The Gnome Project; Mother’s Day Musings

I have always said that I don’t want or need a Hallmark card or flowers for Mother’s Day because what I really want is a hug and a kiss from each of my kids. Even so, I was brought a warmed cinnamon roll to me in bed this morning along with little laminated poems my children made at school. They took great pride in their work so I read the poems out loud and shared the cinnamon roll with them.

I was then cryptically told there was one more little thing waiting for me in the dining room. I reminded them that I just wanted lots of hugs and kisses (although I must admit the cinnamon roll was a nice treat). I was shushed and told to close my eyes while I was led by little hands to the last “little thing”.

“Okay, you can look!” I opened my eyes and was immediately face to face with a 3 foot tall garden gnome standing on the dining room table staring at me. Much to the delight of my youngest children, I jumped in surprise, my hand clutching my throat, more than likely to hold back a scream. Oh but what sweetness there was in hearing them squeal in excitement and laugh at my reaction.

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One by one, my grown children came by to share a hug, kiss, and an “I love you”. One brought me a pot of tulips, (my favorite flower) another brought me a very sweet card (even though he knows how I feel about cards) along with a tiny Tarot deck (one of the itty bitty teeny ones) and a small book on mindfulness. The third one brought over Chinese food for everyone and we all shared a meal that I didn’t have to cook which was really nice. I even got a text from my oldest daughter who leads a very troubled life. It was such a relief to hear from her.

After my older kids left, I finished loading the dishwasher with the help of my two youngest. I sent them off to finish their homework as I wiped down the counters. Smiling over the events of the day, I finished up in the kitchen and rebooted the dryer. Turning to head back to the living room, I gasped, startled by the presence of The Gnome.

He has got to go.

Maybe no one was truly aware of how creepy I would find this giant garden gnome. But then again, maybe they were perfectly aware. Perhaps that was the point. I swear I saw his eyes move more than once, following me.

Since this morning I’ve been trying to think of what I was going to do with him.

I thought about chucking it into the neighbor’s yard but realized that was silly. Mostly because I knew I couldn’t throw something that heavy (this thing is ridiculously dense) at least not well enough to go over the blackberry brambles and onto the other property. And there was also a part of me that was afraid of being successful only to get up in the morning to find him sitting in the exact same spot on the dining room table (cue Psycho violin screech)
So I’m attempting to compromise, which as a mom is something I oftentimes must to do for the benefit of my children. I would hate to hurt their feelings (never-mind pissing off Mr. Gnome). I’ve been trying to think of a secluded spot for him to be placed…some hidden corner of the far garden… somewhere very, very hidden…someplace where I couldn’t see him and he most certainly couldn’t see me. Somewhere very close to the property line.

Today I’d like to acknowledge not only the loving mothers out there but all women who choose to nurture others. It matters not whether it’s people, pets, plants, or nature. Thank You just the same. Thank You for allowing the flow of love to lighten the world. Thank You for your willingness to give selflessly of yourself without demanding anything in return. Thank You for venturing forth even when you may be frightened by what you may face. Thank You for giving all that you can to create something better for someone or something else. Thank You for loving and cherishing that which you nurture, for you are the embodiment of the Great Mother Herself.

Happy Mother’s Day~ May your day be as Beautiful and Blessed as you are.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

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The Birds, the Bees, and Fairy Beltane Blessings

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The clover has become a wonderful carpet, soft and lush, telling us it’s time to tend the Fairy Garden. So much of our little Fairy Village has taken quite a beating by the rain and winter winds. It’s time to clean up the damage and spruce up the garden in hopes of another magickal, fairy-filled summer. Of course we will keep some mud and grime because of course, fairies love that.

 

The temperatures have been very warm and mild for early spring so the daffodils and tulips have bid their farewells for the year. In their place, the air is bursting with the smell of the rosemary bushes and the lavender is ripe with unopened buds. The mint is gaining momentum, and the return of the thyme and oregano in the little herb garden is a welcome sight. I love to look up towards the heavens to see more blue skies with white puffy clouds, and then to the trees that are filling out nicely with tender new leaves.

 

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The birds are singing and the bees are buzzing keeping company with all the other miraculous living things that have come out from the shadows of winter and are ready to play. Once again a blackbird has nested in the birdhouse outside the art studio, her hungry baby birds making quite the fuss. Mamma Bird will make sure her presence is known to me if I get too close (like when I try to enter the studio). Out she’ll fly, whooshing over my head, making me jump or squeal. Sometimes both. Personally, I think she gets a kick out of scaring me.

The whimsical ringing of wind chimes mingles with the rustling sound in the cedars where squirrels dart back and forth. And then there are the wondrous, soothing night sounds of the tree frogs who are out calling again tonight. I opened all the bedroom windows to let in some cooler air and welcome the song of the frogs. My husband is out at a poker game he plays with his buddies once a month and the kids and I stayed up well past their bedtime. After realizing how late it was, we quickly brushed and flossed our teeth, fed the dog and cat, and refilled our water glasses. Then I tucked them in bed with lights out and left their windows open the cool breeze and the soft lullaby sounds of the little frogs. They’d be asleep in no time at all…

Some time later when I was about to turn out the light, the symphony of chirps and whistles was crashed by a loud, annoying toad. Well, I think it was a toad. Before I knew it my kids were climbing into my bed with me, furiously kicking their legs beneath the covers to protect them from whatever was making that loud racket. “Probably just an old toad,” I told them. But even I began to wonder…It (whatever “it” was) eventually quieted down long enough for us to drift off to sleep. I woke them when my arms began to ache beneath the weight of their ever-growing bodies. I nudged them off my bed and tucked them back into their own. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, what with it being the Eve of Beltane and all.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Art of Distraction

I woke up at 6 a.m. to my hips and thighs aching, not unusual after a long weekend. I tossed and turned a bit, took my pain meds, then tried the heating pad. Today is a holiday for crying out loud, President’s Day to be exact, and I so badly wanted to sleep in with the rest of the family. But when I couldn’t stand it any longer I got out of bed, grabbed my laptop, and trudged my way to the living room where I reclined my reading chair and decided to look over the emails I (un)intentionally ignored over the weekend.

However, I tend to get sidetracked and an hour later I was perusing the White House Historical Association’s website, wondering how I got there in the first place. I traced it back (as best as I could remember) to it starting innocently enough on my MSN homepage. My intentions were good, but before I signed in to my email, I saw the evil slideshow that stopped me dead in my tracks, like always. First pause and click: “Meth in Bra Leads to $712m Seizure”. Then, “ Malawi Gets Its First Grammy Nomination, With Album by Prison Inmates”. Followed by a story about how a rescue dog became mayor. I mean, come on, I had to know how that happened. I was just about to shift gears when I saw “Strange Facts About Every American President.” So in honor of President’s Day I figured I should read it. You know, out of respect. That somehow led me to reading a tweet from Hillary Clinton, and somewhere between there and here I ended up reading useless facts about the White House. But did you know that the most famous of the White House ghosts is Abraham Lincoln? Well, if you didn’t, you do now.

I have yet to read one single email.

But I did manage to waste and hour of my life. But then again, I learned some things. And learning is good, right?

Finally I realized it was time to truly wake up to the day. I’d had my fill of both dark and uplifting news stories, tempting links to Wikipedia, and all the other website diversions that seem loosely joined for no other purpose than to keep me unfocused, emotional, numb, or all of those things at once. Or perhaps none of those things at all.

The sun is shining, at least for the moment, a promise of a productive day. I have a list of things I need to get done and as I mentally tick them off one by one I can only think of a few things on that list that is truly important today;

Get some vitamin D (which I am deficient in) by spending some time outside with the family. Maybe I’ll even hug a tree, and if I ask nicely maybe it will allow me to suck in some of its vitality. That sounds really good right about now.

Work on the quilt I’m making for my daughter’s birthday gift from me. I have two weeks to get it finished and for once I’d love to finish a project ahead of schedule instead of pulling a painful all-nighter.

Other important to-dos:

Take a nap.

Make some scones.

Eat a scone.

Straighten up my altar.

Play cards with the family.

Eat another scone.

Try not to take another nap.

Choose a working Tarot deck for the week.

That’s about it. I understand that some of these may seem like distractions from what I probably should be doing but I have the rest of the week to worry about those things I don’t really want to do. Like laundry. Blech. The way I see it at the moment is that If we all have clean underwear, it can wait another day. Besides, all of the other things “to-do” are necessary to set my Spirit straight and kick my butt in gear for the week. I hope.

What’s on your to-do list today? I hope you can find time and a willing tree to hug today too. We could all use and share the love.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

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(