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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…!

Glass Garden

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

Plantspeak

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.

Melissa Tree

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”.

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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

 

 

 

 

End of season: Empty Grow Boxes awaiting our move

End of season/Glorious Autumn: empty Grow Boxes awaiting our move

 

This past December I moved from my home of 18 years, voluntary “releasing” my sanctuary, house, wooded land and garden to greater power structures after a number of years struggling to keep it going in a time of financial crisis for many. There were a number of upkeep challenges as in most home ownership situations that could not be addressed but beloved beauty as well.

One of my biggest joys and loss in leaving were my gardens. Always over the years, the magic of herb garden, the awe and delight of flowers and the fascination, fun and nourishment of vegetables have provided much delight from seed to stem, leaves, flowers and “fruit”. Watching things grow from the invisible start, through all stages until gathering and harvest has been a reason for each day’s happiness and meaning. Photographing it all with a sense of humor (baby beanlings and escaping cucumbers) and writing about the mesmerizing life in the garden has been an irresistible form of excitement and inspiration about the stages unfolding in my own life.

For the last several years, knowing that at some point I would be leaving, I switched from in-ground gardening to the ease and inherent mobility of container gardening, specifically Grow Boxes. Last summer I finally knew that it would be the last summer at my home and decided that I would with the assistance of my Grow Box Garden, make it a celebration, although tinged with a bittersweet sense of having to let go of what was treasured, dear and familiar.

MY grow Box garden: Summer 2015

My Grow Box garden: Summer 2015

 

There are those who love the adventure of movement and change..buying and selling homes and relocating..over and over again. There are those who just cannot stay in one place too long.  And there are those who “ground” and put down roots that are so deep in spirit that to rip them up and relocate is like a mini-death. The way of a TAURUS, it is. And a Taurus I am. Like a Taurus (like the Taurean Ferdinand the Bull)..plant those flowers, lie amongst them forever, taking in the fragrance of the land, garden, field, woods that is familiar, that is “home”. Ah, Peace and Beauty….

 

My Garden, My Soul

My Garden, My Soul

 

Life is, however, a series of changes. I now live in the woods for a while…so many things in storage, a momentary simpler life. My Grow Boxes came with me to be my garden wherever I may be that has a patch of land under bright sunlight. For now, they have been over-wintering in the woods, the soil in them cleansed by water and snow awaiting this year’s growing season. Seed catalogues are arriving and in a couple of months, garden centers will re-open offering varieties of wonderful herbs, vegetable and flower babies full of promise.

My Grow Boxes over-wintering in the woods

My Grow Boxes over-wintering in the woods. A-waiting.

 

My prayer is to be able to fill those boxes once again so I may again experience the delight of the mysteries and magic of growing things.

Wherever I am, they are….. and wherever I may go, they too go with me….

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Pearls Gardening

Please visit my other blogs!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (FOOD!)

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com (Memoirs of a Piano Teacher)

 


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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.

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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?

Henya's Parents0001 (2)

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

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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!

lemon balm tea (2)

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.

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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, STOYTELLING 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, 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 toward’s 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 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….

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

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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 it’s 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

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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.

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.

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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

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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

 

 

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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 professonalism.

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 teachng 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 mentoried 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 humour 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

 

 

530448_435895729816795_333529267_n (1)

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

 

Mandala Making 5

Do we fully realize that we have the power to create better experiences in our lives no matter what our situation? Knowing WHAT we want is often more confusing than knowing what we DON’T want which  is, btw, usually the way we habitually think and talk and complain!). Until we realize that what we expect and look for is what we experience, we cannot enter the magic of co-creation and shift to visualizing what we deeply desire to bring into in our lives.

Many people have a difficult time with the visualization practice as well…scattered thoughts, inner voices shutting the process down with phrases like “yeah, right. It’s never going to happen” or “this is so silly!”. For this reason, an art process, like making a manifestation collage (which is what the dark moon mandala actually is ) helps us to focus on images and words that captivate us, sometimes without even knowing exactly why and centers our attention on possibilities. The cut and paste collage process ushers us into a timeless, dream-like experience of imagination and “choosing” and in so doing, conjures up, retrieves and reawakens powerful stories within us.

Mandala Making 2

Sure, we are “just cut-and-pasting” but first we are “choosing” and that choosing is a creative visualization experience and a powerful process of identifying and co-creating new possibilities in our lives. Yes, indeed, this is a Law of Attraction exercise.

The intentional setting of the time apart to do this, the gathering of the circle, the astrological themes, journaling and sharing of insight,  the altar, the art supplies, the interplay of silence and quiet music and the intention to “dream” in this way together, the honoring of what can happen during the three night phase of the moon which is dark and full of mysterious as yet unknown possibilities, is true sacred ritual as well as sacred play.

The intentional time out to engage with the power of the dark moon time, away from mainstream secular activity is a time to search and find some of the desires of our own hearts and  to hand-craft a little personal masterpiece of dream-art that we can look at throughout the month..knowing that it is about a vital change of consciousness…a visual meditation,,, that can help us to know  what we are “looking” for. And what we look for and expect, is the magic that brings new experiences that are meaningful for us personally without the programming of the dominant outside culture telling us what it thinks we should want for fulfillment.

We can craft the quality of our life’s experiences by what we LOOK for. It starts in the silence, stillness and the great dark void of possibilities to hear personal truth and values. In our dark moon/new moon evenings, with paper, scissors, glue and the eyes of the heart, we enter a  powerful  creative realm of magic, energy and Possibilities.

Mandala making 3

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Dark Moon Picasa two

 

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

 

Mandala Making 4

The making of our Dark Moon Mandalas is an art project. In essence we are creating a collage of images on a blank dark moon posterboard canvas. We are not looking to make professional art. We are engaging in dreamwork, journal work and manifestation work all at once without writing in a notebook. Our process is a cut and paste project done in silence to soft  meditative music. In essence, this is serious playtime AND a spiritual retreat.

Artwork requires imagination and supplies. Our supplies are collected old magazines wherever we can find them…from friends, from our hairdresser’s studio when she’s putting out the new ones, or some that we have received as gifts but don’t have time to read. Magazines of ALL kinds…OPRAH! Martha Stuart Living, Heirloom Gardening, Spirituality and Health, Self, FAERIE Magazine (although THAT subscription is almost to beautiful to cut up), etc. I keep several large double-handled paper grocery bags to store them in for use in our evenings. A basket holds these items for making our mandalas: scissors, glue sticks, glitter glues in different colors, but especially silver and fold, loose glitter, metallic colored pens, a silver fine-tipped permanent marker, a hole puncher, and thin ribbon.

************************************************************************************************************

The Process/Themes- Each month, the Dark Moon/New Moon is in a different astrological sign, each sign addressing a unique part of life and special opportunities to open up to, or particular situations to release. Each of our sessions start with an astrological review of the month’s themes with journaling questions to answer based on those themes, deepening our awareness of what is happening in our lives. Questions are journaled in silence, and our answers and input then shared with each other. This sharing in truth is a form of group peer mentoring and spiritual guidance.

Mooncircle

 

AND THEN….THE ARTWORK!  Dark Moon Mandala-Making!

… Bags emptied on the floor,  magazines scattered everywhere, scissors in all hands, SILENCE,  quiet music, and then browse, ponder, select, and cut images and words that appeal to you or catch your attention. Don’t analyze…go with your spontaneous attractions!

lunas circle

Timing…We allow about 1/2 hour for choosing images. When it is time to stop collecting images, the timekeeper will call out “Start paste-ing!”…and for another 30 minutes the images and words are arranged on the dark moon, glued, glittered and dated with the silver permanent marker.

 

lunas 10

lunas 13

Mandala Making 7

 

 

 

 

 

Mandala Making 1

 

 

 

 

 

We find this process to be one of intense and deepening sacred play…relaxing and fun…but a true time out from the rushing pace of daylight.

The sharing that follows our completion of our personal dark moons fills the room with deep wisdom, laughter and delight and a lovely soul-level connection amongst us all.

These women are the LUNAS for me and each other in our lives!

Mooncircle FiveFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Mandala Making 6

Creating an altar is important for any gathering during which we are intending to change focus from the mundane to the sacred.  A visual meditation… in both its creation and its viewing… centers us, releases the wildness of the imagination, and serves as a “doorway” to the soul. An altar brings us home into sacred space both inner and outer with a theme that hopefully alters our perception and steers us directly into magical, mystical, metaphorical and ritual territory which is a parallel universe holding answers and guidance that we sometimes cannot access in our day to day lives.

We have created many altars on this piano bench (!) for many gatherings, seasons and celebrations. For me, creating this particular Dark Moon/New Moon altar honors the blackness of the night without light (the poster board dark moons) yet never forgetting the interplay with the full moon. The darkness is the realm of sleep and DREAMS of what can be,  the full moon the celebratory manifesting of intention set in the hidden three nights of a sky without light.  This interplay of the dark and light phases of the moon, each with its own gifts, is repeatedly symbolized by the two flat round beach stones…a white full moon, and a black dark moon, a theme continued throughout the evening of our gathering.  The black candles in the white holders remind us  that there is a tight intimacy between the seen and the unseen of the moon’s moods and magic and that there is a never-ending cycle of endings and beginnings.. The blue- green globe in the center front symbolizes the planet earth, our home, which we can never forget is our grounding as we gaze up into the heavens at night. The picture with a sliver of moon over the wildly splashing seas and the two blue goblets on either side honored the oceanic waters and tides that rise and fall during the phases of the moon each month and each day.

Many of us instinctively create altars in our houses on any and all available flat surfaces ie side tables, dresser tops, tables, empty corners or alcoves. I am convinced that these altars often are a spilling out of the powerful creative and artistic inspirations that flows through the whole Universe…through YOU!  Through ME! Through all of us who wish to open up and let it flow! Whether displaying photographs, stones, feathers, plants, letters and notes, candles, and any array of personal treasures, an altar is a container of holy presence. An altar is an opportunity to honor what has become sacred and precious to us and invites us to use our imaginations to enhance and arrange the setting with color, texture, and a bit of “theater”.

An altar can be a container and it can also be a “teaching center” offering messages and wisdom to those who sit with is and ponder its meaning for them in a unique and personal way.

Should you decide to bring a Dark Moon/New Moon Circle together … let your imagination and a sense of prayer and PLAY set the stage for deeper insight and sharing. Altar/Altering our perception is one of the first steps to transformation for a richer experience of our lives both in the night and the day.

 

Dark Moon  Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

Dark Moon Picasa two

 

The Dark Moon is a great mystery of things beginning.  It is the metaphorical time when the seed is planted deep in the ground nesting where there is no light, its hidden spark of light igniting the life force that we cannot see. Altho it seems like it might be a contradiction, the Dark Moon is actually all about “the new”, full of potential, dreams and determined manifestation. So the dark moon/new moon is really a magical time during which we can step back from the world, and begin the work of conscious planning/planting of intentions, attitudes and experiences which we desire to focus on and bring into our lives.

In our Dark Moon/New Moon together times with the circle of “Lunas” , I am always excited to see our filled-in mandalas full of images, color and glitter at the end of our evening…but I am also thrilled to hand out the dark moon that is the bare, empty and black canvas ..the ultimate, empty Void holding but hiding infinite possibilities that I CAN CHOOSE to dream upon.

Mooncircle two

There is another element at play as well in the Dark Moon/New Moon experience. As well as being the “Creatrix” of my own visions, it is wise to also pause and allow in meditation or prayer the input/influx/inspiration of the greater powers of the Universe who may be able to see what I cannot, and who has a timing that is perfection for where I think I am going. …an experience of CO-Creation.

In my own life at this time, I am in a period of great change..a rather intense time of letting go of the familiar…letting go of my home of over 20 years under less-than apparent ideal circumstances, my possessions in storage, and working on “plan B” in a culture that is not necessary kind to older, single women who have to make challenging decisions considering personal economics that may be somewhat limited. It is a Dark Moon time..extended throughout many days and months and it is important to remember that Dark Moon simultaneously is “NEW Moon” and altho I know the secrets of magic and manifestation and of imagination, intent and focus…there IS another power I must not forget to address.

Although my way through the world is somewhat a-cultural and “magical”, I also have ties to a centering prayer circle connected to an earlier path of spiritual connection. This upcoming week, I am facilitating a topic in our prayer group from a practice of the Benedictine Monk community: Lectio Divina, in which one focuses on and lives with a sacred passage or special poem for a week, letting it unfold deeply in our lives and opening a connection to dialogue between oneself and God, or the Higher Power as you name it.

Knowing I was going to write this post on the Dark Moon/New Moon I had been thinking of my magical, astrological wisdom circles and our practices, but also at the same time  preparing for the Centering Prayer Circle this week in a more traditional spiritual setting (Catholic). I had to laugh with delight when the book I was using as a resource for that experience suggested the following passage from religious scripture for the practice of Lectio Divina:

“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 that you cannot say ‘Oh yes, I knew this’. ~Isaiah 48: 6-7

I really did laugh out loud when this was presented to me while I was preparing for this essay and for the centering prayer circle at the same time. It so synchronistically dovetailed with the theme of a “Dark Moon/New Moon.”

I AM in a rather lengthy Dark Moon/New Moon time at present and I am doing the  manifestation work of the magical will, focus and dream, choosing my images of home, creative living, beauty and comfort..yes, COMFORT.  But I have also just been reminded that there is divine, or cosmic help that sees more than I can when the future looks cloudy, misted over or dark. And I …and you…can call on that as well for support and in trust that in foggy unsure times, there are seeds that have been planted that we cannot see immediately..that the dark moon actually is the NEW moon and what is hidden will in time be revealed if we stay present to the Mysteries.

***Getting Started FOR YOUR OWN DARK MOON MANDALA: purchase a large sheet of black poster board ( cost: .50-.89 ). Using a large pot cover, lay it on the posterboard and trace around it to make a perfect circle. Cut..and you have your own round “Dark Moon”  upon which to cut and paste chosen images. Have a basket of gluesticks, glitter and a silver permanent marker with a thin point for writing. Collect a bag of magazines for finding images and words.

 

Moi 2From Christine, The Greening Spirit

also: http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

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Dark Moon/New Moon Mandala Magic-Part 1

Mooncircle Five

The new moon of each month is a powerful time of new beginnings. And what I mean by new moon is the dark moon… or no visible moon.. for three consecutive nights. Those nights, like planting seeds in dark soil, or the time when a caterpillar dissolves in the unlit chrysalis, are the magic unseen dark times of powerful  dreaming, planning and silent transformation.

For a number of years, on or around the dark moon of each month, a small group of lovely “Lunas,” met at my home to do dark moon soulwork together. Each month, the new moon/dark moon is in a new astrological sign focused  on particular areas of life that we might attend and give energy to. We studied the themes of each astrological sign of the month, answered journaling questions relevant to the theme and correlations in our lives and shared our thoughts and stories about them, gleaning deep wisdom and inspiration from each other.

Mooncircle

Each woman then received a large black posterboard circle..a personal dark moon. Bags of magazines spread out on the floor, we browsed, cut and pasted images and dreams onto our dark moon mandala. It was a process done in total silence, with soft meditation music in the backround matching the imagery of the astrological sign.

Mooncircle two

At the end of our quiet creating time, always with pleas of “wait! I’m not done yet!”..we spread our mandalas on the floor for all to see, sharing our process and personal revelations, inviting other insights on each piece. All mandalas put together with clipped pictures, glitter, stickers and glue ended up a masterpiece…and a continued deeper bonding between the “Lunas” as we are called, each dark moon mandala a dream image…SoulWork…

Lunas

This essay is one of several that will follow on creating your own Dark Moon Circle and sharing of several mandalas and the stories that go with them on my own life’s journey. Stay tuned!

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From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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                                                           BUDDY

 

I am a “dog” person although I have not had a pet for many years. Now, living with friends for a interim time between my old life and my future life, I am sharing space with a very curious species as well… three kitties. Certainly an amusing learning curve.

I am aware that some people have a beloved “familiar” and some people have a whole COLLECTION of them, intrigued by the variety of colors, patterns and personalities that cats display. Having now had the experience of house-sitting the three of the ones who live here when my friends traveled for a month, I have come to appreciate how fascinating these little beings are.

I am the earliest to rise in the morning, leaving my bedroom for a face-splash in the bathroom and upon opening my door, there are three faces waiting outside hoping for breakfast. Little meows from the oldest, Bubba, gives the request (orders) for food. He in advanced years lives to eat even with no more teeth. Given the persistence of a still ravenous appetite, he will live to be 100 I think.

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People who have “familiars” already know this, but I am intrigued by the observation that cats are such “ritualistic” beings.

April snow (2)

Staring out the window each morning, greeting the day with tales twitching for Life, when the sliding glass is opened, each one skitters outside, stands still for a moment and then sets out, each, in the same direction as before…Sky to the left, Buddy to the right, and Bubba, old fellow, carefully straight ahead on a nice day, or seated close and tight to the door if the weather seems unsettled.

Boy, do they LOVE the woodstove, and immediately gather from all parts of the house as soon as they hear the stove door opening in preparations for the fire.

IMG_1686Sometimes Buddy and I have to fight for the chair in front of the stove as it is his favorite place to sleep (and mine to sit)  Sky sometimes likes to sleep on the warm tile behind the stove, Bubba, old Philosopher, often stares into the flames from a safe-enough distance, though his eyes are dimming ( but he can sure find he leftovers in the other kitties’ spread-out food dishes if they leave before finishing).

 

Bubba Fire (2)

 

BUBBA

 

 

 

Buddy is gorgeous. Buddy is a Beauty. Buddy is sometimes a Brat. When weather or possible woodland predators have kept him inside for a day, his mood slips and he is ready for a scuffle with Sky, swatting crankily after that stand-off display face to face with twitching “you’re going to GET IT” tail. Buddy KNOWS the rooms he is not allowed to enter, but let there be the skinniest crack in the door as you exit quickly he is somehow there to see if he can slip in in a flash. He’s usually blocked and practically runs backwards and away. He KNOWS…but cannot resist tempting fate.

Then there is SKY, a lithe gray tabby with a soft pink nose and huge eyes. When I first came here, I was told that SKY was very timid and would hide whenever anyone new came into the house. Which he did, skittering down into the basement or upstairs letting the guests think that the house was ruled only by two cats.

                                                                               SKY

Kitty 2

However, in not too short a time, SKY warily began to hang around me, and the deal of bonding was sealed around day 4 of my feeding the cats breakfast when my friends were away for a month. Eventually we kind of fell in love, and now he routinely hops on the couch when we watch tv in the evening, does a whiskery “nose to nose with me, and even licks my fingers sometimes with a sharp-toothed nibble. My friends laugh and tell me this is most unusual for SKY  and I think it may be because once when seeing him sitting straight upon the arm of the couch backlit by the light outside the window, I noted that his silhouette reminded me of an ancient noble Egyptian temple cat. And his apple-green eyes, a magical charm. I think he heard that.

Sky has worked his way into my heart..my favorite, often following me and staring up from the floor into my eyes for no particular reason except he is connecting, and we are having a conversation without words. I think he has become…my “Familiar”.

 

kitty

Moi 2

 

From Christine, The Greening Spirit, Novice Cat Lady

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

http://lunchandlearnseminiars.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

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**** BTW: Cougars like hanging around the woodstove Fire too   (wink)

Dec Dreams 3 (2)

Dec dreams (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St Johnswort (2)

“When I first moved into the house I live in, there was no Mullein in the yard so I went outside and called it in, singing my need. Within a year, it started to appear.”  ~ Ellen Evert Hopman (Secret Medicines from your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality and Magic)

Herbal book

I was delighted to read this little vignette as I perused her wise and charming book, newly arrived to my herbal library. It reminded me of my own experience of “calling in” a desired plant ally and the on-going surprise and merriment of connecting with the magic communications and interaction between us and the Green Kindred Spirits of field, forest and garden.

I was teaching an herbal/whole-foods/women’s spirituality internship and living in a little house with a wonderful herb garden bordered by small and pretty wooded lots. The herbs in my garden were there by design for culinary and medicinal purposes, raised from seed or purchased at local nurseries: Calendula, mints, angelica, lemon balm, rose, lovage, thymes, basils, elecampane, borage and the like.

There is an “agreement” between  us and those kinds of plants who allow themselves to be semi-tamed and happy living within the borders of a planned garden, but one summer I needed a wild-er companion to make a healing oil, and so I set out to find a stand of St. Johnswort which is not so tame as to be usually found raised in packs of six or eight at the garden center.

The seaside neighborhood  where I lived had many little cottages, groves, wooded or field-like lots with no houses and I walked up and down the bumpy roads hoping to find St. Johnswort getting ready to bloom. I searched carefully and looked intently here and there and then back again, hoping to find this now-desired ally,  but to no avail. There was no St. Johnswort as far as I could tell. Sweet fern waved hello in the breeze, yarrow swayed in the wind, yellow dock’s long curly leaves signaled its presence and I was happy to find them where I had not known they were…but they were not what I was looking for that day….

Coming back home I sat on my front steps and pondered an eventual walk at one of the nearby nature preserves although I was used to finding what I needed in my own garden or in the neighborhood.

I sat and pondered “St. Johhnswort” and in a mischievous and playful mental moment, I called out to it in my mind, asking it to PLEASE show up so I could make the precious blood-red oil for bruises and boo-boos!

I kid you not…and I am not telling “fairy tales” (or maybe I am) but about ten days later I was out in the yard in my garden when something little and yellow caught my eye at the edge of the woods at the property line. I KNEW! I KNEW as soon as I walked over to it…St. Johnswort!!…one little stand of about 3 plants in blooming where there had been none before. And I knew, in my “inner child’s magical heart” that “The faeries” (or the St. Johnswort’s plant deva) had  brought it and installed it there, just for me because I longed for it, sought it dearly and asked!

Of course, I laughed out loud and said thank you, thank you! But just to be sure, I once again roamed the neighborhood and the vacant field and wooded lots through which I had searched previously to see if St Johnswort had been in the area all along and I had missed it.

But NO!…there was no other St. Johnsworts anywhere to be found anywhere else around. Only …and only…in my own garden, over there at the edge of the wooded border.

This is a true story.

*photo credit, St. Johnswort:  Barbara and Peter Theiss (The Family Herbal)

From Christine,  the Greening Spirit

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picture credit: unknown

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Heather and Snow Two (2) PICASA

Yesterday, March 20, was the Vernal (Spring) Equinox in North America. Pictures of tulips, lambs, bunnies and bouquets of flowers were cheerfully posted all over social media, bringing color, a sense of beginnings, warmth and new visions after the cold and silence of winter.

Meanwhile on the eastern coast, we awaited a snow event promising to  once again cover the slowly emergent green from the past week of warmer rains.

The sun is now bright after the snowfall, melting this morning’s  blanket of white, but we have not yet made the transition really from Winter into Spring. This is an in-between time… snow and heather trying to co-exist if only momentarily.

Transitions times are a real thing…neither this, nor that…but both and neither. Nature is a startling metaphor for situations in our lives that are neither one thing or another. I know this to be true because that is exactly what I am experiencing at this time: an in-between time from what my life was, and what will be.

I have let go of my life and home and beloved gardens and routines of the past 18 years of rhythm and familiarity, partly by choice and partly by fate. … much if not all of my worldly possessions in storage while I am granted a blessed “time-out” living with friends in order to heal in spirit and recalibrate where to go from here. I am leaving a winter experience of life with residues of frozen challenges while emerging into color, creativity and new experiences that are part of an eldering, but also newly- blossoming me.

I know I am not alone in these times of transition…the in-between times when we are compelled to make changes that incorporate both plusses and minuses. Letting go of parts of what we love, stages of grief, recognition of blessings in the in-between times that aid us and help us move along, hints and glimmers of what can be that we only now can envision as new possibilities.

Spring IS coming, and one thing about Spring that is different from winter-into-spring is the uncompromising energy of Spring RUSHING without confusion into SUMMER…the time of bursting through the cold hard ground into stems, blossoms, fruits and vegetable, color and LIFE.

But today…heather and snow..is the In-Between Time of patience and promise.. a time that is neither this nor that. But both.

I think I can work with that……

 

Moi 2From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Eyes See You

                                                          Eyes See You

Yesterday while finishing up the transaction in line at the grocery store, the young clerk handed me my change and the receipt. As I took it, I did something shocking. Smiling,  I caught his eye  as I said “thank you” and for the briefest second or two a flash of human connection happened which startled him before he shyly smiled back his eyes locked with mine.  Not just a clerk and a customer and a quick  “have a good one”  but an actual rich moment of recognition, appreciation, acknowledgement and respect between two strangers.

How rare that is these days, as we mindlessly look away from people,  and out or down into distractions…hand-held phones, I-pads,  lists, or the never-ending agendas and self-talk in our mind  blinding us from really seeing and “being-HERE- now” in the present situation. How equally rare it is to  “wake up” amd turn away from those many other things crowding awareness of who is right in front of us…to consciously break away  from distraction for a moment to actually turn and LOOK at another directly eye-to eye to SEE and be SEEN.

It’s a tricky thing,  this eye-contact because we are stepping into the area of intimacy, vulnerability and the momentary revelation of our deeply personal tender human-ness. As it is said “The eyes are the doorway to the Soul”.   To not look at all into the eyes of others is to dismiss them and be only partially present. But to turn and look directly for even a second too long breaches necessary personal boundaries and is rude and even worse, invasive.

But when we can, to turn and let our eyes truly see whom we are talking to, or to risk the exposure in letting ourselves be seen fully for even the briefest moment can be the healing balm of connection in the often fast, soul-less pace of modern life. A “sparkle” in the ordinariness of the day.

For the briefest moment, the precious gift or blessing of “Eyes See You”  between people…and SMILES… can, I believe, change the world within oneself, within the other and  in the World.

**** An Art installation: “The Artist is Present”…sitting silently gazing eye-to-eye with strangers…until… “a (familiar)stranger” from the past emerges…. exquisitely beautiful and moving…another Eyes See You……

 

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_oFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

Eyes See You

The Magic Folk are out there…truly they are all around us when we are on our nature walks. Don’t think for a moment that we are alone even  if we walk solo! There are eyes everywhere and the “eyes see you!”

I often need to tune out from the dominant culture, media, tv, cars, phone and all that is of outer noise so that I can hear what is real from the inside-out ie dreams and gentle inner visions that are both sanctuary and guide. I tune out by fleeing into nature…the seaside, forests or fields…or beautiful retreat centers that have managed to merge the sacred and the wilds as one.

Seawall

Sitting  alone in deep silence one day on a stone bench facing the sea, I happened to glance down and to the side where the rocks and boulders bordered the path, forming a boundary to the moving waters beyond. I had been feeling that there was someone else nearby. I was startled to see these eyes looking back at me from the middle of this pile of stone.

Have you thought that rocks and boulders were inert and not “alive”?

Think again and know that always we are known and watched in the realm of nature, dear Human,  and even the rocks can communicate “Eyes see you!”

I go there often to this specially sanctuary and sit on that stone bench facing the sea when I need refreshment or inspiration. I do this alone. But I never forget to say hello to the one I see who is seeing me.

 

Dad me 2From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Out of the Mists

Out of the Mists

I have never been a fan of bright blazing sun. A clear day of bright blue skies, white clouds and light that is happy but not harsh is of course lovely. But for me, that is energizing and social but not always the best situation for the kind of photography that I love to do.

I seek to express in pictures what is alive within me ie the magic and sense of mystery that is the wellspring and inspiration for my own creative vision and artistic or literary expression. I try to capture the personal meaning for my own lived-life in pictures.

The quality of light has a lot to do with this. Dappled light, slanted light, or fog and mists are agents of magic and mystery for me. Subjects photographed are what they are…but they are also something else as well as we go past their physical form and presentation into metaphor or symbolism for deeper stories or states of being.

I am not afraid of mists and fog. Sound is muffled and softened, but it echoes as well in a strange haunting way that cannot be ignored.  Things that are invisible slowly emerge from the mists as if from Avalon, pass by in front of us  muted form, and then once again disappear and we question…”what was the meaning of this dream?” or “what is the purpose of my life? If only it were a little more clear!”.

But dreams are not always crystal clear as if in bright light and we move through our days at times uncertain wondering if we are on the right path…our SOUL path… our unique and valid path,  for in the mists there is a sense of mystery that allows for curiosity, experimentation  in the hints, while needing a  sense of courage and adventure mixed together to decipher the path and purpose.  We hope to sail in the right direction on our given time-line but for this we need both a compass and our intuition…..

The beloved Celtic priest/poet John O’Donohue  eloquently said of our time here on earth:

“Our life is a band of brightness between two Invisibilities“.

 

Breachwat Boat

 

We come from the mists, we will go back to the mists, but in the middle…TODAY… we have the opportunity to recognize ourselves on the sea of time… and chart our course as best as we can.. the little ship of our lives is our own band of brightness even in the fog, yes TODAY….

**People who live where I do and my friends here will recognize the Galilee Breachway in NewEngland. We love..all of us…to come here and watch the boats..especially the brave fishing vessels come in and out of safe harbor.

*** The  photographs are from my line of  original phot0 art notecards

*** Please feel free to leave a *like* or comment, or repost/share. (we writers need a little help and encouragement!)

portal 5From Christine, the Greening Spirit

please check my other blogs if you enjoyed this:

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** If you like music, play piano or teach piano check out the stories/memoirs on my

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com. It’s fun!

 Crocus minded 2 (2)

  We live in a time that requires speaking out. Speaking out against political rhetoric of hate and the encouragement of violence against others in political speeches pandering to the lowest common denominator of thought and behaviour. Speaking out against injustice, destruction of the environment, racism and xenophobia and lies and spins that fracture truth and throw up smokescreens that cover and excuse them.
  Speaking out takes courage and finding the words that address wrongs and dark-doings often is like breaking through the rocky soil of fear of repercussions or the insecurity of possibly not finding the right words to express justified outrage or grief at physical, emotional or psychological paths of destruction.
  The poem “Crocus-Minded” was read at one of our recent Unitarian Sunday services. Following the spectacles of our present political campaign rallies and “debates” in the USA, many of us are alarmed, dismayed, embarrassed, and full of grief for what seems to be taking hold.
  For me, the arts, poetry, dreams and myth have often inspired me to deal with what is going awry personally or publicly and helped me to find the words to speak out for what is right good and of virtue.
  In so doing, I find that at this time, I am Crocus-Minded. I’d rather it be easier and more pretty like roses full of delicate or heady scent. (But then, still in summer, roses DO have pfeisty thorns….)
  For now…whenever I speak out against the violence, ignorance, hatred in a divided atmosphere….I am Crocus.
CROCUS-MINDED
It takes courage to be crocus-minded._
…I’d rather wait until June,
like wild roses,
when the hazards of winter are
safely behind and I’m expected.
and everything’s ready for roses.
But crocuses?
Highly irregular.
Knifing up through hard-frozen ground
and snow,
Sticking their necks out
because they believe in spring
and have something personal and
emphatic to say about it.
…I am not by nature crocus-minded
even when I have studied the
situation and know there
are wrongs that need righting
affirmations that need stating,
and know that my speaking out may
offend,
for it rocks the boat – –
Well, I’d rather wait until June.
Maybe later things will work
themselves out,
and we won’t have to make an issue
of it.
Forgive me.
Wrongs won’t work themselves out.
 Injustices and inequities and hurt
 don’t just dissolve.
Somebody has to stick their neck out;
somebody who
cares enough to think through
hard ground
because they believe
and they have something personal
and emphatic to say about it.
Me? – – Crocus-minded?
 
Could it be that there are
 things that need to be said
 and I need to say them?
 
I pray for courage.
(This prayer was written by The Rev. Dr. Gordon B. McKeeman, UU Minister and adapted by Reverend Jan Vickery Knost for use at the UUCSC Sunday service.) _
Crocus minded 1
From Christine, The Greening Spirit

							

Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship,but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

 

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

Follow the Leader:    My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woods walk..a  family tradition!

Isn’t it wonderful that many libraries have a shelf in the entrance hall with books for free or a small donation (.50 to $1.00) for the library fund? Treasures are often found there, a brilliant way to recycle books and wisdom.

Recently, dropping “overdues” at the library, I found in the hallway a gem of a book entitled “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv…an absolutely wonderful inspirational guide to unplugging  from technology and taking our children (and ourselves) outside to reconnect with nature, especially “the woods”. Although it is not a new book, it was the recipient of the 2008 Audobon medal and is probably even more relevant and urgent today than when it was published.

Last child (2)

This book did not suddenly “wake me up” to a new idea for a thing to do with children and specifically, MY grandchildren. I had just returned from a Christmas Day visit to my daughter and her family in a nearby state. Following our family tradition to take a nature walk during the day of a visit, we  had driven to Sedgewick Gardens/Longhill  in Beverly Massachusetts and hiked through the winter woods blanketed with dried crackly leaves, fallen twigs and branches and climbing over old logs lying prone on the ground. We have always taken these walks in nature whenever my daughters and their children come for visits or I go to visit them…sometimes to the woods, sometimes to the ocean, and often to hang out at farms, parks or garden centers. And we always had taken these walks as a family when my daughters were growing up.

On this particular chilly afternoon, the boys were full of little boy energy…jumping, running, losing a sneaker in the leaves… and even accidentally stepping in some hidden doggie poo, a true and pungent experience of nature! I had given the boys a clear quart-sized baggie and some tweezers so we could collect nature treasures to bring home. (The magnifying lens I had ordered for close-up inspections unfortunately had not arrived in time.) But we did collect special odd stones, dried leaves with but a hint of orange, strange twigs, pieces of dried tree moss…and even a bug. The woods were filled with strangely shaped trees “with no clothes on” during the cold season and the colors around us were mostly brown, black and gray. Going out on that Christmas day with no snow was a very different experience than when we walk on Easter or in May. A walk full of crackling, snapping dried sounds, and pungent scents of decay and earthiness.

I recall now a quote from the  book The Last Child in the Woods:

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are”  ~ a fourth grader in San Diego

I admit that my own grandsons living in this culture know where all the electrical outlets in their house are as well and there is a constant challenge to balance monitored technology time and offline projects time. One cannot escape it and it is a challenge in just about ALL households these days.

But I am so happy and proud of my daughters and the attention they give to nature time …. in our family picture albums are so many photos of a  Mommy in the lead…follow the leader!…as we tramp through woods and paths and along the beaches and tidepools and corn mazes in the various seasons of the year.

This Christmas, my gift to all my grandchildren was the game Wildcraft Craft! An Herbal Adventure Game. They know that Noni and their Mumma’s have magical and healing herbs in the garden and cupboard… what a lovely idea to play a game to recognize these helpful plants on their own!

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From walks in nature, to educating the young ones in the healing power of both wild and garden HERBS, this Noni and my daughters hope to keep ourselves and the children close to Nature…. physically, mentally and spiritually.

With love from Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

Christmas 2015 and a walk in the woods

Christmas 2015 and a walk in the woods with the boys!

 

 

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I have been “away” from the Greening Spirit site for a while since the challenging life change of moving from my little home of 18 years. I am blessed at this time to be sharing a home with dear friends, as housemates for a while in a setting and loving sanctuary that is a true gift and a place for healing and re-orientation.

My mind and spirit had been totally consumed with an intense focus on the necessary tasks and responsibilities that are inherent in the process of breaking down and releasing all that was familiar and letting go of a “home”. The concentration on organizing, sorting, tossing, discerning what to keep and what to leave behind, and packing closed the door to inner vision and “deep-seeing” the natural world around me that is so vital to this blog.

A transition has happened now, and it seems that yesterday’s blizzard opened once again the inner eye of “soul” as its beauty settled all around us here in the woods on all sides. For those of us NOT stuck in traffic or having to get somewhere through the storm, which can be fearsome if not horrendous, watching the storm through windows was magical.

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All throughout the day, I floated from window to window…each view more magical than the next as the snow drifted straight down, sideways or in all directions at the same time. The woods which on an ordinary clear and cold day look like just one thing, became the realm of fairy tales with its beckoning depth defined by black and grey tree trunks edged in white. The snow settling on branches gave new definition to shape and stature, straight, tilted or fallen.

 

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I  know I was not alone in this enchantment of “looking through” into the wild and whiteness if at home. Facebook is lit up today with pictures of gardens, woods, backyards, decks, city streets and statehouse as if we all suddenly woke up to a new and magical world seen in a starling new way.

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Since I was indoors and warmed by the friendly fires of our woodstove, looking out to the forest beyond the doors, walls and windows of this house was my enchantment for the whole day. IMG_1330

When there is snow at twilight the light shifts and the world shifts from black, white and grey to blue… time for the end of the day snow party! Shrimp and dips, champagne and wine..good company and the warmth of woodstove and companionship.

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Now until the next post…happy shoveling!

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Shrink piano

When I was a child living in the inner city, we had a large upright piano that somehow had made it into our fourth floor apartment while I was in school, so I don’t remember how it got up there in the first place. But for sure, when my father’s job moved further upstate to a more rural area I DO remember moving day when the piano was lifted out of the apartment by way of a block and tackle installed in the big living room window (or roof?)  and lowered four stories DOWN onto the sidewalk and then into the moving van. What a sight that engaged the whole neighborhood…people hanging out of their apartment windows up and down the street to watch this amazing event.

Moving my piano out of my little house and transferring it to the home where I am staying with friends was not quite so dramatic, but what was most interesting was the neat and tight covering of the piano with artful folds of a thick red quilted blanket. It reminded me of the incredibly disciplined folding of laundry by military men at the Laundromat!

 

What then was most entertaining was the “shrink-wrapping” of the piano, tightly wound round and round over the thick red quilted blankets by a moving man of good humor, expertise and tattoos. My precious golden-hued instrument disappeared completely underneath layers of clear and silvery looking cellophane so that anyone who fancied stealing a piano would never have a clue where it was.

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(I also share that these crafty movers also shrink-wrapped my green brocaded covered sofa which is now standing on its side in the corner of the storage facility)

In its new location in the art studio of my friend, the shrink wrap was unwound in the opposite direction, off came the blankets and voila! A piano once appeared from the amorphous package…safe and sound in a brand new place.

I am blessed to have been able to bring my precious piano with me on this in between journey from the old to the new. Hopefully it will give the whole household here pleasure especially during the Christmas season in the playing of carols and music of the winter season.

From the old IMG_0937

 

 

 

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To the new

 

 

 


 

 

 

Cranberyy 2From Christine, The Greening Spirit in Transition

 

 

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One of the most shocking things about a move is the sorting through and packing of STUFF… All kinds of STUFF that we have come to consider as essential in our lives under the finite roof over our heads in the structure we call “home”.

We don’t have to be identified clinically as a “hoarder” to realize as we pack that there is STUFF in our lives everywhere which indeed is problematic when needing to wrap it up and leave! All those little Hummel statues, bottles of medicine and cough and cold remedies, a bag full of various lengths of extensions chords, the spices and herbs in the cupboard, little boxes of staples for the 3 sizes of staplers, the box of drawings from when our kids were little, our high school yearbook (and now we are over 60 years old!), the three crockpots, the shoe stretcher, the souvenier champagne glasses from that island vacation etc etc etc.

The vacuum cleaner, the Weber Grill and extra propane tank, the lawnmower, the birdfeeders, the table saw, the aerobed, the carwash kits, the flower pots, the bags of compost, the dog’s dishes and heartworm pills, the kids toys, the …the wall sconces and moveable fire-pit and all those little pieces of sea-glass and white stones collected at the beach and arranged on a tabletop altar…and….and…and….

Since this move, when I am visiting friends in their little or big homes, I find myself looking around in the room at all the things they will have to pack too when and if they have to, or decide to move and relocate. Just looking and imagining that exhausts me all over again! My word..do they have any idea what they are in for when it is their time for change?

When I started my process of packing things neatly, systematically and by category in my plastic bins, bringing them to the storage, I took pride in the fact that I was organized and somewhat in control of this arduous and exhausting project.

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BUT at the end of the big move-out, the last few days when it was truly clear-out and GO time, it ended with  “just-get it in there!” any way we could. And the reality of STUFF…too much STUFF!…. struck me with such a force….  I felt like I was dragging Marley’s chains and began to entertain the desire and ability for a second purging to let it all go in time…

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Except…one has to eat! And I cannot cook without my favorite spatula which I have had with me since 1968…. a wedding gift that has been part of my life, kitchen, well being and  creative cooking adventures all these years.  So…” Where is my favorie spatula in all that STUFF??? “IMG_8154

Don’t think for a minute that I don’t know where it is…and this week, I shall enter the cave where so much of my life is in boxes and bring it out to live with me in my shared living space at this time. Not ALL of the STUFF is mere clutter… I know exactly where to find it in that above storage!

If you would like to know more about my favorite SPATULA, check out my essay on the other blog of mine:

https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/memoirs-the-treasured-spatula/

My hard-won advice to any and all who think they might be moving between really soon to within the next TEN years: start sorting and simplifying NOW!

*** I would love to hear your own moving experiences..so many of us in this process and it is no small event in our lives. I have adjusted the settings for you to share a comment…

 

Storage GSFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

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The time came when it just didn’t work anymore… after about 8 years of hangin’ in, hangin’ on it just didn’t work anymore.  Letting go of a home…especially if it is also your place of work and service is traumatic and fearsome, especially if you are not sure where you are to go next. In my case, my home, besides being private and comforting Sanctuary, was also my professional and service base teaching piano, writing, and hosting a variety of peer mentoring circles, like a retreat or periodic workshops in New Moon gatherings, cooking or herbal preparations. Those who have come together in my living room also were letting go of a sacred space apart from the world that served as gentle sanctuary and community for all of us and they too were concerned and saddened wondering if we will be able to stay together in special time-apart space.

My garden…this year in convenient grow boxes.. was my inspiration for this summer’s series on the Greening Spirit, photographing and taking delight in all things green as well as the most beautiful Japanese Maple on my lawn that radiated peace and loveliness in all seasons, always visible from my front door.

Garen Lush July 5, 2015

I am fortunate though to now have interim time staying with friends who are dear kindred spirits and we are creating for this time on my journey into the unknown a kind of elder “commune” experience. What this has meant for me in an exhausting period of intense sorting, packing, and organizing is he breaking down all that is part of my physical life and environment in a focused review of all that I have been, all that has been part of different chapters of my life.

Photos, years of  writings in folders, cookbooks, journals, music and music books, cds, audio tapes and dvds, art supplies, musical instruments, pots and pans, office supplies, candles and ritual objects, shoes and clothes, beauty products, dishes (4 sets) , BOOKS of a number of separate and treasured genres, house decorations, statuary, towels and sheets, knives and forks and cutlery, photographic supplies and cameras, coats and jackets, boots, shoes, garden supplies, grow boxes, clay flower pots and bags of organic soil, seeds for vegetables and flowers and…and….and…canned goods and spices, herbal teas and herbs and…and…much more. And keeping track of that one special tool…my favorite spatula without which I cannot cook!

The enormous challenge has been not directly moving from one place to another to establish  another home, which is not possible right yet. Packing for the immediate now- life in the shared interim place with friends and packing all furniture and most items and supplies of my familiar in-progress life into bins, bags and boxes in a storage facility has required an intense all-consuming focus.

IMG_1130My grow boxes came with me….not to go into storage…but to winter outdoors as is recommended, now under the pines in the woods of my new sanctuary. I am learning new things shifting from independence to inter-dependence. I have learned how to make a fire in the woodstove which yes, is all new for me.

But my life in boxes…boxes in the storage facility, boxes here in the basement, boxes in the loft where I am writing, boxes under my bed in my charming little bedroom… Many chapters in a life….in boxes…..the price being paid for a new kind of freedom unfolding…..

 

IMG_1012From Christine, the Greening Spirit in Transition

 

 

 

 

 

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It has been a long time coming, this letting go of a home, land and a familiar way of life. For some, it may be a move to a larger home, a smaller home, an apartment or condo, either up-sizing or down-sizing. Sometimes there is excitement and a sense of delight in  accomplishment, sometimes it is bittersweet or a relief letting go because one must do so, responding to situations that must be released because they no longer work….which is, in my case, my story.

Sparing the details of my story, suffice it to say that challenges to sustainability and economics forced my hand for new decisions that required massive letting go and leaving the sanctuary of home where I have lived, loved and worked for almost 20 years. propelling me somewhat into the vast unknown and an unfolding new chapter in my life.

I am not alone in this scenario of releasing a home back to the bank and being in an in-between place while sorting, recycling, giving away, throwing out,  putting into strorage or taking with me to a new kind of sheltering in sharing space with good friends. Going from being a solitary to living in community as it were is a change, though now technically in our early elder years, we seem to have reverted to the experience of the 1960’s which I teasingly referred to as a return to the “commune”  except now we are older, saavy, more organized and purposeful as craftspersons, artists and musicians in retirement or semi-retirement.

I have a lovely little bedroom here at the home of dear friends, am sharing the downstairs studio of the artist mistress of this house for the purpose of continuing my own profession of teaching piano while surrounded by her magical and imaginative original-crafted dolls and colorful felting objects d’art.

I have moved from a surrounding woods of oak, to a surrounding woods of pine.

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I am writing not at the kitchen table of my original home, but instead in a loft upstairs in the house overlooking the studio below and treetops above. The loft as an artist’s storage/workspace has now also become a  writer’s alcove.

Packing/moving is a traumatic experience, no doubt about it, and it has been my sole pre-occupation for well over a month, if not much of this year. Today, Friday, December 4th at 3:00 pm, I, by personal initiative, will “vacate” the house/home  and the familiar known way of life, locking the front door and moving 11 miles down the road and inland to the newly experienced sanctuary of warmth with dear friends and the elder “communal” sharing for a while. I am even after a month of packing, leaving things behind that have no place or space to go. Releasing….

Believe me when I say it has taken a great courage rising above fear to enter into such a release and leaving. This has been one of the “biggie” life challenges and change for me, and I know for many others in similar but unique circumstances. I expect there to be surprises along the way and things to learn and experience that I could not have learned otherwise had I stayed rooted and fixed in familiar predictable space.

I cannot help but ponder at this time a world in which so many on the planet are now on the move as true refrugees, not sifting and sorting and storing and recycling, but on foot, sleeping on the road and carrying with them only the clothes they wear and some small bundle of personal necessities.

Perhaps “Saying Goodbye to a Home” is a planetary theme.

 

YellowFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

 

Mis-Matched Plates

Sad to say, a move and drastic downsizing has moved some of these plates on to others who mismatch also but each plate is a memory. Now I have new mismatched plates in a tiny apartment..but not many.

Sensuous Soups and Suppers

plates

It was,  and still is, a tradition for young women who are going to marry to pick out their set of  dishes and cutlery with the romantic vision of many fine dinners with family and evenings entertaining guests. If one had the means…the language wasn’t “dishes” but “fine china” and not cutlery but “silver” in a padded wooden chest.

My first set was one for 12 people and it was fine china by Noritake. Absolutely lovey…white with a colored rim of delicate flowers. My new Italian mother-in-law fancied  and collected several different sets of the very finest china like Mitterteich from Bavaria, Lenox,  and Wedgewood which were all proudly displayed in a oversized Henredon china cabinet in the dining room, and only used on holidays like Easter or Christmas.

I very seldom, if ever, seated 12 people at my table over the years so a set of 12 served as back-up replacement plates for our usual…

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