Hellos, Goodbyes & All That Jazz

Due to safety risks I did not want to mention it in my last blog but Norm was away last week for 3 days and as per usual, everything went haywire. Even Facebook and Instagram crashed! I mentioned in my last blog about the lock jamming in our security gate resulting in us being locked in upstairs and that was the first thing to go wrong but he was still here to resolve that. He ended up using a bicycle chain to lock the gate shut. Quite innovative really as I would have just said to hell with it and left it open.

I also mentioned the dramas with the electricity knocking out the downstairs WiFi and trying to resolve that after much poking about. I spent one night with no telly and much frustration.

The one thing I did not mention was that Pixie had developed a hot spot on her back leg. It was on her inner leg and within a matter of 48 hours she had gnawed it raw to the point that it was bleeding and very gooey and starting to go septic. She would not eat and was so lethargic that she worried me so. Pixie loves food and if she is not eating then you know she is very ill indeed. As I had to come home early due to the issues with the dog sitter and the alarm I decided to take her down to the vet on Thursday afternoon. The vet noticed that she had little patches of eczema all over her body and she said I had to leave Pixie behind so that they could sedate her and shave and treat her wounds. I was already so worried about her that this set me over the edge and it took all of my self control to not start sobbing. I did have leaky eyes and the vet was comforting me and telling me that Pixie would be fine. I felt a right wuss.

I went back home for a bit and soon after I got home Norm arrived back from the airport. He settled in a bit but then it was time to go back and collect Pixie. The vet said that they had to keep giving her more meds as she kept waking up, the little crack head. Eventually they managed to shave her and give her a dose of anti-inflammatory meds, cortisone and antibiotics. They also put on a cone to stop her chewing her leg.

After we collected Pixie from the vet Norm drove me over to Constantia to my friend Gerri’s house. She was moving out of her house and we were having a drum session to say goodbye to the land and the ancestors of the land. I cannot see to drive at night so Norm was kind enough to take me there.

We dug a hole in the spot where the lodge used to be and we put the prayer ties from the lodge into the hole and we burned them. We gave some tobacco to the ancestors and thanked them for all of the beautiful ceremonies we have had at her home. It was at Gerri’s home that I had my first sweat lodge in South Africa and where I started to learn about my Native American roots and to start to follow the red road so I felt very emotional.

We sang the Cherokee morning prayer song We n’ de ya ho to each of the directions.

Gerri prayed and said thank you to the spirits, the trees, the ancestors and the beings who all supported the teachings and learnings that have happened at Eagle Owl Lodge. When she called in the spirits and the ancestors the wind picked up and starting blowing a gale. The birds started flying around overhead.

We then all settled around the communal drum and sang our hearts out and drummed with great enthusiasm. While we were drumming an owl came and settled in the tree overhead and hooted along with us. The hadedas flew over and raised their voices in unison with us. A load of frogs started chirping along with us too. As we were smack dab in the middle of a housing estate this was quite magical. I could feel the energy of the beings showing support and making their presence known. I could feel the love of the land surrounding us.

We were oblivious to the dramas going on inside the house as one of the neighbours came over and just walked into the house and started going insane and calling us satanists and all sorts of vitriolic poison. Norm had unfortunately arrived in the midst of her craziness and when she was asked to leave the house she started attacking Norm and taking photographs of him and the car and when he asked her to stop she called him a Glaswegian Git. A) He is not Glaswegian and B) he is not a git! She is crazy AF. Nevermind, she will not have us there to harass any longer.

We did not let it spoil our night however, I left on a high, despite the sadness of knowing I will never go back to that house where I learned so much, I know it is time to move on. I always absorb so much energy and positivity from drumming and singing our prayer songs.

I have started praying on my knees, I have always had bouts of praying but never on a consistent basis and since I started following the red road I try to give gratitude regularly but I had never really knelt to do so. I met a really lovely woman a while back at Gerri’s and she said to me that I needed to get on my knees and since then it has been niggling at the back of my mind and I have finally started to do so. If I forget to kneel and pray before I leave in the morning for work I pray on the drive in and listen to NA music to try and keep me centred and to put me into a calm state. It really does work.

On Friday it was 32 degrees and it was so hot walking from the office to my car after work. I worked late to try and make up some of the hours I had lost dealing with Pixie and when I left my office the town was chocka with young people. There was a global student protest about climate change and many of the student must have been hanging around afterwards. Here is a link to a video of the Cape Town protest but it was all over the world.

As it was so hot Norm popped down to get us sushi for dinner from K1 sushi. They have a buy one get one free offer so all of this loveliness was only R123! That is $8.50 USD. I had salmon roses, prawn roses, cucumber roses topped with prawns and prawn tempura. Can you guess that I like prawns?

Friday night we had load shedding and it continued all through the weekend, occurring 4 separate times on Saturday. Load shedding is to protect the stability of the national power grid during times of severe strain. When Eskom is unable to meet the nation’s demand for energy it implements power rationing – load shedding – which reduces the load on the grid by cutting electricity to suburbs, towns and villages. In this way, Eskom is able to manually reduce demand to match its capacity. It is not too bad when it is in the day time as you can amuse yourself doing things, but when it happens in the evening you have to wait for it to finish in order to go to bed or you are likely to be woken when the lights all come back on. It went off at 4am and I woke up dripping with sweat as the fan was off. It was so tiring being woken all night by this nonsense. We were at Stage 4 of load shedding all weekend but it has dropped back to Stage 2 at the moment. We are due to be without power tonight from 8pm to 10.30pm which of course is right when we are usually getting ready for bed. It is exhausting remembering to prepare for it and trying to function.

Eskom has said that one of the reasons why it has been so intense this week is due to cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe knocking out the supply there which we are dependent on.

However insiders say that it is due to a number of issues, mainly poor maintenance of the infrastructure.

Whatever the reasons, it is a pain in the arse to deal with.

On Saturday morning I had plans to meet my friend Bronwyn for coffee at Hout Bay Manor but it was closed for a wedding so we had to quickly regroup and we decided to go to Delish instead as we could sit outside there. We had coffee and scones.

We chatted for hours and realised that we have so much in common and I decided we are basically twins. I had been told by several people before we met that we looked alike and had the same mannerisms and even communicated the same and when we talked we realised it is so true. I left feeling so relaxed and yet energised as you do when you really connect with someone. Women need female energy in their lives and I had been missing that. I hope we manage to spend more time hanging out as I think it would be good for both of us.

Bronwyn had a lunch date with her family and so we headed off just after midday. Norm and I were taking Caitlin and Wes to Hoghouse Brewery for dinner that evening.

We collected them and drove over to Ndabeni arriving for 6:30. We were seated upstairs.

We were warned that they were due for load shedding at 8 so we quickly made our choices and ordered. You order the food for the whole table and share it.

We ordered 100g of Korean burnt ends and 100g of normal burnt ends. These are the ends of a beef brisket which go a bit burned. We also had 300g of pulled pork.

We ordered 300g of pork ribs, 200g of beef brisket and 200g of pork belly.

For our sides we had big fat chips, onion rings and mushroom arancini. The fellas had the chorizo scotch eggs. It was quite a spread!

I finished it off with a pasteis de nata, I adore these little gems.

We literally waddled out of there with big fat bellies, the food there is so divine. There was nothing that we had that was not tasty and delicious. It was nice to be able to hang out with Caitlin and Wes, they are such a lovely couple. Wes is a really nice lad and I am glad Cait is with him, they are very well suited.

There was a famous rugby player called Siya Kolisi also there. He is a huge bloke and very handsome.

I felt sorry for him as everyone wanted to take a pic with him and he just wanted to hang out with his adorable son. He was very polite to his fans however.

We left before load shedding kicked in and dropped the kids at Caitlin’s flat then headed home. It was a restless night with the power going on and off. I was a bit groggy when I woke on Sunday and I had a lazy morning. Norm made us bacon and eggs for brunch and then Caitlin came to collect me at 4pm as we were going to see the musical Chicago which was on at the Artscape. Caitlin had won a competition on CapeTownetc and she invited me to attend with her.

We went to the city and drove down Kloof Nek looking for a restaurant with easy parking as the show started at 6pm so we did not have much time to mess around. We saw parking outside of Van Hunks and so we grabbed it and went in. They sat us outside on the balcony and we had a nice mountain view.

But when the wind was blowing in a certain direction it reeked of urine. There are many homeless people in that area and that area is also a bit of a party place so I assume the street is used as a urinal by the masses. Charming.

We asked to move and were put on the other side of the veranda where we were much happier.

We were even happier when we saw that there were two for the price of one burgers and we ordered the Parmesan crusted chicken breast burgers with chips and onion rings.

We finished our dinner and headed off to the theatre. Parking was a bit of a mission and we had to race up to collect the tickets, get a bottle of water and have a wee. We made it just in time to our seats only a few minutes before the curtain came up.

It was a brilliant production and we really enjoyed ourselves. It was nice to have a weekend full of female company and time with family.

When we got home it was load shedding and so Norm and I stayed up until the lights came back on but then it was so late when we got into bed and I was really tired today. However the positive energy I gained from drumming and the time with people I enjoy bolstered me up and kept me buoyant. Pixie went for her check up at the vet who says she is doing really well and that has also helped.

I hope the load shedding settles down soon as life is enough of a challenge without that. Thursday is a public holiday so it will be nice to have that day off. I do not have any annual leave left or I would also take off Friday but I am grateful for the one day I will have to relax.

I hope you all have a great week surrounded by happiness and love. That is what makes the world go round after all.

Until then, kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x.

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Letting Go

What is it about us that makes us self-sabotage? Even though we know how great we feel when we give up our vices or lose weight or eat healthy, why do we not adhere to these best laid plans? Is it lack of will power? Lack of self worth? Or is it just chemistry? When you eat sugar, you crave sugar. If you smoke a cigarette it makes you crave another one. These actions set up a cycle of dependency within our bodies.

I feel permanently exhausted lately. I do not sleep very much but I know that part of this is due to diet, based on how wonderful I felt when we were on 100% Banting. However getting back on track once we have drifted is proving to be a challenge for us both. Even Norm is slipping and he was always so stalwart that it helped keep me focused on healthy goals.

A poor diet also creates horrendous mood swings for me. (As if menopause didn’t throw in enough of those hurdles for me to surmount.) As a result I was a cow all weekend. The problem is, even when I know I am being a cow, there is nothing I seem to be able to do to snap me out of my cow-ness.

Then I go into a mental state of such anxiety thinking about why my behaviour is so horrid, maybe I am depressed? If not, then why do I feel so low all of the time, when I have so many amazing things to be happy about?

And then I go into a spin of anxiety about my mental health. I wonder if once a person has been diagnosed with mental health issues whether this then triggers it’s own issues? My mental health has been relatively stable since I moved back to South Africa, bar a few blips triggered by events such as our home invasion.

And then I wonder am I just thinking too much? The curse of the Virgo, we over analyse every event, every word and every action.

Anyway. Virgos.

On Friday, Norm had managed to sell our old couch and an exercise bike we had been wanting to get rid of for ages. We were rather short on cash due to paying to ship over the few items my mother had given me as well as buying the ‘new’ 2nd hand sofa, so I was happy we had cash to get us through until month end.

We had a quiet weekend. On Friday night Josh was home with us and we ordered take aways from Posticino and just had a quiet evening at home.

Josh was racing on Saturday so he was up and out of the house at dawn. Norm and I lay in bed until 8 when the dogs insisted on their breakfast. I had a hair appointment in the city and Norm and I decided to go for brunch before I left so we popped into La Cuccina.

As it was a last minute plan, Norm did not have time to shave. I love him with facial hair but he says it itches so it never lasts long.

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❤️

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Phwaor.

I ordered my usual Eggs Benedict.

Norm ordered scrambled eggs and bacon. They make their own bread and he was unable to resist those carbs. I ordered my bacon well done and poor Norm also got his well done even though he likes his still oinking.

Afterwards I headed into the city to the hairdresser. I love the vibe at the new salon Pause, and I thought about how many different salons in how many different places that I faithfully trekked to just to continue with Leandra and how happy for her I am that she now has her own salon and shops. She is such a lovely hard working girl and I wish her every success with both.

After my appointment I headed home and relaxed outside by the pool for a while, tossing Pixie’s ball to keep her amused.

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Pixie and the Pool Pipe #WeirdBandNames

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That evening we decided to go out for dinner and we went to the local pub, however it was rammed as there were several sports games on (she says vaguely) so we did an about face and headed back out again as soon as we saw how noisy and crowded it was.

We decided to head up to Constantia for a change and went to Primi. It was a very dark night, despite there being an almost full moon, it was difficult to see when traveling through the poorly lit wooded areas.

We eventually made it there and settled in and ordered a drink and some food. We got some of their delicious zucchini fries.

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Zucchini fries

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I chose the Recco Classico pasta which was described as “A curry-infused Napoletana with garlic and fresh chilli, rounded off with cream and garnished with fresh coriander.” They serve it in 2 sizes. I chose the smaller option. The price for plain pasta was either 65 / 80, or With Chicken it was 80/ 95 or With Prawns it was 115 / 155. I chose to add prawns.

When my dish arrived it looked very yummy and I took a big bite of prawn and pasta but quickly had to spit it out as the prawns were still in their shells. I had to fish each prawn out of the sauce and de-shell it resulting in a right mess and burnt fingers. It also meant the first bite of prawn was pretty much lost in spitting it out. There were only 4 prawns in the dish which meant I paid an extra R50 for very little prawniness.

But the sauce was delicious.

Shortly after eating I had some sort of allergic attack and could not stop sneezing and my throat felt swollen. The only things I know I am allergic to is dust or iodine so it could have been the prawns but I suspect it was dust. My eyes were watering like mad so we did not hang about and we headed back to Hout Bay after we ate. Once home I took an antihistamine which seemed to calm things down but my throat still felt very swollen.

The next day I had planned on attending a sweat lodge but as I had felt so rubbish the night before I was worried it might be the beginnings of a cold and as I was so exhausted I decided I needed a pajama day and I settled in to have a day of rest.

I was a bit sad as I was looking forward to lodge. The weekend before last we had our drumming practice on Sunday at Gerri’s and afterwards many of us stayed to help build a new sweat lodge. Gerri had gotten lots of wattle from Greyton and had been soaking it in the pool to keep it moist.

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Soaking the wattle

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The wattle all got classified by size and straightness.

Next we dug 8 holes and 2 poles for each of the 4 directions were placed on opposite sides of the circle and these became the lodge entrances. These would form the ‘doors’ to the lodge.

Then the wattle were bent inwards towards the centre of the circle.

This is quite physical and takes hours to finish. I was unable to stay til the end but Gerri sent a pic of it once it was complete.

When they want to hold the lodge they just cover the structure with thick blankets and this keeps the heat in.

So I was a bit sad I could not christen the lodge, but I have to remember to allow rest time and I feel as if I have been non-stop for months. The weekend before last was busy end to end.

Last weekend on Friday after work we had a team lunch at Col’Cacchio near our offices.

Note my colleague trying to garrot me with his dinner knife.

Charming.

The next morning Norm and I were up and out early as we took Navajo to see the doggy chiro that treats Pixie. As we could not leave little Panda home alone we took all three of them.

Navajo was a bit of a nightmare. He is not good with new situations and he was like a large, slavering bull in a china shop. David the chiro did not seem too sure of him and Norm had to hold Nav tight to stop him nipping David. Eventually David managed to treat Nav and we quickly scarpered out of there. We have put Nav on another dose of strong anti-inflammatory meds and will see if his ankle calms down. It is worrying as it has been months and he is still limping. David is worried his muscles will atrophy.

That night Norm and I had gone to Papino’s for dinner and as mentioned I was busy at the lodge until late on Sunday so I felt pretty knackered when Monday rolled around.

This Saturday I had woken to news that my cousin Mona’s husband of 25 years had passed away. It was their 25th wedding anniversary on the previous Wednesday and he died on his actual birthday.

Mona and I were raised like sisters as we both spent a lot of time at our grandmother’s house. I lived next door to my Gran and Mona lived with her father and siblings a few miles away. Mona’s mother Avene was my mother’s sister and she had died when her 3 children were tiny.

Mona was raised in a Christian church-going family, however my family never attended church, in fact my father was agnostic.

I was the naughty cousin once we got to be teens, I was partying, exploring tarot cards, Ouija boards and all sorts of things and I remember once involving Mona in my Ouija board antics and she freaked out and crossed herself and ran. Mona has maintained her life long bond with the church.

I never felt close to Christianity, however this did not stop Mona and I from being ‘sisters’. We may have drifted apart many times but we never stopped loving each other, so my heart is breaking for her and her daughter Stephanie. Stephanie was from Mona’s first marriage but was quite young when Mona remarried and so she saw Steve as a second father. As I have lived outside of the US for almost 30 years I had only met Steve once or twice but according to everyone who did know him he was a lovely man.

I pray that Mona and Steve’s loved ones all find the strength they need to get through this.

I am going to focus on changing my perspective, and yes I know I’ve said that before. I read in this post that “Happiness is accepting what we don’t control — which is everything outside of ourselves — and investing in what we do control, which is everything inside us.” Control is a huge issue for me, so I am still having challenges with that it seems. Maybe this is a ongoing life lesson…….letting go of trying to control everything so that I can find my own peace and be happy?

Thank you for reading and if you can spare a prayer for Mona and Stephanie I would be most appreciative.

Until next time, kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxox

Mni Wiconi – Water is Life

On Sunday my drumming circle had an all day dance for rain. Norm and I had a lazy day on Saturday as I knew that Sunday would be exhausting and I wanted to be well rested in order to give all of my energy to the drumming.

Norm and I decided to just get a take away and I opted for my fave pizza from Massimo’s.

Lily, Josh and his Dad were at the track all day Saturday and Josh won his race so they were in a festive mood when they got home that night around 7pm. We all sat outside when they arrived home and enjoyed the cooler evening air.

Sunday morning I was up by 6.30 as I was wide awake and excited for the dance. I dressed in a long dress with sleeves as you must show modesty and respect when in a mixed gender ceremony. I packed up my own lunch and a salad and a french stick to contribute to the evening communal meal. I took my own drum, but we all drummed using the one large communal drum.

I was not sure how many drummers might be there and whether we would all fit around the large drum but as the drummers kept changing in number as people arrived and left throughout the day it was fine. There were about 30 people there in total between the dancers, the drummers and the people who were in charge of managing the ceremony. The supporters and drummers varied, only some of us stayed all day.

The dance was held at Sacred Ibis which hosts many different events that are open to public attendance. It is a lovely calm space and feels like you are out in the middle of the country instead of less than 5 minutes from my front door.

When I arrived they were still setting things up and getting organised.  I headed down to the field where they had already set up the drum and the arbour which is the area where the dancers dance.

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The arbour for our dance yesterday ❤️

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In the centre of the arbour was a large tree which was being used to symbolise the Tree of Life. The dancers would place their prayer ties on this tree and pray to Mother Earth at the tree.

Before anyone enters the arbour they must be smudged with the smoke from burning sage and a prayer said. All of the items used in the ceremony are also smudged. All day there is a designated smudger who goes around the dancers and smudges throughout the day in order to keep the energy pure.

Once the dancers have been smudged they are to remain separate from any one else and must remain in the dance or rest areas. The dancers were instructed to fast from the previous night. They have no food or water throughout the day and the dancing is hot and tiring. It is a real sacrifice.

Once the arbour is dressed, no one may enter except the dancers or the people who are part of the ceremony. The arbour is an open structure made of poles with string woven between them to form a circle. The design is based on the same concept as a medicine wheel. There are openings to each of the 4 directions. Prayer ties and crystals mark each of the gates.

Before the dance the elders must set the intention. The intention for this dance was defined as: “The only thing we truly “own” and that we can give in return for the Abundance that Mother Earth gives to us, is our bodies. For that reason, we fast, dance, sing, drum and pray, giving ourselves fully to Spirit and the Tree of Life, in complete focus and devotion.

This One Day Dance is in love, honour and gratitude of the Water, holding the prayer that our dams be replenished in Cape Town soon. Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.

Dance To Heal The Earth is about Restoring the Balance of Life – the Sacred Feminine and Masculine, in Respect, Honour and Healing for Mother Earth and All Our Relations. It’s important to come with an attitude of humility, and a sincere desire to give of ourselves in sacrifice for all the ways that humans have desecrated the Earth. We seek forgiveness for our human family; awareness of and connection with All Our Relations, in order to understand how we may better serve them; and celebration of Life by honouring the Tree of Life.”

There are 5 rounds of dance with the drummers calling in the procession of dancers. There are two rounds of sweat lodge for the dancers where they pray and call in the spirits and guides. The first is the Brush Off Sweat to brush off worldly energies, cares and worries. The last round of the event is a Gratitude Lodge where they give thanks to the spirits and ancestors who joined into the celebration and express their gratitude of the experience.

After each round there is a Pipe Ceremony. The dancers held their ceremony down in the lower fields in the sweat lodge area, under a group of trees, the drummers and supporters held ours in a seated area near the farmhouse under the shade of a giant tree. The Pipe Ceremony is also part of the event, each of the participants pray and give thanks for the day and for being allowed to participate. I prayed for water in abundance.

While the drummers were conducting our Pipe Ceremony we could hear songs being sung in Imazamo Yethu cascading across the valley. It was such a special sound. One of the men there said that it sounded like a Xhosa wedding celebration song as it seemed to be a call and response format with the Lead Man calling and the remainder of the men repeating, then the Lead Woman singing and the women responding. It was so beautiful. I wondered if they could hear our drumming and singing too and what they thought about it.

This is one of the songs we sing, we sing in multiple languages. This song is in Japanese I think.

And we sang the Water Song as well, we sing it at a faster pace which is more suitable for drumming.

The lyrics are “Ne-be Gee Zah- gay- e- goo Gee Me-gwetch -wayn ne- me — goo Gee Zah Wayn ne- me- goo”. Translated to English you see that the words are very appropriate for the ceremony we were conducting:

“Water, we love you. We thank you. We respect you.”

There are 5 rounds of dance in total. With the 2 sweat lodges and the pipe ceremonies added in it is a very long day.

While we were in ceremony the energy was amazing. We could see so many birds circling our ceremony. Thank you to all the birds that came swallows, doves, hawks and the 7 eagles that made the infinity sign over the Dance. A huge white butterfly flew into our drumming circle and skimmed across my head and then swooped down into the circle and flew off to sit on a nearby bush. The butterfly represents transformation and the world is in such a state of transition this is no surprise. It gave me chills.

When the dancers went into the lodge to do the Gratitude Sweat, the drummers all went up to prepare the feast. Everyone brings a vegetarian dish of some sort to contribute and it all gets laid out at the end for us to nosh on.

After the final sweat is completed, the dancers come out of the lodge and the drummers and supporters join them. We all stood in a circle around the fire pit and we were each given a string of prayer ties. Prayer ties look like little ghosts tied on strings to me. They are squares of fabric which have a pocket of tobacco put into the center and are then tied with string. I did not take any pics of my own as phones were banned, however I found this pic which looks exactly like the ones we made.

Most of ours were bright yellow, the colour of turmeric as turmeric was used to dye many of them. Saffron-hued Buddhist robes are dyed with turmeric. Turmeric has been used for centuries in many different cultures. The followers of the Hindu religion see turmeric as auspicious and sacred and use it as part of their bridal ceremonies. Ayurvedic medicine has used it for centuries as well.

We all went into the circle one at a time and dropped our prayer ties into the fire pit and we all said whatever word that came to us. Mine was ‘Abundance’.

After the burning of the ties we all went back into the dance arbour and had a final round of Pipe Ceremony and then we had a closing prayer where we released the ancestors and spirits who came to join us and we gave thanks to them all and to the 6 directions. We gave thanks and praise to the Spirits and the Ancestors, first to the Centre, then to Mother Earth below, then to the East and the South, the West and finally to the North.

After the closing ceremony the procession was led up the hill to the farmhouse where the food was waiting for the fasting dancers. The dancers were allowed to fill up their plates and find seats and then the rest of us had a bite to eat. Everyone was very tired but glowing with the energy we had created.

By the time I got home it was after 7pm and I was completely finished. My legs ached from standing, my arms ached from drumming and my voice was rough from singing.

All I have to give to Mother Earth is my body and I give of this gladly to praise her for our lives and provision of the sustenance we need and to request that we are blessed with abundance of water.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxox

The Sisters Lodge

Wednesday was a Public Holiday in South Africa. It was Women’s Day in South Africa. I will let Wikipedia explain it for you: “National Women’s Day is a South African public holiday celebrated annually on 9 August. The day commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20 000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation, and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era.[1] The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on 9 August 1994.[2] In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans.”

I had a very fun day planned as we had a Sisters Circle followed by a Sweat Lodge at my friend Gerri’s place, Eagle Owl Lodge. Lily and Josh were also driving down from Mossel Bay to spend a long weekend with us.

We woke up to the dogs insisting on breakfast as we often do on a day off. Pixie jumped up on the side of the bed until I picked her up and put her on the bed, then she proceeded to sit on my head and pull my hair.

morning pix

After Norm fed the dogs their breakfast he brought us a coffee to have in bed and Pixie came back up for a cuddle now that her belly was full.

Pix

She is the cutest thing isn’t she? It is impossible to resist that face!

Eventually we got up and I made us a simple but healthy banting breakfast of boiled eggs, crispy bacon, avocado and mature cheddar cheese. The fat in it would serve me for the entire day as I would not eat again until late that evening after lodge.

I showered and put a ton of oils into my hair as the heat from the Sweat Lodge would give me a nice hair treatment. Menopause has made my hair so dry and low carb life has made it thin so I need all the hair help I can get and I love multi-tasking. 🙂

Norm drove me over to the Lodge as I knew it would be dark when we finished so I would not be able to drive home as I cannot see at night. To be fair I can’t see worth a damn in the day time either!

It was the first lodge I have attended which was poured by Michelle, aka “Dancing Heart Spirit Woman”. Her husband Gordon was the fire keeper and he was assisted by Neo.

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The process started with us all circling the fire-pit and the fire being lit by the fire keepers. We then all took a pinch of tobacco to offer to the Great Spirit and we all stepped forward to put this offering into the fire while voicing quietly to ourselves our wishes. You can ask for what you want to receive from the Great Spirit (such as guidance or enlightenment) as well as for the things you want to be taken away (such as pain or emotional baggage which is not serving your personal growth).

The attendees placed items or offerings onto the altar. You can place anything you want to receive your prayers, blessings and energy onto the altar, such as a photograph, a personal item you cherish or beads or crystals.

Once the fire was lit we went inside to have a talking circle. There were 25 women attending and we all sat in a circle and Michelle asked us all to talk about what we thought was ‘magnificent’ about ourselves, what we valued and what we loved about ourselves. For many women loving themselves is not something that comes easily. We often doubt ourselves and have a running conversation in our heads telling us just how badly we are performing at life or what idiots we are. Another lovely exercise to perform in a group of women who know each other well is to have everyone go around the room and tell each other what THEY like about the other attendees, it really builds self esteem and highlights to you how others perceive you.

When the talking stick came to me I said that I admired my bravery. I hate change, yet I have moved about 50 times, I have residency in 3 countries, have traveled extensively and have a job that requires me to go to many new clients, sometimes on my own. I work across multiple client offices and have multiple roles, from project manager, data analyst, business analyst, data migration consultant to data quality consultant. My life has been all about change. I admire the fact that even though I may be terrified, I get up and I show up and I carry on regardless of my fears.

I strongly identify with the phrase ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’.

I was worried about attending the lodge at all, I am not good with strangers, I am not good with small spaces and I am not good with being very hot – basically all of the items which make up the description of the sweat lodge experience! The last lodge I attended was very full and I found it very uncomfortable physically not to be able to move about very much. But when Michelle sent out the lodge protocols it had a section talking about White Buffalo Woman.

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White Buffalo Woman has come to me in visions, she has come through with messages about ‘knowing who I am and accepting my role as a healer’ whenever I go for a psychic reading. I feel a deep connection to her. She may even be my Spirit Guide as she is so prevalent in my life. Maybe she is an ancestor?

Whatever her role, I took this as a message that I must attend the lodge and that I must put my fears aside. This is part of my journey of spiritual growth and I must just show up and walk the walk.

After the sharing circle we all changed into our lodge clothes and we went outside to get ready to enter the lodge. I wore a bikini bottom and a short swimming cover up which meant I had freedom of movement but still some modesty. (And that I did not step on my boobs while climbing on my hands and knees through the lodge)

We were organised into 2 rows, the first to form an inner circle (the hottest part) and then a second to form an outer circle. I asked to be near the exit so I could catch air between rounds as I find it hard to endure the heat. It was physically very tight on space once all 25 of us were in but I coped by wiggling regularly, however it is hard to get into a meditative trance state if wiggling about or uncomfortable.

There are 4 rounds, one to each direction as each direction has a different symbolism. 28 stones are placed on the fire, 7 for each of the rounds. The process of the lodge is divided into 4 rounds, where the power and spirit of the 4 sacred directions are called in along with the hot stones.

We started the 1st round and once the stones were in we went around the circle and called in our ancestors and spirit guides and stated our intention for the lodge. I called in my Cherokee ancestors and White Buffalo Woman. My intention was for healing of my physical pain and my mother’s physical pain and for less resistance to the emergence of my empath abilities and my healing powers for others. I asked to be more open and willing. I asked for patience and acceptance in my daily interactions. I asked for continued strength and love in my marriage and for protection over my children and their partners. I prayed for rain over Africa as we are experiencing a long running drought.

In between the rounds the doors were opened to allow in some of the cold fresh air from outside. In the other 3 rounds we sang songs and drummed and we prayed. In one of the rounds we all hummed loudly together, then we all made the Om sound and finally we all released our spirit animals and our inner child and we made all of the noises we wanted or needed to make, such as howling at the moon, ululating, shouting, singing, humming, whistling or just unleashing your inner voice. I loved that feeling of freedom and release. It brought me to a place of such pure joy in my heart. I often howl in my car when on my own to release both stress and joy. I identify strongly with wolves.

After the 4th round we all exited the lodge in a clockwise fashion and went out to cool off and change into normal clothes and then we came back to undress the lodge and pack away the blankets. We then all had a meal together of bread and soup made from ingredients grown in Michelle and Gordon’s garden. It was healthy and delicious and we were all starving as it had been a long & exhausting 7 hour process.

The energy that I absorbed from 25 women sitting closely together and singing, praying chanting and drumming gave me a boost and I felt like I made some strong connections with several of the women.  It was such a powerful lodge of energy from the women combined with the full moon.

After we all finished eating Norm came to collect me and we went off home. I got to spend a bit of time with Lily, Caitlin and Josh which rounded my day off brilliantly.

This entire month is Women’s Month in SA and yet there are still such levels of misogyny. There has been publicity over deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana for an alleged assault against a woman in a pub at the weekend. We often hear of women beaten by their partners, their sons, or random strangers. Many of these men act without impunity. SA, like most of Africa, is a very patriarchal society. Women here often struggle financially to survive. It is often a hard life for women in SA. It is estimated 1 in 5 women suffer some form of abuse in SA.

This sort of culture is so prevalent that our National Radio station, 5FM has no qualms with their DJs spouting out misogyny. The morning after celebrating Women’s Day I hear slimy pervy DJ Roger Goode blaming Angelina Jolie for Brad Pitt’s drinking problems and Kim Kardashian for Kanye’s dimished success. Then in the next sentence he starts calling Sarah Jessica Parker ‘horseface’ and whinnying continuously when she is mentioned. This man seems to have a lot of hatred for women. The only reason I was listening to him was that all of the other channels were reporting the news in Afrikaans and I do not speak Afrikaans. Yet the SABC moved my fave DJ Fresh off air to some obscure channel I cannot find? I do not understand their decisions to allow Roger Goode air time and to remove DJ Fresh.

Anyway, SA has a long way to go in many areas.

The weather turned from the heat & sunniness of the last week and it has now been raining for over 24 hours. I wonder if we women in the lodge contributed to that as I heard several others also praying for rain?

I had work on Thursday and after work I built a big fire and then Lily and I made Mexican food for all of us. It was really yummy and then we all watched silly videos on YouTube and then watched a bit of the IAAF Athletics Championships and had the excitement of seeing South African Wade Van Niekerk almost win the Men’s 200 meter race. It was so close!

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I am so proud of South Africa for how well they are doing overall in the medals.

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Yesterday the La Creuset mini ramekins I ordered for myself and my girls arrived.

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The boxes were wrapped so sweetly, I had asked for gift wrapping and asked for the card to say ‘Mommy Loves You’ and they printed it on the ribbon! Cute heh?

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Tonight we are going to have a quiet night in as I have another hectic weekend in store. On Saturday morning I am going with Caitlin to a shop to view some flooring she wants to purchase for her new flat. I am then going to Cheyne’s for lunch with some girlfriends in the afternoon and then Norman and I are off to dinner and the theatre on Saturday night.

On Sunday I am attending a drum circle where we will awaken our new drums. I cannot wait to hear her voice, I have resisted trying her out as she needed to dry properly and undergo the ritual to awaken her spirit. She is looking gorgeous.

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I hope you all enjoy your weekend and I hope I have the stamina required for mine 🙂

xoxo

New Beginnings

Wednesday was a day of new beginnings for me. It was the day I started the project with the new client that I have been undergoing the arduous recruitment process for. It is a very different working environment to the corporate environment I am used to. It is more like a government office environment, i.e. it is rather dirty and low budget. If you want a cup of coffee there is only instant available and you have to bring your own spoon and cup to make it. None of the luxuries of ground coffee beans and an espresso like the office I am in on Mondays and Tuesdays. You have to bring your own plate, knife and fork as well as your own food unless you want to risk walking down the main road for sustenance. You will be taking your life in your own hands to walk down the road on your own as it is a rather chaotic street.

The bathrooms are horrific. You feel the need to wash your hands after going to wash your hands there.

It is a long travel time to get here, I spend about 20 minutes getting through one single junction which queues up for miles. The full trip is almost an hour each way.

I do not have comfy, safe, dry undercover parking, I park across the road and have to walk through a rather unsavoury, dirty, noisy street to get to the offices. If it is raining, then my laptop and I just get drenched. If you have never been to Africa you cannot conceptualise the noise of an African taxi rank which is just outside my desk window. A constant hooting of horns, whistles of the guys touting for passengers, shouting and catcalling. It is deafening and difficult to concentrate.

However the work seems like it will be interesting and I will learn new skills and have the knowledge and experience of a new system to add to my CV. It is a common system being rolled out to multiple universities internationally. Also in the current economic climate I am just grateful for work, I will adjust to the other details soon I am sure. But that does not mean you won’t have to listen to me whinge. 🙂

Wednesday was also the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere.

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Image credit.

I was invited to attend a Sweat Lodge to celebrate the Solstice. The sweat lodge has many uses and can be used to achieve whatever you wish; either just for cleansing and purification or to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities or the Great Spirit and Mother Earth for wisdom, or help with an issue.

The lodge itself is made up of saplings tied together and draped with blankets to keep in the heat from the stones. An actual fire is not built inside, the heat is from stones heated in the ceremonial fire pit outside of the lodge.

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Image Source.

The ceremony has protocols which must be honoured before you even arrive, you should either fast or have only light fruit for at least a few hours prior to entering the lodge. Women who are on their moon cycle should not enter the lodge. We were asked to dress in skirts or dresses and the women should cover their shoulders, the men should wear a shirt to cover their chests. I wore a long dress and a sarong around my shoulders. The long dress made crawling around in the lodge a bit of a challenge.

The process around building the fire is also bound by tradition, you build up the rocks into the fire pit with each attendee offering a rock to the Great Spirit and Mother Earth and silently stating their intentions for the ceremony either silently or aloud for the group. You go round the fire pit in a clockwise manner, each person placing a stone until the designated number of stones is piled onto the wood ready for lighting. Once the fire is lit only the lodge keeper or the fire keeper may cross between the fire pit and the altar which is set up midway between the fire pit and the opening of the lodge. The Stone People spirits are awakened in the stones by heating them in the sacred fire until red-hot.

Prior to entering the lodge everyone must smudge themselves from the smoke being emitted from the abalone shell filled with sage at the entrance to the sweat lodge. The entrance faces to the East and towards the sacred fire pit. This has very significant spiritual value. Each new day begins in the East with the rising of Father Sun, the source of life and power, dawn of wisdom, while the fire heating the rocks is the undying light of the world, eternity, and a new spiritual beginning that we seek in the sweat ceremony.

Once the fire outside the lodge has had an hour or so to get very hot everyone enters the lodge and settled around the pit.  There were 23 of us in the lodge so it was very full.

One at a time the white hot stones were loaded onto a shovel and pushed into the lodge, then lowered into the shallow pit inside the sweat lodge, first placing a stone on the west, then north, east, south, and in the centre to symbolise the Grandfather. Additional stones are then placed to Grandmother and The People. The lodge keeper and the attendees all welcomed the stones, saying ‘welcome grandfather’ or ‘welcome grandmother’. After seven stones were in the pit, the entrance is closed by the Fire Keeper. This began the first round of ceremony in the lodge. The sweat leader played the Drum and called forth the spirit guides in prayer from the Four Directions. The sweat leader then dips water and pours it onto the hot stones in the pit, producing large amounts of steam, usually one dipper for each of the four directions, or until told by the spirits to stop. Then she begins the prayers, songs and chants.

We started by all stating our ancestry and calling on our ancestors to join us in the lodge. I called on my Cherokee ancestors and White Buffalo Woman.

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There are multiple rounds of prayer and with each of these rounds 7 new stones are brought into the lodge. There is a minimum of a round for each of the four directions, where each direction symbolises a different purpose and energy.

The temperature in the lodge increases in heat as the fire pit fills up with the stones. At one stage it became too hot and we begged for air and the side was opened slightly.

I personally felt that the lodge was too full, when I have had a lodge before there was enough space to lie down should the heat become too intense. I also went into a trance like state in that previous lodge as I was able to relax and lie down. This facilitated visions and mysticism. However I still felt the benefit of the lodge, it was just not very physically comfortable.

By the time we finished the rounds it was midnight. Norm came to collect me and we went home without my indulging in the meal with the group. As I had started my new job that day I was exhausted. The night before I woke at 4am having only gone to bed at midnight so I had done all of this on 4 hours sleep.

The night after the lodge I was only in bed just before 1 am but I slept straight through until 7am. I never do that. In fact, there was a short in our security beam and the alarm went off, the dogs went insane and the security company came to trawl around our garden and I slept right through it all.

I feel so relaxed after the lodge, more in touch with my ancestors and my spirituality. I think that what has been missing in my life was prayer and spirituality. I have found this in my Cherokee roots and it is grounding me. I was raised with no religion or spirituality in our home, my Dad was agnostic. I have always been sceptical of the concept of a singular god. I am far more comfortable praying to The Great Spirit and calling on my ancestors for guidance and blessings.

I am so happy that I have found this path.

I wish you all a great weekend. ❤️💕❤️