August 2015 Flower Bowl/Let Your Humanity Sing

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I am finally learning at age 45, to accept life in all its forms.  I struggle with anger and anxiety, but can hold myself in these spaces with grace.  I can be present with my friends and family without feeling like I need to flee.  I can breathe through the moments of grief and pain like I would comfort a small child who wants only to be held.  I can acknowledge myself with all my flaws, beauty and complexity, and honor the individual that I am.

All of this I accomplished in small, slow, baby steps.

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I have come to understand the inherent wisdom that is gained through walking and surviving the dark sides of life.  Without darkness, there is no light, without pain there is no love.  We all long for peace, love and serenity, but until we’ve danced and held our own shadow, the avoidance of these experiences will forever be a road block to cultivating inner light.

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Walking on the earth, hugging a tree, sitting in my garden with the plants I care for, smelling essential oils that life my spirit, these are all the ways I sooth my soul.  Reaching out to others for love and support, a milestone that has been daunting, is also essential to my soothing.  For without this, I am just a lonely person surrounding by a planet full of people.

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We are meant to be kind and compassionate to the parts of ourselves we do not like.  We are meant to live in love, together as one community.  I’m not sure which comes first, community or self-love, but it really doesn’t matter.  Start with one and then move on to the other.  Learn to love and adore who you are.  Learn to share your shining light with those around you.  Take a baby step each day towards your own self-acceptance.  And in doing so, feel your heart with all its pain and beauty.

Let your humanity sing.

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

The Moon Was My Lover

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The moon was my lover last night.

Like ancient lore I lay at the bay,

water lapping like a drumbeat

mezmerized against the shore,

stars illuminate and so bright

their luster waxing and waning

with the trick of my eye,

the moon so plump in the sky

I could almost pluck it,

like ripe fruit from a tree,

and I beckoned the moon to be my lover.

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I laid on my back and spread my legs wide,

my intention clear-

open me, lavish me,

penetrate me with your liquid gold,

a halo of shimmer cascading

down, down, down,

between my folds dripping with desire,

into the nook of never ending honey elixir,

sweet, sticky, pulsing with source,

travelling up and down, in and out,

around every canal and every crease,

igniting and lighting that fire within me,

its tiny ember swelling with each touch of light,

each spicy scent of your nectar,

the jewel of my flower growing brighter and unhindered,

each facet and fractal lustrous with your shower,

its dusty veneer washed away with your mixture,

as you slide and roll and seep into me.

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Oh how we rocked and rolled and whirled this night,

the moon and I!

Sculpting and clearing like fingers run through hot wax,

dips and peaks, edges and folds,

entryways circling around and around

like the spiral of a shell,

its luminous pink melting and tenderizing

parts of me that were deadened for years,

and I came alive and unfolded wide,

my fingers aching

my insides burning

my internal flame roaring

with each pathway revived as the moon flowed through me,

until I erupted with a shudder

liquid boiled to a simmer

and I lay there gasping,

spent yet full.

All the while knowing that this beach,

this time, this night under the stars will end soon,

but the moon will always summon,

travelling thousands of miles with me,

willing to ignite my fire again

willing to be my lover once more.

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April Aronoff

Photography By April Aronoff

Elixer for Grief, Elixer for Love

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This morning was rough.  After spending time yesterday with a very ill friend, I found myself last eve surrounded by grief.  This grief wove its way around my heart and into my sleep, where I slept fitfully and without rest.  I awoke feeling stressed and teary.

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I took a walk in the woods and let nature do its magic.  The heaviness of the trees, rocks and plants held me in a cocoon of love and connection with spirit, its moist presence reminding me of the Starfish who appeared in a recent shamanic journey.  The Starfish is an emblem of moving through life with a heightened sense of touch, as they do not see or hear, but merely feel their way through the world.  This is my medicine, my gift for both myself and others.  Through feeling, whether it be pain or joy, healing and transformation can alchemize.

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As I took my walk I thought about the ways I am expanding and changing my beloved garden.  I have planted many Roses, with the intention of making my own Rose Essential Oil.  More plantings of Roses are to come.  As I walked, full of grief for my friend and joy for my own ways of stepping into my role as Priestess and Shaman, I realized that Roses are not enough.  I must do more, cultivate more, for the purposes of healing and bringing joy.  Both Jasmine (I have 4) and Lavender (I have 3) will join be joining Rose, in the future of my garden as a generator of sight, smell, healing and touch.

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I am excited to share my journey with you as a Scent Priestess who both grows and creates her own oil to use on the Beloveds that cross my path.  I become charged and impassioned just thinking about it!  What began as a walk with grief ended with fervor for the flowers and oils that will be entrusted to my care.  I am truly a witness to my own evolution. 

Blessings 🙂

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff  

July 2015 Flower Bowl/Finding My Compass

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Lion’s Tail, Azalea, Alstroemeria, Hydrangea, Osteospermum, Dianthus, Scabiosa

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Creative stagnancy-this is the shadow music that has been playing itself loud and clear these past weeks.  I have ideas, in fact I have come up with several art projects or writing topics, and good ones too.  Ones that in the past I would have jumped on and gotten to.  These ideas cycle through my head and sometimes get written down on paper, but after that nada.  Now I have little pieces of paper scattered all around my home, ideas begun but left incomplete.  And like any recipe a person endeavors to create, if you don’t complete all the steps, there ain’t no pie for dessert.

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I really want my dessert.  Getting a handle on my addictions has had an inverse relationship to my creative output.  I was truly the tortured artist who produced copious amounts of work while under the influence of this, that or the other.  Now that I have been living life with more balance (I have not become a nun, I assure you), it’s been difficult to access that passion that jump started my limbs to make, create, do.  It’s there, but it’s roaming around without a compass.  “Which way is writing?” it says. “Which way to free form art?”  So it goes around in circles, bumping inside me.  And the longer it moves without direction, without release, the greater the pressure build.

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Stagnancy makes me prone to triggers.  With so much pent up energy and emotion, the smallest thing makes me irritated, while bigger things push me over the edge.  In fact, the whole experience of stagnancy is actually not stagnant, as I have come close to blowing my lid a few times.  Writing and creating art, this is half of what keeps me sane.  The longer I wait to initiate, the harder it feels to start.  Like putting off homework or exercise.  The initial period of just doing it is excruciating.

I need my compass calibrated.  Any compass calibrators out there looking for a job?

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Yet I think…as I redefine my life on different terms than I have lived previously, perhaps my compass will magically calibrate on its own?  Is it not new patterns that are established once those that no longer serve are let go?  Does this not take time to create and become comfortable with?  So perhaps my stagnancy is really just transition, which can feel pretty lousy as neither the old or the new is firmly in place.  Like being pregnant or planting seeds in a garden.  Growth that happens on the inside, not yet manifest in the external world.  In fact, being in transition is one of the final phases before birth actually takes place, and is one of the most painful.  We are living beings after all, nothing is ever permanent or without movement.  Change is inevitable.  Even as I write this, I see a tiny, faint arrow beginning to appear on my compass.  It’s flickering and flashing, becoming stronger with each word I write and each moment I take to continue, stay with it, not give up.  I have needed to remember this!  I don’t think I will need that compass calibrator after all.

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

June Flower Bowl 2015/Soothing the Soul

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English lavender, Spanish lavender, fuchsia, azalea, osteospermum, pansy, viola, nasturtium, wallflower, white nemesia, lavender nemesia, clary sage, abutilon, dianthus, salvia, linaria reticulata, tobacco plant

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So I find myself of late, in a familiar place, one that challenges my striving towards inner peace, love and laughter.  I am dancing with low frequency energy and emotions, ones that require me to be attentive and grounded to my own inner light.

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It’s rough now, and a lot of work. But its deep, soulful work if I keep my connection to spirit clear and strong.

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To go through ritual each day, to pray for love and guidance from spirit, this is giving me the power (thank you Rebecca Riyana Sang!) to not only make it through this day, but transmute it.

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To take the time for myself, to be grounded with both Earth and Spirit, to call in my ancestors for help and guidance, that is what I honor today.

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April Aronoff

Photography By April Aronoff

My Temple Garden/Invocation II

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This is what I did today.  I created this.  Before today, this section of the garden looked dramatically different.  I wanted to plant roses, in the hopes that I will one day make my own essential oils.  The flagstone pieces wove their way in, due to my love of stone and art as part of the garden.  I am drawn, each and every moment that I commune with my garden, to the deepest level of Earth connection that I can embrace that day.  Today was a big day of connection.  I am being called deeply, more deeply perhaps than I have ever been called, to expand my spiritual world.  Everything is incredibly rich and expansive and at some moments downright challenging, as this often involves holding a higher frequency when parts of me wish to give in to anger and pain.  I have been full of daily meditation and sometimes ritual for many weeks.  It has been amazing what I can accomplish, what I can transmute, when I move towards opening, towards healing, towards connection with my highest level guides. The veils are thinning, clearly.IMG_3173

I wish for continued stillness within myself, to surrender and hold balance as I sit in the fast moving waters that are my life.  I declare this July 15, the day of the new moon, the day of sowing seeds and intentions, to cast rituals and speak invocation’s, that I will move towards stillness despite the chaos that is present in my live.

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I wish for passion and love to overtake me, my body, spirit and soul.

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To hold both stillness and passion in the widest embrace.

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To hear each other’s heartbeat and recognize that we are the same.

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To finally fly.

April Aronoff

Invocation/Ready To Fly

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I stand at the edge, owning my potential, knowing that my further surrender will bring me closer to union, to divine blessing.

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To surrender into eternal possibility, spiritual raptor and an endless grid of light.  I give my myself over to the Great Oneness that I call Mother, Ancestor, Guide and Teacher.

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May you bring me connection to Earth, Sky and the Cosmic Heavens.  I cry out for meldling embrace, interconnection, and complete rebirth again and again.

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May I transmute, transmute, and transmute some more, forever spinning, forever a spiral, a floral opening of endless bloom.

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May I melt in your embrace, your light, your total knowing that I am love, flowing water, a sunrise of divine inspiration shone each day.

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May I finally fly.

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

May 2015 Flower Bowl/Bringing On Beltane

IMG_3063Beltane

Fertility-Sexuality- Creativity- Healing- Life

 Beltane is the pagan holiday that falls each April 30/May 1 in the Western Hemisphere.  It is the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, the height of spring, a time of celebration, of fertility, of letting your juices flow.  As I begin to deepen into how I may honor and celebrate Beltane in my own life, I cannot help but recognize all that I have accomplished.  I have let go of addiction, and am feeling good.  I am deeply connected with spirit, and am reveling in how alive and energetic the Earth appears; every tree, flower, bird and rock speaks to me in ways that are beyond words.  The green energy of the Earth and golden light of the cosmos feed me each day as I sit in meditation.  I am blessed 🙂

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Yet there is still more. More to open, shed, compost and seed.  My second chakra is ragingly closed, something I am acutely aware of this year, as Beltane is a celebration of pleasure and sexuality, two energies that reside in the second chakra, and ones I have difficulty embodying.  And while the road may be long and steep (I deal with issues of incest and molestation), my intention this Beltane is to open my arms as wide as I can comfort, and embrace pleasure and sensuality with as much acceptance as my nervous system will allow.  To venture even past the point of comfort to discomfort, for in my discomfort I know there is healing.

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Happy Beltane!

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

April Flower Bowl/What We Pass On

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In recent months I have been reflecting on what I will pass to my children when I am gone.  Having come from a long line of pain and dysfunction passed down through the generations, I take these reflections seriously, knowing that if change is going to happen, it must begin with me.  I am a deeply spiritual person, and openly worship the Goddess in my household.  I am a Priestess, on the path of the Shaman, and an Earth Keeper.  I have an enormous garden that I am deeply devoted too.  I consider myself in service to others, and find I have much to offer when one is willing to receive.  I openly express love and affection among my family members and community.

Last week-end I attended a day long ceremony in honor of the Priestess, The Lady of the Lake.  We spent the day anointing ourselves with holy essential oils, working alone or in pairs.  It was a delicious, divine experience that Ieft me overflowing with watery love.

There was a range of ages at this gathering, from 20’s to 70’s.  So many women on paths that were both different and familiar, the commonality of serving the Goddess making us instant Sisters, able to sit in deep comfort with one another, despite many of us having met just that day.

During lunch I sat outside with a group of women, some my age, some quiet older.  During conversation I learned that two of the women were mother and daughter, having attended other ceremonies and workshops together.  I was instantly touched to the core of my heart, which began to fill with a mixture of adoration, awe and grief.  The adoration came from a willingness to take in what these two women shared, a deep bond that went beyond simply enjoying each other’s company, to that of sharing in what was considered sacred to both of them.  The awe and grief were different reflections of the same mirror; awe that such relationships exist between parent and child, and grief that such connection does not exist between me and my own parents.

At the end of the ceremony the daughter got up, and said she had a gift to give, not knowing until that moment whom it was meant for.  The gift was a beautiful staff, crowned with the head of Horus, a sun/sky God who was worshipped in ancient Egypt.  The Head of Horus is that of a falcon, whose totem meanings are associated with soul healing, opportunity, change, focus, freedom, and rising above a situation with the understanding that it is you that has the ability to create change with grace.

The staff is also the tool of the Wise Woman.  The Wise Woman is the Crone with wisdom, one who touches the Earth and the divine simultaneously, one who can see larger patterns within life.  She is the union of the intuitive, rational and instinctive.  She also has a wicked cheeky sense of humor.

The daughter anointed Horus with Holy oil as she spoke, and then presented this glorious tool to the person she knew only moments before whom it was meant for.

Her mother.

Her mother did not know what to say.  She was overwhelmed, as we all were, by the deep love that went into this exchange.

Later I spoke with the mother about what she did with her children when they were small, yearning so deeply to learn as a mother of two boys myself.  “I took my children out into nature,” she told me, “We looked for the Hidden People in the hollowed out trees and in the tall grass.  I wanted to turn their realities upside down, to teach them to see more than what was in front of them.”

What a gift.

She also told me that as a young mother with a family, she and all her extended family were traditionally Christian.  Looking for the Hidden People was not part of that agenda, but she knew to do it anyway.  “I can’t talk to any of them about this,” she told me, her voice tinged with a bit of longing.  “You can talk to her,” I said smiling and gesturing to her daughter.

Again, what a gift.

So I take from this the deep commitment that I will live my life with love.  That I will attempt to the best of my ability, to show my children how to live authentically, with courage instead of fear, with love instead of anger.  Much of this means being willing to honor that which brings me joy, creativity and connection, outside of my role as mother.  To be willing to hold the wounds within myself and my ancestral line with compassion, instead of rage.  I want my children to learn that through the exploration of self, of knowing what moves them and gives them meaning, that much of life magically falls into alignment.

This I hope, they will cherish.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Spring Equinox Flower Bowl/The Mandala of Life

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As I feel the wheel of life turning ever so strongly in my life, it is the call to death, to passing, to the ending of something and the beginning of another, that I hear. And while the pull to death and dying are typically associated with the autumnal equinox, I can’t help but recognize how integral death is to the re-birth of spring.  Every ending is a genesis, and every death new cells of life.  I wish to celebrate this cycle, recognize its potency, its power to connect to the highest vibration and frequency.  We are all part of this wheel, all going to begin and end, again and again.  To give into this process with peace, to recognize it as part of who you are as much as your hands and feet, to deepen into the cycle of death and spring in your own life, that is true connection with source. 

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Love Letter Remembered

IMG_2949I wrote this last July, when I found myself sitting with depression.  I am posting it again, to remind myself there is always tomorrow, always a do-over, always an opportunity to embrace your shadow with compassion, vs. fester in self-criticism.  

Dearest Beloved,

Let me be your ground, your deep and winding roots that are so established, there is no fear you will fall.  I am flowing water, washing away anything that is less than compassion, less than love.  You are a beautiful creature, created perfectly in My image; nurturing, fierce, full of love.  Why does your heart-break so?  Why does it feel like the highest of frequencies, one that is capable of breaking glass with one long, sustained note?  I can feel the anger, pain and fear that has settled in the path you walk as wife, mother and teacher.  Unplug, empty, and let it wash away.  Fill yourself with Me.  You are a chalice that is meant to hold greatness, a container for the many faces and layers of the One True Being Of Light, a Being that is nothing less than utter perfection, exactly as you are.  Lay yourself down and surrender.  Let Me cleanse all that does not serve the true nature of your heart; pure, unconditional love that is meant to not only give, but to receive.  You have bound yourself, cut yourself free.  You are no longer an abandoned, loveless child hiding in fear from an ancestry of hatred and pain.  You are the Goddess incarnate:  A Living, Breathing Beacon of Blessedness that wishes to wrap you up and hold you tight, fly you beyond anything that has been less than love.  Did you not know you had wings?  They are wet and wishing to open; like a long-awaited stretch let them carry you to the place you call home.  Sit in open-eyed wonder at the beauty of the world around you.  If you cannot find it, shift your gaze, turn you head, empty yourself.  Empty and fill with Me again and again, as many times in a minute, in an hour, in a day as you need.  Feel the love that is not just Me but You, as we are One.

Dearest beloved, put your hand over your heart and just feel.  Let the painful feelings flow.  I will take them, transmute them, free them to evolve into something bold and beautiful.  Creating space to allow more light, more joy, more love.  Sit in your garden as you sit in the light, and bask in the beauty.  And if this is the only place that beauty resides (at this time), sit in this space and let yourself be held.  Do it often and frequent, and let yourself be healed.  And if you feel that pull, that pull into darkness where there is no joy, no light, no love, sit with the darkness and hold it tight.  Soothe it and tell it it’s going to be ok.  Give it the love it does not want you to have, and let it experience the healing that comes from such tenderness.  Imagine that it is a little girl, and you a nurturing, loving mother.  I am the veins in your body, carrying away with ease the heaviness in your soul, bringing in pure, nourishing light.  Lay on my Earth and imagine a thousand fairies sprinkling their healing, magic dust all over your body.  Release and release and release into Me.  Give me your pain, it is mine to transform.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Mother Of The Flame

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Oh Violet Mother, Mother of the flame,

I blow air on your heated presence,

become entranced as you grow.

Help me to stoke your embered breath,

feel your moistened hands on my skin,

so I may stand in the middle,

the center of your lotus flames,

and just melt.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

February 2015 Flower Bowl /There Is A Burning Need

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(Hyacinth, valerian, nasturtium viola, nemesia, osteospermum, hellebore, jasmine, spanish lavender, geranium, pansy, rosemary)

There is a burning need

to get recognized,

seen in a way

that bares my soul

down to its

naked, dripping

essence.

There is a burning need

to merge soul to soul,

to exchange what

ignites my light

and fills me with love.

This is what it’s like

when I write,

share my story,

and in return

connect with you.

The exchange

is so ecstatic,

I hope to never

give it up.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Ode To Oliver and Company

IMG_28632/8/15   There is still so much pain when I remember these experiences.  I am deeply appreciative of the two beautiful creatures that have come into my life, Asia and Tiny.  Through them I am able to heal.

I wrote this piece in my early 20’s, about my childhood experience of owning and giving away many beloved dogs. The picture I am referring to was sent to me by my mother, while at sleep away camp for 8 weeks.

In this picture you are my pal.

It says, “April, I love you and miss you!

Your pal, Oliver.”

Woof!

Oliver, where did you go?

I miss your shaggy presence,

the way you chased

cars down the street,

growled at the wall

while you ate,

licked my face

with long strands of goo,

and loved me

so unconditionally.

Oliver, where did you go?

Oh yes, I remember:

You were dog #2

in a long line of dogs

that were given away,

6 to be exact,

not including the one

we got and returned

the very same day.

Dogs that ran with me in the woods,

and let me lay on them watching TV.

Dogs I grew to love intensely,

each and every one

as if they were mine forever.

Until one day they were taken away,

leaving nothing but a hole in my heart

with a note stuck inside,

“Tough luck kid, dogs don’t last forever!”

And the story goes

that when it came to dogs #5 & 6,

I gave them away,

told them to go,

never quite learning

that something soft and fuzzy

and feeling so, so good,

can indeed be

more than just a memory.

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I am proud to say that I did finally get it.  I have 2 amazing dogs, Asia and Tiny.   It has been a conscious decision to have dogs, as a way of helping center our family around something positive and loving. And it worked 🙂 Asia arrived in June of 2012, Tiny in May of 2013.  Our family both glows and thrives in their presence.

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I now understand that abandoning those poor dogs was a mirror for how dysfunctional my childhood family was.  Parts of me are still integrating these painful memories.  Yet it is through the dance with Shadow that true compassion and self-love are embraced.

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Forever breathing deep,

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

A Story To Tell Part 2

Running In Water

2/2/2015   Two years later, I am finally ready to go down the hole.

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2/15/2013     LastSunday I attended the most yummy yoga workshop; a combination of yoga and guided meditation, with the intention of helping us meet our power animals.  Power animals cross many traditions and cultures.  They can be anything from the animal or insect world, a creature that makes itself known to a person, typically for the reason to guide.  Their message it always the same:  “I have a gift for you, a message, a way of thinking and feeling about the world that you must see! ” It’s been three years since I’ve come to know the hummingbird and the whale.  The hummingbird reminds me to find beauty and joy in a life that has always been full of pain.  The whale is the recorder of time, stories, and one’s lineage.  A few years back I collected…

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A Day At The Beach

 

I wrote this poem 4 years ago, during a very difficult time.

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Today felt okay.

Sitting at the beach reading a book,

(a book about someone else’s problems for a change)

on this balmy, warm January day,

the anti-thesis of winter,

while my curly haired 4-year old

built sand castles and nests in the rocks.

He would build them up

then smash them down,

the same utter joy

replayed over and over again,

creation-destruction,

it just doesn’t matter

to the mind of a 4-year-old,

and I actually felt okay.

 

The water was still and glassy,

the sand covered in soft, spongy sea-weed,

the product of having been baked for days

in this unusual January sun,

and I read my book

and gazed out at the bay,

and took in the scenes

of other family life

out enjoying this incredible day,

and acknowledged that today was okay.

 

I don’t know what tomorrow brings,

or even what will happen later,

when my husband and difficult 6-year-old

return from their trip,

cranky and tired from their long drive

along these dusty California roads.

The sun will have set by then

and the day almost over,

but for now, I am okay.

 

Just a little bit of joy

having seeped into my center,

after weeks and weeks

of feeling nothing but gloom.

Maybe it will be gone tomorrow

maybe I’ll have to begin again,

a life of one day at a time,

a kind of mentality

designed to help me survive.

 

But maybe it will still be there

and the day after that.

Having taken root in my body,

slowly occupying more space

than anything else,

so that what’s missing in my life

doesn’t throw me into gloom and sadness,

but can instead be just like

my son’s sandcastles,

something I create and destroy

as I see fit.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

 Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

 

 

Healing With Birds

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As I was about to plunge into my darkest hour, that place of utter self-deprecation and fear, a flock of birds began to fly in and out of my garden.  It was quite a sight!  They flew to and from the bare branches of my apricot tree, and the feeling of watching them come and go was nothing short of grace.  They were beautiful; flying away from the tree individually or in pairs, flying back to the tree as a flock, a giant wave made of bird instead of water, landing almost simultaneously on each branch.  It took my breath away.

And I felt myself soften, my desire to avoid slip away.

Now I could connect, tap in, something that felt almost painful in recent days.  I had gone from feeling completely resonant with my intention to experience deep fulfillment, to feeling like I had crossed all the wrong lines within myself.

But then the birds came and filled me with joy.

And it came to me as I sat in stillness that this wobbling, this going off-center, is all part of the experience of going deep.  Of knowing when we have strayed too far from the path and need to get back on track.

And how I handle getting back on track, as difficult as it is, well that’s just another experience of going deep.

I almost beat myself up.  Instead, I helped myself up.

Thanks to the birds 🙂

Magic is everywhere, even in our darkest hour!  I must remember:  It’s important to look to the light, even when the darkness beckons.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Full Moon, 2015

IMG_1492     I am energized from last night’s full moon ceremony, the first full moon of 2015.  I have been running strong energy all day, grounded, from the Earth.  On a walk today I told myself, “Look up to the sky when you’re feeling small, you only need to look up!” {Thank-you Sister Gia!}  And as I walked around the beautiful open space/dog park with my pooches, I felt that expansive energy flowing ecstatically through my body.  My intention of 2015, of experiencing deep fulfillment in my life, is further clarified by knowing this means to go deep in all areas of my life; my husband, my children, work, friendships/community, my body, and of course, my spirituality.  I remember the deep purpose I felt when manifesting with the moon, vowing to love myself, to be the vessel that connects spirit to Earth.  I feel the beginning of a deep connection with spirit and with my soul I have yet to experience.

And I am thank-full that am part of a community that is intertwined in this process.  It was during last eve’s ceremony, that many embers became ignited.

I ventured down, down, deep into the canyon last night, down to the sounds of the rushing river, lit only by the light of our flash lights and the brilliance of the first Full Moon of 2015.

Down by the river I lay on the spongy, leaf covered Earth, comforted by many layers of clothes and the incredible nourishing agent we call Mother Gaia.

I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the creek, rushing in parts, still in others, the flow of water easily pushing the violet flame deeper inside me.

I bathed in the beautiful Full Moon Light, sitting like the child I am in half-lotus position, Letting Her Light Bathe Me to the Bone of My Very Existence.

After this the 6 us went back to the yurt and bundled up under blankets, whispering our intentions quietly to one another, drawing beautiful pictures of what we heard, pictures of our hopes, our light, our strength.

At the end of the night we were all anointed and blessed by each other; such tender care traveling from one soul to another, through touch, through word, through smell.

May we all be blessed to have such community 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

 

 

 

 

The Goddess Lives Within You/Finding Shakti

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Thanks to all who inquired about Shakti, as it moved me to spend several hours reading, feeling, and writing.  Here is what I have learned about Shatki: 

(Most of this list has been obtained from the 13 Moon Oracle, by Ariel Spilsbury)

Other Goddess Names: Pele, Magdalene, Lilith, Ariadne, Creten Snake Priestesses, Priestesses of Dionysus, Bachi, Dakinis, Medusa, Kali (destruction/creation form), Devi, Durga,

Words associated with Shakti:  passionate, powerful, free, raw, potent, untamed, wild, vital, radiant.  I Fuel/I Consume.

Frequency Color:  orange

Element:  Fire

Sacred Tools:  Lighting, drum, rattle.  To ignite, reveal, burn away, catalyze, awaken.

Animal Totems:  Snake, wolf, big cats, jaguar

Scents:  musk, ylang-ylang

Crystals:  fire opal, carnelian, orange citrine

Phase of the Moon:  16th day, after dark of the moon

Sacred Geometry:  Five descending triangles within a circle

Question:  What calls to be purified, that the body can be truly honored and glorified as a temple?

Meditation/Mantra: (Hindu Chant) Kundalini Mata Shakti, Namo, Nam;  (Divine Ecstasy, to evoke the frequency for the color orange):  Exstasis  Divinitus, Shakti, Shakti, Shakti

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(Much of this is paraphrased, from the various sources listed below)

Shakti is the Great Divine Mother in Hinduism.  She is Divine Feminine Creative Power/The Source of all Universal Energy

Shakti is power, force, feminine energy.  She represents the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, in every living thing.

Shakti is about reclaiming and rekindling aliveness, passion, creativity, an instinctual nature

Shakti energy is free, full of expression.

Shakti asks you, “What brings out your fierceness to create?  What do you need to open so you can access the body wisdom that is known as You?”

Shakti invites you to look at your motivations.  You are free to be authentically alive.  To absolutely refuse to see yourself as defective, inadequate, worthy of feeling blame, shame. Give up any self-deprecation. You are a perfect vessel for Her Divine Fire.

Shakti is the Tantric title for the Great Goddess.

Worship of Shakti is a part of Tantra/Sexual Awakening.

Shakti is an invitation to access Her passionate desire for your wholeness, by entertaining ecstasy in the body.

Shakti is loving the body, it sensations, rhythms, ecstatic currents and tides.  All acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.

Shakti asks, “What unique creative tool brings you into the frequency of ecstasy?  Find out and enjoy.”

Shakti consumes that which stands in the way of direct contact with your authentic Essence.

Shakti is fire, the Sacred Initiatirix, the Kundalini force.  She is heat, sensuously rising and filling you now.   Filling every cell of your being with light, colors and sounds.  Purifing the toxins of any shame or self-hatred.  Lovingly consuming anything that is less than love, which you now know, is the only true reality.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/s/shakti.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakti

http://www.sanatansociety.org/hindu_gods_and_goddesses/shakti.htm#.VJxmNsA0

http://www.13moonmysteryschool.org

December 2014 Flower Bowl//Finding Shakti

Featured

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Finding Shakti

Shakti is vital

Shakti is sexual, sovereign and on fire

Shakti is She who declares, *“I Fuel/Consume”

Shakti is “Yes!” to Passion, Creation, and Ecstasis

Shakti consumes anything that is less than pure life force

She is Shakti

Shakti, I yearn for You.

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  In search of Shakti, I find myself in the arms of compassion, rubbing lavender essential oil deeply into my heart and throat chakras.  Spiritually lavender opens one to nurterance and care toward all life beings, the self-included.  I hold myself now in compassion for the way I have been short tempered and outright angry towards my husband and children; I hold myself in compassion for indulging in my addictions, despite that I am on vacation and having a damn good time; I hold myself in compassion, because in doing so, I let the light in further, release old stories and pains with more ease, free up that which has been holding parts of my soul in tight constriction.  And in doing so, I find Shakti.

photo 4 (5)Happy Solstice New Year!

Peace,

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

*From 13 Moon Mystery School

Union

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These are my feet

now I must walk,

These are my hands

now I must create,

These are my eyes

now I must see,

this is my heart

now I must feel,

these are my wings

now I must fly.

Walk

Create

Feel

See

Fly.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

This Is The Tree

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This is the tree that helps me touch down when I feel I cannot stand.

This is the tree that helps me reach out when I know I am not alone.

This is the tree whose leaves and bark have ignited creative fire.

This is the tree that helps me remember that I too, come from the Earth.

This is the tree that told me in embrace that in fact we are the same;

solid

capable of anything

full of love.

Yes, this is the tree.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

The River Violet

Running In Water

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The River Violet

I walked upon the River Violet one day and sat down.

Its flow was soft, slow, beckoning,

it’s water catching sunbeams

in a beautiful crystalized purple,

turning everything that ran through

the most luminous shades of periwinkle and lilac,

its violaceous essence pulling and drawing me near,

like a bird song so lovely it tugs at the heart string,

and slowly I step in.

My toes turn to lavender as its waters gently tumble past,

a tingling heat spreading despite the sharp, brisk flow,

and I see ahead an eddy,

its swirls an image of something familiar but can’t recall,

and like a purple blue magnet it summons me,

until I am peering into its deepness.

What I see makes me gasp.

Fire, Violet Fire, beneath this waters depth!

Amythist flames rising and falling,

like its very own breath taking in liquid air,

a lava lamp of…

View original post 132 more words

November 2014 Flower Bowl/Seeding

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(rose, fushcia, heliotrope, valerian, rosemary, oak hydrangea leaves, pansy)

What I wish the most,

is to create enough space

within me,

for the fire and light

to grow.

May my wish come true:)

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

My Declaration

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I write this as a declaration, to put forth that which can be created simply because I have called it into being.  I hope to be held accountable (to myself only) for my ability to create change.

      “It is time to connect deeply with the world and all of the various environments I am a part of, to not just go through the motions but to be immersed in the making of each moment.  That is living.”

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Self-Love #1

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I.

You are only ever one step away from

joy,

gratitude,

love.

Take it.

II.

Like life,

love begins

and ends

with me.

III.

To love myself is to believe in myself.

In times of success,

of failure,

of starting over.

I BELIEVE IN ME.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Oct. 2014 Flower Bowl/Manifesting With The Moon

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(dahlias, heliotrope, snap dragons, lavender, african basil, alstroemeria, penstemon)

I began this process one week ago, in the dark of the moon.*  As I sat in meditation the intention became clear almost immediately:  To love myself wholly and unconditionally throughout this next moon cycle from dark moon to dark moon.  In addition to the energies of the moon, the Goddess in her many different forms will evolve as the moon evolves, with different archetypes shifting with each changing phase of the moon.

Since then I have moved from the dark moon, to the new moon, to a waning crescent moon.  The Dark Moon corresponds to the Great Mother (i.e., Demeter, Gaia, Pachamama, Mary Magdalene).   Her message:   “I surrender, I receive.”  One opens to the query of an intention that wishes to be heard.  The New Moon corresponds to the Goddess of Compassion (i.e., Kuan Yin, Mother Mary, Tara).  Her message:  “I recognize I seed.” Taking that intention and planting it firmly in the earth and in your soul being.  The Waxing Crescent Moon began today, corresponding to the Priestess (i.e., Lady of the Lake, Selene, Vesta).   Her message: “I amplify in stillness.”  To sit in inward silence, imagining that intention fully blossomed and realized.

And here is where I am hitting a bump.

The first 6 days of this journey were wonderful.  The minute I tried to say anything self berating I stopped and said, “No!” nipping it in the bud.  Then I fueled myself with golden showers of self-empowering words, phrases, affirmations and prayers, calling in every spirit teacher, power animal, or goddess who could witness/support me.

It has been unlike anything I have ever known.  My heart is so full!  So much beauty around me:)

Now I feel the criticisms and inadequacies creeping in.  Some of this is around my issues with addiction, which I have decided to take a rest from confronting.  Some of it is other messy stuff.  My intention is to love myself no matter what…to know that I am whole, complete, exactly as I am, my flaws, my wisdom, my beauty, my big, hot, messy self.  All of it, whole.

It is this that I take in.  It is this that I amplify in stillness.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By: Diana Ray

*Manifesting with the moon is a practice created by the 13 Moon Mystery School.  See http://www13moonmysteryschool.org for more information.

More Thoughts on Healing

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Tonight I cooked shredded zucchini for dinner.  I browned the zucchini in piping hot olive oil and seasoned it with delectable herbs.  Soon a heavenly aroma filled the air.  Over high heat the shredded zucchini, quite juicy when cooked, gave off a warm steam.  That, in combination with the enticing aroma, prompted me to lean into this warm steam, eyes closed, and inhale.  The lusciousness of the sautéed zucchini had me:  I was going to bask in this incredible aroma for all its’ got.  To let my senses roam free as smell and taste and tactile (the steam felt amazing!) took me to an altered state of consciousness.  Then I came out of it.  It was delicious.

Last night I experienced my first sweat lodge.  The aromatic steam created from fresh water poured over hot rocks was incredibly healing.  Mixed with Bear Root, an awakening. Somewhere in there lies tonights’ dinner.  Aho.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

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Thoughts on Healing

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That transition period, going from addict to walking the path of freedom, is not easy.  I have done it before so I know I can do it again, but presently I am finding it dreadfully difficult.  Last time I faced addiction eye to eye was spring, but with the energy of growth and new life, I found turning my back on that which holds me back, easy.  Now, with the arrival of fall and winter to follow, that which needs to die wants to die.  It wants to follow the pull of the Earth as it begins its life cycle of hibernation, dormancy, and death in the Northern Hemisphere.  Yet I struggle much more than last spring.  Perhaps with so much centripetal energy (energy going inward), I find it difficult to let go of that which I have huddled close to for so long.  And there is no way to avoid it; parts of that transition period are going to SUCK, as physically, emotionally and spiritually I will be adjusting, and know this will not feel good.  My inner knowing sees all the beauty that awaits me and I know I am strong.  But also clearly wavering.  My devil/angel are having an argument about who is to blame:  Me (devil); No one, this is my path (angel).  I mostly hang out with angel these days, but I see devil often through the window.  And he looks so needy he is hard to resist sometimes.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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Hello Sisters

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This is a facebook post I gave to my Priestess group.  Big stuff came up.  It inspired me to want to make it a blog post.

Hello Sisters,
I am reaching out because at our 1/2 moon last Monday I hid out. I am continuing to dance with addiction issues, and was afraid to speak; for fear of being weak, a bother, yet again bringing up something that is a struggle. I let shadow take over my right to belong, and for that night it got its way. As for what I want to say, it is this: I truly wish to lay my addiction issues, fears of the unknown, fears of change, to rest. To surrender to the Queen of Death and finally prune what is dying in my soul. There is a small part of me that can feel what it would be like if I did let go, and I can sense it huge and wonderful and expansive.

Some of you have seen my large garden. I have just begun to cut things back, to feel the pull to go inward, like every plant will in coming months in my yard.  I love my new word, “fallow” {thank-you sister for clarifying!) Fallow, that is me.

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Take care and blessings with the full moon in Aries. I have recently joined a women’s new/full moon group and will be sitting in ceremony tonight. I know we will go into the woods in the dark, and walk down a long and winding path to get to a clearing in the Canyon. As I walk I will imagine going down to meet the Queen of Death.

Much peace, April

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My Favorite Piece :)

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This is the part I love most from my last poem, Faith (revised-visit 

http://runninginwater.com/2014/09/30/faith/).

I.

If we keep making the same mistakes

over and over,

never giving up,

never quitting,

despite the addiction

the complacency

the shadow;

if we know

despite our complacency,

our willingness to fumble

again and again,

that we are actually WHOLE

despite our lack of wholeness,

will we not eventually find the way?

photo 2 (8)Diana Ray/April Aronoff

photography by Diana Ray

Faith

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I

If we know

we are choosing

less than whole

for ourselves,

are we still fallow?

Will we germinate eventually

despite the sludge,

the patterns

that slow growth

to a notch just

before stillness?

II

If we are aware

of the shadow,

know its seductive dance,

are willing to sit side by side

in acceptance (and submission),

does that make the choice

of less than wholeness ok?

III

If we keep making the same mistakes

over and over,

never giving up

never quitting,

despite the addiction

the complacency

the shadow;

if we know

despite our complacency,

our willingness to fumble

again and again,

that we are actually WHOLE

despite our lack of wholeness,

will we not eventually find the way?

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Me and My Shadow

photo 1 (7) For me the shadow are those aspects of myself that hold me back, keep me in negative patterns, in stagnancy, without growth.  Addiction issues, feeling abandoned, alone, irresponsible, are all biggies for me.  When shadow runs my life, it really stinks.  Life feels oppressive and hopeless.  But if I can have compassion for my shadow, hold those parts of myself that feel less than whole, than perhaps I can heal, grow, move with love.  “I love my shadow as I love myself,” is a new phrase I have learned in my priestess practice.

I am also beginning to understand that shadow comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes shadow is a quiet nagging voice, whose sole purpose is to chip away bit by bit our self-love and self-esteem.  We might not even notice!  Other times shadow means existing in a hell realm, something that seems unbearable to endure. Intense feelings of failure, abandonment or depression.  Sometimes illness or tragedy strikes us or our loved ones, steering us into frustration, helplessness and even anger or rage.   This is where having compassion toward the self is utterly and wholly essential.

It is so easy to give into the dark side of shadow, whose grip can be fierce.  So today I make a choice.  I am going to consciously take shadow’s hand, rub it gently with mine, and then kiss it with love.  The Hawaiian prayer for forgiveness Ho’oponopono, comes to mind:

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

Thank-you  photo 2 (7) If I cannot love and hold all of myself, include that which I loathe, how can I truly know love?  For me, there is no higher purpose. Diana Ray/April Aronoff Photography By Diana Ray

September Flower Bowl

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Slipping in right at the end of September with my flower bowl.  After writing weekly all summer, I find myself with low creative energy.  I feel good in so many ways; I’m contented, notice beauty around me, feel soooo ready to let go of old patterns of living.  Yet my addictions rage on, clearly prepared to put up a fight.  I know I have to be patient through change; its highs and lows, agonies and ecstasies.  I am about to sit in ceremony with the Queen of Death, whose job it is to guide me down, down, down to the underworld of my own shadow.  It is through sitting in shadow that I know I will find ecstasy, for to sit with shadow is to show compassion towards the darkest parts of self.  There is a deep part of me that dreads this process.  Another part is expanding and making space for light.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

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Part of Me

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I feel so much potent energy brewing beneath the surface.  Like the rushing sound of my two garden fountain’s, Cerridwen’s Cauldren hard at work.  Part of it feels epic and life changing, the full knowledge that I have the capacity to plug into my own beautiful, crystalline, grid network.  The rest of me is terrified, feeling completely the challenge that lies between here and there.  Part of me wants to up the ante, to expect more from myself.  This is in stark contrast to the present me who accepts any and every kind of vice.  I give myself over to the Goddess, at my worst and at my best.  I always shoot for the best, even when I’m at my worst.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

August Flower Bowl/Here

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 (dahlia, pansy, dianthus, heliotrope, wallflower, snapdragon, viola, scabiosa, peppermint, spearmint)

Ok, so I am here.  Here is a place I hate to be.  It’s a place of burn-out, of fatigue, of extreme sensory sensitivity.  Traffic noises that did not bother me a year ago when we bought our beautiful home are now driving me crazy.  I am completely burnt out with my job and know that needs to change.  I have wild fears around that, as I barely manage and have no commute and my summers off.

This reminds me completely of an earlier time in my life, when I was also going through a different spiritual crisis that left me tortured by noise.  And there was more noise, as we were living in apartments.  We moved 4 times in 3 years, until finally I found some peace in a small rental house.  I was also delving deep, doing intense therapy and drawing tarot cards, asking myself “why” I was so noise sensitive.  Eventually it became clear:  I sat down and wrote my parents a letter addressing all my unresolved issues with them.  In addition, I also went back to a time in my life when I was an adolescent and in love with the family next door.  They were a close, loving family, who were practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses.  For a spiritual, love hungry junkie like me I was fixed, and over time I adopted their religion.  When my parent’s found out many years later the sit hit the fan.  I was forbidden to go next door and we moved within a year.

This was brought into my awareness by my then student husband who was taking a radio broadcast class and wanted to tell my story on the air.  So I did.  My husband narrated the piece, with live clips of me talking about my experience.  We used pseudonyms.  I was nervous, but it was very healing.

What happened with my parents and the letter was not so healing.  My mother cried and ranted, although in the end said she loved me.  My father pulled away from me completely, as I said some pretty damning things.  This lasted for a few months, until I conceived my older son.  My father loves his grandchildren almost more than his own.  It was the bridge that brought us back together.

So what is the connection?  What am I to gain from knowing that I felt compelled to tell this story of my past?  For it rumbles within my present.  What I went through before was something I called “soul work.”  (A whole other story itself).  I sense deep down I am being called to this again, to soul work.

I have been through this before, and know the gig.  The only way out is through the shadows, into what is most challenging on a soul level.  Now I know why the butterfly appeared 2 years ago; I am finally ready for metamorphosis.

I know I will need to find stillness within myself, which will involve hard choices.  Not something I did so well back then, which is intimidating.  But as my Shaman tells me, “You are stronger than you think.”  I can only hope that in the act of reinventing myself, my senses calm.

Not sure what happens next, but I do know is this:  I must continue to lie on the Earth, to allow her strength to both nourish and relive me.  I have been doing this in the backyard, under a passion-flower vine.  Although my back-yard is loud (quite a quandary for me, as this is where my garden is, and I am an Earth Keeper) that is where the sweet spot is.  May I find peace soon 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By:  Diana Ray

The Funnel

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Feeling really, really shaky.  After a few weeks of finding and settling into my inner light, I am back on the roller coaster of intense anxiety.  It’s such a disappointment to be here so soon, although I am not surprised.  After almost 15 years at the same job, I am aware that I am miserable and that something needs to shift.  This feels scary, and I recognize I have not had to contend with this before.  The misery is starting to wrap itself around my brain and body, leaving me with issues such as chronic stomach pain (going on 7 days now) and noise sensitivity.  It feels like a big black hole that wants to suck me in…

Except it can’t.  I won’t let it.  I remember so vividly about 4 weeks ago feeling completely depressed, feeling like that too wanted to chew me up and spit me out.  Yet so much powerful medicine blew into my life the moment I wrote that post, that those feelings became completely transmuted one week later.  And while my present feelings are different (nervous anxiety vs. heavy depression), the process is the same.  There is something going on in my life that is out of balance.  It reverberates through both my physical and spiritual body leaving me feeling ill, upset and like nothing is manageable.  This is where it is really important not to wallow, to remember that this too, is medicine.  What would be the antidote to this situation?  Finding a job that I find meaningful and fulfilling.  How do I accomplish this?  By pooling together the magic I know I have within me, the magic that lies in Mother Earth, and turning myself over to this energy.  This will involve me physically looking for another job.  But it will also involve me finding strength and empowerment as I go through this process, which will inevitably be stressful.  I must believe that where I stand, in the fire of this discomfort, is part of the journey to fulfillment.  My body and spirit are ready for more, evident by the retching they are doing in response to my current situation.  Space is opening, despite my constriction….

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So I begin here.  First thing is going to be focusing on my health.  Clearing up my GI issues and getting back on track to good sleep must come first.  Soon I’m going to cast a spell to bring health and wellness into my life.  Then I am going to get some herbs for my stomach.  After this the work becomes more nebulous.  Working with the new/full moon, creating a job catcher (I had a house catcher when we were finding a new home), making offerings to the Earth, creating affirmations, visualizing fully how I want to feel at my work, and of course, asking for prosperity as I am half of my households’ income.

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I must connect with the medicine that is inherent in this process.  Struggle always contains medicine, most often the exact medicine required to transmute the struggle itself.  I made a vow to be a spiritual warrior, to not collapse or be a victim of life’s endless challenges.  I have found the light within myself, and I have connected to this feeling.  I refuse to let it go.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray 

Sitting In The Fire

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Sitting in the fire, this is the theme that has been on my mind for weeks.  It began with a desire to write a post about how to attend to depression and anxiety using a variety of alternative methods I had been exploring.  This was when I still felt like I was gasping for air as I sat within the smoky flames of extreme, anxious emotion.  I was relying on so much to help me breathe; crystals, essential oil, soothing music, meditation.  It felt like a long, unending uphill hike with a summit I could not see.

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Now I know that I can move around the flames, allowing the air that feeds the fire to feed me as well.  Discomfort is still present, rising and falling like the flames themselves, changing form as they are fed through my very own breath.  Can I sit within the fire of this discomfort, knowing that at any given moment it may intensity and become a large, roaring inferno?  After 8 weeks off, soon I will return to work.  After 8 weeks off, my 2 challenging boys will return to school.  The demands will be great and the stress high. I know this!  Yet I wish to soften it, breathe into it, let the fire that has felt suffocating become a source of primal energy and empowerment.  Fire can be many things; it can end life and give it fuel to grow.  It can destroy quickly and also restore vital energy through the heat that matches our own internal body signatures.  What is left after fire is ash, recognized as protection in many shamanic and magical circles of life.  I must sit in the fire of my discomfort and find nourishing, life-giving air.  I must let the heat fuel me vs. run screaming in pain.  I must find coherency as my body becomes attuned to the heat, becoming one with it, allowing the crystals of alignment within me to grow as flame grows with breath.  I cannot just wish this.  I must be this.

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I have moved away from feeling victimized by this body and the emotions that have often left me feeling helpless and unable to cope, yet this is recent and I have not gone far.  It feels terrifying as I walk head on into the flames that have once devoured me.  Yet it is Persephone who goes down to the flames of the underworld each year, only to reemerge as Spring Herself, full of budding life and growth.  I must have faith that as I consciously choose to sit within the heat of discomfort, that I will melt, change and transform.  Let all that has not served burn away.  Let the alchemy of fire change what has once been hard and painful, to soft, liquid Source.  Let the heat become the medium that transmutes myself from caterpillar to the great winged butterfly that flew inside my soul some time ago, waiting to be birthed.  May I stand within the flames that are my life with vigor, no matter the heat.  May I be the Phoenix rising.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Spiritual Express

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I received such an outpouring of love from so many beautiful souls with my last post (http://runninginwater.com/2014/07/22/love-letter/).  It made me realize how incredibly healing it is to express my complete essence and have it witnessed and mirrored by others.  I have experienced such an alchemical week.  It was only last Monday that I sat down and wrote my love letter, the conscious decision to walk toward the light vs. collapse into darkness.  Since then I have had a major shift with how I think and view myself.  It began as a string of events which I will share with you now.

The day after I wrote the love letter, I sat with my Shamanic teacher and shared with her my feelings.  She insisted we journey together, so I laid myself down on the sofa with music and headset, pressed play on a 10 minute drumming session, and closed my eyes.  The question suggested by my teacher was about the darkness and why it was there.

Immediately I saw myself in tribal wear, standing on the backs of crocodiles as we rode down the river.  A long line of these ancient, reptile creatures extended both in front and behind me as we flowed in rhythm to the moving water.  I felt strong and powerful as I stood tall, a staff in my left hand standing at my side.  I felt incredibly empowered, a feeling I had not experienced in a long time.

I sat with this experience for the next 2 days, not fully understanding.  I received an anointing (an ancient practice of using essential oils, crystals and tuning forks to move energy) from a priestess sister and afterward sat with the sister who had worked on my body.  As she talked my journey suddenly became clear, as if someone was narrating words to a short video.  She told me to wear my depression and intense feelings like a badge of armor, something to own and find power in.  As she talked I felt the empowerment rush in, that feeling of standing tall on the backs of crocodiles as we rode down the river.  I suddenly knew that I could handle all of it, the intensity of the ride in this human body, the depression, the anger, the anxiety.  I was not a victim.  I could do it.

The next day I set aside time to meditate and made a sand-painting, something I had been desiring to create.  Here is a picture:

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Like the journey, the sand painting is making itself known in bits and pieces.  There is a central vertical line running from top to bottom that has direct meaning for me:  the red rock on the bottom center is tiger iron, charged by an ascended master.*  It represents the first 3 chakras, those that need the most healing in my body.   Above that is my butterfly of transformation and above that my favorite crystal, pink quartz.  Pink quartz is special to me, as it represents the giver and receiver of unconditional love, something I am working on in this life time.  Above this is a rock that was a gift from my husband, a being I love deeply and want to deepen with.  The rest makes a beautiful design that is ultimately crowned by a dolphin and sea shells.  I saw dolphins yesterday at the beach and was overcome with tearful beauty.  It pierced my heart as it washed through me.

The next day I sat in ceremony with the Wise Woman/Crone.  Her message is one of letting go, of becoming a witness to one’s own ego.  It is a lesson in impartiality, as the Wise Woman/Crone does not get triggered by life’s many difficulties.  She knows that life is going to happen anyway so you might as well take it with grace and a sense of humor.   Today has been a day of high anxiety.  I sat down to meditate with Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, yet it was not She who heeded my call.  It was the Wise Woman/Crone who appeared, helping me dissolve my feelings of stress as her relaxed demeanor became liquid running through my veins.  It was She who helped me get through the day.

I am a spiritual warrior.  I live with depression, addiction and find parenting more challenging than I ever could have imagined (http://runninginwater.com/2012/08/11/my-story/ ; http://runninginwater.com/2012/11/18/my-storymy-other-son/).  Like many, I have a wounded past and have stood outside my life for most of my existence.  My quest this year has been one of total integration, of finding authentic presence.

I am going to continue to ride crocodiles down the river.  To call in the Wise Woman when I feel myself falter.  To pave this spiritual path I walk with my own footprints, no matter how frantic or angry or depressed are my steps.  I am going to continue to share my experience with others, for my life to become the mirror of oneness that binds us all as soul brothers and sisters.  I beckon you, walk with me.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*For info on charged tiger iron and the ascended master, go to : http:// tdjacobs.com

 

Love Letter

photo 1 (17)So, I have found myself holding hands with depression.  This is a love letter I have written to myself, in response to how I feel.

Dearest Beloved,

Let me be your ground, your deep and winding roots that are so established, there is no fear you will fall.  I am flowing water, washing away anything that is less than compassion, less than love.  You are a beautiful creature, created perfectly in My image; nurturing, fierce, full of love.  Why does your heart-break so?  Why does it feel like the highest of frequencies, one that is capable of breaking glass with one long, sustained note?  I can feel the anger, pain and fear that has settled in the path you walk as wife, mother and teacher.  Unplug, empty, and let it wash away.  Fill yourself with Me.  You are a chalice that is meant to hold greatness, a container for the many faces and layers of the One True Being Of Light, a Being that is nothing less than utter perfection, exactly as you are.  Lay yourself down and surrender.  Let Me cleanse all that does not serve the true nature of your heart; pure, unconditional love that is meant to not only give, but to receive.  You have bound yourself, cut yourself free.  You are no longer an abandoned, loveless child hiding in fear from an ancestry of hatred and pain.  You are the Goddess incarnate:  A Living, Breathing Beacon of Blessedness that wishes to wrap you up and hold you tight, fly you beyond anything that has been less than love.  Did you not know you had wings?  They are wet and wishing to open; like a long-awaited stretch let them carry you to the place you call home.  Sit in open-eyed wonder at the beauty of the world around you.  If you cannot find it, shift your gaze, turn you head, empty yourself.  Empty and fill with Me again and again, as many times in a minute, in an hour, in a day as you need.  Feel the love that is not just Me but You, as we are One.

Dearest beloved, put your hand over your heart and just feel.  Let the painful feelings flow.  I will take them, transmute them, free them to evolve into something bold and beautiful.  Creating space to allow more light, more joy, more love.  Sit in your garden as you sit in the light, and bask in the beauty.  And if this is the only place that beauty resides (at this time), sit in this space and let yourself be held.  Do it often and frequent, and let yourself be healed.  And if you feel that pull, that pull into darkness where there is no joy, no light, no love, sit with the darkness and hold it tight.  Soothe it and tell it it’s going to be ok.  Give it the love it does not want you to have, and let it experience the healing that comes from such tenderness.  Imagine that it is a little girl, and you a nurturing, loving mother.  I am the veins in your body, carrying away with ease the heaviness in your soul, bringing in pure, nourishing light.  Lay on my Earth and imagine a thousand fairies sprinkling their healing, magic dust all over your body.  Release and release and release into Me.  Give me your pain, it is mine to transform.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

July Flower Bowl/Full Moon In Caparicorn/Finding Presence

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(Nasturtium, mum, alstroemeria, african basil, spearmint, penstemon, wall flower, valerian, dianthus, pansy, dahlia, yarrow)

This full moon in Capricorn is a time to make things happen.  To not just feel but to act!  Capricorn is an earth sign that is tangible in its energy; concrete goals and outcomes can be accessed more directly the next few days, until the moon is full on Saturday the 12th.

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Finding presence. This has been my theme for the past year or so; finding a way to just show up in life. No matter how deep the shit is. But this goes beyond that, as I realize that it’s always felt deep to me. Life always feels too intense, too much, too difficult to be fully present for. I have shorted myself in a million ways because of the path I walk. Now I want a new path.

Is there a way to transmute a lifetime of depression and anxiety? A complete ancestral line that has lived with little joy? This is clearly bigger than me. Suffering with life goes back many generations in my family, and has been played out repeatedly. I see it with my immediate blood family and relatives. I see it with myself, husband and children. It’s like a gift of a black hole that has been passed down from generation to generation with the message, “It’s going to be rough, and at times god awful. So take this black hole and jump into it anytime you need.” And I have jumped in many times, without thought, and re-emerged gasping for air. There is no solace found in black holes, even if it seems like there is at the time.

So here and now, I bury the black hole. I want to pass down to my children the gift of light. Of knowing that no matter where you are or how you feel, there is healing light within, always. I wish to make a conscious choice to find this light within me, even if I have to go on an expedition to find it, and when I do, to stand in the light as I stand in my life.

I firmly believe, what is done for one is done for all. In my act of mending how I feel and perceive the world, I am also mending and healing my ancestry. I come from them and we are all part of the same giant rip. A rip that has little stability and foundation, as that is how rips are by design. Our families are born into this rip and so the cycle continues. If I can mend my part, than I can heal the ripped ancestral pathway that has led to me, and allow fertility and love to forge a new pathway. Perhaps this is why I love gardening so much and see it as such as mirror for my life. No matter what the soil is like, or has been, it can always be nourished and fed, which in turn can lead to a thriving, beautiful garden.

And if I am to be honest with myself and you as readers, I have to admit that I feel shaky in making these claims. That the negative patterns I have chosen wish to rear their ugly heads and take over any intentions I have of living with light. It feels like I am walking along a line, with one foot in the light and one in the dark. I keep stepping over and stepping back. It is time I took a side.

It is time I found the light within me, even if it’s dim. Even if I have to dig and dig and dig some more to find it, I must or I can kiss any capacity for deep meaningful fulfillment good-bye. The more I stand in the light and turn my back on the giant black hole that has been my existence, the brighter it will be. Even if I feel shaky, I must believe I can shine 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Crossing The Threshold

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My heart is heavy.  I stood in ceremony with the Goddess ISIS last Sunday, and crossed the threshold to let go of anything that is not complete and total truth in my life.  This means letting go of the belief that LIFE=Pain, something I have come to understand has been my modus operandi for a long time.  Life=Pain has left me with an inability to handle the challenges that have come my way without serious numbing or dissociation of what has been most intense.  And while I have written post after post about how I am committed to this opening, of shedding the layers of gunk I have equated with safety and protection, now that I am smack dab in the middle of this rawness it feels like my heart will break with pain.  This crossing has been in conjunction with my family leaving for 2 weeks, without me.  In finishing work and deadlines, and moving into more training as my role as Priestess, I had not allowed myself to tap into how this alone time might be.  I felt it looming a few days prior to their departure, and yesterday a deep well of loneliness descended upon me like a thick and immobilizing fog.

This loneliness is old, one I backtracked to residing in my being as early as 5 years of age, likely earlier.  This is just when I have concrete memories of feeling scared in the face of the community I called my family, my school, my neighborhood.  Children were cruel to me from a young age, and I had no adult super-heroes coming to my rescue, as many of them were committing crimes against me as well.  Life=Pain was seeded young, as it has been for many of us.  It is so hard to have faith that there is something beyond this, that there is a way out of the sticky web of self-doubt and depression that clings to you like Poison Ivy, spreading every which way without serious intervention.

There are no accidents.  I have been asking for authenticity for a long time, have taken two steps forward and one step back in this dance I am doing with truth.  I have gone back and forth with consuming agents of self-sabotage, anything to make it easier, more bearable, to let in what is real.  I now know there is no way to what is real except through this unbearable pain, to transmute it.

Years ago I crossed another threshold, one that brought me to a place of just feeling my grief, which had been boxed up and shut away my entire life.  Every time I got close to it I ran, never letting myself have the experience of grieving what I had been through in my years of living.  Feeling=annihilation.  Through time I learned this was not so, that in feeling what was there and shedding my tears, tremendous release could take place.

Now I can be vulnerable.  I can feel and cry with ease, and have experienced true empowerment in my ability to be an open channel with my feelings.  But I can’t stay with it.  I have not fully let these experiences go as my feelings continue to remain more pain than joy.  I have learned how to co-exist with them, but it is clear they are still running the show.

I had thought that crossing the threshold meant rising above my story of LIFE=Pain, that in my deep desire I would magically release this way of existing in the world.  Now I see that what I crossed was a threshold of willingness to be in it.  Of being in this pain so fully that I have no choice but to transmute it, or let it kill me.

I don’t know how I will do this, but I do know I am not going to hole up and let myself retract till I’m broken.  I need to reach out; to the sisterhood I have found, to the others out there who wish to heal, not only themselves but this beautiful planet that continues to care for humanity despite our mistreatment, and to the wonderful teachers that are so readily available in this day and age of instant connection.

I can only continue to move forward.  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

New Moon in Cancer Flower Bowl Embracing Self-Love

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(rose, coreopsis, fuschia, jasmine, african basil, pansy, valerian, nasturtium, alstroemeria, scabiosa, dianthus, sunflower)

New Moon:  During this phrase the moon is dark, not visible in the sky.  From this day forward it begins to grow with light, sliver by sliver, until it can fill no more and the moon is full.  New moons are a time to plant a seed, make an intention or wish for oneself.  Baby and nurture this wish until the moon is full, on the 12th of July.

Astrological Sign of Cancer:  Cancer rules the heart and our emotions, our ability to give and receive love in our life and how we express and process our emotions generally.

Tomorrow the moon will be new in Cancer.  I have just come off a 6 day retreat where the ongoing message for me was love, love, love yourself.  Step out of the place of hiding, of fear of living fully, fear of places that are too hard, too rigid, too tight.  The irony is that in this act of hiding I have kept myself small, and have created anyway the life I have been trying my damndest to avoid; one that is hard, rigid and tight.  Denying myself full immersion into this world has kept my energy stagnant, spiraling in on itself, pooling in my body in a way that I know does not serve me and will surely cause disease.  I am a bud that has been standing in my own shadow too long, depriving myself of sun and energy and sustenance.  What is there truly to be afraid of?  Disease, loss or death?  If I were to die tomorrow can I say I let myself be fully a part of this world?  I cannot.  Losing everyone I love would be scary.  Knowing I could not face life when I was alive is even scarier.  I have lived with incredible stress my whole life; with escape my preferred modality of coping.  In my remembrance that I am Priestess, that I am in service to the Earth, Unity and the Current that flows through all living things, I have caught glimpses of what it would mean to live life from this place, to tap into this current with surrender.  While it feels like I can’t handle it, that it’s too hard to be real with the emotional ups and down that come from living an authentic life, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t being tortured by my continuation to avoid it.  Yes, it will be hard.  I come from a long line of dysfunction and abuse that goes back many generations and resides in my being on a cellular level.  Being authentic means feeling it fully.  But if I wish to transmute this, transform myself, I must be real and let it all in.  So I take a stand.  A radical stand of self-love that involves embracing myself as I do my children, with the utmost tender-hearted unconditional love that I know radiates from my being.  I deserve this.  We all do.  So with this new moon in Cancer, my intention is to dive into the best possible practice of self-care and love that I can muster.  That means moving out of hiding and into the light.  To let the bud that I am grow and expand until I am a blooming flower with the sweetest of nectar’s.  Winged creatures will come far and wide to drink from my well.  That is the depth of the belief I take as I dig my hole, drop in my seed and watch it grow.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

The Magic of the Medicine Bag

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Today is a slippery day.  Not the kind of liquid surrender you feel when water is washing over you, but the kind of wet that makes it hard to find ones footing and get grounded.  I can’t seem to stick to my convictions, and I am slipping all over the place.

I decided to make a new medicine bag.  My dog actually ate my old one, which really upset me as it was the first medicine bag I made.  I managed to salvage the baby mourning dove feather, although it is a little smooshed.  The rest is gone, although can be re-created 🙂

I was going to do some research on the best herbs to facilitate grounding and focus.  I still may do this, but I am not going to wait as my soul is in need of something immediate.  The image that came to me was a re-playing of a vision I had while shamanic journeying.*  I was given a context before starting, of asking the Earth for wisdom.  I was immediately taken to the open desert, where I danced before the fire.  An Isis type goddess came to me and told me I needed grounding.  She then picked me up, held me high, and planted me firmly in the Earth.  Any movement after this was very difficult, as I had been rooted deeply up to my knees!  I then became a snake and began shedding my skin….

After this experience, I began a second journey, this one involving a rock.  I was to talk to the spirit of the rock, and see if it had any messages for me.  I held the little pink rock on my heart chakra as I began. Again I traveled, this time to a 90 degree sheer face of rock, the mother of the baby rock I held against my heart.  I lay my body against this massive piece of Earth as it spoke to me.  It told me that what I held against my heart was actually a small fragment of a much greater force.  A force that is solid, protective, powerful and energetic.  Pure Earth energy.  I am to surrender to this force, like water.  In my act of surrender, of giving in to this life current, I can than harness this Earth energy and use it in my daily life.  It is there for me to access and wants to help.

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I know without a doubt that this little pink rock is going inside the medicine bag, along with the mourning dove feather (love with my partner and children), a fimo bead of the Goddess Diana, (the first Goddess I remembered), some lavender (calm, soothing) and ash (protection).  I may add more to this bag, but for now I am going to assemble it and wear it for the next bunch of days.  If there is any way to get solid with convictions and living purely from the heart, a piece of Mother Earth will surely do.

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Blessings on your own journey to peace of heart!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*Shamanic Journeying:  through the beat of drums and rattles, one goes in a trance like state where they can travel and meet any number of spirit guides or helpers.

As It Grows

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It starts with this.  Something so beautiful that I have to try to capture its spiritual essence, bottle it a little, share it with others.  It is this act alone, of finding depth with beauty and wanting to share it,  that feeds my soul.

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It’s a dynamic shape; growing, changing, expanding.  Becoming large.  So large that I want to get deep inside the beauty, get up close and drink it in, have that image melt-me into spiritual bliss.

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I wish I could live my life with the same simple beauty that is this flower.  Going through all the stages of life, never skipping or skimping or shorting itself.  Arriving at the fullest expression of its very presence at just the right moment.  The fullest expression of this flower is that which is most spectacular.

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And it bowls you over, the joy that clings to you.  You want to wear it forever like any other body part.  To keep it familiar, alive, available.  Connecting with life essence, that is what this is.

 

And yes, it is spectacular 🙂

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

 

June Flower Bowl/Balance and Integrity

photo (86)(Jasmine, nasturtium, verbena, abutilon, alstroemeria, dahlia, mum, lavender, rosemary, viola, pansy, azalea, wallflower, passion-flower, calendula)

Today the moon is full in Sagittarius.  Adventure, pushing boundaries and exploring unknown territory are all aspects of this potent energy.  It is a day for walking through new doors, and exploring ones edges and fears.  I myself am going to be thinking about what it means to have balance and integrity, as I dapple with magical herbs that can have an altering effect. There have been times when I have been poor with both balance and integrity.  But the goal is to keep going, moving forward, embracing these aspects of living in the highest regard.  Balance and integrity within this moon of adventure, is what I seek to hold today.

May the moon shine bright in your life, both today and beyond 🙂

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

A Few Quick Words on the Goddess and Gratitude

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I feel such service and gratitude to the Great Goddess.  To surrender to Her tides, to honor Her blessings, to let this energy be the current that carries me through the day.  This is how I wish to live, love and create.

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As hard as it is to have a balance between work, family and worship, it is this balance I hold as the key to my opening.  I must continue to make it my highest endeavor 🙂

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May the connection with Source run strong with you as well.

Have have a blessed day/eve!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Re-Title: Finding Solace In Spirt

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As I struggle with what it feels like to be off antidepressants, to no longer consume numbing agents in order to cope with life, remembering that MAGIC IS EVERYWHERE has been my saving grace.  Walking through a magical portal, hugging my favorite tree and feeling its deep roots ground me into Earth, using these images to find peace within the chaos that once consumed me, that is TRUE MAGIC.  Holding this space for myself when times are hard is the alchemy I surrender to, for within this alchemy lies unlimited transformation.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

Cooking with Aphrodites Love

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This week-end I will be sitting in ceremony with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.  I plan to make an offering of a Love Mist…

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This is my first attempt at making an essential oil, with a homemade sill I made with my own kitchen gadgets.*  I gathered my flowers;  a combination of roses, lavender and jasmine.  I wish I had more, but the end result was about 1.5 quarts.

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I put the flowers in a big pot with a rounded lid.  I put a soapstone statue in the center of the pot, and rested a quart size glass bowl on top of the statue.  The bowl was elevated above the flowers.  I poured in enough water just to cover the flowers, and let this come to a rolling boil.

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Then I flipped the rounded lid over, and dumped a bag of ice on top of the rounded lid.  As the steam in the pot rose up and hit the cold lid, it condensed and dropped down into the glass bowl.  The end result was this!

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You can see the difference between this concoction and the one I made just by boiling   rose petals in water.  The smell is different too; more fragrant and potent with the sill.

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I can’t wait to sit in ceremony and make my offering to Aphrodite and my fellow Priestess Sisters who will be joining me.  I love this work and feel so complete when I give myself over to the Great Mother and all she has to offer…

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*Information about distilling obtained from Herbal Recipes for a Vibrant Health, by Rosemary Gladstone

April Flower Bowl/Full Moon Musings

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Impatience, Pansy, Passion Flower, Primrose, Dianthus, Delphinium, Viola, Cosmos,  Snapdragon, Peppermint, Spearmint, Sage, Parsley, Lavender, Rose

Tonight I sat in ceremony with the Lunar Eclipse/Full Blood Moon in Libra. I made my flower bowl this morning, and let my magic wand bathe in the energy of this powerful configuration all day.

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I do not know all the mysteries of this Full Blood Moon (although there is a lot of wonderful information out there!), and I often wonder what it means to be a modern-day Priestess or Witch; with our busy, individual lives, so different from the tribal life that was once practiced before much of it was driven far from the norm.

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Yet I do know this:  as long as I trust my own instincts and inner guide to connect me with the Goddess, to show me Her magic, I will soar.  It doesn’t matter how much I’ve learned or remembered from ancient times, that information is becoming readily abundant, and I’ve made the commitment to be a conscious part of it til I die.  But listening to my own instincts, and letting my own desires dictate how I worship, that is true connection to Spirit.

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I feel blessed to be part of such a beautiful planetary awakening.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray