Message from the Forest

Message from the forest: Give up the struggle!

A few weeks ago, I took a short walk in the mountains and ended up on the bank of the creek, sitting on the roots of a big spruce tree. The challenges of the moment were on my mind and I wondered, as I often do, what I might be missing. As I sat quietly, I focused on nothing more than listening, not too hard to do when the music of the creek filled my ears. As the sounds shifted and flowed, sometimes emphasizing high melodies, at other moments deepening and gurgling, I closed my eyes and felt the weight of my body settle into the forest duff, felt the support of the Earth and the life all around me. After a few moments, a very specific thought clarified itself, almost like a gentle command: “Give up the struggle”.

I felt at once the meaning of the words, although I knew it would take some time for my mind to catch up with the understanding. It wasn’t a suggestion to just give up and stop trying, nor to give in to some notion of failure. I also knew this particular directive would be challenging for my personal make-up, no matter how well I came to understand it.

A couple of years back, I listened to a talk by an astrologer on the ‘secret fear’ of each sign (Sun, Moon or Rising would work here). She noted that the secret fear of a Capricorn person is of being a loser. I have my Sun and several other planets in that sign. Capricorn gives me my connection to the Earth and the wisdom of Nature; my grounded and practical approach to most things; and my ability to climb the mountain, such as that of a career. It also gives me the will to strive towards ‘success’ – the opposite of being a ‘loser’. 

Yet, while striving towards a goal can certainly be an admirable trait, it can also become unbalanced. The hard work and striving become ends in themselves, and struggle becomes a habit. 

In the birth chart, accomplishment, commitment, and mastery are aspects of the archetype of the planet Saturn. Saturn represents our inner authority and integrity with ourselves. When we ‘do’ our inner Saturn, we bring ideas into reality, make commitments, and take responsibility for our time-and-space-bound lives here on Earth.

But the focus on achievement to the exclusion of all else is an unconscious expression of the planet Saturn, which rules the sign of Capricorn. Overdoing in order to reach a summit of some sort fails the ultimate test of sustainability and is no longer life-affirming, but life-draining. It is not the best expression of Saturn.

That same planet is ‘exalted’ in Libra, the sign of the scales, meaning that it finds its greatest expression by reaching for balance, beauty and justice in relationship with another. Fully embodying the archetype of mastery and integrity is not about ‘making it happen’, but about co-creation. The ultimate success comes through cooperation, not domination.

This is the true meaning of Libra, and the work of Libra season. The harvest is mostly in, the nights are becoming longer (north of the Equator), and rather than pushing through we are rewarded for cooperating – amongst ourselves and with the wide world around us. Cooperation, too, is how we reach toward the ever-elusive ‘balance’, which does not exist as a place, but a process. Life is a dynamic, flowing dance and just as in any dance, it is most beautiful when there is an ongoing give and take, ebb and flow between the participants. If the dancers stop to strike a perfect, balanced pose, they are no longer dancing. If we expect to stay in perfect balance, we are likely no longer breathing, and we are certainly no longer cooperating with the flow of life. 

And, while we are generally taught it is better not to go to extremes (an unconscious Libran trait), as my father was so fond of saying, moderation in all things – including moderation. Extremes can strengthen us (as Wim Hof tells us), and expand our range. And some of us only seem to find the middle after exploring the edges. Maybe we burn ourselves out by over-working, over-doing, over-achieving. Or perhaps, instead, we give up and settle for surviving rather than flourishing; for what we need instead of what we truly desire. Neither end of this spectrum is a place we can live

Giving up the struggle means allowing ourselves to flow with the dance, even at the far edges of what is ‘good’ for us. It means accepting we want what we want, as well as the limitations of the moment. In order to fully cooperate with life, we must act from a place of acknowledgement of how things really are. It means, for instance, desiring a home with space, quiet, garden, trees; and appreciating the cramped, noisy apartment that shelters me for the moment.

My daily practice now is to notice when I seem to be making things harder than necessary. When I find myself beating the keys on the laptop trying to finish a newsletter, I pause to wonder if it really needs to go out today. If I catch myself thinking of how I could or should have done something better, or differently, I practice remembering what I did well. 

There always seem to be ‘shoulds’ behind struggle, an unconscious quest for perfection and an ideal of success that drains energy. Maybe for me, there is also that secret fear of being a loser. Giving up the struggle makes room for true success, born from authenticity, integrity, and cooperation.

The advice from the forest feels life-affirming: give up the struggle. Just keep flowing like the stream, or swaying like the trees in my own unique way. Let life lead, and keep dancing.

How do I struggle? Let me count the ways:

  • Judging myself for feeling anything but grateful for what I have.
  • Second-guessing a decision I’ve made and implemented, or an action I’ve taken.
  • Focusing on what wasn’t perfect instead of what went well.
  • Trying to figure out how others are going to respond to what I do, what I say, what I write.
  • Blaming myself for not being in ‘better’ shape, having more clients, creating more classes, having a nicer website.
  • Worrying about next week, next month, or next year.
  • Pretending I don’t feel a certain way, or wanting to feel a different way than I do

In what ways do you struggle??

Summer in Montana

Summer in Montana. It’s short, intense, and always seems to proceed at a breakneck pace. Despite my good intentions of publishing more podcasts more often, it has been a couple of weeks, which seemed to flash by in an instant. Visiting family and friends, more social activity, and the responsibilities of being a landowner have demanded attention.

The photos above show what it looks like to catch up on fence maintenance in the mountains. Some of the wire has been down on the ground so long that the trees putting it there have rotted on top of it.  The furry crew member belongs to my fence-building partner, and she brings down our average worker age considerably.

The next scheduled podcast episode is on September 18th. I will be interviewing astrologer Emily Trinkaus about the wonders of astrology, her take on current events, and practical ways to incorporate astrology into our lives. If you have questions or topics you want us to discuss, please let me know!

Then, on October 16th, spiritual herbalist Angela Segraves joins me on the podcast to talk about plants, perhaps in ways that will be new to many of you. I hope to explore many different methods of incorporating plants and plant medicines into our lives, as well as perhaps help us all deepen our respect for the plant kingdom and its contributions to our lives.

In addition to the podcast, I am busy putting together a schedule of classes for the fall, including a reprise of my astrology chart interpretation class, plus a workshop or two on lifestyle as medicine based in Ayurveda.

And those of you who remember the grant-funded wellness program of a couple of years ago – it continues!  My naturopath teaching partner and I have been trying to navigate the  pandemic waters, first turning to online workshops and now bringing people together again to learn how to stay well in a crazy world. We have several workshops planned here in Livingston for the fall, and perhaps even a retreat to cover our favorite topics of gut health, immunity, breathing practices and more.

Stay tuned for updates, as well as a couple more planetary ‘meditations’ on the podcast. I’ll also post a class schedule soon – $8 patrons receive a 10% discount on classes and consultations in addition to your access to the live podcasts.

I hope to see some of you on the 18th, or in a class or consultation. Meanwhile – thanks for being here!

Injuries are my (embodiment) teachers

Injuries are my teachers

When I broke my collarbone in January of 2001, it was the first time I had ever been seriously injured in my life. I was on horseback, chasing after a cow in a team-penning practice. Suddenly, I was no longer on the back of the horse but lying flat on my own back in the dirt, with very little memory of getting there.

After the crowd of friends (several of whom were EMTs) determined I was coherent and hadn’t broken my neck, I got to my feet, tied my bandana into a sling for my mostly useless left arm, and followed my husband to the truck and trailer, leading my horse. All the way to the emergency room, I kept telling myself ‘it’s only my collarbone’. The pain had not yet set in. After having several layers of clothing removed, x-rays to survey the extent of the damage, and a soft brace fastened around my shoulders to support my posture, I was given heavy-duty pain medication and sent home. 

Back then, I was in full-on corporate warrior mode. Although my boss took my place on the business trip across the country that week, I drove myself to the office two days later and tried to work, despite the combination of intense pain and lack of sleep (I had thrown away the pain pills after realizing just how dangerous they were – it’s completely understandable that people become addicted!). 

In short, I tried to ‘cowgirl up’ and escape the pain and limitation of my injury.

Four weeks later, the bone was still not healing. In desperation to avoid the threat of surgery, I accepted the offer of my first-ever Reiki session with my counselor/Reiki master. 

I had walked in stooped over in pain. My healer told me she felt my pain as nausea in her own gut. While she held her hands slightly above various parts of my body, we talked a little, mostly about my fear of never being whole again. As the session progressed, I realized my body needed my acceptance of the brokenness, and my trust in its capacity to heal. I walked out of her office feeling relaxed and at ease for the first time in over a month, with far less pain. The bone began to rebuild right away.

Repeat lesson

A few days ago, I fell five feet through the open trap door into the crawl space of the family cabin, slamming my chin into the floor as I went through, cracking a rib, and badly bruising elbows and hip on the edge of the opening and ladder below. This time, as I picked myself up from the floor of the crawlspace and cleaned myself up, I promised to be gentle with myself – both physically and emotionally – and not try to escape from my experience.

I cleaned myself up and treated the few cuts, and then lay down to allow the shock to pass. For the rest of the day, I did nothing beyond a bare minimum and stayed with emotions as they came up. Every time I walked over the trap door, I felt some trepidation. Seeing the bruises come up brought tears to my eyes at the damage to my body. I staunchly refused to criticize myself for the circumstances of the accident.

In truth, I have been amazed at the speed at which the bruises are fading, the cuts are disappearing, and the pain of the cracked rib is easing. I certainly credit my first aid kit: I used honey for the open wounds; homeopathic arnica montana for the pain and bruising; and homeopathic comfrey, called ‘symphytum’ for the bone trauma. A friend gave me some oil infused with cottonwood buds, a version of the biblical ‘balm of Gilead’.

First aid supplies

One of the greatest medicines has been rest, the ‘nurse of the world’ according to Ayurveda. It takes resources and intense ‘labor’ behind the scenes for the body to rebuild flesh and bone. It deserves to be able to focus on the task at hand, despite the voice in my head telling me I need to get moving again, get some exercise, get some work done for Heaven’s sake.

Accidents such as these are traumas, and have mental and emotional as well as physical effects that need to heal. Conventional models, such as the one I followed so unsuccessfully with my first injury in 2001, are designed to ‘fix’ what is broken, cover up the pain, and ignore the rest. It is all about powering through and getting back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible. There is also a strong tendency to try to affix blame and determine fault, which can simply be another way of avoiding the feelings of the experience.

But healing does not work that way, and we have an epidemic of PTSD to prove it. 

“Healing comes through embodiment of the Soul”

Marion Woodman, Jungian analyst

The fundamental lesson of injury is the necessity of embodiment – of staying present with the pain, shock, fear, grief and limitation. Taking unplanned time off as a self-employed person is not my first choice, of course. But for a human living in 3D reality, the body takes priority. I’ve tried the other routes of trying to ignore and ‘rise above’ the physical plane with poor results.

Embodiment means allowing myself to feel whatever is happening, and letting my body call the shots, even when it means doing very little for long stretches at a time.The hours I spent during those first few days simply noticing, feeling, and allowing helped the shock to abate, my adrenal glands to calm, the emotions to flow through rather than become stuck, and let my body get on with its work of renewal.

Interesting to me is that the planetary alignments for this accident are very similar to that of the one in 2001. Three transiting planets – Uranus, Saturn and Mars – were in the same tense, dynamic configuration. Uranus can signify trauma, Saturn offers limits and restrictions, Mars creates action and acts as a trigger. Uranus in the sign of Taurus, too, brings up themes of our relationship with the material world, from money to food to our bodies. In my personal make-up, Uranus figures prominently, and its wake-up calls do as well.

From one point of view, the line up in the skies symbolized an intense level of tension needing a place to go, much like the build-up of static electricity before a lightning strike. In one sense, I offered a pathway for part of that release. Whether I could have avoided the situation or not I don’t really know. Maybe if I had looked closely at the chart that morning I would have been more cautious; maybe I could have been more cautious in general. Maybe, it just happened and my choice is to respond as consciously as I am able. 

The latter seems best to me – no assignation of blame, no need for self-attack to add insult to injury. I can release the arrogance of thinking I can control everything, and practice embracing life as it comes, even when it is a bit faster, harder and more painful than I might like. 

Most of all, I can embrace the experience, knowing that even these sensations are part of the roller coaster ride of physical existence, and an opportunity to practice being present right here, and right now, as an embodied human being.

The Natural Wisdom Podcast Home

The Natural Wisdom Podcast

The first episode of The Natural Wisdom Podcast was recorded July 10, 2021. Topics included an introduction to the podcast and its purpose, a little about how it came about, and some practical wisdom on aligning your lifestyle with Nature’s rhythms. Follow the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple, Spotify, Anchor.fm, Google, Breaker, RadioPublic and PocketCasts.

Listen to the latest episode here:

Here are some of the highlights of what is on offer in The Natural Wisdom Podcast:

  • Astrology! I’ll be hosting regular (at least monthly) astro-weather forecasts and insights to help you get in synch.
  • One of my pet subjects is how our lifestyle can be our medicine. When and how we eat, for example, is often more powerful than what we eat.
  • Other ways to connect with the natural world, from communicating with plants and animals to ‘catching the season’ and more.

Every episode will be geared to helping humans remember ourselves as Nature. Have ideas for speakers or subjects? Become a patron, follow me on Patreon, or send me a comment here on my website.

Want to join us live and participate in the conversations? Become a patron.

List of Episodes

Season 1

Episode 1, July 10, 2021 – Remember Yourself as Nature

Bonus episode – Connect with your inner Sun!

Bonus episode – Feel your inner Moon

Bonus episode – Injuries are my teachers

Episode 2, August 7, 2021 – We are seasonal beings!

Bonus episode – How to get grounded

Bonus episode – Virgo New Moon and seasonal transitions

Episode 3, 2021- An interview with astrologer Emily Trinkaus!

Bonus episode – Message from the forest

Episode 4, October 16, 2021The Wisdom of Plants with Herbalist and energy healer Angela Segraves

Bonus episode – Entering the portal of Scorpio Season

Bonus episode – Scorpio Season Corrections and Uranian Amplifications

Episode 5, November 4, 2021- Learn how to connect with the animals in your life with Kim Shotola of The Lightfoot Way

Bonus episode – Plutonian Journeys

Episode 6, December 4th, 2021 – An epic conversation about current astrology with Emily Trinkaus – the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse, the confusion of Neptune, and releasing certainty and old beliefs.

Episode 7: A special Solstice episode on the astrology of the moment, plus a meditation and ritual for calling in our greatest desires.

Season 2

Episode 1, 2022 – New Year, New Moon, new beginnings

Episode 2, January 8th, 2022 – Cosmic Wisdom with Kristine and Emily. Emily Trinkaus and I covered the major shifts going on in the Heavens and what that means for all of us.

Episode 3, January 13th, 2022 – Turn fear into fuel with gifted healer Belinda Noakes

Coming up soon:

Episode 4, January 22, 2022 – The story of the ancient Queen of Heaven and her descent into the Underworld. This Sumerian myth has exact parallels to the journey of the planet Venus from morning to evening star.

What does astrology have to do with natural well-being?

What does astrology have to do with natural well-being?

…when rightly understood, [astrology] opens the way clearly to an understanding of the manifestations of Nature through human and mundane affairs.” – Llewellyn George

Someone once asked me what astrology had to do with nature. Here are some thoughts on that question.

Prefer to read rather than watch? Here is a transcript.

Germ war and peace

I am more than a little discouraged at the polarization of viewpoints over various elements of the pandemic at a time when curiosity and cooperation could not be more important. Social media has become a hotbed of fear, anger and shaming over how individuals choose to respond to the situation. Not only is there little agreement,  there is no room for disagreement over such basic questions as whether masks are effective tools in protecting people’s health; whether, when and how much we should be able to return to daily life outside our homes; and even the extent of the threat – or very existence – of a virus itself. And to my great confusion, these questions have become partisan issues, making it difficult if not impossible to question and examine without immediately attracting an unwanted and unwarranted label. 

We’re moving from theory to practice, from preaching to teaching, from knowing to asking questions, from big picture to little picture (details). We need to cultivate Gemini perception, recognise duality, engage rational and intellect. This isn’t about accepting what we’ve been told, instead it’s continuing to enquire so that we find our own answers.

Leah Whitehorse

For someone who believes neither in the mainstream narrative nor conspiracy theories, any conversation becomes a minefield. But from my perspective, not only are we missing the mark on addressing the underlying causes of one new, virulent virus, but many of the commonly accepted solutions have the potential to make our health, both individually and collectively, worse, especially in the long term.

The fundamental mainstream narrative of the pandemic rests on the assumption we are helpless victims of a viral invader, and only technology – from masks to vaccines – will save us from its clutches. Yet protection from invasion is only one part of the story of health, and an old and destructive one at that. It is based in our unconscious mindset of warfare and conflict, and the even more unconscious assumption that as human beings, we are separate individuals, each self-contained and ending at the outside edge of our skin. Based on this erroneous and incomplete worldview, our culture sees disease as something outside of ourselves, a foe to be conquered. We have a war on every thing we label as illness; we talk about survivors and victims; sickness is caused by an external enemy we can identify and kill.

One consequence of this thinking has been our war on microbes and ‘germs’, based on our embrace of germ theory, which has become an unquestioned assumption on which the conventional medical model – from research to treatment – rests. Antibiotics and their overuse, anti-bacterial soaps, chlorinated water, and even health laws requiring sterile containers for making cultured foods such as cheese, show the extent to which we have gone out of our way to limit or eradicate the microbial population with which we come into contact. And sadly for our health, we have been far too successful.

In recent years, the conventional medical world had just been discovering the problems this war on germs was creating, such as strains of ‘super-bugs’ that are harder to kill and more destructive. And then there is what natural health practitioners know and honor: our bodies are not all human. Bacteria and viruses – our ‘microbiome’ – make up a significant proportion of what we think of as ‘our’ bodies by such measures as the proportion of the total cells with human DNA versus ‘other’ DNA. We are not separate and ‘pure’ humans, but living, breathing, animate ecosystems, and these non-human parts of ourselves are essential to our ability to digest food, eliminate toxins, and manage less-helpful microbes from our environment. We have been poisoning ourselves with antibiotics and medicines meant to attack invading diseases. 

We have also poisoned ourselves by poisoning the Earth – and our soil and food- with pesticides and herbicides (not to mention pollution) designed, again, to kill the plants and creatures we deem enemies. The result has devastated – I don’t think that’s too strong a word – our digestive systems. It is difficult to find a statistic for it as our conventional medical world doesn’t even know how to measure it, but we can point to the rapid and exponential rise of everything from ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ – a catch-all for conditions physicians don’t know how to treat – to gluten intolerance and all sorts of food sensitivities, as well as so-called auto-immune conditions. Interestingly enough, one of the most promising new treatments for some of the most severe digestive conditions is fecal matter transplantation (FMT), which involves refining feces from a healthy person and transplanting into the sick person to recolonize their lower intestinal tract with ‘good’ bacteria. And of course, in the natural health world, a key recommendation is often to take ‘probiotics’ or to eat fermented foods in order to add back in some of the bacteria killed off by our modern lifestyles.

Before Covid, we were just beginning to see more focus on the natural and ‘alternative’ medical view of addressing health by strengthening the whole person, rather than just focusing on disease. In other words, make the terrain inhospitable to the invader. A primary line of defense agains ‘bad’ viruses and bacteria is having enough of the good ones; our microbiome is an inextricable component of our immunity. 

Yet now, here we are right back to using anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays and all sorts of ultra-cleaning techniques in a bid to eradicate one virus. And, lest it needs to be said, eradicating a whole lot of beneficial microbes along with it. Just as with the natural world, that loss of biodiversity within us has severe implications for our health.

Another tragedy of the current shift to repelling invasion and finding a technological cure for any illness is the helplessness it engenders. In the case of Covid, we are told to sit tight, keep your distance, close yourself off and wait for the technological silver bullet. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the mainstream narrative around Covid for me and other natural health practitioners I know is the utter absence of any advice or even analysis on how people can strengthen their own resistance to the virus. Instead, we have social distancing and masks, both of which have very unpleasant and even health-threatening consequences, particularly over the long haul. And since we are at war with the virus, adopting these measures is implicitly related to being a good and responsible citizen for many, contributing to the politicization of the issue.

This time affords us the opportunity to learn how to be healthy instead of simply continuing our failing war with disease. To begin with, we can recognize that health does not come from a one-size-fits-all approach. There is no one right way to eat or to exercise; each of us has a unique constitution. 

We must also expand our thinking beyond the simple questions of what goes into our mouths and how many calories we burn. When and how we eat, how much television we watch, and other lifestyle elements such as sleep habits have significant impacts on our health. For some, the shelter-in-place orders may have led to the discovery of the importance of downtime and rest for everything from digestion to sleep to mental clarity. 

And while we are at it, we can start breaking down the artificial barriers between body, mind and spirit/soul.

The war on germs and disease is costing us our health. It is time to make peace.

True care

I was fortunate enough to attend a three day astrology conference over Memorial Day weekend, my first professional astrology gathering. Despite the last-minute switch to an online format, it was an enriching and nourishing experience. I remember professional conferences from my time as a corporate communicator as somewhat mercenary, focused entirely on various forms of selling – oneself, one’s company, even the profession itself. The Northwest Astrology Conference (NORWAC), was a breath of fresh air – and confirmation of the great depth, breadth and most important to me, the humanity of my new profession. 

Attending workshops and plenary sessions, even electronically, with hundreds of colleagues and astrology nerds helped me feel a sense of belonging I rarely had in my corporate days. The depth and diversity of the content exposed me to speakers and topics I might not otherwise hear. As someone who loves to learn through immersion, I felt as if I soaked up a semester’s worth of education in just a few days.

As a self-care teacher and consultant, one of the talks I found most thought-provoking was titled “Astrology as radical self-care”. The presenter, Diana Rose Harper, defined self-care on a significantly larger scale than I have commonly understood. More than physical and even emotional well-being, her conception of self-care encompasses a wide sense of self-acceptance, aimed specifically at the internalized beliefs that diminish self-worth in marginalized populations. The nagging, subconscious feeling of ‘not enough’ is challenging enough in my own white female experience, let alone in people who receive messages of ‘less than’ because of not only their sex but also skin color, religious beliefs, and more.

Diana Rose named a couple of specific examples of unconscious cultural stories which contribute to our de-valuing of ourselves, including the Christian myth of ‘original sin’. Among others, the story of Adam, Eve, a serpent, and an apple pervades our beliefs, thoughts and actions whether we realize it or not, coloring our assumptions about everything from our inherent worth as individuals, our relationships to each other (especially men and women), and to our place in the natural world – as in, separate.

Her talk went to the heart of why I practice astrology, what I love about Ayurveda, and the value I see in yoga when taught well. These disciplines encourage us to understand ourselves as unique and valuable individuals, each with our own talents, physical/emotional/mental/spiritual make-up – with great worth and value precisely because of this uniqueness. These disciplines, practiced in this manner, are practical tools supporting true diversity, of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual make-up.

Another gift of these systems of knowledge, based as they are in Nature, is their underlying assumption of our unity with each other and our innate belonging to the natural world: every plant, planet, animal, human, rock, tree, molecule, atom are each individual waves in one cosmic ocean. We relegate the term ‘ecosystem’ to discrete parts of the natural world around us, yet we are all integral elements within one great ecosystem. And none of us is more or less than any other.

In a recent newsletter, Sajah Popham, founder of the School of Evolutionary Herbalism, gave these eloquent words to this sentiment:

“We are all human. We all have a heart, a mind and soul, a unique gift that we were born onto this Mother Earth with. We are shaped from the same elements, breathe the same air, drink the same water, see the same sun, moon and stars. We are all an integral part of Nature, just like everything else.

When we look in Nature, does the Rose look at the Peony and think, “My petals are so much more beautiful than those, my perfume so much sweeter. I am better than the Peony”? Does the Eagle think itself as higher or better than the Hawk? Does the orange part of the rainbow think the purple part is lesser?

No. Nature does not judge. Nature does not criticize and put down. Nature does not discriminate.There is no such thing as higher and lower in Nature. Everything is what it is, its own unique form of a beauty and perfection. Each part necessary, integral, and creating the dazzling richness of diversity that we see in the natural world.”

It is our very sense of separateness from and superiority to Nature that gives rise to the sense of separateness and superiority of one race/culture/nation/sex over another. Separateness and superiority are not natural, regardless of what we may have been taught.

We are in desperate need of reclaiming the natural wisdom that comes from knowing we are each an inherent and valuable part of a greater natural whole. When we truly, deeply understand at the level of felt emotion and sensation, in our hearts, minds and bodies, that we are “all in this together”, then we might stand a chance of healing the divides that are conquering us: black/white; man/woman; Republican/Democrat; masks/no masks; vaccines/no vaccines; global warming/ no global warming; cold, unfeeling, mechanical universe separate from humans/living, intelligent cosmos of which all humans are an integral part.

It is never too soon to start, and no effort is ever wasted. Remembering ourselves as unique, valuable, integral to the Natural whole is radical care for ourselves, each other, and our planet.

Sacred rhythms of life – and health

In the indigenous medical science from India, Ayurveda, there is great emphasis on harmonizing daily life with the natural cycles of the Sun and seasons. The focus on lifestyle and routine (rhythm) was also an integral part of traditional Western medicine in ancient times. The word ‘diet’ originally referred to not just what we eat, but – as in Ayurveda – the whole construct and pattern of our daily life.

When, what and how we eat (‘food’); how we exercise and the balance between sleep and waking (‘sleep’); plus how we use our creative energy and the quality of our relationships (‘sex’)  are the three pillars of health. Yet, these three essential components of human life are commonly overlooked in the quest for ‘silver bullet’ solutions and quick fixes for our symptoms. Whether it is a vaccine for a novel flu, a superfood to prevent cancer, special diets, the latest pharmaceutical creation, and even – ever more popular – herbal concoctions, we spend huge amounts of money and create entire industries dedicated to finding the ‘right’ remedy for what ails us.

But what if the key to our health is less about treating what’s wrong, and more about remembering what our bodies already know – that we are inextricably intertwined with the cycles and rhythms of the Earth, the Sun and even the planets?

Ashram porch

Some years ago, I spent a month in an Ayurvedic ashram in India, undergoing a detoxification and renewal process called ‘panchakarma’. Rising time, meal times, even when I could get hot water for a bath were all consistent, structured, and based in Ayurvedic teachings. In one of my last conversations with my doctor, as we were discussing some of the herbal medications he was sending home with me, he pointed out that herbs are wasted if the client does not adhere to basic healthy lifestyle practices. As someone with a deep respect for all life, he – and many of us who work with plants and other natural remedies – preferred not to offer herbs to someone who was looking for an easy fix while continuing destructive lifestyle practices.

When I work with clients on wellness, my first go-to ‘prescription’ is regulating mealtimes and sleep schedules, with an emphasis on have the largest meal in the middle of the day when possible. Other simple – but not necessarily easy – recommendations include not eating or drinking anything past seven p.m.; getting up with or before the Sun; and creating rituals around daily tasks, especially eating. It is quite easy to get much more elaborate in outlining a daily routine consistent with Ayurvedic teachings. For those who more fully integrate Ayurveda and yoga into their lives, or live in yoga ashrams (spiritual communities) the instructions can become even more proscriptive and detailed. In fact, this is likely why so many people with a little familiarity with Ayurveda see it as complicated and time-consuming – which, of course, it can be.

Yet the greates benefit to our health can come from the smallest efforts. One of my teachers used to say the single most important practice anyone can implement to improve their life is that of eating consciously. When you eat, just eat. Practice mindfulness over your food by putting away the TV, computer, and books, and focus on your food as the sacred gift from the Earth that it is.

This ritualization of daily life, bringing back the sacred to the mundane, is the great work that will bring balance back to the Earth and our bodies.

I like to dream of a time when food is truly seen and felt as the sacred body of the Earth. If eating were an act of worship, I sincerely doubt we would engage in ‘factory farming’, or look for lab-grown meat and ‘protein’ to fill our plates. Rather than meat production, perhaps we would return to animal husbandry and plant-tending in a time-honored co-creative relationship with the beings who nourish us. 

This movement back to partnership is just as important in our relationship with plants, which provide the bulk of our food and medicine. Whether the grains that have adapted with us and for us, or the fruits that tempt us to spread them wherever we go like Johhny Appleseed, or the herbs that offer their medicine in our yards, the gracious presence, intelligence, wisdom and beingness of plants deserves our honor and appreciation as much as the two- and four-legged creatures, bees, and other animate creatures on whom we depend.

I do not believe we can reach my version of Utopia until we learn to see the deeper meaning of, and on, our dinner plates. As long as food is a means to an end, something to manipulate and analyze in an endless quest for the ‘right’ diet, the ‘right’ weight, the ‘right’ nutrition and the cure for what ails us, we will continue with our tunnelvision of the Earth, plants, animals, and even microbes being ‘out there’ rather than part of the continuum of material existence that includes our notion of our physical selves. Forget the idea of your body as a discrete human entity. What you call ‘you’ is mostly other – microbes outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one.

We can turn to modern research to corroborate the ancient wisdom regarding how aligning our lives with natural cycles can support our health. And we can turn to our hearts to underscore the importance of honoring the lives that support our lives. Best of all, we can just begin where we are with our bodies as our laboratories. Pick one thing – getting up earlier, or eating a lighter dinner, or starting your morning with some sort of mindfulness practice – and try it for a week or two. See what works for your body, your heart, your mind.


Want to find out more about how to incorporate nature’s rhythms into your own life, and support your well-being naturally? Check out my Signatures of Health consultations. Your birth chart is also your health chart! And, coming in May, 2021, I’ll be leading a seven-week online course on Diet as Medicine. Registration opens in mid-April.

Love Your Body guided meditation

Our bodies are intelligent creations of nature, equipped with the power to heal and be whole. When we connect deeply to our physical being, with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation, we support that healing power.

This guided meditation will help you to sense and support your wholeness, and your connection with the Earth herself. All you need is a quiet place to sit comfortably for a half hour or so.

Mother Earth
Our bodies are part of the Earth’s ecosystem.

In the belly of the mother

In the belly of the mother

Groundhog Day is right around the corner. In ancient times this holiday was known as Imbolc, meaning ‘in the belly of the mother’. The seeds of life are germinating in her dark belly, waiting for the light of spring. 

In the embrace of the mountain

The astrologically precise date of Imbolc is when the Sun reaches the midpoint of Aquarius, this year on February 4th. We are halfway between the darkest day of the year, Winter Solstice, and the Spring Equinox. The light is returning, but night still outlasts day by many hours here in the North. 

The world is still at rest, using the darkness to dream up new visions, a primary purpose of Aquarius. This year, 2020, it feels as if we are in a pregnant pause between cycles, with the epic conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn just passed and the planets still hanging out together in the Zodiac off and on throughout the year. Throw in two more significant conjunctions later in the year – Jupiter/Pluto and then Saturn/Jupiter – and it may be difficult to see what is coming, what this new time will bring. We are still in the midst of breakdown.

But we can envision what we want, what we deeply desire. Desire is what drives the universe. Until we want it we can’t receive it. Even when opportunities arise we didn’t expect, we can’t take advantage until we allow ourselves desire.

At the same time, gratitude drives the universe, too. The very act of feeling grateful for some thing, person or circumstance in our lives turns us toward it and supports us in maintaining and expanding our relationship with it. For a long time, I thought gratitude seemed incompatible with desire. How can I want something I don’t have at the same time I am grateful for what I do have? 

Yet I can and I do, all the time. I am incredibly grateful for my tiny 50s-era apartment with the noisy neighbors and overwhelming EMFs. It is affordable in a place where rents have gone through the roof; it is a short walk to town; the hardwood floors, big west-facing front window, and full basement make it both functional and attractive. And I deeply desire a house with a yard, garden space, an eastern or southern exposure, and a lot fewer wi-fi signals. 

Both are true – the gratitude and the desire. Both, too, spring from my depths, unbidden. While I can actively seek them, most often they just show up. 

There was a long, dark period of several years when it was difficult to find either. Gratitude was lost in fear; desire was someting I suppressed in my efforts to find gratitude for at least the small blessings. One of the great turning points in my personal journey back from those dark nights of the Soul was my decision to feel desire again, to allow myself to feel my deep longing for things to be different.

Current New Age platitudes and distorted spiritual teachings would have us believe that desire is problematic. It isn’t hard to find practices and lifestyle tips aimed at ‘controlling’ or somehow ridding ourselves of our desires, whether physical, sexual, financial, or otherwise. This thinking is riddled through Christianity as well as the yoga world and every organized religion with which I’m familiar – despite the excesses of the same. 

And it is simply wrong thinking. Without desire of a sexual nature, would many of us even be here? Would we have hot water flowing into bathtubs at the turn of a knob without someone’s long ago desire to make it happen? Without desire for a more natural way of living, I would still be slogging it out in my corporate career, putting off health and happiness until some just-out-of-reach retirement. Desire is the impetus for creation and, coupled with time, change.

Power guru Kasia Urbaniak tells us we have no say in what we want. I agree. Our true desires bubble up from our Souls, and repression brings illness – spiritual, mental, physical. If we are to honor ourselves and our Souls, it folows we must honor our desires. In order to live from the Soul, from the inside out, we have to feel deeply into what we want, into our longing, and into a world in which our desires are fulfilled. Imagine, for a moment, this scenario: the uncountable numbers of people who truly desire peace in their community, country, world spend a little while sinking into the sights, sounds, smells, tastes of peace all around. Their heartbeats slow, their breath becomes steady and strong, their bodies relax. They radiate peace, wherever they are. Could the world help but respond? 

As I’ve written this post, the planet of love, self-worth, and attraction has been in a tense angle with Mars, planet of action, will, desire. The combination asks all of us – what do you really want? With Venus also conjunct Neptune, the question expands to include our dreams – what do we dream of having/doing/being? This is a time of repressed desires floating to the surface. It is also a time to honor them.