Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Blessing with a Side of Mercury Retrograde

Another holiday season is upon us. This one was preceded by a flurry of events that have left many people a bit out of sorts, if not genuinely stunned, for the holidays. Not only major national events, but also many local and personal events have shown up in very unusual ways.

Add in Mercury retrograde beginning just before Solstice. We could be in for a roller coaster ride. This round's intensity rises alongside its close alignment to Pluto, ruler of the Underworld actively guiding the Middle World. It's a good time for research, uncovering secrets, reconnecting with people, revisiting events, and redoing projects. Making it the perfect time for family gatherings ~ as long as communication happens with great love and care.

Mercury retrograde provides the opportunity for reflection and insight before responding to challenging circumstances. If we quiet ourselves, it's the time when our intuition can speak the most clearly ~ if we listen.

Mercury is the messenger of the gods, both between the deity and between gods and humans. As a planet, it's the director of alchemy. It communicates the changes and transformations we need to move to the next phase of our lives. During this one in particular, Mercury goes retrograde in Capricorn, the realm of responsibilities, career, plans, structures, goals, and control. If we quiet ourselves, we will receive the awareness and insight we need.

This year we will be entering 2017 with Mercury in retrograde. That gives us a slow, contemplative start of the new year. If we use this reflective time wisely, we can move into 2017 with more awareness, understanding and information than ever before.

As a messenger, Mercury also rules the throat chakra, the place from which we communicate and speak our truth. In retrograde, some of what may surface will be the secrets and old pains. we have the choice of how we speak our truth about those feelings. If we listen and choose to do so we bring awareness and understanding to the surface. In retrograde, Mercury gives us the reason to pause, look and listen to catch the fullness of what is being offered.

In this respect, fluid and retrograde Mercury is part of the blessing of the season. We can slow down and listen before we speak or we can rush right in and precipitate a quicker change by blurting things without thought or care. It's a gift of choice as we get together with family and friends.

What blessings do you have in this moment? How much time do you take for reflection during the holidays? What are you skimming over? What are you missing? To what do you need to pay more attention? What new responsibility are you considering taking on? How is your communication affected during this time? What creative ways can you use to slow yourself down? How can you help others have a better life?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Longest Night, Shortest Day

Tonight in the Northern Hemisphere marks the longest night of 2016. How fitting! The world has been through many changes this year ~ including an explosion of violence (phrasing intended).

Tonight we embrace the long darkness. Tonight we encounter the shadow within ourselves. Tonight, no matter which side of any quarrel or battle we may be on, we share as a collective in that reflective shadow.

We are entwined with that Shadow ~ the collective and the personal ~ through this long night. In many of the ancient traditions, fires were lit to stave off that darkness. Stories were told throughout the night. Tales of encounter and battle with unseen and unknown foe would be told by the many of the elders. Children would be allowed to stay up or, if they fell asleep, would be kept close to the fires themselves.

In some of the even more ancient places which were built like Newgrange in Ireland to catch the first rays of the Winter Solstice sun, the night was spent in other forms of rituals. We have no clear knowledge of them except that the very building of the passage place would have taken much planning. Some of the labyrinthine caves and rock passages may have been used for the same type of encounters with the Shadow on that darkest night.

In our day and age, we have electric lights or candles or kerosene lamps. Most places have some way to insure the longest night doesn't have to be encountered in the dark. But when we do, when we allow our spirits to face the Shadow, we find the energy and strength to face it. We get a better understanding of the palpable Darkness and the Spirits that inhabit the dark spaces. After all that's been done and come undone in 2016, we would be wise to spend the time gaining that understanding.

Tomorrow brings with it the shortest day, with the moment of Winter Solstice at 10:44 UT. Light is often described as wan on short days such as this. Yet it also brings with it the reassurance that the nights are growing incrementally shorter and the days ever longer. Warmth and sunshine will follow close behind. Bleak, overcast, dreary days will continue for awhile longer. Soon enough, we will find ourselves in the midst of greenery and bright colored blooms. But for now, the Shadow remains our sole comfort.... or discomfort, as the case may be.

What do you see when you encounter the Shadow? How do you embrace the darkness? What do you want to find when you awaken into tomorrow's light? What does the Shadow mean to you? How will you continue to prepare for the lengthening light of the days?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Watching the Snow

People who don't live in my neck of the woods often laugh at the way 2-3 inches of snow shut down schools and municipal offices. This picture is from the first day of Snowmageddon. Yes, green grass, nearly ready for mowing peeked through the snow. In the previous week, there was talk about early flowers poking through. I wore an open flannel shirt as my coat. (Yes, I live in the Hipsterville side of the country.)

Even so, we also prayed for more snow for the ski season on the mountain an hour or so drive away. Our concern with the environment means we don't use salt. Add some hills to the mix (hills which might be labeled 'mountains' in other parts of the country) and it's a set up for trouble.

The first week, the first school closure day was a bit of a bust. The next was icy and well-called. As usual, winter precipitation disappeared in the next days. Week two, the forecasters faltered and downgraded the coming storm. It hit midday Wednesday. By the time schools let out, the streets were snow-covered and growing icy. Commuters left work early and everything ran late. People arrived home after harrowing four to ten hour drives, instead of the usual twenty to forty minutes. They saw accidents, abandoned cars, near-miss accidents of their own, and even occasional abandonment of their own cars. Schools closed for the following day and later for the final day before Winter Break. City officials were taken to task for not being prepared. School administrations were chided for the hundreds of students stuck in schools until 6 p.m. or later the first night and for the accidents school buses had and for the students left to walk treacherous stretches from emergency bus route stops.

Even though I ventured out, I could safely watch the snow gather on and defrost off my windshield as I sat within and waited for it to clear. I was a mile away from home and certain I could hoof it home safely if need be.

There's something relaxing about's soundless entry into the day.... it's shining brightness. The cold adds to the effect, enticing one to hibernation. But our work-a-day world, with its constant lights and demand that we work on a particular schedule, finds this disruptive, disquieting and disturbing. We feel pulled in different directions. Are we here to live, breathe and enjoy life? Or are we here to carry on and ignore what Nature Itself is providing? What is the consequence of our ignoring Nature?

What do you do when the weather changes are extreme? How do you work in extremes of heat? cold? wet? storms? How does the weather effect your focus? What do you think of when you see snow outside your window? How do you balance the flow of Nature with the flow of work?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gemini Full Moon, December's Rose Moon

© 2016 Mary-Lynne Monroe
As I watched this moon grow to full, I found myself growing happier, as though the brighter the moon, the lighter my mood. Walking home on the eve of the Gemini Full Moon, I spotted a rose bright with life in the freezing December air. It's leafy tendril reached out to caress the brilliant orb of the Moon. I was awestruck.

Sometimes life presents us with shattering, breathtaking moments of beauty. I relish recognizing it. I love wresting images of those moments. It makes my heart soar!

This rose should not be so vibrantly alive after the recent snow, rain and ice. Yet... here it was, revealing its delicate beauty, honoring the Full Moon.

Joining this Gemini Full Moon is Pluto still reigning in Capricorn ~ the god of the underworld ruling in the middle world ~ who draws us deeply into our social and economic structures. Those structures shape our collective purpose as we engage with the dynamics of transformation in the areas of fairness, justice, honor, beauty and art. We are called to create it with our art and our actions.

We need to immerse ourselves in our own creative actions, our personal art, as well as support and honor the creatives among us. The Archetype of the Artist serves as a healer and teacher for the entire community. Artists always point the way when transformation is needed.

In the Light of this Full Moon, Gemini demands that we communicate the truth that Sagittarius calls for us to see and experience. We continue to be confronted by the Shadow side, ours as well as the greater community's. It's important to face and confront the Shadow and to to learn what it has to teach us. Saturn requires that we take responsibility for our beliefs, our thoughts and our actions. Saturn asks that we reconnect and rediscover who is responsible for our lives, who is writing our story.

As this year draws to its close, this being the final Full Moon of 2016, I am drawn back to the Rose of vitality where there should be none as it reaches for the glorious Full Moon. May 2017 blossom with your Rose always finding the Light.

What part of the general mindset no longer serves the greater good and goals of the collective? What truth are you called to communicate to others? What art or creative action calls to you for the healing of the community? How will you bring that forward in 2017? Who is writing the story of your life?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter's Bluster

Everyone awaits the arrival of the first snowfall of winter, whether in dread or excitement. Weather forecasters were touting a winter storm so most schools and even some offices closed in anticipation. Early morning unfolded itself with bright gray skies and negligible precipitation. Was this storm going to be another bust?

Our first snowfall arrived mid-morning starting with scattered flakes no bigger than dust motes. Eventually these grew to a significant enough size to form a passing white-out over time. We watched from the safety and warmth of the local Starbucks. When the bluster passed, I stepped outside to snap this picture. Nothing much to show for all the ruckus this storm caused. Then the storm shifted. The temperatures kept the snow on the ground while the snow flurries turned to rain. Everything got coated with a layer of crunchy, slippery ice. Ah.... this was what we'd been waiting for.

As I watched the storm front roll through, I thought how like us winter's bluster was. We put out signals to our friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances. Each person reads those signals differently. Some will see the approaching mood, our version of a storm, as dangerous and immediate. Others will recognize that it might bring some danger, but mostly it will blow over. Still others will call it a slippery, sliding place and steer carefully and clearly around it. The bluster that comes during the storm front of our moods occasionally shakes us and those around us into a new form of actions. Yet those who know us best, who have spent time with our moods, will weather them all in the best possible way.

Not all moods are negative, just as not all storms are bad. Whatever mood shows up ~ from excitement to playfulness to sullenness to anger ~ is part of the bluster that makes each of us human. We feel and we express those feelings in our moods. It's healthy, as much part of our nature as a wintry snowstorm is part of the Earth's nature. As with those wintry flashes, damages sometimes occur. We need to work together to repair those damages between people as diligently as we work to repair damages caused by ice and snow.

How do your storms show up? Can you predict their direction? What do you do when they reveal themselves? How do you assist in repairing the damage when damage arrives? Who can you count on to help you? What moods have shown up most recently in your life?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Changing Oneself

One of the most quoted sayings in the world of activists is, Be the change you wish to see in the world. It's a great quote by Mahatma Gandhi. How many of us come to full comprehension of his meaning? He's not saying to go out and change the world. He's saying to be a living, breathing example of the change you wish to see. In the world of activists, that often is interpreted as making a way to change the world around us.

Tolstoy gets even more basic than that. Perhaps the world itself does need changing. Generally speaking, that's an understatement and certainly a given. Many situations in the world around us could use an uplift. Many people could use some assistance. Mother Earth herself requires care. What Tolstoy says is that even though changing the world around us may be important, changing ourselves is even more vital.

I find myself looking at people and situations with a critical eye. My mind flies to comparisons, many of which are often not positive. Next, I step into judgment. I look at the person and find strengths and traits lacking. I ponder the situation and note the down sides of them. This is not intentional. I truly want to support the betterment of the person or situation. My mistake lies in not consulting the person about their opinion or desire. Or in not requesting all the details of a situation. Tolstoy's statement challenges me, confronts us. He seems to suggest that we look at how we are and what effect we have on a situation in order to change ourselves before we seek to change the other. It's a concept I face and work with on a daily basis. Hopefully, I will focus more on the changes I need to make in myself and less on judging the changes need by the other.

How do you feel when you hear someone say, Be the change you want to see in the world? What change would you like to see happen? Is there a way you can be that change? or a reflection of it? How often do you find yourself either giving advice to others or biting your tongue so you don't? What topics show up most often when that happens? With whom does that most often happen? What small change could you make in yourself to ease the stress?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Step onto the Road

It's a dangerous business, going out your door.....

There have been those times when I decided to step onto the road ~ that path that's not quite the usual neighborhood street, not precisely the work-a-day world ~ and found myself in new territory. My place in that territory unexplored and fresh, filled with adventure ~ and with moments of consequence.

What is that road? Where is it leading? Two questions I may ask ~ and to which I receive no responses. If I had all the information about where I was headed, I may be more reluctant to simply step onto the road. Like Bilbo and Frodo, I find some of my adventures painful or difficult. If I knew those times were in my future, well, I really don't know what I'd do.

This season, the run up to the New Year, is the perfect time to review how my stepping out has gifted and shifted me. One of my steps took me out of the work-a-day world and into the space of self-propelling my days. I feel a bit out of sync. As though the norm is having a 9-to-5 job and now I am no longer normal. I no longer spend time with my work friends. TGIFs are not only no longer necessary, I have no one with whom I can or need to commiserate about work.

 Along with stepping off that path, I've stepped onto another. Planning  out my days, my time has been a challenge. There are things I want to do, things that need to get done, places I want to go. With all the time in the world open to me, I get flummoxed by its vastness. With nothing to particularly plan around ~ like a work schedule, the amount of time itself can overwhelm. I'm continuing to work with finding my own personal flow.

Some people have shared that they are jealous of all the time I now have. I rarely respond with more than a smile, nod or simply 'yes' even though I'm thinking more about the fact that my path, my road, is not theirs. They will know soon enough what it means to have an uncharted path in front of you. Then they will find their own way.

What road did you step onto this past year? Was there more than one change? What challenges did you face? What gifts did you receive? What did you leave behind? How do you currently feel about your choice?