Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Three of us sat
in the early summer, our instruments
cared for, our bodies dark

and one stirred the stones on
the earthen platter, till the salt
veins aligned, and she read the cast:

Whatever is past
and has come to an end
cannot be brought back by sorrow.

(From "Triple Muse" by Olga Broumas, Beginning with O)

Mugwort, sixes, and mothers

This morning one of my coworkers walked into my office bearing a bunch of mugwort perhaps a foot in diameter and taller than either of us - six feet, at least. I've got it propped up in the office now; the scent is wonderful. I may tincture some; I'll make smudge sticks and dry the rest for tea and, perhaps, dream pillows.

Mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris, promotes lucid and prophetic dreaming. You can take the tincture before bedtime, drink a tea made from the dried herb, or smoke or smudge the dried herb. Although it's called "common wormwood," it's not to be confused with Artemesia absinthium, which is the plant used in making absinthe.

Joanna Powell Colbert is working on the sixes of the Gaian Tarot. Yesterday she posted the six of water (cups). Last week was the six of fire (wands). (While you're there, you can read my fan-girl gushing.) Traditionally, the sixes are about finding new balance or equilibrium. Joanna is reinterpreting the sixes, however; in her deck, "the sixes are all about peak experiences in community, and each shows some kind of reciprocity." Given that the sixes correlate to the Lovers in the major arcana, Joanna's interpretation, while fresh, still seems to me to keep spirit with more traditional readings.

Finally, Lunaea Weatherstone has written a beautiful tribute to her teacher Shekhinah Mountainwater, who died on Saturday of cancer. I remember finding a copy of Shekhinah's book Ariadne's Thread in a used bookstore in Arcata, CA several years ago. That's when I was still a very cautious, not-sure-I-want-to-be-a-Pagan Pagan, but I was in love with the California coast and the beautiful trees of the Headwaters Forest, in love with Moonrise Herbs, and finding that book was just one of many signs that I was on my path.

Jason Pitzl-Waters has also posted a fine tribute. I particularly like this statement from Shekhinah's son, Frey Faust: "She was a creative mother, and she was very disciplined as an artist herself. Nature was important to her. Values were important to her. She was never interested in monetary wealth."

Safe passage, Shekhinah.

Monday, August 13, 2007

More on Venus in retrograde

The following is from the wonderful site, Mooncircles, from the most recent article by Dana Gerhardt.

Think twice before you buy the polka dotted rain boots. And I know the way your partner mispronounces certain words drives you crazy, but pause before ending the relationship just now. Recognize it's Venus talking - planet of love and all good things. Venus is in retrograde from July 27 to September 8. She's slowed way down and appears to be moving backward. This means she's been and will be traveling through the same sixteen degrees of the zodiac for approximately four months. Usually her transits are brief - bringing a gift of flowers, a smile from a stranger, a delicious meal, or a feeling of bliss for no reason. But now she's lingering in your life. Especially where the degrees between 2 Virgo and 16 Leo fall in your chart, you'll feel her influence for a while.

You may be inspired with unexpected joy or new creativity. But it may not be all sweetness and light. Venus retrograde periods can make you cranky, especially if you've been ignoring Venus in this area of your life. Her dissatisfactions must be listened to, although be cautious about acting on any sudden urges. A pent-up Venus can be a little crazy - spending money she doesn't have or saying yes when she should say no, issuing relationship ultimatums, or suddenly dying her hair bright green. Don't abandon all judgment, but pay attention to your desires. Problems with happiness, money, or relationships can emerge, but so can new solutions. This is a wonderful time to gain new perspective in the highlighted area of your life.

(The image of Venus is from the Hubble space telescope.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Everything about love is a mystery

(This photo was taken at my local farmers' market, but not by me.)

The earth spends herself with wild extravagance here at the height of Lammastide, and I thrill with gratitude.

I give thanks for the three friends with whom I've had intimate conversations over the last few days: for their love, insight, openness; for reflecting back to me my own beauty and worth; for shared meals and goddess art and a sunny afternoon dog-walk.

I give thanks for my sweet puppy, keeping me company all weekend while Adonis is away; the puppy who woke me this morning by snuggling right up to my body and who stayed to cuddle; the puppy who with little struggle submitted to the indignity of a bath this afternoon and now sleeps, a clean dog on a clean quilt on the bed.

I give thanks for my lover; for the photos he's sent from California via iPhone, because he wants me to see what he sees; for wonderful phone conversations; for his willingness to face his demons and mine; for our adventurous partnership and abiding love.

I give thanks for the abundance of the earth and for the local farmers who feed me, for their commitment to our community, for the sweet, generous land. Yesterday I came home from market with tomatoes and peaches and eggplant, sheep cheese and freshly baked bread, spinach and kale, raw milk, yogurt, and butter, freshly-prepared macrobiotic food, and an armful of flowers.

Everything has felt delicious this weekend: cleaning out the entryway to my home and scrubbing the stairs, laundering bedding, arranging flowers, rewatching Frida, wandering my favorite local art gallery, sitting on the grass outside the laundromat drinking an iced mocha from my neighborhood coffee shop, talking with friends, walking in the sunshine.

Aphrodite calls to me, she who guards the mysteries of love, passion, creativity, beauty, and pleasure. She calls to me, and I open.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Venus retrograde

In the comments to the last post, Oak reminded me that Venus is in retrograde. Here is Lynda Hill's take on what that could mean. Or, as another site sums it up, "Vibes can get really weird during this time, and a lot of people will be freaking out about relationships." Really.

I've got Venus on my mind a lot these days. She was the patroness of my journey to Turkey, and in my chart she plays a major role for the next nineteen years or so. I expect you'll be hearing more from me about that!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Late Lughnasadh

Late Lughnasadh greetings, dear readers. (As if it’s possible to be late among the Pagani.) It’s been an intense couple of weeks – not even two weeks – since touching down in New York. In addition to jewelry, tapestries, goddess statues, and coffee, I brought home a sea urchin spine from Turkey. Embedded in my right foot. I didn’t know it until I fell ill the Friday after my return and discovered that my foot was red, hot, and swollen, the infection trailing its way up my ankle. A doctor excised the spine and prescribed antibiotics. I hobbled around for a week, keeping my foot elevated as much as possible, soaking it every few hours in hot water and Epsom salts. Now I’m much better, nearly mended.

I’ve also witnessed much heartache in the past couple of weeks, from a friend who spent several days in cardiac intensive care, to several friends whose marriages are in crisis, to a guarded, hurting lover at home. I wonder if everyone’s heart is hurting. I wonder, too, at the ways I’ve guarded my own heart, and how much that guarding hurts and isolates me. It’s a normal response to contract in fear, yet that response so rarely serves us. I’m learning how guarding my heart blocks my generosity, both toward myself and toward others. I came home from Turkey with a heart more open and full, and the energy in my body has been tremendous. I can be more generous with myself and others, but it’s not about making anything happen; it’s about allowing the life force to flow and take its course. It’s an Oprahesque cliché to say that we can’t give to others without filling ourselves first. But I think I’m beginning to understand what it means to attend to my own needs and how, when I do so, I don’t have to make anything else happen. The rest just flows.

Lughnasadh is one of my favorite holidays, second perhaps only to Samhain. My sweet puppy was born around the sabbat (we adopted him in November two years ago), and so we named him for the solar god, Lugh. (He likes to hear me sing, and a favorite is "You Are My Sunshine," the appropriateness of which just struck me.) The abundance this time of year is staggering: the lush green, the still-long days, the gorgeous colors of the farmers' market. Indeed, going to market is one of my favorite ways to celebrate, along with eating as many tomatoes, peaches, and blueberries as I possibly can. I feel the blessings of the earth and the hint of fall in the air.

Perhaps the best things I've ever read about Lughnasadh can be found here.

Abundant blessings at the turning of the year.