15 Quiet Minutes: Spending Time Outside

This 15 Quiet Minutes practice is a simple one, and one of my favorites: simply go outside.

If you live somewhere that you don’t have access to the outdoors, you might have to find a nearby park, cemetery, school yard or anywhere else you can find a bit of quiet and green space, but if possible, I recommend just spending time in your yard or on your balcony.

This is the perfect time of year for this practice, and I spend time on the porch pretty much every evening during the summer. Sometimes I read or journal, but quite often I just watch the birds at the feeders, or lay in my chaise lounge and watch the trees above me dance in the breeze.

The only parameters for the practice are taking fifteen minutes of quiet outdoors. Very simple! But if you want to add something to your practice, you could try the Elemental Centering Meditation. Or you could do a bit of nature journaling by writing down what you observe happening around you: the temperature, the weather, the birds you see, the flowers that are in bloom or how your garden vegetables are coming along (I will cover nature journaling in more detail for our next 15 Quiet Minutes practice).

But mostly, just take some time to be still and quiet outside. Listen to the birds calling and singing. Lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. Watch the ants scurrying across the sidewalk, the bees visiting the flowers, the fireflies flickering in the dusk (we don’t have fireflies in Oregon, so enjoy them for me if you have them!). Rest your feet in the grass and dig your toes into the warm soil. Notice what you smell and the feel of the air on your skin. Let your mind wander. Take a deep breath and relax. It’s summer, take a break and enjoy it!

Until next time, may you be blessed by the peace of long summer evenings!

A Summer Solstice Tarot Spread

Cards pictured are from Monstarot Tarot Deck, the Gaian Tarot, and Tarot of the Crone. Goddess figures from Brigid’s Grove, and the sun prayer beads are available in my Etsy shop.

Summer Solstice kind of sneaked up on me this year—I can hardly believe it is tomorrow! This year the Solstice falls on different dates, though, depending on your timezone, so for some of you it will be on the 21st.

It is definitely starting to feel like summer here. The high today is supposed to be near 100. At the Grower’s Market this weekend cherries and blueberries were available, as well as lots of lettuces and greens, and a few early cucumbers. My absolute favorite part of summer is enjoying the succession of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. The tomato plants I am growing  are full of flowers and green tomatoes. They’ll enjoy this heat we’re having, even if I don’t!

At this peak of the sun’s energy, we celebrate creativity and the fruit it bears. We celebrate the creative, fertile power of the earth that feeds us, and our own creative energy that brings joy to ourselves and others.

As the sun grows stronger, my thoughts have also been turning to questions about power—how we access it, how we use it, how we fail to claim it, or give it away to others. I am writing here of our own personal power, the power to direct and make choices in our own lives, not “power-over,” i.e. trying to control others, that is the more common association with power in our culture.

This spread for the Summer Solstice looks at these themes of creativity and power, helping us to call on the energy of the sun, even as it begins to wane again, to help us access our own inner power and to light our creative fires.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Summer Solstice until Lammas)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What will fuel my creative fire during this time?
  5. In what area of my life do I most need to claim my own power?
  6. What action(s) can I take to stand firm in my own power and live according to my own values?

I’d love to hear how your reading goes. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the spread.

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice and a blessed summer season!

Going with the Flow

Flowing with the Rogue River. Goddess pendant from Brigid’s Grove.

I had big plans for the little staycation/personal retreat that I took in May. There was going to be lots of reading! Lots of journaling! Lots of meditation! I also planned to finish my spring cleaning, but other than that I intended to do lots of quiet inner work.

There was one problem with my grandiose plans—I didn’t take into account the energy of the season. If there is one month of the year that is absolutely buzzing with busy energy here in Oregon, it is May. Every week there is a dazzling new array of wildflowers decorating the hills and roadsides. Baby birds are arriving at the feeders noisily begging Mom and Dad for food. Everything is green, lush, vibrant and bursting with life.

With this riot of energy going on around me, I could not sit still. I easily got all my spring cleaning done and then some. But when it came time to read or journal, all I wanted was to get out! I wanted to be out doing things, not sitting around reading and thinking. I fought myself for a few days, feeling like I was wasting all this precious time and not accomplishing what I planned before it finally occurred to me—I was definitely not going with the flow of the seasonal energy.

It is certainly true that we can choose busyness over spiritual practice as a way of avoiding sitting still and facing ourselves, and I’m sure there was some of that going on with me. But I also believe that a big part of my struggle was related to trying to do quiet, introspective things when the whole tide of energy around me was filled with activity. It was also the most active, energetic time for me in my own monthly cycle. With all that energy buzzing around, no wonder I couldn’t sit still!

Over the past few years, I have gotten good at knowing and working with my personal energetic cycles, but this reminded me of how important it is to honor the energetic cycles of nature as well. It isn’t often that I find myself feeling so lively—I would have been much better served by putting that energy to work for me rather than trying to fight it.

This experience has taught me to pay better attention, and to learn to go with the flow of the energy, not only of my personal cycles, but of the cycles of nature as well. If my plans haven’t taken into account the energy of the season, I may find myself swimming against the current, making whatever I am trying to do that much more difficult. It is one of those things I knew intellectually, but apparently needed to be reminded of in a more experiential way.

Do you consciously work with the energy of seasonal or lunar cycles? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

A Tarot Spread for Spring Equinox

Tomorrow, March 20th, the wheel turns again to spring. Some of you may be feeling the fullness of spring already, while I know others are still snowed in. Here we can’t seem to shake endless gray, rainy days, but the flowers are blooming, the bright green grass is springing up, and tree buds are beginning to open.

I have been dealing with lower back spasms for almost a week now, and today I also seem to be coming down with a cold. I don’t get sick or injured very often, so to be both at the same time is a bit mystifying, and also seriously annoying! I had one day this week where I felt better and was able to get out for a visit to the river and a brief walk, but apparently I overdid it, because my back has been painful again ever since. Not being able to get outside or to exercise is making me crazy!

I haven’t gotten to do any of the spring cleaning I had planned to do, or the spring life detox I had been planning. I wish I could say I’ve been using all this downtime wisely by reading great books and meditating a lot, but I’m afraid I’ve mostly been lying on the couch with a heating pad or an ice pack, watching Netflix, and feeling sorry for myself. In my defense, I have tried to read, but it is hard to focus when you are in pain. I have definitely gained greater empathy for those who suffer from chronic pain through this ordeal.

So, I don’t know how much celebrating I’m going to get to do for the Equinox tomorrow, but I will at least do a simple ritual and my tarot reading for the next turn of the wheel. Here is the spread that I will be using:

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel?

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What is beginning to bloom in my life?
  5. How can I best support the growth of my projects/ideas/visions?
  6. How can I honor the Maiden within me? What does She most need from me?

If you did the Winter Solstice and Candlemas spreads, you might want to refer back to the cards you drew for the questions “What dream or vision am I nurturing in the dark?” and “What seed is beginning to send out roots within me?”. How do those cards relate to the cards you have drawn for questions 4 and 5 of this spread? Are you seeing the movement of a dream, project, or vision from the dreaming phase during the dark of deep winter, to the blooming phase now in spring? Also, in our culture it is easy to relate dreams and projects to work, or to the way we make a living. Remember that we have dreams and projects in all areas of our lives—relationships, health, spirituality, creativity, our homes, etc., so you don’t have to limit your interpretation only to work issues.

Well, that’s about all the sitting upright my back can handle for now. I think I’ll be doing some Reiki and crystal healing for my back and the impending cold today. Maybe I can head off the cold!

I hope you all have a wonderful Spring Equinox!

Candlemas Day and a Couple of Inspiring Videos

I hope everyone had a wonderful Candlemas/Imbolc! Candlemas Day was absolutely gorgeous here. We had sun and clouds with temperatures in the low 60s—our warmest day since autumn! I wandered around one of my favorite parks, exploring small pools full of shells left behind by the receding river, and feeling my heart leap with joy every time I looked up at the beautiful blue sky. After almost a week of fog, having sun on Candlemas was such a blessing!

candlemaswalk

Exploring pools down by the Applegate River. Sorry that this is so washed out! I was so blinded by the sun that I didn’t get a good picture.

In the evening I celebrated with a ritual and did my Candlemas tarot reading. I didn’t take a picture of my spread since it was too dark to get a decent shot, but it was a positive and encouraging reading. I did, however, get Death as my “overall theme” card for this turn of the wheel. Gulp! Looks like I may be experiencing some major transformation between now and Spring Equinox. Change isn’t easy, especially for this Taurus, but I also know that it really is time to let some things die so I can move forward in a new way.

The daffodil bulbs in my yard are growing by inches every week, and several of them already have buds. Yesterday, on my way to the river I saw a hazelnut tree with catkins unfurled and clouds of yellow pollen being blown away with the wind. At the river, I found that some willow flowers are opening, one of the my favorite signs of early spring (their flowers are those downy catkins often referred to as “pussy willows”).

willowflowers

Willow flowers beginning to open.

Nature has been putting on quite the inspiring show, but I also found inspiration of a more social and political kind from these two videos this past week:

Are you feeling you own energy awaken as the days lengthen and you start to see the very first signs of spring? I know I am, and it feels great!

Bright early spring blessings to you all!

More Snow and Some Recommended Reading

Lady Winter has been putting on quite the show for us the past few days! Yesterday most of the snow had melted, and the forecast predicted snow showers turning to rain during the night. The Snow Goddess had other ideas, though, and the snow started again during the early evening but it never turned to rain. Instead, we woke up to a glorious, snow-covered dawn.

snow1

snow2

snow3

We don’t get a lot of snow around here, so it is always exciting. I was really hoping for a snow day or two and I have certainly gotten my wish!

I also wanted to share these two posts by Beth Owl’s Daughter regarding 2017 and its associated tarot card, The Wheel of Fortune. First, Beth discusses what we might expect during a Wheel of Fortune year, then she created a brilliant spread using The Wheel of Fortune as her theme to do a reading for 2017. She writes such beautiful, wise, and insightful posts, I love reading her blog. Her tarot reading for 2017 is full of wisdom and hope, and I hope you’ll find her posts as helpful as I did.

Bright blessings!

Happy New Year!

I hope 2017 is going well for everyone so far! It has been a slow start to the year here. We have had snow for the past couple of days (yay!!!), which has meant that most of my time has been spent inside working on various projects or just sitting and watching the snow fall. I could honestly watch the snow for hours, it is so beautiful and serene.

snowfence

A snowy fence

snowberries

Snow-covered berries

On New Year’s Day I did my tarot reading for 2017 using Joanna Powell Colbert’s Tarot Spread for the New Year. I have been using this spread for several years, and I really love it. I was especially excited to get two of my favorite tarot cards, The Priestess and Nine of Earth, in my reading for 2017. It is interesting that this reading echos the themes I have gotten from both my Hallowmas and Winter Solstice readings: getting to work and taking practical action. The High Priestess and Four of Fire also remind me to maintain my spiritual practices and connection to Goddess, listen to my intuition, and make sure the action I am taking is grounded in what is most important to me.

2017reading

My 2017 New Year reading

On New Year’s Day I also finished a little Great Blue Heron watercolor that I created for my altar. I really like the heron, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the background—it feels too busy and I wish I had made it more plain. I may try again at some point, but for now it is on my altar and it does make me smile to see it.

heronwc

Great Blue Heron watercolor

When I was in the Portland area I lived along a wetlands where herons nested every year, and they became an important sign for me. I often see herons when I need encouragement and a reminder that Goddess is with me. Last week I was down by the river feeling out-of-sorts and I saw two herons lift off from among a group of egrets and fly down the river. I rarely ever see more than one at a time—they lifted my heart and spirits as they lifted their massive wings to take flight.

I often find January to be a challenging month. I have made all these goals and plans for the New Year, but my energy and mood can take a deep dive during the dark days of January and I find it hard to get started on everything I have planned. Then I start beating myself up and worrying that I’m running out of time and that just makes things worse.

Last year in January I ended up re-reading all the Harry Potter books for the eighth (ninth? tenth?) time. I basically spent the entire month reading and not doing much else! I’m trying to find a bit more balance this year, understanding that this is a low-energy time of year for me and accepting that, while not completely giving up on doing anything productive. We’ll see how it goes! At least after years of observing The Wheel of the Year I know that come Candlemas, I will start to feel more energetic and ready to get to work.

I also wanted to share a couple of resources that might help get your year off to a good start:

  • I started this Writing the Goddess class a couple of days ago and am really enjoying it. This might be a good resource if one of your goals for 2017 is to get to know a particular goddess better. I am working with Our Lady of Guadalupe/Tonantzin as I work through this class.
  • The Hidden Brain podcast from NPR is one of my favorite podcasts, and this week’s episode, “Getting Unstuck,” was especially helpful for me today. I recommend it if you are trying to figure out what to do with your life in 2017!

I’m not sure what this year will hold as our government makes a dramatic shift this month, but I pray for peace and justice in our country, and for all of us to find the courage to create lives of meaning for ourselves. Blessed be!