Today I said it aloud

I’ve been holding onto a thought since October.

The modern enigma: balance.

Here, I’m not thinking of work-life balance. I thinking of inner balance.

The heavy thoughts started in October, as I ventured out on my one while camping, searching for a meditation site. And oh boy did I find it.

I meditated on the balance needed to function between wife, mother, teacher, and person separate from all of those facets.

I looked to Frigg. The mother, yes, but also the wife, master of the house, and standalone woman who is not defined by her relationships but rather by her meaning to society as a whole.

I have searched for and meditated on Frigg as the wife figure and while she wholly is, she is so much more pivotal as mother that even I have trouble reconciling her as both.

Confession time: I tend to lose myself in my relationships. I always have. Everything I am boils down to who I am in conjunction to X persona. Heck, I am where I am on my spiritual path today because of the ending of my mortal relationship with my sister. I am so head-over-heels with my kiddos that I often choose not to do other events when the kids don’t want to. Other times, despite not wanting to, I go. And I have a really good time. But I get home and hear stories of all that I missed that afternoon and despite enjoying the “my” time, I feel what has been missed to be worth so much more. There are times when I feel, real or perceived, that wanting to be with my kids is wrong. That I need to be without them to be whole. And so I’ve been riding this pendulum since I came out of the darkness with Witchling: All In Mama and Going Out Mama.

I keep swinging between being Mama is “my thing” and being Mama can’t be “my thing” because one day “my thing” will leave me, as it should be, and go stake their own claim and establish their own “thing”. The swinging, really, just left me with heartache and whiplash. Because I am a mom who works. I have “my thing” 6-7 hours a day. I love what I do and I have embraced being unapologetically good at it. It’s my thing, but not my only thing. Trivia night with other moms. Divination and Tea. Showing up late for book club but being welcomed anyway. Being a friend to those who both love my children and respect my want to spend my non-working time with them. Because frankly, my kids are fucking awesome and I have never bought into the mom culture of having kids to get away from them. I want to be around my kids.

I said this aloud to my friend G this evening: I am leaving the shame, real or perceived, from those who don’t have kids, or who have grown kids, over how I spend my downtime in 2018. I am doing what feels right for me and my family, even if it’s not in vogue. If an event is outside of work but before bedtime, and are either unable to attend and unwilling to attend, my chance of attending is decreasing. It’s what has been happening, but I’ve felt I’m doing it “wrong”. And I let what I perceive others to think of my actions dictate how I feel about my actions. I’m not raising them. I’ve got to tune in harder to what matters most.

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Theology in Wild Kratts?

In Wild Kratts episode 134, “Little Howler”, the brothers come across a wolf pup stowaway in their backpack. They retrace their steps to return her to her pack.

During their adventure, they find a pack and notice how the wolves are almost always followed by…ravens!

I smiled at Witchlette and asked, “Do you think this is where our ancestors got the idea that Wolves and Ravens are both sacred to Odin?”

We kept watching, and later learned the cooperative behavior between the two species: Ravens act as a security system for the Wolves, and in turn the Wolves allow the Ravens a share of their kill. Wolves run at marathon speed for long distances, but Ravens flight speed allows them to keep up.

Witchlette and I agreed for sure that our ancestors were able to observe this behavior in the Ravens and Wolves of old and figured only Allfather could have a beast of land and a beast of air bond so closely. We’ll never truly know, but it’s a good conjecture.

Sunset meditation or A lesson on UPG

Every night, both kiddos request and receive a meditation before bed. Witchling has been on a Rainbow Meditation kick. We do a chakra meditation, teaching what each energy port controls, and how it works. I’ve woven an advancement to SPP to further go into where babies come from as well as solidified honesty and integrity in words. Witchlette has been exploring “trips”, meditative visualizations of different places. We’ve done the cliffs of Ireland as I imagine our ancestors may have seen them. We’ve done waterfalls, beaches, woods, gardens, fairy gardens, and outer space. Usually I add a pause for Elemental acknowledgement within the meditations: the sun, ocean, sand, and breeze while at the beach, for example.

She started a new trend last night: I want to see Skadi.

I led her on a meditation through a field that ended where the trees started, as she began an ascent up a wooded mountain. About 3/4 of the way up the mountain, the trees thinned as she came closer to the snow-topped peak. She got to Skadi’s hall, and found the door easy to open as she was welcomed in. And I stopped.

Tonight, she asked to go to Skadi again, but this time to actually see her. I explained UPG, and how I see the gods and how she sees the gods are different, and that’s not only ok, but good. We each have our own experience and it’s not my place to influence her experience with her deities. She needs to work with them in her own way as she sees them. She understood the “no,” but didn’t really understand the “why”. She decided she wanted to see Frigg, since I could take her all the way to Frigg.

Hubby jumped in and asked what color and length she sees Skadi’s hair. She answered white and long. Hubby asked me the same thing, and I responded gray and long- not old gray, but winter sky gray. Hubby then said, see- you even see her hair as different so you have to see her yourself. Having this concrete example (thanks Hubby!) Witchlette was ready to do a meditation with limited details of the deity she wanted to see.

But she kept her switch from Skadi to Frigg, now adding not to show Frigg to her as she sees her as a white puffy cloud.

I explained to Witchlette that Frigg, based on the Lore, lives at the beach near marshes. That’s not UPG, that’s what the ancestors left us. I asked Hubby what the land next to a marsh was called and Witchlette coined “larsh”- land marsh.

Here’s her meditation:

You are walking on a path of larsh. To your left, there are tall grasses, with many cattails. Behind them, you have a thick forest. To your right, a marsh with lots of lily pads, and a water lily adorning each lily pad. There is a crane in the water. He sees you, and you stop walking. He watches you for a moment, understands you are not a threat, and continues fishing. You continue to walking down your larsh path until you come to a small, sandy, rocky beach. A small runoff from the marsh babbles over rocks and towards the cattails and grasses, like a tiny waterfall.

You sit down and enjoy the sunset. You notice the sundisk in the sky and the one reflected in the water. You see white, wispy clouds about the sky, some of them over the sun, draped like a fine necklace. These clouds interrupt the perfect circle of the sundisk reflection. The sun comes closer to the horizon, to the line where the sky meets the sea.

The sun sets closer and closer, until finally the sundisk in the sky touches the sundisk in the water. There, where the two disks meet, you see a figure. A soft breeze blows. You hear the grasses and cattails click together behind you. The clouds move along in the breeze, around the figure. The sun sets further, until the sky and reflection sundisks are almost gone. Slowly, starts are visible. One here, then one there. The further the sun sets, the more stars are visible. The figure has gone, the sun has completely gone beyond the horizon, and the night sky grows darker and darker and starlight takes over.

Yule rewind

Our family tradition is the 12 Days of Yule boxes.

Each morning, the kids take turns picking out the box of the day, reading our given activities for the day contained within, and having a treat.

Some of the activities contained within are great for repeating yearly. Others…they need to be retired.

Yule Activity 2018 retiree:

Day after Christmas giving to the food bank

Reason: the kids and I started giving to the food bank regularly and this one lost its luster…which is a good thing! It’s so routine for us, that having it be a special activity felt like brushing our teeth was special.

Replacement: make homeless care kits to keep in the car: ziplock bags full of travel size supplies of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, a water bottle, and socks. These kits will be kept in my car, and given to homeless on the streets throughout the year, and reported when the kids are not with me.

Reason: we regularly give to the food bank, but while we are in a place of excess, and in a way that we can give to our surrounding community members, I would like to do so, especially in the wake of getting so many gifts. We are very fortunate and I want my kids to recognize all they have. But also especially to be used after Christmas, as the “season of giving” is over, so folks suddenly stop when the needs are present all year long.

(Even though we didn’t do this with the boxes, I have a set ready to go now.)

Yule Activity 2018 retiree:

Ancestors, heritage, and lineage

Reason: This was done originally as a way to introduce the concept of ancestors and family ties. Moana helped a great deal, as did Coco. We talk about ancestors regularly, especially in the fall, and this year it honestly felt like forced overkill.

Replacement: Day after Christmas hygge prep

Reason: One Solstice, the family exchanges gifts, and everyone gets four. Santa comes, and leaves a few presents for each child plus a few presents to share. This year, Santa left six gifts total, plus some small trinkets from Odin in stockings. Grandparents, however, give dozens of gifts. Things need to be reorganized and either repurposed or donated to make room. Plus, while Winter Solstice has passed, the real winter is yet to come. We need to have a happy, clear space to huddle down for the winter days.

Family totem

For box 7 of our Twelve Days of Yule, we were tasked with creating a totem to represent the four Natural and Spiritual Elements. Witchlette was very concerned that there are five elements, as there are five points on a Magic Star, and why don’t we put Spirit in the jar as well. I explained that Spirit is represented by us, together, building the totem.

We started with a glass vase, with glass beads already at the base. Two sticks crossing at the back. We added small shells and acorns. Silk leaves and flowers, a cluster of silk cattails. A larger seashell, red wicker balls, and white feathers. Lastly, a pine cone and a starfish. The Littles added white toy filler for clouds at the tops of the sticks. A silk cardinal and dragonfly finished off the piece.

It now sits proudly in our living room on display for us everyday, a reminder not only of the Five Elements, but of working together creatively to make something beautiful out of tiny, unrelated pieces.

A Polytheistic Christmas or Santa is the American God

This year, 2018, was the first year that Witchlette genuinely prayed to Skadi and Idunn. She closed her eyes and softly moved her mouth in private offerings to her goddesses.

We discuss the gods regularly. Both kiddos know a vast majority of the pantheon and they also know that some people don’t believe in our gods, they believe in other gods. Some gods come from Egypt, some from Greece, some from Ireland. Ours come from the most northern parts of Northern Europe. These gods are tied to the ancestry on my mother’s side. There are gods of my father’s ancestry, though those never spoke to me no matter how hard I tried. There are gods of their father’s ancestry, both on his father’s and mother’s side. I have shared with the kids that I will be happy to research those deities as much as I can and share all that I learn. I started searching Slavic deities, but Witchlette wasn’t ready yet. She may never be, because she has found a connection with Skadi and Idunn.

They both know that most people around us are “Jesus people” and we are not and that’s ok too. We’ve talked about how being a Jesus person, or not, doesn’t make you good or bad. It’s just what you believe in your religion. It’s your divine connection. And who you talk to, or don’t, doesn’t determine your worth.

As a polytheistic family, we regularly give libations to our gods. We regularly give offerings. We practice Gebo, a gift for a gift. You have to give something to get something.

Every year, we offer a horn of mead to Odin, the original Santa, who leaves presents in stockings. We leave cookie and milk for Santa, who leaves presents under the tree. We leave food in the yard for both Slepnir and the reindeer, who respectively do the heavy lifting.

I am trying to actively raise the two to not have a vending machine relationship with their respective gods. To practice Gebo so that when you do need something, the gods will be there. Also personal ownership. Witchlette and I specifically talked about not studying for her spelling test, then asking Skadi to help her pass the test, won’t work. She responded, “If I study for the test, and ask Skadi to be with me for confidence while I take the test, that would work.”

She nailed it exactly.

But, back to Santa. We leave him milk and cookies, and he leaves the kids presents. We are not the only ones. Families across the country set up milk and cookies for the big man in red, in return for presents.

Everyone leaves him an offering. A libation. A prayer.

Santa truly is America’s God.

Everything to everyone

Everyone pressures everyone else. I pressure all of those around me…Hubby, Little Witches, Mom, students, colleagues, friends… I want everyone to be the best them at all times because I selfishly want the best them for myself.

This is not meant out of callousness and is not done directly, outside of disciplining the Little ones who sometimes need redirection.

I feel the pressure from everyone too. Be the best Mother, Wife, Teacher, Friend, Witch…

I allowed this pressure to internalize, as I allow most everything to internalize. I’m an internalizer. Something around me goes wrong and I see myself as a failure. I allowed this pressure to continue to push myself. I found myself going in circles. Although, I guess it was more of cycles. I really enjoy something, so I am going to do it more often. Yet, that means I will be unable to do something else. There’s always a give and take.

I really like attending Full Moon rituals, book club meetings, trivia night as part of the 3 Hot Mamas…I also love snuggling with my kids while they laugh at cartoons, spending time sitting at the kitchen table with Hubby in the quiet night and just talking, coming home from a busy day at work to a clean house because the time was put towards that cleaning the night before.

I wanted to have it all. I figured out ways to have it all, but having it all was exhausting. So I found myself internalizing and just snuggling in. I have gone through this cycle about 4 times since Witchling was born. Having it all, until it all becomes too much work and just focusing on what’s best.

Some friends mention how long it’s been, and I enjoyed the event, so I feel this pressure to do more again. And so it goes until it doesn’t go anymore.

Last Monday, I had an unfiltered moment with my dearest S where I said I was going to be pulling back from some things not because I feel like I have to because I have overwhelmed myself again, but rather because I want to. Because It’s better this time because I don’t feel like I am losing myself in the kids. I don’t feel like the kids are my only “thing”. They just have so much going on and I want to be there for all of it, and everything else gets put on the side. Because one day everything else will still be there, in one form or another, and they won’t. Heck, they’ve already grown so much.

There would be heartwarming moments that I would miss. Moments like tonight when Witchlette, who is battling a small cold, coughed. Witchling, without prompting or asking and in less than five seconds after her cough, stood up and got her his water cup. Because when you cough, drinking helps. And because he genuinely is concerned for her. Because he genuinely cares.

Moments like this are the little bits that I would be sacrificing. That I have been sacrificing. That I try to convince myself that it’s ok to do so.

And sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s necessary because responsibility calls away.

As the sun continues its journey and we dive further into the dark half of the year, I am getting my hygge on and reveling in my nights at home.