New Moon Gathering

It’s 12:46am and I should be fast asleep, but I am up late working on a video for a doula client, and there is bread rising, so I thought I would stay up and write about the amazing New Moon Gathering I went to last weekend.

First, I’ll tell you this: I am a little nervous you are going to judge me when you read this post. Here are the things I am worried you will think:

“Kate’s a weirdo.”

“Kate moved to LA and became a feminist hippy.”

“Kate’s gone off the deep end.”

And mostly I am afraid you are going to roll your eyes.

Well, now that I’ve put it out there, I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world if those things happen.  I AM weird sometimes, I have always been a feminist AND a bit of hippy, and, no, I haven’t gone off the deep end.  Also, you are at your computer and I am at mine, so go ahead and roll those eyes if you wanna!

My history with female friends is a short one and a simple one: I have always had a very small group of them. I made friends in college, but still kept a close circle. In my adult life, those ladies that I was very close with in grade school, high school, college and post college, I am still close to many of them. Yes, of course I made more girl friends as I grew up, but I wasn’t always comfortable at all female gatherings. Bachelorette parties gave me anxiety. The Girls Night I had on a regular basis in Chicago contained four of us, and I liked it that way. I was mostly friends with boys because the aforementioned judgement seems to be more prevalent in groups of girls. And that makes me feel yucky.

So when my friend Monica suggested we go to a New Moon Gathering, I was interested because it’s the Taurus New Moon (and that’s me!), but a little nervous that we might have to dance around a fire and drink a strange Kool Aid. (Spoiler Alert: that’s not what happens)

The history of moon gatherings dates back to our Native American roots. They began in the “red tent” and were a time for women to gather and celebrate their power.

“When a woman is having her moon, her blood is flowing, and this blood is full of mysterious powers that are related to childbearing. At this time, she is particularly powerful…a woman’s power and a man’s are opposites, not in a necessarily bad way, but in a good way. Because of the power a woman has during this time, it is best that, out of respect for her men and for their medicinal trinkets and beliefs, she stay away from them. During this time, the men would often build a small lodge for the woman while other female relatives serve on her needs.”- The Spirit of the Indian Woman by Judith Fitzgerald

Over time, women were taught that their periods were dirty and encouraged to hide them away and not permitted to gather. From a young age many of us are given all sorts of products to hide our periods, keep it clean, and given methods to stop it all together. All of this is bothersome to me now because I have learned a heck of a lot since I got my first period at age 11 thankyouverymuch, but for most of my life I thought that was all normal.

A modern day New Moon Gathering is a time to be with women during the new moon, and to nurture our friendships and collective power.

When Monica discovered that she could not go with me to the moon gathering, I was nervous. I really wanted to go, but not sure I wanted to go by myself. I wouldn’t know anyone, and it was in Ojai (which is an hour and a half north), and I don’t usually go to things where I don’t know anyone. But I REALLY wanted to go…and so I did!

Here is the description about this new moon.  I hope you enjoy it and take some time to honor yourself!  I’ll write more about the actual gathering at another time.

Taurus New Moon~ Body (and Earth) as Temple

From the moment the full moon in Libra rose last week until the June 6th transit with the sun, Venus is holding the celestial spotlight.

The month of May, mid-spring, has always been center stage for the sensual Goddess, ruling her most comfortable sign, fixed earth Taurus. The sign of the bull maintains and venerates the physical. The body, the senses, the flowers, trees, animals, anything that is visceral and can be touched, smelled and tasted awakens the earth mother. This is the cycle of fertility for all living beings and fecundity has been celebrated by humans for millenia. Sadly, our current society (meaning the last few thousand years) has overall been more disconnected from the power of life and nature than any culture before; and that separation does not seem to be creating more love, joy and peace in the world, does it?

Venus is getting a lot of attention this year, not only with her usual April full moon cameo and regular season of worship in May, she is also next to go retrograde and is an integral part of both the Mayan and Cherokee prophecies for 2012, which includes her completing an eight year solar transit when she crosses the sun on June 6th.

If I were to say there is just one thing we could collectively do to bring more harmony and balance in such chaotic times, it would be to make a regular practice of honoring Venus.

Like, NOW.

The Taurus new moon is Saturday April 21st, and precedes another intense eclipse cycle over the summer. That feels to me like Venus giving us a chance to ground through sweet physical practices, surround ourselves with the people, places and things that bring beauty to our lives and sustain the mutable time ahead through gratitude, connection, community and love.

The concept that came to me as I admired Venus in the sky (as her planet self and as the energy behind the full moon) was the saying “my body is a temple.” I don’t know if that phrase came from the earth, sky or from within myself, but it could truly be said for all three, and that is my intention for this month and those that follow.

How would you treat yourself and the planet differently if you really believed they were temples? I mean, have you ever walked into a space and just wanted to fall to your knees and weep in reverence? That is my reaction to seeing a Red Wood or Sequoia, to standing at the ocean, climbing the red rocks of New Mexico or entering the cathedrals of Italy or Spain. I have always felt that “temples” can be made by hand or nature, as long as the intention upon entering is to worship. What temples have you honored in your time? How can you create that feeling in your own form and the places you call home?

Could you eat better? Maybe this month is the time to plant that garden of veggies and herbs, or find a farmer’s market. Have you been meaning to switch to natural in your cleaning, bathing, beauty or home products? Start researching your options. Have you wanted to find a more joyful community? Get into massage, or crafting? There are groups all over this city! What actions can you take to bring more beauty into your life, and into the world around you? I have friends working in community gardens, meeting monthly to align their chakras, doing book clubs, planting trees, hiking in groups, biking to work together, taking time for the spa, learning to cook, all of these and more are Taurus tasks!

Another simple way to connect with Venus is to paint, print or purchase an image of the love goddess in one of her many forms (Venus, Ishtar, Inanna, Astarte, Aphrodite, Hathor, Isis, Lakshmi) and either place it on your mirror, altar or even make an altar just for her. Offer her sweets and flowers and ask for her blessings through this time.

Venus will be retrograde for part of her reign, and that means cleaning up old wounds, particularly around relationships, body issues, environment and abundance. This is the time to put your focus on the temple around you and within you, tidy it up, decorate and celebrate!


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The view on one side of Sky Ranch

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The view from the other side of Sky Ranch.

April 27, 2012. Tags: , , . Friendship, LA, Wellness. 1 comment.

Fasting

A few times a year, although I haven’t done it since I moved to LA, I do a 3 day detox fast consuming only fresh juices, water and tea.  I first read about this process in a great book that I recommend everyone have a copy of in their home.  It’s called Prescription for Nutritional Healing.  You can find it at most book stores, all health food stores, and certainly Whole Foods Market.

Anyway, 5 years ago I found the section on fasting and the benefits of it really piqued my interest.  There are all different kinds of fasts you can do, but the 3-day detox is just right for me.  I’ve never done anything  more than that, although I have heard people talk about the great benefits to a 10-day fast.  At this point, I’m not looking to do anything more than clear out the ole pipes and start fresh.

I learned some really interesting things this round:

  • I WANT to eat more than I NEED to eat.  I only felt “hungry” twice in the entire 72 hours, but my desire to eat was really strong and I almost broke down a few times.  The late afternoon was hard because I would often get stressed with work, and I am a stress eater, so naturally, I wanted to put food in my mouth.  Evening was also hard because I love cooking and missed the ritual of preparing dinner.  My brain knew what was up and I forged on, but it was hard.  I could feel that my desire to eat was directly linked to the amount of anxiety and stress I was feeling, and that was startling to actually FEEL and resist it.  It didn’t take long to push through it.  It just required some mindfulness, deep breathing, and a dance party (or two).
  • Fresh Juice is not the same as what you buy in the store.  Even the stuff that says 100% juice and nothing added, there is something added.  I could feel a HUGE difference in my body’s reaction to the two kinds of juices.  Luckily in SoCal there are an abundance of places with juicers who will juice anything you want and I felt great after drinking them!  Bloom Cafe on Pico is fantastic (not only for their juices) and I discovered Real Raw Live in Hollywood.  I had stocked up on juices from Trader Joe’s, but after drinking those, I felt jittery and often had headaches.  The ingredients list that the fresh juices are from concentrate and there must be something keeping them from separating because my fresh juices would separate overnight.  At any rate, fresh juice is the way to go.  It felt like a full meal!
  • My energy level was great! When I do these fasts I expect to feel slow and terrible in the beginning and push through to a better side by the end.  I didn’t experience that this time.  Day 1 is always a challenge to get the routine down, and this one was particularly hard because I went to a workshop that night where I sat at a kitchen table FULL of food (including my favorite- brie!).  It was hard, but in the end, I was really glad to have a reason to avoid eating those foods because, for as much as I love them, they make me feel terrible.  At that workshop, I got to test my blood sugar and it was 91, which is in the normal range.  On day 2 I hiked Runyon Canyon all the way to the top and back, and Day 3 I went to a restorative yoga class.  I learned that I can’t stay in forward bend for very long without feeling a little woozy, but otherwise, it was fine.  I slept really well, and my pee looked GREAT (nice and clear despite all the beet juice I was consuming).

Some things to note if you decide to give this a try:

  • You really need to consult your physician before trying this.
  • This isn’t a quick weight loss gimmick, so don’t use it for that.
  • If you have a history restrictive eating disorders, this may bring up some things for you, so tread lightly.
  • You might break out.  Toxins are leaving your body and they tend to come out through our skin, so watch out!
  • You have to do it on a week or weekend when you can lay low if you need to.  I don’t have a dependence on caffiene, but those that do will get headaches and feel out of it as your body detoxes, so take it easy and slow.  You may want to take a nap and you should be able to.  I did feel a stronger pull to sugar than I expected, and that was a challenge.
  • If you have a partner or roommate at home, asking them to eat when you are not home or outside the house will make this a lot easier.  My partner was very accommodating =)

By Saturday I will be back to regular food, although I’ll be avoiding sugar.  I have been tuning in to my body’s response to sugar in the last few weeks, and it’s just no good.  It’s better with cane sugars, but that white sugar really spins me out.  And during this fast, I really felt a draw to sugar in a way that surprised me because in my mind, I don’t eat a lot of it.  Maybe the fact that it’s IN EVERYTHING has something to do with it…

Watch this 60 Minutes video about Sugar. And then put that cupcake down.

April 20, 2012. Food, Wellness. 1 comment.

I am Becoming a Peacemaker

My dear friend, Monica, gave me a few of her old copies of Tathaastu Magazine: Eastern Wisdom for Mind, Body, Soul and I just took the time to read through one of them tonight.  I should be snuggled up in bed reading more, but I got so excited by one of the articles that I am now snuggled in bed writing about it so you can get excited too!

I will preface this by saying that I am not a huge follower of Depok Chopra.  I don’t dislike the guy.  He just seems a little bit like the Target of the wellness world (aka: very popular and watered down) and I am looking for something a little smaller and more intimate in my guidance.  At any rate, he wrote an article that I read tonight and it’s called “Does Peace have a Future?”  The article itself is fine- nothing revolutionary, although he talks a lot about the teachings of Jesus and that surprised me a little, but what I really liked were his “Seven Practices for Peace.”  I am going to cut them out and put them up on my mirror, but I thought I’d also share there with you.

He gives us something to do each day to “become a peacemaker” and I just LOVE this idea!  He breaks it down like this:

Sunday: Being for Peace

Monday: Thinking for Peace

Tuesday: Feeling for Peace

Wednesday: Speaking for Peace

Thursday: Acting for Peace

Friday: Creating for Peace

Saturday: Sharing for Peace

Each day there is something to do to encourage ourselves to be agents for peace, and help others tap into their own peacemaker.

Sunday: “Take five minutes to meditate for peace.  Sit quietly with your eyes closed.  Put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four words: peace, harmony, laughter, love.  Allow these words to radiate from your heart’s stillness out into your body.  As you end your meditation, say to yourself: Today I will relinquish all resentments and grievances.  Bring into your mind a grievance against someone and let it go.  Send that person your forgiveness.”

Monday: “Thinking has power when it is backed by intention.  Today, introduce the intention of peace in your thoughts.  Take a few moments of silence and then repeat this ancient prayer:  Let me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful.  Let my friends be happy, loved and peaceful.  Let all beings be happy, loved, and peaceful.  Let the whole world experience these things.  If at any time during the day you are overshadowed by fear or anger, repeat these intentions.  use this prayer to get back to your center.”

Tuesday: “This is the day to experience the emotions of peace.  The emotions of peace are compassion, understanding, and love.  Compassion is the feeling of shared suffering.  When you feel someone elses suffering, understanding is born.  Understanding is the knowledge that suffering is shared by everyone.  When you understand that you aren’t alone in your suffering, there is the birth of love.  When there is love, there is the opportunity for peace.  As you practice, observe a stranger some time during your day.  Silently say to yourself: This person is just like me.  Like me, this person has experienced joy and sorrow, despair and hope, fear and love.  Like me, this person has people in his or her life who deeply care and love them.  Like me, this person’s life is impermanent and will one day end.  This persons’ peace is as important as my peace.  I want peace, harmony, laughter and love in their life and the life of all beings.”

Wednesday: “Today the purpose of speaking is to create happiness in the listener.  Have this intention: Today every word I utter will be chosen consciously.  I will refrain from complaints, condemnation, and criticism.  Your practice is to do at least one of the following:

  • Tell someone how much you appreciate him or her
  • Express genuine gratitude to those who have helped and loved you
  • Offer healing or nurturing words to someone who needs them
  • Show respect to someone whose respect you value

If you find that you are reacting negatively to anyone, in a way that isn’t peaceful, refrain from speaking and keep silent.  Wait to speak until you feel centered and calm, and then speak with respect. ”

Thursday: “Today is the day to help someone in need: A child, a sick person, an older or frail person, or someone facing a difficult situation.  Help can take many forms.  Tell yourself: Today I will bring a smile to a stranger’s face.  If someone acts in a hurtful way to me or someone else, I will respond with a gesture of loving kindness.  I will send an anonymous gift to someone, however small.  I will offer to help without asking for gratitude or recognition. “

Friday: “Today, come up with at least one creative idea to resolve a conflict, either in your personal life or your family circle or among friends.  If you can, try and create an idea that applies to your community, the nation, or the whole world.  You may change an old habit that isn’t working, look at someone a new way, offer words you never offered before, or think of an activity that brings people together in good feeling and laughter.  Second, invite a family member or friend to come up with one creative idea of this kind on his or her own.  Creativity feels best when you are the one thinking up the new idea or approach.  Make it known that you accept and enjoy creativity.  Be loose and easy. Let the ideas flow and try out anything that has appeal.  The purpose here is to bond, because only when you bond with others can there be mutual trust.  When you trust, there is no need for hidden hostility or suspicion, the two great enemies of peace. ”

Saturday: “Today, share your practice of peacemaking with two people.  Give them this text and invite them to begin the daily practice. As more of us participate in this sharing, our practice will expand into critical mass.  Today, joyfully celebrate your own peace consciousness with at least one other person who shares a consciousness of peace.  Connect either through email or by phone.

  • Share your experience of growing peace
  • Share your gratitude that someone else is as serious about peace as you are
  • Share your idea for helping the world move closer to critical mass
  • Do whatever you can, in small or large ways, to assist anyone who wants to become a peacemaker”

And if I can add one more thing here:

Each night, before you go to bed, say out loud five things you are grateful for.  If you have a partner in bed with you, tell them 5 things you are grateful for related to them.  If you do not, tell yourself 5 things you are grateful for about YOURSELF.  I think one of the biggest things we can do to become peacemakers is to be kind and loving to our own selves.

February 3, 2012. Tags: , , . Wellness. Leave a comment.