Spring Equinox 2023–Wilding Church

As I walk out the door, I begin to move and breathe differently. I slow down, notice my body, start noticing what’s around me.

I’m going on a wander, one of the main practices of eco-spirituality workshops I’ve attended and a core part of Wild Church.

I let my feet, not my head, guide me toward the entry I’ll take today into one of our forest paths. As I step in, I cross a threshold and consciously mark it. Sometimes, I say a few words about my intention; sometimes, I ask for guidance; often, I ask just to be present and receive what the living earth wants me to know.

Today, the sunlight is slanting through the forest at just the right angle to catch all the spider webs. I’ve never noticed them before. I see three different active webs with spiders in the middle and lots and lots of old webs in the branches of the cedar. The old ones are collecting things—twigs, moss, fronds, needles, bits and pieces… They look like little hammocks of support. I am surrounded by support and grandmother spiders weaving the world.

The synchronicity of this? Not only is support something I am opening more to these days, but I pulled the Spider Medicine Card this morning!

In my desire to feel like the earth being I am, I have been practicing, wandering, singing, reading, attending eco-spirituality workshops…one of the books I devoured in the last year was by Victoria Loorz called Church of the Wild. This book describes her path from traditional Christianity into Wild Church, a way of meeting in community to practice being and communing with creation, outside in all weather.

Others at QUUF, the UU fellowship I belong to, had also found this book and a small group of us met to explore how to bring a live experience of Wild Church to QUUF. Given that this practice feels vital for my soul right now and since I have been leading Winter Solstice rituals for 15 years and am ordained as an Interfaith Minister, it seemed like a good fit for me to get trained to guide. Our first Wild Church was in late February as the earth was turning more toward Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Speaking of turning toward Spring, Spring Equinox is today, Monday, March 20th!

The earth teachings of Spring are about new beginnings, fresh energy, awakening from slumber, new growth. Think of the seed, dormant in the soil, surrounded by earth and other tiny beings, feeling the call to wake up, to use the compost surrounding it to put forth new life.

We’re seeing this all around us here in the Pacific Northwest. If it’s not visible where you live, know that the stirrings are happening under the ground. Life is arising again!

As humans, we can follow earth’s call to fresh awakeness, too. We can clean out, clear up any old, stale habits, energy, or belongings that keep us from awaking, from growing. We can simplify to make room for this new growth.

Of course, Wild Church is not new. It is an opportunity to relearn what native peoples everywhere practice:

Communion with earth
as our primary place of belonging.

If you’re in the Port Townsend area, please join us on 4th Saturdays (next one 3/25/23), and if you’re interested in finding a Wild Church near you, check out the growing list of gatherings.

The other fresh, new work in progress in my life is this new blogsite. I have downsized and simplified my online presence to reflect my simpler, downsized life. Even though I’m still cleaning up blogs that didn’t transfer over perfectly, I’m very happy with the change! You can still find calendar listings and practices, including my real-food recipes. I hope it will serve you as well as it’s serving me!

How will you welcome in the “leaping greenly spirits”*
of Spring into your life?

* From the e.e. cummings poem “i think you God for most this amazing”

Winter Solstice 2022


Sitting around a campfire at night?

The circle of light within a vast ocean of darkness?

Leaving the fire and how the darkness swallowed you up as you felt your way to your tent to drop into the darkness of sleep?

Our bodies were made for darkness just as much as they were made for light.

For the darkness that invites non-doing and rest, slowness and dreaming, waiting and hope.

For the darkness that allows our bodies to heal, to regenerate, and rebalance in sleep.

Before electricity, we lived with, in, and by the dictates of the dark. In addition to fire light, there were candles and grease lamps, but they weren’t abundant, so they were saved for necessary tasks.

In the winter, we slept earlier in the evening and later in the morning, in accordance with the sun’s light.

And outside of our homes, it was dark—no street lights, car headlights, lit-up buildings…

Now, unless you live away from other houses in the country, it’s hard to experience total darkness.

Have you seen those maps of the world showing the light at night? It’s called light pollution and has become a health hazard to our bodies and to the creatures we share this world with.

Sea turtle hatchlings can’t find their way out to sea by the light of the moon because the city lights confuse them. Lack of darkness interrupts the predator/prey relationship, and even frog and toad breeding cycles. Birds that hunt or migrate at night have a hard time following the moon or stars, and seasonal migrations may even get knocked off their regular patterns due to light pollution.

Light pollution has taken away the dark. It has taken away the night sky.

One Secret by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Not the brilliant stars
But the infinite dark
What I wish on

This time of deepening darkness that reaches its peak at the Winter Solstice is an invitation to allow the dark to affect us, but not hold us captive.

It is an invitation to adapt to the living earth like all other creatures.

It is an invitation to allow ourselves to slow down, to dream, to rest.

It is an invitation to let old patterns, polarities, and problems that aren’t serving us dissolve as fresh, new life is rewoven in the growing light.

Holiday parties break up the darkness, bringing us together to feast and share in the coming light.

But then let us return to the darkness. To the unraveling, the unwinding, the making ready for the new.

Let us connect with the living earth and her rhythms to wait and trust that the sun will return again.

And then let the light find its way, day by day, from the midst of the darkness, growing, shining, bringing new life.

This is the promise of Winter Solstice.

In 2022, Winter Solstice arrives at 1:47 pm PT

on Wednesday the 21st of December.

If you’d like to mark this time on your own, I have a few suggestions for rituals in past blogposts here:

If you would like to be in community, I will be guiding an outdoor, earth-based, family-friendly ritual at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in the courtyard from 7-8 pm on the 21st. Read more.

My winter dreaming is bringing changes…

Since we moved to Port Townsend, Washington in the summer of 2019, life has changed a lot!

My main focus, when I am not working, is tending the land (growing as much edible, medicinal, and native as possible) and tending my family (husband, dog, aging parents, myself). And I am still singing–how could I not?

Because of this, I have not sought to build a coaching practice, even though I do still see clients from time to time. And now, I need to simplify more, so I’m going to let this big website go. I plan to create a blog site, so you will still hear from me from time to time.

Happy Winter Dreaming and Winter Solstice! I wonder what you will dream into?

Fall Equinox 2022: Asking Toward the Light

Happy Fall Equinox!

I arise facing East,
I am asking toward the light,
I am asking that my day shall be beautiful with light.
I am asking that the place where my feet are shall be light,
That as far as I can see I shall follow it aright.
I am asking for courage to go forward through the shadow,
I am asking toward the light!
~Mary Austin

Normally for Fall Equinox (September 22nd, 2022 at 6:03 pm PT), there is talk of the waning light, but I want to start with this beautiful prayer poem of light.

I have been praying it every morning recently, facing East, asking toward the light.

I love how open this phrase is, asking toward the light.

The prayer poem asks for some general things—for a day beautiful with light, that light will be where I am and that I shall follow it aright, for courage to face the difficulties of the day…

But it’s not asking for specific outcomes, for how my ego thinks the day should turn out.

It’s really more about setting an intention to align myself with the light, no matter how late the dawn comes and how early the dusk arrives, no matter how cloudy or sun-filled the day is, no matter how the day goes…

It’s almost as if I am aligning with what our plant brothers and sisters know how to do naturally. They know how to follow the light, how to bend toward it, how to store it, how to create food and seed and strength with it.

And then as the light becomes less and less, they know how to take that light in and send it into their roots or to release that light and let their bodies fall to the ground.

This is an important teaching of the Fall:

  • we can keep receiving the light,
  • having filled up with light, we can release it like leaves that fall,
  • and we can store the light for nourishment and give it away to others.

So, on this Fall Equinox, may we be asking toward the light and allowing the growing darkness.

May we be asking toward the light and storing it up, not only for ourselves, but for all beings.

Happy Fall Equinox!

Summer Solstice 2022–Becoming an Earth Being

Happy Summer Solstice!

Summer Solstice falls on the 21st of June, 2022 at 2:13 am Pacific Time.

By honoring the solstice, we are participating in earth time, marking the changing of the seasons not by imposed, human-made calendar time, but by following the rhythms and natural changes of the earth as she changes from the new growth and freshness of spring into the full on blooming and vibrant growth of summer.

It’s a time to really lean into and enjoy being embodied, being the animal body that we are, experiencing everything that our bodies enable us to sense, to feel in this amazing and beautiful living earth.

You’ve probably noticed that over the last few years since we moved to the Pacific Northwest, my deep interest is about learning to live with earth, learning to be a responsible, ecological citizen of earth. But this doesn’t quite catch it… there’s also a very deep spiritual yearning to come back to what is my birthright, what is all of our birthright, communion with the living earth.

This blog explorers my journey toward this re-union, and is the current version of the first part of a sermon that I will be giving July 24th, 2022 online for my Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend, Washington. 


Mom calls me over to see and listen to the yellow grosbeaks that have returned. I notice them, but I’m not really touched. I have other things on my mind.

My sister follows the call at an early age to spend as much time as she can outdoors, to explore and eventually take up outdoor sports and camping, even training to guide others. It all seems like so much work to me, and expensive, and dirty. I have other things on my mind.

It took me many years to begin to understand the importance of reconnecting to earth and to find my own ways of coming home. It’s not that I didn’t have moments of deep connection, but I didn’t prioritize them, and I’ve lived my life in my head a lot.

  • In my teen years, I spent a lot of time believing and being a good born-again Christian.
  • As an adult I studied a lot and traveled abroad, learning German and Swedish.
  • I was always singing, and trying to be a better singer.
  • I’ve read a lot of books about how to heal and grow and develop myself, and coached and taught others about this.

But living my life in my head, even though I studied and taught helpful, spiritual things, hasn’t been enough.

Though I have often found solace and beauty in nature, it was almost as if I have expected nature to be there for me when I needed her. I didn’t realize that there could be some kind of reciprocal relationship.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us—the land is not broken. It is our relationship to it that is broken.

It’s hard to have a relationship with the land when we as a culture move around so much. The average American moves every 5 years—that certainly makes it hard to have a sense of belonging to the land… Instead of a sense of belonging to the earth, we move to a new place and bring our belongings with us.

We experience nature as a thing, something outside of us, an object that we can use—a resource to use to grow our food, for water to drink, for building materials to make homes and shelters, for fuel to drive our cars and fly to see our friends and family and visit new places, etc.

In his book Biology of Wonder, Andreas Weber invites us to swap out the word “nature” with the phrase “the living earth.” You probably noticed that I introduced the blog with this language. This reminds us that we can enter into a living relationship with earth rather than a one-sided for-human-enjoyment-only experience.

Take a moment with me:
Close your eyes and take a few breaths. And then just open your awareness to your body, noticing any sensation, any aches, any pains, any tingly, bubbly, electrical, flowy, or other sensations. Any warmth, any ease, any relaxation… Just notice this aliveness in your body.

And if you’re having trouble feeling anything, try shaking one hand for a minute and then stop and sense that hand compared to the other one, noticing the extra aliveness.

Andreas Weber suggests that this inner aliveness you feel, this is the same aliveness, the livingness that is in the living earth. This aliveness is the center of our being and is our direct connection with the living earth. Feeling it reconnects us with our bodies, made of earth’s body.

Andreas Weber again: “Nature is about beauty because beauty is our way to experience aliveness as inwardness. Beauty is aliveness felt…”

No wonder beauty calls to us! The beauty we celebrate in the living earth, that we snap photos of, send postcards of, look at picture books of, travel for and long to take in… this outward expression of aliveness reminds us of our own inner aliveness, of our own connection with the living earth.

And we need these reminders desperately since our culture has created a lot of deadness.

At least since settled agricultural life, we have steadily and cruelly enforced a worldview of pillage and domination over the land and any beings—peoples, creatures, other-than-human beings—who stood in our way.

Whether we and our direct ancestors were involved in this or not, our bodies and our relationship with the earth bear the burden of this colonization. In fact, Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands, speaks eloquently of how white folk carry the trauma of being perpetrators in our bodies. In addition, most white folk are descendants of people who were treated cruelly in the countries we originally immigrated from. We also carry this trauma of being victims in our bodies.

Because we no longer can sense and feel our inner aliveness and that of the living earth, we overdo to try to get back in touch with it. Too much screen time, too much coffee or caffeine in any form, too much sugar, too much alcohol, too many drugs, too much work, too much play… And not enough contact with the living earth.

So what do we do about this?

How do we become an earth being?

Stay tuned for Part II of this blog at Lughnasadh/Lammas or Fall Equinox in which I share more of my exploration or watch the service on July 24th or after.

Spoiler Alert: I don’t have the answers, just some experience and hopefully, some inspiration! 🙂

In the meantime, though, I’d LOVE to hear about your experience!

What does it mean to you to become an earth being?

Spring Equinox 2022–Life Again!

Spring Equinox, the cusp of even more light.

No matter how dark it is—the war in Ukraine, the fight for democracy in the US, the pandemic that never ends, the climate catastrophe… the living earth reminds us that there is always this:

And this:

And this:

The living earth reminds us again and again and again how to come back to life after the dark, how to send up new shoots and leaves, how to green, how to flower, how to take in and breathe out life.

Drink in the beauty, the fresh growth, the continuing

outpouring and wonder of the living earth!

If you’d like some practice inspiration, here are some ideas from past posts:

This Spring* and always, may the growing light
brighten your body, heart, and mind
and make you more kind
to yourself, to others, and to all beings.

Sing along with me to Laurence Cole’s Equinox round here.


Find more ways to practice with me.

* Spring Equinox 2022 is Sunday, March 20th at 8:33 am Pacific Time in the Northern Hemisphere.

Winter Solstice 2021–Grateful for the Darkness

By Joshua Woroniecki on Pixabay

As we move into the Winter Solstice on December 21st, 2021, I am feeling so grateful for the darkness.

Darkness, cover me like a blanket of night, oh cover me lightly.*

I feel the growing blanket of night that holds me, our home, the land, the forest in a cozy embrace. It’s dark outside, but the fire is glowing and there are pockets of light inside.

The darkness all around has the effect of focusing my attention. Especially in the 12-hour power outage last month, the flickering flame from the woodstove and candlelight, the beam of our headlamps made me focus on what was to hand as we were gathered in by the blanket of night.

Shadows gather around me, deepening darkness, whispering softly.

These days, we have to take our headlamps to walk the dogs after I finish work, but our animal bodies still find the path in the gathering shadows. I keep my headlamp off as long as I possibly can and wear a light-colored coat my parents can see as they follow me up the path.

The cedars whisper as I walk among them. The ferns speak in frond-talk. The alders sigh with their loss of leaves. And I sing to them, pray with them, or speak quietly… depending on what is called for.

And the path in the deepening darkness leads us home.

Holy Maker of Moonlight, singing through starlight, Keeper of all life.

Standing in the darkness, under the fullness of the moon, receiving the darkness, the moonlight, the starlight. This is what I was made for. To stand vigil, to hold the sacred without and within—for who can tell the difference in the dark… to live the aliveness of the living earth all around and within me.

Hidden Seed deep in the dark soil of the earth,
fertile ground, womb of the night, bring us new birth.

It is a time for waiting, hidden, claimed by the dark, claimed by the living earth. It is a time of slowing down, of resting in the womb of the night. Somehow, I seem to always need this invitation.

The ground has been prepared—by my heart and hands, by those of others, by the living earth herself. The fertile womb of darkness will bring new birth. It is my job to trust, to wait, to listen, to grow, to leave behind what has become too small and be welcomed into the growing light when it is time.

Winter Solstice falls on Tuesday, the 21st of December at 7:59 am PT. It marks the longest night of the year and the turning toward growing light.

I hope you enjoy these long nights and darkness’s cozy embrace so that you will be ready to grow into the light when you are called into the Spring.

If you would like to join in a Winter Solstice Gathering,

I’m leading A Quiet Winter Solstice via zoom from 7:00-8:00 on Solstice evening. It will be an evening celebrating the turning of the year. I will lead the group in song and sing a few pieces solo, weaving poetry and participatory ritual that invites us into the depth, stillness, and contemplative aspects of the season. Consider having a candle and matches available if you want to participate in the candle-lighting towards the end.

And if you need a last minute gift, my CD The Path, a collection of folk, medieval, and Celticky Christmas music, is available digitally and as a CD on bandcamp:


Happy Winter Solstice, however you celebrate!

* Italicized, centered text is from the song Darkness Cover Me by Sara Thomsen. Come sing it with me at the Winter Solstice gathering!

Autumn Equinox–Earth-Based Practice

Happy Autumn Equinox!

Autumn Equinox 2021 falls on September 22nd at 12:20 pm PT. It is the balancing point between light and dark, the approximately equal day and night before we tip toward darkness.

When I think of balance these days, I think of how out of balance we humans have gotten with Eairth,* how our presence has caused such harm to Eairth’s life systems.

Listen to an Equinox round by Laurence Cole
that invites us to walk in balance with Eairth.

How do we walk in balance with Eairth?

What does that even mean?

There are so many plans for mitigating the crisis we find ourselves in, living on a planet whose weather is getting more and more erratic and whose life systems are failing.

For me, the biggest thing is to find a way to live in balance now, in this forest garden home where I am living. To find a way of belonging, of connecting, of being in relationship with Eairth. If I don’t have this, I won’t be able to choose well how to act in the world.

I find what helps me the most are earth-based practices.

It’s been a gradual shift for me to take on earth-based practices consciously, even though I have been slowly moving in this direction for years.

My first official foray into a deeper connection with Eairth was through Sara Avant Stover’s The Way of the Happy Woman. This work helped me get more connected to the seasons—how they manifest not only in Eairth but in me, how I can align with them in how I eat, how I plan my life, even how I do yoga. This was thrilling to me—to realize that I could choose to energetically match my life to the natural patterns of Eairth. 

Tending the earth continues to teach me about how alive Eairth is. When I see how Eairth can grow plants without fertilizer, without artificial interaction, simply from the basic elements of earth, air, water, and sun, how can I not be grateful and amazed?

I often greet new sprouts and blooms by singing to them, thanking them for growing, welcoming them. It is not a very big step to simply thank and praise Eairth for the larger gift of life, that allows me and my beloveds also to live.

I take inspiration from indigenous practices, the Native American medicine wheel, Pagan and Celtic practice, the work of Charles Eisenstein, geologian Thomas Berry, cosmologist Brian Swimme, deep ecologist Joanna Macy, wilderness-based soul guide Bill Plotkin, poets Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, and many others.

While I have found it helpful to learn the data points that comprise this experience of being alive, of plants greening, of earth sustaining us, I have also felt a need to enter more deeply into relationship with Eairth, into more-than-head-based knowledge.

So, other than thanking and praising the plants as I tend,

the trees and ferns and moss as I walk,

what does this look like?

Most mornings, I practice a version of what Native Americans call a medicine wheel, just outside our back door, turning to face each cardinal direction and addressing one of the Elements, or what Brian Swimme calls the Powers of the Universe. The circle I move in also blends elements from Wicca and from Bill Plotkin’s wheel of eco- and psycho-spiritual phases of development. Sometimes I add yoga, too.

I greet and thank East, Power of Wind, of air, of breath, of sky, of the new day dawning. Grateful for the qualities of freshness, newness, of innocence and open mind, of the generous distribution of air that keeps plants, animals, and humans breathing and warms and cools our planet.

I greet and thank South, Power of Fire, of flame, of warmth, of noon heat. Grateful for the qualities of passion, of growth, of flowering, of playfulness, of the instinctive life force that runs through the animal body that I am.

I greet and thank West, Power of Sea, of water, of flow, of depths. Grateful for the qualities of sensitivity and responsiveness, of the ability to be affected by others, to absorb and assimilate, and to be absorbed into the One/the Beloved.

I greet and thank North, Power of Land, of matter, of stone, field, and mountain, of cosmic memory. Grateful for the qualities of gravity, of strength and action, of re-membering and remembering, for my elders, teachers, mentors, and ancestors.

And in the Center, I touch earth and reach up to sky, turning in a circle, bringing my hands to belly and heart, breathing in now. I feel myself taking my place, as human, as being, as earth standing on two feet, as a member of this amazing web of life.

I think what we are all seeking in our lives is a feeling of connection with True Nature.

Call that God, Goddess, the Universe, Higher Power, Beloved, Love, Truth… to me, it is all the same. We had a taste of this connection, this love in our mother’s womb and have been searching for it ever since.

Being surrounded by the natural world, as opposed to the human-made world, helps me feel this connection more easily. Many people experience this—we seek moments of wonder, awe, beauty, peace in nature.

What if these moments are simply openings to True Nature, that which is the most essential and natural to us all? And what if we could consciously cultivate this connection on a daily basis?

There are many ways to practice connecting—this is just one detailed example of a morning practice. Bill Plotkin’s books, Joanna Macy’s work, The Way of the Happy Woman, Forest Breathing practices, books about getting kids in to nature—there are many more ideas out there. One other important way for me to connect is through singing—check out this song by Gretchen Sleicher.

What earth-based practices support you?

* Eairth = Earth and Air, a more descriptive way of spelling the planet we live in, from geologian Thomas Berry

Summer Solstice 2021

our pond and surrounding gardens

Here, in the Northern Hemisphere, on June 20th

at 8:32 pm PT, we are at Summer Solstice again.

Eairth* has awoken in flowers and flourishing plants and new leaves. She is bearing fruit and food and warmer days filled with light…

Here we are with the longest day inviting us out into the light, and many of us are still experiencing what I’ve heard called “cave syndrome.”

We are more comfortable inside, or at least, at home.

We have been staying home, sheltering from the pandemic. We have, if we are lucky, had the companionship of animals and family, but most of us have led circumscribed, smaller lives. And now this lack of outer contact feels normal… And safe… And secure.

At my last two Chant & Song evenings, we sang a number of songs about surrounding ourselves with protection. One of them was a prayer I set to music  from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of prayers, songs, and incantations from the Scottish Highlands and Islands.**

Sacred Three
To save, to shield
To surround the hearth
The house, the household
This eve, this night.
O, this eve, this night,
And every night,
Every single night.

This is a prayer based on a practice from earlier times of smooring the fire for the night so that there will still be coals to ignite in the morning.

To smoor, the woman of the house subdued the flame by dividing the coals into 3 piles, one with the blessing, “the God of Life,” one with “the God of Peace,” and one with “the God of Grace” (the sacred three representing the Trinity). Peat was then placed between each pile and ashes on top with a final blessing, “the God of Light.” ***

You can listen and sing along to my recent version with guitar accompaniment, and to the a capella original with harmony and drum on my Welcome Brigid CD.

We reflected as a group that we need these kinds of rituals in our lives to help us connect with not only the safety around us, but also with the inner hearth-flame. And especially now when leaving the cave can feel threatening, consciously or unconsciously.

I particularly like the image of keeping the hearth-fire lit because of the image of hearth as center of the house and household, which it truly was when this prayer was originally uttered. It kept the house and people within warm, protected, and fed.


I can’t help but see this connection even though the words are not related etymologically.

Keeping the hearth warm keeps the heart warm.

The center of the home is the hearth. The center of the human is the heart.

Our hearts also keep us warm and fed. The heart’s capacity to feel, to love, to connect, to create meaning makes this possible.

Since that evening, I’ve been singing this song when I close and lock up the house overnight, feeling the circle of protection here in our home.

And in the morning, when I travel the same circle, opening up, unlocking, I sing a morning welcoming song.

These rituals provide a gentle holding in my life.

They reinforce a sense of sacred center, sacred hearth and heart, held in reverence and respect.

Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron explains the power of ritual in this quote:

Ritual is about joining vision and practicality, heaven and earth, samsara and nirvana. When things are properly understood, one’s whole life is like a ritual or a ceremony.
Then the gestures of life are mudra [sacred gestures]
and all sounds of life are mantra—sacredness is everywhere…
Someone can have an insight,
and rather than it’s being lost,
it can stay alive through ritual.

~ from The Wisdom of No Escape, p. 77

I love that wisdom from earlier times can be passed down in this way—through a prayer of protection. I feel more deeply the connection to those who came before and those who continue to live closely with the land and cook and heat with fire.

So, as we find our way out of our caves into the light this summer, it may be helpful to practice or create for yourself some kind of ritual for protection.

In Celtic lands, the Irish call this a lorica and the Scots Gaelic a caim.**** A simple one is just to hold up an index finger and turn around, drawing a circle around your body. You are creating a circle of protection with you at the center. You could also add a song or prayer or mantra to the turning.

From my study with women’s work teacher, Sara Avant Stover, I also love the practice of feeling myself in my protected heart-cave as I move in the outside world.

Then as you leave your house, you take the gentle holding and flame of your heart-cave-home with you as you move out into the world.

Do you already have rituals of protection?

What might you incorporate into your daily life?

* Earth and Air = Eairth
** Alexander Carmichael, editor
*** http://www.tairis.co.uk/daily-practices/smaladh/
**** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorica_(prayer)

Spring Equinox–Balancing

Spring Equinox, falling on March 20th at 2:37 am PT in 2021, is a great time to revisit what it means to balance. It marks a time when the days and nights are approximately equal, in the midst of the changing from dark to growing light.

Equinox Round by Laurence Cole(Round by Laurence Cole.)

What does it mean to walk in balance?

We idealize the concept of finding balance. It seems like such a good idea… even though I rarely seem to find a static place I can stay in for very long…

That’s one of the problems of our culture, of colonizing cultures in general: We set up ideals that don’t match reality and then try to live up to them (and force others to).

No wonder we always feel like we have to keep working, trying, fixing, reaching, striving…

What would it be like, instead, to meet the moment as it is?

This is what Eairth* and her more-than-human beings are always doing.

If there’s a windstorm, the cedars outside my window don’t say “No, I’m going to stay straight and calm like a tree should be.” They respond to the moment by swaying and moving with the wind, by balancing, not resisting to try to stay straight and unmoved.

When we humans release too much carbon into the air, Eairth doesn’t refuse to change, but finds more and more ways to manage it—to store in the soil and rocks, in the breathing in of trees and green plants. Eairth responds to the moment by balancing.

When plants don’t get enough sunlight, they don’t refuse to live, but take the energy they do receive and live as best they can, perhaps sending less to flower or fruit and more to leaf and root. They are balancing with what life presents.

What if, like Eairth, I could accept that there is no ideal way to find balance?

Could I, like Eairth, just respond in the moment to what presents itself as needed without trying to find balance?

This is what I call the practice of balance-ING. A client once wrote it out like this to emphasize how it is an ongoing meeting of the moment, a shifting to meet reality as it is now, not a hunt for an ever-elusive and unattainable “balance.” (Thanks, Meg!)

Take work-life balance—an ever-present “issue” for me.

The pandemic brought more work into my life. This was at a time when I was learning to say “No” and not take on more. So, for months, I told myself I needed to find the right balance. I needed to work less to do that. I kept telling myself it wasn’t right that I had to work more, that I shouldn’t have to, that I didn’t like it…

But I was just fighting with reality. I chose to do the work, so why keep making myself unhappy about it?

When I held up the ideal of work-life balance, the situation didn’t look good, and I kept striving for that elusive ideal of more balance. I was holding up finding balance as the ideal and could see no way to make it happen. This kept me stuck.

Over time, I realized that I could practice meeting each day differently—I could see what was needed, accept that, and see what bit of balance-ING I could bring in. So, instead of, “I need more work-life balance,”

  • One day, I stopped early and spent some time playing music.
  • Another day, I went into the garden on my break.
  • Or I made time for the dog walk in the middle of the day.
  • Or I rolled around on the floor, listening to my body’s needs and playing with our dog Sammy for a few minutes.

I couldn’t change the objective need I had stepped into, but I could change my experience and open to meeting the moment in these small ways.

And slowly but surely, I stopped feeling so stressed about overworking. I still work more than I want to, and am actively looking for ways to cut back, but the fact that I am practicing balance-ING makes it all OK again. I don’t feel stuck. I mostly (😊) don’t get upset about it…

Seeking balance is yet another ideal that

we set ourselves up against and measure ourselves by.

Even the Spring Equinox is not really a moment of balance—it’s just a time in the middle of the tilting of Eairth on her axis when the amount of dark and light is relatively equal. But it’s not a stopping point. If it did stop, we wouldn’t have the seasons!

Let’s drop the seeking, the measuring, the trying to find balance.

Let’s practice, instead, meeting the moment and not arguing with reality.

Let’s practice balance-ING.

* Eairth = earth and air together

Honoring the Dark–Winter Solstice 2020

Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏

We live in a culture of polarities that encourages us to construct polarities in our lives: good vs. bad, what I like vs. what I dislike, warm vs. cold, comfortable vs. uncomfortable, relaxation vs. work, etc.

One polarity that arises this time of year is dreading the arrival of the cold, dark days of the year, and the yearning for a climate of perpetual warmth and light.

Eairth’s* seasons invite us into a deeper understanding of these darker, colder days and offer us a template for living a beautiful, whole life.

Winter Solstice marks the depth of darkness, the moment when Winter begins and at the same time, gives way to the growing light. On the longest night, the light is reborn—the circle of the seasons already gestating Spring.

This year, Winter Solstice occurs at 2:02 am PT on Monday, December 21st.

We can we learn to honor the cold and darkness by living into Eairth’s seasonal rhythm of light and dark.

Winter invites us to slow down and rest.

Animals and plants know how to do this. They hibernate, slow down, return to the earth, so that they will be ready for the call of growing light and fresh energy in the Spring. So, too, can we take more time to rest, to do less, to turn our attention inward and tend to our inner lives.

Winter teaches us that honoring the darkness includes honoring the darker places within us.

The darkness is often where we put difficult experiences and emotions—we tend to turn away from them and try to focus on the light instead… But all that is contained in the darkness yeans to be welcomed—even the feelings and thoughts we wish we did not have—because from these we can learn and grow.

The darkness invites us into more wholeness.

It is in the bright light of day that we see sharp distinctions, that we see and feel our separateness and perceive “otherness.” The darkness holds all things—like the primordial darkness of the universe or the mother’s womb. We can rest into a primal holding and interconnectedness in the darkness.

Winter invites us to surrender.

We can’t make Eairth change into Summer before it is time. We can light candles and keep our home and body warm, but the cold and dark are here. We can’t change that. So, can we let go of resistance to this and to the way our lives are unfolding? Can we surrender how we think life should be and be with life as it is? Even when life right now is so hemmed in by Covid? Especially now.

The darkness is also a time of dreaming for the year to come.

We can spend time journaling, crafting New Year’s intentions, and listening to dreams that visit us by night. Perhaps we will gain insight about our lives. Perhaps, as Thomas Berry suggests, Eairth can dream through us…

One of the biggest lessons of the seasons for me has been to align with Eairth’s circle of life.

The darkness comes and gives way to the light, the light goes and gives way to the darkness… One always leads into the next… This is a truth of Eairth, of life, of our inner lives as well.

Light and dark are not two poles, one to be sought after and the other avoided.

Both are necessary for wholeness and both are always present. Can we honor both? Learn from both? Re-member both?

We gather to honor both at our annual Winter Solstice Celebration.

This year, due to Covid, we will meet on Zoom for a contemplative, Earth-centered, Celtic-inspired ritual to mark the turning of the year as the darkness gives way to the growing light. This participatory ritual will include calling in the Directions, chanting & singing, meditation, candle-lighting, and deep connection with this seasonal turning of the year. I hope you will join us. Read more

If you can’t join us, but would like do mark the Winter Solstice in an intentional way, you can find some ideas for rituals from past blogs:

You might also find nourishment in joining the Thursday, December 17th Chant & Song for Community, Healing & Hope which will have a dark and light Solstice theme this week.

What polarities in you are calling to be held, healed, wholed this Winter Solstice?

* Eairth = Earth and Air, a spelling for Earth I think I learned from Thomas Berry