Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Celebrate the Beauty!

photo by Leigh Hilbert

Be kind to the earth, to yourself, and to each other.
Dance in the moonlight, frolic for the fun of it, put your bare feet on the grass, and give thanks. Beauty is the blessing; beauty is the truth.

Happy Beltane!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Crossing the Threshold - Towards the Light

© 2018 Oona McOuat  

Can you feel it - the days growing markedly longer as we  move from the dark towards the light? It is time to stretch and waken and to prepare to plant our winter dream seeds. It is a time for hope. 

Photo by Licht

This season belongs to Brigid. Long ago in the Celtic lands, the coming of Brigid was celebrated in early February with heartfelt prayers, songs and stories. Today, as we hunger for meaning, context, and connection, words that flow forth from the natural cycle of things can help build a home and hearth within our hearts. So close your eyes and sink into a place beyond place, and perhaps you will hear me telling you this Imbolc tale with my harp...

Photo by Kmax

There’s no denying it. When Cailleach Bheur woke up, she was a crotchety old crone. Maybe she was tired of people complaining about her. Maybe she’d heard enough gossip about the way she looked - they said she was old and ugly with a blue face and only one eye. True, she wasn’t getting any younger and she leaned more heavily on her holly staff than she had when she was born - already an old woman! - at Hallowe’en. Sure, she had stirred up a couple of good storms – one had even caused the roof to blow off McTavishes’ cow barn. But hadn’t these people anything better to do than sit around and grumble about the weather? They blamed her for the long, cold nights, for their barren fields and emptying larders. She was just doing her job.

Cailleach Bheur
by Andrew L. Paciorek

Cailleach sighed. Maybe she needed a change of vocation. Or a vacation? But who then, would keep the land in winter’s grasp? Cailleach stretched her aching limbs, put on her tattered cloak of decaying leaves and left the cave where she’d been sleeping curled up beside a wolf. As she walked, she tapped the earth with her gnarled staff. Everywhere she tapped, the ground froze and the grass turned to ice.

Photo by Licht

Cailleach stopped to catch her breath. She was getting weaker. To test her powers, she raised her staff and called forth a bitter, howling wind. In December, this would have been easy. But now, in early February, it nearly sapped her strength.

Braced against the strong wind, Cailleach slowly walked across the moor towards the water’s edge. With a sigh, she eased herself down upon a cold grey boulder, her ragged cloak and long white hair streaming behind her.

“Cailleach Bheur” she heard on the voice of the wind, “Cailleach Bheur, it is time!”

Then as suddenly as the wind she'd summoned had started, it stopped, and the grumpiness that had been with Cailleach since early morning was gone too. Squinting her tired eyes, she looked out upon the horizon and saw a weathered blue boat heading towards the shore. When it landed, Cailleach carefully eased herself up and waded through the shallows to climb aboard.

Wee Blue Boat - Photo by ian Cameron

As the sun set and all through the night the boat moved purposefully to the west, as if propelled by an invisible sail, its course steady and assured.  Just before morning, the vessel reached an island covered in groves of oak and holly. Slowly, the old one got out of the boat. Her joints creaked and groaned as she walked, even more gingerly than the day before, to the Well that sat at the center of the island. As the first light of dawn awoke the sky, Cailleach picked up a ladle, worn smooth by touch and time, that lay on the ground and dipped it into the Well.

Brigid's Well, Faughert, Ireland

“It is time,” she muttered, bringing the water to her lips, delighting in its sweetness as it ran down her throat. As she swallowed, her body grew light and lithe, her skin smooth, her hair glossy and her holly staff transformed into a white birch wand. Leaning over the Well, she looked at her reflection. She was no longer Cailleach Bheur, the Old Wife of Winter. She was Brigid, the Spirit of Spring.

Brigid sprang to her feet, spinning and smiling and admiring her new gown - white with bits of green and yellow trim around the sleeves. Joyfully, she scampered back to the boat and sailed back to shore. When she landed, everywhere she skipped and danced the land turned gently green beneath her feet. Everything she touched with her birch wand stirred with new life. Slowly, the sap in the trees started to move. The birds in the south grew restless and felt the first pull to head north. Her breath was a warm wind that brought the people hope.

Windflower by John Waterhouse - 1903

When Brigid arrived at the village no one recognized her. They praised her youth and beauty and welcomed her in their midst. That day, she sat amongst them on the greening hills and they watched in awe and wonder as she wove the most beautiful cloth they’d ever seen, stitching into it healing threads which would keep their powers for as long as she was remembered.

And so, in the lands where the people remember still, on midwinter’s eve, Imbolc, the eve of the birth of Brigid, they place a piece of linen or other cloth outside or on the window sill. It is said that on this night, Brigid travels all over the land and if she sees this cloth she will bless it and give it healing powers with this special prayer:

              Let the cloth of life be mended.
              Let the thread be linked again,
              restored, cleansed - the forests growing,
              native plants in field and fen.
              Let the cloth of life, in beauty,
              be restored by will to be.
              People with the plants and creatures,
              tending earth and sky and sea.

Brigid with Snowdrop Faeries
by Wendy Andrew

And that is the story of the Birth of Brigid

With Blessings,

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Safely to the Light

A silver crescent moon sits in the midnight blue sky - light and dark in perfect balance. Tonight will be the longest night. Tomorrow, the wheel turns.

What if our time on earth is simply this - a dance between polarities, the final recognition being that there is no self or other - only the unifying music of the spheres.
photo by Leigh Hilbert
There is so much I do not understand. How can it be that each child I share with is so full of bright potential, so willing to express and experience love, and yet the grownups who manage our world are so often disconnected from their hearts? Snow sparkles under the maiden moon, stars twinkle in the blue-black night. Tomorrow, the sun will rise and shine upon all of us. How can we so deftly ignore the miraculous, so tidily package a reality severed from the source?

Here is my winter prayer. Tonight, may breath and space and silence enfold all those who are harming or capitalizing on the gifts the natural world so freely gives us. May a flicker of desire for balance and wellbeing spark them to make bold new choices and take life-giving actions. Tonight, may we sleep the sleep of the innocent, snuggled cozily in warm winter beds. May our dreams gently guide us to a path that takes us from this darkest of nights, safely to the light.   

Photo by Kmax

A little piece of Winter Magic for you: 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

These Darkening Days

As Autumn descends, and chaos swirls in the world around me, I hunger for the dark.  As much as I love the sun, my lake swims, and warm air on bare skin, I need a good long rest, a retreat from the story.  Perhaps we all do.  Whether it be from unfathomable loss, hurricanes and earthquakes, wildfires, our EMF-laden trajectory, relationship struggles, health challenges, the threat of nuclear war– sometimes we all need a break from the story.
photo by Leigh Hilbert
Stress, adrenaline, impaired sleep, anxiety, depression, immune dysfunction, emotional reactivity, disease – which came first, our inner imbalance or the outer mess?  When we find ourselves attempting to solve the world’s problems with our minds and coming up empty, it is time to connect with essence.
photo by Leigh Hilbert
Wood fire. Starlit skies.  Owls’ song.  A cozy comforter.  Rest, my friend, and may you be enfolded in the peace that is ever present.  When we give ourselves permission to stop, unplug, and restore, we are able to move into the realm where truly all is well.  Here we may access tools that in a rested, balanced state, we can seamlessly integrate into our lives.
photo by Leigh Hilbert
As we consciously journey into these darkening days, in divine time we will surface from the depths like Persephone with the forbidden fruit, only to discover that we are the light that will return on winter solstice.  We are the light of truth and all we long for.  We are the redemptive, potent, unstoppable light of Love. 
photo by Leigh Hilbert

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,

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!