Luna-See vs Lunacy

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Today is quite a remarkable day astronomically.

It is the Autumn Equinox where we Southerners say a sad farewell as the strength of the sun moves North. It is also a New Moon or “dark moon” and a total eclipse, for the moon is directly between the earth and the sun. The cherry on top is that it is also a Super Moon, where the moon is said to be in perigree i.e the closest position to the earth along its orbital.

I took a moment to pause, to see what such a cosmically unique day could be trying to teach us, or rather remind us of and reflect within us. Here are my ponderings:

– The Moon is dark/invisible when it is closest to us tonight. Sometimes when something is close to us, right in front of us, we have the most trouble seeing it clearly and often don’t see it at all. It takes a different vantage point/perspective/angle (or someone with a different perspective) to help us realise the truth, which cannot always be seen
– We can never see from all sides at once, but we can be aware that there are more sides than we are ever able to see, no matter what side we find ourselves on
– When the moon is really dark, it gives the stars a chance to seem brighter. Everything gets its chance to shine, in its time
– Much of life is found in the play between dark and light, shadow and illumination. They require each other to survive and in fact, at different times, events align cosmically for each to get their time in and out of the sun
– Today, when the New Moon is in perigree, it is closest to us and thus exerts the highest gravitational pull on the tides, on the earth and on us. We cannot always see what is influencing us or “dragging us down”, but it is often close to us and we may not be able to see it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. What do we feel is weighing on us that we can cut loose? Are there any actions we need to take, any things to throw away, any beliefs to question? Anything we need to allow to surface, which tides are welling up within us?
– The word “lunacy”, refers to madness. In times gone by, it was clearly assumed that the moon made people a bit crazy. There is no need to fear/ignore the impact of the moon on us and run from it but to rather become more aware of and sensitive to it by watching the moon cycle and seeing how it affects us. There is great wisdom in the cycles of nature and paying much closer attention to them is key on the road to healing, truth, perspective and harmony
– Absence has just as much impact as presence, sometimes more
– Autumn Equinox: The turning of seasons, the cusp between seasons. The ragged edge. As we turn from the balmy searing warmth of summer into the crisp cool tempering Autumn, there is a nip in the air. Looking to the garden helps us to see the cycles, it gives us prompts and cues about what it needs and what is coming – death and the new life that follows it. Time to enrich the soil, to start clearing the dead leaves and matter that will decompose to bring nutrients and new life to the earth. Cusp times are always sacred times, to take stock, to make stock. Heading into Autumn, I feel myself gravitating towards copious cups of warm tea, am using more blankets and am getting tired earlier as the sun sinks earlier. No doubt the garden will be wanting and feeling similar things. Winter is coming, but let’s not hurry there – let’s be still and see what Autumn has to teach us first
– When something dies, new life doesn’t necessarily emerge fully-grown immediately, it can take time. We need to be patient but also to realise that new life may not look how we think it looks, and our eyes are not always the best to use for really seeing things
– We cannot rush life, just as we cannot cheat death
– Some things can only be realised in the dark
– It is as if there are 2 worlds – the day and the night – that blend into each other at dawn and twilight
– In the darkness, let us turn in to connect with our own cycles, to check in with how we are feeling and to lovingly and honestly take a look at ourselves and what we need to release
– Darkness and light are the best explanation for each other, just like mystery and science
– In the scorching sun, we often take refuge in shade/shadow to prevent ourselves from burning. This is a great time to see from the “other side”, to allow our perceptions to take a break so we can see things as they are. Try think of upsides to things that seem “dark” and downsides to those that seem “light”
– It is never ALL light or ALL dark. Look for the one in the other, the other in the one. There is no duality, no mutual exclusivity but rather an intricate dance of proportions
– Nature has its own cycles. We humans would do well to pay better attention to these and work with them rather than against, parallel to or separated from them
– What are we feeling coming into alignment in our own lives? What has been eclipsed and seemingly blocked? What do we feel “blind” to? Is there anything we can actively do or is the process already in motion and patience all that is required? Where are we feeling resistance to change, and do we know why?
– There is so much more unknown than there is known. Why do we connect the dark with fear, really? Let us embrace the blank canvas of potential that Newness brings and be inspired to do something different this time, to allow a new pattern to emerge

There is plenty more that could be learned from today, and from any other day. I hope you take the time to pause and honour the cosmic events today, for no two events ever happen exactly the same twice. There is no need for us to continue repeating the same patterns like mindless, unfeeling, pre-programmed robots rather than waking up as beings of infinite potential, fresh in each new moment.

Let us savour these moments, and be open to what inside us is being reflected outside. As the Autumn winds blow, may they invigorate our spirits, bodies and minds, may they take with them any old, dead beliefs/memories that no longer serve us but could be turned into nourishment in another state and may they carry our dreams and wishes into the Dark Night.

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Converse-ations

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When we talk you think we’re just talking
But I know we’re planting seeds
In the years to come I’ll take shade in the forests
As I walk through the woods and the weeds

It has recently become of interest to me how we say that a conversation is over. A particular conversation between 2 or more people may logically be over, and 1 or all parties may never think about it again; some may even forget that the conversation ever happened at all. However, just because the people stop talking with words, I believe the topic, the words, the feelings, the thoughts and the energy of the conversation take on a new life of their own. The “end” (death) of the conversation actually implies the converse as it makes way for the “start” (new life) of something else. So a conversation may seem to be about one topic, but may in fact lead you to/be about something completely different, or at least seemingly different. We may mean one thing, say another thing and someone may interpret something entirely differently. A great and magical mystery, as well as a challenge, for we never really can know the next-level conversation someone has in their minds after our conversation with them “ends”. Some lives need nurturing/watering and others grow on their own.

I can remember conversations that “ended” decades ago – I remember how I felt, what the world smelt like, what was said. I recall certain decisions made in response to certain conversations, some of which I would call life-changing. The other person/people in the original conversation may remember something entirely different, or perhaps remember nothing all all, or their feeling about something may have shifted and they may not even recall how/why. It is poignant to regularly remember that things – including conversations – are not created or destroyed but only transformed. Of even more poignance is to be humbled by and conscious of this when we converse.

ConnectionsSo perhaps it is less about conversing and more about connecting. And less about connecting things but more about connecting networks of networks – nothing in this world exists in isolation, all things are connected. This puts value on the connections and less value on things, which is a valuable tangent in its own right. We need to be aware that ideas and words can spread like seeds on the wind – we may think that no one heard or saw us, we may think that no one understood, but we may be wrong. I have often walked/driven/run past someone and thought something about them that I didn’t get to/wasn’t able to/it wasn’t appropriate to say/share – I have wondered many times where those thoughts go? A neon sign above my head, a billboard beyond the cosmos, the depths of the ocean, out of the mouth of an unknowing stranger? It inspires me to be aware of what comes into my head and my heart and to be open but discerning.

I am seeing less and less separation between people, nature and life in general. We see parts of ourselves reflected in the still water and the wild ocean, in the rock warmed by the sun and the steam sublimating straight to icicles on my eyelashes in sub-zero cold.

As with most things there is little use in overthinking or analysing this but there is certainly value in acknowledging that there is far more that we don’t know about everything, including conversations, than what we can ever know combined. There is a bizarre peace that flows out of that truth, a sense of relief and glorious, expansive floating in unity.

What’s Your Superpower?

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Recently I witnessed a woman feed 1ml syringes of milk to 3 baby ginger kittens, just one month old. These kittens were absolutely ravenous! One kitten in particular stood on its weak back legs, sucked wildly on the end of the syringe and desperately reached its paws forward into oblivion as if to scream “MORE!!!”. I was simultaneously amused and a bit shocked and found myself saying out loud that I wouldn’t be surprised if the little kitten levitated.

This got my brain juices flowing and I thought to myself: Hunger is a superpower! I remember when I was younger and even still sometimes now people ask, sometimes in jest, sometimes as an icebreaker or for a dress up party theme, “If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”. All of a sudden with stark clarity I realised – we are given everything we need and while we may dream of having some bizarre superpower, we as humans already have a lot of internal power that we would do well to better understand, respect and leverage within our lives for good.

I certainly see hunger as one of our powers. In hunter/gatherer times, if you were hungry and a hunter, your senses piqued because the more hungry you got, the more desperately you needed to get food. Obviously it tips beyond a point, probably in a roughly bell-shaped curve, but as one gets more hungry towards that point of inflection, so much more is possible. There are many things that humans do to get food when they need it. So too, I see love as another one of our superpowers. Love motivates and enables all kinds of seemingly super-human activity – mothers scaling fences, indescribable strength, all kinds of sacrifice and even infectious increases in health and vitality that cannot be matched by any kind of modern medicine.

So too, there are emotions or thought patterns that can have such powerful impacts on us that we literally see reality in a new way, and a whole new host of things that were once impossible become possible.

This tangent of pondering has got me thinking: While I would love to be able to speak all languages, to be a true Babel-fish polyglot, I think that rather than wishing for the impossible, I will spend more time examining my own superpowers that have been gifted to us by nature. To be grateful for them and to watch how they manifest in my life so that I can better leverage them for self-regulation, connection with others/nature and the greater good.

I think there is great value in refusing to continue to wear our wishbones where our backbones should be. Courage is facing reality with what you have and thriving there, rather than slinking away into the indulgence of fantasies and fears, though they do have their place. We as humans have  more power than we know and are empowered to access and utilise it – it is up to us how we channel it and great humility, gratitude and reverence is required to navigate these waters. We all feel emotions and in their extreme form, they can be like superpowers – either used as constructive medicine or as a destructive weapon.

How do you feel these superpowers in your life? How does your reality change when you are ravenous, livid or in love, lust or hate? What other powers do you feel take you out of your normal capacity? What steps can you take to feel more empowered and to support others on their own road to empowerment?

The Medicine Chest

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“…What works for you is what works. THAT’s the medicine. It may be a sleep, it may be a walk, it may be looking up at the sky through your window” – Mexican Curandera

In modern times, it seems that sometimes before we have even finished speaking about “what is wrong” in doctor’s rooms, General Practitioners seem to already be writing scripts for synthetic pharmaceuticals. How do THEY know what we need? Wherever possible, wouldn’t it be amazing if we knew what we needed ourselves?

I have spent the past 10 years of my life exploring different kinds of approaches to medicine through the various practitioners I choose to go to and I have learned so much about myself, medicine and the world, and there is so much more to learn. I am not always violently ill when I seek out guidance – it is destructive to think we only need help when things are awfully wrong. I want to thrive in life, and sometimes “just surviving” can be at cost. It is strange how many only think about health when they are sick or “sick” or sick and tired of being sick and tired and “don’t know why” so pay someone else to figure it out.

It think there is a call for us to be more in tune with our own bodies, rhythms, cycles, needs and wants and what works for us/what doesn’t. We cannot do everything alone, so that means we do need to also look outside ourselves for assistance – that may be perspective, a plant, a person or it may be a pill. But a pill should be at the end of the line only when there isn’t an alternative. Many pills just deal with the symptoms, helping us to forget that there may have been a legitimate source worth looking at and exploring rather than suppressing, numbing or ignoring. Instead of saying “why do I have a headache?”, we pop 2 Panado’s and live like it never happened. We may have eaten something our body didn’t need/like, we may have pushed too hard physically, we may be sleep deprived. Not facing those things doesn’t mean they go away – it means that they come back again, and again, until we do face them. Or until they compound and manifest as a far more serious issue. While pain killers certainly have their place, even the name indicates the harshness of effect. Metaphysically, pain can be the key to unlocking pleasure as well as the key to healing. So killing pain can set back/postpone our development.

We need to take responsibility for our own health – it is not our doctor’s responsibility. They can assist if we need them, but how we live our daily lives is the foundation of our health. I am sensing increasingly that part of sustainability is a need for us all to seek to enhance our health through nutrition, to the point where if we become sensitive enough to our bodies, we will know what we need more or less of to “tweak” how we are experiencing life through our bodies. That means developing an intimate knowledge of the solids, liquids and gasses we put into our bodies on a daily basis. We need to look closely at what we consume to truly understand why we physically feel the way we do, which of course impacts our minds, emotions and spirits in a holistic system and vice versa.

The way we perceive medicine also needs to change. Medicine is so much more than pills. Medicine can be, as mentioned in the quotation above, looking at the sky. Walking in the woods. Thinking about wolves. Dancing wildly. Making music. Silence. Curling up in bed with a book. Wandering. Wondering. Connecting with another human physically. Having a conversation with a stranger or a friend. Learning something. Seeing something old in a new way. Remembering to breathe. All these things are just a few of the things I hold useful as well as dear in my personal medicine chest. Medicines like these may not only be needed when something is “wrong” per say, but are also just wonderful to integrate as/when required. Their use doesn’t indicate that we are “sick”, just that we know what is good for us and we allow ourselves that investment. Medicine from a pharmacy is quite a different story. How about medicine from a FARM-acy?

Medicine Chest

First Aid Kits are what we have in the cupboard to help if there are minor injuries suffered in the home. These kits allow us to be “doctors” tending to minor issues in a way that prevents us needing to seek additional help from outside our circle. We are all different, so our medicine chests will differ – but we are also all human, so there will be some similarities and we can share medicines. Perhaps these medicines I speak of can be added to that First Aid Kit. We should turn in FIRST. It seems bizarre to pay someone to help us when we can help ourselves. If we can’t help ourselves, it makes more sense to me for us to first look to nature for assistance, through eating foods with the nutrients we need, or medicinal plants. This knowledge is sorely lacking amongst many modern cultures and the ancient wisdom of our ancestors needs to be tapped into far more. All those years ago, the village healer would have had to be holistic because there wasn’t the specialisation there is today – they would have had to have been doctor, herbalist, counsellor, advisor and many other roles all in one. The holistic approach is not a hippie, fluffy concept that many write it off as – it was a practical one, born of necessity.

I think the most important shift, for myself at least, is to develop a way of living that enhances my capacity to thrive, through what I choose to eat/think/do with my time, body, mind and spirit. If we become sensitive to our own rhythms, then to the rhythms, foods and fruits of the earth (which often mirror or compliment our own), we can make subtle shifts as and when required. What we put in is certainly what we get out, on a physical and a metaphysical level. We can turn to doctors so quickly to solve our ailments to try get rid of them as soon as possible, when sometimes there is more to be gained through self-exploration and discovery. I do not discredit their place, but I do think we can jump to find answers outside too quickly.

So… What is in your medicine chest?

Hey there, Princess

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I used to call my cousin Princess. But she just turned 21, is a strong, unique, extraordinary and magnificent woman who exudes different shades of red at different times. “Princess” no longer felt like the correct term of endearment, and every time it lingered on my lips I found myself catching it on the tip of my tongue with a lasoo and yanking it back inside my mouth.

Today I watched an interview where Rolo from Vikings was speaking about his children in real life who came to play with him on set. He said “my daughter can no longer dress up as a princess without a shield and sword”. This really stuck with me.

Our image of princesses, I have decided, it warped and ridiculous. We see them as disproportioned, pretty, demure, perhaps at most slightly feisty but generally at some point always portrayed to be weak, helpless or in desperate need to be rescued by a man, whether it be from an ivory tower, some beast, an evil captor or a ravenous creature. Who knows – we may have had perspective from that tower, that beast may have been a treasured guardian, we may have been able to evade the captor ourselves and the ravenous creature may just have needed some food or we could have fought it ourselves. Men and women don’t need to do the same things – there are things men are far better at than women and vice versa. Men are generally stronger physically, that is not under debate. But that does not by default make women weak. Who knows what state the world would have been in if women characters were asked what they thought about things rather than entire plots being woven around saving them from perceived threat.

I thought I’d Google “Princess” to see what came up if a little girl had a project on Princesses and wanted some pictures. This was the very first image, and thus perhaps the most disappointing. Nothing about this image screams “REAL WOMAN” to me and it is in fact embarassing. The next set of pictures were groups of Disney princesses. Fictitious princesses, expected to be pretty, good, quiet and in need of some kind of help.

Barbie Princess

I am SICK and TIRED of these false archetypes! And thankful to shows like Vikings where a woman and a princess at that is portrayed as strong, as decisive, as a wise strategist and as a worthy, respected and revered fighter standing side by side by men. I am not saying that Vikings were perfect morally or in relation to gender, in fact quite the opposite. While there is still patriarchy for sure, and there were some clear gender roles at that time, I appreciate that the directors have chosen to empower their female characters to make gutsy calls, to make courageous ones, to make brazen ones out of pride, to stand firm, to get dirty, to be messy, to be honest, to be unapologetic for who they are, to get up after falling, to strike, to show extreme emotion, to not hide in the shadows and submit, to not give in and, poignantly, to know when to walk away. Saddest of all, I realise that I appreciated this so much in the show because it isn’t the way women are often portrayed in shows.

Lagertha Shield

Perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped calling my cousin princess. Perhaps I should rather have debunked my own warped definition of what a princess is/was, and what a princess can be, and not been so influenced by Disney and Western culture spoonfeeding. My cousin is strong, disciplined, gentle, deep-thinking, loving, she commits time to those she loves, wants to contribute meaningfully to the world, is passionate, functions on many different planes, is sensitive to many forces at play in life and rises to meet challenges in her own unique way, so she is always growing – I think the title of Princess perhaps does apply. Not in submission to her but in acknowledgement of her own internal power. But I don’t know what my cousin thinks of princesses – it is likely to be what I used to think i.e closer to the Google images. That stops now. I had a Barbie once. It was summer and I cut her hair because it was hot, put sun cream on because it was sunny and when her hair didn’t grow back I threw her in my cupboard because she wasn’t real and I was thus no longer interested.

It is not about raising the next generation of women to fight with swords and shields. It is not to say that for a woman to be respected, she needs to be able to fight physically. Quite the contrary – she shouldn’t be respected any less if she can’t. Sometimes, one wise word can end a battle that no number of lives lost would be able to match. It is about raising a generation of women who know how to stand up for themselves, to fight for what they believe in, to discover their own internal power and prowess and to be proud of exactly who they are without trying to be something or someone else. We need no one to save us, nor to change us, nor to do our bidding.

I never felt comfortable with the concepts around princesses but I understand why, in the light of this pondering. Now, when I think about princesses, I no longer think just about pink fluff and tiaras, and I never will again. It is less about princesses and more about women in power and honestly confronting what we all think that looks like, and finding true role models worthy of being respected, for the right reasons. If I think about women in power, NONE of them look like Barbie, nor like Lagertha from Vikings for that matter. We find ourselves in a time where we cannot define what someone in power looks like – there are too many cultures and ideas mingling together all the time. This provides great freedom, but it means we need to check our presumptions, assumptions and cultural beliefs at the door, ready to be humbled.

Lessons from the Vikings

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I have recently begun to voraciously visually consume the series Vikings. The intro theme song is one of the best out of any series I have ever watched and the characters, culture and story line have rapidly crept into my life over the past few days. Yes it’s just a series, no I am not naive. There are lessons to learn from all things, even fiction. Here are some key takeaways I have gleamed thus far.

– “Do not fear death. If it comes, embrace it as if you are lying down next to a beautiful woman”

– It is worth fighting for certain things, like your family, your land, your people. But not all things are worth fighting for.

– I like to see peoples’ eyes flash with what is inside them, but these days it is not common for people to let us see into them. There is too much hiding

– Women can be strong in different ways. There is strength in physical prowess but also in silence, in gentleness. The strength of woman is as magical and transformational as it is sexy

– When things go well, celebrate and feast together!

– Earning respect can sometimes protect one’s life more than wealth, name, physical strength and status

– Sometimes it is better to form an alliance than to go to war

– Hardship can make one bitter, or a better fighter. Sometimes it can make us both, but then the battle rages on inside even when there is peace in the external world. We get to choose

– Sex and desire is to be passionate and not to be hidden nor ashamed of

– Children should be told stories of cultural, mythological, physical and all other aspects of life from a very young age and be integrated into the community fold. They need to be known, so that when they lose their way or forget who they are, there are those who can remind them

– Women can be warriors

– Woman are different, not worse, warriors than men. This is worth a separate point

– Regardless of what feminism says, there is nothing like the pride of a man who provides for and protects his family, nor like the pride of a woman who gives birth to a new life

– The phases of life, even death, are to be respected and acknowledged rather than hidden, even celebrated

– We all live and we will all die

– There is nothing in the world that can compare to knowing who you are and to having kin

– There is a great art to knowing when to fight and when to surrender. There is great honour in doing either if at the correct time

– The spiritual world, stories and rituals are to be respected, upheld and passed on to younger generations

– Grudges may happen in the short term, but if held in the long term they will be exposed as a vulnerability by one’s enemies. Thus, it is best not to hold grudges and to let life even out the kings and kinks

– Dirt is as much a part of life as cleanliness

– Blood is thicker than water. Family to be upheld, always. No matter what the feud internally, it is better to be at logger heads with your family than to be without them

– Man will always look to some higher being to assist with reason and justification for any act, whether committed by or to them. Some have one God, some have many gods, even a belief in no god makes a kind of a god of the belief itself. Humans will always seek reason and justification in the face of things we do not understand. This makes faith a magical paradox – it is extraordinary, but it also makes complete sense

– We all come from someone, and from somewhere

I feel a deep sense of connection with many aspects of the Viking way as portrayed in this show and at moments I feel that if I could pick a second time period in which to experience life and death, that it would be in the time of the Vikings. I like the rawness, the passionate pursuit, the ambition, the simplicity of life, the community aspects, the depth of mythology and cultural cohesion.

While my heritage does not lie in Scandanavian lands, and the last Vikings died so very long ago, their spirit lives on. Yes they were rough dirty war-mongering killers and raiders, but they were also just men and women living their lives simply on pure instinct and passion. In each life, there is something to dismiss and something to respect. Watching this show, I feel fuelled and driven, I feel passionate and hungry, I feel ambitious and strong, I feel my senses peaked and my body hums, my priorities flash into light and I feel the magic simplicity of being alive.

Where’d That Come From!?

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Often we get to experience/witness something at the end of its creative process – we are mostly not involved with the process in any way. For example, standing in front of a completed painting or listening to the latest songs played by a music artist live. We don’t always know how things work when we use them, especially with regards to technology; thus we often don’t know how to fix them when they pack up.

I watched this video this morning, showing the entire process of how an artist hand-draws the most astoundingly realistic bottle.

Let us take this as a gentle reminder, a prod, to slow down a bit. To think about where the food we eat comes from. To appreciate how much soul, emotion and effort goes into creating the art we get to look at/touch/taste on our plates/hear/smell and sometimes just walk straight past. Even if we don’t like it or connect with it, sometimes even dislike it, we need to at least appreciate that there was a process and that someone applied effort to bring it to life. Something that is particularly remarkable to me is how we get to read a book in a day or few that someone may have taken a lifetime to gather experience, thoughts and research sufficient to write it and get it ready for shelf consumption.

So let’s take a moment, to savour the flavours we are so blessed to experience in life, where they came from and who worked their asses off somewhere down the line to get them to us in one form or another. Think about the inspiration that sparked them, the ideas that fuelled, the wood that sustained and the embers that continue to burn. And of course, Nature, the ultimate creator, is certainly worth more than a mention. We run to the shade of a tree to seek refuge from the sun, but how many years, what an intricate creative process took place from seed to shade… I think it is truly magical and miraculous when people and nature interact to create – such as conceiving a child and planting crops. So too, we get to witness the light of stars that is from hundreds of years ago! What a mindblowing process that is.

 

Perhaps the creative process, the creation of most things, is a work of art in itself. Even though there is so much we will never be a part of nor be able to comprehend, we would do better to observe and appreciate far more often than we take the time out to do.