to let go and learn to flow in a new direction.

Since having kids, I've gotten a lot better about not resisting external changes. No one changes more swiftly than little kids! Keeping up with their evolving personalities has been a blessing, allowing me to be more flexible with other changes in my life.

There seems to be a preponderance of change in my life this Spring, both internal and external. I relish much of it, and embrace the increased feelings of power-from-within that are buoying me up. And when I have felt that old stubbornness, that notion of wanting to dam up the flow of new energies, I've been able to release it and allow the story of my life to unfold as it will. After all, if the music never changed, the dance would be pretty dull.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Good Omen

Last summer I went to a Reclaiming camp for the first time, Vermont Witch Camp (VWC) to be precise. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. My studies there allowed me to reach a deeper place of connection with Nature, and a more consistent experience of being in my entire body (I tend to reside in my head too much sometimes). Over the winter, I gradually forgot some of the feelings and lessons I thought I'd integrated. And when Spring began to emerge, I found myself physically ill (with various viruses) and mentally depressed and stuck in old patterns.

I've gradually emerged from the illness and, over the past few weeks, allowed myself to be reborn with the season. As that has happened, I've been working on how my heart and head can work together, rather than at odds with each other. Just recently, as I felt the stirring energies of Beltane and warmer weather, I've begun to really *feel* the way I felt when I came back from VWC. My energy system is more vibrant, and I can connect with Nature, including other people, in that deeply-felt way. Yet this makes “talking self” nervous, so I've had to really focus on relaxing my thoughts and balancing my energy system.

Today on my walk, I found a dead bumblebee on the sidewalk, and was reminded of the other two times this has happened over the past few years. To me, this omen is a message from the universe, a sign that I'm on the right path. A note from the Bee Goddess, telling me that the sting can be released, and I can taste the honey that is the result of this hard work. I was really thankful to hear that today, particularly after a few days of struggle between heart and head. I feel different yet again. My heart is open, my body breathing, and my mind, too, can sing. The drumbeat of the earth calls my feet to dance, and the dreams I find are ones of hope and joy and love. Blessed Bee!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Amazing Beltane

I'm up early on a Sunday when I don't have to be, which for a night owl like me is just plain weird. But I couldn't sleep any longer; I'm still filled with wild zingy energy from celebrating Beltane. I've had such a wonderful time, and I'm so thankful to be feeling so strong and happy.

Last weekend we went to an annual open celebration on a beach. There were 5 maypoles, and probably over 200 pagans there to celebrate. It was a warm sunny day, and I ran around with the SpiralScouts kids all day, dancing, playing kickball, and just generally having a fun day.

Quester and I had a terrific week. Spent a lot of time together, did our power yoga, connected to each other. He's so kind and amazing. We had our final ballroom dance class on Wednesday, and went out afterward with K and T, and had a goofy laughter-filled evening.

Friday night was our coven's Beltane ritual and celebration. I had such a blast. Ran around with kids again, and made R, an almost-three year old, giggle uncontrollably. Her 8-year-old brother M and I called Earth/North together; I did a series of warrior yoga postures while he did a kata with a plastic sword. I like those wordless active invocations, like the ones the dance collective and I did last year at Vermont Witch Camp. And right now, for me, the energy of Earth is all about feeling physically strong and powerful-from-within.

After the ritual some of us stayed up late and just hung out around the fire talking. I especially enjoyed connecting with B, who is becoming a cherished close friend. J ended up putting our kids to bed (big thanks!) so Quester and I could sit and chat with B and relax by the fire. The half moon was shining down through the oak and it was so lovely out there that I didn't want to come in.

Yesterday LM and I went on one of our fun girls' day road trips. She is such a blast to hang out with. We were having fun being silly and chatting about everything. Did I mention I'm really thankful for my community?! So many blessings. Thanks, and I hope your Beltane was as excellent as mine.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Joy of Yoga

I've ramped up my home practice of yoga recently, with more vigorous posture flows and more challenging poses. I've been wanting to do this for a while, but Quester and I, back in the fall, had agreed to do yoga together on a regular basis. He was still working on releasing some recurring lower-back pain, primarily through chiropractic care, and wasn't yet ready for vigorous yoga. But now that his back is strong and healthy (great Work, Quester!) we're both ready for more of a challenge.

We've been alternating between a CD made by my yoga teacher, of her intermediate-level Kripalu yoga posture flow, and a "power yoga" DVD that I gave Quester for Valentine's Day. Both have a lot in common with Astanga yoga. I took some Astanga classes a couple of years ago and loved it.

I'm happy to note that, while a few of the poses are a stretch (pun intended), I'm really in pretty good shape for this. It's a good way to start the spring. And not only does my yoga practice support physical activity and wellness, but it helps keep my emotions on a more even keel. It enhances my spiritual practice, as well. I know many pagans who do yoga, and it seems to fit very well with my own personal belief system and priorities.

Some of the poses I used to dread are now among my favorites. I have short hamstrings, so forward bends with straight legs have consistently been difficult. But now I love doing forward bends, and while I'm still not able to place my hands flat on the floor (yet), I'm able to get a really good stretch. I'm now physically stronger than before, too. Holding some of the strengthening poses, like warrior, is easy. And I can even lower myself from plank to upward dog during the Sun Salutation, with ease and grace.

The best part about taking my practice to a new level is the sheer joy! It feels really good, physically and emotionally, both during the actual practice, and as I take that energy "off the mat" and out into the rest of my life.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Strong Women

I went out to dinner tonight with two of my favorite women in the world, my Mom and my friend LM. We had such fun! I love the conversations that evolve when women have time to sit and chat.

When I was younger, I didn't have lots of girlfriends. I was too shy, and didn't fit into the cliques in high school. But as an adult, I find I really value the women of my community. They are fun, fascinating, and very strong people. My yoga teacher was talking about how in this culture, we emphasize the masculine, physical, power-over type of strength. But in yoga (and in life as a whole) it is also important to honor the feminine, receptive, power-from-within strength; the kind that enables you to hold an asana for several breaths, with ease and confidence.

The endurance of women, on all levels, is amazing. I'm so impressed by how, in the most desperate or sad or terrifying conditions, women go on. They find that wellspring of strength that enables them to continue to tend the people in their lives, even when reality is falling apart around them.

My Mom, who is known as "The Miracle Lady" to her surgeons and nurses after she survived a horrific car accident a little over two years ago, is a perfect example of this type of inner strength. She has always been my role model, but seeing her now, and how her spirit shines even more after what she went through, is so inspiring. Even through a devastating situation like the accident, she has touched people throughout her community and beyond. She is truly blessed. And so am I, to have her here and to be her daughter. And to be part of a spiritual community that has so many strong women whose company I can enjoy and learn from.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Unschoolish Weekend in Progress

With Quester focused on his recording session with the band, the kids and I have been spending the first part of the weekend together. Yesterday they went up the coast with my parents, to see an old ship that's docked in one of the quaint little coastal towns. Then, after I was done work, we went to our SpiralScouts meeting. We're working on the birding badge, learning about birds in preparation for a visit to a bird sanctuary. Before the meeting, Crow was making some notes about the upcoming Beltane holiday. We listened to and talked about jazz on the way home. They had a late dinner and then we read. I'm reading them a Hardy Boys mystery, and "Eldest" by Christopher Paolini.

This morning (Saturday) Quester and Crow went to help clean up the town baseball fields in preparation for the start of the Little League season. ElvenTiger and I worked on some more bird pictures, and I read to her.

When it was time for some more recording, the kids and I headed out for the afternoon. First we did a short hike (more of a nature walk, really, just a couple of miles). It was a warm day, cloudy with the sun peeking through. We had fun. Then we went to get my brother a birthday gift; we're celebrating at my parents' house on Monday night. We also got a few groceries. After that we went to the movies and saw "Ice Age 2." I thought it might be lame, being a sequel and all, but it was delightfully goofy and hilarious. We had fun, laughing throughout the movie.

We came back and, since the band was taking a break, I helped with some dinner preparations and other chores, and read a bit. The kids played outside. Dinner was homemade pizza, and I think some "dinner table math" was involved, too. After dinner, ElvenTiger played with a magnet set, and Crow conversed with one of the band members about the Great Depression and the Bonus Army March. We read our chapter books and now they're all settled in for the night.

Tomorrow they'll be with my parents again, as Quester and I are going off on a "real" hike (i.e. longer than ElvenTiger's legs would be able to tolerate, especially as she's still recovering from the flu). It'll be lovely to have some "just the two of us" time. Not sure what the grandparents have planned for the kids, but it's usually something cool.

Lots of the neighborhood kids are now starting a "school vacation." We just "do school" as a part of life, and our next week will be filled with as much fun and learning as all of them are.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Homestead

Right now as I write, Quester and the rest of the band are down in the basement, in their studio, recording basic tracks for the first Freakwitch album. I love having them here, working their creative musical magick. For many years, we've opened our various homes to Quester's musical projects. When those homes were apartments or rented houses, there was always the concern that the landlord wouldn't like it, or, since we lived in urban settings where the houses were close together, that the neighbors would be offended by the noise. But now that we're in our own home, offering rehearsal (and recording) space is an even greater pleasure.

This place is very special to me. We built our house on land where my maternal grandparents lived. My Mom and Aunt gave us three acres on which to build (thanks, you guys rock!!!). My kids play in many of the same spots I did while visiting my Grammy at their age. I can sometimes feel her spirit, and that of Grampa, looking in on us and smiling a blessing. We often host family gatherings, such as the annual Thanksgiving feast; I love playing the hostess for family and friends.

Many of the members of our spiritual community live in a nearby city, and rent apartments. So I'm happy we can offer our home and yard for them to enjoy. We host many of the Sabbat celebrations here, around the fire pit Quester and some friends built the first year we moved in, five years ago. The circle around the fire pit is surrounded with 13 oaks, just babies now but placed so they'll form a protective ring as they grow bigger. We even have a backyard stage, built of donated timber from a friend's dismantled barn, for Freakwitch and others to play on at our big summer bash at Lammas.

I feel really blessed to live in this lovely space, to see the stars so vivid in the night sky, to hear the peeper frogs singing in the spring. And one of the ways I give back, and with joy, is to share the space with my community. So, "come on over to my yard, sit around, let your troubles all disappear." Beltane is nearly upon us, and yes indeed, we do have a Maypole!

Quotes from Seth

These quotes are from "The Way Toward Health" by Jane Roberts/Seth:

"The way toward health is simplicity itself. It is perfectly fine to make plans for the future, yet each individual should live day by day, without worrying about the outcome of those plans."

"Sunny thoughts are as biologically necessary to your well-being as are the rays of the sun that shines in the sky."

"Each person is a vital, conscious portion of the universe. Each person, simply by being, fits into the universe and into universal purposes in a way no one else can. Each person is a beloved individual, formed with infinite care and love, uniquely gifted with a life like no other."

"One of the attitudes detrimental to good health is that of self-condemnation, or dislike of the self. Feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, and pleasure with one's abilities promote feelings of well-being, health, and exuberance."

"Energy is indeed at its basis, love."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wellness and Illness

Here it is the middle of April already! The month of March, for my family, was spent in various states of illness. Colds, flus, mystery viruses--you name it, we had it! And the emotional depths that tend to go with such physical ailments, too.

The start of Spring has certainly helped lift our spirits and bring in some good fresh air (even though I was sick in bed with a fever during the Spring Equinox ritual I was supposed to be co-leading--oops). We've been on a few easy hikes so far, with good prospects for more hikes to come. I've noticed that simply being out in Nature has a profound effect on my mood and energy system. That sounds obvious, but it's even more noticeable than usual.

Lately I've been reading Jane Roberts/Seth books, which are a total brain-enlivener, and have also made my dreams even more vivid than usual. I'll post some quotes from them at some point.

That's all for now. I just wanted to make it known that I am, in fact, still alive and (mostly) well.
Blessed Be!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Quote from my Favorite Author

In response to the question, "the antiwar movement, what good is it?"

ALICE WALKER: Well, as I was saying about the Civil Rights Movement, sometimes you can't see tangible results. You cannot see the changes that you’re dreaming about, because they're internal. And a lot of it has to do with the ability to express yourself, your own individual dream and your own individual road in life. And so, we may never stop war. We may never stop war, and it isn’t likely that we will, actually. But what we're doing as we try to stop war externally, what we're trying to do is stop it in ourselves. That's where war has to end. And until we can control our own violence, our own anger, our own hostility, our own meanness, our own greed, it’s going to be so, so, so hard to do anything out there. So I think of any movement for peace and justice as something that is about stabilizing our inner spirit so that we can go on and bring into the world a vision that is much more humane than the one that we have dominant today.

Welcome, EarthTides Readers!

A friendly welcome to those who are regular readers of my "Starcat's Corner" column in the EarthTides Pagan Network newsletter and have been referred here. Don't be scared, blogs don't bite! (Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about can check out EarthTides here.)

Anyway, here we are in March and approaching Spring Equinox/Ostara/Eostar. It still doesn't feel much like it outside, but that's to be expected. March came in like an arctic lamb. The winds have been wild, and I can feel the energies shifting as we approach the change of season. My clan has all been sick with a late-winter virus that snuck up on us just when we got used to the (relatively) mild weather.

I've found myself busier than I prefer lately, with lots of community commitments, and I think perhaps catching the virus was meant to slow me down a bit. Extra reading time is good, though I could do without the nasty earaches. My own energies are shifting as the wheel of the year turns, and I feel I'm letting go of a really old pattern, which will leave space for increasing wellness. I welcome the cleansing winds of Spring. Throw open the windows! Bask in the strengthening sun! The light really is returning, and bringing, slowly but surely, milder weather. The bairns and I even got to hike this past weekend; neither of them complained of tired legs, so I think it will be a terrific hiking season for our family. I think I will build a labyrinth this Spring, here at the homestead. And perhaps Quester and I will work on the stone well...

Blessed Be and "may the four winds blow you safely home."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Book Review

I just finished reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (published in 1980). Years ago, I read his novel Foucault's Pendulum (published in 1988), and really enjoyed it. So I decided to read The Name of the Rose, which was also made into a movie. I haven't seen the movie yet, though I plan to rent it soon. But that said, I was disappointed in the book. It didn't seem as well written (or as well translated from the original Italian, or perhaps a combination) as Foucault's Pendulum. Perhaps he was still developing his style.

There are many times where a character goes off on a long diatribe that doesn't contribute to the plot in any significant way. If I was reading the book in bed, it tended to put me to sleep. I don't suffer from insomnia, though if I did, I'd probably keep this book nearby. The book is set in a monestary in the Middle Ages, and thus is full of Christian theology and Biblical references. I've never been a Christian, but I'm usually interested in mysticism of many types. But for some reason, this particular book seemed overly pendantic. The narrator was likeable enough, and the mystery did hold my interest enough that I plowed my way through the book, but that didn't overcome the its flaws, from my perspective.

I hope the movie is more interesting.

Have you read the book? Did you enjoy it and find it of value? If so, please enlighten me!

That Vegan Thing

Over the past few months, I've been eating more and more like a vegan. I've been eating less dairy and eggs because they cause me digestive problems. I get along fine that way (I'm one of those people who really likes tofu) and I really appreciate the fact that foods without cheese and cream are also lower in calories. Although I consider myself a vegetarian (for about the past 12 years), I do eat fish and seafood occasionally.

My food choices have thus far been primarily about health. I originally stopped eating red meats because of a family history of colitis. As mentioned above, avoiding dairy and eggs keeps me from having health issues, too. Though I do value the fact that I'm not personally contributing to animals living in cramped and unhealthy conditions, I know that vegetarianism isn't for everyone.

A couple of nights ago, though, I had a dream which involved a pool of water being formed (temporarily) on my Aunt's driveway. When the water was drying up, there were three large salmon flopping around in the evaporating pool. My companions and I knew they would die soon, and I was given a knife and told to put them out of their misery. I just couldn't do it, though, and I handed the knife off to someone else, covering my eyes and turning away. The question that ended the dream was "well, should I be eating fish, then?"

Today I went out to lunch with my parents at a local diner, which isn't particularly vegetarian-savvy. This is the type of situation where I might normally have a haddock sandwich or some such thing, but after that dream, I couldn't do it. I'm not sure what my long-term decision on this is, but for the moment at least, I'm feeling that I've made a further step down the vegan path.

[As a footnote, if vegan food interests you, there's a really cute blog about it that I've linked here, called The Vegan Lunchbox.]

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Curious Dream

I was hanging out with a friend in his apartment (a dreamtime friend, apparently; I didn't recognize him from waking life) in a city. We went out for a while, to get something to eat, but when we came back to his street, his apartment building was gone. Not demolished or burned down, but just...not there. He was incredulous and upset, and checked up and down the street, and several adjoining streets, making sure we were in the right neighborhood, looking at building numbers, and just generally freaking out. Finally I made him stop and look at me, and said, “look, it's obvious we've somehow gotten into a different reality. You're trying to solve this with logic, with your left brain, but it's not a logical situation. I know you're not going to like this, but we're going to have to solve it with magick.” I asked him to take me to a place in nature. He said there wasn't anyplace, we were right in the city, but finally admitted there was a golf course nearby, “but we're not supposed to go there.” I said “perfect,” and we snuck onto the golf course and found a cluster of trees with low, gnarled branches. We sat down to work our magick. Pretty soon we started to see fantastical creatures walking around the golf course. My friend was still incredulous, but I took it as a good sign that we were between the worlds. Unfortunately, that was when I woke up, so I don't know if my right-brain solution got us back to the reality we started in, or not.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Life-Long Learning, and All That

My Freewill Astrology horoscope for the year says, in part, “Virgo: in 2006, you will have greatest success if you approach every experience as a student. Your ability to experience happiness will expand if you re-ignite your love of learning and become perpetually ablaze with curiosity.” Well, that's certainly happening so far! The month of January (and February thus far) has been very busy, but filled with interesting new experiences. A sampling:

Quester and I are finally, thanks to our good friend K, doing something we've talked about for quite a while: taking ballroom dancing classes. We're also doing some cross-country skiing, and thinking of buying our own equipment (at which point the rain came, and much of the snow melted away...sigh). I'm deepening my study of Reiki, and my yoga class this session is focused on exploring mindfulness. I'm also doing more writing (and have lots of ideas for blog entries and articles, Dear Readers), and my circle is focusing on some in-depth self-exploration centered around a workbook we're working on together. I've also been learning some new skills at work. Phew! I think I, like my kids, am an unschooler.

My eldest, Crow, age 9, is also a Virgo, and he's excited about learning too. He's reading to himself more, and becoming the bookworm I knew he'd be. His basketball playing, and understanding of the game, is strong and improving. He's diving into a computer game called “Civilization,” which sparks his interest in history, geography, and cultures around the globe.

My little Capricorn, ElvenTiger, age 7, is having a great year so far. She's learning to read, and doing really well with it. She, too, is a basketball player (Quester is coaching her team); she's very new to the game, but really determined and enthused. Her love of art of all types is flourishing, as well as her penchant for cooking.

Quester has been not only coaching, but also refereeing for the older kids' teams in the league, so he's keeping busy with that. His music is always a front-burner priority, too.

So, that's what we've been up to when I've been away from this blog for a while. Oh, and a lovely mountain adventure with friends (sans kids) that involved heading up to K's family cabin, seeing a concert at which we all danced crazily for hours, doing some skiing, and driving home in a snowstorm. Plus our community celebration of Imbolc, which included a fire in the fireplace, poetry reading, and a delicious feast.

Hope you're doing well this season, as the days grow longer and we inch slowly toward spring!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Parenting Never Stops

Quester and I, and quite a few of our friends, practice a type of parenting that is different than that used by many in the generations just prior to us. Call it what you will. Attachment parenting covers it to some extent, though the basic gist of it is respecting your children as you would another adult human being (well, you have to have compassion to begin with, I guess—some people aren't very nice to other adults, either). My Mom was actually ahead of her time in this area. She has always said, “kids are just smaller people,” and they should be treated as such.

This doesn't mean that you aren't playing the role of the parent. When I was a teenager, I babysat for some neighbors who never told their kids “no,” and the two girls ran wild, making life very difficult for the parents. Kids need boundaries, and you are disrespecting them if you don't provide any, just as much as you are if you're arbitrarily strict.

The idea, in my view, is to create a healthy working relationship with your kids. Have fun with them, and also make it clear what rules you want them to live by. Teach them, and learn from them. Correct them when they mess up, then forgive them and move on; gracefully admit it when you're the one in the wrong. Because of your age and experience, you get to make decisions about their lives. But encourage them to make as many choices on their own behalf as possible, so they can learn to choose well.

Something I've learned from colleagues with adult children is that parenting never stops. In this culture, we either look forward to the day when the kids turn 18 and move out, or we lament the “empty nest” when they head off to college or work. But they are still your kids. You'll still worry about them, call them to see how they're doing, probably even loan them money. They'll distance themselves from you to some degree, as part of the natural process of finding out how to be on their own. But they'll draw closer once again, and you'll still be part of each others' lives. At least, ideally.

What I see from the parents of some of my friends, though, is a lack of respect that was probably there from the beginning. They treat their adult children as if they were still kids, meant to be “seen and not heard,” or told what to do. Rather than respecting the wisdom their son or daughter has gained, they instead belittle them, which is probably an old pattern, or take them for granted. This, understandably, makes the kids less likely to want to hang out with them. Some parents even refuse to be part of their adult kids' lives, due to some (imagined or real) slight or insult. What a waste.

What I'm learning from those relationships is how I don't want to treat my kids as they get older. In fact, perhaps the logic behind attachment parenting extends to the lifelong relationship I'll have with my kids. I hope that, together, we're learning how to be a family that can enjoy each other's company, work through our differences of opinion, and continue to love and learn together throughout our lifetimes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Convenient Conspiracies

I've been reading a novel my brother got me for Christmas, "The Eight" by Katherine Neville. On the front cover, it promises, "readers thrilled by 'The DaVinci Code' will relish the multi-layered secrets of 'The Eight.'" So at first I figured it was a copycat of the Dan Brown book, which was so popular a few years ago. But when I looked at the publication date, it said 1988. So apparently they're just re-marketing it to take advantage of the popularity of the genre.

It's a fun read, a thriller full of famous characters from history, centered around a mystical formula that describes the nature of life, focused on (and hidden in) an ancient chess set. While reading it, though, I began to wonder about why we are so fascinated with books like this, based on puzzles that tie in disparate religious movements, mystical orders such as the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians, famous thinkers throughout history, and well-known works of art. Generally the theory is also somehow related to a life-or-death modern quest for knowledge - "before it's too late!"

I think that we have an innate desire to "make sense of it all," to form some kind of order from the chaotic swirl of human history and civilization. An author who can tie up a lot of loose ends, particularly regarding mythology and mysticism, satisfies that part of us that longs for a cohesive story.

You see this in other arenas, too. There are several religions across the globe which claim to be "the one and only true way." If you faithfully follow their proven beliefs and practices, the reasoning goes, you'll be assured of rewards in the afterlife, or a clean karmic slate, or a peaceful and easy life. All the "loose ends" and questions are tied up, in this case, by the religion's leaders or sacred texts. The believer need not worry about pesky questions or situations not covered by the belief system, for those things are either explained away as they arise, or are reviled as evil, as a temptation to leave the fold, which should be resisted at all costs. This type of religious practice is appealing to many people because of its simplicity and seeming comprehensiveness. They need no longer question the vicissitudes of life, because there is a reason for everything, a reason that fits neatly into the spiritual picture-puzzle.

Among some modern intellectuals, who would claim to be above such simplistic belief in comprehensive explanations, the pull towards conspiracy theories is nonetheless strong. These days, it is seen in the gravitation towards theories regarding the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or the world-dominating plans of the neo-conservatives. Many books are written in which it is "proven" (see the connection here?) that people of power form a conscious network of power-over, which explains everything from foreign wars to the price of milk. Buying into these paranoid theories is easier than accepting that the people in leadership positions are people, like ourselves: some are greedy and selfish, some are well-meaning but deluded, some are kind and smart, and some are full of hatred. Granted, people in power whose motivations are bad can have a wide-reaching harmful effect on millions of others, and they should be accountable for their actions. However, it's just too convenient to believe in a comprehensive "evil plan" that is responsible for all the world's problems.

"But," you might well ask, "doesn't Starcat's own metaphysical study fit into this category?" It's a self-discovered web of practices and spiritual beliefs that enhances my life. However, I feel that there are some significant differences here: first, the study is something that I use as my own collection of personal truths, on my private spiritual path. I'm not imposing it on other people, or insisting that it is objective fact or "the one true way." What works well for me might be a huge mistake for you. Second, I in no way claim to wrap up all the loose ends, or even to know about all of them! And rather than being frightening or disturbing, that is a source of excitement and joy - just think of all of the undiscovered wisdom out there, that I have the potential to learn about! And lastly, the study continually changes as I grow and learn. It is a working model, constantly being created, evaluated, and updated.

Sure, I too have this human need to create some kind of order out of the chaos of life in the multiverse. But I think a healthy dose of balance is applicable - the realization that chaos is also necessary, and provides the spark of inspiration and creativity that can keep us on the path of learning and growing.

Or, perhaps I'm completely wrong. Maybe the Rosicrucians are, at this very moment, deciphering this blog in order to prove I'm a metaphysical troublemaker, a trickster terrorist who must be immediately reported to the Pope! We'll see...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Welcome to the Study

Welcome to Starcat's Study. Come on in. Here, have a pillow to sit on. Tonight we're just sitting around listening to the Counting Crows, contemplating winter, eating vegan pizza (whad'ya mean? of course it tastes good!).

If you've discovered this blog already, you're either JWL (hi J! Thanks for the help getting this set up!) or you stumbled on it by accident. Once I get some real content up, I'll spread the word.

What's it about? Well, I'm a big-time journal writer. I mean, real journals, on paper, with luscious fabric covers, written in groovy gel pens and decorated with doodles. So, I figured I'd share some of my random thoughts with you. It's also a way to give back, since there are a few cool blogs that I enjoy reading regularly (see the links on the side, once I figure out how to get them there...).

I've been doing what I call "The Study" for quite a long time now. Basically checking out what others have written about various metaphysical subjects, and applying it to my life to see how it works for me. And of course, coming up with my own techniques and practices along the way. It's fun. I'm a Virgo, so this type of semi-scholarly stuff draws me right in. I plan to share some of my findings with you in future posts. Hope you enjoy it, and maybe even learn something new.

Get comfy, grab a book from one of the shelves (we can light some more candles in here if you want). Blessed Be!

Monday, January 16, 2006