Friday, December 31, 2010

Awen

This image is not mine, and I wish I knew who to give it credit to, but the design represents an important aspect of what it means to call oneself a Druid. It is called the Awen.

But a Druid is not being part of a religion. Nor is it part of some sort of fraternity of brothers or an exclusive club, neither is it some kind of way to escape a fiery eternity, or a cup of koolaid. I just don't ascribe to any of that. I don't want any of that. I don't like any of that, and I had to find something (because my heart is that sort of heart) which matched my way of thinking. Druidry is that way of thinking. Much like you'd call yourself a Transcendentalist or a Tree-hugger...yes, that about sums it all up. There are Christian Druids, there are Buddhist Druids, there are Athiest Druids. There are Democratic Druids, there are Republican Druids. And so, above, I've made my own version of the Awen. Let me explain what I know about it, and feel about it, some more.


In Gaelic, Aw is breath and En is flow. In the Druidic tradition, Awen is the flow of inspiration or spirit that comes from that Great Spirit whom we all call by different names.
There is a piece of mythology that comes from the Welsh about a goddess named Cerridwen (ker'rid-when) who was known as a triple goddess: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.
All three stages of a woman's life, entwined in one. This story is told in many ways, in varying lengths and to teach myriad life lessons.

As I understand the myth, Cerridwen had two children. One of them was more lovely than any other young woman could ever be, though she was not in the least capable of wisdom. The other child was not very bright as well, but sadly, he was also extremely ugly.
As any mother would, Cerridwen sought to give her unfortunate child something he could call his own. If he could not be handsome, she would ensure that he was the most wise and knowledgeable man in all the world. She consulted her books and the wise people she knew and according to their knowledge, she should concoct a brew which would be kept boiling for a year and a day, exactly, and on that last day it would finally be ready. On that last day, the first person to taste only 3 drops of the boiling substance would instantly and forever know all there was to know about love, about wisdom and about ultimate creativity. Cerridwen set a young boy and an old man to tend the fire of her cauldron for a year and a day. On that last day, as the boy had leaned down to add more wood, three drops of the scalding liquid popped out and burned his hand. Just as anyone would do, he immediately sought relief by putting his burned hand into his mouth. In an instant, the boy knew all about love, all things wise and all things inspired.
Cerridwen was so angry that the brew would not be used for her son that she chased the boy...
whereby the chase ensued for quite some time and there are some great and memorable scenes of shape-shifting, whereby the story ends with Cerridwen giving birth to another son, the great Welsh poet and bard Taliesen, and this one required no father...the story is a wonderful one, which I recommend you taking up at some point.

But more on Cerridwen for a moment. In the Welsh tradition, Cerridwen is often seen with a great white sow. She is associated with shape-shifting, poetry, inspiration, prophecy, the moon and life and death as well.

I tell you this tale because over the years it has become a part of me, like a kind of ethereal skin that walks with me and reminds me of things I only know when
I am dreaming. It is like a half-remembered dream. I feel as if I would only sit down and listen to the story told 20 times 20 times I might begin to remember something. I keep the story with me because one day I will remember what it is. One day I will say, "Ah, yes, now I know what it really is. Now I understand what it is telling me."

From one understanding, I see that it takes time and patience and long-suffering to have your eyes opened to true love, true wisdom and true inspiration. Those moments of understanding are called Awen, or Arwen. They are ours to have because we are a part of Cerridwen, and her son, Taliesen, who tasted the three drops of perfect inspiration.


Three roots of one tree, three breaths of one body, three beliefs of one soul.
I live my life by the search for Wisdom. I live my life by finding the need to be Inspired. I live my life by giving and receiving Love.
My word for the year, then, is Awen...spoken slowly...intoned.

Wisdom entails learning, and so I will be the owl, the key.
Inspiration entails flexibility, and so I will be the willow, the succulent berry.
Love entails sacrifice, and so I will be the mother, the ragged heart.
I live my life full of Awen.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

of Time

...the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.

Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?
And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?
And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?
But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

~Kahlil Gibran The Prophet, on Time

************************************
These are actually pictures with my phone taken on a rainy night while we drove home. They are light reflections in mirrors through the raindrops...a tiny magic moment on a long mundane drive...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Looking Forward



My little family gathered with me tonight.
I covered a big matchbox in pretty paper and then each of us picked out a piece of paper we liked and folded it up to fit in the box.

We each made three goals for the year, two personal goals and one goal that we all agreed on; it wasn't hard to find a goal to agree on. We all want to sell this house and buy the 1901 house we dream of. I loved that everyone drew a picture of what they loved about the 1901 house.
My daughter drew the house with a sheep pen on it. My husband drew himself exercising in front of a large screen tv. I drew all the old trees and buildings on the property. My son drew the house and the barn and lots of open grass...that surprised and delighted me to no end.

We wrapped our goals up together in pretty pewter gray ribbon and put it inside our pretty little box, then I wrapped the box up with a glittery turquoise snowflake. We'll keep our box out in a windowsill to gather moonlight and sunlight all year. It will remind us of our goals, and our promise to help each other achieve our goals.
What a sweet, special time we had together tonight. It is these little simple celebrations that make everything so merry and bright in our home. I just love my little family.
Happy Solstice to all of you who celebrate the renewing of the year and the birth and growth of the Sun - from my family to yours.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Solstice

(The Mid- Winter Moon)

fingers plucking dulcimers deep in a wood
soft winds lift cloak edges
following the silvered path winding ahead

a longing and lantern light
a silent call and crackle of fire ahead
through the moon-washed darkness

snow is deep and clings
following those who've gone before
breath floats like smoke

walking ever in
ever in
and on

celebrating the old
welcoming the new
and the wheel is set forward

the promise of warmth and hope
turning and returning
this deep eve

all life in a swirling spiral
ever in
ever in
and on


Beauty

"...beauty is life when life unveils her holy face."
"But you are life...
...and you are the veil."


~Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet, on Beauty)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

this man


He's the steady smile and the strong shoulder bumping next to mine as we walk together.
He's the inside-joke that brings me to tears it's so funny.
He's the chef, the laundry king, the wood cutter, the snow shoveler, the practical mind.
He's my absolute best friend in the whole entire world and I love him beyond any measure...
It wasn't luck that brought us together. I saw him and fell in love. I knew that HERE was what I'd been dreaming of. HERE was the man I was going to marry and have babies with and talk about wrinkles and gray hair with.
I love him, I love him, I love him.
This month we've been married for 13 years...but he's been my soul-mate, my other half, for almost 17 years...that is a lot of growing up together :)
May we never grow up as we grow old together my sweetheart.

Friday, December 17, 2010

all done

Our Christmas Break started today...all the little kids were Holiday partied-out and I've been Jingle Belled to death and it is the strangest thing, but I realized that there is one "Christmas" that takes place at work/school where the children are crafted and storied and gamed out the wazoo, and there is exchanges of gifts and cards and what-nots that really don't mean a whole hell of a lot, and then there is the stop, the break, the "We're done!" and it all comes to some kind of grinding halt, much like Willy Wonka's strange boat ride in the old movie where they go faster and faster and strange scenes are flashing by and suddenly they stop and the lights come on, and there they are, ready to get out and really begin.
So, here I am with my children abed since early, my husband snoozing hard, and I just needed to take a few minutes to myself after this long, drawn-out day and say, "Ahhhhh, here I am. There I am. I'm all back together." It feels so good to sit in front of our Christmas tree in the quiet with my sparkling water and a new sweet thing with no sugar to enjoy. I've got my electric blanket wrapped around my lap and all is well.

I had a strange night as we had to pick up our car from a body shop as soon as I said goodbye to my Kindergarteners. The door on the car had to be completely replaced as it was seriously mangled by a friend backing into it...it looks lovely and just the way it did before. But then there was a kind of surreal walk through Costco as we tried to remember what we needed while we waded through the throng of buyers and noted to each other, "You look terrible. You need sleep, honey." Then I drove myself home, but needed goodies from Trader Joe's so I made a stop there and spent too long reading nutrition labels for some yummy things that have very little to no sugar that also does not use aspartame or the like...it feels strange to linger too long by oneself in a grocery store at odd hours of the night...
Then on the way home, I found an upturned vehicle with the dome light still on. After parking the car in the middle of the road, I ventured over and yelled out, "Hello?" and it was so strange. My voice didn't carry through the snow and the dark and the ice. I was so timid, I hardly recognized myself...but there I went, finally, up to the now earth-touched roof of the car and said again, "Hello, anybody need help?" I realized there was no one in the car, but I saw one set of halting footprints making their way into our subdivision, but was lost after a few steps in the gravel at the side of the road.
I drove the last few blocks home and decided to stop in our driveway and called 911. I was suddenly worried that someone had become disoriented and was now adrift and getting hypothermia...I wonder where they got themselves to, and if they were terrified as they walked in the snow, and if there really was only one, and suddenly the story became bigger and bigger in my mind and I had to tell myself to stop and rest, good lordy.

All this to say, I really do think that sleep is how we bring our spirit all back together in this one body package. When I get good sleep, I feel as if I wake up whole. I don't know if it is a teacher thing, a mother thing, a woman thing, or a Katie thing, but I send out pieces of myself all freakin' day long, every single day, and at night, I decided, I desperately need to bring all those pieces back together.

My first Solstice goal: to get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep every single night.

p.s. My whole family wants to celebrate the Solstice with me this year :)
that makes my pagan-heart glad.
(read 'pagan' as: from the Latin paganus, an adjective originally meaning "rural", "rustic" or "of the country." As a noun, paganus was used to mean "country dweller, villager" and I add without religion or doctrine, but tied to Nature and the broken-leaf edges of thoughts that have taken root as a spiritual pursuit)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Only so much...

I am a good teacher. I truly am. I say that without some crazy ego or a smirky flip of my hair...I truly mean it. Even when it isn't clear to me exactly which spot-on method to use with them at the time, I eventually, within the moment, will get to it. My ego is left at the door.
If I had a big head about teaching, I wouldn't be able to change mid-thought and say, "Hmm, how about this..." and explain something a new way or with a new method.

This applies to discipline...obviously, in my calling, there is loads of discipline. From silly little things like "sharing" or "tattling" to larger issues such as hitting or being mean and nasty, I deal with it in the same way: consistency. That is the nature of discipline, in my opinion; no nastiness necessary, only consistency. The children in my room know the rules, they know what happens when they disobey them, and there is no blaming or messiness about it. They know, because I taught them...

I am not a pushover; no child runs over me in class. I am irritated by the idea that kindness and understanding must equal fragility. That irritates me to no end. Why must I be a tyrant to be "effective"? I don't believe it for one minute. Teach children for more than 13 years, and then we'll talk about the term "pushover", but for now...huh uh.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

of a Saturday

warm reds and sparkling old things
icy evergreens
Chickens and Buddha
Icy laundry line

Friday, December 10, 2010

Parties and Homes


on the way down 19th street


Home is never oh ever a word with which I fling on tables or yell at parties. Home is a thing with edges like faded fences or hollyhock dander. Home is a loud whisper like the wind blowing the elms hither and thither, but there I sit on the inside sewing by the fire. I know it when I touch it, but to describe it takes a bit more time. Tonight, a woman I'd never met before said a few words to me and here I went and spilled my guts about everything I loved about the little house on 19th street with it's own edges all neat and tidy and full of history and its own ghosts and maybe because of the two glasses of wine I chugged down, I went on and on about its uneven stairs and its funny little landings off the stairs and the bump in the carpet and the old cabinets in the kitchen and strange little gardeny thingy out the back door and the pink flowered hawthorn trees and the oh my the best chicken coop you ever saw...oh I'm sorry to be going on and on...oh no, tell me more...and the sunrise I'm sure would be heavenly from there and the ancient lilac out front and could you imagine in the spring how good it would smell and the willow way out front in the summer when you just want to dip your feet in the irrigation pond and sit under a willow and wouldn't that be nice and have you ever been somewhere that you just feel like you know you've been there before and...oh I've talked too much...

Okay, I truly hate it when I am around too many people. It confuses me. I feel like I must have some sort of disorder, but I tend to find the quietest corner with the quietest looking people sitting in it and I try to have a small conversation, but what I wish for is some sort of job where I can look busy so I don't have to be so nice...how terrible. So instead, sometimes I seek out the bathroom and spend a good while in there letting the semi-quiet sink in.

The house we went to tonight had just "had the renovation completed this afternoon" (don't you know), and it was all "oh my I'm so embarrassed at how shabby this room is" and I'm looking for what might be shabby and there was all sorts of talk about how to fix old wood floors cause we need them shiny and unmarked and the best things to do with all all this horrid chair railing and what do we do about not enough pantry space and don't you adore this color of green and this cheese is heavenly with only this sort of wine don't you think and where to find the best most expensive shoes and...anyway, I want the nearest bathroom, please...

I got to thinking about staff parties that might be hosted at our home...This is how I'd do it in my uneven-staired, bump in the carpet home: We've got the homemade meat smoker stoked up out back and a fire in the orchard, and let's go for a walk around the property in the snow and I'll show you my best laying hen and my most fancy rooster and look at what this pig can do, and do you want to see some baby goats and these gourds where from my garden and I did in fact make that broom and won't you have some of these pickled asparagus I made this last summer and rolls with the jam I made out of the peaches from our orchard...

Anyway, in the midst of it all, there was a woman I'd never met before and she looked very thoughtful and hippy-ish and a good listener/deep talker, just the sort I gravitate toward, and we quickly started talking about homes and what our homes were like and I said I live in a very nice house, but it isn't my home. My home is on the farm and my home is with my little kids and husband, and how deeply I want to bring my people home to a physical place that feels like we all belong there together - a place with a slamming back door and squeaky stairs and quirky things that make you swear on "had-it-up-to-here" kinds of days - She knew just what I meant when I said, "I don't know, the house just speaks to me..." because she answered, "...and you are listening." I take that as a good sign.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Ramblings - or Thoughts on a Wednesday

This Wednesday morning at 7 am - the parking lot is a figure skater's dream

I have some ramblings tonight and I don't really feel like doing much editing on it all. I tend to feel that if I don't make each and every posting be some sort of wonder, I must be letting you down...probably not. I'm not let down by anyone else not posting that I love to read. I figure they have lives and when they are back, they'll have something wonderful or interesting to post about. That is about the way of it...we go away and we come back, eager to share our adventures. My adventures have included ice and gray sunrises, giving the boot to one real estate agent and taking on another one, seriously lowering our selling price, following rabbit trails through the snow with my Kindergarteners, enjoying my teacher's aide, enjoying my new snow boots, stowing away christmas presents, reflecting on Solstice traditions/beliefs/rituals/celebrations, loosing serious weight (thank the goddess), battling the flu and a head cold, and generally
rushing
desperately
in circles
thinking
that this
is only
temporary
and soon
it will
all
calm
down


me thinks this is a lie we tell ourselves.

I think the truth is, is that all this waiting and rushing is actually LIFE and we might be missing it waiting for the calm center...dang it.