Reflections from Greece

john-william-waterhouse-miranda-and-the-tempestI feel a little sad that my adventure is over, for now. I’m back home after traveling alone to Greece, finding my way to the island where my friend was staying with her family. I felt nervous about going, knowing that I would be out of my comfort zone for more than two weeks. But my spirit felt happy, it felt like I was expanding and that I was being guided to take this journey alone, my husband being unable to join me.

I like my comforts. I like the known, yet I feel I’m being taught to be more outgoing, a little more daring. On my trip I found a strength that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

Sometimes in the evenings I would write. I was on my own then and my thoughts flowed more freely. There’s something about the night that inspires creativity. I’m sure you have felt it as well.

Anyway, I felt too vulnerable to publish what I had written. I’m not exactly sure what makes me so afraid. I carry a strange feeling of having done something wrong, even when nothing has happened. I feel guilty all the time.

But here it is, a little something I wrote while being alone in a small cabin I had just moved to.

***

I did not bring a camera, so people won’t be able to see the beauties I’ve seen. They won’t see the view from my bedroom window, the moonlight on the ocean. They won’t see the flowers, the wind in the trees, magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

I did not remember to bring the camera, though I think I forgot it on purpose. Somehow it gets in the way. I don’t like it. Yet I do want to brag to friends and family by showing pictures from distant, exotic places. But that’s not very deep is it? Do you know what my favorite part of the Bible is? It’s only a sentence, and I don’t remember it word for word. Let me look it up…Ah, here it is:

 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

That part stayed with me more than anything else. I feel that’s what I want to do, to treasure up all my impressions and ponder them in my heart. When night comes I long to be alone so that I can reflect, and feel what the day has taught me. Sometimes I listen to music with headphones on and just feel myself sway to the beauty of it. Other times I write, or look at the stars. 

My Heart Tells Me to Write

naissance_de_venus-largeI have such a strong desire to write. I’m not sure what to do except to…write, even though I don’t feel great at it. English is not my first language, and yet it’s in English I want to express myself.

I’m not sure where to start. Everything is jumbled together. I write something and stop, and then start on something entirely different instead, often inspired by what I feel in the moment.

I’m also not sure who I’m writing for. Writing for myself is helpful and yet I want more. I’m terrified of what people will think of what I create, and at the same time I want to share it with others.

Whenever I write I keep judging it, strangling my creativity, but I want to do it anyway. I write little stories that start and stop abruptly, not sure if I will ever finish them, all the time feeling in the midst of chaos, and yet hopeful because it truly feels like I’m following my heart.

To write just for fun is hard for me. I feel I need to spend my time well, like a good girl, make money, clean the house. It feels like my heart is breaking. I have to write! Even if it’s not very good, I just have to allow this creativity to flow through me. I’ve been clenched tight for years, holding everything in, and now I’m exhausted.

Below is a little something I wrote after returning from my trip abroad.

 

“She heard the sound of trees, soft rustling of leaves. The sky was dark again, always changing with the wind, one moment rays of sunlight would illuminate the world and the next it was gone, replaced by the grey whisper of a coming storm.

She was used to this and knew the storm rarely made it over the mountains. She had been to other places, countries where the ocean was a crystal blue and the sun was a constant ball of fire in the sky. The beauty of those places always dazzled her, though it felt strange, unfamiliar and a little unfriendly, like she did not belong there and the place and her both knew it.

Home was different. Home was part of her soul. She felt every part of it intimately and it gave her strength. When the light hit the dark waves of the lake she felt it deeply. She had dived into those waters and knew it to be pitch black beneath the surface, so unlike the clear ocean she had seen on her travels.”  

 

 

My Birthday

AL treeIt seems it will always rain on my birthday, but that’s Ok. As I went for a walk this morning I knew it would rain from the dark, threatening clouds in the distance. But I don’t always prefer sunny days. They are beautiful, but sometimes I like that special feeling that comes with heavy rain, dark stormy skies and glimpses of brilliant sunlight inbetween.

The weather in Norway is so different from what I experienced in California. Sometimes I miss being able to wear t-shirts all summer long, but I won’t miss the sky that remained a steady blue for weeks at the time.

I like the changing weather in Norway. I like the power of it. I’m not sure what other words to use than power….energy. The sky is alive. It changes all the time, from rolling clouds to dazzling sunlight.

Today I wish for thunder, loud cracks of it. I’ve been waiting for it, it feels like its supposed to be thundering today, yet nothing happens.

My mom used to tell me that Thor was riding across the sky in his chariot whenever there was thunder. I knew it was made up, but I still loved the magic of it.

So today is my birthday. I haven’t truly celebrated it since I was a child. I made chocolate banana bread yesterday and I ate it all up today, giving myself a stomach ache. For breakfast I ate a small plateful of violet flowers. Fairy food!

I knew there would be magic though. My husband and I traveled to the retreat place and I just knew it would be a life changing visit. I knew I would love the lady who owns it. A true kindred spirit that I could open myself up to instantly.

The place has a Christian feel it, yet feels very open, free. There is no pressure to follow any belief system and there is a focus on going within to find peace, love, connection to God. I’m not Christian but I’m drawn to prayer and to people who are searching for something deeply spiritual.

She invited us into her home and I was happy to be offered peppermint tea. That in itself is unusual and Norwegians usually only drink coffee, and sometimes black tea. I don’t like caffein as it makes me spacey.

I felt I loved this woman. We spoke for a while and shared experiences of grief and love. She invited us back and I hope it won’t be too long until I can return there.

I’m a little embarrassed over how truly starved I am for friends, kindred spirits that I can connect with. I haven’t found any since I returned to Norway, and I’m a little lonely.

A lot of the time I feel there’s something wrong with me when I’m around family and just ‘normal’ people. I can’t open up. Spirituality is such a huge part of my life, and if people are not interested, well then they won’t truly know me.

What is most wonderful is that I feel I’m being guided. I’m beginning to trust what I feel, my intuition, that inner voice. I knew I needed to go to this place and it felt right to be there.

My birthday present is a trip to Greece to visit a dear friend of mine. I feel a glow inside when I think about going, even though I’m scared of traveling alone and meeting new people. I’m still shy. But it feels like I need to go. Perhaps there is something to learn there. I feel I’m being guided.

 

 

 

 

Summer Solstice 2013

leveil_du_coeur-largeFor some reason not known to me, I woke up really early on June 20, the day before the summer solstice. I got up and then wondered if I should return to bed because I was still tired.

I hesitated while standing in my living room, my eyes being drawn to our three big windows. It looked really pretty outside, all misty in the moments before dawn, and I decided to go for a short walk. I thought I was too tired to stay out long, but I wanted to experience the magic of the morning when I had for once managed to wake up in time to see it.

I walked, and continued walking, being unable to stop because everything was so beautiful, magical. The birds were in full song, announcing the rising of the sun.

At one point I turned to see the sun coming up behind the mountains, making me really happy. I hadn’t known exactly where it rose until that moment, and I wanted to know because part of my solstice ritual is to take in the sunrise with everything I am.

I kept walking for some time, stayed out longer than an hour. I would stop sometime to watch the trees, the glittering water, the dew on the grass, sun rays filtering through leaves. Then the mosquitos would start to bother me and I would keep moving.

I picked white flowers with a yellow center that I thought would fit beautifully for the summer solstice. Apparently the druids thought the color of the sun was white..

I believe the flower is called oxeye daisy ins English.

On the morning of the solstice my husband got up before the crack of dawn. We got dressed in silence. When we walked outside the sky was a faint, beautiful pink. We reached the little mountain and climbed into the circle of trees and shrubs, and waited, watching the sky in silence. Everything grew brighter. The birds were singing loudly and tiny mosquitos were happily, and annoying floating in the air around us.

The sun never came. That is, it was hidden behind thick clouds. I heard pats of rain on the leaves all around me. I loved the sound, and did not mind it at all, though I wished I had been able to see the sun. We had expected that it might be cloudy after seeing the weather forecast the day before, so we weren’t too disappointed.I feel I will visit that spot many times from now on, and see other sunrises.

Coming home I sat down to sing the Gayatri Mantra, before slipping into bed for a few more hours of sweet sleep.

I wanted to share something with you that spoke to me deeply the first time I read it. When I see the words they go straight to my heart. It truly is how I feel about spirituality.

In everything that is life is the law written. You find it in the grass, in the tree, in the river, in the mountain, in the birds of heaven, in the fishes of the sea; but seek it chiefly in yourselves. For I tell you truly, all living things are nearer to God than the scripture which is without life. God so made life and all living things that they might by the everlasting word teach the laws of the true God to man. God wrote not the laws in the pages of books, but in your heart and in your spirit. They are in your breath, your blood, your bone; in your flesh, your bowels, your eyes, your ears, and in every little part of your body. They are present in the air, in the water, in the earth, in the plants, in the sunbeams, in the depths and in the heights. They all speak to you that you may understand the tongue and the will of the living God. But you shut your eyes that you may not see, and you shut your ears that you may not hear. I tell you truly, that the scripture is the work of man, but life and all its hosts are the work of our God. – Essence Gospel of Peace

What do you think?

How did you greet the summer solstice?

 

 

 

 

Perhaps it was providence

listening_to_his_sweet_pipings-largeToday was a mysterious day. The train into the city was delayed by 30 minutes and I ended up talking with a beautiful Canadian lady, who mentioned a retreat place not far from where I live. She said she loved it there.

I didn’t even know such a place existed, and I was curious. I’m always looking for more kindred spirits in my life, and truth be told I’ve been feeling rather lonely lately. The Canadian woman was a kindred spirit for sure, though I might never see her again.

Turns out this place has events happening throughout the year, and you can even show up there uninvited to spend some time in silence and beauty.

Time will tell if this means something. It just seemed like such an odd coincidence. Perhaps the divine is shaping my life into something wonderful.

I did however feel very sick towards the end of my city trip. No, it was not a bad cold, instead I had a nice case of menstrual cramps. I felt clammy, naseous and desperate to lie down. I felt like fainting at one point and it was horrible to think I had over an hour of travel time before I could collapse on my coach.

The good thing about cramps however, is that when they’re finally gone life becomes simple wonderful. I fully appreciate the beauty of not being in pain and I usually fall asleep, happily relaxed and smiling.

 

Preparing for the Summer Solstice

Petites_maraudeusesMy heart and mind are preparing for the summer solstice. The brightest day of the year. I feel my life is bright in its own way, full of dreams and potential for wonderful things. I feel a responsiblilty to bring my dreams into the world, like it’s not just about me anymore. What if I could help people somehow, in some way? I would love that.

I’ve always wanted to connect with the earth and the stars. I felt there were teachings to be discovered by observing nature, by looking at the constellations. Maybe there’s a purpose to everything, even the smallest of flowers, or the tiniest of insects.

The summer solstice was always special to me, even as a little girl. In a way I grew up celebrating it every year.

In Norway we still hold onto the pagan tradition of having a big bon fire on the eve of June 23, which is not actually the Summer Solstice, though I did not know that as a child. I was told we were celebrating the brightest day of the year by building a fire.

Anyway, we call it St. John’s day and I find it fascinating. I feel it’s a connection to a distant, and much more spiritual past. Now we play games and eat food around the fire, but perhaps in ancient times it was more about the connection with the divine.

June 23 is also my birthday. And of course as a child I loved that I got to celebrate during the day by opening presents, eating cake, and then in the evening to gather with other people from our town around a huge fire, playing games and indulge in more good food.

This year I will get up before dawn on June 21, and be in nature as the sun rises. I will wear yellow and carry yellow flowers to symbolize the sun. Beyond that I want to connect with something deep within myself.

I think many of us have celebrated the Solstices and Equinoxes in past lives, and perhaps we remember something. There’s a feeling, a special longing which we can’t put into words. I want to feel what I need to do, what it is that I yearn for. Perhaps I will sing, pray, or just be in silence.

Do you celebrate the summer solstice? If you do, how do you celebrate it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Herbal Ally – Lady’s Mantle

freyaI’ve found my herbal ally. I stumbled upon her some weeks ago. She was nothing more than cloud shaped leaves back then, and yet I knew what she was. I felt her smile at me.

Now I visit her often. She has yellow flowers and tall grasses has grown all around her, making her seem rather insignifcant compared to everything else.

I wasn’t looking for an herbal ally, but something inside me recognized her and she whispered that I needed her, that there was something I needed to learn, to remember.

Whenever I’m near her I get the feeling there is indeed something I’m supposed to remember. Something I once knew, yet have forgotten. It keeps eluding me.

She speaks to me of the Goddess. She feels like gold, like a radiant treasure that most people would not recognize because of her humble appearance.

She is a very magical plant.

I’ve made tea from her dried leaves and flowers. It became liquid gold. It tastes pretty pleasant.

In describing Lady’s Mantle flower essence, Tree Frog Farm writes:

“Brings gentle joyful peace to the mind of your heart and your whole body. Calms emotional shock to the heart, by inviting the Divine into the sympathetic nervous system and corresponding levels of the electromagnetic system. Encourages self-love.”

Reading this renewed my faith in my own intuition. It’s easy to doubt what you feel. But now I’m sure I was meant to meet Lady’s Mantle.

I think my heart broke, many years ago from trauma, from grief. I lost my mom, my dad, my sister. At the same time I’ve hold onto enormous self-hate, always feeling that I was not enough.

I’ve felt like a ghost of my true self for a long, long time. I think I will share more about this later, but during my time of grief I began praying to the goddess, my divine mother. I clung to her and she helped me through the hard times, yet I was afraid of the love I felt from her and I often pulled away.

I think Lady’s Mantle is asking me to not be afraid, to be with the Goddess fully, wholly.

Have you ever felt love from the divine? What did you do? Were you able to embrace it?

Nordens_flora_Alchemilla_vulgaris_cleanThe story behind the name

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) got its common name from the Virgin Mary. I remember hearing a story about the plant when I was little.

Mary had travelled for a very long time and needed a drink of water, and yet there was none to be found. Then she saw the dew gathering on the leaves of a small plant and was able to quench her thirst, and from then on it was called Lady’s Mantle (perhaps because the leaves looks like a tiny mantle.)

Those were my own words. I’m not exactly sure how the story went.

History

I’ve picked out a few things about Lady’s Mantle from my book on medicinal herbs in Norway.

  • It has long been considered a woman’s herb, a treasure to be used for womens health and was thought to be under the protection of a feminine deity. Up here in the north they believed it to be Freya, goddess of love and fertility.
  • Women would gather the herb during the waning moon to use as medicine for menstrual difficulties and to heal wounds.
  • The alchemists used the drops of water made by the leaves in the attempt to make gold, and gave the drops names such as ‘heavenly rain’ and quinta essentia (light of nature, or fifth element).

It seems to me that there are legends and stories hinting at the spiritual qualities of Lady’s Mantle. Still its true meaning remains hidden, a secret, and I do feel that we’re not suppose to know unless we truly seek to find answers for ourselves. The same way that its always more powerful to personally experience divinity, and the two seem connected somehow.

Uses for Lady’s Mantle

The plant is in the rose family, perhaps that’s why it has such a spiritual affinity to the heart.

  • Eases menstrual pain
  • Heals wounds
  • Used for excess menstruation, and bleeding in general.
  • Tones the cardiovascular system
  • Can be used later in pregnancy to prepare the body for labour. Its astringent qualities can help prevent hemorrage. (Drink 1 cup three times a day about 6 weeks before labour). Can be drunk after pregnancy as well.
  • Stimulates production of milk.

 

Meeting Lady’s Mantle – A Short Story

308px-Bouguereau-Linnocence

It was early morning, a slight chill in the air and the mist was a sliver of silver on the ground. She was barefoot, feeling the wet ground beneath her as she walked.

Something caught her attention. Cloud shaped leaves glittering with drops of morning dew.

As she drew closer she was touched by the feeling of meeting a long lost friend. The plant smiled at her. It knew her and she knew it, though the memory was foggy, distant, a glimpse into a past life.

Intrigued she knelt beside it. What was it whispering to her? What was this wonderful feeling that filled her? It made her want to cry.

The goddess. It whispered. Why have you forgotten the goddess, your divine mother?

The goddess is in me. I exist only for her, and you did too once. Why have you forgotten? Why do you deny yourself to be in her, to be filled with her love?

Tears streamed down her cheeks now. She was beginning to remember. A time of magic, of incredible joy.

She was a priestess in worship of the goddess, and as she worked in the temple she was conscious of every movement her body made. Everything she did was a prayer to the goddess. As she went to the lake for water she did it in the magic awareness of the divine mother. Love was at her finger tips as she rearranged the flowers.

She shook with joy and at the same time she drew away from it. She didn’t deserve to be unconditionally loved, she didn’t deserve to be happy. And she feared feeling so intensely alive, feared the pain that might find her if she didn’t hide behind dark clouds of worries.

She had been in a dark, cold place with only a vague understanding of what her life had become. Now she felt something warm her from the inside, a slow, intense love filling her up. Her whole body trembled. She felt dizzy. She wasn’t used to the energy that was moving through her body. She had felt drained for so long.

It was at though a poison was now reluctantly leaving her body, making her feel naseous and blissfully happy at the same time.

She looked around. Everything was beautiful. She took in the trees outside her window, the wind moving through the leaves and she felt as though she could look at them forever.

Being here. Just here.

le_ravissement_de_psyche-largeWhen I’m tired, when I feel drained I go outside and put my bare feet on the ground. I sit and look at the trees, watch them move in the wind, listen to the rustling of leaves. It feels like something inside of me is swaying with them, dancing beautifully.

The sounds of nature goes into me, heals me. I used to be so tired of the city. I’m glad we moved to the country.

During the meditation retreats that I used to attend, we would go for long walks and then sit a few moments in the forest. I wanted to stay there forever. I wanted to cry in relief at hearing only nature again. No cars, no shouting, no mechanical sounds of machines working.

I wanted to lie down and hug the earth, to feel it seep into my soul, nourish me, ground me. But I was too shy to do so, and remained sitting until we had to leave.

Now nature is at my doorstep, yet I don’t visit it often enough. There is so much to do and I measure a successful day in how many tasks I have completed.

And yet as I drank my tea this afternoon, my mind and nerves still buzzing with activity, I looked out the window at the trees and everything suddenly fell into perspective. It was as though I had forgotten there was a world beyond my own thoughts and worries.

Going deeper than my anxiety, the need to stay busy and get things accomplished, I was struck with the yearning to keep looking. What if I did that all day? What if all I did was to look at things, notice them fully, take in their beauty?

I knew I would feel guilty for not finishing my list of tasks, at the same time I was moved with the understanding of how valuable it was to take time to look at things, notice life.

And the more I look the more interesting things become. What if I could have the same enjoyment chopping vegetables for dinner?  Just being there, having nothing on my mind, nor being interesting in anything but chopping vegetables. Being present in life, my life, the one that will pass me by if I’m not truly here.

There is a simple peace in being here, right now. What a relief it is to just be here.