books, breathing, chakras, earthseed, elements, gardening, herbs, jacqueline carey, meditation, memoir, mermaids, mindfulness, Naamah, octavia butler, tea
Whats in my teapot: Mint Magic by Celestial Seasons. Its one of the few commercial blends I like (I also like Moroccoan Mint Green Tea by Stash, Zen by Tzao, and Constant Comment by Bigelow).
Quote of the Day:
Each prayer is caught by seaweed on the floor
and anchors itself deep beneath the sand.
The mermaids dig them up to use as bricks
and laugh at humans’ meaningless demands.
From the poem Taking a Mermaid to Church by Sarah Fletcher
A time to pull up what is planted…
“If you plant green beans in the spring, you won’t be pullin’ up turnips come tomorrow,” she said. “Sometimes you gotta shout at them clouds til they tremble at yer voice and rain just to shut you up. Sometimes you cry because the sky stays blue after blue with not a cloud in sight. That’s when you know you got a bad harvest coming in the fall. Or maybe buggies are gnawing your field. Seems something always happens to crops when you need ’em to grow. But when you just want to give it all up, the rain falls and those little shoots pop up like you’ve never seen before.” She stopped and considered her garden, “Sometimes they don’t though. You always reap what you sow, you just never know how much your crop might be worth at the end.”
All I know about a backyard garden I learned from a neighbor. To my nine-year-old self, she was pretty old. Ancient. She’d been born during WWI and the first third of her life on a farm before moving “into town” in the WWII era neighborhood where I would later arrive. Wrinkly like creased paper and brown from the sun like old leather. Hunched over and wrapped in worn wool sweaters over vintage style dresses, her tiny feet encased in giant rubber boots. But she never let that stop her. Her kitchen smelled like cookies and violets, and she always had a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea ready. In the spring time, her widow sills and counters and shelves were covered in egg cartons of dirt with little seedlings popping up. Too many to plant in her postage stamp yard. The best looking seedlings would find a new home from her stack of pots that she stored on her porch though the winter. Some were carefully selected for the neighbors, based on what went with their yard. The rest were destined for her yard after the last frost. And the seedlings that didn’t make the cut got relegated to the “kitchen scrap pile” (compost pile) out back.
Mrs. Bloom (her real name) mourned the loss of “the little sprouts”, but she also understood that some of those plants just weren’t going to make it. Not every sprout can find a home in the garden. Sometimes “you just gotta pluck out the unlucky ones little girl, and hope you made the right choice.” Its not quite time yet, but soon before the growing season is truly upon us, we’ll have to pull up some of what has been planted so the rest can grow.
Things to do with herbs this growing season:
DIY Smudge Sticks
Moment of Zen: Breathing
The chestnut sidled and pranced beneath me. I soothed him once more, and forced myself to cycle through the Five Styles of Breathing.
The Breath of the Pulse of the Earth, drawn into the pit of the belly and the depths of the groin, inhaled and exhaled through the mouth.
The Breath of Ocean’s Rolling Waves, drawn in through the nostrils to the middle belly, out through the mouth.
The Breath of Trees Growing, circulating energy to the limbs, trading nourishment with the world.
The Breath of Embers Glowing, in and out through parted lips, quickening the heart and warming the blood.
The Breath of Wind’s Sigh, pulled and expelled through the nostrils into the space between my eyes, making my head light.
Jacqueline Carey, Naamah’s Curse
People, like all animals, need to breathe. Its necessary for cellular respiration–brings in oxygen and rids the body of carbon dioxide. Inhalation brings in air (and filters it using cilia and mucousal membranes), and exhalation takes it back out. Biomechanically speaking, breath travels in through our nose (or mouth), through our larynx (voice box), into the trachea, the bronchi, bronchioles, and into the aveoli (special blood vessels in the aveoli exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood cells). But when we focus on our breath meditatively, we can feel it traveling through out our body, beyond just our lungs. Anapanasati is a Buddhist meditative technique centered on the mindfulness of breathing. The goal is to feel the sensation of breath through the body as one breathes. To do this, I’ve adapted the Five Styles of Breathing from Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah series.
- 1) Breath of Ocean’s Rolling Waves–Breathe with a light but long inhale through the nose as the breath flows in and slides down along the central axis of the body (corresponding with the nadi for those familiar with chakra work) to the area of the solar plexus chakra, where it pools briefly before flowing back up and out through the throat with the mouth open in a way that feels almost like making the sound “huh”. Focus on clearing your self of burdensome emotions. Repeat until you feel calm and still (or as calm and still as you get).
- Breath of the Pulse of the Earth–Breath in slowly and deeply through the mouth, down through the belly, and into the groin. Circulate the breath between the Sacral and Root chakras and allow it to ground you, connecting you to the earth. As you exhale, purse your lips and slowly but strongly blow out your air. Repeat until you feel solid and seated in the earth.
- 3) Breath of Embers Glowing–Breathe with a naturally paced breath in and out through parted lips as if blowing on the embers of a fire to get it to relight. Allow your breath to ignite in the area of your heart chakra, warming the blood and spreading that warmth to the body as it travels into your muscles and organs. Focus on kindling your compassion until it permeates your entire being. Repeat until you have acknowledged and released any excess ego.
- 4) Breath of Tree’s Growing–Breathe in deeply but swiftly through the nose, holding the breath before exhaling through the mouth. Push your breath outwards on the exhale, down your limbs and past your fingers and toes, and draw it back along the same path, exchanging nourishment with the world. Focus on building the web of connections between you and the world. Repeat until you feel renewed.
- 5) Breath of Wind’s Sigh–Breathe swiftly and lightly in and out through the nose, up into the space between the eyes into the top of the head (the area of the Third Eye and Crown chakras). Focus it filling the space like a balloon and expanding your brain, your mind, your very thoughts. Repeat until you feel expansive and embracing.
What I’m reading now:
A (long) while back, I started reading a book called Shaman, Sorcerers, and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion by Brian Hayden. I never got to finish it because it was a library book, and it was when we were in transition between Virginia to Illinois and back again, but I finally managed to snag a used copy online at a decent price. I’m also reading a newer book (via Kindle) called The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be adding both to my big list of Recommended Reading for Paganism.
Parting thought (a quote from Octavia Butler’s Earthseed books):
“All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth