In Rhythm with the Moon

Shifting Rhythms of the Moon
Shifting Rhythms of the Moon

Where is the moon tonight?  

Is she up yet? 

What aspect of herself is she showing?

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 These are the questions that come to mind when I gaze at the night sky.  Maybe it’s because I’m female. The ancients claimed that all women are creatures of the moon. Or maybe it is because I was born in the early morning hours before dawn, just as the moon became full. And on that night many moons ago, the moon rose in the sign of Scorpio, the keeper of the night and the dark mysteries of life, death and rebirth.  I am a moon baby.

For whatever reason, I have been fascinated by the moon for as long as I can remember. My ancestors used the cycles of the moon to track the passage of time. And I still do the same  – in fact, it stuns me that the Gregorian calendar in use all over the world is not linked directly to the cyclic movements of the earth and moon. That’s why we have a silly Leap Year day every 4 years – we need to “correct” the errors in the Gregorian calendar!  Whoever thought it was a good idea to ignore astronomy when creating a calendar?!

In every solar year (the time it takes mother earth to go all the way around our sun), the moon goes through 13 cycles. There are 13 lunar months in each year, not 12. And within each lunar cycle, the moon slowly shifts from the dark phase of a new moon, gradually showing more and more of herself (waxing) until she  complete reveals herself at the full moon. Then she slowly wanes, showing less and less of herself in the night sky until she is not visible at all. Then the moon cycle dance begins again.

These cycles where the moon is constantly shifting and dancing with how much she reveals of herself seem quite female to me. There is nothing linear about the moon! And I find that women are typically more changeable and moody and rhythmic than men, whether we care to admit it or not.  🙂

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 

a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

~Ecclesiastes, King James Bible

Our ancestors planned their sacred rituals around the cycles of the moon; they knew that each moon phase holds a specific power. So, when the moon was fully revealed in her full moon state, the ancients celebrated and worshipped the divine feminine energies of birthing  and completion. Even today, wise midwives plan their schedules, knowing that many, many babies are born when the full moon exerts her pull on pregnant wombs! Full moons are times of completion.

In contrast, when the moon is hidden from view in her new moon state, the ancients saw it as a potent time to plant the seeds for new projects and begin new ventures.  Even the timing of farm planting and sowing was tied to the moon cycles in ancient times; not so silly when we realize that the waters and tides of planet earth feel the pull of the moon as well.

The next time you’d like to start a new project, try starting it during the dark phase of the new moon. And when you are ready to celebrate an accomplishment or rite of passage, hold your celebration during full moon time. Synchronize with the rhythms of the moon and see how much potency organic timing can add to your life.

I love watching the moon go through her dance from dark to light and back to dark each month. I am definitely a moon baby! And I plan to continue my love affair with the rhythms and cycles of the moon until I leave this earth. It keeps me connected to the cycle of the seasons in a deep meaningful way.



Daughter of the Mother

Mom and Me
Mom and Me

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006. She made her final transition last week, after years of inhabiting both this world and the world beyond. This poem is for you Mom:

Daughter of the Mother

I am the daughter of the mother who sees beneath

Raven’s eye shows me the way through

To the other side where down is up

And time can stand still

Until the time is right.


I am the daughter of the mother who sings in my bones

Drum song carries me out of now

To a place where fiery dragons roam,

Mother Moon dances with her Sun

And Spirit Bear guides me home.

~Nancy Lankston

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Bone Songs and Moonlight

Flaming Night

I am the moon goddess casting a silver net over this night

I am the brooding black raven asleep in the dark wood

I am the dreamer and the fox who guards the dreamer 

I am the windswept plain where lost dreams can be found

I am the bone songs of my ancestors playing on the wind

I am the heart of the ancient sycamore crumbling into dust

I am green leaves capturing rays of sunlight as they fall

I am the lone crane, standing watch near the shore

I am the jumping salmon crane silently waits for

I am the dance of flickering flame consuming it all

I am Phoenix reborn from the ash of what came before.

~Nancy Lankston

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Day of the Dead

Fairy Frost whispers, "winter is coming"
Fairy Frost whispers, “winter is coming”

Winter is rapidly approaching here in the Rockies. And it is no accident the el Dia de los Muertos is traditionally celebrated today;  winter is the season of death. This Day of the Dead is a time to connect with, honor and celebrate everything you received and learned from your dead loved ones.

Take a few moments today to pause and honor everyone and everything you have loved that is no longer with you. Light a candle, say a prayer of thanks, offer blessings.

Celtic Blessings to You and Yours

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours

Celtic New Year


As the shadows lengthen and the days grow short, my Celtic ancestors celebrated the start of their year.  Depending on which source you believe, the Celtic New Year’s Festival of Samhain happened on November 1st, also known in some parts as the Day of the Dead… OR Samhain may have been celebrated at the time of the new moon in late October or early November.  This year, the closest new moon falls on November 3.  So, either way, now is the time to celebrate!

As winter approaches, I find it quite natural to pause long enough to acknowledge all the blessings I have received in the past year. And I also like to reflect on what I would like to create and grow in the coming year. 

In honor of the approaching Celtic New Year, I offer blessings from elemental earth, air, fire, water and spirit to you.

“May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.”

~John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Dancing with Dad

My Dad in his 20's
My Dad in his 20’s

My dad passed away a month ago. He had struggled to hang on and stay here long past the point of misery, so his passing was a relief in many ways. But there are still days when I have images of him in my head all day, and I miss him a lot. And other days I don’t think of him at all. Grief is a strange beast.

This morning I remembered a time many years ago when my dad tried to teach me how to jitterbug. Tried is the operative word here – I never could hold my torso still and get my feet to do what his were doing so perfectly. In my defense, I am not known for my coordination. Besides, I had a glass of wine before the dance instruction began!

Dad loved to tell people the tale of how his Navy buddy taught him to jitterbug. I always loved that story;  Dad had joined the Navy at 18 and shipped out to California for basic training just as WWII ended.  He went from a tiny town in southern Illinois to suddenly being in the Navy on a ship with hundreds of other guys. I imagine that it was all quite a shock for a young geeky country boy. One of his older shipmates took my dad under his wing. He helped my dad settle in to life in the Navy. And he also taught Dad how to jitterbug so he could impress the ladies.

I love the image of my skinny 18 year old Dad with his baby face, dressed in baggy jeans and a work shirt, dancing the jitterbug with some big beefy guy in the tightly cramped quarters of a battleship! LOL  Life truly is stranger than fiction. The dance lessons definitely paid off  because  40 years later my dad was still an amazing jitterbugger.   🙂

I miss Dad. I wish I had danced with him more. This morning, as I flashed on images of the handful of times that we danced together,   I heard Dad’s voice in my ear. He said, “We’ll dance again.” And I suddenly saw an image of two energies dancing and flowing together and then apart, together and then apart. And as the energies danced, they morphed and changed shape, but I could tell that it was still the energy of Dad and I dancing together.

I think that image of my energy dance with Dad is actually a great lesson about the rhythm of life and death. We are energies that come together to dance on Earth, then part in death. Then we will come together again in a new place and dance a new dance. Over and over, we dance together in one form or another.

Later in the morning, I hike up one of my favorite trails, still thinking about my dad and missing him. I stop on a mesa to rest awhile. As I sit under the pines writing,  I am startled by a hawk’s cry above me. I look up and see two hawks soaring and spiraling just above my rocky perch. The hawks appear to be dancing together on the wind. It’s a beautiful dance,.

Another memory surfaces as I watch the hawks;  I flash on the image of my dad dancing with my mom.  In my memory, they are both in their late sixties and have been together for over 40 years. When they danced together, they were so closely in synch that it was like watching a single body move and flow to the music.

The hawks are gone when I next look up from my writing. But a pair of young deer soon stumble upon me. They freeze for a moment. But when they realize that I wont harm them, they relax and forage for food a few feet behind me.  Life dances on all around me.

I love you Dad. And I miss you. I miss your wide open country boy smile. I miss your stories. I just plain miss you!  But I know in my heart it was time for you to move on.  And I am ok –  I know that you and I will dance together again soon.

Queen of Me

Queen Cottonwood Tree
Queen Cottonwood Tree

I have decided that it’s time to be the Queen of Me!

Seriously. I have been exploring the Celtic concept of being sovereign. This was a foreign idea to me until recently; something I had never even considered. But being sovereign in your own life is a key part of the Celtic belief system. And being of Scottish and Welsh descent, I tend to naturally resonate with all things Celtic. So, a few months ago, I began researching Celtic sovereignty. And I have been slowly teasing out what sovereignty means to me. And that’s how I became the Queen of Me. 🙂

My Celtic ancestors viewed Mother Earth herself to be the sovereign ruler of all of life; in ancient Ireland, mere mortal men were made kings only after they acknowledged and honored the sovereignty of the land.  I completely agree with the idea of Mother Earth’s sovereignty; none of us would be alive on this planet were it not for the bounty of food, water and oxygen that our earthy mother provides. Mother Earth rules human life, whether we choose to acknowledge and honor her or not.

But what exactly do I mean by sovereignty?  The dictionare defines it as:

Sovereignty  n.

1. Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state.
2. Royal rank, authority, or power.
3. Complete independence and self-government.
4. A territory existing as an independent state.

Hmmm, yes to governing myself,  yes to being independent and to holding royal rank, authority and power within myself. And the terms ‘state’ and  ‘territory’ imply set boundaries to me, which every human is expected to honor and respect. Yes to honoring boundaries. A BIG Yes to sovereignty over my self and every part of my life.

When I dig further, I discover that ancient Celtic Shaman placed sovereignty at the center of the Celtic wheel of life. In many depictions of the Celtic wheel, the Tree of Life sits sovereign at the center or axis mundi of the circle. The Celtic Tree of Life holds the center, reaching limbs up and roots down to connect heaven with earth. And the tree spreads out horizontally from the center of it all, making connections with the 4 directions of north, east, south and west. I find it so beautiful and appropriate that my Celtic ancestors chose the tree to symbolize holding center and being sovereign.

A Celtic spirit wheel depicts the Celtic view of life in much the same way the Native North American medicine wheel depicts their view of life. When I look at one of these sacred wheels, or physically walk within one,  I get a visceral sense of sovereignty; I understand in a deeper way how important it is for each of us to consciously own ourselves; to claim ownership of our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions, our actions and our beliefs as we live and interact in the world.

In their book, Goddesses Who Rule, Beverly Moon and Elisabeth Benard link the word “sovereign” to the Sanskrit word  sva-raj, which means “self-rule”.  Another meaning for raj is “luminous” or “radiance.”  How fitting – embracing sovereignty is not just about ruling over one’s self but also allowing our inner luminous radiance to shine in the world. When we are sovereign, others are not allowed to control our fate. We empower ourselves. We give ourselves permission to shape ourselves and our fate and create the life we truly desire.

What would it look like if I were truly sovereign in my own life?  Nelson Mandela comes to mind when I try to think of a person that embodies my idea of sovereignty.  Nelson was never Celtic by any stretch of the imagination. But when I look back at his history, I see a man whose entire life revolved around being sovereign; he stayed true to himself and held on to his own knowing and dignity during decades of imprisonment. And after his release from prison, Nelson tirelessly championed the cause of the black people gaining sovereign rule in South Africa long after most men retire from public life.

Ultimately Nelson Mandela became an icon; a symbol of the transformation that is possible when a simple human being lives in the knowing of their true wisdom and worth. He held onto himself and his knowing, even when ridiculed and abused for his views. And he transformed his world. For me, Nelson embodies sovereignty in every sense of the word. As he, himself once put it…

“I am the captain of my Soul.” ~Nelson Mandela

I claim sovereignty over my Self. I choose to captain my Soul through this life in the quiet, eloquent way that Nelson Mandela embodied.  I claim sovereignty.  And  I understand that just my intention of claiming sovereignty over my life changes everything. My journey shifts and deepens. This is another turn along my spiral path.


Celtic Tree of Life

an original design by Welsh artist Jen Delyth  ©1990

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Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley