Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beltaine

Happy Beltaine everyone!  Tis May Day with all the flowers, politics and smoldering of what may become summer romances.  This coming weekend is the big May Day Parade ( http://hobt.org ) with picnics in the park and all kinds of festivities.

The celebration probably comes to us from old town festivals celebrating the first planting.  Either it’s the party to get everyone together before they go out into the fields.  That makes it the night before the first plowing of the earth (a metaphor for other Beltaine activities.)  Or it could be the celebration after getting the seeds in.  The ritual of “making rain” so the seeds will grow.

The political overtones of International Workers Day, have roots all over the world.  Apparently “spring fever” can be a motivation for protesting unfair labor practices.  We have our 8 hour work week (how many of us actually have that mythical 8 hour work week anymore?) because of those protests.

I feel a little about Beltaine  the way I feel about New Years Eve.  It’s a great party, but it’s kind of depressing to go home alone.  I’m not looking for a “hook-up” and I’m not really ready to open my life up to share it with anyone.  (My daughter seems to be here more since she moved out than she was before she left.)  I am really enjoying the small freedoms of being in charge again.  Orion is still with me, of course, but he’s pretty accommodating as long as I get him on the bus in the morning and am here when he comes back in the afternoons.

It’s just that the birds are singing love songs and the trees are having tree sex (and interfering with my breathing but that’s another story.)  I’m a little melancholy about not having achieved a childhood fantasy about sitting on the porch swing with my husband.  (No picture of a porch swing because I don’t even have a porch!)

The good thing is there is too much to do and no time to sit around bemoaning my lack of a love life.  The season is upon us and somehow I’ll  just have to figure it all out.  The grass will get mowed, the strawberries will get weeded, the tomatoes will get planted. It’s time to dance around the fires.  I may even make it to the parade.

Parting Ways

From The Law Of The Wicca:

Anyone living within the covendom and wishing to form a new coven, to avoid strife, shall tell the elders of their intention and on the instant void their dwelling and remove to the new covendom.

Members of the old coven may join the new one when it is formed, but if they do, they must utterly avoid the old  coven.  The elders of the old and new coven should meet in peace and brotherly love to decide the new boundaries.  Those of the craft who dwell outside both covendoms may join either, indifferent, but not both.  Though all may, if the elders agree, meet for the great festivals if it truly be in peace and brotherly love.  But splitting the coven often means strife, so for this reason these laws were made of old.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we part company, and why.  My Wiccan tradition has two new covens forming in the local area.  My daughter is moving out into her first real apartment on her own, with no intention of ever moving back.  I have been through two divorces with two very different outcomes.

A student of mine made the observation that it seems, in the Pagan community as a whole, 3rd degree is given when you get to be too much trouble.  When it’s easier on everyone to get you to leave than to let you to stay and disrupt the group.   Is 3rd degree essentially a pat on the back, a rank of sovereignty, clergy with the traditional rituals and a boot out the door?  I had to agree that this is often the most compelling reason for 3rd degree to be given.

However, in my tradition neither of the two new covens are starting this way.  It is simply time for both High Priestesses to move on.  They both needed to be independent in order to continue to grow spiritually.  There was sadness, but no animosity in their parting.

The same is true for my daughter.  She can not become the fully functioning adult she is meant to be if her home base is with Mommy.  I am proud of her and excited and a little sad.  Thankfully she’s not running away as fast as she can or shaking up with the first guy who would have her.  Five years ago she might have done just that.  Now it really is time for her to go.

I did that, more or less, with my first husband.  I was living at home and keeping the kind of hours only a college student is capable of surviving.  My parent’s lived an hour away from school 20 min walk from a bus line that ran once an hour until 1am.  He lived within a block of campus.  I actually moved back home over the summer before moving out to a “real” apartment choosing intentionally to live with him rather than just crashing at his place.

That divorce was mostly because of attrition.  We grew up and found we dealt with grown up stress in very different ways.  I became management and he became labor.  Not a great dynamic for a marriage.  We were never a passionate couple and that may have made the parting easier.  We also continued to share custody and responsibility for the children.  Our dynamic makes more sense outside of the marriage relationship.  We are not the friends we were in college, but we have never been enemies.

My second husband was another story.  The last six months we were together he was astonished why I would still want to be divorced when things between us were getting so much better.  I had just resigned myself to saying yes to anything just to get him to sign the paperwork.  I didn’t throw his clothes out on the lawn and kick him out, but as soon as the divorce was final I got rid of most everything he’d left behind.

My first husband had reason to stay in touch.  I had to change the locks so he’d stop ‘dropping in‘ on me and the kids.  I had to get my friends to move some of the valuables we’d agreed were to be his to his house or he wouldn’t have taken them.  I had to say “It’s been a year, the ‘stuff’ that’s mine and the ‘stuff’ that’s yours is no longer negotiable.”  When the kids need something he’ll buy it.  When there is a childcare issue or a transportation need he’ll step in.  Rarely do I get push back on any request and my decisions are my own.

My second husband was a pest.  He would call “just to check up” and then bitch about how miserable he was.  He would write scathing messages on facebook about how I shouldn’t say nasty things about him to my friends.  He signed a paper that said anything left after he moved out was mine.  Six months later for the courts he signed a paper saying all our property had been distributed and he had his and I had mine.  Six months later I got threats about all his stuff that I had no right to be keeping because it was his and not mine.  He wanted to keep tabs on my 17 year old daughter and 21year old son.  He accused me of not letting them speak to him, as though I could have prevented it had they wanted to call.

Separating for autonomy sometimes requires being left alone to make your own decisions and your own mistakes.  I hope that my daughter continues to call me regularly but I can’t make her because I need to know if she’s coming home for dinner.  The same is true with the two new covens.

One of the new covens holds to the old law, to have no contact with the old group.  The interpretation they are using says that this restriction lasts for a year and a day.  They also distinguish between friendship and religious practice.  There will still be phone calls to touch base on a personal level.  The old coven leaders will not be guests at the new coven’s rituals.  At least not for a while, until the new group has time to establish it’s own traditions and group dynamics.

The second new coven does not seem to hold to the law in this regard.  There is concern about how the old group will perceive the validity of the decisions in the new coven.  The old coven leaders are welcomed and encouraged to participate in rituals for the new coven’s members.  Autonomy seems to be limited by personal authority, which from my perspective is being undermined by the old authority.  There is no question about who is running the group day to day.  There is only a question about where the power for decision making truthfully lies.   Who holds sovereignty?

It’s clear that parting company is difficult.  It is even more difficult to achieve with both grace and autonomy.   When we desire to take sovereignty of our own lives and our own spiritual paths are we truly the best judge of when we are ready?  If it is not necessary to ‘cut the ties’ in anger, why is that so common?  Is it a necessary stage of development to separate ourselves from our parents (biological or spiritual) in order to truly recognize our own sovereignty?

Weather

crab apple

I really can’t get over the weather this spring.  We had some snow yesterday, flurries in the cities and more up north.  The general reaction was surprise.  “This isn’t normal.”  Actually it is.  Not only is it normal for April, but it’s not unheard of even in May when the trees typically are in blossom and the bulbs are blooming.

I’ve lived in the area all my life and I was raised to be aware of the weather.  We did a lot of camping, even locally, and that of course helped.  I grew up fascinated by thunderstorms and tornadoes.  I watched from my basement window as the tornadoes that destroyed one of our neighboring suburbs went past.  I was out on the lake with my father and grandfather when a storm came in and we sat out the accompanying tornado under the boat pulled up on someone’s lakeshore back yard.  I’ve ridden through tornado weather in a tent, occasionally the only one left standing in the campground the next morning.

lilacs begining to bloom

In the fall of 1985 I announced that I was getting married on May 10, 1986 and that there would be apple blossoms and fresh lilacs for my bouquet. I was told I was crazy.  First off that the lilacs followed the apple blossoms, they did not bloom at the same time.  Secondly that here in Minnesota neither the apple nor the lilac bloomed that early in the year.  I was adamant.

Although it was early I knew down to my bones that it was possible.  I’d been watching for years with an awareness that I wanted those flowers when and if I ever got married.  Yes the lilacs usually follow the apples, but sometimes for a couple of days they can be in bloom together.  Yes the spring is often later than that second week of May, but early springs had happened almost that time of year.

wedding photo by Ron Simms

I got married on May 10, 1986 under a blossoming apple tree with lilacs in my bouquet.   I had to bring the lilacs in the night before and put them in warm water to force the blossom from the bud, but I was a happy bride.   This is why I keep insisting that we are a full month ahead on the season.  We really are.  The fruit trees are blossoming and the lilacs are starting to bloom.  In mid April.  Even before the taxes were due.

In my lifetime, my fathers lifetime and my grandfathers lifetime this weather pattern was unheard of until this year.  Everyone loves it.  I love it, it’s beautiful.  It’s also SO wrong.  There is no predicting if it will hold or if we will loose all the fruits from these early blossoms.  There is no predicting if we will have and earlier or longer or hotter summer.  There is no predicting what may happen in August.

The weather forecasters and climatologists are using models based on data that is no longer applicable.  They are assuming that the weather patterns will hold true as they move to more northern latitudes.  Unfortunately there is no data that indicates that is an accurate theory.  The tornado systems that have plagued the midwest already this year (much too early in the season) are not typical of Texas springs.

Lilacs along the Lilac Drive

Most of us have become very urbanized.  We are dependent on the shipping of our produce from “wherever it might be growing.”  We have lost our sense of how the climate affects the crops, affects the prices, affects anything beyond our daily comfort.  That’s why we are loving this weather, this early spring.

I can’t say I’ve had much conversation with the local farmers.  Our farmers markets typically don’t even open until after Memorial Day and there’s rarely much produce until mid June.  I suspect they are as torn as I am.  Enjoying the early and dry spring as it allows for early planting.  Worried about the lack of rain rather than the over abundance springs often bring.  Not at all sure what they are risking by planting early, or what the potential for gain may be if we have an extended season.

In all my life I can not remember ever taking the weather truly one day at a time.  I’ve always seen the patterns.  I’ve always had a climate norm that I could relate to.   I’ve always laughed at the weather forecasters who compare “today’s temperatures” with the mean average, knowing that our “typical” temperatures in the spring are plus or minus 15 degrees.

Apple

I guess I’m just going to have to get used to the weather as it comes.  We all will.  Let’s hope the surprises Mother Nature has in store for us are things we can survive.

Spring Fever

Old ferns and fiddleheads

When I started this blog it didn’t feel like I was doing a lot of writing.  Sure I was working on the book, sure I was doing my morning pages,  I was preparing for a workshop I was giving.  It just didn’t seem like a lot.  Today I feel like I’m doing a lot of writing.  I’m doing my morning pages.  I’m working on the next book.  I am trying to put together a workshop proposal or two.  What has changed?

Mostly what has changed is the season.  In the late summer and early autumn it makes sense to start pulling into yourself.  It feels “right” to be spending time putting your thoughts in order.  It feels good to be gathering and storing and bedding down for the long winter nights.

Now that it’s spring there are so many other things I’d rather be doing than sitting at my computer typing out words.  Even worse, editing and rewriting things that I’ve already put down onto my “pages”.

It's all about the attitude

Last week I talked about stepping out and I am really enjoying taking the time to get outside and walk.  I like having new things on my calendar.  Sadly, all these exciting new things make sitting down to write even harder.

My spiritual life is also taking another turn.  I am involved in a spiritual community project this week with the local COG council.  I’m taking on students again and need to prepare classes.  The workshop projects are expanding my circles.  I’ve found myself committing to working regularly with a new small group. (At least I’m not in charge of that one!)  Even my dreams are busy.

Pregnant with possibilities

Theoretically a writer needs input.  Something has to ‘prime the pump’ to get things started.  We’ve all seen blogs and Facebook postings that really have no impact or interest to anyone but the person writing.  I suspect I’ve written a fair share of those myself.  All the stepping out I’m doing will hopefully help keep my writing fresh, interesting and inspirational.

Beautiful Narcissus

I do want to connect.  I would like to inspire.  I love it when my readers “share” my blog on Facebook or recommend it to their friends.   I really appreciate the comments when my posts have been helpful.  (I also have appreciated a critique or two, but not quite the same way.)  I know that I can’t do that if I’m just stuck in my own head and my own house.

Two Tulips

I keep reminding myself that balance is not a static thing.  Balance is dynamic, always changing and adjusting. The balance that works in the fall is necessarily different than the balance that works in the spring.  With the season coming so early this year adjusting is just a little unfamiliar, but not impossible.

So I will find time to talk with friends.  I will find time to get outside and walk.  I will find time for my spiritual work.  I will find time to do some spring cleaning and maybe even gardening.  I will find time to read everyone’s blogs and post occasional comments.  I will find time, and inspiration, to write.

Hows that for an affirmation?

I'm usually digging through the snow hoping to find woodruff at the END of April!

Stepping Out

I has occurred to me that I am the queen of excuses. 

I had a friend who made a distinction between excuses and reasons.  Reasons are real problems.  Obstacles that have a way around them if we are willing to look.  Excuses are the stories we tell ourselves to avoid looking for solutions.

There was a reason I struggled with last weeks posting.  Anyone who read it can see that.  But I didn’t use an excuse to avoid making the attempt.  That’s writing.  I’ve been working on my self talk about my writing.  I started the blog on purpose, stepping out and being accountable about my writing.

Look what it’s gotten me!  I have been writing once a week since August on the blog.  I’ve made quite a few new on-line friends reading and commenting on their blogs.  I’ve got a book at the publishers.  Yes, occasionally I may produce a blog like last weeks.  Generally though I’m a writer.

crocus peeking color

Now it’s time to take on some exercise and health projects.  I’ve got long and deep excuses for not exercising, not taking care of myself and generally being a sedentary kind of gal.  I’ve been thinking about doing something about this for a long while.  I recognized on my trip to California that I’m not doing myself any favors.

My most recent, consistent excuse has been the weather.  It’s scary to walk outside on the snow and ice, especially when you’ve spent the last 2 years in physical therapy from your last set of falls.   Has anybody noticed me commenting on our unseasonable weather?  We haven’t had snow and ice for almost a month.  It’s time to step out.

I’ve enlisted Orion to help me.  He’s not really keen on exercise either, but if I set him on his way out the door he’s game for anything.  The nice thing about walking with Orion is that I move slower.  When I walk with him I can go farther than when I walk on my own.

Orion says his wheelchair is built for speed.

The first time I made him take a walk with me I packed a chair on the back of his wheelchair, just in case.  One of my fears is that I’ll get out and not be able to get back.  Turns out I made it a lot further than I thought I could!  In part because we went slowly, but also just because I had that reassurance that I could stop if I needed to.

Getting out the door for a walk is pleasant, but it’s not always easy.  The pollen count is high, the days are busy and sometimes there really isn’t time.  On the other hand when we do go out I sleep better, feel better and eat a lot less.  I even went out by myself when Orion was at his Dad’s on Sunday!

The third thing that really needs to happen is stepping out socially.  It’s been two years since I kicked out my last husband and it’s time to come out of the cave.  Because I have Orion in tow, this does get to be a little complicated.  Often it’s just easier to stay home than to pack everything up and then deal with accessibility issues in a strange place.  However, it needs to happen.

Waiting for the music to start

We had the opportunity to go to a CD release party last weekend.  The venue was convenient and accessible.  The crowd were mostly people we know and who adore Orion.  It was going to be after dinner so maybe we could avoid eating the junk food.  We had a blast!  Orion is still talking about it to anyone who will listen.  It was great to catch up with some of the folks we haven’t seen for months.  The music was good too.

I’ve also signed us up for a couple of “meet-ups”.  Local groups with a common interest.  The one’s I signed up for are a tour of a local Hindu Temple and a discussion of Islamic women in art.  Orion has a strong interest in East Indian culture (he speaks Hindi and Urdu).  I have a strong interest in religion in culture.  These meet-ups seemed like a good match for both of us.

Great time to be "Stepping Out!"

So I’m stepping out.  I may have Orion in tow, but he’s a fun and enthusiastic companion.  How are you challenging yourself in the next months?

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