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?

 

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.

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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.

 

Ancestors Again

 

 

ancestorsI journeyed to my ancestors for help, again, since I am looking to break some family karma or patterns. This is how I did this, in case you want to try it at home.

Just like a mediation, I go to my ancestor altar and quiet my mind. I deepen my breath. In my mind, I ask my guide anubis for this journey to take me to the Hall of Ancestors. We walk to a large open space. My guide tells me to state my full name and intention. “I am asking the ancestors who have lived well and gone on successfully, and who have information that will help me bridge the resent I hold on my sister and mother, to please come forward and assist me.” I stated the surnames of my four grandparents, and felt four “lines” generate from my words. I was drawn to the far-left line and felt pulled along it, backward in time.

At some point, the movement stopped and I met an ancestor of that line.

Here is the hard part if you’re new to this (it’s hard for me too). I witnessed a scene that I didn’t understand at first. The important part of doing this, is to keep with the scene as long as you can, but to ask the guide who is with you, to please clarify what you are seeing and why you are seeing it.

Many times in the past, I did not do this because I felt I should understand what I was shown, because if they were showing me, I should be smart enough to get it, right?

Wrong. It’s not about smart, it’s about understanding that images and symbols are not easily understand at first glance.

What my ancestor showed me may or may not help me understand why I resent my sister’s attitude more than I resent my brother’s complete aversion to our mom. This may be an on-going conversation I have to have with whatever allies I can work with, to release this and move forward. My ancestor did ask me to light a candle for her,candles and I will take care of this. Just a note too, when you ask any ally for help also ask them if there’s anything you can do for them.  Both times I’ve received answers, the ancestor has asked for candles to be lit. I am so luck they didn’t ask for say, a bull to be sacrificed at the full moon.  Levity, there!

Summary 

  • Get quiet
  • Ask your guide to take you to Hall of Ancestors
  • State your name and intention
  • Ask appropriate ancestor to come forward
  • Converse
  • Thank and ask if you can do anything for them

 

 

 

On Winter and Re calibrating

I have been slacking from blogging.

The holidays tend to run roughshod over other activities – and it’s not that we really do a lot of partying. On the contrary, the entire winter season is basically a giant hibernation for us, with the holidays providing some additional food and drink.

So it’s pretty typical for me to cut back and go within. The last two winters were spent caring for dad and mom, plus last year I was cleaning out their house and getting it sold. I realized while I was doing “all that” that it was also an excuse to not “do” for me: I let my Type A, goal-driven self take over. On the plus side the house was sold by the end of March. On the negative side, I was so driven by the need to move mom, and sell the house, that I ultimately locked up my neck and mentally, my mind wouldn’t turn off.

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That’s one of those habits (mind running overtime) you’re supposed to use meditation, yoga and exercise to take care of. Which I had done. Before dad got sick.

This is how I meditated last year: *me sitting still. Breath in slowly Breath out..momhasdoctorappointment…Ihavemeetingsthreenights…breathedammit….goddamitwherearemysiblingsinthis…breathe…myneckiskillingme…breath…okdone*

To my credit, I logged 4 miles a day walking until the weather changed last fall, and lost about 10 lbs, which I’ve kept off over this winter. Change is incremental. I know all the good I did when I felt well enough, got me through the stress.

But stress is addictive – when you’re wound up in the Fight of Flight mode, it feels somehow wrong to not be keyed up.

Which brings me back the winter hibernation. I have downloaded a bunch of silly mysteries and spent a lot time just losing myself in them, trying to re calibrate my brain, because I think that’s part of the problem. (Plus no lie, the election caused an inordinate amount of anxiety and stress. I know I’m not alone here.) But – what is inside me: my mind and emotions, can be realigned with a better, more balanced outlook.

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Just like my worry about mom’s finances and her house, it helped to take action. And even if it seems un-productive to read little mysteries, it does retrain my brain to follow a different thought pattern. It’s a slow process and sometimes it still feels “normal” to worry and follow threads of “if this happens, I will do X”.  Still, recognizing what I am doing, is the first step to changing that habit.

 

 

 

Fire Cider

Last month I made Fire Cider. This is a really old herbal remedy, so there are a zillion variations on the recipe. The one I modified is from The Mountain Rose Blog, from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also purchase a Fire Tonic from them. They ethically harvest their seeds and plants, so this is my “go – to” if I’m not growing it myself.

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You basically have a lot of hot ingredients that marinate in Apple Cider Vinegar for about a month. You decant it, compost the remains, and then store it. You can add some raw honey to sweeten it. I didn’t but based on my husband’s gagging, I should have.

In this batch I chopped onions, 10 garlic cloves, grated a ginger root, chopped some jalapeno peppers and shook in some Tumeric. It called for 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper which I misread as a 1/4 cup. Yeah. It’s THAT hot. Obviously, the capsaicin plus the apple cider is what you’re going for in this recipe.

So far, I am happy with this because at the first indication of sniffles or sneezing, I take about a half-shot. It really clears out the sinus. A friend suggested I take a teaspoon daily as a preventative. I may do that, as two people at work are out with pneumonia and bronchitis.

My second batch is marinating and will be ready in January.

Just a reminder in case you need it:

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Dream Guidance, a Process

I am following up on an exercise in Robert Moss’s book Conscious Dreaming. I am only a couple chapters into the book so this isn’t a book review, just an example of an exercise and how I am working with it.

One of the reasons I am working more fully with my dreams at this time, is an effort to heal the anger and frustration that is simmering within me. This is a result of parental caretaking over that last two years, dealing with medical and insurance paperwork, and a lifetime of people pleasing/not saying “no”/not believing in myself patterns.

So I am incubating dreams on this subject of healing that pattern. I am boiling the situation down to this phrase “I want direction and guidance on healing the anger and self-deprecating patterns in order to fully enjoy my life.” That actually took some time to figure out.

Let me stop right here and say that in this book, Mr. Moss will do exactly this: state the problem he wishes to receive guidance on, then he proceeds to tell us the symbols and coincidences that validate the dream or answer his questions. He says that the answers may not come immediately, but the answers he receives are clear to him, and provide guidance. What he doesn’t write, is about all the symbols and signs that are false-starts. I am telling you this because I don’t want anyone to think that I get instant perfect answers. No one does, and Mr. Moss doesn’t write about all the “maybe this” “maybe that” signs that appear. That would be boring and confusing.

So, the first two nights of dreaming had a pattern of “tables.” The first night had a black and red one that I loved that was empty, and while I was admiring it, a tall woman snapped at me that I wasn’t paying attention to her. The second night, there were many tables involved in my work, all filled with lovely crafts made by others, but with no room for me.

*My take on this is trying to find “my” table for myself – my space.

Now last night was a horse of different color.

I have always titled my dreams, written them out, then recorded any feelings that they evoked at the time I dreamed them. This is in line with the exercise in the book. So, here is:

Peggy Lost the Fighting Tarantulas.

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My friend Peggy from work, is in a kitchen space that looks very similar to the one in the house I grew up in. The lighting is dim, it feels like evening. I am watching Peggy crouch down. She has two tarantulas, one dark and one that is tan and brown. She wants them to fight. I am hyper alert, but totally still because I do not like spiders and what is she doing with two tarantulas, anyway?

The tarantulas are pretty much ignoring each other, then with her hand, she brushes the tan one into the dark one to provoke a fight. The two bristle and show their fangs and grow to the size of baseballs.

I internally want to scream and feel my eyes growing wide at this.
Something in the other room distracts me. In my old house, this is the dining room area, and I am aware of people in the dining and living rooms. I step out to deal with something, then return. Peggy has lost sight of the tarantulas. “Oh well” she shrugs. She steps away. Now I am very worried. Where are they? In what crevice or dark corner are they lurking?

The people have made these crochet/knitted type of barriers, they are about 18” tall and are to fit across each of the three doorways. I am holding a bright blue one, with three doll heads and strands of yarn hanging down. We hope the tarantulas will come out and get on these yarn barriers and be caught.

  • I am afraid of spiders,
  • My friend Peggy is notoriously unorganized and lets daily tasks slide in favor of reading or anything else. In her defense, she did have a small stroke a couple years ago.
  • I know the shamanic meaning of tarantula includes trusting your intuition, balancing strength and weakness.
  • I don’t care. I am still afraid of spiders.
  • I am highly organized and efficient
  • I am afraid of conflict but will fight for what I believe in
  • Then I will be exhausted and second-guess myself.

In following up on your dreams – since this was less than clear to me, probably because of my throbbing fear of tarantulas – I stated my intention that the first odd thing I saw, would be an answer to what the dream meant.  This is where it gets tricky. I am now alert for signs. On my dawn patrol walk I encountered:

  • A nice looking young man running with no shirt on. Very unusual but not at all sure this meant anything.
  • Man teaching his German Shepherd to fetch and come. My first thought “You have to leash your dog in this park, glad I didn’t bring Miss Penny.” Only fit my OCD problem with following rules.
  • I wore tan outfit to work, I just realized this as I am writing, am I the tarantula?

 

I am going to marinate this for awhile and see if my dream is showing me that I have gotten pushed into some “fight or flight” adrenaline over home stuff or old stuff. Tonight I will ask for clarification on this. I appreciate the dream showing me what is, but I want to see the guidance. It’s a process, so I am not giving up on this theme. I really want the Universe to show me some Out-Of-Box thinking to get my life back on a joyful track.

 

Today’s Oracles

For the past couple days I have been asking for signs about things on my mind.

Today I forgot to do that, but because I am open to hearing and seeing signs (see Sidewalk Oracles from yesterday) I recognized three signs.

I hit “shuffle” on my playlist when I drove to work and the first three songs were:

Changes in Latitude, Jimmy Buffet

You’ll Never Walk Alone, Rogers and Hammerstein

Pocketful of Sunshine, Natasha Bedingfield

This is pretty typical of how I receive oracles – through music. I remember shortly after my dad died, I turned on the radio and “My Special Angel” came on first.

Totally not surprised that I was answered,  but I said “yes! thank you!”

I definitely am working on changing my attitude, thank you ancestors and spirits for supporting me, and it is indeed a beautiful sunny day. But even if were cloudy, the sunshine comes from within.

 

 

 

Sidewalk Oracles

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I want to recommend  Sidewalk Oracles by Robert Moss. I first heard about him through some friends, who were also interested in the messages we receive from dreams. Mr. Moss has studied dreams and dreaming,  and based on my friends’ recommendation, I read Dreamgates earlier this year.

And because I tend toward OCD on subjects, I ordered several other of his books. (Book-aholics! Please check out Better World Books for free shipping and to help their literacy project.)

I have always been a strong dreamer and have kept a journal that includes my dreams, for many, many years. Dreams have always fascinated me and I often receive helpful, albeit sometimes cryptic, information from them. I will let you know how the two other books are when I finish them.

So back to this one.

Sidewalk Oracles is an easy read, I was able to finish it over a weekend. There’s a lot of Mr. Moss’s personal story interspersed throughout the book, but it gives you a framework for the information he presents. The meat of the book, for me, was the chapter on asking for, and recognizing, the everyday oracles that are available.

If you’re into this kind of material, you won’t be too surprised by the content. But, I learned new things and new ways of receiving information and validations. If you’re on the cusp about this, check out Robert Moss’s blog and website. He is also on Facebook and posts some of his blog material there.

 

 

More Ancestors

I continue my exploration down the Ancestor Lane.

A couple weeks ago I randomly thought of my grandfather’s two brothers. They both died pretty young, one before my mom was born, so that’s the early thirties. Other than names, I had no information on them. I sat with the “random thought” for a day or so to see where this might lead. Sometimes these things go away.

It didn’t. It didn’t become a full-blown mania, like the time I emailed my great-aunt’s picture to about 30 convents in the Ohio/ Pennsylvania area, in my quest to find out more about her.

But, the thought persisted.

When I stopped to visit my mom, I asked her about these men. She said John died quite young and Anthony and Jeff (my grandpa) were close. She remembered him being around when they lived in Dayton during her first grade. But, he died shortly after. She had no real memory of his looks or voice.

When in doubt, I ask for direction. In my experience, long-dead relatives don’t just pop in to say hello, they generally need something, or recognize YOU need something. Since these gentlemen had been gone awhile, that may be why my impressions from them were extremely subtle, but strong enough for their energy to be recognized.  I have a lot of beloved dead, as do we all, but there was enough of …something… for me to discern them.

monasteryAnyway, after a few days I had the thought to go to the local monastery and light a white candle for each of them. Why this action? I played 20 questions a couple times, mentally asking “how about this?” “what about if I do that?” The candle at the monastery brought a peaceful reaction. Again, nothing was really strong about this experience. The monastery worked, I think, because the family was Irish Catholic and a couple of the women were nuns.

Why do the dead contact us?

In my case, I am looking for help to release some patterns that may (or may not) be a family pattern. I like to keep an open mind, after all. And so far, I’m not getting relief from my “go-to” practices: exercise, breathing, reading, meditating, pretending nothing is wrong. So – I am asking the ancestors for guidance. It is not surprising to receive not-so-random thoughts. They inspire me to be aware of help. Shortly after this experience, I dreamed I was being chased, near the house I grew up in. The scene shifted to the inside, where two men, back-lit by golden light, were there to protect me.

What does honoring the Ancestors entail?

I have an Ancestor Altar on my sacred tools altar. Yes, I am doubling up, but it’s a space issue. Three altars are a lot for one room. Anyway, in the dedicated ancestor space are items that mean something to me, most of them came from journeying. Every morning, since early summer, I sit with the ancestors, those of my blood, of my spirit and of my soul. I smudge the area with Palo Santo smoke and thank them for living well, and dying well, and for the guidance they give me. I am the result of a thousand acts of love. As we all are. And it’s in both of our best interests for me to succeed in my life. Then I ask them to guide me in releasing these patterns. I have a particular Tarot Deck that I draw cards from when I am with them. It’s like a Cliff Notes version of a conversation.

A second experience

My second venture with the ancestors was with my Grandmother Anna. This is my dad’s mom. She died two months before I was born. This is kind of funny: she died in 1958 and I am going to be 58 on my next birthday, so it’s been 58 years since she walked this plane.  I had never been to her grave. One reason was, I thought she was buried in a different cemetery, and it wasn’t all that close. I used to visit the beloved dead on my birthday, to give thanks and honor them. Of course, that’s the day before Halloween, so a win for me that the veil is thin around that time of year.

Anyway, I used Gravefinder.com to find her correct cemetery and Google maps to get me there on my lunch hour. I took her white carnations. It was actually a lovely headstone, and talking to her brought some tears up, so there’s some healing there.

She actually came to me in a dream shortly after my dad died. She was quite radiant, so I know she crossed over well and I have confidence that she will give me proper guidance as I move forward.

What does this mean?

It means the dead are never removed from us. The ancestors have a vested interest in our well-being, and can be a valuable source of support and guidance. A caveat: not all ancestors lived or died well. Discernment is the key when you call on ancestors, just as with any entity from the spirit world.

Trolling

Looky what I found! A Troll Doll.  Throw Back and good memory.

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For no good reason, Troll dolls popped up in my memory several months ago. I remember them from the 1970’s. You could get pencil topper trolls, and by the end of the fad, they came dressed in various professional garb: Doctors, nurses, etc.

Every once in a while I’d think about Trolls, more from nostalgia, like “oh that was a carefree time wasn’t it?” (Ignoring that I was an insecure teen and scared of most people.)

John and I stopped at an antique shop on Friday. He always finds cool little things. Or big things like the milk container on our front porch. Anyway, I was wandering through this maze of a store, and I found this Troll doll. I was nearing the end of my interest in walking around and looking, and for some reason remembered about Troll dolls. In the next cubby, was a pencil topper troll, and on the other side, four Troll dolls.

Ok, it’s a neat coincidence but why bring it up?

About a month ago, the shaman-study group did some ancestor work. One of the exercises came from Frank MacEowen’s book “The Spiral of Memory and Belonging.”book In the exercise, I stepped back in to four successive generations of my ancestors” my dad, his father, his father’s mother and then her father. The purpose was to feel what those people felt, to learn something about their motivation or their lives, in order to see our own lives a little clearer.

What I learned from this, was there was an overwhelming sense of duty to support the family. I felt my great-grandmother Christine scrubbing clothes on a washboard while her child played in a field. There was a sense of not being able to “look up” from her work. I felt my grandfather walking the street home from a job, burdened with trying to feed eight children during the Depression. The focus on work to sustain the family. I felt my Dad being one of eight, and the need to do better, make sure we were fed and sheltered. There was such a sense of working to ensure survival.

And then there was my great-grandmother’s father. This man’s energy was bright and hopeful. He loved horses, and dreamed of escaping the town for the country.

What does this have to do with finding the Troll? I believe it was a gift from my ancestors to remind me that I don’t have to work to survive. That this legacy of determination has served me well in the care of my dad and mom over the last several years, and in my drive to always have a job, even when my husband was laid off. I can always draw on that.

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Ancestor Barbie says “Hi!”. Someone in the line was a comedian.

But, they are reminding me that it is ok to play and be whimsical now and then.

This is the second time a toy like this has crossed my path. About five years ago, for whatever reason, I found a Kangaroo Beanie Baby at a flea market. I walked past it, and went back because when I was a little kid, I had a kangaroo stuffed animal, just about that size, named Matilda.

You may be getting some nudging too. I’m telling you, these things are really subtle and easily dismissed. It does take tuning into yourself to listen to those quiet thoughts, and that’s a practice. It is totally worth it though.