Ancestors October 19, 2017

I don’t need the impetus of Samhain to feel the pull of the ancestors. That’s pretty clear from my posts. I’ve addressed why I (all of us) need to work with ancestral lines to clear our own paths. What is becoming clearer now is, the ancestors are stepping forward for their own reasons.

Granted, every morning I greet my ancestors, those known and those I do not know, those of the spirit and those of the land. Recently, maybe because it’s October, my invocations are becoming more intense. I ask those who have lived well and died well and have gone on, to step forward and let me stand on their shoulders.

You’d think I was undertaking a Herculean task, like developing some cure for cancer.

No. I am just trying to get through my daily life – like we all are – and deal with the assaults and fall-out from an administration that seems bent on cruelty and greed. Hundreds of thousands of kids lose their CHIP coverage on December 31. People of color face assault on a daily basis. Women’s bodies are curated by old, white men. And patriotism is limited to a flag, a song and the military, not to be shared with people of color, with mere office workers or mill workers.  And Las Vegas.

So I am sure that my ancestors – and yours – have gone through stuff. As I’ve said, I trust my ancestors because I am the result of a thousand thousand acts of love, and they have a vested interest in my success.

 

Today my father’s grandfather called to me. I found his grave on Findagrave.com as well as the graves of dad’s uncles and aunts. One sibling was missing from the listing – my own grandmother, dad’s mom. Her grave is not located in that cemetery, but I was able to email the administrator and ask that it be linked.

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On my lunch hour, I visited the cemetery, and this is an old cemetery. There are no markers for sections and rows. Another ancestor is buried here, so I parked near that grave and just started walking. And found four out of five graves easily.

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Why am I doing this? These ancestors wanted to be recognized, or I would not have felt the call and spent the time looking for them. Why they want this, I don’t know yet. Maybe it’s just they wanted the acknowledgment. Maybe there is more to come.

The veil is indeed thin now, perhaps it is thinning in a way that will be permanent. Take the time to check in with those ancestors, even if it’s a thought or a candle lit in their memory. You, too, are important to them, and if you have children, you have an even stronger reason to affirm your line of ancestors. Not all will be willing to help you – but if you’re skeptical of angels and guides, you know that ancestors actually walked the earth. The ones who love you also have your back.

Sláinte

ps. You can do anything . Together, we make a difference.

hedgehog1

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The Power of Three

When I love a character, I want the book to go on and on. That’s the beauty of series. Right now, my platinum standard is Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. I love almost all the characters and could easily move to Three Pines if it were a real place.

Right now I’m enjoying Charlaine Harris’ “Midnight” series – which is a paranormal/mystery series I found after watching the new NBC Series Midnight Texas. I actually like the books more than the TV series, partly because I like Charlaine Harris’s writing style. An added bonus is, characters from her other series’ make appearances.

Which brings me to a question I ask myself, where is the tipping point on a series when it goes on a long time?

Case in point is Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books, also known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Fell in love with them. But at some point along the way, I started to lose interest and didn’t make it to the thirteenth book. I might’ve committed treason around book ten. It was when an interesting character was killed off to make room for more incredulous characters. I know – I’m talking about a Paranormal genre. Still, good writing is good writing, but around that point, the writing felt forced. Maybe the author lost interest too, who knows?

I blame Tolkien for the expectation of books falling into trilogies – and I know that’s unfair. Lord of the Rings was written as one work and the publisher split it because it was too long. And it was actually six books. Fun fact: I did not like “The Silmarillion”!

After LotR I went for the Shannara Books by Terry Brooks. First three  – great. Now I think there are a dozen, maybe more. The Shannara world appears to be totally mined, but I bet I am wrong about that. I was tapped out at three. How many more swords/elfstones/elfsongs haven’t been lost/discovered?

Same issue with The Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan, that world seemed to grow exponentially. It’s author died before the series was complete and the editor (fun fact: editor was the author’s wife – may explain the never-ending story aspect) hired another writer to finish the last two books, making a total of fourteen books to get through. I actually had a lot of these in hardback – this was when books made great gifts. One gift was the compendium of maps and people. I never finished this series, either.

I am sure this is a tough call on authors who have all watched or read “Misery.” That fan base can be pretty wicked.

In the meantime, I can definitely recommend Louise Penny’s works, and this particular series by Charlaine Harris. Oh, and Lord of the Rings.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Equinox – Balance

Friday is the autumnal equinox, a time of balance, which I have been a bit out of lately.

Just now, I thought “huh, equinoxes come twice a year. It’s like a when a clock stops and it’s still correct, twice a day.” You’d think I could achieve balance more that two days a year.

Actually, balance has been on my mind since mom went into the assisted care facility in 2015. I though my life would pull back into shape from the vast amount of stretching-beyond-what-I-expected-I-could-do, but it’s more like a beloved sweater that’s out of shape. It just doesn’t fit like it used to and you wonder if you still love it.

Plus, this is the time of year (pre-birthday) that I take stock of my life. My journal entries from past years list things to do in the upcoming year and things I accomplished from the previous year’s list. And there’s always a short of list “didn’t get this done.”

You can probably see that I am goal-oriented and possibly over-structured. Not so much a spur-of-the-moment person. All this served me very well when I was managing dad’s cancer treatments and mom’s doctor appointments, selling their house and belongings and wrangling insurance problems.

Yet, I knew there would be a time I would have to sit with myself and figure out whether I was going to tread water for the rest of my life, (work, mom, home) or carve out something else. I’ve become an activist, calling my congressmen, attending rallies, and did some compaigning for someone I truly believe will make a difference in my community. I’m not going to say this is fun –  it was work. I’m pretty much an introvert, but it felt very necessary for me stand up for healthcare.

I am cutting back on the time I devote to my mom. That activity, my mom, carries a lot of guilt-potential.

One thing I am slowly managing to do, is cut back on obligations. This is funny because I really don’t have a lot going on beyond mom/work/home. I was active in a shamanic circle for 4 years and confess that the last year or so, that has become an obligation. So I left the group. A cousin I rarely see invited me to his son’s shower and wedding. I declined. I wouldn’t know his son (or his fiancee) if they passed me on the street, nor would I know anyone at the reception except for two cousins. That one, I wrestled with. It felt like a family obligation. I did worry that my other cousin, the aunt of the groom, would think less of me that I didn’t attend. In the end, the sheer amount of energy I put into the worry told me it wasn’t worth it.

Sometimes I worry that bowing out of things like the circle and the wedding will result in me becoming my mom: a bitter old woman who lays in bed all day at a facility. I worry about this and want to balance “not be exhausted all the time” with “function at work/with mom/ and at home.”

To my credit, I have been walking 2.5 miles before work and 2.5 miles in the evening and have gone back to reading tarot, even if it’s just journaling about the card of the day. I pulled out some old tarot books and remembered how much I liked reading about the cards and spreads. I count that in the column “doing something fun.” In the mornings before my walk, I put the coffee on and say the rosary – I know! I am mixing traditions, but it’s a connection to my dad, who died as he was praying the rosary. Plus, in one of my meditations I heard “say the rosary for your ancestors ” and I am ok with that. One of my sage friends said “What is Mary but another face of the Goddess?” I am flirting with the idea of going to our local UU church. I went there briefly before we started going to PA on the weekends. That may or may not make the cut of things to be involved with, but a community is always a good thing when it is the right community.

Hopefully, I will find some cool(er) things to write about beside silly me. If you haven’t started putting up your Fire Cider, now is a good time.

 

More Ancestor Work

 

Please check out Christina Platt’s podcasts “Why Shamanism Now” for the background on this post.

Christina’s latest podcast was about ancestor work and this entire year I’ve been drawn to that topic.

I really believe our ancestor offer a great and unique opportunity as guides and reference points. For one thing, as I’ve already written, they have a vested interest in your success. After all, you’re their legacy, just as you will one day be an ancestor to your descendants.

They are also “real” people who lived – as opposed to angels, spirit guides and beings of those realms we read about, but may not feel connected to.

But the ancestors can cast a long shadow over us in a negative way. Not everyone who lived, actually lived well. Nor did they die well. And by that I mean, they had unresolved issues that were passed down.

Let me stop here and say, not every family problem is an ancestor problem. Sometimes people are assholes period.

But, maybe you do see a family pattern and wonder if there’s a way to clear that up. Alcoholism and abandonment issues run in my family. I hesitant to bring up health patterns although Christina’s podcast touches on that in a much better way than I ever can. I am Miss Skeptic about a lot of things, so I’m going to use examples from my personal experience.

There are many, many books out there on ancestor healing, Daniel Foor, Christina Pratt and Gretchen Crilly McKay also offer training. Anywhere you start is a good place.

For myself, I set the intention to find an ancestor who lived well and died well to come forward and help me with those two issues.  To be fair, I can certainly live my life pretty well, even around this fear of abandonment, and while I am a social drinker, I’ve seen some serious alcoholism/addictions in the family.

But I feel like the fear of abandonment, even though I recognize it, may be stopping me from living my life fully. (I have no idea what that means – except there’s this little haunting thought as I make decisions “who’s going to get mad, maybe I don’t really need to do this fun thing for me. I should go do dishes.”)

Now, for the record, I don’t have kids, so I’m doing this for me and allegedly this will carry forward to decedents of my siblings (families are already experiencing what I saw with my grandparents/parents/self).

We’ll see how this goes. I will keep us all posted.

 

Just…Summer

Summer solstice is just past. I wanted to have a smart outdoor ritual this year, but life got in the way (and so did some cool, rainy weather) so it was the typical “light a candle” kind of thing.

It’s still High Summer and for me that means getting outside as much as possible. Maybe that is really my ritual – being present in nature.

Twice a day, I walk through our local park. Twenty years ago they planted a group of trees on one side. Today, I call it my grove. There’s a buckeye tree there that pre-dates the other trees and I greet this one in particular each time I walk that path. It’s an old tree with knots and holes in the big trunk.

There’s a group of turkey vultures in our neighborhood. They inhabit one particular tree and in the mornings when the sun hits a certain level, they spread their wings, like a giant greeting of the day. I love to watch them ride the air currents. Yesterday, I saw one sitting in my neighbor’s yard, making the other birds crazy. Turkey vulture did not care.

The garden is blooming and I planted some herbs in containers so I can take them to work in the fall.

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“Take your plant to work day” LOL. I’m leaving the oregano in the ground, but used containers for rosemary, thyme and sage.

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I considered trying to bring a basil inside – it’s my favorite herb – but I’m not sure that’s going to work. Still thinking on that.

This summer is definitely cooler than our last two. It’s reached the 80’s a couple times, but we’ve had an almost daily wind (more than a breeze) that makes it feel cooler. I’m a hot weather girl, so if it were mid-90’s with a wind, that would be great. it’s also been rainy – all of this was in the 2017 Old Farmer’s Almanac, so I will definitely get the 2018 edition.

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We did not plant tomatoes. The last couple years I didn’t can. I miss having the smell of the tomatoes when I open the jars. There’s a large flea market a couple towns away where they have really nice produce, last year people were offering boxes of bruised tomatoes for $7 at the end of the season, so I plan on canning again.

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My favorite thing about summer is enjoying the backyard, watching the clouds from the lounge chair and sitting under our trees when it gets really warm.  What’s your favorite summer thing?

 

My Herbs Survived Winter

Spring is in the air, even though is snowed last week in Ohio.

This is when I go into high-gear fantasizing over my garden. It used to be 100% herbs – and I always planted one very unusual species. Now it’s far more flowery but I still get my herb fix with containers that I smartly took to work so they over-wintered.

So I am starting the season with a lovely bushy rosemary, thyme and some oregano. Mostly I am proud they lived all winter, but I herald a success with the “office as winter garden space” and I will do that again.

If you have great southern windows and your house isn’t too dry, you can do this too. Mine doesn’t have the requisite six hours of light for this to work. However, I have a bank of southern windows at work, and took advantage.

One thing to be aware of, is infestations of whitefly. Those are the tiny gnat things that burst from the plants when you over-water. This is the fastest way to get co-workers to hate you: bring in plants that have bugs.

AFter the first sighting, I hightailed it over to the nursery, so here’s the skinny on keeping whitefly out and plants in.

  1. Let your plants dry completely before watering, then water from the base.
  2. Sprinkle cinnamon on the dirt all around and through the plant.
  3. Use “gnatnix!” this is a top dressing that you put over the cinnamon. It looks like tiny white stones. Guess what? it’s ground glass but you won’t cut yourself. I tried it – no cuts. it’s completely organic and since my three plants were culinary, I did not want pesticides.
  4. Use Sticky Whitefly Traps. These are yellow sticky cardboards that I put in the plants so anything that made it’s way our of the soil, was drawn to the paper and stuck there.

Here’s how this work. The larvae will hatch and make their way to the surface. They will be shredded by the ground glass. The cinnamon is a repellent too. Any that surface are drawn to the yelllow cardboard, ditto the ones that are flying around before you did all this.

My three plants are home now, waiting to be repotted. My armory of anti-whitefly equipment is stored for the summer. I am excited to plant some colorful flowers, and try some new stuff with containers. I have to cull through my medicinal plant information and see if there’s a new plant I can grow and tincture, so stay tuned for that.

Green blessings on us all.

 

Compassion

I work for a Jewish Federation. Needless to say, the last several months have been harrowing. My building has not yet been threatened, but our people feel fear. For many, it reopens the horror of the Shoah – the Holocaust. For all of us, it shows us that hate and anti-Semitism has blossomed into overt acts.

I remember the first time I saw a camp tattoo on an old woman’s wrinkled arm. Nothing speaks louder than that silent moment of horror.

Nonetheless, there are still acts of kindness.

This morning we found a brown paper bag at the door and assumed the worst. There was writing on it.

“My wife and I found this at a flea market. It was in a box marked ‘Jew stuff.’ We didn’t think that was right. We felt it should be given to a place where it would be respected.”

Inside was a tefillin.

tefillin

The black boxes and wraps are tefillin.

These are sacred prayer items.

From the Chabad website: Tefillin consists of two small leather boxes attached to leather straps. The two boxes each contain four sections of the Torah inscribed on parchment.

My boss called the number on the package to thank the gentleman. He drove almost two hours to bring this to our building. He said he was offended to see a box labeled “Jew stuff” and like most Americans, he was angry at the hate speech and what it has spawned.

And he took action.

Elie Wiesel said :

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

 

Today my world felt a little less oppressive. I hope you have a moment of grace like this too.