Fatherhood is a sacred journey

Last night, my husband and I drove through heavy winds and torrential rain from Glasgow back home to our cosy cottage in rural Cumbria. We’d just left our younger daughter, Eliza, behind to begin her new life as a university student. Messages came through on my phone from friends asking me if I was ok. I guess they figured I’d be a blubbering mess: after all, I now live in a home with no children, and after 21 years of parenting, it’s a new land. Sure, the terrain is going to be different, but the traveller is well equipped for the journey.

 

august1999paulandbethany

 

My overriding feeling, though, as we drove, was one of immense gratitude. That amazing man beside me, driving us safely through wind and rain, has been by my side every step of the parenting way. Not once did he ever say he was too tired to change a nappy, or rock a teething baby (even when he was up at 4am to work as a breakfast announcer on radio). On days when I flailed around hopelessly (and there were many), he was there, steady as a rock, providing practical support and humour by the bucket load.

 

ppcdphoto

 

 

It might seem odd, given that I founded, edited and published a magazine solely dedicated to the holistic path of mothering for more than a decade, that I would today—the first day of living in a poorly named empty nest—be writing about the sacred journey of fatherhood. The truth is, though, that my path through mothering was made possible, and enhanced, by his constant high-level of awareness to my needs and those of our children.

 

 

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

My husband Paul catching our baby and passing her to me straight after birth.

 

Whatever decisions were made regarding our children, and there were many that flew in the face of popular culture, he was intimately part of and proactive in those choices. Not once, not in more than two decades of our parenting partnership, did I ever feel I was in the job alone.

 

paulandgirlsinsnow

 

Parenting with another person is the ultimate business partnership. I used to joke with my daughters: don’t have sex with anyone you’re not prepared to have children with! But it’s not a joke, not really. The older (and hopefully, wiser) I get, the more conscious I become of the enormous responsibility and privilege it is to be a parent, and bring a new being Earthside. Surely the person we choose to share this parenting journey with should be up to the job? But, like mothering, there is no manual for being a fabulous father.

 

bumperharvestpaulandgirls

 

To father consciously and from the heart means knowing one’s self, and constantly choosing ways of being and living that allow you to become the highest version of who you are. Sometimes this happens in the presence of children, and sometimes it doesn’t.

 

 

ninepaulandelizariminbeach

I saw a post on Facebook this morning, which although was clearly meant in good humour, upset me quite a lot. Why? Because it was pretty much about how awful being married is, but you know, we stick at it anyway because that’s love. It went on and on about the fighting and screaming and inconsideration and suchlike that happens in parenting. I read it twice, and thought: that doesn’t happen in my home or marriage.

Did I just get lucky? Yeah, maybe. But actually, each of us is responsible for how we show up in relationship. It’s far too easy to blame our partner because they did or didn’t do something. If we truly love our partner, then we live in a way that respects them as well as ourselves. We only want the BEST for them. If that is the foundation of our marriage/partnership, then this absolutely flows into the relationship we have with our children.

 

paulandgirlsoutsidecottage

 

Many times over the years I’ve heard comments like: “If the dad bottle-feeds the baby he can bond with it.” NOT TRUE. This isn’t how bonding works. A bottle is an inanimate object. It does not connect father and child.

 

If a father truly wants to be connected to his child (and the child’s mother), he needs to spend time with them.

 

wildflowerspluspaulandgirls

 

It’s not just women who have hormones in relation to parenting, men do too.
Vasopressin (also in women, but to a much lesser degree) is a ‘monogamy’ hormone which promotes strong, paternal behaviour. This occurs when a man is living with his pregnant partner.

 

Testosterone drives a man, encourages aggression, and tempts him elsewhere. Vasopressin has the opposite effect. It encourages a father to be dedicated to his partner, protective, stable, and want to touch and be touched. It helps him bond with his baby. The hormone is triggered through being near to the mother in pregnancy, and with mother and child during and after birth. The ability of his body to interpret his partner’s hormones is due to him detecting the change in her pheromones (steroid hormones on her skin).

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paul, Eliza and Beth

 

When my husband and I met, I invited him for dinner. He moved in the next day. Six weeks later, I was pregnant. Our relationship has been a creative partnership of raising two wonderful daughters. Now, as we explore life as a couple (thinking ‘honeymoon time’) without children to raise, I allow my heart to be filled with an immense ocean of gratitude for a man who not only loved me fully, as a wife, a woman, and a mother, but who always had time for our children. It has been a sacred journey, this path of loving our babies into adulthood. I know with absolute certainty that I couldn’t have been the mother I was without his excellent fathering skills.

 

,

Oma and Grandalf

When I was a little girl, there were two women who were large in my life although I never had the pleasure to meet them in person. These women, my Omas, lived far across the world from me. I was born and raised in Australia, and my grandmothers lived in Germany. Even though they weren’t part of my daily life, and I never got to sit on their knees or hear their stories, they were every bit as present in my heart as other family members.

My Oma Minna (my father’s mother) would crochet me dresses. Oh the delight to open those parcels. She did this for years on end.

minna1929

Oma Minna Marie Herbers, 1929

When I was of writing age, I would exchange letters with my Oma Leiselotta. I was about ten or eleven when she died, and that was the first time I ever saw my mother cry. My heart broke that I would never get to meet her.

I keep their photos nearby, and often ‘chat’ with them in the spirit world. I have a kitchen oven hand protector that Oma Leiselotta once crocheted. It’s a simple thing, but it means the world to me, and has survived moving countries a number of times. Even at those times when I have whittled my whole life down to a suitcase or two, that yellow item of Oma-love comes with me.

20160903_150407_resized

Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have my Omas in my childhood the way other children have grandmothers, and perhaps it’s because my daughters haven’t seen their Oma since 2005 (she lives in Tasmania, Australia), that I feel even more strongly about wanting to be a living, loving and generous presence in my new granddaughter’s life.

 

It was such a joy for me to meet our little Sarah Hope a few days ago. What a treasure! I am so in love with her. Throughout Beth’s pregnancy with her, Sarah would visit me in dreams. I remember one dream in particular where I was teaching her to say Oma, and she was repeating it after me.

kissingsarah

Kissing my beautiful new granddaughter, Sarah Hope, who was born on my husband’s birthday.

One of the first things women who are already grandmothers ask me is “what are you called? Granny, Nan, Nana, Nanny, Grandmother?” I proudly say: OMA. For as long as I can remember, it has felt such a special word to me, and I will wear that title with joy for the rest of my days on this earth.

(I treasure this little video clip of me meeting Sarah)

For anyone who knows my husband, Funny Boy Paul, you won’t be surprised to know that he isn’t going to have a regular Grandpa tag! He jokingly said one day that he could be Grandalf! (for those who aren’t familiar with Lord of the Rings, there is an old man in there called Gandalf). Anyway, the name stuck! So, here we are, at a new point in our lives (Eliza leaves home this week for Glasgow University). We’ve become grandparents to gorgeous Sarah, and we’re about to experience life without children in the home.

grandalf2

Grandalf with his beautiful granddaughter, Sarah, born on his birthday: August 25th

grandalf1

Paul and Sarah.

What adventures await Oma and Grandalf!

 

Paul Robinson. Veronika Robinson. Sarah Carlile

We love Sarah to bits! I could just kiss her all over! She’s so scrumptious.

 

elizaandsarah

Our daughter Eliza getting to know her new niece, Sarah.

 

soup

My first role as Oma, apart from congratulating Beth and Chris on becoming parents, and giving kisses and cuddles to my beautiful new granddaughter, Sarah, was to make soups for my daughter’s freezer to sustain her through the Babymoon. A bit of edible mother love, so to speak.

mystic

I made two huge pots of soup from my recipe book The Mystic Cookfire.

mystic2

,

The Spider Grandmother: living the life of the red thread

In Native American myth, The Spider Grandmother (Spider Woman), created all life by spinning her web, and connected all living life together using her magical thread.

 

redthread2

 

The web that is woven in myth also symbolises how we weave a life for ourselves, and have the ability to always choose what and when to thread next; which way to weave, and, of course, how to weave. Spider woman teaches us that we are all connected.

As a celebrant, I have many red threads that I have been blessed to acquire over the years. The Blessingway ceremonies I officiate almost always feature the red-thread ritual. I have my old ones woven into old journals, and used as bookmarks. The miles may separate us, and the years may roll forward with increasing speed, but these women, with whom I once sat in sacred circle, remain connected with me through time and space.

The reason I choose red for the thread is because it is the colour of blood, and is what links all humans. During a Blessingway ceremony, the ball of hemp or wool is passed to the pregnant guest of honour who then wraps it around her wrist several times. She throws the ball across the circle to one of her guests. That woman also wraps it around her wrist several times before throwing it to someone else in the circle. This continues until everyone is linked into the web. This circle is a wonderful symbol of connection.

The guest of honour cuts the string each side of her wrist, and then cuts the string around the circle. Each guest wears the string until she hears the joyous news that the baby has been born.

Even after the string is cut, we recognise our connection: that we all still come from the same ball of yarn. Women of the medicine wheel sense this energetically, and really feel connected to the circle in the weeks to come, and for some of us, for years to come.

As I prepare to cross the threshold to becoming a grandmother (a beautiful expression of Saturn conjunct my ascendant, by transit), I am mindful of Spider Grandmother and the red thread. Around my wrist is a red thread with three beads. One to represent me: grandmother. One for my daughter: mother. And one for baby: child.

redthread

Motherhood is written within each of us whether or not we are mothers, daughters, sisters or friends. Even if we have never given birth, the code of motherhood is within.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

I call in my ancient mothers, now, those who’ve walked before me and birthed babies, to gather together in spirit and guide and protect my daughter as she transitions from maiden to mother. Birth is an experience that in our culture almost fully focuses on the physical, but is equally emotional, sexual, mental and spiritual. We are never more open in life than when we give birth. When we say ‘yes’ to this, the whole Universe rushes forward and claps!

I wait now for baby. Poised. Grateful. A heart filled with SO much love for this human being that once lived in my womb as an unfertilised egg. An egg of promise. An egg of beauty. An egg of wisdom.

An egg… that is waiting to tell a story.

 

Veronika Robinson is the author of many books, fiction and non-fiction, which honour the story of motherhood, including The Blessingway, Cycle to the Moon, and Sisters of the Silver Moon. She is also a celebrant and an astrologer.

www.veronikarobinson.com

c2m3D

 

 

SotSM-sara-mockup-1b

The Blessingway: creating a beautiful blessingway ceremony

The Blessingway: creating a beautiful blessingway ceremony

 

, ,

Holistic Family Camp

 

Recently, Paul and I went to visit Pete and Irene who own Limetree Nature Reserve where we used to host family camps when we owned The Mother magazine. It was so hard to leave there without having the urge to gather once again with likeminded people for a camp. SO…in case you don’t know, Paul, our daughter Eliza, and I are hosting a five-day family camp there next month.

 

Labyrinth at The Mother magazine camp

Labyrinth at one of our previous camps

This camp will be different from our other ones in that we have caterers in so that we can spend our time with guests, and lead workshops and activities. But it will be the same as previous camps, in that there is a strong ethos towards creating a nurturing, safe and holistic family space.

Rocket Catering has an excellent reputation for providing wholesome, quality, nutritious food, and can cater for gluten-free, raw, vegan and vegetarian.

There’ll be an assortment of activities and workshops available (all optional). Limetree is such a magical place for the young and the not-so-young!

 

bethanyviolin

Mike and Petra’s Handfasting ceremony at one of our previous camps

The theme for this camp is: Celebrate Your Creativity.

When: August 18th – 22nd 2016
Where: Limetree Farm, near Ripon, North Yorkshire

Camp fees:
Adult: £95
Children aged 14 and under: £35
Children aged 15-18: £50.

This fee includes any workshops you’d like to attend, camping, lunch and dinner for four days. (BYO breakfast). I’m sure you’ll agree this is an excellent price for a family holiday!

If you are interested, download the booking form from here:

https://www.veronikarobinson.com/creativity-camp/index.shtml

Love, Veronika x

 

a

, ,

Home Sweet Beautiful Home

As I type these words, there’s a new Moon in Cancer: the zodiac sign of home, mother and nurturing. (And breasts, digestion, emotions, ancestry…)

 

clothesonline

 

Home is my favourite word, and indeed my favourite place. For me, it is a sanctuary; and I am quite content to spend my days tucked away in my home and garden. Just this morning, I was giving thanks that the majority of my work is done in the comfort of my home as I simply adore being here.

 

cb10

 

My thoughts are never far away from the love and beauty to be found in this place that I cherish, but probably more so than ever am I thinking about what home really means.

I left home at the age of sixteen, moving some two thousand kilometres away from the place of my childhood. I was ripe for adventure. Having been raised primarily in the countryside, I was itching to see the world!

 

trees

My childhood home. Freestone, Via Warwick, Queensland, Australia

 

That itch I had to scratch so desperately doesn’t seem that long ago, and yet, here I am, watching my younger daughter, aged 18, venturing away from the family nest to see the world.

She’s travelling solo in Estonia at the moment, both intrigued and enchanted by being in a foreign country, but also experiencing moments of homesickness.

 

eliza

What is it about home that often draws us back? The nurturing touch of our mother or father? The comfort of feeling you don’t have to wear any masks? Familiar meals on the table? It’s probably all those, and more. Maybe, as it is for me, it’s being able to surround yourself with things that make you feel calm and at peace? Nothing like some beautiful music, flourishing pot plants and burning incense to make me want to get comfy on the sofa. Or what about that soothing cup of tea in the garden?

 

IMG_20160522_100700_resized

My daughters have often said that, to them, home is soup simmering on the stove.

20160430_153226_resized

 

Just a few days ago, my husband and I were in Wales to help our elder daughter and her partner move into their first home together. I feel their joy to finally be away from student accommodation (they each have a year left of their university degrees) and to create a nest before their baby arrives in 5-6 weeks. It was so lovely to hear her voice yesterday as she described how nurturing it was to have their kitchen filled with bowls of fruit and vegetables. Oh how I felt her joy! Can’t wait to hear from her when she’s unpacked everything, and has her beeswax candles on, incense wafting through the rooms, and Mozart on the stereo.

 

20160522_171450_resized

 

It’s a rare person who doesn’t have a strong sense of what home means regardless of if their experiences are positive or negative. At the heart, though, of what it means to be human, is a part of us which seeks to be nurtured, loved and cared for. To feel safe and protected. When this need—and believe me, it is a deep, biological need encoded into every cell of our being—has been met, even if only adequately rather than abundantly, it makes it so much easier to then go onto nurturing the next generation.

 

20160704_124258_resized

I’m so thankful for the myriad ways my mother (and father) created such a nurturing, vibrant and creative home for me and my siblings. I have no doubt that it made all the difference to the way I was able to pass that onto my children.

 

10

So, I watch now, as one daughter creates her own home and crosses the threshold to motherhood (with tears of joy in my eyes), and my other daughter prepares to leave the comfy nest of home to make a home of sorts in the halls at University. My job, on the day-to-day practical level, of being a mother is almost done. The emotional side of being a mother is never going to be over!

IMG_20160703_205140

 

Someone said recently that they couldn’t believe how calm I was given that I had one daughter, over a hundred miles away, just weeks from giving birth, and another travelling in a foreign country on her own. Calm? Hmmm. To be honest, I hadn’t given ‘worrying’ much thought before that point. My heart is split in three places, of course: there (Wales), there (Estonia) and here (Cumbria). But as for worrying about them, sure there are points of concern, obviously, but I am not riddled with anxiety. My girls were bathed in a nurturing and loving home, and raised to be thoughtful, mindful and independent. There will be bumps and scrapes along the path of life, but that’s the nature of living on this Earth. We get bruised, we get up and keep moving. While I’m on this Earth, they know I’m always here. When I’m no longer on this Earth, I will still be with them. I won’t be making soup or giving hugs, but oh how I will be loving them in ways that they can’t even begin to imagine!

 

IMG_20160703_122641_resized

And what of my home? What happens now? Who do I nurture when there are no ‘chicks’ in my nest? The beauty of going through the intense pressure-cooker world of parenting is that over the years you find yourself asking ‘But what about me? What do I need?’ Thankfully, I have become skilled at meeting my own needs. I am finding more and more that I have a lot of time to focus on what I love, enjoy, savour and need. No longer am I at the back of the queue, but wooo hooo I’m at the front! This is fun. I guess this is what it’s like for a kid in a candy shop. I get to choose anything I want.

IMG_20160520_164836_resized

This fortnight, with Eliza overseas, has given me a taster for life when she leaves home in two months. Yes, it will feel oh-so different. There’s no question that it will take adjusting to, and I will surely miss that radiant smile and her wise and witty chatting, but I am confident in my ability to make the most of the years ahead and my dedication to self nurturing.

 

IMG_20160703_182725_resized

The truth is, though, that long before I had children I would love to create beautiful and nurturing living spaces for myself. I honoured my need for healthy and vibrant meals, and created them from scratch. My rooms were filled with the sound of music. My friends would come for dinner. Home was, and still is, my foundation in this world. My garden and our cat still need tending to. I have books to birth inside these walls.

20160604_173911_resized

My husband is rather fond of curry, so I expect he’ll see that on the menu a lot more often when it’s just the two of us here. My main thought, though, is how quickly I can get used to shopping and cooking for only two people. Already it feels like there’s something major missing! However, I found myself standing in the speciality food section this morning and smiling: all those goodies I can get to experiment with in my cooking.

IMG_20160626_084303_resized

 

I am so grateful for these past twenty plus years as a stay-at-home mother, and being able to create a nurturing space for my family. More than anything, though, I am grateful that I can pass on the baton of ‘home, family, mothering, love and nurturing’ to my daughters, and for them to express that in ways that are meaningful for them.

 

home

The heart of our family nest

 

5

***
What does home mean to you?
Do you feel that your style of homemaking and nurturing within the home is similar to how your mother/father created the home of your childhood?
What are your favourite ways to nurture yourself?

, ,

Roots and Wings

It is often said in parenting circles about the importance of giving your children roots in childhood so that they can fly and be independent as adults.

 

bef6461ccf9c0e09f7035f16b1beb89d

The thing about roots is that they grow in the dark, searching for nutrients and moisture, and they tap down, down, down until they get what they need. Their work isn’t visible, but eventually their job becomes manifest in other ways.

eliza2

Eliza on Prom Night

eliza1

Eliza Robinson catching the train from Penrith to London

As I type these words, my 18-year-old daughter is on an aeroplane flying to Estonia. Solo. She’s had this dream for a number of years, ever since she wrote her novel Consequence at aged 14. The joy I feel at watching her take flight, literally and otherwise, is indescribable. So many people have said to her ‘how brave’ she is, and that they couldn’t do it. There are certain things in life that really define you, and I know from experience that travelling solo to a foreign land is most definitely one of them.

eliza4

I was raised by a mother who taught me that girls can do anything they want, if they put their mind to it. Powerful stuff!

While studying for her A level exams, my daughter has also held down a part-time job at the local leisure-centre café, and has earnt every penny towards her trip. Every last detail has been funded and arranged by her. That level of independence and self-belief has, I am sure, been founded on a childhood where my daughters were taught to dream big and reach for the stars.

In an hour from now, she’ll arrive in a foreign country where English is not the spoken language. She’ll be excited, scared, curious and adventurous. She will be completely out of any comfort zone. Those roots will give her everything she needs to grow and stretch and seek the light.

 

eliza3

Getting ready to board the plane

 

Eliza lived in three countries by the time she was a year old, and took her first steps in Dubai airport. I have no doubt over the years that she’ll have many foreign journeys. Her roots were not only nourished in the fertile soil of our family life, but in her ancestry: grandparents who emigrated from Germany to Australia. A father who emigrated from England to New Zealand. And an Australian mother who has lived in different countries. It’s in her blood to travel; to seek new shores. She will search, and she will discover joy and love wherever she travels in this world. Why? Because they were found in abundance in the fertile soil of childhood. These are what she will expect to see, and what she’ll draw to her.

She will return in two weeks from now a changed woman. I wouldn’t expect anything less. The wrench we, as a family, will feel when she leaves for university in two months will be all at once happy and sad. We will miss her vibrant smile, inspiring conversations, her laughter and humour. But we will cheer her on as she finds her way and place in this world, and brings some magic to this thing we call life. My husband and I have been blessed to share in her company for eighteen years. It’s time that other people get to share.

Fly, sweetheart, fly!

 

You can follow Eliza’s travel blog here:

http://elizaserenarobinson.com/travel-diary-day-one-26th-june-2016/

Eliza Robinson & Veronika Robinson

Saying goodbye at the train station to my lovely daughter.

,

Astrologer’s Notebook: Toddler Tantrums

The astro-psychological significance of the first Mars return

At the moment of birth, the cosmic blueprint of the heavens is mirrored in a person’s birth chart. The planets keep moving, and throughout life we have transits which show where the planets have moved to. When the transiting planet moves over, or in relation to, a sensitive location in the birth chart, it indicates an experience or the timing of an event.
The orbit of Mars is approximately 687 days, a little less than two years. It has a retrograde period when the Earth is passing it in orbit.

mars
In astrology, Mars is one of the personal planets, however, unlike the Sun (conscious self), Moon (mother/emotions), Venus (love) and Mercury (learning and communication), the energy of Mars is directed outward. It’s associated with energy and fire, and rules the sign Aries, a cardinal fire sign. The key signature of Mars is initiation and activity. The symbol of Mars is masculine: a sword and shield.
In mythology, the Greek god of War, was Aries. The Babylonians associated Mars with their god of war and destruction, Nergal.
On a physical level, Mars is represented by the muscular system which is vital for us to move. In astrology, our Mars placement shows where and how we are motivated…it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning, if it’s functioning well. We can consider the energy of Mars to be like a soldier: off to war; fighting and anger. However, it doesn’t have to be aggressive, if used consciously. Mars is the power of sunrise, new beginnings, passion, drive, pioneering spirit, dynamic force. Mars has all the power of a new shoot in Springtime, so full of life force and energy. It’s the warrior, the courageous one, the hero of war time.

Mars is about energy, and how we express that is up to us. It’s where we are (hopefully) most driven in our life. The placement and sign of Mars in our natal chart stimulates a sense of urgency; gives us zeal and boldness.

photo-1449177009399-be6867ef0505

When Mars make his first ‘return’, that is, his first orbit around the Sun back to the same position it was in our natal (birth) chart, it coincides with what is known in society as the ‘terrible twos’. This time in a child’s life brings fear to the heart of many a new parent. The fear can be alleviated when we understand the importance of this powerful time in our child’s life, and hopefully it helps us to be more understanding next time we see a toddler ‘losing it’ in a supermarket queue.

The first Mars return wakes us up. It shows us that we’re independent from our parents. For the first time in our little lives we feel like we have ‘tools’. The most important piece of ammunition we have access to is the mighty sword called “NO!” We wield it high and low as if our lives depend on it. They do! At two, it feels like it’s the only thing that can save us from those big people who are trying to walk all over our newly-discovered will-power.

Mars needs a mission. Without one, he causes chaos. His dark side comes forward. When he knows where he’s heading, and what his purpose is, then he’s our best ally. Understanding where a child’s natal Mars is (that is, what sign and house Mars was in at the time of their birth), allows us, as a parent, teacher, caregiver/guardian, to find ways to help channel that energy. Mars expresses his warrior self in one of 12 signs (like garments of clothing), and he channels this upon a stage (one of 12 astrological houses which represent the different areas of human life). What works for one toddler will not work for all toddlers.

 

zodiac

Mars is the part of our personality which acts as our defender. It’s what helps us stand up to others. In astrological terms, the purpose of Mars is to act. If the warrior energy is subdued by hours and hours of television or artificial toys, pacifiers, or sedentary lifestyle or overly-aggressive parent, then he might react in ways that don’t serve anybody. Mars doesn’t like to sit still or be subdued. It’s like asking an Olympic athlete to always walk at your 90-year-old grandmother’s pace. Sooner or later, he’s going to explode!

What other ways does Mars manifest? Competition, impulse, passion, anger, independence, courage, bravery and power. Are these negative traits? That depends. Mars gives us the courage to defend the underdog; the impulse to run cross-country; the passion to launch campaigns; determination to reach the finish line. Without Mars, we might never get out of bed!

An unhealthy or unused Mars is often projected onto other people: “She’s so controlling.” “He’s so mean.” “Why is she so competitive?” We’re not likely to project the shadow side of Mars if we’re consciously expressing our own drive and power.

 

IMG_001.jpg_0006

That’s me in the green dress, aged 11, holding my baby brother Albert. My brothers Kam (yellow shirt), Rene, and my sister, Ramona.

 

Mars is on ‘fire’, and if he’s not comfortable he’ll burn everything in sight. Who gives direction to our little warrior Mars? Hopefully, it comes from our natal Sun (the King) or our Moon (the lunar Queen). Maybe Saturn is saddling him with responsibilities and he feels insecure? Perhaps Jupiter is expanding Mars out of all proportion, or Neptune has swamped him in damp clothes. Every natal chart is different, and Mars will express according to the strengths and challenges placed by other planets in the chart.

The force of Mars can be volcanic and ruthless. It can also be idealistic and independent. How do we support our toddlers as these energies come alive in them during their first Mars return? It’s our responsibility, as parents and elders of the community these children are growing up in, to offer a ‘container’ for their developing Mars energy. If we suppress this energy or even ignore it then a huge part of the evolving psyche is left unresolved only to be faced again approximately every two years, and in ways that can be far more painful than at the tender age of two.

 

veronikabethanygarden

Your two year old is like a new soldier with his first weapon. He feels powerful and strong. The exertion of will is the purpose of Mars. How do we handle the raging, defiant toddler? Do we walk away (checking to see if they’re safe) and leave them to it? Do we scream back and demand they get it together?

Many adults access their own Mars to deal with what can be incredibly trying times. Our job is NOT to kill off the child’s Mars. If you ‘discipline’ or punish a developing Mars, you will teach your child to expect a world full of anger and hostility. It’s not healthy, either, to let the child run amok and terrorise everyone in sight.

 

august1999paulandbethany

The parental handling of Mars is crucial. We do need to create boundaries or our child may grow up to be selfish, disrespectful and violent ~ even if only at the bi-annual Mars return. If we approach our “NO!!” wielding Mars warrior with equally-angry energy we won’t achieve anything. As the ‘wise elder’, the key duty is to model healthy boundaries which honour and respect people and property. When a parent is clear about what is or isn’t acceptable in their family community, then the child grows up learning that. Parents often don’t know what their own boundaries are, and their child’s emerging Mars senses this. As an adult, when you’re clear about what is or isn’t acceptable, your child feels this. You can draw boundary lines or create fences which don’t involve shouting matches.

I’m grateful that my girls grew up able to stand their ground and say “NO!” It’s a wonderful, and often healthy, tool.

sledgingastoddlers

Every single day we are a living example to our children of how to express healthy passion and boundaries. We’re in a co-creation with our children. There are times, often many times, where they’re asking us through their actions to show them where the limits are. In olden days, some towns had walls around them to keep the residents safe. These were often border towns, where they were likely to be invaded. In parenting, we sometimes have to create walls, not only for our child’s safety, but also for the well-being of others, including ourselves.

How do we like to express our innate drive and passion? What’s our ‘fighting’ style? That depends on your unique natal chart. At two, the child controls the world. Everyone bows to the little terrorist’s demands (well, that’s what we’d call him if he was 20 and holding everyone to ransom.)

ArielOrtegaFallsMarch08

Parenting through our child’s Mars actually begins at birth. Our baby learns about his own sense of worth through how we respond to his actions. Most of his behaviours are instinctive, but our response, nevertheless, is feedback to him. If we’re parenting consciously, for example attachment parenting, and breastfeeding our child on cue so he doesn’t experience hunger, and carry him in our arms, he’ll be aware on a cellular level that his actions (snuffling for the breast; wriggling) mean his desires get met.

By the time junior is about six to eight months old, Mars has transited from the point of his birth to approximately 90 degrees away. This stage is shown by the child making the correlation between their actions and how they feel. Their arms are free and they can grasp things within reach. This is a huge turning point in physical development.

Between one year of age and fourteen months, Mars has moved to be in opposition to the natal Mars. This is commonly the time when a toddler begins to walk. The child is getting a sense of their individuality. Between 18 to 20 months of age, we see the second Mars square. We also see a courageous toddler, full of energy, demanding to be noticed. He is asserting himself.
At two years of age (24-26 months), we have the first Mars return.
It is natural for a two year old to think they rule the Universe.
The sign your child’s Mars is in will show how they gain experience. The angles in their chart between other planets will show what will assist or get in the way of their path to assertion.
It’s important to remember that Mars goes retrograde in its cycle, and this can show up as a variation in the ages between when children reach milestones.

It seems to me to be incredibly cruel to call the toddler years The Terrible Twos. Perhaps it’s symptomatic of a culture which doesn’t own its own anger? At two, the little child is learning to defend themselves (what’s wrong with that?) and learning how they can get what they desire. It was always going to be an intense time! It’s experimental for the little one. There’s a whole lot of unfamiliar energy invading their tiny body.
Although we’ll have Mars return to its natal position every two or so years throughout our lives, the first one is the most important that we’ll ever experience. How our caregivers handle it will determine the way we respond to it throughout life.
That cherubic baby so full of smiles and gurgles is now stamping down their padded feet and screaming like a banshee. It’s not pretty, but it’s not bad. This is their initiation into independence. How you greet them and how you ordain them through this right of passage will shape them for life. It is his Mars mission to challenge you at every turn. Are you ready for the challenge? Are you prepared to be conscious through their journey even if your parents weren’t conscious during your first (or subsequent) Mars return?
Mars also represents our ability to be sporty or athletic. Most children would greatly benefit from physical activity to channel the excess energy. Try swimming, rebounding (mini-trampoline), toddler dancing, Tumble Tots and other activities. Daily walks are a must, and suitable for any budget.

elizapassportaged5
The child’s job is to express his needs and desires. The parent’s job is to model how to express that appropriately. Even if you have to say no, you can always ‘hear’ the child. The difference between a difficult Mars return and a healthy one is that the toddler is being acknowledged and heard, even if their demands aren’t met.
If the toddler doesn’t have his new-found energies met graciously, he’s more likely to become someone who uses aggression to gain attention. (It’s better to be wanted by the police than not wanted at all). The parenting decisions you make at this crucial point determine whether your child will become a victim or a bully.
One of the most challenging aspects for parents at this time is that it brings up how they were parented during their first Mars return. Parents often feel helpless at this time; and don’t the toddlers know it? The truth is that many parents feel threatened by their toddler’s newly-found assertion or aggression. The usual responses by parents are either anger or surrender. Neither of these will help your child.
Use this powerful time to develop your own ability to assert yourself. Look at how you deal with situations with work, friends or family. Do you stand up for yourself? Are you aggressive? Do you walk away with your tail between your legs? What are you modelling to your child?
By questioning how you deal with difficult situations, you’ll discover a better way to walk, hand in hand, with your child during this time.

 

wedding6

Mars in the Signs
Mars in Aries is seen as independent, self-assured, enterprising, direct, forceful, courageous, active and busy. This is expressed in ways which are assertive, aggressive, impulsive, pioneering and adventurous. There’s a strong need to be a leader, and for constant newness. A fire sign, this Mars needs to express itself through physical activity.
Mars in Taurus adores their resources. This is the child who will not want to share his toys. He’s possessive of all he owns. This person is determined, strong, and able to persevere. Mars in Taurus values security above all else. This Mars placement is best expressed through practical activities. Give this child their own vegetable bed to nurture.
Mars in Gemini is passionate about communication and is keen to always learn new things. The passion is based on being a messenger of information. Expect a jack-of-all-trades with this placement, and the potential to live off nervous energy. Siblings will be important as will being involved in the local community. An air sign Mars is stimulated and aroused by mental stimulation. Make sure your child has lots of books out from the library at any given time.
Mars in Cancer shows that the person is strongly affected by their feelings, and is protective of their emotions. Home is everything to these people, so ensure your living space is nurturing. Give them opportunities to help bake bread and set the table.
Mars in Leo shows a person who needs to be centre stage. It offers up a creative, dramatic tone which can be playful, fun and powerful. This is the person who needs a stage to express on: the actor, storyteller, dancer, singer. When this child dresses up and is thanking you for her Academy Award, she’s not joking! Make sure you do have a dressing up box for the Mars in Leo child, and be sure to do lots of storytelling or at least be prepared for her to tell you stories.
Mars in Virgo will give you a child who is happiest mucking in with household chores, and lining up all the toys neatly. It brings with it a tendency for purity, perfection, health and efficiency. This is the child who’ll tell the parent to tidy up! He’ll want the socks folded neatly, and the toys clean. Right from early on, offer this child their own toiletry bag which they can keep neat and tidy. Such simple things make all the difference for this earthy placement.

zodiac2
Mars in Libra brings with it the tendency to argue with others. The passion and drive is directed towards another person and they need to learn to fight for justice without attacking those in their way. An air sign placement, this Mars wants you to engage in debate. She’ll never be happier than when she’s winning an argument.
Mars in Scorpio is seen as the person who is forceful, passionate, intuitive and emotional. There’s a deep desire to penetrate the Mysteries, and always investigating the mystical or psychic. Don’t be surprised if this person has a set of Oracle cards in their possession. This water-based Mars child wants to know all about the usual cultural taboos: birth, death, sex, other people’s money and psychology. She wants to dig deep.
Mars in Sagittarius is symbolised by the need to be independent, free, optimistic, enthusiastic. These people thrive on outdoor pursuits and adventures as befits a fire sign placement. If you have a Mars in Sagittarius child expect to spend their childhood climbing hills, going camping and skydiving!
Mars in Capricorn will gift a person with drive, ambition, efficiency, tendency to take responsibility, organisation skills, planning ability and a desire to achieve. Buy this child a filing cabinet, stapler, paper clips, pen jar and other organising tools, and watch her thrive. Another earth sign, she’ll love to be in Nature, too.
Mars in Aquarius people have a very active intellect. These are the people who want to change the world by working with large social movements. Freedom is so important for these people. Like the other air signs, this Mars is stimulated by intellectual pursuits, so be prepared to read, talk and do a lot of listening.
Mars in Pisces children and adults are sensitive and affectionate. They suffer when there is conflict or violence around them, and deeply desire peace. There’s a tendency to be sacrificial in order to achieve the peace they need. These people are poetic, artistic and imaginative as befits their desire to live in a dream world. You will find with this water-based Mars that this isn’t a child who’ll stand up and roar, but one who’ll hide behind your skirt.
Mars in the Houses
The houses of an astrological chart show the areas where our Mars likes to hang-out and express himself.
Mars in the first house is seen as someone who is outspoken, dynamic, masculine, headstrong, impatient, courageous and independent. In short, it’s the risk-taker. At two years of age, it’s the girl who likes to dive-bomb onto the sofa. Usually from the chandelier!
Mars in the second house will manifest as the child who hangs onto her toys. She knows exactly how many she has, and where they are. Mars here will be passionate about food, values and resources. This child will thrive with a money box. To minimise their tendency to buy happiness with shopping trips, show them the resources which abound in Nature.
Mars in the third house can be seen in the person who is combative, intellectually energetic, and zealous about their ideas. There is the tendency to express this in writing or speech. The drive to learn is very strong. If your child doesn’t like the neighbours, the chances are good they’ve got a third house Mars. They’ll appreciate having a high fence! Take this child on regular trips to the local library.

drinksbinwateronbeach2
Mars in the fourth house will be expressed as someone who is strongly drawn to the home and family life. Family ancestry will be very important, and helping the child to keep a scrapbook with a family tree is a good way to express this energy early on.
Mars in the fifth house offers a place for Mars to play. This is the house of creative endeavours and fun. People with this placement tend to be very creative and enjoy pleasure. They also have a need for exercise.
Mars in the sixth house will enjoy the day-to-day efforts of keeping house, such as cleaning cooking, etc. There’s a keen interest in healthy, healing and purification. This child will value learning all about homeopathy, flower essences and herbs, so be prepared for lots of potion making. This is the child who is more than happy to spring clean the house with you.
Mars in the seventh house can highlight the need to be forceful in one-to-one relationships. It can, when used positively, give drive to be dynamic in relationships. This person is passionate about being in partnership.
Mars in the eighth house shows a person who is driven to investigate the mysteries of life. She’s the secret detective. Set up treasure hunts and cryptic clues for this little sleuth.
Mars in the ninth house craves adventure, travel, outdoor pursuits, and is often drawn to philosophy and foreign cultures. This can be explored through learning a foreign language and making meals from around the world.
Mars in the tenth house manifests as the great achiever: the mountain goat which makes his way to the top of the hill. There’ll be a great drive to be recognised for one’s achievements. Honour this child’s successes, no matter how seemingly insignificant. This child will need to ‘create empires’, so find toys, games and activities that enable that to happen.
Mars in the eleventh house will be seen as the person who is driven by the need to be in group situations. There can be a tendency, however, to quarrel with friends. This person will prefer interacting on a wider, social level than one-to-one.
Mars in the twelfth house gives a person the desire to be involved in social services but in a very behind the scenes way. This child will be drawn to the mystical side of life. Opportunities within the family to value the spiritual, unseen side of life will help this Mars person to flourish.

 

Veronika Sophia Robinson is a second-generation astrologer, and has fond memories of her mother’s astrology room; a sacred sanctum held up with esoteric tomes and a magical black glass coffee table adorned with planetary symbols and glyphs.
If you would like to understand yourself or your child better through astrology, Veronika is available for Skype (worldwide) or face-to-face consultations at her home in Cumbria. www.veronikarobinson.com

 

drinksbinwateronbeach1

, ,

Dandelions and the Wild Woman

My mother was the first person to teach my daughters, Beth and Eliza, about eating dandelion leaves.

To my eyes, dandelions are beautiful: first, with their bright yellow flowers, and then with their fluffy ball-like seed tops which beg me to blow them off with a wish.

 

dandelion2

that beautiful happy face!

In the early years of mothering, I would take my daughters out for our daily walk around the block (about three miles around the farmers’ fields), and we’d sing a song called Dandelion, Yellow As Gold.

I would sing:
O dandelion, yellow as gold
What do you do all day?

And then Beth & Eliza would sing:
I just wait here in the tall green grass till the children come to play.

Me:
O dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?

Beth & Eliza:
I wait and wait till the cool dews fall and my hair grows long and white.

Me:
And what do you do when your hair is white, and the children come to play?

Beth and Eliza:
They take me up in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away.

 

They never tired of our vocal trio, and indeed, the dandelion song was the soundtrack to their early childhood. (It is from a book called Sing Through the Day. The song was written by Noreen Bath).

Dandelions are cursed by those who cultivate manicured lawns, and by farmers. They’re sprayed, pulled and trodden on. Millions of people, worldwide, use Monsanto’s toxic Roundup to kill something they consider a weed.
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/09/monsanto-roundup-herbicide.aspx

Why do I love dandelions? Apart from their obvious beauty, there is something about their tenacity that makes me smile. That persistence in growing through asphalt, and finding the light, is deeply inspiring. What a life force! And here’s what really makes me laugh: no matter how often people rip those plants up, or knock ‘em down with toxic products, they come back year after year. Do you think they’re trying to tell us something?

Maligned and unappreciated by many, dandelions have so much to offer us.

Imagine if Wordsworth had written about dandelions rather than daffodils? Perhaps we wouldn’t be poisoning our gardens!

 

dandelions

 

 

My garden is a reflection of me. A bit wild.

 

 

dandelion3

Clearing the vegetable beds after Winter.

 

 

 

I see similarities between myself and a dandelion: I have been a source of food, medicine, nourishment, wisdom and strength. My hands-on mothering days are coming to an end, as my younger daughter leaves for university in three months and 26 days.

 

eliza

Eliza Serena Robinson

 

 

Reflecting on this, I am reminded that dandelions have been my teacher: they’ve shown me that I have put down roots, and even when the culture around me had completely different values, I continued to grow. I mothered from an intuitive place, and learnt from watching my children play and live free from formal education. Dandelions have also taught me the importance of being adaptable to changing circumstances.

Like my garden, my wild mothering heart is a place that’s overgrown, and the paths have to be navigated through thick, so-called weeds. It was always in my blood to mother from this fertile ground. Dandelions have shown me that I can be a woman and live with beauty in this world, even when the culture tries to trample me down. I stand tall, and continue to do my work both as a mother and in my career.

garden

Enjoying sunrise in my garden

 

Dandelions always have a home here in my garden, and are amongst the first flowers in Spring that bees can rely on as a source of food.

I rejoice at this time of the year to see fields, verges and, indeed, my lawn, bustling with these happy yellow faces. I don’t see dandelions as evil and pesky weeds. Quite the opposite. They’re welcome in my garden for their beauty alone. But did you know that their leaves are highly nutritious, their flowers are also edible, and their roots make a wonderful caffeine-free coffee?

Dandelion greens have found their way into my fresh juices, salads, and even steamed with other vegetables. Medicinally, they’re brilliant for treating gall-bladder and liver complaints. The bitter leaves are an excellent tonic. Ideal for treating skin issues, such as acne or eczema, dandelion is excellent for purifying the blood. The dandelion is rich in nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, Vitamins A & C.

Daffodils, gorgeous as they are Mr Wordsworth, have inedible bulbs and let’s face it, no one ever told the time using them. But dandelions, oh beautiful dandelions, can be used from root to flower.

NOTE: Do not pick dandelion greens from a roadside, near railway lines or telegraph poles (due to toxic car fumes and weedkiller).

 

garden2

oh how I love to rest amongst the daisies and dandelions

 

In my book, The Mystic Cookfire, you can find a recipe for dandelion fritters.  You can buy a signed copy here: https://www.veronikarobinson.com/author/non-fiction.shtml

 

My upcoming book, Love From My Kitchen, has more dandelion recipes: gluten-free bread; pesto, jam, coffee and a tart.

Now, sing along with me:
O dandelion, yellow as gold
What do you do all day?

 

Love, Veronika xx  #creatingabeautifullife

gardenbudda

 

 

 

, , , ,

Happily Ever What?

When my younger daughter was three, she asked me “What’s at the end of forever?” It’s the sort of question that makes you realise mothering is not going to be a piece of cake! Most of her questions were of that ilk.

KIKHW5NC6Y

 

My teenage years were spent with my nose inside Mills & Boon romance novels living vicariously through women courted by Mr Right. Sure beat biology classes, anyway. I have long believed in happily ever after. It’s not a myth. But, like “what’s at the end of forever?”, it may not be easy to answer.

My marriage to a good man certainly feels like ‘happily ever after’ but the reality is that at some point one or other of us will be saying farewell when our beloved leaves this Earth. The love, however, will continue throughout eternity. Of that, I’m certain.

Whatever it is that we’re seeking when we search out a soulmate isn’t just about how good a person is between the sheets or how good they will look in a wedding dress, but it is absolutely about how they feel in our heart. The best way to choose if someone is right for you is with your eyes closed. There’s nothing wrong with physical attraction and chemistry, but it’s the icing NOT the cake. True love that lasts through the years is about something deeper; something which transcends the physical.

MIXX8KP98P

When I write love stories they may well have a happily ever after, but what I’m really writing is ‘I’ll leave you happy for now’. That’s not to say that happiness can’t be ongoing, but the only thing we ever have is now. I wish for my characters a Happily Now. And I wish that for myself. I wish that for you.

 

novelspromo

How do we create happiness in our daily lives? Isn’t it just a by-product of some external activity or experience? Something that ebbs and flows like the tides?

For me, happiness isn’t necessarily walking about with a smile on my face (though that is lovely), but about an inner contentment. It’s about savouring the small pleasures of life, and ensuring I meet my sensorial needs each day. It is about awakening my senses and experiencing pleasure. These are never about the future, but the present moment. As I type, birds sing beautifully in the trees outside. Why would I wish that for ten or fifty years from now? HERE, today, right now, is where I am experiencing their joy. Birdsong becomes my joy.

 

photo-1430329429612-babb42f88673

Tulips on my windowsill make my heart sing. Now, not in the future.

I sip spring water from my glass. Now, not in twenty years.

Chatting with friends isn’t something I dream about years down the road. I engage and cherish the experience now.

I smile when I open an email from a grateful reader. Now, not in some distant future.

Confession: over the years I’ve spent a small fortune on psychics and fortune tellers. What’s interesting is that I have come to a solid and secure place in my life where I recognise that I CREATE my future by what I think and feel today. And this goes for all of us. No one’s future is set in stone. We are the masters of our own Fate.

No one puts the thoughts into our heads but us. We choose them. We can filter them. Weed them out. Plant new thoughts. As gardeners of the mind, we have the power to transform our lives one thought at a time. This isn’t about being the archetypal Pollyanna so much as holding a state of grace and gratitude.

If you’re searching for a happily ever after, start here. What are your prevailing thoughts? What way does the wind blow your feelings? What are you most grateful for? Being mindful of how and when and why you are grateful is the best fortune teller of all. The more your heart expands with joy and gratitude, the bigger and brighter your life.

Start where you are: the roof over your head. The food on your plate. The company you keep. A grateful heart is a happy heart.

 

photo-1447078806655-40579c2520d6

Veronika Robinson is the author of about seventeen books (she’s lost count!). Her most recent publication is I Create My Day: simple ways to create a beautiful and nourishing life. Signed copies from https://www.veronikarobinson.com/author/non-fiction.shtml

Discover the path of spiritual grace. I Create My Day is a sacred journey into the heart of attitudinal healing, and invites you to create the life of your dreams one day at a time. Regardless of how you currently experience the world, this book promises to show how you can create a magnificent life that is nourishing, beautiful and authentic. At the heart of a handcrafted life is a spirit of reverence, gratitude and grace. By including the simple ideas in this book as part of your every day, you will witness your life unfold in ways that are miraculous, meaningful and, always, from the heart. Creating your day is one of the greatest spiritual decisions you can make.

Or available from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Create-My-Day-Beautiful-Nourishing/dp/0993158625/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459266654&sr=8-1&keywords=I+Create+My+Day

You can also ask your local library or bookshop to stock copies.

 

I-create-my-day

, ,

Samhain for the Soul

If you’re new to the idea of celebrating Samhain, in the sense of honouring our ancestresses in a gentle, holistic way, rather than buying into the ghoulish commercial hype of fear-based Halloween, why not incorporate these simple ideas.

My favourite way is simply to take a walk in Nature. Here, all around us, is the story of birth, life, death. Nature returns unto herself. The leaves will once again become part of the soil from which they first originated as a tiny seed sprouting.

Breathe in the crisp, cool air. Smell woodsmoke. Listen to the sounds as your feet walk upon the leaves. What can you hear? How do you feel?

A Samhain Altar is a beautiful way to adorn your home with gifts from Nature. There are the obvious things like pumpkins, apples and corn, but you can also add acorns, plump rosehips and other gifts from your walk.

IMG_4048

You could make a wreath for hanging over the hearth or at your front door.

Use plant-based or beeswax candles to bring light to the dark nights.

Collect photographs, memorabilia and heirlooms from your ancestors and ancestresses. You might like to include fresh rosemary stems to symbolise ‘remembrance’. I collect fresh rosemary from the garden, but also sprinkle the altar with essential oil of rosemary.

Light candles.

20151031_105622

 

20151031_105506

 

 

 

20151031_105518

 

Stand with reverence before your ancestors. Say their names out loud. Express gratitude for their part in your life. The veil is thin at this time of the year. Stop and listen to the messages of loved ones who have passed over, whether or not you know their names.

When creating your dinner, leave a place for them.

This is the end of the earth-based year. Give thanks for all that has gone before. When reflecting on the past 12 months, what can you take from it as you move forward?

Declutter and let go of what you no longer need from your home. Release. Learn from Mother Nature. Let go. Start afresh. This is the time of transformation. Embrace it.

Create a phoenix ceremony. If you have space outdoors, create a bonfire or small fire in a fire pit/cauldron. Write down anything negative that you wish to leave your life. Throw this in the fire and see it being released. Let go. Move forward.

 

IMG_4257

I love this time of the year for divination, and gather around me my many different divination cards as I seek guidance and affirmation for the months ahead.

The only way to counteract all the negativity brought into the world by false stereotypes around Halloween, is to be more visible in your expression of earth-based spirituality.