Friday, October 16, 2009

All's well

All is well. I've just been busy raising a baby these last several months. Very challenging. Sheer bliss.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pagan values: pleasure and beauty

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. Let there be beauty....

(The Charge of the Goddess)

To be incarnate in a human body is to know exquisite pleasure. I imagine that when souls choose to incarnate they do so largely because they want to put on a body and feel the lusciousness of being human: of flesh upon flesh, of swimming in cool water on a hot summer's day, of eating chocolate and strawberries, of dancing and yoga, of stroking an animal's soft fur, of making and witnessing art, of warming in front of a fire, of mud baths and hot springs, of smelling incense and flowers, of nibbling a baby's fat thigh.

For we Pagani, all glory is in embodiment. We don't honor asceticism, chastity, or restraint. There is no reason to deny the pleasures of the flesh. All mutually consensual and pleasurable sex is holy. All variations on the human form are lovely and beloved. Our sacraments include taking care of oneself and one's body, of each other's body, of animals, children, and the land. We seek the pleasure in eating and shitting, in crying and bleeding, in sex and dancing, sleeping, stretching, breathing.

To make beauty is a holy thing: to plant a flower, prepare an altar, pick up litter, carve a toy, sweep a stoop, cook a meal, or paint a picture. We practice bearing witness to the beauty in others. If I could do nothing more than reflect back to my son the beauty that shines in his face and his whole being, then I have been a good mother.

It's not necessarily easy. I complain sometimes. I have a habit of negative judgment. I let ideas about what's wrong, and my self-judgment, cloud my vision of what's true and right and beautiful and holy. I sometimes deny my body what it needs. I worry about the weeds in the garden, the dust in the house, the shape of my body, the uncertainty of my path in life. I tell myself that I don't have time to enjoy myself, or that I don't deserve to, or that I should be doing something different from whatever it is I'm doing. We must be vigilant against self-denial and self-abnegation.

The call is always to open to what is, to make a small patch of earth beautiful and lively, to enjoy the pleasures given to me every day, to love my life and make it holy and delicious and good. To turn toward myself. To embrace the mystery and mess. And to give thanks for the good green earth, all-sustaining and filled with delights. Blessed be.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pagan values: immanence

Deborah Lipp has written recently about immanence, so as a lazy blogger let me point you first to her post. Do come back.

Deborah says that the immanence of deity--which she defines as gods' being inside us--means that the source of value and goodness is also within us. Such a view rejects an authoritarian, "handed down from on high" view of morality in favor of something more self-directed, more democratic. I define immanence more broadly than Deborah does, though I don't disagree with her.

I take the transcendence of deity to mean that god is somewhere outside of nature or everyday reality: above, beyond, distant from us. If god is "out there," even if he can intervene "in here," then "out there" is more divine, better, more desirable. It's heaven. If god is transcendent, then we are necessarily at least somewhat alienated from god, because there is a place he occupies that we don't. (Hence the need for mortal intercessories in Christianity: saints, Mary, or Jesus--someone who can get the message to the big guy, who can mediate between heaven and earth).

The immanence of deity means that there is no "out there"; there is only "right here." The Divine is present on earth and in us. She is present in mountains, springs, trees, compost piles, cities and slums, my pit bull, you, and me. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote that "earth's crammed with heaven." More prosaically, I think of the world's being infused with divinity.

People either believe in the immanence of deity because they experience the world that way (Starhawk famously compares the question "do you believe in the Goddess?" to "do you believe in that rock?"--belief really isn't at issue), or they experience the world as suffused with god because they believe it is (the background belief thus affects the quality of experience). I can't tell which it is for me; the mystic favors for former explanation, and the skeptic favors the latter.

Why does it matter whether deity is immanent? On a practical level, the way I treat the beings and things around me is affected. I'm much more likely to be patient with my dog, my child, myself, if I remember that we all partake of the Divine. Other choices I make that reflect my belief in the Goddess's immanence are to eat food that's organically or humanely raised, to pick up trash when I'm hiking, not to use chemicals when I garden or clean my house. It's not that I think, "god is there, I should be careful." Rather, I experience the things in my life as holy, and from that experience I strive to make choices that honor the holiness of all beings.

Thus a belief in immanence is closely connected, for me, to a belief in the sanctity of the earth. The earth is all we get. There is no heaven, no afterlife in another place untained by fallen humanity. We don't get to escape the earth. We don't get to use it up and then leave. If we eschew or deny what's real, we don't get to transcend the consequences of our actions. God Herself is in the whole thing. She is the shadow as well as the light. And She is as close as the beating of your heart.

Blessed be.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pagan values: the sanctity of the earth

If you had to find one value that the majority of Pagans would identify as a Pagan value, the sanctity of the earth might be it. For many Pagans, this value is central to our spirituality.

Some say that the earth is the Goddess and don't mean that metaphorically (some do). Many subscribe to something like the Gaia hypothesis, which posits that the earth itself not only houses living beings but is a living being itself. Many say that we find the gods in nature. Pagans tend to be animists, believing that even things like trees, rocks, and mountains have a kind of soul, spirit or consciousness. Many if not most contemporary Pagans believe that the earth is holy and has instrinsic value.

In keeping with this value, Pagans strive to live in right relationship with the earth and her creatures. We invoke the ideas of balance and right relationship and reject models of dominance. We may practice permaculture, buy organic foods, garden organically, strive to live sustainably, belong to conservationist groups and land trusts, advocate rights or protections for animals, or shelter and rescue domestic animals. Most of the Pagans I know are involved in one or more of these practical, earth-honoring activities.

Our rituals often take place out of doors, and even when they take place indoors, we often invoke and honor nature, the earth, or earth spirits and guardians. Many Pagans honor the old agricultural cycles and the phases of the moon. We practice grounding ourselves and our energy, and we value the particular places where we live. One Witch I know says he can't sleep well if he doesn't know the land.

Some conservative Christians make the disingenuous mistake that all environmentalists are Pagans. Of course that isn't true; one can value nature, animals, trees, habitat, and the wild without practicing Paganism. But Pagan religions are the only ones I know that make concern for the earth a central spiritual value.

Surely the image of earth as Mother arose in cultures where there was less separation from the land than in ours, and where breastfeeding children was the norm. The way that a human mother gives of herself for her child, providing nourishment and care, fulfilling the needs of early life, mut have struck our ancestors as analogous to the way the earth provides us with water, food, medicine, shelter.

In right relationship, we love the One who sustains us, as She sustains us with her love. Blessed be.

Monday, June 15, 2009

So what makes those Pagan values?

I think my five favorite Pagan values are in fact Pagan, even if not every Pagan holds them, and even if non-Pagans hold (some of) them. Why? Because they're values that arise from (many kinds of) contemporary Pagan spiritual practice. And while they're not uniquely Pagan values, strictly speaking, they are values that other religions I know of don't hold as spiritual values. So these values are intrinsic to the way I practice my religion and to my spiritual life, but they're not intrinsic, as far as I know, to other religions or spiritual practices.

That's my rough-and-ready definition of what makes something a Pagan value.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pagan values, a brief introduction

June 2009 is International Pagan Values Blogging Month. Well, twist my arm and hold the baby (or, er, vice versa). My undergraduate and graduate training were in philosophy with specializations in ethics and feminism. Though I'm a recovering academic, I still care deeply about value and can wax pedantic with the best of them. I'll try to avoid that in a series of short posts (you can't hold the baby for that long) about my favorite Pagan values, ethical and non-. I'm optimistic about this being a series because Adonis is taking the week of from work, so I'll be holding the baby less than all the time.

So to begin, a list of my favorite Pagan values:

1. sanctity of the earth
2. immanence of the divine
3. pleasure and beauty
4. (re)enchantment
5. healing

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Available: freelance Pagan priestess

Women are more likely than men to be religious. When women belong to a particular culture, tradition, or faith, they're more likely to be conservative about that culture, tradition, or faith (or so I think I've read; I remember it surprised me). Women--usually mothers--often play the role of cultural conservator: I think of mothers lighting shabbas candles; mothers cooking big holiday meals, sending cards, buying gifts, remembering birthdays; grandmothers attending Mass every day. Women don't often hold positions of power in religious hierarchy (though that started to change with the second wave of feminism), but they most often do the day-to-day religious work in a culture.

In Wicca, of course, especially those strains of Wicca influenced by feminism, women hold spiritual authority. (This is something of a truism, but my own experience suggests a pretty firm divide between feminist-inflected Wicca and other, more traditionally male-centered Wicca; I don't think the public face of Wicca is as feminist or female-friendly as one might expect from a Goddess-centered spirituality.) Also, since Paganisms are relatively new, historically, and often improvisational and ad hoc, and since they seem to attract seekers with anarchist or countercultural sympathies, many Pagans don't set much store by tradition. (Obviously there are exceptions, but even traditionalist Pagans don't have that many years of tradition to uphold; and Reconstructionists are, you know, reconstructing, which involves much faithfully making things up.)

I think a lot about what it means, as a woman and now a mother, to serve the Goddess, and what it means to be called to a kind of clergy-like service in a faith that has no clergy (and that some would argue should have no clergy; please forgive a new mother for not looking up all the links; I think Kerr Cuhulain made an argument to that effect recently). I think about how I want to practice my faith now that I have a child. Can I still slack off on some of the sabbats? (Pagan true confession: I never manage much for Beltane.) How will I get my child a spiritual education? (Join the UU church? Develop a curriculum for Pagan SunDay School, as one non-Pagan friend suggested I do?) Is spiritual community even more important now, and is a specifically Wiccan/Pagan/earthwise community important? How do I rustle up one of those?

In short, what does it mean to be a religious conservator and innovator within my family?

What does it mean to be a freelance priestess in my wider community? For we Pagani a sense of place--of the very earth under our feet--is important, but there aren't a whole lot of Pagans in my place. I image playing a role something like a public monastic; I imagine tending a temple and playing a visible role in a wider community. I'm a solid celebrant, though I usually have to create my own occasions and invite people to celebrate with me. But I imagine that my public role might be more counselor and healer. I'm also an excellent teacher--really, it's one of the things I do best, though I've been several years without a classroom or students.

In short, I have vision, skills, training, and interest, but I don't know how or what to manifest.

I remain open to Her call. The changes in my life in the past year alone have been tremendous. I'm incredibly blessed. I just wonder if I need to be taking more assertive action. I don't want to miss out. Yet the message I get so often is, be patient and wait.

So I turn these ideas over in my mind, I listen, and I wait.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thoughts on healing: caring and bearing witness

It could be a tenet of Wicca (but it's not, since Wicca tends toward tenetlessness) that Witches Heal. Though we often speak as though healing is something we do for another person, as in a doctor healing her patient, in fact we can only heal ourselves. I can care for another person and provide some conditions for healing, but only he heals himself. Similarly, and of concern to many Pagans, we cannot heal the earth; but we can care for the earth and provide conditions under which it will thrive and heal itself.

One of the most important things we can do as healers is to bear witness: to hold a non-judgmental but discerning space for the person or being who is healing. We need to be able to discern what would help them (an action, a holding, a medicine, a clean needle, a kind word, a pointed observation, a touch), but we cannot sit in judgment, for judgment limits and constrains where healing needs room for natural expansion and contraction. Bearing witness means being able to see things as they are, not as we wish they would be, and to "hold space" compassionately for whatever arises. Much of the work of a healer lies in being present to another, not buffeted by or frightened by their emotions, not sucked in, not closed down, not colluding, not withholding. Being with. And in that being, seeing what else might be needed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

4 years of desire

Just a quick note to celebrate that I've been keeping this blog for four years. So much has changed in my life, but writing about that will have to wait. Happy blogiversary to me!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Witches heal

I found the following on this week's page in We'Moon '09. I've been thinking about this a lot over the last couple years; I think she's exactly right.

I began thinking about ancestral memory and what if? What if the wounds I carry are not solely from my lifetime, but also from my mother's, my father's, and grandparents' passed genetically and psychically? What if the multiple abuses I have processed in therapy are from ancestral wounds as well as current, and what if the connections extend beyond even ancestral lineage to some kind of interspecies link?

I feel lighter when I entertain these thoughts and constantly renew my commitment to my path of healing, not only for my family and myself but also for all beings. I am beginning to see that the web of life weaves connections between all of time, space and place. And how each small healing benefits the whole cosmos.

(Janice Young)

Now on twitter

I started tweeting last week and am having lots of fun spouting random thoughts onto the web (like blogging, but more pithy). If you're a regular reader and would like to follow, drop me an email and I'll tell you how to find me.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A sense of wonder so indestructible

Happy birthday to me! I'm 39 today and thrilled to be incarnated. Still, I called my mother this morning and apologized for that whole labor thing.

A quotation I want to remember for Lucian's Wiccaning/baby blessing ceremony:

"If I had influence over the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life." (Rachel Carson)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ahisma

This afternoon I was eating a piece of cake from a take-out container when Gryphon, my dog, who loves chocolate, ventured a lick at some frosting on the lid. I said his name in a scolding way and, without thinking, lifted the magazine I was holding in my hand in a gesture of playful admonishment, as if I were going to bop him on the muzzle (something I would never do, even in a playful way). This is a 70-pound dog who wrestles on the floor with Adonis, but something in my gesture and-- yes--the energy of my intent caused him to cower as if he'd been struck. His posture was as automatic as my raised hand had been.

I felt awful. The thought came to me immediately, "he HAS been hit." In his life before us, I mean. Lugh, whom we raised from puppyhood, wouldn't have even understood the gesture. But Gryphon knew it. I apologized to him and promised I would never hurt him. I hope he understood me.

Lugh was the most joyful being I've ever known. People responded to him because he embodied pure joy. Gryphon is sometimes happy, I think, and often content, but I don't know that I've ever seen him express joy. Surely he had a difficult early life where he was at best neglected. He is an anxious dog.

I want to give him a good life and to help him, as best I can, to suffer less from anxiety. But I also have to accept him for who he is. I practice seeing his divine nature, his Buddha nature, if you will, and I also practice seeing him clearly for who he is as an animal.

I practice acceptance of my dog. He is who he is. I don't need him to be joyful. Or, if I do, that's my need, twisted and unfairly projected onto him.

Similarly, I practice acceptance of my son: easy in some ways, since infants are such shining beings, but difficult, too, for example when he's crying and I can't find a way to comfort him, or he's waking every two hours in the night to nurse for 45 minutes. But he doesn't need to be other than who he is, either in his divine nature or his baby nature (or his individual nature).

But the hardest practice, I find, is to feel acceptance for myself. To believe, truly, that there is nothing about me that needs to change. To accept who I am, right now, in this moment. To approach myself with gentleness instead of force. That is my challenge, and it's a worthy one, I believe, because my child will learn how to treat himself by watching how I treat myself.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Passing through the gates

I'm loving being a parent. The sight, smell, and sounds of my lovely boy fill me with pure joy and happiness. That's true, though it's also true that the first weeks of parenting are singularly challenging. He'll be seven weeks old on Saturday.

Labor was a harrowing rite of passage. "Initiation" seems like such a lilting, romantic idea, till you go through one. Hurts like hell.

When I began this blog nearly four years ago, I chose "Inanna" as a nom de blog because she seemed like an ancient Mama Goddess who didn't get a lot of air time (what did I know?). Also, I loved Talia Took's depiction of Innana in her aspect as a goddess of sexual love and fertility. Later, I felt a bit sheepish about my choice: "queen of heaven and earth" was meant as an ironic descriptor for little ol' me.

However, what you might know about Inanna is that her descent into the underworld is a paradigmatic rite of passage. Her initation involved giving up every claim to identity she had and all her worldly goods, abasing herself in front of her sister/shadow, the queen of the underworld, and having her corpse hung on a meat hook in hell. We might call it the mother of all initations.

Shortly after beginning this blog, I began studying astrology, and I learned that the Sabian symbol for my sun at Pisces 11 is "a group of serious-eyed, earnest-faced men are seeking illumination and are conducted into a massive sanctuary." The symbol for my conjunct north node, at Pisces 12, is "a convocation of the Lodge of Initiates has brought the earth's glorious souls in spirit to examine candidates." In other words, initiation is my raison d'etre, in this lifetime at least.

And so after a series of initations over these last several years, one fast upon the heels of another--mystery school initation, ordination, traveling to Turkey, ending my academic career, the illnesses that pointed the way out of academe, adopting my beloved dog Lugh, Lugh's death--I decided to become a mother, Goddess willing.

Labor was a dark door that I approached unwillingly but also with singular determination. I was wary and afraid, but I also believed in its necessity, its sacredness. There were times during my labor with Lucian when I thought, "this is the worst day of my life"--a thought I don't think I've had on any other day. The pain was unlike anything I've ever experienced, and the thought floated through my mind that childbirth is more physically challenging than war. ("Take that, you big, macho, patriarchal, death-fetishizing assholes," was the other part of that thought.)

I worked in a huge cauldron of warm water at home, surrounded by midwives, and I had the dream that I was reliving my own birth, my mother's labor. I screamed often, and worried the dog, though Adonis reports that my focus was inward and away. There was an abrupt break in the labor at transition; the baby's heartrate dropped and didn't recover, and my midwife made a quick decision to move us to the hospital, where Lucian was born four hours later, after I pushed him out myself under conditions that mostly felt hostile. But I was held by a large community saying prayers, meditating, visualizing, and making magic. The magic worked; more on that later.

At the end of labor, with a roar--his, mine, that of the people in the room--my sweet baby entered this life. Someone placed him on my chest. Adonis cried. And--forgive the cliche--I knew that that day was also the best day of my life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Earth my body, water my blood

So go the words to a popular Wiccan chant. ("Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, and fire my spirit." Alternatively, "earth Her body..." etc.)

I'm sure I'm not the first breastfeeding woman to make this observation: whoever crafted Jesus's words to his followers at the Last Supper surely had a breastfeeding woman in mind (or was herself a breastfeeding woman?).

"Take and eat. This is my body given for you. Take and drink. This is my blood shed for you."

These words are biblical and appear as part of the liturgy for holy communion recited in Catholic and Protestant churches.

[In Chinese medicine, breast milk and blood are considered the same substance. Thus the breastfeeding woman to stay in good health should build her blood (e.g. by eating iron-rich foods and taking herbs like astragalus) since she generates and loses extra "blood" each day.]

We Goddess-folk can get a little itchy if we think our experiences are being appropriated by patriarchal religion. It's difficult not to wonder why Christianity had to assign a central ability and task in the lives of women to their Main Guy and elevate it to the central and supreme sacrifice of the faith. Jesus gets mad props for making this sacrifice; his willingness and generosity are signs of his divinity.

But women are the ones who literally give of our body and blood so others might live. And that gift is one of life begetting life, not one of death begetting life. Also, the earth is conceived of as a Mother largely because She provides food and water for her creatures. She provides all the nourishment we need. And, in right relationship with us, She regenerates and can continue to feed us. No "ultimate sacrifice" is necessary.

Women's work - and dear Goddess can I now testify to breastfeeding's being work! - goes unnoticed and unheeded. It's mostly taken for granted. But attribute these qualities to some guy and call him the Messiah, and all of a sudden it's a big deal.

Frackin' patriarchy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Week 6

I can't believe that this being of light has been entrusted to me. Every day is a delight, a wonderful gift. I feel like my raison d'ĂȘtre is to love.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love is the Source


Adonis said he didn't understand what the heck I was talking about when I said that "the energy of joy and pure love that they [babies] bring is the energy that grounds Being--the energy that some of us call, in convenient shorthand, Goddess." That's what I get for blogging while sleep-deprived, because usually he knows what I'm talking about.

Terri says it differently here: "Love is the Ground of All Being, the Zero Point of the Universe whence all matter and spirit is bound." To use Plotinus's image, Love is the One overflowing, self-generating.

Carol Christ writes about attending her mother's death that she (the daughter) experienced the overwhelming presence of Love, and that for her that was a tangible, indubitable experience of Goddess's presence.

It's just a belief. A tenet of faith. In the beginning, there was Love. At the end, there will be Love. Love is the Source. Love is the Ground. If you believe this, you will experience the universe thus. Call it confirmation bias. Call it revelation. Call it faith. Regardless, it is a rich and joyous way to live. It is a good way to regard the earth and all her creatures.

When I gaze upon my baby's face; when a dog at the SPCA crawls into my lap; when a friend offers me compassion--then I feel the Source rise in me like sweet water from a spring. And my faith, which is so often a guttering candle, burns a little more steadily and brightly.

Monday, February 09, 2009

29ish days

Today marks the end of Lucian's first lunar cycle. (Tomorrow is the one-month solar date.) Happy birthday, beloved one!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Emissaries

Today my therapist described to me her belief that babies come to us with all this spiritual wisdom that they bring either from their own past lives or from wherever they've just been. The energy of joy and pure love that they bring is the energy that grounds Being--the energy that some of us call, in convenient shorthand, Goddess.

Not only my own relationship with Lucian, but the world's response to him, suggests to me that something like that theory is true. Never have I been surrounded by such goodwill and/or never have I been so open to receiving it.

Seeing things as they are

"In refusing to acknowledge how things actually are in any moment, perhaps because we don't want them to be that way, and in attempting to compel a situation or a relationship to be the way we want it to be out of fear that otherwise we may not get our needs met, we are forgetting that most of the time we hardly know what our own way really is; we only think we do. And we forget that this dance [of reciprocity and interdependence between self and world] is one of extraordinary complexity as well as simplicity, and that new and interesting things happen when we do not collapse in the presence of our fears, and instead stop imposing and start living our truth, well beyond our limited ability to assert tight control over anything for very long.

"As individuals and as a species, we can no longer afford to ignore this fundamental characteristic of our reciprocity and interconnectednes, nor can we ignore how interesting new possibilities emerge out of our yearnings and our intentions when we are, each on our own way, actually true to them, however mysterious and opaque they may at times feel to us. Through our sciences, through our philosophies, our histories, and our spiritual traditions, we have come to see that our health and our well-being as individuals, our happiness, and actually even the continuity of the germ line, that life stream that we are only a momentary bubble in, that way in which we are the life-givers and world-builders for our future generations, depend on how we choose to live our own lives while we have them to live."

(Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming to Our Senses)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Embodying the abundant universe


(From the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert)


I believe as a tenet of faith that the universe--the Goddess, the Mother--provides what we need in abundance. Always.

This belief doesn't reside in my intellect, if you will, but in my gut. My brain easily generates myriad reasons why this belief is false; begin with the reality of poverty. But my belief, which relies on faith, isn't so much a proposition against which to marshal arguments. It is, rather, a way of understanding the world. It functions like a background assumption. (I'm well aware of problems with confirmation bias, but I'm not doing science here. Grant me poetic license.)

I think that whether or not this belief (or way of understanding the world) comes easily to you depends on the circumstances of your early life. That's not to say that we can't come to believe that the universe provides for our needs in abundance even if the circumstances of early life were meager in the relevant sense. The first step in coming to believe is realizing that we believe otherwise; for example, to realize that we're acting from an assumption of penury, that we believe fundamentally that life is hard, that we're its victims, that we're undeserving, that things never get better, that people are out to get us. Thus we uncover our operating assumptions. We work to accept that we have them (and acceptance is no small feat, though I give it short shrift here). And we begin to pay attention to all the hints we're given that assumptions of scarcity are false. When people make gratitude a practice, that's what they're doing: they're paying attention; they're counting their blessings.

(I've had a hard time with the idea of practicing gratitude because I have an old belief that I don't deserve my many blessings. Gratitude is, in my mind, and for biographical reasons, linked with feelings of guilt and undeservingness.)

Very early in one's life sojourn, one learns on a basic, physical, preverbal level that the universe provides for one's needs, or one learns that it doesn't. I think I'm lucky; I got the message, somehow, that my needs would be met. Maybe I carried that belief into this life with me. (My "soul card," in tarot, is the Empress. Both my rising sign and my Pluto carry the message, too.) Maybe my faith formed as the result of responsive early mothering. (Thanks, Mom!) Things--mostly thoughts--have happened to occlude my faith, but I think that at its foundation it's solid. It is a glorious piece of luck.

I know that as I spend these early weeks with my child, my one task, as I see it, is literally to embody for him the abundant universe. He's still coming into this life; he's new here. How is the world as he finds it? There is a lot of big, scary, uncertain stuff that he doesn't need to know about yet. But he is almost always held. We hold him bare skin against bare skin. We hold him in the sunlight streaming through our bedroom windows. We carry him, we sleep next to him, we wear him in a sling. He is never away from us. He is never left alone. We sing and babble and kiss him and make jokes. He is always fed when, or even before, he asks. There is plenty to eat. He is kept dry and clean and warm. That big, loud beast, the dog, is his friend. He shows no fear.

And there is a huge, excited, welcoming, loving community holding him and his parents. We were held during the birth by an extended network of friends. Witches worked magic for him. Astrologers watched the sky. Gifts continue to arrive. People come to visit. Home-cooked dinners appear on our doorstep every other day; his body is literally being built by the community. I'm in awe of the generosity, love, and good will engendered by this small being.

He affirms my faith in all things good.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A poem for Brigid


(Venus at the Forge of Vulcan, Louis Le Nain, 1641)

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?
Then crouch within the door--
Red--is the Fire's common tint--
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame's conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.
Least Village has its Blacksmith
Whose Anvil's even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs--within--
Refining these impatient Ores
With Hammer, and with Blaze
Until the Designated Light
Repudiate the Forge--

(Emily Dickinson)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Imbolc: in the Mother's belly


(Lucian, 3 weeks)

Normally for Imbolc I host a poetry party. We light candles, eat dairy-rich foods, and drink wine. Everyone brings a poem to read. I especially encourage children to read; our youngest reader was five. We've had poems read in Russian, Icelandic, and Yiddish, as well as English. Folks have read Shakespeare and Shel Silverstein, Olga Broumas and Mary Oliver. People read their own poems, too. This is a good time of year for a party, and it's a nice way to celebrate the holiday with non-Pagan friends.

This year I've been a bit preoccupied, and I didn't notice Imbolc creeping up on me, despite the days growing longer again. Only yesterday did I realize that February is upon us. I'll make time to participate in the Fourth Annual Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam. But no party this year.

My life feels like it's been stirred in Brigid's cauldron these last several weeks. I'm still assimilating the enormous initiation and transformation I've undergone. To you, I send all good wishes of inspiration and transformation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"You were born in a merry hour"




When Lucian was born, my astrology teacher sent me his natal chart. Several astrologers I know had been watching the stars for weeks, awaiting the birth. I know just enough astrology, and am just enough a new parent, that I could look at the chart, look up a few things, and freak myself out. A very little bit of knowledge is dangerous, at least to oneself.

Yesterday I was looking at the chart again and freaking out, so I emailed my teacher about scheduling a March appointment for the family. I told her how I was scaring myself and what some of my concerns are.

Today, visiting our favorite cafe for lunch following a pediatrician's appointment, we saw my teacher. Adonis and I walked in, Adonis carrying the baby in his car seat. We were immediately greeted by several people we knew. My teacher came over to us in the midst of the whirlwind and said, "I didn't even see you guys, but I saw the baby and knew immediately who he was." She gave me a big hug and said loudly into my ear, "don't be stupid; just look at him." Then she leaned over Lucian and, like a fairy godmother from a fairy tale, whispered words for only him to hear. He watched her intently, and when she was finished, he closed his eyes and slept.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Early days

Yesterday at the mystery school a friend said to me, "you still look totally shocked--or am I just projecting?" I replied, "nope, I'm still totally shocked." How does one get used to the idea of having a baby? "Getting used to" doesn't even make sense. He's just there, now, this whole new part of my life, who in the early days and weeks feels like all of life. I'm sure at some point I'll once again have a thought that isn't about the baby, but not yet. It's been only two weeks. Mostly, we breastfeed and sleep. We've had some visitors, including my family for a weekend. I'm aimlessly reading some books. We care for Gryphon, who seems to be adjusting well, but whom I worry about anyway; does he still feel important and loved? Does he feel like he has a role? (He's very protective of the baby and me, but I worry he's stressing himself out.) Adonis does household chores and keeps me fed, with the help of friends dropping off meals every other day. On warmer days, when it gets above 20 degrees, we all go for a long walk. But mostly, we're captivated. Held captive.

Yesterday we spent the day at the mystery school with Adonis's class. That was very good. So much love. I wouldn't have had Lucian without the hope my years in the school have given me. We can change. We can heal. We can risk love. We nourish ourselves in the darkness and reach out toward the light.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Welcome, little light


I gave birth to our beautiful son on Saturday the 10th at 1:42 p.m. We named him Lucian, meaning "light" (like Lugh and luz), to honor the dark time of the year and the difficult time in our lives that allowed him to come forth. We feel fully blessed and wrapped in the love of our communities. Thank you to all of you here who have been holding space for us.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Waiting

Yesterday we went to visit our midwife, who performed acupuncture on me and checked on the baby (still in utero). Baby is fine, taking its own sweet time. I'm fine, too, if a little impatient and judgmental of my impatience. (Pregnancy hormones are a fine thing, though--very soothing.) Adonis went back to work today so he can spend his alotted time off with the baby instead of sitting around watching me not have the baby, which was making him anxious. Gryphon the dog is keeping a close eye on me and prefers not to let me out of his sight. I wish I knew what he knows.

Thank you to everyone who keeps checking in and leaving comments. You help keep my spirits up; I feel so lovingly supported by my cybercommunity.

Friday, January 02, 2009

And still not yet

Thanks to everyone who keeps checking in. I will keep you posted.

We've descended into quite a bit of silliness in the household. I want the baby to know that eager as we were to meet her/him, we also had a lot of fun waiting. And waiting...