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Mother

Mother; we all have one. We were all birthed from our Mother’s womb, whether or not we know her.

Mother; we* will all be one. Whether or not we have have children.

The Mother archetype is the second phase in a woman’s life, following on from the Maiden phase.  Typically, the Mother years span our 30’s, our caring, protecting, nurturing decade when we are in full bloom, where as the Maiden covers years 12 (approx) to 29. This phase is archetypal and embodies the mindset, maturity, emotions and feelings of the “Mother”. Of course, there will be an overlap between the phases for many women as some will be Mothers at 16 years old or not until 45 years old, and some either through choice or otherwise, never become a Mum.

You are the Mother.

The Mother phase may not seem applicable to some as they have chosen not to, or are unable to have children, but that does not rule out the Mother in all of us. She is the Creatrix of life; be that children, career, project, self, garden, however you choose and what ever you create in this life. You are the Mother.

Who is She?

She is a whole host of labels including : Stay At Home mum, Working mum, Pushy mum, Step mum,Tiger mum, Elephant mum, Helicopter mum, Over protective mum, Negligent mum,  Judgmental mum, Holier-than-thou mum, Yummy Mum(my), Slobby mum, Competitive Mum, PTA mum, Earth Mum, Hippie Mum, Teen mum, Old mum, Geriatric (in the UK, pregnant women over the age of 36 are referred to as geriatric…charming) mum, Adopted mum, Child-less woman, IVF mum, Single mum, Busy mum, Absent mum… I’m sure there are 100 more labels that I have missed that could be added. But is that really who she is? I think not.

This phase of our lives is possibly the most judged; we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t! Your choices here are up for discussion and scrutiny whether you like it and know it or not. But why is this the case? Society and of course, Patriarchy.

The role of mother is valued and equally not valued. Our fertile years carry an expectation that we will reproduce whilst at the same time judge us for staying at home to raise our own children or pass comment that we have returned to the workplace instead of being at home.  To stay at home is a luxury as it is seen as not be participating in or contributing to economic growth of the society, yet to work is seen as a fault as we expect the state or strangers to raise our kids whilst we are at work. Its a no win situation. And that is without the gender pay gap the maternity leave wrongfully exacerbates via unscrupulous and manipulative employers. You will of course be no stranger to the fact that this is specific purely to Mothers; Fathers are not subjected to such restrictions, judgments or expectations.

Should you be childfree/childless during these ‘fertile’ years, you are not free from probing questions and judgement either – regardless of how inappropriate or hurtful the interrogation. “My body, my choice, my business – fuck off and mind your own”  is not, however, regarded as a suitable answer by these judgey types. The flow of the caustic opine is purely one way.

Whilst the Mother is pregnant, in current society, she is revered, fawned over and strangers have a desire to touch your ever growing belly, sans permission. A pregnant woman is celebrated. That is until the baby is born, then the focus shifts. This is the time when Mothers are at their most vital, most important, most in need, yet this is the time when your role begins its demise in patriarchal society. You are invisible, unless you are being judged.  Mother is on the pedestal and every expectation not met is a failing to be scorned.

And I am no stranger to judgement; being judged and judging others. It’s not pretty from either side but it’s there and it runs deep. We judge others from our own insecurities and hurt beyond belief when on the receiving end which further fuels the judgement cycle. Or maybe that’s just me.

grieve the loss of our maiden years

Moving from the Maiden to the Mother is not necessarily an easy transition. We are older, with different priorities to our maiden years, many of us have way more responsibilities too. Raising children, caring for parents or other relatives, supporting friends and sisters with their children, birthing and working in careers, starting and building own businesses and countless other responsibilities that tend to fall on us at this time.  With that extra load, it is absolutely necessary to grieve the loss of our maiden years and its freedoms. We wear our tiredness as a badge of honour and medicate with wine or gin. Societal conditioning plays its part here too with the expectation of us to be selfless in the quest to achieve and do it all. There is also the male gaze to contend with, which is kept sustained by the media. It is a damn site harder to maintain the Maiden physique in the Mother years. Our bodies don’t just snap back into their Maiden mould postpartum, because they aren’t supposed to! They are fuller and rounder, plump and juicy like ripe fruit; no longer just a bud. Just like nature. We are a part of nature rather than apart from nature.

Let’s look positively at this phase in our life. There is so much wisdom, joy, celebration and beauty we can get out of these years should we let ourselves open up to receive.

This is the full moon stage of the lunar cycle – full belly, luminous, beautiful and glorious. Fully in protection mode, healing and receiving. Radiant with health and well being, she is captivating. She is a wonder. Magic.

mothermoon

Looking at the menstrual cycle, the Mother phase is ovulation, our inner summer. This is our most fertile time, when we have the most energy and are feeling super charged, super sexy, confident and magnetic. (Ironically, in my Mother phase years, I felt super knackered, super frumpy, insecure, full of doubt and lonely as fuck – more so in the first few years rather than the latter as I had then made friends with an amazing group of beautiful, loving and supportive women!). We are living with the lessons we learned during our Maiden’s journey. We are wiser, older, more aware of who we are and what our values and priorities are.

How can we ensure that the Mother years are the positive experience they ought to be? How to cultivate that supportive and nurturing environment? You just know what I’m going to say… Circle!

THIS is one of those times in life when your circle is your life line. Whether a circle of women you gather with regularly in sacred space, or a specific Mother’s circle, the support is there waiting to hold you when you need it. You can be honest and let out the shadow side without judgement and are encouraged to share ALL aspects of this Mother energy – the good, the bad, the struggles and the victories. The fellow women in circle will have been there or going through it similarly. You also have the opportunity to pay this back when the time comes for other women to need the support. It is connection to peers interwoven between generations and differing experiences. There are are many things we would love to say or admit but can’t coz judgment. And judgement surrounding Mothering or the choice not to become a “Mother” is one of the worst and most deeply felt. Personally, had I had the circle in place back when I entered the Mother phase, my own journey would have been dramatically different. I know that to be a fact.

What was my experience was that this phase was my loneliest in my life.  I went from being confident and self assured at 31, to birthing my son and experiencing a 180 degree flip in my personality. When I needed support the most, when at the most vulnerable and lost, self conscious and lacking in self confidence and ability to be the Mother I wanted to be, I was without the support I needed. The friends I had had were gone, and I didn’t initially have the confidence to make more, for a good few of years.  I had my Mum and Mother in Law, both of whom were supportive in their own way, but these 2 women did not a circle make. But once I started believing in myself again and my capabilities, forcing myself out to meet new people – and finding the right ones – my life changed. My group of friends in my circle are treasured and invaluable, not just to me but to one another – our support is collective and given amongst  each other as needed.

Just think what the Mother years would look like if circles where caring, sharing and supporting each other were the norm rather than the judgement and criticism faced in isolation.

The village raises the child.  The circle honours the woman.

(Lissa  ~ Wild Sister Rising)

*The we here refers to CIS women, as this is my frame of reference and understanding.

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40

I’ve taken my 40th jaunt around the sun.

My 30s are now behind me with my 20s now a memory.

I’ve hit “mid life”.

I’ve never looked forwards to a birthday more!

And it didn’t disappoint!!

Yes, it is just another number but to me it’s more than that. It feels like a complete new start; the dawn of the next phase in this life cycle. The Wild Woman phase, the Enchantress, the Medicine Woman, the Mage. Call it what you will, but our 40’s represent the journey into the Autumn years of life, the peri-menopausal years transitioning from our fertile mothering  years into that second puberty where we connect truly with who we are as women, owning our own person.  Of course not every woman takes until she’s 40 to reach this place of knowing herself, but I have, and have been on this journey for a long time.

In honour of such a milestone birthday I gathered my sisters in sacred circle and celebrated a beautiful and emotional time.  Nine of us sat in my livingroom and shared in stories, meditation, crafting, poetry, song, food and ritual. I felt incredibly blessed as my friend led the ceremony of leaving my thirties, with it’s lessons, regrets, achievements and acknowledgements, moving forward to face and embrace any fears of growing older (I have none, I LOVE this aging process and with the wisdom it brings as well as the grey hairs aka wisdom highlights!) and set intentions for this coming stage of my life. My women in my clan of choice also set intentions and wishes for me, which of course were burnt to release said intentions in the central cauldron.  My good old broom was put to good use in symbolically clearing away the old to make space for the new and with a twist on the the matrimonial jumping of the broom, I jumped my broom to cross over into this new phase and exciting times ahead.  Not a typical 40th birthday celebration, but a deeply felt one.

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As well as Circling, the other 40th biggie, was a gift to myself  (also from my 8yo as he wanted to gift it to me). I have wanted a new tattoo for a while and had a rough idea of what I wanted and the symbolism it needed to contain, but an inability to put it all together. I contacted the only artist I knew who would be able to create exactly what I wanted and as expected, it is stunning.

So I got my Goddess Butterfly with the moon and pearls and lace detail that I needed. I don’t think it is possible to love this tattoo more! The detail and artistry is exquisite – and no, it didn’t hurt. Having Fleetwood Mac playing in the background (love Fleetwood Mac) was an added bonus. Thank you Aphra x

Of course, no birthday is complete without cake….

cake

especially CHEESE CAKE!!!! My Mum pulled a blinder on the cake front this year. I had the chocolate & raspberry slice but when went back later, discovered Scottish Tablet flavour….Oh My Goddess, I have never tasted cheesecake so good!!!!

So far, this being 40 malarkay is proving to ace the 30’s – long may that continue.

Lissa

xx

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Maiden

Maiden

Maiden. What does that word mean to you?  What image immediately springs to mind? All it means is an unmarried girl or young woman, and sometimes an older unmarried woman; spinster or maiden aunt.

It can, perhaps, seem like an old fashioned word.  The images I automatically think of are of fair maidens of Ye Olde England in the style of Maid Marian from the Robin Hood tales.

What I am referring to with the word “Maiden” is the first phase of a woman’s life when she transitions from girl to young woman. It begins with Menarche – her first bleed – and commences around 12 years old, give or take a year or 2 (I was 14 years old at the time of my Menarche, although that was not what I called it or EVER even heard it referred to as such until only a few years ago). This is the start of her journey through the cycles; not only monthly but through the rest of her life, moving through the seasons of each from Maiden to Mother to Wise Wild Woman to Crone (Elder) to return to the earth.

The Maiden phase is when she is most valued and least prepared. 

Why am I writing about Maidens you may be wondering. I am writing about Maidens, because in today’s world, in Patriarchal society, this is the phase of a woman’s life where she is most valued and least prepared. We need to redress this balance.

How do we do this? By acknowledging the importance of Menarche, what being a Maiden means to the individual young woman AND her Mother (or primary female care giver), what we can learn from her and what we can teach and tools/skills we can can equip her with as she walks her path to fully realising the wonderful woman she is,  celebrating this rite of passage and honouring the blood rite. And we do all this collectively in the village, the community, the Circle, the Red Tent.

Take a minute to think back to when you had your first period. Were you prepared beyond the basic biological chat from your Mum or School Nurse? How did you feel – embarrassed, ashamed, confused, ill, empowered, proud, “like a grown up”? Looking back, is there anything you would wish had gone differently? Hold on to that thought for a bit longer – we’re going to come back to it later.

Lets now look a bit deeper at this “Maiden”. As girls we transition in to the Maiden phase of life from around the age of 12, give or take, and it lasts until around age 29, when we then transition into the Mother phase. Regardless of whether we have birthed or will go on to have children is irrelevant, as women we all cycle through the each of the phases, experiencing the shifts in energies and our purpose. Some women will have an overlap of the two phases when they birth their children in their teen years or twenties, but the archetype of the Maiden still stands strong – that doesn’t change. Why?  Because this is the season of Spring where everything is new and fresh, preparing the fertile landscape, the waxing crescent moon phase ( and in our monthly cycle, the Maiden/Spring phase is pre-ovulation). See how we are all connected ~ woman, nature, moon, our own inner cycles. All one.

As I mentioned, this is the phase of life when young women are most valued and least prepared. What I mean by that is that we live in a Patriarchal Society where a woman’s value and worth is determined, for the masses for the past few thousand years, from the dominant perspective; by men. Don’t believe me? Just look to see who is making decisions on women’s healthcare and rights in government, particularly in the US – it’s the menfolk!  But back to value and worth. The young Maiden is the prize, the trophy wife.  She makes older men feel youthful and powerful, and if desired, likely to easily produce an heir (or more). Socially, it is perfectly acceptable for an older man to have a much younger wife or partner, when the reverse is much less so.

This is a time of contradictions of epic proportions

This Springtime energy the Maiden is exerting is what makes her attractive and magnetic. She is beautiful, youthful, energetic, confident and ambitious. This is a time for immense growth, but also for facing the shadow side to all this exuberance; naivity and the desire to be independent and free without consideration of consequences. In efforts to make it on our own, this is the time when mistakes are made (some small, some not) and lessons are learned (some the hard way), generally without the framework of strong support in the right places.  This is the time of contradiction of epic proportions, contradictions that can be as confusing as fuck, without the that support.

What is this support I am referring to? The support of women, trusted women who can share the knowledge and wisdom of the blood mysteries, the strength and power that comes from knowing and understanding our cycles, how to care for our (physical and mental) health  properly, are a trusted support network of mothers, grandmothers, older sisters, friends and aunties that will guide and be there without judgement to catch us when we fall. This is what is missing today. The Red Tent/Moon lodges of yesteryear were destroyed and outlawed. The passing on of female wisdom and the teachings of the shared community is long gone, but thankfully not lost. The remembering, awakening and reclaiming of the old ways is happening. And it is being driven by the very real desire and craving for the connection to each other and the support we need.  21st century living is not connected, we are all separated in insular living units, judging one another and hiding our truths. Bugger that! It’s destructive and unhealthy. We are striving rather than thriving, the decline of mental health highlights this. We live in our heads and online.

It’s no wonder the Maiden years are so conflicting. The messages sent out to all are that girls are princesses to be saved – firstly Daddy’s Princess then growing up to be a “good girl”. Any boy/young man who dares show interest in wanting to date a girl has seen the slew of memes around having to face Daddy and his shotgun, the Daddy who wants to look his little girl up until she’s 35. Obviously these are attempts at humour but the subliminal message is chastity and remaining pure are the most important aspects of respectability. Good girls don’t, sluts/whores/slags/tramps/easy girls do, but if you don’t you’re frigid. Don’t love yourself,  you stuck up bitch. Flirty and enjoying self or promiscuous and deserve to be scorned. Ambition synonymous with hard faced, woman hating bitch sleeping her way to the top. Having children in teen years, what a stupid slapper, not having kids in teens/20 is leaving it a bit late, tick tock. Fat shaming, the epitome of beauty is skinny with jutting collar bones, a thigh gap, big boobs and a pout that looks like a swollen vulva. Is it any wonder the Maiden years are a bloody minefield with all this toxicity?

It is time to bring back the Sacred Circles and initiate our daughters into the fold

It is time to bring back the Sacred Circles and initiate our daughters and nieces and friend’s daughters into the fold, into their power, in the safety of those who love and trust. Lessons learned in the village include self respect and trusting their own intuition as to what feels right or doesn’t in any given situation (#metoo anyone?), discovering the workings of life without any fear of shame or embarrassment. Learning not just the biological function of the menstrual cycle but how to live with it and how to best understand what each of the phases of each month mean – again intuition to listening to the their body. This may sound a bit woowoo, but remember your own teen years or your 20’s. Personally, my maiden years were pretty mental – I had bouts of depression, utter recklessness, carefree abandon, was super secretive, made friends and lost friends, was confused by what I thought were the “shoulds” versus my wants/needs, was incredibly insecure but very outgoing, desperate for independence and individuality,  made highly questionable choices, accrued horrendous debts, was incapable of living my natural feminine truth instead struggling and failing to be more masculine in my career (I’m not made that way and it made me ill trying, several times). I was a mess who hid it for the most part fairly well, I think.  The support network during that period was from different friends at different times, those friends who were also trying to figure out and negotiate their own messes at the same time. What we needed was guidance from a trusted source(s). If that person is not the mother, then a suitable mentor. One both the maiden and her mother trust. She is found within their circle as well as the support from the collective within that Circle. When I think back to all the #metoo situations I have experienced, I am angry and frustrated with myself as well as the situations but am convinced that those situations wouldn’t necessarily not have happened, but they would have been called out at the time and dealt with. Being in Circle,  gaining the wisdom and learning the teachings, allows for the self confidence to be able stand up in truth, the ability to determine personal boundaries and authority to honour them, meaning that we no longer tolerate or put up with shit and deal with it at that time, not years later.

The Circle community doesn’t just support the Maiden, but her mother too. Having the support to guide her daughter through these turbulent years, knowing that she is not doing it all alone, even when there is conflict of opinion as the daughter is differentiating her individuality, she is not alone. She also has the additional comfort in knowing that if she can’t assist her daughter for whatever reason, there is another woman/women there who can. This is not to drive wedges between the mother/daughter relationship but to strengthen the bond and give enough space to breath and grow.

Now, I ask you to remember the feeling from earlier, about what you would change from your own time of Menarche and through the Maiden years. Do you still feel the same, or have you changed your mind? Do you wish the Red Tent had been part of your life at that time, and remain so now? Would you be looking to share in Red Tent with your daughter if there was one available? If so, I encourage you to find one or start one.

maiden moon
Photo by mademoisellechrissie on flickr

So, to the Maiden phase of a woman’s journey, we experience her in our physical youth, we experience her energy in the pre-ovulation week of our menstrual cycle (if you are menstruating), and we can attune to her energy in the waxing crescent in the lunar cycle.  She is associated with Spring time and the Element of Air, the East as the dawn of the sun. Her colours are white and green. Her energy is joyful, dream filled and fresh as she learns to step into her personal power.

If you are interested in learning more about Menarche, Maidens and yourself, I am at the moment putting together a workshop which is coming soon…stay tuned for further info on that.

We are currently between the new moon and the full moon, completely in the Maiden phase, as we are in the season. Imbolc and Ostara (Spring Equinox) are both sabbats acknowledging the Maiden. I hope you are enjoying the shift in the air and feeling the coming of the light and bright.

Lx

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New Moon in Aquarius

Wild Sister Rising (2)

Tonight the moon disappears from view completely in the sky. The Dark Moon phase. The Crone. The Dark Moon is the period where the moon is 100% invisible, moving into the New Moon phase only with that first tiny slither of crescent gently glowing through the inky depths of space. For the majority of people and all the printed or online calendars, the dark and new are one and the same phase. So, tonight, (21.04 GMT) the moon descends to her lowest ebb, hidden and hibernating in the winter of her cycle, greeting the death of the last cycle and awaiting the rebirth of the next.

Last Full Moon saw a Lunar Eclipse and this New Moon sees a Solar Eclipse which  concentrates the energy surrounding this new cycle. This is the perfect opportunity for letting go and making both changes and space, for new growth; a bit like pruning a tree.

The moon is moving through the sign of Aquarius currently, which is an air sign. This is a social sign and one of humanity. It is also the most detached of the zodiac. What does this mean? Well, use this energy to gather your friends and loved ones, get conversations rolling around topics such as politics and philosophy as this is ideal timing for sharing ideas and points of view rather than being right versus wrong. The times we are living in, since 2012, is the age of Aquarius – moving towards equality and harmony, having left behind blood-thirsty, war-loving masculine Mars, and the war on women. Use this Aquarian phase to walk your talk and be true to you; who you are and what you stand for. Be detached enough to let go of what is not serving you, make your changes and shake things up to the better.

This moon cycle is in the month of Ash, Nuin, and known as the Moon of Waters.  The waters refer to our feelings and specifically those around love.  Love of self, love for our partners, family and friends. That Valentine’s Day was yesterday, is a lovely segue into this period. Enjoy playful romance with your partner (this is definitely more a playful time rather than overly intimate one).

So go for it, feel the feels, enjoy the company of our loved ones, be open to discussions, make changes, release and let go and make your intentions to create the life you want.  The plans you make now, in the first new cycle since the season shifted towards Spring (Imbolc) will be realised in the months to come as they grow, fruit and come to harvest.

The best time to make New Moon plans and intentions is within the first 8 hours of the darkest point (from 21.04 GMT this evening) as the energy is strongest, decreasing as it gets further away towards the waxing crescent moon.

My own New Moon ritual involves meditation, setting intentions, tarot spreads and a mini vision board – what does yours look like?

Lx

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Imbolc

The Wheel of the Year turns once more and now we, in the Northern Hemisphere, are awakening to the first rustlings of Spring and the Sabbat of Imbolc.

As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens

Depending upon your point of view, Imbolc represents the start of Spring, the inbetween-ey time between Winter and Spring, or consider it be to very much a  Winter festival with Spring still a while off yet.

Regardless of how the Sabbat is considered, it remains one of the least celebrated of the 8 seasonal markers, to be honoured in the natural year. This is possibly due to people not understanding its significance or unsure of the associations with milk! So what on earth is Imbolc?

Imbolc, or Imbolg or Oimelc depending on your Celtic heritage, generally means “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk” – the ewe’s are lactating, we have milk once more and deep in the belly of mother nature, life is stirring and awakening. This is a festival of renewal and purification and as such, a far more appropriate time for making and sticking to new resolutions and goals. January is still very much a time of hibernation, darkness and heavy soul nourishing food not about diets and lack, but February with its longer and lightening evenings has a more spritely feel; a lighter feel both in the sky and in mood.

We are familiar with the solar festivals which quarter the year into the seasons : Spring / Autumn Equinoxes and Summer / Winter Solstices, but there are 4 cross quarter fire festivals which complete the 8 Sabbats on the Wheel Of The Year: Imbolc / Beltane / Lammas / Samhain. The solar markers are masculine energies while the fire festivals are very much feminine. Imbolc has an incredibly feminine feel to me. All that is happening on and around Imbolc is happening down here on and in the earth; Mother Nature, Gaia, Earth Mother.  It is also the first festival in the cycle where the Maiden aspect of the triple Goddess is honoured. She is also known as Brigid, Bride, Brig and is associated with poetry, healing, fertility, fire energy (and skills relating to fire, home, hearth or forge), inspiration and muse.

Imbolc is absolutely a time for women; mothers & daughters, friends, female family members spending time together, perhaps learning a new skill or just enjoying being in one another’s company, outwith the daily chores of home.  Last night after the sun was down and the moon was high (made all the more magnificent by the fact she was a super blue full moon) I gathered with 3 other women for an evening of Ecstatic Dance, a new experience for me and one which I will definitely be repeating.

There are many ways to honour this sacred time, whether you celebrate it from sunset on 31st January, or the 1/2 Feb or around the lunar Imbolc, or just when you feel the season start to shift, the actual calendar date is not important, there is no dogma dictating set times for the cross quarters, just what feels right for you. Alternatively you may not consider Imbolc at all, and look upon Candlemass as a marker in your year, or may not have anything at all and the start of February is the start of a new month as per any other. But if you wish to celebrate Imbolc you may wish to stock up on the candles (symbolic of the returning light, plus it is a fire festival), gather your girlfriends or relatives for a meal or a sacred circle, go out into nature (even if that just means your garden) and observe it; what do you notice, smell, hear, feel? Begin the purification of your home and by that I mean Spring Clean!! But go gently, a little at a time, just like nature, not a full on KonMari over one weekend or scrub the place from top to bottom until it stinks of bleach, easy does it (and hold back on the bleach, not good for nature or for you). Cultivate your own rituals and practices that you can revisit each year and reflect on the previous one. I have a bag of snow in the freezer that I collected the other week when it was lying thick in the ground. I will place this in a bowl with a candle to gently melt, taking with it the last of winter as the heat and light of the sun returns. I also make my own butter at Imbolc and use the butter milk to make scones.  If you want to see my previous Imbolc celebrations, you can here.

I hope you have a wonderful Imbolc, Imbolg or Pinch Punch First of the Month.

White Rabbits White Rabbit White Rabbits.

Lissa

x

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With The End Comes A New Beginning

Wild Sister Rising (22)

Hogmanay 2017.

Out with the old, in with the new.

This year is coming to its close as we await, almost impatiently, the dawn of 2018. Well, not so much dawn, but midnight (close enough).  The ringing of the bells, heralding the New Year’s arrival. Celebrations across the globe as 2018 greets each time zone in turn, with its promise of better to come. Renewed hope to be, to achieve, to have, to do, better.

There’s that old adage that makes in annual presence known : New Year New Me! *cue the eye roll and audible groan*

Who has made their resolutions? A list of things that will make us thinner, fitter, healthier, richer and will never see the light of 5th January but are made to make us “better” than the person we are right now. Nah, me either. Don’t believe in them. At best they are half arsed attempts at bettering ourselves where we feel we are not enough. No thanks. While the ever so trite “New Year New Me” is all bollocks in  my opinion, I do set goals and intentions, make plans and dabble in some cosmic ordering. It’s totally different…it is!

Before we get all tied up in the revels and the countdown to midnight, I’d like to take a moment to ponder the year we are leaving behind.  It really has been a quite a defining year, globally and personally.

The world is a mess, this we know. 2017 confirmed it; Trump, politics, terrorism, white supremacy, natural disasters induced by climate change…need I go on?

BUT!!

2017 has been a phenomenal  year for a great many positive and wonderful things.  Standing up, being seen, having a voice and using it too has been a major thread running through 2017. People have had enough and coming together to stand up against injustice and inequality. The #MeToo campaign which showed Hollywood and the patriarchy at large that abuse, assault, rape and the overall degradation of women by both powerful men and your average Joe are no longer accepted as an open secret or (from the women’s perspective) shrouded in shame, nor are these men protected . Women EVERYWHERE have stood up and voiced their solidarity, sharing their own experiences. We don’t need to go into the details, the simple #MeToo was powerful enough to highlight the sheer scale of the problem that women face daily just going about their business.

Times, they are a changin’.

On a personal level, 2017 has generally been a good’un.  I’m fortunate and grateful. The move from Always Learning Forever Growing to Wild Sister Rising with the addition of my shop and hosting the Sacred Sister Circle was a real achievement of which I am very proud.  My word of the year was Purpose (see blog post from 1st January ’17), and I think it’s fair to say that I found my purpose this year. I have been reading, learning and absorbing so much information in an effort to understand, awaken, and embrace my new found purpose.  It, unbeknown to me but with hindsight I see the evolution, has been a work in progress and a journey that has spanned a decade but been more concentrated in the past two years. This journey is far from over as I will continue to evolve, develop and grow, and live on purpose! And that requires a certain amount of change. I can feel the change in the air; it is most definitely afoot. The seeds of which have already been sown and are growing strong. Change is good, change enables growth rather stagnation and opens the mind, challenges point of view and offers the opportunity of lived/learned experience. It’s life. In the style of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race, only that here, there is no race. Some changes are long term, the fruits of which may not even see 2018.

With that in mind,  Change is my word for 2018.  I played around with Truth, Focus, Clarity and Connect, but kept coming back to Change. Plus I’m turning 40 in 6 months time! That’s a a big change in itself; a whole new era to be explored and I for one am super excited.

Whatever this New Year holds for you, I hope it offers love, health, peace, happiness and magic. I say, when the bell tolls, raise a glass to 2018 and to your fucking fabulous and magnificent self. Let your light shine bright tonight and every night (resolutions are not required).

Aw the best when it comes.

Slainte

Lx

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The Betwixt After Christmas

Wild Sister Rising (21)

And all through the house,

No-one was working

Except for my spouse.

 

And we are done!!! Christmas had been and gone. All the effort and planning and preparation and baking and making and shopping; sayonara. Adios. Cheerio. Mission accomplished. Only 307 days until I start planning the next one.

I am belly full and steeped in Baileys. The floors are covered in glitter from that bloody wrapping paper from Tesco that will probably still be there in 3 Christmases time. Call The Midwife Christmas episode has been watched and bawled over (this year’s was a particular doozy and had me in floods of tears) and today was the day I spent in my pj’s eating a random assortment of left overs, reading my new books and magazines, drinking tea and dreaming about taking all the decorations down.

Sadly my Husband missed this luxuriously slothful day as he works in retail and is back at work. His employers don’t do family time, just bottom line.

I don’t feel guilty for my day where I barely removed my arse from the couch (other than to replenish an empty tea cup) as this past month and a half have been a tad busy. According to the slew of memes and essays/articles, the prep for Christmas is essentially “women’s work”. The men folk wouldn’t have a clue how to put together a perfect and magical festive, apparently. Really? Nah, not buying it. For years, Hubby and I did Christmas pretty equally, apart from pressies and cards, he excels in the thoughtful gift department. It’s only in the past couple of years that it has fallen to me to “arrange” Christmas. All of it. But I’m not complaining, I LOVE it. It is easier for us to work it like this as Hubby’s shifts are anti-social and completely impractical for making good on much of the prep. However, once Boxing Day is here, I’m done. Over it until next year.

I wasn’t as organised this year as I usually am, but you know what? It all came together anyway. No stress, no pressure to make it “magical” or “perfect”. I tried one year to make it all magical and memorable for (A) when he was little, and it wasn’t magical, I was stressed to fuck as was he! And he hardly remembers it!!! Now we just do a couple of things we enjoy, keep it pretty low key, and focus on good food and spending time with those we want to. It becomes memorable when you do what you enjoy and if there’s no stress then its fun and therefore magical in itself without the manufactured fake nonsense and social media pressure. What more do we need?

Truth be told, I’d happily forgo Christmas and all its fuss and mania and just have Yule; the calm, relaxed, simple celebration a few days previous.  We celebrate both in our home – Yule for me and Christmas for the traditions of our families, which we have each grown up with and have brought to our wee family too.  I can just see the horror upon the face of my folks if I said we weren’t doing Crimbo. And on my husband’s and (A)’s too, come to think of it! Although neither of us or our families are religious, Christmas is a big deal!

But now, that’s all in the past. Having been glued to Christmas24 movie channel on Virgin Media since November, I can’t watch anymore of the Hallmark, made-for- TV Christmas movies. We are now in the betwixt. That limbo of not knowing what day it is, the lull between the indulgence of Christmas and the excitement of New Year.

Most people will return to work for the few days inbetween. These people probably don’t get to experience the full extent of the betwixt as I am guessing they will at least have a handle on what day it is. But if you are lucky enough not to be punching your card, enjoy this down time. Perfect, almost medicinal, for the introverted to have this time; to recharge, to chill out, to contemplate the year ending and plan the coming one, or if you’re like me – take down your decorations and tree! I like to bring the New Year in, into a clean house. I cherish the almost solitude that these few days provide. They are necessary.

We won’t be venturing far (other than to my sister’s a day), we will get outside though, to brace the cold cleansing winds, to clear the mind and banish the cabin fever that is starting to build. My 7yo will run and play and explore and have fun.  I just take in the stark beauty of winter and the delight of the kettle when we return home. The gentle pace of the week is welcome as I start to prepare both the house and myself  for 2018 (and ensure we get our steak pie in for New Year’s dinner).

Cordelia
The Goddess Oracle card I pulled this evening. Truth if ever there was.

I hope you have had a great festive period, however or if,  you celebrate, and enjoy the coming days before we bid farewell to 2017.

Lx

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November Feels

Ahh, November. Welcome ye in.

It’s a funny old month, a betwixt of sorts. Caught between the gorgeous autumnalness (it’s a word!) of October and the glittery crazy of December.

Depending which calendar * you follow, we are only at the half way point in the season. The cold, arse-end of Autumn is only just starting and has not yet bit, despite the many proclamations of “Winter’s here” as soon as the mercury fell into single digits after sundown.

leaves

Samhain has come and gone, bringing with it the New Year of the old Celtic/Pagan Wheel of the Year and the reign of the Cailleach; the Queen of Winter.

This half of the season is all about bedding down and coorying in. The trees have almost completely shed their leaves, and in following nature’s cycle, November is about turning inwards and settling in, getting our Hygge on. This month is hygge embodied. It’s the full embrace of Autumn and the knowing that winter is coming and we take to lighting the fire, if we are so lucky as to have one…radiators aren’t quite the same…I dream of the day I have a fire and hearth again…any way I digress…home and hearth is where it’s at. And candles! Lots and lots of candles.

For the majority of the month we are also in the Celtic Tree month of Reed (Ngetal). The importance of Reed was in its uses be that as fuel  for the fire or as used in materials for the home – rush mats on the floor or thatching for the roof or as musical instruments. It creates a very haunting sound as a wind instrument – very spooky at this time.

The chill in the air increases as the darkness deepens and the days shorten.  A perfect time to let go of what does not serve you any longer, and a time of awakening to what does, as well as taking this time for introspection and finding order. This month focus on loving your home and those you welcome in here.

coffee

November is full of feminine energy, which tied in beautifully with the first Circle Of The Wild Sister Rising sacred women’s circle I hosted on the 1st November. Our theme was healing the sisterhood wound which was perfectly timed for November as Topaz is the jewel/ birth stone of the month whose corresponding meaning is the stone of true friendship .  How timely.  I love synchronicity.

The Goddesses symbolic of this time are :
Hestia – Greek Goddess, ruler of hearth and home who sacrificed her place as an Olympian to guard the fire and maintain a happy home.
Vesta – Roman equivalent to Hestia
Cailleach – the Celtic Old Hag or Crone, essentially the Winter Goddess who comes out to play and preside over Winter until she dies at Imbolc when the maiden aspect of the triple goddess takes over.

fire

So, as I mentioned at the top of the post, November is a betwixt month, but that doesn’t mean it’s bland or boring.  Once both Samhain and our wedding anniversary (2nd Nov) have passed, it’s fair game round ours for Yule & Christmas preparations; getting the lists made and starting the  planning of the next 6 or 7 weeks.  My Christmas Cake is baked and sitting all wrapped in the cupboard awaiting its next brandy injection before it gets its marzipan and icing coat.

But there’s no hurry, plenty of time to get organised – although not according to the check out operator in Morrison’s yesterday :

C/out op : That you all organised for Christmas then?

Me : NO!

C/out op : Ah, you like me and leaving it all to the last minute?

Me : It’s November!

And with that in mind, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the month, winding down, embrace the chilled air (especially if there is also a fire), and coory in before the festive season kicks in and covers everything in glitter.  How about you?

Lx

CALENDAR (2)

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Fall Into Autumn

Time for the seasons to hear the call,
The Wheel of the Year turns from Summer to Fall.
Green to orange, gold and rust,
The leaves are turning, and fall they must.

Up in the trees, squirrels go bonkers,
Gathering what they can; nuts, acorns, conkers.
Up in the sky, the migration of the geese,
Recognisable, honking through the evening peace.

Its time for stews, soups and roasts,
Pumpkin pie and cinnamon toasts.
Toffee apples and fruit crumble puds,
Hot chocolate with mallows, enjoyed in the woods.

A dazzling sun, descending to ‘die’,
A bright Harvest Moon, lighting the dark sky.
The stunning scenery and magnificent views,
The first frost and glittery morning dews.

All 5 senses are heightened and alive,
Each dancing excitedly like some Autumnal jive.
Nothing can compare to the sights, scents and sounds,
The flavours and feelings, know no bounds.

The witches and ghouls of Hallow’een
Are a truly scary sight too be seen,
As they go guising through the streets
Performing their piece in exchange for treats.

As the season draws to a close,
Everyone wraps up warm and goes
To one of the season’s key features,
(remembering to look out for wee creatures).

Guy Fawkes, fireworks, bonfire night
With sparklers and rockets, give animals a fright.
They go about their business readying to bed down for next next season,
Its time for us too, to coory-in with those dear, not that we really need a reason.

Lissa Orr, 2014

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Sacred or Dread?

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This is not a conversation for fannying around, so I’ll cut to the chase. What’s your relationship with your period?  Do you dread it? Tolerate it? Accept it as part of your monthly routine? Celebrate it? Behold it as sacred? And why do you feel the way you do about it?

This is one of those topics that finally is becoming less and less taboo as more women embrace the art of honest conversation without shame or, more probably, embarrassment. If the thought of talking about your period or reading about other women’s menstrual cycles gives you the cringe, then this is the post for you – get comfy, grab some chocolate and settle in. I promise it’ll be bloody awesome (pun intended).

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about periods and simplifying our monthly visitor on my old blog site, which I have recently reread (and enjoyed, even if I do say so myself, so please, have a read and see what you think). I found that while I still agree with most of it, I have changed my perception around my own cycle. I actually look forward to my bleed time now rather than the irritated tolerance I used to regard it with.

That last sentence may seem a bit “out there” for many people, but yeh, I look forward to it because I understand it; my cycle, our cycles as women. We are not linear beings but cyclical, continuously revolving each and every month (the clue is in the name; monthly cycle). Think of it another way – if we were linear, we’d be flat lining. If you flatline, you’re dead. I’ll stick to cyclical thanks.fl

Since I had my first ever period, I have recorded it on either my calendar or in my diary;  always tracking when I was “due on” but never gave the other 21 days inbetween a second thought.  The cycle was 28 days, give or take, with a week each month to bleed and rage and weep and eat and legitimately be allowed to be thoroughly pissed off for no good reason. When I was working as a Senior Manager with 5 men (around 12 years ago), they actually knew when it was my time of the month and had it on the calendar in the Boss’s office – I shit you not. They tended to stay clear at that time as I was “crabbit“. Even now, I’m still uncertain as how how I feel about that…anyway, I digress… the point is, our cycle is not purely one of bleeding and not bleeding. There is so much more to it, and to us, than that.  And these days inbetween are just as important to how we function and live, as the days when it’s our “monthlies”.

We don’t just coast long for 3 weeks then BAM! bleeding for a few days and then back to “normal”. You may notice that you feel a little more tired, less tolerant, or freaking awesome and alive at different points in your cycle, yet be completely unaware that this is because of your cycle you are feeling like this.  Who knew this already? I know I certainly didn’t until a couple of months ago, when I began charting my cycle daily. It is an exercise I can heartily recommend, as it opened my eyes to the patterns in my own cycle.  This is the 3rd month that I have been consciously monitoring my ebbs and flows, moods, energy levels, primal need for chocolate and the release that only really good/creative swearing brings. I have seen where I am full of energy and motivation and actually achieving the tasks on my to-do list compared to when I get very little done but then there is an upswing in the need to chill.the.hell.out and hunker down.  Remember further up this post I mentioned that we are cyclical not linear? This is the reason why I was getting so frustrated with my bullet journal (which I no longer use) and why in some weeks, most of my tasks were being carried over into other weeks, not even just carried over onto the next day, I needed a whole other week to catch up!

We flow through a period of birth, life, growth and decay before returning to rebirth again. We have completely different energies at each of the stages, different needs and experiencing different emotions. What we feel or experience at the time of menstruation is the polar opposite to when we are ovulating, for instance.  Are you still with me? If you aren’t familiar with the work of Lisa Lister, I urge you to read her books Code Red: Know Your Flow, Unlock Your Super Powers and Create a Bloody Amazing Life. Period. and Love Your Lady Landscape: Trust Your Gut, Care for ‘Down There’ and Reclaim Your Fierce and Feminine SHE Power – she gets right down to the nitty gritty on this stuff which is utterly captivating.

The research I have being doing into our female cycles all break it down into 4 stages, or seasons, just like turning of the year, only over a period of 28 days instead:

Winter  

Days 1-7 of your cycle, also known as the dark moon phase, menstruation. Its energy is the estrogen producing, feminine yin.  The archetype is the Crone.  This is recorded from the first day of your bleed, a time to be reflective, withdrawn (anti-social even), passive, to hibernate, focus on rest, self care, food (including chocolate), bubble baths and plenty tea. Not exactly cracking on with all that roller skating in skin tight trousers and partying the tampon adverts want us to be doin, that comes later.

Spring

Days 8-14, the waxing moon phase, pre-ovulation.  It’s still in the estrogen producing phase but the energy is masculine, yang. The archetype here is the Maiden.  This is when we come back up for air, after hibernating. This is all about new and fresh ideas, new beginnings, the rebirth, full of dynamism and enthusiasm. Beware however, although this is pre-ovulation,  if you are looking to get pregnant, days 10-16 are generally HOT!  (this is due to sperm being able to live in the fallopian tubes for up to seven days after sex, meaning its ready and waiting for that egg to be released at ovulation)

Summer

Days 15-21, the full moon phase, ovulation. Remaining masculine in yang energy, now producing progesterone. The archetype is the Mother. Remember the scene from Pretty Woman when Kit was encouraging Vivian as she approaches Edward’s car? “Work it, work it baby, own it”, YAS!  This is you right now! In your A Game! You are at your peak, your optimum, getting shit done! This is a very expressive and social time. Get those white jeans and roller blades on and get going.  While the phase lasts a week, it is worth noting that actual ovulation is a very short timescale (as in the once the egg is released it can only survuve 24 hours unless fertilised), which coincidentally matches that of the British summer time, blink and you miss it!

Autumn

Days 22-28, the waning moon phase, pre-menstrual. Feminine yin energy returning, still producing progesterone. The archetype is the wild wise woman. This is time to store reserves of energy, take stock of the previous month, winding down readying for winter. If you suffer, then this is PMS central with the cramps (try raspberry leaf tea. I drank it by the bucket load when I was still pregnant 12 days over my due date, but it is ace for period cramps too). Your emotions may be temperamental fragile, swinging back and forth and tears may be more readily available. And do you know what? It’s allowed. It’s yours to feel so give permission to yourself to feel all the feels, because they are yours. Own it.

*Disclaimer – I am not a dr and my finding have been based purely on my own personal experiences and upon the research I have conducted myself. Not everyone will have a 28 cycle. Cycles ranging from 24-35 days are equally normal.

Edited to update 04/03/19

Having now been tracking my entire cycle for the past 2 years. I noticed very clearly that my seasons didn’t fit neatly into the 7 day boxes as described above. MY own personal seasonal cycles look more like the following:

Spring – Days 4/5 – Day 10 (Lots of energy and in a generally good mood with plenty of creative juices flowing)

Summer – Day 11 – Day 18 ( I am a Goddess and am getting shit done!)

Autumn – Day 19 – Days 25/26  (Generally around days 25, don’t even speak to me)

Winter –  Day 26/27 – Day 3/4 (Day 1 I CRAVE solitude and tend to keep my diary as free as much as is possible).

moontime

So how does all this fit in with modern living? It is not exactly practical to take time off from family/work for 3 days every 4 weeks to menstruate.  Have you read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant? The women, whose cycles are all in sync both with each others and with the phases of the moon, bug out together in the Red Tent for 3 days, no men, a sacred space for themselves and each other at the new moon, to bleed.  It is reported that in Native American tribes, women went to the moon lodge at their moon time and they were revered for the power.  This all sounds pretty amazing if you ask me, but anyways, today we don’t have time for a wee 3 days holiday. We have lives and careers and families that we need to get on with, not taking out that sacred time to rest, nourish and gather. We pretend we are linear and we rely on paracetamol.  I am no different in that respect; a busy mum with a full time schedule, but I have started making some changes, such as ensuring I don’t plan anything outwith the necessary in my winter week, up the number of bubble baths and thankfully have a Husband who knows when to bring home massive slabs of Galaxy chocolate bars without being asked. The dishes will not always be done, the clean laundry not put away and the general state of the house becomes just that: a state. BUT when that phase moves onto the next, everything is caught up with again and more. It’s all about balance and listening to your body. Slow down when you need rest and go for it when your energy spikes, and plan according to the flexibility you have.

I think if we are honest, menstruation is all hushed up and by some, still referred to as “women’s stuff”, because in the past, that is how we were taught about it.  I remember being in Primary 7 (so 11 years old) and having the talk with the nurse.  All the girls in our year were in the classroom and the boys were all sent out to play football for the duration. They had no idea what we were being told, truth be told, in hindsight neither did we; plain facts of body function followed by a selection of pads and tampons to look at and a pamphlet to read.  And there in lies the problem – excluding the boys, and relying solely on the facts about what happens then, rather than looking at the cycle as a whole and all it encompasses.  If they/we knew what we were dealing with, perhaps then it would be far less ignorance around the subject. In particular, a greater understanding from the male species with regards the mood swings and emotional peaks and troughs experienced by their mothers, sisters, friends, girlfriends or wives. Too many men , and to be fair, many women too, completely disrespect women with judgmental and ignorant comments such as “she’s emotional/hysterical/bitchy/insert any other [in]appropriate name” . It would be helpful for those holding such beliefs to understand that feelings are not wrong or inconvenient, they are a barometer of how you experiencing something at any given moment. To experience emotions is human, without them we would be as good as dead. Also, it’s worth noting that as our emotions are heightened around the time of our period, so too is our bullshit detector.

Climbing back down from my soapbox, I say let us connect to and understand our own cycles, celebrate the wonderment of them and what they mean to each of us (it’s taken me almost 25 years to get to this point).

We are women and we are bloody magnificent – yes we are!

Lx