The Spiritual Mother

Celebrating Motherhood as a Spiritual Guide and Path.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Opening Yourself and Your family to All Paths

One of the topics I read about and have seen often in my internet travels is Pagans who disagree with the paths of other pagans and spiritual paths. I find this an odd thing because many pagans will claim to be open minded and want others to be open minded to their beliefs. The reality of open mindedness when it comes to faith is actually a very difficult journey for some. I know for me personally I have no interest being involved in Dogmatic Christianity. I have struggled with this for a while because I do not like when Christians tell me I am a bad person for following my heart. But I still see beauty in that path and try to keep an open mind, but I do not agree with it and do not participate in it.. I struggle with the idea of letting my son go to a church. We are raising him without a particular faith and allowing him to choose when he is ready. But the idea of taking him to a church is very "bah". But what about other pagan paths? Yes there are some I would rather him not participate in, but in general I hope that he learns about as many as possible. When the time comes I will help him if he asks and until then we will look at as many faiths as we can together as a family.

I have a challenge for you...

I would like to see pagans look into and study in as much depth as possible a different pagan path or tradition other than their own for one moon cycle. This includes reading books on that tradition, researching it on the net, maybe even looking at some message boards and immersing into the path as well as possible.. and finally for extra credit, attending a ritual of this pagan path if able. I would then like to see a written account of what you liked what you didn't like and what you learned. I am even willing to share your experiences here at The Spiritual Mother. And I would love to know that you plan to do this.. what say ye?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Making Nap Time Spiritually Blissful

Nap time is a great time for bonding on a spiritual level and teaching meditation to young children. A mixture of meditation techniques and healthy sleeping techniques and Reiki can make a wonderful afternoon. Here is a break down of things I do with my own son and my Day Care children to help them fall asleep:

-Set the mood; darken the room, put on some tranquil music (we use Pandora's Nature Sounds Radio), use aromatherapy candles or oils, set up a sacred nap time space. Include many soft surfaces like pillows and blankets or comforters.

-Prepare the child by setting up a daily routine. This may include finishing lunch and putting on the music and darkening the room 10 minutes before hand. Stay away from any exciting activities and treat pre-nap time as "wind down" time. You can also add in hygiene practices such as hand washing (a mini ritual bath) and tooth brushing. Read a book out loud to them for extra Credit.

-Prepare yourself. "Are the dishes done? Did I pay the bills? What time is DH going to be home?" A woman's brain can get pretty active. Clearing it out and getting into a calm place helps so much when helping a child to nap. Find ways to calm quickly, such as a worry stone in your pocket, of taking a few breaths of fresh air. Ground and Center.

-Lay the child down, and give them any lovies such as a binky, stuffed toy or a blankey. I tend to cover the child with a blanket covering most of their bodies including their eyes, but leaving room for them to breath. I find this helps them know its nap time and know that I am putting them down for a nap.

- Gently rub their backs in a circular motion, moving to a more massage type touch. Gently massage the child's back while focusing on them being calm and relaxed. Think of this as an energy transfer and concentrate on putting them in a state of relaxation and sleep. Once child is in a state of sleep or extreme calm, feel free to switch to Reiki to help balance the chakras. If is a smaller infant feel free to rock them to sleep, but you can still use massage and healing touch techniques.

-Give the child time to get into deep sleep before leaving the room or getting up. Helping the child by just being in the room for these times helps greatly from them waking up and having to start over. Keep your energy focused during this time. If you are able and want to you can also join your child in a nap.

-If you choose to stay awake, use the quiet time to relax or meditate and recharge in your own way. This is a perfect time for a cup of coffee or tea.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Mandatory Book List

I notice allot of people these days claim the title of Wiccan. The impression that I get is that they read one book and then think that this makes them a Wiccan. So here is my version of a book list that I expect anyone who claims the name Wiccan to have read before they announce to the world "I am Wiccan!" regardless of if they are solitary eclectic or a more traditional Wiccan path. As a Veteran to the craft, if I am in a conversation with a person who claims to know anything about Wicca, I automatically assume they have read the following:

Scott Cunningham's Guide to the Solitary Practitioner- If you follow my blog you know I am not that much of a fan of Cunningham.. however in this day and age every pagan has read this book. If you read this book and find yourself moved by its pages, Wicca is probably not for you.. However even if you like the book or not it is essential to understanding the ideals of Solitary Eclectics.

Raymond Buckland's Big Blue "Complete Book of Witchcraft"- its basic and covers many topics, this used to be a standard newbie book in the day, and now I get the impression that many pagans have no idea what this book is. It is a surface scratch for Wicca.

The Ferrar's Witches Bible- This covers a good chunk of info such as Sabbats and tools and all that good stuff..if you haven't read it and are calling yourself Wiccan.. you might as well be a rocket scientist who has never taken a calculus class.

Margret Adler's Drawing Down the Moon- This was once must read book for pagans back before Barnes and Noble had a New Age section... so yes you should read it.

Any Book by Gerald Gardner- because no matter what you believe, you can not do a ritual or study any form of Neo-Paganism without coming into contact with something Gardner did for the craft.. Yes the books are very boring.. and can take you almost a year of reading while on the toilet..but if you can actually get through one of these books you will be that much closer to understanding at least part of the history of American Wicca.

At least 10 other books- it doesn't matter what they are but paganism in general is about life long learning, and if you are going to claim to be on this type of path, as a fellow pagan, I expect you to honor the idea of being on a path to wisdom.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Attachment DayCare???

So.. what exactly is that? Well I run an in home day care and I run home on the principals of Attachment Parenting with all the children. It means that I do not use CIO, I hold babies and children when they want to be held, I help parents with breastfeeding, I cloth diaper my own child and some of my daycare children, and I baby wear. Is it easy? No, but definitely worth it! I have a goal with each child in my care to build a trusting relationship. I follow the goals of PITC (Providing Infant and Toddler Care Program) to help build a strong basis of continuity and to facilitate learning and positive relationships starting at birth. The bond that I have with all the children is deep and loving. Yes that means that if I leave the room to potty that 3 of them will cry because they can't see me. Yes it means some days I have to wear a baby around the house and whisper for 3 hours because they are napping in my Maya Wrap. Yes it means I have to plan our lunches around the baby so they can have homemade babyfood. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I not only get to have a strong bond with my son (which never could be replaced by anyone) but I also get to have great day care kids that I get to spend the day with. I am a lucky woman!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Medela I'm Calling You Out!

Just this morning, one of my Favorite bloggers, Amy West of "Just West of Crunchy" (check out the new button on my side bar), wrote a piece about Medela. She discussed how Medela was violating the WHO code in depth and how it denigrates breast feeding awareness. She also covers issues with their pumps and why other brands are superior. I am here to tell you a story of an infant that we shall call Steve (not real name) and the effects the Medela bottles had on him. If Medela had breastfeeding, or infants at all in mind in correlation with their products, an adorable little boy would have had a very different start in life.

A few weeks ago a fellow Day Care Provider called me on the phone and said she had a small infant that she could not care for anymore. He was very clingy and cried all the time and she couldn't handle it and knew that my care would be best for him. I run my day care on the principals of Attachment Parenting and I have apparently started to get a name for myself with this concept in our town. I said yes that I would take him (because every child deserves a chance and I am always up for a challenge). So when this little boy started, on his first day, Mom came with a Medela brand bottle and asked me to only use this bottle even though I provide bottles in my care and use Born Free brand. Mom and baby had issues at birth and had a failed breastfeeding relationship. I said yes and used the Medela bottle. I quickly noticed in my care that this infant was extremely gassy, and also suffered from "raspiness" having difficult breathing after feedings. At home the breathing has been an issue and he had been put on a nebulizer to help with the issues. So even though mom asked me to only use the Medela bottles, I secretly tried out my Born Free bottles on him, which have a vent system in place. After only a few bottles mr. crankymcfussy pants was a new baby. He was smiling after a feeding and spitting up less (his first day when I only used the Medela bottles, he spit up on me so many times I went through 3 outfits), and he was less cranky in general. I continued to use the Born Free bottles on him a few more times and tried the Medela's several other times. He was always cranky after the Medela's. I began to also notice that his breathing improved when I used the Born Free bottles. I let Mom know that I thought he had some gas and suggested the use of a bottle with a venting system. Mom was reluctant to try them but after I sent a bottle of mine home with her, a few days later he was sent with a vented Avent bottle. Just last night I asked her if she had noticed a difference with her son and she opened up to me. She said he was a new baby and everyone was having a better time. It turns out that at home he was super fussy and even at one point, when Grandma was babysitting one evening, she called them and sent him home because she could not take the crying. Now she had a "new baby" and she was smiling for the first time since I met her. If this baby had been given a decent bottle from the start, he would have had a better relationship with his parents and family and probably would have never come to my care. It is a shame that a 4 month old should have to go through this when he is learning just how the world works. I hope to see many more improvements over time with Steve.

If Medela was serious about their bottles, and catering to the needs of infants, they would supply a bottle for mothers with their pumps and in their systems that actually helped infants. A glance at the Medela site offers no support in the lines of actually feeding an infant. What is the difference between their bottles and a cheap old bottle from the Walmart? None. I challenge Medela to change their bottles to fit the needs of all babies. How about a vent system to start with. A breast fed infant does not have to stop nursing at his mothers breast to let air in. And lets further discuss the nipple. How about making a variety of shapes that closer resemble a womans breast? Breast fed babies have more of a challenge at times in the child care setting getting familiar with a bottle nipple when away from the breast. If you really as a company want to promote breast feeding and supplying nursing mothers with a way to give expressed milk to an infant, why not develop a product that supports mothers and infants? It seems to me that Medela has one thing in mind.. making money. Because if you were serious about supporting and promoting breastfeeding, the products you offer would be way different.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spirituality on the Clock

In this day and age we are forced to work in society and hold jobs to survive. Our pagan ancestors lived very different lives than us. They were able to be in the natural environment allot of the times they were working. For us many of us spend time in the corporate world trying to make a buck at the mercy of the system. I am one of the lucky ones that works for themselves. Yes I have more freedoms than most, but I too have to work hard and rarely have time to focus on my spirituality for that part of the day. Working by myself and noting having coworkers has allowed me to find ways to let in my spirituality for those 8 hours a day where I am focusing on my work. But we can find ways to be spiritual in the work place without outing ourselves as Wiccan or Pagan. Here are some techniques to think about:

-Keep a small ritual kit in your bag or coat. This can include a few stones or a figurines, herbs, essential oils, sea salt. Any items to help you center when needed.

-Keep a live plant at your desk, unless you are lucky enough to work outside. Take time to nurture the plant and allow the natural energy to come to you when needed.

-Have a small collection of the 4 elements such as a stone, a candle, a mini fountain or bottle of water and a feather or book.

-Ground when needed.. because what better way to deal with a boss/client who pisses you off?

-Wear or keep in your pocket a mojo bag with items that help you feel connected.

-Take meditation breaks.. if smokers get to go outside now and then.. why can't you? Everyone needs fresh air.

-Listen to nature sounds or meditation music on your break.

-Take your shoes off (actually since I work at home I never wear shoes..) and feel the ground beneath your feet.

-Write in your journal and read when ever you can.

-Sneak in moments of your secret indulgences such as chocolate.. or even the occasional online forum or blog.

so how do you connect to your spiritual side on the clock?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Days

Its the dead of winter and snow is fact all but a few states have snow on the ground right now. this time of year has come with a stigma for "the winter blues". A Native American spiritualist and tribe member once described it to me as Wendigo, when the dark spirts get trapped in our homes and need light to get out, causing us to feel trapped and down in the dumps. There are ways to get around this though, on a spiritual and mundane level. Here are some ideas to try:

- Open the shades to your home and let the natural light in. It will help you see the outdoors more and help calm you down.

-listen to music or nature sounds.

-Read a few extra books..might as well while we have this extra time indoors.. save more free time for the warmer months to spend time outside.

-work on a craft project...make something new for your altar or ritual use, such as jewelry.

-Do a total house cleansing, including reorganizing areas and smudging the entire home.

-participate in new online forums.. explore a few that spark your interest and get to know more people.

-go to a pagan coffee social, or invite a local pagan over for a nice discussion.. since it never hurts to meet new people.

-get some indoor plants to nurture and help cleanse the air.

-meditate in front of a window and just watch nature for a period of time.

-Redecorate a room.. feel free to do something wild (I am currently planning on painting my hallway to look like a cave with cave paintings)

-do your taxes and plan to get something special (unless you owe money).

-Write in a journal...or BOS.

-learn a new form of divination.

-contemplate things you would like to work on yourself through the rest of the year.

-Take a snow day.. complete with jammies and hot chocolate.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Organic Bunny Crackers

I have never met a child who didn't like organic bunny shaped graham crackers. If you put them on the plate they will eat them. I have been finding these awesome little treats in Walmart recently.. YA Walmart, in our small town in Iowa with less than 7000 people, we have organic bunny crackers. But this is Walmart we are talking about, you know the giant supermarket chain that is the epitome of all things evil (right after Starbucks) and doesn't care about our health just how to make a buck? Well the organic winds have changed and now even I in small town Iowa do not have to wait for the Amish to make a cracker snack for my child that is healthy, or just end up eating goldfish. What's next, pagan books in the check out lane?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Fading Face to Face

I have been on a break for the last few weeks, a mixture of being on vacation with the fam out east, and having a new day care child that doesn't sleep during nap times... whoops there went my daily blogging hour! It is funny to me the posts that I see on pagan message boards when I come back from an extended leave. There are always a few newbies asking for book recommendations, and a ton of replies suggesting Cunningham. And a few spell begging posts, and people asking about recommendations for their witches bottles or the sort, and the occasional post about what people are doing the nearest holiday, and a collection of a few other fluff pieces. And now we also have the Youtube videos. This is the one that is new to me. When I was a newbie, you had to seek out the nearest pagan meet up and then attend and sit around a camp fire or coffee cup and enjoy conversations with the elder folk. So now we don't have to do that.. we can just sit in front of our computer and watch a video or 20 about random pagan topics and cut out the face to face time with the crones. To me this was a very important lesson. Sitting around and learning how to show respect to elders of the community and learn to ask questions and hear the stories of the past was a wonderful time. Not only was it a learning experience, but it was a fun one where we got to hear the inner workings of naughty crones and have a community. It also kept alive an oral tradition that pagan folk have enjoyed for millenniums. I feel that this lack of community is hurting pagans more than helping them. Technological pagans in our times have the benefit of gathering large amounts of information on their own. This is an amazing advance for us. But by letting the face to face, no electronic devices needed convos die out, we are loosing so much. Meeting "face to face" allowed for pagans to form communities, even if it was solitaries meeting each other for special holidays. It allowed a sharing of ritual and things we probably normally wouldn't have research (internet or not) on our own. It was a way to learn crafts, food, survival skills, music, buy homemade goods and more within the pagan community. It tested boundaries with different lifestyles such as naturist, vegan, poly-amorous, and more. Now pagans can just log onto Youtube and watch the newest pagan- Julia Child give the best recipes to pagan bliss. And I know some people have trouble finding meet ups and gatherings, but that is part of it. You have to work to find it, it is supposed to be a journey.