The Time of Growth and Opportunities.

Here in West Central Wisconsin the winter has been particularly long and extra cold. The Earth has slumbered beneath a blanket of snow and She has dreamed of burgeoning new growth of a Spring that at times seemed too far away. For those of us up here in the northern states, Spring doesn’t burst forth with a plethora of blossoms and greenery. That comes later in the season for us. Spring for us, means that the Mighty Mississippi begins to melt. The eagles come to feast upon fish that froze in the thick winter ice, and the ice fishing shacks are hauled away until next year when thick ice returns once more. The wild life begins rummaging about in search of tender greens that the melting snow has revealed, and the humans of the region are welcoming spring with a shedding of a few layers of clothing as we emerge from our homes to soak up some much needed fresh air and sunshine. Clearly the time of awakening and growth has come.

Thoughts of a garden pluck away in the back of my thoughts, as well as the anticipation of the chance to participate in the local community garden. My hunger to be in the woods, and connect with the spirits of this land through the trees as sap loosens and begins to flow through tree trunks once more, and shoots of green begin to creep up through the leaf litter to greet the growing sunshine. My hunger to learn of plant medicine, and edible wild foods plucks at my spirit as I look out to the bluffs, and towards the prairie.

In my world this season of growth and awakening has begun with a long overdue Initiation Ritual, and things have blossomed since. Already I feel a deepening connection to my spirituality. I find myself seeking to know more about the gods of my Viking ancestors and seeking out connections between the goddesses of the Norse traditions with the goddesses that I’ve always felt a connection with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attempting to skip and hop from pantheon to pantheon; but if there is a connection then there are ways in which I can build some deeper relationships with my ancestral connections while maintaining the connections I already have. I find myself looking for signs of what I should be doing next, and then as I’m riding with my sister to go see my mother two coyotes run across the highway in broad daylight. A sign to get moving. This is my time to “do the do,” and I hadn’t been. The next day, I smudged and did an impromptu house blessing, because I felt compelled to, and then an opportunity came…the sign I was looking for.

I’ve been chatting on and off with a Facebook friend who is a Master Herbalist and Naturopath. She offers a variety of educational opportunities through online correspondence and live courses, up to and including (insert my dreamy eyed longing here), a Master Herbalist Program that is the real deal. It’s my dream, but really at this point I’m excited at the thought of any herbalism education opportunities. I just can’t generally afford the formal programs. We had been talking about this conundrum, and had left it at…when the time was right, I would know and somehow find a way to make it happen. We none the less seem to have a connection that goes further than being Facebook friends.

A few hours after I did my smudging and blessing of the house, she sent me an Facebook message explaining that she was writing up a “want ad” in search of a couple of folks interested in working as intern assistants and thought that I might be interested in the opportunity as the exchange for the internship was credits towards course tuition. Well, you don’t have to smack me upside the head and tell me I’m a nettle lover to see where this is going. I submitted my letter of interest as soon as the want ads went public, and you are now looking at the Editorial/Personal Assistant at Green Wisdom! This to me is the most amazing opportunity to work with a wonderful wise woman, and be a part of something bigger than my own little circle of the world. It also gives me the opportunity to start pursuing a passion, that I can be truly proud of as a mother, as a woman, and as a pagan. I am ecstatic!!

Other opportunities have popped up as well. My beaded necklaces will be returning to the co-op where I used to work, and some new ideas for beading and jewelry have poked their heads through the stagnation of my own spiritual winter. This spring has growth in abundance, and blessings to be had if we are willing to reach for the sky as the eagles pick fish from the ice melt, and the rivers surge to life after this long season of slumber.

Breaking Writer’s Block and Empowering My Children.

There it goes again. That blank spot that was once an idea for a blog post. That brief moment of distraction just long enough for me to lose the flow of words that were only a few short hours ago percolating in my preoccupied mind as I scramble around looking for something to fix the kiddos for lunch, hunt for a diaper, and scold the dog for barking at every single person who just happens to be walking down the sidewalk today.

It’s been a while, a long while since I’ve tried to come up with a post. I think about it, admonish myself for not having written a post sooner, ponder on what to write, and finally I had something. So today, I finally had a blogging idea that seemed worthy of sharing, and now it’s gone. Let’s see if sitting here typing as I watch my beautiful daughter doze off in her high chair will jog loose those rusty creative gears long enough to come up with something inviting, inspiring, and indeed a break in the long fog of my absence as a blogger.

This business of being a witch, it has a few quirks for me at times. Introducing my children to paganism outside of the things that come most naturally such as spending time in the woods, has been a question to me. At what age will they sit long enough to really process the concepts and teachings enough to make them their own?

I know there are many folks within the pagan community who believe that spirituality should be something that a person explores as an adult rather than have been raised within a certain tradition. I had once felt that I was open to the children being given the ideologies of nearly any faith. While I would like them to know about all faiths on an academic level, I intend to raise them within the spirals of my own spiritual path. My sons are now at an age where they are fairly well ready to begin learning about paganism with some degree of understanding as opposed to following along because, “This is what we do.”

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son shared with me that he had watched something that really frightened him, and it struck up a conversation between us about what I believed in. I speak fairly candidly with my sons about anything they have questions about, especially if it has something to do with a pagan concept, or a misconception that they’ve been exposed to. Teaching moments are a commodity that I’d not trade for the world with my kids. It feels as though the time in which they are receptive to what I have to share with them is limited. Soon enough they will be eager to venture out on their own to find out what’s there and what I have to offer will hold less if any value to them.

This teaching moment with my bright eyed almost 8 year old opened my eyes to a need that wasn’t being met; an understanding that while I have tried to infuse it into his brilliant little inquisitive mind, he needed something more. He and his brother really needed something tangible to help them understand that Goddess is within us all and we are all a part of her. I found that tangible lesson within Oberon Zell’s Millennium Gaia.

She’s sat upon my altar for 14 years, a gift from my first mentor, an amazing representation of the living Goddess and her interconnectedness to all life. I gently pulled her down from the altar in my kitchen, and fussed briefly over a couple of spots in which many trips moving and being jostled around has caused her damage that I’d not noticed until that moment. I called my sons into the kitchen to sit at the table with me and really took some time to look her over.

I asked the boys to look at her legs and tell me what they saw. At first the clever little monkeys both said, “Wow, she has a lot of tattoos.” I laughed and the asked them to look harder. Pointing out the images of marine life both prehistoric and contemporary that adorns the length and girth of each leg. I turned her so that they could look at what made up Her glorius mane, leaves, vines, DNA strands, and asked them what they saw. Entangled in her hair are animals, insects and on the very top, where her crown chakra could be found a tiny human child with the world in its hands. We talked about each of these things. They gently traced their fingers around sharks, lions, dinosaurs and dragonflies as we discussed that She was a part of all life, and that we are all a part of her. Mind you, I am not Dianic by any means, this was however a lesson that I’ve been working toward instilling into my children since they were old enough to go traipsing off into the woods with me. I don’t think they really grasped it, until they were able to see exactly what I was trying to say. It was too big, and this symbol of Goddess so beautifully created finally offered an imagery that they could wrap their heads around and think about.

This opportunity hasn’t slipped by without further contemplation. We’ve done a few small things, that really aren’t so small. A dream catcher hung above their bed to capture the bad dreams and let in the good ones was in order, and a tiny statue of Bast now sits in their room as a protector from all things scary, and introductions to the Gods and Goddesses are being made to the oldest boy with books from the library that give him a taste for some of the pantheons of ancient times. Currently, he’s learning about Egytian pantheons, which is fitting given the introduction of Bast to their bed room and the close affinity my husband has for all things Egyptian.

This Winter Solstice will find their stockings hung and stuffed with goodies, toys will be tucked under the tree as you might find under any other tree at this time of year, but along with the toys and games my guys will find their first books introducing them to pagan concepts and ideologies. I am incredibly excited to watch them explore earth centered spirituality with tools that are geared specifically to engage their minds and imaginations. I am excited to hear their thoughts and ideas about what they read and explore. I am excited to see these beautiful souls become empowered with their own sense of connection and magick.

Writer’s Block broken, Blessed be to you all, and have a beautiful Solstice.

Bringing in the Babies – My Birthing Experiences

304767_3612386473756_216296803_nToday, I think I would like to share with you the stories of the births of my children. There are a few reasons for wanting to do so. First, I look back on their births and realize that I wasn’t as informed as I could have and should have been for my sons, and myself. Secondly, these children are each pretty spectacular miracles. I was told I would never carry a pregnancy to term, if indeed I could get pregnant at all. I’ve had two miscarriages that reinforced that idea.

With each child I had gestational diabetes. My pregnancies with my oldest son and my daughter both required me to use insulin. My second son was conceived within a year of a miscarriage. All three were considered to be high risk. Two of my deliveries were via induction. With two of my deliveries I opted to use a pain reducer known as Nubain, which really doesn’t take away much if the intensity of labor pains. It merely takes the edge off the peak of the contraction pains. It lasts for two hours at best, and did not impede me from fully participating in the pushing process. With all three of my children, pitocin was used despite the fact that during my first delivery labor began on it’s own.

I am sharing this with you for multiple reasons. The first being that I want to encourage all mothers to feel empowered and to research everything you can about your pregnancy. Don’t just take what these hospitals are forcing you to believe is standard, normal, and correct as the be all and end all. You have rights, and you have the right to decline a good bit of what they may try to talk you into. I wish I had known what I know now about pitocin, inductions, and my own ability to endure.

My first and third pregnancies ended in miscarriages at around 8 weeks.

My second pregnancy was perhaps one of the fastest pregnancies a woman could ask for. Again, I still had periods, all the way through the first and partially through the second trimester. I didn’t suspect a thing, despite the shape my body was taking. I wasn’t gaining any significant weight. I don’t keep a full length mirror in the house, so I honestly couldn’t see any real changes in the shape of my body. I was a bit extra sleepy, but nothing terribly unusual and I had no morning sickness. When I finally suspected something was up, I was 20 weeks into my pregnancy. I took three home tests out of shere disbelief, and then scheduled a fourth with my doctor. Her nurse laughed at me. I found out I was pregnant, and having a beautiful boy all in the same week. Fastest pregnancy, ever. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes shortly after. There was never a discussion of induction of labor. The doctors wanted me to go to term.

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He is the most beautiful soul.

During my 38th week, I slipped on some wet ice and fell, bouncing on the sidewalk belly first. I was fine, but earned a night’s stay in the labor and delivery ward, just in case. Things were fine as far as they could tell, so they sent me home the following day. Again, my doctor’s ideal outcome was that I would carry to term. Two days later, my water broke at about 8:45 am. I was already at the hospital between appointments. Excitedly, I rushed to the check in desk, and explained what had just happened, and was taken right up to Labor and Delivery. There was so much excitement about this pregnancy. I spent much of the morning wandering the maternity floor. At some point during the contractions it was decided that I “wasn’t progressing fast enough.” They started a pitocin drip. I wish that I knew then what I know now about the true meaning of “progressing fast enough.” I delivered my son at 7:20pm that evening. All was not well. My son spent 5 days in the NICU, where a few other issues were discovered and I learned that his early arrival had quite likely saved his life. At the time though, my mind plagued itself with all sorts of accusations of things I must have done wrong. I never left that hospital until he was released. I help him, rocked him, and fed him sitting in the NICU beside his incubator as often as possible. Through tears, I would cuddle him and sing softly to him. Sammy’s song is “You Are My Sunshine.” I got to bring him home on New Years Day. He’s a healthy, happy, 7 year old now, who never ceased to take my breath away.

My little hero

My little hero

My third pregnancy ended in miscarriage as I mentioned previously. It happened within two weeks of a positive pregnancy test result. Something was off, and an emotional call in to the OB/GYN got me right in to an ultrasound and an exam that resulted in the conclusion that it was likely that I was losing the pregnancy. They’ll tell you this early in the pregnancy that you will likely not notice the fetal tissue when it passes from your body, that it’s simply too small at this point to be recognizable. They are lying to you. You know exactly what it is, and it’s crushing. I was sent home and told to rest. Twenty four hours after seeing the doctor, I was at home, alone with my beautiful 18 month old son, having a miscarriage. I should never have been alone. It was painful. It was messy. I was light headed and weak from blood loss, but too stubborn in my misery to ask for help. I remember picking up my son and by sheer force of motherly will carrying him to bed without dropping him, or collapsing.

My son, my glorious little son was the unwitting little hero during the day after it all happened. His laughter and silly, sweet antics to garner smiles from me throughout that next day kept me sane, helped me to ground, and pulled me from heartbreak into a place where I could heal and say goodbye to the child that wasn’t meant to be.

My fourth pregnancy started out a little scary, as the same symptoms that led to miscarriage seemed to be reoccurring. This time the OB/GYN I saw listened to my previous experience retold and with a gentle smile gave me a nod and swept me off to an ultrasound. I can not express what I felt as I watched that screen. She turned the screen so I could see and said, “Do you see that?” There on the screen, I saw the tiniest flutter of a heartbeat. Instant tears, and relief. All was well. My developing little bundle of mischief was going to be fine.

I had gestational diabetes with this pregnancy as well, though this time I was able to manage it with my diet. My doctor was happy for me to go to full term and even go a week over without intervention. That was the plan. I was happy with that. The little boy developing inside me had other ideas. At 40 weeks and a day, I went in for a check up and non-stress test. There was no movement, no fluxuation in fetal heart rate for about an hour. I was sent in for an ultrasound, still no movement. They used a fetal stimulator designed to wake sleepy babies so they’ll move around during the ultrasound. Still no movement. For nearly another 45 minutes, there was no movement inside my womb. I was sent up to Labor and Delivery immediately for an emergency induction. I had to call a friend to go pick up my husband (who was my fiance at the time), and son, then proceeded to make the remaining “Holy crap!” phone calls.

He reminds me that life is exuberance.

He reminds me that life is exuberance.

It was scary because there could really be something wrong. My mother came to the hospital and picked up my son. I was eternally grateful for my soul sister, Kirsta for coming to the hospital, to my friend Deborah for graciously, and expeditiously delivering my guys to the hospital for me.

Pitocin was started at around 7:30pm. The background music in the delivery room was a huge variety of rock with random acts of Larry the Cable Guy’s stand up. Somewhere around 11:30pm the first truly painful contractions started. My water had broken on its own an hour or two before that. Just before midnight the first pushing contraction happened, not realizing what was happening, I resisted my body’s demand to push. They administered a shot of nubain, which releaved the edge of two contractions. I remember looking at my husband and telling him that I didn’t think they gave me enough. The next contraction was a good hard urge to push. Again, I resisted, going so far as to declare that it was too soon, it couldn’t be time yet, there weren’t any medical personnel in the room at all. Yeah, I am that thick sometimes. My husband’s eyes sort of popped out of his head. A nurse walked into the room in time for the next contraction, I didn’t resist. “I have to push…right…now.” She got into position just in time. Push. “Was that the head?”

“Yes, it was.”

Another contraction, “Okay, here he comes.” Push. Contraction. Push. She really got there just in time. My second son emerged into the world just that quickly at 12:30am. He was gray, and no sound came from his little voice. The nurses rush him to the warming table, as I shot up from my recovering position demanding to know what was wrong with my son. A second later, his angry little cries filled my eyes with tears of relief and utter joy. He was fine. He was really hungry, and he was glorious. His birth was definitely telling of the little feisty person that he is becoming each and every day.302073_2138775314398_1021747869_n

My third child was my 40th birthday present from the Universe. I took the test the day before I turned 40. Now by this time, out of sheer curiosity I had begun doing some research on birth and pregnancy. I had watched a documentary called, The Business of Being Born. It was a huge eye opener for me. I had decided that for this last pregnancy, I wanted a midwife, and I wanted to have a water birth. Due to my previous history of gestational diabetes, and the fact that I’m a woman of the plus sized variety, my midwife decided to have me undergo the blood sugar tests early. At twelve weeks, I was confirmed to have gestational diabetes. After a week of removing nearly all carbs from my diet, I was put on insulin because I could not maintain a fasting morning blood sugar level below 95. During my previous pregnancies the fasting morning blood sugar level was considered normal when kept below 100. I was informed at this point that I would not be allowed to have a water birth because I was a high risk pregnancy due to the insulin being required to manage my gestational diabetes. No further explanation was really ever offered. I haven’t been able to find any further explanations in my searches for answers. My midwife also explained that her partners wanted her to drop me as a client due to the high risk nature of my pregnancy. At this point, I should explain that I was not seeing her in a private practice environment, but as one of the care options offered through the local Mayo Healthcare System where I live. We did eventually come to a compromise in which I would alternate between visits with her, and visiting an OB/GYN, whom was my previous care provider. I agreed. The standard policy at this time was to induce deliveries of diabetic mothers between 38 and 39 weeks. Apparently, somewhere between having my son who was three at the time and this pregnancy they have decided that suddenly at 39 weeks, babies just up and die if they are being carried by diabetic mothers. They pushed for induction early in the pregnancy. I was ready for it this time. I refused. They, and by they I do mean my midwife as well, really pushed for induction. There’s a rise in fetal mortality rates at 39 weeks with gestational diabetes. To that, I called bullshit. In the end, I agreed to compromise. I would carry to term. On my due date, I would permit myself to have an induced delivery if I hadn’t gone into labor naturally. I had to continually refuse scheduled induction throughout my pregnancy.2013-02-22 13.36.22

At 39 weeks, I went in for a check up and non-stress test, and it was discovered that something was beginning to sort of happen. Something was attempting to poke out of my cervix, and there was real concern that it might be a bit of the umbilical chord. My midwife had the OB/GYN on hand come check to help her to determine whether or not I would be having an emergency c-section. Thank the gods she did, because after a second exam and a trip to ultrasound it was determined that it wasn’t the umbilical chord, but an earlobe. Relief, sheer relief. The non-stress test however was only slightly more active than the last one I had with my son. Slow reactivity. Now combine that with the gestional diabetes, and my midwife decided at that point that we needed to induce that day. Thank the gods for my OB/GYN. She looked at the NST tape and sent me home. Induction would go as I had agreed, or so I thought.

466382_4030569607331_2092253900_oOn my due date, I called in early in the morning as instructed. I was nervous, excited, and ready to have a baby. No beds were ready, I had to call back every two hours to see if a bed was available. Every two hours the same, results. I was told at one point that it would be soon, as one woman was nearly through her delivery. My response was to try and find the humor in the chaos by suggesting that the nurse I was speaking to go into the room and gently whisper something I remembered from Bill Cosby’s retelling of his wife’s “natural child birth experience.” “Push ’em out, shove ’em out, waaaaay out!” The nurse laughed and promised to offer the same for me when it was my turn. She then told me she’d have my midwife call when a bed was ready. Hours passed. My phone did not ring. Finally, I called again and was told that I was not going to be induced that day. I was also told that my midwife was suppose to have called me by this point and explained that we would try again the next morning. I was upset, very upset.

The next morning, bright and early I got up once more to call to see if a bed was ready. To my relief, they had one. When I arrived, I was whisked off only to be rerouted to the water birth room as I had requested to option of laboring in the water. Everyone there was absolutely wonderful, for the most part. My OB/GYN made sure I was allowed to eat if I wanted all the way up until labor set in. They started a pitocin drip at about 9:30 in the morning, increasing it as the day went on until I was receiving the full dosage. My doctor came in at one point to see what I would want for pain reduction. I smiled, and declined any. She quirked a brow and asked if I was sure. I said yes. She smiled with a nod and said, “Good for you.”

At this point, I should mention that my youngest son also had a special song that I would sing to him. It’s called “The Ocean Lullaby.” You can find it on the “Circle Round and Sing” CD, which is a CD of chants and songs for families growing up in a pagan household. It goes something like this:

I’m the body of the ocean,

the roar of the sea.

I can swim with the dolphins,

and they sing to me.

As I roll on the waves,

and I wash through the deep,

As I go to sleep.

When they came in to break my water, I suddenly became a living incarnation of that song. I was literally the body of the ocean, surprising the nurses with the need for an entire bed and wardrobe change. Maybe I should not have sang that song so much while pregnant.131685_4032033723933_1704114300_o

As labor really set in and contractions began to intensify, I withdrew into myself quite a bit. I concentrated on my breath, concentrated on the fact that I was not going to give birth to this child with the assistance of any pain reducers. I concentrated on drawing in upon my strength and quietly with my inner voice, I was calling upon the Great Mother to lend me her strength and perseverance, channeling Her energy to help me through this process. As my labor progressed, a new midwife who I hadn’t met yet came into the room. At this point they were really watching me quite closely. She introduced herself though I don’t remember her name, and took a seat upon a stool close to my bed. She was gentle, patient, welcoming to my family, and was everything you could hope for in a midwife. She sat visiting with my family and I, observing the progression of my contractions, encouraging me through them, though at this point I was mostly ignoring everyone in the room as I focused on drawing upon my inner strength, internally drawing upon the strength of the Great Mother to guide me through each contraction. I did however notice that each time I opened my eyes, there was someone new in the room. A neonatal pediatrician entered and introduced himself, congratulated my husband and I on our impending arrival, and explained that he was there to give this new little one extra support in case it was needed due to my having gestational diabetes. The delivery cart was rolled in, and several nurses also entered the room. When the time came, the midwife was amazing.

There was a point in which I doubted for a few moments in my ability to get those last super important pushes, I was getting really tired. I was so close. My child’s head had crowned, and I in my urgency to deliver declared that I was certain she was stuck, and why was her head so big. The midwife gently encouraged me once more. I could do this, my baby was almost out. Just two more big pushes. One last time, I drew back into myself and with all that I had left, I pushed, and pushed again. My daughter was gently placed directly upon me, umbilical chord still attached. She was the most amazing little person. The midwife then offered the honor of cutting the chord to my mother, and then my husband who both declined. She then smiled at my daughter and I, and asked if I would like to do the honors, I accepted. That alone was a very surreal experience. My daughter was healthy but a bit jaundiced, which is common in babies who are born from diabetic mothers. She was also bigger than either of my boys. I was instantly in love with her, and have been ever since.

44672_1384411535775_1684312_nI share this extra long post with you so that you may perhaps draw from my experiences should the need ever arise. There are things that I would have changed if I had been better informed at the time. The most important things I would say to anyone expecting a child would be, don’t let anyone bully you into something you don’t want, especially your doctor/midwife. Stand your ground, take a bit of time to not only read through the information they offer you at your visits, but also do some research on your own. Look into not only what the medical community offers, but also what other mom’s are experiencing, at what the alternative and more natural options have to offer, ask tons of questions. If you don’t like the answer, do your homework and make sure that the answer you’re given is truly the best for your situation rather than this sort of herding cattle method that seems to be the way of main stream medical industry. Birthing a child is a very powerful experience, no matter how it happens for you, so don’t be afraid to demand the best experience you could have for yourself and your baby. There are a lot of things I could add, but for now thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences. Blessed Be.

 

http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/

http://serpentinemusic.com/circleround/

 

Abundance and Welcome to my Blog

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” -Wayne Dyer

One of the challenges that has been posed to me, during the course of my evening escapes to commune with one of my best friends and spiritual sister, has been to offer up some examples of abundance in my life. At the time, I was able to come up with a few areas that were “good enough” examples for a point in my life in which everything seemed like a struggle. I don’t think at that time though, I really had felt that spiritual connection to abundance and how it could really manifest in my life. Recently, I would have to say, that’s changed. Hold on to your knickers, this gets very exciting for me.

About a week ago, a friend of mine created an event on Facebook. She’s a rather savvy person when it comes to how she chooses to utilize that social media monster, putting it’s potentially radical powers of letting everyone know your every move to good use as a way to organize and build some community among her friends, whom all happen to be interested in some form of gardening. Being a fairly wise earth goddess in her own right, this event was designed as a way that her friends could meet each other, and make use of some extra seedlings that didn’t really fit in the garden. Mostly, she didn’t want to see her gorgeous new tomato seedlings come to a bitter end after having nurtured them from seed to transplant stage. Who can blame her? It takes a lot of work and an equal amount of love to nurture something so fragile from the very beginnings of life, not to mention the waste of perfectly good tomato producing potential.

Being fairly new and sort of clumsy with gardening, I’ve pestered her from time to time for advice, resulting (to my joy) inclusion in her gardening group, and also an invitation to this seedling swap. Now, to be clear…I’d not planted a single seed this year. My garden is in facts still in the foundational stages due to some financial challenges. I had only just started to sort out how I might create my garden on a budget so tight that the couch is threatening to send in the muscle if I don’t pay back the change I found in the cushions. I accepted the invitation, only after I sent her a private message, weakly confessing that I had nothing to share. I was told to “come anyway and get some tomato plants.”

Shortly after deciding to attend this lovely gathering of women and plants, I wandered outside and started to look around my yard. I didn’t have any seedlings, but I realized I had some rhubarb that I know will spread and populate as much space as it can. It also transplants easily, and was shared with me by a member of my SCA group last year. Maybe, maybe someone would want some of that. Hey! Cool! I looked around a bit more. That yarrow I planted last year, came back. It was also shared with me by the lady I got the rhubarb from. Holy cats, is it ever growing tall and it spread out, a lot. Maybe..maybe someone would like some of that as well. Then I noticed my chocolate mint plants, they were also thriving and spreading like no one’s business, and my lillies, and hostas too! Excited that I did have something to potentially contribute, I rushed back to the computer and offered up these glorious plants that had all returned this spring. I was able to share with this little group of women, some happy rhubarb, some tall and fragrant chocolate mint, and some brilliant orange lillies, in exchange for several tomato plants at least some of which are heirloom varieties, a bleeding heart plant, black-eyed Susans, beans, tarragon, a new fern for between my hostas, and some native irises which will arrive at some point next week.

It gets better, I’ve been really wanting to create an awesome space in my backyard, but finances have been way to tight for me to be able to purchase more than a starter plant here and there this year. All of these gorgeous plants were free. Looking around at what I already have, I could easily thin out my hostas, lillies, and yarrow by spreading them to different spots in my yard. The irises will look great mixed in with the lillies. More free plants! Oh, and there’s a hollyhock growing against the corner of the house, I think it’s multiplied. I think I can move it as well. Then I realized the lilacs really need to be thinned and moved about. More free fragrant flowers! I can also share with my best friend, who would like to increase her lilac population. Abundance, abounds! Yep, it doesn’t take much to make me as happy as, Jack Sparrow with a secret stash of rum and his favorite ship.

Now, I have all these plants, I need some way to create the garden I had hoped for this year. I’d been researching how to do all of this on the cheap. Apparently, the key is to be near a place that throws their pallets out for people to take. I’ve been stalking just such a place. That’s right…stalking, I’ve been stalking that wood pile for over a year now, swearing I was going to somehow find a way to use those pallets. They are now participating in what I am referring to as “Hammer Therapy.” Hammer Therapy is the process of removing the center slats of the pallets, and alleviating my pent up aggression, (of which there is a good bit), by smacking those suckers out with a hammer. It’s a decent work out. It makes me feel empowered and happy; and it provides me with free raised beds for my garden.

Abundance, surrounds me. I find it in the woods these days as I forage for wild foods and medicinal herbs. I find it in the ability to endure that makes my family so resilient. I find it in the sweet delight of uncovering a new piece to our family tree. I find it in the unconditional love and quick forgiveness visible in the depths of the eyes of my children. I find it in the bonds formed between a 4 year old boy as he naps flopped on the couch using a patient and gentle pit bull for a pillow. I find it in my backyard, looking around for a way to fit in, for a way to contribute. It was there, and in recognizing that it is there, it allows me the opportunity to be resourceful in how I work with my surroundings, and with my own ability to create more abundance for myself and the people I love.

Sometimes it takes a bit of resourcefulness to uncover it, or a moment of looking at it from outside the box, but abundance is most assuredly there; and I am truly blessed.

Welcome to my blog. I know, it seems backwards, and at times it will be very much like a conversation with…well, with some one quite unaccustomed to caffeine after a mocha with a triple shot of esspresso. Other times, it will be much more like a walk in the woods, peaceful and soothing. I sort of flow where ever the spirits takes me. I hope you enjoy your visit and return soon.

-Blessed Be!

The Measure of Success – The Questions that Lead to Self Discovery

One of my soul sisters and I are making building on a habit that we once had of getting together once a week for magickal purposes. It’s not always formal, and sometimes it’s just a time of discussion, venting, or just general fellowship amongst ourselves within the energy. It so happens that at this time that on our more casual nights we have been working through, T. Thorn Coyle’s latest book, Make Magic of Your Life. So far we’ve been working through the introduction, which is unusual in that most introductions in that book introductions tend to be fairly short and they don’t usually jump right into the working portion of the book. I’m not complaining, in fact I am enjoying the process. One of the questions asked for the purposes of further contemplation, meditation, and perhaps even journal work that was posed in the book is something to the effect of, “What does success mean to you?” or “How do you define success?”

It’s a very interesting question, the answer will vary depending on who you ask. Does being successful mean that you’ve reached a certain financial or social status? To a certain degree it will for many people. I think that to many people achieving a certain level of financial independence is a necessity. We all need things like food, a place to call home, and to be able to at least maintain the basics. For some folks, that may be all that it takes for them to be successful. For others, perhaps being successful means making an impact on the world in some way through social activism, environmental activism or through some other means. Depending upon the person, maybe their success is reached by touch the lives of individual people, or through larger scale actions that impact their community as a whole. Perhaps success is found through the pursuit of music, or art, or both. Perhaps it’s to be found in the pursuit of spirituality. Maybe it’s really just about finding harmony in the life you already have. There are a lot of great stay at home parents out there who are doing an amazing job of juggling the daily tasks of maintaining a household and raising the children. I can tell you, it’s no small task. It takes a lot of juggling, love, patience and resourcefulness. Perhaps it’s in learning to balance all of these things in our lives in such a way that we can pursue all of our interests, while meeting our needs in a way that nurtures our souls.

This question has brought to me a few questions that I must ask of myself. Oddly enough, I popped over to Twitter to do my daily twitting, (yeah I know, it’s tweeting, but I like my terminology better) to find that the lady herself has posed the question to her followers. What kind of person do you want to be when you grow up? Are you speaking to me, T. Thorn Coyle? Have we somehow connected in a way most unexpected and to me quite awesome? It is the question of the hour to me. This is the question that will begin my journey of introspection, and self discovery. Who am I really? Who do I want to be? How do I evolve into the kind of person I’d like to be?

For me this will take discipline, which I’m not terribly good at. This new twist in my path will be challenging, but in the end, as I discover more of myself and become more the person that I would like to be. I think that I will not only be happier, and more successful in my life but will also be able to be a better role model for my children. That would be very fulfilling for me, as a mother, and as a witch.

Thank you to Kirsta Skaff and T. Thorn Coyle for the needed inspiration this week. Blessings to you both and so much love.

https://twitter.com/ThornCoyle

http://www.thorncoyle.com/

Twenty Years Later

1000998_501144386626011_1293502586_nTwenty years seems to have gone by so very fast, and yet the memories of this day still bite with a freshness that moves me to a place of despair and deep, deep sorrow. July 3rd 1993 was a day that forever changed my life and the lives of all whom I called and in some cases still call family. The events of this day stole away my innocence, and youthful sense of invulnerability. I think this day stole those things from a lot of people.

I remember it was late. I was talking to someone, though who it was escapes me at this point. Their importance seems to have fallen away. Somewhere during the conversation someone runs up and breathlessly spits out that they needed to talk to “Pa” (this man is the person I most frequently refer to as Dad, though biologically we are unrelated). I remember this person saying “Rick Millard’s been killed. Rico is dead.”

Ricky was 20 years old when he was murdered. He was the person that everyone expected to sort of live forever. His life was hard. His mother wasn’t kind to him, in fact she was pretty awful to him while he was alive, and paid him no real honors after he’d passed. He had earlier that year suffered severe third degree burns attempting to save a baby from a fire. From what I had understood, he was blown out the window as he reached for her. She, unfortunately didn’t make it. She was a beautiful and sweet little one from what I remember.

Ricky had every reason to be angry, and broken. He had a pension for scrapping, and no one could beat him. On July 3rd, someone chose to bring a knife to a fist fight and in the hands of an enemy, that knife took the life of someone who was at times my champion, on occasion my love, but always the brother of my soul.

Losing him devastated an entire community of people. The people who he was close to for a time lost their minds, we also in many cases set aside their differences. Our grief rocked the small town of Carthage, Missouri in a way that kept the cops and sheriffs department on edge, and acquiring new gray hair nightly. We went primal. We came together to grieve, to comfort each other, and to love him. Over 300 people attended his funeral.

I remember withdrawing into myself for a time. I remember sleeping in fear, an enormous kitchen knife resting in my hands folded across my chest. I remember that my foundation cracked, crumbled and fell away, leaving me raw, weak, and no longer the person everyone had known. Mind you, this is not my attempt to blame the loss of a friend for the crap that I allowed into my life. No, it is merely my admittance that in my grief and sorrow, I became weak. I allowed the shitty things that walked into my life to happen, to remain there as long as they did. I failed to be strong like Ricky had always been. I failed to walk that warriors’ path.

So why today? Why on this 20th year marking the murder of my friend should I take the time to really dive into that memory? Simple, it’s been put in my face for the first time in a long time. Not only has it been put in my face, but also very distinct reminders of how low I sunk afterward has been brought to my attention. Two abusers, who came into my life one after the other immediately after, Ricky’s death. Three big life lessons all right in a row. I was lucky, it could have been much worse.

Twenty years later, I’m no longer that broken young woman. I no longer think myself or anyone else invincible. I try to remember to let the people I love, know that I love them. I walk away from the people who hurt me, and remember that just because they are hurting too, didn’t make it acceptable for them to hurt me. My foundation is stronger, and more solid than it ever was. I have a sense of self that while it waivers, grounds and centers to find a point of healing as often as possible. I no longer accept a walk of faith that doesn’t resonate with my soul. Everything I do, is for my family.

Tonight, on this horrible anniversary, I remember this tragedy that brought us all together, even if just for a short time, love of our dear Ricky, conquered all and we stood as one. We stood as one.

Touching Heritage, and Finding More of Myself

me-2011Do you wonder where you came from? Or perhaps I should ask, what your connections are to your past? For me, that sense of connection intrigues me. I don’t know, perhaps it is my way of searching for my own sense of belonging. Perhaps, it’s my attempt to make sense of myself. After all, we know that genetics does play a decent part in defining some of our characteristics. Regardless of the reason, I enjoy digging through the various “hints” over on ancestry.com in search of some connection to my ancestors. Where did they come from? When did they make the migration from Europe to the ‘States? Is there a way to find that elusive connection to this land that binds me by blood and heritage to this beautiful land that surrounds me?

The rumors run thick on my maternal grandmother’s side of a Native American connection, but my great grandmother died when my grandmother was still a child and at best I can only guess that her connection to any Native American heritage that’s there was undocumented at best. Finding anything at all about my great grandmother has been the most challenging task. I’ve managed to track down a census that showed that she lived with her step-father at one point. She was married, and my grandmother was three when this census was taken. That’s it; there isn’t anything else I have managed to glean from the available documentation, not even a death certificate that seems right. I am still at this point relying on that deep sense of connection that sings when I hear the rhythm of a tribal drum beat, that tingle that runs through my body calling me home, with a sigh of relief and an excitement that almost moves me to tears. I know it with every fiber of my being. I know it’s there, I just wish I could prove it. One document stating that there is a tribal connection, one document that gives me that source of heritage, would be amazing. An affirmation of what I feel with my heart and soul.

My other familial connections have been much less elusive. I’ve found one definitive connection to a rich heritage within the land of vikings. My father’s ancestors on his paternal side come direct from Goteborg, Sweden and were there up until the very late 1880’s. My maternal grandfather’s stretches back over to Europe much farther back, some of his family members having served in the Revolutionary War. I can trace his family back to the 1600’s to an area refered to the Palitinate region which is near the present day border between France and Germany. This very European connection pulls me closer not only toward potentially European Celtic roots, possible further connections to the rich culture of the vikings, and possibly even a connection with the Gauls. There is also a traceable connection to Switzerland, which was a surprise to me.

Outside of pure curiosity and the charge that comes along with discovering this treasure trove of history, it has given me a sense of connection to my ancestors that I hadn’t expected. It has peaked my interest in exploring the history, lore and spirituality of the viking culture that is apparently running thick through my veins.

In this world of rushing about to look ahead, and technological living that disconnects us from the land and ourselves, this treasure hunt to find connection, and to discover a bit of a cultural history that’s been lost, feels a bit like tapping into an energetic infrastructure that I had not really been able to sort out before. It seems to have given me a sense of self that allows me to be more accepting of some of the bits about me that aren’t always nice, and sometimes feel a bit chaotic. It’s been a connecting of the dots that is giving me a more complete sense of self.

What helps you to connect and accept yourself with a greater sense of wholeness? What helps you to connect with a sense of pride in who you are including the parts of you that aren’t always nice? What connects your soul with that of your ancestors in a way that allows you to take a deep breath and find your inner voice rich with their history humming with connection?

The Tale of the “Halloween” Witch

Last year, I had the chance to read a blog or as Facebook calls them “Notes” about the classic Halloween witch. You’ll have to forgive me as I don’t remember who deserves the credit for this blog. It’s contents struck a nerve with me, a heartbreaking nerve at that. I will retell it the best that I can, with my own perspectives included.

The green, gnarled Imageand grotesque caricature of a witch that we have been exposed to via media, art through the ages designed to scare folks into believing that the women depicted in the art were in league with the Christians’ icon of evil known as Satan. This image and it’s association to evil has been drilled into our heads for hundreds of years. The reality of what this image should represent however is something much different, much more tragic.

I won’t give you the full history lesson of what is commonly known amongst the pagan and witch communities as “The Burning Times,” but just as a point of reference let’s point out that sometime during 15th and 18th centuries there was a period in leadership within the Christian church, in effort to spread their ideas of Christianity, created guidelines that defined the witch hunts that we now know as the “Burning Times.” Some historical accounts refer to this as “The Reformation.” Within these guidelines it was determined what denoted “devil worship,” with special attention paid in particular to the vilification of women as a whole.

Women were defined as the progenitors of “sin.”Women were equated with filth, with being weak minded, innately evil, and the list goes on. The point is, it was made very, very easy and in that time, under the mindsets of those in charge, very, justifiable for women to be hunted down on the mere suggestion of perceived wrong doing and tortured until they confessed to being in league with the Christians’ Satan, and then killed through some grotesque manner such as burning; or in many cases the victims of these persecutions, they died during the torture portion of the process. Allow me to also clarify that they didn’t target only women. The persecutions went after men as well, but more frighteningly they were just as eager to murder children in the name of their god, and their religious zealotry.

Often times the women that were targeted were older outspoken women, they were the midwives whose knowledge of herbs and the wisdoms that had kept a village in good health or good spirits had offended someone in some small way, or perhaps they were merely the wife in the way of an husband or lover of a husband, or the scapegoat used to excuse the heinous crime of someone else. You know, “She made me do it, she must be a witch.” You get the picture of where this is going. You didn’t have to do anything to earn a trip to the stake, you could be too old, too pretty, too anything or not enough of something to someone, anyone and find yourself in the hands of those set about the task of removing the influence of “Satan” or the “Devil” from their community.

Often times, when the accused were taken in to custody, so too were their children and family members. They would all undergo torture to force a confession or further accusation toward the accused to determine that they were in fact, “cavorting with devils.” If you subject a scared person, especially a child to enough pain and cruelty, you can get them to admit to just about anything, no matter how outlandish, or untrue that thing may be. They’ll say what you want them to, just to end the torment, just to end the torment put upon their families.

By the time the public would see these women condemned to die for witchcraft, and heresy, they had been beaten, and battered to the point of being unrecognizable. Their faces a mottled range of colors from different stages of bruising, with the swelling and likely infections setting in from the broken bones in their faces. Their hands gnarled and broken as well. Their hair ripped and savagely torn from their heads. Drug through the streets in rags, if they were lucky, they were often gagged so they couldn’t speak or worse, had their tongues cut out entirely. These tortured women were then paraded out through their communities, and murdered for all to see, in the name of religion. This is the gruesome reality that is the origin of the Halloween witch.

She is the face of the thousands of people, 80% of which were women who were tortured and murdered in effort for the church, and the political powers of the time to gain control of the people. She is not a depiction of evil, but of the evils that people will go to in effort to hold power over others. She represents, what happens when people create and use religious doctrines as a means to spread dissension, and fear for the purposes of their own gain. Hers is the face of the results of misogyny, hatred, jealousy, and bigotry. Her face distorted to monstrous proportions is not evil in itself, but what was done to those women, children, and yes, those men as well is most certainly evil incarnate, as are those who perpetuated it and at times you can be sure, they took pleasure in it.

I know, Halloween is months away, but this really has nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with what most people think of when they hear the word, witch. The Halloween witch deserves to be given the reverence that she is due, simply for bearing the bigotry that continues to be elicited upon her, in honor of the people who died during that frightening time period.

I ask you, who would you be to this witch? Accusor, condemning her for an evil she likely never committed to, but admitted to simply to end the torture, as she was paraded to her place of execution? Would you turn your back on her in hopes that no one caught the recognition in her bruised and battered gaze as she was paraded passed you? Or would you acknowledge that brief glance with a moment of compassion toward her, allowing her last moments of vision to fall upon someone who could spare love for her, despite what she’d been accused of?

I ask you further, what if she represents someone you love, someone you know?

A note on the side: I would like to point out, that there are points within this post in which I have very specifically made the distinction that, “Satan,” the “Devil” are beings that are part of a Judeo/Christian ideology. I do so, not to accuse the modern Christian of anything outside of this, most Pagans and people who identify themselves as Witches, or Wiccans do not acknowledge or believe in the existence of a being known as or “Satan,” or the “Devil.” They don’t believe in the idea that there is a deity or however you’d like to term it, out there with the soul intent of getting the world to be “evil.”  He doesn’t exist at all, to people such as myself and many others within these communities. To insist that people of the world who identify as witches, pagans, or any other form of minority belief system are secretly or inadvertently worshiping the being in your religious ideology that represents the ultimate evil, is to put it bluntly…incorrect.

Resources:

http://www.thenazareneway.com/dark_side_of_christian_history.htm

http://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/witchhistory.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/22/national/22beliefs.html?_r=0

A Brief Introduction

 

The Hedge Sister

If you want a good picture of me, let me take it myself.

It should be noted that, I am at points a little on the shy side. My friends would probably argue that, but I do tend to be the person who holds back until I can find my comfort zone. Once I find that comfort zone, it’s on and the world should stand back and wait it’s turn. It might not be a whole lot different here in the world of infinite bloggers. My writing will warm up, and grow with time. For now, I’ll share a bit about myself and my world with you, because introductions are most definitely in order.

 

I am a 41 year old stay at home mother of three amazing little souls. My husband is an amazing musician, who also works a full time day job in the wonderful world of customer service with the local telecommunications company. I’m an aspiring herbalist, and I am most at home wandering around in the forest, or in the prairie foraging for wild foods. I live in West Central Wisconsin, in a college town which sports a population of about 60,000 people. When I can’t get out into the wilderness, I find my connection out in the back yard.

 

When and where my life as a witch began, doesn’t seem terribly important to me at this point in time. What is important, is that I found harmony, balance and desire to deepen my connection to the Earth and the Divinity within us all, that I’ve not found anywhere else. As I’m progressing along this path, I am finding magic happening in the most unexpected scenarios, the most unlikely moments, and in ways I hadn’t imagined. In these moments, some of which I promise to share, I have found joy, clarity, and yes, even moments of bittersweetness upon which to reflect.

 

I hope to know you better, and to share more about myself with you as I go along. Until then, blessings to you, and may you find joy in your day.

 

 

Abundance and Welcome

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“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”                       -Wayne Dyer

One of the challenges that has been posed to me, during the course of my evening escapes to commune with one of my best friends and spiritual sister, has been to offer up some examples of abundance in my life. At the time, I was able to come up with a few areas that were “good enough” examples for a point in my life in which everything seemed like a struggle. I don’t think at that time though, I really had felt that spiritual connection to abundance and how it could really manifest in my life. Recently, I would have to say, that’s changed. Hold on to your knickers, this gets very exciting for me.

About a week ago, a friend of mine created an event on Facebook. She’s a rather savvy person when it comes to how she chooses to utilize that social media monster, putting it’s potentially radical powers of letting everyone know your every move to good use as a way to organize and build some community among her friends, whom all happen to be interested in some form of gardening. Being a fairly wise earth goddess in her own right, this event was designed as a way that her friends could meet each other, and make use of some extra seedlings that didn’t really fit in the garden. Mostly, she didn’t want to see her gorgeous new tomato seedlings come to a bitter end after having nurtured them from seed to transplant stage. Who can blame her? It takes a lot of work and an equal amount of love to nurture something so fragile from the very beginnings of life, not to mention the waste of perfectly good tomato producing potential.

Being fairly new and sort of clumsy with gardening, I’ve pestered her from time to time for advice, resulting (to my joy) inclusion in her gardening group, and also an invitation to this seedling swap. Now, to be clear…I’d not planted a single seed this year. My garden is in facts still in the foundational stages due to some financial challenges. I had only just started to sort out how I might create my garden on a budget so tight that the couch is threatening to send in the muscle if I don’t pay back the change I found in the cushions. I accepted the invitation, only after I sent her a private message, weakly confessing that I had nothing to share. I was told to “come anyway and get some tomato plants.”

Shortly after deciding to attend this lovely gathering of women and plants, I wandered outside and started to look around my yard. I didn’t have any seedlings, but I realized I had some rhubarb that I know will spread and populate as much space as it can. It also transplants easily, and was shared with me by a member of my SCA group last year. Maybe, maybe someone would want some of that. Hey! Cool! I looked around a bit more. That yarrow I planted last year, came back. It was also shared with me by the lady I got the rhubarb from. Holy cats, is it ever growing tall and it spread out, a lot. Maybe..maybe someone would like some of that as well. Then I noticed my chocolate mint plants, they were also thriving and spreading like no one’s business, and my lillies, and hostas too! Excited that I did have something to potentially contribute, I rushed back to the computer and offered up these glorious plants that had all returned this spring. I was able to share with this little group of women, some happy rhubarb, some tall and fragrant chocolate mint, and some brilliant orange lillies, in exchange for several tomato plants at least some of which are heirloom varieties, a bleeding heart plant, black-eyed Susans, beans, tarragon, a new fern for between my hostas, and some native irises which will arrive at some point next week.

It gets better, I’ve been really wanting to create an awesome space in my backyard, but finances have been way to tight for me to be able to purchase more than a starter plant here and there this year. All of these gorgeous plants were free. Looking around at what I already have, I could easily thin out my hostas, lillies, and yarrow by spreading them to different spots in my yard. The irises will look great mixed in with the lillies. More free plants! Oh, and there’s a hollyhock growing against the corner of the house, I think it’s multiplied. I think I can move it as well. Then I realized the lilacs really need to be thinned and moved about. More free fragrant flowers! I can also share with my best friend, who would like to increase her lilac population. Abundance, abounds! Yep, it doesn’t take much to make me as happy as, Jack Sparrow with a secret stash of rum and his favorite ship.

Now, I have all these plants, I need some way to create the garden I had hoped for this year. I’d been researching how to do all of this on the cheap. Apparently, the key is to be near a place that throws their pallets out for people to take. I’ve been stalking just such a place. That’s right…stalking, I’ve been stalking that wood pile for over a year now, swearing I was going to somehow find a way to use those pallets. They are now participating in what I am referring to as “Hammer Therapy.” Hammer Therapy is the process of removing the center slats of the pallets, and alleviating my pent up aggression, (of which there is a good bit), by smacking those suckers out with a hammer. It’s a decent work out. It makes me feel empowered and happy; and it provides me with free raised beds for my garden.

Abundance, surrounds me. I find it in the woods these days as I forage for wild foods and medicinal herbs. I find it in the ability to endure that makes my family so resilient. I find it in the sweet delight of uncovering a new piece to our family tree. I find it in the unconditional love and quick forgiveness visible in the depths of the eyes of my children. I find it in the bonds formed between a 4 year old boy as he naps flopped on the couch using a patient and gentle pit bull for a pillow. I find it in my backyard, looking around for a way to fit in, for a way to contribute. It was there, and in recognizing that it is there, it allows me the opportunity to be resourceful in how I work with my surroundings, and with my own ability to create more abundance for myself and the people I love.

Sometimes it takes a bit of resourcefulness to uncover it, or a moment of looking at it from outside the box, but abundance is most assuredly there; and I am truly blessed.

Welcome to my blog. I know, it seems backwards, and at times it will be very much like a conversation with…well, with some one quite unaccustomed to caffeine after a mocha with a triple shot of esspresso. Other times, it will be much more like a walk in the woods, peaceful and soothing. I sort of flow where ever the spirits takes me. I hope you enjoy your visit and return soon.

-Blessed Be!