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

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

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

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

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

December 2014 Flower Bowl//Finding Shakti

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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

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