The Force of Nature

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I can’t believe that Imbolc is here which means we’re already halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Although it doesn’t really feel like it, the quickening of the earth has begun. To remind my kids (and myself) of this reawakening, I rummaged through the junk cabinet, you know, the one underneath the junk drawer, (no junk cabinet? I send great kudos to you, but you can’t convince me that you don’t have at least one junk drawer somewhere) and I found the crumpled paper bag at the very back. I’m not sure but I think I may have heard a chorus of angels because in that bag was the Holy Grail of possibilities and new beginnings. So out of the bag and onto the kitchen counter roll several small, strange looking brown blobs of promise.

And every year my kids will ask the same thing, “Are they dead?”

One of my favorite things to do a week or so before Imbolc is to force bulbs to grow in my kitchen window.

At the end of January that statement makes me feel so empowered! In midwinter I can’t do much of anything outside because of the thick mud and my little Summer herb garden seems like a distant memory. Sure, I’ll feed and water the houseplants but even they start to look sluggish. But believe you me, I will force those bulbs to grow!

And they do. They always do. Rain or shine, their vibrant green shoots will burst through the surface within days of planting, and before I know it they’re blooming with confidence and sheer force of will. And every year I am humbled by their elegant beauty, knowing full well I didn’t force them to do anything. I simply gave them a place to start and in return they shared their lovely blooms with me and my family.

That’s the power of Nature. All around us are reminders of Gaia’s strength, compassion, and never-ending gifts of beauty.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

 

Making Magick With Shel Silverstein & Chicken Noodle Soup

When the kids get sick I have a knee-jerk reaction to find out how I could have prevented it. The Goddess knows that I try and be a great mom, but the reality of it is I’m not perfect. My kids had the flu this week and I’m frustrated I couldn’t have prevented it.

It’s also a very difficult undertaking for me to care for my sick children in times of personal debilitating pain. This week has been one of those weeks, but somehow, I not sure exactly how, I’ve made it through. My children are well and finally back at school today and I think I’ll go ahead and collapse. Well, after I do a few things.

I’ll be somewhat functional today while I do a much needed load of laundry, (because Mount Washmore is gaining amazing altitude in the laundry room) catch up on correspondences, and empty the dishwasher. But then I’m going to relax. No, collapse. Well at least until 3:30.

I’m crossing my fingers the school doesn’t call because one of my kids starts feeling icky again, and I sure as hell hope that they don’t catch something else that may be going around.

I’ve known the most fastidious of germaphobes who still get sick. I myself am constantly making sure everyone washes their hands, eats reasonably healthy, and are active. I also make sure my kids stay home from school/social situations when they are sick so they aren’t spreading the illness to others. But some things just can’t be helped.

2015 flu season, commercial cleaning company, detroit office cleaning, detroit jantorial services, smart clean, cleaning for health, germs, dirty bathrooms

The awful thing was that I knew it was coming. Last week during my daughter’s basketball practice I watched as more than half the girls on her team were coughing and sniffling then handling the basketball, which was being bounced around from teammate to teammate. I inwardly cringed as the ball made its rounds, knowing that the germs were successful in finding new little hands to cling to.

As much as I tried to keep the right balance of vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc going, and as much as I charged and anointed my healing candles and surrounded my children with energy of protection, they still succumbed to the flu. My efforts failed. Am I truly so powerless? I mean, what kind of Witchy Momma am I?

At first I panicked. Then I cried. How was I going to care for my sick kids when I myself was on the verge of insanity from my pain? The area around my fusion and disc replacement was in knots, my sciatica was turned to high, and my fibromyalgia reacted to the stress with a vengeance. But I would do what I had to do, then my husband would take over when he got home from work (bring on the guilt, I think I can take it).

So the daily routine this week went like this:

I would be jolted awake by coughing fits after short bouts of painful sleep, but would take a deep calming breath and go and visit each child. I’d give out doses of honey if they asked, I’d spread globs of vicks vapo-rub on their feet while giving a quick tickle that made them squirm or smile just a bit before I put their socks back on. If needed, I would refill the humidifiers and add additional germ-killing essential oils, sometimes refreshing the cool rags for foreheads, and giving a dose of Tylenol if needed. I’d do all of this calmly and methodically then shuffle back to bed.

I spent a lot of the daytime sitting in the living room surrounded by sick kids with fever, coughing, and whining as my company. I wandered around picking up used Kleenex off the floor (no one could seem to hit the makeshift paper bag garbage can sitting right next to them) and would periodically go around the house wiping door handles, faucets, and light switches with an essential oil mix or just go ahead and heavy hit places with Lysol spray. I’d rinse the dishes, and maybe do a load of laundry. But when my body warned me to stop doing things, I listened and rested. At night my husband would give me a massage which caused tears to stream down my face, but as always, it ended up relieving some pain.

During a late Monday morning when my pain was at a steady level I took the opportunity to make a double batch of our favorite chicken noodle soup. We had it for lunch the first few days and we ate it with crackers while sitting on the sofa together watching old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Lassie while nodding off now and then.

When they’d get tired of watching Lassie save the day they’d come find me in my bedroom on the heating pad, our adjustable bed in the zero gravity position with the full body massage on (that bed was one of our best investments we made to help manage my pain). Usually by the time they found me I had been resting long enough and my afternoon medication had kicked in that they were welcome to climb into bed with me. We would read Shel Silverstein’s wacky poems over and over again or look through our family pictures on the laptop, revisiting their baby years, vacations, holidays, all of which brought smiles and occasional laughter. A much needed reprieve from misery.

By Monday afternoon and thereafter, I was having have them each take a warm but quick shower and change into clean pajamas. By then they would be tired again so back to the couch. During the late afternoon I reheated some of the soup broth and they sipped on it while settled in their own little makeshift nests of pillows and blankets on either end of the couch, zoning out in their little foggy orbits. Thankfully the television stayed off.

By Tuesday afternoon they began arguing. For lunch they finished off the soup. A good sign they were recovering!

By Wednesday their coughs had become considerably less often and there were very few wads of Kleenex on the floor.

By Thursday they were playing with toys and complaining about how bored they were.
I was relieved when they slept through the night and that their eyes were bright this morning and they were ready to go back to school. Thank you Dear Goddess! I too was feeling so much better that I even did a little happy cha-cha-cha in the kitchen after the school bus drove away. Yes, I definitely feel better.

It took many years of Mommyhood to finally understand that I needed to slow down the pace when caring for my sick kids. One of the things I wish I knew as a younger mom (way before I even had to deal with chronic pain) was to relax when caring for my sick kids. Of course I still worry and listen to my inner-mom intuition, but when I come from a place of calm I am better aware of whether they need more or less of something and can adjust accordingly. It also gives me the ability to send them healing energy more effectively. I can make sure they drink plenty of fluids and gently remind them to rest, then taking that opportunity to rest myself. I can read aloud to them when they don’t feel well enough to read on their own. We can even watch an old movie or t.v. show together even if we end up napping through some of it. And I can even find the opportunity to make chicken noodle soup.

The way my life is now, living with daily chronic pain, I know from experience that If I don’t slow down when I know I should then my pain level will spike to an unmanageable level causing all kinds of misery. My children can sense when Momma’s not okay, but I can do my best not to add additional stress to their recovery. If I repeatedly went down the checklist of things to do for children with the flu, constantly took their temperature, and tied to maintain a perfect house through it all, I would be a raving lunatic stressed out to the max, and believe me I’ve been there, done that. Now as an older mom with young children and pain issues I’d have to add delirious from pain to the stressed out lunatic description. Stress is ugly and will spread just as quickly and with as much stealth as the nasty virus that has invaded my children.

It’s important for me to find joy in the little things that we did this week. Yes, it’s awful that my kids were sick, and no, it wasn’t necessarily a productive week. However, we were blessed with those quiet moments to connect and to feel the love and healing that came from them. In the process, I ended up loving and caring for myself which gave me the strength to overcome the obstacle of pain. I really believe that love is the best medicine of all. The beautiful feeling we find in love that is given and received in times of need is above and beyond any magickal power you will ever have, ever want or ever even find.

Many Warm Blessings of Health on Your Journey )O(

homemade chicken noodle soup

Photo from Honey Bee’s Recipes

         Magickal Chicken Noodle & Herb Soup

This is my take on the basic chicken noodle soup recipe that I have tweaked over the years. It’s now a family favorite and staple during cold and flu season. It’s full of cold and flu fighting herbs and the potato thickens it just a bit. If you are worried about the amount of herbs being too strong, start with half the amount and adjust to your taste from there. It makes about 8 servings and is ready in about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup diced celery
12 cups chicken stock*
½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
3 cups diced cooked chicken meat

1 (8-ounce) package dried egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced potato
1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass**
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat drizzle in the olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and celery and cook in olive oil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and stir in chopped cooked chicken, dried egg noodles, carrots, potato, sea salt (optional), and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

*Take advantage of store bought rotisserie chicken for both the meat in this recipe and for making chicken stock for future recipes. After removing the meat, save the carcass to make chicken stock. Place the carcass in a large crock pot. Cut 3 whole celery stalks into thirds being sure to keep the leaves on the ends as they are full of flavor and place in pot. Then add 3 carrots cut into thirds. 2 medium onions quartered, 4 cloves of garlic, split, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 teaspoons sea salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Fill with enough water to fully cover the chicken. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Strain through cheesecloth and discard bones and vegetables. Store in refrigerator or freeze in gallon freezer bags.

***Lemongrass can usually be found in the produce section where the herbs are stocked. Our store sells it fresh as well as in a tube next to the ginger, tarragon, thyme, etc.

A New Journey for our Beloved Feathered Friend

My youngest daughter buried her pet parakeet today. She had received the blue budgie she named “Sweetheart” for her birthday two years ago after she begged, and begged, and begged for a bird. I wasn’t sure if she was ready to care for a bird because it needed more than just interaction, it also needed basic care and frequent cage cleaning. She insisted and promised that she was ready but I still had my doubts.

So I had her research the parakeet species and write a five paragraph essay on how to care for one and what her expectations were. She did a lot of research online and checked out all the library books she could find about them. What she ended up creating was two pages (which is pretty good for a second grader) filled with heartfelt words of persuasion (so persuasive that any and all spelling and grammatical errors were immediately and easily forgiven) so needless to say, she won what had become the “Battle of the Bird” hands-down.

And she stayed true to her words and was a brilliant pet budgie owner. There were no regrets and the entire family enjoyed her company.

There were no signs of any illness or distress at all. She was eating well, and played with us the night before, chirping to the t.v. and seemed content. And like any other night, my daughter took her to her bedroom and sat her on the perch next to her bed and read to her.

Then this morning I made the unpleasant and sad discovery. Luckily we were running late for school and I hadn’t had the chance to uncover her cage until the kids were off to school. It bought me some time to first figure out how I was going to tell my daughter Sweetheart was gone, to find a proper box, and think about how we were going to handle the final goodbye.

My husband broke the news to her and talked with her for a little while as she asked questions that he could readily answer in his special way because he is both a biologist and a druid.

She then came to me and climbed into bed and I held her and stroked her head as she cried. After some time we dried her tears and began the task of saying goodbye.

Her little coffin was a cedar box with a hinged lid that hadn’t yet been painted for one of my Tarot decks. We placed muslin in the bottom with cotton batting underneath. The bird was gently placed in the box and at our daughter’s request we left the two of them alone until she was ready to close the lid. She had taken a piece of millet (Sweetheart’s favorite treat) because she wanted to tuck it into the box with her bird. We found a spot under an umbrella shaped deciduous tree that is deeply shaded during the hot summer months. My husband used the shovel and began digging the hole then handed it to our daughter and we each took with the shovel. She placed the box into the earth and began covering the hole. My husband finished and smoothed the top.

She rewrote a prayer from the book “Circle Round” on an index card and read it out loud.

“Sweetheart, fellow traveler and my trusted friend. I am sad to see you go. I will miss your funny chirps, and your soft feathers. I will miss reading to you at night and will always smile when I think about how much you liked sitting on my shoulder and how you loved to have conversations with your own reflection in the bathroom mirror (we then went around and each of us shared something). May your journey be peaceful, happy, and free. As you join the great dance of creation, we thank the Goddess for your time with us, and we will hold you forever in our hearts.

Blessed Be”

We are going down to the creek bed tomorrow so that my daughter can find a special rock to use as a marker for Sweetheart’s grave.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Do You Still Believe?

I do.

I believe that the stillness of the Winter Solstice ritual lasts for many days. It gives me strength to maintain the calm before the storm because I have slowed the pace in my life and within my family’s Hearth. By becoming the Eye of the Storm, the center of calm, I observe what transpires in the wake of holiday induced stress. It helps keep me from falling into the trap of frantic shopping, endless to-do lists, emotional exhaustion and the eventual sad letdown after the mountain of gifts have been torn through. That was all I knew while growing up. Well that and Midnight Mass.

Our family looks forward the Winter Solstice season, to seeing all the glittering lights, pretty presents under the tree and can’t help but feel more than just an inkling of pure magick during this time of giving and receiving that is not exclusive to any one religious or cultural group. We gravitate together to help bring light back into the world and celebrate the rebirth of the sun and the gift of life from the Goddess.

It’s also during this time that family dysfunction rears its ugly head. This is the first year it’s ever been just the four of us; me, my husband and the two youngest. My oldest son moved off to college last fall. It’s been oddly comforting, having that peace that floats upon the surface of our lives until it’s skimmed away during the holidays.

It pulls away with it the bandages of old wounds that have yet to, or perhaps never will, heal. There’s a hollowness that lives in everyone but there’s some pain that only a mom can know. That familiar sadness sometimes hits so fast and hard, it’s like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me. Other times it slowly seeps in like an ugly ink stain.

Tonight I’m thinking about my oldest child, my beautiful daughter and my wish that she grows up into a happy, healthy adult, unites with her Soulmate and they go on to be parents to beautiful babies and create a fulfilling life together. You know, that Happily Ever After. I want that for her because I love her and want her happy, but mostly because she so badly wants that for herself. She has confided in me those dreams for her future self and will mention it every now and then, during those touch and go moments that break my heart.

But as long as she continues to say, “someday”, I will have hope. I know deep down that it really has nothing to do with the fairy-tale but all to do with her making it through another day in a broken life.

My oldest daughter is a heroin addict and has been using needles for over five years.

It’s especially hard around this time of year because it’s when relatives will pop into my life and start asking the dreaded questions. One of which is how my back is doing. And the other one, how my oldest is. Most of the time I’ll just say “fine” and that usually ends it without further probing. Besides, I know they are just trying to be polite, but I also know they have no real expectation that I am going to tell them otherwise. We’re a small enough family that if they don’t already know the answers then they really don’t need to know.

So when I tucked my youngest daughter into her bed tonight I kissed her on the forehead like always and told her to have sweet dreams. She secretly confides that she still believes in Santa and that she was hoping he would leave her a big chapter book under the tree tonight. And that’s when it hit me. That deep sorrow that is as familiar as an old worn-out shoe and just as painful. I don’t know if it’s because she’s getting older and I quietly fear losing her too or if it’s because I know her older sister is at that very moment suffering in the detox unit during her ninth attempt at rehab and will be in Blackout through the weekend.

I remind myself that at least I know where she is this Christmas.

I hope she knows that she’s giving herself the gift to try again and giving me the gift of hope to see her through to the other side.

So even though I’ll be sneaking the cookies off the tray by the fireplace and slipping a boxed set of the Harry Potter series under the tree, I still believe in all things magickal. I believe in hope, and strength of will. I believe in the power of healing and finding that from within. I believe in the Goddess and the sun and that the world can be a warm, good place. And most importantly I believe in love.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Cheers to Hot Cocoa and Peppermint Schnapps

The Yule tree smells wonderful and I’m cozied up in the recliner next to the fire. I probably would have fallen asleep from adding a tad bit too much peppermint schnapps to my hot cocoa but the kids are playing “zombie robots” (don’t ask me, I’m just an unwilling audience of sorts) so the nap will have to wait.

We have a few activities planned for Solstice night, including a guided meditation to connect to our Power Animals. Tomorrow we’ll be making the usual toffee and divinity and those chocolate pretzel thingies we do every Yule.

I wanted to quickly share our favorite Solstice songs that we find ourselves singing to unsuspecting family members. I love to see the looks on their faces when they think the kids are singing “We Three Kings” but then the more they listen, the more they pay attention, and before you know it Aunt Edna is appalled at my children belting out “We Three Witches”. Karina Skye is brilliant!

We Three Witches (all time family favorite hands down!)

12 Days of Yule https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QGPA1ro1l8&index=4&list=PL088A2C0D4E49A3F4

Jingle Bells Cast Your Spells

And from the beautiful and talented S.J. Tucker
Solstice Night

Lisa Thiel
Yule

The Wyrd Sisters
Solstice Carole

Time to refill my hot cocoa…

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Darkness Before Dawn

Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year hasn’t yet arrived but it’s been dark and stormy for what seems like weeks now. The days are short, and it’s still dark as night in the mornings when the kids get on the school bus. Then before I know it, the deep gray sky is once again fading away into the darkness of night less than an hour after they get home. The rain remains steady throughout the nights with downpours thudding the roof from time to time. I’m trying my best to keep myself and the kids sane while our family journeys through this time of darkness.

It has been a strangely wet winter, raining daily, nearing 9 inches for the month already. The mossy green vegetation is no match for the onslaught of the relentless storms. The rivers and streams are swollen, and the roads are slick with moving water. The mud is thick on our property and many of our tall old-growth trees are leaning, roots becoming more and more exposed day after day of rain, and many will not be able to recover.

So on this rainy Saturday afternoon the kids and I remained hermits tucked away in our little house. My husband was building shelves in the garage when the kids and I decided to get our Craft on. We spent the afternoon making peanut-butter bird feeders and hanging them along the eaves for our feathered friends who are braving the storms. Even though we regularly fill our bird feeders there’s just something about making them that carries a special magick. We haven’t done it in several years but just seeing my children’s faces light up as they watch the birds (and um, lots of squirrels) flock to the feeders, I can feel their satisfaction and contentment in making a difference in the lives of the little creatures.

When we heed the dark call of winter by nourishing others we awaken the instinctual knowledge of how best to nourish ourselves. Slowing our lives down to the pace of midwinter’s heartbeat, we are better able to acknowledge and honor the darkness before dawn.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

A Journey Within the Flames

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We’ve lazed around all day with our leftover pie-bloated bellies having not much energy to do anything other than…well, nothing. There’s homework, including an animal report due on Monday, but procrastination triumphs over our weak resolve.

It’s cold outside and the fire is crackling in the fireplace. It’s warmth and comfort is a gravitational pull and we are drawn like moths to a flame. So here we lie covered in woolen blankets and chenille throws telling each other what we see in the flames.

A fiery dragon, a waterfall, an old bearded man, a swirling phoenix, the Greenman, a person sticking their tongue out, a castle, a rose, a dog, hearts, among many other vivid images. Sometimes we see what the other person does and a lot of times we see our own version of the image, but rarely do we see nothing at all.

After a while we become naturally grounded and centered. I begin the prayer of protection that we use together during divination, meditation, visualization, ritual, spellwork, etc. We place the bubble of protection around ourselves and set a boundary of magickal space. When we feel the energy in the room shift to a special level of quiet and peacefulness we can begin to soften our eyes and let the story of the flames unfold as it tells its tale. The images we see within the flames combine with images, words, sounds and emotions from within, creating a personal tapestry that is woven in a way that is uniquely our own. Even if our softened eyes close, the flames will continue their dance in our mind’s eye.

When one of us becomes restless or fidgety, then it’s time to wrap things up. We slice a few pieces of pumpkin bread and pour some milk to share. This creates more grounding and gives us the opportunity, if we choose, to share some of our experiences with each other. Afterwards we take some alone time to journal/draw what we experienced during our journey with the flame.

Do you let the visions within flames tell you a story?

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Beware, Halloween Might Offend Someone

Well, Samhain is almost here. Have you carved your pumpkins and/or turnips yet?

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My son being sarcastically terrorized by a child eating squash he single-handedly carved himself.

I volunteered in my kids’ classrooms today for their “Harvest Party”. The term “Halloween” is no longer used because, you know, it might offend someone.

They had a costume parade like they do every year but in addition to the usual ban on fake weapons such as knives, swords, and guns, (which is totally understandable) masks and makeup of any kind, including those dumb vampire teeth, colored hairspray or even dark lipstick are no longer allowed either. When I read the school newsletter I thought, are they serious? I mean why even bother? What a disappointment for the kids!

“Back in the Day” (gosh I love to be old enough to say that..well, sort of) there were plastic masks and costumes from the drugstore that were basically cheap rain ponchos with plastic painted masks like this:

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I wish I knew who to thank for this photo. I’ve searched for days. If I find them I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.

These costumes were far more frightening than anything around nowadays. And not only were these nasty smelling things spine-tingling scary, they were dangerous because you cut your tongue if you accidentally stuck it up against a tiny razor sharp air hole, and the rubber band that held it in place always pulled out your hair. The only good thing about them that I can remember is they kept your clothes relatively dry in case it rained.

So if you didn’t want to inhale the toxic chemical fumes, slice your tongue, or get a small bald patch on the back of your head from the plastic mask then you had to be creative and make up your own costume. When I was 8 I decided I wanted to be a genie, and not just any genie, but a beautiful one like Barbara Eden. No, more beautiful! Looking at the pictures as an adult I easily smile back at the little girl smiling at me. For the most part I pulled off the look. I’m not sure if everyone I encountered knew exactly who I was supposed to be or if I was in fact more beautiful than the vixen on “I Dream of Genie”, but what I do know is that I was a little girl with a vision, and that night I lived it. I felt as beautiful as the satiny pink fabric I wore, and I felt oh so deliciously magical with my high ponytail swinging back and forth as I ran from door to door. I haven’t seen that photo for a few years but it hasn’t keep me from still searching.

I felt a little piece of that joy while I watched the giggling children traipsing around the school this afternoon. Some children wore partial costumes, no masks, sans swords and guns, and smiling vampires without their fangs (or without their two front teeth for that matter). But I must admit there were some pretty cool costumes too. My favorites were handmade, including a humongous plume of peacock feathers that were twice as tall as the child. Totally gorgeous and amazing. My anger and frustration was nothing but wasted energy as it was obvious the magick still reigns in the excited hearts and minds of the children who get to be something or someone else, even if it’s just for a stupid parade.

Besides the real fun hasn’t even begun, so get your Wicked On all of you beautiful Witches and Witchlets!

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

A Walk Along the Veil

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Yesterday we drove into the city for our annual Samhain visit to Lone Fir Cemetery. As always it was an afternoon well spent in contemplation within stillness and beauty. It’s a peaceful soul sanctuary with rustlings and stirrings within the trees and energy amongst the ground. It’s a special, sacred place listed on the National Register for Historic Places and has been recognized as one of the top 10 cemeteries in the world. The first burial was in 1846 and the beautiful grounds holds 25,000 burials spread over more than 30 acres.

Sometimes when I am alone in the city I will stop and wander along the walking paths, occasionally passing someone walking their dog and exchange a smile or polite hello. But sometimes I encounter no one at all. No matter what time of year, it is exquisitely beautiful and yesterday was no exception. In fact we arrived at the perfect time of day on a late autumn afternoon. The mist gathered as my children tip-toed delicately through the rows of headstones and quietly meandered through mounds of leaves beneath giant trees. From time to time they would pause and bend down to gently clear fallen autumn leaves and branches from grave markers.

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While looking at the different graves we discovered many dating back to the mid 1800’s and early 1900’s and pondered what it must have been like back in that time. It was an opportunity to deeply reflect on what dying really means to us and was a thought provoking reminder of the Circle of Life and its place and purpose in all things. Each year that passes the more inquisitive their minds grow as they become more and more aware of a world that exists outside themselves.

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And that is a beautiful thing.

As our sojourn came to a close we each chose a grave to leave a flower next to. I thought their choices were particularly interesting this time. My daughter kept gravitating towards a WWII veteran and my son kept circling back to a little row dotted with the graves of four children whose deaths were from 1901-1903. I suspect influenza although not certain because the pandemic wouldn’t officially begin for at least another decade. However, during our visit we found more than a few infant/child/adult markers within the same time frame clustered with their own families. This particular area was a family plot with the parents resting next to their children. On their headstones was engraved that they had finally joined their beloved children, although it would be decades later.

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We stayed until the sun left nothing but a faint pink glow on the horizon, blanketing the atmosphere with a serenity that was hard to leave. My children begged to stay but I sternly told them that I wasn’t ready to leave them behind in a cemetery.

What about you? Do you find beauty and comfort within cemeteries? How would you describe your beliefs in birth, death, and rebirth?

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

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Not able to visit a cemetery? Take a virtual tour and even leave remembrances with virtual flowers. You can search for the graves of friends, family, or even famous people at this free resource called Find A Grave. They have millions of names in their database- http://www.findagrave.com/

It’s a New Moon on Monday (but I’m too tired for a Firedance Through the Night.)

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Monday Mornings are a prime example of why I should follow a routine.

I Know This and yet…

We were up until 10:00 last night finishing an All About Me poster and essay for my daughter to turn in to her teacher this morning. If I had only looked through her backpack Friday afternoon I would have come across the assignment much earlier (but at some point my fourth grader needs to take on a little more responsibility, this I know).

Then my husband and I stayed up way too late watching the premiere of The Walking Dead (we all have our guilty pleasures) and I ate way too much ice cream (another one of my guilty pleasures). I know better than to eat ice cream at 11:00 at night… I didn’t sleep well, (surprise surprise!) and had hot flashes all night long. Now I’m wondering if maybe my body was fighting a diabetic coma after all that ice cream. Like I said, I know better.

My husband woke me when he was about to leave for work. I found myself sprawled out on the bed face down and I think I was drooling. This was going to suck. I never sleep on my stomach because it makes the hardware in my back lock up therefore it’s a very unpleasant position to try and get out of. I felt my husband kiss me on the top of my head and heard him leave the house before I could put any words together. Nothing like oversleeping on a Monday Morning to get your blood pumping for the week. Ugh… After spending several minutes trying to flip myself over and then finally stand up, I spent another 5 minutes shaking the kids awake and giving the dog the command to lick their faces and toes. Finally, the grumbling creatures rolled out of bed only to argue about who got to the bathroom first. (I love our old home with all its charm and character but the one bathroom is totally ridiculous!) So I was judge and jury on who tagged the doorway first before I shuffled my way to the kitchen.

I was grateful school picture day was tomorrow….Right? Wait a minute…I double-checked the calendar (like I should have done last night, I know better) and of course it was this morning. I wrote the checks and filled out the forms, (well one of them because the other one got misplaced somehow so I made one on an index card and put it in an envelope with the check).

I heard the school bus come and go while I was brushing my daughter’s hair, trying to figure out how to fix it in a way she wouldn’t complain about. I didn’t have time to make their lunch and shooed them past the lunch menu I had posted on the fridge when they asked what hot lunch was going to be. Monday’s are typically the worst as far as what they consider ‘gross’. I inwardly cringed, but oh well, there’s always a fruit and salad bar and they can drink the milk. I quickly rinsed out their water bottles and filled them while they put on their coats and backpacks. I gave my son cough syrup (yes, he’s sick again) put the dog in the crate, threw a couple of cereal bars at them (they’d be eating breakfast on the way) and drug the two bleary-eyed beasts to the car. It was a very chilly morning and the kids were complaining about how cold it was. I secretly switched on my seat warmer, feeling a twinge of guilt.

The Poster!

I turn off the car because I need the house keys, run in and pull the giant cumbersome poster off the kitchen table. I rush back out to the car but the back corner of the poster gets smashed in the door and tears when I try to yank it free. I’m glad we live out in the sticks because I’m still in my slippers, wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt with an ice cream stain on the front from last night. My hair is pulled back in a headband and I look like I just woke up. Which I suppose is kind of true.

Back in the car my youngest is crying out of frustration because the seat belt was twisted and he couldn’t get it fastened. I snapped at my daughter to help him.
When we pull up to the school I apologize for being a grumpy Momma Monster this morning and ask them to please forgive me. Their sweet, understanding smiles would nourish me all day long.

So I’m back home in a quiet house sipping on some tea, thinking about all of the things I should be doing today. There’s no way I’m going to get it all done, and the big challenge is for me not to try. I have learned from experience that to try and clean the whole house will wipe out an entire week for me because cleaning like a madwoman will only lead to a severe pain flare-up. No thanks.

I’m finished with my tea so I think it’s time to set my intention for the day, even though it’s after 10:00 in the morning. Better late than never I suppose. So I ask myself a simple question; How do I want to feel today? Well, I’d like to feel calm and centered. I want my home to be a place of peace that embraces my loved ones when they return from their long days. How can I bring calm, centered peace to myself and my surroundings?

  • First things first: Shower and get dressed. I can’t truly function until I take a shower.
  • Start a load of laundry. If I do one load a day I can easily fold and put it away instead of letting a mountain of clean clothes collect on the couch.
  • Load dishwasher. The kitchen doesn’t look too bad so this won’t take long at all.
  • Change sheets. I have been doing this every Monday for years. There’s nothing quite like sliding into bed with clean sheets.
  • Sweep/vacuum. This is a quick job because I am physically unable to move stuff around. Hubby does the big job on Sundays.

Wow, that feels better! I can now take a moment to calm and center myself so that I can do a Home Blessing Hour. I like doing these on Mondays, but I will admit I have recently skipped a few weeks. It’s pretty obvious that it’s way overdue and I feel that the added chaos in this morning is a direct reflection of that. Besides it’s a New Moon on Monday. Maybe I’ll shake up the lizard mixture…please forgive me for all the Duran Duran references; for some reason I can’t seem to help myself.

My simple way of blessing our home

I have a large stash of clear quartz crystals that are usually in circulation between being used and cleansed. So I gather the “used” crystals and place them in a bowl and set them outside to be cleansed later and wash my hands. I then gather cleansed crystals and place them on the main altar to be placed in each room of the house after the smudging. I anoint white tealight candles with sandalwood, rosemary, and lavender essential oils and place them in holders in each room of the house. I prepare my incense (today I feel like Palo Santo) in my abalone shell and take my eagle feather to distribute the smoke. I surround myself with a protective white light and ask the Universal Divine for guidance and protection from negativity. I then ask for assistance from my Guides and totem animals to bring/lead new powerful light energy into our home. After giving myself a good smudge, I start at what I consider to be the center of my home, which isn’t exactly the physical center but the center of our “Home” and in a clockwise motion swirl the incense up and down each wall, along the baseboards, back up along corners, paying special attention to doorways and windows. As I move through the rooms I say something like “I ask that the breath of light shine brightly in this space and that it neutralizes any negativity. I welcome positive energy, and as I will so mote it be.”  I always keep moving and swirling in a clockwise motion. I do this because I am not really “banishing” I am cleansing and welcoming in the light, the brightness of which dispels the accumulated negativity. As each room is completed, I light the white candle and move on to the next room. Some rooms need more smudging than others, and I also spend extra time on my children’s dream catchers. When I have made my rounds, I place a cleansed quartz crystal in each room, although the exact location may change from time to time. I don’t usually plan to run errands on Mondays so I am able to allow the candles to burn down completely.

When our home is cleansed and recharged with positive energy my loved ones will breathe in deeply and sometimes let out a little sigh when they walk through the door. It is a touching moment that makes my insides glow. This House Blessing will make tonight the perfect night to set up our Samhain altar and some of our favorite decorations throughout the house. I’m glad I waited.

I think tonight should be a caramel corn night! 

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This recipe is a bit time consuming, but well worth the wait!

Caramel Corn Recipe 

Ingredients
7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. You may use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don’t worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags. Enjoy!

What are some of the ways you bless your home?

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(