Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth


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Preparing for the Festival Of Courage (Michaelmas in Fairyland)

This year I am working to tie together the lessons for my 3rd grader, first grader, and kindergartener.¬† I am calling it “Whole Family Homeschool”… where “one room schoolhouse” meets Waldorf education. ūüôā I will have to post the beginning of our year’s container story soon, as it will help make sense of the chapter below.¬† But, rather than get so far behind in typing the stories out that I procrastinate forever (lol), I will share the first two days of our Michaelmas week stories.¬† As a bit of a background, each of my three children has been given a special book whilst on a mission in fairyland- my kindergarten daughter has The Real Mother Goose, my first grade son has An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairytales, and my third grade son has Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy. These books have been given to them to help them meet the challenges they will face on their missions in lands of fairies, elves, gnomes… and of course… the land of humans!

*Day One*

There was spicy note of celebration in the air.¬† Everyone in the Elemental Realms was hurrying to finish their day’s work early and some were already preparing for festivities.¬† Cirrus, Arlo, and Tula were very wide-eyed all day, watching and waiting as the sense of anticipation, palpable and intoxicating, grew and grew. After a satisfying lunch of beech nut stew and blackberry pie, Tula’s book began to glow.¬† The boys watched excitedly as she opened it, straight down the middle as she had been shown, where a ribbon marked its center pages.¬† The pages began to flutter, then flip this way and that, until they finally settled.

Cirrus began to read the rhyme aloud to Arlo and Tula.

Jack be nimble, jack be quick,

Jack jump over the candlestick.

Jack be nimble, Jack be spry,

Jack jump over the apple pie.

Jack be nimble, Jack jump high

Jack fly up into the sky.

As they watched, daring fairies and mischievous elves began to dance about and hop over what appeared to be flaming boughs of goldenrod, and when they had tired of this, wee fairy pies.¬† Finally their jumping contest took to the air as they shot straight up, so quickly that they flew up above the page top and could not be seen til they gleefully descended again.¬† Arlo’s tummy fluttered a bit as he watched, and Cirrus immediately began to take running leaps at the nearest stand of goldenrod to see if he could make it over.¬† Tula giggled and shouted “I want to try, too!”

Cobble soon appeared and grunted in the grumpy way gnomes often do.¬† “Preparing for the Festival of Courage, I see.¬† Take care you don’t land in the thistles beyond”, he warned, pointing to a thistle patch just past the goldenrod Cirrus was about to throw himself over. And then, to their awe and delight, Cobble took a running start and launched himself through the air, defying all laws of Gnome Gravity, and cleared a single goldenrod plant that was at least four times his height. Tula giggled and Cirrus’s jaw dropped.

“Didn’t think I had it in me, did ya?” he boasted proudly.¬† I was a champion in my younger years I’ll have you know.¬† Won the Goldenrod Leaping Trophy three years in a row!” He dusted himself off, and sat upon a large toadstool nearby.

“Goldenrod, you see, is a very special plant.¬† While other flowers of its ilk blossom from bottom up upon their stalk, goldenrod buds from top to bottom, like a candle burning down.¬† Tonight the fire fairies will set all the goldenrod plants aglow, and they will burn like candles.¬† Tomorrow the humans shall wonder why almost all the goldenrod has faded away, but it is time, you see- time for all things to return to rest and pull inward.¬† It is time for flowers to fade and the days of light to dwindle to their lowest.¬† Lights out early for the animals, the elementals, the humans.¬† Now facing darkness can be scary for anyone, just as looking inward and facing your very own self can be daunting.¬† We all have parts of ourselves we aren’t quite sure we are happy with, things we want to change.¬† A Festival of Courage celebrates each one of us turning inward and making changes we know we must make. Of course being fairies, elves and gnomes we can’t accomplish any such task without merriment- and so the goldenrod leaping contests have become a tradition.¬† Nimble Jack was a fairy boy of long ago who set records yet to be beaten today, for fearlessly jumping over the highest and brightest blazing goldenrods.¬† That is where the rhyme comes from.¬† And then of course, their is the pie jumping contest… now that is my favorite part!” he said, patting his round gnome belly with a smile of satisfaction.

The children smiled too, and were still and thoughtful for a moment.  Soon they were practicing leaping over goldenrod again.

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*Day Two*

“Cobble, must all of us leap over the goldenrod when the fire fairies set it on fire?” Arlo asked timidly.¬† Part of him wanted to imagine himself breaking new records, and part of him was a little scared.

Cobble grinned.¬† “Ah, when the night is upon us and the excitement of everyone touches your heart, it will embolden you lad.¬† Take courage from your friends.¬† But courage, you know, is not about having no fear.¬† It is about meeting your fear with grace, and understanding that fear is but an illusion, something that falls away when we do what we know, deep down here, is right” he said putting his hand upon his heart.

“I dare say Arlo, but your book seems to be positively glowing!” Cobble pointed to Arlo’s Treasury of Fairytales.

Arlo, quivering with excitement, set his brightly lit book down and it began to flip and flap, until it settled upon the Tale of the Four Skilful Brothers.  Cirrus abandoned his athletics and sat down to read the story to the two smaller children.

When he had finished, the three children and Cobble the Gnome watched as pictures appeared upon the pages where once words had flowed, illustrating the story.¬† The gently quivering page finally settled upon a magnificent giant of a dragon, curled up in the shape of a huge D.¬† Arlo traced the D of the dragon’s body on the page, and as he did his finger brushed lightly upon a beautiful crested shield that decorated the borders of the page, where knights in shining armor and beautiful maidens danced happily.¬† His finger tingled and the book began to shake and shimmy yet again, until three shields and swords shook free of the pages and landed all about them with a metallic clamor.

“Well I’ll be”, Cobble said.¬† All your accoutrements for the Festival of Courage.¬† My, but your swords and shields are very plain.¬† That won’t do- you’d best see the color fairies and ask for paints to add your crests. And while you’re at it, I dare say you might ask them to dye you some golden capes, for all the other fairy folk will be wearing them tonight.”

And so Cobble led the excited children to the village and brought them to a hut with a sign that read “Fairy and Elfen Dyeworks, LTD”.


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Dyeing Silk With Goldenrod (Michaelmas Capes!)

I can remember being annoyed with goldenrod when I first moved to the country.¬† It really dominates the September landscape, makes it hard to hike through our meadows, has a bad rap for causing allergies (the true culprit is ragweed),and did not seem to have much practical use.¬† Seven years later, I truly appreciate it- and not just because it dyes silk and wool a lovely, natural yellow- but for its essence and what it represents.¬† While goldenrod does have medicinal uses, it is also “The Bee Gold Rush”- offering our friends, the bees, a magnificent feast just when they need it most- before a long, cold winter.¬† While I am busy canning tomatoes and freezing corn, the bees are stocking up their larder with goldenrod nectar.

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If you spend some time with plants- meditating on them, sitting amongst them- I think it is possible to get a feeling for their work and purpose.  Goldenrod is a very giving, humble, and yet glorious plant. It is as though it has soaked up an entire summer of sun and then reflects it back to the world, standing tall and yet head modestly, slightly bowed- gathering all along the roadsides to greet passers by and create a celebratory gold-lined path on many of our country roads. It is also anti-inflammatory and diuretic, having a number of uses as a healing herb.

In Julia Grave’s incredible book The Language of Plants: A Guide to the Doctrine of Signatures, she talks about the difference between “a single, showy flower” and “a group of flowers giving an impression as if they were one flower.” The latter “often have to do with our comportment in groups, or the unification of all our sub-parts, of self”.¬† In North American goldenrod, single flowers are grouped into little flowers which are then additionally grouped into a rod.¬† This is a “double grouping process”

“It is the flower essence for children who seek attention from the group by acting in a negative way. It will enable them to act in harmony with the group without needing negative attention… In whichever variation, grouped flowers play on the theme of the individual versus the larger human context.”

Julia also talks about the significance of the order in which a flower blooms.

“Most flowers along spikes bloom from the bottom up… they open their lowest flowers first… it is remarkable that Goldenrod blooms from above down… The whole gesture is one of preparing to go in after the outward gesture of summer... Blooming with a gesture of a warm glowing candle that burns downward, Goldenrod speaks of bringing in the energy.”

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When I see goldenrod now, I see a living, vibrant metaphor of my place in the cycle of the seasons; I remember to check in with myself and often find the busyness of autumn is truly burning my candle low, and I feel the stirrings of anticipation for the slower pace of winter.

To dye with it, you want only the blossoms, as leaves and stems will contribute a greenish tone to your dye pot. You can use the blossoms fresh or dried.  It is time consuming to strip the blossoms from the stems, so find a pleasant spot or some pleasant company and settle in!

Prior to dyeing your silk, you may wish to mordant it. This ensures the color stays vibrant and your dye job does not fade or rinse out. Some people use vinegar as a mordant, but I find alum to be more effective and the safest of the mordants.  Common consensus is to use 1/4 the weight of the item to be dyed worth of alum, and in my dye pot I generally do a few yards of silk with 1 tablespoon of alum and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.  Handle the alum carefully (do not inhale or eat!). It is also well-advised to have a reserved dye pot and not use your pot for cooking edibles if you use mordants in it. Enamelware pots (like those typically used for canning) make great dye pots.

To mordant your silk, add the alum and cream of tartar and enough water to completely cover your silk, with extra for evaporation, and let dissolve.¬† Then heat the water to a gentle simmer (do not boil- may ruin the sheen of the silk!) and allow the silk to soak for an hour.¬† Now, remove from heat and let soak overnight. When cooled, ring out but do not rinse. You can allow it to sit in a cool place for a few days and this will “set” the silk all the more.

The day before you dye, you’ll want to put your blossoms in the dye pot with enough water to cover the blossoms and silk you intend to use (do not add silk yet though), and extra to account for evaporation. Bring blossoms and water to a boil for 20 minutes; remove from heat and allow to soak overnight. You may wish to add tumeric or marigold if you would like a more vibrant yellow; I usually add a few petals of this flower (not sure of the name) that shoots up each year in our garden to herald September.

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Strain the flowers and add your silk to the pot (and perhaps some natural wool felt or natural roving if you wish!). Heat, but do not boil (this damages the sheen of the silk), stir well to distribute dye evenly and be sure silk is not folded up as this will effect dye distribution. After an hour, remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Rinse and dry- all done!

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Don’t forget to dry some goldenrod for later.¬† It will cheer you up and remind you of Indian summer during the dark winter.

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If you are dyeing a large piece of silk as I did for our nature table, this is a great tutorial on hand-hemming silk. If you are dying a pre-hemmed 35″ square silk and wish to turn it into a cape, you can simply tie two corners to fasten the cape or get fancy and fold one edge down about an inch or so, sew in place, and thread a finger-knitted yellow chain through the “sleeve” for a tie.


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Potato Planting- In The Garden With Children

I know, I know. I know what you all are thinking… I deserve “most inconsistent blogger of the year award”.

Yep! I won’t even go in to the layers of craziness that have been my life lately! But thankfully, circumstances are stabilizing. *Deep sigh*.¬†

I want to share pictures of the wonderful time we had this weekend, doing one of our favorite things together… playing in the garden!

According to the Biodynamic Planting Calendar, yesterday and today are perfect times for planting root vegetables- and the weather was also incredibly nice.¬† So we cut some already sprouting potatoes from the root cellar into pieces (I like to make sure there are at least two “eyes” per piece).

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And scooped some rich earth into each hole (wheel-barrowed over from behind the chicken coop, where the coop bedding from last year has been composting for months)- to ensure the potatoes have all the nutrients they need…

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Poured the dirt into each hole…

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¬† And into the ground goes each potato! We hope to get at least a pound per plant in yield. We buried them, and when they come up we will mound the dirt in little hills around each plant.¬† Potatoes like to be cozy! If we should get frosty nights between now and the true start of frost free season, I’ll cover the bed with a sheet.¬† Potatoes like it chilly, anyways.¬† I find if the plants have a good start before hot weather, they resist the potato beetles better.

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Meanwhile, the boys were clearing beds.¬† My eldest’s pick-axe like tool inspired him to sing the dwarves song from Snow White, slightly modified:

“We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig, we dig the whole day through;

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig it’s what we like to do.

It ain’t no trick to grow food quick

If you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick

In the garden, in the garden where a million earthworms crawl”….

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 Taking advantage of perfect root planting time, I planted tons of French breakfast radishes and, too excited to wait for opportune leaf planting weather, could not resist also sowing some Marveilles De Quatre Saison lettuce!

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Even the baby dug in the sandbox.¬† I keep a small sandbox in the garden so the younger children can play nearby as I work.¬† I’ll be tucking the sandbox under the bean teepee and covering it with sheets before it grows up, to shade him from the hot sun.

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We couldn’t get the old rototiller to start, so Cedar Ring Papa got a work out tilling with a pitch fork!

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Suddenly a rare Kingston plant sprang up in one of the beds.

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He was carefully tended to; shaded and bugs picked off. ūüôā

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My daughter, who is 4.5 years old now, is such a good helper! She happily planted all the onions, dancing carefully between the rows.

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As usual, I went a little overboard on seeds this year! Hard to resist when Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has soooo many amazing varieties.¬† I’ll be putting in the last seed order of the season next weekend, so if you’d like to order seeds with me, browse all the lovely seeds at http://www.rareseeds.com, then head over to the Cedar Ring Circle Special Orders department and order your favorites (listed at 20% off, with free shipping!).

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¬†It’s amazing the difference a year can make.¬† Just last year, it was a challenge to garden with three young children and a baby.¬† But finally, their age and expectation of the tradition it has become has paid off, and we were able to all enjoy a productive, fun time together.¬† It was certainly the best Mother’s Day gift I could have imagined!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Waldorf Plans for St. Patrick’s Day

I am finally feeling like life is settling down- our family is still facing a lot of challenges, but that has actually started to seem status quo… haha… and I am ready to delve back into a more spirited undertaking of the festivals.¬† We need some celebration in our life at the end of a very long, cold winter!

St. Patrick was captured by raiders and enslaved for six years, and then he escaped.¬† He then chose a life of service to the country where he had been enslaved.¬† This reminds me of the Hebrew tradition, outlined in the Old Testament.¬† Anyone taken up as a slave in a Hebrew household was required to be set free on the seventh year.¬† Because slaves were often afforded protection and livelihood, and sometimes even felt as if they were to some extent a part of the family, they could choose to stay if they had a good master, and were then called “bondservants”.¬† They¬† “bound” themselves to their master and promised to serve him the rest of their lives.¬† It became an act of service born of freedom. So during this week of St. Patrick’s Day I am considering the ideas of slavery and freedom.

Wonder with me, will you, what things in your life you have felt a slave to?¬† I have been considering habits, thought patterns, and more which hold me down.¬† I have also been considering those good things which, out of meniality, necessity, and daily-ness have come to feel like slavery- those things I must do to keep my home and family thriving, that I seem to be internally grumbling about.¬† How can I make the switch from slavery to freedom?¬† By affirming my own personal responsibility and dwelling on my capability to make my own choices.¬† Indeed, we make the choices for everything in our lives.¬† We are not trapped, obligated, forced, manipulated… unless we allow it- or choose- to be!¬† This often does not “feel” true- but it is.¬† We step into a brand new realm of freedom and possibility when we take responsibility for our choices and actions, and stop taking responsibility for the choices and actions of others.¬† I am reading a wonderful book along those lines, called Boundaries in Marriage– highly recommend it!

St. Patrick’s Day is also a time to celebrate Ireland and all things Irish.¬† We borrowed some beautiful picture books of Ireland from the library, a Riverdance DVD, an Irish cookbooks, and plenty of leprechaun tales. We are actively studying the little creatures.¬† I’ve been painting up these wee pot o’ golds– wooden pots painted black to look like cast iron, and filled with small chunks of fool’s gold. They are so cute!

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I plan to hide them around the house for each child to find, under rainbows (perhaps Grimm’s rainbow stackers, a needle felted wool fairy with rainbow skirt, or rainbows created by these prisms).

I am painting some wooden rounds with gold craft paint to drop gold coins along the treasure hunt path to lead the way as “hints” and keepsakes, and sewing up little shamrock-shaped felt pockets (two sheets of green wool felt cut out in shamrock shapes and sewn together with a slot at the top to insert coins), probably to be attached to a finger knit string and worn as necklaces.¬† I am also painting 12 wooden shamrock shapes and designating a number on each little cloverlet- 1-48- to practice counting by fours. I am working on a needle-felted clover bunting, too! I’ll post again when it is finished.

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I also bought a bunch of these “floating clover” candle molds.¬† Ok, so I’ve never seen a five-leaved clover, and I am not sure why they are calling them that… but we’ll go with it.¬† Great and easy way to use up leftover wax bits after making beeswax cookie cutter candles. Of course there is no need to have scraps laying around to make them… I had a couple sheets I just crumpled up and tossed in my double boiler because I was so happy with how they turned out. And when Mama Erin and I tested them out, they truly did float!

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We will paint with green on Watercolor Day, make homemade green mint essential oil playdo for the littler ones and make beeswax modeling wax leprechauns with my older one on Modeling Day, make Irish soda bread on Baking Day, and work on painting our wood rounds and clovers for Craft Day.  There will also be an attempt to catch a leprechaun, inspired by my friend Mari.  She says in her house last year, they glued sequins to the walls of a cardboard box, filled it with treasures and made a little ladder leading to it in hopes the leprechauns would leap in and become trapped.  They were smart little creatures tho- in the morning her children found the latter flipped to the inside of the box where the leprechauns could escape, after stealing sequins, leaving the box contents in disarray, and even overturning kitchen chairs and sprinkling flour about the kitchen!

If I have time, I’ll be needle-felting a leprechaun as well.¬† I made one already, and learned a lot- but he did not pass my personal aesthetic standards, lol, so I am trying again to make him just as I envision him.¬† I’ll admit it… it was his face.¬† I tried giving him a face and his features sort of creeped me out.¬† As in I could not be in the same room with him at night, lol! My boys, however, were thrilled I took up their suggestion to display his mischievous leprechaun ways by having him moon everyone.

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If anyone has a good recipe for natural corned beef, please share.¬† We are trying to avoid nitrates and also have a freezer full of our neighbor’s beef, so I don’t want to buy supermarket corned beef… but we will try colcannon for sure!

Visit my shop soon if you want to add a little Waldorf style Irish flavor to your home- orders that come in by tonight will ship priority mail tomorrow to arrive on St. Paddy’s Day or earlier. It tends to be a week long celebration for us, since one day is never enough to pack in all the fun!

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Nature Swap!

Wow, life has been busy!

Cedar Ring Circle has been growing so much, and our community of mothers broadens every day.¬† I can hardly keep up!¬† I have some wonderful painting boards, paint jar holders, and Waldorf picture frames in the works that I can’t wait to share with you, and Michaelmas kits as well!¬† In the meantime, I am drying goldenrod to include in the Michaelmas kits for dyeing golden capes…

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…coming up with a fully stocked kit and tutorial for needle-felting your own Michaelmas dragon…

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I put “Wing A” and “Wing B” up for vote on the Cedar Ring Circle facebook page.¬† Wispy, ethereal “Wing A” won the popular vote… what do you think? I am going to make a final one now that I’ve practiced a bit on this guy.¬† I’m thinking dark green and light green, or orange and red- what color combination would you pick?

DSC_8770And I’m gathering goodies for a nature swap…

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That’s right, Waldorf mamas from around the US and Canada are scouring their backyards and wooded areas for native bits of autumn nature table glory, sending them to our central organizer, and waiting with bated breath for their nuts, seeds, and weeds to arrive!¬† Head on over to the exciting new group Eileen from Little Acorn Learning¬†started on Facebook- Waldorf Tag Sale– to learn more or participate. While you’re there, check out all the fun new and used treasures being traded, bought and sold.

Off to go hunt some more teasel and crabapples to add to the swap!


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Ten Moons- Monthly Meditations for Expecting Mothers (Part 1)

So maybe one day, when I have a little extra time (ha!) I will write a book with this title- but for now a short summary will have to do to¬†capture my thoughts… ¬†Last night as I drove home the almost two hour drive from visiting my homebirth midwife’s office, I was inspired by the¬†night sky to think about the moon and stars and reflect on a more traditional view of pregnancy.¬† While we tend to think of a pregnancy’s duration as “nine months”,¬†the more traditional idea would be “ten moons”.¬†¬†A pregnancy technially lasts 40 weeks- which is 40 x 7, or 280 days. ¬†A moon cycle is about 28 days-¬†x 10, also 280 days.¬† The moon certainly represents a symbol of femininity and in a perfect scenario, guides us through our monthly cycle.¬† Before alarm clarks and LED’s and nightlights, many women found the light of the moon influenced them strongly.¬† It is no secret that light and fertility are interconnected- as soon as the days lengthen a bit after winter solstice, no matter how cold it actually is, my chickens begin laying more (and many people put artificial light in coops just to increase egg production year round).¬† Likewise, a full moon would be peak time for a woman to ovulate, and new moon, to bleed.¬† We have a skylight in our bedroom, and I strategically placed our bed so that I lay right beneath the skylight, with the effect of the moon in mind. Like the moon, we expand and contract in our cycle each month- from our open, expanding, glowing fertile state to our closed, contracting, shedding state of menstruation.¬† When my midwife and I tried to figure out my due date, I hadn’t been charting or paying attention to the calendar- but I knew I ovulated last with June’s full moon, and ten moons from then, at March’s full moon, my babe should arrive (unless other forces are at work- prehaps another time is destined and he or she will be early or late- but still, perfectly on time!).¬† Even in this day and age when many women of our society are incredibly disconnected to the natural cycle of life and nature, it is reputed that more women give birth during full moons than any other time of the month.¬† I’m sure the gravitational pull of the moon on water as seen on the tides also effects us when we are ready to deliver, with a small sea of waters inside safely enveloping our little one!

As I was reflecting on how little I actually get to reflect on my pregnancy with three little ones, a co-op to run, homesteading, and homeschooling, I imagined what I would love to reflect on if I did set aside more time to dwell on the growing baby.¬† I thought of the correlation between what changes our bodies are experiencing each month and how the baby develops, and came up with a rough¬†framework of¬†meditations…

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We don’t usually find out that we are pregnant until, at least, the end of the first month- but for those of us who are actively trying to conceive, I think “creation” is a wonderful theme for a first month of pregnancy.¬† A wise woman once told me “we are either birthing babies or ideas”.¬† In other words, we all have such tremendous creative power in life, and we can harness this to manifest in outward creative acts, or store it up within and use that energy to build a baby.¬† When I close my eyes, I can visualize the very world being formed and and every living thing coming into being.¬† Since I believe in a Creator, whose image I reflect, I believe¬†I have this common quality of bringing things into being, all originating in thought and will.¬†¬†One of my favorite mantras is “we create our own reality”.¬† It reminds me to be slow to come to conclusions and not to run willy nilly into believing everything I hear- for what we believe often determines in large part what we create of our lives- or fail to create!¬† When I was younger, I was easily swayed by people who seemed either more intelligent or¬†more knowledgeable than what I believed myself to be, or who were just plain confident and convincing.¬† This would result in crisis for me when I encountered two people who were both knowledgeable and convincing and had opposing views!¬† I remember I hated “debate” because I would leave a debate feeling confused about what to believe in- but now, I truly enjoy it and love looking at an issue from every angle. I love the story of the ten blind men and the elephant- each grabbing hold of a different part of the elephant and arguing to each other about what the elephant is like- and yet, all of them were in part, correct- they just lacked a holistic perspective. We often cling to one way of looking at an issue instead of holding it like a ball in our hands and viewing it from all sides.¬† Instead of one possible solution to a problem, there are often many potential ones if we allow ourselves to be “unlimited” by preconceived ideas or prejudices.¬† Likewise, we can choose how we view the world around us and create a beautiful reality rather than swallow whatever ideas, opinions, and beliefs that are handed to us by everything we take in from others around us.¬† To be in balance, we certainly must use past experience and knowledge obtained from logical processes along with awe, wonder, and¬†open-mindedness as we draw¬†conclusions and form our guiding beliefs.

We can also vow to protect our young children from too many of our own judgements, ideas, and potentially limiting beliefs- giving them the best chances for creating a beautiful reality of their own.¬† In reflection, what have I been creating for myself, and what life have I been building?¬† How can I free the little one I long for or know to be forming within from limiting beliefs or my own personal (perhaps even¬†selfish) desires for who and what this new being will become- and in effect, offer that child the same free will to be a self determining, creative¬†being that my Creator gifted me with?¬† How can I find the balance between loving, careful guidance and the freedom this little one will need to incarnate into his or herself?¬† How do I take responsibility for the creative manifestion of this baby’s physical body, and still honor the idea Khalil Gibran so eloquently expressed-

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable”.

As I meditate on creation, I visualize a work of art being formed.  I imagine the intent, the care, the individual expression of the artist.  I watch the work unfold without judgement and focus on being at one with the process, letting it flow from me rather than be forced out by me- allowing it to become what it seeks to be in concert with the beauty I can offer to the process.

Steiner encouraged mothers/childcare givers¬†to reflect on Raphael’s masterpiece “The Sistine Madonna.” What a beautiful way to¬†honor the act of¬†creating at this time while preparing for a new life.¬†In his article “The Sistine Madonna: Thoughts and Experiences”, Waldorf kindergarten teacher Stephen Spitalny writes:

“An important element for me is the healing qualities of the painting, which Rene¬†Querido described as a yantra. A yantra is an image that works on a person on many¬† levels, even by its mere presence. Margret Meyerkort helped me to see the wonderful¬† loving gesture with which the baby is held, an archetypal mother gesture. She pointed¬†out the earlike, listening gesture of the painting itself, in the form and shape¬†of the mother and her cloak. She especially helped me to see that the picture does¬† not characterize a situation on the physical earth, but that the veils are pulled¬† back and we get a glimpse beyond. Also, the colors of red and blue in her cloak¬† and dress stand out as archetypal healing colors, especially helpful for the young¬† child. The barefoot mother is carrying the child down through the clouds toward¬† the material world as two saints look on, one looking away in deep reverence, and¬† the other in sadness and resignation, pointing the way forward and downward to incarnation.¬† The curtained veils are parted so that we can glimpse this holy moment. We can also¬† see many faces in the clouds, awaiting their moment of becoming a child on their¬†own path toward incarnation.

Raphael made this painting to depict Mary and her child Jesus, yet this is also¬† a depiction of every child. Each comes from the heavenly world in a similar manner¬† to this depiction, surrounded by angels and saints and the other spirits waiting¬† to incarnate.”

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To Be Continued…

(Shared on Annette’s Waldorf Wednesday Link Up)


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Mrs. Thaw

One of the characters in Ollie’s Ski Trip is Mrs. Thaw.¬† She is always showing up at the wrong time, messing things up and turning beautiful slow into slush, until Jack Frost scares her away and breathes his frosty breath upon the world to return it to its winter splendor.¬† Mrs. Thaw’s time is at the end of King Winter’s reign; she is King Winter’s cleaning lady, sweeping away the snow and preparing the world for Spring’s arrival in her carriage (pulled through the sky by white butterflies!).¬† Throughout the winter, whenever it looks as though it is going to thaw, Ollie and his brother go outside and call:

“Mrs. Thaw, Mrs. Thaw,

Please don’t sweep our snow away!

Come again another day!”

My children have been chanting this as a warm wind blew up a couple nights ago and melted most of our snow.¬† We went in the woods and played in the sunlit muddy puddles and the shady, cool spots still covered with snow.¬† The creek was¬†bubbling away with the runoff¬†and one of the kids’ favorite things to do is stomp on the thin sheets of ice along the edge, and watch them flow downstream, melting all the way.¬† Along the edges of the high banks, icicles hang over recesses like stalagtites guarding caves.¬† I found just what I was looking for in a small dam of tree branches in one part of the creek; a young sapling that had been uprooted, with beautiful dried roots intact.¬† I am planning to make an installation for the nature table with a section of the tree and its roots representing the Lower Earth, divided by a small wooden platform or round of log midway up the branch to divide it from Upper Earth.¬† Of course the gnomes and root children will live among the roots!¬† I’ll post photos¬†as¬†it progresses.¬† With all the holiday decorations put away, the house is looking bare- so I am inspired to decorate and work on the nature table.

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Here is Mrs. Thaw… standing on her puddle of slush with her wee broom of dried pine needles. I woke up early this morning inspired to make her and surprise the kids… although I didn’t end up getting her finished until after breakfast!¬†I might rework her cloak and hood a bit in the future, and her green apron was my first attempt at handcarding different colors (white and green) together.¬† I think I need some practice with the handcards- my results certainly didn’t come out like the ones on the Youtube tutorials I watched! Any tips on getting nice¬†full rolags out of your carded fibers?¬† Mine seem thin and bunchy, and I can’t seem to collect all the roving onto one card no matter how much I “tilt and grab”. But it was fun trying new techniques, and hopefully I’ve learned a thing or two for next time!

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Post a link to your nature table if you like!  We can all use a little inspiration this (often dreary) time of year.

(Linked up with Nicole’s Keep Calm Craft On.)