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Happy Lughnasa!

Oh Shining One….

Mama Charlotte holding the New Moon in Cancer Prayer Bundle
GREETINGS on this LUGHNASA! 
 
I tried something different this month. Something that scared me. I leaned in, and asked my Mom to see me. And you know what? She did. 
 
The picture above is my mom sitting at my kitchen table, holding a prayer bundle. After nearly two years of long-distance connection only, Mom made the trek from North Carolina to Maine a few weeks ago. She wanted to see me and Michael, our new home. And meet Molly! 
 
Two years is a long time to go without seeing a parent, especially a mother. Especially my mother. My mother happens to be my #1 Fan, which I think everyone needs. Everyone needs one person to champion them, unconditionally. My mom is that person. She has always praised me, cheering me on in difficult jobs, relationships or personal struggles. As a raucous and rebellious teenager, she never judged me or told me I was out of line, out of my mind, or embarrassing–which, looking back, she sure could have said those things. Mom nurtured my friends as well, and while she had her “favorites” of the men I dated, she never dismissed any of them or stated disapproval. And believe me, there were a lot. 
 
Naturally, I wanted to make her visit special. My mom loves baseball so Michael ordered some Sea Dogs tickets. I planned a day of planting annuals because my mom loves her some flowers! She also wanted to see my best friend, Karen Lamb, and her kids. And she wanted to see a special lady named Anne L., who I used to work with at Portland Gastroenterology. I wanted other folks to meet my mom so I planned a FOR-REAL dinner party. Finally! I’d have the sound of loud conversations and clinking glasses in my home! (Good riddance, Covid) 
 
Sadly, Mom was a bit under the weather while she was here. Sinus congestion with a rugged-sounding cough made us worry enough to go to Urgent Care and get a Covid test. Thankfully, she was negative. She just felt awful, tired, run down. We skipped the Sea Dogs game (too wet) and I decided to cancel the dinner party. I wanted to create a peaceful, restful environment for her to heal, recover. And she did see Karen and Anne and even Michael’s child, Charlie. 


 
The time that she was here–about seven days–fell over the new moon in Cancer, on July 9th. The new moon, for me, is a time of ritual “seeding”–setting intentions for what I want to grow and manifest. Normally, this ritual would look like me setting sacred space with some incense, candles and calling in the Directions. I would also journey to a helping spirit (Journeying is a shamanic technique I learned long ago to connect with the imaginal realm; the guides who help me there know much better than I what seeds to plant for my highest good!). Once the information is revealed, I may place physical seeds such as apple seeds or pumpkin seeds in a jar or bowl of dirt, tobacco or marbles. The sacred action is symbolic, meaning it is a stand-in for my intention and devotion towards nurturing what helps me grow. 
 
Since my mom was here, I wanted to share this ritual with her. It didn’t feel right for me to sneak off and disappear to perform this important monthly rite in my office. And although I wasn’t sure how she would respond, I knew I wanted to invite her into my world. 
 
I was raised in a Christian home. Baptist (and then Presbyterian). We went to Sunday school followed by church service every Sunday. We’d leave the house around 9 AM and get back around 12:30 PM. Did I mention every Sunday? You had to be really sick to skip church, and no one in my family ever skipped church. 
 
I am so proud and grateful for the religious foundation the church gave me. Although I do not go to church anymore or identify as a Christian, I often pray to Jesus and Mother Mary and also to a ton of angels. Today, my church is the land, the stream, the mountain. The cry of a hungry Red-Tailed Hawk, the glistening dew on a spider’s web. I meet God in a lot of different spots these days and that program fits me, suits my earthy soul just fine. 
 
But my mom is still very much a church lady. She goes to her Presbyterian church in Greenville, N.C. regularly and has, at other times, served as deacon and elder at other churches. She says Merry Christmas to people at the holidays and does not apologize for it. And she reads her Bible, and prays. 
 
Because I wanted both my mom and Michael to participate in my new moon ritual, I decided we’d make a prayer bundle together, or despacho. “A what?” Mom asked. I said the word again, and spelled it for her. She immediately googled it on her phone! According to the website The Four Winds, a despacho is “a prayer bundle or offering…that holds symbolic elements and the prayers of the participants.”
 
After the package is wrapped up and tied, it can either be burned or buried. To create a despacho, you need materials. You need biodegradable items, preferably from nature. Things that will easily burn, or things that can easily biodegrade. The materials we used were: tobacco, corn meal, lavender, pine chips, salt, chocolate, dried flower petals, dried cedar, and sage. 
 
You also need a big piece of paper, or tissue paper to serve as the base. This time, I asked my mom to write the words, ‘All Is Well’ on a paper plate. We placed that on the paper, face-down. This “cradle” would hold all of the other offerings. 
 
I explained the procedure to my mom: take a pinch of one of the offerings, hold it while you speak the prayer, then place it on the paper plate. She wanted to know if we were praying for anyone in particular. I told her we could pray for whatever and whomever we wanted. 
 
So we prayed for our loved ones and family members, friends and neighbors. We prayed for the environment and the government, both local and national. We prayed for God’s creatures, the cleanliness of rivers, for the people who had to move out of this beautiful home Michael and I now live in. We prayed lots of gratitude prayers for the front-liners in the Covid fight, for all of those therapists out there, listening to horror stories. We asked for those who are depressed, addicted, or lonely to find just one person who cared, or could find them some help. We prayed for the “state of the world” in all of her messiness. We prayed for the little babies, those just coming onto the Earth scene, faced with who-knows-what for a viable planet. We prayed for hope, instead of fear, to trickle down to those who have hate in their hearts. We prayed for teachers, everywhere, of every ilk. 
 
We rotated around and around until nearly all of the offerings were gone. Mom and I both were shamelessly letting the tears roll down our faces. I think it was Michael who, when it got to his about fiftieth time, said, “I think that’s all I have for today.” Then, we thanked the Spirit of the New Moon in Cancerthe sign of the Mother–for listening and taking in all of our prayers and offerings. I tied it up, decorated it with some lavender and a piece of driftwood in the shape of a coyote’s head. It sat in my living room under the watchful protection of Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of Hearth and Home, of Poetry and Healing, until the following full moon, which was July 23rd. This moon in Aquarius was appropriately named the Blessing Moon. 
 
Although Mom was not here when Michael and I burned it, her presence was very much with us. It is said that as a prayer bundle burns, the prayers are released, the smoke carrying the prayers where they need to go. Fire is the Sacred Alchemist, turning “this” into “that” and never going back to What Was. 
 
After the despacho ceremony, I thanked my mom for being willing to try something new and different. I stopped short of giving her the “this-is-how-I-worship-now” speech–a willful daughter trying to be seen, and accepted for Who She Is Now. I didn’t do that because, honestly, I didn’t have to. What we had created together exceeded the need to differentiate between Her Way of worshipping and My Way. It was important to create something sacred together, and it was really important for me to share my spiritual practice with my mom. 
 
Why did it feel so vulnerable to introduce this thing to mom? I think it’s because we are especially protective of the things in life that are important to us, that are extensions of our soul. Everyone harbors a fear of rejection, as it is human nature. But my mother has always “gotten me” no matter what because she has always loved me for exactly who I am.
 
And that is the greatest gift you can ever give anyone.  
 
Blessings on this 1st Harvest! May the bright, shining gifts of Lughnasa rain down upon your path. May you show up with your vulnerable self, as I did with my mom, to dismantle the illusion of separation. 

Shine on!
~Mary Katherine 

  FEATURED PRACTITIONER: KAT BEAUDOIN  

I met Kat at a shamanism class nearly 10 years ago.  We’ve explored many worlds since that first meeting and become great friends. In addition to her shamanic practice focusing on sacred space design and tools such as the Medicine Wheel, Kat practices Reiki and The Bars/Access Consciousness, but her long-time passion is “The Work that Reconnects,”  a practice she discovered in the 1990s and studied in 2017 while on a year-long solo cross-country sabbatical.  “The Work that Reconnects” was created by Systems Thinking expert, Buddhist Scholar and Nuclear Activist Joanna Macy, who Kat had the honor of studying with while she was traveling in the Southwest. 
 
Joanna Macy states that “The Work that Reconnects (TWTR) helps people discover and experience their innate connection with each other and the self-healing powers of the web of life, transforming despair and overwhelm into inspired, collaborative action.”  To Kat’s way of thinking “TWTR is a framework for approaching our deepest and most protected feelings about what is happening to our planet and its inhabitants.  It relies on attributes assigned to the four cardinal directions as a platform for integration, within and with one another.” 
 
Kat has more than 35 years of community-based facilitation and group work; she left her management position in State Government in 2011 in support of the Great Turning.  She conducts workshops in private settings and for corporate as well as non-profit groups. She lives in Augusta and can be reached by phone or text at 207-446-8099 or by email at katbeau50@gmail.com. For more information about The Work that Reconnects, visit www.workthatreconnects.org.
 
 *No classes or ceremonies will be offered in August; please keep an eye out for September events and offerings happening in September and October here at Avalon Acres! 
 
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Your Present Wholeness

Walking makes you wise. The guidance one can receive while walking about in nature, putting one foot in front of the other, is nothing new of course; different cultures all over the world know that fresh air coupled with movement “clears the head.” Charles Dickens walked twelve miles a day around London for his writing break. This spin around town as a bi-ped did not require Dickens’ stroll to be ‘in nature’ although that is where I receive most of my guidance. And, if I can get more specific: climbing a mountain is a sure way to feel grounded, guided and altogether energetically re-set.

Happy Dog: Molly enjoys a purple football and soft grass

Although our big walk is usually taken once a week at Little Ossipee Mountain, this week I wanted to introduce my pooch Molly to the beach! She’s never been to the ocean before and it was time to take her. In addition to introducing Molly to the beach, I myself wanted to commune with the ocean. We’re made of the elements and, at times, our mental, physiological and spiritual alert systems crave them: FIRE transmutes old, worn-out patterns and sparks creative energy; AIR re-introduces us to “fresh thinking” and stimulates mental functions; EARTH works to ground us and stabilize our often taxed brain and body; and WATER welcomes in flexibility, flow and a return to our emotional truths.

This pull to the ocean may not have been all that mysterious: Living where I do now, in the most idyllic, high-vibing rural paradise of my dreams, EARTH is very present. Was I possibly feeling too grounded? Perhaps there’s been some emotional territory I have been avoiding that I sensed water could ‘unjam.’ All water is symbolic of the Feminine but the ocean especially is BIG MOTHER ENERGY. Maybe I was missing my mom (who I haven’t seen in well over a year, almost two!) 

A bit more about the paradise I have the privilege of stewarding with my husband Michael: Avalon Acres (as we have deemed it) is fifty acres of mostly woods with farmland and wildlife trails. There’s an apple orchard, wide open fields, vegetable gardens and mature landscaping. The old farmhouse has charm and ‘alarm’–always plenty of things to improve! And we’re on a dirt road–nice and quiet. In other words, this ‘property’ is truly a sanctuary. The word ‘Avalon’ means ‘isle of apples;’ the legendary Avalon is where King Arthur retreated to have his battle wounds nursed by the irrepressible Morgan Le Fay, his half-sister, who was assisted by her bevy of talented high priestesses. Morgan and her eight sisters healed Arthur–body and soul–restoring him to health and enabling him to return to his duties as King. In Arthurian legend, Avalon became associated with magical beings and mystical experiences, where the secret Mysteries of the Feminine were alive and well, where personal gnosis [self-revelation through devotion to spiritual matters] and reverence for the Earth were freely practiced. Those who sought a different kind of healing than what the court physician could provide found themselves making a pilgrimage to Avalon. 

The Long View: Plenty of Room to Roam at Avalon

Avalon Acres, in Hollis, Maine, has a similar vision. We have mighty big dreams to execute and foresee this ‘isle of apples’ to also be a place where those who are feeling “embattled” with life might come to be restored. When the only safe place to go during Covid was OUTSIDE, the natural world leapt to greet us, hold us, and welcome us back. We are at home in nature because we are nature–not separate from anything else that also lives and dies under the sun. We forget that the pacifier of Netflix [or, fill in your preferred entertainment] used to come in the form of words leaving the mouth of a trusted elder, a wise grandmother or a experienced traveler. We humans would listen on pins and needles to these words with nothing to interrupt the storyteller but the sound of a popping fire or stifled giggles at the amusing parts. Once upon a time, we lived outside, among the furry faces and weather, with an eye to what Bear was eating and how Crow was flying. We had a common aptitude, a connection to nature because we did not see ourselves as any different. 

I’d like to return to this All-Knowingness with the natural world. And so the guidance I sought prior to Molly’s beach introduction was around how to NOT feel overwhelmed with the job of executing the vision that Michael and I have for our Avalon. We want to garden and maybe have some animals; we foresee renting the barn out for private events; he wants to re-invigorate his Naked Shakespeare ensemble and dreams of the Bard’s words spoken under the stars; I want to hold vision quests for all of my clients and friends who need that type of sustained spirit-saturation in a safe container; we’d like to sell our produce, maybe make apple cider and have yoga classes, open-mic music nights, writer retreats, Highland games, fundraisers for the community–the list goes on!! There is a lot of potential here but we can’t do everything (not all at once, anyway). Plus, there’s no magic cave with unending amounts of money in it–we need to be strategic. Dreaming Big for two risk takers is the easy part but we need to prioritize!

Earlier in the week, I’d had a near panic attack thinking about the to-do’s–not just with the aforementioned Dream-List but the work of owning a big property. Only eight months ago, we lived in a tiny, posh, maintenance-free condo in Portland. This change has been massive, to put it lightly. My panic attack was right on time–I was consumed with all there is to do. It’s easy to do, isn’t it? No matter what our ‘to-do’ lists hold, it weighs on us. 

So feeling the panic, I asked for help. Not sure what other people do but when I get stressed, I pray. Spirit was real clear: “You are always striving, barreling to meet that ‘perfect day’ in the future, when everything is ‘all set’ all taken care of. When the to-do list is done. When there’s no more thinking. Striving towards that imaginary day in the future only pulls your energy away from Your Present Wholeness.” This made so much sense to me! I think many of us ‘strive towards that perfect day.’ We intend to improve our life by enacting certain choices we hope will bring stability, pleasure, happiness, a sense of accomplishment. So, how do we avoid striving (and the energy sink it perpetuates) and still get things done? If we expect to see our dreams and visions realized, how do we not strive? 

When we left for the beach, this was what I was hoping to get some perspective on. Before we were even half-way down Broadturn Road on the way to Pine Point, I had been given two answers to this question! Life’s Instruction manual, courtesy Spirit. 

Number 1: The first thing one must do to avoid taking too many trips into the future is regular embodiment exercises, preferably ones that involve an awareness on the breath. Yoga, kundalini yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong. Even dancing for long periods will anchor the energy of the body IN THE BODY (where it belongs). It’s not the body that strives and yearns for that imaginary day in the future when things are perfect–it’s the mind that does that! The body is limited to cells and blood and bone and bodily functions. It’s happy to live in the vitality it harbors. The mind, on the other hand, can do either–stay in the present (in the body) or truck off down the road into the future (or the past-). The body can’t leave the body (nor does it want to). What Spirit was telling me was that I barter away access to my energy when I think and ruminate and worry too much about the future, or ‘all there is to do.’ What counters that tendency is the practices listed above. (Great news! I love yoga and dancing and Qigong!) 

Number 2: Do every task, even the very mundane ones, with Gratitude. When we bring a sense of appreciation to the action steps of realizing dreams (or washing that sink full of dirty dishes-), our hearts pop wide open. When our hearts are open, we are present. When our hearts are open, we are present to our Present Wholeness! It is super hard to escape the moment when your heart is open. Try it sometime. Try to leave the present when your heart is spacious, not constricted with worry or grief. And when you are in deep gratitude for What Is, your heart is open. And there is always something to be thankful for. 

And so, I commit to trying this. It’s really not  that difficult when you think about it. I’d rather stay in my Present Wholeness and have easy access to my body’s vitality. The present is where we make decisions and that is where the decisions we make get carried out! There is no perfect day in the future; only the perfect Now. 

See you at Avalon. And Blessings to you from Father Sky! Enjoy the longest day of the year on Sunday June 20th!

Rise up and Meet the Sun!
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A New Moon Meditation…

Today, May 11th, marks the New Moon in Taurus. A new moon is when the Sun and the Moon are sitting side by side to each other. We do not have the sun’s light shining upon the moon, as they are next to each other in the sky, therefore it is considered “dark.” In two weeks, there will be a full moon, when the sun shines upon the moon, revealing that which have been planted at the new moon…

The 9 Pillars of the Divine Feminine came to me during a new moon meditation. The new moon in Libra, October 2018, to be exact. It is remarkable to think that the Pillars came to me via Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, Justice and Mercy, at the time of Libra–the great Balancer. If you can imagine the scales of justice held by Athena, you have a picture of the nature of that new moon.

Our moon today is in the sign of Taurus, the first Earth sign of the Zodiac. If Aries is “I AM” then Taurus is “I sense.” It is, in fact, a tremendously sensual sign, and time. A new moon wants us to slow down, to be quiet. The metaphorical “seed planting” means to set an intention, to watch the purpose of that intention grow with the moon. In Taurus, we are invited to appreciate the Earthy pleasures of being alive, to sit and take in a beautifully manicured garden, to walk slowly through that garden touching each and every one of the flowers, to send deep appreciation to the natural world.

In this meditation, I invite you to get comfortable, and sit somewhere quiet. Take some nice long breaths before hand and imagine you have a root stalk between your sit bones. Send its column of connection down into the Mother. You may even want to lie down for this meditation, and burn some incense. Taurus is ruled by Venus and anything we can do to make ourselves feel more beautiful, cozy, and at ease is a good thing to cultivate at this time.

In this meditation, you will meet the Spirit of the New Moon in Taurus to seek guidance on what kind of “seeds” [intentions] you are in most need of planting today. Be open to what she has to share–we are prone to “know” what we think we need; Spirit often operates on a different level than that! So relax, sit back and breathe!

To listen to the New Moon in Taurus meditation, click this link.

The Faery Garden I created on May 1st, Beltane!
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A Yule Story: REDEFINING LOVE

Altar on Sunday, December 20th~A Winter Solstice Ceremony

THE LOVE TRAIN

            I’m in, I’m on, I’m tucked in right here under the luggage wrack. I barely made it because, you know, I’m coming in from the flight called 2020. You too? Bumpy doesn’t cover it. But we’re here now. We’re settling in to the Love Train.

            LOVE. It’s an over-sued word, isn’t it? ‘Love’ can mean so many different things. Just yesterday after reading my very thoughtful “course and instructor evaluations” I said to Michael, ‘I love my students.’ Would I tell them that? No! That would be weird. I ‘love’ my three-dollar plaid shawl I found at Goodwill that reminds me of my Scottish heritage. Do I tell it I love it? No! That also would be weird and maybe questionable. And yet we take the word and force it into all kinds of scenarios, expecting it to do our emotional and psychological heavy-lifting. What creates this dependency, this compulsion to rely so much on the word ‘love’? And why is it off limits to my students or a piece of cloth? In most instances in our modern world, we use the word ‘love’ in its romantic sense. Or, we use it to create dramatic emphasis, as in: ‘I love that new Adelle song’ or ‘I love Clint’s salsa’ ( I do!). We do a lot of ‘loving’ in our culture but I’m wondering if by over-extending its meaning, we aren’t diluting its essence? We need to first receive love in order to give it, and in order to recognize it later on. When we are babies, ‘love’ is actually attention, and care.

            But you don’t say, “I attention you” to your beloved, your children, or even your pooch. And I won’t come out and say ‘I love you, shawl from Goodwill’ although that’s how I feel! I explore these thoughts today, on this Day-After-Christmas morning, because to me, it is so much more important to cultivate the ways in which love is delivered and distributed in our world. Let’s wander off-field for a minute and imagine what recovering from our cultural expectations and semantic ideas of modern, often mass-marketed notions of love would look like:
            Here’s a story that’s perfect for sharing at this Yule time. I was in the Saco post office about 3 weeks ago. I had only one package to mail to North Carolina, for my mom. I’d gotten up early so as to avoid waiting in line as well as reducing my chances of being exposed to all of those asymptomatic Covid-carriers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who had this idea! I found a primo parking spot right on Main Street but when I opened the post office door, there were at least 7 people already waiting. Eight-thirty—opening time—came and went and still we stood there. Several more people came in to the post office; some huffed and left, not willing to wait. Finally, a bedraggled postal employee appeared and told us that the computer wasn’t properly shut down the night before and he was trying to track down the employee for her ‘passcode.’ We were unamused and went back to sighing and staring at our phones.

            The line eventually started to move. However, transactions were not swift! We all groaned as we watched the first customer insert and removed her debit card several times before the transaction was complete. This seemed to happen to each and every person thereafter! A normally 3-4 minute exchange was taking around 8 minutes (which feels like an age in the post office).  The mash-up of ridiculousness, holiday stress and Covid-fatigue fell over us still waiting our turns; snarky yet entertaining conversations started to spring up and I could feel the “citizen pack” forming.

            The young lady in front of me finally walked up to the counter. She too punched and punched the debit machine, to no avail. Her forced cheerfulness was palpable towards the postal employee, who no doubt was just trying his best. We crinkled our collective brows as we watched them laugh and smile, wondering when, when when! things might move along.

            And then, she dug around in her purse, produced her wallet and pulled out several dollar bills.

            Gulp. I didn’t have any cash. I turned to the woman behind me, who at this point in the morning felt like someone I could trust with my life. “Looks like cash only. I can’t believe this,” I said.

            She stared through the glass door over my shoulder. “Oh, no. Well, that’s okay. I just went to the bank.”

            I looked down at my package to my mom, its expert wrapping a skill I’d learned from her. “I don’t carry cash. I don’t have any cash on me this morning. This is unbelievable!”

The customer strolled through the doors, waving her receipt over her head. “Cash only folks,” she announced and then power-walked out. I knew I shouldn’t get mad but I was! I was upset, as anyone would be. It was finally my turn, I couldn’t go. I had no money.

That’s when the lady behind me said, “I’ll pay for it. Go ahead! You have waited all this time.”

Tears sprang to my eyes as I stared back at her; others behind her were waiting for the line to move yet they looked on as we had our exchange. Perhaps they were deciding: ‘Should I continue with my impatience and holiday stress or get swept up in witnessing this act of kindness?’

Kindness, care, attention, love. I fumbled for my phone so I could get her number or email and send her the money; she refused. I offered Venmo, Paypal? Nope.

“Please,” she said, tears now filling her eyes. “Let me do this for you. I can’t be with my son this year,” she said, gesturing towards her packages headed to New York. “And you can’t be with your mom. But we can still brighten someone’s day.”

I wiped at my eyes and said something I never say but, in that moment, I meant every syllable. I said, “Bless your heart.”

$14.68. But, really, it was like a lottery ticket. A solid gold bar. She did in fact brighten my day and so much more! It was an act of giving, and of receiving. An act of care, of humanity. It was an act of love. And she insisted on remaining anonymous.

That vibration carried me all day, all month really because here I am this morning, compelled to share it with all of you. We can love our pieces of clothing, our friends and lovers, those in our care, like my students. We can say we love anything, anyone, at anytime because frankly, words are cheap, and easy. But perhaps it’s time to expand and maybe re-vision our methods of distribution. The word may be over-used but the feeling—the experience of Love—never gets old.

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SACRED HOOP (ING)

EMBODY YOUR POWER, EMPOWER YOUR BODY!

What does it mean to be “embodied”? What does it really mean to be “empowered”?

We hear this a lot lately. “Embody your work.” “Embody the light.” In fact my website’s tagline is “Embodying the Divine Feminine”! And I have been dropping my fav mantra a lot lately: “Be empowered by your choices.”

What exactly does that mean? How do we hold and carry power without misusing it? Is it even something we can wrestle down and “contain”?

To me, it seems we have forgotten the intelligence of the body in contemplating these things. We are constantly looking for ways to calm down, slow our roll, stop worrying, breathe, be light, spread light, shine. We spend a lot of time assessing how we’re doing on our professional or spiritual paths, constantly “taking our temperature.” We have been fed certain ways to conform to others’ ideas and expectations of us; this is an exercise of the mind, a way the ego can “figure out” how to improve. Figuring out, boiling down, and controlling ourselves and our images is the ego’s favorite task (a close runner up is making sure Other People do not see how weak, insecure or neurotic we are).

HOWEVER. Ego energy is just one system that we humans have access to, and we need that system working a lot less in this time of deep change. Ancient cultures (and some not so ancient) spent hours drumming, chanting and dancing away their worries. And “worry” here is a bit of a misnomer—their cosmology informed them that they needed to dance and sing into the night to appease their Gods and Goddesses—you know, so they could eat, so their soil would grow things, so their babies could be born healthy. In fact, they left the worrying behind after the fire died out, after their bones ached with ecstasy, after their hearts were filled with the balm of community. They knew they had done what they were called to do; the next day, there would be another important issue to address, and their bodies likely got involved with solving that problem too.

Nowadays, we often “go work out,” to “stay fit” and “look good” as opposed to allowing an exhilarating expression of the body to be experienced. Although committing to a regular exercise routine is important (not to mention the benefits of all those endorphins), the body wants to return to an active role in our lives as a center for spatial intelligence, a megaphone for intuitive capacities, and a reliance on the incredible rhythms it houses that are much, much, much older than Planet Fitness.

Yoga does a fantastic job with this; so does dancing, as music easily goes beyond the internal censor. And over the last several years, I have especially been fond of hula-hooping. The kid inside of us is instantly intrigued, if not downright excited to see the skinny circle dancing around the midriff of the hooper.

As an adult, hooping for me has taken on the obvious health benefits but I also incorporate certain mantras, some yoga moves, and a focus on opening the heart with conscious breathing throughout my hooping sessions. This important step helps open the pathways between the intelligence of the body, the wisdom center of the heart and the brain. If we want to empower our bodies by embodying them, we can make the needed connection between brain and body via heart, thereby helping to facilitate other ways of practicing consciousness.

As a healing practitioner, I have seen how energy gets stuck, creating distortions and blockages for the body and spirit, which then create malaise, anxiety and ill-health. There is something truly dynamic in giving people the tools and guidance they need to make this body intelligence awaken inside of them, so all systems work together. The act of loving your body—especially for women—is a radical act. It reclaims what the ancient ones knew about these vehicles for our truth: to never, ever take them for granted.  

As an advocate and teacher of the 9 Pillars of Embodying the Divine Feminine, I share #8:

8) Temperance/ Sacred Sexuality. This is the time to ground consciousness. You cannot be a light bringer if you are escaping the intelligence of the body, the womb. If you are altering yourself regularly, this task will be difficult. If you body-shame, this task will be difficult; if you engage with your body in ways that make you feel unworthy, denigrated, degraded or otherwise less-than-sacred, this task will be difficult. Eventually, if the ratios of grounding consciousness and polluting your holy vessel are thrown too far off course, the task of bringing light will be out of reach, impossible. Take immaculate care of the only thing that is truly yours.

That last line bears repeating: Take immaculate care of the only thing that is truly yours.

We do pretty good eating our veggies and getting our heartrates up on the treadmill but what more could we do to acknowledge that our bodies are our ‘holy vessels’? I feel that making consciousness align between mind and body, in a supportive community of others who also want to move, is a great place to start this practice of respect, of honoring our vehicle for Spirit.

Plus, hula-hooping is fun! And who knows when the gym will open…

In my “Embody your Power, Empower your Body” hooping series, we will learn some basic moves, get a great work-out, and be in a loving, supportive community that is naturally socially-distanced righteous!

I purchased my first hoop from Tracy Tingley, the “hooping mama” of Hardcore Hooping. Tracy is an incredible person, giving of her time and energy to lighten the world up in many ways. She will even join us on occasion, and if you find that you love hooping as much as I do, she will make you a hoop. (*I will have plenty of hoops available for class).

The location (outdoor venues) and times are listed below, and we’ll start the first week of August and go through the first week of September. And! The first 2 weeks of classes will be FREE! There’s really nothing to lose but a little around the middle.

___ Evergreen cemetery (5:15 PM on Tuesdays: 08/04, 08/11, 08/18, 08/25, 09/01)

___Bug Light (7 AM on Wednesdays: 08/05, 08/12, 08/19, 08/20, 08/26, 09/02)

___Western Prom (6 PM on Thursdays: 08/13, 08,20, 08/27, 09/03–*no class on 08/06!)

Hope to see you there! Bring a friend, test out a hoop, see if grooving on your beautiful self is the right thing to do… (IT IS!)

The Hooping Mama, Tracy Tingley of Hardcore Hoops, and her sweetheart Lab, Otter
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The Shining One

Happy Beltane! Bel-Who?

Belenos (“The Shining One” ) is a Sun God of Celtic mythology. Beltane, the Fire Festival that commences on May 1st and ushers in the season of Summer in the Celtic Wheel, is believed to have come from Belenos. We saw the first stirrings of Spring at Imbolc with Brigid and her healing fire; now, the Crone of Winter, Cailleach Beara, is driven fully underground. Beltane is the half-way point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

I celebrated the Beltane fire (also known as the “green fire”) on the cross-quarter day this year, which was May 4th, by tending a ceremonial fire for several hours on my friends Paul and Janet’s land. Another friend, Karen, joined me. We sang, cried, drummed, burned prayer bundles and just talked. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, I actually had not seen her with my eye balls in some time. We, like a lot of folks right now, have been limited to Zoom or FaceTime chats but it’s just not the same as spending real-time with someone.

I arrived around 9:30 in the morning to this pristine piece of land, built my fire, and held the sacred space with Karen until about 3 PM, with a few bio-breaks and to do some reiki on Paul and Janet’s dog, Sage. It was windy, with a few gray clouds but mostly sunny. We listened to the call of Redwing Blackbirds, watched a gigantic Great Blue Heron circle the house, and witnessed a Coopers Hawk chase down one of those territorial Blackbirds. Paul divided up a few of his day lilies for Karen, who had brought bulbs for his garden and a bag of black oyster mushrooms for me. They were delectable later that evening with my lime-cilantro-tamari baked Haddock. I sautéed them in white wine and butter, with fresh kale and garlic.

The remnants of the Beltane Fire

There is one more thing we did: We offered prayers to the fire for the collective healing of the planet and asked that the fear around this virus to be transmuted. I tend to be sensitive to what the collective is feeling and have to be careful about where and how I expend my energy. It’s easy to pick up on fear and anxiety these days that isn’t yours! But, we all have a choice in where we direct our precious energy.

In times of crisis, and especially in such an unprecedented event like we are in now, it is critical that we remember we can control how we respond to stimuli, people, and society in general. When so much feels out of control, just knowing that you have a choice in how you react can quell some of the fear. Not only that, bringing consciousness around your response re-sets your parasympathetic nervous system and allows your executive function center to do what it’s supposed to: make clear, rational decisions from a place of flexibility, curiosity and creativity.

I know what you’re thinking: There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of flexibility, curiosity and creativity going on right now. But you do have a choice. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Whether you agree or disagree with the mask-wearers or the mask-deniers, it’s okay. Just know that at the end of the day, your vitality will keep you healthy and your connection to what is truly important to you will keep you sane.

You are the only one who can decide what is best for you.

Nature Heals Most Ills…

Uncategorized

Happy New Year! Newsletter

As someone who has had a healing practice since 2014 (and a writer, no less!), I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have never incorporated a newsletter into my correspondence effort! So here it is! Yahoo!

If I dig around on that one, I’ll admit it is not about being lazy; it certainly isn’t about not having anything to say. If I’m real honest and vulnerable with you all, it’s because I perceived newsletters as “bugging” people (or, tangled on the other end of what one of my teachers calls the “ego stick,” bragging to people—yuck!) thus not valuing my services, my insights or my “news.” Isn’t there enough “news” out there for us to ingest? Aren’t we shackled enough by emails?

While those things may be true (I get a newsletter from my dentist), it’s about accepting and perhaps reclaiming my worth. Sure, it’s a good business model, not to mention an easy way to reach many. But when I made my amends with 2019 a few weeks back, I had to say goodbye to the One Who Is Inaccurate. In other words, the Limiter, the Hater, the Critic and the Protector.

I had to acknowledge that I had something to say and that what I had to say was worth hearing, especially for my clients, who I endeavor to help!

We all carry limiting beliefs. If you’re doing your work—and I hope that you are—the burden of carrying the weight of self-imposed limitations is becoming heavier and heavier in this time of Great Awakening. Why is this? Because the soul seeks its expression through that which brings it joy. Pursuing joy isn’t always celebrated—and that’s one of the things that is changing about our collective consciousness. Pursuing YOUR joy is the recipe for how to evolve! This daring act of pursuing your joy is in stark contrast to the job of the ego, which is to maintain the status quo and manage fear. In other words, to protect.

I believe that we are moving into a time where ego and soul will need to share the spotlight. We are moving into a period of consciousness that will, one day, accept the concept of ‘ego’ as the conditioned response it is, not to be demonized by supposed enlightened individuals but rather feathered into the expressions of the soul. As a psychic recently said to me, “I don’t like how ego gets a bad rap. At the end of the day, we still need to stop at Hannaford for milk.”

This same psychic told me that 2020 is the year of radical severance, and of mastery. Those dead weights can’t come where we’re going—as individuals or as a collective. Some of the things we must leave behind might be things we’ve relied on in order to feel safe or “normal.” It could be a job, a habit or—gasp—a relationship. In my case, it was the One Who Is Inaccurate, the one who tells a story about feeling undeserving, not worth much, unseen, unheard. Moving into 2020, I commit to honoring my true expressions of self and soul while I thank ego from time to time for getting me safely through traffic, buying milk at Hannaford, or a mind-numbing faculty meeting. The real dead weights for any of us are not the things but the limiting beliefs that require careful, accurate and yes, radical severance. And love. You can’t really let go of something if don’t plan on letting go in love.

The 2020 metaphor of perfect vision is not lost on me; are you seeing clearly, too?

 

deer

March, Uncategorized

Healing the Divine Masculine 03/16/19

Are you ready to burst into spring? Perhaps a day of learning, sharing, reflection, sacred dance and ceremony is just what beckons to awaken from this long winter’s sleep!

st brigid

Many of us are being called to change – to evolve. Where are these stirrings coming from? What do these stirrings have to do with the global shift in consciousness many of us are sensing in every fiber of our beings? What inner split continues to snag us as we attempt to embody new ways of being? Have we made peace with our inner Sacred Feminine – in what ways has she not been revealed? What aspects of our inner Divine Masculine seek to be healed?

On this day of experiential inquiry, explore these and other similar questions in a relaxing, heart-opening co-ed environment. All are welcomed!

Co-facilitated by Kat Beaudoin (www.katbeaudoin.com ) and Mary Katherine Spain, (www.ninepillarshealing.com ).

Cost is $120; to register, message Kat or Mary Katherine or send payment thru PayPal to katbeau50@gmail.com. For more information, click here

Uncategorized

What Condition Will You Adopt for 2019?

A few weeks ago, I was undulating from the Janus Surge, or the time between December  26th and January 6th. My Celtic sensibilities tell me that the season of Yule is not over until Epiphany (January 6th), or the day those mystical magi step out and have their Jesus party.  I call it the Janus Surge because the “big” holiday of Christmas is over but the New Year hasn’t quite taken hold yet.  Janus could see backwards and forwards at the same time, surely a quality the ancient Celts appreciated, being captivated as they were with the Between Times.

800px-janus_
A modern depiction of Janus, God of Doorways and Beginnings

My husband and I went to Vermont this year for New Year’s. We stayed in an old B & B in Barre, the granite capital of the world, and relished in our annual tradition: opening the Red Box.

mikey with redbox slips
My husband, Michael, documenting the slips from the Red Box

The Red Box contains slips of paper with moments, milestones, and bits of hilarious dialogue he and I thought noteworthy enough to write down. It is a wonderful way to remember the past year. It also helps us refine our Top 10 lists for the major players and superstars of the year. (My Top 10 moments in 2018 were the Top 21 moments—a HUGE year!)

We returned to Portland on the 1st (after stopping at five different grocery stores for black-eyed peas) and commenced boiling collard greens, doing laundry, checking the water in the tree. I love my home but there is something about traveling, about being somewhere unfamiliar, which takes you out of the time-space continuum. A new environment suspends you, just a little, out of your “regular” life and allows the softer, less urgent voices to emerge—a gift, really, in this world of hurry and distractions.

hopinjohn
The Southern Tradition: Hoppin’ John

And so when I woke up on the 2nd, I wanted to hold on to that feeling. I wanted to ruminate a little longer in 2018, and through that reflection, devise my soulful intentions for 2019 (otherwise known as “resolutions”). I wanted to row out, fast, to the current of the Janus surge, looking forward, backward, sideways, inward, to call in the desires of my soul. A psychic inventory, if you will, re-forged as hope for the future. Besides, Yule season was still Yule season. I still had permission to stare at the middle distance, to revel in the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree, to pore over the new books I received as gifts.

But the pressure was there. There were emails to write and emails to respond to. There were thank-you notes to write. There was a money transfer to a credit card, a double-check of an appointment, a meeting to confirm. And that was just the small to-do list. I had a new website to launch (after re-imagining what I want my business to be), an application 15 pages long to finish up (to substitute! You’d think they were looking for the new Secretary of Defense). I had query letters to literary agents to think about, a workshop to prep for, a house to clean.

Luckily, I know this inner debate very well. It’s the one between my ego (who loves, loves, loves to get shit done) and my soul (who loves to create and contemplate, savor magical moments and appreciate the many facets of being human). And so I said, “No! Stop! I retain the right to stay enamored of the flow and force of Janus.” Yes, it was January 2nd on the calendar but I wasn’t quite ready for Baby New Year to start crawling.

So I called in supports. My Animal-Wise tarot deck had been bird-dogging me for three days. I’d brought the cards with me to Vermont, thinking the Maplecroft Inn would be a perfect spot to do a reading for the year ahead. For whatever reason, I hadn’t cracked them.

I knew I needed Spirit’s guidance through the cards because I knew that my ego’s agenda would not be easily quieted. As any spiritual practitioner knows, intention is critical. As I shuffled the cards, I thought of how badly I wanted to stay in the Yule magic and asked for a question to help me stay there.

The question that came was: What condition do I need to adopt today in order to stay in my soulful space, dreaming and journaling and seeking inspiration? Which animals and their special medicines can assist me in this endeavor?

I pulled 4 cards and placed them in each of the 4 Directions.

I turned over the South first: High Priestess, Major Arcana. Represented by no other than the Creatrix herself, the Spider. Key words: Weaver of Fate.

I turned over the card in the North: Hawk, Knight of the Winged Ones. Guardian of Ventures, knowing precisely when to strike.

I turned over the card in the West: Jaguar, 6 of the 4-Leggeds. Reclaiming Power in the Material World.

And lastly, I turned over the blessed East: Cicada. 6 of the Shapeshifters. Happiness from the Past.

tarot spread 2019
Ted Andrews’ Animal Wise Tarot Deck

I was not surprised at how perfect-for-me this spread was. I saw Hawk of the North watching over the High Priestess of Spider as she stitches and weaves her inner-most creation into the fate of her existence. I stared at the intense visage of Jaguar, deep green jungle leaves festooning his regal jaw, ears, leg. I imagined my own Jaguar medicine prowling around 2019, sniffing out what only the highly attuned can sense in the dark. And when I regarded Cicada and thought about the message, ‘happiness from the past,’ I knew that the wisdom and lessons of 2018 I had integrated inside of me were now boiled down and distilled for easy sipping.

The lessons are usually “happy” once in the rearview mirror, ie. past. And lessons make us who we are meant to be. Since this card was in the East, the Direction of re-birth and transformation, I took it to mean I too would be brought out into the Sun, glistening from my past challenges, intact, singing the song of what I most desired (Cicadas are known for their high-pitched mating calls and seemingly endless chorus).

And then it struck me: I may have asked for guidance on the day in front of me but what I received was the condition for what I needed to adopt for the entire year. These four were my A-Team! I was given an ego-soul-working-together blueprint for 2019!

On this planet, we have free will. So often we think things are done “to” us instead of “for” us. Or we think that some value we’ve placed on a person, experience, or situation will stick forever. But nothing lasts. Not even art, maybe love. Years end, new ones begin (and they end too).

We have a say on how we will respond to stimuli around us. We have a choice about the attitude we will meet our days with. It is a ‘condition’ that we can adopt, knowing it may change at any minute.  (And then we can change again).