Monday, May 1, 2017

Beltane Beauty

photo by Leigh Hilbert
"Allow your heart to expand and overflow with adoration for this magnificent creation and for the love, wisdom and power that birthed it all. Rapture is needed now - rapture, reverence and grace. "             - Ann Mortifee
photo by Leigh Hilbert

The first flowers are in full bloom. The thrushes greet us with their song. Earthworms tickle the soil awake. Tiny miracles abound. The garden and the budding trees invite us to join this annual ritual of renewal, and dance, sing, giggle, love, and put a little spring in our step.


                                                        photo by Leigh Hilbert

Today in the northern hemisphere we are halfway to the longest day of the year. Can you feel the energy quickening around you?  For many of us, it has been a challenging and heavy winter. By embracing and learning from the natural world we can regain a lightness of being.


photo by Leigh Hilbert

This week, take some time to connect with nature. Get your hands in the dirt and plant something. Lie on the sweet smelling grass and drink in the sun. A couple of hours of this and you will be filled with peace and the vital promise of spring.


                                                                                          photo by Leigh Hilbert

Happy Beltane. May well-being and balance abound!


Nayoki & Veronica glowing after they danced around the Maypole today

Monday, February 6, 2017

Google Glitch sent you Surrender written in 2008!!

...And yes, all the images in the post have disappeared, save one. Sorry for any frustration this caused you.  I will call Google tomorrow to ask them what is going on.

Yours in technology,
Oona


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Seeds of Love

© 2017 Oona McOuat

As we sit poised between the darkest day and that time of perfect balance, may all the seeds we choose to plant be seeds of Love. 


Photo by Deanna Holbova

"A seed is small but rich with possibility, like love, which is as humble as it is powerful."
—Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

How can one tiny seed - which contains all of life, and a specific life - have so much to teach us, as it both surrenders and gets down to business at the same moment?  At a time on our planet when the pace is fast and our days are full of dark and disturbing news, our thirst for balance, peace, and ease intensifies. And so we must carefully, judiciously choose which seeds we will plant, which plants we will tend, and what we will harvest. 


Seed Mandala
Photo by Ana Castilho

On this Imbolc Eve, I invite you to reflect on what you want for yourself and the world. May you sense the stirring of the secret seeds within you. May those seeds that will bring forth the highest good for all of creation germinate and flourish, nurtured and nourished by the unseen magic of the elements. Everything starts with a precious little seed - an intention, a thought, a dream-before-form.


Photo by Ana Castilho

"The seed holds a very great secret—it never gets old. It is the eternal YES to life."
—Anat Vaughan-Lee
Let’s take a moment now to celebrate the shimmering – sun, moon, stars, heart, and then let’s dive down for one last visit to the Dolphins’ Dreamtime. When you emerge, may you be refreshed and connected to Deep Self, the part of you that knows when, and what, and how to plant: earth and ocean wisdom rooted in your body, connecting you to all.

I recently swam with my beloved dolphins in the waters of Hawaii. Despite the dying coral reefs (yes they are about 50% gone there now) and the strain that climate change is having on all oceanic species, they still danced. I am re-sharing a wonderful 3 minute video that Leigh Hilbert made of me swimming with the spinners. Don't forget to turn up your audio!






Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Still

A rare west coast snowfall - the kind that blankets the world like a feather quilt and stops school, schedules, and traffic. I am walking outdoors, reveling in the swirling flakes when I notice it.

photo by Kmax
       “It’s so still”, I whisper, “So blissfully still. How I’ve missed this deep quiet.”

It wasn’t just the lack of noise. It was the sense that all was rooted and resting, in balance with the season, taking pause.

photo by Leigh Hilbert
In my busy life of doing and our world of constant buzz, I had begun to think the stillness had vanished. Yet on this snowy morning, my cells remembered how it feels to connect calmly and fully with the natural world around us: expansive, energized, relaxed, open, and at ease.

photo by Leigh Hilbert
The stillness is still here. Somewhat frayed around the edges by the ways our wireless communications technologies interfere with the earth’s electrical and magnetic fields, but miraculously – the stillness is still here.

photo by Leigh Hilbert
The next day, as the snow was melting I reflected on what else in my life generates this sense of cellular connection: holding stones, touching trees, swimming in rivers, walking in the forest, putting my hands in the dirt.

photo by Kmax
It seems I need nature now to ground my body, reboot my nervous system, and electrically re-balance my brain.

Why? I am susceptible to the electromagnetic fields created by WiFi, cell phones, dirty electricity, and all the digital technologies that are the new norm. As I observe the frequently stressed and frantic world around me, I suspect I am not alone.

My wish for all of us this holiday season is that we experience the joyful calm of winter’s stillness - our own silent night - and that we begin to understand how the technology we choose to use shapes our lives and affects all beings.

Yes, nature is resilient. And still, a core part of me longs for the deep peace of the earth’s frequencies, uninterrupted.


For more on nature, humans, and technology, take a few moments to watch my seasonal gift to you, a piece called Cellular Deception which combines Leigh’s wildlife photography with my music.



For those who are curious, here are some specifics on how I choose to navigate the digital age:
  • I have a powered off, emergency-only iPhone without a service plan in my car in case I am on the road and have to call 911. All other calls are made with a corded landline.
  • We use secure, wired high-speed internet at home. The WiFi is always turned off.
  • We don’t use cordless DECT phones or any smart, Bluetooth, or wireless devices.
  • Our forced-upon-us smart meter is shielded, with its radio frequency transmitter turned off.
  • I use a wired keyboard and mouse with my laptop to minimize my contact with its field.
  • My device of choice is an iPod – always in airplane mode, always switched off when not in use.This gives me the perks of a smart phone without the problems.
At night, we turn the breakers off in our bedroom to give our bodies a chance to rest, regenerate, and “Sleep in heavenly peace.”

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Politics, Polarity, and Peace


"Think what a better world it would be if we all-the-world-over had cookies and milk every day at about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. ... And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." 
- Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


Yesterday, as headlines blared, my kindergarten music class spontaneously transformed into a gang of doppelgangers. There was punching, pushing, and wrestling, growling, shrieking, cowering, and crying. Quickly, I attempted to address each incident in a teacherly manner, but as soon as I focused on one, another erupted. It was chaos. 

Then a still voice inside me said, “Do what you always do to end class and they will follow. You cannot reason with them, you cannot argue with them, you will gain nothing by joining their frenzied stupor. You must simply, calmly, stay centered and guide them in their closing bow.” 

It worked. The unruly children put down the mats; their mouths and bodies joined mine: (“I see and I hear, I touch and I feel, I am a part of this world and this world is a part of me. The energy in me rises and I make music. This song was for you.” - arms gesturing to include the entire universe) and it was as if that weird and stressful couple of moments had never happened.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert

I know many of us are reeling - grieving, angry, concerned.  Our global path to creating a just and sustainable future has just met a major obstacle. The future is unknown, which can be terrifying.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert

We can't change what has happened, but we have the power to choose how we respond to this moment. Now more than ever we need to courageously and lovingly address the issues that matter. We are being challenged to wake up and see the big picture, and to breathe as much of our being as possible into each word and every action. As I learned yesterday from a group of kindergartners, reaction got me nowhere. But by holding my centerinviting balance, and opening my heart, peace was made possible. Energy matters, perhaps more than words.

Photo by Leigh Hilbert
So how do we balance our energy? For me, simple things like these can make a world of difference:

- getting enough exercise and sleep
- eating unprocessed whole food
- spending time in nature
- limiting my exposure to EMF and digital distraction 
- tuning into and addressing my emotions
- giving thanks
- making time to breathe and connect 
                         and 
- doing things I love and spending time with people I love each day

The mind is powerful, but it perceives and shapes reality based on our own filters. Risk to see beyond judgement, the divisive, the proverbial “us and them.” Dare to speak your truth and share what you know about the harms that endanger all of us, as well as your deep desire for a caring and healthy world. Stay grounded in your essence as you listen to rhetoric of any kind. 
Photo by Leigh Hilbert
Some will now have license to express opinions that were previously "politically incorrect." This does not make them morally correct. Listen fully to views that differ from your own and seek common ground, higher ground, even if you are riled or hurt by what you hear, even when some may be too wounded or bound to join you there. 

Celebrate beauty. Plant something. Keep loving. Be radically creative and compassionately outrageous as you honour and affirm life and earth.  

We have reached the tipping point. The Halloween of humanity. That place where the dark and scary subconscious rears its ugly head and it appears the world is full of ghouls and monsters. Yet, if we still ourselves, we can sense how just like on All Hallows, the ancestors are near. They guide us from beyond with wisdom and compassion, reminding us that Light and Love are all there truly is.

Breathe. Believe. Drink in the moon and the stars. Have faith.
Photo by Leigh Hilbert

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer's Joy

It began in the woods.  I was standing near a four-foot tall anthill, step-dancing to avoid getting ants in my pants while talking to my neighbor Leonie, who was taking her 6 goats and 2 dogs for a walk. We commiserated about how, as self-employed women, we rarely get a day off.  She talked about the hard work and the near non-existent financial returns of being a farmer.

And then it happened.  I - who as of late have been extremely overwhelmed by the details, and almost incapable of seeing the gifts of the amazingly creative things I do to earn a living - said: "It is important that despite how hard we work, we stay anchored in our joy."


And so, on Midsummer' s Night Eve, at this time of crazy climates and threatened species, of inconceivable hate, mistrust, and violence, of ....well,  you get the picture, you know the picture, unless you blissfully keep your earbuds in, and your digital device tuned to Something Cheerful.


At this time of the great turning, I offer you the last chapter of a children's story I wrote today.  The whole story will be the foundation piece for my upcoming Fairie Camps.

In the first four chapters, Mr. Toad, Bumble the Bee, Papilia the Swallowtail Butterfly, and Melos the Song Swallow share meaningful messages with Summer as she travels to visit her sister, Lady Winter on the cusp of Midsummer's Eve,   During their visit, Lady Winter reminds an over-extended Summer that happiness is a choice, and that doing is best connected to our being.

Which leads us to the final chapter: the celebration we have all been waiting for is here - the Full Moon Midsummer's Eve Ball!

May your summer be beautiful.  May your heart be light, and may you know Joy.

Midsummer's Eve.  E.R. Huges, 1908

The Midsummer’s Ball

It was a perfect evening.  Pink puffy clouds sat lazily in the sky, waiting for the moon to rise so they could turn silver.  How special it was to have a full moon on Midsummer’s Night Eve!


Summer excitedly adjusted the bodice of her green silk dress.  Papilia had asked some silkworm friends of hers to make it, and her cousin Painted Lady had added the splashes of colourful butterfly embroidery to the sleeves. Fawn had carefully picked the flowers Summer wore. Wind had done her hair.



Preparing for the ball had been so much fun!  Melos created a choir of songbirds and Mr Toad, fresh back from his singing workshop, was going to be the soloist.  Squirrel formed an orchestra of woodland animals.  Summer never knew would have guessed that Woodpecker was such a fine percussionist. Spider wove a delicate harp that Bunny played with her ears.

The Faerie Folk were thrilled to prepare the feast.  They decorated the tables in flower petals and ferns.  They made piles and mounds of honey balls and berry soufflĂ©, and mixed gallons of Dewdrop punch, which they stored in a barrel made from a hollow oak.



Hope, who loved to laugh and frolic, was Games Mistress for the night.  Owl was the Storyteller. 

“Perhaps youhoo will regale us with the story of your recent visit with Lady Winter?” he asked. 

“I don’t think so, Owl,” Summer laughed.  “I would much rather be dancing!”

Bumble and her sisters took a much-needed break from gathering nectar and invited all the Flower Folk to add their beauty to the evening. The smells and colours were pheromon-omenal!

How effortlessly everything had fallen into place.  There was nothing left to do but enjoy the evening.  Even the clean up was taken care of, as Ant and his family had happily offered to haul everything away.

Summer shared a banquet table with her dear, wise friends Mr. Toad and Bumble, Papilia, and Melos.  Her sisters Hope, Spring, and Autumn sat with them.  Even the hard-working Green and Harvest Faeries joined them, taking a well-deserved night off. 


Summer danced until she had holes in her rose petal slippers. (Never mind, said Ladybug, I can easily make you another pair.) She laughed until she had pulled a seam in her gown, (silkworm fixed it on the spot), and ate so much strawberry soufflĂ©, she thought she might float up and join Firefly, who was providing overhead ambient lighting. 



As she gazed up and made a wish on the evening’s first star, she saw the rising moon, so bright and luminous in the still-blue sky.  And she thought of her sister, Lady Winter, standing at the forest’s edge, celebrating Midsummer with her own quiet Joy. 


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Retreat

© 2015 Oona McOuat


Sleep little seed, in your warm earthen bed, dreaming of what you were born to become.

Falling leaves and fading flowers; shades of ochre and brown.  Garden wisdom speaks to me as I pull out the tomato plants.  Let go, and make space for next year’s bounty. 

As the days shorten and a late October wind chases clouds across the moon, I too feel a need to make space for what I want.  


Outside the plants are slowing down, dying back, and decomposing - nourishing the soil.  Growth requires death, my garden teacher shows me.

But my grown-up life with its glowing screens can become frenetic to distraction. So often I am busy and buzzy, but getting less and less “done.”  Slowing down feels like trying to sleep under a fluorescent bulb.   The first thing I need to do is remember how to turn it off.

You see, I have a sneaking suspicion that the time I spend on digital tools – as freeing and uniting and amazing as they can be - is rewiring my circuitry.  I remember how it was at age 18 to watch the first November snowfall through an old stone window in a cafe in Quebec City – how still and purposeful and vast everything was, how immediate and present each sensation.  But if I had been brought up on a steady diet of digital devices, I am not sure I would know that silence, the perfect stillness that existed before the buzz.
candles, girl, and lights image
Turning inwards and making space requires a reclaiming of my own innate peace patterning.  This means saying no to extraneous distractions, like a mindless use of social media, and a huge yes to all that nourishes me. Making space for what I want requires resetting my nervous system and reconnecting to my heart. 

Snugly, cozy, fire, and book.  Pumpkin soup, a forest walk, misty lake canoeing.  Writing and dancing and laughing and loving, and being, just being.  Giving my very best gifts to the very best world I know, believing that we can awaken from our dormancy, our self-induced sleep, to become a balanced, vibrant haven of wonder and delight.

A Mute Swan overwintering at Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island - photo by Leigh Hilbert
Sleep little seed, in your warm earthen bed, dreaming of what you were born to become.