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Death has been a primary teacher for me.
This started when I was 20, that epic summer me and a bestie and a brother who’s now passed from drugs travelled an 11,000 mile circle around our country. Two decades ago already.
A week before that trip started, a young man my brother and I grew up car-pooling to school, lunchtime swim sessions bologna sandwiches bmx bikes and saving the princess with, got killed in a gnarly car accident on the side of I-95. My brother was invited to be on the trip in the car with him but did not go.
That tragedy shook us down.
A week after we lost him, right at the start of the summer on Solstice tide, my Grammy died. She and my pop who died in 87 had this little two bedroom plus an attic house right inside the city line, Brooklyn Park, Bmore Maryland, USA. They brought 7 kids and near three times the amount of grandkids to this world.
So between losing Grammy and our neighborhood homie, that summer I went on the road the first time death was running my ass down.
Later, by the time I got the La Catrina put on my back, I was well versed in death wisdom. I was sober by then. I had buried countless friends to drug addiction and its associated physical and mental fall out. I had also undergone a powerful inward transformation as the result of the end of a longterm romance. Endings are a kind of death. That ending initiated me into the power of the Darkness as the realm of the Feminine.
The year I lived way out on the river to grieve the ending of that part of my life, La Catrina used to call to me on the river wind. I mean it. I was an english teacher to undocumented, mostly Mexican students. I lived on the river and confronted who I am alone? I was reading for the upteeeenth time Women Who Run With the Wolves, and in reverence daily with “my inner wild wisdom” as I’d taken to calling that endless, indestructible still point within. La Catrina became for me that point of reverence, that river below the river, that ONE life that holds all. She even showed up on an artist date with me, a ceramic figurine in a little store that used to sit on a corner at the docks in downtown Annapolis. That figurine and a similar one sit atop my alter as I write this right now.
Death is our one fundamental truth as humans. The only thing that’s guaranteed.
My embracing of this particular wisdom is the single motive behind why I jump into my life with passion and presence and vitality a day at a time. It’s how I maintain loving as much as I possibly can.
The female body knows all about this metaphor of death, dying, decrease. Our body’s teach us every month. Dark wisdom. For the feminine, through the death, rebirth, life, death cycle our biology inherently experiences, holds all gnosis concerning the secrets of life. In the soul work, the women’s wisdom soul work, we look at the parts of us we had to kill off to survive. We embrace the healing of grieving for those old wounds and losses, and in that way, breathe life and living, rebirth, back into our heart’s broken spaces.
Today is an important day in the Samhain tide. All Souls Day for the Catholics, this is the final day of the Los Dias De Los Muertos, the day in which we pray for the souls of our dead.
From the Wisdom of the Dark Feminine perspective, it is a power tide for naming our own losses to self, for both women and men. A great equalizer, death or the Thantos archetype in the soul is part of the continuum of the balance of life. When we embrace who we have become because of what we have let go. And perhaps, who we are still yet to be by re-embracing parts of ourselves we killed off or forced away.
The full moon peaks this weekend. Death on the medicine wheel reminds us. What has been, is, and is yet to be all emerges from the same place. This is a moon to tend this.
Samhain tide. When we are called with reverence to the fleetingness of life. To embrace, celebrate, grieve, give thanks. And maybe? To get real… That is a medicine of death and dying to me. To practically look at the truth of things. At what simply is.
When we give ourselves the freedom of this clean kind of looking at life, space is created because we no longer resist what we cannot change. When we look at what is real then we can transform not what we see, but how we choose to respond.
A good meditation on the day of prayer for All Souls.
Nothing teaches you the patience life requires better than life itself. A basic axiom that even kicking and fighting each of us are tasked to learn: Letting go. That is the medicine I am finding myself practicing this week, as we enter the stillness of the lunar reset, the void chaos-rest space of the balsamic moon. I don’t know about you guys but my energy is sure on that wane. Being reminded of the power and the struggle: accepting that over other people, and over the variety of possible manifestations of the future in the right now, I have no control.
Ohhh life!! And how I’ve learned and relearned! That in letting go, space is always created. And spaciousness allows softness, tenderness, the capacity to move, to relax, to receive. To grow…
This is the medicine of right now on the year’s wane. This week’s new moon is the gnostic entry into the Underworld, the third and final harvest rite. The women’s wisdom or celtic earth path calls this Lunar Samhain and the women in my women’s circle seemed all to resonate to the same theme: Finally, We Enter Darkness. Sacred Invitation to Rest.
First, however, the pitch and UnRest! Of Lunar Samhain.
Traditional Samhain, known also as the more mundane Halloween, is about the relationship between peak fruition of fertility into the lean of life force completing its whole potentiality by decreasing and dying. We hate death and dying, ward off the dark by dressing up as the creatures and monsters we fear at Halloween. But what of the wisdom? What of the medicine of the dark? Letting go and surrendering is a process of absorbing and reflecting all at once, holding all the growth and reintegrating all of the different aspects this year of “Us”. Accepting, no judgment, no shame. All of the experiences that lived through you and who and how you’ve been shaped. This is now a distilling process, clarification by review of all this, and release…
And that can feel tense, flat. Still. Exhausting. Remember, it is the dark moon motion to hold us in a entropy feel. The moon cycle that will come after will increase the length of nighttime darkness more and more until winter is ushered in. For me, with a small gentle sigh and lean, it has felt like the active alchemy of opening my heart even though I don’t want to because it’s getting dark!! but trust is an action word, so allowing what I am carrying this year, all that I have fed and tended and grown, to fulfill its course with or without my control.
Patience, acceptance, letting go. Lunar Samhain: trusting the process of dark, of what we can not see. Of the passive power of energy wane, of decrease… and renewal.
Harvest season exists the world around and is one of the most ancient of all rites. Every person every place has a place that raised her and as long as there’s been life on MaMa Earth, this holds true. Her seasons move in increase and decrease, and so at Samhain we allow this letting go. It is time too of the religious holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days and Sukkoth, as well as the reverence for ancestors and death as a divine power of life during Los Dias De Los Muertes, and is also connected to a variety of both ancient goddess venerations and modern agricultural festivals. The weather changes, it is reflected in the length and depth of dark shadows, the steady motion of wind whisper in the tops of trees, the burnish bronze of late season light in the leaves and colors. We go on hayrides, drink hot cider, pick pumpkins and other seasonal gourds.
I like the earth path because our custom as American’s is the Harvest tradition of Thanksgiving, but gently tending blessings and harvests now, and letting go and space-making through out the Fall usually helps me walk into the holidays mindfully and with minimal chaos. This week especially we mind mind, note tensions and what is living, what is lost. What makes us feel uncomfortable if we have to hold still! We note life’s living/letting go wisdom, the transient power of bittersweet joy/pain over getting to experience without always being able to control. When we consider the station of Fall and the West on the medicine wheel, we think of sunset, of that precious moment of last light on the horizon. We recall that ultimately, all things pass.
And the new day will come again.
And so it is often my practice at Samhain tide to revere, among my blessings of the year and what must be let go, my ancestors. When I remember those that are no longer here, I see the ways in which I am a living growing example of their seeds. What a miracle this is, how I get to be tilling the ground for my own life’s accumulations and legacies tomorrow, and how none of that could’ve happened without my own ancestral and community webs.
From what and where do we seek our values, and how? How do we practice this, and how do our energies align? What is our legacy, what will we leave? How do we repay the gifts our elders have bestowed upon us, and how do we practice accountability and responsibility to any ruptures, injuries, or wounds? To whom are we connected, and how? Am I accountable?
How are my relations? There is not a more powerful time in our history, as far as the four short decades I have been here that is, to ask questions like these.
The power of consciousness: choosing to witness and be mindful in your own life. To say thanks, to tend your tides of growth and release, of the season’s fruits being turned back to the earth. Marking with reverence the accompanying cycles of letting go, rest, renewal, death, rebirth. Knowing that all we can do is be true to our own self right now, and take whatever small actions we can just for today, allowing the heart to soften into the knowing of right now is plenty, is enough, embodying such wisdom… These, the lessons of reflection put into practice as the natural season ushers in the Underworld this week with Lunar Samhain. How that can burn, to open the heart in such a posture of releasing and allowing, how it can feel so counter to life’s frenzy, to pause right now. Be still. Be still with the wane. The release. Acknowledge the power of the season of the dark.
…tomorrow night, last harvest moon, sheath of layered lace and bounty coming up over the sea. Harvest moon peaks full this eve~
There is harvest wisdom right now in your every day. In practical ways, in the actions and reactions, the many details of the life you are presently living. The invitation right now is to look upon your world metaphorically, a wee bit deeper perhaps, and ask yourself how the details of right now, this week, fit the theme of your year.
You can color this in by considering how to look at those themes with an open heart and grateful eyes…The final Harvest season full moon comes early this year which marks for me the time I mindfully slow down, tune in to my conscious living day by day, get outside as much as possible and live in the luminescent sweetness of this transient seasonal middle ground, and soften my daily attitude to fixate upon the world with gratitude-eyes.
What is the bounty in this season of your life?
Harvest blessings dears. May the gifts of this and your life be dancing conscious blessings alive in your own two hands.
I walk a lot on empty beaches. It helps me breathe from muscly places in my belly that otherwise I can’t feel because they’re so deep. So last Monday I guess it was, walking along the roiled and wilen coast, beholding the brown and black and steel greys of Hurricane Maria’s deeps, there came this fleeting thought. You could go camping Thursday, if so and so falls into place…there’s a window you could squeeze it in and camp until work Friday at noon.
I went camping because I could and because it meant forcing myself, because it’s lofty camping on your own, the reality of it, and takes work to follow it through.
I set my tent on the bayside of one of our barrier islands that is also a national park. Basic. Satisfied. There was a natural arbor of wild grape vines behind my little dome that opened into a wooded purple stained path leading to the water. I cruised to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, windy still from the passing of Maria, a storm whose effect was surged and shuddered oceans, thankfully no impact on our lil mid-Atlantic spits of swampy forest and farm lands. It was 17 mph that day and the sea stacked her sets, breaking two and even three peaks one on top the other, crossing and cursing currents also ripped by longshore tides. I got to the beach and no one was in and barely anyone was there. Far out were two surfers catching nothing. I used my fins to swim and the lifeguard watched from a truck for 10 minutes before leaving me to my whim.
By the end of the swim I was restless. I went camping because care for my soul life and nurturing it is, at the end of the day, up to only me. It is not a pill I can take, it comes down to how I choose to feed the parts I feel but cannot see. I went back to camp, then walked out to the Bay. I wrote just to write, the other sure fire practice that personally illumines my life, helps me feel like I’m living my hours in a way that’s more filled in.
Now, it is harvest week, the last full moon of the growing season. Growth: concept of momentum, of stored energy completing its cycles of motion, of sugared sun translating from storage to fruit. The moon peaks full Thursday. From there on the cycles wheel us deeper and deeper underground.
I spent yesterday’s quiet practice reflecting on all the experiences of the year. It’s been a hard one. A flippen lot of pain, death and illnesses and other loss. It has also been rich with celebration and good relations: women’s medicine, and being close to the earth, to family joy, to art, to nurtured time with dear friends.
And in all, deep-tilling the ground from which I’ll grow my dreams.
Back at camp, over the bay the sun dropped. For a half hour or so I beheld the experience, did nothing other than witness just to see how that would go.
Walking back to my tent was twinkly twilight glee, an energy pouring into and out of me like a child. The fire I built was from kindling I hatcheted myself!! I ate fish cooked over the grate and these two experiences alone fulfilled me like nothing else I can really say…
Then the stars, how every one that appeared signaled some new part of myself that showed up and I want it to be clear, how the glee passed and how uncomfortable that was, sitting still with the funked out shit of my personal experiences this year. I sat and sat, unplugged 100% and decompressing from that, because I know unquestionably that while it isn’t always immediate: Nature heals the soul.
Eventually, many hours into the night, came peace, and the sweetness of being inwardly still, a being among beingness, with the burnt down embers of my fire and the marvel of all those specs of sparkle stars.
Nature restores my inward settings, it has yet again helped me process which is how I keep moving. Of that knowing, and the reality for me this year that writing and creative downtime are not only non-negotiables but that this has zero to do with production for commodity value, I am proud to say my Harvest this year is part of my day to day.
I emerge this Harvest week sure of the same ol medicine. The soul life is up to only me to tend for me, and its absence manifests in all ways physical and mental, of that it’s a guarantee.
That’s a lot of bounty I’d say, and so it was that Poetry came through to reflect it for me the next morning at camp over hot coffee and stunning late September blue, as Poetry expressing the Wild Nature does oh yes, oh yes it does!!
There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation, to wit, its own nature. The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being. Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole.
From “Compensation”, in Essays and Poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson
What a year, no? Our first moon cycle in 2017 inaugurated a man as the leader of our metaphoric house who bragged about the exploitation and objectification of the female body. Our values supported this.
The normalization of exploitation in this house is unacceptable.
The female body. The female body. The female body.
How is your house? How are you tending your one true sacred space?
At home–here on earth, our first and most taken for granted body–what’s it been like for you? What level of your own shame stories, meaning your internal narratives about your worth, about being or not being good enough, about your rights, have you become more aware of this year?
How mindful of the stress you are carrying, its physicality, are you? The stories that your body is carrying about you and your experience?
How well have you been at declaring your own right to your own path of unique heart, spirit, soul?
From an earth-based perspective, the growing season of the year relies as much on what has decomposed being turned under, transforming to nutrients, as it does on the potentiality of wild starry fruits blossoming from a single seed. It is an endless continuum of stages and cycles, from dying and dark to birthing, blooming, fruiting, and harvesting, too.
When the moon is dark she is between the earth and the sun, and her other half sends the light of the sun back at itself. We here on earth fall still in her darkness, a holding, receptive gravity.
The moon holds all, receptive and active.
When she is active or full she is at the height of light, actually reflecting the light of the sun back on us here on earth.
Between these two polarities are the fluidity of transitions of dark and light. Metaphoric, yes. And also cyclic and specific. Both applications, and all their subtleties, are necessary. Again, the feminine holds all.
From a menstrual perspective, we track our personal moons. Chances are our personal moon doesn’t follow the actual moon. So we use the moon’s phases as a metaphor to understand both the biology and psychology of the feminine psyche.
The new moon as metaphor is day one, or when we first bleed. When we first bleed, we are dying and birthing at once, as now we re-engage the solar or ovulatory, fertile aspect of our selves. As the days of our cycle accumulate, we track where we are. We learn to re-embody the fluidity of the inter-lobal functioning of the female body, for again, the feminine holds all. For example, at stage four, the Gibbous moon, which can be anywhere from about day 7 through day 17 depending on your unique, beautiful and powerful body, we undergo an abrupt rise in the neuropeptides FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). There is a rise in estrogen level and left hemisphere brain activity and simultaneous testosterone and right hemisphere activity and increase in libido. Read Dr. Christiane Northrup’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom to learn more!
Our discharge is known at this time as E-type mucus, which is when small tubules are present in our discharge that hold sperm! This is us in our fertile, almost full cycle. At stage 5, our metaphoric full moon, G-type mucus immediately follows the release of our ovum, and this sort of mucus actually keeps us from getting pregnant. Like the moon at her peak active phase when she’s full, our bodies too lean from our full momentum back into ourselves. And so at peak fertility we start again towards the reflective, recycling, dark and dying phases.
The growing season on earth follows these 8 stages, too!
Lammas, again using the metaphor of the phases of the moon, can be understood as stage 6, the Disseminating Moon. Like for the year! Disseminating moon, according to Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon is the “first stirring of dark,” when the seed has become what it was meant and the “life impulse must fulfill, distribute energy and disseminate and share the value of the meaning.” From a menstrual perspective, it is “the luteal phase” when “we turn more inward, preparing to develop or give birth from something deep within ourselves.” (Northrup, 2010)
Disseminating moon is the fruiting phase, or harvest. Whether an ovum has been fertilized, or it was the fertility of a new idea that peaked, maybe a transformed inner narrative, or however it was that you lived out this growing cycle psychologically, biologically, spiritually and creatively, the disseminating moon phase from a menstrual perspective is the fruiting time, our first harvest. After peak fertility phase.
And so it is we celebrate Lammas, the First Harvest of the earth’s natural growing year. People who tend these concepts, embodying them and staying close to nature, outside with feet grounded upon her and skin and blood and biology and body in one rhythmic inhalation exhalation of all that is, recognize this as connected to a variety of different anthropological rites. Traditions the world over acknowledge with celebration the bounty of fruit on the vine at summer’s height.
From a lunar perspective, which for me is the feminine-embodied perspective, we celebrate Lunar Lammas when the moon is in the sun sign of Leo and full.
So, ya with me? We learn to track the phases of the moon, and then to metaphorically apply these phases. They can inform the dark and light aspects of our biology, and of the seasons of the year. We too learn to hold all, to think quantum or multi-dimensionally, to hold our still point within, and All At Once at once!
Lunar Lammas is the full moon on Monday, August 7, this year. Already the sun-made shadows of heaping breathy green tree walls here are muddled, that certain angle of soupy dark I so love.
Mind what this moon cycle brings. It is your harvest. What will you reap? Mind what stories live, what experiences happen. Mind your light and your dark. Mind your experiences this month from a reflective viewpoint that holds the continuum of the year, all those spirals of moon around the far side of the earth and back to between the earth and sun, again and again.
What is illuminated under the active light of her reflecting back the height of the summer sun? For that is what happens on Lunar Lammas.
Unplug from your computer or other e-devices. Leave your phone in the car and get outside. Restore your natural circadian rhythm from all that electronic interference.
Give yourself back to yourself. Back to your body. Back to the earth. The natural perfect spheres of rhythm. Happy first harvest season friends~!!
To understand more, make some time and visit my Facebook page. We will spend this month learning more about the moon’s 8 phases.
This full moon presents us with a reality highlight. A shining on who we are in our most present, day to day, practical ways.
Who we are is how we Be.
Discernment can be tough when it comes to understanding what I mean. Societal arousal is high. The open, gaping wound of fear-driven, hate-talk projections can be so consuming We all easily forget that we co-create our experience, we are not victims, we are powerful not powerless, imagination is infinite and love is pure and transformational, we are responsible, we can begin within.
Nature teaches. What we sow we reap, and this is what begin within means.
Begin within. What stories do you tell yourself? Literally, what does your self-talk look like?
Do you listen to your inner guidance? Do you trust yourself?
Begin again. Do you take time to feed yourself instead of over-caffenate? Do you constantly expose yourself to an endless steam of social media and click bait content, chemically co-creating your own addiction to hyper-arroused cortisol, your stress hormone? Do you fall to sleep with your head wired to electronics? Is it how you wake?
This also is food, what your brain, heart, and soul absorb.
Begin again. How are your relations? One basic tool I practice is that if my relationships with others are off it usually means I am not being accountable to my own relationship to my self. What I don’t confront within myself I will act out in my relations. This is called projection.
Baby steps. Be gentle with self-truth.
How are you feeling and what do you need to be accountable to? Meaning how do I feel, in my body, right now? What do I need?
Gentle, gentle. Begin again:
People who come from environments where displacing their needs was the norm, like those who experienced normalized dangers like violence or poverty, who had an abuser in the home, who had untreated substance abuse in the home, were taught it wasn’t safe. They unconsciously, through the normalization of this is not safe, learn that it is unacceptable to feel because to survive meant silencing or repeatedly ignoring the normal metabolic, stress-relieving processes of feeling. Folks like this may struggle with the concepts in this post.
That silencing, that self-shaming, becomes a part of your chemical program. It creates the perceptions you have of safety and the world around you. If these normalized traumas exist in the home, we call it systemic because it is of the family system. If it exists in the community, we call it cultural. There is almost always a relationship between one and the other.
What we don’t work out, we act out.
Woman as sexualized object is so normalized that we are accused of sexualizing our selves if we dress in ways that flatter our body. Consider how normalized this dangerous ideal is of shaming the female body.
This is crazy. Name it. Feel it. Break down patterns inside yourself that support shame. Breakdown paves the way for breakthrough.
Woman as caretaker is so normalized that mothers and wives often believe they must carry the entire emotional reality of their children and husband/partner. Consider how dangerous this is to shaming your own rights to your own needs, and how dangerous it is to the system because it teaches everyone that they don’t have to be accountable to their own.
This is crazy. Name it. Feel it. Breakdown paves the way for breakthrough.
Often coming into real health for folks can first look and feel crazy! Because when an individual starts to see that she was taught to participate in the normalization of negating her own needs in order to survive it can feel like she is going crazy. Breaking denial deregulates a persons entire reality.
Break down paves the way for breakthrough.
Healing is a process, health is a process. Transformation happens. Begin within.
Begin within. Begin now. What stories do you tell yourself about your ability, your right to meet your own needs? About what you need and what would happen if you gave yourself the self-care you need?
This moon highlights the peak growing season of spring. Metabolic storages of sunshine getting ready to transform to fruit and bounty! Begin again. Tolerance and love can only be practiced when we are in the habit of tending it inside ourselves. This is an active energy moon, manifesting! Tolerate your truth without judgement. Tolerate your own shame, your own feelings, any self-shaming stories or ways within you with the compassion you would give a best friend. This moon WILL highlight (GROW) whatever your energy level is…which is connected to your stress…which is connected to your self-stories and relationships…which is connected to how you feed your own needs.
Begin within: What are you exposing yourself to? How can you reframe what you are feeling, what you tell yourself, to understand it as your own needs crying out to be met?
What is seen beneath this moon the elders used to say was prophetic! This ain’t metaphysics hahaha! Simply put, we are complicit: we are accountable to how free we keep the infinite source of our heart, our mind, our soul. We are accountable to our choices and how they interconnect us in relationships. Begin within, what do you sow? How consciously, gratefully, joyously do you choose to take this one chance we get to live? This moon is a spotlight into that.
It will grow us toward the peak of the light season–summer’s start. This moon tide will hold us to ourselves, full moons bring the tension of more light, literally the sunlight reflected back at us in the middle of the night sky… Sunlight that increases until it pitches to its height at the Solstice, and after that–harvest or growth will be a momentum that we are already in the middle of.
So Now is a time to tend. Now is the time. Always. Right now. It’s all we have.
Begin again. Be gentle. If you want to change the world, start within yourself. Change happens within with the soft steadiness of love.
Happy Full moon, friends xo