A tree without leaves to the right of a snowy path.
Embodied Heart

On (and Off) the Surface

Cross-posted on my SageWoman blog.

Many trauma survivors are familiar with the concept of grounding. From a psychological perspective, it involves (re)connecting with one’s body and (re)turning to the present moment. As of late, I’ve found myself encountering it in a new and visceral way.

I experienced the coldest weather of my life thus far in recent weeks, with wind chills approaching -50 Fahrenheit. The ground was already coated in several inches of snow, which became “extra” frozen in these temperatures. Every step meant sinking into crunch, almost as if the snow had been freeze-dried. There was no moment to pause as I scuttled along with my dog for his bathroom breaks. My breathing itself had to be filtered through a cloth mask, lest I frostbite my lungs. Earth was there in sharpness and fury, present to me but without comfort. I found myself feeling oxygen-starved as I inhaled parched, brittle air. The ground crystallized itself inaccessible.

In less than a week, the temperatures soared upwards and all the snow melted. I suddenly felt held and met by the soggy grip of the muddy, raw-exposed grass. Air and land poured moisture in abundance. My breath met and melded with the fog that extended in every direction. All was soft and settled in respite. My dog and I meandered slowly, sipping in the warmth and the smells the hints of green engendered.

At the back of my mind, a simple fact lingered. Four feet below the surface, give or take some inches, it’s 50 degrees Fahrenheit. All year round. There’s liquid water mixed with soil, clay, rock and sand. Chaotic shifts, heart of winter to mild spring in a week, are happening above, but, at the right depth, there’s balance. In parallel, the sun is always shining if one’s high enough in the sky and over the right location.

I am running to rest and resting to run, but when am I pausing? Where is my depth or height at which stability and brightness come through? To what roots and risings am I entwined? Part of my experience of PTSD has gotten mixed up with the actual meteorological conditions, so my anxiety breaks loose any time there is a major shift or a threat of bad weather. I am not always capable of digging deeply enough or soaring above to meet a moment of simple being amidst the chaos, but I am now fitted with an image of it that I hope will be a returning, a reconnection. Always, somewhere not surface, Earth is sun-kissed rocky warmth.

Inner Work

Mindful Amid the Snowfall

Cross-posted at my SageWoman blog.

For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I’m borrowing from my previous practice of mindfully observing a leaf and applying this concept to winter, specifically, to snow. If you live in a climate where it does not snow, most of the practice could easily be adapted using crushed ice.

Sensory Exploration

Begin by using four or five of your senses to observe the snow.


What colors are reflected by the snow? How might the depth of the snow affects its hue? What patterns and shapes does it contain? As the snow falls, how does it change in shape, texture or form, and to what do you attribute the changes? Where is it ordered, and where do you see disorder? What happens where the snow meets other objects? How do the edges of where the snow has landed differ from deep areas?


What is the sound of snow falling? What noises do you hear as it affects various objects and structures? What sounds emanate as you walk or travel over it? Drop the snow to the ground. What sounds does it make? Pack some snow together. What noises are created?


Cradle a bit of snow in the palm of your hand. What does it feel like? What energies do you find emanating from it? Pack some snow together again. How does the texture change when it is held lightly versus being crushed? How does the sensation of temperature alter as you hold the snow? How does your body respond to holding it?


Sniff the snow and notice any hints of smell that emerge from it. To what extent is it affected by its surroundings, and to what extent is its scent, if it has any, its own? What scent does snowfall lend to the overall environment around you?


Depending upon where you live and the pattern of snowfall, experts have some recommendations regarding tasting snow. Crushed ice may be a good alternative here. If you choose to eat a small amount, note the taste, smell and texture as you first eat some versus when it dissolves in your mouth. How does the temperature of your mouth change the form?

Mindful Transformation

If the energy feels right, collect four samples of snow, perhaps from different places around you. You’ll be connecting each sample to a different element and experience.


If you have a potted plant or another indoor source of dirt, bring some snow inside and bury it in the soil. What is it like to flip the order—snow under earth? How is the energy affected by the introduction of this cold form of water? Alternatively, you can spend time observing snow melt into the soil on a warming day.


Wait until there is a breeze, and release some snow into the air. What trajectory does it take? What are the characteristics of its flight? Where and how does it land?


Expose some snow to candlelight or sunlight. How does its characteristics change in the light? What happens as it is transformed into liquid water by the heat?

Water and Spirit

Snow is the water element in crystallized form. It differs from ice mainly in density—a snow-pile will be comprised of both air and water while a block of ice is mainly water. The shape of each snowflake is in part dictated by the temperature at which it forms. Snow can also contain bits of dust. In this way, it is truly an intertwining of each of the four elements.

Enshrine the remaining sample of snow in a jar on your personal altar or in another sacred space. Notice any thoughts and emotions that arise from doing so. Continue to use your senses as you incorporate it into your altar space and ritual practice. When the winter season ends, you may return it to the water element in the spring rains, or you may choose to keep it as a permanent part of your altar.

Goddess Thealogy

What Place of Joy: Spiritual Regeneration

Cross-posted at my SageWoman blog.

For today’s #Thealogy Thursday, I wanted to consider the lighthearted aspects of our journey in Goddess Spirituality. I use Womenrunes on a daily basis, and today I pulled the Sun card, which represents healing and play. We’ve entered the cold and dark season in the Northern Hemisphere, where little sunlight filters through to grace each day. How, then, during the gloomy winter months, do we find our moments of rainbow reflection? What in our busy and over-scheduled lives can provide opportunities to laugh, dance and act silly? And what do we do when it seems no comfort will arrive?

1. Enhance Your Living Space

When the weather forces us inside, it provides an opportunity to refresh and reinvigorate our dwelling space. This can include cleaning out clutter, reorganizing our belongings, and finding new ways to decorate our home.

Stockpiling materials we no longer need can weigh us down. Every year or so, I go through the boxes I have in my storage area and donate any materials that I realize I am not using. I do the same with my clothes.

Sometimes a room can feel completely revitalized simply by rearranging its layout. Perhaps there is something you can transfer to a new location to allow in more light or to enhance your freedom of movement. There may be an area for which you can find a special purpose such as an altar or sacred space.

My house has some “interesting” home decorations, including two entire walls I lined with artwork from thrift stores. Images such as a husky that is hand-painted in a portrait style and a photograph of a smiling camel make me grin regularly when I glance at them. To the extent that you are able to do so, allow your quirkiness and eccentricity to shine through, bringing your external surroundings into alignment with your inner being.

2. Gather Anew

A temptation I’ve experienced when I get together with friends is to focus on the good ole’ days of past adventures. On one hand, this can create belly-laugh moments of reminiscence. However, it can also leave one feeling that, now that we are grown-ups, there is no time for such silliness. Instead of holding on to the bygone era of younger foolishness, allow yourself to create new memories of joy. Seek out experiences that both challenge and excite.

Group ritual provides an opportunity to enact elated and enthusiastic expressions of inner light. The Pagan celebration of Yule can be one such event. In addition, perhaps you can create a costume party to free your inner child. Or, consider incorporating fun and interactive activities into a traditional holiday gathering. In this era especially, any group event with adults is likely to be filled with tension at the utterly despicable state of affairs in the world; dilute the potency of the bitter herbs we’ve been made to drink with joviality and celebration.

3. Experience the Antics of All of Gaia’s Creatures

There is a reason cat videos are their own entity online. Nothing makes me laugh harder than seeing animals acting ridiculously. Depending on your living situation and proximity to nature, you may have to make due with online versions of humor. If you are lucky enough to have animals nearby, spend time observing their behaviors.

Pets are an endless source of entertainment. Not only has my dog helped to heal my heart, he’s made me laugh harder than just about anything I’ve experienced in the last decade. Treasure each outburst they induce!

In addition to spontaneous antics, I’ve also borrowed a training technique I learned at dog obedience school to make a game for my dog when we are unable to walk outside due to rainy or frigid weather. We run around the house and I hide. He is so very bad at finding me, and seeing him prance to and fro attempting to locate me is hysterical.

4. Embrace the Chill

There are moments where the clouds are so thick and seemingly endless that reminding ourselves of warmth and sunshine may seem irrelevant. I value so deeply the aspects of Goddess thealogy that accept the fact that loss, sorrow, suffering and death, symbolized as spectral and dimly lit times with an air of chill, are intimately connected with the bright and beautiful dance of summer and sunlight. The closer the snow creeps around us in winter, the more expansive and hopeful the green of the grass later in the year. Artificial cheer often fades as soon as we leave the holiday party or turn out the twinkling lights.

We can instead allow ourselves to dwell in ponds of murky, ice-coated water of our suffering. In doing so, we thrill our marrow with the sharpness of the hurt that’s cast itself in our lives. Then, in time, we arise refashioned and remade with the pain in our hearts diffused and interwoven into the fabric of our being, threaded again and again into the hope, love and trust that we find meets us even in the shadows.

What helps you keep your spirits lifted? What are your favorite ways, no matter the situation, to find humor? How do you respond when the cold and black night crushes all glimmers of light? I hope to gather inspiration from your experiences so that we can collectively respond with appreciation and fortitude to the deep time of the year.