Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Sap's running. Can you feel it? My pagan heart thrums with the turning of the wheel.

My baby turned 1. I turned 40. Life is very sweet and not at all what I expected. But I'm devoted. To the whole thing, religiously. That is my thealogy.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
And I don't know the kind of person you are
A pattern that others made may prevail in the world
And following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

~ William Stafford

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fifth annual cyberspace poetry slam for Brigid

A lovely tradition, now in its fifth year:

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2010

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to
post February 2nd.

Participate and help to weave the web.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Maternal Thinking

For some mothers, giving birth to and living with children inspires something akin to a religious respect for nature. (Sara Ruddick)

Despite many years working on a Ph.D. in ethics and feminism, I never read Sara Ruddick's oft-cited, oft-criticized (for being "essentialist") book Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace. I probably read some excerpts along the way and joined in the criticisms, fancying myself a radical feminist uninterested in motherhood.

But this week I started reading the book as part of my resolution to read some whole books this year, the first year of motherhood being singularly ill-suited to reading books. My copy of Maternal Thinking is the British paperback with its ugly jacket art; I probably picked it up for a few dollars at the library book sale because I thought a feminist philosopher ought to own a copy, even if she never read it. I found it again over New Years because it rested on a bookshelf in my son's play space, behind some building blocks.

It is a wonderful book. Carefully argued--with all the usual criticisms addressed in the first chapters, ye lazy critics--impassioned, engaged, emotionally astute, blindingly smart, it has me engrossed. The notes to chapter four cite Iris Murdoch, Adrienne Rich, and Virginia Woolf, who might as well be the troika who rule my thinking life, as well as Spinoza, that old heretic.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Pisces 11 and 12

One of my most important spiritual teachers is an astrologer by trade, and I'm erstwhile her astrology student. I used to think astrology was a bunch of nonsense and hokum. But then I met my teacher, Linda, and I couldn't deny the genius expressed in her understanding of this complicated art. I still have only the smallest idea of what's going on or what she's talking about, but Linda's way of doing astrology makes each person the hero of her own life and each life replete with meaning.

I have come to understand myself as an initiate because of two symbols that appear in my natal astrological chart (the snapshot of the sky taken at the minute of my birth from the perspective of my location on earth). First, my sun is at Pisces 11 (in the 11th house). The Sabian symbol for Pisces 11 is: A group of serious eyed, earnest faced men are seeking illumination and are conducted into a massive sanctuary. Second, my north node is conjunct my sun, at Pisces 12, the symbol for which is: A convocation of the Lodge of Initiates has bought the earth's glorious souls in spirit to examine the candidates.

The sun represents the meaning of one's life. The north node represents where one is headed in this lifetime. That my sun and north node are conjunct means that the meaning of my life and where I'm headed in life (my north star, if you will) are in sync. To me, both of these symbols are deeply spiritual. They make sense to me as someone who has sought meaning and the Divine her whole life.

While an initiate has mastered a body of knowledge in order to be initiated, she is also very much at the beginning of something: she us up for examination, she is being ushered into a sanctuary. At first this idea of being a beginner, not a master, chafed my ego: "Well crap, in this lifetime I only ever get to be a newbie?"

But I assume the mantle of initiate with reverence anyway, and I remind myself of the archetypal importance of the beginner (for example, the Fool in the tarot). My life snaps into narrative focus--it makes sense--when I remember myself as an initiate, when I narrate my life as a story of initiations. The story of undergoing an initiation is a way to make sense of and revere difficult times, because initiation isn't easy. Inanna had to give up her very life, her flesh and bones. The old saying that in childbirth a woman descends to the underworld to retrieve the soul of her child isn't an unfair description of my experience in labor.

As for my nom de blog, I chose it before I understood anything about myself as an initiate. But now I think it makes lovely, prescient sense.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The initiate

I feel tremendously blessed.

Last year during the full moon in Cancer, I gave birth. Last night saw the return of that full moon (though my son's solar birthday is still nine days away). These past twelve lunar cycles have been a year-long intensive, an initiation, a breathtaking journey down into myself--a self who is now two, in that strange human way that flesh begets flesh and produces another who is of oneself but not oneself. From breastfeeding, and sharing attachment parenting with my partner, has emerged the most intimate relationship of my life, we three. Being a mother challenges me in ways I never anticipated and brings me into bliss.

One of the most striking things, to me, about motherhood is how it's brought my values into sharp focus. I'm someone who cares about value--moral, aesthetic, etc.--a lot. Becoming a mother, with the relentless demands on my energy and attention, has burned away a lot of bullshit. Here is what matters to me: family, spirituality, creativity. I can flesh that out again--my spirituality encompasses my devotion to the earth, for example--but those are the clean bones.

So I return to this space, where for many years I've written about spirituality, my winding, earth-based path. My passion is still here. If you're reading--and especially if you've been reading for years--I'm grateful.