Laurel’s Kitchen Lessons

I am fascinated when the word “tight” is used to refer to a lack of money. I picture a fist full of coins, the tendons straining from the stress of hanging on to it all. You can’t let a penny slip by!

I’m currently a little broke, and I feel tight all over. My shoulders are stiff, my breath is shallower. The tension money brings to my life is telling.

During times of want, I try to turn inward, homeward. Obviously, we can’t go on trips every day when we’re low on money, so we stay close to home. We walk around our neighborhood. remembering why we moved to our once-dry Christian colony in an arid state. (I symbolically wave to those ancestors-of-place as a feminist witch!) I love this town for the care the current owners put in their 1880s homes. I am intellectually fed by the two used bookstores on the main street. I can stand on the hill at the top of our street and see family-owned farmland.

I also turn homeward, tidying my house and yard. The urge to economize leads me to the kitchen, where I dig out the bread maker. I make giant batches of fresh salsa (people like to say sal-sah!). I ferret out my little one’s old clothes to take to the consignment shop. Being tight on money necessitates being home more, but that in turn prods me towards making my home a place of calm.

About once a year, I take a warm bath and read Laurel’s Kitchen (thank you smartasses – I do bathe more than once a year). I’m not vegetarian, but I love the pace of the book. It encourages the discovery and rediscovery of simple, nourishing food and understanding where our food comes from. We are the children of the earth, and what we eat is what we become.

I am not the stress of my daily life. I am not the money in my bank account.

I am the evening sunset. I am the cottonwoods towering above me. I am the careening bats of the summer evening.


Course Corrections

I don’t make resolutions for a new calendar year. I know very few people who do. We recognize the futility of making large life changes based on arbitrary calendar changes.

Arbitrary calendar changes are a good time to evaluate, and if needed, make course corrections. New Year’s is a good time, as well as solstices and equinoxes, birthdays and anniversaries.

The year 2013 challenged me. I changed jobs, moved to a new community, sold my home, and finished my bachelor’s degree. I am working through the challenges every marriage experiences, trying to be the best parent possible, while staying true to my spiritual core.

Metamorphose der Pflanzen,

Where do I need to course correct in 2014?

I need to take control of my physical health. I am often so preoccupied with other stress factors that I forget taking care of my physical body is the best stress reducer possible.

I need to take a break from formal education. I have my degree now, and for this year I have no desire to move forward with any other course of study.

I am a good parent, and I can be a better parent.

Marriage has been challenging lately. I’ll leave it at that.

I love my job, and I love where it is taking me. The details of my plans here aren’t appropriate for this forum, but I am excited for the direction my career is moving.

My spiritual side has been neglected this year. And this is okay, but is something to keep on my radar. It’s normal to go through ebbs and flows. It’s natural, but it’s easy to let an ebb turn into neglect.

What are your traditions surrounding New Years and evaluating your life goals?

Not Burning Down the House


I attended Winter Witchcamp several years ago. I have several opinions about Witchcamps (which may be at odds with each other) but the bottom line is that everyone should go to at least one.

I received a ride from the air port from a thoughtful woman named Teri Parsely Starnes. She is an astrologer who writes a blog called Stardance Astrology. Her writing has shifted my perspective on astrology from a dismissive eye-roll to a “wow, there’s true power here.”

Tonight is the full moon.

I had an emotional evening confronting the pain and the opportunity in my life.

Then I got in the car and drove home.

The warm orange moon hung low in the atmosphere, glowing against the deepening indigo of the twilight. She rose slowly as I returned home to my problems (and opportunities). I thought of Teri’s post about this moon, in which the full moon in Taurus occurs when the sun is in Scorpio:

This Full Moon stands in Taurus, the grounded earth sign of Spring’s fecundity. The prime directive in Taurus is to create and enhance stability. Scorpio, where the Sun stands, is dedicated to sensing into the transformative darkness. This seems as far from stability as we can get. Who knows what the darkness holds? Who can plan for the ways it will change us? If each pair of opposite signs has a gift to give the other, how do these signs benefit from this exchange? Rather than see stability and transformation as mutually exclusive, we have the opportunity to offer a little bit of each to situations that feel stuck or feel too uncertain. Where is the balance point for you?

A major theme for the rest of this lunar cycle could be described as “Working things out.” Feelings have been stirred up from our deeper recesses. Now we have the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings, come to some conclusions, and understand ourselves a whole lot more.

I fear confronting my darkness and demons because I think doing so will require the dissolution of my current life. It goes (almost) without saying that this is true, some of the time. What is true some of the time is not true all of the time. We can understand and integrate our demons without resorting to banishment.

We build relationships upon a foundation of time. For some people, that relationship must be demolished and the stones that once supported that foundation scattered. I wonder, however, if many of us aren’t too quick to demolish the whole relationship. I am guilty of this; I have walked away from friendships simply because I was “disappointed” with the other person. But transformation can stand with stability. I can work on a rocky relationship and remodel it.

Fire is transformative, but burning down the house is not the only path to change.

The One True Path

“The only map that does the spiritual traveler any good is one that leads to the center. When we touch that center point inside ourselves, we find stillness, a great calm beyond words.” – Christina Baldwin “Life’s composition”

A common pagan saying is that all paths lead to the source. It’s an affirmation of our right to exist as a religion.

But it isn’t true.

The sentiment behind it is perfectly valid. But its fault lies in the implication that one experience can be substituted with another. It cannot.

As a teenager I attended a Baptist church with a friend from school. The experience didn’t go well. It wasn’t my path; it had no meaning for me. I have a path that leads to my center and that path is not Christianity. But my Baptist friend was not meant to be a pagan.

On a macrolevel yes, all paths are valid, all paths lead to the source. But on a micro level, on an individual level, no – we are unique our paths unique.

Remember that.

Water drips through stone. Or throws it aside.

Water destroys. Water cleanses. Both of these are truths.

Last month my hometown faced days upon days of torrential rain. The water saturated the ground. The rivers, creeks, ponds, drainage pools filled and the water crested, overflowed, rose up through the soil. People lost their homes, possessions, animals. Some lost their lives. Towns and cities face uncertain futures, hoping for money from broke local municipalities and an utterly broken federal government.

Six weeks later the planet tilts a little bit further, the days shorten, the wheel turns – Samhain arrives.

At Samhain we reflect on the forces that brought us into being. We honor our ancestors, named and unknown, through shrines, offerings, and journeys to the Other side. The costumes we don, especially as children, may represent shadows shaping our lives. This Samhain,  I plan to focus on the forces that have shaped my life.

I have ancestors, recent and distant, who were powerful forces. Some were good, some were negatives. My life has not taken the course I set for it at many points. Sometimes I struggled to shift my trajectory, other times I accepted this new flow. The St. Vrain River jumped its channel during the flooding, setting itself a new course and abandoning the old.

Our lives change without warning.

Water destroys.

Water heals.
Golden Ponds During Flood

“Golden Ponds During the Flood” copyright Jacob Davis

Circling Back and Inward

Our lives circle endlessly.

The Tulip Staircase, Queen's House

We tell ourselves that our lives progress, we grow, we “move on” from who we were. We tell ourselves we’re not the same person we were as a teenager, when we got married, before we had kids.

Fallacy. Our lives spiral in a disorderly fashion.

I went to college at 18. I made it to the end, then flunked my last class. I said “fuck it” and walked away.

Three years ago I had a child, and a few months later realized what I want to be when I grow up. Although my school requirements had ballooned from requiring one class to graduate to 30 credits, I took on student loans and did what it took.

Now I am on my last class again. I am tired. I am sick of school, a child, a husband, a job, selling a house. But this part of my life spiraled back and now I will follow the energy of the spiral, taking it through to the end, rather than twisting the current in another direction.

Spiritually I am spiraling back into familiar territory. I am returning to the simple Goddess practices I worked many years ago. I am seeking to continue some of this learning, take it farther, follow the energy.

I can draw on my experience and fix the lines in my foundations, smoothing things over.

To Will

I complain a lot about school. I work full-time, have a child and a partner, and am finishing my bachelor’s degree. I put off assignments until the last minute – like right now, when I have a paper due tomorrow, I am suddenly inspired to blog again! Funny how that works.

Yet I want to complete my education. I want to push through this and just be done, ready to move on with life and pay my student loans. This is my Will.

The concept of Will has been poking through the ground and trying to get noticed. I have never had the most developed Will, and I often struggle with knowing what it is I want. I often feel like I float through life and don’t make concrete decisions for myself – I allow myself to be swept along to the next thing. This allows me to avoid responsibility for my choices. If I am swept along, then it’s not really my fault if life doesn’t go as expected, right?

This is a cop-out, a way of avoiding developing my Will. I chose to go to school. I chose to have a child (thank you, post-Roe world!). I chose to take a new job and move away from my comfort zone.

I embrace my Will, and choose to move forward. Image