Summer Daze

Natural obstacle course #summer #boys #wild #California #sacramento #summersolstice #waldorfhome #showyourslow #movement #learning

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Our summer is shaping up nicely! Asher has spent a week and a half doing his favorite day camp—Junior Rangers at Effie Yeaw Nature Center—with some of his best school chums, all of whom are 9. Today they are rafting down the American River!

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Nimble 9! #summer #boys #wild #California #sacramento #summersolstice #waldorfhome #showyourslow

Day camp poetry

Lucas started his volunteer job at the Sac State Aquatic Center on Monday as an IT (instructor trainee), assisting, herding children, kayaking, paddle boarding, and wind surfing. He’s healing from sunburns and having a good time. I’m proud of him for taking this on. I think he’s rockin’ the lifeguard look! (But you’ll have to trust me on that until I can get him to allow me to snap and publish a photo.)

Garden Mandala No. 67 Happy Summer Solstice! (I used Lucas's graduation flowers, which were on their last legs.) #summer #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #mandalaart #ephemeral #ephemeralart #waldorfhome #sunflower #g

The summer solstice has come, and with it a beautiful full moon, a rare conjunction that saw me gathering with my women for an evening of fire magic and ritual. It’s always nourishing to make time for that, and I love those friends completely. I made this garden mandala (No. 67) on the solstice as a sun prayer, a little altar in honor of the season.

These last few months have been a whirlwind of special events, birthdays, school plays, trips, parties, graduation, and plenty of work projects. I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever catch my breath from all that enough to write about any of it. It seems time is speeding up in a way. But it’s summer now. And that means breathing out, right?

Happy Summertime, my friends! May your beverages be icy and your sunscreen effective, may you find a way to slow down a bit and plunge into your version of rest and relaxation, may you breath out and enjoy these joyful, verdant days.

Blessed Rain for Earth Day

Gift of raindrops on roses Happy Earth Day indeed! #spring #waldorfhome #earthday #earth #rain #roses #California #drought

Happy Earth Day! It’s raining! This is simply the most perfect blessing for California, and I’m so delighted. My heart is high and full of love and compassion, soaring and aching in turns along with loved ones’ hearts, and grateful to have so much abundant beauty and bounteous love and friendship in my life.

I am the beauty of the green earth
And the white moon among the stars
And the mystery of the waters
And the desire of human hearts.

Call unto your soul: Arise and come unto me
For I am the soul of nature who gives
Life to the universe.
From me all things proceed
And unto me all things must return.
—Doreen Valiente

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This is the spirit of Earth Day for me: wonder and celebration, joy and protection, and profound gratitude.

#nofilter #roses

This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere:
the dew is never all dried at once:
a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.
—John Muir

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I do not have to go
To Sacred Places
In far-off lands.
The ground I stand on
Is holy.

Here, in this little garden
I tend
My pilgrimage ends.
The wild honeybees
The hummingbird moths
The flickering fireflies at dusk
Are a microcosm
Of the Universe.
Each seed that grows
Each spade of soil
Is full of miracles.

And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here.
—Mary de La Valette


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I just couldn’t hold it in. My love and gratitude flies out to all beings—may all of us be blessed with a perfect moment of appreciation for this precious little marble floating in space,  where we live, toil and sweat, and care for each other.

Blessed Be.

P.S. I’m going out now to poke little seeds into soil.

Late Spring Festivals E-Book

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This is just a little reminder that my charming coauthor Eileen Straiton and I wrote an e-book on the Late Spring Festivals, which can be found at the Little Acorn Learning website here. It covers Passover, Earth Day, May Day, and Mother’s Day and is chock-full of of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate the Late Spring Festivals of Passover, Earth Day, Mother’s Day and May Day with your children!

Passover begins this Friday, April 22, and Friday is also Earth Day! Here’s some ways you can enjoy the holidays from our e-book:

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Part One: Passover

Passover Stars Ornament
Hand-painted Seder Plate
Caregiver’s Meditation: Independence

Sprout Babies

Part Two: Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day
Earth Day Science Projects
Canticle to the Sun and Other Nature Poems
Earth-Oriented Meal Blessings and Gratitude Poems
Earth Day Verses and Fingerplays
Coffee Cup Seed Starters
Nature Bracelets
Earth Day Art Project
Moss Garden Terrarium
Strawberry Zucchini Muffins
Brownie Game
Little Sprout Babies and the Story of Mother Bean
Caregiver Meditation: Remaining Grounded


Flower Prints Art Project

Part Three: May Day

Beltane
May Day Verses and Fingerplays
May Dance Song
Watercolor May Crown
Ribbon Wristlets for May Day Dancing
The May Queen and Other May Day Poems
May Day Flower Cones
Crochet Hair Flowers
May Pole Floral Centerpiece
Dandelion Crowns
Dandelion Tea
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups

aprons

Part Four: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Tea Party
Mother’s Day Verses and Fingerplays
Homemade Granola Bars
The Nest Circle Game
The White Pebble
Pressed Flower Bookmarks
Pressed Flower Candles
Flower Prints for Mother’s Day
Ideas for Simple Mother’s Day Gifts
Spring Tissue Pouches
Mother and Child Aprons
Caregiver Meditation: Nurturing

Earth Day art #earthday #8yearold #secondgrader

 

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of the inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thundercloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produced freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Mother Earth, Mother Earth.
Take our seed and give it birth.
Father Sun, Gleam and glow,
Until the root begins to grow.
Sister Rain, Sister Rain.
Shed thy tear to swell the grain.
Brother Wind, breathe and blow,
Then the blade all green will grow.
Earth and Sun and Wind and Rain,
Turn to gold the living grain.

—Eileen Hutchins

Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

Magical Spring

My forsythia

My eyes have been joyful lately, seeing beauty everywhere. This last month has been full of blossoms and blue skies, and I grabbed as many pretty shots as I could along the way. It’s not quite spring, technically, but there’s plenty of springtime magic to behold.

We four #family #waldorfhome #spring #winterturnstospring

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See the star?

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The early spring light is sometimes warm and buttery, sometimes watery and wan.

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Trees stretch their lacy blooms skyward.

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Winter has no power over me #sacramento #California #visitsacramento #winter #mardigras

Tiny lawn flowers seem to say, “Winter has no power over me!”

Sunny, 72 degrees #sacramento #visitsacramento #California

The almonds in particular have put on quite a show, and the quince is by far the sassiest of all.

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Demure snowdrops sway quietly on the edges, like girls at a cotillion.

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My favorites, perhaps, are the plumb blossoms. They arrive in a rush; one moment the tree is bare, the next it’s enveloped in a cloud of pink. They don’t stay long, just a brief spell. Then they float down to the ground, whole flowers intact, and the earth below is transformed into fairyland.

Valentine’s Day Makings and Musings

Making valentines #waldorf

Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! I just wanted to spread some love around. Asher made valentines for four of his classmates last week. His teacher splits the class into groups; so far, he’s never had to make valentines for the whole class.

I would like to say he was conscientious and thoughtful about making each of the four valentines he had to make unique, but I would be lying. Glue, slap on a heart, write Happy Valentine's Day in cursive, from Asher, done.

I would like to say he was conscientious and thoughtful about making each of the four valentines unique, but I would be lying. Glue, slap on a heart, write Happy Valentine’s Day in cursive, from Asher, done. When I asked him if there was anything more he could do to make them special, he added “You’re cool!” on the backs.

Asher asked me the other night about the path of hearts, which is something I’ve been doing for years. I put a whole bunch of paper hearts on the floor leading from their bedrooms to our kitchen table. I’m touched that he remembered it.

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We’re enjoying a three-day weekend now, which for my children will turn into a whole week off school. Unfortunately, Ian’s not feeling well today. But we had our special Valentine’s Day breakfast nonetheless. Heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and honey vanilla Greek yogurt and eggs. They all got pretty chocolates.

Performance at Rudolf Steiner College as a the opening of the teachers' conference

After that, Lucas went to Rudolf Steiner College to perform “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” with his eighth-grade class as a way of opening the teachers’ conference. They sang beautifully! Roughly:

“Ezekiel saw that wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
Now Ezekiel saw that wheel
Way in the middle of the air

Now the little wheel run by faith
And the big wheel run by the grace of God
In the wheel and a wheel hurling
Way in the middle of the air”

Flowers for my loves! Happy Valentine's Day!

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We wandered through the biodynamic farm on the campus for a few minutes, while I snapped pictures. It’s just a gorgeous day.

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I spent a sweet moment with my gorgeous son, who is truly a joy to be with most of the time and most especially when we’re alone.

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And then there was a bunch of normal stuff: basketball practice, and Asher playing with the neighborhood kids, and laundry, and Ian went out to run errands. I hope he’s feeling better!

Ian, I love you. Every day. Always.

Here’s my little prayer to St. Valentine or Aphrodite or Kamadeva or Freya or Hathor or Inanna or Oshun or Min or …

Whoever you are, whomever you love, may you find some way to connect with someone on this day. May we all realize that we are stronger together than alone, braver with friends at our backs, kinder when we remember that we are loved. May we love with courage, constancy, patience, and trust. May our love inspire us, ignite our creativity and dreams, make space for play and peace, catalyze our will to do good and be generous, and burn away the dross and drudgery of our lives. May we see the good in others, not their flaws, and may we extend that same love and forgiveness to ourselves.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m going out to plant irises.

 

Imbolc and Midwinter

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We live in California’s great Central Valley, where arguably, we have a kind of fake winter. We put up symbols of deep winter, and cope pretty easily with inconveniences like fog and brief freezes that kill garden plants.

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1/26/16

Imbolc, or Candlemas, if you prefer, marks the middle point of winter.  Signs of spring are always welcome no matter where you live, don’t you think? The lengthening days bring a bit of relief from gray winter doldrums. Not much of a “proper” winter, truth be told. As evidence, I present this daffodil, which bloomed on January 26.

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These two lambs were born this morning at our school’s farm. Farmer Steve estimates they arrived without help at around 6:30 this morning. I would have missed them completely, as they were kind of hunkered down and resting, but Farmer Steve pointed them out to us. We couldn’t get very close, so it’s not a great shot. But there they are, small, briefly feeble, and perfect.

“The source of increasing light and heat is Brigid. On Imbolc, she moves across the land, bringing the promise of renewal and the return of joy. The name Imbolc means “in the belly,” and Oimelc means ‘ewe’s milk.’ The fertility of sheep and the abundance of their life-sustaining milk are at the root of this holy day. The dangerous part of winter, when sheep might die, when lambs might freeze, has passed. The tribe has survived.” This is from Tending Brigid’s Flame, by Lunaea Weatherstone.

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I wrote a bit about Brigid and Imbolc in the past here.

 

Atticus the llama and his wooly friends

(This handsome fellow is Atticus the llama. He looks after the sheep.)

 

Older lamb, about a month old

The other three lambs at school were born about a month ago; they’re looking robust and strong. Weatherstone says, “Brigid is the life force embodied. Brigid is the protector of all newborn creatures, and she blesses new mothers with abundant milk and the instinctive knowledge of nurturance.”

“Brigid of the lambs,
Brigid of gentleness,
Brigid of the new milk,
I welcome you in.”

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Everywhere there is a quickening, it seems. My plants are beginning to grow again. The sun is shining brighter, stronger, with more vigor than before. Snowdrops and jonquils are coming up, and soon the forsythia and quince will be blooming.

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Today I discovered we had the all stuff to make a Brigid’s cross. I’ve wanted to make one for a long time, but never have. After dinner, Lucas sat down and helped me do it, and we talked a bit about Brigid, and why I’m interested in her. It went kind of like this, “So, for me, as a woman, observing and existing in a world that is usually trying to erase or omit the contributions of girls and women, and seeing religions either actively not liking us and saying we’re bad, or thinking so little of us that they ignore us completely, for me, the goddesses like Brigid are interesting, meaningful, and important.” He said something like, “Yeah, I can see why you might feel that way.” And he tied on the thread to make the cross arms.

Making our first Brigid's cross.

First Brigid's cross

I thought it might also be nice to provide some winter treats for the birds. This seems like a nice activity for Imbolc. But we’re going to have to do it tomorrow. Also, if I am really ambitious tomorrow, I may clean out my fireplace. “This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing power of the sun. It is also a festival of light and fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches, and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth,” according to Cunningham’s Wicca book.

Happy Imbolc to all! May you find inspiration and renewal in the day, and find nourishment for your dreams and your energies for new challenges quickening.

I’ll write more later about Asher’s 9th birthday, which totally consumed our weekend with festivities and delights aplenty.

Invoking the Light

Happy Solstice!

6500365891_3247aaf429Yule Fires: A Carol

(Sung to the tune of “Greensleeves”)

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by winter’s cold
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its great pyre;

So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
It’s fiery course across the sky,
To warm them so they would not die. (Chorus)

Chorus: Yule Fires light up the night!
Yule fires give us delight!
Yule Fires call back the Sun,
And keep our hearts ever burning!

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
Of anger in the evil will,
The human conflict, hate, and strife,
Which hold a menace over life;

Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts may move,
In Yuletide joy, with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace. (Chorus)

John G. MacKinnon

Sunshine

Well, it seems some are celebrating the Solstice today/tonight and some are celebrating tomorrow/tomorrow night. The solstices and equinoxes can be a bit tricky. Astronomers and meteorologists calculate it down to the minute, but frankly, I just pick whatever is most convenient for our busy lives.

We’ve been getting ready, little by little, for the holidays. There is so much going on at this time of year, and it seems our home transforms more at this time of year than any other. 

This year's wreath ... unless I add more stuff to it

To fit in the Christmas tree, we have to move furniture and dust under things. It’s quite a production. And yet, as our home becomes more and more festive, more and more filled with light, it gets cozier and cozier.

Smells divine and full of happiness

All the better to snuggle in and then welcome our guests.

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I find I cherish sunbeams anywhere I find them.

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And chase after December rainbows … even barefoot.

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Our winter storms are knocking all the pretty leaves to the ground. We have been having a dark and rainy day today, which only means we can better appreciate the warmth and light that comes with the rebirth of the sun.

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We’ve been enjoying holiday parties and friends and family. Last weekend was Grinchmas, the annual reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at our friends’ beautiful home. We recently went to our first gingerbread house decorating party. I’ve never seen so much candy outside a candy shop in my life!

Gingerbread house party!

Tonight we go to a Solstice party, and tomorrow night, on the 22nd, we’ll hold our usual quiet family celebration here. I’ve got a newish solstice dessert idea and my son has requested a vegetarian yellow curry. Sounds perfect to me. I’m thinking potatoes, garbanzos, corn, peas, leeks and chard.

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We’re also celebrating that golden fellow above, Solstice Dog, who came to us four years ago. He is a bright, shining light in our lives, working devotedly to keep our spirits up and our blood pressures down. We love him so!

Good people all this happy tide,
Consider well and bear in mind,
All that strong love for us can do
When we remember our promise true.

Now love itself stands in this place
With glorious beauty and pleasant grace;
To welcome us with open heart
And raise up welcome in every hearth.

Whatever life on us bestows,
Love’s mantle round our shoulders goes
Remembering this day’s delight,
To bring us help and mercy bright.

When darkest winter draweth near,
The light is kindled without fear;
Love sparks at Midwinter so deep,
This blessed time in our hearts keep.

When coldest winter draweth near,
Turn we to joy and make good cheer;
Remembering our vows so strong,
We raise our voices in this song.

Drive darkest want and need away,
Remember we this happy day.
Call love to witness, everyone,
And dance beneath the winter sun.
—Caitlin Matthews

 

And now it’s time to go, so I’ll sign off and thank you for reading. May your Solstice be bright and blessed, full of the tinkling laughter of loved ones and sparkling lights shining in the winter darkness. Blessed Be!

Retreat: Dancing Divine Feminine Wisdom

upload Two years ago I was the officiant at Thaemos and Jami’s beautiful autumn wedding, a role which I was honored to play. It was a gorgeous hot day and we made the magic happen. Lo and behold, they were hitched!

2015-11-13 12.00.16Last weekend I was given the most amazing thank you gift. I went with two dear friends (and met a third there) for weekend at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. 2015-11-15 15.10.22

We participated in a 10-hour workshop led by Banafsheh Sayyad, MFA, LAc, a Persian sacred dance artist and transformational teacher, and Safron Rossi, PhD, who teaches mythology and depth psychology at Pacifica Institute and is curator of collections at Opus Archives. Safron recently edited a collection of Joseph Campbell’s writings and lectures on goddesses.

“Transformation of consciousness is a key to navigating the chaos of our world, both personally and collectively. Hidden in the wisdom of the great goddesses of world mythologies is the seed for this transformative potential. What does it feel like to embody mythic consciousness? Tap into the archetypal energy core of the great myths through dance and myth-telling, and experience the transformative power of the feminine. Women and men both need to cultivate an intimate relationship with the feminine divine, and dance is one of the most direct ways to experience her energy and embody her wisdom.

“Join Banafsheh, Safron and musician Tony Khalife in a weaving of mythic storytelling, images, reflective writing, Dance of Oneness®, and live music. Invoke, explore, and embody the goddesses Sophia from alchemical and mystical traditions of the East and Christianity, the Sumerian-Babylonian Inanna, and the Greek Aphrodite. Dance of Oneness®, the conscious movement practice and philosophy designed by Banafsheh, supports living your fullest potential through loving your body and your Self, and living as a Lover. Guided movement and dance technique serve to ignite your unique expression of dance. Open to everyone. The workshop includes ceremony and ecstatic dance celebration.”

Doesn’t that sound delicious? I can assure you, it absolutely was! We explored so many juicy questions in examining the myths and images of Inanna, Aphrodite, and Sophia. Diving into that goddess mythology and imagery again felt wonderful; it’s been quite a few years since that stuff was part of my daily life. It was like meeting an old friend again and getting the most comforting warm hug.

2015-11-13 17.29.34These are some of the ideas we explored: After hearing the myth of Inanna’s descent into the underword, we were asked: What are you willing to let die, to sacrifice, to make room to birth something new? What is trying to be renewed? What part of you yearns for rebirth, transformation, or transmutation? What needs to be born?  

Innana’s descent brings to mind  the shedding of layers or masks, the sacrifice of our identifying symbols, or even the sacrifice of self or self-concept. In the darkness lies an opportunity, a seed. It holds the possibility of the excavation of oneself. Janelle said “composting.” Let die to be reborn; within the dank earth the seed can germinate. Yellow Galaxy Whorl

Banafsheh taught us the basics of Sufi sacred dancing. For something like 45 minutes we whiled like dervishes, spinning fast or slow, unwinding into a quiet, listening place. What goddess is whispering to you? When you dance what goddess is dancing in you?

I learned the Arabic word for womb is rahim. Banafsheh said it also means mercy and compassion. This was an important moment for me, it cracked my heart wide open. We played with our womb energy and moved it through our hearths and out in the world through our expressive dancing. My womb energy is my caretaking, interconnected, merciful,  loving, compassionate source. It’s both suffering and birthing, of my self, of love, of child of light, of the world.  I was inspired that maybe I could say rahim instead of amen.

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We also covered Aphrodite, a goddess I have always been tuned to, and especially her connection with rapture, that force which longs to join, to unite, with the beloved. She is playful. Curious. Elemental, born out of conjoining of earth,  sky, and ocean. Birthed in sea foam. Aphrodite is lusty, earthy, but also atmospheric, ethereal, light, airy, flighty. A dove is one of her symbols.  She is luscious, unapologetically sensual. Yet even Aphrodite must be by herself a while, regularly, and renew her virginity, to go within and renew herself. Replenish. The goddess, the divine feminine, is a vessel of love, energy, rhythms, and compassion that is constantly pouring out into the world and welling up within us to be poured out again. We have to refill our personal vessels sometimes. Esalen is Jami’s place of replenishment, revirginificaton. Where is mine? I wonderd. How can I get there more?

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We also touched a little on Sophia, the goddess of the world’s wisdom, God’s companion, adviser. She appears in Jewish, Persian, Gnostic tradition. She is the soul of the world. I would like to study Sophia more. We didn’t have enough time with her.

Jubulant, juicy Jeena and JamiDuring the workshop we danced and danced. We met women from Iran, Indonesia, Wales (via Fiji), and many parts of the US. We co-created a transformative space, where we were safe, able to move and express ourselves, able to weep or vocalize or whatever. The environment was made magical by Tony’s music. All the dancing was to live music. Such a gift he has, weaving story and voice, drums, guitar, and other instruments I didn’t know the names of. He was delightful too.

So will our delightful leaders and a group of participants who were inspiring and courageous, we made some serious magic by the sea. We women wove our dance together and the goddesses moved through us. And it was a rare and wonderful treat to see Jeena for a whole weekend! upload2015-11-15 08.08.27    2015-11-15 07.59.43

I will refrain from waxing poetic about the baths. Suffice to say, rahim!

And then it was done. We felt full and tired, energized and awake. I think we each came away with a lot to think about. I felt more in touch with a part of me than I had for a long time. I have in the past been cautious about revealing my own spirituality here. But this is too important to be quiet about. 2015-11-15 17.10.53

On the way home, we stopped to touch the ocean, bathed our eyes, lips, hearts, bellies in sea foam, and found red rose petals scattered on the sand, one for each of us. Thank you, Aphrodite.

My heart is full of gratitude. So to Jami, who made this happen. Thank you!

****

Here’s a flashback: On the way down to Esalen, we stopped at Point Lobos and did a teeny-tiny hike. It was so amazing to be back at the sea again. I’ve included shots here because it was so completely beautiful.2015-11-13 12.08.372015-11-13 11.58.29 2015-11-13 12.12.12 Me and my soul sister Janelle. Many thanks to Jami for the photo.upload

Remembering My Grandmothers

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It’s November, a time when many cultures remember their dear, departed loved ones. I happened to read today about a Chinese goddess named Dou Mou, who is the goddess of the north star. People call on her to protect the spirits of their dead and to keep the living safe from illness. It’s said that people write messages to the dead and then burn them so the message can be delivered in the smoke by Dou Mou.

I am thinking a lot about feminine power and wisdom, after my special weekend. Today happens to be the anniversary of my grand aunt’s death. Yesterday was the anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s death. They died two years and 365 days apart. I was inspired to write to them and to my maternal grandmother, who has been gone fifteen years, I think.


 

Dear Mabel,

You were so clever and kind. I sometimes didn’t know how to relate to you, but it got better as I got older. You always encouraged me to think and stand up for myself. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in your home for a little over a year while Ian and I were saving money to buy our house. It was a lovely little home and it made me feel good knowing you lived there with my mom, aunts and uncles. It was a happy time for us, in that sweet little house.

I regret not coming to see you after you moved out of your home. I regret it a lot. I was just very self-absorbed, working long days and long weeks, and fully involved in my marriage and newlywed life and friends. I was selfish. I am sorry. I miss you.

I will always love you.

Sara

 

Dear Nana,

Today is the anniversary of your death. I miss you a lot, especially whenever I pick up my paintbrushes to paint. I am grateful for all the love and abundance you showered me with in my life. I am most grateful for the support you gave to my intellectual and artistic pursuits. You gave me my first camera. You gave me paints and canvas, and endless drawing supplies. I wish I could discuss art and painting with you now. I wish I could see more of the art you made in your youth and while you were teaching. I miss you.

I will always love you.

Sara

 

Dear RoRo,

My heart aches when I think of you, RoRo. You have been gone now two years. I miss your warm smile, your smell, your soft skin, even your mumbling, whispering words that were so hard to understand at the end. I miss our shopping trips and especially the trips to the nursery. I miss talking to you about flowers. Thank you for your boundless generosity. You gave me so many advantages in life. You made me feel special and wanted, even when I was bratty and selfish, even while I was pulling away to do my own thing. I wish that you could see me now, see my boys growing up. I know they’re scruffy, but they’re kind and smart and brave and they take care of each other. You loved them so much, and I think you would like them too. I have started wearing your orange silk kimono. I never saw you wear it, never imagined you would own such a garment. That you did has allowed me to imagine you as a woman, and not just my grandma. It fills me with wondering. I miss you.

I will always love you.

Sara

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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