Samhain

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Harvest Home is what I’ve called this Autumn. Every day. for pretty much the whole season. I’ve just yearned to be at home. Sewing, tinkering about with the arrangement of the house, clearing out, cooking, playing with my son and sewing some more. I’ve just wanted to be at home. I certainly have been out plenty; beckoned by outings to parks and woods, shopping to do, friends to see and my son’s social diary of groups and playdates to facilitate. But my favourite thing has been being at home.

My heart, mind and soul have needed a little care and nurture these last few months. My physical semi-retreat inside these red bricks has probably been symbolic of a retreat inside myself to ask some questions, revisit some memories and say some goodbyes and some thank you’s – soul-to-soul. The rattle of my sewing machine has proved quite an effective tool for journeying to some deep places!

And now, at Samhain, the end of the harvest season, I feel like I really have harvested and brought it home for nourishment and sharing through the dark months ahead. I tend to celebrate the cross-quarter festivals as a tide (why should Yule should be the only festival extended to a tide?! Time to re-write the rules!) I start Samhain-tide today, when a majority of people celebrate Halloween or a similar festival. I mark it to around the time of the first frosts or of November’s last-quarter moon – whichever feels right. I intend for it to be a time of reflection on what I’ve learned, of spiritual work, of journeying and divination, of listening to trees and the whispers on the wind and of remembering with thanks and reverence those who have walked in this world before me.  I feel this as the time of the Hag Goddess. dressed in her dark cloak of mystery. Like most old women, she has much wisdom to share. I hope to have the grace to open myself to receiving it.

I wish you a blessed and insightful Samhain-tide too.  ♥Mo

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October

…is orange. Orange are the crisp leaves that drop and drape themselves over the dampening soil. Orange is the sunlight that the afternoon reflects off them. Orange are the ripe pumpkins, the hearty dishes that they make and, of course, the Jack-o-lanterns. Orange is the candlelight glowing boldly through their carvings. Orange, too. glow our windows each dusk. Orange are the flames of the fires now needed in the evenings, the nasturtiums flowers, the pyracantha berries, the hue picked out on a nutshell in the right light. Orange reminds me of spices that aid digestion as the weather cool. October is orange to me. A warm, cheery  (but in a mellow and not boisterous way) orange. Warmth and cheer for the dark months ahead, wisdom in that mellow-ness, guiding me forward.

Bright blessings for your Samhain and through your winter ♥Mo

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Harvest Goddess card by Wendy Andrew, squirrel postcard by Marjan van Zeyl.

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Letting go

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Right now, I see nature doing a lot of letting go: leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, green, life. It’s Autumn’s  job and what I, like many who follow a nature-based spirituality, hear nature calling me to do in my own life at this time. As part of my Autumn equinox celebrations, I consider this question of what it is that I need to release; what habits. what patterns of thinking, what goals, what projects, what chapters in my story. This year, as part of our equinox activities, I made a little “stream” in our garden like the one here (but less effective, due to the lack of hill!) and some walnut shell boats a bit like these (but less, um, upright).

It had been a bit of a hard day in Mama-ville with Little Mr Toddler being, well, a toddler. As the three of us stood in our darkening garden with our boats, Dylan contemplating vocally exactly when he would get to pour all the water into the stream, I contemplated what I was letting go of; what I’d like to sail away from me into the darkness. I found myself silently lamenting the fact that yet another seasonal festival had come to an air of tension and frustration all round. Each time, I strive and want for these festivals to be joyful, beautiful days of celebration. In striving for that – through various activities. little rituals, food and plans – I probably expect a bit too much really. Too much of myself, the already-busy, often-tired Mama who in all honesty could do with less doing and more being; of also-busy, also-tired Rob who splits himself between the roles of work-Rob and Daddy-Rob; and of Dylan, too young to understand and really appreciate the symbolism and meaning of many of the things I’d tried to weave into the day.  It had been too much. I started to feel guilty about it; how would Dylan ever see celebrating the seasons positively if he associated them with stress? How could I have prioritised these activities over just savouring and honouring stillness? The answer I harvested was that I probably needed to in order to realise I need to let go of some of my often-high expectations. My hope is that in expecting less, I will find myself more grateful and feel more blessed with abundance instead of thinking so much about what I didn’t do or have. The shift will be easier said than done.

Our little boats wobbled over and ignored the water trying to bob them along. My life these days seems one long u-turn from my teenage perfectionism. Goodbye, high expectations; I know some of you will stay with me like those odd leaves that cling onto their branches all winter long. But I’ll feel lighter with fewer of you. I’m sure. ♥

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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