My daughter connects very deeply to nature and growing things, and she has some ambitious plans for a garden this year. She wants her teas and herbs to come from the ground at home instead of buying them at a store, reasoning that something she raises herself will be more powerful. And she really, really wants me to help with this garden.
Reader, I am an indoor kitty – I always have been. Any type of yardwork has always been the worst of chores for me; it’s endless, filthy, unrewarding work – I have a black thumb – and I can’t think of a less interesting way to spend a day outdoors (I’m told some people feel this way about cooking).
As she has rightly pointed out, everyone in the house is going to benefit from this garden, so we should all have a hand in the creating and maintaining of it. While I’m happy to help site it and find heirloom seeds and such, the actual work of the garden is so much less appealing.
But she’s on the verge of adulthood, the point when she starts pulling away and building her own life. I’m so grateful that she wants to include me in this, that she feels excited about time spent together creating something tangible and beneficial to our family. It’s been too easy lately to fall into the abyss of our phones or Netflix, too easy to stop connecting and stay in our house, too easy to take this time for granted. I don’t want to look back with regrets. I don’t want to dread anything that involves spending time with her.
The answer seems to be adjusting my perspective. That’s honestly been the answer to so much in this past year. “I’m being forced to stay home. I’m cut off from my family and friends” feels a lot different when it’s posed as “I choose to stay home in order to protect myself and others. I show my love and respect for my loved ones by keeping my distance and helping to keep them safe.” It shifts the locus of control and makes you feel like less of a victim of circumstance.
Certainly I feel like a victim in the garden.
While she plants things with the intention of developing her practice and connecting the earth, I’ll be looking at this work as honoring my parenting journey.
I chose to become a parent, freely and without coercion. I can choose to be in my daughter’s garden, recognizing that it’s a choice I make in order to reap the benefits of time together and the literal fruits (and vegetables and herbs) of my labor.
I have cared for and nurtured these children, which has sometimes been very hard work indeed. There are a lot of parts of it that were disgusting or boring or exhausting or exasperating, and the results weren’t always what I wished. Working in the earth is going to be much the same. The outcome can be as unexpected and delightful, too.
I swam upstream on a lot of my parenting decisions. We made a lot of deliberate choices about their environment and influences, many of which went against the conventional wisdom I was raised with. It’s not the easiest way of doing things, but it’s work worth doing.
It will be endless, of course. But individual tasks can be completed and the tools set aside for a bit. There will be time to simply sit back and feel the satisfaction of work well done. I will be able to see progress and know that it’s the result of my effort. I will know that there is more work to come that will be satisfying in different ways. As my children become adults, I find that I don’t want the work to end – I will never want to stop being their mother, even as the seasons of parenting shift and parts become fallow. I hope that approaching the physical work of this garden feels the same to me after time, that I can fall into the cycles of growth and harvest and rest and planning and find that here, too, I don’t want the work to end.
Now if only I could tackle that laundry pile….
Mother’s Day might feel like it’s a day that already full enough of rituals – if not necessarily the kind we think of as sacred. Flowers? Card? Phone call? Brunch? All of the above? None of the above? It’s a day that isn’t quite as straightforward as the greeting card companies would have you believe, but no matter how – or if – you acknowledge this day, the presence of mother energy has shaped every one of us.
You may already have a ritual that honors this energy. A suggestion I saw recently had you adding a small pebble to a cup of water for every woman that has nurtured you in some way – relatives, friends, teachers, mentors – and adding the final pebble to acknowledge the ways in which you’ve created and grown yourself, as well as all the nurturing and care you’ve given to others in ways large and small.
I love how this can be incorporated into an existing ritual or stand on its own, that it incorporates the feminine symbolism of a chalice and the elements of earth and water. Most of all, I appreciate that this is a positive honoring that can work for anyone, even if you are in a fractured mother relationship or don’t have children.
Mother relationships can be complicated: complicated by time, by distance, by old patterns, by the clash of expectations vs reality. And certainly everything is a little more complicated in the Covid era, if only by trying to find ways to be together safely to celebrate. But none of us has gotten here entirely on our own. This Mother’s Day, take time to acknowledge the love and care that has gone into creating you just as you are.
This month’s featured product is our Motor City HooDoo line of candles and oils.
HooDoo is American folk magic with roots in Central and West African and Haitian religions. The religions were brought to the New World by enslaved people, where they evolved and melded with indigenous knowledge and with similar practices of people of different ethnicities in early America. HooDoo has survived for generations without the scripture and doctrine of more mainstream religions, blending herbalism, divination, healing, and witchcraft to manifest the intention of the individual practitioner.
America’s rich HooDoo tradition traveled to every corner of the nation with the descendants of these slaves and immigrants. Here in the Motor City, we have a wealth of cultural and magical history going back through the generations that migrated here – making this a great place for practicing HooDoo.
HooDoo is powerful, practical magic, so this line covers whatever is affecting your everyday life, from the general protection of Black Cat to the powerful attracting of good fortune with Road Opener or Lucky 7. Love life need a boost? Try Adam & Eve – or Adam & Steve or Alice & Eve, because love is for everyone. Get out of your own way with Uncrossing or invoke a little Helping Hand. Each 4 x 2 candle is hand poured in a blessed space with a curated selection of oils and herbs. All month long, Motor City HooDoo products are 10% off in the store.
The full moon that starts on May 26 is known as the Flower Moon, and it’s a good time for magic about careers and jobs. Spring is all about growth, promise, and emergence – values you probably want to see in your work life. For some reason, work seems to be one of the areas in which people settle for what’s given them instead of really reaching for what they want. I think the reasons behind this have a lot to do with fear. But in this, as with any other magical working, it’s important to clarify your intention and do some deep work with yourself before adding anything else to the mix.
One of the biggest obstacles people have in deciding what to do with their career is fear of choosing “the wrong thing.” What, exactly, constitutes “wrong” in this case? Something you don’t enjoy? Something that doesn’t pay enough for your needs? Then you can choose something else – because whatever work you’re doing is what you’re doing NEXT not what you’re doing FOREVER. The myth of choosing a career that will last for the rest of your life paralyzes a lot of people, when the truth is that you aren’t going to do the same thing for the rest of your life any more than you’re going to eat the same meal every day. Even if you like your work and stay in your field, the work, the technology used, etc will change many times over the course of your career.
We also tend to worry what people will think if we do something perceived as less prestigious or practical, or that we’ll somehow be “wasting” our education and experience if we make a change. I’ve dealt with this myself; there was a lot of baggage in walking away from my professional field. Once I acknowledged that, it was easier to accept that yes, my education opened doors; yes, I had a good career; and yes, it was okay to make a change that brought a different kind of satisfaction into my life. I don’t have to stay headed in the direction that others expect from me.
And of course, there’s fear of the unknown. Any change has an element of this; but there’s also the possibility of growth and excitement and new kinds of rewards. Go ahead and embrace the uncertainty, then ask yourself:
Are you valuing the work and education you’ve had in the past? Describing any aspect of your past with the word “just” devalues your contribution in the eyes of yourself and others, including a potential employer. Think about the positive aspects of your past and how they’ve prepared you for the next step.
What values do you want to live in your work? It’s important to spend your time doing things that are in alignment with yourself. Most people find they care less about the actual tasks they’re doing than the environment or reasons behind those tasks. Do you like to work in service to others? Are you excellent at creating order from chaos? Do you need to be creative in some way? Consider how you want to feel about the work you do.
And finally, why are you looking for a change? What isn’t working? Sometimes it’s practical issues like money or commute time. Take the time to understand what exactly constitutes an acceptable change for you.
Only once that’s clear should you start on any kind of magical working for your career. Know where the arrow is aimed before you loose it.
Some years ago, my then-7-year-old daughter declared that it was spring and we needed to have a party to celebrate. We weren’t particularly in tune with the calendar of the natural world at the time, but she’d heard about equinoxes from somewhere and decided that it needed to be A Thing in our house. I told her to go ahead and plan it, and I would help with the execution.
That first year, the March weather was unseasonably warm and while we didn’t actually manage an outdoor picnic in keeping with Herself’s directions, we did open the windows and put a picnic blanket on the living room floor. We had strawberries for dessert and (reluctantly) participated in a spring dance she choreographed for us all.
I thought this was a bit of a flash in the pan until June rolled around and she reminded me that the Summer Celebration was coming up. It was a lot like the spring version; I began to suspect this was just a cover for eating as many strawberries as humanly possible in one sitting. We rolled through autumn with no particular acknowledgment (between the start of the school year and Halloween there was plenty of excitement) but as the Christmas season approached, I was frantic for a way to carve out something meaningful for our small family in the midst of outside obligations and expectations. It was probably inevitable that we settled on winter solstice, and it’s since become our most cherished family tradition, a quiet night that prepares us for the noise and lights and ruckus of Christmas.
What started as a retreat turned into something altogether different, a really powerful reminder that we can make our own traditions and holidays and imbue them with meaning. The calendar of the natural world has made a great framework for the evolution of our personal holidays.