The one thing I wish everyone did every day...

This past month, there was a beautiful convergence of holy days: religious, secular, earthen. April’s Full Moon in fell on Good Friday, day of remembrance of the tension between all creation’s polarities represented in the cross (for more on that, read my Easter blog from last year here). Then Easter, the celebration of the Cosmic Christ wedded to all of creation just a day before Earth day, our contemporary bow to that which sustains us. For me it was a journey deeper into awe and gratitude for this precious planet I call home, and deeper awareness of my interconnection to her. It was subtle, almost like glimpsing a fairy’s wing in my peripheral vision, or seeing through a spider web, the threads a little blurry—but present and sustaining me through a period of personal and planetary uncertainty.

Beltane Earth Mandala making with the Moon Circle women, 2018

Beltane Earth Mandala making with the Moon Circle women, 2018

On today’s ancient Celtic/Pagan feast of love and fertility, Beltane, I am drawn again into reverence of the regenerative, fecund extravagance of our mother planet and reflecting on all how I am in relationship with her.

What are the ways you nurture awareness of your connection to the earth? Here are five of my favorite and most highly recommended practices:

  1. Practice grounding meditation: this is the one thing. Do this every day (or as frequently as possible!) I have been teaching this ever since I learned it in the first module of Psychic school two years ago. Our teacher instructed that we were to teach this to as many people as we could! It is how I begin my day, as well as all my circles and classes. A version of the meditation can be found here. A variation/deepening of the practice I have been exploring: consider the particular land on which you dwell as you ground, and its unique history. If you are a white person in the U.S., I invite you specifically to consider, as you ground, the original stewards of the land where you live and the probable reality that the land you dwell upon was stolen/settled at the expense of our nation’s native peoples. In addition to the nurturance of the Earth, there is also tremendous pain. Consider being and breathing with the discomfort of that, or whatever emotions arise.

  2. Return moon blood to the earth. For those of you with bodies that bleed: this is a practice I have done with moderate regularity, when possible, for the past two years. I feel some timidity in sharing about this, but more urgency about doing so, feeling in my shyness an invitation to clear shame around my body’s functions and fluids. Returning moon blood to the earth is an extremely potent way to be actively giving back and nourishing the great body of the Mother that nourishes me. I use a version of a diva cup, and collect my blood in a jar to take outside—I typically let the land and plants tell me where they are wanting to be fed: a tree, a perimeter, etc. I have been bleeding with the new moon for the last year or so, and so typically incorporate it into my new moon ritual, naming all the things I’m releasing. Another option a friend of mine recently shared is to keep a houseplant in the bathroom and just toss it in the dirt with a blessing or prayer. I thought that was a brilliantly simple variation!

  3. Find your food. What’s growing wild in your yard or neighborhood, or nearby parks? I have been picking neighborhood dandelion leaves for springtime green smoothies for years (though no longer, after learning more about the contaminants in our Tacoma soil, insert major sad-mad face), but this season I finally did something I’ve been thinking and dreaming about doing for almost as long: I went nettle picking! Nettles are a wild green that are highly nutritious and medicinal. To be clear before you get all comparing-lives and “Oh how nice for you, Martha Stewart of Natural Living” on me, let me be clear: I have a huge desire to locally source my food that I can’t quite practically satisfy the way my life is set up right now, so I learned to let myself aim real low—it took me years of thinking about it, seeing them growing, wondering when and how to harvest, talking with my plant friends about it, and watching one youtube video, before I actually got out to the woods to find the little guys! My goal is to learn about and glean one new wild harvest plan a year. I am not an herbalist, but it was so satisfying to spend time with these quirky plant beings, to learn about and from them, and to stir them into my spring-cleanse kitcheri. (For more on stinging nettles, check out my friend Kim’s blog—she is an herbalist and knows what she’s talking about!)

  4. Make offerings to the Earth. Consider a morning or evening offering to the land of some elemental material of significance. Many thanks to indigenous rights activist and spiritual teacher Sherri Mitchell for her wisdom on this (for a great listen, check out an interview with her here.) For example, some indigenous peoples of this land might have used cornmeal, sage or tobacco; women bleeding might give back their blood (see above!); you might use a sprinkle of water, bread crumbs, a song; or ask the land what kind of offering it wants from you. Consider your ritual like the reciprocal pull of gravity, giving and receiving—a way to offer your thanks as well as your prayers and requests to Mother Gaia.

  5. Consider the Earth a Sacred Text. I’ve been reading recently about the 9th century Celtic philosopher, whose writings were eventually put on the Church’s list of “forbidden writings” (#topliststobeon #youknowyourdoingsomethingrightwhen). Writing out of his Celtic spiritual heritage, infused with the Earth-reverence of the pre-Christian Druids, he taught that “we can look to creation just as we look to the Scriptures to receive the living Word of God.”* It’s a no brainer in the PNW, as it has been for indigenous peoples worldwide. Go outside for no good reason and be quiet. At certain seasons like this one, I like to go out first thing in the morning and stand on the dewy grass, imagine my grounding cord to the center of the earth (see item number one above), sip my lemon water, and just listen. One of my mentors introduced me to the practice of taking a “Medicine Walk”—holding a question in my heart as I step onto the path in the woods. The first time I practiced this, not expecting much, I held the question: when will I start my journey to become a priest?” My answer came immediately with a knowing bird’s cry: You already have!! Creation is a sacred text. I go to her with a question, with my heart, and listen to the wind or look to the budding trees for the answer. Sometimes I press my feet into the earth and ask gravity: What can I let go of right now? Sometimes it’s just a moment’s glimpse of the water that reminds me to release my breath and the tension in my belly.

It is my belief that when one remembers and feels one’s innate connection to the earth and all things, healing happens—not just for one’s own self but for the earth and all things as well. That’s why practices like these, though simple and perhaps seemingly trivial, to me feel vital and urgent—particularly as a result of industrialization, imperialism, and the cultural trauma of whiteness that has severed innumerable people of all races (including the conquering ones) from ancestry, the land of ancestry, and the previously inherited wisdom of deep ecological beinghood. To be clear, the impact of this cultural trauma has been fundamentally different between white folks and black, brown and indigenous folks because white privilege has enabled people like me and my ancestors to numb pain and to violently enact our pain upon black, brown and indigenous folks. For more on this, check out the work of Tada Hozumi.

Consequently, it is simultaneously vital and tricky for me as a white person to nurture my relationship with the Earth, as I no longer have a relationship with the land of my ancestors, and the land I live upon was colonized. This is something I am working on and don’t expect to resolve soon. I am exploring my own privilege and positionality, feeling into my own body, learning from elders and the land itself, and doing my best to practice a light, persistent, imperfect but respectful tread. So far, amidst these tensions and nuances, these are the ways that connection has felt alive and generative for me.

#3: Find your food —and medicine! Last weekend my sister Clare (below) and I took an amazing class on blending medicinal teas for the spring season with    Becca Farr at Orchard Botanicals.    I’m in love!

#3: Find your food —and medicine! Last weekend my sister Clare (below) and I took an amazing class on blending medicinal teas for the spring season with Becca Farr at Orchard Botanicals. I’m in love!

Do any of these practices speak to you? What practices keep you aware of your connection to Earth? Where did your practices come from? I’m especially interested what you do with your kiddos, if you have them. Please share in the comments below!

If attuning to the earth’s rhythms feels like a beautiful but far-off dream, consider a simple stepping stone in my summer adaptation of Stillness at the Center, a donation-based evening of quietude and song. Also, women-identified-folk: mark your calendars for Solstice 2019! Nourish: A women’s winter solstice retreat at Wellspring Spa returns this winter! Check out dates and details for all offerings here.

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May the abundance of Beltane bring beauty and blessing to you!

With all my love,

Kate

*J.Philip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality, p6.


Why I Live by the Moon (and 3 ways you can too)

The morning of the Solar Eclipse last month, I taught an outdoor yoga and meditation class.  The women (it just so happened to be all women) gathered, and just before we started, I took a quick trip to the restroom to do my thing, and also to make sure I knew where they were and were in working order.  In addition to finding the public park bathrooms open and in reasonable shape, I discovered I had started my bleed.

I know, this is a bit of a personal share, and I’ll be honest that it makes me a bit nervous.  Where certain aspects of female bodies have been idealized and sexualized over the millennia, the fact that most female bodies bleed for a significant portion of our lives has been shrouded in shame and taboo.  Most of us have been conditioned to at best tolerate, at worst loath (and self-loath) this fact.*

If this had happened 4 or 5 years ago, I would have been irritated and inconvenienced that this was happening today of all days, just before starting a class, just a day before leaving for a 5 day camping trip.  I was relieved to observe, though, that I felt relief and also joy and pleasure and this deep sense of satisfaction at the discovery that I was in my cycle of release and renewal on this epic day of celestial convergence.  It was a relief to find myself at least a little bit more free of the culture of shame that, I believe, has eroded one of the female body’s greatest super powers: the power of Lunar cycling.  

Now, to be clear, I don’t always bleed on the New Moon.  But the fact that I did this time around did not strike me as just a happy cosmic coincidence.  I have been tracking the phases of the moon and my Moon for about 3 1/2 years now, and when they align, I know it is because of a careful tending of that relationship to both celestial bodies (mine and Mother Moon’s) and that the Goddess suggesting I have a LOT of letting go to do, which is why she's matching me with Luna's pull. 

I know, I know: this is going to sound like a whole lotta woo.  But it seriously has been one of the most valuable rhythms I’ve established over the last three years that has brought sanity and sanctity to an aspect of my embodiment that had previously been embarrassing, tortuous and dreaded.  It has also gotten me in a sweet rhythm of pausing to reflect every several weeks, to just big-picture check in with how I’m doing.  What are my dreams?  What have I been working on that is flourishing?  What needs a little more focus?  Or maybe needs to be discarded for the time being to tend to at another time?  

Because we are part of a planetary and cosmic ecosystem, I believe that these patterns of self-reflection with the cycles of the natural world are a critical practice for aligning with the Earth’s wisdom.  And this isn’t a thing of small consequence.  A friend reflected to me just this week that, even as our labors of justice work seem to be drops in the bucket against the “evils” of the world, one thing that brings her a semblance of peace is remembering that the Earth, the Cosmos, Creation, at least, is resilient.  The Earth knows how to renew and renew again, and I believe—or I trust?  I hope?  I have faith?  I choose to orient to the possibility, because it brings me peace?—that the the Earth will make it through whatever we throw at her.  Whether or not we do…well, perhaps that’s up to us--how we care for ourselves and each other.  One way I think we can improve our odds is to sync up and catch the waves of her (and the neighborhood celestial bodies’) wisdom, and to nurture caring, contemplative, spiritually-resourced and socially awake communities around these rhythms (more on this to come).

Ok.  Say I buy all this, at least a little bit.  How, then do I match up with the Moon?  First, just notice that she’s up there.  Start looking for the moon everyday and say hello.  Watch her phases.  Pay attention.  I want to own, too, that I share from the lived experience of a cis-gendered able-bodied fertile female.  I try to write from my own lived experience and yours may be different.  Here are a few additional things to know about the Moon and simple practice starting points that I hope are appropriate for persons with varying kinds of body.

1.  Moon Energy pulls on the Water Element.  Water element relates to fluidity and flow.  Particularly relevant, especially if you are cycling with the Moon, or living in community with anyone who is, is that it (the water element) governs emotions.  So yeah, you actually might feel a little more wacky around the Full Moon or your Moon time.  That is real!  Kiddos are especially sensitive to this.  But rather than acting upon all the emotions that surface at this time, (or re-acting to those surfacing in those around you) consider treating like a surge of water washing through to clear out the old stuff.  This is power!  This is healing!  This is a massive clearing of old energy!  You’re going to feel it as it comes through, and you might want to try to have that really sensitive conversation right now with your partner or colleague, but it’s actually not a good time.  Just give it a few days.  The water will settle.

2.  New Moons are a chance for tying up loose ends, releasing, and clearing space to plant new seeds of intention.  There is an energy of emptying and beginning again that comes with each new moon.   Spring planting used to be done on the first new moon after frost, touching into this clean slate energy.  I think this is also partially why I felt such relief to start bleeding on the morning of the Eclipse.  I had been feeling all sorts of scattered and weird, knew my bleed was around the corner, but thought I had a few more days before it would come.  When I started bleeding earlier than expected, it prompted me to say no to a handful of things, to make the choice that a few things I’d been working on were “good enough” to be done, to build in some down time, and to just refocus my attention on scheming, dreaming, and planting my intentions for the coming cycle.  I have some of my best visions, most creative ideas and affirming downloads during New Moons.  I like to draw simple pictures or mandalas that capture the images and words that Spirit plants in my awareness at this time.

Two years ago, the New Moon happen to fall on my birthday!  Quite auspicious!

Two years ago, the New Moon happen to fall on my birthday!  Quite auspicious!

3.  Full Moon’s are a moment for celebration and recognition for what is present and for plucking from the vine the abundant fruits of our labors.  It’s no mystery that the Full Moon brings out magic.  Myths and stories worldwide describe the beautiful and mystical creatures and circumstances that reveal themselves under the Full Moon.  Full Moon’s are a time of relaxing from the labors of cultivation and reveling in the fruits of our work.  It’s at this time that I ask: what do I already have?  What can I take pleasure in?  What is available to me right now just by the simple stretching out of my hand to pick it from the tree?  It’s a good time to say thank you to everyone and everything that supports and sustains you, a time to soak deeply in what is nourishing and rich.  It’s also a time to assess how your New Moon seeds are doing, calibrate and narrow in on what seeds took root, and forgive yourself and others while releasing any efforts that aren’t catching hold this time round (you can always plant them again another cycle!  It just might not be their time)  The last several years of Full Moon Revivals (a monthly women’s circle I used to host) involved a chanting and meditation practice to the Goddess Lakshmi, yogic Goddess of Abundance.  Little luxuries call in the presence of the Goddess, as simple as taking a bath with rose petals, or doing some self-massage.

Still curious?  Want more?  

If you are a woman-identified person and want more Moon Magic bringing sanity and sanctity into your life, check out Moon Circle, a 9 week in-person gathering of Spirit, Sisterhood, and Celestial Syncing (starts Oct. 5th, the next Full Moon, but early-bird pricing ends TODAY!  Register here.)

For all folks across the gender spectrum, plan ahead for the fall series of New Moon Group Reading and Dream Circles (next one is Tuesday, Sept. 19th—register here.)

Stay tuned for some additional (free!) resources for starting your own love affair with La Luna.  In the meanwhile, look up and drop in.  The Goddess is near.

    *A note about bleeding: I acknowledge that I write from a normative and privileged assumption of able-bodied cis-gender femaleness.  I think there is some deeper work that I and my peers in this field can/should do addressing how "women-only" spaces re-enforces a binary and biology-based gender paradigm, and the trouble in what can be the exclusionary celebration of the physical features and experiences of the female body as what “makes me a woman”. I have not done this work yet. I ask your pardon and welcome feedback from folks with other embodied experiences—transwomen, women without uteri, or women for whom for whatever reason can’t or don’t rally around bleeding as a symbol of their womanhood. 

    A bow of gratitude to my teachers and sources on this subject:

    • Emma Juniper Clare of juniperclare.com
    • Rachel Alcyone
    • Moonology, by Yasmin Boland of moonology.com
    • Awakening Shakti, by Sally Kempton
    • Saida Desilets of saidadesilets.com