Category Archives: meditation

Ancestors

Between the late season and my asthma I haven’t spent a lot of time in the garden this year.   I was on Blog Talk Radio the other day talking about magic in the garden.  I mentioned one of the beds I have is an ancestor garden.  Given that it’s Memorial Day Monday and that I’ve been trying to get the annuals in (between thunder showers) that seemed to be a good topic for today’s blog.

Heather doesn't grow well here, and the lavender doesn't winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

Heather doesn’t grow well here, and the lavender doesn’t winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

My ancestor garden is the one along side the driveway, next to the entry we most frequently use.  That way I see it all the time, winter and summer.  Winter gardens are a real challenge up here, and my ancestor bed doesn’t make it, but just knowing it’s there under the snow is a reminder that my ancestors may no longer be with me, but that they are still there.

My ancestors are a mish-mash.  I have represented ancestors of blood, ancestors of heart, and ancestors of spirit.  My best friend from college is an ancestor of heart.  He died 16 years ago and I still miss him almost every day. You’ve seen my bulbs, the tulips and hyacinths.  (The trails are fading under the lavender.)  He was a big fan of the spring flower shows.  The bulbs I started there were from a spring planter he’d gifted to me the year before he died.  My hope in the spring is also a hope that he’s still watching out for me.  I usually manage to get a fall mum in for him as well.

viola's (the nursery was out of pansy's)

viola’s (the nursery was out of pansy’s)

My grandmother’s were both gardeners.  My maternal grandmother grew sweet peas, but I’ve never gotten them to go.  She also grew pansy’s and petunias.  This year I put in viola’s for her.  Those old-fashioned wild flowers are all very much representative of her country farm wife ways.  My other grandmother had a flair for the exotic.  She’d plant cotton bringing the seeds back from a trip south.  Or she’d plant silver dollars for good fortune.  There’s a hybrid daisy that thrives in that garden for her.  The colors are bright and cheerful and I’ve never found another in the seed catalogues quite like it.  Maybe I’ll post a photo when it blooms.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

The kid’s paternal grandmother loved dusty miller.  It was her favorite, I asked.  I don’t particularly care for the plant, but when I put it in honoring her, it even winters over.  I’ve come to appreciate its strength, resilience and alien simplicity.  Now when I see it grow I smile and think of her kindness and patience.

For ancestors of the spirit you may see some Russian sage coming up between the chocolate mint.  The sage is for one of my teachers.  Russian sage is perennial and he had a fondness for Occidental cultures.  The mint is a nod to the cooks, family and otherwise, who have influenced me along the way.  I got it out of a friend’s garden in Detroit so there is an extra nod to her along the way.

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

The cycle of the garden is a microcosm of the cycle of life.  Honoring my ancestors in this way I spend time tending their memories throughout the growing season and even in the winter.  I pick and choose my annuals, filling in the blanks and sometime adding a new memorial for a season or as a permanent addition.  These people are my foundation.  They continue to nurture me in my journey as I nurture my garden.   Blessed Be.

Packing

You all thought I was going to write about gun legislation didn’t you.   I’m not.  I’m trying to look at packing as a metaphor.  It seems like a better approach than looking upon it as a chore.

vintage luggage

vintage luggage

We use the term baggage a lot to talk about all the “stuff” we carry with us through life.  I suspect the reference is effective in part because so many people tend to over pack.  In the era of weighed checked luggage where we pay $25 + per bag,  that overpacking issue gets tackled head on.

I think about the ways people have packed in the past.  Traveling by ship with steamer trunks is a little different than flying with a carry on tote.  On the other side of it we’re going the distance for a weekend when back then it could be a month or more before even arriving at your destination.  I look at old movies and watch actors skip down the road swinging those old suitcases.  I’ve seen those suitcases in thrift stores.  They’re tiny.  They’re heavy!

Of course the actor has an empty suitcase, if it’s not a piece of plastic painted to look like one.  But even back in those days most people had the clothes on their backs, one set to wash and one for church on Sunday.  There were no shoes in those suitcases.  If there were books it was probably just one small Bible.  Jewelry for common people wasn’t particularly abundant either.  I wonder how often they changed their underwear?

Orion: 2 pants, 5 warm shirts, 2 t-shirts, socks and underwear and room for twice that.

Orion: 2 pants, 5 warm shirts, 2 t-shirts, socks and underwear and room for twice that.

Those small suitcases (and this goes for carry on bags) are an issue as well.  I’m not a small girl.  I’m 5’10” and grossly overweight.  For any one piece of clothing I get into my bag my daughter (5’8″ and fit) or my son (weighing under 100 lbs) can pack 2 or 3 of the same.  Either of them can wear vintage clothing (although with my daughter it’s tougher for the height and shoulders).  It speaks to that old fashioned luggage, people were smaller.   I’m lucky if I can wear a vintage hat.  ($25 to check that hatbox Ma’am.)

Then there is the issue of seasonal travel.  The Twin Cities in Minnesota has the largest temperature range for its population density in the world.  Any time of year the “average” temperatures give or take 20 degrees.  It’s hard to pack one outfit that’s reasonable for both 75 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit.  Temps in that entire range are common any day in 6 months out of the year, and possible in all of them.  (Well maybe our highest temperature ever in January was 69 degrees but our lowest in July was 24!)  When traveling to multiple climate zones (or a crazy place like Minnesota) layers are essential and that means less room in the luggage.  A sweater takes up a lot more space than a swimsuit!

Sweater and swimsuit

Sweater and swimsuit

I’ve done enough traveling that I do pack well and can travel lightly.  I have trouble lifting or carrying a bag that weighs as much as that 50 lbs excess baggage limit.  Still I’m often amazed at what I choose to include on any given trip.  How much of my “good intentions” packing (sure I’ll work on that project while I’m away) do I ever really get to do?  Other than reading on the plane, do I find myself reading in hotel rooms?  How much of what I run to Target to grab before I go would be just as easy to pick up once I arrive?

I’m still reaching for the metaphor.  I’m not sure what packing says about me, about us.  I do feel better about doing it.  Packing as a meditation……….

Thanks for listening.

3 summer weight dresses, 2 summer  weight jackets, underwear- no socks, jewelry - no makeup and I'm already bursting at the seams!

3 summer weight dresses, 2 summer weight jackets, underwear- no socks, jewelry – no makeup and I’m already bursting at the seams!

Prayer Beads

I do a workshop called “Daily Practice Sucks”.   Daily practice is one of those things that most religious practices encourage in one form or another.  Some people are great at daily practice.  They find their thing and they run with it.  They get a lot out of it and it really helps.

Other people are like me.  We struggle with doing daily practice.  It doesn’t matter how long I do something, I never seem to get to that point people talk about where I hit the “zone”.  I don’t become addicted to exercise, or feel horrible enough without my daily yoga to keep  at it.  I have been doing this spirituality stuff for a long time and I’ve tried a lot of things.

In my book (Manifest Divinity published by Immanion press and available in print or e-book from Amazon) I give exercises to help people achieve a stronger relationship with the Divine – as they choose to define that.  I suggest doing daily practice.  It works, it helps, it’s great.  I’m just really bad at it.

The workshop I give addresses a lot of the problems people have with daily practice.  In a smaller group (which is my preference) I can go through and address individuals about what they are hoping to achieve from their daily practice.  We can discuss what they currently do, or don’t do.  I love doing this workshop.  I always learn something new.  I love sharing ideas.  Best of all people come in saying they don’t have a daily practice and they leave saying “I have a daily practice.”

Earth Conclave Prayer Beads

One of the things I do in the workshop is share some of my own practices.  When I was at the Women and Spirituality Conference last month in Mankato I promised I’d post one of those practices on line.  This gets us back to the title of this week’s blog – Prayer Beads.

Prayer beads are something I learned to work with from the folks at the Earth Conclave. (http://www.earthconclave.org)  They are useful for a lot of different kinds of prayers.  People make prayer beads in many cultures and religious structures from Buddhism to Catholicism.  It makes remembering prayers easier.  It’s fun, portable and pretty.  They can be a very powerful tool for doing daily practice.

Making your own set allows you to personalize the prayer to suit your particular needs.  If you want to do a set of prayer beads for health, the people you pray for always, you can do that.  You can even add extra strings for those occasions when something extra arises.  You can make prayer beads to create sacred space.  You can make prayer beads to honor the ancestors.  You can make a prayer of gratitude into prayer beads and then wear them as a necklace to remind you to walk in gratitude throughout the day.  They are a great tool.

I wrote a prayer and made up a set of prayer beads.  I said my prayer in my workshop and got the requests to post it. So here it is, my on again off again daily practice prayer bead prayer:

I am Golden

I choose to live in Abundance

I choose to live in Beauty, Balance, and Delight

I experience Joy and Awe in the world around me

I am Amazed

I choose to live in Gratitude

I am grateful for the Earth and the gifts and tools of Earth

I am grateful for the Air and the gifts and tools of Air

I am grateful for the Fire and the gifts and tools of Fire

I am grateful for the Water and the gifts and tools of Water

I am grateful for the Bounty in my life

I am all things and all things are me

I am a magical child of the Gods

I choose to live in Abundance

I choose to live in Beauty, Balance, and Delight

I experience Joy and Awe in the world around me

I am Amazed

I choose to live in Love and surrounded by Love

I pray in Love and Light

Holding True to my own Heart

I pray for the Earth that sustains and nurtures me

I pray for my Patron Deities

I pray for Myself

I pray for the Waters that quench my Desires

I pray for my Totems

I pray for my Family

I pray for the Fires that warm and move me

I pray for the Ancestors that love me beyond all reason and support me in my work

I pray for my Clan

I pray for the Air, breath of life that inspires me

I pray for the Mysterious Ones who cross my path to aid and teach me

I pray for my Community

I Blossom in a sea of Love

I choose to live in Abundance

I choose to live in Beauty, Balance, and Delight

I experience Joy and Awe in the world around me

I am Amazed

Blessed Be

My Prayer beads

Shrines

The theme of Sacred Harvest Festival this year was shrines.  That’s where I was camping at the beginning of the month and where I also presented two workshops (neither of them about shrines.)

Shrine to Cernunos Irish Lord of the Hunt

I  really enjoy visiting shrines.  I’m fond of the side chapels in churches.  I like walking through cemeteries.  I nod at the statues in Asian restaurants.  I’m happy to stop and rest on memorial benches and enjoy the view.  I readily light a candle, or a stick of incense or drop a bit of libation when invited to participate in the honoring of a shrine.

Visiting a shrine is like meeting the relatives.  It’s a level of intimacy that, although usually not too risky, isn’t something where participating makes everyone who visits comfortable.  A shrine, like the relatives, must be approached with a willingness to simply accept them as they are.  Shrines are a gift to and from those who tend them.

I notice shrines when I visit peoples homes, even when they are tucked away and unremarked upon.  Some shrines are a very conscious part of a spiritual practice.  Some are entirely unconscious as though shrines are hardwired into our genetics.  Photos collected with the dead relatives in one cluster and the living in another are effective ancestor shrines.  Collections of shells from a visit to the ocean or acorns, or stones often honor the memory of a place.   People have shrines to music, and art, and literature which they honor but do not necessarily acknowledge in a conscious way.

An unconscious shrine to love and marriage

In my book, Manifest Divinity, I identify the Divine very broadly.  I suggest that anything that produces that feeling of awe is inherently a manifestation of the Divine.  Shrines, for me, are a way for people to connect with the Divine in their day to day lives.  By visiting them I get a chance to touch the Divine the way others experience it and expand my own experience and understanding.

Buddha in the snow

Here are a few more shrines:

Can shrines be portable? Prayer beads of Earth Conclave

Or temporary? Place setting for a dinner in honor of the Red Dragon

Ancestors of the blood, of the heart or of the spirit can be honored in ancestor shrines

Shrine to Epony. Do you know a girl with a shrine to horses?

I am of the Divine and the Divine is in me.

What shrines do you keep in your home or visit regularly?

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving – the expression of gratitude.  Those of us who run in spiritual circles hear a lot about gratitude.  There are numerous books in the market on the topic.  It’s become almost a buzzword.  But there is a huge difference between saying thank you and feeling grateful from the tips of your toes.

Gratitude in an emotional context feels both humble and bounteous.  Gratitude comes with an upwelling of joy and love.  It is a giving back, thanks in love returned for gifts received.  There is a Norse tradition expressed in the rune Gifu.  Acceptance of a gift obligates, a gift for a gift.  But when gifts are exchanged in gratitude that obligation becomes joyful and burden-less.

The holiday this week brings gratitude, thankfulness, into our cultural awareness.  Many of us find ourselves fulfilling family obligations, and often with more trepidation than joy.  Is this a holiday of food and football?  Is this a celebration of white privilege, colonial expansion and manifest destiny?  Even staying in the moment can be difficult as many of us use the day to scan the ads and plan our black Friday shopping expeditions.

In an effort to stay present in the moment and to experience the week in gratitude I have written a short mediation, a prayer if you will, that I would like to share with you here.  If you like it I would ask you to please share my blog, pass it on.

I breathe deeply, in and out.

I can be grateful for my breath in and out.

I breathe in and fill my body with gratitude.

I breathe out and release that which does not serve my greater purpose.

I am grateful for my breath.

I breath into my body.  My chest moves as I breath.  My belly moves as I breath.  

I can be grateful for my body as it contains my breath.

I breathe in and fill my body with gratitude.

My body moves in gratitude.

My body carries gratitude into the world.

I am grateful for my body.

I live in my body, moved by my breath in each moment of my life.

I can be grateful for my life. 

My life is lived in gratitude.

My life is filled with gifts and opportunities for giving.

I am grateful for my life.

Blessed Be.

Sleep

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.  This isn’t entirely uncommon, but usually I can identify a specific cause.  Scary movies have been keeping me awake since I was a kid, so I don’t usually see them.  Pain often keeps me awake and I can’t say I’ve been “pain free”, but I don’t really think it’s been that bad.  Stress will keep me awake going over my “to do” list or worrying a problem, but that’s not what I’m doing.  Drinking a pot a day of really good strong coffee (Jamaica Blue Mountain!) might keep me awake, but that was weeks ago.

It’s certainly affecting the basic thinking process and even more the creative process.  I can’t seem to stay on topic or keep track of my schedule.  I have 3 blog drafts started (this is the fourth) and I can’t seem to figure out where to go with them after the second paragraph.  I had the annual meeting on my son’s care this week which I totally spaced until they called to cancel and reschedule.  (Someone is looking out for me!)

When I struggle to get to sleep I often meditate in bed.  That can cause issues for people with both meditating and with sleeping.  I know plenty of folks who train themselves to fall asleep during a meditation.  I also know that sense of needing to get to a meditative state before sleep is even an option.  My trick for dealing with that is positional.  I meditate on my back and I sleep on my side.  It’s enough of a difference so that I don’t fall asleep meditating.  It’s easy enough that I get the benefits of having relaxed in the meditation to fall asleep.

But this week getting to sleep doesn’t really seem to be the problem.  It’s staying asleep I’m struggling with.  The sleep apnea thing is always a possibility.  I’ve been struggling with my panic attacks when I use the mask for a year and a half.  Still can’t get through the night with it on, but I can take a nap for as much as 2 hours and that’s a huge improvement.  So even if I go to bed using the bi-pap machine, I’m awake enough at least once, 2 hours later, to take the mask off roll over and go back to sleep.

I suspect that’s actually part of the issue.  I seem to have taught myself to sleep in 2 hour chunks and then wake up.  Now I wake up plenty even on a good night, but there’s a difference between waking up with, “What time is it?  Is the alarm going off soon?” and waking up with, “pillow, switch sides, sleep.”

It could also be the dream pillow I’ve recently added to my pillow pile.  I don’t remember my dreams well except the occasional dream I’m having as I wake up.  Maybe my subconscious is interpreting making a dream pillow as a cue to make me remember all of my dreams?  Or maybe I’m just allergic enough to the dust and mold on the herbs to make sleeping difficult, back to the breathing issues.

Whatever it is that’s keeping me from sleeping at least I’ve managed to find SOMETHING I can blog about for more than a couple of paragraphs.  Hopefully by next week I will have gotten a good night sleep.  I may have to have a chat with Morpheus.

%d bloggers like this: