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Over the years, I have had a number of powerful dreams with Tigers, cougars, panthers, lions or other big cats. In some dreams they were accompanying me as protective guides, in others I was being pursued by or hiding from them. A most important and unforgettable dream was an”assignment” dream in which I was given a black and white picture of a face with tiger-like markings on it and told to color it in and access its power…to take on its likeness in my life. (more on that in an upcoming post).

I don’t live in Africa, India or the Amazonian rainforest. I live in New England on the coast and these big cats are not indigenous to this area. They come and visit me from the mysterious lands of the Unconscious and they seek me out to relay important messages and guidance for my path in life and situations that need me to access or express sensuality, inner power, direction and leadership. They in the dreams are NOT caged, captive and pacing with blocked energy. They are free, flowing with the life force and doing whatever they are supposed to be doing with intense focus life force.

Noni's Tigers

One year at a medieval fair there was a stage performance with the big cats. When a tiger came out and across the stage in front of me, I was stunned by its SIZE and its powerful rippling muscles. I was totally in awe. And I was also terrified to be so close to such raw power and I moved way to the back..you know…just in case something unexpected went awry. Being so close to the LIVE energy of such animal magnificence literally took my breath away for the moment.

Well, the big cats live on their own terms in my dreamworld but it is no mere coincidence that for many years I had these two tigers at the foot of my bed as guardians and “familiars”.  The orange one was male and the white, a female. They sometimes startled friends who entered my room to leave their coats on the bed during a visit or evening dinner ..they looked so real!

My Tigers one

However, my grandchildren were fearless with these big cats and brought them out to the living room whenever they came.

“Noni’s Tigers” were always a special part of the family visits. Though they are way too big to sit on and play with them now, hopefully they will always remember that the tigers were part of the magic of Noni’s home.

Noni's Tigers w Grands TWO

A year ago on one of the family visits we went to a local arcade for miniature golf and games. Inside the venue was a merry-go-round  with a magnificent tiger to ride … a simple but wonderful old-fashioned fun experience complete with music and flashing lights and various colorful animals to sit upon.

share Mel visitTHREE Tiger July 2017

Yes, the tiger was my favorite and also a wonderful subject to photograph, reminiscent of simpler times, simpler pleasures…  and pure magic while we play. Adults and children together.

Things are different now. My house is gone, I live in a lovely but small apartment and my “Noni’s tigers” are all wrapped up and in a storage unit along with many things I need to release and let go of. There is simply no room.The grandchildren no longer ask for the tigers and living in two different states are very busy now with growing up responsibilities and are not able to visit very often. But…

…. maybe I should surprise them. Maybe I should go to the storage and bring the tigers home to my apartment at least for the next time they do come. To see what will happen. Will they laugh and remember? I think they will. Part of our story. They NEED to remember in a culture that moves WAY too fast with too much irrelevant input.

I have not had a tiger visit me in my dreams recently for the past year or so. But in my experience, when I talk of these things, it calls images back in. I suspect I may have a Tiger dream soon because I “remembered”  them here and because courage and self-empowerment is a lifelong work.

Yes, Noni’s Tigers are going to come and visit in my dreams…and here! (going to the storage unit tomorrow brintog them back home…!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

“Write the truth”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We have been enduring the bleak, stark monotones of late winter/earliest pre-spring here in New England..grey skies, white snows, black and brown dried frozen trees, shrubs and vegetation. It’s darkish often on some days, and foggy too, a drab palette that if enveloping us for too long, drains our spirits, speaking too intensely of loss, letting go and even death.

We can only be with that for a certain length of time without losing hope that color will once again return to our world.

But color WILL always return, as the Celtic Poet/Priest John O’Donohue taught in his pilgrimages and lectures. “If you are going through a bleak time in your life right now, remember this: “SPRING is the secret work of Winter“.

And with the return of Spring, is the return of color into our environment and even in the roughest personal season, into our lives as well, drawn forth by the warmth of the sun and and the warmth and love of supportive friends and community.

In preparing for today’s essay and message, I was going to write about this last Nor’Easter… a wet, wild, windy and dangerous winter storm that has just once more passed through our lives here. But in scrolling for a picture of it in my files and camera, I found that I just could not give that topic any more energy. Over and over again, I stopped and paused at pictures of other seasons with gorgeous hues, tints and vibrant colors of happiness, hope, celebration and joy.

Given that we are also in and suffering through a “winter ot our discontent” these days with cultural chaos,  non-compassionate coldness,  and the grey fog and mists of lies and deceptions from corrupt leaders and complicit media, I was magnetically drawn to images of green gardens, blue skies and LOTS of flowers to revive hope in a season and society that brings life for all instead of destruction.

And so, I have “picked” from my files, a bouquet of beautiful flowers for me, and for you… a variety of lovely zinnias from the summer garden of an artist friend. They lift my spirits with their beautiful shapes and colors and inspire me to not melt into the grey wet mud of a too long winter, nor allow myself to dry up and blow away with the harsh cold winds of nature and history-in-the-making…

With this bouquet of pinks, I,  like the Spring, prepare right now (!) to celebrate the return of color to the Earth and into our Spirits and Lives as well as we welcome and invite the warmth of sun and community to bless us.

Don’t lose heart! Remember ” SPRING is the secret work of Winter! ”

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we weree not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the loveliest meditation practices in retreat work is praying with clay, a medium whose primary virtue is its ability to be shaped by the intent of the artist whose hands are able to bring imagination, warmth and life from a seemingly inert, cold and compact ball of earth.

In the retreat experience, the prayer that often accompanies this centering and contemplative “shaping” experience is drawn from Old Testament scripture (Jeremiah) in which we are encouraged to be like clay in the hands of God, the Master Potter, allowing ourselves to be formed into goodness by the guidance of the Divine.

Clay is also a therapeutic tool in retreats for Healing and Wholeness aside from a religious focus although such healing often includes a deep spiritual sense of awe and relief that can border on the miraculous. In such exercises, a story from our lives that is painful or un-healed can be crafted into an image that holds and carries our experience so that we ponder it and receive insight, release, and movement into re-creation. As we shape the clay with intent, we may also re-shape our lives when it is necessary to let go of the old forms that have lost their purpose.

Many years ago when I was going through a very intense period of loss…divorce, single parenting, challenging financial survival while crafting a self-employed music teaching career.. I sought inspiration, support, deepening and sanctuary in a long-term program of training in retreat work at a wonderful nearby Catholic Retreat Center.

During one of the retreats on healing and wholeness, we worked with clay as a meditation. Desperately needing to be centered and still, coming in from a noisy, chaotic,  confusing, challenge-filled personal world that needed re-shaping for the survival of my children and myself, I took that cold ball of clay and worked it until all that pain and broken-hearted-ness entered it and became the clearest answer to what I needed for healing, comfort and clarity:  a cave/womb of refuge and sanctuary in which sacred silence, stillness and chosen periodic solitude would be the best medicine.

For whatever reason, I crafted on the back outside wall of this Cave, this Sanctuary, snakes which originally I think symbolized the challenges I was dealing with, and the safety of my sacred shelter in keeping them outside until I knew how to work with them. Yet over the years, those snakes have become instead, Guardians of the Goddess, protecting me and that sacred space ..the cave of my Heart where much of my work in the world has been crafted.

I also remember that at the time of this shaping, the little figure who was ME, had her hands over her eyes..and though over the years that has come to mean shutting out worldly distractions in order to dive deeply into the cave of my heart for Wisdom, during that initial time of crafting this image, the hands over the eyes symbolized the intense grief and the weeping I could not allow myself to do in real life with its demanding immediate responsibilities because I always had to be “on”.

However, that is all past now and there have been many many happinesses and blessings since then, as well as the inevitable periodic challenges and losses that are always a part of life. But over the years, this little ME image has traveled with me through all the chapters of my book of life, reminding me to take the time for withdrawing from the chaos of a conflicted world and particularly at this time of our deteriorating political national culture.

For me, the snakes are still Guardians, protecting the need for silence and stillness to Discern Truth, BUT these days when shifting focus, those snakes also symbolize the Lies and Deceptions that are rampant right now in our media culture and  socio-political landscape and must be kept outside, being agents of Soul pollution.

I has been a long time since I have worked with clay and sculpted images that have beauty and power for transformation. But I DO have a packet of clay here, just waiting to be touched and warmed into life. Like what happens each time I sit down to write an essay initially not knowing what it will actually be about, I am ready to be just as surprised (and informed) when that clay comes alive under my fingertips!

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I love surprises.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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I am an occasional instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at a nearby University. The OLLI program across the country is a college for seniors, age 50 and older, who come back to school just for the fun of learning, because it is NEVER too late to learn new things or buff up on skills and talents put side during the busy years of looking after others or working full time.

This past fall, I taught a course inspired by a wonderful book by the author Christine Valters Paintner. With a rather unusual title, “Nurturing Your Creative Spirit with Monastic Wisdom” the book shares Benedictine monastic practices and daily rhythms to deepen our spirituality in a complicated world AND guide us back to that  “room” in our souls where creativity is  birthed and stored,  hopefully followed by  the courageous  re-entry into our actual individual  time-apart studios to manifest artwork, poems, writing, sculptures or crafts.

Our class was exceedingly exciting as we employed various meditative practices from monastic life to settle down, reach inside ourselves within the context of silence and stillness, and find our way back to personal artwork and creativity in new and surprising ways, gathering up long ignored pen, paper, journals, paints, brushes and the like.  Our  daily inspirational mantra was a prayer from the Divine Muse, with which we initiated our creative endeavors awaiting the surprise of new expressive ideas:

“Now I am revealing new things to you.

Things hidden and unknown to you, created just now, this very moment!

Of these things, you have heard nothing until now, so you cannot say, ‘Yes I (already) knew that’ “

Some wrote exquisite poems, some shared reflective journal entries. One woman started an art project, a beautiful book of paintings..one for each of the monastic hours (Lauds, Vespers etc) with eloquent musings on each…and with delightful imagination, one woman made for the homeless, a comfy sleeping mat from colored plastic bags, much like a hooked rug, and complete with the ability to roll it up and carry with handles.

Crea Mona 4 Five

Crea Mona Se 4 One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our class was a total delight but our Eldest Elder was one of the most delightful creations herself.  “Joan” is well known and very beloved by all  who know her at OLLI. In her mid-90’s she attends a variety of classes for enjoyment, inspiration and, as she has told me a number of times, to find out what it is she is supposed to be doing with her life at age 95!

During the class she sat attentively up front as always, usually rather quiet until she has something to say.. generally a soft-spoken one or two-liner that catches us by surprise and makes us all laugh with delight…or a question that reveals a piercing depth of curiosity and wisdom that stops us cold to ponder.

Throughout this class as others brought their creations in for our opening “show and tell”, eliciting claps and smiles, we knew that Joan had not as yet gone back into her “studio”  to start painting again which had for quite a time, maybe years, been set aside. She was quite elusive about why she was unsure about doing it.

But then …..

On the last day of the class, she and her daughter came in with a surprise!

Joan had in fact gone back into her “studio”,  picked up her brushes and painted a picture of the rough ocean waters  near the sea wall after a wild storm! Like Joan herself who is quite a “modern-thinking”  Elder at 95, her painting is also modern in expression, impressionistic and with dynamic movement.

Crea Mina Joan PICA ED one 1 (2)

I am a Senior now as well, and the rhythm and responsibilities of life have shifted although I am still far from being  95 years old. With new “open spaces” in my days, I often wonder what I am supposed to be doing with my life now, knowing that it is up to ME to create the new meanings and that, given good health, I need to listen and follow The Divine Muse who has ideas for me to be creative and of service in a world so needing inspiration and beauty.

I think on one level, Joan’s work at 95 is being a “Muse” for us younger Elders… 

 And… for the record…..

We’re  paying attention to you, Joan!!

Crea Mona Group PICASA Blue (2)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

 

 

 

 

 

I was kind of in a hurry, dashing into town to pick up a few things. It was cold, grey and damp, but my car was warm and my four wheels could get me where I needed to go quickly and then back home again to host a friend’s visit.

You know…..that light at the four corners takes FOREVER to change so I  cleverly turned left for a short-cut behind Bess Easton Coffee to quickly drive across the parking lot and across the street to the pharmacy and Belmont’s market.

But no such luck. Turning the corner to make that quick dash, right there squarely in the middle of the road heading in the same direction was an old woman, pushing a little shopping cart with empty shopping bags attached. She was all bundled up against the cold, layers under coat, hat, gloves, scarf and she was SLOWLY making her way..and I mean SLOWLY…inch by inch….alone.

My first inner response  of impatience was “Oh, SHEESH!” ….. but just momentarily as I reminded myself that I now live in a Senior Housing Apartment complex and though I can quickly veer around those with walkers or a cane in the hallways of the building, someday a number of years from now, that could be me!

Compassion, my dear. Let’s polish that up a bit.

I backed up and turned my car around going to a store behind me instead and also stopped to top off the gas in my vehicle. And then I proceeded to my original intended destination, though about 25 minutes behind schedule.

The old woman was gone from the middle of that short-cut, and I was able to cut through, across the parking lot, across the road to the big parking lot of the pharmacy and market.

And there she was… inching her way step by slow step over towards the market…! She had covered quite a distance in those 25 minutes and quite frankly, I was awed and humbled by her determination, her courage, and her intrepid spirit making her way alone, without partner or friend, on a cold grey day. It was a very long walk in distance and time.

ELDER-kin. There are so many of us now…from about age 60 to 90+..especially single women, living alone in senior apartments.. families somewhere else and ever so busy..adult children on the move and grandkids too and so much time between visits. We did not know when we were younger about the sometimes isolation and lonely journeys we must take in this third life chapter.

It takes courage and pure GRIT to take that LONG WALK alone to the market on foot on a cold day. Women, I must say, are known for that kind of pure GRIT… haven’t many of us just up and done what needed to be done as we once accompanied partners, children or aging parents through all kinds of growth pangs?

Seeing this Elder Kin sister from across the distance stirred my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. I blessed her, and me, and all courageous elders who are are taking that long walk…even when it is slower than it used to be.

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

update Feb 2016 (2)

Today I Am Looking for What I Am Wanting to See

It is a very serious time here in America with issues that are heartrending, enraging, challenging and disorienting. It’s also a time of awakening of hope and a turning of the tide towards an America we want instead of America we have drifted towards while asleep.

How do we stay balanced and focused on the positive when our hearts are breaking, and our psyches are bruised by conflict and confusion?

Well for me, having been taught by wise mentors of the laws of attraction is that we get what we mostly think and talk about…usually what we don’t want rather than what we do want.

One of the practices or mantras that I employ is the phrase “Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see!”.

One of those things I want to see are “smiles” … a symbol of good will and connection in a divisive world.

I have found smiles everywhere when I go about the world…the market, stores, the post office, parking lots while I enter buildings and pass others. Almost 99.9% of the time, a nod and a smile as I pass another “stranger” elicits the same greeting in return and I know that we both have been soothed and brightened and given a dose of hope. It is a wonderful practice to employ. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE in the energy field around us.

One day, feeling a bit low and needing a break from the dominant culture of never-ending “news of strife and disasters” I went for a solitary walk at the beach on a chill but early hint-of-spring day, of course as always with my camera.

My every-day prayer “Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see” was intent on experiencing smiles.

There were no other people nearby on the beach or boardwalk but it is true that “ask and you shall receive”for within five minutes of my walk, pondering smiles…there is was! And it was not a person! Nevermind…  “The Universe always says yes” in this focused magic of the imagination.  You get what you ask for, what you focus on with intent…eventually if not almost immediately, metaphysically in the mind first, then experienced in concrete reality.

Scarborough 2 Happy (3)

I have hope that in our lives, in our nation we can wake up from where we have drifted into a new consciousness of what we can be for the good of all, not the wealth and privledge of a few at the top.

Today and each day as I enter the world around me, I am starting by making kindly connections with others I newly meet, with a smile and nod of good will.

I am looking for what I want to see…  people willing to help each other, willing to volunteer and work for good causes, looking for beautiful art and words of wisdom and guidance in good books and literature, looking for and celebrating those individuals and societies that work for the preservation of our beautiful planet. And more.

I hope, while taking actions for goodness, that I can remember to celebrate and talk more about the things I want to see and not to just rage and post and repost endlessly about all that is enraging, shocking and dark.

Mother Theresa once said “You will never see me at an anti-war rally. But you will always see me at a Peace Rally”.  Perspective/focus.

Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see. And I will see it…experience tells me I will indeed see it.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

A walk at the beach, especially when the heart is heavy and sad, is never a disappointment. There are ALWAYS surprises and messages there for us when we have been cracked open emotionally and in pleading prayer have asked for guidance or a sign of hope that no matter what the issue, in time we will be able to move through the challenge.

We are in a very unsettled time here in the US as we experience the coming apart of our society politically, socially and most recently in the past week, another mass shooting of innocents with a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many as possible as fast as possible. Our American psyche has been battered this past year- and- a- half as we come face to face on a daily basis by internal corruption in high places and immoral and self-serving so-called leadership. But THIS issue now of mass killings over and over again has thrust us into a national and personal mixed cauldron of grief and rage as the people fight against a powerful gun lobby that is also determined to fight to the death to protect their own agenda and  profits.

A walk at the beach..with its wide and far horizon and the freshness of wind and consolation of the ever rocking ebb and flow of the tide…cannot solve the situation itself, but it can offer a break in the turbulence of emotion in difficult times, soothing our chaotic feelings and helping us to restore some sort of internal balance as we move through very uncertain and dangerous events requiring new decisions.

But as I said previously, when asking for heartfelt guidance and consolation in difficult times, we always receive an answer if we are aware.

And so for now,  a surprise message of guidance on a walk along the edge where the land meets the sea …the extra surprise when a message of compassion and hope was left in the sand as well… a gifted “communique” from the Universe.  Although created by human hands, the message left for all who might pass by ( even though I took it very personally as if  it were left for me) took on the energy of the Angelic. Which sometimes we humans are for each other, usually unaware that we have been so divinely commissioned.

SOMEone had been by before me …maybe it WAS an actual angel (?)…taking the time to craft this castle of peace. Maybe it was a prayer or meditation experience for them, maybe it was that plus a loving message for others as well to be still and Centered and not lose hope as WE lobby for a society of PEACE, not violence or war.

share Peace Castle COPY(3)

Who knows how long this had remained whole and intact there in the sand before the tide would in time come in and wash it away. As I continued my walk and then sat higher up near the  dues behind this little peace castle,  I watched several other people and couples come by, stopping to look down with surprise at this message. They each and all paused and gazed quietly as if at some holy relic in church, pondering for some long seconds before moving on.

It was comforting to see that no one maliciously attempted to kick or destroy it, but moved on ahead in their walk, leaving this creation to eventually dissolve into the Great Mother She-Sea naturally. In Peace.

There is deepest gratitude to whatever Human (or Angel) left this message.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

As part of my own personal spiritual practice, I am inspired to try to follow the Benedictine and monastic way of pausing with mindfullness or prayer several times throughout the day or night when I am able. The “Book of Hours” can be formal if in the monastery, and yet can be more informal guided “out here  in the world” by a good resource book.

That book for me is “Music of Silence: a Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day” by Benedictine Brother David Stendl-Rast which has beautiful essays on each of the hours and their meaning and application for peace and gracious living. There are two mid-morning “hours” for pause and reflection that are very inspiring for whatever are our busy times engaged in worldly tasks. These hours are Prime and Terce.

The theme of Prime at its simplest is about the assignment of and preparation for “work” each day and how to realize that our work  should have meaning and is to be about loving service. We and our work is needed…or should be. As Brother David writes ” This world was given to us to work on” and indeed there are many things that need to be done for the good of all.

The theme of the hour Terce following a little later before noon, is like a little spiritual coffee break during which we pause to reflect on and send our work out beyond as blessing and well wishing to all who might receive our the fruit of our labors.

It is these two particular holy hours that I thought of the morning at brought my daughter to catch a train back to the  big city for work after her week-long  family visit on the coast.

A bit sleepy so early in the morning, we were nevertheless given the lovely  opportunity for a special little just-us mother-daughter visit while waiting on the platform for the train to arrive.

There IS something wonderfully exciting waiting for a train and seeing it approaching from a pin-point distance to the roar and silvery speed as it  arrives with squeeling brakes and shaking platform.

That morning with  mumma/daughter goodbye hugs and once-again promises that I would get on that train sometime in the future to come visit when I had more confidence with my vision, the train finally stopped in front of us and the doors popped open.

There, welcoming oncoming travelers, was this handsome Conductor with the biggest smile of the morning, holding the door open and waving people in as to a party.

THIS was a man happy with his work, obviously loving his on-the-move job and the gift of his service to one and all and I thought to myself  “He has the PERFECT spirit of these early hours of the morning ‘Prime and Terce’!”.

He  was not a monk, but a proud and crisply uniformed agent of hospitality, welcoming and good cheer whose blessing and generosity assured the travelers that the ride would be  pleasurable and the destination assured. I knew then that a trip to visit my daughter and family in the big city would happen even before my vision was stable.  I want this man to be the Conductor welcoming me on board when I travel there and..

THIS is the train I want to ride!

Let’s GO!

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every so often I need to write about the lost art of letter writing, which to me is a very sad indicator of a distressed culture, particular one that is originally and supposedly trained in literacy. 

Nothing can compare to the possible eloquence and depth of a personal  letter, thoughtfully composed with the express intention of intimate communication and deepening of relationship. A letter can connect two souls, hearts and minds in a way a dashed-off paragraph in an e-mail or a three-lined tweet can never do. And let’s not forget the bastardization of language, an inquiry of another’s well-being reduced to the single lettered laziness of a “how R U? ”

There is the revealing of personality in penmanship and unique handwriting and the historical treasure of wrinkled old letters and documents on parchment for the sake of posterity that cannot be conjured up and savored in sterile black and white print from a computer file.

Bringing us now to this essay’s main image of this sad abandoned mailbox. This was the mailbox out in the front yard of the home I used to own. My home,One time it was the receiver of a mix of the usual bills of homeowners and letters from family and friends…those personal letters so eagerly awaited when distance kept us apart from personal visits.

But then, over the years, technology changed (or rather, infiltrated) our culture,  people’s lives changed and the computer allowed a quicker “touch-base” communique easier on the run, but less informative. That mailbox became less and less receiver of the written voices of people, but more and more the temporary receiver of printed corporate billing and junk mail and flyers.

My mailbox began to lose heart.

Eventually the billing also went online, and that mailbox only became a holding place, until emptied, of colorful  and jumbled hastily stuffed-in fliers and paper junk advertisements which I refused to bring into the house.

Entered then the cultural change of a mailbox unit at the post office.

My poor mailbox was eventually overtaken by brambles and thorns..alone and abandoned by human connections, it became home to a small nest of bees. The happy ritual of going out into the yarden to check for a letter…a LETTER…or to say hello to the mailman…went the way of many of our rituals of belonging both to family and community.

On New Year’s eve this year, I made a decision (not a resolution) to write monthly letters to friends or family whom I deeply care for. I never know what I will talk about, but when I start writing I try to share stories or history or interesting things that invite dialogue.

So far only one person has written back. My brother. We still talk periodically on the phone, living 2000 miles from each other, but the letters elicit different thoughts to write about and to respond to. My children living very very busy lives (we hear that a lot, don’t we from our adult children?) have informed me that for now not to expect a letter as they are swamped with the responsibilities of family life, children, social events and have no time to skim a letter, let alone write one. I have to remember my days past when I sort of lived what they are living now but in simpler and slower style culturally. 

At least we have texting.

Still I know that spiritually and psychologically  a happy letter in the mailbox is a delight to see…and a surprise too..whether or not it is mindfully read in the moment.

Maybe I also know that I write a letter to them, for me, to allay the sometimes feeling of abandonment when we become…  well, you know..the Elders in the family apart from the mainstream of our once inclusion in active family life. I also feel that as an Elder in a fast-moving, superficial and skimming-over society, that I have a responsibility to share the stories ..our stories… for the sake of posterity.

Living now in an apartment complex, there is no lawn, no personal garden nor a mailbox by the road. There is a built in wall of mailboxes inside the building. My mailbox is only slightly smaller than my apartment, which of course is delightful..this my new home. But I will continue to write the letters, a practice akin to writing in my journal or on this blog. And if you are on the end,it would be grand to hear from you……. 

From Christine, the greening spirit

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I have made a commitment to write a daily essay here besides personal journaling for myself. I write because a Writer must write or we don’t feel well. This is because the words of truth as we experience it, having been born from the powerful  Womb of deep silence, if closeted,  become too heavy or filled with energy to not allow them passage into the world.  Hopefully on ordinary days, sharing those words will touch others in some way with inspiration, comfort or solidarity.

But today I cannot easily find the words to comfort or inspire either you or me. The Writer’s womb is too dark with grief. It is another day in the dissolution of America when we grieve another of the now endless experience of mass shootings and the blatantly corrupt and passive present “leadership” that does nothing but  speak empty words of “thoughts and prayers”, while blocking any legislation necessary to take assault weapons out of our society.

We cry. The Angels cry with us. And to tell the truth, “thoughts and prayers” offer no comfort right now. 

I have wonderful adult children and their families, I have young lovely talented grandchildren in schools just like the ones where these tragedies are taking place…and I deeply grieve for the parents who have lost their children yesterday, last week, the past several months ago and over the past irretrievable years.

At the same time I selfishly am thankful that it was not my children, my grandchildren, my friends,or myself. This time.  And I feel guilty for feeling that gratitude.

There are no more words waiting to be born about this right now.

But I wrote anyway, so I guess I have fulfilled my promise to be faithful to this craft.

 **In sorrow and solidarity from Christine,  The Greening Spirit

 

 

It is Valentine’s Day today and at this particular time in my life, I am once again my own Valentine, as I have been over the past several years. I am also at a time of looking backwards, mindfully pondering where I have been in my life, where I am, presently, in the very much appreciated NOW, and lingering with questions regarding where I am headed in the future, next, in this still unknown third chapter of life.

I have been child, teenager, girlfriend, wife, lover, Mother, Professional, Grandmother. I have been many things at various stages, overlaying one onto the other like those Russian dolls that nest within each other, starting small and growing larger with each new role. I have been them all and today on a rather unusually configured Valentine’s Day culturally, astrologically and spiritually, I especially ponder the “me” that has been both Tartalina, and Priestess.

Two things: Today’s Valentine’s Day also falls on the day of Ash Wednesday. From an astrological/archetypal point of view, this is a rather interesting mix:  An “8th House” mix for those who speak and understand the poetic language of astrology.

The” 8th House”  is about several things but commonly  sex and death are initially considered.  Today’s Valentine’s Day oddly contains both themes for those who honor or ritualize both the popular cultural theme of romance and the more serious spiritual and religious consideration of death. This Valentine’s day offers us the opportunity to consider both sex/love and death as important and transformative experiences with the invitation to fully embrace Life.

In sex/love, the heart is opened and beating with Life, passion and connection. In death, the heart and beating are closed and earthly connection is released. In sex and love we can be healed but also we can be wounded which when lost, is like a death. In death, we if spiritually inspired, dream or believe our spirits move into a place of total love and merging with the All. Ash Wednesday reminds us of that return back to from where we came.

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

A number of years ago, a dear artist Friend named Madeline, gifted me on my birthday with a doll she mad to celebrate the qualities of the sacred feminine and love of ritual that we both shared. The Priestess doll represents the spiritual quality of  the Virgin-One-Unto-Herself experience and knowing that is in every woman, some of us a little more aware than others of the sacred times of ritual, connection to the holiness/wholiness of the earth, the seasons , the phases of the moon and planets and the many seasons and moods within us. This beautiful doll with the golden hair representing the return of Spring’s bright sun in the month of May (my birthday month) and the waning moon on her forehead foreshadowing release and letting go speak to the same qualities that we experience in our lives.  There is much to ponder in the symbolism that Madeline placed artfully onto the Priestess Doll.  The Priestess is all knowing of the cycles of life …birth, the fullness of Life,  and death along the continuum of our time here. She knows we come from ashes and to ashes we shall return.   And I am her.

The other doll is “Tartalina”, made in a private workshop Madeline gave to me and another close friend of hers. Both myself and that friend were coming out of complex and  passionate love affairs that broke our hearts and we were in great need of healing.

When coming out of a passionate relationship that has been “the best and worst thing that every happened to us”,  there is a decision to be made in the grief process as to whether we close our hearts totally in renunciation and self protection, or to, after a time, keep our hearts open to the new, to risk love once again despite having been wounded.

I created “Tartalina” to hold that broken heart open in love and understanding, and to honor the alive passionate sensual part of my nature that is as holy and private as my deepest spirituality. She is about owning and loving the sacred, mischievous naughty, physical, spicy, tart-like feminine expression that is pure delight. I created her to be beautiful and earthy with her long legs delicately imprinted with garden vines and green hair of nature and veriditas for these are earthly as well as spiritual powers. She is a Valentine. And I am her.

I am Tartalina and Priestess combined and in this middle phase of the blessed “NOW” between the remembrances of the Past and the as-yet unknown answers of the Future, I honor and love them both, knowing I can call their qualities and virtues back in whenever necessary.

An incredible Love Story: The Artist is Present: As she sits  silently for eight hours  looking into the eyes  of anyone who wishes to be seen, she is startled when an important lover from the past takes the chair in front of her. Deeply moving.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! …and with love to all of you as well!

From Christine, the greening spirit

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Our family loves to roam about in land trust forests, parks and old estates that are open to the public, all with beautiful cultivated gardens and managed wild borders.  Most of these sanctuaries are home to magnificent ancient trees that magically draw us to come close and under their extended branches in order connect with the green-ness of their heartbeat and history.

 

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Our picture albums are filled with pictures of us near or under these awesome leviathons of the land and always we come back home to our civilized homes of four walls, a little, if not a lot, wilder in spirit and healed of whatever personal challenges we may have been wrestling with or life puzzles we are trying to solve.

 

I am so grateful for those lovers of gardens and trees who with their blessed bounty of financial means and properties, generously invested time and love into these places and made them open and available like sanctuary parks to visitors coming in out of the stressful fray of supposed “civilized” life composed of consumerism, political and social disarray, incessant media noise and speeded-up everything.

 

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We find Peace near or under these old wise Beings and we feel their pulse and slow and steady life force calming and blessing us. We know the science of our mutual intimacy in the exchanges of breathe between us.. they breathing out oxygen for our intake and we breathing out carbon dioxide for theirs. Our lives depend on each other. Knowing the science of this bondedness does not overshadow the poetry of our relationship.

 

     (photo credit: Bill Bragger  (my daughter L and grandaughter G/Pacific Northwest)

 

Ancient trees just beg for little boys to climb them. Though old, they have not forgotten what it was to be a seedling or even an acorn.  They have LONG memories….

 

 

(Noni says “no THIS tree is toooo big to climb!” )

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The Japanese say that “forest bathing” ….a walk in the woods…. is good for our health both physically and spiritually. I agree…no matter what season…being with the trees, especially the ancient ones is the best medicine!

 

 

Until you find YOUR favorite old tree, at least DO take a walk in the woods…

(My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woodswalk..a tradition)

 

If not near a woodland, take a walk around town. You just might find what magnificence you are looking for there….

 

  Rhode Island

 

Wishing the magnificence of Old Trees upon us all. Please protect them wherever they should be threatened or endangered.

photo credits: all pictures except otherwise noted by Christine Phoenix Green

From Christine, the greening spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had some special Dogs in our family, and while it has been a long time since I have had a dog in my life, the delight and tradition of live-in furry companions has been a vibrant part in the lives of my adult children and all of our family stories.

About a month ago, we said goodbye to Grandoggie Magnus who was part of my NYC daughter’s family. He was a sturdy French Bulldog…a breed that always elicits enthusiastic and admiring conversations on the street with other lovers of pug-nosed breeds.

My daughter L, son-in-law B and grandaughter G loved Magnus beyond compare and indeed there are many tender and humorous memories over the almost 15 years he was with them. I love this picture of baby Magnus when he first came into their family:

My daughter L said recently of the  special place Magnus had in their family life:  “Some people just have dogs but don’t pay too much attention to them..they just have a dog. But we talk to our dogs all the time and interact with them constantly” and so there is a magical communication and relationship going on at all times that is a delight to witness and to experience with both animal and people.

Magnus was very old when he crossed over… no teeth, blind, frail and not able to bend over to eat his food, which he still enjoyed to the full. I was so filled with emotion when I saw my daughter sitting on the floor feeding him with a spoon for his meals, which..being a snub-nosed Frenchie, he lapped up with great noisy gusto. I teased my daughter that I hoped that when I got that old, I would be taken care of that well too.

My son-law B has a quirky sense of humor..actually our whole family does…and he had a unique loving and playful relationship with Magnus,  referring to him as “My Buddy”, taking him to meetings and play dates in the park with the informal French Bulldog people who loved to gather and share their love of  and life with this breed.

Magnus had several girlfriends there with whom he stayed when his family had to travel without him, as dog owners will often exchange and reciprocate babysitting hospitality amongst them when necessary.

Magnus  here with three of his doggie park girlfriends, Dixie, Dari and Pixie. It’s easy to see why a harem collected around him wherever he went.

Magnus girlfriends

I believe there were often events at the dog park like Halloween parties for the pups, but even then,  Magnus loved Halloween and often dressed up to accompany my grandaughter for trick or treating.

Here when Magnus was a pumpkin and G a princess of  some sort one Halloween (he got treats too!) :

My grandaughter dances with a ballet company in the big city and Magnus, though he could not attend class, practiced ballet with her at home. He even had his own tutu (which he only wore in the Apartment).

Magnus though a terror to cardboard boxes and vaccum cleaners when he was younger learned the art of deep relaxation in his later years after play dates and walks in the park with his family and various Frenchie girlfriends.

Magnus dressed up for his 13th Birthday party, with special treats from his family. (Oh how he loved parties. With treats…who can believe he also loved frozen brussels sprouts too…)

Our pets are wonders in our lives whether we live live with them or enjoy them during family visits. There is much more to the story of Magnus and to the special family he lived with. Much love to my daughter L, son-law B, and grandaugher G who shared so magnificently their own love and home with Magnus for so many years.

He will always be a special part of our family history.

***PHOTO CREDITS: Bill Bragger

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

A toast to Magnus!

 

 

 

In Joan Chittisters’s wonderful book, “The Gift of Years”, she writes  “The French call the years after  (official) retirement ‘the third age’ “.  She goes on throughout this lovely book to encourage and cheerlead those from about the age of 60  right until past 90 to see this time period as one filled with many blessings, though of course requiring  some attitude adjustments.

One of the blessings of this time for me ( and I am still working/teaching part-time and far from 90!) is the ability to look backwards down through the years, coming to better understand where I had been, be more acutely aware of the preciousness of NOW in this moment, and have a new tenderness, patience and compassion for those who are ahead of me and closer to eternity.

Inotherwords, perspective.

We have different agendas at each phase of life and Joan’s book eloquently captures all of them in her fascinating chapters.  For me, people- watching at the beach often captures the poignancy, humor and understanding of the different phases we move through…an enjoyable pastime for me in the now-available “floating” times I have to meander out and about with my camera, trying to capture in images what Joan offers  in words.

The beach and beach walkers all have different agendas. I have grandsons and know so well how little boys cannot resist skimming stones and small rocks across the waves…testing how far they can throw their dreams out upon the waters. Is the horizon the limit? Or is there more adventure beyond that? And the retired couple…holding hands, a slow stroll, maybe no need for talking, reconnecting after the active frenzied life of  youth and the middle years of  work and accomplishments, family and friends and many responsibilities, challenges and adventures.

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What about the Girlfriends? Such a familiar scene…. best friends…when teenage, sharing giggles over boys, middle years, long commiserations about relationships and challenges with husbands or lovers, shared wisdoms about raising kids, sisterhood guidance about following new paths of inspiration…. and older years…women soulsisters reminiscing and proud stories of grandchildren and adult children, comparing notes about health and lifestyle changes… I love this picture of these two girlfriends, deep in conversation along the beach, determined to keep sharing stories besides the challenges of the swirling gusts of wind threatening to snatch hat or skirt hems.

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And then, there is another agenda that is not age-related, but “spirit’  related when beach time is a no- agenda solitary time to just be, bringing nature and soul together in solitude to the music of sea and wind.

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I am glad to be in this “third age” of life, giving me time to devote myself to writing, photography and pondering where I have been up to this point, where I am NOW in this gifted moment, and how I want to craft my life living at the edge along the shores of existence. Always a walk at the beach will inspire me to know the right way for me to live more fully.

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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Over the years when each of my daughters and I get together we tend to visit, when not shopping for a special family dinner, beautiful places like gardens, museums, or nature places like the woods or the sea.

One year when spending a day in Newport RI looking at possible venues for her upcoming wedding, my daughter Melissa and I added to our together-field trip, a stop at St. George’s “Chapel” (cathedral!).

Walking through this magnificent church, through the main chapel, side chapels and the arched walkways, we were captivated by the colors and shifting quality of light through the gorgeous stained glass windows and stone openings.

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I found this photo from those many years ago, taken back then with a small unsophisticated point- and- shoot camera but it still evokes the stunning feeling of meeting the Numinous in the play of holy light all around us. Sharing that experience in the church and in our time together still warms me and fills me with a sense of gratitude and the sacred that shows itself in so many ways wherever we are.

This morning on FB this beautiful post…one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on that  social media  site…popped up and called that experience back into my memory and my heart.

I hope it fills you with the same sense of awe as it does for me.

Light and Color…Luminous and Numinous.

The Celtic Poet Priest John O’Donohue has said that we need to have new names and concepts for “God”. One of his favorites is “The Divine Artist”.

Surely the masterful beauty of Light and Color is primary on the painter’s pallet of the Divine.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

I am on FB/social media daily and interact with a number of creative people who are free-spirited and artsy: craftspersons, lovers of music and dance, writers, poets, painters,photographers,animal lovers,  yoga teachers…. and political activists in this chaotic time of challenging social priorities.

However recently this past year, showing up in my feedback stream are a number of posts (or comments) by persons of fundamentalist religious beliefs who are ardent about particular issues that they feel are dangerous, sinful, against God’s will or threatening to their biblical or dogmatic faith teachings. These passionate concerns include issues around pro-choice vs pro-life legislation, transgenderism, gay relationships, emerging women’s voices with access to public power for change, to name a few.  Let me say that altho we may differ vastly on what we think about these issues, both they and I have a common right to think what we will.

Debate that can often lead to arguments as to who holds the “Truth” are common although I try not to engage in that way, beyond stating what feels right to me…for me. What I ardently resist is the attempted legal imposition of fundamentalist  belief systems upon the rights of others to choose for themselves how to live a sane and hopefully moral life.

And I do not hold that there is only one valid spiritual path that is the one true faith for all and that that one path is a cure for all of societies ills.

As the prophetic priestly Matthew Fox often says of the world’s spiritual Wisdom traditions :  “One River, Many Wells”.

I teach a variety of courses at a local University and one of them, a course I describe as “a retreat in an academic setting” focuses on three words (plus one) from a poem by the Celtic poet John O’Donohue.  The three words are Silence, Stillness, and Solitude. I added the “plus one” as Simplicity. These words are practices that help us to discern a deep ability to access a personal  spiritual conscience leading to right and just decision making personally and in society.

A meditative exercise we do to demonstrate open-ness and respect for the many ways of finding a healthy inner guidance system without judgementalism born of fundamentalist hubris is the artistic creation of our Soul Mandalas.

Each person receives a black and white image of a complex mandala design. Everyone receives the exact same image (ONE RIVER). In quiet meditation to soft music, everyone colors this image. At the end of the exercise we display our creations and are awed at the diversity (MANY WELLS) and all and each one is beautiful, whole and unique. Yet the original pattern is identical. Each of us, given free will (and a set of colored markers) must personally create a life, a spiritual path, a Voice for what we stand for without demanding that everyone else believe as we do or denigrating others for standing up for justice from another angle. We each color in our mandalas without demanding that they are colored in the same way.

Often then a challenge comes back such as “well is MURDER a valid life choice, or GREED or LYING or Terrorism? And should we accept those? ”  Common sense and decency can answer that one. The issue here is about intolerance of diversity in how people make life choices that lead them to whom they were meant to be in the Creator’s plan for service and inspiration for others.

It is vital in today’s complex society filled with so many forceful “opinions”,  judgments and and sometimes “righteous” religious hubris, to craft honorable discernment through personal spiritual work and the humble practices of Silence, Stillness, Periodic Solitude, and Simplicity.

And it is also vital to keep the image of these multi-colored mandalas in our imagination and the wise teaching of One River, Many Wells.

OLLI Class photo

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

OLLI peace

 

 

 

 

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Doesn’t it seem like Winter is endless this year? Cold, dark, windy, FOREVERRrrrrr!

I think Old Man Winter has fallen asleep in the woods and I hope he has not forgotten in his dreams that Spring is waiting impatiently to bring color back onto Earth’s canvas.

There has not been a lot of snow, but this HAS been a grey Winter in many of our spirits these days, with the intense flu season and especially the political upheavals, disarray and FROZEN icy heartless souls in power at the top in our government  right now who are stealing the lushness that belongs to all of us.

If we who believe in Spring don’t lose hope that all will dark, cold and seemingly life-less forever, if there are enough of us to soon, if not already, stir the soil, clang the pots and bells, sing songs and recount stories of our most colorful and generous dreams, then surely the green-ness, the “veriditas”, the flowers of freedom, as well as the Earth, will return in Spring.

Old Man Winter actually does know this.

As the Celtic poet Priest John O’Donohue has said:

If and when  you are in a bleak time, remember this: The secret work of winter…is..Spring”

May it be so (as it always has been….)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Lighthouses are amazing structures. Strong. Defined. Towering. Commanding. Courageous. Often they are built on jetties, or islands in the raging seas, accessible only by boat, and the first question that comes to mind is “How did it get there in the first place?”

We usually think of a lighthouse’s mission as a guide to bring those lost at sea, home again to safe land. We think of it as a beam of light, or metaphorically speaking, a beam of Wisdom bringing us to a place of sure-footedness and grounding when we are adrift in our lives, tossed about by raging emotional waters, or simply adrift and rudderless, not knowing where we are or where we are going. We usually associate these lighthouses with the sea, be they structures, guiding words or wise people or mentors who draw us back to home.

PJL

But “lighthouses” are for those of us on land too, in times when we DO know where we are trying to go, when the direction or new dream is compelling but to get there we need to fight our way through brambles, prickles and obstacles to clear the path. In this case we need to follow the dream by keeping our eyes on the light calling us home to our authentic selves.

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We sometimes cannot do it alone. A trusted friend, a mentor, a wise counselor, a Lighthouse Keeper who knows who we are and who we can be, comes with the lighthouse, switching on the beam to guide us home to our best selves and purpose.

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In my life, I have had many “Lighthouses” and am so thankful for all of them no matter what form they have taken. I invite you, too, to scan all horizons in your life whether on land or sea to appreciate the Lighthouses that have brought you home to yourself over and over again.

** These images were taken on the New England coast…Point Judith Lighthouse and the Beavertail Lighthouse, Rhode Island.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

MOI Wind

 

 

 

 

 

There are days and seasons when the world is grey. Days when the natural winter of the earth as well as the winter of our situations and spirits have almost drained us of energy and color.

And yet… hiding away from it is not the answer. Grey is a time offering its own virtues… releasing the judgemental nature of black and white, softening the edges of the ego, gently demanding patience until color begins to return to both our environment and our lives.

What always helps me in the grey times is to get out and meet it on its own terms, fully accepting and learning from it by a WALK in nature.

On this one particular day when I’d had enough of staying inside in inclement weather, I went out…bundled up of course…after the rain that was melting snow. There was mist and fog both ascending and descending, and lots of puddles.

As always, my camera was with me though I did not think I would see anything of worth or beauty in such seemingly bland landscape. But you know, it also pays to be awake to possible surprises, even in the grey times, and experience has taught me that we are never disappointed.

And there they were….everywhere. Puddle Trees!  Watery Reflections …or maybe invitations/magical portals to another dimension beneath ours if one could dive in to see what all this grey-ness was really about.

It is a worthy practice to once in a while look at things from another perspective. In the tarot there is a Major Arcana card called “The Hanging Man” depicting a man swinging upside down from the limb of a tree. He is not in trouble…just seeing things from an upside down perspective to consider things or situations in a new way.

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The Puddle Trees are a little like that.  A sort of fairy tale to ponder with several secret lessons to be revealed in meditation.

I was delighted with my “find”  and had fun meeting the Grey in a new (upside down) way!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

Sometimes we just can’t wait till everything we’ve planted is showing up yet! So it’s gardens in glass. Thank goodness for all those jars we obsessively saved!

The Greening Spirit

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*** Photo: Lemon Balm Tea, steeping, fresh from the garden

As every herbalist knows, once we start growing herbs, harvesting or drying them and making tinctures, teas, vinegars and all manner of preparations, we start collecting glass containers to keep them in and especially so we can SEE them.

What that leads to are closets compulsively filled will bottles of different shapes and sizes, saving interesting jars that originally  contained pickles, jams, mustards, condiments, or liquids like wine and spirits.  We cannot…CANNOT…. resist a pretty bottle or jar…!

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We also cannot resist the magic of the herbs either and so hopefully we are engaged in the making of lovely herbal delights for healing, culinary temptations or gifts for bath and beauty. Thus…. A Garden in Glass!

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*** Picture: Dark Moon Tea/Dreamers Tea (recipe at the end of essay)

The garden is not producing veggies yet, but the greening herbal leaves are abundant and…

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Don’t think for a moment that the plants don’t have the ability to communicate with you! Sometimes to share wisdom and sometimes to tell you off when need be! This really happened to me..

The Greening Spirit

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In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin…

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Earth Day Greenery in the Woods… a nature memory!

The Greening Spirit

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We do take trees for granted, often thinking of them in standard  forms, sketching the generic “tree”  while doodling on paper during a phone call or faculty meeting. But oh truly there is no such thing as a generic common tree. They are so delightfully unique, dressing themselves in designer leaves and bark…beautiful bark of the most outrageous designs!

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I have always loved the tree-trunks with their permanent drapes and folds like living skin…which actually it is..and caressed them as I pass by, like petting a beloved dog or cat. But in addition, oh my how they self-decorate themselves in the most eye-catching designs and textures.

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My daughter Melissa and I swooned with pleasure and curiosity during our Mother’s Day walk…a week late, yesterday, she reading the identification tags with fervor and my stopping taking pictures of roots, leaves, bark, and all manner of lush greenery.

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Textures and whirls in the bark..what…

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What’s your mission?

The Greening Spirit

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Nature is very clear in how she assigns work to her beloved creatures. Beavers build dams, creating natural waterways in environments that sustain the life around its banks, wolves group themselves in dedicated family communities whose job is to cull weak and incapacitated herd animals insuring a healthy population that the land can sustain, squirrels busily bury acorns in late fall for future food but also to be the movers of oak trees further out into the environment insuring their continued survival.  What a glorious inter-connected web.

Bees have their assigned task as well, besides feeding and caring for the Queen and her baby bees. Daily they leave the nest commuting to work in beautiful fields of flowers, quite mobile and enjoying the change of scene full of color and fragrance within their workday, gathering golden nuggets of pollen to be transformed into the sweetness of honey. Yes, they work hard but they know what they are supposed…

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The Tree of Golden Coins

Is there “Magic” in your life too?

The Greening Spirit

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As the Greening Spirit, I teach about things that lift the human spirit.. music, the arts, spirituality and metaphysics/magic.  When I use the word “magic” I am referring to the power we have within us to live in Mystery by giving free reign to our creative imaginations, literally seeing things in a new way and bringing into some sort of form, and using the words we speak mindfully and consciously for transformation in our lives.

One of the favorite workshops/lectures I offer is about the power of dreams and the imagination, and another on “Consciously-Created Reality-Your Words Create Your Life”  (http://lunchandlearnseminars.worpress.com)  In these lectures/seminars we become excited and encouraged to DARING enough to lead our imaginations play and express new visions and possibilities. ”

Part of this process is to then be amazed at the energy of synchronicities that pop into our lives to validate and support these new visions and perspectives…

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Re-posting Memories!

The Greening Spirit

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As I go through old photos, deciding what to keep and what to toss  preparing for an eventual  move from my present sanctuary of over twenty years, I am surprised over and over again at the way I have gardened for many a season.

I found this series of photos of the small vegetable/herb and flower garden I created quite a while back at the side of my house. That was “then”.  Now, many years later, this space is totally hidden by a hedge of brambles and wild rose… a “Secret Garden” perhaps to be re-discovered someday by the next owner.

These photos are memories of the evolution and organized planning of a beautiful “life” and garden within neat and safe boundaries. I am pleased that I have had the opportunity of creating such a planned and organized sanctuary for the sake of art, beauty, healing and refreshment. However, this is a different time of…

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Garden June Sacred

Being a Taurus Sun Earthkeeper person, I have always had gardens where I live. The cycle of the seasons in a 4-climate region has captivated me since childhood…each turn full of magic, myth and mystery.

Growing up in an inner city in the northeast USA, I was not exposed to posh gardens in the concrete environment even though I lived in an apartment building on Ash Grove Place which still had a genteel air leftover from earlier times when the neighborhood was lined with ash trees before cars. The plants that came through the cracks and between the buildings in ally-ways were the wild things…dandelions, poke, yellow dock, plantains and the flowers of grasses. Of course back then, I didn’t know their names but I was called to them because they were green growing living things tucked in and around the hardness and grey of city asphalt.

There were two “garden” situations however that served our city spirits. One was the chain-link fence bordering the back parking lot behind our apartment building. In spring and summer, the tall fence was covered by the climbing vines of morning glories. The blue flowers were a never-ending delight…the tight spirals of the buds before opening, which we would pick, blowing at their now- tiny opening at the base .. and out they would flare into full flower by the power of our own mini-godlike breath. Picking the full flower itself , we would also suck at the small opening at the base of it, pulled from the vine, to taste a delightful delicate sweetness,  coming to understand what the bees were collecting while visiting its center!

The second garden was for viewing only through the openings in the chain link fence to the back lot of the next-door neighbor. A German immigrant with a thick accent, he was a crabby terrible tempered territorial old man who yelled loudly and threatened any and all kids who might attempt to climb over the fence to receive a ball gone astray in the air, landing in his green sanctuary. But he was an amazing gardener and it was like peering into the Garden of Eden or a guarded oasis in the middle of the hood between buildings. As an adult, I now understand his fierce and protective personality preserving the peace and order of his sacred garden from a pack of potentially disruptive and invasive neighborhood kids….

My own gardens from marriage, parenthood, divorce, partnership and singledom on have varied. My first planting was of Lamb’s Ears (stachys officinalis) which first captivated me in a re-created colonial apothecaries’ garden at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT when I was age 21. The gardens that  followed throughout my life started with herbs and their charming and healing mystique, and later, flowers and vegetables. Always always green around me.  

Veggie Garden

( One of my earlier gardens )

Several years ago, serious vision problems with early cataracts began to develop and it became impossible for me to see in sunlight and also to just see clearly at all. For the past three years, that, plus a couple of stressful, attention-stealing life situations blocked the ability to garden. I thought that was okay. But there was a flatness in my spirit as a result…unrecognizable to others…but known to my own self. A loss of some sort of energy and meaning. A loss of “veriditas”.

Now, with much excitement and gratitude, my eyesight has been restored through surgeries,  and with the renewal of vision, I could not let another year go by without tending the “Green”.  Three years of not taking care of the yarden turned it into wildness except for the front. This year, I invested in Grow Boxes, not having the time or energy to tame field and woodland and in planting them and situating them in my yard,  I realized that in not gardening the last three years, I had lost some part of SOUL….my own “Greening Spirit/Veriditas”… by not participating in the cycle of the seasons in person and not tending the plants. But now! My Soul has come back home to both the inner and outer gardens!

Garden rainy

A week or so ago, as I walked through the front border to the road, I stubbed my toe on an exposed corner of a flat rock buried under moss and matted grass. I bent over to scrape away dirt and plant matter to find a garden plaque that my partner David had placed in my new herb garden almost 20 years ago when we moved in. I had at that time also been teaching a nine-month internship in folkloric herbalism, natural foods and earth spirituality, called “The Sacred Garden”.

Garden June Sacred

How synchronistic was its surprise emergence from “under” to welcome my SOUL back home as I became a “gardener” once again.

They are BACK! My garden, My Soul !

Veriditas! from  Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Please visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.com

 

 

 

 

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Why is a recipe from my foodie blog http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.worpdress.com here on the Greening Spirit site? Because delicious food lifts our spirits and gives us something to look forward to after our day’s work and travels “in the world”. Good food also brings loved ones to and around the table for “communion”… and communion means food for the soul as well as the body around the table’s altar. Here is the  “greening spirit” recipe from yesterday’s post on “sensuous soups and suppers”:

Well, yes it is true that so many of us grow weary and discouraged on FB these days given the chaos of our present political challenges. Taking time out from posting alarms and alerts, some of us eventually resort to alternating posts between our opinions and activism, with Comic Relief (funny cartoons or snarky wit), Beauty (flowers and scenery), Cutsies (kittens, puppies and babies) and  FOOD! (WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR DINNER!).

Last night I fled to my kitchenette (only 6 inches away from my tiny apartment living room) to free my mind and heart from stress, and to dive wholeheartedly with my hungry tummy into pure comfort and creativity with an awesome Italian recipe inspired by Lidia Bastianich,  I say “inspired by” because she started the whole thing off in her recipe book, but I, Imdependent  and renegade Cooker myself, always have to tweak a recipe to make it mine, ALL MINE! So to be fair, let’s maybe say it was a winning “collaboration”,

When I posted the above picture on FB for good cheer, it must have provided some much needed comfort as more people jumped into my post with comments about this than about anything  elseI have posted all week. Several even sent me private messages asking (begging) for the recipe. Which of course I promised to do…what else are friends for? So wipe your chins dear salivators !…here we go… feel free to make it yours too with your own tweaks.

Ingredients:

1 box/pkg of gnocchi

1 10 oz pjg of frozen peas, defrosted)

5 thin stalks of asparagus, steamed and cut into thirds

4 or 5 small cocktail tomatoes, seeds squeezed out and quartered

1/2 heavy crème OR half n  half OR evaporated mil

1 cup of chicken broth

2 tablespoons of butter salted or non salted

6 oz of crumbled gorgonzola

a dash of garlic powder, a dash of Italian herb blend (I used Penzys Tuscan blend)

a little squeesze..drops really to taste…of lemon. Go very easy on this to taste

salt and pepper to taste

A BIG SOUP MUG and a BIG SPOON

**(Don’t forget a glass of rose (not red! not white!) wine to accompany. (Red is too strong, white is too “white”…I cook with complementary colors..there is enough white in this sauce)

*** Put on some nice music. Preferably by Josh Groban singing in Italian. Shut off the news on tv!

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Preparation:

Boil the gnocchi according to the instructions of the box (Lidia makes her OWN gnocchi from scratch. Not me…one of my ingenious creative tweaks). Drain and set aside

Saute the butter (you can add a little more if you want.) in a large frying pan with  higher sides. When melted, add the combined milk and broth and dash of herbal blend and bring to a boil, then lower heat and let it cook for about 8 minutes to thicken a bit..sort of..stirring often. DO NOT burn or rapid boil and bubble (trouble!).

Add the gorgonzola and stir to melt. Taste and season to your liking.,, salt and pepper, a tiny squeeze of lemon (be careful here) and a dash of garlic powder.

Add the peas, asparagus and cocktail tomatoes and stir.

FINALLY,  add the gnocchi to coat completely.

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IMPORTANT ! Take a picture and post it on FB so your friends can drool, leave lots of comments and then send them the link to this recipe on my blog!

Enjoy!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit a la “The Cook” on https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

***Picture with my granddaughter Giana who is now 11 years old. ( I am the same age as I was then).

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During the past several years, I became hard-pressed to make some very difficult choices in my very familiar and somewhat predictable life: choices like letting go of a house/home of many years, leaving behind a plot of land that was the garden canvas upon which a colorful array of flowers, herbs and vegetables nourished me physically, spiritually and mentally, choices that challenged the way I earned my living as a humble means of security and choices that initially did not allow me to see a clear path into a grounded and stable future.

My life had been filled with color, music, dance and creativity. It was juicy and plump with knowing that I was fulfilling my destiny and blooming in rightness for me.

But then there were gradually some serious challenges in going it alone in a very changing and unstable environment around me and  those circumstances pressing in on me, pressed me as well, sucking a lot of the juice and energy out of my calmness and..well…flattening me and the fullness of familiarity for a while.

I am happily back now in a new and stable phase..gloriously so I think…. but I have learned something important having survived pressing circumstances and being “flattened” for a while myself.

So let me talk about Rose Geranium first as an example. For the year between my “old life” and my “new life” I lived with dear friends, who also had large and bountiful gardens which were a comfort to my loss in the interim. Outside of their front door was a lovely rose geranium plant in bloom all summer and fall, its rounded and scalloped leaves when stroked, exuded a sweet and musky perfume that evoked a sense of sensuality, earthiness, and LOVE. This plant beckoned to me every time I came and went about my tasks such as I was trying to live them out.

 

In the ensuing fall…last October…and before I knew I would be moving finally to a delightful new apartment in totally new circumstances I asked the plant permission and started to harvest some of her finest leaves pressing them between the pages of my books about Hildegard of Bingen which were references for a course I was going to be teaching at the local University.

When in time, I arrived in my new and delightful sanctuary,  my now apartment, and settled in beginng to prepare for the course, I opened the books and again met those leaves…. those now pressed and flattened leaves and I was stunned by their beauty…a NEW kind of beauty… as they emerged from having been nestled and pressed safely between those pages and  lying surrounded by all those beautiful words of wisdom front and back.

In their now pressed and flattened state, their strength and structure and divine and exquisite order…their master plan and destiny… was clearly revealed altho the physicality of their leaves are now seemingly…some might say “thin-skinned”.  But no, I would say instead “delicate, vulnerable and refined” and  with the color and beginning translucence of maturity. There is dance and frivolity and movement in the frilly-ness and happiness of their edges and I see that being pressed has not taken that away…in fact, it has made it the happiness more pronounced and visible as the essence of who and what it really is,  is clearly seen.

Rose Geranium 1

It has gloriously survived being pressed and has evolved into a new phase of being.

What I have learned from being pressed is like all that I see in this rose geranium leaf and  which has been revealed in the still- beauty, sensuality and love that is available when surviving pressing situations that seem to flatten us. If we can be surrounded by good words and the friendly, caring protection of friends/family and community, the “stuff” of which we are made is never lost..just perhaps transformed into what is truly important. Our essence.

And most importantly, is the awesome revelation and knowing of the Divine Order and Guidance of our lives and in that leaf, never fully appreciated until we are squeezed, challenged, or pressed to claim and reveal our deepest selves.

I have been promised a cutting of that plant to bring here in my new apartment. Rose Geranium (Pelargonium Capitatum) A special flowerpot is all ready and waiting! I believe this plant has more to teach me…..

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Please check my foodie blog too : http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

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JOURNAL ENTRY

March 28, 2017 – Tuesday

The world of ” the news” is too much with me and for sure “the world’s way” is not my way these days. The intentional  chosen silence and stillness of the “Inner Monastery” is my sanity and my saving right now.

Yesterday a book I had ordered arrived in the mail: “Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day” by Benedictine nun, Macrina Wiederkehr. I cannot fully express the delight and joy that has enveloped me as I entered the pages of this exquisite guide to prayers and reflections praying the hours of the day. This book, and “The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul through Monastic Wisdom” by Christine Valters Paintner are, and are to be, the prayer books that guide my life on a daily basis. It is with a deep sense of wonder and joy that these books have found me.

The Hours of the Day are little monastic pauses from Dark to Light to Dark again…a mindfullness of the messages inherent in the turning of the wheel of each day and night, never ceasing. I have always known this, and have lived it out in special ways and also known when I have NOT. This is a marvelous and soothing “coming home” to a path I wandered off of in tending to pressing matters these past couple of years.

This morning of course is the prayer of LAUDS at the waking up, the coming of sunrise. Except these days I often wake up with a sadness that either I cannot name or that has many names. And this morning as I read the new inspiration and prayers in Macrina’s book of reflection, I found myself inspired but also very groggy, wanting nothing more than to settle back into bed and snuggle under the covers listening to the silence before the light.

Macrina waxes poetic over the coming of sunrise and the light. You can tell it is her favorite hour of the day. However, this morning outside it is white and grey, not golden, as we are enveloped in fog and mist and the actually sunrise was and is not discernable. It is of course no longer dark, but light….not bright, casting legnthy and moving shadows, but soft and muted and a little echo-y. I give myself liberty to languish quietly into the comfort of couch and covers with my cup of coffee, in silence, and watching the path and leafless woods outside. This is the best I can do today this morning, aware of the new day to unfold, but feeling very lazy, so staying close to “what is” in the moment, I offer gratefulness and praise for the opportunity in my life right now to BE lazy and indolent in this early morning today.

I have a question about the landscape here however. We have so many trees…but where are the birds? Where is the chirping and trilling and sounds of life among the trees? I am used to the sounds of birds sometimes at 4 am in the wee hours back at my former home, my little cottage. It is now 9:02 am and I hear very faintly in the distance on this property, a soft occasional chirping…but not right here outside my apartment. Why not? Why not here?

I am asking this question of the Angels in charge of the birds.

“Perhaps the birds are also lazy this morning as well. Patience…”

Perhaps all is just as it should be. 

Now at last: Good Morning, World!

from Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

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It’s not always faeries we spy in the garden when we least expect it, but also a face popping out of the herbs when we bend over to collect some flowers or leaves for tea. In this case, a kitty in the catmint.

You were so still down there and under the greening, even the bumble bees buzzing lazily around you seemed to think you were one of the plants. You are lucky I didn’t pluck you up along with the leaves and put you in the teapot with them!

Only when the three of us in this household came to lean over and laughingly call out to you..”Hi Sky!” did we rouse you from your deep sleep to blink and wink at us from down under, with no intention whatsoever to leave your cool and fragrant sanctuary amongst the catmint and Echinacea.

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Cats and gardens seem to go together…whether it be the catmints or chives and it is always amusing to see a tiny  furry head pop out of the flowers or greenery.

Jungle Kitty Big

Catnip and catmint share some of the same qualities of calming digestion, lowering fever and being a mild sedative. Catmint is more decorative than the weedier-looking catnip, and often planted as an ornamental. Cats are said to prefer catnip, enjoying mild if not wild intoxication merely from the scent…but from what I see here in this garden, the kitties find catmint quite suitable for “tuning-out”.

For a little more info on catmint, search for the herb on http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/mint/catmint-plant.htm

Pearls GardeningFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

also: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

Dappled Light (2)

 

Perhaps it is because astrologically I am more of a Moon and Water person with Cancer Rising and Moon in Pisces that I shy away from the intensity of direct bright sunlight,the glory of summer for those who love to frolic underneath its radiant heat and blinding shine. My Taurus Sun loves the gardens, vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers, but MY (earthbound) Taurus with the addition of a water Moon and Rising Sign,  is cooler and more moist, and garden tending at the morning and evening hours is preferred over sweating it out at high noon.

The same for me is “beach time” which practically never finds me basking in the beach chair under the hottest most direct radiance of the day, but almost always at the slanted light hours of early morning or late afternoon until sunset. If I must be out during the onslaught of the BRIGHT, sunglasses (BIG ONES) and hats (BIG ONES) soften the blow of squinched eyes half shut and blindness that is white and not dark.

MOI Beach

I find that it is often hard to see in bright light and also to take photographs that reveal depth and complexity, scenes and subjects often flattened out and drained of color. If seen more clearly, the direct intensity of light leaves nothing to the imagination, everything revealed, no secrets to uncover.

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For me, dappled light and slanted light is where Mystery resides and I am in love with mystery and the interplay between what is seen and what is unseen both of which are always “there”.  (I must admit that lounging about with a big hat and dark sunglasses presents an air of “mystery” but again, the mystery is about what is semi-hidden and unseen even in bright sunlight. The mystery resides in the shadows).

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I also admit that sun is fun and that minus the relentless and blinding glare, there is always beauty to be revealed in every hour of the day… Let the fire people..Aries, Leo and Sagittarius… revel and activate themselves and play games and adventures under the intense bright light and heat of summer days…and we will meet instead and party together during the waxing and waning hours of the sun, or around the dancing flames of the firepit in the middle of the darkness. I will weed the garden, and pick my flowers and herbs in softer, cooler light…

Thank goodness there are 24 hours in each day…and something of preferred light and shadow for everyone…

 

BrightFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

ALSO:

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

 

Nana Fursa RESTORE

When my mother died a number of years ago, I was the recipient of a large box of old family photos and record-keeping papers that I had never seen. There had been a lot of tragedy in my mother’s side of the family, both her mother and father immigrants to New York City from Poland in the early 1900′s.  I never knew my grandfather, he dying when my mother was one years old, leaving my grandmother to raise my mother and seven older siblings on her own through tumultuous years and through the remnants of the Great Depression.

My grandmother came to live with us when I was ten, moving from a small tenement apartment in NYC where she lived with a lone surviving son, my Uncle Eddie, and his family. We ourselves had moved upstate from a city apartment to my parents first real home..the pride of home ownership that included a bedroom for Nana and a new life living with her daughter (my mother) and our family.

Nana was quite strict and yet loving, but she could often be heard through the door of her room in the quiet afternoons, crying and saying the rosary. She was sometimes a trial for my brother and me, at times threatening harsh discipline for our honestly small misbehaviours, yet she had her place of honor and respect at the dinner table and we were family.

She was “old” (so I thought then) when she came to join us, and that is the way I experienced her although she was beautiful for her elder years and always elegantly stylish in her dress, taking walks around the back yard, steadying herself with a fine shiny black cane for balance. She was dignified and she was proud and capable of laughter.

But being young myself, growing up in the youthful self-focused way of youngsters and teenagers, altho she was with us every day I never really knew her, except as “Nana”, yet always hearing the stories that accompanied her and my mother, of family tragedies that haunted them both until their deaths.

One of the pictures in my mother’s record keeping box was an old photo…badly damaged by time and travels..of Nana’s wedding. Coming here from Poland at the age of seventeen to “look for her brother” who had earlier emigrated to NYC, she came alone on a steamship and passed through Ellis Island to somehow search the city for him.

There are huge gaps in the chapters of our family history and what happened when she got here is hidden in the mists of time. But she did meet a man, a Polish man I think, and married. He was not the best of the lot and died violently in shabby circumstances after fathering eight children, leaving Nana to the fates of being a widow and single mother of a multitude of children during the worst of times.

When I saw this picture, I was intrigued to see a grandfather whom I had never known, and more intrigued to see the picture of the woman who would later become my grandmother, who I would see as “Nana” as I grew up, but whom I truly did not know. What intrigued me most about this picture however, was the fact that in particular, it was her face that was most damaged in the old worn photograph and I was distressed that I could not see her the way I would have liked. Who WAS she?

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And so, with the editing program on my computer, I started to slowly and carefully, as best as I can, try to restore my grandmother’s face so that I might know her in a new way..the young woman who came alone to this country from far way, who had a fertile if not disastrous marriage, bearing eight children, becoming a widow left to raise them on her own in the big city, working as a seamstress when possible to bring in money, and facing repeated tragedies… in time burying three young handsome adult sons six months apart, one taken away by accident in the military (lightning hitting an air traffic control tower where he was on duty) and two by separate unfortunate acts of violence as innocent bystanders…later losing a beautiful daughter to cancer and a daughter who went mad.

As I work to restore what I can of Nana’s hidden-ness in the damaged photo, I uncover a woman who like her children had the gift of physical beauty, one eye  the prototype of the family “beautiful” eyes…perhaps green or hazel… full passionate lips, a strong jaw for fortitude and inner strength yet smoothly rounded for the soft tenderness of motherhood for it was said that she was a wonderful mother through it all.

I am connecting with a part of my family history through the restoration of this photograph and coming to a new understanding of the tumultuous and often difficult emotional scenarios I grew up with in our home, usually generated by my mother’s grief and dramatic explosive tendencies, mixed with a gift of laugher in between. We have few stories from that side of the family except either  “the tragedies” or the glorification of family members.

I have read that often survivors of the Holocaust who started new lives elsewhere after devastation frequently go silent in the storytelling of their past experience,  and I do believe that the sufferings of times like war, the disastrous loss of one or more children through accident or violence way before their time, or  the terrors of those who survived the Great Depression and its aftermath years later often go silent as well, though one can hear solitary crying behind closed doors during the dark hours of night or on an afternoon behind the closed door of a personal bedroom…there are secrets in every family and blank pages in every story but the truth of experience never does go away inside…

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I am glad for this opportunity to restore my Nana, my Grandmother Marie and to intuit finally knowing her. A survivor.

Hello, Nana……

***memories of bits and pieces of the family story have slowly surfaced as I wrote this essay. The tiny bit of information that my grandfather, Nana’s husband, had been secretary to a Count in Poland and fled to this country after breakdown of the nobility there. My grandmother met him while he was working as a laborer in a pocketbook factory in NYC to earn money. She herself was the daughter of a gentleman farmer. Her mother held a reading circle in their farmhouse teaching others to read. When the soldiers of the Czar (Prussians) rode in on horses, they quickly  hid the books and took out their sewing and embroidery needles and hoops.

 

UU2From Christine, the Greening Spirit

also: https://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress,wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

 

 

Healing Magic (2) ed

Some of us cannot be defined by a singular spiritual path but instead, draw from  the richness of a variety of traditions to inspire and nourish the diverse complexities of soul within and around us. For example, for the past several weeks I have been incorporating the Benedictine cycle of the Hours of the Day and Night, pausing to notate the energies and themes of Vigils  ( Deepest Night)…Lauds (Sunrise)…Terce (Mid-Morning)…Sext (N00n)…None (Mid-Afternoon)…Vespers (Evening)…and Compline (Bedtime/Early Night),  returning again through Deepest night, to Sunrise. Another day! Another gifted opportunity inwhich to create something new!

This pausing and mindfulness of the blessings and tasks of these hours has deepened  my appreciation and love of the cyclical nature of each twenty-four hour day from dark to light and back to dark again and connected me to the monastic rooms of my own soulful “Interior Castle”.

Living this way, although coming from a religious tradition, is really quite “magical” as spiritual practice, connecting me to the Great Mystery of Life and he rhythms of the earth and heavens that are felt and experienced rather than just described in words or print. In truth, the best of the mystical traditions, free of dogma, have never lost their connection to the Earth, nature and “the great Round” of the seasons, the moon, and the year.

Yesterday, my Library Angel “ACE”, through the agency of a soul-sister, handed me another book that is also a rich reminder of a path of soul that is ever a part of my own journey through life. All the way from “monk” to “green witch”… beloved traditions that each in their own ways have never lost the spirituality, and practices of the Earth, Cycles and Seasons of Celebration and Transformation.

Sitting on the front deck, feet up, un-apologetically spending the afternoon reading “Healing Magic-A Green Witch Handbook” by Robin Rose Bennett and drinking fresh lemon balm and lemon verbena tea from the garden…. (the “Hours” being between mid-afternoon (None) to earliest evening (Vespers)… I once again reveled in herb lore, moon lore, tree lore, chakras and medicine wheels, women’s sacred cycles and rituals and wise-women traditions.

Is there conflict between the monastic path of awareness and the green witch path? Not within me, as they each dance, blend and honor celebration, silence, prayer, ritual, presence, communication, intuition, gratitude and praise, beauty, and periodic chosen solitude to be one-on-one with the good and virtuous inner Voices of the “invisible” world…angels, ancestors, guides and God.

Is there conflict between the monastic path of earth-centeredness and the green witch path and the relationships with the healing plants/herbs of field, forest and gardens? I think not, remembering the wise women of the villages and the brother monks in the monastery gardens who all were keepers of the secret powers of lemon balm and lemon verbena tea!

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And so:

“Healing Magic is rooted in the earth. It’s basis and foundation is the realization of immanence, which is the recognition that the Great Mystery that gives life to the earth and he universe is within the earth as well as transcendent. It (God-Goddess-All-That-Is) exists within us and within the land–every tree, every animal, every pebble and every so-called inanimate object”  ~Robin Rose Bennett (Healing Magic: a Green Witch Guidebook)

 

“There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxi cation so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway… Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation. ~ St. Theresa of Avila (The Interior Castle)

May Magic and Holy Blessings Be Yours!  (one and the same,,,)

Pearls GardeningFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

 

 

Purple Bouquet (3).jpg ED.jpg COPY Green

I am living with friends who are exquisite gardeners. The gardens outside are in stages of glorious blooming…every day something new…colors, shapes, scents exploding in a sensual symphony for the eye and the spirit. Joyful, delightful, playful and soul-full!

As I walk through the gardens at various times of the day, I want to scoop it all up within my arms and bring it inside to my room to keep forever..I want to keep it ALL very close to me day and night in daylight and dark..so full of beauty and inspiration.

How greedy of me, really, because I spend enough time indoors in harsher seasons of dying off and cold. The gardens and the surrounding green-ness outside is a celebration to visit on its own terms…out there.

But that’s why we have bouquets.

They do not have to be big.

Yesterday while walking about the gardens with my camera, I gathered tiny stems of blossoms…the purple ones of garden sage, and catmint. And then three tiny stalks of dianthus in brightest pink. Coming inside, I searched for a tiny vase to put them in, but they are packed away with all of my things in storage.

But, in searching, I found a small empty glass salt shaker…just perfect for my tiny bouquet from the abundance of flowering choices outside. And of course, silly me, I instantly knew that often.. sometimes…  Less is more.

Purple Bouquet (2).jpg GREEN CLOSE

A garden in a salt shaker is a garden of Abundance. A feast for the eye.

A garden on my  nightstand. (accompanied my a sprig of Motherwort in a jelly jar) is my indoor solarium.

IMG_2287

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

dreams

Monk Endrts (2)

The “world” seems quite crazy right now, populated in the media by some very bizzare personalities, stories and situations presented and talked about all day long 24/7 . If one has the tv habit of watching, which I do NOT voluntarily have, the world presented to us is so disturbing, divisive and dangerous that one has limited choices for dealing with it ie  joining the fray with words and verbal combat, insuring a fractured angry heart, or the duck and cover response, insuring disaster and despair when it all goes down and one is left un-prepared to deal with new realities. A third choice is to be very very picky about information coming in from the outside, choosing wisely what informants we listen to, and taking time away from it all to listen from the inside-out.. listen to our own heart and intuition speaking the truth of sanity, peace, balance and love. It also is so important and healing to bring that inner-knowing of virtue back out in some form of creativity and self expression ( (writing, painting, poetry, music, gardening, cooking, STORYTELLING etc)  thus becoming an “Artist”..an Artist of Life, bringing beauty and mindful care to a chaotic world. YOUR world. 

A gem of a book recently came into my life by serendipity while I was deeply pondering these things. A timely toss from my Library Angel, “ACE”  (Angel- in -Charge of- My -Education), this treasure “The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom” by Christine Valters Paintner came into my possession as one of the many “winks” from the Universe when I am on the right track in my personal unfolding into who I am meant to be or what I am supposed to be doing.

In this beautifully written book, much of which sounds like it is out of my own journals, the author ties together the similarities of spirit of the archetypes and practices of both the Monk and the Artist. Following her lovely suggestions for both the practice of the the Lectio Divina and especially the Praying/Presence of the Hours of the Day, I started to incorporate the markings of time s during the day to re-collect myself back into a state of peace, awareness of “the NOW” and gratitude and blessing for exact place and moment I was in. 

Often in my life…VERY often..when committing myself to this inner state of  stillness, peace, presence and LISTENING I receive surprise messages from the Ethers, from “The Universe” that cheerlead  me  on, often making me laugh out loud in the playful way my direction is validated. And this experimentation with the archetypes of Monk/Artist was no exception.

With book in hand, I drove as I often do to a special retreat center on a little island off of the coast of Connecticut, where I photograph the gardens, walk by the sea, and enjoy the peace and music of wind and water, and the solidness of earth for several hours. I parked the car, and found a big rock upon which to perch reading through the section about the “Inner Monastery” accessed through silence, solitude and nature. When, who should appear right in front of me, strolling with a friend across the vast lawn towards the sea, but a MONK himself, in grey habit, rosary beads hooked on the knotted corded belt around his waist, and sandals on his feet.

This retreat center’s grounds are open to the public like a park, and I am there so often during the week when there are few people there and I almost have the place to myself. I can tell you that in all that time, though I have sometimes shared the gardens with couples, people walking their dogs, friends sitting on lawn chairs by the ocean quietly having lunch, or pray-ers on retreat walking slowly in meditation, I have NEVER had a MONK cross my path.

But it did happen that very day as I held the book about the Monk and Artist open on my lap and for sure I recognized that manifesting that monk at that very moment was a very merry communicaton from that who watches and guides my own journey..a “wink” from God, from my angels and/or chorus of ancestor guides.

Enders Sept 4

Lest you think that these validated moments into the Inner Monastery shelter us totally from dealing with the chaotic life-times we live in , I must admit the inconvenient truth that the Monk/Artist first steps back to center and remember the assignment he/she was “given” when coming here, and is then required to go back out and engage the “world” in truth-telling, vision and beauty..making an artful life and bringing hope and healing. In the monastic Rule of St. Benedict centuries ago, he writes of the backbone of this task.

     “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way”.

I like that. And it frees me, gets me off the hook trying to explain the personal path that seems to wander in a different direction than the dominant culture and its consumeristic, militaristic, competitive prescriptions for “happiness” and fulfillment.

I feel okay if not delighted with this, and the “winks” that so playfully manifest all sorts of affirmations to ” keep on with it! “….

*** In another afternoon visit  to this place several weeks later,  I was walking down a path towards the gardens, when whom should appear walking this time down the spath TOWARDS me but this very  same monk! In our sudden  face to face encounter, we chatted and I found out his name…Brother Seamus…another surprise “wink from God”.

update Feb 2016 (2)From Christine, the Greening Spirit

***** DON”T BE SHY….SAY HI! *****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herbs violet japanese maple (3) Picasa signed Green

The lovely poet Mary Oliver writes: “My work is loving the world………… Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished“.

There are days when there are hours wandering about with my camera seeking, finding and capturing mysteries, and then writing about them. It is for me a meditative time, akin to prayer, I have come to realize, for in this practice I am always in a state of astonishment. It seems it is my way at these times to “gaze” instead of “look”, and to “see” rather than “glance” for I am a Taurus and we prefer to move more slowly, and linger in order to savor the experiences wherever we are.

Which brings me to the art of Deep-Seeing nature around me which when involving astonishment triggered by Beauty makes me fall deeply in love with the world.

But in our ordinary busy-got-to-get- somewhere times, we rush by life and our environment moving so fast, merely glancing at the surface and brushing by the most astonishing things hidden in plain sight on our way to be elsewhere.

Coming in and out of the house on my way to “out there”,  hopping in the car and taking off to tasks and responsibilities, I am in my head making lists, prioritizing things to do, appointments to get to on time and all that. In so doing, I pass this beautiful red Japanese Maple right outside the door, glancing quickly as I am fiddling and looking for my car keys in the depths of my purse and am astonished when I find them amidst the pocketbook’s inner complexities and clutter!

Deep Seeing TWO COPY

A day or two later, when not so rushed but going out to do a task, the slant of light on this tree caught my attention as I passed, suddenly revealing the patterns of several layers of branches and feathery leaves. The greenery was multi-colored as well, green, red, purple and PINK! I was astonished, immediately stopping to dig into my purse for my camera which is always with me (forget the car keys!). This sudden switch of vision to deep-seeing mode captured a Mystery that captivated me, took my breath away and surrounded me with a feeling of the holy, the Whole-y, the Sacred, The Magical.

Deep Seeing Three

But it’s not over, this Astonishment. There is never any end to how deep we can go with the art of Deep-Seeing in the world around us, in the people we meet or live with, or in the desire and seeking for Truth. How powerful is your curiosity? How hungry are you for depth and meaning,  for the seeking of Soul in the world,  and for the deeper mysteries of beauty hidden everywhere when we stop to linger, gaze and be present?

Standing there, lingering with this tree, looking down at its flattened crown from above, I noticed a small opening in its branches. Bending closer, I was charmed and astonished as I looked deeper through the opening and down to the ground under its trailing limbs … there..brightly colored, lush, textured and shiny..a whole luxurious community of greenlings…broad  shimmering violet leaves and delicate sweet woodruff (an ingredient in May Wine)…a combined vibrant palette of pink, purple, green and pale yellow.

Herbs violet japanese maple (3) Picasa signed Green

It is true that some of us, when astonished, are inspired to make art, sometimes writing poetry, sometimes creating a painting, sometimes a story written or told, sometimes a photo composed and edited for making magic trying to capture and make what we have seen immortal…all irresistible components of falling in love.

I come to know that while teaching piano and  spiritual well-being to earn a living, that my real work is, and ever will be, loving the world and daily being astonished, sharing that Good News wherever I can.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

NOTE: don’t be shy..say hi!

also:

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Lauds

Do you have a “Library Angel”?

I do.

My Library Angel is named “ACE” (Angel-in-Charge-of- my-Education) and “shim”…not a him or a her, but a “shim”..is the invisible playful but serious being who regularly, faithfully and unexpectedly tosses to me just the right book from out of the ethers for exactly what  I next need in my unfolding life journey.

The latest of ACE’s suggested reading program for me was the book “The Artist’s Rule: nurturing your creative soul with monastic wisdom” by art therapist, spiritual director and lay Benedectine Oblate, Christine Valters Paintner.

It is an absolute jewel of a book with the delightful theme hilightimg the similarities between the archetypes of “The Monk” and “The Artist” and suggestions of how the Benedictine Rule of spiritual practices, prayer and presence enriches, supports, and enhances the daily lives of both of these authentic personal paths.

One of the lovely practices  of the Rule is being present to the ongoing cycle of hours in each day from darkness into light and back into darkness again, stopping at various points of the day, called “hours”, to appreciate the natural and symbolic energy of each point, and to reflect or pray joy, appreciation, awareness, peace or support.

In the early morning at sunrise is the magical hour of the return of the light after the long hours of night’s darkness…the Hour of LAUDS (praise).  What is the energy or message of that gradual transition from dark to radiance? Awe…renewal…freshness..the invitation to start a whole new day..a wondrous gift of life offering the possibility for a whole new fresh start…the gift of sight, as the world is revealed by illumination..and especially at this time of early summer here in the Northeast, colors, textures, shapes, and scents…the morning revelation of a very sensuous world…flowers, trees, herbs, vegetables, birdsong, insects and tree frog communications bursting with aliveness!

Sitting on the front porch with my morning coffee and the meditations for LAUDS the other day (and following days) I was mesmerized by the radiance of the light, dazzling itself upon the sky, the plants, the gardens, the trees..and especially the shimmering halo around the hanging pot of ferns.

Matthew Fox, pfeisty prophet/priest has said “Where there is awe, there is prayer”- that sudden in-breath of awe at the shock and recognition of beauty (..”aahhh”). Indeed  it is prayer not needing any words. And the words of the medieval mystic  Meister Eckhart on prayer: ” If the only prayer I say is  ‘thank you’, it is enough”

It is enough.

And THAT is the hour of LAUDS.

I like living this way.

PHOTO CREDIT: by Christine Phoenix Green

Lemon Balm, Lady's Mantle, Nettles

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Tea

In our herbal traditions, it is suggested to work with each herb individually in making our teas, this practice called “a simple”. This is a good practice, like getting to know an acquaintance more deeply by visiting one-on-one, exchanging stories and experiences and transforming from “acquaintance” to “friend”. This is also especially important when preparing tea for medicinal purposes, letting each herb do its special thing in specific circumstances needing balance or healing.

But there is also tea-making for “energetic”, spiritual or magical purposes as well and for this I have always been inspired to make blends, combining several herbs for qualities of character and soul that I am working with and hoping to bring into myself or life experience.

When I make tea in this way,I steep it for many hours..in the sun, or overnight even, then strain and refrigerate. While hydrating during the day, I do half clear drinking water and half of the herbal blend  in a tall glass to drink over the hours. I am conscious and present to why I am doing this, taking in the qualities of my herbal friends to live more peacefully, more kind, more creatively and magically, ever open to the support of synchronicities and communications from the loving and fun-loving invisible world.

Yesterday’s blend was a mix of  garden-fresh mugwort, motherwort and nettles with added dried lemon balm and spearmint.

IMG_2127

What properties was I bringing into my own self from these delightful allies and friends?

Mugwort=the herb of elder wise-women who “see” and know the deeper meaning of events and discerns the ways of people and nature (the “seer”),  the herb that opens the third eye of deep-seeing and dreams.

Motherwort= the herb of the loving brave-hearted Lioness Mother (Leonurus cardiaca), the herb that strengthens us in adversity, installing courage into our spirits to face persnal challenges and to be able to sturdily support others ie our children and grandchildren in their need. Leadership with a big heart.

Nettles = The Pfeisty herb full of green power, allowing us to speak up when “pissed off” or prickly for just causes,  nourishing and toning the whole of our spirits (and body..) inside and out. Stregnth and clarity of purpose.

Lemon Balm = which “maketh one merry”,  sweetness, calming and good humour in all circumstances.

Spearmint = Sweetness and the ability to “keep cool” under pressure or the heat of life circumstances. A practical addition to temper the bitter flavors of mugwort and motherwort as well.

 Magical Mugwort (with red clover blossom)

Magical Mugwort (with red clover blossoms)

 

 

Mighty Motherwort

Mighty Motherwort

 

Nettles (ouch!)

Nettles(ouch!)

When making this tea, I do not have specific proportions.Walking through the garden and grounds with paper bag or basket and scissors, I pick and snip. In the kitchen, I strip the leaves (be careful of the STING when handling the nettles) into a quart jar, filling it with what I have collected, cover with boiling water and tighten a lid on the jar. I steep it in the sun, or on the counter or shelf in my room for hours or over night (I love keeping my friends close by!) Later, straining, refrigerate and add to my drinking water.IMG_2174

There are herbalists like Matthew Wood, who go by the principle that “less is more” and I find that even diluting this tea further in my drinking water, that definite and significant benefits are experienced in my psyche, spirit AND physical body.

Next week, I WILL be preparing “simples” to re-new my relationships with the various herbs and their properties and effects more intimately, like sitting down with a good friend to catch up.

But for today I call in the essences of courage, big hearted motherly/grandmotherly love, fierce and prickly truth telling in today’s dangerous political climate, the magic born of dreams and deep-seeing wisdom, a cool headed approach to what I have to do, and hopefully a merry heart and a sense of humor to hold it all lightly.

A note to consider..This tea with the mugwort and motherwort is a “bitter”..great for toning the liver, but  more acceptable to seasoned herbalists. To make it a pleasant experience for newbies, I suggest making a tea of lemon balm, spearmint and nettles, adding just a few leaves of mugwort and motherwort for the special essences of those two.

ps. I’d love to know who you are who read these posts from around the world! Don’t be shy…leave a comment, say hi or share a story that relates to the post!

 

YellowFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

My other happy blogs!

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Lemon Balm, Lady's Mantle, Nettles

Lemon Balm, Lady’s Mantle, Nettles

It is curious how in our lives we spiral in and out of our preferred or beloved ways of being, swept away by pressing concerns or responsibilities requiring our immediate attention. When we are able to “clear the clutter” of outer complications and return to our authentic path, it always feels like coming home to ourselves, to our Soul, our personal destiny.

Herbal traditions…gardening, making medicine or magic, photographing our wondrous green kin allies.. have been a treasured part of my life..both studying and teaching the ways of relationship between ourselves and the plants. The past several years of personal challenges in the mainstream world of work, finances and the relinquishing of home ownership demanded a different focus and expenditure of time and energy. Still in the process of re-orientation, I have been blessed to return to the garden, so to speak…although for the time being, the garden is not mine, but a friend’s and I am so full of gratitude to be able to wander where she has so lovingly planted and nurtured the lovely and magical herbal allies so dear to us both.

As spring has enticed our herbal friends up from their hidden winter lairs and into sunshine, I have been newly enchanted as if seeing them all for the very first time… an emotional reaction of delight that happens every April into June! My way of making relationship with them is first to capture their beauty in photographs, then to gather and make a “simple” tea or a blend, drinking their essence into me…and then writing about them! This is for me the essence of relationship…and it feels so grand to re-connect.

This week, I was drawn to Lady’s Mantle, Nettles and Lemon Balm…and gathered the three of them to make “Lady’s Tea #1“.. a blend for three cherished valuable qualities for a Lady of good character: Lemon Balm “to maketh one merry” (Hildegarde of Bingen)..a sense of humor, a most irresitible charm, Nettles for the necessary-at-times prickly inner Bitch to stand up for oneself, and Lady’s Mantle, to evoke the blessings of our Holy Mother Mary, the gentle nurturer and protector of body and soul.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

 

 

 

 

Lady's Mantle

Lady’s Mantle

 

Nettles (ouch!)

Nettles (ouch!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are, of course, scientific and medicinal intentions for creating this blend to specifically nurture the body or heal an imbalance. But on this particular day, the creation of this blend was for the metaphysical properties that are always present when interacting with the herbal KINdom.

Welcome home, ME!

Boots on the Ground

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

Visit my other blogs!

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Jungle Kitty in the Chives

Jungle Kitty in the Chives

One of the interesting experiences of staying with friends at this time is the sharing of space with three cats. A dog person myself, the experience of cats has been a whole other entertaining learning endeavor interacting with these creatures so full of surprise and mystery. They seem to have judged me to be acceptable in their presence even with my doggie history for each day they wordlessly reveal their quirks and curiosities as they go about their lives indoors and out, and seem to communicate with me with piercing stares, rubbing-close cuddles and even gentle nibbles on my fingers.

Buddy, is a “Watcher”.  He watches us from a chair seat tucked neatly under the table. He watches from the driveway as we come and go in our cars. He watches from the other side of my bedroom door in the morning trying to telepathically communicate through the wood that it’s time to get up and feed him breakfast.

And after his breakfast, a vigilant stroll to the garden watching for any flicker in the green that might be hiding prey. That occurrence either being fulfilled or thwarted, Buddy’s  favorite “watching” spot is in the middle of the Jungle of Chives under the Plum tree where he can see all that happens in the garden, and the movement of his humans coming or going in and out.

Jungle Kitty is on duty..he’s watching and knows what we all are up to. Better be on our best behavior. Buddy KNOWS.

Jungle Kitty Big

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

update Feb 2016 (2)

Dark Moon/New Moon in Taurus

Dark Moon/New Moon in Taurus

Ah, Taurus! Ruled by Venus, the goddess of love, the arts and the earth’s lushness, luxury, ease, beauty, art and music, harmony and peace, gardens, sensuality and the senses (sight, sound, scent, touch), delicious food and drink,  wealth and prosperity.

During this particular Dark Moon/New Moon in Taurus, I went wild in my moon manifestation mandala creating my perfect living room…elegant and richly appointed with scultpure, paintings, flowers, draperies, sensuous outrageous ORANGE sofa, pillows and  padded coffee table. Beautiful books of course to read in regular “time-out indulgences with a luscious bowl of fruit for sweet and juicy nibbling in langurous relaxation. A large sparkling diamond in the center… bright,, crystal clear, deeply cut and many-faceted (Iike me when at my best! ) that can be displayed or hidden depending on the whim of the elegant draperies. The diamond also a symbol of the dream for economic stability…no..wait! … I must ask for MORE…and that is, yes, WEALTH and prosperity consciousness instead of fear and roller-coaster finances of the self-employed creative artist of life. The first question to be asked in this Manifestation Law of Attraction practice is “Am I worth it?”.

Well, we must first believe it to receive it in some appropriae form. And creating the image of what arouses us to feel and take delight in all things that we find beautiful, soothing and truly fulfilling is part of the process. (“If you build it, they will come” ~Field of Dreams was on to something!).

Beauty in all forms, natural or created, lifts us up, delights and inspires us. Beautiful music, words, gardens, stories, colors, images and even furnishings in our homes can be an outpouring and appreciation of Soul in manifested form. Why would we not dream of and choose that over impoverishment of senses, spirit and life?

I love this mandala… and I love this room and that orange sofa! Orange, btw …the color of creativity.

orange me 10From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

Dark moon in Capricorn

Ah, Capricorn. The climb to Success. Vocation. Hard Work and Dedication. The CEO, The Professional, Top of the Line Personal Reputation and Brand. Wealth and recognition.

A self-employed person working alone to offer a needed service, earn a good reputation as well as a decent living, needs both vision and courage. Climbing the mountain of success also requires steadfast dedication, a good dose of passion for one’s craft, and the sure-footedness of the mountain goat..the Capricorn totem… to reach the pinnacle of professionalism.

For my whole adult life I have been a teacher both in both the academic setting and in private practice. I teach piano and music, and also esoteric spirituality for living well in a variety of settings. I remember in the first of my 35 plus years of teaching piano I made a statement to myself that I wanted to be “the Nadia Boulanger of my little locale”. (Nadia Boulanger was a very famous music teacher who taught, coached and mentored a number of very famous pianists in their formative years). I set a high standard for myself..and it made my work fun and fruitful for many years.

                              ***     http://pianomistress.wordpress.com   ***

My teaching of music is still part of my life’s work, but it has been necessary over the years to diversify, offering other fruits of my talents and interests, and always I hope to give the best service that I can in all that I do and teach. Even with all my experience however, it still helps to have role models, especially when  courage flags a little or I momentarily start to lose the vision  or belief that my work matters,  is worthwhile,  and a GREAT offering!

For my Capricorn Dark Moon I chose three wonderful famous women who have publicly excelled in their fields, given generously using their special gifts and talents and inspired many others: Ellen DeGeneres…the vocation of humor and wit, Oprah Winfrey..the vocation of living life well and opening opportunities for others, and …signified and lettered on the red doors…Elizabeth Arden…the vocation of beauty products for women. All successes, all vibrant personalities who have vision. In my own life, there are also many inspirational friends and associates who have created interesting work as teachers, artists, healers and entrepreneurs in fields that they love and have succeeded at, doing their best.

Do we know who they are by their talents and gifts? If I do my best, teaching…and yes fully embracing my vocation as a writer, will it matter? Will you know who I am? Will I make a difference? I hope so!

I imagine once again..the Voice of these Ladies laughing and saying to me “We hear you!”.

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

                                                 Moi Teaching at Arrowhead

  Promoting my work! Capricorn inspiration! see also:

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://lunchandlearnseminars.wordpress.com

Dark Moon Aquarius Mandala (2)

Ah! Aquarius! The Rebel, the Genius, the Unique Individual, Freedom of Expression, The “Outside-the Box” taster of life! Leader of the pack…Visionary.

This moon coming at a time in my life when it became so necessary to take the risks of a unique vision contrary to the mainstream idea of what is it is to be happy and successful and the cultural/commercialist/consumeristic path to “get there”.  Also at a time in my life when I finally stopped the attempts at “explaining” and justifying the validity of a path and use of “time” defined by other people’s expectations or jusdgements. THAT release of the need to explain is FREEDOM!

Happiness is elusive when pursued by way of the homogenized, televised or advertised images and words of the “outer” world. For me as I have matured, happiness is an “inside job”…happiness and a feeling of rightness in how I express myself, how I earn my living through the arts/spirituality which doesn’t always earn a fortune but expresses freedom of creativity that is a major facet of my personality. Freedom of expression in how I dress, how I write or talk, what I focus on that has meaning for me and gives meaning to my life, how I define “freedom” of intellectual thoughts, how and what I pursue as pleasures and delights to bring beauty into my life…

This dark moon mandala in Aquarius chooses the actions of stepping out of the box and how to spend a day, a month, a life in a unique and personal way. A bright pink open BAG (not a box) filled with flowers and gardens, an outrageous pink outfit and hat no matter what my age…a butterfly for freedom of spirit, the permission to “think differently” from the herd or commercial consensus…and the blessing of personal guides and the gods laughing:  “WE HEAR YOU!” Thank you!

Take a chance on love! Speak Your mind..and other daring moves!

Take a chance on love! Speak Your mind..and other daring moves!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi 2

Mandala Fam Dark Moon

Ah Cancer! Motherhood, Fanily, Nurturing, Food, cooking, the Tribe, gardens, memories and heritage, the home.

Once a Mother, always a mother…this is one strong experience I have learned over the many years I have shared with my daughters since they first popped out and into this world until..well, right now! They are mothers also in the ongoing process of learning how complex a job it is to usher and guide another human being through life and I have loved watching them unfold into this role. I have seen a documentary in which the Dalai Lama himself said that the most important job in the world is that of the Mother..and being an astrological Cancer-rising woman myself, I would have to agree.

My daughters have always been an exquisite delight as I was raising them and I have loved them dearly. There has been laughter, warmth and comfort and I have been blessed that they are fine, funny, responsible and gifted women, mothers, and wives.

But no family is without challenges and heartache and over the years we have had times when things worked exceedingly well between us and times when there was struggle or temporary distance and stresses, grasping for undertanding, grasping for appropriate words to challenge or address perceived slights or disappointments. Add to the mix of “life”, the divorce between myself and their father, my own struggles in single-parenting for many years and the re-arrangement of family loyalties and connections in the course of their own marriages, the balancing of me and their father and in-laws…well, sometimes heartache and frustration are an inevitable part of the  family mix until we learn to share needs and hurts diplomatically, truthfully and gently for the good of all, which surely does take practice! (Knowing when to remain silent and just let it go is a skill as well)

After one such time of challenge in relating in new ways, the dark moon/new moon in Cancer allowed me to look at where we were and re-evaluate and re-new what was important for us as a family and as mother and daughters.

Our family times together with me and the girls doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, living in three different states and they with full-time jobs and families. To bring us together at a time when life may have drifted us apart I called on the word “respect” to remember that in the time when they are now adult, responsible and meeting all kinds of demanding requirements of their own lives and relationships I must “respect” the changes of new family connections, time commitments and responsibilities that re-shape our own original connection.  Anyone who lives in a family knows that words are not always crafted well under duress and both  giving respct and claiming respect for oneself in interactions  is an important part of  “relationship-ing”.

In this mandala, the ocean for me represents the vast sea of emotion that is part and parcel of the connection between my daughters and myself. Compassion, tears, cleansing, moods and tides flow through our lives. Especially true when astrological Cancer is part of the emotional make-up or phase of the moon.

In this mandala, a tablesetting and delicious food…always a virtue of Cancer…has always been a part of our life… cooking and eating together when they were growing up was a priority of our family life and is always a highlight when we manage to get together all…”You (or I) are coming for a visit? What shall we plan for our meal!”. Communion around the dinner table is such a healing ritual….a ritual that is much compromised in this fast and over-scheduled culture.

In this mandala, books and knowledge…always part of our homes. Books, books for grownups, and for children!

And over our heads, the flower Echinacea as a protection and healing totem…Echinacea that stimulates the immune system to be strong, resisting toxins and illness that periodically weakens us or brings us down. Echinacea that stregthness our ties as Mothers and Daughters, with the children ..daughters and sons…the family connection….

This is one of my favorite mandalas…

**** Note: This series is being prepared for a book on the Dark Moon/New Moon, how to form a monthly gathering, the dark moon mandala art project  and journaling with the moon mandala.

Mamma GroupieFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

MoonCircle Three

Ah! The Dark Moon/New Moon in Libra. Libra: one-on-one commited relationships ie business partners? Professional and client? MARRIAGE? (also ­art, harmony, beauty, balance/imbalance, dependency/co-dependency, negotiation vs autonomy, gracefulness, diplomacy, and nice-nice for the sake of peace at all costs).

Journaling:

I have spent a good part of my adult life in partnerships and a bigger part of it as a single. In each of those two states I have been fully “in” it as it unfolded.  And I have learned important things in each……relationship with other and relationship with self.

The experience of being single and “in charge of myself and decision-making” without having to negotiate with another has afforded me the deep silence and extended times of chosen solitude necessary for the creative expressive part of my life’s calling. This freedom is an intense personal need that has only gotten stronger as I have gotten older.

The single life allows me the quiet and mental space in which to hear the inner promptings of inspiration and creativity. Just like the woman in the mandala alone in the greenhoouse planting beautiful flowers or the the woman taking time out to sit back and just be, without guilt or having to follow another’s schedule, I have  treasured the autonomy of being “single” and have somewhat chosen this in spirit if not in reality. I think. Because..

I also know that the warmth and sharing of devoted partnership or one-on-one intimacy is equally precious …when it is working at its best….in shared commitment and loyalty,  hugs, family time, conversations, brain-storming, task-sharing in the household, private games and shared jokes and humour, the history of trials and steadfastness…gifts, all.

Perhaps it is possible to have both, but I have yet to solve the challenge of that and though I am grateful to have experienced both, I am not sure exactly what it is the path that is truly the right one for me as I get older… now.

In this Dark Moon/New Moon in LIBRA mandala, my feelings gravitate towards the two images of the solo moments. Perhaps it is that as I have gotten older, have been partnered/married I am not now willing to give up large portions of my soul just for the sake of “peace” within relationship that threatens that. The partnership images are enticing…but it would definitely have to be the right person who would allow me to take periodic sanctuary into my own private personal soul-space.

Maybe it is a lifetime exercise in all relationships to work with the balancing of “self and other”.

Dark Moon Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Mandala Artist (3)

It is powerful to write in journal form and powerful to set our intentions for manifestation in writing also. It has been said that when things ae written down and read regularly that the words have a magnetism that calls our desires in more quickly than if those things merely float aimlessly about in our heads.

This is true but it is also true that in writing and speaking our “affirmations” and intentions there is often another voice that competes with those words of hope or desire…that voice says things like “yeah, right! Not going to happen until……”…or worse “who do you think you are? You’re too old, poor, inexperienced, silly, unrealistic,” etc.

One thing about IMAGES and pictures is that in selecting (or being selected by them) and glancing at them on a regular basis, we experience the positive feelings of pleasure and anticipation which is such a magnet for bringing in those new experiences in some manifested form. The images, colors and selected words and phrases can bypass the negative and self-defeating mind chatter, going deeper into the Unconsious. Also the quantuum wisdom “Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see!” brings into our awareness and experience those very things in some form in the outside wor;d of our lives. Just try the exercise “Today I am looking for the color orange!” or “today I am looking for acts of kindness in my travels”. Prepare to be VERY surprised and delighted!

Journaling with your dark moon/new moon manifestation mandala (collage) is another level of self-processing and personal storytelling that is exquisitely healing. This does involve a mix of images and words and helps us to focus on the storyline of our life and experiences that are unfolding for us on a daily or month-to-month basis. In this we are made aware of things we treasure, things that we need to change and release and where we are in the process.

The next several chapters will share with you a few of my own Dark Moon/New Moon Manifestation Mandalas and the life journey stories that go with them.

It is my intention that you, the readers, may find yourselves in some of these themes and be encouraged to experiment with the Dark Moon/New Mandalas yourselves for manifesting healing and experiences that are life-giving.

Dark Moon  Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Lunas

-Setting Up Your Own Dark Moon/New Moon Circle

1. Gather group of your own interested Luna sisters!

2. Supplies: lots of colored magazines with pictures, glue sticks, glitter glue, metalic pens, a silver fine tipped permanent marker, hole puncher and thin ribbon if desired, large black poster board (draw perfect dark moon circles with a large pot cover).

3. Choose soft meditative music.

4. Provide a prepared program handout with (optional) astrological information for the month’s moon, and 1-3 journaling questions. Go over astrological input, provide quiet time for writing down answers to journaling questions. Share answers and insight.

5. Hand out individual dark moons, spread the magazines and allow about 45 minutes to choose, cut and paste images on the dark moons. SILENCE while creating…soft meditative music in backround.

6. Come together…share your dark moons, celebrate each story and creation!

7. Closing. (HUGS!)

                                                Program Example to Get You Started!

                                             Dark Moon/New Moon in TAURUS

                                            The Greening Spirit Mystery School

TAURUS- a grounded steady Earth sign, Taurus is the sign of the sensual Earth Spirit. After the noise, outward thrusting movement, and fiery passions of the warrior/pioneer Aries, ruled by Mars (do you want to make war or make love..whatever, let’s get it on!), Taurus, ruled by Venus, wants to make love, beauty, leisure, art and music, money, luxury, harmony and peace. Good food, good wine, good social company, good gardens and surroundings, wealth and bounty, beautiful colors and sounds both man made and in Nature is pure aphrodisiac to this sign and time of the year. Taurus is steady, determined, persistent, stubborn and dependable, and though gifted with the strength of its totem, the Bull who can withstand stress and move mountains and boulders when necessary, this sign loves to pull back into silence and calm in order to hear the music of the Earth and enjoy leisure. Taurus New Moon is a wonderful, lovely and luscious time to take walks in nature and experience the magic of all that is manifested materially on this earth..including yourself!

Leyla

~OPTIONAL (Music and Video) The Lusty Month of May! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg4YrOlAkds

                                                                ~ JOURNALING and Sharing

Question #1: What do you most relate to in your experience of the above description. Of Taurus’sthemes? What do you most need to experiencee for yourself in this month of Earthly Delights and Bullish Stregnth and Endurance?

Question #2: MONEY! WEALTH? This is the month to think about Money for joy and enjoyment,and itsgift to live comfortable without fear or lack. What areYOUR emotions and reality around MONEY at this time?

Question # 3 : How do you connect to the Beauty and Gifts of Nature and the Earth at this time? Gardening? Walks in Nature? Wearing Garlands of flowers on your head? Making an altar?What is your favorite way of being with the Earth?

Question # 4: Love, Love, Love! Where in your life can you express LOVE after the challenging Aries energies of activity, argument, advocacy, challenge or standing up for yourself , others or something important ast month?

~Mandala Making in Silence to quiet meditation music

~Sharing/Celebration~Closing

Lunas

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

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When holding a Dark Moon/New Moon Mandala gathering, it is not necessary to incorporate a deep study of astrological signs although that adds a richer level of awareness. In our gatherings, we however did include that into our evening.

Every month the moon moves through the skies and through the cycle of constellations in the heavens. Therefore every month, the dark moon/new moon falls into a new constellation which correlates to its astrological sign. Each sign highlights particular issues and themes indigenous to that myth. Much like your birthday and identification as a Gemini or Capricorn, you recognize the various themes and experiences in your life that are particular to each sign on the date of the dark moon as well.

The Dark Moon/New Moon is like the spiritual psychological new birthday for each month and so when we meet, we study that particular sign and discuss the themes that we may be alert to during that passage that kicks off the predominant energy of the month. (The moon WILL continue to pass through other signs during the month, but we treat the actual date of the event as the month’s birthday theme).

The Dark Moon is the seemingly empty void for three nights when there is no light to discern our path through daytime’s bright light and logical clarity. The Dark Moon however is filled with possibililities and during the dark void nights, we can tap into Dreams, intution, and the desires of the heart, listening to the true wishes of the soul. But still, since it is the NEW moon, although unseen, we still have the wondrous power to CHOOSE from the posssibilities in the void of all possibilities! That is why, in taking quiet time to browse through images and let THEM call to us…CHOOSE us….we bypass the head and and listen to the heart.

If one knows your personal astrological natal/birth chart, checking exactly where in your chart the dark moon/new moon falls each month, the issues and themes highlighed by both the sign of the moon, and the house it falls into will fine-tune your possible experiences and choices.

For those who might wish to review the astrological themes of the zodiac, this chart will aid you in understanding the theme of each dark moon in the signs:

  1. Dark Moon in Aries- initiating a project, focusing on self, making love, or making “war”, impatience or anger, passion, high Fire energy. Ruled by Mars.
  2. Dark Moon in Taurus- sensuality, beauty, the arts, gardening, nature and the earth, ease, luxury, peace and grounding Earth energy. Ruled by Venus.
  3. Dark Moon in Gemini- unbridled curiosity, multi-tasking, books and words, learning and teaching flirtatious, youthful, nervous Air energy. Ruled by Mercury.
  4. Dark Moon in Cancer- home and home crafts, food, gardening,, mothering, nurturing, enterprising, deeply intuitive/psychic, Water energy. Ruled by the Moon.
  5. Dark Moon in Leo- benevolent leaderrship, creative, self-involved , personal ego expression, theater/ drama/melodrama. Powerful Fire energy. Ruled by the Sun.

  6. Dark Moon in Virgo- the dedicated servant/worker, health, order/disorder, on the contiuum of savior-victim relationships, cleanliness and purification. Earth energy. Ruled by Mercury

  7. Dark Moon in Libra- partnership, co-dependency/interdependency, diplomacy, marriage, the arts, harmony and beauty in speech and interactions. Strong Air energy. Ruled by Venus

  8. Dark Moon in Scorpio- “power over” vs “power within”, psychological transformation, self-renewal, forgiveness vs “getting even, healing and recuperation, the Sorcerer/Healer, psychic. Powerful Water Energy. Ruled by Pluto and Mars

  9. Dark Moon in Sagittarius- The “Seeker”, the Traveler/Gypsy, higher education, codified religion and law, dance-away lover, truth-teller, humor. “More” is always better than “less”. Powerful Fire energy. Ruled by Jupiter.

  10. Dark Moon in Capricorn-The Professional, the workaholic, the Sage/Wise elder, status, the Father/CEO, the Loner. Powerful Earth energy. Ruled by Saturn.

  11. Dark Moon in Aquarius- The Visionary, the Eccentric, the Leader of the Pack, the detached lover, the Genius, the Revolutionary, the lover of freedom and fairness. Strong Air energy. Ruled by Uranus.

  12. Dark Moon in Pisces- Mysticism, Poetry, isolation/retreat/behind the scenes,psychic, spirituality, savior-victim continuum, compassion, healer. Water energy. Ruled by Neptune.

    *** a note about this Dark Moon/Series. These are chapters for a forthcoming book-in-progress on Dark Moon Gatherings, and personal journaling stories accompanying the mandalas.

    Mandala making 3From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

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