September / Mabon

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September is another slightly awkward month for me. Its climate is often a little deceptive and the month and I don’t have a great track record; quite a few difficult memories of mine are placed in Septembers past. Some good ones too, but it’s a time that feels quite transitional, and I often find change difficult . Although it seems strange that the start of the new school year affects an adult not in school (and without school-aged children), I think that the awareness of local kids returning to their classrooms, and of new uni students arriving in town, does imprint itself on my mind. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the change brought by the constant motion of the autumnal winds and falling leaves makes Vata the dominant dosha at this time of the year. As a vata-dominant person, it makes sense that I’m susceptible the tendencies of anxiety, restlessness and digestive issues that excess vata is said to be responsible for – and particularly susceptible to them at this time.

I see autumn as beginning at Lammas, in August, but feel that it really takes hold in September. The leaves are noticeably turning and falling. Even though it’s not unusual for September days in the UK to be so warm and sunny that you could easily mistake them for summer ones, they take a while to warm up in the mornings now.  It’s dark when I wake and the long balmy evenings have gone. Today was probably one of the last this year that sees me in sandals and one layer of clothing!

I feel the call inward. As nature’s energy, its green and its water retreat I feel the goddess of the land prepare for her rest. As she starts to settle down, (not quite ready to sleep but, as I told it to my son today, brushing her teeth and getting her pyjamas on!), an older goddess is watching through a door. Her cloak is dark, her eyes wise. Her lips are thin but her smile welcoming. The land is still bright with fruits and flowers and crops but it’s time to gather them up and follow the queen of the darkness into the months of longer nights. For me this is into the home I’ll spend more time in, into the different day-to-day schedule, into the shift in focus of the activities and food I’m drawn to, into different thoughts, rituals and meditations.

At Lammas, I generally find myself focussing on the harvest of what I’ve done that year; our garden harvest, new skills and progress that tend to be of an outward nature, that kind of thing. I also consider what I need to let go of in terms of my physical activities and/or material stuff. At the Autumn equinox I tend to consider what I need to let go of in these terms too, and to celebrate my inner harvest; my self development, my emotional and psycho-spiritual harvest. One of my more positive September memories is from the one just before Dylan’s first birthday when I noticed a sense of having vaguely landed in motherhood and found parenting practices, styles and philosophies that resonated with me and that I began to see unfold in how I parented my son. A sense of having some confidence and ease-iness in that role (most days!) A sense of having made the transition from maiden to mother.

I’ve bought some spring flower bulbs that I intend to plant with my family tomorrow, after a little “letting go ritual” that I’ll post about sometime in the next few days. As I tuck each of y bulbs into the earth. I’ll be giving thanks for the personal “harvests” that will nourish and sustain me through these darker months. Hopefully, in spring, the flowers and I will bloom together when the earth awakens, renewed. The varieties I’ve chosen are said to be liked by bees and my hope is for these flowers to represent the reciprocal relationship I strive for with nature; for them to nourish the bees with food whilst they nourish me with their beauty and I nourish the earth that they grow in.

Wishing you a happy equinox, an abundant harvest, and much nourishment over the coming months, ♥

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Shop window in Cabot Circus, Bristol

Half-moon hearts

Natural hearts, accidental hearts, deliberately created hearts, hearts that resemble a recent gratitude, hearts that I saw whilst having fun – or in need of some fun. Share the love and post any that have come your way and made you smile ♥

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When the moon reaches the brief point of her light and darkness being balanced, I feel invited to rebalance myself, to make room for pause, to get a sense of perspective. Like stopping a few minutes on a long walk to look back on the distance covered before admiring the view ahead. These hearts remind me of that journey – of my story of my past 2 weeks. And they increase the number of images of hearts on the internet, which is surely no bad thing! ♥ 

August

August is perhaps the month that I get on least easily with. It feels a strange month to me; it’s the holiday month when not only schools go on their summer break but everything and everyone kind of runs at a different pace, on a pared-down or delayed service. It’s the month, in the archives of my chronology of these things, where my mental health has often taken a dip. It’s a month I struggle to describe. In the Northern Hemisphere, August seems to be widely viewed as being summer – and certainly there is often heat and sun – but a little look around reveals that the year is waning, pulling back.  Áine at Heart Story describes feeling a similar ambiguity. Although there’s a lot of celebration vice around, the harvest is underway and leaves are turning and curling around the edges. The days are not so long now and growth in nature has slowed down.

Perhaps the portrayal of August as being the peak of the year conflicts with what i see and so causes my uneasy feelings. Perhaps we as a society are so disconnected from nature that we mislabel and misrepresent this month. Perhaps, towards the end of the month, I’m subconsciously reminded of the gloominess I’d be feeling at this point in my childhood years as the return to school loomed imminently. My brain does, however, immediately associate the latter part of August with blackberry-picking. which is a very positive connection indeed!

In my interpretation of the fertility cycle of the year, the goddess who conceives a child at the winter solstice is just about term right now; a hugely uncertain time. She could go into labour two moments from now, or not for more than a month.. She’s as pregnant as can be, but her belly’s “dropped” a little so losing a bit of that full roundness. There’s expectation, anticipation, excitement, fear, and exhaustion in the air. For those harvesting and preserving the crops it’s a full, busy time. 

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This past month, I’ve been addicted to sewing. Most evenings (and snippets of time snatched in the day), I’ve been at my machine. I’ve not got a lot to show for it but am pleased with the harvest that I have. There’s a kind of meditative element to the drill of the sewing machine, a very direct focus that perhaps has been helping me draw inward – when knitting I often talk or read or look at the world all around. Either way, I feel I’m coming to September ready for the real shift into definite Autumn, ready for birthing ideas and for harvesting what I need. ♥

dark moon theme: transformation

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Right now, the moon is in it’s dark phase: the waning crescent is no longer visible in the morning sky and the new moon’s waxing crescent does not yet grace late afternoon. It’s an in-between point. A transition. A time of transformation.

I generally mark the dark moon as a 3-4 day period; even on clear days there will be this length of time where I can’t see a moon. I correlate this phase of the lunar cycle to midwinter in the cycle of the sun and to the bleeding days of the menstrual cycle. In the cycle of our lives, I see it as the time between death and rebirth. I see it as a time for rest – which seems paradoxical as transformation would appear to be a somewhat active thing! But Eastern philosophies have long held as sacred (and beneficial to health) the power of stillness and “not doing”; yoga teaches of the magic of the moment between in breath and out. The dark moon always feels a very potent time for me. This time often gifts me special insights, bursts of energy, heightened intuition and/or creativity.

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I see the cycle of growth, fruition, decay, death and transformation as ever-present in all of nature around us. This new garden feature of a small compost bin – my husband’s latest pallet-recycling creation – means that we as a family can now engage with this cycle by transforming our food and garden waste into compost for growing more plants. Although I don’t believe that my son needs to fully understand death yet (or is able to) at his young age, I see a lot of merit in his day to day life having connection with composting, recycling, repurposing, mending, stillness (ha! If only you’d met this little dynamo…), cooking, natural healing and creative mediums that explore the idea of transformation. As a society, our huge focus on growth and fruition in everything massively disconnects us from the other side of the cycle. Who knows what beautiful possibilities there would be if we were to allow room for them. ♥

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Half-moon hearts

Natural hearts, accidental hearts, deliberately created hearts, hearts that resemble a recent gratitude, hearts that I saw whilst having fun – or in need of some fun. Share the love and post any that have come your way and made you smile ♥

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those below were taken at the Green Gathering festival…

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…or shortly after  :)

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When the moon reaches the brief point of her light and darkness being balanced, I feel invited to rebalance myself, to make room for pause, to get a sense of perspective. Like stopping a few minutes on a long walk to look back on the distance covered before admiring the view ahead. These hearts remind me of that journey – of my story of my past 2 weeks. And they increase the number of images of hearts on the internet, which is surely no bad thing! ♥ 

Corn mother

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Image: Lammas mandala from the healing area, Green Gathering August 2014.

I can just about feel it…little hints of summer’s decline. A little cooling off; a little waning.

Most years, at Lughnasadh, I’ve focussed on the themes of sacrifice, gratitude and personal harvest. The latter two themes have been on my mind a lot this past couple of weeks, but more than anything I’ve thought of the Corn Mother figure and what she represents to me.

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In our garden, the purple sprouting broccoli I wrote about a few weeks ago is almost ready to give us its seeds (having donated a few to the birds already; we know our place!) This is what the corn mother in my mind keeps doing; she comes with a basket brimming with all the crops the land has grown abundantly this year, all ripe and whole and colourful. Then she holds out her hand, revealing a cluster of seeds. “Take them” she says, “Take them and keep them then sow them and nurture them once more, on and on.” She says “I’ll be here with you. I’ll walk with you. I’ll guide you. I am the land and know the wisdom of all its seeds that have ever been. These are your seeds; your wisdom, your truth”.

It’s something I’ve not previously thought a lot about at Lughnasadh (but, like many things that I take a while to realise, seems so very obvious now): that we not only harvest the crop we eat now but also the seeds that we plant next year. So relevant to the parallel of our garden seed-saving endeavours here chez Heart Shaped Hands (?The Heart Shaped Home?!)

For the past couple of years I’ve celebrated Lughnasadh around August’s full moon. I like to be a little geeky about corresponding seasonal festivals with lunar phases and I also tend to find this extra few days allows me to see more signs in nature that autumn is on it’s way. So today is when I celebrate this festival of the first hedgerow fruits and of the grain harvest.

This Lughnasadh, I have a really strong sense of culmination. It’s not been the easiest year for us as a family but, of course, struggles usually bring their own harvests. That learning is part of what I’m feeling has culminated; that’s my seed that I take forwards. The sense of culmination ties in nicely for me (geekily corresponds, if you like!) with my having turned thirty this year and with my Saturn return wrapping up in a few months time. When I walked my thirtieth birthday labyrinth, I had this image of the land goddess appearing and inviting me to a deeper connection with her. Here she is, as the corn mother. With many seeds for me to keep, sow and tend. ♥

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Half-moon hearts

Natural hearts, accidental hearts, deliberately created hearts, hearts that resemble a recent gratitude, hearts that I saw whilst having fun – or in need of some fun. Share the love and post any that have come your way and made you smile ♥

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When the moon reaches the brief point of her light and darkness being balanced, I feel invited to rebalance myself, to make room for pause, to get a sense of perspective. Like stopping a few minutes on a long walk to look back on the distance covered before admiring the view ahead. These hearts remind me of that journey – of my story of my past 2 weeks. And they increase the number of images of hearts on the internet, which is surely no bad thing! ♥