Goddess, Sabbats

Corn Woman’s Wisdom on Lughnasadh

 

There are two predominant themes for Lughnasadh: one is sacrifice, and the other is nourishment. There have been years when sacrifice has shown up stronger for me, when I’ve had to give up something or become more aware of when I’m being a martyr. This year, however, Goddess is asking me to look harder at how well I nourish myself on the most basic level: with food.

I am not a foodie, though there are times when I wish I could be one. Eating is something I do to live, but I don’t live to eat. When I’m overly stressed, I’ll skip meals or eat sparingly. Some people are stress eaters, but I’m more of a stress starver. Nothing kills my appetite faster than anxiety or depression. Most of the time, I cruise along on an even keel. If someone is rude or cuts me off in traffic, it’s no big deal. I can let that small stuff go. I don’t surround myself with drama, so my everyday life is generally calm and peaceful. I’ve worked hard to create an environment that supports, rather than siphons.

Throw in a major stressor like a death in the family or moving, however, and I’m turning green at the gills over just the smell of food cooking. Then all my healthy meal planning goes out the window, and I’m just trying to choke down a Saltine cracker to keep body and soul together. It’s frustrating, especially for a Virgo. We’re supposed to be the health nuts of the Zodiac, right?

So when I drew a card from The Goddess Oracle on the New Moon in Leo, and Corn Woman showed up in all of her grain-abundant glory, my first thought was: fuck. My next thought was: how can I possibly eat well and nourish myself when I’m still mourning the loss of my beloved canine and familiar? On top of losing Baxter just one week prior, I was still adjusting to life in a new place. I felt thoroughly wrung out in mind, body, and spirit, as though part of me had simply left this world along with my dog. I didn’t have a manual that said: How to Eat When You’re Grieving and You Don’t Know a Soul in Town. Someone should create one, though.

cornwoman
The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky. Illustrated by Hrana Janto.

What I did have was Corn Woman staring at me from my altar, gently but firmly reminding me that I can’t ignore the basics of life and expect to feel better on any level. Of course it would be corn. I mean, you normally see wheat fields associated with Lughnasadh, but that’s Europe. This is south Alabama, and we have corn, which functions as both grain when it’s dry and vegetable when it’s fresh. It’s also extremely abundant at this time of year. The message was getting louder and clearer: foundation, staple, plain, essential, sustenance. I didn’t need to become a gourmet overnight, but I would have to find a way to love myself better with the simple abundance that Mother Earth provides.

I began with questions, which is the starting point for any type of change and course correction. What am I resisting? What don’t I like about the whole cycle of procuring, preparing, and eating food? We have it much easier than our ancestors, after all. I can cook, thanks to a mom who cared enough to teach me how. Other people practically get off on being in the kitchen, so why doesn’t it excite me? More to the point, why is eating and nourishment the first thing I drop when life gets excruciatingly painful?

Biologically, it’s fight or flight. All my body knows is that it’s facing some sort of crisis. It can’t distinguish between an emotional trauma and a physical attack. It’s programmed not to waste time digesting when survival means getting out of town or fighting to the death. After four decades on this planet, it still doesn’t know that it won’t actually die from a broken heart.

I’ve learned a few techniques for calming the fight or flight response through meditation and energy medicine, but resilience isn’t built overnight. It takes years of consistently applying those practices, and I certainly haven’t mastered them yet.

Spiritually, I prefer to focus on ‘higher’ things. I think it would be fantastic if we could live on air and gain back all the time we spend on food (spoken like one ruled by Mercury!) Eating brings me down to the mundane level, and I don’t always enjoy being there. It feels dense, heavy, and slow. It forces me to be in touch with my body and its needs, instead of floating around in my upper chakras where I’m more comfortable. People often describe me as grounded, but what they don’t know is that I can appear to be Zen on the outside even when I’m dying on the inside. I come from a long line of stoics, and they taught me too well, unfortunately.

Feeling truly grounded takes more work and more willingness on my part to really be in those lower chakras, and that is where I meet my resistance every time a major crisis comes up. I don’t want to be in my body while I’m processing a ton of grief and pain, but abandoning it doesn’t work, either. It just results in feeling weaker and less able to handle the situation that surrounds me.

Corn Woman symbolizes true nourishment, and that means feeding the soul and the body. It is the time spent in the circle, the trance, or the vision quest… and it is the feast afterward to ground and center oneself in this world. No matter how high and far our spirits may travel, we must return to this earth walk, even when it hurts, until our time here has ended.

The lesson is a hard one, and I will most likely be examining my complicated relationship with food for quite some time. Still, I’m grateful for Lughnasadh, for the turning of the wheel, for life, for the first harvest, for the bountiful earth, and for Corn Woman’s wisdom. May we all be well nourished.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

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Goddess, Nature, Poetry, Sabbats

Invitation to the Wild Man

 

I have written quite a bit on the Wild Woman, as many of us are reclaiming our wildness in the truest definition of the word: living in a state of nature; not tamed or domesticated. Now that we are on the astrological date of Beltane, my thoughts turned more toward Wild Woman’s counterpart, the Wild Man. I felt that if she were extending an invitation for revelry and ecstasy on this ancient festival of flames and fertility, it might go something like this…

I want all of your wildness,
your gritty, earthy rawness,
your unleashed primal howl.

I want the sharp, muskiness of your sweat,
the sweetness of honey wine on your lips,
the smell of forest and loam in your unkempt hair.

I want the roughness of your sundrenched skin,
the sound of your heart like a ritual drum,
the heat of your body like a blazing torch.

I want the dark, unexplored depths of your eyes,
the hard sinuous muscle encasing your bones,
the blood rushing through every vein and artery.

I want all of your wildness,
your gritty, earthy rawness,
your unleashed primal howl.

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved. 

Meditation, Sabbats

Ostara Meditation: Into the Labyrinth

kate-remmer-203254

The Spring Equinox, a Total Solar Eclipse, and a New Moon all occur on the 20th of March this year. We shift from dreams to action with the transition of the sun from Pisces to Aries. The New Moon also enters the fiery sign of Aries, so the energy will be high, intense, and quite beneficial if we’re ready to act on all those plans we’ve been making. All the eggs we decorate at this time of year are really just symbols for what we hope to accomplish. They also represent the Cosmic Egg or the primordial beginnings of all that exists. Everything about Ostara is loaded with potential on the verge of being realized. This meditation takes you into the labyrinth to find your own unique “egg” and to contemplate what it means for you, as we prepare ourselves for the next cycle in the Wheel of the Year.  

Let’s begin by finding a quiet place where you can relax, close your eyes, and go within. Take a slow, cleansing breath…making the inhalation match the exhalation…just breathing very slowly and rhythmically…in and out…letting your belly and chest expand with the in-breath…and then letting it all go with the out-breath…slow, easy breathing. Each time you breathe in this way, your mind and body comes back to center…where there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and you simply allow yourself to BE. Let your muscles become loose and relaxed, starting with your feet…your ankles…lower legs…knees…upper legs…pelvis…torso… back…shoulders…arms…hands…face…and head.

Feeling calm and peaceful now, imagine there is a magnificent old tree there before you. Its trunk is so wide that you can’t even wrap your arms around it, and its thick branches reach up so far into the sky that you can’t see the top of this wise, ancient tree. Just take some time here…feeling the tree’s gentle, supportive energy…letting its roots teach you how to be grounded and centered as they reach way down into Mother Earth.

At the base of your tree, you notice a hollow space that calls to you, inviting you to take a journey. Following your curiosity, you step inside and find yourself in a brightly lit stairwell. The polished wooden steps spiral downward, and you follow them, one by one, freely descending this lovely old staircase until you reach the bottom. There is a door in front of you, and you notice that it is carved with many symbols. Some of them are runes, some are zodiac signs and symbols of the elements, and others represent the Goddess and her consort. As you turn the well-worn handle, the symbols glow, and you step forward into the light and sounds of a lush, enchanted forest.

You begin walking along a path that winds between moss-covered rocks and friendly old trees. Signs of spring are all around you. Purple crocuses are pushing up through the ground, along with bright yellow daffodils. Wisteria vines sway gently in the breeze, and the air is clean and sweet, filled with possibility. The winding trail opens up into a clearing. A spiral labyrinth of stones has been carefully created here in this sacred grove. The spiral invites you to go deeper within to see what mysteries may be revealed, and so you begin…one step at a time…walking mindfully and gently toward the center.

Every step through the spiral path creates more balance within as day and night are now in equal measure. Every step reminds you that there is always a way back to wholeness and alignment on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels.

As you reach the center of the labyrinth, you find a basket full of brightly colored eggs. Each one is unique with its own pattern and design. One egg in particular stands out for you. Take it out of the basket and hold it against your heart center. What color is your egg? How is it decorated? Feel the energy of the egg and all the potential it contains inside. Take some time here to really listen to your higher self. What have you nurtured through the long winter? What are you ready to bring forth?

Return your egg to the basket, trusting that it will soon become all that you wish to manifest. Begin to retrace your steps back through the labyrinth, walking easily and freely around the circular path of stones until you reach the beginning. See the path through the forest, and begin walking back the way you came, through the budding spring flowers, beneath the fragrant vines and around the moss-covered stones until you reach the doorway of the ancient tree. As you turn the handle, the symbols glow again, and you step inside. The wooden staircase is before you, and you begin to ascend step by step, gradually returning to conscious awareness.

Slowly begin to reawaken…and turn your attention to your breathing. Notice your calm, smooth breaths…in and out…allowing your awareness to turn now to your body…calm and relaxed. Sit quietly for a moment with your eyes open…reflecting upon your journey into the labyrinth. You may want to record anything you wish to remember in your journal. When you’re ready, wiggle your fingers and toes, roll your shoulders, and stretch if you like. Have a blessed Ostara.

Copyright © 2015 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.