Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Happy Summer Solstice/Midsummer/Litha, everyone!

I intended to wake up this morning to watch the sun rise. Instead, I woke instead at 7:38, precisely 10 minutes after the official solstice time in my time zone.

Alas. Such is the value of sleep to a 8-month pregnant woman.

So today I have been taking photos during my errands of things that seem ‘solstice-y’ to me and making notes in “that journal”–the one that’s not my main one, but I don’t know what to call it yet.

Hope you enjoy.

Solstice Breakfast: biscuits and honey, watermelon and blueberries, eaten while observing the early-morning garden

Some lily in our yard. I love the vibrant orange color.

Solstice tomato: our tomato plants are doing well and beginning to blush in earnest.

Cucumber blossom. I mainly took this picture for the lovely spiral...creeper thing.

Sunflowers at the Natural Gardener

Another sunflower at the Natural Gardener

I added lemon verbena into my iced tea this afternoon. It smells like the sun.

Getting ready for our own harvest ;): cloth diapers and accoutrements.


It’s been interesting to pregnant along with the Wheel of the Year. I’ve seen a lot of images of heavily pregnant women for Litha and it’s…well, it’s encouraging. Being heavily pregnant has been difficult. It’s easier to focus on the pain-in-the-ass parts of pregnancy (which are many and hard to ignore) instead of enjoying the body’s capabilities.

As I look out at my garden I’m reminded that this is a time when ‘Nature’ is doing an extraordinary amount of work as well. The resources even a small garden like mine takes (and the garden only provides 50%, maybe, of our spring-summer produce) are astounding. The soil, the fertilizer, the water, the time, the materials—and we’re not even doing it well. We’re bumping along in our first season.

Today has reminded me to be grateful for the work the (literal) earth does for me, for my family. It reminds me to be grateful for my body, which through its stretch marks and contractions, pains and indignities, is preparing for an amazing event.

Driving around to all of my various errands I also thought about what summer meant to me as a kid. How days spread out, endless in possibility, hot and boring, and to quote an Iron & Wine song summer held “our endless numbered days”. School would start back…eventually…but there was a liminal quality to summer, a caught-in-between-ness. My summers were filled with sno-cones in unnatural colors (split pina colada and margarita, flat top, double cream), the beach, books (books, books, books), trips to the library, sleeping in and the Beach Boys.

Now that the demarcation of school has passed, summer, especially July and August and September, is more of an annoyance. The time of year when the you can never get cool, when energy bills rise to extreme levels, ice tea is consumed by the gallon, your car is a hellacious oven of doom.

But today…the beginning of summer…also marks, ironically, the beginning of its end. The days grow shorter now as we edge towards Lughnasadh, and then Mabon and then Samhain. In Central Texas Lughnasadh is the last of our harvest, when we set our gardens and fields to rest throughout the relentless eat of August and the beginning of September. On the holiday of Mabon we’ll start again, planting cool-season crops to bring us through the winter months.

So really…it’s not that far away. Time won’t stop. The garden will die–in only a few weeks. The baby will come—only a few weeks after that. Then it will be time to start anew.

Enjoy your longest day everyone! Thanks for sticking with this wandering post 🙂


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I’m not sure where to start.

Obligatory: Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

Okay, with that out of the way…

This past week has been confusing, inspiring, lonely, emotional, raw and joyful. I started it with buying my first Tarot deck and today I cast and sat in my first circle. Ruminations on that to come.

I have been doing a lot of journaling, painting and reading. I read Phyllis Curott’s Book of Shadows and am working through Marian Green’s A Witch Alone, as well as Hafiz’s The Gift. I also picked up Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliot Friedman and so far find it informative and easy to understand.  I listened to numerous podcasts as I painted or as I wandered on my morning walks. I’ve worked with the Tarot deck. Friday I watched two documentaries that caused a kind of psychic schism, one that I’m still mulling over. Yesterday, I went to my home church group and left feeling torn, confused and sad. Today, as I said, I cast my first circle and now I feel…content. Whole. Peaceful.

So it’s been a quite a week.

What have I learned?

I have learned that I have serious reservations about Wicca as a religion, but not really any about witchcraft as a practice. I guess I’ve always had a solitary bent, and some of Wiccan structures/rites, especially traditional ones, are not for me. However, working with energy, revering nature, having a strict code of ethics, gathering knowledge of self, the earth and others, working with my inner self to ultimately help others—those are things that intrigue me. More than intrigue me, they call to me. Having a practice or a craft calls to me. It’s one reason I love yoga so much—it has so much to teach about how spirituality and personal evolution is about practice. It’s not about leaving your problems at a diety’s doorstep. It’s about taking daily action that ultimate adds up to something wonderful.

So Friday, as all of this was a blob in my mind, I watched two documentaries produced by Vanguard: Rape on the Reservation and Missionaries of Hate. The first showed stories of rape, sexual assault and battery against women on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The second showed the influence of American Evangelicals on the anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda.

The first one disturbed me, deeply, but as the second one started I knew it would be another matter. I have been struggling with the Christian label for a while, and with my association with a certain church. I knew that both were coming to an end, but as I’ve said many times—all of my friends and all of my community are within those two confines. I’ve been delaying really thinking about it and really taking action to free myself, decidedly, from those two things. The Missionaries of Hate documentary changed that when who should pop on the screen but Lou Engle. Lou Engle is an  American evangelical, prominent in the anti-abortion sector, who also runs a revival named ‘The Call’. He’s real into now-is-the-end-times and ‘family values’.

He is also someone who is highly venerated in my church. People adore this guy. And here he was, on the documentary at a rally in Uganda promoting ‘family values’. Of course, he has posted a backpedaling note on his website saying that he had no idea at the time that the anti-homosexuality bill included the death penalty for homosexuals—though he was there months after this became an international scandal, standing with key supporters of the bill and preaching about “trying to restrain an agenda that is trying to hurt families” (scroll to ~41 minutes).

And I just couldn’t take it.

And I know…I know….that’s not what all Christians believe. I know that a large majority of the Christianity community vehemently oppose people like him. And I know that the label is ‘meaningless’.

But is it?

Aren’t names powerful? Isn’t that why we chose to name our children based on the meaning of the name? And when the name begins to be weighed down with so much baggage when do you shed it? I know that some are proud to bear the title Christian, and they are people whom I love, deeply.

For me, though, that title is now a lie. My tacit association with HC is a lie. Do I love people there? Yes. Will this go over like a lead-fucking-balloon? Yes. When am I going to do it? I don’t know, yet. I need to write out specific reasons, with specific arguments. I tend to get flustered in situations like this, especially with lots of questions. I need to prepare, emotionally and spiritually, for the ramifications that this might bring. It sounds so dramatic, I know, but it really is a big, big, enormous change in my life.

So that realization, primarily, has left me feeling sunburned all over. I gave in to hermit like tendencies last week and this week seems to be headed into the same direction. I just want to write, and to journal, and to paint, and to consider. Truthfully, I’d like a SIGN. You know. One of those.

The closest to any SIGN I’ve had though are the quiet times in meditation, the peace I find on my morning walks, the insight I’ve gained since working with the Tarot. The complete calm I felt after I closed the circle today.

I don’t know what any of it is accomplishing, exactly. I’m sure in 15 years or so I’ll be able to tell you.

All I have though, is now, and now I feel…good. Still gun-shy. Still lonely. But comforted in some way, knowing that…there are things I do have. Like my husband. My cat. My books. My garden. The trees. The wind. The solitary blue heron that greets me every morning, observing the creek, way beyond his natural range. The rain that has intermittently spattered down on the hot concrete outside. It might not seem like much, but it’s enough to keep me going.

Edited: corrected the author of Who Wrote the Bible. It’s Richard Friedman, not Charles Friedman.

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New Home

It’s been a pretty crazy week. We moved last Friday and Saturday into our new home (yay!) and then, on Tuesday, I came down with a cold that still lingers.  However, as I sit alone in my new living room, the peaceful quiet of a Sunday morning surrounding me—everything seems right with the world.

Last Sunday, I sat out in the yard for an hour in the morning.

The 'Oak Grove'

This Sunday, with the help of some friends, we are putting in the first beds of our garden. I’m hoping to do four raised beds (‘lasagna style’, as our soil is shallow and full of clay), and then put the fountain (which came with the house) in the center of an herb wheel.

Spring is uncovering herself in Central Texas. Though the trees are still bare and cold fronts sweep in every two weeks, today is in the 70s and the sunshine is hot. The promise of dusty summers is in that heat,  but right now I can’t seem to mind. Right now it warms the earth and allows me to think about melons, tomatoes, eggplant, lavender, rosemary, pole beans and bush peas…

I don’t really have much spiritual pontification right now, except that a peaceful, quiet Sunday morning gives me a lot of joy, and so does gardening, and so does being in a home of my own.  Is there a god(dess) I should thank for that? 😉

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I hope this will be a quick post. It might not be, though, but! I have errands to do but feel that it would be neglectful to not post.

A massive Pacific storm rolled across the Hill Country this week and has dumped rain for almost six days. Beautiful, soft grey skies and rain of every form: mist, fog, drizzle, deluges, soft and silky. My husband, who is from Costa Rica, sometimes calls it un pelo de gato—light, soft, constant rain.

I had a bill to deliver to the front office of our apartment yesterday, and I decided to walk despite the weather. Drips fell from the trees and the entire world seemed green–unnaturally green, glimmering like an emerald. On my way back from the office some voice inside me said: go for a walk, at that secret little park.

What? I fought it for the two minutes it takes to reach my apartment and then decided to get on my hiking gear before any other naysaying voice could convince me other wise. I suited up in my ‘seal skin’ runners pants, rain repellant hiking pants, water-proof boots and rain jacket with hood.  And off I went.

To say it was worth it is a gross understatement.

The crunch of my boots on the gravel seemed unbearably loud. The only other noises were the drips of rain off the oak trees and the occasional call of a bird in the mist. Rain pattered softly at first, though sometimes a random deluge made me seek shelter under the junipers.

For the first time in a long, long time I felt the same mystery I used to feel upon entering a forest or some solitary, natural place. A sense of…breathing, of energy, of connectedness, of life. That these things weren’t dead or immaterial, that they belonged. This was their place. Not that it wasn’t mine, but we shared it. Cohabitation.

I wanted a rock to take with me, a token of this experience. It seems almost silly now—a spiritual souvenir of some sort—but at the time it felt important. I see now (love that 20/20) that it taught me a valuable lesson about being a taker. See, every time I spotted a stone that seemed a likely candidate, I couldn’t bring myself to take it. Sometimes the rock had a little succulent growing under it. Other times the rock stood part of a circle, or supported fuzzy moss, or was just there, sitting, and I couldn’t bring myself to even move it. As silly as this sounds…that was where that rock belonged. That was its place. I didn’t have a right to just take it. And what a human, stupid, selfish response to something beautiful. Take it as if it just belonged to me.

In the end, I did take one. It sat on the side of the gravel path with others that had been kicked over by other hikers and runners. I picked it up, and later a stick and a fallen bit of juniper branch on the pathway back. They sit on my porch now, and I’m surprised that I still feel a bit of guilt over taking them. Maybe I’m overthinking it.

Or maybe I’m not.

I mulled over taking the entire time I was out there, except when I mulled over the fact that my place—the Hill Country—is a unique kind of place. It is full of limestone and juniper, shrub and cactus, heat and dust. I gave thanks for the otherworldliness of the water-pocked limestone, invasive juniper, spiky prickly pear and the oaks dripping with moisture.

My mind is kind of mushy right now, and this post didn’t come out quiet like I wanted. How could it? Describing profound experiences is like trying to hold on to water or sand…I’m convinced it’s not really possible, as they are so unique to each person. So I’ll leave it as is. Know that walking in the rain yesterday impacted me in some profound way, and along with Imbolc earlier this week, I have even more to consider—and having much to consider brings me joy, now, not confusion or grief.

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I haven’t had much time to think about things lately. Jonathan and I are getting ready to go on our vacation—I am so excited I can hardly stand it! Since I was 15 or 16 I’ve wanted to visit Oregon and now, on Sunday, I’ll be there!

After my high school graduation my parents took me on a trip to Northern California and it changed my life. I remember walking among the redwoods and along the coast feeling home. That this place connected with me on some visceral level that I was always aware of but didn’t engage much. Nothing engaged it, either, except thunderstorms, cold fronts, seasonal shifts and the site of a beautiful body.

I guess that’s not really an “except” statement, but the feeling I had in those forests and along the coast completely defied my expectations. It invoked something powerful, something I didn’t and don’t understand.

I’m trying not to have expectations for this trip, but I can’t deny that one of the reasons I’m so excited to go back is to experience that again. To explore it and try to understand it.

I just realized that I am going to my temple. I am taking my pilgrimage, going to visit God. To chat, to feel, to experience, to be close.

That thought gives me much comfort. It feels right.

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The last rain sputtered out this morning. Rain dribbled, dropped, pattered, smattered, fogged and poured all weekend. The sun broke though this afternoon and now it’s cool and muggy.

Today’s plan is to crush up some incense (I bought a mortar and pestle! So excited!) and to plant my new fall herbs. Gardening is something that’s hard for me—I’m pretty scatter-brained and thus forget to water—but…I don’t know. I feel like this is an auspicious time to start a fragrant/healing herb garden on my apartment porch. Replace that dead basil.

All of this after the requisite Sunday afternoon nap, of course.

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As I wrote that last snippet I stood amid the refuse of a binge.  I’ll go all out and dirty for you (the food writer in me is ashamed—alas, this is a part of that disconnection): there were Oreo Cakesters, Reeses, cheddar popcorn, bean-n-cheese burritos. Not a huge binge, actually, they’ve been getting less “huge” and less frequent. But their pattern, their substance, is generally the same.

Under the refuse on my table sit these books: The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Anam Cara (a book of ‘Celtic’ Spirituality), The Metamorphoses by Ovid and sits next to organic lemonade, organic Emergen-C and vegan multi-vitamins.

I realized in that moment something that…well, let’s just say the pebble just dropped in my still lake and the ripples haven’t yet begun. I am in that suspended moment of epiphany since I have never put this into words before.

I am…primarily…a disconnected person. Differentiated. Dual, but not in the ying-yang way, in the…my right and doesn’t know what my left hand is doing kind of way. I espouse values that I don’t apply. In fact, I say/want things for my self that are diametrically opposed to what I actually do.

I am American. I am a product of modern, technological, monotheistic, patriarchal, material, Western civilization.

I just offended myself by saying that…to myself. Part of me was deeply offended. How funny. But how true.

Even as I write this part of my brain/spirit/mind/whatever sighs and says, “thank God. She’s realized it. Now, time to act.” And part of me sighs and says, “Oh, Lord. Just let her get it out of her system so we don’t have to think about it.”

I can’t tell you which one is winning right now. Honestly they both sound good. The call to action, the call to change and then the call to…non-action, non-change…ultimately, nihilism, I guess. I am a creature of comfort. Of great comfort.

And in my love of great comfort (really, it must be emphasized how much I adore comfort/luxury/laziness!) is spawned on my great fear. Great, abiding, huge, yawning black hole of fear. And from that fear, shame.

Fear of: death, dying, loss, abandonment, CHANGE, damnation

And all that fear leads to shame…for only when we’re afraid of being judged, of being damned, of some ultimate consequence can we be shamed.  And when I’m shamed—I binge.

But also when I binge I am putting aside my spirit for the needs of my sickness (comprised of the fear and shame). I am directly feeding that gaping tear in my spirit/psyche. I am making it bigger, not actively healing it.

How does one become whole again? Where does it start? With what does it start?

In Christianity, it would start with me repenting and coming back to Jesus, Healer of all things. Part of me wants to do that…like an instinct.

But a larger part now wants to look, to discover, another way. Maybe it includes Jesus as the Divinity I turn to, maybe not.  I do respect Him as a healer and a truth teller.

Right now though I want to investigate…nature…I guess…as my model. That’s what draws me to panentheism (from Wikipedia: is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well).  When I was a child I felt so connected to ‘nature’, to the outdoors, to the environment and it’s causes. But as time has past, I grew up, got busy, became charismatic Christian and battled with myself and my true Spirit for years (see this post).

I have so many doubts and so many fears. And so many questions! About everything! About polytheism, panentheism, paganism, magic(k) and the properties of and theology behind, about Spirit, about nature, about skepticism and what we can and can’t know, about believing and trusting, fears of looking stupid/silly/gullible/idiotic…All of this, running in my head.

I know nothing. I am confused. I am disconnected, dual, differentiated and depending on the minute I do/do not care.

I need to go clean my house.

ETA: the first step is letting the shame out. Tonight I will tell my husband that I binged. I don’t always because I’m ashamed at my lack of control. I will also be telling him about the disconnection.

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