Friday, September 23, 2016

Tarot Blog Hop: Winter Finding

Welcome to the Autumn Equinox Tarot Blog Hop, hosted by Jay Cassels and Arwen Lynch Poe. The topic this season is "Foodie's Guide to the Tarot" (though for all intents and purposes posts may feature any oracle or divination tool!). 

The Equinox is celebrated around the world, and goes by an array of names according to tradition, culture, or region. Among the practitioners of the Northern Tradition, some refer to this equinox as Winter Finding, a harvest time where special attention is paid to the Vanir gods and goddesses of abundance and fertility, such as Freyja, Freyr, Njörd, and Nerthus. 
Das Germanische Götterorakel - Voenix
Njörd is a god associated with wealth. He is also principally tied to the sea, and humankind's relationship with it: the winds, waves, the catch. Thus Njörd is connected to mariners, fishermen - any and all those whose living depends in some way upon the ocean.

The card featured here is from the Das Germanische Götterorakel (The Germanic Gods Oracle) by Voenix and Thomas Vömel. It is an 81-card oracle deck which represents the major deities, heroes, giants/jötunn, and overarching concepts in the Norse Eddas and Sagas. Here we see Njörd sitting on a coastline draped in seaweed, surrounded by gulls. An open chest of gold lies to his side, and a longship can be seen in the background. A keyword, "Reichtum," is listed on the card, which means "wealth."

I've often imagined some of my ancient North Frisian and Danish forebears - sea people, island folk - holding a special regard for this Norse deity. My great-grandfather left the island of Amrum as a young boy, and came to New York City with his family. Here they are, in the traditional dress of Amrum and Sylt (my great-grandfather is the boy at the lower left). 
In the United States he met and married my great-grandmother, Emilie Hansen, from Ribe, Denmark. Ribe is the oldest town in Denmark, and one of the oldest towns in all of Scandinavia. It is located in southwest Jutland and borders the North Sea, not more than 100 kilometers from Amrum. 

Gerret and Emilie's son, also named Gerret, was my grandfather, and of his three children, one of them - my aunt Lillian - dedicated her life to the U.S. Coast Guard, and for many years (until it sunk in harbor not too long ago) owned a boat she named "Norddorf," after Norddorf, Amrum.  I have fond memories of family celebrations aboard that vessel. The "sea gene" continued to breathe life into the following generations. 
My Grandfather, Gerret
One of my earliest memories of my grandfather (who died of a heart attack while mowing the grass when I was barely two years old) is of sitting next to him at a cafe counter and ordering New England clam chowder. I was so young when he died that I can't be absolutely certain that this occurred, but I've had the memory since I can recall, and the recollection of my grandfather's clothing - a white t-shirt, blue jeans, a red baseball cap - has always been vivid. 

Clam chowder is a fitting maritime meal, it's perfect for the cooling months of coming autumn, and it connects well with honoring Njörd at the Winter Finding, so I'll offer it here. 
I am decidedly not the recipe sort so I'll do what I can to give accurate quantities...

New England Clam Chowder
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 onion or leek
  • A 15 oz. can of corn (you can use fresh corn, or frozen, as well)
  • Water (enough for boiling the potatoes)
  • 1-2 cups of milk (whole milk is great, but you can also use a smaller amount of heavy cream)
  • 1 small can of clams (go for fresh if you like!)
  • A slice or two of bacon (optional, but worth it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter and/or olive oil
Peel and chop the potatoes and place them in a large stove pot. Pour in just enough water to cover the potatoes completely, add a bit of salt, and let them boil. In the meantime, sautee the chopped onion or leek in butter or olive oil. If you like bacon, you can throw some in to add to the depth of flavor, just chop or crumble after it is cooked. Add the onion and oil/butter (and bacon, if you like) to the potato water. (Do not drain the potatoes - you'll use that water as the base for the broth.) Add the corn when the potatoes are close to done, and let simmer. Then add the clams and their juices. Finally, when the potatoes are soft, turn the heat down so that the liquid is no longer simmering (very low setting), and then add the milk or cream. Cream is finicky about being boiled, so keep that in mind. Milk is a bit sturdier. Mix it in and let it heat through. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as desired. Eat it up!

Now, as I said before, this is my attempt at quantifying a recipe that I usually just "eyeball." If you choose to go for it, don't be afraid to add more or less of any of these ingredients! And if you need precision, there are a lot of nice-looking recipes online that will do the trick (here is one). 
Njörd altar space
Enjoy the Equinox! Happy Mabon, and a Blessed Winter Finding to you all! 

Please use the links at the top or bottom of this post to navigate to the other wonderful blogs in this circle.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Dance and Synchronicity

This morning my mother sent me a link to a group called 5Rhythms and asked me to take a look. Before I had a chance to delve in, I noticed that she had also posted a couple of videos of one of the Australian-based teachers of The Dancing Path (part of 5Rhythms), and decided to have a listen. The first video was about the importance of "occupying" our bodies - of living into each aspect of our being, utilizing each of our senses to its fullest, and ultimately of living now rather than focusing on the future.

The second video, by the same teacher (Kate Shela), was related to the topic of dance. One thing that she said that particularly resonated with me was the notion that the entire cosmos lives within each of our beings; the axis-mundi, the World Tree, is entirely part of us, as if all of us were home to the whole universe. Dance, she said, is a way to activate our entire beings, and to re-member our selves.

A short while later I decided to pull a card from the Dat Black Mermaid Man Lady oracle, and drew one of the "David" cards. David is a character from the theater production that goes by the same name as the deck, and his energies correspond to Chango. The "David cards" all connect to the energy of "Purpose."
Upon flipping the card over to review its advice, I found the following:
"Dance." Well hey.

Purpose; dance.

According to the website, the 5Rhythms include: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. It says:

"In dancing 5Rhythms you can track perceptions and memories; seek out gestures and shapes; tune into instincts and intuitions. They reveal ways to creatively express aggressiveness and vulnerability, emotions and anxieties, edges and ecstasies. They reconnect us to cycles of birth, death and renewal and hook us up to the spirit in all living things. They initiate us back into the wisdom of our bodies and unleash movement’s dynamic healing power."

There is deep purpose in this.

I don't dance nearly as much as I should. Perhaps it's time to start.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Hankering for the 4 of Wands

This September, the Lady of Serpents (on Instagram) is hosting a self-exploration challenge and today's prompt is: "What do I unknowingly carry with me?" I love that question - it's great for identifying hidden influences that need a little illumination!

I shuffled my Fountain Tarot and drew the 4 of Wands.
Four people dance together on a sandy beach by an expanse of water. Four beams of light reach up into the sky, almost like spotlights at a party. These people, whoever they are, are having a very good time together.

As I sat with this card the word that kept coming back to me was, release. The 4 of Wands is a card of completion, of celebration, of letting go of routine (albeit momentarily). This card often represents occasions such as graduation parties, weddings, anniversaries, and can even symbolize much-needed vacations. No matter what event it connects to, the 4 of Wands represents the joy inherent in removing the framework that gives daily life its structure. We all need that from time to time, and we, as human beings, regardless of culture, nationality, or faith, always have.

Just yesterday I was sitting outside with my husband, enjoying the early evening breeze, watching as the sun broke over an invisible horizon to paint the clouds with peachy hues. As we chatted, our conversation turned to a topic that highlighted this concept of release. He spoke of the desire for community - particularly of a web of relation-ship with people he grew up with, of an environment widely conducive to his first language. I spoke of how much I've been missing northern nature - the forests, fresh waters, the aroma of pine needles in the air. We discussed our distinct lack of any sort of community at all where we live currently; we moved here for our jobs more than four years ago and in certain ways still feel a keen sense of isolation.

Looking at the 4 of Wands, I was brought back to my own memories of release-moments: when my mother and step-dad married; a week-long trip to the family home in the northern woods with extended family; time spent at a North Carolina beach house with family and friends. Yes, I thought, I am carrying this with me - a need for celebration, release, with people I know and care about.

As I pondered this, I shuffled my Dat Black Mermaid Man-Lady oracle deck and drew a card. I could see that it was one of the Dreamer cards, which represent the reader's own soul energy.
And when I turned it over I laughed in appreciation at its message:
Family! Indeed, family; kin. The embrace of people with whom deep bonds are shared.

My family is scattered around the globe. Some are in Michigan, some in Utah. Some are on the East Coast, and some are in Tennessee. Some are in Alaska. Some are in England, and some are in New Zealand. Some are in Saudi Arabia. With so many of us spread out so far, congregating becomes a challenge, and thus happens infrequently, or not at all. Cousins grow up and seek their own adventures. They establish their families in new places. It is good, in its way, but at times bittersweet, too.

My husband and I were planning a grand getaway at the end of September, just the two of us. We kept putting off planning, and I started to sense that there was a reason - a certain "something" - that was silently staying the process. I waited to see what it might be.

We finally decided not to go anywhere at all. Rather, we would spend the time at home-base, and venture out on day trips, go on dates, and enjoy some time together in that manner. My mother was still planning to come to town to look after the kids. And then my sister let us know that she'd be descending upon our household as well, flying in from the Middle East to spend a month or more with us during her own down time. My mother, my sister, my husband, our kids. All under one roof.

By ultimately choosing to stay put, we unwittingly created a space for the 4 of Wands to manifest.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

New Moon Reading

Today is the New Moon, and the first day of September. It's a blessing to have finally reached the first month of autumn (even though the equinox hasn't arrived quite yet). Hurricane Hermine rolls up the Gulf shedding her bountiful rains, and while the associated cloudy skies have cooled the air slightly, the humidity is fierce. Needless to say, it isn't feeling much like a proper fall....yet! But there is a certain potency in the naming of things, and simply knowing that September is here brings relief, and anticipation of a gradual descent into fresh, dry weather. In Florida we do have the glory of a northern autumn - it just happens to come around during the winter months. In December there are certain trees whose leaves even turn shades of orange and yellow before floating gently to the ground!

Since it is a New Moon I decided to pull some cards: the relatively common Release-Embrace spread (also known as Waning-Waxing, or Fading-Increasing). However you like to call it, the idea is essentially the same! I decided to use the Tarot of the Cat People tonight.

1) What is waning in import at this time? World
2) What is waxing? 6 of Pentacles

Tarot of the Cat People
The woman in the World gazes at a glowing globe, and appears to be in mid-step of a dance. She looks happy - celebratory, even.

Meanwhile, the woman in the 6 of Pentacles appears ready to offer a steaming bowl of food to some very eager looking cats. The woman is robed, and the scene feels homey and comfortable. She provides these adoring creatures with physical sustenance, and they offer constant companionship: a harmonious exchange.

Just yesterday I learned that a major project that I thought would be months away from being relevant is ready to be developed right-this-moment. It's exciting. As a program director I'm largely responsible for steering this ship into what will very much be a whole new world, and I'm jumping in full force. I know that the outcome of this project will provide much needed refreshment to both the program and my team. I'm not doing a jubilant dance quite yet - there is much work to be done! But I'm invigorated by the prospects, and from my current vantage point I see so much possibility.

The 6 of Pentacles, in this respect, shows me that for the next period of time I'll be participating in some important give-and-take with other departments, people - even with my own team. Progress doesn't occur in a vacuum. I have knowledge to offer, but I don't have it all; I rely on others just as much as they rely on me to offer up some of the puzzle pieces that ultimately combine to create the whole picture.

These cards also address another layer of life that has been on my mind of late. After going back and forth over where to go for an upcoming vacation, my husband and I recently decided not to go anywhere at all (releasing the World). In the end we decided to nurture our bank account, and be around for our kids (despite their grandmother coming to visit!). In order to strike a balance between our desire to stay put and our need for a break, we are planning to go on a whole lot of dates while my mother is in town!

May your September be full of cider and cinnamon!