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.

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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.

 

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.

 

Hawthorn

 

Previously I wrote about finding your answers in everyday situations (Sidewalk Oracles). I want to show you an example from this past week.

There are several things going on for me. One is my drive to lower my blood pressure through natural means. The other is a somewhat eternal question about “Am I on the right path” (and its sister concern: “Am I ever enough?” lots of post on my previous blog about this.)

Clearly this blood pressure thing is front and center on my mind, basically because I’m ticked at my doctor over increasing meds, and I have a bad case of “I’ll show you.” So – obviously my high emotion is going to manifest something, but I don’t want the high emotion to translate into higher BP.

I researched additional techniques for lowering blood pressure and came across Hawthorn. A trip to the local natural foods store did not result in Hawthorn tincture, my preferred method of taking supplement. The helpful person did turn me onto Magnesium to try first. That didn’t do anything notable to my numbers.

Since I am also working with ancestors, and this time of year is especially fertile for that, I laid it out there for them, and especially for the deity energy of Cailleach, who I am working with. In meditation, she asked for red berries.

Walking through our park, I saw a tree with red berries. Luckily, one of the branches had fallen, and I respectfully asked to take a few for an offering. I felt “yes” and took a small amount. When I got home, I put them on the headdress of the Ancestor Doll.

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Before Berries – sorry forgot to take picture this morning.

Mission accomplished.

Later that night, I had a dream that included 3 men from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) coming into a room I where I was working. They were bathed in a golden light. They had their guns drawn, and at first I thought this was a problem. Their leader – I heard “Daveed”  but forget the last name, asked me for my credentials (or something like that) and after I named them, he was fine. It’s pretty typical to answer questions for a Gatekeeper when you are questing or when you are going to different levels of existence.

There was more to the dream, but the upshot seemed to be that these people were here for my protection.

This is the second dream event with men bathed in golden light who were protecting me.

I was excited (in the dream I haul this Daveed to my dad, because I want to show him I have a friend.) but unsure of any other meaning.

The next morning while Penny pulled us on our walk, Brother Turkey Buzzard flew low then perched on a roof. He opened his wings for the morning sun salutation they perform (In the early mornings, vultures often will sit with their wings spread wide, increasing the surface area of their bodies so that the sun can more easily warm them. This is called the “horaltic pose”.)

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And then we spotted a dozen of them in the trees behind the house. One by one they opened their wings, facing the “conductor” buzzard. We were completely mesmerized. And Turkey Vulture is one of my allies.

I knew it was sign, but because my guides know I am Miss Doubting Thomas, there were two more signs. For some reason, I went through my mom’s Catholic Missal and it opened immediately to St Therese of Liseux’s feast date – October 3 – which happened to be that day. The eulogy for my aunt fell out too – her passing date was also October 3.

Now, interpreting these three events – the Turkey Vulture, St Therese and Aunt Florence – all pointed to spiritual answers for me. Mom always venerated St. Therese and my grandmother’s middle name, and mine, are Theresa. I would say they are supporting me in my spiritual endeavors and letting me know they have my back.

I think the dream also reflects this protection, although in a slightly different way.

I wondered what the red berries were, that I picked for Cailleach. They were Hawthorn. Can you see the coincidence with my interest in Hawthorn for blood pressure? Never in a million years would I have randomly grabbed some berries off a tree, without prompting from a dream.

And, I believe the golden IDF men were plant spirits as well, in this case Hawthorn.

From Druidry.org: Hawthorns often stand over holy wells, also traditional thresholds of the Otherworld, where pilgrims festoon them with ribbons, rags and other votive offerings. A sacred hawthorn hung over the St. Patrick’s Stone on an island in the River Shannon and filled its hollow with dew, which had great healing powers. St. Bridget’s Well in Cork also collected the dew from an ancient faery thorn above it.

So, the take-away here is, all signs are personal to us. Mine will not be the same as yours, which is why it’s important to work with your signs and not give up. Be aware, but understand that it takes time to figure all this out. Also, you can take the girl out of the Catholic Church, but you can’t take all the Catholic stuff out of the girl. Again, personal to me, my symbology contains Catholic elements.

 

 

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.

Ho’onoponopono – Forgiveness and Gratitude

 

My friend turned me on to this practice. It is a Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and gratitude. This is the wording and it is like a mantra:

  • I am sorry.
  • Please forgive me.
  • I love you.
  • Thank you.

On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple practice. It is. But is has profound results. (read more about ho’onoponopono here.)

Gratitude is a practice, which means there will be ups and downs. Same thing with forgiveness. It’s when you’re “down” that you – meaning me – need it the most.

This is also a forgiveness practice, something that is really hard for me, since when I feel aggrieved, the last thing I want to do, is forgive someone. I want them to suffer terribly. But so far, the only person suffering has been me. This reminds me that other people think about me, much less than I think about them. Fodder for another post.

So, back to the Ho’onoponopono. The idea here is to picture the person you’re mad at, or who is mad at you, and say out loud or silently, the mantra. Super. Hard.

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The first time I tried this, I actually thought blood would run from my eyes, so I modified it, saying the words to the Universe in general. Eventually, I was able to visualize the person, and say the words. This is what I mean by a practice. Modify something until it works for you, then take it where you need it to go. Don’t be a sheep, take control.

I modified the Hail Mary because I like the rosary my dad gave me – there’s some science behind the tactile action of passing a bead though your fingers, and chanting. I just felt I worded things better, for me.

Yes, I am a control freak, but it works for me.

Back to Ho’onoponopono. I took mom to the ER Sunday and while we were there, there was plenty of time to repeat the words. Like, four hours of time, which is actually pretty good considering our usual stay is upward of six hours. WIN! It kept my mind occupied and in a place of compassion and patience, both for my mom and for the staff. Mostly it stopped me from returning to the “rut-thinking” that gets mad at my siblings for not caring about our mom.

So here’s another benefit, when you feel yourself returning to the broken record – “no one helps” “why me” – try this forgiveness practice. Eventually you will rewire your thinking and it will not be automatic that you return to the broken record thought process.

Finally, whenever I can, I offer this practice to myself. In the end, we tend to most hard and condemning of ourselves, and often we are projecting our own wounds onto others. In this light, I offer myself forgiveness and gratitude. After all, so far I’ve survived 100% of my worst and crappiest days.

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30 Day Gratitude Practice

Gratitude is antidote for almost anything you want to change. Sound wrong? Well, what you focus on, is what you continue to draw to yourself. Mulling over the latest insult from a colleague or the depressing conversation you had with a friend? You’re going to notice more of those things.

Turning you’re thoughts to what you are grateful for is going to change your focus, and draw better experiences to you. Now, I won’t lie, when you’re laying low this is harder to accomplish. However, developing a regular practice, just like your exercise practice or meditation practice pays off. It means when you hit those lows, you have another tool to help you bounce back.

So I am giving gratitude and credit for this post to Kayla over at Fireside Witch, and her YouTube videos at Shakti Shaman. She ran a  contest and I am the lucky recipient of her Gratitude Grows Ritual package. Kayla sent this amazing gift, candle, incense, paper to write what I am grateful for, rose quartz and charcoal. She is amazing, her voice on the videos is soothing and she has great information. You can catch her website here Fireside Witch . Thank you Kayla! I will be starting this on the new moon.

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