Saturday 25 August 2012

Honouring the Priestess Within

The major arcana tarot card number II, the Priestess, is personally one of my most favoured cards in the deck.  To me, she represents the divine feminine.  Her intuitive sense is strong, and her self-sufficiency is evidenced by the camel.  She goes within to find answers, and she understands a great truth that cannot be put into words.

Over the last year and a half I have been on a truly transformative journey.  Part of that process has been integrating the role of the Priestess into the core of my being.  Given that the Priestess is the quintessential card for a tarot reader, I suppose this is par for my course.  Let me tell you though, in my experience, the Priestess comes to her knowing often through trying times.  Having said that, these times are also sprinkled with bits of deep calm, peace, and joy - it's all part of the process, as Morcheeba sang so eloquently.

What excites me is watching how my experiences and learnings over the last several years are beginning to come together like a nicely woven tapestry.  I can actually see the weave in Aleister Crowley's Priestess card (Thoth tarot deck).  The woman is sitting back and is intuitively seeing the interconnectedness of all things.  My connection and faith in the divine workings of things is solidifying.  I am seeing how everything is part of the one. 

The other key piece in this card is balance - represented by the number II.  For all the inner observing I have been doing, I recently realized the importance of also allowing my imagination to run wild...strangely something I rarely permitted myself for a long time.  So I have been carving out time for fantasy; I have begun to read fiction novels!  Gasp!  For years I solely read non-fiction books because my quest for knowledge was so great.  Non-fiction has its time and place for sure, though I am discovering the other side.  Who knew reading fiction could be so immensely pleasurable?!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Blessings for Postal Service

Yesterday I received not one but TWO birthday packages.  I was in tears.....tears of joy that is!

A while back I had asked my mom to knit me a small blanket for my travels and, though she didn't speak much of it, I was excited by the idea that one day it would be in my arms.  That day has arrived.  It is so precious and feels so special.  I love the intricate weaving and the various shades of green and purple wool she used.  My mom knew I wanted purple and she said she chose green to reflect the beauty of the rich trees in the photos I showed her of Vancouver Island.

The lovely burlap handbag in the photo was sent by my sister.  The bags were created in support of a good cause -  the proceeds from the sales are being donated to help provide nutritious meals in children's schools around the world.  I love the rawness of the bag...definitely my style!

What struck me as I sat in my room yesterday with unwrapped boxes and new gifties, tears streaming down my face, was the beautiful warm feeling of love I felt.  Personally I value the time and energy that goes into sending a gift a great distance to a loved one.  I was deeply touched.  Furthermore,  there is something special about being greeted at the door by a delivery man or finding something extra special in your mailbox.  Whether it be a card or a gift, big or small, I am reminded of the wonderful feeling of receiving something by post.  I know the postal system isn't perfect, though I am grateful for it regardless.  It inspires me to be more giving.  It calls attention to the "pay it forward" concept, helping to make the world a better place.  To me, that is what life is all about.

Thursday 16 August 2012

A Homemaking Morning

This morning I felt like a homemaker.  Upon waking I put my sourdough loaves that had been proofing (rising) overnight in the oven.  After I put the bread in the oven I remembered that I had some beautiful thyme dried and ready to be worked with.  I had been gifted the herb by my friend, Mella, and wanted to put it to good use!  Thyme is such a wonderful herb for many reasons.  It aids in clearing lung issues such as asthma and bronchitis, (internally) and it's also helpful with dandruff and the troubling effects of arthritis (externally).  Furthermore, it tastes lovely in baked bread, roasted potatoes and other root veggies.  What a wide range of uses?!

 While my bread was baking, I separated the thyme leaves from their stems.  I went into a meditation of sorts that created a peaceful calm feeling within.  Furthermore, I was being productive - now that is what I call a win-win situation.  I then remembered my kombucha tea concoction that had been sitting for five days now - about five more to go to get it to my liking.  As an aside, I put a hold on making kefir (fermented can read all about it in a previous post).  I think I consumed too much one afternoon and I will simply say my body's reaction was less than pleasant.  It could have been due to another cause, though by association I decided to take a break from kefir.
from left to right: sourdough bread, kombucha, nettle tea, and dried thyme

This post may seem random, though there is a theme.  All of the products I have referred to here, except for the thyme, are fermented foods.  They are all partially digested foods, making them wonderful for anyone with any kind of digestive issues.  My advice is to introduce them slowly into your diet.

Here is a quick run-down for making kombucha tea.  I would say it is the easiest to make of all the fermented preparations.

Kombucha tea (pronounced "com-boo-chah)

12 cups of tea (black, green, or white)
3/4 cups of sugar (not honey)
filtered water
**kombucha mushroom "SCOBY" (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)

Easy peasy: boil a pot of water and add the tea.  let it cool.  then add the sugar and fill the remainder of the jar (glass preferably) with filtered water.  ensure the tea mixture is room temperature as the scoby is sensitive.  add the scoby and cover with a cloth.  i use a tea towel with an elastic band around the top of the jar.  leave the brew in a warm dark place for 7-10 days.  don't worry if the scoby floats to the top of the jar.  when it tastes right for you, a bit sour and a bit fizzy, take the mushroom out and store it in the fridge in a covered glass container with some of the tea to cover.  when it grows a second spongy pancake, you can split that off and give it to a friend or start other batches. 

**You need to find someone who has a scoby.  Ask around and you will surely find someone who has one.  Alternatively do some research to see who is growing mushrooms in your area.  They often have some for gift or sale. 

Sunday 12 August 2012

British Columbia Bliss

British Columbia truly is the ideal place for me.  Early this morning I went swimming with a friend in Stokum river - a river close to home.  We were the only ones there, making it a lovely opportunity for a river meditation.  With the sun shining on our faces, we lounged around on the rocks for a while and had a good heart to heart exchange.

our own private pool for the morning :o)
I am reminded of the Major Arcana tarot card, The Sun.  I am especially fond of that child-like innocence and energy generated from the sun (and in this case the river rapids).   There is an optimism and buoyancy that comes from these kinds of experiences - a feeling of having all of your needs met. 

I am finding my mind relating many happenings throughout the day to various tarot cards.  I think this is par for the course when one is passionate about something as I am with the tarot.  I see the tarot as an art form; I am faithfully working with my craft. 

For those of us whose craft includes working with people's minds and/or bodies, we are exposed to many different kinds of energy.  Sometimes unwanted energy lingers and energetic cleansing is needed.  In my experience, a river, or any running water source for that matter, is a great way to cleanse the body, mind, and spirit.  It is quite revitalizing too.  After a trip to the river, I amazed at how calm and clear I am.  Once again, thank you mother nature!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Swimming in Sproat Lake - A Heartful Weekend

Last weekend I unplugged.  I left all electronic devices at home (left my cell phone in my car for emergency use only).  In my opinion a vacation is not a vacation when you have access to technology in one form or another. 

I spent my long weekend camping with my cousin and it was F-U-N!  I loved the communal meals, that were delicious and nutritious I must add, spending time with family, sleeping under the stars, and lazing by the lake the whole day.  It was extremely hot on the island last weekend; I think I spent more time in the water than on land! The days by the lake turned into evenings by the lake.  My cousin’s partner encouraged us all to go night swimming, and I’m so glad she did because it was deeply rejuvenating. 

In my view, a day spent in the sunshine and water is great therapy for the body.  Plus, it was good to give my mind a much needed rest!  I spent the early part of the mornings in silence, watching the calm clear lake shimmer...until the speed boats started up.

Unfortunately no technology means I have no photos to post of the weekend.  I simply enjoyed the moments for what they were.  The beautiful mountains surrounding the lake, one of which was still snow covered – the contrast was stark!  The water bomber was also in flight this weekend; it flew right by us as we were swimming. Here is a photo, courtesy of the world wide web.

On my way home I was feeling thirsty and recalled a water spring nearby, so I made a much needed stop over.  Usually one would just stop at the 7-11 and pick up a bottled water, though not moi.  I drove to the spring, put on my rain boots, and trekked 50 feet up into the forest with all the water bottles on hand.  The outcome was pure tasty spring water.  I am so grateful for all the wonderful experiences I have been having since moving to beautiful BC.  There’s lots more to come!

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Sourdough Bread: Sunshine in the Tummy

A few weeks ago I was gifted a sourdough culture from a dear sweet friend and after procrastinating for a little while I decided to give her a "go".   There has been a lot of praise for fermented foods as well as scientific evidence in support of the health benefits for people, especially those with sensitive digestive systems.  I gracefully fall into this category, and over the years I have experimented with other fermented foods, such as kombucha and kefir, though this is a first for homemade sourdough bread.

One of the potential health benefits of sourdough is that the bacteria in the culture partially "digests" some of the starches and sugars in the grains.  As a result, sourdough bread appears to cause less of an increase in blood sugar than yeast breads.  It also causes much less bloating and indigestion than most other yeast and gluten breads.  Good to know.  Here is a link to some scientific evidence.

So for some reason I was having difficulty getting the project started, perhaps because of fear of failure and potentially wasting a whole lot of dough!  Apparently, it is a bit of a science to get it right.  Last Sunday I realized it was time for me to take the plunge, after trying some of my friend's bread.  My tummy was in heaven!

Much to my surprise, the finished product was lovely....okay, it was not as good as my friend's though he's been working on his art form for much longer.  The bread is dense and a bit sour, and is quite easy for me to digest.  I put in some oregano,  thyme, a bit of baking soda, salt and oil during the kneading process, and it seemed to work in nicely.

Here is a photo of my friend Michele, enjoying the fruits of my love and labour.

I have written the instructions below, though you will need to find someone who is willing to gift you a sourdough starter (culture), or research how to make your own.  I know it can be done! 

To me, making my own bread is simply another way to get more in touch with my food, and I find the process gratifying and nourishing.  It also took a ton less time than I thought it would.  I will definitely be making another batch soon. :o)

Instructions for Making Sunshine in the Tummy

1. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of flour with 1/4 cup sugar(or any sweetener)
2. Mix in 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sourdough starter (culture)
3. Stir into a lovely uniform "sponge"
4. Breathe all your wonderful loving intentions into it and smile as the microorganisms smile back at you, swimming happily in euphoric bliss.
5. Into the jar of starter culture, add 1 cup flour, 1/4 sugar, 1 cup water, and stir
6. Let bowl sit overnight
7. Next day, add 1/2 - 1 cup flour to the bowl 1 or 2 times a day for each day after for up to 2 days
8. When the time is right, add all the rest of the flour you need to make a medium stiff dough
9. Knead that dough for 10 minutes or so until it's silky soft, all the while using proper body mechanics, breathing, and meditating on the joy of working in harmony with countless invisible creatures
10. Oil loaf pans or cookie sheet and place dough inside or onto
(will be enough for 2 loafs) to proof (rise)
11. Let proof for 3 - 6 hours in a warm place (no hotter than 100 degrees f)
12. Bake at 400f for 30 or 40 minutes
OR knead for 2 minutes and proof again for 3 - 6 hours and THEN bake (this can be repeated many times)
13. Revel in the glory of a warm, fresh sourdough loaf made from your very hands