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

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