Monday, January 31, 2011

Sacred Space

Donna at Pescadero Beach
I’ve always relied on sacred space for piece of mind. It is present, available to be shared by everyone, and it is consistent. No matter what my problems are, or what situation I’m in, at no matter what age, I have both unconsciously and consciously sought out and found sacred space throughout my life. Sacred space can be a natural setting, like the mountains, or a prairie, perhaps lakeside or your garden at sunrise. It can also be something you create, like a shelf, or a more detailed altar. It can be your kitchen, when no one is in it or the backyard at night, just you and the stars. What matters most is the feeling you get being there.

I go to the ocean to find my sacred space. It’s where I feel connected to a higher power and my spirituality. I’ve always resided close to a large, living body of water. First, it was the Connecticut coastline, where the power of the Atlantic is muted by Long Island Sound. Then, it was the crisp, cold Pacific Ocean on the California Coast, where nothing blocks the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Living near water has always been important to me, and in times of turmoil, the ocean is my refuge, the place where I go to recharge my batteries.

By far the most sacred ocean spot I’ve visited is Pescadero Beach in Northern California. Once, while picnicking at this beach with my family, I said to my daughter, “Do you see Mother Nature at work here, Elizabeth?” And her answer, completely innocent at three years old was, “Boy, she sure is getting everything wet!” I cherish all of my experiences at the ocean, but that higher power feels more present to me here than any place else.

I find my sacred space at the Pacific Ocean.

Where do you find yours?
Pescadero Beach 2010

Thursday, January 27, 2011

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Colorful Salt Pouches

Extended craziness and expectancy at work has got me feeling witchy ... I find myself going back to some of my witchier posts as a result.  This was originally posted on Saturday, March 3, 2007 at 11:30 p.m. during a Lunar Eclipse.  It's really a March kind of thing, but I need salt's purifying properties now.  D❤

I feel the presence of the Goddess tonight, and She is embodied in the full moon. This is a March moon, what D.J. Conway calls a Storm Moon, as in “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” This was the first lunar eclipse we’ve seen in several years, and I wonder if it promises greater storms of nature or storms of the heart. There is, no doubt, change in the air. Maybe there will be political storms, or economic ones. Regardless, and for what it’s worth, I don’t see omens or ill tidings. Rather, I see the power She wields over the universe, manifest in physical form. I get secret thrills any time something like this happens. It’s as if the Divine Mother chose to make Herself seen by changing the celestial body She resides in. First, the moon was red, blood red, the color of life-giving blood, birth, and, strangely, both love and anger. Then, She cast a great shadow upon it, so the children who have forgotten Her might remember. To me, it is a grand gesture.

In response to this, the kitchen witch in me rose up with cauldron in hand, creative juices swirling powerfully. This isn’t the Wicked Witch, an old archetype of mine, for she is quiet now. It’s not The Scarlet Witch either, for she is a metaphor. No, this is a new witch, an emerging witch, one yet unnamed. One who can’t help but respond to the air of expectancy brought on by a fabulous and colorful full moon in March.

From this expansive tide, I’ve created salt pouches that challenge the tumultuous effect of the March storm, by using color, absorption, and vibration to raise positive energy.

The Month of March

“The Roman Matronalia honored Juno Lucina, an aspect of the goddess Juno, who protected women, children and the family. Statues of the goddess were decorated with flowers, and special temple fires were lit. Girls made offerings to Juno Lucina at this time of year for happy and prosperous marriages. The status of Isis suckling her child symbolizes this goddess’s aspect as the Great Mother, the caretaker of the Earth and all life. Flowers were floated on the rivers and the boats blessed with incense.” 1

In the month of March, think of the Goddess as the Great Mother and Protector. Dare to seek out your inner child, knowing she will be protected by the greatest and most powerful mother of them all. Love your inner child totally and without restriction. Be tender, be patient. Find something that makes you laugh and let your inner child out to play. There are other March indicators, as well, such as the presence of water spirits, often very active during March storms and resultant flooding. The color green is indicative of March not only for the Irish, but for prosperity. Irish Moss and daffodils are March plants, and animals include cougar, hedgehogs and boar.


salt 2
I’ve always considered salt a purifier. I’ve kept bowls of it around at work and home, on my altar, and have used it to cleanse new homes. I seek out new kinds of salt regularly. For this project, I’ve used Himalayan Crystal Salt, purchased from American BlueGreen. These people know their salt and bend over backwards to describe its chemical, esoteric, and spiritual properties. This stuff is awesome!

“The energy vibration of the translucent crystals of salt amplifiy the ethereal fluid in the etheric body and the crystalline properties in the physical body. Crystalline properties in the physical body are found in cell salts throughout the lymphatic systems, thymus gland, pineal gland, red and white corpuscles, and regenerative properties within the muscular tissue. Amplification of the body's crystalline properties increases clairvoyance, telepathy, and receptivity to healing. Our human energy field operates on similar principle of electromagnetism, therefore, the translucent salt crystal becomes an extension of our own vibrations. The energy will intermingle with our own, and when properly programmed through meditation, can liberate the mind into discovering potentially unlimited awareness. In order to gain more conscious knowledge about our emotional, intellectual and physical states, we share our energy with the crystal salt. The combination of our relatively inconsistent vibrations together with the balancing ones of the crystal, can bridge the gap between our physical, mental spiritual selves. The astrological sign of the crystal salt is Pisces, and the vibration number is one. Rediscover your inner self.” 2


1. Small Pouches in various colors (I purchased mine from Oriental Trading). These are the colors I’ve used, but don’t let it limit you!

· White – Protection and Divinity.
· Lavender – Friendship.
· Orange – Courage.
· Red – Love (not necessarily romantic).
· Yellow – Happiness.
· Green – Prosperity.
· Light Blue – Protection and the Goddess(light blue is the color of Mary’s mantle).

Note: I do not avoid using the color black because I believe it absorbs negative energy. The way I see it, if Krishna’s skin was black, it’s good enough for me.

2. Salt (sea salt or other) – I’ve used a pure, natural and vibrational crystal salt that absorbs the energy of the full moon, the energy of the Ancient Mother, the Goddess, and releases it through the color of the pouches. Any salt will do this, but the Himlayan Crystal Salt truly resonates to me.

3. Lavender (the herb) – for healing
4. A Scarf or Throw (see more below)
5. Plastic Bags (moisture proof)
6. A Full Moon (not all full moons feel the same to me,but this one really called me out!)


1. Fill your pouches with the salt product you’ve chosen. The crystal salt I used was available in coarse cut, granulated, and actual rocks, so I put a combination of all three in each pouch (with the exception of the white pouches, which hold only white granulated salt). As you fill the pouches, focus on the Goddess, feel Her looking down on you from her watchtower in the sky. Focus on the month’s attributes, and as you handle each pouch, focus on its color’s symbolism. Focus Mother’s love from the full moon through your heart and fine tune it with your intent. Let your intent be the specific purpose of each pouch of salt.

2. Wrap the salt-filled pouches in a favorite scarf, throw or wrap. Let the wrap be emblazed with symbols that resonate to you. A moon, sun, hearts or pentacles are all symbols of the Goddess. Perhaps the wrap is just your favorite color and makes you feel good. Use your intuition! I add a sprig of lavender for healing and good intent, but feel free to put in other small favorites objects that have special spiritual meaning. You’ve created a super-infused wrapped package, kind of like a spiritual burrito.

3. Put your package in a plastic bag that is big enough to keep out moisture. Seal it carefully.

4. Place the package, sealed in plastic, outside, where it baths in the light of the full moon over night.

5. The next morning, bring your package into the home knowing it has bathed in the loving light of the Great Goddess. The salt has fully absorbed Her cosmic energy, and will readily emit that energy through the color of each pouch.

If you’d like to bring more happiness into your life, place a yellow pouch under your pillow at night. For prosperity, use green. Pouches can be placed on your altar or other sacred space, or they can be used as a gift for someone special. Whatever you choose to do with them, even if it’s simply putting them on a knic-knac shelf, know that they are kissed by the Divine Mother herself.

End Notes

1. MOON MAGICK, by D.J. Conway, © 1995 by Llewellyn Publications, p. 62.

2. American Blue Green LLC, Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved,

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Lovely Day

What a lovely day today was, and so needed after the intensity of last week.

I slept in and slept soundly, my dreams guarded by my celebrity guardian angel, Dolly Parton. I dream about her frequently, and last night remember asking her not to let anyone fool around with her shoes as she was getting ready to go on stage. She assured me she wouldn’t. I can’t get over how it’s like she’s really right there, larger than life, in these dreams, and as always I am helping her get ready for something.  She is another productive and ambitious Capricorn that has captured my Leo heart.

I walked at about 2:00 p.m. with the big dog, Jack, as my pedometer counted steps. I bumped into a swarm of hummingbirds on Oddstead near a feeder. It was amazing. At first I saw just one, but as I stood still, a whole bunch came buzzing through, hovering in front of my face to check me out, landing beside me, and dancing all around me. They were mostly Anna’s Hummingbirds, with the dramatically crimson neck, and they were absolutely enchanting. I wonder what their sacred message was this time.  Stop to smell the blossoms perhaps?

We hit the road shortly thereafter in search of the ocean, needing to recharge spiritual and emotional batteries.

On the road, there were rows and rows of cat ‘o nine tails, and I’ve always been fascinated with them. Hawks popped up everywhere, and California Condors soared. Always the big birds mark the scenery in our travels. It was a beautiful drive down Highway 1 through Half Moon Bay and on then to Pescadero. The surfers in Half Moon Bay were out in full force. Lunch at Duarte’s in Pescadero was good, as well. I enjoyed the cream of artichoke soup, but Leslie and Elizabeth didn’t like it much. Elizabeth didn’t appreciate the taxidermy animals on the walls or the country feel of the restaurant, and Leslie just plain hated the soup. Relying on Guy Fieri’s review in “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” she had high hopes and felt disappointed.  As Leslie and Elizabeth held their heads closely together conspiring in hushed tones about something they agreed was unacceptable, I had to smile. They are so much alike in the most unexpected ways.

Elizabeth is becoming a mini-woman and is full of her own opinions.  She chattered on like a magpie all afternoon, and told us about her new friends. She is surprised that these friends are so much better than the ones she had to leave behind after worrisome mean-girl drama and a difficult separation. She’s juggling a million interests. French, dancing, singing, ice skating, cheer leading, art, digital photography, and Camp Coyote Point are all things she wants to learn or do immediately in preparation for a busy summer and the first year of high school. She’s excited about high school and discusses it with us frequently.

I am rejuvenated in the presence of my family, and as always we three are easy with one another.

Weekends are always a good thing, but some are more needed than others.

This Saturday was just right.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Temperance: Walking to The Front of My Brain

I’m finally in the home stretch.

I’ve got five interviews with local office leadership over the next three days. With any luck I’ll know if I’m being laid off, thereby joining the ranks of the unemployed, by the end of the month.

I am curiously and objectively aware that a huge part of my subconscious brain is preoccupied with this. I feel much like I did when I was 18 and getting ready for the first day of business school; nervous and a bit lightheaded, kind of queasy, and cognizant of being on the edge of change, like it or not, while the rest of me watches from the outside. I tried to get the same memo off my desk all morning with no luck, so I finally gave up and went walking … and thinking.

If this is over by February first, I will have endured over a year of merger angst, seven months of intensive change navigation, and at least three months of complete office stagnation in what was no doubt the most challenging period of my career. During that period, and with notable frequency, the Temperance card came up in my personal readings. It felt like the Great Mother shaking her finger at me, admonishing me to slow down, but offering no respite. Clearly, I wasn’t to be released from this and why?

I had something to learn.

About a week ago, I came across an entirely deeper meaning to the Temperance tarot card.

What is traditionally known as the Temperance card is a reference to the Soul. Classically female, she is mixing up a blend of subtle energies for the evolution of the personality. One key to interpreting this card can be found in its title, a play on the process of tempering metals in a forge. Metals must undergo extremes of temperature, folding and pounding, but the end product is infinitely superior to impure ore mined from the earth … the soul volunteers the ego for a cleansing and healing experience which may turn the personality inside-out, but which brings out the gold hidden within the heart. <source>

I feel like iron in a forge, and yes, much of the time I feel screwed, which is why this photo is appropriate. I bumped into it when I was walking. I look at this sculpture every day from the downtown San Francisco building I work in but I didn’t “see” it until now.

This process has changed me. I’ve matured professionally and am no longer deeply invested in the approval of others at work, not the way I was when I started this job two and a half years ago. My personality has certainly evolved. When the merger was announced, I came out of the gate strongly, overcompensating for my fears, when I should have been watching and listening. I’m a lot less stressed than I was when they first announced this mess a year and a half ago, and I’ve grown infinitely better at waiting, as well. Has this process brought out hidden gold in my heart? Perhaps it has. I’m less demanding of my staff and am better at letting little things go. Yes, my ego took a beating, but if it’s for the cleansing and healing of my personality, then I would say it’s a good thing. It's not an easy thing, but all in all, it’s good.

I have learned, and I suppose that if one is willing to learn, one must be willing to make plenty of mistakes and take a hit from time to time.

After my walk was done, I returned to the office and my subconscious distractions had moved to the front of my brain where they could be constructively expressed. I realize I’m not afraid like I was before. I will do my best in these interviews over the next few days, but I have no control over the political workings of this “merger of equals” and how they will undoubtedly affect the outcome. That doesn’t mean I won’t have myself a personal pity party if I'm released, but I know it’s no reflection of my capabilities and it’s not the end of my career.

Word is that one door is closed so another may open.

I find myself curious about what may be on the other side of this particular door.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


If you look at my blogs over the last year, you’ll see I’ve mostly bitched about waiting. I’ve had a bunch of good bursts of artistic inspiration (as the muse was never far away), but I’ve written on waiting, on temperance, on wishing, wanting and whittling away. I’ve reflected, renewed, reminisced, reconnoitered, and reconciled with personal demons. I’ve resurrected old articles and posted them anew. I’ve done everything accept stand on my head and whistle dixie from my arse, and yet seven months later I’m waiting still.

I know. It seems impossible that a company this big could take this long to organize key services, but after day one of the merger, it came to a screeching halt and the waiting started. What followed was the steady disassembling of our positions, the paranoia, the fear, and the attacks on our confidence. I overcame that. There was the vacuum vortex of conspiracy that threatened my peers and I, and we were almost turned into zombies by the utter and almost viral paralysis of one individual in authority. That situation didn't change until that individual found out she was being let go and sort of faded into the background of what was already hulking shadows and threatening questions.  We were completely cut off from what was happening by that. There were rude associates from the other side, people we had to work with but who made our lives miserable with undermining insults.  Disagreeing with this unprofessional treatment and lack of common respect implied not getting along with the team and was frowned upon.  This was followed quickly by the big projects that found me complying for the sake of the work. It was either that or sabotage their efforts, and I don’t do that. In between those happy jaunts, during which we won’t even go into what happened to my ego, there were days and days of soul sucking boredom when nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, happened in the office. I’ll take a good, difficult project any day.  I'll work hours on end if it means my mind is engaged.  But the boring day to day makes me weary. Having nothing to do at work makes me want to throw my computer out a window and jump after it.

I’ve tried very hard to be a trooper. I have one friend who tells me they are sizing me up, wanting to see what I’m made of so they can promote me. Another one tells me she’d be absolutely floored if I’m not layed off.  I’ve observed one lay-off after another, actually had to separate six of my own secretaries at one point, and have watched people be picked off from the sidelines as though by a sniper while everyone else worked harder to avoid be targetted. I have friends that I know I’m driving crazy with my ceaseless whining, and I’m wagering they think I should shut up and be thankful I have a job. So, I suppose every day I’m employed should be a good day … but does it count if my brain is fried and my attitude sucks?

What do I have to show for all this downtime? I can tell you that on Facebook Lady Bunny has so many pictures on her wall, it takes more than 5 minutes to scroll down them all. I’ve stared at Facebook so much, I actually go home to look at it again. I used up all my vacation time and much of my limitless sick time before January 1, and that was in self-defense. I’ve cleaned out our garage more than three times, and we’ve had no less than five garage sales as a result. The extra cash was cool.

I’ve done a lot of art over the last year. That much is true and good. I haven’t sold one piece, but I’ve given away much of it to people who were touched by the gesture. I believe it should be spread around regardless.

If this was happening ten or even just five years ago, I could tell these people to take their job and shove it and find something else with little effort. Now, it’s like trudging up hill in sewage. I’ve applied for more than 15 good looking positions since November 1, and have had few nibbles. Most of the time I’m overqualified or they won’t pay what I’m looking for, but the majority of the jobs out there are in high tech or health care, anyhow, so ... As much as I’d like to, I can’t walk away from this mess given the economy and the job market.  This feeling of confinement, of being trapped, is a big part of why I'm so aggravated.  I think I’m in a rut. If I wasn’t, I’d feel like I was using this time more effectively, wouldn’t I? Why aren’t I walking more or loosing more weight? Instead, it feels like it’s sucking the energy right out of me.

A year ago at this time, I was leading an integration sub-team of members from Paris, Mexico City, London, and New York, and leading conference calls across geographies at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. We were making plans for the merger. In the office, I was responsible for HR, new hire orientation, all the secretaries and workflow, finance, office services including safety and security, event planning, community service, data security, facilities and space management, and business continuity. I had 20 direct reports, and I was considered a business partner.  My input was valued.

Today, I have four people reporting to me and I attended a webcast entitled “Emergency Preparedness for Dummies”.

I’ve been through the first round of interviews for my new, restructured position which is comprised of about one quarter of what I was doing previously. The second round is imminent, and I feel like I did when Elizabeth was two weeks overdue and all I could is sit in the big chair and wait.

I’m in the last quarter and there isn’t a quarter back sneak in sight.


FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Scrapbook Project

If you know me at all artistically, you know I have a thing for stickers and embellishments. I use them everywhere I can in my art to make cards, bookmarks, and framed pictures. I love to wander aimlessly through the scrapbook section of the art store, too. I love the butterflies and birds, the flowers and the trees. Ladybugs marching across a page make me very happy. I’ve written copiously on the artistic freedom and immediate gratification I feel using embellishments in my collage work, and I appreciate the difference between the commitment to a large pen and ink piece and this. Still, I haven’t done an actual scrapbook since my daughter was two, and that was over 10 years ago.

Recently, a friend of mine returned from a road scholar’s hiking trip in Death Valley with some wonderful photographs and loads of enthusiasm. This is a woman who finds her balance and serenity in nature and seems to have limitless energy for the pursuit of such endeavors. Her birthday was shortly thereafter, and I wanted to give her something she’d appreciate, something that looks and feels natural and reflects her adventurous spirit. What better gift than a commemorative scrapbook!

I started with the right paper, and the inside pages were handmade from India and oversized at a perfect 9 by 13 inches. I loved the feel of it in my hands. The rough edges appealed to me enormously, even as an allegory for life. After all, there is nothing smooth about living. I used my friend’s photos, both large and small, and standard photo corners to give it an authentic look. I decorated pages with all sorts of flower and butterfly stickers, and other elements of nature, but each page seemed to ask for more. So, using a silver ink pen, I drew swirls, stars, hearts, and dots, at times surrounding quotations about nature by people like John Muir, more on some pages than others, but always embedding friendship and love into each word and symbol with the movement of my pen. This pulled it all together.

Now, how would I bind this piece of art without damaging the beautifully uneven pages? I didn’t want the binding to restrict page turning and I didn’t want to use a boring coil or GBC comb. I found a set of rods in the bookmaking section of my favorite art store, and they required only two holes in each sheet. The result was terrific! I covered the scrapbook’s front and back using another beautiful handmade paper, and then at the last moment added flower appliqués and faux-crystal butterflies. The appliqués were very appropriate because my friend loves to sew.
I have to admit that wrapping the scrapbook was as much fun as making it. Gift wrapping is a passion, and I try to make each package an adventure without taking away from the gift itself. I’m convinced I was a Macy’s gift wrapper in a former life. Continuing the natural theme, I used a box that was covered with lavender flowers (the color of friendship), and friendship affirmations, and I topped it with bright green ribbons. When it was done, the package felt like a flower.

Gift-giving is a wonderful thing. When a gift is thought out and made with our own hands it carries so much more meaning than something store bought. When our gift of creativity inspires the recipient to creative endeavors, a circle of inspiration is formed. Your intent has come full circle and a sort of circuit is created. To me, that is an amazing thing occurring spontaneously between two people.

This specific project was a lot of fun, but more, it provided me with a focus when I needed one outside of other demanding issues in my life. My friend was absolutely thrilled with her gift, but I received a gift in the making of it, too.

How could I ask for more?
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