The Solstice is upon us and the chill of Winter is reaching deeply into bone. This year, in particular, is one that has tested the boundaries of cold and feeling isolated in a vast tundra of unknowing”ness”. Things change from season to season and in the never ending cycle that is life itself, Gaia remains steadfast and strong in offering up her body as our home and our refuge as Her fires burn brightly.
Even though I know this to be true, the memory of her fires fades as the Light of the Solstice returns and Summer takes hold. But now, this is the time of remembering as the nights have grown longer and the cold seeps in, and I feel a chill that cannot be heated by physical warmth. This is a cold that holds the space of awaiting the stoking of the inner fires that resonate with that of Gaia and fuel the yearning, to once again, be held in her embrace.
For Earth Day this year, I suggest keeping it simple. Pack a handful of your nearest and dearest in a roomy auto and go road-tripping. It could even be more fun if you have no particular destination in mind. You can call on the directions to help guide you to a beneficial place for all. There really are only a few prerequisites to make for the optimum road experience: gas, tunes, and snacks.
To be fair, why not have each rider pitch in with a playlist of road-worthy songs and take turns playing them? Speaking of pitching in, if you're not the driver, don't forget to offer some cash for fuel. The other kind of fuel you require is of course, munchies. You should cover sweet, salty, crunchy, protein-rich, and throw in something healthy if you can. Veggie Straws, celery and carrots, apples, grapes, cheese, hummus, trail mix, and fair trade dark chocolate all make my list. These don't really require a cooler, either. The other thing you don't want to be without is beverages. Water, iced tea or coffee drinks, and juice are all good bets.
Try to get rolling by high-noon so that you still have plenty of daylight to get out and go for a hike, if you choose. Crank the windows down, sing along, and let the good times roll. There is a lot of gorgeous green earth still out there. Get out and enjoy her while you can.
COLLEEN'S CRAZY TRAIL MIX A perfect blend of salty, sweet and spicy. organic dark chocolate-covered cranberries organic Dried Turkish Figs sesame sticks (Cajun) brown rice miso crackers roasted, salted Peanuts organic raw pumpkin seeds Greek yogurt-covered pretzels wasabi peas All of these items should be available in your friendly neighborhood bulk foods section. You can use equal parts of each, or go heavy on your favorites to create your own mix! (Recipe concocted by Colleen DuVall, due to the tree-nut heavy trail-mixes already out there)
BEET HUMMUS Start to finish: 20 minutes Servings: 5 This hummus is a vibrant bright pink thanks to the addition of steamed beets. 1 beet (small, trimmed and peeled, cut into chunks) 1 1⁄2 cups cooked chickpeas 1 clove garlic (coarsely chopped) 3 tablespoons tahini 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1⁄4 cup water (plus up to a 1/4 cup more if needed) 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cumin 1⁄2 teaspoons salt Place the beet in a steamer basket above simmering water and steam, covered, until tender, up to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the beet pieces. Place the garlic and chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the tahini, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of water, cumin, salt, and cooked beets, and process until smooth and creamy, adding more water, a couple tablespoons at a time, to reach the desired consistency. (Recipe adapted from www.dailyburn.com by Willy Street Co-op in Madison)
As Spring approaches and we find ourselves at another turn of the Great Wheel, opportunity abounds for making deeper connection to the natural world and Gaia’s greening of it. Gaia is seen as the maiden offering the promise of new life in a womb that is still developing and preparing for what will be birthed in full glory as the summer approaches and the peak of all living things is held in father sun’s gentle hold. It is Her sweet breath that breathes life into what lay in wait to be birthed and it is Her gentle hand that guides the process of renewal.
This time of reaffirming fertility and its progeny of new life marks the Spring Equinox. What was weighted more heavily at the time of the Solstice has now achieved a certain state of balance and equilibrium, before it seesaws once again towards one polarity’s weight. As we look around at our earthly world we can marvel at the cyclical nature of new life, maturity and the eventual harvesting and clearing which renders the ground fallow as quickening awaits its rhythmic cue. We have emerged from Winter’s hold of stillness and illusory death and now stand at the time of balance and the drawing together of what was and what will be in an organized and synthesized manner so that the promise of newly created life may flourish.
Visually, Spring is the time of donning new color, shape and form. Gaia offers up the splendor of her multi-colored cloak as all manner of life bursts forth in texture and hue. The energy of this palette enlivens our being and the call to warmer air and out of doors activities entices even the most reluctant homebody. As life blooms all around you, how will you answer the call to take up the robes of nature’s finery? Where will you invest your energy in renewing what has lain dormant awaiting the gentle push of Gaia’s hand? Will you dare to step into the mantle of the Goddess that she has lovingly crafted for you and claim your place as co-creator in the greening of the world?
I invite you to take a journey with me as the Wheel turns…
The Greening of the Earth Pathworking:
Take a deep breath inhaling and allow the rhythm of your breathing to establish a gentle and regular pace. As you deepen into this relaxed state you shift your awareness to your inner screen. As you sit as observer you see a veil of pale violet mist form in front of you and as it parts you see yourself sleeping peacefully as the energy of the space builds around you. As you turn greater awareness to this sleeping image of yourself you merge to become one with it and are now the active participant. You awaken to find yourself in the middle of a dense and green forest just prior to dawn. You stretch and extend, feeling the cobwebs of restriction opening and giving way. The potent smell of earth fills your nostrils and the soaking heaviness of moisture fills your being as you drink thirstily.
You sense that it is dawn and sunlight filters through tree branches in slender slivers of thread as beads of dew sparkle like small diamonds strung upon the finest silk. You sit up and pull yourself up to standing, again stretching and reaching upwards with breath coming in long deep inhales and exhales. You take a few steps forward and the soft ground below gives ever so slightly under weight of your foot. Your senses are keen and alert and it seems that you can feel every granule of dirt and leave and stone underfoot, despite the padded soles of your shoes. As you move forward, the light grows brighter with each step and you find yourself in a clearing. The ground is still covered in a light bed of thin mossy green and patches of dried grass and you know that this field will be full of flowers and butterflies in just a few weeks. This image flashes quickly before you and then returns to the space of fertile ground that will soon peak.
You close your eyes for a moment and feel the last nip of winter’s cold air pass over you, quickly followed by a warm breeze that is light and airy. You open your eyes and see a few yards ahead of you the form of what appears to be a young girl. The sun is directly behind her and flashes brightly in your eyes, making clear definition difficult. You see that she is approaching you and you take a few steps forward in greeting to meet her.
As you move closer, you now have the impression that this form is not what you thought. There is resemblance to human form, but the energy and lightness of its quality seem otherworldly. As you move closer still you can now discern that this shape of a young woman is the movement and gentle breeze of seed, earth, and leafy grass moving and swirling. You stop and your eyes follow the path of this unusual sight. Every area of the field it touches responds with the bursting forth of small shoots of flower and fragrant grass. Every area it passes over transforms into haven and home for bee, blossom and butterfly. The fragrant breath of tiny buds wafts delicately in the air and the gentle shape of this breezy maiden of flora moves with focus and precision.
You close your eyes and simply rest in this energy of renewal and growth. You feel a gust of wind surround around and know that this maiden of Spring is now enfolding you in her transformative embrace. You feel the movement of her gentle breath clearing away the debris of what has lingered too long and is not of your best interest. You smell the fragrant and fertile earth of planting that is awakening the seeds of potential within you. And, you feel the weight of her cloak of greening as it presses against your skin reminding you that you too are part of this cycle of new growth.
You open your eyes and look down at the beauty of the mantle she has placed about you. Tiny leaf and budding flower are woven into a tapestry of vine and slender root. The smell of new verdant life is intoxication and you revel in the finery that Gaia has gifted you with. You feel the gentle kiss of a butterfly’s wing, fresh from the slumber of its cocoon and you know that another turn of the sacred wheel has been rendered. You take a deep breath in, filling your lungs with the freshness of a Spring day’s promise and as you exhale, the cloak falls away and you are once again standing in the open clearing that has yet to be birthed from Spring’s womb.
You sigh into a deep exhale, knowing that the greening will occur as it has every cycle and that you will be active participant in welcoming the warming tides. A single stream of air encircles you and you know this is the blessing of Gaia and the promise of her transformative magick. As these thoughts flood through you, a violet mist forms around you and the landscape gently fades from your sight. You become aware once again of your inner screen and pull that awareness back into the sensations of your physical state. Each breath of inhalation draws the energy of the space in which you are sitting back to your conscious awareness. And, each exhalation brings focus back to the gentle and easy rhythm of your breath. Continue in this manner for several more breaths, and when you are ready, gently flutter your eyes open and be fully present and enlivened by Gaia’s Mantle.
Blessings of the Equinox and the promise held in this time of balance.
In my last blog post, "Demeter and the Birth of the Holy Child," I explored the connections between the Goddess of Agriculture, the Virgin Mary and the celebration of Christmas. Both Demeter and Mary echo the life-giving qualities of the Mother Goddess. Also, they are both associated with the age-old concept of the Sacred Marriage, the union between Earth and Sky. Demeter was impregnated by Zeus and Mary by Yahweh, both of them sky gods. This essay sheds light on the Sacred Marriage aspects of Gaia and Demeter.
There's a sense of history in the making in Greece these days. The people are called to vote in a referendum whether they agree with the harshest austerity measures they've ever faced. If they vote no, they're threatened with an exit from the eurozone and the European Union.
Scary? For many people yes. Yet sometimes what we most fear is precisely what we need to face. What may seem as impending doom may in fact be a propelling force towards a much-needed process of renewal. Which brings us to the topic of this blog post: for a very long time, the snake has been a powerful symbol of death and rebirth. Interestingly, it was also sacred to Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, the patron goddess of Athens, which is now the capital of Greece.
I've always felt a special affinity to the snake. As a teenager, I used to draw a serpent coiled around my ring finger. This much maligned animal seems to carry a message: facing your fears can be a path to regeneration and wisdom. Exploring the hidden meanings of the snake has become a source of inspiration for me. Allow me to share with you a part of an article I wrote about Athena as Snake Goddess.
Pallas, only-begotten, venerable offspring of the great Zeus…