Into the light

The Spring Equinox has passed; light is stronger than dark. It seems quite fitting that, a week before the equinox, our neighbour and his parents gave the trees on his side of our shared wall a serious prune. A week after the equinox. my husband has done similar on our side, removing a rotten fence at the same time. Consequently the garden is much lighter, which will benefit plant growth. The trees also look more attractive with all their straggly and/or dead bits removed. The side of the garden where the fence was honestly looks wider with it gone. Its a little weird being able to see into  – and through- our neighbours’ houses (and knowing that they can see into ours). It’s made me jump a few times to see the headlights of a car on the road the other side of them.

I believe that it’s similar in our dance through life; in our own seasons where we grow, prune, get a little cluttered and straggly. When we make drastic changes. Light may be flooding in, improvement may be obvious, but we can initially feel exposed – sometimes scrutinised – and get a little fright at unfamiliar things.

Blown eggs above our sacred nature table - the decorated one was from a seasonal activity at my son's kindergarten. I meant us to decorate the one we blew at home, but as with many of my creative intentions, I didn't get around to it. However, I feel that the dark and light contrast of the two is very apt for the equinox!

Blown eggs above our sacred nature table – the decorated one was from a seasonal activity at my son’s kindergarten. I meant us to decorate the one we blew at home, but as with many of my creative intentions, I didn’t get around to it. However, I feel that the dark and light contrast of the two is very apt for the equinox!

A wise acquaintance once told me “you have to cut out the deadheads to allow the flowers to bloom”. She was referring to the destructive relationship that I’d just ended – a difficult step, at the time, despite the necessity of taking it being obvious to all. I think her words can refer to projects, habits, jobs, possessions, garden fences and so many things that might be keeping us from enjoying – immediately or gradually – a lighter, brighter place. ♥

Breaking free

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In my garden, spring flowers are breaking free from the tight hugs of their buds. More leaves and flowers wait to do so any day – pushing against their protective squeezes like a baby trying to be birthed, or like a teenager pushing away from their parents emotionally. There’s a fair bit of breaking free for myself too. I feel my body crave lighter and more pungent and bitter foods as it seeks to clear the kapha energy dominant at this time of year. I’ve cleared out more possessions and stuff as my appreciation for less clutter has grown. Almost all of it has gone to charity shops or recycling facilities, mirroring nature’s cycles of letting go, destruction and rebirth.

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I know people say that those who are often rearranging and decluttering their physical environment have a lot of internal “mess” they really need to address. I’ve seen this in myself. Although I’ve not come as far as I hoped with the self-development that I started in the Autumn, I do have a sense of starting to break free of a few layers of unhealthy thought habits and internal scripts. Certainly a sense of opening and awakening to a beautiful view.

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Our garden itself is breaking free (with some help from the three of us!) from the wide concrete path that we have long wished was grass and vegetable-growing space. Soon it will be!

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Crocuses

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I love dainty, cheery crocuses. As Cicely Mary Barker so beautifully described:

         “…Like a cup of light, -

Hundreds of them are smiling up,

Each with a flame in its shining cup,

By the touch of the warm and welcome sun

Opened suddenly. Spring’s begun!…”

From “The Song of the Crocus Fairies” by Cicely Mary Barker.

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I recently bought myself  my son “Flower Fairies of the Spring”: a sweet little collection of some of her works. Whilst we as a family are familiar with the more commonly-known flowers, like crocuses, I’m hoping that this pretty book can serve as a guide to help us learn others, as well as to celebrate the beauty of this season. (And to indulge my near-obsession with fae!). ♥

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Planting

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We have new life in our garden! Two dwarf pear trees. Receiving and potting them felt a fine way to welcome the first weekend of real spring weather, and a lovely activity for experiencing all the elements. There’s such hope present in the act of planting something. Hope for our plants as they grow, blossom, fruit, birth and rest as the year turns. Hope in my heart for that cycle mirrored in other projects and plans of mine; my inner seedlings.

Yesterday I fed our blueberries a dressing of ericaceous compost, and we’ve put manure down elsewhere. Now feels like a receiving time for my awakening garden. The earth receives these nutrients – as well as the seeds that we are starting to plant. Unfolding leaf-buds and flowers seem to reach to the sky to gulp in sun and rain; I guess this part of the year is like breakfast-time for nature. Mind you, it’s more around lunchtime that we have the birds swoop down to peck at the ground and our bird table. For a garden that never got any avian visitors when we moved in just under two years ago, it’s a treat to now have almost half a dozen species drop by most days. ♥

March

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March, to me, is green and yellow. Green buds that break out into leaf. Green shoots coming up through the ground. In the part of the UK I live in, it’s in March that Spring seems to get really underway. The Spring Goddess appears in my mind in a green dress flowing over the land. Its creases like the contours of hills and valleys, its softness like the grass. Her energy is less delicate and naive than the child energy I feel at Imbolg, although she hasn’t quite reached the motherliness that comes later in the year. Green being my favourite colour, and spring being the season that I was born in, I feel deep and happy connection with this time. Almost every day holds celebration in my ritual of checking my garden and my seed trays for new flowers or shoots. At three years old, my son’s instant smiles full of wonder at these miracles is precious magic to witness.

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The yellow comes in many shades: pale primroses, bright daffodils and tulips, almost-gold that smiles all over a sunny spring day. The sun is gaining strength with a warmer and more confidant glow and I feel myself relax in it. A sense of ease comes with being able to put one less layer on myself and my child, being able to turn the heating down and being able to draw the curtains after dinner instead of well before. Laundry is nearly-dry when I take it off the line. Yet, amongst all this romance. March is a hungry-gap month with mornings that may be bright but can still be bitingly chilly. This reminds me of the need for patience, for preparation and for humility.

To me the green and the yellow feel feminine and masculine, respectively, and it’s in March that I feel nature’s sexuality and fertility rising. As I walk  – or just sit- out of doors, I try to draw this energy into my heart and my hands to bring it to my own projects and goals. I observe it blessing my garden, which grows little by little each day.

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Having spent the last few months wanting to just snuggle indoors, I start yearning to be outside. Planting seeds, marvelling at new life and feeling so sunny.

Happy March! ♥

Spring creeps in

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When I think about the nearly-thirty-one years of seasons that I’ve experienced, Spring often seems to creep in slowest of the seasons; the others have a firmer arrival. This is what my memory tells me. (Yes, keeping a journal would have provided a more accurate record but it’s a little beyond me to apply such logic to my life!) Spring’s first steps onstage – the gradually longer days, the fragile snowdrops and crocuses – are so hushed and timid. These steps are slow and when the weather yo-yos between wintry and spring-like it’s as if those baby-steps retreat back to the wings before tiptoeing out again, maybe this time a shade further. It’s as if this season tries to be all inconspicuous as she comes out. Yet we the audience sit eagerly waiting, pointing these signs out to each other, shining the spotlight and cheering happily. Towards the end of Spring’s show – when colour smiles all around, the sun is strong, the air is warm and abundant blossoms everywhere froth with the confidence of a perfectly-made cappuccino – then fanfare and applause can almost be heard on the breeze.

As a parallel, my Imbolg celebrations tend to be more drawn out too. I’ve written before of how I tend to celebrate the cross-quarter festivals as a “tide” over a lunar month and I think that this particularly applies to my welcoming of Spring. We’ve enjoyed various little celebrations and activities over the past few weeks, such as….

  • spotting spring flowers, catkins and green buds on trees during our walks out and about. The almost-daily check of how much the green shoots in our garden have grown is such a magical spring ritual to share with my son.
  • Changing our nature table to reflect this festival.
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  • talking together about the change from winter, about the Earth waking up and about new life emerging – such as lambs being born! Dylan and I enjoyed a sheep-making activity from The Imagination Tree:

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  • blessing the packets of seeds that we intend to plant in our garden this year – indeed, we have some exciting plans for revamping our garden, (if our landlord agrees). For the blessing, we placed the packets in the centre of a ring of beeswax candles that I’d made, with a small bowl of Glastonbury Chalice Well water at the centre. We each gently blew around the circle and visualised the sun, rain and our love and nurture helping our seeds to go into beautiful vegetables, salads and flowers. I then extinguished all candles except one, which I put in the garden in a jam jar to help the earth to wake up. I left it there until it was spent.

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  • For more personal activities, focussing on my goals for this year – the seeds I’m planting in my life – as well as working a little with the goddess Bridget and thinking about my associations and identifications with her. I’ve also enjoyed using Miranda Grey’s womb renewal blessing from the last Worldwide Womb Blessing.

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(Paintings above by Jaine Rose)

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  • Being aware of the stronger kapha energy of this time of year and to try to balance this through adjustments to my diet, yoga practice and activities.
  • Rejoicing at being able to put washing out on the line and it being a little less damp by the end of the day. (simple things!)
  • Replacing our winter books with our spring ones in our seasonal book basket – and delighting in Dylan delighting in them!

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  • Treating ourselves to some cheery daffodils.

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Although we’re loving Spring’s gradual entrance, we are still hoping for a little snow; Dylan and I have agreed that our nature table should reflect that we still might do! Who knows….

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Happy Springtime (ish) ♥

Celebrating the return of my moontime

IMG_2571 Recently, my menstrual cycle finally returned following the birth of my son. I’m still breastfeeding, which delays a mama’s cycle coming back, but mine was kinda unusually delayed; Dylan was past his third birthday! When my first period in almost four years did arrive, it was something that I wanted to consciously welcome, honour and connect with.

I had at times worried about my lack of periods, although was reassured when my GP ran tests that all came back normal. On the advice of a couple of wise-woman friends, I started journalling as a way to deepen my relationship with my body, my moods and my intuition. I sought to deepen my connection with the moon’s cycle and the cyclic dance of my own hormones, trying to spend time outside on full and dark moon nights feeling the beautiful presence of those energies around me and deep within me. I also made myself a sacred space a little like my own Red Tent. IMG_2576 The Red Tent movement has developed over recent years, following a book of the same name, as global and local communities of women honouring their own and each others’ divine femininity and the powers that that brings. Red Tent temples are places for support, creativity and activism. (You can discover much, much more here). I desired a space in my home where I could sit and meditate, dream, journal, read a book or my Tarot cards… or simply drink hot chocolate mindfully and peacefully! In particular, I wanted a space designed for connecting with my sacred femininity and that of the Earth, my ancestry, the cosmos and women everywhere. IMG_2574 I gathered up mostly-red items that had special connotation, purpose and beauty to me. I created a little canopy from scarves. One of them I used to wear around my hips a lot – often going out to what were very much activities of the “maiden phase” of my life! I had a lot of fun then doing things that I admittedly wouldn’t do now. Things that were right for me at that time ; I find it important to acknowledge that “maiden” as part of who I am, part of my past, present and future self. IMG_2570 Other items represent the “Mother” phase of my life; my current phase. There’s a photo of me nursing Dylan when he was a few days old – as well as another of us – and there’s the badge above that a friend gave me. (Similar products with pro-breastfeeding slogans can be bought at Lactivist.co.uk). IMG_2577 My little red corner holds souvenirs from other important times in my life; from my wedding and from our travelling adventure. Flopsy the rabbit  was given to me the day after I was born!

IMG_2567 IMG_2564 I made the bunting (photo at top of post) and also this red drawstring bag that stores my moon cup and washable moon cloths. I like to use these re-usable menstrual products for environmental, financial and health reasons – most disposable pads and tampons are not biodegradable, are expensive over time and are full of chemicals that I just don’t want next to a delicate area of my body! My inspiring and wise friend Rachael makes these pads which she sells along with other lovely moontime products on her website. IMG_2804 Other things are from special women in my life. The cross above – although a symbol of a spirituality different to my own – belonged to my late paternal grandmother who I felt much closer to after I became a mother myself. The decoration it is attached to was made  for one of Miranda Gray’s incredible womb blessings with wool that I spun. There’s something from my mum, from her mother and from one of my great-grandmothers as well as from my lovely oldest friend. IMG_2583 IMG_2568 One scarf was a leaving gift from a team that I was privileged to work in; this small team was, by coincidence, all-female and each of these wise women taught me so very much. I often wear it during meditations or womb blessings. The drum (and large elephant wall-hanging) are my husband’s; although this space is primarily for my honouring and practising feminine aspects of my spirituality, the divine male energy of the cosmos has a place here too. My husband is very much my partner in day-to-day life and on a soul level – and had a somewhat significant part in my becoming a mother! The journal was a gift from his parents.

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The red sari (awesome charity shop find!) stretches across the bedroom and hangs over my desk: my physical space for sewing, writing and knitting creativity. I like that this area is feels connected to the “red tent” corner – during one moontime I actually didn’t feel like spending much time in that space I’d made but just wanted to do lots of sewing!

The benefits of creating and using this space are already tangible and precious to me. A space where my womb energy can stir and speak. Space for me to hear it. Space for me to, sometimes,  simply sit with myself. That’s particularly important as an at-home mama where so much of my focus is on my son and on the running of the home. Yet although this is a rich environment for this personal practice, it does lack the benefits of a physical community; benefits that Red Tent gatherings or other womens’ circles can offer. Fortunately, many towns and cities do have these. Read here about how Rachael at Moontimes is creating a gorgeous community Red Tent in Pembrokeshire – and how you can support it . I’d also recommend Lucy Pearce‘s lovely, easy-to-read book Moontime for inspiration on creating your own personal retreat space – or a community one – and for wisdom on connecting with your cycle positively and meaningfully. IMG_2803 In both joining a community Red Tent/womens’ circle, or creating a personal space like I have, I feel there’s real power in making womanhood and fertility special. (fertility in the baby-making sense and also fertility in terms of our broader creative energy). In our society these things often aren’t seen as special. We’re taught that menstruation is a nuisance and a curse. Our “sanitary products” give the impression that it’s unclean and medical. A lot of society’s approach to fertility, contraception, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding all carries an underlying message that womens’ bodies can’t possibly be trusted to do what they’ve been doing for centuries without pharmaceuticals and medical interventions. I appreciate that some women really do have horrific PMS and a painful bleeding time – I used to. Thankfully some dietary and lifestyle adjustments such as those that can be found on Marylin Glenville‘s website helped me a lot.

In making a special space – and special time – to listen to and honour my body, I feel the empowering “specialness” of my womanhood.  I’m getting to know this “specialness” through the mediations, reflection and self-care that I enjoy in my little red corner. I’m learning to trust it. I’m gradually learning it’s song and letting it sing to me of how my sacred femininity not only has its place inside me, but inside the universe. ♥

IMG_2569 Maiden, Mother and Crone painting by Wendy Andrew.