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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I never imagined (ha!) that I could be a fiction writer. With a background in journalism, and a dozen or so (I keep losing count) non-fiction books under my publishing belt, I was clear that, as a writer, my work was always going to stay that way.
And then I wrote my first novel, Mosaic. It was an amazing experience for me to create worlds where previously unknown characters came to life and had stories to tell. After I wrote it, I was sure: there were no more fiction books inside me. Back to my non-fiction world I went.
One evening as I was cooking dinner, the entirety of my second novel, Bluey’s Café, came to me in the space of half an hour. It was like the Universe downloaded it into my brain while I was cooking. I spent the next five days typing it up like a crazy woman. A woman who neglected her family, her home, and every other aspect of her life. And even after that book, I was clear: no more fiction books inside me.
A couple of summers ago, I wrote five romance novels in the space of that one season. I don’t know if they’ll ever see the light of day but what they did do was show me how much I loved the realm of the imagination. From that Summer with ridiculously early morning writing stints, came the growing realisation that I wanted—needed, in fact—to be a fiction writer. Crap! What would this mean? I had spent the best part of twelve years working as a magazine editor, and writing non-fiction parenting and holistic living books alongside that job as well as a being a mother to two home-educated daughters. And now all I wanted to do was write fiction?
I turned life as I knew it upside down to make this dream come true. Unlike non-fiction, I require a completely different writing space and working environment for writing novels. My main requirement is perfect quiet. No husband chatting about sport. No children asking ‘what’s for dinner?’ a few minutes after we’ve had breakfast. And no cat. Although I’m a cat person, I can’t bear the cat being in the room when I write. All that snoring and dreaming of mice just unsettles me.
So, now I’ve created a life where I can write fiction to my heart’s content, and lo and bloody behold, there are non-fiction books screaming to come out. What’s my lesson? I’m a writer, and it is best not to categorise myself too rigidly. Of course, it’s a pain in the butt when it comes to marketing one’s self. Am I novelist? Er, yes. Am I a recipe-book writer? Yes. Do I write books for holistic parents? Yes. Do I write astrology articles? Yes.
I’m a straddler!
As I straddle the worlds of information and pleasure, I trust that the loyal readership I built up through years of my non-fiction work will be just as happy to straddle over to my fiction books and enjoy what I have to offer. And likewise, those readers who have discovered me through my novels, I trust will take a peek at my non-fiction world and try my other books out.
It is my nature to communicate and impart information. As long as non-fiction books ‘ask’ to come out of me, I shall write them. I have, however, found my spiritual home writing novels.
As a child, my sister and I would walk to our neighbour’s farm ~ a good couple of miles away ~ along dusty roads, through cultivated fields, and then scrubland. Nestled beneath eucalyptus trees were bee hives. But long before we saw the hives, we’d smell them. The fragrance of honey on the breeze was always so welcoming. We were never bitten by the bees, and the memory of those walks evokes such a lovely feeling for me.
For the longest time I’ve wanted to have beehives. But you know, like most things in life, the time has to be right. While writing my novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon (publishing June 2015), I have been immersed in the magical world of bees. I have been right there, with my leading lady, Azaria Linden, as she tends her bees. And frankly, I was more than a bit jealous of her lovely wildflower meadow and beehives.
When you see a bee or think of bees, what is your first thought/feeling? Is it one of fear? Are you terrified of being stung? Or, like me, do you feel like a ‘friend’ is nearby? Do you marvel as they visit flowers in the garden? Perhaps you leave out dishes of water for them? Is your garden free of toxic chemicals? Maybe you plant bee-friendly flowers?
It is interesting to me that, astrologically, many astrologers might well put bees under the rulership of Mars or Scorpio, because of the sting. But that is to completely miss the point of these amazing creatures. No, as far as I’m concerned, bees are ruled by Venus. And perhaps it is because, in my natal chart, I have the Moon (mother, emotions, nurturing), Venus (love, attraction, pleasure) and Neptune (spirituality, divine love) conjunct that I am so enamoured by the world of bees.
It is worth bearing in mind that a bee will only sting if it thinks its food is being stolen. Given that the bee will die after stinging someone, I imagine it’s a last resort for them to inject their venom. Their nature isn’t to be violent or dangerous, but quite the opposite.
Someone asked me the other day ‘what is it that appeals to you about the process of keeping bees?’
I can’t really do it justice with a blog, but here goes:
For years I have vacillated between vegan and vegetarian. I can live without cheese and eggs but honey isn’t so easy for me. It’s not about greed, but because I feel humans have eaten honey for all of their time on Earth. I have looked into the ethics of beekeeping, and yes, with conventional beekeeping it is a cruel industry. But, like my heroine in Sisters of the Silver Moon, it doesn’t have to be like that. We can be shamanic beekeepers and work with the bees. We do not have to kill them, or use hives which don’t support the natural way in which bees work. We don’t have to smoke them or have an antagonistic relationship with bees. And we don’t have to introduce alien queen bees or replace queens every year. And, most importantly, we do not have to steal all the honey.
I also believe passionately in talking to bees. Traditionally, beekeepers would tell the bees about all major events in the life of their family: births, marriages, deaths and so on.
Next week I’m getting a top-bar hive for my garden. A top-bar hive is a single-storey frameless beehive in which the comb hangs from removable bars. With a horizontal top-bar hive, beekeepers don’t have to lift heavy boxes, or agitate the bees.
I am drawn to the top-bar hive because it is sustainable, doesn’t use synthetic chemicals, is low cost, easy to learn, and good for the bees.
I love this one made of pallets.
So, what is it I love about bees? They’re highly social, and their community is based on teamwork. Their hive is made of hexagons. These beeswax cells become honeycomb. Not only does their home store food, but it is where they raise their young. What can we learn about homemaking from bees? The Goddess Venus rules the sacred number six. (Hexagons have six sides). Six symbolises love, balance, union and communication.
I adore how it even looks like a heart!
A bee shows us, both in real time but also symbolically, what child-rearing in a natural, wholesome way, looks like. Within their home we find open communication, domestic harmony, stability and love. So, next time you see a bee nearby, reflect on these traits. Maybe you need more of them in your life, or perhaps it’s the Universe recognising the mothering you’re doing (of yourself or of your children). For me, the life of the bee family is a mirror for how I exist in family and in my soul community.
Now here is something that we could really learn from bees. In the hive, the Queen is supported by all the bees. But what about in human families? How well supported is a mother? Often she’s run off her feet, running a home and doing other jobs. She’s probably burning the midnight oil, too, and feels she barely has enough time to think. By nurturing the Queen Bee, the family continues to thrive and everyone gets the benefit. Bee life can remind us that being a martyr is not the path of motherhood. Mothers, take back your crown!
Honey, throughout time, has been associated with abundance, reward, nourishment and sweetness. Bees show us that our work is rewarded with fine gifts.
As someone who loves spending time in the garden, the bees remind me to tend my inner garden. Do I make sure my dreams are pollinated? Do I plant seeds of beauty in my heart? Am I feeding myself sweetness to ensure that my life is all it can be? The bees cause me to question if I’m being productive enough. They send messages about how to live a fertile and creative life. These amazing creatures also remind me to not become so much of a workaholic that I forget to taste the sweetness of my produce.
I hope today’s blog will help you to see bees in a new way.
Without bees, humans would die out within four years.
https://veronikarobinson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/logo-1.png00Veronika Sophia Robinsonhttps://veronikarobinson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/logo-1.pngVeronika Sophia Robinson2015-05-31 09:58:592015-05-31 09:58:59What bees can teach us about love and family life
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the many ways my parents acted as positive role models for me and my siblings. When my dad built our home on 700 acres of land, he included a lounge room for himself and a room for my mother. This was in addition to their bedroom.
My childhood home in Freestone, Darling Downs, Australia
I’m one of eight children, and although we didn’t all live at home together at the same time, there were generally about five of us at home at any given point. We shared bedrooms.
My dad’s lounge was huge, and could have easily been converted into three children’s bedrooms. I still remember the orange carpet! That aside, the views out across the fields and eucalyptus-covered mountains were nourishing. The room had a glass sliding door which opened out onto the courtyard: a wonderful oasis of freesias, bananas and pawpaws (papaya). In this room, my dad wrote letters, dreamed big dreams, and played his accordion. This was his sanctuary. When he wasn’t away overseas working, he made use of this room every day.
Eventually we got a piano which was kept in this room and I was allowed in there to play, but that was all!
My father’s room, his writing bureau, his accordion, and his artefacts from excursions to Papua and New Guinea (for work), were all off-limits to us children.
My mother did the vast majority of her creative work in full sight of the family, whether it was sewing beautiful dresses, building wooden castles, growing a paradisiacal garden or creating wonderful meals. Her room was a sacred space in which she studied astrology and Eastern religions. This space was strictly taboo. Yes, of course I looked inside! Curiosity is my middle name, after all.
Most people can’t afford the luxury of having a private room for themselves as well as a bedroom. We can, however, carve out little niches around the home which are strictly for us: little altars, or a space to do our creative play.
Maybe your space is in the garden or in a garden shed. Perhaps there is space under the stairs that you can claim for your own? (I used to have our space under the stairs for storing our Suma ( bulk wholefoods) order. I’m so proud of my husband for owning that space and making it into a professional recording studio. It’s not often that he puts himself first.
What I learnt from my parents is that, no matter what, you have to honour your passions and the creative fountain of life which streams from within you regardless of your responsibilities and the number of children under your feet.
I may share my writing space with my husband and teenage daughter, but I also know that if I get up early enough (easier to do in Winter) I can have a few precious hours to myself in which to let the fire of creativity burn. In those stolen tranches of time, I exist in a room of my own. I am free to play, to create, to dream, to explore.
Where do you do your creative work? Do you have a designated space? I’d love to hear!
I’m not someone who suffers loneliness. Even as a child, I loved to be on my own and would spend hours in quiet play (despite being one of eight children). I’ve always had a rich inner world, so haven’t ‘needed’ external witnesses.
And yet, I really feel the pain of loneliness in others. Oftentimes, when I’m town and I see an elderly person sitting in a café, with loneliness written all over them, I give them my brightest smile and try to warm their day. In the process, I’m doing everything I can to hold back the tears of pain. Their pain. Somehow, it ends up in my body. Empathy.
Christmas, for me, is a time of simplicity and immediate family. It’s a time to cocoon ourselves away from the world and be nestled in each other’s love. However, there have been many Christmases over the years that Paul and I have opened our home and hearts to friends who we knew would otherwise be on their own. And this Christmas will be one of those. You see, loneliness isn’t just the preserve of the elderly. It can strike anyone, of any socio-economic class and of any age.
There is a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. If you do know someone who is lonely, why not reach out your hand in friendship or support? It only takes a moment but it can make all the difference.
With my siblings, March 2012
My girls riding through the village. 2004
In my childhood home, my mum had several quotes on the kitchen wall which I’d read every day while eating my meals. This was one of them:
A smile cost nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and is nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
There is currently a campaign to raise awareness of loneliness. This is both inspiring and sad. How far have we humans become removed from our tribal roots?
I urge you, in amongst the Christmas hustle and bustle, to spare a thought, or a minute, or a cup of coffee or bunch of flowers for someone who is weary with loneliness. It will enrich both of your lives.
https://veronikarobinson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/logo-1.png00Veronika Sophia Robinsonhttps://veronikarobinson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/logo-1.pngVeronika Sophia Robinson2014-12-23 08:46:422014-12-23 08:46:42The Face of Loneliness
In December I’m launching my series of meditations: Five-Minute Meditations, on an assortment of themes.
Many people know that meditation removes stress and brings inner calm, but at the same time they’ll say that they don’t have time to meditate or don’t know how.
My guided meditations are just five minutes long, and can be fitted into the day of the busiest person.
I will walk you through the meditation and take you to a peaceful and calm place.
These meditations will balance the emotions, calm the physical body and ease psychological distress.
Regular meditation may also help your problem-solving abilities as well as enhance your creativity. Studies show that it can slow the aging process, improve learning, and offer restful sleep. These meditations will teach you how to live in the present moment.
Five minutes a day dedicated to gentle relaxation, guided meditation and positive affirmations can change your life. Baby steps lead to quantum leaps.
I invite you to join me, Veronika Sophia Robinson, for five minutes a day.