Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not yet

Still no baby; looks like s/he's coming in 2009. Morale is flagging a bit here at chez Inanna, though I know this is all perfectly normal: the lateness, the emotions in reaction to lateness, trying to keep busy, trying to stay focused, wondering what we could be doing differently while knowing, somehow, that everything is unfolding as it should. I got into the birthing tub tonight to try it out and watched the bright crescent moon rise through the window. We've created such a beautiful, loving space. I'm quite happy in this, the very definition of liminal space.

Adonis and my sister have shoveled out the car and gone for Thai food and dvds. I'm curious to learn which movie they manage to agree on. Another member of my birth team is coming over to hang out and braid my hair. I'll likely fall asleep early.

May She hold you close as we all tumble into the new year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


One day past our due date, and baby and I are hanging out with Adonis, Gryphon, and my sister, who arrived yesterday and is blessedly doing housework. If the baby comes in the next day or two, s/he'll have six planets in Capricorn, including sun and moon. Sun, moon, Mars, and Pluto are basically conjunct in the first six degrees of the sign. That's a little hard to get my head around.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fair Yule

Belated solstice blessings, ye Pagani, and a merry christmas to those who celebrate today, too. (Earlier I was saying to Adonis, christmas is really the same holiday as solstice, you think Jesus was really born in midwinter?) I celebrate christmas when I'm with my parents and sister; growing up, it was always a special day in our house, and I don't mind continuing that. I like the candlelight service and carols, the special breakfast, the gifts. But I haven't missed them this year, as we've stayed home.

The solstice tree is sparkling, we've had special food, and we had a very sweet ritual in the birthing room on solstice night. For me, the solstice is about honoring the simplicity, darkness, and quiet of the season, so gifts are wintry and warming; this year I gave Adonis long underwear, flannel pajamas, and a new turtleneck the color of his eyes. There is a wreath on the door, soup on the stove, and cookies in the oven. Friends are stopping by to visit. Family are calling on the phone.

Last night Adonis tossed and turned and had unusually vivid dreams about moving through tunnels and greeting unexpected angels at the door. "Prepare, make way, the time is nigh." I thought immediately of all those dreaming men in the bible, men like Jacob, the Pharoah, and Joseph. The women, it seems, never dreamt, but instead were visited while awake by angels (Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary). Why is this?

I always appreciated Sarah's skepticism ("a child at my age? tell me another one") over Mary's obedience ("I am the lord's handmaiden"), but now I see, too, that to experience pregnancy and birth is to give oneself over to forces not of one's own ego and will. I made a conscious decision in the last couple of years to open myself more and more to the magic of what happens, to ride my life rather than try to steer it. I don't know why that works better for me, but it does.

That is my Pagan prayer for the winter solstice: to open to magic and mystery, to earth and the fullness of being human; as much as possible to bear witness to my own life without judgment; to love, to hope, to have faith; and to try to feel all of it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Still cookin'

Nothing to report yet on the baby front. I'm cleaning a little, cooking a little, sleeping a lot, watching movies. And I'm so happy not to be traveling for the holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Slow times

Yesterday the sun was shining, which is a rare thing this time of year. I took Gryphon for a walk--more of a slow waddle on my part--so we could sunbathe. There is a nice stretch of land along the lake's inlet where it's safe to let dogs off-leash, yet few people take advantage of it. We rarely encounter anyone else there, except for disgruntled Canada geese, though we do see human, dog, and deer footprints in the snow.

Today we're getting a foot of snow. It's coming down fast and beautiful. I'm contemplating walking three blocks to the coffee shop for a mocha. But who knows? Gryph and I managed to stay under the covers till noon.

Today is Adonis's last day of work for six weeks! Hooray for parental leave!

The birthing room is almost ready. If I manage to do any work today, it will be finished. Last night two friends came over to help with the big tub. Amidst the art and quilts and houseplants, it looks less like a big agricultural trough and more like, as Adonis pointed out, a cauldron. I'll post photos of the room when it's ready.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pleasure is a holy thing

For several days I've been thinking about writing about sex. (That seems either fitting or nuts for someone about to give birth, no?) A few things prompt my reverie. (1) A recent conversation with a close friend that reminded me, yet again, how many couples of long standing aren't having sex, and how surprised I am every time I hear something like this. (2) Several recent articles and comment threads (at Salon, Jezebel, and the NYT) about the documentary Orgasmic Birth. (3) Jason's ongoing excellent coverage of the Pagan dimension of the struggle for gay marriage; in particular, his fine argument that legally forbidding same-sex marriage is a violation of Pagans' freedom of religious expression.

Paganism is, at its most cohesive, a family of religious (or spiritual) traditions (or practices) with some views or practices held in common. None of the Pagan religions are religions of the book (will someone come along to dispute that "none"?); as a rule, we're not doctrinal. So there is no one Pagan view on sex or sexuality, and certainly no one view is prescribed. Our views on sex and sexuality are as various as we are.

At the same time, we tend to be a libertarian and unconventional bunch, or to fancy ourselves as such, so individual Pagans' views about sex often do fall outside those of the mainstream. One example, prompted by Jason's most recent post, is that mainstream culture is heteronormative; that is, there is a pervasive cultural belief that heterosexuality is to be preferred to homosexuality or bisexuality, mostly for moral reasons. (Even those who argue that heterosexuality is better because it's more natural are, at base, usually making a moral argument.) Pagans, on the other hand, tend to eschew heteronormativity. We don't value heterosexuality any more than other expressions of sexuality; we don't think it's better or more natural than anything else. Wiccans often point to those words from the Charge of the Goddess--"all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals"--to make the point.

Are people attracted to Paganism in part because it doesn't condemn unconventional views about sex, and it even welcomes such views? I know I am. My own views about sex, and my own exerience of sex, fit within a Pagan worldview; they don't fit within the confined doctrines of the church I was raised in. At the same time, I often feel like an alien in the dominant culture more generally: my reaction to some women's claims that they experience orgasm during childbirth is, "cool! I should be so lucky." Yet many commenters in the articles I point to above responded either with "they're lying," or "ew, gross, orgasms and children shouldn't have anything to do with each other, that's incest." (Presumably such people do know how babies are usually made.)

In the healing tradition I study, sexual energy is just one manifestation of energy or the life force. In anti-sex, Puritanical cultures where we're encouraged from a very young age (birth? pre-birth?) to block, hide, and disavow sexual energy, we're literally blocking, hiding, and disavowing our life force. The result is physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual illness. The result is disconnection from the earth and from each other: pain, isolation, alienation, addiction. These are the results of living in a culture where sexual expression is permitted or endorsed only within very narrow norms, and where sexual autonomy isn't valued at all.

The reason to support same-sex marriage is because we live in what is supposed to be a secular nation, partial to no one religion, in which adults have equal rights and protection under the law. But the reason I haven't married is because I believe the institution of marriage puts narrow constraints on what's morally and socially acceptable, and that these constraints are harmful. Even if we loosen the constraints a little to allow same-sex couples to marry--and I think we should do at least that much, because people's lives and wellbeing are literally at stake--we're not challenging many aspects of traditional marriage that should be challenged. I have no problem with a couple's choosing monogamy, for example, but I have problems with a social system that removes most of the significance from that choice by making it normative.

(Actual same-sex partnerships do challenge the norm of monogamy far more than opposite-sex partnerships do; monogamy is less likely to be a long-term expectation for same-sex couples, whether they consider themselves married or not, than of married straight couples. I don't want to claim that same-sex marriage isn't highly transgressive, and in a good way. Clearly it is, or people wouldn't get so worked up about it. I also don't think that monogamy is any better or worse than polyamory. I value honesty to oneself and one's partner most of all. My own choices have varied at different times in my life and with different relationships, and my only regret is when I've failed to be honest, to embody integrity.)

All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. "All acts of love and pleasure" is a wide rubric. Give thanks and take pleasure in the expression of life force in its wide and various forms: sex and dancing, swimming in hot springs, getting a massage, laughing or crying with your best friend, eating a delicious meal, breathing mountain air, planting a garden, getting sloppy kisses from your pit bull, gazing at the moon, being present with your emotions, giving birth to your baby, making art, falling asleep under the stars. Feel it. It's not always easy. We hold ourselves back from pleasure. But pleasure is a holy thing. So practice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This is lovely

I would guess that the Winter Solstice is important because it combines a moment of poise and stillness--that only the dark can provide--with a real change of direction. Everything goes on but nothing is quite the same again. This echoes our experience of those Solstice moments of life: birth, menarche, leaving home and cleaving to another, death.... Womb moments.

To listen or be truly touched we have to be brought to the point of stillness. Only then can we be truly open to the other. Then we must enter the creative dark where all seems confused and uncertain and anything can happen. Then the light rises. Then all seems the same but there is that deep awareness that things will never be the same again.
--Paul, She changes everything She touches, "Evoking the Goddess"

A tree of happiness

Terri has tagged me for a "Tree of Happiness" award. I don't know what I've done to warrant an award, but I'm more than happy to play along with the meme. Here it is.

• Link to the person who gave the award to you.
• Post the rules on your blog.
• List six things that make you happy.
• Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
• Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
• Let the person who awarded you know when your entry is up.

Six things that make me happy:

1. My relationship with my partner, with whom I feel blessed every single day;
2. My sweet-hearted pit bull;
3. Swimming in hot springs (I really should be a northern California girl);
4. Kindness, and the capacity to be open to it;
5. Walking in the woods;
6. Dancing.

Tagging six bloggers whose blogs make me happy: Cate, Kim, Lunaea, Molly, Luna, and Sia.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Full moon in Gemini

(Virgen de Guadalupe by Susan Grice; image found here.)

Today is the full moon in Gemini 22: Dancing couples crowd the barn in a harvest festival.

This degree Symbol is about celebrating the warmth and providence of the earth, the joy of nature's harvest, joining with others to celebrate, the reality of rhythmical or seasonal adjustments, agriculture, good old-time values, going out, having fun, listening and dancing to music, barns and dance halls.
Today's full moon is at its perigree for the year, the closest to the earth it will come. I don't think it will be visible where I am, given the cloud cover. But do try to see it if you can! Go here to read Lynda's full report for the day.

Today is also the feast day of the Virgen de Guadalupe, one of my favorite faces of the Goddess, beloved in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. Despite her roots in Catholicism, I consider her a goddess native to the Americas.

Today is the first day of the We'Moon calendar for the upcoming year. The theme for the year is "At the Crossroads." Since 2000, We'Moon has been progressing through the major arcana of the tarot for its yearly themes. 2009 is card 9, the hermit or the crone; Hecate the crone rules the crossroads. At the crossroads, our elders and ancestors, those who walked the path before us, serve as our guides. Read a statement of alliance from the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers here (and in the new We'Moon).

Today I'm ordering herbs to restock my pantry in preparation for birth and days postpartum. There is still cleaning and stocking to do before the little one, due at the new moon, arrives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lying in

In this morning's dark before the alarm went off, Gryphon climbed the stairs and crawled into bed with us, burrowing under the covers next to Adonis. I snuggled in closer to Adonis, relieved that today, at last, I didn't have to get up and go to work. The lying-in has begun! After several minutes Adonis had to extricate himself to go take a shower--he has far more resolve than I do, to pull himself out from between two warm, loving bodies--and Gryphon curled up to rest his head against my body, beneath my heart. I presume he was listening to my heartbeat, and the baby's, too. He rested like this for a while, and then straightened out his body so his head lay on Adonis's pillow, his body parallel to mine. We slept nose to nose until it was time for him to have his morning walk with Adonis. At the first jingle of collar and leash, he was out of bed and back downstairs.

Adonis and I left the house around our usual time, since I had to drive him to the airport to pick up a rental car; he's off for a 32-hour business trip to the city. When I got home, Gryphon was a little surprised, since most days he doesn't see me between breakfast and lunch. I've been craving long, lazy days at home with him, but most of this morning he's been on high alert, ready to jump up and bark at the slightest noise outside. Poor guy; it hadn't occurred to me that my being home with him might interrupt his morning sleep. Now I've got music on, and he's settled somewhat. Shortly we'll head back to bed with a book.

Spirit is not separate from Matter

Terri writes this incisive bit of thealogy at her blog:

Spirit is not separate from Matter. I don't believe with some people of faith that Spirit was inserted into Matter at some point in Creation. Neither do I believe with some Buddhists that Spirit is ultimately the important thing.

Spirit and Matter are co-dependent. They are so inextricably intertwined in one another that not even death completely separates them. Spirit suffuses every atom of Matter, and Matter interpenetrates Spirit from each and every one of those atoms. Spirit Matters, and Matter is en Spirited.

Thus the conclusion that Earth is Primary is inescapable. Our landbase is what makes our consciousness of Spirit possible....

Life does indeed teach Life, and toxified and sickly Life can only inform pathologically.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The sleepy sun

(Art found here.)

Joanna is celebrating Advent-of-the-Sun at her blog; each day this month, as we await the return of the sun, she'll post a small gift: a poem, photo, or recipe. (One year in the spring she posted a really good iTunes playlist for Ostara; might you consider a Yule playlist, Joanna?)

I also love the idea of celebrating the four Sun-days before the solstice. Beth Owl's Daughter uses a wreath with candles, like an advent wreath, but she calls it a Solstice Sun Wheel, and on each of the four Sun-days before solstice she calls and honors one of the directions/elements.

These dark, quiet days between Samhain and the winter solstice hold wonderful magic that I long to celebrate even as I resist anything too fast-paced, consumer-oriented, hard-working or hard-partying about the season. 'Tis a lovely time for a lying-in, isn't it? (Thanks, Hecate, for reminding me of that lovely, old-fashioned, and eminently reasonable idea.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Birthdays and presents

Happy birthday wishes to two men who have long delighted me: John Crowley and Woody Allen. (Who knew they shared a birthday, and with my little friend IĆ°unn, too?)

Last night was our last childbirth class, and the man who delights me the most gave me an excellent footbath and foot massage and a very cool present. (Let's hear it for retro-aesthetic sexuality, postmodern femininity, and pit bulls.)