Dear Mother Earth,
It is with all my heart, body, mind and spirit that I thank you for all that you do for me, for all of your children. Every minute, of every hour, of every day you nourish us without question or asking for something in return. Yours is the unconditional love that is written about in tales and songs, that makes me wonder if I am worth of such love and care. You offer us power, peace, love, support and beauty but though you are a benevolent being I know you are hurting and lashing out at us disrespectful children, forever sucking at the teet till mother has no more.
I know I have not always been good to you and chosen the easy, disposable, fast way of life. But without you I would be lost, You are my connection to this human body, you are one of the most amazing things in this game we are playing, you are spirit manifest in pure form, shining your light and love on all of us. It brings me great sadness when I see the abuse committed to you, just as we abuse each other and ourselves. If only we all woke up and remembered connection is the greatest medicine and how sitting upon you and breathing you in settles our nervous systems, relieves our stress and reminds us we are not alone.
I sat up on you this afternoon and offered you up my gratitude and prayers. I prayed that I always keep my connection to you and that our relationship grows stronger everyday and that all beings may work to create such a relationship. I know that in a mutual relationship of care and respect we can thrive all together. We are your stewards and in sitting with you and witnessing the miraculous way in which you work, we can create a way of being that is based in unconditional love and respect and through your love and support we can heal the pain and loneliness that lies deep within.
I am so blessed to live in a place where I can be with you daily and am in constant awe of your beauty, power, strength, support and nourishment. Thank you for being the role model you are to me, for feeding me, for the beauty you break me open to, for listening to my prayers, pains and discomforts and offering me your love and support. I love you so much!!!
With endless love and gratitude,
Pisces calls to our highest selves, the part of us that knows we are divine manifestations and from this place asks of us to be of service to the greatest good of all beings in this universe. Being the last sign before the coming spring and rebirth of Aries, Pisces holds in it the wisdom of a full lived life and the intuition and imagination of one who has seen all things come to pass. In conjunction with Chiron (the wounded healer) We are given a chance to look at our woundings with the most compassionate and loving eyes and from this place transform our stories and become empowered by them. Realizing we are the makers of our own fate, we can remember that we chose this path and it has made us who we are today. Through taking back our power and no longer playing the victims in our lives we can heal ourselves and share this wisdom of our empowerment.
I have shared my own story here on my dear friend Jenn’s blog, please give it a read and in honour of this powerful time I wish to offer you a ritual to work with your own empowerment. I will be offering these rituals each month, one for the new moon and one for the full moon, to help us all move into greater connection with spirit.
Find a quiet place, cleanse it, light a candle and call in your guides and helpers.
Grounding- tree exercise- asking for wisdom from the sun, moon, and chiron
write down the story of your wounding or a story that you hold that you are a victim to at the moment.
Reread it and focus on the feelings, energies and impressions you get from it.
Reflect on how this story has helped to strengthen you and make you who you are today
Now take your story and thank spirit for the lessons you have learned and burn it in the flames of your candle feeling the energy of it dissolve.
Rewrite the story from a place of gratitude and power, focusing on the strength you have gained and the lessons you have learned
Place your new story on your altar or in a special place where you can see it throughout your day until the full moon.
Thank your guides, spirit and helpers and blow out your candle, clearing the space again.
I have been on the camino for two weeks now and it feels as if it has been a lifetime. When I meet people in town and describe something to them the days run into each other and the places I stayed and the people I met are a Blur. The few consistent things have been my body which keeps me going each day despite the aches and pains from walking 20+km a day, my bag which carries the few belongings I have chosen to carry on this journey and a few people I have walked with or continue to meet in Albergues along the way. The rest of life moves along as I do, walking through different terrains and towns, past different people, local and fellow pilgrims. The camino truly is life and it constantly reminds me to not get attached: to an idea, a place, a person. We must just flow with whatever comes up.
The first lesson I learned is to move at my own pace. The first three days I attempted to keep up with my friend Julie and the route suggested by our guidebook, but when my feet began to swell and blister from the rocky mountain paths and the heat of the day I had to stop to rest and listen to my body. In those first days there was nothing quite like reaching town, having a shower, rubbing my muscles down with some oils and putting my feet up with a cold beer. Thank goodness for the other pilgrims I met who could relate and create a bond of solidarity with, as we helped doctor each other’s wounds. It creates a great sense of comradery doing something as amazing and crazy as walking 900km from one country to the coast of another
At the beginning the camino was not what I expected! The number of pilgrims far surpassed what I thought, some 300+ a day, the 26.5km 1400m climb up and down from St Jean to Roncesvalles on the first day was way more intense than I could have imagined and my belief that this was going to be relatively easy for me was quickly shaken. But each day I keep on walking and meeting new people of different ages, health and fitness levels and reasons for embarking on this journey and it kept me going. There is no special type of pilgrim, just a desire for something different, something simple, something profound.
The landscapes the first few days through the Pyrenees and the Basque country were absolutely spectacular with foggy mornings keeping the sun at bay till it finally melted away and revealed the mountains, blue skies and animals grazing in the fields whose bells we could hear ring through the fog. The towns along this stretch did not seem Spanish at all but something out of a German film, White washed with red roofs. Not until we reached Pamplona did it feel like we were in Spain. I absolutely loved Pamplona, a university city with lively tapas bars, street music, funky shops and a spirit of youth and fun. The day we spent there was such a bolster to my spirit and a good break for my body. It wasn’t until I reached Logrono and bought new walking sandles that were a size bigger than usual that my feet finally felt good and I was able to continue walking at a comfortable pace. I spent two days walking alone in the rain and was able to find the peace and serenity I expected of the camino. On my own I was able to find my own pace, breaking for coffee or meditation when the urge called me. It is such a simple and awesome thing to live in this way, waking in the morning and throwing on your only clothes, eating breakfast, setting out to walk until you need rest, food, water or are inspired to, then when your body has had enough and you come up on a town with a place to stay you stop and allow yourself to be welcomed into this new place, given a bed, a place to wash, a meal and if you are lucky a washing machine to clean the two changes of clothes that you carry on with you. It brings so much gratitude to my heart!
More to come soon.
Love and light on the road of life
Our last day in Olonzac has arrived, the cyclists are off, my bags are mostly packed and Karen and I are relaxing by the pool soaking up the hot sun and cool salt water. It has been one of those time warp trips where it has flown by and yet I can barely remember last week. We were all reflecting on how we really lucked out with two amazing groups of people. On our last night with the cycling group, one of the women asked us all to share what we would be taking from this week and each person has really heartfelt shares of what they had gained from this experience; food tips and tricks, wine wisdom, how a group of strangers can be so enriching and not as frightening as we thought and amazement at the power of our bodies. It reminded me of ceremony and how what each person learned and gained is always learened and gained by all.
I, myself was really amazed by my bod’s ability to meet the challenged of cycling in this hilly windy place. I cycled close to 200km with at least 1500m in elevation gained over four days and every bit of it was incredible and demanding. It was truly an accomlishment and hopefully excellent traingin for the Canimo.
I once again am feeling super blessed to have been able to come here with my amazing boss Gail from the Cookbook Co, Chef judy Wood from Meez and Karen Ralph from Metrovino. It was hard work serving, cleaning, cooking and caring for the needs of two groups of strangres, but it was so worth it!! Never didi I feel like a servant and I always was an equal participant in meals, wine, conversation and tours. I am ready for it to be over, but I would love to do something like this again. Perhaps a cooking gig on a barge on the canal du midi or living on a vineyard and learning more about making delicious wine?
Tomorrow I meet Julie and we head to St Jean Pied de Port to begin our Camino journey.
Sending you all love, light and the spirit of the South of France.
Cycling week has come and we have a new crew of guests with new personalities and not only a passion for food and wine but also cycling. I am surprised and relieved to hear that many of the women have not been training like mad, though looking at their bodies I can tell they are well used and cared for. It is inspiring to meet so many women in their 40´s and 50´s who are so strong and fit and still indulge in good food and wine. In our first few days this group has drank and ate way more than the first!
I did not get much practice, only biking around town a few times on my old raleigh of England 5 speed, Bluebell, and was worried if I could make this happen. But the first bike I hopped on here was a new mountain bike and it flew like the wind compared to my old Bluebell. Then I was a really lucky duck and on our first day of riding with the group I got to ride one of the the road bikes. At first I felt rather unbalanced and scared on thid thin tired, ultralight bike with brakes on the horns (which I am not used to), but after two days of riding over 70 kms through the foothills of the black mountains with some serious head and side winds I fell in love with the road bike. It is fast and nimble and even on the most (seemingly) impossible hill putting it into low gear and cycling up slowly is totally doable! I am so tempted to sell bluebell and my car Ixchel (I really enjoy naming my vehicles) when I get home and get myself a cross cycle bike, and just bike everywhere!! I have always enjoyed cycling but not until riding this slick machine did I understand how people could bike everywhere all the time.
Travelling by bike is a wonderful way to see the land here. We mainly stick to the small roads that wind around the vineyards and poppy fields and though often we are hustling along trying to keep up with our superstar bike leaders, kevin and Johnny. It is still magical and motivating to look out onto the land, feel the wind on your face and the sun on your body. And of course coming to the end of a ride and finding an amazing meal waiting is so fantastic.
We have been to some really superb restaurants and vineyards for lunches this week. On our first day we went to an excellent restaurant called auberge cote jardin and had the most mouth watering and beautiful five course lunch. My favourite courses were the second and last, an asparagus mousse with fried bacon and asparagus spears in a carbonara cream sauce and a little house of cards looking delight made of starwberries, whipping cream, fruit gelato and thin crisp cookies, yum! My all time favourite lunch though is definitely Aurberge de l’ecole where Bridgette makes the most divine cassoulet in the world!
Our first group has left and we are all feeling very blessed by each of them and what they offered the experience of touring the Languedoc and all it’s superb food, wine and sites. You never really know what is gonna happen with a group of strangers in a foreign place away from the comforts and routine. Often time people are attracted to trips like this to mark something significant in their lives; graduation, career change, death, divorce,…. and certainly we had a few of these, but despite this or perhaps because of it, the group cohesion was fabulous. Each of them brought a special something to the mix and dived head on into cooking, eating, drinking, exploring and sharing this magical place. Many blessings to all of them on their continued journeys.
Our last few days with our food and wine group were marked by visits to some of the most amazing historical places of this region. The town of Minerve (which i missed out on due to a sore throat from working so much, but I get to see it this week) was the final stronghold of the Cathars, a dualist Christian group who believed in good and evil counterparts similar to mainstream christians, but they differed in that they believed men and women to be evil, had no hierarchy of leaders or church property, approved of contraception, euthanasia and suicide, and believed in reincarnation and didn’t eat animal products. The believers were based mainly in Italy and Southern France during the 12th and 13th century, until the Roman Catholic church declared their beliefs the ‘great heresy’ and began the Cathar crusades. The Languedoc at the time had been an area of high culture, liberalism and tolerance and slowly the crusade humiliated and removed the leaders, dispossessing their lands for France, and indiscriminately slaughtering an estimated half-million men, women and children. The last place that the remaining 180 Cathars hid out was in Minerve, a medieval castle and village protected by a double curtained wall and natural overhanging ledges, that withstood the crusaders for 10 weeks until in 1210 it fell and the remaining Cathars were burned at the Catholic Churches behest. A loss to religious freedom and human kind. More to come once I get to experience it first hand!
We also visited the medieval town of Carcassonne which has one of the most intact walled fortresses in the world. Settlement in this area has been shown to be around 3500 BC, located on the river Aude it was an important trading place and the Romans first fortified the hilltop in 100BC and leaders continued to reinforce it and build upon it for another 1000 yrs. It was also a site of the Cathar crusades in 1209 and in 1247 the town fell to the control of France. It is now one of the most exquisitely kept medieval fortresses I have ever been in, well taken care of to help promote tourist trade, it boasts many beautiful shops, museums, an amazing basilica, and interesting eateries. Walking through the streets I felt a bit like a woman of the medieval ages and so wished I could have wondered through the secret passages or even the streets at night when they are empty except for the spirits of the past. The town below is a bustling and beautiful place with incredible shopping. I found one shop on the corner of two cute streets called “free soul corner” and you know I spent hours in there trying on everything that would fit me. The French are definitely small people and I always thought it was because of smaller portions, but as of yet I have not come across a small portion. I bought some beautiful new garments to rock out in France and back home.
It is now time for me to go to bed and rest up for the next day of the cycling group. More to come on my cycling adventures soon!
Much love M